Barça 4, Espanyol 0, aka “So much more than a mere match”

esptito

Time is an amazing thing.

It rips at us, it nags us, it slips away from us, it’s one of the few things in life that you can, in no way shape or form, get more of. Time spawns regret, rueful “If onlys” that fuel nights of introspection, in which you waste more time worrying about the time you wasted. Time sneaks up on you.

I think of a wonderful song lyric by Bonnie Raitt, that goes Life gets mighty precious/When there’s less of it to waste. That’s time. They say that sometimes, you have to be older to appreciate things, that young people feel they have all the time in the world but when life puts some time on your bones, then you realize how pretty those roses smell.

I dunno. What I do know is this: I have never, ever seen a sporting entity do what this football club does.

I have watched the 6-time champion Chicago Bulls, I have watched the 1985 Super Bowl Chicago Bears. I have watched Patriots, and Celtics, and teams that shaped and redefined expectations. But there was a moment today, when the match was functionally over. It was 4-0, substitutions had been made, it was only a question of when the final whistle would blow. An Espanyol player got the ball, and Barça players converged on him to press as though it was minute 1 and the issue was still in doubt.

A football match is 90 minutes long. In that time, a great many things can happen. What has been happening for me of late, is a realization that I will never in my lifetime see anything in a sporting realm that is this good. Ever. I don’t really know if people realize it, though. If they watch that absurd, should-be-illegal pass that Busquets dropped at Pedro’s feet from about the parking lot, and think “Hmph! About time Pedro scored a damn goal!”

Or if, like me, they just don’t say anything because what can you say, really? Sure, you can whoop and cheer at the goal but really, what is there to be said? Today’s match had moment after moment after moment like that, where I realized how astonishing this all is. Day by day, match by match, this incredible moment slips away, and we shouldn’t let it go anywhere unappreciated.

I’m 51, and have a wife. We don’t fight. Because that time that you spend being a jackass is time you can’t get back. I tell her that I love her every day, because what it I can’t tomorrow? Life is filled with moments, little slivers of time that vex and bedazzle, awe and amaze. This is what I find myself thinking about, more and more, as I watch FC Barcelona play football these days. Time and beauty reduce us to hoarding. So you watch the match, then you watch it again. Then you watch the highlights on the evening football show. Then someone nifty like Allas makes a video, and you watch that — because you want everything that you can get. You don’t know why you want it, even as you do: It’s amazing.

Tito Vilanova was back on the bench today, in charge of the wrecking machine that he has refined. He came out with his best team, of Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Messi and Pedro. And that team was fit. Fully fit. And just back from a holiday break to face an Espanyol side fresh off taking points from our bitterest rivals, and spoiling for a fight in the Catalan Derby.

And that side was destroyed. Espanyol didn’t have a chance in this match, so much so that afterward, its coach, Javier Aguirre, said, “It’s a privilege to play in the same league as this Barcelona and to watch them in action from nearby.”

This is a special team.

Yes, there are people who hate the club, its supporters and the obnoxious, spoiled way in which too many of them comport themselves. The Gaspart years were more than a decade ago. More time. The two Rijkaard silverless seasons, my most bitter memories as a cule because of the waste, the inexcusable waste of talent and magic and joy, seem so far away that people forget — the Guardiola era began in 2008, just five years ago. Winning Time seems to go on forever, but in fact it’s only a second. A wee sliver of time in which your club is the best club that anybody has ever seen. Four years and counting? Sure. Time doesn’t care about that. Four years is nothing.

Someone asked me how the players can remain, sustain and keep the concentration and the hunger. And again, for me it came down to time. I said what I thought, which is that players are aware of their time, and how short periods of excellence are. And they feel like they are wasting time when they aren’t winning, performing to the ultimate maximum of their potential.

At today’s post-match presser, Vilanova said “The players trained well during the holidays. Most even lost weight, it shows they’ve taken it seriously.”

Tick …. tick …. tick …. tick

What about David Villa, why isn’t Sanchez scoring more goals, what about Pedro, when will we stop giving up silly goals? I don’t know, and I don’t really care all that much because I don’t want to be adjusting my blanket at the observation point when the comet comes by.

As Barça was laying waste to its crosstown rival, it wasn’t with anger, that scowl that you see some teams playing with, as if something is needed — a goad to excellence. The faces had a concentration, a businesslike stare that seemed all too acutely aware of how fleeing excellence is as they focused on not wasting a second of it.

One day my wife and I were walking home, and this squirrel was bounding along, barely touching the pavement between hops. “I wonder why it’s doing that,” I said. My wife replied, “Wouldn’t you, if you could?” Yep. So, at 4-0 up, Pedro, of the brace that shoulda been a hat trick, ran at the keeper as if that dude owed him money, ran at him so fast and so aggressively that a leisurely clearance became an almost goal. It was effort, energy and desire.

Conor Williams noted on Twitter that divine talent is an illusion about this Barça, that its success is rooted in effort and desire. This is true. When you think about it, really, really think about it, yes, we have extremely talented players. But how often do they have the opportunity to show off that talent? We all hear the stories that in practice, things happen that would boggle our minds. But the match is about execution of the simple tasks, the fundamentals of the rondo, the short, simple passing and movement that when stitched together become a quilt of the most unfathomable beauty. It’s work, work by athletes who have somewhere to be, and time is running out for them to get there.

On Saturday, Ryan Giggs flicked a honey of a pass to Robin Van Persie, who slotted home from an angle. I noted on Twitter that perhaps this club has spoiled me, because that moment was, for the average cule, something you see in match after match. I also noted that we have a left/right back who can score goals like that. And it was only after someone said “See, that’s why people hate cules” that I realized a simple statement of fact could be taken the wrong way. But it’s true. And that’s just one more moment that makes you realize you are seeing something truly, truly special in this edition of Barça.

Look at today’s first goal, a stitched-together wonder of a thing that was started and ended, improbably, by Xavi. If you really, really think about it, you just don’t see goals like that, even as they have become almost routine for cules. We cheer, because that’s what you do even as, if you were to really stop and think about it, some part of you would want to stare at the screen and weep with joy at having seen something rare and beautiful.

The Treble-winning club was wonderful, but this club brings me more joy in ways that are hard to explain, but are rooted in time. In 2008 there was a system, but there was also staggering attacking brilliance in that murderers’ row of Henry/Messi/Eto’o. There was no real adversity, just amazement that in one season, the guy who many cules considered a bad choice as the club’s coach, won everything in sight.

