M*drid – Barça Preview, as a matter of clásico

In the tradition of great Dutch masters before him, this not-so-great Dutch not-even-a-master will attempt to draw a journalistic self-portrait, or uhhmmm… an emotional sketch of a culé the day before, if you will, a Q & A between him and himself.

Antimadridista

Hi, nice to meet you. You look great today, as always!

Yeah, yeah, stop flattering me. Everybody knows that already. Let’s get this thing started.

Great. So uhmm… this Copa del Rey thing… Who’s your daddy?

Ha! With twenty-six Cups in our trophy cabinet F.C. Barcelona are the record title holder, followed closely by Athletic Club de Bilbao who have twenty-three. How ironic that it should be the Catalans and Basques who excell at a tournament that honors the King of Spain!

Wow, yeah I guess it is! So this Cup is a big deal, right?

Rrrrrright. Not really. The League and the CL are way more important.

What? You don’t care about the Copa?

Mmmm…. the answer is probably somewhere in between too much and not enough. I care, and I don’t care. There are an x-amount of scenarios that affect how much I do or don’t and a y-amount of reasons I don’t wanna get into that right now. So there!

Ok, sorry I asked. No wait, you know what man, f___ you, I’m not sorry. Do you care or not?

Ok, ok, ok, I care, calm down, no need to get all up in my grill like that. God, what bonehead editor let you do interviews on this site, man? I care, all right? Or, no, wait, I don’t care! I mean I do! I mean I don’t know, really, I really don’t know. I just want us to win big shiny things, ok? And I hate losing, but if we do get knocked out of the Copa it’s not as if I’m left with that sinking feeling in my stomach for weeks on end like when we lost to Chelsea in the CL semis. Nor does winning it make up for losing the ones we really want.

Why thank you for answering my question. So I guess tomorrow’s game doesn’t really matter then?

(the interviewee grabs a mirror to give the interviewer a long, hard stare)…

Of course it does, it’s a clásico. When the hordes of Mordor are knocking on the Elven gates, does it matter? On whichever battlefield you tread, an orc is still an orc.

Uh, that’s a bit strong, isn’t it?

We must crush them, kill them, smash them, tear them up, rip them to pieces, suffocate them, bash their brains in, stain their pristine white little shirts with the bloo…

Slow down, take it easy. Jeeeez, and I thought I was the crazy one. Take a deep breath. It’s gonna be ok!

(takes a deep breath)

Wow. This really works. It’s like one of those self-help websites. Ok, I see now how to the uninitiated reader it might appear that I got just a little bit carried away. All I meant to say is, yes, it matters. We can get knocked out of the Copa, but not by them.

Why not?

Well, for one, when things go well at Barça they go unwell at M*drid. And vice-versa. Things never go well here AND there. We are Ying and Yang, Tom and Jerry, Django and the Ku Klux Klan. Things can’t go well for both parties at the same time.

Come on… Isn’t that a litt…

Shut up, I’m talking here. If we lose, not only do we lose, but they win. And when things go well for them, they tend to go wrong for us. So yes, in the middle of the season, I would say that this Cup tie matters a whole lot more than some might think.

Can you give us an example?

Sure. Last season is the perfect example. We lost the league during the second leg of the Copa del Rey against M*drid. I have no doubt.

Huh? But didn’t we win the Copa?

Yeah, we drew the game 2-2 and we won the tie, but we lost the league in that game. That season we beat them in the Supercopa and in the league at the Bernabeu. For the first cup leg we went back to their house and embarrassed them. They hardly got out of their half of the pitch. Mourinho and his team were on the ropes. Their city was in full-on crisis mode. Their newspapers were crying shame and disgrace. Di Stefano said they played like a mouse. They were one blaugrana embarrassment away from having their trainer kicked to the curb, which at that point would have caused their season to unravel. No doubt, man, they were done for.

Right… But that’s not what happened, was it?

(starts choking up)

They came to the Camp Nou. And with a bit of luck on our part we went into halftime up by 2-0. But then we let them get back into the game. They might have ended up losing the tie, but they left the moral winners. Their resolve was strengthened and they won the league with a record total of points. So clásicos matter, ok?

I get it. So what do you think will happen tomorrow?

Hey, I don’t know. I don’t do predictions, you should ask that Isaiah dude whenever he’s not too busy to write previews.  I do know that I was nervous as hell when we last met, you know, when we were missing half of our defense and all. And after the game we all said “well, let’s see how they do when they miss half of their defense”. Well, now they do. Plus their goalkeeper. And that ratface Di Maria. But that doesn’t mean squat to me. They might be even more dangerous like this. They got nothing to lose. An injured cat fights like a lion.

I see. Well, thanks for the interview, I really enjoyed that. We should hang out more!

Definitely. You should come over tomorrow so we can watch the game together!

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Culé since way before football boots were of the neon yellow and lizard green variety, Levon is a deep thinker with increasingly shallow thoughts. He lives in Barcelona with his gorgeous wife and daughter. The lucky bastard...

194 Comments

  1. rocherto
    January 29, 2013

    ooooooooohhhhhhhhhh shinyyyyyyy!!!!
    Sorry I just couldn’t resist. The ADHD kid in me wanted out 😉
    I must say that I feel the same way a classico is a classico is a classico!!! I could not stand it if we went out to them.

  2. mom4
    January 29, 2013

    Isaiah, dear, did you forget your medication…again? jk 😀

    Yup, the copa isn’ t too important but it’s against THEM.

    Back in the States waiting for one more flight to home. Thanks again to the best hosts ever! Did y’all hear us cheering at the Osasuna game?

  3. bhed
    January 29, 2013

    Its EE, it matters. I’m sure we all know Madristas who are chomping at the bit, anticipating some (in their opinion) deserved schadenfreude at our expense. We. Must. Not. Let. That. Happen.

    (credit to Kxevin, and apologies for plagiarizing his emphatic syntax)

    • selfie barça
      January 29, 2013

      Yeah, I just read that Graham Hunter piece myself… I have a bad feeling about this…

    • bhed
      January 29, 2013

      If only he had the same predictive powers as Sid Lowe, I’d feel much better. Of course, the key will be how well we defend the counters – we’ll score some, will they?

    • KEVINO17
      January 29, 2013

      Graham Hunter gets paid to say games will be close.
      Personally, I’m approaching this game with arrogance and complacency. It’s the only way I know.

    • nia
      January 29, 2013

      No animal is more dangerous than a wounded one. I read that piece as well and I agree, despite all the drama in Madrid, they are playing better than before the break. They’ve even kept all clean sheets bar the Valencia 1-1.

      Yes, this is the time Barca can really stick it to them but, I don’t think it will be that easy. We were missing important players the 3 times we met earlier this season and yet we won one, drew one and you know the other one. EE wasn’t able to fully exploit our weakness in the liga to get the win. It wont be a walk in the park but, I think we’ll have a positive result.

      I just hope CR doesn’t score and be subjected to his annoying celebrations(I’m sure he will) and the boys have a stellar performance.

