Real Valladolid 1 – Barça 3, as Christmas came early

1. While we are going into the break with a staggering 49 points out of 17 games, EE is just staggering into the break. I know, I know… starting a match review talking about that other team betrays a lack of class and humility and is a sure sign of an inferiority complex to boot. What can I say? I am a culé, after all. For me there is no ying without the yang, and our rival’s misfortune makes me sing with glee. Besides, isn’t their story so much more intriguing than ours right now? Has Mourinho lost the support of his players for the first time in his career? Has Casillas lost the support of his coach for the first time in his? Christmas came early this year and it sure as heck ain’t a white one. After sixteen wins, sixteen points now separate us from our bitterest rivals.

2. Hold on… What’s wrong with me? We have just made the best league start ever and I’m talking about them??? Doctor, help me, I’ve got madriditis! Let’s talk about what we should talk about. 49 points out of 17 games is unreal. True, not all wins have been pretty – quite frankly, I almost fell asleep during yesterday’s game – but that’s how leagues are won. By winning both the games in which you play well and the ones in which you don’t. By winning regardless. We cannot say that the league is done and dusted, but none has ever been lost after going into the break with more than eight points clear. It would take a remontada of mount everestic proportions to knock us off of the top.

3. Did I say I almost fell asleep? Or did I almost stay awake? The first half, at least, was a snore fest. As VV, Dani Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Thiago, Pedro, Messi and Alexis were struggling to find a way through Valladolid’s defense, I was struggling to keep my eyes open. And our opponents did not help – after showing some spirit going forward during the first quarter of an hour they went into the break with not one shot at goal, which brings me to my next point.

4. The first of the two most amazing things about our league run is that we have managed it with a defense more generous than Santa Claus in a Beverly Hills orphanage. Granted, we have had more injuries to deal with than a war zone hospital ward, but that is only part of the problem. Contract renewal notwithstanding, Puyol’s neck-breaking playing style will soon catch up with him… if it has not already. The problem is that Mascherano is playing like a back-up rather than an eventual replacement. Even in a game where our back line was hardly attacked, he looked unsure of himself at times and was careless with the ball. When Abidal finally makes his return upon our hallowed grounds, I will hail the king as loud as any, but whether he regains his previous majestic form remains to be seen.

5. Still, yesterday our defense as a whole held up fine. Valladolid played the toothless puppy and Barça, for the most of the first half, the sleeping dog. Then, after 43 minutes and barely a bark, we bit. Leo, whose danger had so far been leashed by timely pulls on his collar, dropped way back in midfield to initiate the attack. After combining with Thiago he found the Energizer surging into the box, who in turn slotted it neatly across goal for Xavi to finish off the move like a natural born poacher. Just like that, we went into half time with a 0-1 lead, and a distinct feeling that Messi’s brace was still to come.

There is more to come

6. It didn’t. He did score a beauty of a goal but hey, nutmegging a defender before striking the ball off the post into the goal’s bottom right corner is just another day at the office for the world’s favorite Argentine. The count finally stops, at 91 goals in this calendar year. And as much as I hope that he will score even more in 2013, thank God we have this record-breaking business out of the way for now.

7. The second of the two most amazing things about our league run is that we have managed it with our two most important wingers combining for the grand total of one goal. Yes, hats off to both Pedro and Alexis for working their butts off. And yes, I know that Alexis’ makes intelligent runs that create space for others to run in to and that Pedro has six assists so far. I do not question their importance to the team, nor whether or not they deserve their playing time. Our winning record speaks firmly in their favor. I doubt however that they would start if the Diabolical Flea weren’t treating us to 1.5 goals per game. Former hitman Pedro has lost his lethal touch so long ago one wonders if he has found religion, and Alexis is just plain scared of scoring. What is really scary? How unstoppable this team can be if those two find the back of the net more regularly.

