Barça vs. Córdoba: From Andalucia with Love

FCBvsCordoba

Win or lose, Córdoba CF has counted its blessings that the club drew Barça in the Copa del Rey because of the cash windfall received from ticket sales at their Nuevo Arcángel Stadium. A full house grossed the club a nice figure of over €1.2 million which should pay a few bills.

Making their Presence Felt
For the return match at Camp Nou, the Andalucian club has planned an all-out assault on the city of Barcelona, under the banner “Sangre Blanquiverde” or “White/Green Blood” in homage to their club colours.

It began with their Barcelona-based peña (fanclub) holding a get-together dinner in a local Barcelona bar last night which was attended by the Vice President of the club Javier Jiménez and Communications Director Sergio Medina.

Game Day sees a Green & White gathering below the Columbus Statue at the bottom of La Rambla.  The Córdoba fans then plan to make their way to Camp Nou at 7pm, to get there in plenty of time to find their seats perched high in the upper tier of Camp Nou.

 

A Slight Disadvantage for the Visitors, but Stranger Results have Happened
The visiting team is under no illusions that they have a tough task ahead of them, as Barça has an advantageous 2 away goal position. Nonetheless, they’ll relish the opportunity to play on a world-class pitch in Europe’s largest stadium, with a Visitors’ Dressing Room (complete with a small spa pool) which is probably better than their own locker room at the Arcángel.

Córdoba coach, Rafael Berges, had this to say about the occasion:

“We’re approaching the match knowing that our fans are in full support, and we will enjoy this historic occasion for our club which is something to be proud about.  We’ll be making the best of it.”

This is a game which will be a highlight for my players…the way in which we play and conduct ourselves will be remembered in our club’s history.  Being there for Córdoba is a really proud moment for the team, and we’ll face the challenge. ”

“Our obligation is to compete as equals, it’s a very powerful opponent that we play but we must try to do things well and leave with a good feeling.”

“We are committed to showing that we have a good team and that our people feel proud of us.”

 

Sin Tito on the Bench
Jordi Roura will be leading the team, as Tito Vilanova has flown to New York to undergo further tests on his salivary gland issue.  Tito will be visiting the Sloan-Kettering Memorial Hospital which is under the Directorship of Catalonian doctor José Baselga.  The doctor also serves as Science Director of Barcelona’s Vall d’Hebron University Hospital which is where Vilanova received his surgery.

 

Key Barça Players Rested
With an important Liga game vs. Málaga this weekend (the ultimate game for the first half of the season), Xavi, Piqué, Iniesta and Pedro are sitting out this game after their impressive displays against Espanyol.

The squad is:  Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Adriano, Montoya, Bartra, Puyol, Mascherano, Alba, Thiago, J. Dos Santos, Busquets, Song, S. Roberto, Fàbregas, Alexis, Messi, Villa and Tello.

Now that most players are healthy and available, the Barça B players are barely getting a look into playing for the First Team.

 

The game kicks off tonight, Thursday 10th January at 9:30pm CET

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

Streams for the match are usually found on First Row, Roja Directa and Bar TV.

 

In Other News
Gerard Piqué became the next player to launch an official website where you can view it in Catala, Castellano, English and Chinese.

This is where we'll put the words
This is where we’ll put the words

 

Messi and FCB sent a signed shirt to German Gerd Müller as a token of respect and admiration:

Messi_GerdShirt
Dear Gerd: Thinking of You. Love Leo xoxo

 

Oh yes – there was this little ceremony in Zürich where the FIFA World 11 turned into the Spanish Liga World 11:

FIFA_11
A blue tiger, a polka-dotted flea and lot of M.I.B.

 

 And that guy Messi broke yet another record by becoming the first player to win 4 Ballons D’Or – consecutive ones at that:

Messi_4BD
It takes a lot of ballons to wear suits like this

 

Messi_TC
Yup – that trophy cabinet is starting to fill up

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180 Comments

  1. Gogah
    January 10, 2013

    As Hunter pointed out, Messi’s 4th got me also thinking about what the criteria should be for the Ballon D’Or. You just cant say that its for the best player because that is hard to measure, promotes individualism and may become predictable (like the messi case)
    An easy / fair solution is to say that it goes to the most valuable / best player in the most successful team of that year.
    By that measure the 2010 prize should have gone to Xavi (WC being the most important competition that year) and the 2012 prize should have gone to Iniesta (being the most impressive player in the spain team that won the Euro. An argument could be made that the CL is equally or more important, but since Chelsea had a freak / unconvincing victory with really no standout players, Iniesta is an easy choice)
    By that measure the Ballon D’or winners in recent years would have looked like this..

    ’08 – Ronaldo
    ’09 – Messi
    ’10 – Xavi
    ’11 – Messi
    ’12 – Iniesta

    Doesn’t this list tell a better story (dominance of spain and messi) over the years, with due importance given to international successes too?

    • January 10, 2013

      No, it doesn’t. It is an individual prize, not a team prize.

      I am sure Xavi and Iniesta are delighted with their World Cup and European Cup. I am equally sure Leo would trade any individual prizes he has received in exchange for lifting the World Cup one day.

      4 consecutive ballon d’ors convey the story that Messi has been the best player in the world for the last four years perfectly.

    • dean
      January 10, 2013

      Hardly feel that’s fair. This is the golden ball, an award that recognizes an individual, and to that effect, there was nothing individually brilliant about xavi or inesta’s performance insofar as it surpassed the collective efforts of there teammates. However that argument gets thrown out of the window when it comes to Messi, a player who just being there draws players to him and creates chances for others, a player who could make any team significantly better and it took complete bad mangement (maradona) and obvious weaknesses (defense) for Argentina to do poorly.

      In other news, apparently Guardiola ignores Ronaldo’s handshake, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iphu65q3NrI&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    • Messiah10
      January 10, 2013

      You pretty much contradict yourself by the Chelsea “fluke” statement. They won. Period. So, by your reasoning one of their players should win the Ballon d’Or. Wrong. It’s got nothing to do with trophies won by your club and everything to do with individual brilliance. Which is subjective because everyone has their own opinion of what greatness is. However, garnering over 65% of voters clearly shows the majority of football players, coaches, and journo’s think Messi is head and shoulders above anyone else. I tend to agree with that opinion.

