He’s a 500lbs Man Mountain: Bill Gentleman vs Barça

Espanyol was a gift that kept on giving. A 2-2 draw in the Bernabeu and then a 4-0 hiding at the Camp Nou? Yes, please. Malaga ran out 3-2 winners against the capitaleños a week after fine performances by Roque Santa Cruz and Willy “Bill Gentleman” Caballero. It’s unlikely they’ll fall apart like the periquitos, but Barça is in absolutely outrageous form: even Alexis is scoring! [We’re going for the lowest common denominator now? -ed]

Outrageous form looks like this: 11 straight wins in the league dating back to the 4-5 win at Depor on October 20, a 7-0 aggregate score in the Round of 16 in the Copa del Rey, and a 1st place finish a Champions League group. 1 solitary loss (1!) and just 2 draws (2!) in 28 matches since the regular season kicked off. 2 losses and 2 draws in 30 matches if you add the Super Copa. And here’s the thing: Malaga, who are in 4th and are 9W-4D-5L (31pts) are anything but a bad side. Those 31 points put them on pace to be fourth in the English Premier League (tied with Everton with 36 points after 21 matches); put it another way: above Arsenal, Liverpool, Newcastle, and (of course) QPR. They’d be 5th in the Bundesliga, T-6th in Serie A, and 4th in Ligue 1.

They’ve allowed just 13 goals in 18 matches, by far the best in La Liga, bested in Europe by only Juventus (13 allowed in 19) and PSG (12 allowed in 20). That’s something even the official site had to talk about. They’ve allowed 9 at home and have scored 23 of their 28 goals there too. That gives them an 6W-1D-2L record at La Rosaleda. Turns out they’re good when they’re not on the road.

Let’s talk, quickly, about individuals:

Javier Saviola: a former Barça having a resurgent season of sorts. Last year he scored 6 goals in 30 matches. This year he’s already scored 6 goals in 21 appearances. He’s not setting the world on fire, but he’s also not failing to show up. I”m sure he’d love to get a goal against his former club.

Roque Santa Cruz: Two quickfire goals against RM sank the defending champs 2 matches ago. He’s got 7 goals in 23 matches, which is pretty solid. And some of the mods think that he’s quite attractive when he doesn’t wear a shirt. He might be tough to handle give his height, but his speed may fail him if he’s up against Mascherano. Against Pique it’s a different question.

Isco: He’s 20 and blowing the world away. Or at least the world that pays attention to good football. He’s this year’s Michu. Or maybe even Iago Aspas. Wait, Iago is currently the sensation. Can there be two revelatory midfield players in a single year? He’ll be the toughest of the bunch to handle and will be someone Sergio Busquets will have to keep a very close eye on. [Yes, I know that Aspas is considered a forward and often plays high up, but Cesc also plays high up. Is he a forward? Aspas is a creative player whose physical location on the field does not often signify his role in the team. A butterfly is neither butter nor a fly. Discuss.]

Willy Caballero: It could be argued that BILL GENTLEMAN was solely responsible for Madrid’s loss to Malaga with his terrific, constant saves. It could also be argued that BILL GENTLEMAN is a 500lbs Man Mountain who can palm a medicine ball, that he can shotgun a handle of whiskey while gently caressing a baby to sleep, that he can eat more buffalo wings than you. But for now we’ll just focus on his saves and how Barça is going to have to put the ball into the corners to get their goals.

Welligton: BOOOOOOOO.

As for the team in blaugrana, David Villa is injured, Adriano is returning, and Lionel Messi is going to want some playing time after being left on the bench against Cordoba. I bet he gets it. The squad:

Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Montoya, Piqué, Puyol, Bartra, Song, Mascherano, Alba, Adriano, Cesc, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Thiago, Pedro, Alexis, Messi, Tello

Note the inclusion of Pedro. That’s not particularly noteworthy, except that today (January 12) is the 5th anniversary of his debut against Murcia. Read all about it. It would be wonderful to see him continue his good form (2 goals, 2 incorrectly disallowed goals against Espanyol) with a smashing game against Malaga. We’ll see, of course, if he even gets a start given Alexis’ goal all around good game against Cordoba. I kid. He’ll start, though Alexis getting a goal (much less 2) will be huge for his self confidence as well.