Alexis’ donkey work helping Messi flourish

8. In the meantime, our second leading scorer, David Villa, continues to play only meaningless minutes. Anybody thinking el Guaje is happy about his current situation is kidding himself, but he is above all a good teammate and a professional. I have repeatedly stated that I would love for Villa to evolve into the role Larsson played in Rijkaard’s Barça. It is one I am sure he could perform to perfection, though I fear the Spaniard has too much pride to accept a lesser role at this point of his career. Fair play to David, of course. I do believe and hope he will stay with us for the remainder of the season.

9. It seems to me that Tello! is not only above the Kid in today’s pecking order, but he has also robbed poor innocent Pedrito of his exclamation mark by doing in one minute what our man from the Canary islands could not in ninety-three. Impressive, indeed. How we allowed a buy-out clause of only 10 million euros in his recently renewed contract is beyond me.

10. One of the causes of turning the match into a sometimes pedestrian affair was the midfield of Busquets, Xavi and Thiago. To complain about a threesome that is the envy of most other clubs in the world would be sacrilegious, but with neither Cesc nor Don Andrés in play a certain attacking thrust is missing. Thiago has a very bright future which I hope lies forever at the Camp Nou but, as any player of his age, he has plenty of room for improvement. Patience is key, both from us as supporters and from himself as a player, since now fit he might not get the amount of playing time this season as he was afforded by Pep last year.

11. A big shout of respect to Jordi Roura and the technical staff. True, we could have probably sent our players out on the pitch and they would have won the game without any mister stalking the sidelines, but Jordi represented F.C. Barcelona very well. How many coaches would have sent in Puyol to tighten our defense in the last minutes of the game after Valladolid finally decided to grow a pair and score a goal. Instead he took off nominal forward Pedro Rodriguez, who would track back in time if needed, for young gun Cristian Tello. A move rewarded mere moments later. Sometimes the best defense is offense.

12. So now that la Liga is all but ours, the question remains: how good is this team? Are we the best team of the world? I think so. Is that good enough to win the Champion’s League? I honestly don’t know. Our league record may be flattering us into thinking we are better than we really are right now. Our weaknesses are plain enough for everyone to see, and they can be exploited. Our forwards don’t score. Our defenders stand flat-footed against counter attacks. Our midgets can’t defend corners. Scorelines can deceive; we have snatched many victories from defeats this year. With the business end of the season yet to come, how will we fare against top opposition? How many clásicos will we have to endure? The jingle bells might not be ringing throughout the Evil Empire this December but our two clubs are inextricably linked, and nowadays more so than ever. The upcoming six months will tell, and this team is still a work in progress. Let’s hope this is a good thing and that the best is yet to come.

13. At this point of that season, a legendary Arsenal team went undefeated in their league. However, after seventeen games they had ‘only’ racked up thirty-nine points. They drew six games instead of just one. Incredible as is sounds, we are on our way to improve upon their achievement. To go into the break undefeated in a league of which four teams qualified for the second CL round, and a fifth spanked the current European Champions 4-1 at the start of the season is an incredible thing all by itself. We have seventeen games down. To not lose any of the twenty-one still ahead of us would make this team immortal. Anything is possible. But the most important game is played off of the pitch.

Anims, Tito!

14. While the players were in the dressing room, Tito left the hospital. We came out with shirts that read common sense, chest (strength) and balls (bravery). The greatness that is on stake in stadiums across Spain and Europe pales in comparison to the importance of the life of loved ones, whether they are yours, mine, ours or someone else’s. And just like they had when Abidal went under the knife, our most hated rivals wore shirts dedicating their best wishes to our coach and leader, Francesc ‘Tito’ Vilanova. A classy gesture indeed, as was Málaga’s who also wore a message of support. Life is greater than winning or losing a football game. For once, soccer unites hearts and minds rather than dividing them. Anims, Tito! Seny, pit i collons!!!!!!!!

15. Had anybody told me that at the beginning of the season that Adriano Correia would be injured half the games, I’d have been a believer. Had they told me he would be the team’s second leading scorer (together with Villa), I’d have checked for a fever. Note to our other Brazilian fullback, Dani Alves: we love you, but sometimes you take the tiki a taka too far. Chut the ball!