      • Gogah
        January 10, 2013

        You don’t get it. No one is suggesting that messi hasn’t been the best the last 4 years. He has. By a distance. I am only trying to explore a process by which the penultimate award for a footballer is given based on individual brilliance, yes, but that which contributes to meaningful success.

    • January 10, 2013

      It’s true. There are outraged Madridistas all over my twitter TL.

      Ramos got 4 games for the insults plus one game for a 5th yellow, so 5 games. On first sight it seems excessive, but under the actual guidelines 4 games in the minimum sanction for abuse. They could have given him more.

      It seems that the league has decided to really crack down on referee abuse since there have been so many high-profile incidents the last couple of years. Last season in particular Real Madrid got away with calling referees cheats, liars and worse, and Mourinho even famously waited for one in a parking lot just so he could continue to insult him.

      As long as they are applying these sanctions consistently I don’t have an issue with it. (And they do seem to be. Espanyol player Sergio Garcia also received a 4-game ban for the same offense recently.) We have already seen the new zero-tolerance policy applied to managers–Tito has even been sent off & served a 2-match suspension.

      Our players have a tendency to argue with refs, but as far as I know they aren’t known to use abusive language. I hope they know better by now than to try!

      • mom4
        January 10, 2013

        Thankfully, VdB seems capable of curbing Ramos. I’ve really never seen him being an idiot when I’ve watched La Roja play.

      • replayed
        January 10, 2013

        Our players have a tendency to argue with refs

        You know, I think I’ve noticed a marked decrease in that kind of business this season. Some of that may be because the refs are making fewer debatable calls against Barca this season and some of that may be because Barca are winning so much, but I do believe that part of it is because the players are following instructions not to remonstrate with referees.

        • mei
          January 10, 2013

          Pep was a hothead while on the pitch. Players acted likewise, tito is not a hothead.
          Referees are not treating us better than last season , we got 1 penalty since august , I think.
          Being leaders, with a wide margin having won most of the games helps.

      • alpinegroove
        January 10, 2013

        If the red card was during a CDR match, why will Ramos miss league matches as well?

  2. mom4
    January 10, 2013

    It takes a lot of ballons to wear suits like this

    teehee!

    Actually, I kinda thought that Antonella would have helped his fashion sense. *sigh* I hope she picks out Thiago’s outfits not he.

  3. Blau-Grenade
    January 10, 2013

    Dear M,

    Love your psot, as all your previous posts.

    Love the collection of images and the tidbits of information about Balon D’or and Pique.

    I have one comment on the picture of Messi’s trophy cabinet. It seems like he is standing behind it, playing on his PlayStation.

    • nzm
      January 10, 2013

      Thanks, S.

      Yes, that’s Messi behind the cabinet. His brother was taking the photos and there was one with Leo posing beside the cabinet, but I liked this one because the trophies were more visible.

  4. alpinegroove
    January 10, 2013

    If the red card was during a CDR match, why will Ramos miss league matches as well?

    • replayed
      January 10, 2013

      I believe that at least in European countries, league and open cup matches are both considered part of the federation’s disciplinary purview. So it’s all RFEF in this case.

      • alpinegroove
        January 10, 2013

        I guess I was confusing it with the Super Cup.

  5. replayed
    January 10, 2013

    And Villa shows Alexis how it’s done.

    (Like I wasn’t going to say that…)

    • Jim
      January 10, 2013

      Well I wasn’t going to be contentious but now you mention it… that’s what we been saying he brings 🙂

      • Jim
        January 10, 2013

        Literally could’ve been Iniesta on the byeline there – except for the finish obviously !

      • replayed
        January 10, 2013

        And 2!

        (Yes, Jim, but he’s a slacker in defense, so nevermind his killer instinct.)

        • Jim
          January 10, 2013

          Yeah. Just keep an eye on him when they have the ball though. He’ been playing left back for the last minute. He’s not the slacker some would have us believe … And never has been.

  6. replayed
    January 10, 2013

    Oh, Alexis. Falling down even when he would have been clear on goal. Even I am not so heartless that I don’t feel badly for him.

  7. Jim
    January 10, 2013

    Have to say I think Thiago has had a good half. I was critical of him a few weeks back but he has been pretty good offensively so far. Still needs to tighten up on not losing it but better.

    • Josep
      January 10, 2013

      How do you propose he does this? less side splitting through balls? I recall him playing two cheeky passes in a row, and when the second didn’t come off he pressed the defender and immediately won it back, and I believe we scored shortly after.

      • replayed
        January 10, 2013

        Thiago tends to only see the upside of his passes. He doesn’t have as good a sense of the potential danger associated with them. Throw in his elegant body language, and it sometimes makes his passes look careless. It’s not that he doesn’t care. It’s just that sometimes doesn’t see the danger.

        Age is the best cure for optimism.

        • January 10, 2013

          If age is the best “cure” for optimism, I hope Thiago never gets older. (Me either on that note).

    • Blau-Grenade
      January 10, 2013

      Thiago holds the ball too long. Cordoba sometimes has a big gap between lines and that fallacy of his is going unnoticed because of that. Against a better team he would loose the ball more often. He also does look up and around as often as Cesc Xavi or Iniesta. He is a work in progress. But he is better than most midfielders in the world. We have to understand that we are comparing him against the best midfielders in the world.

      • Josep
        January 10, 2013

        “Against a better team he would loose the ball more often. ”

        How is it possible that you can make a statement like this and try to hold an argument around it?

  8. nzm
    January 10, 2013

    Seems that we have 2 teams:
    ~ a tika taka team
    ~ a fast running, attacking team

    I like it.

  9. Josep
    January 10, 2013

    Villa’s finishing was never in question, it’s his lack of pace on the ball that he doesn’t seem like he can play a 90 and make a difference. Didn’t he score 2 in a CDR game earlier this season and look anonymous?

