Barcelona vs. Benfica: Taking It Easy Seriously

 

“This is the Champions League, and there are players coming back from injury, others that don’t get to play as much, and it’s important for the team and our image. We’ll give it one hundred per cent, knowing that Benfica are fighting for qualification.” ~ Adriano

Good morning, Blaugrana Nois – well rested, I trust?  Well, you should be, given that your little heads were resting on feather pillows, and your bodies were cocooned between 100 thread count cotton sheets and silken duvets as you slumbered in your slovenly team camp last night.

Barcelona’s W Hotel – where the boys sat around the campnou fire last night, telling silly “mocmoc, who’s there?” jokes and scaring each other with Portuguese ghost stories

While Barça has already qualified and Spartak Moscow is out of contention, the 2nd qualifying spot is up for grabs depending on both of tonight’s Group G match results.

Benfica and Celtic are equal on 7 points each, with Benfica leading in the head-to-head analysis.  For Celtic to qualify, they must finish tonight’s home game against Spartak Moscow with 1 point more than Benfica, otherwise the Portuguese team is through to the knock-out stages.  Celtic Park will be fully-charged tonight.

Welcome to the Hotel Barcelona
Coach Jorge Jesus arrived last night with his Eagles band team bereft of all its usual mid-field starters.  Injured Argentine players Enzo Pérez, Pablo Aimar and Eduardo Salvio join hamstrung Portuguese Carlos Martins in front of the TV back in Lisbon.

However, Jesus remains upbeat, demanding that his team gives a better performance than the first home game against the Blaugrana, while claiming that Benfica could “surprise” the home team at Camp Nou.  He always looks on the bright side of life.

Benfica’s travelling squad is:
Goalkeepers: Artur Moraes, Paulo Lopes and Bruno Varela.
Defenders: Garay, Maxi Pereira, Melgarejo, Luisão, Miguel Vitor, Luisinho and Jardel.
Midfielders:  Matic, César, Almeida, Nolito, Ola John, André Gomes and Gaitán.
Forwards: Cardozo, Lima and Rodrigo.

At this rate, we might get to see Nolito play.  Bruno César and André Almeida are both one card away from suspension.

The team is fully rested having played their last game over 10 days ago; a Primeira Liga home game against Olhanense which they won 2-0.  They have won their last 7 games, last losing 2-0 on October 23rd against Spartak Moscow.

November was successful for the club, with the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (only the Germans could come up with a name that long), naming Benfica as the best team in the world for the month, as they won all 6 games in which they played.

 

Tito’s Press Conference

“This Tuesday’s training session was fantastic. It’s an important match. We represent FC Barcelona and we have to play at a high level.”

“I haven’t had to motivate the players because they’re professionals and it’s part of their job. It’s a home game in the Champions League and we have players who are freshly returned from injuries. They will profit from playing, along with players from the B team who can prove themselves against Benfica.”

“The team that we’ll field tomorrow will be designed to win the match.”

“We’re very pleased with the team’s current form but we can’t stay here. If we can improve certain aspects of our play, then we have to do it. Every big team struggles to find its best form at the beginning of the season. It seems we’ve found ours and, little by little, we’re recovering our (injured) players.”

“These players are very eager to win. They are as eager now as they were five years ago, when I saw them for the first time.”

How many coaches can actually comment on training sessions being “fantastic”?  Tito can, apparently.

If you need to fall asleep, here are 23 minutes of that training session which was initially open to the media, before it got too serious to show what really goes on behind closed pitch doors.  However, there is some Awesome Abidal Action, so it may be worth having a squizz:

 

The Barça Line-up
Six First Team players are being rested:  Mascherano, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Cesc and Alba.  Mascherano and Pedro are both one card from suspension, so sitting them out has a double-advantage.

The squad is:  Valdés, Pinto, Piqué, Puyol, Villa, Messi, Thiago, Dos Santos, Busquets, Montoya, Adriano and Song joined by B team players Sergi Gómez, Sergi Roberto, Deulofeu, Planas, Rafinha and Tello.

If Tito is serious about being serious, I would seriously expect the line-up to be:
VV
Montoya, Piqué, Puyol, Adriano
Thiago, Busquets, Sergi Roberto
Tello, Messi, Villa

Perhaps Pinto will get the nod for net duty.  No whistling if you do, you naughty man.

Song is also one card away from suspension.

If the game goes well, subs could be Sergi Gómez or Planas at the back with Rafinha or Dos Santos in mid-field, and another helping of Deulofeu.

 

Oh yeah – that Messi guy
Messi asked to be included in the squad to play, as he is soooo close to equalling/beating Gerd Müller’s record.

With tough games coming up against Real Betis and Atlético Madrid, reason would say to rest him, but the chance to achieve the record in the home estadi is too much of a temptation.

Also, a certain #7 pulled ahead in the CL Leading Scorer stats last night, so there is a wrong to put right.

Before facing the press yesterday, Barça team members must have had a joint script rehearsal for they had this to say about Messi:

“If he scores, so much the better. We all want him to beat a record that has stood for 40 years, and want to help to make that happen for him. But it would be best if he plays as he normally does, and doesn’t get obsessed with it. What it shows is that he’s getting better with each game, and with each season.” ~Adriano

“We have to be as natural about this as possible. Messi has the chance to beat the record, but it will be more difficult if we’re all focused on him. However, I think he’s used to the pressure.”  ~ Tito Vilanova

“It’s one of those things that get you excited, because it’s such an old record. But we shouldn’t be focusing on that, because that will actually make it harder for him to score. Messi has to relax.”  ~ Piqué

 

These are a few of My Favourite Streams
Calvin is unable to Live Blog the game due to work commitments, so this post will also serve as a Match Comments depository.  Go ahead, vent all you like. 

The game starts tonight at 8:45pm CET. 

Click here to convert the match time to your timezone: FC Barcelona vs. Sporting Benfica

Streams for the match are usually found here, here and here.

The view over Piqué’s feet during a previous team stay at the W Hotel
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284 Comments

  1. Gogah
    December 5, 2012

    really really hope that madrid gets either of ManU, Juve or Bayern for their first knockout tie.

    • yassir (Formerly Extreme barca fan)
      December 5, 2012

      I think that EE will destroy Man Utd, Juve and Bayern are not Guaranteed top spots, i sure would like a Shakhtar Vs EE match and hopefully we get Arsenal, lets see if Fabregas will do a Henry (wink).

