The Song of the Barça Boatmen

The boys are freezing their patatas in Moscow, but Cesc has said that, “the pitch and the cold won’t be a problem or an excuse.”

So there.

The game is less than an hour away now – 6pm CET ‘cos they’re in Russia.

To get into the mood, I’m listening to this:


Barça heads into the game knowing that a win will seal a place in the next Champions League round.

The track record isn’t that great in Russia and little wonder, because it’s BLOODY FREEZING and our boys don’t do cold.  Apparently, Russian players love it:

At least we can say that Barça has never lost in the Motherland.  5 draws and 1 win.  That win came in 2002/03 against Lokomotiv Moscow (1-3) and Valdés, Puyol and Xavi played in that game.  Same again, please.

Spartak has some injury issues, but who doesn’t?  You can bet that whoever plays, they’ll play hard and tough.  Just don’t knock Messi over, because your artificial turf will leave bad carpet burns and he’ll have a hard time explaining them to Antonella.

Nicolás Pareja is suspended for Spartak, and Song is one Yellow card away from missing the next game.

As well as the artificial pitch, they have fans who celebrate like this, as I whimper quietly to myself, thinking of the Camp Nou matches where we sit next to the sweet little Catalan grandpa and grandma, who tap their walking canes in time to the music as we spiritedly sing, “Tots units fem força”:

Not only has no Russian team knocked over the Blaugrana but, for all his trying, Spartak’s head coach hasn’t either, to date.

You can bet that Unai will look something like this tonight:


Team is: Valdés – Alves Pique Mascherano Alba – Xavi Busquets Cesc – Pedro Messi Iniesta

Bench:  Pinto, Montoya, Puyol, Song, Dos Santos, Villa, Deulofeu

Iniesta on the Left – again???  After Pep left, you said that this wasn’t going to happen, Tito!


The team is sporting the latest in anti-cold thermal wear tonight.  Just don’t give them any weapons because then they’ll be mistaken for bank robbers.

Shakira lets you out of the house looking like this?




  1. the spartak keepers name is Dikan. Is his last name Radich? Dikan Radich? just a little joke for all you root-veggie lovers out there.

    1. Oh yeah, good point, I had forgotten about that.

      In this case, I was moaning about Pique’s header giveaway. I don’t think Deulofeu has touched the ball yet. No step overs for me.

    2. Not that I need o defend him – he had a great game – but where would you have directed the header. Not sure he had a lot of options.

    1. Yeah, fed up saying that, NZM. It’s the policy of getting as many good players on at once but it shouldn’t be Ini that suffers.

    2. How would Cesc do out on the wing?

      I guess if you’re going to play Busquets, Xavi, Cesc, and Iniesta, someone has to be out there.

    3. Iniesta has the ball control skills to be a great winger. The problem he has neither the speed not the mentality that are also needed 🙁

  2. Just getting geared up for the Celtic Benfica match next. In some ways I don’t mind if they lose as I’d definitely be after a ticket for the last match at home. What an atmosphere that would be !

    1. I’d rather Celtic tied. I want them to go through, but I also want us not to have to work too hard to get first place. FSC is showing Chelsea/Juve next—think I’ll go grocery shopping.

  3. Game over – mission accomplished!

    Not the best of games – against a better-finishing opponent it would have been a different story, but so it goes.

  4. very proud of this team to travel to russia and get a win like that. hoping for a tie between celtic and benfica! that would basically qualify us as #1 and celtic would be very close to clinching #2.

  5. I thought we were playing some beautiful, beautiful football in the first half, everyone was brilliant. Second half was a bit more subdued, but what the hey, it was cold and we were playing on plastic.

  6. Just watched the twenty minutes or so I missed.

    Not seeing where their great chances were. Even happier with the display now. ,

  7. If only Alba had another three inches, I would happily accept not seeing Abidal. The dude has everything.

    And..I thought I’d seen the last of Iniesta on the front wing with Pep’s departure. Bad Tito

  8. So Chelsea may not make it out of the group stage.

    Shakhtar – 10
    Juventus – 9
    Chelsea – 7
    Nord – 1

    Juventus and Shakhtar play each other in the last match of the group.