    Montoya has been impressive at LB, some great passes, Song has looked great getting forward more. Alexis hasn’t been bad. I see him being blamed for Cesc playing that pass behind him instead of shooting, I guess that’s the motive around these parts now

    • replayed
      January 10, 2013

      he doesn’t seem like he can play a 90 and make a difference.

      Celta de Vigo beg to disagree with you.

    • replayed
      January 10, 2013

      I see him being blamed for Cesc playing that pass behind him

      So when Alexis runs into space with no chance of getting the ball, he’s creating space.

      But when he fails to anticipate what his best position is to receive a ball given that two defenders were converging on goal around Villa and would end up between Cesc and him, it’s the passer’s fault.

      I see.

      • Josep
        January 10, 2013

        Villa played 90 against Celta de Vigo? Hmm, that kind of tells you something.

        Yes, it’s the passer’s fault because;
        A) Why is he passing? The greatest opportunity to score was right there, with Cesc shooting.
        B) Converging on goal around Villa? Then shouldn’t Cesc have shot?
        C) The ball was behind him, he slips. He wasn’t anticipating the pass because hes across the goal, I’d assume and was ready to pounce on a potential shot rebound.

        Of course, if we switch the names around…

    • Jim
      January 10, 2013

      Lack of pace on the ball isn’t an issue when it comes to goal scoring. In a striker it’s often more a quickness of feet. With regard to the inability to last 90 maybe if he gets a chance to play 90 we might find out. The guy was out for a year remember.

      Alexis, with respect, has been pretty poor IMO. In the Cesc pass he was behind where he should have been to start with so was having to sprint to make up. Yet again he ends up on his backside at a vital moment. However, he still has time this half. I don’t want to see him fail . I’d rather we had everyone firing on all cylinders. We’ll need it at the tail end of the season.

      • Josep
        January 10, 2013

        Yes he was out for a year so why is everyone complaining about his lack of playing time? It’s hard to start a player when you KNOW that one of your subs WILL be him, isn’t it?

        Alexis hasn’t been the best yes, but his play isn’t as poor as people here are describing. So his run was late and had to sprint to make up for it?

        So youre saying if his run was perfectly timed he could’ve slowed down to catch up to a pass behind him?

          • Jim
            January 10, 2013

            More seriously, he has no natural goal scoring instincts whatsoever. If we’re trying to defend a lead I can see the point in playing him but he shouldn’t be a starter IMO.

          • Josep
            January 10, 2013

            Still talking about Villa, are we?

  10. replayed
    January 10, 2013

    Finally, Alexis.

    Gibbo as usual with great insight: “It’s the type of goal he didn’t have to think about.”

    Exactly, Gibbo. Exactly.

  11. Jim
    January 10, 2013

    At last. Well done to the guy. Doesn’t matter about the time to think. If he can get one it can change his mindset. Like I said we’ll need everybody by the end of this season.

    • Josep
      January 10, 2013

      Yeah, I agree, good to see Villa get on the scoresheet finally.

      • Jim
        January 10, 2013

        Villa has scored from 10 shots out of 21 this year. ‘Nuff said.

    • replayed
      January 10, 2013

      Doesn’t matter about the time to think.

      I wish that were so. Thinking is not Alexis’s forte. Or that of trolls for that matter.

      • Josep
        January 10, 2013

        Agreed, his IQ is nowhere near Pique’s

  12. replayed
    January 10, 2013

    Villa will be unhappy with his miss there. That was on a platter.

  13. Josep
    January 10, 2013

    Villa just air mailed his sitting of a hat trick.

    I think the pass was a bit behind him tho..

  14. Josep
    January 10, 2013

    Song has to realize there, that sometimes you have to be not too optimistic with your passes. He doesn’t have as good a sense of the potential danger associated with them. sometimes he just doesn’t see the danger.

    • BA
      January 10, 2013

      that’s a criticism leveled at him over the years by Arsenal supporters as well. one of the reasons i wondered why we purchased him to begin with, us being (rightly) so obsessed with taking care of the ball.

  15. Barka
    January 10, 2013

    Thiago could have made a simple pass there.

  16. Josep
    January 10, 2013

    So after some great work in the box was Alexis’ pass behind Thiago, or was Thiago just using poor anticipation skills when he received it?

  17. replayed
    January 10, 2013

    Uh-oh, Villa is fussing with his hamstring. Crap.

      • replayed
        January 10, 2013

        Don’t be sad. We don’t want Messi coming into this kind of situation, remember?

        • Jim
          January 10, 2013

          Yeah, I know but just thinking of the crowd who’ve turned out for a meaningless fixture.

          • Nik
            January 10, 2013

            Well, hopefully they came because they wanted to see Barça play and not just Messi, right?

          • replayed
            January 10, 2013

            Understood, but I think you’ll agree they probably felt as though they got their money’s worth. I can’t remember the last time the team looked this potent without Messi even getting a sniff of action.

      • Josep
        January 10, 2013

        Two injuries in one game, both to hamstrings it seems.

        How many times has Villa gone 90 this season?

    • BA
      January 10, 2013

      screws up a beautiful piece of work at the last instant, then the next minute chunters one in off his knee from 4 yards.

      what a goof.

    • replayed
      January 10, 2013

      Once again, no thinking involved.

      • Josep
        January 10, 2013

        You just commented on your own comment of “no comment”

  18. ooga aga
    January 10, 2013

    wow, after the groaner, the ball simply bounces off alexis and goes in. i dont think he knew anything about it.

    • ooga aga
      January 10, 2013

      i want to like alexis. it’s his diving and whining that keep me from doing so. but, i can see why he is useful. and villa and he are different players. they play basically the same position, but beyond that hard to compare. villa’s class in front of goal is a million times that of alexis, though.

      • Josep
        January 10, 2013

        His diving and whining is annoying the one thing that puts me off so much, too. He did well to stay up there tho.

  19. Josep
    January 10, 2013

    is everyone overlooking that pass frmo Thiago to Alexis?

    it wasn’t “safe”. it wasn’t “careless”. it was “optimistic” and it was gorgeous. alexis did great to keep it alive then simply fell.