      VISCA BARCA!!!! 🙂

    • Messiah10
      January 30, 2013

      Thanks for posting Jafri. I’m not buying the “be careful of a wounded animal” scenario. As much as I respect EE and their ability to play, I think our boys are ready for this match. They’ve wanted it since the Super Copa. You best believe Xavi & Puyol have let it be know that our Mids and DB’s have to be on the very top of their game. Our front line will take care of itself. I think Busi will handle Alonso and mark him out of the game. He’s the one guy I worry about because of his accuracy over distance. If we can close him down quickly and not allow him time to pick out those balls Hunter mentions then I think we’ll be ok. Visca Barca! Visca Catalunya!

  4. KEVINO17
    January 29, 2013

    I expect Real will come out as they always do and, in the first 30 minutes, press high, try to overwhelm Barca with their energy and get a few cheap goals. If Barca survives that it will be all over for RM.
    I expect that this time Barca will be more inclined to hoof the ball upfield if they get into trouble (which is good).
    The only real selection surprise might be Tito playing Alexis as a centre forward to keep RM honest and try to spring the off-side trap before RM fall back to play counter-attacking football.
    The loss of the Diver is a huge blow to RM because he’s the only forward who really tracks back.

    • barca96
      January 29, 2013

      I agree with you but do you and others here notice that EE don’t really play well against us in their home ground. The only times where they were better than us for some stretches was in our home ground. Kinda weird. Perhaps their fans expect too much of them until the players feel a heavy burden.

  5. selfie barça
    January 29, 2013

    OT: How come Man City, the richest team in the world, manage to sell Balotelli for 20 million euro to Milan while all we managed was a 24 million euro deal over three years for Ibrahimovic???

    • January 30, 2013

      Because Guardiola wanted him gone, no matter the loss. Galliani and Raiola knew that, and played to it. Believe me, Raiola was almost certainly bummed that he went for so “little.” That cut into his fee. Probably had to settle for a smaller boat or something.

  6. Ryan
    January 29, 2013

    Let’s get a good result and finally give Mourinho a “Mou, Res” season! We were so close in 2011. (Menys la Copa)

  7. bhed
    January 29, 2013

    Oh, and congrats to David Villa on the birth of his healthy baby boy Luca! Luca Villa – if that’s not a proper footballer’s name, I don’t know what is (but of course, no pressure).

  8. Jafri
    January 30, 2013

    1) Mourinho usually makes his teams sit back and defend deep at home so as to not give up an away goal; especially if he’s home in the first leg. It’ll be interesting to see if he makes them do the intense pressing instead though.

    2) Lev – Balotelli’s deal is also going to be paid over some time – three years I think. Milan still the pauperiest of paupers.

    • selfie barça
      January 30, 2013

      Still think we could have sold Ibra for way more than we did… Milan are smart negotiators.

      • samarth-culé
        January 30, 2013

        The problem is that we are NOT a selling club. The only players to leave are those that are no longer required for tactical or disciplinary reasons… So the buyers know that we’ll have to settle for whatever modest they bid.

        • barca96
          January 30, 2013

          @samarth

          Great point. We won’t have any leverage because of that.

  9. selfie barça
    January 30, 2013

    Woke up with classic jitters! Mario Kempes just said on Fuera de Juego that with M*drid’s backline injuries he would play Alexis instead of Cesc, because Lexus is faster and can exploit their lack of speed… What do y’all think?

    • Blau-Grenade
      January 30, 2013

      That would be fine except he is having a bit of trouble putting ball in the back of the net. Iniesta and Cesc are carrying that burden these days.

  10. Art is a blast
    January 30, 2013

    Let the predictions flow guys!

  11. Tank
    January 30, 2013

    Just out of curiosity: How much do you fellow cules care about the Copa del Rey? For example, if winning the league is worth 100 points, how many points is winning the cup worth to you? And how important is winning the Champions League in comparison?

    For me, it’s about that:

    La Liga 100
    Copa 60
    Champions League 180

    • Art is a blast
      January 30, 2013

      Same here. BUT any game against madrid AND chelsea, it’s 200.

      • Messiah10
        January 30, 2013

        Def. This is Madrid! That elevates the Cup Semi to the most important trophy right NOW! The CL & League are long hauls. This is right now in the moment and we don’t want to go out to EE!

        • Tank
          January 30, 2013

          Yes, of course. I’m sure our players won’t waste a thought today about how much the Copa is worth in comparison to other trophies. It certainly wouldn’t help them to concentrate on their job.

          But since we aren’t Barca players, I think there is no harm in evaluating the different competitions.

          A Copa won after facing Madrid somewhere along the way is worth 75 for me. (If La Liga is still fixed as worth 100 points.) A Copa won after facing Madrid in the final is worth 90.

          In any case, for me the Copa is a major competition. Any trophy that is worth more than, let’s say, 30 points counts as major for me. In comparison, a Supercopa ranks somewhere around 5-10 points, The European Supercup 10-15 and the Club World Cup 20-25.

    • January 30, 2013

      Champions League: 1,243,997
      Liga: 987,356
      Copa: 14
      SuperCopa: 2

  12. Messiah10
    January 30, 2013

    I know Alexis has more speed and can break the offside trap, but I am inclined to go with Cesc. He’s been in fantastic form and his understanding with our front 3 has grown exponentially. Some of the tiki taka he plays with Messi, Iniesta, & Xavi/Busi is out of this world. I fully expect him to start since he was rested against Osasuna along with Busi & Iniesta. Otherwise, Tito would’ve played him for important league points. I love Alexis but I am more comfortable and confident that if Cesc gets a shot 6 yards from goal, he’ll not only take it, but bury it.

    • January 30, 2013

      If only Fabregas were such a lead-pipe cinch at Chelsea last year. We’d be defending champions, defending the CL crown again.

      What I’m saying is, a sure thing ain’t never a sure thing until it is. Or something like that.

  13. Messiah10
    January 30, 2013

    Question: Has Balotelli played for Manchester City in the Champions League this year? I am wanting to know if he’s Cup tied and cannot play for AC Milan against us.

    • Clouseau
      January 30, 2013

      He is cuptied played a couple of minutes against Borussia Dortmund if i remember correctly.

      • January 30, 2013

        He is definitely Cup-tied. The Milan folks confirmed this, via Twitter.

  14. January 30, 2013

    my starting XI for today:

    Pinto
    Alves Pique Puyol Alba
    Xavi Busquets Fabregas
    Pedro Messi Iniesta

    It’s the Copa, but it’s Real Madrid and maintaining our momentum here is crucial. A scoring draw would be fantastic.

    • selfie barça
      January 30, 2013

      ” A scoring draw would be fantastic.”

      Really? Although I fear the worst, anything less than a comfortable victory against a M*drid without Pepe, Ramos, Casillas and Di Maria would be a disappointment imo

      • January 30, 2013

        It’s very rare to see a comfortable victory in a Clasico, no matter how down and out one team is.

        This is also a two legged affair. A scoring draw puts us in good position to advance, which is the ultimate goal.

        • Rivaldo
          January 30, 2013

          Really? With them coming to take it to us and Barca playing for a draw. No way …

  15. Tank
    January 30, 2013

    What I think will happen:

    Real Madrid 3-4 FC Barcelona

    Madrid going for it and scoring 2 early goals. Barcelona hitting back, Cristiano netting a late goal to save Madrid a chance in the return game. Overall a good result, a one goal win with four away goals will see us through in 9/10 return games.

