M*drid 1 – Barça 1, as we could have lost what we should have won

NOTE: If you just logged on, Kxevin also put up his thoughts about the match in the post before this one. It’s a MUST-read, as always.

 cesc callejon

I woke up this morning and opened my eyes (although not necessarily in that order). I looked to the left to see the woman of my dreams sleeping by my side. Yup, still there. Check. I peeked a bit further at the alarm clock besides our bed to make sure I hadn’t overslept. The time read 06:53. Check. I examined my body to make sure nothing was missing – you can never be too sure these days with culés getting robbed left and right. I seemed intact. Check. Oh yeah, and that sinking feeling in my stomach? Check!

Here’s what I know. We stepped onto enemy grounds with what many consider to be our best Copa line-up of Pinto, Jordi Alba, Puyol, Piqué, Dani Alves, Busi, Xavi, Cesc, Iniesta, Messi and Pedro. We faced an adversary who played with subsitutes at all five* defensive positions. The end result was 1-1. From there on it gets fuzzy.

You see, there are a myriad of ways of looking at yesterday’s result. The positive way. The doomsday perspective. With a wishful manner of thinking. Or with an attitude of resignation. That dignified point of view. That outraged state of mind. Who’s to say what is right or wrong? That objective matter-of-factualism gets pushed out of the brain by that sinking feelin in the stomach.



We couldn’t even beat a M*drid that was playing with a completely second choice defense! Whose coach is so beleaguered he has been hiding from the media for more than a month. Whose goalkeeper replaced the goalkeeper who replaced the goalkeeper who had to drive his injured self to the hospital a couple of weeks ago and will be out until March. Whose defense was led by an aging Portuguese who at this point couldn’t outrun a fish on a mountain top. Whose right back was playing left back so that their broken-backed holding midfielder could play right back. A team that even before the specific problems mentioned above managed to play itself out of contention of even hoping to challenge for the Liga before it reached its halfway point.

How could we not win this game? Not to mention that we were several key interventions and a Ronaldo miracle miss from getting our asses handed to us. We were supposed to go in for the kill, but if they play us this well with those players, what hope is there when we meet again one month from now? Or when we meet in Europe? It’s the end of the world our domination of the clásico.



The Positive

We went to their house and carved open their defense on several occasions. We put Jordi Alba, Cesc (3 times), Xavi and Pedro clear on goal. With better finishing we could have scored a manita. We were unlucky not to achieve numerical superiority when among others the corpse formerly known as Ricardo Carvalho hung on for dear life (and our shirts, and the ball).

Our defense actually looked good, as we repeatedly headed out corners and managed to keep Cristiano Ronaldo in check for the first time in a trillion** clásicos. How friggin’ amazing is Gerard Piqué? Gone are the days when he sleepwalks on the pitch while daydreaming of Colombian hips. When he plays like this he is fully deserving of his place in the FIFA world team starting line-up or whatever it is called.

Also… Dani Alves is back, beeyotch! Steadily slaying all doubters and naysayers, playing all over the pitch making key stops in the defense while attacking at will. Adriano who? Montoya what? Daniel Alves Da Silva. Say the name, the man ain’t done.



My prevalent state of mind in the wake of yesterday’s game, as that of the people I watched it with. The less I write about this, the better.



Real Madrid Club de Fútbol are the second best team in the world and the reigning league champions. They played their hearts out by pressing us all over the pitch throughout almost the whole game, disrupting our offense and destabilizing our passing game. Both teams had spells in which they had the better over the other.

And please don’t blame the referee. He was not biased in favor of the home team, who were  called for four times more fouls than the visitors.  He preferred to keep out of the way, and let the players play. So what! Some games are gonna get called like that.

If you wanna blame someone blame Raphaël Varane. What a player! Blocked Xavi’s blast back into the past. Prevented Cesc from scoring a certain two zero. Headed in the equalizer. And all that in his first clásico ever. At only 19 years old he played a better clásico than Pepe or Sergio Ramos ever have, and all without committing a single foul. Amazing.***



One out of six. That’s right. Just when culés the world over started to get used to wiping the cracks of our hineys with smooth white football jerseys they went and flipped the script on us.

Under Pep we won 9 out of a total of 15 clásicos played. Pep vs Mou, 6 wins out of 11, with 3 draws and 2 losses. Not only did we win more than half of our meetings, in some of those wins we embarrassed the [bleep] out of ’em. The 2-6 in their house. The “manita” of November 29, 2011. The 1-2 at the Bernabeu last season.

This season? Not so much. We won once, drew twice and lost once. That’s one win out of the last six games, for those of you counting along. Have M*drid got our number? Is their poor league form simply a result of internal power struggles and are they actually the better team?  What does it mean when an opponent that no so long ago was our doormat gives us so many problems while playing with so many substitutes?

ini essien



Then again… They didn’t go one-on-one with Pinto, not even once. They had one sure shot at goal, which their superstar headed wide. We had a whole plethora of scoring opportunities. Xavi hit the bar. Pedro missed from five yards. Cesc from eight.  We put Messi through on goal only for a linesman to confuse “5 meters onside” with “offside”. Heck, we didn’t even play that well and still should have won the game if only we converted some more chances. Surely 1-1 was an unfair result based on the game we just saw. Most of us in the bar I was watching were upset that we threw the game away.