    Then scores a tap in hahahaha

      • Josep
        January 10, 2013

        he hasn’t been MOTM for you? I like every barca player, as a player. I just don’t like the derision of his play from some. it’s unwarranted

        • ooga aga
          January 10, 2013

          dont take it the wrong way. thiago is great, i dont think anyone thinks he doesnt belong on this barca. he has lots of growing up to do. im glad we dont rely on him game in, game out. maybe in a couple years. consistency will come with reps.

          • Josep
            January 10, 2013

            Okay, but what you said explains nothing. Growing up in what way? his defensive side of the game has come on leaps and bounds.

            Why can’t we rely on him? consistency? exactly how is he inconsistent..?

          • ooga aga
            January 10, 2013

            ok, so you think that having him in there, game in, game out, liga and champions league, will allow us to maintain our current level. because that is what we are talking about. it’s all speculation, so we just have to agree to disagree. i dont think we would be undefeated this year if thiago started every game, instead of, say, cesc, xavi, etc. i dont see us playing at that level. and it comes down to: we place a premium on ball retention. he gives the ball away more than, say xavi. but who doesnt? it’s not a condemnation. the time will come when he does play every game, and then we will see.

          • ooga aga
            January 10, 2013

            consistently making the right decisions. thats what i mean. im done talking about it, though, because i have other things to do. thiago is great. bye.

          • Josep
            January 10, 2013

            But no one on the team plays game in game out, so that’s an unfair candle to hold him to.

            I could also say if he was available in the matches earlier, we could be undefeated because he could’ve been played to give Iniesta or Xavi more of a rest to be fresher versus Madrid.

            Yeah, it’s a bullshit argument but, they’re easy to make, right? Especially when nothing is based on facts..like the fact that he gives the ball away more than Xavi.

          • Rivaldo
            January 11, 2013

            Question? How long have you been watching Barca? Let’s say it has been recently. Wouldn’t you say that Deco’s passing at times from midfield and his play was loose… uncannily (if this even a word) like Thiago’s? I think we’re comparing this guy of 20/21 yrs to an unfair standard.

      • Nik
        January 10, 2013

        You can count me in on that one too.

        Does that make me part of the troll team?

        • BA
          January 10, 2013

          Thiago definitely the most (only?) composed component of our midfield today, he was excellent.

          i think he may very well be the most technically adept player in the side. certainly in the top 3 or 4.

  20. Barka
    January 10, 2013

    Well, a goal is still a goal although I hope he changes his boots next match.

      • Josep
        January 10, 2013

        I’d agree tho I feel it’ll be an unpopular decision. A ton of great passes, yes some were risky, but let’s be serious here..

        Also great defensive work. Linked up very well with JDS when he came on.

        • Nik
          January 10, 2013

          Why would it be an unpopular decision? He had a great game. Yeah, he wasn’t perfect, but no player ever is.

    • nzm
      January 10, 2013

      I have 2 – Thiago and Song. They played extremely well together tonight.

      • Josep
        January 10, 2013

        It looked like Song was being released to get forward a lot more today; and he was vital for the second goal. (I think).

        However, it seems he’s used to sitting back and all that running got him quite fatigued.

        • nzm
          January 10, 2013

          He hasn’t had much game time lately. The match fitness wasn’t there, but he still did really well. Kind of a Busi role, tonight – effective, subtle plays that were largely unseen, but everyone sees the odd errors. Overall, his play was still at an extremely high level.

          • Josep
            January 10, 2013

            His best match in the shirt, without a doubt.

            Unfortunately, that’s not saying too much heh.

      • Nik
        January 10, 2013

        Yeah, Song had a good game. He looked much better than earlier on the season. Who would have guessed that a new player to the system needs some time to settle in?

        I also enjoyed Sergi Roberto’s performance today. That injury was such bad luck though. 🙁 ¡Ànims, Sergi!

        • Tank
          January 10, 2013

          Yeah, Sergi Roberto is impressive all season. I almost never notice that there is a new guy in our midfield. He slots in so easily. Not doing anything super spectacular, but doing his fair share to keep the pass machine going. When a young players comes into the best midfield of all time and doesn’t cause any kind of negative effect, that is quite an achievement.

      • Tank
        January 10, 2013

        I’m on team Song. What impressed me most about his game, was the amount of passes he played with only having one contact on the ball. That’s excactly the kind of thing he has to learn and this match indicates he’s on a good way.

        What didn’t impress me about his game were some sloppy moments late in the game. Yeah, of course the game was won and everything… but that’s not Barca-style! 100% concentration right until the end is what I want to see. Keep it simple, save energy, but stay serious.

    • Jnice
      January 10, 2013

      Thiago was okay. But I think he should be sold if he doesn’t complete 99/100 passes next match. Not good enough. He is supposed to be better than Xavi and Iniesta already. Why is he taking so long?

  21. ooga aga
    January 10, 2013

    so:

    RM/Valencia vs Barca/Malaga

    Atletico/Betis vs Sevilla/Zaragoza

  22. mom4
    January 10, 2013

    Nike is in talks with Sanchez for their new add campaign:

    Impossible is Nothing…it’s the simple things that baffle.

    Oh, Alexis, Mama said there’d be days like this.

    • Nik
      January 10, 2013

      It’s something about that number 9 shirt! That fall and subsequent goal made me flashback to the days of Bojan as our number 9.

      Still, he put in a good shift, all in all.

    • Ryan
      January 10, 2013

      Nike? But that slogan was Adidas’ a few years back!

    • replayed
      January 10, 2013

      4 weeks out for Sergi Roberto, but Villa is apparently fine.

      A mixed bag, but the news could have been worse.

    • Nik
      January 10, 2013

      Sergi is out for four weeks. Villa leaving was just a precaution.

  23. January 10, 2013

    I thought Thiago was incredible. If he played for any other team, the amount of hype surrounding him would be insane. Just imagine if he were in the EPL… think Graham Hunter wants to see how much they’d fawn over him 😛

    But he’s ours and he’ll get even better. So excited to see him fulfill his potential with us.