Official prediction: 2-3. A thriller, with Messi providing the grand finale in the final minutes with a brilliant solo effort to send the papers into a tizzy and the television crowd into absolute pandemonium. That’s quite the prediction, no? Messi (2), Iniesta, Isco (2).

And, because I simply can’t not talk about it, earlier this afternoon Real Madrid dropped more points, this time in a scoreless draw at Osasuna. This gives Barcelona an opportunity to make this a 2 horse race: Barça and Atleti. I honestly didn’t think I would be saying that at any point in the next 20 years. Jose Mourinho is imploding along with his team, Kaka the latest example of a player to lose his head in a moment of pure idiocy to earn himself a useless second yellow and deprive his team of a player down the stretch. These are the things players under immense pressure do when they begin to crack. We saw it some last year in Barça, but this is a different level. This is  falling from grace like a meteor. They’ve dropped more points in 19 matches than they did in 38 last year, which is to say that they’re either gearing up for an insane second half or, far more likely, they’re going to continue to lose points at approximately this rate.

You do not understand what is happening in this picture. No one understands. No one CAN understand. My body contorts like a gymnast mixed with Gumby. I am BILL GENTLEMAN. Be afraid.
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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.

145 Comments

  1. mom4
    January 12, 2013

    We win 0-4 tomorrow. I’m just full of optimism. First RM drop points, the MY RAVENS win in OT, so Barca just has to win to top off a parfect weekend.

    I mean we’re all gonna die! Sorry, I was forgetting myself for a while.

    Off topic, are we peaking at a bad time? It sure seems different than the last few years going into Hlebruary/

    • January 12, 2013

      Your first mistake is to think that this team is currently peaking. This ain’t peaking. This is the doldrums.

      Oh my.

      • January 12, 2013

        @Isaiah knocking on wood and suggesting you to follow suit…

      • nzm
        January 13, 2013

        What’s helping the team to stay calm is their incredible run so far this season.

        Heads are up, no one is getting cocky and all is tranquil.

        That’s coming from the top down. Tito is leading by example. There are no histrionics from him, no philosophising, no getting into the why-to’s and where-for’s and no politics.

        The team is here to concentrate on playing football and Tito is making sure that this remains their focus.

        I love his press conferences – to the point and on subject. No reporter tries to ask him any of the leading questions asked of Pep because they know that they’ll get short shrift.

        Tito is doing everything by the book. Unlike Pep, he has chosen to take an Audi sponsor’s car this season. He’s toeing every line, keeping low and giving the press nothing about which to gossip. The only thing not obeying his rule has been the recurrence of his parotid issues, but even this is being handled in a matter-of-fact manner.

    • Xingxian
      January 12, 2013

      Congratulations on your birds!

      To be honest I was hoping for Manning to pull through but I’m not emotionally committed to handegg so I can be happy for you that the Ravens won 🙂

      • January 12, 2013

        Yes, congrats to B’more from a Steelers fan 🙂

        Watching the Packers get their butts handed to them by the 49ers. How they let a QB run more than 180+ yards on em is beyond me.

        Puyol would not let that happen.

        • mom4
          January 13, 2013

          Thanks for the congrats! What’s making this post season more special, (and very very sad), is that my favorite player, Ray Lewis has decided to retire after this season. For those of you unfamiliar with US football, it’s like Puyi deciding to retire from Barca.

          • Messiah10
            January 14, 2013

            Although Puyi was never indicated on murder and aggravated assault charges and then decide to cope a plea and testify against his 2 best friends.

  2. alpinegroove
    January 12, 2013

    Hlebruary? Can some explain the term Hlebruary?
    Clearly a melding of Hleb and January / February…, but what does it signify?

