Defensive mind, offensive thoughts: Barça – Alavés

This is not a review. I would just like to share some thoughts about the game with you.

2012-11-28 BARCELONA-ALAVES 43-Optimized

 

Alavés do not look like a Third Division side to me. They were supposed to have their butts handed to them in at least one of the two legs, but they simply have too much heart. The away game bored the monkeys out of me. As usual during midweek games I took an extended break from work (smile), but I almost fell asleep during the first half. So bad it was a struggle to get back to my job again. There is something about bringing an almost complete A-team to play a quarter-professional C-team that really fails to get my juices flowing. It’s like watching a UFC heavyweight champ fight a welterweight judoka, uhmmm….actually, wait, I would probably very much enjoy that. But you get the idea. The fact that it took us more than half an hour to score and that for every free kick or corner conceded we still looked worryingly panicked did not add exactly sprinkle the enjoyment factor.

The home game looked to be a lot more fun. And indeed it was. Hooray, we get to watch a midfield tandem of Sergi Roberto and Dos Santos, complemented by his outgrown buddy Thiago de Alcántara who we almost haven’t seen this season due to injury. What’s more, after scoring THAT goal against not-too-long-ago relegated Racing Santander, we could expect Gerard Deulofeu to get significant playing time too, and maybe even start (it was not to be).  Too bad Bartra and Cuenca are injured. And that the great Yaya is no longer with us to romp through Alavesian midfields. But again, even though we started mostly first team players with only one Barcelona B player plus Santos, Alavés kept the score relatively low. It is definitely worth mentioning that we did not play badly, but rather that they refused to go out like that. For that they deserve our applause.

Although neither looked like world beaters, Sergi Roberto and Dos Santos did reasonably well. I really liked Jonathan’s distribution. Still think he will get sold as soon as he allows it. I also believe it will be very hard for us to hold on to Sergi Roberto, who is a lot more talented than he showed in this game. It will probably come down to how much he wants to play for Barça and how much he wants to play, period. I hope he will be patient.

The Villa Situation.  While it is good to see el Guaje get two goals, he doesn’t exactly look thrilled to play meaningless cup games and to either eat pine or get taken off early in the ones that count. Or, in the words of a bad mofo: “You gotta appreciate what an explosive element this Villa Situation is. If he comes home from a half a season’s injury and finds a bunch of youngsters doing some youngster moves in his position, ain’t no tellin’ where he’s apt to go.”*

Adriano Correia scored his fourth goal in thirteen games this season. That is just as many as in the seventy-one games he played for Barça in his first two years with the team. Somebody’s out to prove something. When we also take into account that he played as a central defender for the first time ever in one of the biggest matches of the world, it is safe to say that this role player has played an exceptional role for us so far. Let’s hope he continues to do just that.

Some people are blessed with a chin. Others with a jaw. Yet others with exceptional talent for kicking round objects. Gerard Deulofeu belongs to the latter category. He started off like crap in a wet paper bag. A wayward pass. Some lame dribbling attempts that wouldn’t have gotten past Marcelo’s grandmother. But once he got going he showed some real skill. Kid got more moves than the Rock Steady Crew, and he almost scored a cracker. He has to learn to pass the ball. Hopefully we will bring him slow and get him some more minutes against tougher competition later this season. I wanna see how good he can become.

Were you as impressed with the defense as I was? Yeah, I thought so. Montoya let Borja Viguera nod in an uncontested header and the whole team looked vast asleep when a suspiciously on-side looking goal was ruled off-side. That would have been two (!) goals conceded against a Segunda B (!) team. We might have a comfortable lead in the Liga but unless we do something about our backache that big shiny Champion’s League trophy looks very unlikely.

Speaking of a comfortable lead, I would like to leave you with a question. Is our lead 11 points, or 3? Or better yet, is Atlético the REAL Madrid this year?

 

 

 

*yup, that’s my bad mo-fo

 

 

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Culé since way before football boots were of the neon yellow and lizard green variety, Levon is a deep thinker with increasingly shallow thoughts. He lives in Barcelona with his gorgeous wife and daughter. The lucky bastard...