  2. Messiah10
    December 5, 2012

    Did anyone notice CR7’s goal celebrations yesterday? Very subdued and with the team. After the 1st goal it was almost as if he had to make a concentrated effort not to go into his usual BS “all about me” celebration. I think this is his attempt to “better” his image like he’s been talking about.

  3. December 5, 2012

    “Moc Moc”

    “Who’s there?”

    “UEFA”

    “UEFA who?”

    “UEFA Messi breaks the record or not, he’s still the best!”

  4. barca96
    December 5, 2012

    Yay!!.. Finally we’re going to see goal line technology. It’s going to be implemented at the CWC. I wasn’t planning on watching because the European representative is a joke (except for Mata, Oscar and Hazard) but now I will watch just to see the goal line technology in action.

  5. barca96
    December 5, 2012

    I just noticed that Busi is in the match squad. Doesn’t he deserve a rest too like the other key players bar Messi?

    I hope Messi won’t be too focused on breaking the record.
    Thankfully for the past couple of months he looked different compared to last season where he looked very selfish.

    • nzm
      December 5, 2012

      Song will probably start and Busi will be on the bench for back-up if it all goes pie-eyed. Or Song might be subbed for Busi. Song hasn’t played for a couple of games, so there’s a good chance that he’ll get into this one.

      One line-up I saw had Song playing CB next to Puyol. That could be a great idea, given that Puyol could coach Song in what to do and where to be during the game.

      • mom4
        December 5, 2012

        Perfect teachable moment! Perfect teacher! No risk! Put Song in, rest Busi for Betis.

  6. December 5, 2012

    Really nice interview with Zubi here (English link):

    http://elpais.com/elpais/2012/12/05/inenglish/1354723683_164528.html

    I love this bit:

    I admire [Messi’s] capacity to keep learning and to find solutions in every game. I don’t know anybody who can come up with so many answers and so quickly to any kind of problem. If were talking about fishing, Leo would turn down the best rod, which could give him an instant solution. He would ask you to explain how to fish. And he would end up being the best fisherman in the world. He has the swiftness of mind to find the solution.

  7. December 5, 2012

    Jonathan Dos Santos is my new hero. Word from the player is that he will refuse any and all offers to go anywhere in January.

      • mom4
        December 5, 2012

        I like him too, Ek, but the guy gets next to no playing time, is waiting for scraps of time behind the most talented group of midfielders the world has ever known, and needs some regular playing time at his age. A nice loan would be good for him.

      • replayed
        December 5, 2012

        If he really thinks he improved his prospects with the club after his reckless giveaway from the corner that led directly to the Alaves goal, then a head exam won’t tell us anything about him we don’t already know.

        We don’t need that exam to tell us he’s apparently unable to understand that he’s not exactly endearing himself to the club by working actively to depreciate their investment in him, never mind the harm he’s doing to his own development as a player with a career that is virtually certain to happen anywhere but at Barca.

  8. mom4
    December 5, 2012

    Oh, nzm, let’s have drinks at the W!

      • nzm
        December 5, 2012

        Be here at the end of January around the Osasuna game. 😀

    • December 5, 2012

      Are we sure they are actually at the W? They usually don’t stay at a hotel for home games unless they are a final.

        • December 5, 2012

          Hmm. Don’t know how I feel about that. Pep was very much in favour of giving the players as much time at home with their families as possible. Maybe Tito thinks all the new babies are too much of a distraction.

          • mom4
            December 5, 2012

            I noticed that last year they seemed to be traveling to games a little earlier and staying in hotels more often. Maybe getting burned by the volcano, the Osasuna fiasco, and almost getting caught in a second volcano travel incident (CL final 2011) changed some thing??? Dunno.

          • nzm
            December 5, 2012

            Something’s working ‘cos the boys are on a roll. It must be much calmer though, not having to worry about getting to a game as individuals and all being together – leaving the logistics to someone else.

            I remember all our business trips as we flew around the world with barely enough time between meetings and flights to get organised. It was stressful. Now we take our time, get to the airports much earlier and take stop-overs when we feel like it. Much more relaxed.

    • nzm
      December 5, 2012

      That could be arranged. We’ll go to the bar and order manitas.

      And then teach them how to make it. 😀

      Blitzen has the manita shooter, but I’ve thought of a manita cocktail. Have yet to try it yet to see if the colours work ok. Need some grenadine and blue curacao.

        • nzm
          December 5, 2012

          But mine has waaaaay more alcohol than that! 😀

          The grenadine and curacao are only for decoration – the rest is all alcohol, baby!

          • December 5, 2012

            Then you will have to post a pic and recipe when you have perfected it!

          • nzm
            December 5, 2012

            Only trouble is that you can’t make it in the US – it has too many spirits in it for it to be legal, apparently!

          • mom4
            December 5, 2012

            Plenty of room for all the versions. Like having to choose between a Cosmo and a chocolatini, there’s no way to lose.

          • nzm
            December 5, 2012

            See how mom4 stepped in there, thinking that a fight was about to escalate? 😆 😆 😆

          • mom4
            December 5, 2012

            😆
            No, really, now I want a Cosmo. Shame the game is mid-afternoon here and A is at work. Could pour myself a glass of wine?! Hmmmmm.

  9. simple_barcafan
    December 5, 2012

    Thanks for the review nzm
    Aaannddd for showing how spoilt the players are 😛

    • nzm
      December 5, 2012

      But they deserve it, don’t they? All that joy and entertainment that they give us. 😀

  10. Art is a blast
    December 5, 2012

    OK if u have nothing to do, fill in the blanks-
    What do you think the reactions to messi breaking the record would be like for:
    1. Pele
    2. CRon + mou + his assistant
    3. Pep
    4. Jack Wilshere( I don’t think I can beat his fanboy mode)
    5.?

    • December 5, 2012

      Your #5 should be Ray Hudson, and the answer is:

      “WHAAAOAOAUUAUUUAAAAAIIIEEEAAUUUUUOOOOOGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!”

    • nzm
      December 5, 2012

      1. But he hasn’t won the World Cup like I did, with my Brazil.
      2. I/Cristiano deserve(s) the Ballon D’Or.
      3. Messi es un puta jefe.
      4. I love Messi, have I told you that I love Messi?