This Barça has seen everything: injuries routine, nagging and horrific, and cancer taking a swing at its left back and coach. And it has run that gantlet only to come out on the other side with an 11 and 16 point lead over the second and third placed clubs in the table, as the club with the best start ever in Liga history, having dropped only two points in 18 matches, a side that plays with joy rather than malice, even as it sometimes spawns malicious intent.

espthiago

It should be noted about today’s match that for me, Messi played his best match in a long time. The joy was back in his game, a delight probably rooted in the fact that he doesn’t have to be The Man. Xavi is scoring goals, making the runs of a forward to slot home crosses. Pedro had his brace by the half. The goals are coming, and they’re coming from others. As this happens, you can see Messi expanding his range. Today he was a defensive demon as well as an offensive one. When he plays that way, he makes the club unbeatable.

Is Pedro back? Good question. His work rate and dedication have always been there, but he seemed magnetized to the ball today in a way not seen since his breakout season.

Everyone was a delight to watch, from Iniesta seeming to dematerialize when confronted by a wall of Espanyol defenders, to Busquets demonstrating the vertical passing gifts that he has been adding to his game. Valdes preserved the clean sheet, coming up with a brilliant 1-v-1 save in a match in which he could be forgiven for losing focus.

Espanyol is in the relegation zone, we shouldn’t forget. And they were having a four-match run of success under new coach Aguirre. I was worried about this fixture, just as I will be worried about Malaga, and all the rest of them. The ingredients for failure were there: holiday break, resurgent opponent with something to play for, rust.

What I neglected to factor into my worrying is that this is a club that is racing to keep an appointment. Who knows if it will? None of us can. What I do know is that something remarkable is happening, and we’d all better be paying attention because I honestly don’t believe that we will ever see its like again.

espbarca

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

191 Comments

  1. nzm
    January 6, 2013

    Bravo!

    Above all, we should enjoy the heck out of what we’re seeing.

    I had a wee chuckle about the RVP goal mention. Someone had told us about it so we made a point of watching it. Afterwards, we just looked at each other and shrugged. Big deal.

    Yes we culés are spoilt!

    11 points clear. WOW!

    • barca96
      January 6, 2013

      Yeah I purposely watched a review of that match to see what the big fuss was after reading the Guardian. Me and my brother looked at each other and also said, that’s it??

      Pedro did a much better control and move against Madrid, at home and away albeit Iker miraculously saved the one at the Bernabeu.

      Man the Brits are really one of a kind. They will always slate off a player and call them over rated when they are playing in a continental league or haven’t played well against am English team or NT.

      They only start to appreciate said player after he has played in the EPL or against one of the teams.

      Case in point.
      -Pirlo vs England. All of a sudden better rated than Xavi.

      Ibra vs England. Was always branded over rated and fails against big teams. I guess the Brits see their national team as a first class.

      -Michu Swansea. All of a sudden deserves a Spain call up. He was scoring many goals too for Getafe.

      -Cazorla Arsenal. Ditto. He was already good at Villareal and then Malaga.

      -Arteta Arsenal. Ditto. Difference is that he has more exposure now that he plays for a bigger team Arsenal compared to Everton. He was that good for the past half decade. I remember many years back wishing Barca would take him back to be Xavi’s back up.

    • January 6, 2013

      British media has always been like that. Actually speaking the most over-rated national side is the English one. So just ignore. Remember these are the guys who said, Rooney is miles ahead of Messi! Now that says it all.

    • January 7, 2013

      And they still dont doubt this – Silva, Aguero, Yaya, Cazorla all these guys making a big impact in EPL, almost effortlessly, but Messi might not do that!!!!

  2. Dav Kumar
    January 6, 2013

    Thoroughly enjoyed this article, spot on and a good reminder to seize the moment and enjoy. We are indeed seeing history in the making, and its soooooo enjoyable!

  3. nzm
    January 6, 2013

    I also think that the goals will start coming from more players now. Whether it was planned or not, the pressure to help Messi achieve his record was immense. Now that it’s a new year, I believe that it will change.

    The pressure is also off Messi. Tonight we saw him more relaxed, playing deeper, defending and giving a complete performance as did every Barça player.

    But please can someone check that Alves puts his boots on the right feet? 😀

    • Messiah10
      January 7, 2013

      Nice! I remember thinking in the opening 20 minutes that Dani was the only player I’d rate have a poor performance at that point because of the poor passes he was piling up! I think he just needs game time. However, I saw Montoya on the roster, so was hoping he’d get some PT!

  4. tiaali
    January 6, 2013

    Thank you, Kevin.

  5. mom4
    January 6, 2013

    Beautiful review!

    Absolutely dazzling game!

    When Messi is having fun on the field, he’s unplayable.

    Btw, the 60 Minutes report on FCB was the pretty good Barca 101 course.

  6. Doug
    January 6, 2013

    Kxevin – I enjoyed reading that so much, that I decided to read it again.

    Very nice article. Thanks.

  7. K_legit in Oz
    January 6, 2013

    You are 51? Woah man you look a lot younger from facebook!

  8. barca96
    January 6, 2013

    Yeah I purposely watched a review of that match to see what the big fuss was after reading the Guardian. Me and my brother looked at each other and also said, that’s it??

    Pedro did a much better control and move against Madrid, at home and away albeit Iker miraculously saved the one at the Bernabeu.

    Man the Brits are really one of a kind. They will always slate off a player and call them over rated when they are playing in a continental league or haven’t played well against am English team or NT.

    They only start to appreciate said player after he has played in the EPL or against one of the teams.

    Case in point.
    -Pirlo vs England. All of a sudden better rated than Xavi.

    Ibra vs England. Was always branded over rated and fails against big teams. I guess the Brits see their national team as a first class.

    -Michu Swansea. All of a sudden deserves a Spain call up. He was scoring many goals too for Getafe.

    -Cazorla Arsenal. Ditto. He was already good at Villareal and then Malaga.

    -Arteta Arsenal. Ditto. Difference is that he has more exposure now that he plays for a bigger team Arsenal compared to Everton. He was that good for the past half decade. I remember many years back wishing Barca would take him back to be Xavi’s back up.

  9. barca96
    January 6, 2013

    In response to G60 who claimed that Cecc dived.

    I don’t think that he dived. He was naturally off balance and even tried to not hit the goalie’s legs.

    Why is it if a player falls it has to be either a tackle or a dive. We, players, can fall if we lose momentum and fall due to a slightest of touches and fall. It doesn’t have to be a foul or a dive.

