Fear the Complacency: Barcelona – Osasuna

It was mid-afternoon on Friday when I received word that Lionel Messi had been injured enough to keep him out of Sunday’s game against Osasuna. I immediately panicked, as any good cule would. I lit my computer on fire, threw my phone out the nearest window, and wailed loudly for hours. My boss was very upset by the first and third of those measures given that I was in the office while my wife was very upset by the second. On Saturday I was greeted by the headline that Messi does not, actually, have an injury. I immediately reverse panicked, as any cule worth his salt would. I kissed a random baby, handed a stranger $20, and whooped loudly for hours. My wife was very upset by the second and third of those measures while the random baby’s mother was very upset by the first.

The point is, of course, that Lionel Messi is important. Underlying that are some personal issues, but those are not the point of this preview. Without our little Argentine, how could Barcelona possibly defeat mighty third-to-last Osasuna? They have Kike Sola, Patxi Puñal, and Oier Sanjurjo. Who do we have? Just a bunch of new or soon-to-be daddies who like to pick up cards for whining and diving. Not much to hang your hat on there, really. Fortunately we don’t have to cross the bridge where we pick up the pieces of our devastated season as Messi sits on the bench for a whole day while the team struggles to find goals without him. Further good news: Osasuna is an atrocious 1W-2D-6L (6GF 13GA) while on the road, Barcelona has allowed just 7 goals en casa all season, and Osasuna is missing several players due to injury or ACN duty. That Osasuna sits 18th in the table, 37 points behind Barcelona should further widen the smile that is, perhaps, settling across most cule’s lips.

And yet.

The first time we played them, Osasuna took the game to Barcelona with fury and determination, Joseba Llorente finished neatly to blow the roof off of Osasuna’s cauldron of a stadium, El Sadar, and the world looked set to flip on its head. Messi scored a goal that started with an offside by Alexis and then Messi swept home the winner just 4 minutes later. It was anything but an easy game. You can watch the goals here.

Osasuna also just drew with Real Madrid a couple of weeks ago on January 12. They then beat Depor to turn what had been a poor December (1 point from 4 games) into a new dawn for them. And then, of course, a trip to the Camp Nou jumps up and they’ve got quite the uphill battle. Yet they showed against Madrid that they can stifle attacks as well as anyway. The difference is that Madrid’s attacks were tepid at best: they went with long balls rather than building through the middle and refused to really turn on the engine. Yes, both Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo were both suspended for that match, but like with the above scenario where Messi misses out, it’s the other superstars that are supposed to do the work for once.

That is the fundamental difference between this year’s Barcelona and Real Madrid: superstars that work and superstars that wonder why they have to work. Whatever David Villa’s complaints about playing time, there are few to no stories about him in the papers, whereas there is a constant barrage of headlines and “reports” from “inside sources” detailing myriad fractures in the Madrid locker room. If a tenth of them are true, that has to be a terrible environment to work in. I don’t know that a tenth of them are true, of course, and I suspect that they’re not, but it’s certainly not the harmonious image that Barcelona gives off even while a world class player is supposedly on the outs. All credit to David Villa for his professionalism, whatever his thoughts.

Another difference: Barcelona only gets more persistent in their attacks and ball control as their opponent gets more stubborn. Madrid, this year (and it is important to note that I am talking about this season exclusively) has often looked like a team that believes it will coast to glory without really caring or worrying about actually, you know, scoring goals. The terrifying thing is that they’ve scored 50 of them without bothering to try in most games. 5 of the goals came against Valencia, of course, in a game that showed off their firepower while also recording a clean sheet. Still, if they’re finally back (whatever that means), they’ve chosen a hell of a time to start fighting: 15 points out of 1st and 7 points out of 2nd, with only the slimmest of chances to grab the title. And yeah, they’re actually 4 points out of first given that Atleti will roll over and die as usual in their next league encounter.

Why so much about them? Because without waking up each morning and getting ready to play your heart out, you end up just like them: looking up into the sky for those you consider rivals, craning your neck so much you might just snap it. Complacency is the thing that can’t creep in and it Barcelona doesn’t look very complacent. I didn’t catch it, but there was possibly some complacency once the team was up 0-2; that sort of thing simply can’t be allowed to happen and it’s games against the 18th place team where than can happen all too often.

“Oh, they’re just a doormat,” and then bam, #1 Duke gets destroyed by Miami.

“Oh, they’re just nobodies from nowhere,” and then bam, Arsenal gets the boot by fourth division Bradford City.

Osasuna is by no means incapable of winning matches. They’ve won 4 of them so far this season, including a 4-0 thrashing of Levante. Yes, the Levante that sits in 6th. They also beat Espanyol 0-3 at Cornella. It’s easy to overlook these guys because that’s all they’ve really done, but they have yet to lose by more than 2 goals and, overall, have allowed fewer goals (21) than Barcelona (23). Never say never to the 0-0 draw or the last minute winner.

