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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Written by:

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.


  1. Gogah
    January 27, 2013

    Yes, complacency is a factor, but not one to fear, only one to avoid. We’ve earned ourselves a nice cushion in La Liga.
    We should treat this match as practise for the ass whipping we will hand out on wednesday.

  2. January 27, 2013

    I was hoping they would sit Messi out for this one…

    According to El Mundo Deportivo the line up will be:

    Dani Alves, Puyol, Masch, Alba
    Thiago Cesc
    Alexis Messi Villa

    Yes, Villa will start!

  3. samarth-culé
    January 27, 2013

    I’m also hoping that the staff keeps Leo on the bench today just to keep him fresh and hungry for EE…

    Adriano Puyi Masche Alba
    Thiago Song Cesc
    Alexis Villa Pedro

  4. IslamAmish
    January 27, 2013

    Another enjoyable preview.

    To the owners of the site, I sent you a message via the Contact section of your site. Can you please respond? 🙂

  5. January 27, 2013

    Also happening today:

    Barcelona B v Real Madrid Castilla

    17:00 CET, 11:00 Eastern time.

    Be there!

    • nzm
      January 27, 2013

      Unfortunately, tickets sold out before I realised that the game was on, otherwise we would have been there, and then hopping across the street to watch the Osasuna match too!

      But we’ll just have to do Osasuna only. 😆

      Mom4 says “HI!” to everyone. She’s having difficulties logging into the site from Barcelona.

  6. mom4
    January 27, 2013

    Hey, y’all.

    Hello from Barcelona.

    BFB mod trivia: nzm is an excellent cook. #modtalent

  7. barca96
    January 27, 2013

    I seriously see those as a good chance to rest Messi and put some responsibility on the other forwards, sort of to give them some burden and motivation to score goals themselves.

    And we also have a big match this midweek.

    Let’s hope Tito is big enough to rest Messi like he did earlier in the season.

    We can afford to drop point but we can’t afford to have a bad match vs Madrid. Since we’re already in SF, let’s go all out. And it would hurt so bad to be knocked out by Madrid.

  8. Ryan
    January 27, 2013

    Really hoping to see a good game from Villa today!

  9. nia
    January 27, 2013

    well well well, look who decided to come play in your face footy.

  10. Jafri
    January 27, 2013

    Wow, it’s proving impossible to find a stream for this match…

  11. yana
    January 27, 2013

    Messi was onside for Villa’s pass and Pedro wasn’t, but can’t blame Pedro’s instinct to go for it, I guess…

    I would have thought they’d do an “Animo Iker” before the match?

    • barca96
      January 27, 2013

      I don’t think they should’ve done. It’s just a small football related injury. If they did one for Iker then they would have to do an “animo (injured player)” player every time they play. Hehe

  12. replayed
    January 27, 2013

    I didn’t think Messi would get the ball out of his feet in time. Silly me.

    • replayed
      January 27, 2013

      He had at least one full second to measure that pass. An eternity in Xavi terms.

  13. Jim
    January 27, 2013

    Jeez, just realised what a small defence we have. Not a night to concede set pieces.

  14. olbucky
    January 27, 2013

    does anyone have the roja directa link for bein sports with Phil and Ray.

  15. replayed
    January 27, 2013

    A bit of a mess in the back there.

    • replayed
      January 27, 2013

      It’s beginning to appear that the most reliable way to score on Barcelona is to aim the ball at Mascherano. With the luck he’s having these days, the ensuing deflection isn’t likely to favor Barca.

      Speaking of (un)lucky deflections… tough luck for Osasuna.

  16. nia
    January 27, 2013

    So you’re telling me EE’s defence with all those players missing is better than Barca’s defence with their best defence. This is crazy not even keeping a clean sheet vs a team who have trouble scoring.

    • replayed
      January 27, 2013

      Barca’s […] best defence.

      Alba and Pique might object to that characterization. Just sayin’…

      • chop
        January 27, 2013

        Neither of them help much.

        The defense has been awful ever since Abidal went down. He was extremely stabilizing for a few reasons:

        1. He played very conservatively which allowed Alves to bomb up. Now Barca have wild fullbacks on both sides.

        2. He could fit in easily as a CB for a three man CB formation.

        3. He had height which is obviously lacking now.

  17. Jim
    January 27, 2013

    Yeah, I’m not sure what happened. Thiago and Villa not sure which to mark but the big question for me is where was Adriano during the move?

  18. Ryan
    January 27, 2013

    Aw, what a great move for Pedro to whiff the finish. Great movement though!

  19. olbucky
    January 27, 2013

    Streaming these games is a joke!!!!!!! I hate Verizon

  20. Jafri
    January 27, 2013

    Man, do they hate Villa or something? There has been approximately 0% of the play down the left hand side. Seen him touch the ball once so far, and that too near his own penalty box.

    • yana
      January 27, 2013

      I don’t think it’s anything to do with Villa, really. Thiago and Adriano not as practiced, so play is shifting to Alves and Pedro. If it were Iniesta and Alba out on the left, it’d be more balanced.

      • yana
        January 27, 2013

        *Iniesta in midfield behind Villa, not Iniesta instead of Villa on the wing. We’ve seen some lovely link up with Alba-Iniesta-Villa on the left this year, I really hope we get to see more of it…

      • Jafri
        January 27, 2013

        I meant that as well; they’ve started less effective people on the left, so play is directed completely through the right; and Villa will be dragged off around the 60 min mark with 0 shots on goal and like only half a dozen touches on the ball, and we’ll hear all about how it wasn’t a good game for him.