    • K_legit in Oz
      January 13, 2013

      Its named after the Life and Trials of the beloved Alexander Hleb at FC Barcelona’..
      Generally, we seem to have a dip in performance in the season during february and achieves the level Hleb showed in his entire career at Barça

      • January 13, 2013

        I would like to note that I was the first to coin the term 2 years ago during a LoveBlob. Kari and Calvin can vouch for it. Now it’s a “thing”. Oh the glory! (Where’s my royalties???)

        • K_legit in Oz
          January 13, 2013

          Ask mom4 to make extra cookies for you!

        • January 13, 2013

          I would like to note that I first coined the term “Live/Loveblob” during so the old Offside days, so I should receive a share of Blitzen’s royalties. About 80%.

        • mom4
          January 13, 2013

          Only if I get credit for “cookies with sprinklers”. 😉

    • ooga aga
      January 13, 2013

      anything associated with Hleb is stained by mediocrity and/or difficulty, as have been our performances, on occasions, in recent Februarys…

    • barca96
      January 13, 2013

      I’ve always thought that Hleb did ok. He was a 5 for me even though he got very little playing time and was always put out of position.

      His problem was most likely disciplinary issues.

      • January 13, 2013

        Let the record show that I didn’t possess barca96 to type that last comment. I agree, though.

        Hleb got injired, got stupid, then got left behind as the rocketship took off.

        And I don’t even know if statistically, Hlebruary is real. But the notion is too much fun to shake.

  3. ooga aga
    January 13, 2013

    pellegrini in prematch presser

    “Messi demonstrated in every game why he won the Ballon d’Or,” the 59-year-old told reporters.

    “But I have always said that what makes Barcelona great is Xavi. He is what truly makes the difference.

    “I know that Messi scores a great number of goals, but it is the Xavi philosophy that is so important.”

  4. nzm
    January 13, 2013

    I like Willy Caballero – the Argentine knight in shining bald headed armor. Would love to see him between the sticks for the Albiceleste.

    After Messi tore Málaga apart last season, Caballero said that it was all he could do not to stand and applaud Messi’s performance. He said that the team didn’t know whether to try to play Messi, or stand there and watch him in awe!

    Málaga is my pet team in La Liga ever since Pellegrini took over, because I want the guy to do really well there.

    I’m just gutted that UEFA won’t allow them to play in CL next year because of their financial situation, but that didn’t dishearten the players at all. They got that news just before the game vs. Real Madrid and, instead of dropping their heads, they went out and proved themselves against Pellegrini’s former club and played with honour.

    This is going to be a humdinger of a game – I’m really looking forward to it, albeit on a crappy TV stream from the middle of snowy Germany.

    • yassir
      January 13, 2013

      I share your feelings about Malaga, i must admit i have a soft spot for Pellegrini, when he coached the white they chased us untill the last day of the season, but there was no eye poking or any shamefull actions by any of the parties involved, Pellegrini is a great coach but most importantly a true gentleman.
      On a lighter note, i think some madridistas might be cheering for barca tonight hoping that will keep them clear of Malaga, heheheheheh.

      • nzm
        January 13, 2013

        Yes! I wouldn’t like it if Barca did lose this match, but to have Málaga close the gap to RM would put pressure on.

        Málaga lost their 4th place to Betis earlier today. Los Beticos beat Levante 2-0.

          • nzm
            January 13, 2013

            No – just a visit partly for work and partly to visit family and friends.

            Back to warmer Barcelona on Tuesday night!

    • January 13, 2013

      Caballero is having a heck of a season as well. Here’s hoping he’s not too good today!

    • Cy
      January 13, 2013

      Hi nzm, I’ve a question on Messi’s ballon d’or trophies. I saw them displayed in the Camp Nou museum yet Messi also displays them in his trophy cabinet at home. Would you know which ones are real, which are replicas? Thanks!!