    • December 5, 2012

      HAHAHAHA marvelous question:

      Pele: “I did it in less games. And bigger defenders. With taller grass. And smaller goals.”

      CRon: “That is an incredible achievement. Messi is a great player. But his goals did not win the league.”
      Mou: “His goals did not win the league.”
      Karanka: “Whatever Mou said.”

      Pep: “I’m really happy for him”

      JW: “Leo, why haven’t you returned my calls? Are you on facebook? I wanna poke you!”

    • simple_barcafan
      December 5, 2012

      1. Talk to me when he scores 1000 goals

      2. CRon: http://funnypicturesplus.com/iniesta-wins-player-of-the-year-you-mad-ronaldo.html

      Mou “I blame the Unicef for campaigning for Messi…”

      Karanka “What Mou says, is the whole truth and nothing but the complete truth, he is brave, he is not afraid, in fact he is so courageous that he has sent me to speak to the media…”

      3. Pep ” I am on a sabbatical.. remember??”
      4. meh
      5. BFB comments..gotta read them!!!

    • mom4
      December 5, 2012

      Stop it! I’m laughing too hard and my kids think I’ve gone off the deep end.

      • simple_barcafan
        December 5, 2012

        Laughing is good for health,, 🙂

    • Art is a blast
      December 5, 2012

      I remember who I wanted to add
      5. Pepe (If I had broken Messi’s legs, none of this would exist. Well don’t blame me atleast I tried)

  11. December 5, 2012

    One of the papers is suggesting that Messi will not start, so we could see something like:

    Valdes
    Alves Puyol Song Montoya
    Sergi Roberto Thiago Rafinha
    Deulofeu Villa Tello

    2nd half subs: Messi, Sergi Gomez, Planas

    • Art is a blast
      December 5, 2012

      deulofe reminds of fernando torres. My brother said I am crazy. Can anyone else see it?

      • mom4
        December 5, 2012

        Blondness? Except FT’s comes out of a bottle.

        BTW, was so funny when Deulofeu was introduced in the last CL game. Announcer pronounced his name “doo-low-foo”. Thankfully, the other dude corrected him.

  12. Blau-Grenade
    December 5, 2012

    From Barcastuff
    Barcelona line-up (official):
    Pinto
    Montoya Puyol Adriano Planas
    Thiago Song SergiRoberto
    Tello Rafinha Villa

      • mom4
        December 5, 2012

        Oh for cryin’ out loud, Tito, just let the boy start so we can get this record thing out of the way!

        Wanted to make sure Celtic got in, too!

        C’est la vie, c’est la guerre. Let’s do this!

        • Blau-Grenade
          December 5, 2012

          Messi is still going to come in as a sub and get his brace.

          • mom4
            December 5, 2012

            Yeah, and what the heck is wrong with Messi this year anywho? Last year it was hat trick after hat trick and this year all we get are cruddy braces! 😈

      • Art is a blast
        December 5, 2012

        No worries he’ll come as a super sub

    • mom4
      December 5, 2012

      Footballers and their hair! Valdes has the right idea. Just shave it and concentrate on football. Except Xavi. He can keep his hair 😀 . OK, Puyi, too. And Cavani. He is allowed to keep his.

  13. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    For those of you who have to watch Fox Sport, I’m deeply sorry.

    Those guys are idiots. In the 10 seconds that I managed to endure, they had trotted out:
    1. Messi – no World Cup.
    2. Barca players are short.
    3. If Barca wants to win this, Messi HAS to play.

    Would rather listen to the Russian feed.

    • mom4
      December 5, 2012

      You thought all this time that we were exagerating. That no coverage could possibly be as bad as we claimed. You were perplexed by us being sooooooo happy to the point of giddiness when we got to purge ourselves with a game called by Ray and Phil. You wondered why many of us would watch it in Spanish instead.

      Welcome to my world.

  14. Jim
    December 5, 2012

    Just popped in to say what an atmosphere again and come on Celtic !

      • Jim
        December 5, 2012

        Thanks. They’re not my favourite team in Scotland but I do like all they stand for and the way they conduct themselves. I also love European nights at Celtic Park !

    • nzm
      December 5, 2012

      It appears that we like to give corners just to dare Benfica into scoring. Sheesh.

  15. replayed
    December 5, 2012

    Central defense still looking leaky. Rodrigo just blew a sitter (though Pinto deserves credit for cutting down his angles.)

  16. Jim
    December 5, 2012

    They’re fancying this, aren’t thy?

    • nzm
      December 5, 2012

      Chicken shack down the back at the moment.

      And every potential goal op is offside down the other end.

  17. Jim
    December 5, 2012

    If I were Messi I wouldn’t get too comfortable….

    • nzm
      December 5, 2012

      Generally, I’m assessing that tonight all the B team players have a problem with that.

  18. mom4
    December 5, 2012

    I’m having a helluva time with streams. No, I don’t want to download ilivid and they can’t make me!

    • nzm
      December 5, 2012

      Are you on a PC? I’ll send you an .exe file which will stop that crap from coming through.

      • mom4
        December 5, 2012

        I’m on my laptop. You know I won’t know what to do with the file. Gotta wait for the engineer to come home. I’ve NEVER had this much trouble before 🙁 .

    • nzm
      December 5, 2012

      And the ball being taken off our players like teenagers stealing candy off the little kids in the playground.

  19. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    I’m really not sure how this ball is staying out of Benfica’s goal.

  20. mom4
    December 5, 2012

    The kids aren’t proving themselves.

    • nzm
      December 5, 2012

      Neither is Villa, sorry to say. But he’s not helped by the amateur work happening around him.

  21. Blau-Grenade
    December 5, 2012

    I feel bad for John that the ball did not go into the net. He did everything right. Just bad luck…

  22. mom4
    December 5, 2012

    Pique, Busi, Messi at the half. No later.

  23. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    A freaking back kick in front of the goal? Good grief.

  24. mom4
    December 5, 2012

    J’s dying a slow, painful cule death, drinking, or doing something else right now I’m imagining, nzm. ¿Verdad?

    • nzm
      December 5, 2012

      Screaming at the feed…and at me.

      Saying things like we wouldn’t be supporting Barca if they played like this every game….