    Very happy to see Alexis on the score sheet, he really needed to gain some much needed confidence. Hopefully, he’ll keep it up.

    • January 10, 2013

      and I’m very happy to see you on the comment sheet! Hopefully, you’ll keep it up 🙂

  24. January 10, 2013

    I usually don’t like Cup matches against second division teams, but this one was great fun.

    Alexis somehow scored two after missing chance upon chance upon chance. Hope he has turned the corner! The one he missed after slipping (right before his 2nd goal) would have been a beauty!

    Although Montoya impressed me the first couple of games of this season, I must say he has been “un-impressing” me for a while now. Terrible, terrible game from him. Did not look comfortable on the ball at all.

    • Tank
      January 10, 2013

      On the ball he looked okay to me. Not spectacular but okay nonetheless. It was off the ball, in classic defensive situations, that he had a bad game. But one should consider that he normaly plays as right-back. Also he hasn’t played much in recent times, which pretty much explains why he has been un-impressing for a while.

  25. January 10, 2013

    Our goal starved forwards all start the new year with braces. Here’s to hoping it straightens them out for the rest of the campaign!

  26. January 10, 2013

    The team played another wonderful match today. We are so fortunate to be able to watch this team.

    Going through the comments though-I honestly can’t get over how invested some people are in disliking certain players on this team. People almost gloating over Barca players making mistakes. It’s just so odd.

    This team is playing phenomenal football. Today we had the pleasure of watching Thiago-a player whose only 21 run the midfield with great precision and vision. Sergi Roberto played wonderfully. Song was as well. Masche was terrific.

    It amazes me that such a disproportionate number of comments are so focused so harshly on certain players. Just takes the brilliance for granted and wallows in a strange kind of fabricated negativity.

    • ooga aga
      January 10, 2013

      well said euler, and i am sorry for my negative comments regarding alexis… and with thiago, i never really said anything negative, it was only a mitigated positive-ness…but my “mitigation” was unseemly to some.

      but i am 100% with you that…we are….I am….spoiled.

    • January 10, 2013

      Wow, yeah, I agree. A lot of people here seem more interested in pointing out players’ mistakes (or expressing outrage on those players’ behalfs) than actually enjoying the football.

    • Rivaldo
      January 11, 2013

      Euler for president! lol But seriously I agree with you wholeheartedly. I just think if we expect every youth (whether promoted or B-team) player to come in an be at the level of Xavi, Puyol, Iniesta and Messi we are always going to be disappointed. I was their to watch those before develop, let these youngsters do that.

  27. KEVINO17
    January 10, 2013

    I’m a big Alexis fan, but his big miss was very funny. Almost did the impossible latching onto Tiago’s pass, beats the keeper and I think, it’s in the bag, nothing can stop him, here is an answer to his critics – and then he slips.
    And then he gets a rebound goal he would have killed for any time in the last 15 games. Ah, it’s a fickle game.
    Ramos out for five games for swearing at a ref in a nothin game. Tee Hee hee.

  28. January 10, 2013

    My MOTM was Thiago. He played a great game almost from start to finish. He is a world-class talent and offers a very important alternative in this team.

    Sanchez once again worked his little socks off and was rewarded with a brace of goals. Hopefully this will boost his confidence and calm him down. That’s all he really needs. That hilarious slip, though. 😆 I swear his boots are made of Flubber!

    Villa showed why he is a legend in Spain and why he’s still a very important player for us. He also showed why he’s not getting as many minutes as he would like–he is still prone to overexertion and needs to be monitored carefully.

    I thought Song was really good for the first 70 minutes or so. No, he doesn’t control the game like Busquets does, but he adds more in attack and he is very good at recovering balls. He tired quite obviously near the end of the game, though, and looked like he was sleepwalking at times. That’s just a matter of match-fitness. Overall I was very pleased with him.

    Sergi Roberto was having an excellent game until he got injured. He had a really good understanding with Villa and Montoya, and some really good plays went through that left side. Such a shame he will be out for four weeks. 🙁

    And Bartra got to play a half! He had a few off moments but for the most part he did really well. Needs to work on his communication with his defensive partner. Just really happy to see him play. 😀

    • January 10, 2013

      yeah, I thought Thiago was MOTM, too. It is almost criminal how much talent we have in the midfield.

      Would have liked to see Bartra start.

    • nzm
      January 11, 2013

      Thiago and Song played really well together – a great complement. That’s why I gave them joint MotM.

      Song gave Thiago the space, and the passes, in which to make the moves, and Thiago played a very straight game this time – no flicky shots or fancy moves, and no horrendous hospital passes.

      The space created for Thiago by Song was important because this gave Thiago the time in which to think and formulate his plays.

      Equally, Thiago supported Song in defence. Alex held up the ball carrier, Thiago stripped the Cordoba player of the ball. (Song also supported Sergi very well and gave him space too.) I also saw Song dropping back a lot in defence when Alves or Montoya went forward. The guy is catching on quick. He also went forward too – hope Busi was watching, as this season, Busi has started to incorporate this into his play, as well.

      This was the best that I’ve seen from Thiago since he controlled the game vs. Al Sadd at the 2011 Club World Cup. Without Xavi or Iniesta on the pitch, he assumed control and showed great maturity.

  29. Ryan
    January 11, 2013

    What’s with VV’s mysterious Facebook message?

    “Hola a todos, quiero aclarar que todavia no me he pronunciado acerca de mi futuro, en su momento lo haré. Todo lo que se esté hablando al respecto, son especulaciones.”

    This is the first I’ve heard of said speculations of his future. Is it a contract negotiation thing?

    • Clouseau
      January 11, 2013

      A wannnabe Insider-Journo of Punto Pelota wrote yesterday that VV decided to not renew his Contract. Prior to this there was Sport claiming VV signing till 2018 xD

      Talks have not started yet but will for sure as Zubi has indicated it.

      • Ryan
        January 11, 2013

        Thanks for the clarification! Sounds like people trying to rouse something up in the Barca camp when there’s really nothing there then.