  10. barca96
    January 6, 2013

    -Pep always went back to NY which I find totally strange. I thought he accepted to attend the Ballon d’Or.

    It would be really weak of him if he had done this because he knew he wouldn’t win any prize.

    -I was watching the Sky broadcast. I found it really annoying when the commentator, Gerry Armstrong’s co host claimed that Messi is not playing well. What the hell are wrong with these guys? They’ve been watching many football for so long and they still equate (striker no goal or not having many shots on target = poor display).

    Messi was everywhere being a 3rd play maker. He created at least 1 goal and a few others where it was wrongly called offside and missed chances.

    And Gerry said Busi was making a meal out of an ELBOW challenge in the 2nd half. Pathetic haters!

    • January 6, 2013

      I think Pep went back to NYC because he doesn’t want the Ballon d’Or gala to turn into a media circus about where he will be coaching next. And he knows he won’t win, so yeah, that’s another reason not to go.

    • K_legit in Oz
      January 6, 2013

      Gerry Armstrong is often unbiased and quite a good colour commentator but with Busquets he refuses to let go of past bias!

  11. K_legit in Oz
    January 6, 2013

    And I hope Pedro gets his ‘!’ back soon! Great start to the year for him!

  12. January 6, 2013

    The second goal from Pedro shows that he is back. He has been scoring those kind of brilliant goals for Spain this season. That finish was exquisite. We need this guy to be in scoring form going into second half of season. I don’t know why and how, Pedro always score in big games.

  13. Blau-Grenade
    January 7, 2013

    Lovely review. Thanks Kxevin.
    It is a joy to see Busi’s progress. In this match I saw long passes from him for the first time.

    • chadh
      January 7, 2013

      I’m gradually coming to the conclusion that Busquets may be the most vital cog in the Barcelona machine.

      I can’t remember seeing a top-class player slower than Sergio Busquets, but he is ALWAYS in the right place. Any time the opposition push forward, Busquets is the first defender to step up and challenge. He tackles, he steals the ball, he intercepts the ball, he shuts down attackers, he forces attackers back. And that’s just the stuff he does when the other guys have the ball. When Pique presses forward, Busquets drops into the backline. He is always positioned as an outlet for any team mate. He is never caught with the ball. His passes are so consistently accurate that you remember the one pass he misses each month. And he makes assists like that one to Pedro.

      And he does all of this every single game. Without fail.

      All over the premier league, at Real Madrid, in most of the teams in La Liga, they have two players filling Busquets’ role. And those two players between them barely accomplish half of the things Busquets does. By my calculations, that makes Busquets the equivalent of three or four ordinary midfielders.

    • January 7, 2013

      I can’t remember seeing a top-class player slower than Sergio Busquets

      This made me think…Zidane was pretty slow, too!

    • Messiah10
      January 8, 2013

      Fantastic explanation of what it is Busi means to us. I reached that conclusion a season ago, but I’m glad your there either way! He is so technically proficient. He is a machine. He just oozes pure class. Yes, I have a man crush!

  14. socrates
    January 7, 2013

    I have been keeping an eye on a lot of Barca blogs and websites of late and I have found them always somewhat lacking. Not in intensity or passion or critical gaze, but somehow they don’t capture the essence of what we are watching when we see this Barcelona team play. And here, with Kevin’s insightful piece, I think I understand what is missing in all these other reviews, amidst the cacophony of their sound and fury – a sense of Time, or timelessness. The temporal significance of this moment which transcends each particular match, and the season itself. We are witnessing a modern footballing epic, a thing of such profound beauty that it is timeless, unforgettable, (and as Ray Hudson constantly reminds us) sublime.
    Kevin weaves a tale of Barca, joy, passion, love and his wife. See, it is so much more than football, or life and death, as Bill Shankly would have it; it becomes everything.
    I came to Barcelona late in life, after a youth obsessed with Arsenal followed by 20 years in the wilderness of other non- footballing activities. It was my 8-year-old son who brought me back to the Life. His mother fell gravely ill and to help him cope I offered to grant him one magnificent wish. He did not hesitate. This child’s Willy Wonka Chocolate factory was Camp Nou. And so a few weeks later we found ourselves on a long odyssey to Barcelona, finding nirvana as Messi scored his second goal against Betis one wondrous January evening in 2012.
    Something moved in me that night, watching the infectious radiant joy of my little boy and the 98,000 other Barca fans. A magic I had not thought possible in an age like ours, and certainly not stirred by a bunch of young guys kicking a ball around a park.
    But it is not just any bunch of guys, it is the culmination of a whole series of events and interventions over the years, beyond Tito and Messi, beyond Pep and Ronaldinho, beyond Cruyff and the Dream Team, maybe it goes back to the anti-fascist Republic of the Spanish Civil war, but it all adds up to this – the most extraordinary moment when all these disparate elements merge from La Masia to La Mancha to Rosario and produce this team, this squad, this phenomenal time in football and history. A time so magnificent it transcends itself.
    Barcelona 4, Espanyol 0. 28 minutes or so of sublime/epic/etc. football and an hour of masterful domination. The game is over and we return to our humdrum existence. To have lived through all this is enough.
    I am not a xtian but there are modern day miracles at work here. Not just on the pitch – Pedro’s goal, Iniesta unleashed, Messi every time – but all around: like Tito and Abidal’s embrace representing a victory for the power of football over cancer.
    When Messi scored that second goal against Betis that beautiful night in Camp Nou in 2012, my little boy in the front row jumped with unbound joy and everything in the world was alright for that eternal moment.
    So thank you Kevin for writing these words, for capturing the essence of this FC Barcelona time.
    PS And for those who like fairy tale endings: yes, the boy’s mother did recover — and Barcelona are set to win another triple this season…

    • flyzowee
      January 7, 2013

      Thanks for this. Amazing story.
      There are only two places where my problems and issues of life pale into insigificance
      1. At church
      2. 90 min with barca

    • K_legit in Oz
      January 7, 2013

      Welcome to the fold! Please stay awhile!

    • barca96
      January 7, 2013

      What a beautiful story. Your 8 year old son really knows his football doesn’t he? 🙂

      Yeah Kxevin should write a book on Barcelona. The way he writes is really beautiful. I’ve never seen anyone write like this. To be honest I’m not much of a reader but I love to open BFB as one of the first thing I do when I wake up and to find an aka piece (aka means it’s a Kxevin master piece).