    What I hope will happen, keeping a realistic view:

    Real Madrid 1-4 FC Barcelona, Real Madrid 2-5 FC Barcelona, basically any result that will end the tie tonight. Of course I’d like us to keep a clean sheet… but is that really a realistic outcome?

  16. January 30, 2013

    I want Sanchez in the starting XI, even as I am sure it won’t happen. He’s the one player that RM have no real answer for (even if he often has an answer for himself). There will be space, as they send the legions to shut down Messi. I think that Sanchez is a destabilizing kind of a player that wreaks havoc with their shape.

  17. Jafri
    January 30, 2013

    Anyone who wants a tactical breakdown, you should go read Euler’s twitter. Comprehensive stuff.

  18. Clouseau
    January 30, 2013

    All i wish for tonight is that the Team put up a performance that will stop their positive momentum. While RM struggled off the pitch they managed to get some good results on the pitch. Nice time to halt their resurgance and cause them and above all Mourinho some headache.

  19. Jim
    January 30, 2013

    As long as its Piqué/ Puyol at the back I’m not too concerned.

    I’m still of the opinion that adopting the more offensive style will cost us in the big games and for that reason I’d rather see Busi, Xavi and Iniesta in the middle. RM will press us big style and Cesc isn’t as good at keeping the ball. Not too fussed about the front line although I’d always play Villa over Alexis. However, neither is likely to start. I would like to see Dani at RB as I think he does deal well with CR7 although with Alba on the left he needs to stay at home unless he can get back on a quick break.

  20. KEVINO17
    January 30, 2013

    Agree. You look at the crocks in the EE backline and gou wonder how Alexis can’t start.

  21. January 30, 2013

    Don’t kid yourselves thinking that RM is down and out in any way, shape or form. Essien/Varane/Carvalho/Arbeloa is still a heck of a back line. In midfield, it’s Khedira/Alonso/Modric, who is every bit as dangerous as Jughead. And up front, nothing has changed, except that Benzema isn’t quite so inept any longer. And Ozil still wants to show us what we missed in not picking him up.

    This isn’t going to be a stroll in the park. AND they’re at home.

  22. Jafri
    January 30, 2013

    They may not have a five star backline, but they sure as heck have a four-and-a-half star one.

    Can we hope for a Liveblog tonight?

  23. mei
    January 30, 2013

    No penalties / red cards please. And no injuries.

  24. nia
    January 30, 2013

    Mou is a coward. If he thought Adan was better that Iker, why not play him v us. Instead he put in Lopez. tsk

  25. mom4
    January 30, 2013

    That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that can only mean one thing…clasico…again…

  26. nia
    January 30, 2013

    My stomach is churning, can’t bear it.

  27. replayed
    January 30, 2013

    Arbeloa deliberately raked his studs against Alves’s heel. Nasty.

  28. Blau-Grenade
    January 30, 2013

    This ref seems to be card happy. Center backs from both teams booked for their first fouls.

    • replayed
      January 30, 2013

      And Carvalho should have had a second one.

      Just before Xavi rattled the bar.

  29. replayed
    January 30, 2013

    The ref is trying really, really hard not to send off any RM player. I don’t wish him luck with that.

    • G6O
      January 30, 2013

      He gave an yellow to Callejon to what was nothing compared to what Esien did to Messi as last man in defense minutes before that, which he didn’t even call as a foul.

      That said, the ref is not to blame for us not playing as well as we are capable of.

  30. nia
    January 30, 2013

    Barca needs to play better. Come on guys.

  31. Doug
    January 30, 2013

    Nice Ozil dive.

    Rough sledding out there.

  32. Rivaldo
    January 30, 2013

    Are these playing scared/cautious/conservative to anybody else?

  33. replayed
    January 30, 2013

    The team’s passing touch isn’t in evidence so far. In defense, or attack.

    Arbeloa is trying to take over as enforcer in Pepe’s absence.

    • Blau-Grenade
      January 30, 2013

      I think over the years, Alves has gotten on to Arbeloa’s nerves.

  34. January 30, 2013

    Only saw the last 10 minutes of the first half, but we are playing right into Madrid’s hands tempo wise.

    The game is being played at an extremely slow tempo in midfield punctuated by short attacking bursts from each team. This plays to Madrid’s strengths and minimizes Barcelona’s. We need to get serious tika-taka going and start circulating the ball much faster in midfield.

    • Jim
      January 30, 2013

      It’s just too open for my liking which as you say suits them more than us. They are doing a great job in pressing us at the moment. If we make them chase it by moving the ball quickly we could get our reward towards the end.

  35. yana
    January 30, 2013

    We are not using the left side at all. Who is supposed to be on the left wing, Iniesta or Cesc? Either way, they’re both pulling into the middle.

    • replayed
      January 30, 2013

      I guess sometimes it pays for Cesc to be in the middle, eh?

    • Blau-Grenade
      January 30, 2013

      I was just about to post bile about Fab that he has not been involved all game, except stay forward.

  36. replayed
    January 30, 2013

    Essien has always been a stone cold thug.

    A real Mourinho-type player.

  37. Jim
    January 30, 2013

    Obvious statement of the night. How good is Xavi?

  38. replayed
    January 30, 2013

    Barca have really forgotten how to counter with speed.

    Messi should have passed that ball just now. He held on to it for so long he gave RM their own counter.

    • Blau-Grenade
      January 30, 2013

      Yes, after Eto’o Henry departed the counter attack has died at Barca.

    • January 30, 2013

      Pique has been playing very well this season, but that tackle was otherworldly.

      • replayed
        January 30, 2013

        Though to be fair, Varane also had a magnificent tackle a bit earlier.

  39. Blau-Grenade
    January 30, 2013

    Wow, what a miss by Pedro!!!

  40. replayed
    January 30, 2013

    Haha. Someone threw something on the field, and Pique tried to show it to the referee. Puyol unceremoniously grabbed it from his hand and tossed it off the field. Then he yelled at Pique to keep his head in the game.

    That yellow card to Dani was really lame. Dive by Ronaldo, and idiot ref fell for it.

    Oh, Pedro. Are you channeling Alexis?

  41. Rivaldo
    January 30, 2013

    Today the guys seems way off. Has not been pleasing to the eye at all. I know we must give credit to the opponent but I am not pleased about this effort.

    • Rivaldo
      January 30, 2013

      OK… way off might be taking it too far.. but I expected better play; not necessarily more goals, but better play

  42. replayed
    January 30, 2013

    Varane is having the match of his life.

    • January 30, 2013

      He is the real deal from seeing him play in the past and today.

      Wish we could make him our Figo! #BuyVarane

  43. Blau-Grenade
    January 30, 2013

    That was a Carvalho hand ball – he should have been sent off, and Varane tripped Messi. That should have been a yellow.

  44. samarth-culé
    January 30, 2013

    What a stupid ref! A****** :/

  45. TITO
    January 30, 2013

    Somebody enlighten me. What was our game plan against one of the worst RM line-ups in the recent years? Cause i surely didn’t get it.

    • Rivaldo
      January 30, 2013

      I understanding your frustration. I’m in that category of trying to figure out what is was we were trying to achieve. I know people will point to had we put away our chances but what if they had away theirs as well? Not impressed.