    • Clouseau
      January 11, 2013

      Liked what i saw yesterday Team looked fresh,fit and motivated that’s a surplus for the difficult upcoming weeks. 3x vs Malaga,yeah!

  30. January 11, 2013

    It will kill Josep to hear this, but it’s like he was channeling me in this thread. I Tweeted in jest that perhaps Sanchez has difficulties standing so much because everybody is riding him.

    The vehemence of the defense of Villa has its yang in the excoriation of Sanchez. Something that is important to remember is that Sanchez isn’t a goal scorer. He never has been, and expectations of him to be one are doomed to failure. It’s like slagging Pique for not being a good midfield setup man.

    For the clearest example of the Sanchez ideal, watch Chile play. Note that he doesn’t score goals for them. He does the exact thing that he does for Barça: raise hell, create space and set up teammates.

    It was notable watching that Messi goals show how many of those goals Sanchez was involved in. Does he go down easy? Yes. So does Iniesta, and nobody rips him for it. Busquest goes down when you look at him too hard.

    Expectations for Sanchez are apparently rather high. Note that Fabregas, who was raised in La Masia, took much time to find his way. So will Sanchez. It still surprises me that cules refuse to allow him that time. Makes you wonder what current cules would have thought of early Xavi, or Puyol.

    • nzm
      January 11, 2013

      My analysis from the critical comments seems to be that there is a lot more leniency given towards the La Masia team members than to those players who come from elsewhere.

      La Masia – “Give him time”; “Not everyone can play like Xavi/Iniesta/whoever from the start”.

      Elsewhere – “Hopeless”; “Can’t score”; “Made so many errors”; “Doesn’t fit in”; “Sell him!”.

      I would have thought that the La Masia players should integrate into the team much quicker than the foreign players. They have, after all, being playing the Barca way for much longer.

      Point is – if you critique the players, apply the same logic to the critiques across the team, regardless of player origin.

      Or better yet – simply enjoy the magic that we’re seeing!

      Face it – despite some of the negative critiques made against players this season, none of them have individually been bad enough to lose a match.

      To go with that observation, I’ll also add that Tito has changed many results and won many matches by not being afraid to make the right substitutes in timely fashion. Pep, bless him, would have stubbornly refused to replace a non-performing player and thus jeopardised the match result.

      The only loss – Celtic – was a team effort and not due to one particular player having a bad game.

      We are spoiled cules indeed.

      • mom4
        January 11, 2013

        I think, here at least, especially with regards to yesterday’s game, that the criticism of Sanchez was more of a good-natured ribbing. He seemed to be able to do all the difficult things yesterday, then stall out for the shot. Glad he got those goals yesterday though after all his hard work.

        It seemed to me that he had picked the wrong boots for the field conditions yesterday.

        That said, did we really sign him to be a 20 goal per year forward? I thought he was bought to hold up play in the front and be more of a play maker and because he was one of those forwards that we could count on to track back.

        • January 11, 2013

          He doesn’t have to be a 20 goal per year forward, but criticism levelled against a 25 mil forward for only having scored 3 goals in 6 months (and 2 of which against a segunda side, to boot) is just imo.

          I am one of those critizing him. I am excited that he finally scored two goals yesterday, but he should have scored four or more.

          And just like I critize him, I will defend him against those saying we should sell him, because he is talented, brings a lot to the table and I like his attitude (even though at times he is a bit TOO shy)

          I thought his celebration after his 1st goal was really cool, and hopefully he will have indeed “washed it off”.

          • Rivaldo
            January 11, 2013

            Why do people use price tag as a justification? We all know from buying products that this is sometimes very misguided.
            There is just no pleasing some though.

            I urge new Barca fans to go and watch some film of our matches in the early 2000s. In fact watch the Ronaldihno era matches and you’ll realize how “spoiled” (insert other adjectives here) we are.

          • January 11, 2013

            For me the price tag argument falls short at the knowledge that 40m Villa is getting fat on Copa opponents. Money vs goals isn’t the issue. Neither are simple statistics. A lot of people wonder why Xavi doesn’t have more assists. But Xavi so often makes the pass that opens up the defense that facilitates the assist. Statistically, Xavi’s assists numbers will never match his value to the club.

            Likewise I contend that it isn’t about goals with Sanchez. It’s like people only notice him when he’s in front of goal. Jim said that Villa is light years better in front of goal than Sanchez. Yes. That will always be true. Now flip the switch and ask me who I would rather have on the pitch against a danherous counterattacking team.

            Jim is also correct in his noting that Villa isn’t lazy. Far from it. It’s just that the constant motion, dynamic, all-pitch gane isn’t what he does it never has been.

            Too often, there is “if x player can’t do this ….” So comparisons are made to incumbents. Song will never, ever be able to do what Busquets does. Ever. But that isn’t why we bought him. I didn’t see the match but jusging from nzm’s description of his play, he did what we bought him for: play his game in the context of the team’s needs. That’s what Sanchez is still learning.

            Like Iniesta, he scores goals like a setup man. What I mean by that is that Messi and Villa have a scorer’s instinct. You will never catch them sleeping or iverthinking a scoring chance. Iniesta and Sanchez will. Because scoring just isn’t how their mind works.

            Recall that chance that Busquets skied over the open net against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It isn’t that Busquets can’t shoot and score. It’s that it isn’t his instinct. Iniesta misses easy chances for the same instinctual reasons. So will Sanchez. Always. But the attacking players that he plays with, and the defenders that he plays with, will never underestimate his value. It’s why he starts when he’s healthy.

            nzm’s comment about Vilanova’s vs Guardiola’s subs is also noteworthy. We’ve discussed it before but I always like seeing it noted, because it really does get at the essence of both men, and why this is the right time for the handover to have been made.

        • nzm
          January 12, 2013

          Mom4 wrote: That said, did we really sign him to be a 20 goal per year forward? I thought he was bought to hold up play in the front and be more of a play maker and because he was one of those forwards that we could count on to track back.