    • Messiah10
      January 7, 2013

      Thank you for sharing your personal life with us in such a inspiring way.

    • January 7, 2013

      Wow, socrates, what a lovely comment & a great story about your family! Welcome. Please stay a while.

    • January 7, 2013

      socrates, thank you. When Isaiah started this space, back in the Offside days, it felt pretty typical for a while. Then his crazy passion infected the room and suddenly, it was different.

      We moved over here, and that difference bacame something special. Family? Sure, as much as you can be with people you have never met. And you extraordinary words underscore that. So thank you. So much.

    • cliveee
      January 7, 2013

      Great comment!

      Yes, indeed, a lot of blogs have the intensities, the passion and love but only very few express the poetry of how this team win with style.

  15. Gogah
    January 7, 2013

    Having long been a vocal protester of the forced Fabregas inclusion, I must admit, it now looks like the boy has come of age.

    Iniesta and Fabregas; 2 players playing at the peak of their powers, constantly switching positions is a nightmare for defenders.

    And Villa, unfortunately, is playing in a team that is a little beyond him currently. Its a bit sad to see him eager to impress. Hope the club finds the best solution for him. A great player like him doesn’t deserve to feel like crap, which is bound to happen only in barcelona. Hope he goes somewhere where he can once again become the finest striker on the planet.

    • barca96
      January 7, 2013

      His decision making is quite poor now. Once he tried to dribble 3 guys. Are you freaking serious?! He was never a dribbler and now he’s attempting to dribble 3 guys instead of just passing it back.

      And I know he’s a striker so he has that instict to shoot whenever in the box but I thought he would increase his football IQ after 2 years here.

      On one moment last night he took a weak shot when he could’ve laid it onto an incoming Pedro I think. I was hella pissed. He was off balance and the angle was tight and yet he tried to take a shot.

    • January 7, 2013

      In his defense, the team was already 4 goals up at the time. I can’t really blame him for trying a shot if he thought he had a chance.

    • Messiah10
      January 7, 2013

      12:30 Eastern Standard Time U.S.

  16. January 7, 2013

    Thats right Kxevin. Our first half performance, especially, was a dream team performance. And Messi was playing between a no.10 and a c.midfielder. There were couple of his passes tonight which made me think the same as you. This was his best in some time.

  17. Manish
    January 7, 2013

    What a masterful review…was a treat to read…

    Had to bring this up after the EE match… Ronaldo seems to be back to his best… True.. In diving… He had 10 dives in a single match…one for the red and the other resulted in a free kick foal which the keeper made quite a blunder…

    Think there should be a post match review panel analyzing dives and handing out bans…

  18. January 7, 2013

    What struck me about yesterday after the rerun is that this was a TEAM performance. Messi was a cylinder in the engine. It’s curious that this quality is most like the Treble-winning side. Goals came from any and everywhere, just like this group.

    Yes, Messi scores. Man, does he score. But a complete team frees him up be the best player alive. For me it’s influence. Messi made one run near the box amd moved 5 defenders with him. Not hard to see how a run by someone would have resulted in a goal. He pressed, he ran, I got just a little sense, maybe a misguided one, of the colissal load that was on those shoulders last season.

    • Messiah10
      January 8, 2013

      Agree. It seemed in this match that the players were all playing “within” the system. At times in other matches you see that it can break down and they resort to, “Just give Messi the damn ball”. This match was different. It had a continual flow of that fluid continuity and the team just oozed class. A joy to watch and a treat for all who were able to. Thanks for your review Kxevin. It was amazing! Probably the best read I’ve had on here and certainly the best of the season. It was so good I saved it to my google docs Barcelona file! I don’t do that with just any piece about Barca. Only the ones that truly express the greatness that we are witnessing. Thanks for putting my thoughts into your words because you do it so well!

  19. alpinegroove
    January 7, 2013

    It was really nice to see Pedro have more freedom to come inside yesterday. When Alexis replaced him, he made a few great runs from the right as well, and I think we’ll be seeing some exciting stuff if these two will continue to get that freedom.

  20. chadh
    January 7, 2013

    I’m currently locked into a TV provider in the US that doesn’t carry BEIN, so I usually have to watch Barca matches online. I probably should feel guilty about that…but that’s a different issue.

    While watching online, my picture will intermittently freeze. Luckily, I rarely miss goals this way (although I did miss Xavi’s yesterday, and had to wait around for replays to marvel at Iniesta’s assist). But one inconvenient freeze-frame early in the second half made me laugh. Messi had the ball about 45 yards from goal, trotting forward at no more than half-speed. Within arm’s reach, there were six Espanyol defenders, and not one of them was brave enough to make a play for the ball. Meanwhile, Alves was wide open on the right, and lord knows how many were queuing up on the left, completely untroubled by defenders.

    How can anyone score, let alone score 91 goals in a year, when facing that kind of attention?

    As I waited for the images to start moving again, a crazy theory began to take shape in my mind. Messi’s ruthless feats in front of goal this season, the limited goal output from Pedro, Alexis’s unwillingness to shoot and score, maybe even the limited playing time for Villa, all make sense as a determined, ideologically motivated response to last season’s apparent “failures”.

    In the course of a week, Barca was knocked out of last year’s Champions’ League and had their La Liga hopes extinguished in a loss to Madrid. Suddenly there were complaints about Barcelona being uni-dimensional and needing a “Plan B”. How could they possibly hope to tiki-taka their way through the box if it’s filled with ten opposing players shutting down their only serious scoring threat? When would this team learn that blasting speculative shots from the perimeter, or launching high crosses to towering center-forwards, is a vital part of the game for any well-rounded, competitive team?

    And so Barcelona carefully crafted a response. They weighed into the transfer market and bought a midfielder to play as a back-up central defender, as well as the tiniest left-back on the planet. They lost their brilliant and charismatic coach, and replaced him with a guy whose biggest claim to fame was as a cancer victim who was poked in the eye by a very successful football manager. They promoted five players from the B-team. And they committed themselves to play even more like Barcelona than before.

    And what do they have to show for it? Fifty-two points from a possible fifty-four in La Liga, short-odds favoritism in the Champions’ League and a sort-of striker with 27 goals in 18 league games, 91 in the past twelve months, and his fourth Ballon d’Or in the bag. I can’t help but think the first half of this season has been one huge middle finger raised quite deliberately to those who insist that football teams must be pragmatic to be successful.

    I can just imagine Xavi quietly encouraging the opposition to play twelve, thirteen men in the box, confident that this Barcelona team could still pass the ball to Messi’s feet, with enough room to score goals.