16. I don’t know if this was much of a review, but here you are. I’m gonna call it a review anyway, and as such, I will leave you with a quote:

“Liga season’s going great so far, it’s a shame there’s a break now…”

Xavi Hernández i Creus


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selfie barça Written by:

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...


  1. xumono
    December 23, 2012

    Thanks for the review, Levon.

    It was great to see our arch rivals wearing t-shirts in support of TITO.

  2. elcapitan
    December 23, 2012

    Had they told me he would be the
    team’s second leading scorer (together with
    Villa), I’d have checked for a fever…..#Priceless#hahahaha
    Levon! You poet you! Great review

  3. Jnice
    December 23, 2012

    I thought the midfield of Busquets, Xavi and Thiago was fine and Thiago was a seamless fit. It was one of those patient games from the team. Played the ball around, picked their spots, and with better finishing this could’ve been 4 goals easily.

    Also that freekick Messi hit against the post was due to Thiago making a run into the box and getting fouled. Attacking thrust. Our midfield dominated the match and came through that game without much fuss. One of our midfielders scored the opening goal. No problems for me. Veteran-like match from Busquets, mature performance from Thiago and the captain took the initiative and scored the opening goal.

    • Momo
      December 24, 2012

      Felt like Thiago was a bit careless in possession in comparison to his usual standards, but I guess he still needs time to adjust after that long injury.

      His ability to bring a ball under control at times is magical, very ronaldinho-esq, he is arguably one of our most talented players technically, and that’s saying something in this team.

      • Jnice
        December 24, 2012

        I thought he had a few careless moments, Momo, but nothing too extreme. Even at top form he misplaces a few passes here and there. I just thought it was a mature performance. Nothing too flashy and he got the job done.

        • Jnice
          December 24, 2012

          Forgot to add that I completely agree with your second point. Love his touch and some of his dribbling is just brilliant.

    • selfie barça
      December 24, 2012

      Great to see you back on the boards, Jnice!

      You are making good points, and I agree with all you are saying. I do think that with either Iniesta or Cesc our attack is more dangerous thoough, wouldn’t you agree?

      • Jnice
        December 24, 2012

        Thanks, Lev. I see you got your promotion 😀

        I absolutely agree. I love Thiago, but he doesn’t bring as much to the attack as either of those two (yet). But I just got the feel that the team would’ve played a similar way with either of those two in. It just had the feel of a patient game where we were going to wait for our chances and not take too many risks. Of course you can never say for sure what would’ve happened, but I think those 3 looked pretty good together and it was a pretty solid performance.

        • Jim
          December 24, 2012

          Please DON’T click on the link in my post below. It was on Barcastuff but now it’s gone And Momo says there might be something wrong with it. The original is on YouTube under David Villa 2012/13.

          **The link has been edited so it’s now fine. Barcastuff must have mucked up the linkage in the first place. cheers Michele (nzm)

    • Momo
      December 24, 2012

      Aaaaahh weird link! Thanks for the virus bro haha

      • Jim
        December 24, 2012

        Sorry if there was something wrong with the link, Momo, or are you just saying it looked weird? Just copy and pasted straight out of YouTube so would have thought it was fine but hey I’m on a Mac so what do I know about these things 🙂

        Mods, if there’s something wrong with it please remove.

        • nzm
          December 24, 2012

          Jim: yes, the link was a bit strange. It linked to a Mobile Youtube page showing a whole lot of different videos, but it wasn’t a virus.

          I’ve fixed it to what I believe the link should be. Please let me know if this isn’t the video and I’ll have another go.


          • Jim
            December 24, 2012

            Thanks and have a great Christmas. 🙂

        • Momo
          December 24, 2012

          Oh I just meant it was trying to get access to applications when I clicked on it from the desktop. I think its just a weird mobile link like nzm said.

  4. Momo
    December 24, 2012

    Perfect picture of Alexis and messi up there which truly captures what our no.9’s game is all about; playing every match with the intensity like it’s your last. Yes, sanchez may be wasting chance after chance but he’s really become one of my favourites mainly due to that incredible work ethic (pedro is obviously in that category as well.