      • G6O
        January 30, 2013

        We had better chances.

        Still, they had way too many

    • G6O
      January 30, 2013

      Throw the game away.

      1-1 is still a good away score, but given how dangerous they can be, it’s not really something to be that happy with. We could have killed the game and we didn’t

    • sd
      January 30, 2013

      To not give them the counter, slow down the tempo of the game and be less risky with possession. Use the possession wisely for creating chances but not so risky that we expose ourselves at the back. Be less “vertical” than we have been this season. This is what I saw. Both teams missed some good chances but I think Barca controlled the game well (especially in the second half) and created more opportunities which even the likes of Pedro and Cesc would have put away on other days.

      I am optimistic about the second leg at home.

    • Choba
      January 30, 2013

      That’s when I see the important of a coach ! It seems to me that they don’t have any mechanism to apply in the game.

  46. HisR0yalFlyness
    January 30, 2013

    Wasted chances. So many wasted chances.

  47. chop
    January 30, 2013

    Typical El Clasico. Horrible referring. They’re terrified of making an influential decision. Barca wasted too many chances though.

  48. samarth-culé
    January 30, 2013

    How are we giving up to their pressing?! And wasting scoring chances doesn’t help either!

  49. Xavi6
    January 30, 2013

    Undeserved draw .
    We wasted a lot of chances – as usual –
    When will we have a decent GK ??

      • Jim
        January 30, 2013

        I thought Pinto did pretty well, especially with the ball at his feet.

    • samarth-culé
      January 30, 2013

      There was no Pintocalypse today!

  50. Blau-Grenade
    January 30, 2013

    Cesc, being a midfielder, I felt, could have been more involved in the game. Messi drops back to pick the ball up, he can too.

    Pedro should have buried that counter. At least put it on target.

    Alves, Pique, Puyol, Alba, Xavi, Busi, Ini were fantastic. Special praise to Iniesta for his beautiful play.

    Messi was simply market out of the game.

    • chop
      January 30, 2013

      Marked out by Essien on what should have been a red and by the ref on what should have been onside (1st, not 2nd which was legit).

      La Liga is a joke league. Whenever it comes to a big game the refs use a different standard. Whenever one of the big clubs is losing immediately the standard changes.

      • Messiah10
        January 30, 2013

        2nd offside was worse call then the 1st! The 1st had at least all the defenders in a straight back line and was somewhat close. The 2nd was clearly onside. Not sure what the assistant was thinking!???

  51. January 30, 2013

    Great game and good result. How Pedro missed is beyond me but to be fair Ronaldo missed a sitter as well. Pretty even game in terms of chances. If both teams were more clinical could have ended 3-3 instead of 1-1.

    I will take a 1-1 away from home with the second leg to be played at home any day. Messi had a seriously off day today, I felt he wasnt in the game at all, not sure why but he wasnt very active. Iniesta and Xavi were the best players on the pitch and I also thought Pique had a really good game.

    Varane is a beast, ironically exactly the type of defender WE need. Big, strong, fast, good positional sense.

  52. Rivaldo
    January 30, 2013

    I think Messi has been quite shackled today. great job by them or poor job by him… you choose and Iniesta in the first half was a bit wasteful in possession o me… too many lost balls and looking for soft calls . we cant play like that. I missed a chance to play to attcking wingers… Alexis could’ve started. The way this match wnet i don’t see what we would’ve lost. But overall, I think the team played to “conservative” to be politically correct.

    • Rivaldo
      January 30, 2013

      “in possession to me …” and “We missed…” and “The way we played this match, I dont see what we would’ve lost”

      Ughhh…errors (need to look when i type)

      Here’s hoping for an improved performance in the 2nd leg… and in general… our form has dipped.

  53. Momo
    January 30, 2013

    Cesc should have been taken out earlier IMO. He scored the goal yes, but I cant help thinking how much better off we would have been with iniesta in mid and villa and pedro outwide.

    We kind of resembled Man city out there at times, no width at all!

    However I am satisfied with the result, playing them on the camp nou with the pitch prepared to our liking, I have no doubt we’ll go through.

  54. Choba
    January 30, 2013

    I think it was a good game, both played well, missed chances from both teams. One thing bothered me is that barça seemed out of strategy this time.

  55. Momo
    January 30, 2013

    Also, objectively, would you guys take Varane or Bartra?

    After today from a purely objective POV I would go with Varane no doubt… The kid was world class, very pique like…

    • selfie barça
      January 30, 2013

      I’d take Varane over Masche. Which is not a slight on Javier, btw.

    • samarth-culé
      January 30, 2013

      But careers are not decided on the basis of one match. Varane might have been great tonight but Bartra is not so inferior. Why not look at this question after a couple of years?

  56. samarth-culé
    January 30, 2013

    Busi played good; saved our ass in defense quite a number of times.

  57. samarth-culé
    January 30, 2013

    And guess who recovered most balls tonight… Pique – 16
    Return of the Piquenbaur!

  58. samarth-culé
    January 30, 2013

    And it’s anybody’s guess how much we missed Tito tonight… His tactical insights would have surely improved the course of our play during the game!

  59. Gogah
    January 30, 2013

    initial reactions:

    1. We simply didnt attack enough. whether that was down to uncharacteristically cowardly tactics or Varane’s brilliance is yet to be decided, but we didnt take advantage of a weakened EE. Not enough shots on goal too.

    2. Varane is the real deal. WHAT. A. PLAYER.

    3. Messi was shut down. Just completely canned. Although he was unlucky to have had a poor foul and offside decision unjustly called against him. Anyways we’ve become used to those calls never going our way.

    4. Pinto was great!

    5. this match was screaming for alexis. poor match selection in that sense by the 2 coaches.

    6. 1-1 may not be bad. Some might say 4-1 should have been the score. They finished badly too.

    7. 2-0 was the result that should have been.

  60. Doug
    January 30, 2013

    As a huge Iniesta fan, I was wondering all 1st half why he wasn’t playing wider. Then again, I’m confused as to where both he and Cesc should be playing. In the 2nd half, Ini played more as a midfielder, and Cesc played up front. Hopefully, the two are not as confused as I am, but we did lack width.

    Cesc had a great finish on his goal, but he had a couple other chances he could have done more with.

  61. January 30, 2013

    Initial reactions:

    –Varane!
    –Both teams missed great chances. Could have been 1-1, or 4-4. Would have preferred 4-4, right?

    –The team did not play well, so 1-1 in their house feels even better to me. Messi? Ugh. Pedro off, and Fabregas just isn’t sufficiently dynamic for a team playing with the aggression and pace of RM. It showed.

    –Midfield was a mess. Credit their pressing as well as our headless chicken syndrome.

    –If you stand there and watch Ozil make a pass ….

    –What Gogah said about Sanchez. Look at what he did within minutes of his entrance. Dynamic matches need dynamic players. He was making runs that were consistently ignored. Hmmm ….

    • samarth-culé
      January 30, 2013

      So can we safely conclude Alexis is one of the players for the Clasico fixture?

    • Choba
      January 30, 2013

      I agree with you, I’m putting chicken syndrome on the coach, I think he had something to do with it.

      • replayed
        January 30, 2013

        I personally think that’s a bit unfair to Roura.