      😆

  25. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    Villa offside again…. in a freekick…..

    • Blau-Grenade
      December 5, 2012

      I don’t get Villa’s stubbornness to stay offside.

    • replayed
      December 5, 2012

      I love the man. But yeah. He has no excuse.

    • mom4
      December 5, 2012

      Seriously! Pique, Busi, and the flea at the half. It’s one thing to rest players, but this is embarrassing, and the Celtic/Benfica future rides a lot on our performance! It’s only fair to field a better team when the group is not decided. And think of those who paid money to go to the CN tonight!!!

      • nzm
        December 5, 2012

        Yup – Planas off and Adriano into his position, Pique into CB.

        Roberto off for Busi and Rafinha/Villa for Messi.

        Tough calls but Tito’s nerve can’t fail him now.

        If Puyol doesn’t get some help inside, he’s gonna be injured again. Adriano is fighting fires by covering for Planas.

  26. mom4
    December 5, 2012

    No worries, guys. MIRACLES HAPPEN! Torres just scored.

  27. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    Benfica have had 11 attempts on goal and Barca has had 1!

    • Blau-Grenade
      December 5, 2012

      Benfica should have had a manita in the first half. …

  28. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    Xavi in the stands looking like he’s thinking that this is a travesty for football. 😀

    • mom4
      December 5, 2012

      No Xavi’s on my lap and is quite happy.

      Oh, wait… 😉

      I bet this is torture for the non-canine Xavi!

        • mom4
          December 5, 2012

          Yup, he’s a black and white Havanese. He’s cute as anything.

  29. mom4
    December 5, 2012

    Shame Xavi_purr isn’t here. I wonder if she’s popped yet.

    • nzm
      December 5, 2012

      She hadn’t a couple of weeks ago, but must be due soon.

  30. replayed
    December 5, 2012

    At least, Pinto is making a good case for having his contract renewed.

  31. Jim
    December 5, 2012

    It’ll be interesting to see f Tito does change now. He’s been getting a lot of plaudits for making the changes at the right time. Well, that’s now, and at least Busi and Messi.

  32. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    Messi has come out of the tunnel with a warm-up bib on.

    • dean
      December 5, 2012

      That should liven this game-up and maybe force Villa to start taking this seriously.

  33. mom4
    December 5, 2012

    Pinot Grigio poured. I’m ready for this half.

  34. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    Offside AGAIN for Villa. Sorry man, but this is pathetic.

    • Blau-Grenade
      December 5, 2012

      Messi warming up. Time for villa to make way.

      • nzm
        December 5, 2012

        Rafinha just got a yellow. He needs to come off – lost his cool with the ref who will now be looking for every Rafinha fault.

  35. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    Tello has passed to nowhere tonight.

    • Blau-Grenade
      December 5, 2012

      And the one time that he made a perfect run to by line, and made a pass to Villa, Villa scuffs the shot.

      • nzm
        December 5, 2012

        Just not sure about Tello. He shows no quick thinking to adjust his passing play. Passing into the midfield to no one shows that he just isn’t aware of where anyone else is.

        • Blau-Grenade
          December 5, 2012

          Yes that was a poor pass. But he has at times shown good pace finishing and passing as well. He is a very curious case. I am hoping he can improve.

  36. Blau-Grenade
    December 5, 2012

    OOOoo Tello is getting into the run of play slowly.

  37. Blau-Grenade
    December 5, 2012

    Villa should have gone for the shot between the keepers legs.

  38. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    Messi on, Rafinha off. About freaking time.

    • nzm
      December 5, 2012

      Gargled English/German and thumping the table in despair….

  39. mom4
    December 5, 2012

    Beautiful goal by Torres just now. If he can do it???

    • Blau-Grenade
      December 5, 2012

      Giovinco scored. So no matter how many Torres scores, Chelsea still go out of Champions league.

      • nzm
        December 5, 2012

        Win the game 7-1 but still go out of CL – that’s gotta hurt!

  40. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    Offside again…don’t need to say who.

  41. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    First corner for Barca in the 69′. 😀

  42. Blau-Grenade
    December 5, 2012

    Celtic scored from penalty.

      • nzm
        December 5, 2012

        Very soft. Was just saying that I like Samaras and he goes down like that.

  43. Jim
    December 5, 2012

    If you can find a stream watch the celebrations !

  44. Blau-Grenade
    December 5, 2012

    OOOooooooooooo MEesssssssssssssiiiiiiii!!!!

  45. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    I’m sorry but the Barca B first touches and passes are pretty poor.

    Damn…Messi is hurt…..

    • nzm
      December 5, 2012

      Stretchered off. Hope it’s just precaution, but it’s not good, he’s lying on the buggy in despair.

      • nzm
        December 5, 2012

        Last time he looked like that was when Ujfalusi damaged him.

  46. G6O
    December 5, 2012

    If he tore something this will go down as one of the worst coaching decisions in the history of the game….

    And it does look like he did 🙁 🙁

  47. Jim
    December 5, 2012

    Maybe clutching at straws but doesn’t seem too much pain which there would be with ligaments

    • nzm
      December 5, 2012

      Not sure, Jim. Messi didn’t look great.

      • Jim
        December 5, 2012

        He didn’t collapse though. He took a couple of steps. Who knows?

        • G6O
          December 5, 2012

          He did collapse. It happened when he tried to lob it past the keeper.

    • G6O
      December 5, 2012

      When Ronaldo’s knee exploded back in the days, he was screaming so loud when they were carrying him off the pitch the whole stadium could hear it. This does not look nearly as bad, so there is hope it will be only a few weeks, but you know how durable he is and how he usually gets up immediately after some quite rough challenges, so it can just as well be a lot more serious than it looks.

        • G6O
          December 5, 2012

          Coming back after having your knees completely destroyed three times does not classify one as wimp in my book.

          • nzm
            December 5, 2012

            I meant for screaming. But some people can take more pain than others and not show it.

  48. Huckleberry
    December 5, 2012

    Looks like ligaments. My experience….
    shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit…

  49. mom4
    December 5, 2012

    Forgive me for wanting him to come in and play in a meaningless game. Damn.

    • Blau-Grenade
      December 5, 2012

      My only explanation for Villa’s constant offsides is that he is blind in one eye, and does not have the peripheral vision to see the defenders on the offside line.