    Let’s assume Chelsea wins. The only result that doesn’t see both Juventus and Shakhtar go through ahead of them is a Shakhtar win.

    As I understand it – Shakhtar wins the tiebreaker against Chelsea with a win and a tie, while Juventus wins the tiebreaker against Chelsea due to scoring more away goals in matches between the two teams.

    1. Shakhtar are through no matter what. The only question is whether they’ll want to bother taking any risks in order to win the group outright. It doesn’t look good for Chelsea.

      Adriano’s first goal stands to change the way drop balls are played from now on. Ugh.

    2. If only Shakhtar could of held on against Chelksi in one of their 2 legs. Chelski would be done and dusted.

  9. ok, follow up to my post in previous thread, in which i asked about getting tickets to football games in spain. a post which is now lost and nobody else will see 🙂

    i am seeing lots of places to buy tickets for matches on line. whether for barca or any other Liga team. one person in previous thread mentioned getting tickets on line for an Atleti-Barca match in the Calderon.

    How safe are these sites? are there ones which are definitely safe? are there any that are definitely bogus and should be avoided?

    again, any advice on getting tickets at home OR away matches in spain much appreciated.

    1. I did buy a few times from ticketmaster which is an official selling site meaning you get your tickets for the same price as they are on Barça’s website. (Barça’s site wasn’t working for me for technical reasons).
      Another website I used was worldticketshop. I used it to get a ticket to last year’s super cup in Monaco. Obviously these are ‘2nd hand’ tickets so you have to pay more than what the ticket normally costs but some matches as this one were only for socis so I had no choice. You can check the website if they have tickets for your away match. The weird thing was that I had to meet a guy somewhere around the stadium 2 hours before the game to collect my ticket.

    2. I’ve also used for home matches, as for some reason the Barça site couldn’t complete my transactions. I notice that ticketmaster also features tickets for Atleti and Espanyol, two of the teams you mentioned in your other post.

      I got tickets for the Sevilla away match though Sports Events 365. (Sevilla FC is also listed at ticketmaster, but the page has been empty every time I checked.) You don’t get to choose your seats, just whether you want to be on the lateral sides or the goal ends. They emailed me a pdf voucher a week before the match, and I showed that at the Sanchez Pizjuan box office, and the tickets were in an envelope with my name. As K_Man mentions, unfortunately the tickets are marked up from face value.

      The very first time I went to Barçelona, I bought match tickets through the official Barçelona Tourism agency website. Similar to the above, I didn’t get to choose my seats, but there was no markup on the tickets. (Sadly this was not an option through the Sevilla tourism site…) So you may want to check the various city tourism websites to see if it’s something they offer.

      Good luck and have a great time!

  10. The funny moment of the match was the one with Captain armband and Busquets. It also shows how the club takes real pride and care in making usre the seniority and a structure is followed. It’s pretty simple isn’t it?


    So how come even Busquets thought about wearing that, 😉

    It also shows the kind of personalities we are blessed to have in the team. In any other team such a change could create ego issues, not in this Barca. Especially when we have guys like Puyol, Xavi and Iniesta. We are not only lucky to be able to watch some of the greatest players ever, but also lucky to watch some of the modest too.

    1. I don’t recall Busi trying to put on the armband? I saw Cesc take it and make a move towards Valdes, who must have indicated (offscreen) that he should give it to Iniesta instead to save time. (Iniesta is the 4th captain, not the 3rd, so VV should rightfully have been wearing it.)

    2. The sequence is unclear.

      When Xavi sees his number, he takes off the armband and we see Busquets walking towards him to take the armband from him. Also in the background, we can see Pique watching all this.

      As Xavi starts to head out, Busquets takes off running, apparently towards the Barca goal. We can also see Pique drift off in the same direction. In that same shot, we see Xavi touch hands with Cesc before we cut to a wider view of Xavi jogging out (away from goal). Also in this new shot, we see Xavi touch hands goodbye with Iniesta and then greet Song as the latter steps on.

      Song jogs on towards goal, giving instructions to folks and we see him go past Cesc.