        I thought Barca were fairly craven in the liga clasico at home and said so at the time. And Tito was at the helm.

    • Jim
      January 30, 2013

      I agree it wasn’t our finest hour although I wouldn’t fault the effort. Cesc is still a problem for me in the midfield. He doesn’t get as involved as Iniesta in keeping the ball and being available. It doesnt show or even matter most of the time but we have to get it right for the business end of the season. Xavi was simply amazing under pressure for me but he needs Iniesta there for these matches. I think Uni saw that himself and moved in more. Can’t argue with Cesc’s attacking prowess though. When I saw it was him through on goal I was confident he would finish it.

      We can’t let free crosses come into our box as we did for the goal. No pressure on the crosser as you say. Good pinching of the ball by Sanchez and decent through ball to Messi but there were only ten minutes left and both sides were out on their feet by then. He’s also not the only one who has his runs ignored. Still, right decision to bring him on for the energy.

      We’ll have more space to work at home as we keep better width there. Still pretty confident we’ll go through.

    • Messiah10
      January 30, 2013

      Spot on with your initial reactions. Xavi was the only midfielder on the pitch in control of his body and unnerved enough to hold onto the ball and not pass it scared. I thought we slowed down in the 2nd half which was good. 1st half we played to much into their hands by giving the ball away and looking for that super quick strike. It would be hard not to try and take it, but at some point Xavi or Puyol has to corral our guys and say, SLOW IT DOWN! Calm down! Don’t rush your passes. I’m still fuming over the offside call on Messi the 2nd time where he was clearly through on goal and a yard BEFORE the last defender. 2 horrific offside calls that are inexcusable. I thought Madrid played fairly rough and I expected them to, but not overtly dirty. Except maybe Carvalho and Alonso. See thoughts on Varane below. Kid is a STUD!

    • replayed
      January 30, 2013

      Then again, Madrid didn’t score until Alexis was on the pitch.

      So, you know…

  62. TITO
    January 30, 2013

    Not so initial reactions, cause mu initial reaction was to through my remote control straight on my TV.
    To slow my liking, to many displaced passes, to confused, to much od everything that can go wrong did go wrong tonight.
    We could have and should have killed the tie this evening.

  63. rand
    January 30, 2013

    Cesc should have never played, not exactly sure how he keeps getting chances. Oh, right, that whole Catalan thing. And because he scored a goal today, he will get away with his abysmal performance.

    Alexis should’ve played, he should get more chances to get into form. But we all know he won’t. After all, how else will we ‘integrate’ the Catalan into the squad?

    Messi was marked out of the game, it was bound to happen. And that begs the question, if Messi is being harassed and kicked, who else will step up? If we had a player half as good as Messi, we could have come away with a win today. None of our forwards or midfielders can score goals or create chances consistently. Eto’o, Henry where art thou?

    • KEVINO17
      January 30, 2013

      One reason Messi got marked out of the game was because nobody was pulling their defence around. That is why we need Alexis in the forward line.

      • rand
        January 30, 2013

        Alexis always makes a nuisance of himself, which is what is needed for Messi to do his thing. I am not a fan of Cesc and Iniesta playing together, it didn’t work last season, not exactly sure why it would this season. And CL is coming up. God help us all.

        • Jim
          January 30, 2013

          It’s hardly that bad, for goodness’ sake. Who would you rather be than us in terms of winning the CL ? (I’m assuming well win La Liga) anyway.

        • Momo
          January 30, 2013

          Oh, NOW you’re not a fan of them playing together, when they were exchanging positions seemlessly and tearing teams apart in every other match this season you didn’t seem to mind though.

          • rand
            January 30, 2013

            First of all, I have never been a fan of them playing together. Not just ‘NOW’ as you put it.

            As for ‘tearing teams apart’, which teams are these? Teams who can’t afford to play their players’ salaries? Or the teams whose entire annual budget is far less than what Barcelona paid to sign David Villa? Pick someone your own size and ‘tear them apart’, I will appreciate the ‘seamless exchanging of positions’ then. Until then, you go on enjoy it, and I will keep disliking it.

          • bhed
            January 30, 2013

            It’s more polite to comment on the match than to comment on the commenter.

      • I agree with the first statement. But why you should not try Villa. This false 9 stuff has gone a bit too far. Big teams are making it narrower down the middle and every time Messi gets the ball he is marked by at least 4-5 guys. That nonsense. The solution will be to use the win but Messi when marked by 4 guys will never have the space to open up the wing.

  64. KEVINO17
    January 30, 2013

    Man of the match was definitely Carvalho. He fouls, he punches the ball, he should get sent off, but doesn’t. True, he can’t kick the ball, but the man is a genius.

  65. samarth-culé
    January 30, 2013

    And is the coaching staff in dilemma in picking Cesc & Don Andres together instead of Villa/Alexis for the starting XI by accommodating one in the wing? Because it seems that they both are playing identical roles many times and as a result our width is compromised to a considerable extent…

  66. rand
    January 30, 2013

    Is Xabi Alonso a dirty thug or what? Fouls consistently and gets away with it because he is an RM player/WC winner. Moron.

    • Jafri
      January 30, 2013

      I love his nonchalant ‘I’m a handsome, gentlemanly looking fellow, so of course I don’t stoop to foul play and underhanded tactics’ expression. Fools the referees plenty.

      • rand
        January 30, 2013

        I know, he has that ‘Buddhist monk who found his inner peace’ look about him. Not just a dirty thug, a cunning dirty thug. An ideal Mourinho player.

  67. January 30, 2013

    I’d take a 1-1 away result anyday, especially after the amount of chances they had.

    Guess what, all players miss chances.And will continue to do so. The key is to create chance after chance.

    All to do at home, we have to score first, and we’ll be fine. As long we don’t screw up too badly.

    Off-topic: Hey Samarth, did you go to IIT Bombay?

    • samarth-culé
      January 30, 2013

      Nope, couldn’t get through JEE. I’ve just started my engineering this year.

    • samarth-culé
      January 30, 2013

      BTW, did you get through GATE for M.Tech?

      • January 31, 2013

        Yeah, that and test+interviews.

        I asked because I knew a guy my age with your name. Thought it might be him. He has finished engineering a long time ago though.

  68. Gogah
    January 30, 2013

    Whatever happened to our pressing abilities.

    Not just this match, but in general this season too? Ok I get it, it may be a byproduct of the play becoming more direct. But that shit is excusable only if we are indeed direct.

    Disappointing match. disappointing tactics and selection and preparation.

  69. Messiah10
    January 30, 2013

    Varane was Man of Match for me. Kid had incredible game. Scored equalizer and came up with huge clearance off line from Xavi’s shot. He was also all over the place. I couldn’t believe his SPEED! He beat out Messi, Alba, & Dani to quite a few balls. I had no idea he was that fast.
    This was another game where if we had taken our chances the game would’ve been put to bed. Pedro’s miss was huge! one vs one you gotta bury it in the back of the net. 2 offside flags that were horrible calls would’ve resulted in 2 goals as well. I can say that because Messi was on the end of both of them. The 2nd call was absolutely horrific! It wasn’t even close! Messi was thru by 10 yards if that wasn’t called and would’ve scored easily. Unbelievable. Frustrating game where we weren’t are absolute best, but I’m ok with the result. 1-1 back at the Camp Nou.