    So who cares if our wingers don’t score? As long as they are defending and creating space the way they do to allow our midfielders and messi space to operate, we should be fine.

    • selfie barça
      December 24, 2012

      I care. At top level it is incredibly important to convert scoring opportunities into goals.

      Chelsea won the CL last year because of their opponents failing to do just that.

      • Momo
        December 24, 2012

        I would argue that in Pep’s system, having goal scoring wingers was alot more important. Tito’s system as the poster Euler explained a couple of posts back, is more reliant on danger from the fullbacks. The inclusion of Alba on the left has been an incredible addition.

        All our wingers need to do now is to work those channels, drag markers either wider or narrower and ensure that the full backs get the space to operate and the defensive cover they require, if they are doing that then the amount of chances created increase 10 fold, allowing a great deal of space for messi, the mids, and the fullbacks to finish from.

        What i am saying is that it would be great if pedro and sanchez can finish those easy chances, but the tweaking in the fullback and winger roles by Tito has greatly reduced the reliance on them scoring. At least that’s how I see it

  5. KEVINO17
    December 24, 2012

    He’ll of a pass from Dani though. Much harder than putting the ball in the back of the net.
    I wish I could focus on Barca right now, but what’s happening at the EE is, we’ll, mesmerising. Watching Mou kick Perez in his billionaire balls, in public, is priceless. Sometimes he’s the anti-hero you’ve just got to root for.

  6. Richzorz
    December 24, 2012

    Brilliant season so far, in some ways it’s a shame that the “wheels are falling off” over in Madrid as there doesn’t seem to be too much talk of Barcelona making pretty much the greatest ever start to a top flight season whilst playing some amazing football (although not quite all of the time) – scary to think it could have been even better without the injury problems that seem to be a permanent issue within the squad these days!

    91 goals, an all-Masia 11, contract renewals, Abidal close to a return, surely a Balon D’Or in the bag, it’s been a good few weeks… hopefully that can carry on & especially anims Tito!

    • Richzorz
      December 24, 2012

      p.s. nice review! & Merry Christmas/Seasons Greetings!

  7. Gogah
    December 24, 2012

    There are actually a million things for a Cule to be overjoyed about at this time. I actually don’t see any huge problems football-wise in the team even though our forwards aren’t scoring ; and the shit storm brewing in the circus is admittedly hard not to enjoy…
    ..But all this actually feels somewhat meaningless with Tito out.
    Make no mistake his presence will be of paramount importance come the CL Knockout rounds.

    • nzm
      December 24, 2012

      If there is such a thing as good timing for what’s happened to Tito then this time is better than any other within the football season, provided that all goes well with his recovery and he makes it back as expected.

      CL doesn’t start until 20th February, so it will be Liga and CdR on which the team will have to focus.

    • December 24, 2012

      Are you going to go, Michele? I know you weren’t too happy with the last one you went to, but wouldn’t it be nice to see Abidal training with the team?

      • December 24, 2012

        Maybe you could borrow a kid in a wheelchair to get a better view… 😈

        • barca96
          December 24, 2012

          Cmon NZM. Please forward on behalf of BFB and use some of the donation money to feed Cuenca 🙂

  8. December 24, 2012

    What do you all think about these rumours of Cuenca going out on loan to Valencia for the rest of the season? Personally I would be very sad to see him go, as our loanees tend not to come back. But if he stays he will be competing with Villa, Pedro, Sanchez, Tello, and even Cesc and Iniesta for that position. It might be best for him to go and get minutes elsewhere.

    I would actually prefer to keep Cuenca and send Tello out on loan, but Tello has done enough this season to stake his claim, and Cuenca isn’t even officially back from injury yet. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

    • selfie barça
      December 24, 2012

      Loan out Tello to keep Cuenca, another winger who doesn’t score?

      Whether at the Camp Nou or the Mestalla, it’s up to Isaac to prove our technical staff he belongs at Barça,. He was very unlucky to get injured when he did…

      • replayed
        December 24, 2012

        At the risk of sounding inconsistent when it comes to the balance of attack vs. defense, I’d keep Cuenca over Tello in a heartbeat.