    • garry
      January 7, 2013

      Gr8 comment…!
      Kxevin’s charm seems to have rubbed off in the comments too!

    • Messiah10
      January 8, 2013

      Awesome! ^^^ This! Thanks for the smile. 🙂

  21. cliveee
    January 7, 2013

    I was a little touched when I read that Valdano called Guardiola romantic because football is a sport that I never associate romance with. But what this team has transcended to is absurd. They way we learned how to appreciate a sport has changed by this team. We no longer play just for results, but also by the process.

    Teams know how we process, because they saw, that’s why they park.
    We don’t care as we remain the attacking side that play wonderful wonderful football to process each opponent. No matter how many players you put in front of the goal. We still try to dispatch your setup by passing non-stop, by raising hell for your team. We know exactly how we should play to win games, so we continue. Continuation is beautiful because it’s timeless, and timelessness is sublime.

    When lovers say I love you everyday to each other after 20, 30, 40 or 51 years, they may not feel the intensity anymore. They don’t count how many times they say it, they just do it, because they know what it means, they know why they say it. A lot of effort is involved. It’s not as easy as it seems, but when the 3 words, 8 letters are said, we take it for granted. They are just words. But what’s behind these words are romantic, because it’s the effort of loving someone, being with someone so stubbornly over time demonstrated in verbal form.

    Right before Xavi slid that cross from Iniesta to the net, time seemed to have stopped a little. Espanyol players felt like they were in a different time speed. They parked the bus well for 10 minutes and were so focus on defending, but when the passing around the box occurred, Iniesta took a touch, form shifted, time changed, Xavi ran into space to receive that cross, and as a coach, you would wonder “How the heck did that happen?!” as you told your team to kick everything outta there. The depth of this team is so powerful as it doesn’t stop doing the same thing to beat teams. It becomes so routine, it becomes a process, a rule that must happen. The more we watch, the more we learn how to appreciate this beauty. So thanks for putting it so well, Kxevin.

    • cliveee
      January 7, 2013

      Last but not least, Pedro! is back on scoring! Hattrick or not, the important thing is that his confidence is totally back!

    • barca96
      January 7, 2013

      You went Mia and came back with some heavy stuff hehe.

  22. barca96
    January 7, 2013

    Now the Ballon d’Or will be on soon. Who do you guys think will win it? Messick or Iniesta.

    I want Messi to win it. He is simply the best, most consistent over the past year/season.

    Of course the romantic will want Iniesta to win it but I as a fan of Barca and someone who watches 99.9% of the matches think that Messi has been more important and consistent than Iniesta.

    • January 7, 2013

      *sobs* Why Messi?!!!??? WHY!!!!???

    • Richzorz
      January 7, 2013

      Perhaps he’s just doing motion-capture for the next FIFA video game (do they hand out awards in those? :p )

    • G6O
      January 7, 2013

      I came here to post an angry rant about that too 🙁

    • Messiah10
      January 8, 2013

      Someone on the BBC said he was wearing a polka dot suit because each dot represented every goal he’s scored. This Year! haha. I loved it so had to share.

    • Skipper5
      January 8, 2013

      i actually liked the suit, esp front vieew with the lapels breaking the pattern, would have been too much if the pants were polka dotted too.

  23. barca96
    January 7, 2013

    So Pep flew back to Europe.

  24. January 7, 2013

    Great review! Thanks Kxevin. Glad to see Tito on the sidelines.

  25. cliveee
    January 7, 2013

    where is the live stream links?

  26. mom4
    January 7, 2013

    Pia won best women”s coach—USA women at least have this soccer thing down!

    • mom4
      January 7, 2013

      And Abby Wambach the women’s Ballon D’Or.

      Can the men’s team please start doing ANYWHERE near as well?

  27. mom4
    January 7, 2013

    And Messi makes history…again!

  28. Gogah
    January 7, 2013

    messi, 4 down, 3 more to go?
    and is the world XI really 5 barca + 5 EE + falcao?

    • mom4
      January 7, 2013

      All from our league and not “the greatest league in the worild”. Means none from Stoke. So could any of these XI do it on a cold Wednesday night at the Britannia?

    • Messiah10
      January 8, 2013

      You should see all the hate and vitriolic posts on the BBC. I think a lot of it are Man U supporters who obviously favor CR and don’t want to admit that Messi is the BEST. Then there’s the hate on the starting 11. Amazing. You are better for not seeing it! 🙂

    • nzm
      January 7, 2013

      I’m truly gutted that Busquets missed out on a nomination. Goes to show how much his role is unnoticed and unappreciated by the general masses.

    • mom4
      January 7, 2013

      Me too but it’s really better this way. Our secret weapon—Keep him secret, Keep him safe!

    • dean
      January 7, 2013

      =)

    • Tank
      January 7, 2013

      I guess there is a point in arguing that neither Pique or Alves have been the best in their respective positions over the last 12 months. So there is for Marcelo. Lahm – Hummels – Ramos – Alba would be my back four.

      Xavi vs. Pirlo is a close call. Pirlo arguably had the better first half of the year and a better Euro right until the final. Xavi outclassed him, and pretty much the rest of the world, in the Euro final and had a magnificent second half of the year. Pirlo’s season so far is far from being shabby, but not quite on the same level as Xavi’s.

    • Gogah
      January 8, 2013

      I’d replace xavi with pirlo, alonso with busquets, ramos with kompany/hummels and you have a better/more fair world XI

  29. Judas Pissed
    January 7, 2013

    Thailand coach and ex-Borussia Monchengladbach UEFA Cup Winner Winfried Schäfer selected Busquets as his number one choice…

    • Tank
      January 7, 2013

      Not the worst of choices. He’s the best defensive midfielder by some distance. (Counting Pirlo as a central midfielder who happens to play quite deep.) For what other position can you say something similar? Well, there is a certain Argentine…

    • barca96
      January 8, 2013

      Well he certainly knows his stuff that journey man coach. I really appreciate his choice. Not many people would have selected Busquets even in the first XI.

      The FIFA world XI is just like a popularity contest.
      How on earth did Marcelo, Pique, Alonso get on there.
      I’d swap Alba, Chiellini (not seen but based on the season reviews I read on Juve) and Busi for those 3.

    • Tank
      January 8, 2013

      Chiellini is a mixture of a classic Italian CB like Nesta and an English CB like Terry or Vidic. He has the positional awareness of his fellow countrymen and the hard-tackling attitude of a top-class Premier League defender. Makes a pretty good mix.