  70. Tank
    January 30, 2013

    Not a bad match, not a good one. Decent result though. Two things that, in my humble opinion, the team could do better:

    1. Don’t panic. Ok, sounds easy when you sit on your couch instead of standing in front of 80,000 Madridistas and you don’t have Khedira, Alonso, Callejon, etc. chasing you like mad. But still, don’t panic. Madrid press hard but we pass better than they press. Believe in that. Live with the pressure, deal with it, but deal with it in your own style. Don’t hoof the ball up the field unless it’s absolutely necessary. Sometimes it is necessary, but if we believe in our passing, that won’t happen so often. We pass better than they press.

    2. Don’t get confused by their movement. Often you can predict what’s coming next. I found myself saying “Oh man, that was too easy!!” multiple times tonight, when our defence (or midfield or even attack) failed to spot the fairly obvious pass or move. Maybe our defence saw what was coming but thought “Nah, too obvious, they won’t do that…” They did.

    A third point, possibly not the most controversial one:

    3. If you got an excellent chance to score, please score. It helps.

    • Tank
      January 30, 2013

      p.s.: Varane is class. Had to say it.

  71. TITO
    January 30, 2013

    Something else i forgot to mention and did impressed me.
    There was the 60th minute or something and a stat appeared on screen stating RM made something like 15-16 fouls and we made only 1 (the second or third minute – Ronaldo’s shot) which was amazing and unbelievable.

    • KEVINO17
      January 30, 2013

      I think the final stat was RM 19 fouls (3 yellow) and Barca 5 fouls (3 yellow).

      • KEVINO17
        January 30, 2013

        Apologies, according to Barcastuff Barca only made 3 fouls. I’m not sure that is correct. I can remember an alba foul which didn’t get a yellow (I think)

      • Messiah10
        January 31, 2013

        The obvious stat that jumps out at the foul stats is the yellow cards. We both had 3 apiece. How is that possible? If EE had 19 fouls that clearly shows a pattern of consistent fouling and warrants more yellow cards. It’s not just the type of foul it is that warrants one. The Arbeloa foul on Dani was a straight yellow no question. That was so cynical and dirty. The ref had already given one I believe at that point to Pique and may have already given one to EE, so he was 2 afraid of pulling it out?

  72. January 30, 2013

    Another thing is that we were mostly passing scared, as a reaction to their pressure. That can’t happen, and is uncharacteristic of our club. Yes, they are the fastest, most physical club we will play this season or pretty much any season, but still. Passes directly to them just don’t help the cause.

    It was almost like rather than the usual looking even before the ball gets there, our sprites were looking to see who was closing down, and from where, rather than having a handle on where they would place the ball. It got better in the second half, but they were also pressing a lot less.

    Both coaches will claim to be happy with the result, but only one coach can say that if nothing else happens, his team will win. So they will have to try to win the tie in our house. And Messi will not have two stanky matches against them.

    • Jafri
      January 30, 2013

      There was a complete absence of one-touch football on our part.

    • Tank
      January 30, 2013

      To be fair, Madrid pressing less in the second half (and even in the last third of the first half) is no coincidence but a result of them pressing so hard in the beginning. Even this group of Transformer-like-super-athletes called Real Madrid can’t press that hard for 90 minutes.

      But you’re right, we should believe in our passing game. One of the nice things about this absurd super-pressing that Madrid plays is that it will fade faster if we pass better. The more passes we string together the more running they have to do.

      If we play our game, even is that costs us a goal along the way, Madrid will suffer pretty soon. And if that happens 90 minutes can be a loooooong time…

  73. Kimcelona
    January 30, 2013

    I’m in two minds: I’m kinda disappointed with not putting a few more goals past them but then I’m fairly content that it was a draw away, and not a loss.

    Though I’m glad we got an away goal, the truth is that 1 away goal is really nothing. We know we’re gonna concede at the Camp Nou. Any kind of draw against them higher than 1-1 will see them go through. We should finish our chances, ffs!

    I may be in the minority one but I’m tired of Cesc in the starting line-up. Scored a goal but did nothing for most of the match. Not only do we compromise width for him, we compromise meaningful buildup play, match control and other things I’m sure the more tactically aware people will point out. He’s also a tad slow both mentally and physically. This match was screaming for either Alexis or Villa..preferably Alexis cause of the pace of the game.

    I wish we’d also put pressure on crossers. Time and again we just stand there while the opposing player has time to look and choose where he wants to cross to. And we know we can’t defend crosses or set pieces..or any ball into the box lol.

    Overall, though I was disappointed in some of the players (Pedro, Cesc, Messi- who was probably playing with discomfort), I think we did okay. It wasnt a horrible match but one in which I think we needed a little bit more drive, killer instimct. Too many missed chances and not enough decisive play.

    Another thing, how on earth do Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso and Carvalho always stay on the pitch after numerous cynical, nasty, unneccesary fouls which deserved yellow? Its a mystery to me that refs always change their view of fouls in Clasicos..no surprise it benefits RM. For once I’d like to see a ref thats not a coward and who will ref by the book. Ugh, frustrating and annoying to see players get stomped on, tackled down rugby style and shoved off the ball repeatedly and not even a card is shown. Unbelievable.

  74. replayed
    January 30, 2013

    News flash: Alexis actually played in this game. For 14 minutes plus stoppage time.

    It’s fascinating how Alexis is getting better reviews for the time he wasn’t on the pitch than for the time he was.

    • barca96
      January 30, 2013

      It is easier to impress as a sub than a starter. This applies to every player.

  75. Kari
    January 30, 2013

    Quick thoughts:

    -Pique, outstanding game especially given the yellow hanging over his head like a dark cloud. That interception in the 2nd half was otherworldly.

    -Iniesta, magestical as usual. Felt we should have given him the ball more – but considering the left side…

    -Both Pedro and Alba didn’t play their best today; I was particularly disapoointed with Pedro considering his form recently has been great. As Euler pointed out on Twitter, game was calling out for Alexis (whether you like him or not) – but it’s understandable that Pedro got the start. I hope Alexis regains his confidence soon; he did very well in his 15 min cameo today. More of that Alexis please.

    -No one’s mentioned it yet but Xavi had problems with the game’s high tempo – he wasn’t bad, Xavi rarely plays bad – but he was subdued imo. Makes the calls for Villa seem a bit…misguided. Not to say Villa’s a bad player, but he’s lost some pace that he’s yet to regain and he wasn’t the fastest player to begin with.

    -We all know it, but the transitional defense (the shift from “let’s get at these mofos” to “ah crap lost the ball, all hands on deck!”) has been…eek. Trade off for better offense, esp from FBs but when the FBs aren’t playing well….

    -And by FBs, I don’t mean Alves. He played very well today (though Alba was good defensively with some timely interventions, but also gave Ozil far, far too much space and that’s very bad when its a player with as much quality as Ozil). Shame about the racists though. And sadly, I suspect some in the Camp Nou will “return the favor” in the 2nd leg. Real shame.

    -Messi. Some on Twitter were speculating he wasn’t 100% – it’s rare that he wouldn’t run at the defense when the game’s still in the balance like he did today. Recall that he was supposed to be suffering from some thigh strain. Hmm….