        I don’t really care that Tello has shown more of a goal-scoring appetite and has more pace than Cuenca. What I care about is that Cuenca plays with his head up, has a better first touch, is better in tight spaces, and just plain makes better decisions on the field.

        For me, speed of thought is the most valuable commodity on this team. And Cuenca has it over Tello in spades. (Personally, I feel he has more of it than anyone other than MVP in Barca’s recent front lines.)

        I have no doubt that Pep would have made Cuenca his priority if a decision had to be made as to which the team’s young wingers would be nurtured close to the first team. And I have no idea what Tito’s priority will be.

        • pr17
          December 25, 2012

          Good point man.
          I feel the same way. I somehow think tello is being overrated for his goals. Cuenca is a thinker and does the job of stretching play as well as delivering accurate crosses very well. I am sure he can incorporate a bit of cutting in an scoring aspect too into his game.
          cuenca scores over tello in
          a) crosses and cutbacks
          b) playing on both wings. Tello is toothless on RW
          c) first touch and dribbling a static FB

          Tello is better for a counterattacking team and we are not that.

          Pep said cuenca had been on loan twice and any guy who comes back after that has mental strength. I wouldnt be surprised if he goes and comes back again.

    • garry
      December 24, 2012

      Nice one, Michele. Thanks for the link!

    • December 24, 2012

      Yaya is #9, while the guy who took his position is #14. What this says is, if you come to the PL, you automatically become a better player. Bad stereotype reinforced by football ‘journalists’, who should know better..

      • December 24, 2012

        There’s also context to consider, in that Busquets is a brilliant, brilliant player in the FCB context, but Toure Yaya is a “better” player in that oddball world of high-visibility, where he is seen running with the ball, etc, etc.

        Lists are silly. Samir Nasri? Really? Top 100 footballers? And John Terry?

    • Carter
      December 24, 2012

      1. Messi
      3. Xavi
      4. Iniesta
      14. Busquets
      24. Pique
      36. Fabregas
      39. Mascherano
      43. Alves
      46. Puyol
      55. Alba
      62. Villa
      72. Pedro
      It’s rather amazing that we are blessed with having 12 players in the top 100 players.

  9. Obii
    December 24, 2012

    Hi guys, would any of you be able to direct me as to where I can download full barca matches from? Pakman’s is invite only, and i’d rather torrent. Thank you <3

    • December 24, 2012

      I usually just Google the match I want, along with my preferred file hosting service, and voila.

      • Obii
        December 24, 2012

        In that case, what are the charitable file hosting sites that don’t put bandwidth limitations on moochers like me?

        • December 24, 2012

          No such site exists. You’re talking about, for an average-sized match file, hours to download it, vs minutes when you sign up for some sort of premium membership. Life’s too short for me to bother with a download taking hours and hours.

    • December 24, 2012

      Try for full match downloads.

      They don’t always have torrents, though.

  10. barca96
    December 24, 2012

    I would like to wish to those that celebrate a Merry Christmas.

  11. mom4
    December 24, 2012

    Merry Christmas

    Happy Holidays

    Força Barça, Y’all!

  12. endico
    December 24, 2012

    Cules seems to be happy that we are 16 points ahead of RM but what about the fact that it has killed the competition which is no good for a first class league like La Liga. I’m a cule but hope RM are able to solve their problem and wish Athletico, Betis and Malaga keeps on the good form while also expecting Valencia and Sevilla to find form. Merry Christmas from Sweden to everyone. Love you all.

    • caosanping
      December 24, 2012

      It’s not because Athletico or RM is bad. If you calculate point/game, they are as good as the 1st and 2nd teams in any other leagues. It’s only because Barca is too good. Put Barca in any other major leagues and you will see the same big gap from the 2nd and 3rd team. La Liga has no problem. Barca is just too good. Merry Christmas!