    • G6O
      December 5, 2012

      I wanted that too.

      However, it could have just as easily happened on Sunday and then we would not be having this discussion.

      He has entered meaningless games before, he knows how to conserve himself, he is very durable. It’s a small-probability event, but a non-zero one nevertheless.

  50. KEVINO17
    December 5, 2012

    Only a three games left before Christmas. If he was going to get injured, this was the best time of the season.

    • nzm
      December 5, 2012

      There goes his record – I doubt that he’s thinking that.

      As well as critical games with Betis and At. Madrid.

    • G6O
      December 5, 2012

      Of course, that is a consolation if he’s going to be out for only a month.

      But it could be a lot more than that

  51. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    Deulofeu needs to learn how to pass.

  52. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    Celtic goes through!

    Now, what about Messi?

  53. Jim
    December 5, 2012

    Celtic through – although I don’t feel as elated as I would have done 🙁

  54. mom4
    December 5, 2012

    So now we all watch barcastuff for updates. Keep us posted if you hear anything, nzm!

  55. Helge
    December 5, 2012

    This looked like a cruciate ligament injury. It would mean the end of the whole season for him.

    When you get stuck in the lawn, twist your knee like that, lie on the ground cryin’ and get transported out of the stadium via ambulance … it will almost be a miracle if Messi is fit within some months.

    I hope I am wrong, but right now I am shattered and fear the worst. If Messi hadn’t played at all, if he had taken the foul and not tried to play on (which is what we all love him for – and this time his fairness might have cost him dearly)… thats just too much bad luck :'(

    Please God, let it be a minor injury, if hes out for ‘only’ two months, I will be very reliefed.

    If not, this would be so horrible T_T

  56. December 5, 2012

    barcastuff ‏@barcastuff
    First news from Barcelona dressing-room on Messi’s injury: knock on knee, it doesn’t seem serious, further tests ongoing #fcblive [catradio]

    OMG… PLS PLS PLS PLS PLS

      • December 5, 2012

        Haha. Im liked glued to the screen clicking refresh every 10 seconds!!

    • G6O
      December 5, 2012

      Hopefully it’s true. But he was fine after the contact with the keeper, he only went down after he took the shot

      • TITO
        December 5, 2012

        He was not fine, just look at the expression of his face before he took the shot. He wanted so badly to score.

  57. stefan2k
    December 5, 2012

    Somebody already mentioned the ujfalusi incident … as far as I remember the other players stepped up and Xavi and Don Andres started to score a little more.

    Good time for Alexis, Villa and Pedro to show their A game.

    Nevertheless he really wanted this record and I’m really sorry for him being in this unpleasant situation now.

    • mom4
      December 5, 2012

      Amazingly, he was out only a couple of games after Ujfalusi. Ooof, but I still remember that tackle!

      • mom4
        December 5, 2012

        Sorry, meant to say assault not tackle.

        • stefan2k
          December 5, 2012

          Assault is the right word … felt longer than a couple of games. Anyway the message was that the others stepped up and will do it again if necessary.

      • Helge
        December 5, 2012

        From experience I know that brutal tackles, such as Ujfalusi’s, are often not that serious injuries. Whereas injuries without a direct opponent, when you twist an ankle while your supporting leg is stuck in the lawn, are often very serious.

        We need to pray now.

        • G6O
          December 5, 2012

          Still, the worst leg breaks have been mostly after horror tackles. There are some quite dramatic youtube compilations for those interested

  58. mom4
    December 5, 2012

    barcastuff‏@barcastuff

    First news from Barcelona dressing-room on Messi’s injury: knock on knee, it doesn’t seem serious, further tests ongoing #fcblive [catradio]

    Please be right!

    • elacule
      December 5, 2012

      next tweet says “unofficial” — but medical report to follow – we are all hoping…

  59. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    Puyol was on TV just now – guy looked like he was crying.

    He said that they don’t know anything right now about Messi and they hope that it’s nothing bad.

    • Jim
      December 5, 2012

      Ok. I’m all refreshed out already . Going for a soothing glass of wine. Que sera…..

  60. nia
    December 5, 2012

    This is depressing waiting for news on Leo. This long wait, does it mean it’s bad news or what? Don’t blame anyone for Leo wanting to play. Could have happened anytime even in training this afternoon. Lets see what happens, vamos Leo.

    • nzm
      December 5, 2012

      Long? The guy’s probably needing scans and x-rays and then some serious analysis by Cugat & co. These things take time.

  61. Blau-Grenade
    December 5, 2012

    From barcastuff:
    Zubizarreta (sports director): “Messi’s injury seems to be a minor thing, but we’ll have further tests.” #fcblive [canal+]

    • Jim
      December 5, 2012

      If that’s right we’ve dodged a major bullet and all need to remember how we feel at this moment at the prospect of no Messi for months.

      • Jim
        December 5, 2012

        Maybe then we can give him the appreciation he deserves.

        • Blau-Grenade
          December 5, 2012

          Lord, I appreciate Messi!!! 🙂

  62. G6O
    December 5, 2012

    barcastuff ‏@barcastuff
    Zubizarreta (sports director): “Messi’s injury seems to be a minor thing, but we’ll ahve further tests.” #fcblive [canal+]

  63. nia
    December 5, 2012

    CR and Mou must be rubbing their hands together right now at the Messi situation.

    • nzm
      December 5, 2012

      I’m not sure why you would even think something like that, nia.

      Who cares what they are thinking, right now?

      • nia
        December 5, 2012

        Well as nice as it might not be, it’s plausible that they wouldn’t mind their main competitor gets out of the way for a few games. I know i don’t don’t when a good competitor is out, i ain’t gonna lie.
        It is what it is and i’m glad that Messi was said to be walking around in the dressing room without much distress.

  64. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    That barcastuff guy is really quick – Zubi only just finished his interview on live TV. He’s gotta have an inside track in the club.

    • Blau-Grenade
      December 5, 2012

      That is exactly my thought!!! And he has all the news, and everything he says is accurate.

    • Blau-Grenade
      December 5, 2012

      This guy is like one stop shop for all Barca news and information.

    • Blau-Grenade
      December 5, 2012

      Dude has got like 200 thousand followers. Wow!!!!