    -Did I mention Iniesta? Pique? Okay, how about Puyol? Classy moment when he took the lighter that was thrown from the crowd from Pique and just casually toss it aside. Capita doesn’t want game to be interrupted.

    – 1-1 leaves a bad taste, not cuz it’s RM, but because it was a very vulnerable RM that was suffering from injures+suspensions. Disappointing considering all the chances we had, but I suppose they had theirs too (CR – Benzema).

    -Speaking of CR, shoulda got a yellow at least once imo…

    -Some atmosphere at the Bernabeu! Gotta say Madridistas know how to create a pressure cooker.

    • sd
      January 30, 2013

      – 1-1 leaves a bad taste, not cuz it’s RM, but because it was a very vulnerable RM that was suffering from injures+suspensions…

      I imagine they felt the same way after the 2-2 Liga classico. These teams are like Batman and Joker. They need each other to exist too much…what fun would it be otherwise? Imagine one of the teams had killed off the tie, the 2nd leg would just be boring.

      Its better this way.

    • January 30, 2013

      I seriously, seriously, think something is wrong with the match ball. Tito & Xavi have already complained about it. Today I watched both teams have trouble controlling it and keeping it on the ground. Barça had more problems as they play more of a passing game, but it seemed to me that both teams were having lots of missed passes and lost possession. The ball just seemed much too light and plasticky. A decent football needs a little bit of weight.

    • nzm
      January 31, 2013

      Kari – I too noticed Xavi’s “slowness”. He misses a lot of players’ runs now. Oppositions have worked out that if they pressure Xavi as soon as he gets the ball, then Barca’s effectiveness is significantly reduced.

  76. Art is a blast
    January 30, 2013

    ‘Buddhist monk who
    found his inner peace’
    ha ha well said!

  77. Kari
    January 30, 2013

    Oh, and that game was probably freakin’ awesome for the neutrals. I enjoyed it (bar waves of frustration and nervousness and disappointment) even though I had a vested interest in one side. Hope people enjoyed it.

  78. barca96
    January 30, 2013

    If Messi really wasn’t 100% and if it’s from last week’s injury, why did he start and even played the full match vs Osasuna?

  79. January 30, 2013

    Some over the top reactions here in IMO. We came away with a 1-1 draw in their house while playing not great. It’s a good result. Everyone calling for Cesc’s head needs to chill. That triangle combo with him, Don Andres and Alba was working brilliantly until today; Alba was kind of subdued and had a lot of tracking to do, so it messed up that dynamic. No biggie. Did Cesc have his best game? No. Should we abandon the team/formation that has seen us play our best football b/c of one game, that too against Madrid in the Bernabeu? The question answers itself.

    They’ll get some of their big guns back in time for the second leg. Guess what, we’ll play a lot better too. And hopefully we won’t get the BS whistles, and hopefully the Camp Nou crowd can ensure a yellow or two for Alonso before the 88th minute.

  80. nia
    January 30, 2013

    Somehow this draw seems like a defeat. I thought Barca were poor in the 1st half but, played an awesome game in the second. Pity Varane scored but, he deserved his goal, he was outstanding. I was screaming for joy when Pedro was through on goal but then…..

    Barca are becoming wasteful and shades of last season are beginning to creep in, players not being able to finish their chances. I also think Alonso is the luckiest player ever in RM. Dirty scum who almost always get away with dirty plays and somehow only gets carded after the 90 min. Also those monkey chants are an embarrassment and it’s a pity that LFP wont do anything about it.

    Just like RM felt like they should have won in the liga game earlier this season when we had no defenders, I kind of feel the same, only difference is that RM where playing with real defenders this time, although depleted, they did a good job. It seems weird that I’m moaning at the draw with a goal away from home and a home tie to come, while the Madridistas a celebrating a good result.

    Good thing the return will be sandwiched between them playing Man U and not next week when they are still on a high. Hopefully we can knock em out then and Man U does the same 🙂 Visca Barca!!!

  81. Random thoughts about the match:

    1) This has to be the worst Clasico performance from our boys in recent times. Yes, it was worst than than that loss in Super Copa. This match shows the real difference between Guardiola’s Barca and Tito’s Barca. Under Guardiola we definitely had an identity. Under Tito we looks like a cross between Guardiola’s Barca and some EPL team(maybe like ManU).

    2) The pace at which we let the game proceed was horrible. Xavi was taken out of the game with the pace with which the game was proceeding. Not even for 5 minutes we were unable to slow down the game. We currently looks like an upgraded version of Arsenal, atleast in this match.

    3) Messi had the worst day of his life, partly due to the continued experiment with false 9. Madrid did really well to narrow down the center. Every time he got the ball he had 3-4 players marking him. Unbelievable. I know someone will say we needed Alexis. I would say we needed a true 9 to push their back line back. But there was no one. Everyone was playing behind Messi. If you look carefully this is what happening in the last 3-4 clasico. The same tactics could be used by teams in UCL against us.

    4) It won’t be a bad idea to start Adriano on the Right in the second leg. Unless Alves improves really. Alves has been improving off late, but most of that was in the attacking department. In the first half he was losing possession cheaply and we were getting exposed every time with those.

    5) Overall the 1-1 was a fair result. We did waste some easy chances but then they did also.

    6) Have you guys noticed that when playing against Tito’s Barca the Madrid tires less compared to Guardiola’s. Especially when they are pressing like this. It simply because we are not making them run. Can we get being a bit less direct for a change.

    • January 31, 2013

      1) I nominate this comment for a blitzen award in the category of the worst overreaction by a Cule.

  82. y2k156
    January 31, 2013

    Don’t really understand some of the comments on this thread. Mighty high expectations for folks here.

    – I was mightily pleased with the entire game. It was excellent match and fun to watch. Barca could have won but so could have Madrid. For me, both sides can be reasonably pleased with the match.
    – Barca were the better side without shadow of doubt. Some of the football was out of the world.
    – Varane was fantastic. His was as good a defensive performance as i have seen in long time.
    – Messi was quite good. His job was to attract the defense and create space for others. That has been his role for quite a few Classico’s. I can read comments above and see the repeat of comments from so many recent classico’s. He did his job outstandingly well. His role was also to play more risky passes which means that some of them won’t make through. That goes with the territory.
    – In general, Messi, Cesc, Iniesta and Busi and some of their combinations were fantastic.
    – Ref did give Madrid more leeway compared to Barca. Carvalho again managed to stay on and Alonso is a dirty little cheat. In all of the previous classico’s, Alonso has been one of the dirtiest player from Madrid.

    The return leg is set up nicely. Madrid has cracked the trick to play in Barca so the game will start pretty even.

    Also, i like Tito’s Barca compared to Pep’s in last three years. For now, Pep 09 vintage is still the best. This Barca makes games fun. Even as staunch Barca fan, i was getting bored at some of the football the team was playing last year. This year is more fun and as a supporter, i would that my team plays like this.

    • As a supporter I would not like a situation where opposition has equal chance in beating us. I would prefer at least a 60-40 in our favor. Especially with this team.

  83. January 31, 2013

    An excellent match for a neutral, and for club fans a real nervy game.
    Frankly I think Madrid will be more happy than us. They will know exactly what to do in Camp Nou.