46 Comments

  1. Messiah10
    November 29, 2012

    Villa’s body language after Adriano scored tells it all for me. He did congratulate Adriano as he ran past to celebrate with his teammates, but Villa did’t join in in the team celebration. It was almost as if he was upset because that was HIS run. HE should have scored that goal. His free kick was out of this world. It was so smooth. My streaming was horrible because commercials would pop up every so often and I also had to restart the stream every now and then, so, I din’t see the goal we gave up, but saw highlights. I also missed Villa’s 2nd goal. I was impressed with Alaves. They definitely didn’t look like a Segunda B side. They have my respect. You get older vets who have played their careers in either Segunda B or even lower who’ve played for the love of the game. I think when they have the opportunity to play a “big” team, they have something to prove. They certainly left it all on the field.

    • egcg119
      November 29, 2012

      Don’t think that’s completely fair on Villa – he didn’t celebrate his own goals either. Look at his free kick goal celebration compared to say, his first of the season http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rooubm0_ZjM

      This game had me worried. Villa’s unhappy, and it’s not good.

      • nzm
        November 29, 2012

        Yeah – he was interviewed on Barca TV after the match, and he’s certainly lost the sparkle in his eyes.

        Here’s an excerpt where he talks about the Wembley goal being important, and how proud he is, and how he’s recovering well etc, etc, but it all seems too rehearsed.

        A kinesics expert would probably read a lot into the way his eyes move around without focus and the way in which he touches his face a lot!

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=0K8eKPEDAaI

        • November 29, 2012

          To hell with David Villa. He is playing for the best team in the world, and being compensated handsomely to do so. If he isn’t happy because everything isn’t perfectly to his liking, I’m sure said team will be more than happy to find a home for him in January, or the summer, which is most likely.

          I have zero patience and tolerance for whiny zillionaires who are paid to kick a round ball at a big, square opening. It’s ridiculous.

          If Villa isn’t happy, it means more playing time for Tello, something I’m sure Tello won’t have any issues with. Because I guarantee you Vilanova has even less patience than I do with that stuff. Cuenca is also back, so Vilanova can slide Pedro over to the left. And I still wouldn’t mind seeing Adriano as a left winger.

          Either way, the club has options. Ask Krkic, who wasn’t happy with Barca, how happy HE is now. Toure Yaya will be watching the rest of the Champions League on TV. Maybe he’s still happy because he’s the man, or at least happier than he was in Barcelona. My view is if a player is unhappy, they should leave, and the club should facilitate that.

          • selfie barça
            November 29, 2012

            Well, if he is unhappy he is being professional about it.

            I’ve said many times before on these here forums that I would love – LOVE – for him to evolve into the Larsson role of the experienced striker he can step up when needed.

            However if he wants to be the man somewhere else, that is his right. As long as when he represents Barça, he does so with effort and class, which I think he is still doing right now.

          • nzm
            November 29, 2012

            I haven’t seen Villa whining about anything – he’s being totally professional on the outside.

          • November 29, 2012

            Um, hello? When has Villa whined about anything? You read too much Spanish media. Or are you a mind reader now?

            Villa has been nothing but professional and positive in the face of a possibly career-ending injury. If he isn’t blowing rainbow kisses and shitting sparkles on the pitch it may be because he is realizing that he is at the tail-end of his career. It’s an adjustment every player has to make, and he has been handling it admirably.

            You all need to just lay off him.

          • November 29, 2012

            Everyone is very clear to say “IF he is unhappy.” So he might not be, and folks might be reading stuff that isn’t there. And voila.

        • barca96
          November 29, 2012

          Love the sweater/jacket that Villa is wearing. I love most of the things that he wears. But some of them are too extravagant though.

        • November 29, 2012

          Sorry, Kxevin, but you said “To hell with David Villa” based on someone’s reading of his body language in a video. I found that excessive.

          • November 29, 2012

            And the very next sentence is ….? Speculation isn’t fact. And yes, the “To hell with David Villa” is my reaction to the speculation that a player MIGHT be unhappy. Recall the same body language talk about the Toure Yaya situation, that turned out to be true.