  65. mom4
    December 5, 2012

    barcastuff‏@barcastuff

    Official announcement on Messi’s injury: Knock on knee, tests are ongoing #fcblive

  66. KEVINO17
    December 5, 2012

    Knock on knee sounds like jarring, which sounds good.

  67. mom4
    December 5, 2012

    barcastuff‏@barcastuff

    Pinto: “The doctors are looking at Messi’s knee now. He’s calm, he said he felt fine.” #fcblive

    What? He feels fine. I don’t!

    He’s amazing.

    • Richzorz
      December 5, 2012

      lol, hopefully I’m not being overly optimistic but think he’ll be okay 🙂 if he misses the games before winter break then at least there’ll still be some records left for him to break next year! 😀

      • nzm
        December 5, 2012

        Ummmm…..Betis? Atletico? Just 2 of the biggest games this side of the season’s first half!

        • Richzorz
          December 6, 2012

          Time for Alexis to make his comeback and shine? 😉
          Or Villa at 9, or Cesc, or Thiago!! Perhaps not ideal but should certainly make for an interesting look at “Barca without Messi”..

    • Helge
      December 5, 2012

      If it’s a knock on knee, it must have been from the incident with the keeper, no twisted ankle, no feet stuck in the lawn.

      It could mean that he is fit for Atleti. O Lord, this is a rollercoaster ride of emotions! please, please, please…

  68. simple_barcafan
    December 5, 2012

    Trust the footy gods…Everything shall be fine…

    • December 5, 2012

      he most definitely was. And he started saving shots just when a madridista told me that he sucked!

      Holding my breath for the pulga right now… feeling pretty down.

      • Helge
        December 5, 2012

        Seems like we’ll have to wait for tomorrow, but nobody is talking about a possible ligament injury.
        It’s probable that he will miss some weeks rather than months.

        I’ll try to sleep now and hope for good news tomorrow 🙂

  69. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    Vilanova’s comments were more hopeful.

    He said that it doesn’t seem to be bad, but if Messi can’t play against Betis, c’est la vie.

  70. Huckleberry
    December 5, 2012

    I tore my ligaments and could walk around. That’s not the problem. We have to wait for the MRI. I fear that Messi is out for at least 9 month.
    Finger crossed.

  71. nia
    December 5, 2012

    Benfica is becoming our jinx team. Fisrt game Puyi now Leo. I went to Mundo website and my heart skipped a beat when i scrolled down and the first pic gallery of the game, there was that little black cat from last yr. Don’t believe in all that but…..

  72. KEVINO17
    December 5, 2012

    barcastuff ‏@barcastuff

    Further tests at the hospital have confirmed that Messi’s injury is nothing bad. Messi left the hospital already #fcblive #ucl [rac1]

  73. Jafri
    December 5, 2012

    Twitter has this news:

    FCstartingXI ‏@FCstartingXI
    Test results confirm Messi will be okay, it’s thankfully just a knee bruise. Might even be able to play this weekend.

    Offside Barcelona ‏@BarcaTheOffside
    Official: Messi has a contusion on his left knee. His return for this weekend depends on his recovery.

    La Masia ‏@Youngcules
    Final medical tests confirm Messi injury as only a knock, availability for the weekend depends on recovery.

    Thank God!

  74. simple_barcafan
    December 5, 2012

    lol..I think the mods should just route the baecastuff tweets onto this blog..will be helpful 🙂

  75. barca96
    December 5, 2012

    Was going to comment on Thiago, Villa, Deulofeu and Tello (all shouldn’t be in the first XI anytime soon) but I rather think about Messi at this moment of time.

    I feel so down. I just don’t feel like attending seminars today. Nothing will get into my head. I’m just gone. Lack of sleep of course but all I think about now is Messi. Will he get to at least equal the record? He really deserves it. Please. Please God. Please.

    • mom4
      December 5, 2012

      Go get your work done. Don’t dwell on it because worrying does does neither you nor Messi any good. The reports are good. Think positive, pray if you’re the praying type, keep calm and cule on.

      • barca96
        December 5, 2012

        Thanks for the kind words mom. But I just want Messi to break that record so badly. Only 2 weeks left.

        • simple_barcafan
          December 5, 2012

          In the grand scheme of things, records are irrelevant. Be happy that it is not serious and Messi is fine.Saying you want Messi to get well just so that he breaks a record kinda degrades the human element. Rather hope Messi gets well cause he is a normal human being like the rest of us and he brings such joy to all of us..

          As mom4 said, calm down and carry on. The joy of football lies in the game, not the records set…

  76. Blau-Grenade
    December 5, 2012

    I blame this gato for Messi’s injury…
    *http://twitpic.com/bje6fi

    • nia
      December 5, 2012

      same little bugger ran on the field v Sevilla last yr, same result as well. Not this time mr cat, grrrr!!!

  77. nzm
    December 5, 2012

    Just watched the game again – this time on our big TV instead of a little stream.

    It wasn’t quite as bad as I thought (well, when it’s live it just seems so worse), but it really wasn’t pretty either.

    Too many lax passes from the young ones and too much effort required by the more solid Puyol, Adriano, Song and Montoya to keep recovering bad situations made worse by the fact that it was mostly their own team-mates putting them under the pressure.

    Pinto wasn’t too pressured but got a hand on the biggest chance on goal from Benfica and deflected it into the post. Says something when the GK, who had a good match but far from a career-best performance, gets MotM from UEFA.

    As a general observation, the Barca B players all lack a controlling first touch of the ball, and their passing is not direct or precise enough.

    Tello had an off night with some moments of brightness, but on the whole he offers nothing in defence, isn’t athletic enough when making aerial challenges and made some horror passes to nowhere which indicated that he had no idea where his team-mates were on the pitch, in relation to him.

    Sergi Roberto was ok – made some good recoveries – but is so easily knocked to the ground or knocked off the ball. Can’t be doing that in mid-field and not expect to get pinged for it with the opposition making the most of repossessing the ball in an advantageous pitch position.

    Rafinha – apart from a slash at goal, he tried to be everywhere, but mostly where his brother was. Doubling up is fine, but when the tackle is unsuccessful and he leaves players undefended, what’s the point? Playing deeper, like he did, left no one on the right wing which isolated Villa in the middle and meant that most of the forward play was directed through Tello on the left, because Rafinha was AWOL.