Now, can we just go back to reverse panicking about how my fantasy team is going to do better this week because Messi isn’t injured? Hooray!

Official Prediction: 2-1. Goals by Messi (2).

“I will score this many goals…we don’t count thumbs, do we?”
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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.

112 Comments

  1. TITO
    January 27, 2013

    I liked more our performance against Malaga. Much more focused.

  2. January 27, 2013

    Yikes. Been having fun all day, and come back to a one-man crusade to brand Sanchez the worst 9 in Barça history, and somebody else wondering if a quicker keeper wouldn’t have stopped that goal.

    –Sigh. As Jordi Roura said in his presser, Sanchez is the business. The club isn’t worried about him. But our coaches can be pretty stupid.

    –Did you SEE the shot unleashed by that dude for the Osasuna goal? What kind of a standard to people have for Valdes?

    What was the final score of the match, 1-1? No, wait …. sorry …. it was 5-1 against a side having a good run of form. Yes, their going down a man changed the match, aka killed it, but lord today. At some point let our players be human. They aren’t bigger, faster or stronger than everyone else in the world. They ALL have deficiencies. But in their system, in their environment, they are the best assemblage of footballers on planet Earth.

    At some point, shouldn’t that be enough?

    • FalseNine
      January 27, 2013

      No kidding. I’ve been as disappointed in Alexis as anybody, and I’m one of Villa’s biggest fans, but the one-man crusade is doing a fantastic job making me want to rise to Mr. Sanchez’s defense. Maybe Mr./Ms. chop is secretly Alexis’s agent?

      Seeing our old MVP trident embracing after the first goal sure brought back some nice memories.

      Okay, back to lurking.

    • yana
      January 28, 2013

      Thank you.

    • barca96
      January 28, 2013

      Me too Falsenine, I’ve never felt the need to defend Alexis but I just had to come out because it’s getting ridiculous especially the worst #9 statement.

      Chop is cool about everything else but is really harsh on Alexis.

    • nzm
      January 28, 2013

      Chop is reaching troll-like dimensions. Best not to feed them. 😀

  3. January 27, 2013

    Unbelievable match. The defense was crap at times but still managed to prevent conceding goals when they were crap. Then they looked a bit settled and went and conceded a kind of soft goal. Adriano was total crap on the left side of defense. Can’t blame him he always need a bit of playing time after an injury lay off to hit it best. The central defense pairing of Masc and Puyol looked totally out of sync. Masc was all over the place. We need to fine tune these issues before wednesday. RM is emerging back into a great counter attacking unit, atleast at home. In terms of attack everything went fine. Messi as usual scored goals whenever he wish. I seriously feel pity on Ronaldo ;-). he is fighting an ever losing battle with Messi. The best part was the performance of Villa. He looked good and was getting involved all the time. I liked the was he and Messi was reaching out for each other last night.

    • pr17
      January 28, 2013

      hey man. I beg to differ on defence.
      I thought both puyol and masche swept everything that came their way. Adriano was a little bit sluggish but still that was not bad.

      Masche played some lovely balls into midfield bypassing their press. I think masche should start in clasico.

  4. January 28, 2013

    Messi has been pretty hard on Ronaldo, even though he say he don’t care about the rivalry. Ronaldo scores 40 and take the record a season, Messi scores 50 next season and steals the record. Now he has scored in 11 consecutive matches, there goes another Ronaldo record. He is really cruel.

    • barca96
      January 28, 2013

      Don’t think Messi looks at Ronaldo and thinks that he needs to do one better. Messi is always a few steps ahead of Ronaldo who is just a goal scoring machine, nothing more nothing less.

      Some of Messi’s passes today. I was so thankful for my Sky commentator for finally mentioning Messi’s pass to Villa I think.
      After like 5 of similar passes, he finally mentions it.

      And did anyone else here watched a Sky feed? The commentator thought that one of the lady that they kept on showing on tv was Shakira just because she was holding a baby and was blonde.

      I understand that he might not like MTV (like me) but he must’ve missed World Cup 2010 🙂

    • January 28, 2013

      haha i heard that shakira comment. It was quite strange.

    • Ryan
      January 28, 2013

      He must have missed 2006 as well, as she sang at that World Cup too! (Hips Don’t Lie)

    • nzm
      February 8, 2013

      The woman that they were showing was Vanessa who is the widow of Dani Montesinos. Dani was the La Sexta football reporter who died in a motor accident last season.

      Dani was a good friend of Puyi and Xavi, and the 4 captains attended Pep’s press conference where a minute’s silence was held for Dani. It was heart-breaking – sobs could be heard from people in the room, and Pep said that he would miss Dani very very much.

  5. Gogah
    January 28, 2013

    Mustn’t open this can of worms but I felt really bad for Villa yesterday. I could notice atleast 7-8 wonderful runs just ignored by Barcelona in the first half. The poor guy is trying to be enthusiastic and dynamic without any acknowledgement from his team mates.