      With the ball at his feet though, he is not on the same level as Hummels, Pique or Mascherano.

  30. January 7, 2013

    RoSELL chimed in with a quote saying that Messi winning the Ballon d’Or was kinda like winning the Champions League for “us.” No. No way. Far, far, from that. I just want to get back to football now. Messi has the scoring record in a single year (unless you ask the Namibians), and the Ballon d’Or. Marvy. Meanwhile, his team has some souls to crush.

    In my second half of the season dream, I would like to see Pedro reacquire his exclamation points, and Sanchez to figure out this system that he at times struggles with. As many have noted, however, Pedro is playing exactly the same. It’s just that yesterday, he got a couple of goals. This is true. But those goals make a significant difference in a player’s confidence. Here’s hoping he keeps the ball rolling.

    It’s also high time that I admit my reservations/resistance to the arrival of Fabregas were misguided. I just didn’t realize the adaptation of the template that was going to transpire, as well as his adaptability as a player. Essentially, he enables Iniesta and Messi, while switching places in the attack with Iniesta and/or Alba. It’s absolutely absurd.

    Can I snark about the price? Sure. But not the player. Dude is getting it done.

    • January 7, 2013

      I suspect you are being harsh on yourself, because you were never against Cesc coming home but just wanted to wait another summer before doing so.

      A player of that quality, who is from La Masía to boot? A no-brainer really, and only a matter of time before he adapted. And although it did take longer than I expected, I never had any doubts he would fit in well. In hindsight a good thing he came when he did, I guess…

      Rosell’s comments…sigh. I was cheering for Leo to win the balon d’or but to equate it with a CL medal is just ridiculous.

    • January 7, 2013

      Essentially, he enables Iniesta and Messi, while switching places in the attack with Iniesta and/or Alba.

      Exactly right. What Cesc + Iniesta + Alba do on the left side is absolutely magical. It’s like a spinning triangle of players that moves forward & back as needed, constantly switching places & playing off each other. When all three are in form they are frankly unplayable.

      And as I said during Sunday’s game, Cesc & Iniesta’s health & form this season are the main reason Villa isn’t getting as much playing time as he would like. There is just no room for him on the left, and he has never been very good on the right side, unlike Pedro or Alexis who can switch sides easily.

      Remember two years ago, when almost all attacks went through the right side, via Dani, Pedro & Messi, while the left was our defensive side with Abidal or Maxwell? How things change.

    • Messiah10
      January 8, 2013

      Really you haven’t been that hard on Cesc or questioning of the decision to bring him here. Maybe to yourself in private thoughts? 🙂 I really think this is Tito’s shining moment as our coach. It was he who wanted Cesc. It was he who knew in his mind the way he could see him fitting in. Pep wanted to tinker and move him around a lot and it didn’t work for Cesc or us. Tito probably told Pep where he thought he should play, but Pep wanted to see what else he could do with him. Bravo Tito!

    • January 8, 2013

      Not on board with this ex post facto rationalization. I think it was pretty clear that it took Cesc as a player time to get to this point, and the reason he was not played this way last year was because he was not ready to play this way. At least that’s what I see when I compare watching him play last year vs. this year.

    • Skipper5
      January 8, 2013

      think u meant Zambians

  31. K_legit in Oz
    January 7, 2013

    I think it would be just to state that whatever Cristiano does it seems that he is destined to be the Salieri to Messi’s Mozart!

  32. Skipper5
    January 7, 2013

    the first 30 mins of this match made me think of that dazzling, dizzying opening 20mins against Arsenal a few seasons ago, (the match that ended 2-2). in that one we failed to score somehow but in this one we were clinical and ruthless. i felt for the Espanyol players, my futsal team was handed such a thumping in the play-off final last week(8-2 final score). They were on us like duck on a junebug, and within 15 mins it became damage limitation as it did vs Espanyol. This was an absoulutely delightful match. just delightful.

    • Messiah10
      January 8, 2013

      Thanks for posting. I like the read as well and completely agree. The “best goal of the year” category is an absolute joke. Neymar’s wasn’t even that great IMHO, but, because he’s a big name, he was put up there. FIFA agenda all the way. I do think players deserve recognition for their play in some form. I’m not sure what that is. Maybe just the All FIFA Team or All Liga Team. Something along those lines. However, since there is a Ballon d’Or, I’m glad are little Argentine has won 4 years running!!! Incredible and most deserved.

  33. nia
    January 7, 2013

    At the pre-Balon conference, Messi and CR were asked why they didn’t vote for each other. After CR answered, it went silent and Messi couldn’t help himself but chuckle at CR’s answer (which was nonsense btw, at least Messi had the balls to say that CR wasn’t in his plans). Ofcourse, Iniesta had his poker face on 🙂 🙂

    • barca96
      January 8, 2013

      He (CR7) was “injured”. What a coincidence. And even then with the technology we have nowadays, was there really a need to give the privilege to vote away just like that?

      Yes, Messi at least has the balls to be honest.

      I too didn’t think that CR7 should’ve been in the top 3. CR7 should be just ahead of Falcao.

    • barca96
      January 8, 2013

      Cheap shot of gaining one more vote and a vote less for Messi.

  34. barca96
    January 8, 2013

    http://deportes.elpais.com/deportes/2013/01/02/actualidad/1357158786_798049.html

    I read it with the help of google translate. Hopefully some of you Spanish speakers can enjoy this article more than I did. It’s about possession and surprise surprise, La Liga doesn’t have the most possession.

    One player made a good point. The field in England is much better so it makes passing much easier.

  35. barca96
    January 8, 2013

    I was looking up on the net trying to find out who that lady who presented the woman’s player of the year award. It is Hope Solo. No wonder she looked familiar. I’ve always had a thing for her since the first time I laid my eyes on her 2-3 years back.

    But man… Her body is even big for a man. I had a body like that. Geez. Never noticed before she had a body that big. Her face is feminine but her body is manly. She shouldn’t have hit the gym.

    • January 8, 2013

      yeah, my gf and I were gaping at the screen looking at her…

      A new Hope Solo, with the face of Princess Leia and the body of Chewbacca :s

    • barca96
      January 8, 2013

      ROFL. What a perfect way to describe her 😆

      I actually fantasized her as Princess Leia for a moment just now and now you mentioned it. Haha. I’ve always had the Princess Leia fetish.