  13. Peterj
    December 24, 2012

    And that is barca’s fault in anyway? I hope we strenghten the lead more in the coming new year.. Merry xmas

  14. December 25, 2012

    Should Barca put in a 30 million bid on Casillas in January, just to see what happens? Valdes could use the competition…

    • garry
      December 25, 2012

      No, we have our own style of playing. Valdes is eminently suited to it.

      I doubt if Casillas would be able to fit in as well. I have doubts regarding his distribution.
      My two cents.
      Season’s Greetings! 🙂

  15. December 25, 2012

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to BFBers in general and the moderators here in particular! Enjoy!

  16. December 25, 2012

    Wanted to wish everyone a merry christmas & happy holidays. Thanks for being part of the community there at BFB.

    What a first half of the season it’s been. Far past any reasonable expectation. And there’s still room for the team to grow-especially if these injuries finally quiet down some.

    The team’s best 11 still hasn’t gotten a long enough run of matches together to gain momentum. If that happens-it will really be something to see.

  17. December 25, 2012

    Bon Nadal, Feliz Navidad, and Merry Christmas to those celebrating today.

    If you haven’t seen it yet, here is Chris Hadfield on the International Space Station singing an original song with a message of peace & love to all:

    I love you all you guys!

  18. replayed
    December 25, 2012

    Holiday greetings to all.

    This is the most interesting statistic for me about the season so far:

    Last season, Barcelona had 160 shots and 53 goals in first Liga round (19 games). This season, 130 shots and 56 goals in 17 games.

    I knew the team was being more efficient, but I was surprised by how much more efficient.

    Aside from the heightened Messigoaldependencia, one factor I think accounts for this, and I saw a stat to back this up somewhere, is that the team is taking more shots from further away. Last season, it felt like the team had the penetration to walk the ball practically into the 6-yard box regularly, in order to fire point blank. Of course, the closer you are to keepers, the wider an angle they can cover if they have big league reflexes. So a lot of those shots ended up saved.

    This season, the team is making the keepers cover more space, and getting more joy as a result. This helps account for the sense that this team has been less dazzling in their work invading the box. It’s because they’re being more ruthless around it. (This may also explain why Alexis never seems to be in a hurry to attack the box: he knows that Barca want to work the periphery, so he tends to halt his forward progress and wait for the rest of the team to catch up.)

    Makes one wonder what might have happened last season if Pep had been willing to be less of an aesthete. The football would have been less pretty, but the trophy cabinet might be more full — this season’s prognosis?

  19. Clouseau
    December 25, 2012

    A merry Christmas to you all hope for everyone that joy and blessings be yours for this Christmas Day.

    What a season sofar impressive results.
    I’m curious to see if Tito will change his gameplan next halfseason and let mainly the midfielders do the major defensive work rather than the wingforwards.

    Anyway the results speaks volume can’t wait for the derbi 🙂

    • Messiah10
      December 25, 2012

      Why would we change anything at this point? We haven’t been beaten yet. You don’t change what isn’t broken. As far as I can remember, Tito has gotten every lineup pretty much spot on. There were a few games I can remember that I wanted Tello on for more width and directness, but other than that, I don’t recall a lot of 2nd guessing. Our midfield already does a lot of defensive work. Busi & Xavi are the 1st line of defense behind Alexis & Pedro because they force the action through the middle instead of down the flanks. Alba & Alves, Adriano, or Montoya also pick up the opponents in their half or close to it. We play so high up that Xavi and Busi will always have a lot required of them.

  20. TITO
    December 25, 2012

    A Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating it and happy holidays.
    World didn’t end! So, have fun!!! 🙂

  21. pr17
    December 25, 2012

    Well couple of points which everybody is missing with respect to Sanchez vs villa debate is
    a) if making runs and tracking back are all that are required, then why spend 37 Mn on sanzhez. One could do the same with cantera
    b) if you look at messi’s assists, 80% of them are to a LW player and hardly 20% are to RW player because he always starts his runs from right side and opens his body to play to left wing. we need more lethal strike force there. it is criminal to waste such a source of assists with sanchez in there. Villa or atleast pedro there instead of sanchez. sanchez can do the donkey work on right wing.