    Planas – Alba, Adriano and potentially Abidal stand in front of him being selected. He cleared out the ricocheted ball, but Adriano was mostly over on the left trying to plug the holes that Planas was leaving. This left Puyol horribly exposed on his own and the more that the game went on, the more worried I became about our capita getting injured again as he was throwing himself all over the pitch.

    Thiago – needs more game time, and he made some good recoveries, but I still see the same fundamental errors in his game. What’s the point of all the fancy moves when they lead to nowhere? He’s too lax with the ball, makes suicide passes to team-mates who are already being pressed by opposition players, and he was just too damn obvious with his plays that Benfica players were intercepting every one.

    Villa – ooooof. Love the guy, but seriously, all those offsides are beyond a joke. He’s completely lost his timing. Maybe because he was having a horror game personally, but he certainly didn’t take the initiative to lead the front line tonight. Someone of his seniority should be talking to the others and getting it sorted. I seriously hope that he comes right.

    • barca96
      December 5, 2012

      Agree with nearly everything.

      Thiago, Tello & Deulofeu have the skills but they are the type of players that won’t reach their potential. Stuck at 60-70%. They lack the mental side of things.

      They don’t know where to do the fancy stuff. Dont know when to release the ball. It’s just so frustrating.

      – I’ve seen Thiago for 3-4 years now and he is still the same. The only aspect of his game that has improved is his work rate and defending. If I am being nice, I would say that it’s the rustiness but it’s not. He has been like that since forever.

      – Deulofeu still has time but I just don’t see what others see in him. Heavy touch and doesn’t know when to pass and when to run with the ball. Same case for Tello.

      To me, Thiago, Deulofeu & Tello shouldn’t be in the 1st XI anytime soon. Not this season and maybe not for another few years until they mature.

      They might succeed somewhere else but with that type of level of display, I doubt they can succeed here.

      And Josep, I still stand by my call that Oscar is a better player than Thiago.

      – I admit I have only seen a handful of Barca B matches over the last 3 seasons but are they that bad individually? Such a poor touch. And the passes are either over hit or too far ahead of the target.

      And they are dispossed so easily.

      – I read your (NZM) comment on S. Roberto last week after the Alaves game on how easily he is dispossed off the ball and I thought that it couldn’t be true. He’s not a kid anymore but I was shocked at how easily he was dispossed off the ball.

      Why I didn’t want to criticize him today was because I thought he did pretty well on numerous occassions getting out of sticky positions dribbling out. And he made a few penetrating runs.

      – I thought Planas was ok too. He made many challenges and intercepted quite a few times.

      – I remember a few months back when Montoya came on and a lot of bloggers here jumped the gun quickly by wanting him to be the #1 choice over Alves. How many times was Montoya beaten today??!! And his pace was clearly found out when the linesman made the wrong offside non-call.

      – Don’t want to comment on the 1st team players because it is hard to judge them when they are playing with kids who they don’t train with. But apart from his offsides, Villa has seemed to forgot how to shoot.

      • I had a feeling that Messi could get injured in the match. I don’t know why, its just kept coming in my head. I didn’t watch the match. But was shocked when saw my fears turning true in the morning. Luckily the injury is not serious. Hope he gets rested against Betis. Unleash him in Copa Del Rey after that.

        As far the performances of the youngsters, always remember they alone won’t be able to perform at the top level. If that was the case we should have Barca B playing in top division. Writing off Thiago is so unfair. I mean he is just 21. May i ask what the pundits and fans said about Xavi when he was 21. He almost went out of the club. It was also similar with Iniesta.

        Patience is a virtue when dealing with youngsters. Not everyone is Messi and you can’t ask everyone coming out of the school to do what he did. Thiago will never be a Xavi or Iniesta. He may be a Spanish by nationality but boy his game has that Brazilian flamboyance and unpredictability.

        Tello is something like a one dimensional player who will improve with time. Even I do tend to believe his future could be in EPL than La Liga. His pace should suit their style.

        As far as Oscar being better than Thiago – they are different players. Oscar will never be able to organise a midfield but Thiago could. They play differently. And you are talking about a guy who plays every match and another who gets his opportunity in the odd matches.

        • barca96
          December 6, 2012

          As far as Oscar being better than Thiago – they are different players. Oscar will never be able to organise a midfield but Thiago could. They play differently. And you are talking about a guy who plays every match and another who gets his opportunity in the odd matches.

          Why do you think that Thiago can organize a midfield and better than Oscar at it?

          First of all, you yourself said that Thiago gets his opportunity in the odd matches so how do we know if he can control the midfield?

          I find Thiago and Oscar pretty similar. Besides the fact that they are midfielders, they both are attacking minded and make high risk moves and passes.

          Difference is that Oscar’s passes do come off and he release the ball when he know it’s time. Thiago’s passes are nothing to shout about and he tries too hard to be flashy.

    • Blau-Grenade
      December 5, 2012

      Love your thoughts on the game. You should do this after every game M. :).

    • bhed
      December 6, 2012

      This is why I don’t comment more – someone already said what I was thinking, and usually more eloquently. That, and I’m often on a phone, and have clumsy thumbs.

      I will add that this was one of the first games where the thought “disgrace to the colors” briefly entered my mind.

  78. ooga aga
    December 6, 2012

    in re: young players getting knocked off the ball.

    i remember when iniesta first started playing…about 10 years ago, he would only come on as a sub…i remember how easily he was knocked off the ball…it was frustrating to watch…i never would have guessed he would become what he has.

    luckily, there are people in charge who know much, much more than i….

    • nzm
      December 6, 2012

      That really hasn’t left Iniesta – he can still be dispossessed of the ball really easily, but he’s developed ways to countermand that, as well as other skills. Becoming faster is one of them, as well as his awesome ability to juggle the ball so quickly from one foot to the other to bamboozle his opponent.

      I’m not saying that these kids won’t improve – my observations were of their performance in this game, perhaps referenced to other games where they’ve shown the same traits.

      But they have a lot of homework to do – and this should be happening in the B Team because they certainly can’t afford to be performing like this when on show in the First team outings.

      Comparing their play last night to last season’s game against BATE Borisov and I’d say that the quality has gone down. Sure, Benfica is a better opponent, but our guys should have been able to offer a better encounter than they did.