      The next shot is a bit unclear. We see Pique point Busquets away from him, apparently towards the ref (though the latter is evidently not the real target). There’s no doubt Pique’s gesture is in reference to the armband which we see in Busquets’s hand. What’s ambiguous is whether Pique actually hands the armband to Busquets or whether Pique’s hand gesture happens to swing past Busquets’s hand as the latter is still holding the armband. (If I had to make a call, I’d say it’s a case of the latter, not that it makes much of a difference.) Busquets dutifully jogs towards the camera, past the ref and hands the armband to Cesc who immediately wheels around and runs towards Iniesta who then takes the band from him and puts it on.

      The missing player in all of this is VV. We don’t actually Busquets try to give him the band, although it would be a reasonable guess that he tried to. The part that’s still a mystery to me in all this is why it ended up being Pique who instructed Busquets to give the band to Iniesta.

    3. …do you work for the police by any chance? That was quite the forensic analysis. 😛

      Pique was presumably close enough to Valdes to hear his instructions to give the armband to Iniesta & passed them on to Busi.

    4. The trouble with that theory is that Busquets was seen *running* towards goal while Pique was still behind him, casually ambling in that direction. I have to conclude that Busquets would have been closer to Valdes at any point during which the latter could have shouted instructions.

      The theory could work though if we were to assume that Busquets is a little hard of hearing. Maybe to make up for the eyes in the back of his head.

      (I do love a good mystery.)

  11. Masche is so much better with the confidence Pique seems to give him… BAEM!

    At times I was screaming at Pedrito … COME ON!! TAKE ON THAT DEFENDER!! and even the commentator noticed that he never even tries :/

    Also still a little embarassed by his dive… didn’t expect that from him but otherwise very happy with the game and result.

  12. Valdes is 3rd in captain ranking, same problems with pedro i bet tello would fancy a go at the fullbacks…good game over all and somehow i fail to see d great let offs we the opposition had…the ref must be an alien coz he’s in normal ref kits (typical).

  13. Di Matteo has gone.

    He did cut a rapidly-chewing-gum figure on the sidelines last night, looking as if his head was on the block.

    Working for Abramovich must be so much fun.

    1. Abramovich must be trying to snatch Pep – but as much as I ‘d love to see him back in the game I really do hope he does not go there.

    2. Yeah – if he thought Rosell was bad, he has nothing on Abramovich.

      That’s when Pep will discover that everyone around Rosell was under the illusion that the man had power. Abramovich has it!

      His superyachts (yes – plural) have recently spent quite a bit of time in the Barcelona superyacht yards having modifications done to them.

  14. Pep ain’t going to put his hand in the meat grinder. I reckon he’ll go to a club like Barca: Bayern.

    This is about Roman reuniting with the only man he’s ever truly loved and understood ( the yin to his yang), namely, Jose.

    1. Bayern would be crazy to sack their coach in the middle of the term – notwithstanding the fact that they don’t follow the abramovich policy , he has done a marvelous job thus far.

  15. One of the best Away performance i can remember!
    Hoping for the match against Benfica to see a competetive Team with all the former ínjured Players(Thiago,Alexis,Adriano etc.) getting some playtime.

    Enjoying my piece of “Schadenfreude” for Chelsea’s loss yesterday. I think even Florentino nor Jésus Gil y Gil we’re that simpleminded as that Oligarch..Slowly but surly outtopping them.
    Can see Pep avoiding all the phone calls,email’s and textmessages right now xD
    But i really hope he won’t join them a club with such a shortterm mentality doesn’t suit him.

    1. When I read this page on my phone, your comment stood out because you mentioned Jesus Gil y Gil. I remember him dearly because his Atletico Madrid played Ajax in 1996 if I recall correctly whereby Dani (a Portuguese poster boy) scored 2 or 3 headers.

      Anyways, after logging back in on my lappy, only then I realize that it’s you. I remember that you are one of the regulars here who have been following football since the 90’s.

    2. Can’t remember that particular Game but the Controverse it created afterwards with Gil y Gil’s stupendous statements..

      Damn how I despised that Mafiosi but at least his Team put up a Fight against EE on&off the Pitch..

      That Ajax was so special never understood why Barca let Witchge leave as he could have been the ideal successor for Laudrup…
      Now it’s sad to watch them nowadays.