          Exactly. Sanchez’ role at Udinese (in an entirely different Italian style of playing) was to create chances and space. That he happened to score goals was because of the more open play and the amount of space in which he was given to play which allowed him into advantageous positions – often to be the end player to score off a movement which he started in the first place.

          Despite being often injured in his first Barca season, he still managed to score a record total (for him) because of how Barca was playing at that time – and because he was still being played on the right wing to middle position where he flourishes.

          His role at Barca has been a huge transition and learning time for him – often playing on the left, playing within much tighter defensive patterns (in La Liga) with very little space to create anything and playing in a team that does play a lot slower when compared to Italian teams or his Chile NT.

          I still advocate that he does have a body-positioning problem though – he’s too top heavy and loses balance far too easily. His legs are too bent which means that he has extra movements to make before he can change direction. The Barca conditioning/coaching team should be working on this with him.

          But overall, his defensive and decoy work is outstanding.

    • G6O
      January 11, 2013

      What you say is generally correct.

      But even then there is no excuse for tripping and failing to score when you have an empty net in front of you. It does not matter whether you are a goal-scoring machine or a defender. It’s OK if it happens once, everyone makes mistakes, but it is not too much to ask from such a technically gifted player to convert such chances and he has consistently failed to do so.

      • January 12, 2013

        I saw Villa miss a howler in that same match. Shot it over the net. Barely a mention of it here, though. Villa has also missed open chances, rolled weak shots directly at the keeper and taken speculative shots when he should have passed. Again, no general scorn. The point that nzm, Euler and I are striving to make is that there is a particular level of impatient brickbatting reserved for non-Masia transfers. People seemed almost shocked that Song played well, because the narrative is already that he’s a wasted transfer.

        There should be balance in all things. Iniesta misses howlers and people say “Oh, he isn’t a forward and he does so much otherwise.” So does Sanchez. We also saw Sanchez-itis with Txigrinski. A bit of his first season, and cules declared him done. A waste. Re-viewings of those matches would reveal a different story.

        This club’s supporters need something they have never had: patience.

        • January 12, 2013

          Great point about Villa…except that he is also a non-Masia transfer, so that doesn’t really strengthen your general argument. 😛

          • nzm
            January 12, 2013

            Villa is a Spanish hero – the closest thing after a La Masia graduate. 😛

        • G6O
          January 12, 2013

          I have criticized all those players for missing chances too.

    • Kimcelona
      January 12, 2013

      I don’t buy the non-la masia argument when it comes to Sanchez, at all. That’s not the case from what I see of the criticism levelled at him from various boards.

      Its more frustration with his game play. He’s a two steps forward, three steps back kinda guy. And like it or not price tag is gonna be called into question. Same as it was against Villa when he had rough patches in 2010/2011. I remember coming on this blog and people were saying Villa was a disgrace (exact words). So why is it a huge problem when Alexis is criticised?

      I know that Alexis needs time, that doesnt mean I can’t point out stuff he needs to improve…stuff that imo, he doesnt seem to be correcting.

      People are gonna have differences in opinion in what they expect from him (as a Barca forward)but I honestly don’t think staying on his feet, getting on with the game and finishing chances (sometimes set on a platter) as a forward are unreasonable or too high expectations.

      • January 12, 2013

        But “frustration with his game play” in what regard? Work rate? No. Making space with his movement? Nope. Positional flexibility? Nope. Tracking back? Nope.

        A player dorsn’t exist solely when he has the ball. Sanchez is worth watching when he doesn’t, as well. Bet Vilanova does. So did Guardiola. That’s why when cules were saying “Why is Sanchez still starting,” he was still starting.

        Because like Keita, what he brings to the game isn’t easy to spot, but it’s important.

        Recall what happened after he came on during last season’s home loss to RM. Sudden space and life for the offense, and a draw that was almost pulled out of the fire.

        Pedro has a confidence problem. There have been reams of bandwidth about Krkic and his confidence problem. Villa needs playing time to fix his confidence problem. Sanchez?

        He and Villa both got a brace against Cordoba. Both also missed sitters. So what’s the difference?

        • Kimcelona
          January 13, 2013

          I mentioned some parts of Alexis’ game play that can be corrected in my last paragraph. What, those don’t count? The aspects of game play you mentioned are what are expected of Barca forwards and are carried out by all the forwards, imo, yes including Villa (when he’s at his best and when given the chance). And honestly, I’m not apart of the ‘you have to pick one’ bandwagon. I can criticize one without bringing up failures of the other.

          I have my ideas on why Alexis starts.

  31. Xingxian
    January 11, 2013

    A question for Nzm or anyone familiar with Catalan names:

    I see some Catalan surnames listed with the paternal name followed by ‘i’ and then the maternal name

    Josep Guardiola i Sala
    Carles Puyol i Saforcada
    Xavier Hernández i Creus
    Víctor Valdés i Arribas

    but other Catalan names aren’t always listed as having the ‘i’:
    Sergio Busquets Burgos
    Francesc Fàbregas Soler
    Jordi Alba Ramos

    …is there any significance to this?
    Or, do all Catalan names have that format ([paternal] i [maternal]) and sometimes people just leave off the ‘i’?

    • Dani_el
      January 11, 2013

      About the last names, it is a spanish thing. It comes from the old days when most last names coming from noble families had the “y” or “de” or “del”. In America this was outfashioned after our revolutionary wars.

      • January 11, 2013

        It IS weird. Almost as if they got suckered into a commercial of which they didn’t read the script.

  32. mega_tajh
    January 11, 2013

    Anyone have links for the latest Revista? please and thank you in advance! 🙂

  33. January 11, 2013

    http://t.co/eRZOWWcw

    A remarkable video of Thierry Henry during his FCB time, defending and tracking back. People used to always slag him for various things. Quite the analog to Sanchez in present time.

    • Momo
      January 12, 2013

      Wow, I certainly don’t remember his defensive work being that solid. Funny how videos can you remind you of these things. Great video but make sure you mute the sound!

    • nzm
      January 12, 2013

      That is freaking awesome.

      Henry has been one of my all-time favourite players. When I was in NZ, if I knew he was playing and the game was actually televised (back in the late 70s/early 80s), I would stay up until 1-2am to watch him play.