      • nzm
        January 13, 2013

        Hi Cy

        I wouldn’t know for sure, but I would say that Messi keeps the real ones and the club gets the identical replicas. I can’t imagine any player wanting to give away the genuine trophies.

      • G6O
        January 13, 2013

        As nzm said above, the player gets the real thing, the club gets a replica. Now, what the differences between the real thing and the replicas are I can’t tell you

        • Cy
          January 13, 2013

          Ah so I didn’t take photo with the real thing 🙂 Thanks for the replies nzm & G60!!

  5. nzm
    January 13, 2013

    As with Valencia last year, Barça gets to play Málaga 3 times within the next 10 days with the 1 Liga match and 2 CdR legs.

  6. bhed
    January 13, 2013

    If I’m not mistaken, Messi is fourth on the scoring list this year, behind Villa, Pedro, and Sanchez. I think we should sell him!

    • nzm
      January 13, 2013

      Give him time – you can’t expect him to play well straight after the Christmas break. 😆

      • bhed
        January 13, 2013

        Well, he wasn’t defending so much before, so I question his overall commitment to the team. I’ve even heard he doesn’t speak Catalan in the dressing room. 😉

  7. Jafri
    January 13, 2013

    I’ve been thinking for a while now that Willy Caballero should be the man between the sticks for Argentina… Wonder how he’ll do today?

  8. Jafri
    January 13, 2013

    Arsenal down to ten men at half time, 2-0 down at home, with only 35% possession. Oo-er.

    • January 13, 2013

      Arsenal is just an embarrasment these days… And they have been getting worse every year for years now…

    • nzm
      January 13, 2013

      And then Kompany went out for City but all was done and dusted.

      Arsenal looked like a team without a clue.

      City was also missing Yaya today and the big man wasn’t there to shield David Silva and make him look better.

      Silva was probably the liveliest on the pitch but without Yaya there was no one with whom to link up.

  9. Jafri
    January 13, 2013

    Lineup: Valdes; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Xavi, Cesc; Iniesta, Messi, Pedro

  10. January 13, 2013

    Sorry, but I won’t be liveblogging today, have my own games to dominate.

  11. nia
    January 13, 2013

    I’ve got nerves only reserved for the clasico today. arrggg! hope we win this one.

  12. replayed
    January 13, 2013

    Quite the chess match during the first 15 minutes.

    Malaga’s pressure is high and constant without being frantic, which means they could keep it up for a while. Meanwhile, Barca’s front line is having to do more forward running than usual, which may mean early tiredness. Fascinating stuff.

      • replayed
        January 13, 2013

        Yes, he deserves credit for the anticipation and for doing what was needed to capitalize on it. But that sloppy back pass was uncharacteristic of a game that’s being played at a pretty high level in general.

        • yana
          January 13, 2013

          Agreed, that was… I believe the technical term is “brain fart”

          • nzm
            January 13, 2013

            Or – UHE: User Headspace Error. 🙂

  13. olbucky
    January 13, 2013

    I give up on trying to stream these matches. All I’m doing is missing this incredible season

  14. replayed
    January 13, 2013

    The assistant ref blew that call. Xavi was onside even if Messi wasn’t during the first phase.

    • nzm
      January 13, 2013

      Same in the Cordoba match. Spanish refs need some refresher courses on when the ball enters a new passage of play.

    • Blau-Grenade
      January 13, 2013

      What an awesome match to watch! Malaga are quite a team! Id say we are a tad bit lucky to be a goal up.

  15. dean
    January 13, 2013

    Good to see a game where our opponent is pushing us to perform.

  16. K_legit in Oz
    January 13, 2013

    We are the best of all time..fuck the rest!

  17. Blau-Grenade
    January 13, 2013

    OOOOOOoooohhhhYeahhhh, Cesc!!!!!

  18. replayed
    January 13, 2013

    Pedro is so good-natured. It’s funny to watch him get pissed off in the most civilized way imaginable.

  19. Blau-Grenade
    January 13, 2013

    Wellington flattened Pedro!

  20. replayed
    January 13, 2013

    Oh, Busquets. You’re too good.