    • Xingxian
      January 8, 2013

      I find her build attractive, and am horrified that anyone would tell an athlete ‘you shouldn’t have hit the gym’.

      What’s more important, that she has a lot of fat around her breasts and hips, or that she’s the best goalkeeper she can be?

    • January 8, 2013

      I’m sorry that Hope Solo’s body doesn’t fit into your preconceived notions of what a woman “should” look like. To me she looked strong, healthy, and athletic. Very sexy.

    • January 8, 2013

      I think that athletes are beautiful, in all their shapes and forms. We have bodies. Those bodies work better and mote effectively if we use them. The subsequent development is just what happens.

      A photo was posted of a track cyclist, Robert Forstemann, he of the colossal thighs. Many women said “Ick.” I said it doesn’t matter, because the sport-related specificity required of him has forced that development. Therein lies the beauty.

      For me, as an athlete, women with muscle make me swoon. Always. It is a question of aesthetics. But to each his/her own.

    • ooga aga
      January 8, 2013

      “she shouldnt have hit the gym”

      i have been around young women with body image issues, and eating disorders. the same women who starve themselves also avoid the gym to avoid looking “butch”….and they end up treating themselves in a very unhealthy way.

      i wonder where they get these messages that if they lift weights, they wont look good to men…oh yeah, people like you.

      waif does not equal healthy. …bro

    • January 8, 2013

      ^ I agree with this comment above whole-heartedly.

  36. Richzorz
    January 8, 2013

    Kudos to the Thailand coach (even if he didn’t pick Messi in his top 3), Sergio Busquets best player in the world!!! 😀

  37. barca96
    January 8, 2013

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion but these below are just mind boggling to me;

    Vucinic clearly doesn’t watch any other league as he only voted for Seria A players. Buffon, Pirlo & Zlatan.

    Iker – Ramos as the best?? After many brain farts at that.
    Emre – Falcao, Ozil and Ronaldo.
    Hugo Lloris – Casillas, Falcao and Drogba.
    Bruno Alves who voted instead of CR7 – CR7, Falcao and RVP. Not only does he try to take Messi out but spoil any chances for any Spanish players. Amazing hatred and jealousy.
    Austria – Balotelli 3rd???
    Bahamas- Rooney 2nd??
    Lithuania – Ibra, Rooney and Pique.
    Zimbabwe – Pique 2nd ahead of Messi??
    Comoros – Iniesta, Ramos?? and RVP??
    Cuba – Alonso????, Messi and Ronaldo
    Jamaica – Alonso???
    Georgia – Rooney??
    Koreans – Finally agree on something. They both rate Ozil as 3rd best.
    Laos – Balotelli 3rd???
    Namibia – Drogba??, Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso??
    Palestine – Iker and Balotelli??

    Now the coaches who I assumed should know more about the players importance;
    Ecuador – Falcao, Messi and Neuer??

    • January 8, 2013

      Some people start with the premise that a player must win something important in order to be considered best player of the year. It is not an opinion I share, but it does help understand at least some of the choices.

    • January 8, 2013

      Dump the Ballon. No point to it. Does Messi need a shiny trinket to know he is the best player alive? Nope. It doesn’t matter.

      Ask what cules would be saying had Ronaldo won yesterday. “The voting is a joke,” “The fix was in,” “Too much weight is given to trophies,” etc.

      It’s all subjective and flawed.

    • barca96
      January 8, 2013

      Kxevin, so you think Messi is the best player alive?..

      If Ronaldo had won yesterday, I would’ve just thought that he didn’t deserve it. I wouldn’t say that the voting system is flawed or it was fixed or voting is a joke because it’s a transparent voting system.

  38. January 8, 2013

    Yeah, Hope must really be distraught at the thought of not conforming to your ideas about how she should look.

    She definitely made the wrong decision by hitting the gym. She wouldn’t have turned out as good as she has between the posts but hey, that doesn’t really matter when it comes to looks does it?

    I hope she doesn’t look at those two Olympic gold medals and wonder what could have been..

    • January 8, 2013

      This was meant to be a reply to barca96. Dunno what happened.

    • barca96
      January 8, 2013

      Woke up on the wrong side of the bed?

      Chillax. Obviously I know that she needed to hit the gym to be a top athlete. Don’t need to lay it out for me. Don’t need to be so serious about it dude.

    • barca96
      January 8, 2013

      But she is a GK, was there a need to be so muscular? Or was she always like that? I’m not from the States and have never followed women football so apologies if I do not know it beforehand.

    • January 8, 2013

      Hate to break the news to ya, but Hope Solo isn’t THAT muscular. You should look at some female track cyclists, such as Anna Meares or Kristina Vogel to see some muscles.

      The gym is part of any athlete’s training regimen, male and female. Hell, the gym should be part of everyone’s daily regimen, period. But ….

      If you look at Hope Solo, you can see that her body form and musculature would indicate that she would respond to gym work very rapidly. It happens, and she is very lucky for that. This is the picture of Solo at the BdO gala, and all that I can say is …. WOW! Fit, strong and proud.

      http://www.fifa.com/ballondor/photo/photolist.html#1981970

      It’s funny. I have been track cycling for going on 30 years, and lifting heavy for about as long. My body responds to weight training by bulking up. So at present, my waist and thigh measurements are roughly the same. Others lift and lift and get stronger, but don’t get bigger.

      Athletes don’t make a choice about how their body looks or responds to exercise. Genetics do that.

    • January 8, 2013

      Obviously I know that she needed to hit the gym to be a top athlete

      But she is a GK, was there a need to be so muscular? Or was she always like that?

      Obviously.

    • Xingxian
      January 8, 2013

      ‘chillax’? Those were some pretty degrading comments.

      That’s my country’s goalkeeper thank you very much 😛

    • January 8, 2013

      I agree, they were degrading comments promoting women sticking to stereotypes of beauty. That it was not realized by the commenter simply shows how ingrained they are.

    • ooga aga
      January 8, 2013

      no dude, this IS something to be serious about. you say ridiculous things, people are going to call you on it. sorry… bro

    • ooga aga
      January 8, 2013

      that was at barca96

    • nzm
      January 8, 2013

      Just weighing in on this, as a female. 🙂

      Physically, Hope looks absolutely stunning. God knows, most women (including me) would love to look as toned as she is. Over-muscular? No way.

      I do have to say though, that although her dress was gorgeous, it wasn’t the dress for her figure. It made her look too top heavy around the shoulders. A better cut and design would have brought more shape and balance.

      She looks amazing, nonetheless.