        Bit miffed about that.

    • replayed
      January 27, 2013

      But sometimes his nightmare benefits Barca. As in the pass to Dani which led to Barca’s 3rd goal.

    • olbucky
      January 27, 2013

      Are you kidding me, I can deal with 30 seconds. Dude you rock!!

  21. replayed
    January 27, 2013

    Messi should have put away that brilliant Villa cushion.

    • replayed
      January 27, 2013

      Then he shows he can do key passes (to Adriano in this case) as well as assists.


  22. nia
    January 27, 2013

    Seems like Adriano is being told off after every goal, by Puyi.

  23. chop
    January 27, 2013

    This is a joke. La Liga inequality is becoming ridiculous.

  24. yana
    January 27, 2013

    Adri and Villa linking up nicely. Okay Leo, time to return the favor!

  25. Jim
    January 27, 2013

    Might be an idea to take him of now, given the thigh strain?

    • replayed
      January 27, 2013

      I’m guessing Busquets and Xavi are more likely to be taken off, if only to save them for Madrid.

      There isn’t a chance in hell Villa is starting against Madrid.

      • Jim
        January 27, 2013

        I was talking about taking Messi off but I agree on Villa, more ‘s the pity.

        • replayed
          January 27, 2013

          Oh, my bad.

          But yeah, as we know, Messi doesn’t come off unless he wants or has to.

  26. Jim
    January 27, 2013

    How much better does Dani think he is than he actually is, do you think?

  27. chop
    January 27, 2013

    hahahhahaha, Alexis is hilarious. Did you see him fall there?

  28. chop
    January 27, 2013

    Wow, maybe Alexis should just be rested for a season or two.

  29. Jafri
    January 27, 2013

    Alexis. Love that man. There seems to be a ridiculous misses reel out there and he’s upset that there are people other than him on it.

  30. replayed
    January 27, 2013

    It’s touching how hard the team is working to set him up…

  31. chop
    January 27, 2013

    Second time Alexis should have shot rather than passed. He really is the worst #9 to ever play for Barca.

  32. replayed
    January 27, 2013

    Villa should have put that last one away.

  33. ciaran
    January 27, 2013

    Messi outdoing Ronaldo once again… a comfortable win but he is still the only confident striker we have although Pedro is improving.
    Our ex-youth teamer Mauro Icardi got 4 goals for Sampdoria today… youtube it – it’s worth it

  34. barca96
    January 27, 2013

    Near the end of the 1st half the camera showed 2 ladies behind the dug out. One of them wore glasses. I kept wondering if it was Mom4 and Nzm….

    In the 2nd half they did show some ladies but both of them were sitting alone so I doubt it.

    So was it you guys by any chance that were sitting behind the dug out?

  35. barca96
    January 27, 2013

    Messi could’ve had a hattrick of assists if the likes of Villa finished off his passes.

    I don’t care if Ronald scored a hattrick. Messi is still the better player even if he didn’t score any.

    I can imagine some newspapers already having Ronald on their cover only for them to remove it for Messi hehe

  36. barca96
    January 27, 2013

    Good night overall. Barca B beat Madrid 3-1.

  37. barca96
    January 27, 2013

    1) he’s not a striker so don’t expect him to be a #9. Would you be less harsh on him of he had any other number on his jersey besides #9?

    2) Zidane wore #5 while playing in Madrid. That number is usually associated with defenders. So by your logic that Alexis is our worst #9 because he can’t seem to score goals, Zidane is the worst #5?

    • KEVINO17
      January 27, 2013

      They’re just frustrated that Villa didn’t score

      • barca96
        January 27, 2013

        Oh snap. That was meant as a reply to chop’s claims that Alexis is our worst #9 ever.

        • KEVINO17
          January 28, 2013

          I know – I wasn’t criticisng you. Another excellent game from Alexis. First “chance” he got dragged left with the cover closing him down, so he put it on a plate for Messi who had a rare brainfart and tried to control it. If he’d hit it first time, it was a goal. Only one person to blame for not scoring that one, and it wasn’t Alexis.
          The other big chance, he got a bad pass from Messi. Once again, Messi to blame (if anyone wants to play that game).
          Other than that, he set up several good chances and worked hard.

          • barca96
            January 28, 2013

            No no. I knew you weren’t criticizing me. Sorry for the confusion.

  38. barca96
    January 27, 2013

    It must’ve been hilarious over at the Guardian. Mourasaint and Tommoman must be pulling out their hair right now. They’re the biggest Ronaldo fan boys and a Messi hater on that site.

    • dl
      January 28, 2013

      Tommoman has been ‘very’ quiet lately. I kind of miss him…

  39. Jafri
    January 27, 2013

    I think Valdes was half a step too slow getting down for that goal. Wonder if a quicker keeper would have stopped it.

  40. TITO
    January 27, 2013

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

  41. 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.

      • 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. 😀

  42. 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.

  43. 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 🙂

      • 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.

  44. 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.

  45. @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.

    • 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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…

  48. 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.

  49. 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. 😀

  50. January 28, 2013


    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!

  51. January 28, 2013

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