  21. nzm
    January 13, 2013

    Some tired players down the back for Málaga. Our defence is holding well tonight.

    But we really do need to score one more as one for Málaga will bring them right into it. Love all the fancy stuff but really would like to see it with a couple more goals under the Blaugrana belt.

    • replayed
      January 13, 2013

      This is about as well as Alves has played all season, especially in defense.

  22. replayed
    January 13, 2013

    I can’t believe these two teams are playing each other twice more in the next ten days or so.

    And I have a sneaking suspicion they’re on a collision course for the CL too, I’m hoping later than sooner.

  23. K_legit in Oz
    January 13, 2013

    Always have time for a rondo in the game don’t we? 😀

    • stefan2k
      January 13, 2013

      Was thinking the exact same thing ^^

      And … is Alba our best buy ever? 🙂 This raging squirrel OMG

  24. K_legit in Oz
    January 13, 2013

    Good move, cesc was this close to getting sent off..Good game for him!

  25. replayed
    January 13, 2013

    Credit to the Malaga crowd. You can’t tell that they’re two goals down.

    Make that three.

  26. K_legit in Oz
    January 13, 2013

    Gorgeous, gorgeous from Thiago!

  27. nzm
    January 13, 2013

    wunderstrike from Thiago!

    Great sub by Tito as the home defence was too tired to chase the new boy on the pitch.

    • Blau-Grenade
      January 13, 2013

      There was a step over, and then the finishing was left footed. That was really nice.

  28. yana
    January 13, 2013

    There’s a lot of Messi-bodychecking going on…

  29. G6O
    January 13, 2013

    You gotta score that….

    Anyway, great win 🙂

  30. nzm
    January 13, 2013

    Played: 19
    Won: 18
    Drawn: 1
    Lost: 0

    55 from 57 points.

    Best-ever first-half of the La Liga season in history!

    • Blau-Grenade
      January 13, 2013

      That was part 1 of the 3 part series….More Wellington to come.

      • TITO
        January 13, 2013

        Well, you shouldn’t. The disappointment will be bigger when will/it happen/s.
        I like what we are doing, but it’s not normal.

  31. nzm
    January 13, 2013

    Our defence was hugely key to the success tonight. It was very conservative – Alves made some forays forward, but his defence was pretty solid tonight. We hardly saw Alba forward tonight.

    That’s how much respect they afforded Malaga.

    Pique and Masch were great. Busquets is coming into his prime.

    Demichelis really should have been sent off with a second yellow with that body check on Messi. That from a fellow Argentine too.

  32. nzm
    January 13, 2013

    Quiet game for Messi – only 1 goal and 2 assists. Is he losing his touch?

    • TITO
      January 13, 2013

      Yeah, minors are not allowed to have a look at the table.

    • Tank
      January 13, 2013

      Our lead over Real is allowed to drive.

      (At least in Germany.)

  33. Tank
    January 13, 2013

    Until tonight I thought it was a well established fact that this Barca team was at their very best in October-December 2010. With the Madrid manita as the absolute showcase example.

    The last weeks put that into question. Tonight for example: strong opponent, got their tactics spot on, were agressive… but they didn’t have a chance against the tiki-taka masters. None of our players had to really stand out because the system worked perfectly, the system stood out… well, there is no perfection in football, but damn, tonight was close.

    Speaking of none of our players having to stand out, oh my god, Iniesta was sublime today. He is made of thin air and greatness. Nothing else.

  34. January 13, 2013

    I love how inimpressed Vilanova looks during matches. He knows that his team has won nothing yet. Malaga is a hell of a side that beat RM very recently. We obliterated them. Passing and movement. The ball moves so fast.

    Fabregas will have to watch his back next season. Thiago is ready. Brilliant goal of the type I wish Iniesta could score.

    Pedro’s work rate was staggering today. Alves excellent, Busquets absurd, Messi below par. Iniesta picked it uo after a mediocre first half.