      • barca96
        December 6, 2012

        I fell in love with Iniesta as soon as I saw him making those cameos. He was my super sub.

        But I felt the same way about him re: easily dispossessed off the ball. He was really quick so he usually gets out of it. If he wasn’t able to do that, he wouldn’t become a world class player. And he is actually smart enough to get a free kick out of it by shielding the ball really well.

        @ BATE
        I thought the same thing as well. They performed better last season. It really look like some of them hasn’t really progressed.

        At first while watching the match last night, I thought to myself, it’s okay, they can’t control the match because there are not many first team regulars to show them the way and/or bail them out but the longer the match went on, I noticed that they couldn’t even get their passes right, the most important aspect of the game for them to succeed at this club.

        How come?

  79. ooga aga
    December 6, 2012

    “Las pruebas realizadas esta noche han confirmado que el jugador Leo Messi sufre una contusión ósea en la cara externa de la rodilla izquierda. La evolución clínica marcará su disponibilidad para el próximo partido”

    The tests carried out tonight have confirmed that Leo Messi suffered a bone contusion on the outer face of the left knee. The clinical evolution will mark his availability for the next game.

  80. ooga aga
    December 6, 2012

    Barca possible opponents

    Porto
    Arsenal
    Milan
    Shaktar
    Galatasaray

    Please yes: milan
    Please no: shaktar

    [RM possible opponents
    Paris St. Germain
    Schalke
    Juventus
    Bayern Munich
    Manchester United]

    • nia
      December 6, 2012

      The best opponent EE would hope for is Schalke, everyone else will kinda give em some problems.
      As for Barca Milan and Arsenal look like the easier opponent but…you never know. Shaktar i must admit are better than a few yrs ago and would definetly give us some problems, as well as Porto. Don’t know much about Galatasaray but that they beat Man U a few weeks ago.

    • bhed
      December 6, 2012

      Looks like UEFAlona at it again 😉

      • barca96
        December 6, 2012

        Nah only Juve and Bayern could give them problems.

  81. December 6, 2012

    Couldn’t sleep yesterday properly after watching Messi on stretchers. Some of the comments here that it is not serious make me feel better.
    I hope he gets back to his normal best at the earliest, even if it means he miss the record this time. Dont worry about the record. At this rate, he can reach even 100 goals this season.

    Pretty disappointed by the match yesterday, but not that much with our youngsters. This was a big game for them and we need to be patient.
    However, I was really really disappointed by Villa. some of his offside position were pathetic. This was a game in which Villa could have proved himself as the spear head of an attack. Of course, he didnt had enough service. But see how when Messi came in, it looked like there was more intent on our friend line, those gaps seemed to open, there were more trying passes, more free kicks and so on.
    I really hope Villa gets back to his best, cant wait to see MVP at their best.

  82. Manish
    December 6, 2012

    It is sad Messi injured himself.. Really sad.. Was that a sure shot penalty if Messi had gone down …i wish he had…

  83. KEVINO17
    December 6, 2012

    Thought Song was immense as the stopper, basically keeping the whole show together. Barca seem to have the two best holding middies in the world. But I’d love to see Song playing a bit further forward in the Xavi role making more offensive passes and stiffening our forward defence, with Busquets just behind him.

    • December 6, 2012

      I would agree. He was very good yesterday, except for a few moments. And he can cause more danger than Busquests up front, the only region in which he seems to be slighlty marginally better than Sergi, of course only if the club lets him play in that region.

  84. December 6, 2012

    Thank God Messi is allright…

    Now guys, remember: Xavi at 21 was not the Xavi we know. Be patient with the young ‘uns, especially with Thiago.

    • December 6, 2012

      That’s exactly what Zubi said in that interview I posted the link to way upstream^. We can’t expect these young players to be perfect overnight. The club is being patient with them, and so must we.

      • barca96
        December 6, 2012

        The thing is, Thiago hasn’t improved in anything besides his work rate. He still does the same mistake he did 3 years back. Over elaborate things. One dribble too many. Even his passes are nowhere near the level we would expect.

        I see improvements in Song (who is totally new to Barca), S. Roberto (from what I saw bits of him last season) so it is not wrong for me to expect a bit more from him after spending a full season with the first team.

        Of course I wish he would stay here long enough to learn from the best and then break into the first XI but at this moment, he just doesn’t have the consistency to be a starter or play a full 90 mins.

  85. Art is a blast
    December 6, 2012

    I JUST FOUND OUT THAT MESSI GOT INJURED! GOD I’M SO SLOW!!
    But its a good thing that I found out about it late. Wouldn’t want to have a sleepless night and the chaos here! Reading all the comments, you guys must have been really worried and shocked. We all really love our players, don’t we?

  86. Chiu
    December 6, 2012

    CL KO stages would always be tricky tie, no matter who we get. A single isolated mistake could result elimination. On paper, all possible opponents are beatable if we are on form. But If i hv to choose, i hope we dont get Milan because of their experience and tradition in CL

  87. bhed
    December 6, 2012

    I was just reading some comments on Soccernet on an article about Messi’s injury. All I can say is THANK YOU BFB for providing a space where thoughtful, intelligent Cules can share opinions! Between the comments on Goal.com and Soccernet, one would think only developmentally disabled 11 year olds comment on football. How is it still OK to use “f*g” as an insult?

    So to sum up – thank you mods and community for being generally awesome!

    • barca96
      December 6, 2012

      Guardian blogs are good too except for the few odd guys who I sometimes think are just trolls. But the majority of them are really matured. I wonder if the admin at the Guardian are actively deleting offensive or unintelligent comments.

  88. Jnice
    December 6, 2012

    barca96, you say you’ve been watching Thiago for 3-4 years, but your comments don’t reflect that. To say he’s only improved his work rate is beyond ludicrous. He didn’t have a solid season last year? He didn’t play in several big games and do well in them?

    You’re judging from the hand full of matches he’s played this season in between two major injuries and honestly I expected more from you.

    • December 6, 2012

      Agree. Folks should cut Thiago some slack. Dude still doesn’t look match fit to me, and he has many kick-ass displays in his past. Was he kinda stanky yesterday? Yep. So were many others. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to get ramped up to play a pointless match. Thiago is the business, though I still see him more as an Iniesta type than a Xavi type.

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