    • cliveee
      January 9, 2013

      My thought exactly, but as a dude. XD

      She is not muscular to me, she just has a big body frame. She can play basketball if you ask me.

    • cliveee
      January 9, 2013

      and the exact thought is on the dress.

  39. elcapitan
    January 8, 2013

    One word! MESSI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. January 8, 2013

    My favourite twitter comment from yesterday:

    @SergiRoberto10 I Busquets no està a l’ 11? …

    And that is why I love Sergi Roberto. <3

  41. barca96
    January 8, 2013

    Slightly off topic.

    I’m gutted that Robert Griffin is injured like that. Not on one knee but both damned knees. How unlucky is he?!

    The kid had a dream like rookie season.

    One thing I don’t understand is, how come he became a captain halfway (or near the play off)? Aren’t captains elected before the season starts?

    And he is a rookie. How come he is expected to be the captain among all those other players who are more experienced than him?

    Imagine Thiago getting the arm band.

  42. barca96
    January 8, 2013

    I found it quite strange that Messi didn’t thank Pep or Tito or congratula CR7 or Iniesta.

    • January 8, 2013

      He said he was so nervous that he forgot.

    • barca96
      January 8, 2013

      I can imagine. But that’s why most of the people who are nominated for an award have a note ready with people to thank during their acceptance speech.

      Hopefully he’ll remember to thank the people he missed out on his first interview after the speech before the people in the media start calling him names.

    • January 8, 2013

      Makes me wonder how many oral presentations these guys has to do in school. It helps…

    • Messiah10
      January 8, 2013

      Yeah, well most people are speaking on live T.V. in front of millions of fans who are sycophants and worship the ground you walk on. Messi was shy as a kid and he’s shy now. No big deal. I would hate going up on stage and having to look at hundreds of people in a room and knowing millions are watching you too!

  43. Manish
    January 8, 2013

    Is the US womens NT better than the mens.. from watching their matches.. the womens NT seems really really quick and good…

    • January 8, 2013

      In terms of the level of their competition? Yes. They are the best in the world. The mens’ USNT is good but isn’t at that level. Here in Canada, our women’s NT is brilliant, while our men are dreadful.

    • Skipper5
      January 8, 2013

      idk about better, the men are competing in a much more competitive and diverse field. that’s to say men’s soccer was taken seriously in US long after other nations had developed the necessary cultural and professional infrastructure that’s why they are a little behind and in any event US soccer is catching up very fast (US beat Spain yes?) with the women their progress has been much in line with the progress in women’s soccer as in other nations and having the population+wealth advantage it is easy to see why they are dominating. US men soccer team is going to be a powerhouse very very soon. in any event i think USA is already better than half the european nations.

    • January 8, 2013

      US soccer is not ‘catching up very fast’, in fact it’s kind of stalled out or plateau’d. They are good enough to get some ‘shock’ results against better nations, but when challenged to play more proactive, attacking football there have been problems. Until there are more American players playing in top leagues around the world, it will be difficult for the MNT to catch up to the top international level.

    • Messiah10
      January 8, 2013

      That’s because to train a kid and put him on a club team so he plays football(soccer) year round and everyday costs thousands of dollars! My son is 14 and plays travel soccer and it’s NOT cheap. Compare that to basketball/AAU, Football, and Baseball and it’s one of the most expensive sports to play competitively besides hockey. Until we get a youth system that’s geared towards all U.S. children we will never have the best athletes or potential players in our National team. It’s sad because with our population, wealth, and interest growing we should be getting exponentially better. Like you said, we’re stagnating.

    • January 8, 2013

      What is “travel soccer”???

    • January 9, 2013

      Yeah this is absolutely the case, and what I’ve heard from many people. It’s something Jurgen Klinsmann has criticized in interviews as well.

      Of course the terrible judgement in talent spotting for the national team hasn’t helped… Dropping Neven Subotic from the US U-20 team was just terrible. I’m not confident that this situation hasn’t repeated itself with other players who never got a chance elsewhere, unlike Subotic.

    • Messiah10
      January 10, 2013

      Travel soccer is basically a step above recreation soccer. Recreation soccer is what MOST US children play. You have weekend games, 1 maybe 2 practices a week, and dads who coach the teams and don’t know squat about the game. I coached it for 5 years and tried to instill the fundamentals in my kids. Travel soccer is for kids who show a better understanding and talent for the game. Practice everyday, travel around the state or surrounding states for tournaments, payed coaches, more intense training, with Winter indoor training. The problem is it costs SO much more than recreational that kids who should be playing travel aren’t BECAUSE of the COST and kids who shouldn’t be picked for travel are BECAUSE they’re parents CAN afford it. SO the most talented kids are left with little to no training and never develop past a basic level.

    • January 8, 2013

      I follow them tangentially every season.

    • January 8, 2013

      Thanks for posting. Strong piece that I fully agree with.

    • mei
      January 8, 2013

      There are lots of things that the article conspicuously omits.

      Like Dani’s recently recovered from several consecutive injuries.
      So maybe his physical attributes are not reduced by age rather than recent injuries.Injuries can be overcome.

      Tactically Alba’s introduction was always going to mean that the ever bombing down the flag Alves had to stay back covering his fellow full back.

      Also,since the wingers are doing a different job this season and specifically the left wing is overloaded with iniesta cesc and alba doing their thing Alves would have to drop lower to balance the system out and prevent counter attacks.

      Writing off a player who has quite consistently been at the top of his game for what is it, 7 years now(?) halfway through the season simply doesn’t sound right.
      Combine this with the observations above and the fact that last year , he was sidelined also because of tactical decisions(3-4-3 anyone?) plus the absence of a certain Eric Abidal . We’ll see soon enough what’s the case. Rushing judgement or trying to apply the 3 year brazilian rule is totally undeserving, IMO.

    • K_legit in Oz
      January 8, 2013

      Agree.

      Alves is still Alves, maybe his attacking has curbed because of injuries, tactical decisions but he still is a constant threat and the opposition is still scared of him!

    • January 8, 2013

      Adriano has been awesome so far. If he can keep from getting injured he should be first choice.

      I am less convinced about Montoya, though. If he is preferred for being a better defensive back, I would argue that Dani Alves can do that job just as well and probably better if so ordered.

    • pr17
      January 9, 2013

      Has Alves’s ineffective performances got something to do with fact that he is not using his signature wristbands anymore.

      He looked totally awesome with his wristbands. Maybe that is the route to form.

Comments are closed.