    • Tank
      January 13, 2013

      Disagree with you about Messi. It wasn’t the Messi show today, but the Barca show. And Messi did his share brilliantly. Good movement off the ball, some marauding runs, intricate passing, a goal, two assists, even some tracking back when needed. Maybe not as good as he was against Espanyol but among the 5-7 best games from him this season.

      • January 13, 2013

        Watch again. Sluggish on and off the ball, loose passes,etc. Yes, he did some good things. He always does. But defo subpar this match.

        • January 13, 2013

          People have conditioned themselves to only see the good things that Messi does. It’s like only watching Sanchez or Pedro when they’re in front of goal.

        • nzm
          January 13, 2013

          Man – was he getting bashed around too. Lots of body checks and off-the-ball stuff to break up his game. Could have had something to do with it.

          Malaga played a smart game: they heavily marked Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. Unfortunately they didn’t have 20 men on the pitch to do it more successfully.

          • G6O
            January 13, 2013

            He was bumped a lot. But even when he was in space he was slow and sluggish.

            Anyway, any other player would kill to be criticized for having a subpar game after scoring one and providing 2 assists, one of which an absolute work of genius 🙂

          • January 13, 2013

            Unfortunately they didn’t have 20 men on the pitch to do it more successfully.

            Heehee! It’s true. Malaga played a very physical game, although stopping short of being outright brutish. They weren’t dirty, but they weren’t shy about shoving Barça players off the ball either.

  35. BA
    January 13, 2013

    Andres Iniesta had touches in this match that were downright sexual.

    i thought we, especially our midfield, were magnificent. Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets all deserve medals, Cesc looks totally integrated and man Thiago is a hell of a footballer even in a cameo.

    that bit of Keep-Away in the 2nd half between Xavi, Messi and Busquets was worth the price of admission alone.

    delighted with this one.

  36. K_legit in Oz
    January 13, 2013

    Cesc is really stepping it up this season! He has to considering Thiago is snapping at his heels!

  37. KEVINO17
    January 13, 2013

    And in acouple of days Barca will trot out another squad of fresh world class players. This could get ugly

  38. Pyro
    January 13, 2013

    God I wish Alexis could finish like he did against Real Madrid that one Clasico. Overall, the team played very well. I was thoroughly impressed with Busquets, oh how they grow, he no longer is the kid who made you tremble with fear when he jumped up to head a ball. Cesc was excellent today, very few players can finish a play like that, such a deft touch. I was watching the match through BeInSport and the commentators were talking about a potential selling of Valdes?

  39. January 13, 2013

    We took apart a really strong side at their home. Not just beat, literally took them apart. And made it look so beautiful with the rondos/ruletas etc.

    We’re currently 18 points ahead of EE. That is the exact number of points we finished behind them at the end of 2007-08, when we gave them the guard of honor. This is when half of the games are yet to be played. 18 points is what Espanyol have earned till now. Scary.

    Forget at the start of the season, I didn’t expect us to be this good ever. Not at the very least during those barren years between 99 and 04, where they would play scintillating football and we’d find a way to lose.

    But we still have won nothing yet despite the huge gap. I remember the 03-04 season where EE were a massive 20 odd points ahead of us, and still contrived to end up below us in the table. Yes anything can happen.

    So its a good thing we have a squad with their feet planted firmly in the ground, people wanting to earn their way into the squad and a healthy dressing room. Pretty important, something EE are finding out the hard way now.

    What we currently have is already more that I dreamt of back then so I am content with this. Probably the most contented guy around here.The only thing I’m jealous of is how blitzen got this performance as a birthday gift and mine fell in an international break. I suppose I should be happy we didnt draw like we usually do during that time, or lose like we did against Hercules 😛

    • G6O
      January 13, 2013

      We most definitely did not play scintillating football in 2002-2003 😉 That was the worst season for the club since the 80s.