            I don’t think people are doing anything to Villa, except reacting to speculation. It happens all the time here, with transfer rumors, etc, etc. Then reality comes, and folks say “I was wrong. Imagine that.” Because everything is speculation, until it is reality. Like all the Neymar talk, and the Deulofeu attitude stuff.

  2. nzm
    November 29, 2012

    I love Sergi Roberto and would really like to see him succeed, but he just gets knocked off the ball too easily and flattened on the ground (without being fouled) which is something that can’t happen to a mid-fielder.

    A few messages coming through about Deulofeu which, reading between the lines, makes me think that his attitude is still causing issues, and perhaps his people are already beginning to make noises about First Team promotion or else.

    Tito:
    Deulofeu is very talented, but he should continue to get better. We can’t expect that every 17-year old will walk into the first team.”

    Guillermo Amor who is the FCB Youth Director:
    “Deulofeu succeeding at Barcelona is something which depends on him. If he stays focused, he’ll get there.”

  3. nzm
    November 29, 2012

    Finalists for Ballon D’Or: Messi, Iniesta and Cristiano.

    Coach of the Year: Del Bosque, Pep and Mourinho.

    All related to Spanish football.

    • Richzorz
      November 29, 2012

      No Tito??? 🙁 😛

      Head says Messi, heart says Iniesta (but also Messi a little…)

      • nzm
        November 29, 2012

        Would love Ini to get it, but also for Messi to claim it for a record 4th time in a row.

        Also really really hope that Del Bosque wins CotY. Pep won CdR, Mourinho won La Liga, Del Bosque won the Euros. If he doesn’t get it this year, who should?

        • selfie barça
          November 29, 2012

          Based on the results, Mourinho should get it.

          Del Bosque is great and all, but basically is following a 90% Barça blue-print. Mourinho actually shoved the world’s best team of the liga throne, breaking the league’s point total.

          I really hope that Des Bosque gets it, though 😀

          As for the balon d’or, if it goes to anybody else than Messi, it would be an outrage.

          • Messiah10
            November 29, 2012

            Agreed, if Messi doesn’t win it it’s the crime of the century. Sorry, Iniesta, but you were inconsistent the entire season last year and didn’t contribute anywhere close to what Messi did. Messi bagged 50 goals in Liga! 50! Not to mention the rest which ended with a grand total of 73! He tied the record total in CL and is the only player to ever score 5 in a CL knockout game! His goals are always there to talk about, but for some reason his assists get put on the back burner. His assists total varies depending on which methodology you use. I tend to favor the 29 assists attributed to him than the lower amount by other methods. That means he was personally responsible for over 100 goals and assists combined! Enough said. Not sure why Ineista and Ronaldo are in the conversation. I guess FIFA wants to make it somewhat interesting.

          • nzm
            November 29, 2012

            Mourinho got it the year that Del Bosque won the World Cup. I think it’s time he got it.

            Just for his peace-keeping efforts alone – keeping the team together no thanks to Mourinho’s effort, the guy should get it!

            With his selection choices throughout the recent Euros, we all wondered whether he had lost it, but he got the team through and they played an unbelievable semi and final against competition that had built themselves up into legends, yet they had no answer to Spain. They even humiliated Cristiano on the way. That alone is worth it! 🙂

        • Richzorz
          November 29, 2012

          Guessing Conte would’ve been in with a good chance for his unbeaten season with Juve had the match-fixing scandal not surfaced, Pellegrini is doing really well at Malaga, David Moyes at Everton is a fantastic “unsung hero” of a manager and Di Matteo might fluked his way on to the shortlist had he not been the latest victim of Chelsea’s “Russian Roulette” management style…

          VDB for me too though, sure he’s got a fantastic set of players to pick from but that’s no guarantee of success, and to win the Euros without Spain’s best defender and striker combined with his calmness and dignity would make a good choice! Mourinho is certainly in with a good chance, though saying that he could be out of a job by the time the awards ceremony comes around!!!

  4. November 29, 2012

    Del Bosque looks the most likely to win this one but its alltogether a tight call. Unlike the best player which is pretty much obvious…82(90 hopefully) goals? Give that damned title to him!