      I will confess to not following him for a while between 2004-08 as, when we did get to watch football between the working and travelling, it was Bundesliga because of my German partner.

      I remember the first game that we saw at Camp Nou in April 2009 and my immense joy at seeing Henry coming out onto the pitch. Yup – that’s how green I was about Barca at the time – I didn’t even realise that Henry was playing for them!

      His defensive efforts, as well as his attacking play, made him one of the best players.

      I don’t know what happened between him and Pep, but I was hugely disappointed when he lost favour and spent more time on the bench than I thought that he deserved.

      Personally, Thierry Henry is the player who made a football fan out of me.

      • January 12, 2013

        I remember England-France in Euro 2004 (the one in which Zidane scored 2 goals in the last minutes to give France the win).

        Everybody felt Henry sucked that game. Afterwards Dutch TV showed a 5 minute montage that focused on Thierry and Thierry only. Brilliant technique. What a player.

        I started stronly disliking him ever since his sour grapes after we beat Arsenal (fairly!) in the 2006 CL final. Never was able to warm up to him after that, although I of course recognize the contributions he made in his first two seasons at our club.

        Was very surprised to see his (permanent) drop in form in the 200-2010 season. Coupled with Pedrito’s emergence his diminishing minutes were a logical consequence, imo.

        • nzm
          January 12, 2013

          He lost desire to play after it became clear that Pep was to favour Pedro.

          I’ve always thought that Pedro plays in Titi’s style – without the elegance. 🙂

          • January 12, 2013

            His second year for Barça he was excellent. If he had kept playing like that, Pedro would not have broke into the side that easily.

            And if he lost his desire to play for (or to fight for his place in) a team like Barcelona that was following up on a treble-winning season, that is pretty damning in itself, isn’t it?

            I think he was just tired from all the running Pep asked him to do on the left wing, lol.

            He was majestic for Arsenal, would have easily won a balon d’or had they not underachieved so spectacularly out of Europe.

          • ooga aga
            January 12, 2013

            if it was only desire that he lost or lacked, the red bulls would not have been his next destination. fact is, he was/is older and had/has pain in his body (su espalda), and he was not the henry of arsenal. i do like henry, but i think i can count his “good” seasons with us on one finger.

          • January 12, 2013

            Henry got injired in the 2-6 Classic victory, then played hurt in the CL final. Lots of people forget that. He never healed in time for the following season, and the rocketship left him behind. After that, he knew his time at the club was done, and he went to New York.

          • nzm
            January 12, 2013

            Yes, he got injured and that was always the reason that was trotted out when having to justify Henry not playing.

            As for going to Red Bull, it was a combination of things:
            ~ he was getting older.
            ~ he had put France into the World Cup with a hand-ball against Ireland, and after that, clubs were leery about signing him, so America was a good choice.
            ~ his World Cup was a disaster because of the turmoils within the French team. He barely played.

            Laying low suited him at the time.

            Laporta gave Henry permission to leave, and when Titi returned from the World Cup, Barca announced that a deal had been made to sign Henry (for free) to a new club, pending the player sorting out his personal terms.

            Usually a club waits until a player has everything sorted before an official announcement is made. In Henry’s case, Barca made the announcement before everything was finalised. They made sure that he left the club. All was not rosy around his departure.

    • mic
      January 12, 2013

      I must agree that Sanchez is playing poorly this season. But with Chile he is like a different player, full of confidence and usually doing the right thing at the right time.
      Maybe it is the same as with Cesc, who was struggling when trying to emulate Xavi but greatly improved when started to do things his own way. If his natural style does not fit the long term strategy then sell him, he will be definitely happier on the pitch if he can be himself. And, as we could see, our team will be better too with Iniesta or Cesc on the left or someone new. Because yes, we must have an ambition to decide matches in the first half, to play the best football ever and to win it all. IMO that is what created this once in a lifetime Barca phenomenon.

      • January 12, 2013

        I do wonder why in the heck Vilanova persists in starting a player who is playing so poorly, then. Maybe people have different standards and understanding of what the Barça system requires than its coaches.

        People focus on a player when he jas the ball. It’s worthwatching Sanchez when he doesn’t as well. Coaches and astute tactical observers of the game have very goid things to say about Sanchez and his work for the team.

        So smething isn’t meshing.

    • K_legit in Oz
      January 12, 2013

      Man the music in the video made me cringe! I watched it on mute..

      Henry’s pace is something that has always surprised me! I mean I knew he was quick but he could shift into overdrive and just blaze past a man! Brilliant player! Pity he ended up scoring one short of 50 goals for us, would have been a nice touch!

  34. alpinegroove
    January 12, 2013

    Has anyone been following Fontas?
    I see that he is not playing today. Has he not been getting play time in Mallorca?

  35. Ben
    January 12, 2013

    Wow… Osasuna looked better than Real Madrid for most of the match – even before Kaka got sent off. Another draw of RM. At some point they are going to need to start worrying about losing 3rd place…

    • mom4
      January 12, 2013

      The were brilliant! Or RM were just awful. I think it was a bit of both.

        • January 12, 2013

          errr shot on goal, I meant. Just woke up from my siesta, hehe

      • January 12, 2013

        Osasuna weren’t brilliant at all (they missed a ton of clear chances and had just as poor a midfield as RM did), but they were relentless in attack, decent in defense, and extremely good at running down the ball. They also played at home where they are always a threat and had the support of the crowd. RM were just…bad. I read that they had only a 58% pass completion rate. Xavi would have had a heart attack at that stat.

        I called the game being a draw as soon as I saw the players run out onto the pitch. RM just had no fire in them.

  36. mom4
    January 12, 2013

    Here’s to my new favorite second team, Osasuna! Well.. my favorite second team until I’m at Camp Nou with nzm watching our guys (hopefully) dominate them. Thankfulness only goes so far! 🙂

    • Kimcelona
      January 13, 2013

      Thanks nzm!

      He probably was gonna be on the bench anyway, with a slight chance of being subbed on if things were going our way.

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