      03-04 was the turning point though – it was a horrible start of the season and Rijkard was about to get fired but then the team picked it up, Ronaldinho worked miracles and we dropped very few points in the second half of the season. And then there was one of the most memorable classicos of all times – we went to the Bernabeu, Madrid were overwhelming favorites to win, Madrid outplayed us in the first half and went 1-0 but then we turned it around and won with that magical Ronaldinho assits to Xavi. The rest is history 🙂

      • ooga aga
        January 14, 2013

        it was edgar davids arrival that turned things around that year as much as anything.

      • January 14, 2013

        We as in EE. And tell me about it. The late surge at the end of the season secured us a spot in the UEFA Cup. It was a big achievement. I celebrated that!

        • January 14, 2013

          *They as in EE

          *EE played scintillating football. Their game vs. ManU an example..

      • barca96
        January 14, 2013

        Wut? I always told my friends it was David’s who gave the team that extra, winning, fighting spirit mentality. And Ronaldinho only started to gel and feel comfortable after the winter break. Sensational 5-6 months ensued.

    • January 13, 2013

      Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday DEAR BLITZEN, happy birthday to meeeee! 😀

  40. bhed
    January 13, 2013

    OK, I’ve been super critical of Alves this season, but thought he was great today. I’m torn now – should I get behind him emotionally again, or was today a freak example of great form?

  41. andrecito
    January 13, 2013

    imho..its a no brainer..how can you not love dani?!?!
    the fact that so many people have seemed to turn on him, to me, is mind boggling..is montoya really ready to be a full time starter? and with adriano injury problems, there is no way he can be seen as an every game player.. watching dani on the ball, his touches, flicks..are just fun to watch..so what if his crosses don’t always make it in the box…we dont even have anyone to head them in!

    and happy bday blitzen…i always enjoy reading your posts:)

  42. andrecito
    January 13, 2013

    well said BA..iniesta is a soccer-sex-machine..or a maquina de futbol sexual..

    my favorite today was with him and cesc on the touchline..cant remember if it was the first or second half..but one of them (i think iniesta) ended up falling down..

  43. yana
    January 14, 2013

    I had to look up Diego Buonanotte, because man, he made our hobbits look tall! Messi is famously the diminutive Argentine footballer, but he actually has a few inches on Buonanotte, who is only 5’3″. And then there’s Pablo Piatti (Valencia), who is 5’4″. I guess it’s fitting that they both made their way from Argentina to Spain, where los bajitos thrive…

  44. hammeronmessi
    January 14, 2013

    This team made me spoiled.

    Have been watching football for over a decade and will continue to do the same until my death.I am 31 and i believe in my life of viewing football there is always a “before and after”after this Barcelona.

    How beautiful one football team can play?i thought the performance of the manita can never be reached,but the last 2 performances showed us it may exceed that.this team is that good.

    Hats off to you guys,hats off.

    Dani’s biggest asset was his stamina and physique,as he grew older he may never reach those level but he is still at a level that is pretty good for barca.moreover after the inclusion of alba our attack is more oriented on the Left,so his role is not the same.one thing for sure his buildup play is much much higher than adriano and monty.his crosses are poor but link up play,harrasing of opposition anf the way he riles up the opposition is seconf to none.

    Masche apart from that head had a flawless game.what a tackle on that little man bouannete.loved that.

    my commentators were saying malaga kept messi realtively quiet anf i concur.he has an ok game.yet he scored 2 and 2 assists.mindboggling what we expect from him.

    Alexis i really love him.people should accept that he is an instinctive finisher,when he has time to think most of the time he fluffed his chances.would like to see him given some continuous minutes.

    • barca96
      January 14, 2013

      Long time no see.

      I thought Alves had a good match but nothing special. He has always been this good, well most of the times.

      It’s just that he looked excellent because he made less errors. Less time on the ball = less risk of making an error.

      And he didn’t over think when on the ball nor did he only look for Messi when on the ball.

      I found it really funny when people wanted to sell Alves earlier in the season just because Montoya had a good run of games and then Adriano came in. Form only is temporary.