    • barca96
      November 29, 2012

      I don’t think it’s so clear cut. Iniesta might trump Messi like he did for the European footballer of the year.

      My heart says Messi but I think Iniesta will get a lot of votes from the people who prefer to look at the trophies. Messi has been consistent 99% of the time whereas Iniesta only 60%. But the thing is, most of the voters only watch the big matches like the Euros where Iniesta shined. So that could be a strong reason for them to vote for Iniesta.

      And Ronaldo is just a couple of goals away from being compared to Messi again. Geez…

      I just want Messi to win it. He deserves the most! Unbelievable consistency.

  5. November 29, 2012

    I have claimed the nickname of Vidal Sassoon for Sergi Roberto. That hair!

    For Ballon d’Or, my heart says Iniesta, but logic makes Messi a lead-pipe cinch. But enough voters have hearts where it might not be as clear-cut as logic would seem to dictate. I do know that it WON’T be Wrongaldo. I also see Del Bosque as pretty much a mortal lock to win. Mou Mou has become to big of an asshat. You can actually see someone saying “Man, he won Liga finally, and what a points …. naaah …. too big of an asshat. I’m voting for del Bosque.”

    • selfie barça
      November 29, 2012

      what i’m afraid of though is that too many hearts give it to Don Andrés thereby splitting the votes between Messi and Iniesta and Ronaldo walking away with the prize…

  6. November 29, 2012

    Oh, this is a rippin’ good Iniesta video. When people ask me what he has that Messi doesn’t, I would just show them this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoFji5t58vs

    I don’t think the footy gods will ever allow Iniesta to score goals. The game would have to declare him illegal.

    • ooga aga
      November 29, 2012

      just to warn you before yo ushow that to too many friends…there are better INiesta compilations…this one seems to highlight his getting knocked on the ground…not the best showcase.

      but, point taken.

      • November 29, 2012

        Watch the whole video. It’s a great mini highlight reel, and includes very recent (Spartak, Levante) magic.

  7. barca96
    November 29, 2012

    Via the great Barcastuff

    Tw Celtic: “We would like to wish
    @FCBarcelona a very happy birthday,
    founded 113 years ago today, on November
    29, 1899. Més que un club.”

    What a classy club. I’ve never heard any other club congratulating Barca. I guess no club is taking notice since it’s not a centenary. Man, what a bunch of classy director’s do they have at Celtic.

    • nzm
      November 29, 2012

      Well – we did give them a win on their birthday! 😀

      I’m sure that other clubs would have said something, maybe just not through Twitter.

    • November 29, 2012

      Agreed completely. Not just the directors, the players, the coach, the fans have all been the definition of class this season (only noticed it this season since we’ve been playing them).

  8. November 29, 2012

    Going to go out on a limb here, but the absence of Pirlo in the Ballon D’or shortlist is a travesty.

    He drove Juventus (or rather he was the guile in a team full of workmen) to an undefeated season. And then in the Euro’s he put the entire Italian team on his back and helped them finish above where their collective talent should have put them.

    I personally think he’s had a better year than Ronaldo, and while Iniesta had a better Euro’s, I’d give the nod to Pirlo over the entire season.

    • K_legit in Oz
      November 29, 2012

      Disagree, Pirlo may have been one of the pillars for Juve but a similar contributor for them imo was Vidal.. The premise that Pirlo was somehow a singular inspiration for Juventus is a major fallacy!

      • K_legit in Oz
        November 29, 2012

        Also, this is for ‘The Best Player in the World’ and also, its over a calender year and in that calender year the three major players (pun unintended) are Iniesta, Messi and CR, no doubts. The three perfect candidates imo and Messi will win it as he is the Best Player in the World.

        • November 29, 2012

          And I have to disagree RE: Iniesta.

          He was otherworldly in the Euros. Simply unplayable. But he didn’t put in consistently great performances for Barcelona in the second half of last season, and he hasn’t been turning in consistently great performances so far this season.

          • K_legit in Oz
            November 29, 2012

            But isn’t it a year award then? Iniesta had an ok second half of last season, outworldly in the Euro (PotT), and has been ethereal this season, overall he seems to have had a better year than Pirlo!