    Yes one will point to his fluffed chances, but I attribute that to the extremely low number of touches on the ball. How is he supposed to get into match rhythm and get a feel of the ball if he just doesn’t see it?
    anyways we won. comfortably. Now lets take care of EE.

    • pr17
      January 28, 2013

      Same here. Villa should start most of matches. Maybe him, iniesta and fab start around 66% each of easy matches (home matches except vs real and atletico, away matches against teams in 11-20th positions in liga)for 2 positions.

      In remaining matches villa can come as sub with iniesta being prime starter.
      Great attitude and others pls cut some slack on his defensive workrate. He was making the tackle near our Goalline when Osasuna scored. I rarely see alexis go so far back whenever he comes on.

    • Jafri
      January 28, 2013

      As much as I love Villa, the team can’t have two passengers in it. Most of the time when Osasuna got the ball he was slower in returning than Messi.

      He did track back, but most of the time he was uninvolved. Compare that to Pedro on the right who, even when he wasn’t doing anything, was running up and down and drawing defenders away and creating space for the others.

  6. @Wardhigleey
    January 28, 2013

    I hope we dont get over excited and allow EE, to counterattack
    and just wait us to make mistakes, hope the players and the staff
    uses the fact that the first game is away and we can keep our backline a bit lower to frustrade the EE with lack of space to run into.

    • January 28, 2013

      Watching our backline against Osasuna, that was a big concern form me. Also I woulod like to see Iniesta starting in the middle rather than Cesc at Bernebeu. With him in middle we have more control.

  7. barca96
    January 28, 2013

    I was shocked to see him sliding on the sidelines! Never seen him do that so deep up the field.

    But yeah, he doesn’t hustle all the time like Pedro and Alexis does. He played very well though last night but it’s just a fact. He just isn’t that type of player and he doesn’t have the legs for it now to suddenly change his style like Henry had to do.

    I wish he could’ve taken his chances better though. All his shots were safe shots to hit it on target to the middle or just too soft.

    • Messiah10
      January 28, 2013

      They were “safe” shots, but they were strikers shots. I mean they were very clinical shots with great technique. He might not have had that deadly accuracy with pace and movement, but that will come with time. I like the different aspect he brings to the Left side. Alexis works harder and does more defensive work but Villa brings some sort of width or difference that can’t be quantified.

  8. Jafri
    January 28, 2013

    And now apparently Arsenal want to sign him (Villa) in the next two days…

    • January 28, 2013

      Can’t and won’t sell him this transfer window. Simple as. This summer, however…

    • Jafri
      January 28, 2013

      Yeah, he’s almost certainly gone… Sigh.

    • January 28, 2013

      hey, i would love for him to be happy with the role he is playing right now, but if he’s not…

  9. nzm
    January 28, 2013

    Game was a great one to be at – especially while waiting for the game to start and hearing the cheers from the Miniestadi each time that Barca B scored against RM!

    That Osasuna goal was a bullet-ball – we were sitting directly above the south goal and saw it screaming in. It was a lucky shot in that it managed to stay on target, but it was fast.

    Masch was a dynamo – from the first save just after the game started until the end. Amazing work ethic and stats to prove it.

    Alexis Sanchez is a joy to watch, and if anyone thinks that any of those shots that he had were easy, they should watch them again. The guy has split seconds in which to decide to pass or shoot. As he’s naturally a support player, he’ll look for his shooters. Camp Nou loves him, laughs with him and even our capita came over to show his appreciation and support for him during the game, by clapping him on the shoulder after the lay-off to Messi.

    Favourite new chant:
    Ole, ole, ole, ole
    Vic-tor Val-des. 🙂

    • January 28, 2013

      My dear, dear nzm …. don’t be upsetting apple carts with your stinkin’ notions about folks. Troublemaker.

    • nzm
      January 29, 2013

      *snicker. 😀

  10. Kimcelona
    January 28, 2013

    Seems the blog had turned into a one-upmanship contest when it comes to Villa and Alexis. Sad, imo.

    Why can’t both players be praised without slagging on the other. Its baffling to me. Both offer great things to the team, hence why they’re valuable parts of the team (according to the coaching staff).

    Its okay to criticize one without the mistakes of the other being shoved down your throat ya know! The criticism of Alexis is not in direct relation with Villa and what he offeres. And vice versa.

    Villa had a great match, yet I have to be reminded that Alexis does the same thing. Alexis has a great move yet I have to be reminded that he didnt/can’t score. When will it end?

    • January 28, 2013

      With a cage match, obviously! Alexis might be the favourite in terms of strength and youth, but Villa has experience and better balance on his side.

      Place your bets now!

    • nzm
      January 29, 2013

      And the outcome will be so close that a tie-breaker will be required.

      And that shall be determined by the total number of off-side calls against each player. 😀

  11. January 28, 2013

    OT:

    Good news for one of my favorite countries in the world!

    Drogba is joining Galatasaray for 18 months. That’s quite the transfer window for the Istanbul club!

  12. January 28, 2013

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