    • replayed
      December 26, 2012

      if you look at messi’s assists, 80% of them are to a LW player and hardly 20% are to RW player

      Here’s another stat I saw recently that supports your point: Of Villa’s goals for Barca, Messi has contributed 11 assists. The next closest contributors gave 4 assists each.

      we need more lethal strike force [on LW].

      I feel you, but you’re thinking of the old Barca where the front outside players were expected to contribute goals. That Barca doesn’t exist right now. I think it’s fairly clear that these players’ primary roles currently are to pace the attacking line, to stretch defenses horizontally and to provide both attacking and defensive cover for Barca’s marauding fullbacks.

      Tito realized that most teams attacked Barca down the flanks. And as others have pointed out, he wants to make that more difficult by using the outside front players to funnel counters against Barca into the middle. So the outside front players end up being more restricted in their forward movement than anyone else on the pitch, in that they’re encouraged not to cut inside or invade the box. Just picture Alexis stopping his run and pinging yet another pass backwards once he gets near the penalty area, and you can see this brief. Attacking the box is left to the fullbacks, the attacking midfielders, occasionally the defensive midfielder, even the central defenders, and of course Messi. (The fact that the outside front players may be expensive — or capable of doing more — is ultimately inconsequential to the system.)

      As long as Messi is healthy and productive — and may that last forever — I don’t see Tito deviating from this approach, not unless teams somehow adapt to it. If this makes Villa a luxurious insurance policy, then it’s down to Villa to decide if he wants to defer to this system in the autumn of his career. Does he want more playing time or does he want more trophies? Because it looks like he won’t be getting both at Barca this year.

      Going back to the match against Valladolid, something occurred to me when I was thinking about Barca’s new tendency to shoot further away from goal. I remembered how mystified I was by Alves’s decision to pass the ball backwards when he was clear on goal. But now I’m guessing that Alves was concerned he was too close to the keeper. So he tried to cut the ball back to someone in the second line with a better angle. The decision looked downright bizarre at the time, but I’m now thinking it was just Dani sticking to this new brief.

      • December 26, 2012

        That pass didn’t make a lick of sense, except that he wasn’t ready for it, and wasn’t really looking at goal, so he passed it back. Give that pass to Adriano, and the keeper is picking the ball out of the back of the net.

  22. December 26, 2012

    Not sure why people are snarking about Barça. Here are some other leagues:

    United 7 point lead over second place, 11 over third. Bayern is 9 over Bayer, 12 points over Dortmund.

    The double standard is annoying. It isn’t Barça’s fault that the side came out like a rocket?

  23. barca96
    December 26, 2012

    I agree on you with Alves. I am in that situation also at times. Alves wasn’t facing to the goal, his back was. So it was better for him to pass to someone who has a good viewing of the goal.

    It happened to me many times before but my team mates don’t understand my intentions.

    I was always taught as a kid if my back was facing the goal or opponent, pass the person in front of me who most likely has a better vision.

    • barca96
      December 26, 2012

      Damn Android and or Opera Mini next. It was meant as a reply to replayed.

  24. barca96
    December 26, 2012

    I feel you man. It’s just that we’re head and shoulders above the rest.

    And the it’s just the margin between 1st and 2nd place is a lot, justice like in most of the top league’s.

    • December 26, 2012

      It isn’t that we’re head and shoulders above the rest, it’s that we’re getting the lucky bounces off posts, pitches, etc that we didn’t get last season. If you think about some of the matches the side has pulled from the fire, things could easily be very, very different.

      Put another way, if Falcao doesn’t get the yips, it’s 0-3 at halftime, and that match is done. And the FM implosion isn’t the fault of Barça. It’s not like we’re steamrolling everyone. There have been some good matches that were balanced on a knife’s edge.

      • December 26, 2012

        Not that I disagree with the essence of your argument but that example is a bit absurd. We came to life after we conceded the first goal. That it was the third chance that Falcao had is irrelevant. It doesn’t mean that had he been at his best the score would’ve been 0-3. The probability of that event occurring was far far less.