          • November 29, 2012

            Maybe it’s because I watched most of the matches from this season over a couple days, but other than the recent match against Levante I can only think of one or two matches this season where Iniesta has been playing at a level above “pretty good”.

      • November 29, 2012

        Pirlo wasn’t the singular inspiration, sure.

        But then again Vidal didn’t define the style of play of his national team and drive them to the semifinals of a major international tournament.

        • K_legit in Oz
          November 29, 2012

          Well then the same argument could be used for Ronaldo who pushed Madrid towards an incredible 100 point season! I am sorry but to say Pirlo had a better year than CR is just mind boggling!

          • November 29, 2012

            Portugal did nothing in tournaments. Now imagine what Italy would have done without Pirlo. Or Juventus. That’s two teams shaped by Pirlo. But just like Xavi in 2010, who should have won the award, goals are the “best” standard, which explains why Casillas isn’t in with a realistic shout.

            Does “best” mean value to the club, pure performance, what? And how do you measure performance? Goals becomes the only “objective” measurement of excellence that people look at. Hence the “Kxevin, you’re a biased jackass. Messi scored 3 goals. He couldn’t have had a bad match.”

          • Messiah10
            November 29, 2012

            This argument happens in the States all the time. We have MVP’s: Most Valuable Player awards. It’s so subjective. Every captain, sports writer, manager, etc. has a different interpretation of what the award means. They should have MVP: Most Valuable Player To His Team(i.e. team would’ve fallen apart w/out him) and Greatest Player of 20??(Said Year). It would make for interesting debate.

  9. selfie barça
    November 29, 2012

    I think one of the things they should change for this award is to use seasons instead of calendar years…Would make a lot more sense.

  10. yana
    November 29, 2012

    “He was interviewed on Barca TV after the match, and he’s certainly lost the sparkle in his eyes. […] A kinesics expert would probably read a lot into the way his eyes move around without focus and the way in which he touches his face a lot!”

    Regarding Villa’s flat affect, I remember noticing a while ago — say, a “happier” time* post World Cup win and as undisputed starter for Barça — that he does have a flat affect for interviews, as well as a tendency look to the side, and to touch his temple/nose.

    Iniesta also tends to look up and away into middle distance and sometimes never actually looks at the interviewer(s). Messi looks down and away, quick glances up and then down again (not to mention the mumbling!). Busquets makes frequent eye contact with the interviewer. I don’t know, I tend to notice things like this…

    My favorite thing, though, is how if Messi is not rooted to a chair, he rocks back and forth on his feet during the interviews so that he’s noticably swaying from side to side, like a little kid!

    *In my opinion, nothing to definitely say he’s less happy now. If anything, having had the latest injury interrupt his recovery arc weighing on his state of mind would be entirely understandable. Does not mean he’s unhappy with the team. Also, Villa is part of the group hug for Adriano’s goal.

    • selfie barça
      November 29, 2012

      I hope he is and remains happy! Just have a feeling it is gonna be difficult for him if he has to accept a lesser role than the one he has played his first two seasons at the club (where he already had to adjust to not being the focal point of the attack)

    • Messiah10
      November 29, 2012

      He must have come in really really late for that group hug because I didn’t see him in it on inital replays. Adriano ran past him otw to celebrate with the TEAM. I didn’t see Villa following right behind him.

      • yana
        November 29, 2012

        If I’m not mistaken, that’s Villa at Adriano’s back, over Puyol’s shouder. He gets there before Song, Sergi Roberto, and Montoya. And if we’re counting, Tello and Masche aren’t there. Oh noes, Tello is upset that fullbacks are scoring goals! 😛

        http://tinyurl.com/c46rs79

        (…and I can’t believe I’m screencapping just to prove this point. And apologies to Adriano for freezing it on such a awkward expression.)

        Anyway, here’s the full highlights from FCBHighDef:

        http://t.co/Xp3Msbsk

        • Messiah10
          November 29, 2012

          Well Villa is still pissed! 🙂 He’s just placating for the cameras!!! LOL

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