  16. A joke from a poster on the Telegrapgh by the name of Krizman although I found the source to be unreliable *;

    It’s very funny nonetheless.

    Guardiola: “Coaching Chelsea? I don’t know how to drive a bus.”

  17. Was planning to post this question last week during the International break but didn’t have the time to log on.

    Where would you guys prefer to see Pep coach after he comes back?

    I would prefer him to wait a little longer until SAF finally does want to retire. Man U is the most stable club.

    My 2nd choice would be Arsenal. He could do wonders there. They just need that extra gear or two. Wenger doesn’t seem to be able to provide that for the last 6-7 years. But same problem as with Man Utd, their respective coach will be at their clubs at least a couple more seasons.

    Don’t think Pep would want to wait for so long.

    Chelsea – Could do wonders with Mata, Hazard, Oscar, but only offensively as the last two are not the type of players who are willing to track back. These players doesn’t suit Pep’s vision. And he could get fired when they have a bad run of results. Therefore it could really damage his reputation. And he would have the comparison with Mourinho. But Pep can buy all the players he needs here.

    Man City – He would have good relations with the board but I wouldn’t want to see Pep managing a club that is being run by a sugar daddy. Sugar daddy’s are impatient and trigger happy although these Sheikhs are pretty laid back so far. Pep can buy all the players he needs here.

    AC Milan – Wouldn’t mind him here for their history. Club with the best history in Italy to me. But I don’t think Pep can do a lot with these bunch of players. And there is not much money to be spent. And he has to deal with the same problem he had at Barca, Bojan.

    Inter – Moratti loves Pep and Messi but same as Milan, Pep wouldn’t be able to do much with the current set of players. Pep can buy all the players he needs here. Moratti doesn’t mind spending.

    Pep said that the stress was taking its toll in Barcelona but if he goes to England, it will be worse. So for that reason I think he would rather go to Italy.

    Of course, my wish is for him not to coach any team that could come up against Barca but I bet he has ambitions too.

    1) Man Utd
    2) Arsenal
    3) Milan

    He could damage his reputation if he goes to any other club.

    Like Brendan Rodgers said, going to Chelsea would destroy his career. I wouldn’t want that to happen to Pep.

    1. Don’t forget Bayern is there too. IMO it would be great to see Pep go there. Besides, the Bundesliga is pretty fantastic with a lot of awesome teams like Dortmund, Schalke, Leverkusen to name a few…

      So, I would edit your list as:

      1) Man Utd
      2) Bayern
      3) Arsenal

    2. You know, I didn’t think I would feel this way but at the moment I don’t really care.

      I’m still annoyed at him for the mistakes he made last year, namely

      Playing 3 at the back in vital games
      Not realising Pique’s worth to the team
      Playing Masch in front of him
      Playing Iniesta on the wing

      then walking away from the club having failed to win the two top trophies with the best team in the world.

      I know, too harsh but that’s the way I feel.

    3. You know, I didn’t think I would feel this way but at the moment I don’t really care.

      Here’s hoping you’re still feeling the same way in May.

    4. I’ll seriously laugh at him if he joins Chelsea. Would be dissappointing seeing him coaching them.
      Hope he doesn’t join an EPL Team as i wish their purple patch to be over.
      I’ll wish him to train Bayern just for a couple of Years and win at least one CL and clear out a german 12 Year dilemma of not winning european Cuptitels. Although i despise that Club they’re the only german club capable of it. Like Milan Bayerns CEO are very inflentual, annoying and talkative but in Sammer there is a big fan of him and potential Ally ;-)..

      Milan? Don’t know if it’s that of a good Idea now that Don Berlu is back and Uncle Fester stating how in financial dire they’re in the moment.A big risk not worth it..

      So except for Bayern please no CL direct Rivals please, hehe.

  18. Well, Valencia, Malaga, and we are on to the knock-outs for sure. It’s been a good two days for Spanish football. Hopefully, it won’t be a perfect two days for Spanish football, but as I type Mordor is up 0-1 (did I EVER think I’d be hoping for a City win???) At least Dortmund is looking good to beat them out for top of group. Yes, I’m petty and I don’t care who knows it. 😀

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