        A better example would be the Granada home game. If their forward had converted that 1v1 in the 87th minute, it would’ve been really difficult for us to even tie the game, let alone win it. Or the Sevilla game, where the victory would not have been possible had the ref. penalized Thiago for the ball striking his hand. As we saw today with the Evans incident, different refs have different interpretations.

        Yes, if the season were to be played again, I don’t think we would be leading by 9/16 points like we are now. A lot of things fell in place this season which didn’t last time around..

  25. December 26, 2012

    Meanwhile, an agreement has been reached between Milan and Corinthians on Pato, and Galliani is looking for a home for Robinho. Wondering what they will look like by the time we face them in CL knockouts.

    • selfie barça
      December 26, 2012

      Pato back to Brazil? That’s crazy, kid is only 22, right?

      • December 26, 2012

        But I think the rep is that he breaks too much. A really fast, fun to drive car that is always broken becomes a pain in the butt.

  26. Colby
    December 27, 2012

    Sorry for the tangent, but could people who’ve been to the camp nou give me suggestions about their favorite place(s) to sit? I’m planning my first trip there for one of the upcoming league matches most likely (Osasuna or Getafe).

    Any other helpful hints about getting tickets would be much appreciated as well.

    • December 27, 2012

      I love Tribuna, 200 section, as close to mid-pitch as I can get it. Having said that however, the Lateral side (as they show on the ticketing grid), features the season ticket-holders, the old men with the caps, the knowledgeable, muttering hordes. I confess to liking the other side, however, because it’s covered in case of rain.

      As for getting tickets, the best option is the official site, even in the case of high-demand matches. You’ll find getting a ticket for say, Zaragoza a lot easier than for Valencia or ATM.

      • Colby
        December 27, 2012

        Thanks Kevin. I appreciate it. Do you know why the tribuna side is more expensive than the lateral side? I’ve read online and people say they are the same in terms of view, just the tribuna has a roof.

    • nzm
      December 28, 2012

      No bad seats at Camp Nou – just saying! 🙂

      Tribuna is always more expensive as it’s under cover.

      We try to sit on the lateral side, in the 2nd or 3rd tier as close to halfway as possible. This gives a great overview of the whole pitch and you can see the movements of all the players as they work the plays.

      We have sat in seats in pretty much all areas of the stadium. For the Osasuna match, Mom 4 and I together with our spouses, are sitting up high behind the south (Nike) goal. Come join us!

  27. December 27, 2012

    I’m just checking in to see if Blitzen is talking all by herself, again. 😀

    • Richzorz
      December 27, 2012

      lol think that’s just the old news of Perez telling Cristiano (who threatened to leave unless he got a better contract) to ‘make sure he was sold for enough to buy Messi with’ 😛

  28. Jafri
    December 27, 2012

    Here’s hoping we get that new CB, and really soon. Who am I talking about? Why Eric Abidal of course.

    Seriously, I’d love to see him slot alongside Pique, with Jordi Alba keeping his place. I do hope he’s able to return to playing football – and that he keeps his health.

    • Ryan
      December 27, 2012

      I especially like how in the 2nd 5-0 goal, Villa is not even covered by the camera until you see him steaming down the far left. Thankfully Messi knew exactly where he was and how to feed him for the goal!

  29. Chiu
    December 28, 2012

    Good compilation of Ronaldinho skills (by:heirj03)

    just if Ronnie didn’t become party boys and remain at his peak for another 2 or 3 seasons playing with “grown up” Messi. What an orchestra of football that would be?

  30. nzm
    December 28, 2012

    Good grief – Pique and Shakira have called their son “Inocencio”.

      • nzm
        December 28, 2012


        I knew that the Latin American contingent might get the joke!

        • selfie barça
          December 28, 2012

          lol. to be honest Piqué probably has the worst family name in the history of Barcelona players!

  31. nepalicule
    December 28, 2012

    I have 4 days off this new years weekend. Would love to play FIFA 13 (PS3) with fellow BFB members. Anyone interested please DM me your username on my twitter @nepalicule.

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