    Madrid as a team pressed us high. Every clearance from our backline went straight back to a Madrid player. But mostly, when Madrid defence cleared the ball it went to a Madrid player.

    We are losing it in the midfield. We know when our midfield is doing good, we will be able to control the match, high or low tempo. We have lost that control, not just in this game but others as well this season, but nothing more evident than in this match due to the power of our opponents.

    Looks like finally the way to fight Barca is out. Press us very high and man mark every player in the midfield. And we lose our control. One good player plays close to Xavi, and we are out. Playing Iniesta in the wing doesnt help either when teams are pressing us intensely.

    This game will be remembered for Varane actually. We really didnt have a MOM at all.
    Pinto was really good
    Pique is back to his best, except for Varane’s header
    Puyol – average game, I couldnt believe it when he committed early and gave Benzema an easy shot
    Alves made two brilliant interceptions, but otherways very average especially in attack
    Alba – he could have stopped Ozil from making that cross, and should have scored one too
    Buquets, Xavi,Iniesta, Cesc, Messi, Pedro all threw away balls with careless passes. Before in many games, we could see our midfield trying to bring the tempo down to suit us, yday, instead we just tried to match them in the tempo and lost balls every where
    Messi – simply cannot believe many comments here.
    Watch the match again, In the first half and upto our goal, almost every attack or through pass of ours to the pbox region of madrid, was thanks to something from Messi. Isnt it ironic that Messi didnt get a single ball to shoot at goal. Xavi, Cesc, Alves all seemed to miss him at the other end.
    Pedro – really should have scored that goal, at the same time I think I know exactly why he couldnt put it in. He is running all the time, and it is obvious that he will miss that last bit of energy needed in that final moment.Attackers always need to preserve some good energy for such moments.
    Finally looking at it, we missed 3 golden chances, Xavi, Cesc and Pedro. Of which Xavi’s was the most disappointing. Unlike others he had enough time and space to place his shot, but he just put it in the centre with the ground shot.

    Anyways, it was a poor performance, by our standards, from the whole team.

  84. nzm
    January 31, 2013

    Game should have ended at 1-2 or 1-3 if Barca had kept the pressure on after the first goal.

    But once again, the team failed to put the choke-hold on the game because they eased off after scoring and went back to passing the ball around in mid-field – even losing it a couple of times because they lost so much pace that the slow ball became easy for Madrid to intercept.

    After Cesc’s goal is the time that the team and the management should have gone for Madrid’s throat when the heads were down after conceding. Replace Cesc with a fresh Alexis in left wing attack (to keep Essien and Varane busy), bring Iniesta back into midfield to support Xavi, and put Adriano in for Pedro (as Pep did in the 2nd leg of the Supacopa a couple of seasons back. That was super effective in closing down Ronaldo as Adriano tracked back to help Alves who dropped into a more defensive role, and Adriano provided the assist for Messi for the winning goal.) Adriano and Alexis could have switched wings during the game to mix it up even more. We could have seen the Madrid defence unsettled enough to panic and make errors.

    Instead, Barca just hung around and passed the ball to death which allowed Madrid to regroup and settle back down.

    We just failed to go for the jugular and kill them off, so now it all hinges on the return leg.

    Leaves Madrid with a few headaches though. That week is going to be extremely tough for them with all matches to play for – and win – for results. Their request for a Friday game (against Barca and in order to give them more time to prepare for the Man U match) has apparently been denied. But don’t put it past the RFEF to change their minds!

    • January 31, 2013

      Very true, Tito needs to tell them to forget about goal no.1, until we are clearly 2/3 goals ahead. We are seeing this from last season, trying to just pass around, clinging on to a small lead.

      I really dont think, Madrid will have any trouble in the return leg, because of other imp matches. They are always prepared for a classico.

  85. Gogah
    January 31, 2013

    BFBers, Cules, Dont forget that

    * Madrid always play better at the Camp nou than at the Bernaboo. The track record for the past 5 years prove that (barring the manita)

    * Its not like we wont concede at home. They have consistently scored goals at the Camp nou, 2 goals repeatedly.

    * Like NZM notes, We should have gone for the kill after the 1st goal. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the game was tailor made for Alexis to create havoc. What was the management thinking.

    * Blasphemy alert – under pep, at halftime yesterday the players would have gotten a severe spanking. looks like jordi roura spent halftime massaging and consoling his players.

    • January 31, 2013

      first 3 points – agree.
      last one – it was not like we finished half time 0-1. We scored ours too only in the second half.
      We cant say anything about Roura. I am sure he is trying his best, trying to fill the shoes of one of the most difficult jobs in world football. I actually liked when he immediately picked up that wrong off side call on Messi.
      He could have made substitutions earlier though. But cant complain.

      • barca96
        January 31, 2013

        Agree with your first point. I said that too before the match. EE choke in front of their own fans and we should take full advantage of it especially now with many of their first choose players out.

        But I disagree with your last point. We don’t really know what Roura said. IIRC, we didn’t go out guns blazing either after half time in the Liga El Clasico at Camp Nou in which we lost in what was supposed to be the match where we could really try to recapture the league. And who was at the bench then? Pep!!

        Roura is an assistant who is only a few months into his new position and I don’t think he had any experience coaching the B team like Pep did or played in a big team as a player. So cut him some slack.

  86. samarth-culé
    January 31, 2013

    So there was racist chanting last night targeting Dani. These things are bad but don’t mind my question, how bad was it really? Because I don’t have any knowledge of Castellano.

    • Choba
      January 31, 2013

      Each time he touched the ball there were the chants, my questions what barça do about it ? I didn’t see any public support from any player or from barça stuff to Dani, but I might be wrong.

      • January 31, 2013

        I rather imagine that what some are going to do about it, is return the favor to Marcelo in the return leg. That will make them more disgusting, because having seen terrible behavior, you shouldn’t endeavor to replicate it, but still ….

  87. mom4
    January 31, 2013

    1-1 in their house…not the best result, but a decent one.

    We seemed to struggle in the midfield. The ball circulation was not fast enough for the high pressure that RM was putting on us but to me it seemed to go beyond the fault of the passer. There was just not enough off the ball movement at times. Not enough players getting themselves into good positions to recieve the ball. There must always be an outlet for our system to work…and, Dude, NEVER pass to the guy with two RM middies breathing down his neck. At times they rattled us. Alba seemed particularly uncomfortable. We were a couple of bad finishes and unpulled triggers away from a better result (but truth is so were they). Puyol and especially Pique and Dani were just awesome. So they didn’t make it easy for us. Did we expect any less of the second best team in the world, however wounded they are?

    Varane was a beast. Outstanding game for the youngster. Their best back line might soon be Ramos, Varane, Pepe, and ?. Carvalho is enormously skilled at what he does (which isn’t football, mind you, but he is one crafty little son of a…). Arbeloa is just one nasty little piece of work. One day, Alonso will get called for some of his crap. This is not to say that we were perfect little angels, but some of the things they got away with…Guess what, RM are pretty good at this football thing. We have our work cut out for us.

    My hopes for the return leg? Well, I have no reason to go against the consensus here that RM will indeed score. So we have to win the next game. If we can’t win at our own hallowed grounds then shame on us and congrats to them. We go through to the finals if we play like we know how. That is all.

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