  45. culeasacucumber
    January 14, 2013

    Hi all,

    New member but long-time visitor here. Apologies to go off topic slightly but I’m after a bit of Barcelona advice and this seemed like the perfect place to ask. I’m travelling to Barcelona at the end of next week and I have tickets for the Osasuna game at the Camp Nou, thus fulfilling one my lifetime ambitions of watching FCB live! I’ve been to the city three times previously, including two visits of the stadium for a tour, but this is my first time attending a match. Can you offer any advice on how to maximise the enjoyment from my matchday experience? Such as the best places to go before the game for atmosphere and food/drinks? I’ve got a good knowledge of the city and the stadium area but I’m guessing that it’s a totally different experience on a matchday so any recommendations will be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks!

    • nzm
      January 14, 2013

      Hey culeasacucumber!

      Welcome to the blog!

      mom4 and I will be at that match too!

      As I’m a moderator on this BFB blog, I can see your email address. I’ll send you an email with some advice and details.

      Probably won’t be until Wednesday before I can do this, as today will be spent travelling back to Berlin, and tomorrow will be back to Barcelona day.

      cheers
      Michele

  46. Blau-Grenade
    January 14, 2013

    Iniesta has been the best I have ever seen him in the last few matches. I think he is feeling the heat from Cesc and Thiago.

  47. barca96
    January 14, 2013

    Our players should show Atletico Madrid more respect during interviews. They keep on talking about Real Madrid. Show Atletico more respect please as they are our closest challenger.

    • January 14, 2013

      They can only respond to the questions the journalists ask them, so take any quotes with a grain of salt. 🙂

  48. barca96
    January 14, 2013

    Even though we won comfortably in the end, I still think that more attentive should be given to the wrong offside call on the Messi goal.

    Imagine if we drew or lost due to that wrong call?

    Last season we did face the mistakes and lost a lot of points as a result. Thankfully this season the players take matters into their own hands and don’t need to blame for lost points.

    Is it that expensive to have the kind of offside technology used by football games such as FIFA and PES?

    • Richzorz
      January 14, 2013

      Whilst we’re at it can we turn Injuries and Fatigue “OFF” for the rest of the season..? :p

      (I think the “technology” is part of the video-game, guess you could fit the ball and every player with numerous motion-tracking sensors and map each match in real-time 3D although it might be a little impractical and ridiculously pricey!!)

    • Clouseau
      January 14, 2013

      I thought it was a correct call as Messi wasn’t passive offside in said situation as he tried to head the ball first and stopped to late.

      • replayed
        January 14, 2013

        The laws of the game don’t say anything about “trying” to play the ball, only whether or not you actually play it.

        As Messi didn’t actually play the ball and didn’t interfere with an opponent, I’d say he was passive through the first phase.

        I know players who know they’re in an offside position like to make a big show of not attempting to play the ball, but the show is mostly for the benefit of the assistant ref.

  49. cliveee
    January 14, 2013

    http://twitter.com/Oscarico_SA/status/290701067887460352/photo/1

    Ridiculous.

    Jordi Alba still impresses me every match he plays. I share the idea of us not peaking at the moment yet, and this strong Alba-Iniesta wing play remains as a big weapon we haven’t be fully utilized yet. Crosses that Alba throws in are often more scorable than Alves but nobody in the receiving ends 7 out of 10 times. Definitely needs to get that chemistry between players pinned down on the wall. “When Alba overlaps, be prepared for great cross”.

    • Ben
      January 14, 2013

      That graphic would be even more impressive if they rearranged the players tied for 4th. It could be Iniesta – Fabregas – Messi – Pedro.

    • Clouseau
      January 14, 2013

      One of the main positives this season. Cesc already surpassed his assist telly from last season while Iniesta caught up to his assist telly from last season.

      Looking promising so far!

      Quite proud to see Ebert on the list he use to play for my local club 🙂

  50. January 14, 2013

    Haven’t read the comments, but I will. Review’s up, guys. Sorry it took so long!

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