Head vs Stomach

And that is the overriding feeling I am left with, both when I try to examine the game rationally, in my head, and when I lived the game. We basically threw the game away by not converting the scoring opportunities we created. Sure, we could have lost this one. But we should have won it. This was our chance, maybe not to crush our rivals, but at least not to hearten their spirits at the dawn of this season’s business end.  All we had to do was put away some chances. As a team we were guilty of the very same thing a lot of us keep critizing Alexis**** for.

Some might argue that 1-1 at the Bernabeu is a good result. With this I disagree. M*drid have played well at the Camp Nou for the last two years. The only one they lost at our home was this year’s Supercopa game in August and they weren’t quite match fit that game. They will score. Which means that after 4 years of beating our foes, we are now going towards a must-win game.

And you know what? Chances are that that won’t be the last must-win game against our most hated rivals this year. Heads and stomachs might turn, but the heart stays steady. ¡Visca Barça!

dani alves


“We have learned our lesson.”

Gerard Piqué i Bernabeu


* Five positions? What about Arbeloa? Since he is a right back, and arguably the “weakest” link in a very strong team, I consider him a substitue when positioned on the left side of the field.

** no, not a trillion. I think seven. If I am mistaken you’ll let me know about it in the comment section!

*** Varane. What a game! I am totally jealous right now, got a man crush on the enemy. We should buy the kid. Let Operation FIGO’S REVENGE begin!

**** Speaking of Lexus, I liked what he showed when he came on. Very dynamic, lot of movement. Exactly the type of intensity we need against M*drid.



By Levon

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...


  1. it seems that now the spanish newspaper ABS has picked up that Messi insulting Karanka/Arbeloa story. Has anybody of our spanish followers more insights on that?

    1. They say that Messi walked up to Arbeloa (who was in his car with his gf) in the parking lot and called him “bobo” and some other stuff (without specifying what other stuff).

      “Bobo” loosely translates to “silly” here in South America. Pretty insulting, right? Unless of course in Spain it means “you retarded f***** idiot”, but I doubt that.

    2. Also, Jordi Alba said about the alleged incident:

      “I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary in the parking lot. Messi was amongst the rest of us, fastidiado (annoyed/bored)”

    3. From the people who brought us:

      Villa insulting Ozil and Islam

      Busi and Marcelo

      Fabregas and Kanoute

      To be fair at least those had some images, unclear and inaudible but they didnt fall from the sky .This is straight from the fairy tales of Pique and his Españolitos “comment”. Interesting how when they beat us in March no ninja journalist overheard any disagreements nor when they won the super cup. And by interesting I mean painfully transparent.

    4. I’m pretty sure Villa said “puta madre” to Ozil. Even the most pacifist Turk goes crazy when they think their mother is being insulted.

    5. Yeah, but the media fabricated a story claiming Khedira tweeted Villa insulted Ozil and his religion. He didn’t of course.

      @jordi – it’s so freaking tiresome. Sad part is, people keep believing that stuff or giving it attention. As Euler aptly said on Twitter, “Too many football fans are literally idiots.”

  2. Here is the zonal marking take on the classico:

    1. And to my surprise this article actually says… Barcelona probably created more clear-cut chances, yet it felt like Real deserved something from this game.

  3. An absolute rockstar review. nice one lev.
    so i guess that makes my current composition = 68% outraged + 29% hopeful + 3% resigned.

  4. I found this hilarious

    @barcastuff: De Boer (coach Ajax): “Cuenca on loan? Don’t know, just read on the internet it’s done, but didn’t yet hear confirmation.”

    Btw Lev, just wanted you to know I love your reviews. Thanks

  5. At the very least, Alexis dragged two defenders out of the way when Messi was attempting a run later on. Sucked that he still had four on him though; but that is what we need for the return leg.

    Alexis for Pedro? Or (gasp) Cesc out, Iniesta back next to Xavi, and Alexis and Pedro both in? Wiser heads than mine can offer opinions on that.

    Btw what was with that random bit in the middle where Pedro went on the left for a little while?

    1. Pedro is effective when he has a mirror player on the other wing. Think about the times when he first started with Henry on the other side. Also Eto’o to some degree and Villa when he was fit. What a role model Titi was for Pedro.

      He needs someone to create the movement going forward because Pedro can’t do that. He’s at his best when he’s there at the end of a movement or when the play is in the box and there are other Barca players with him.

      Very seldom is Pedro a play-maker – he’s a hit-man who is also great in defence when required, as well as creating havoc with movement but, as I said above, he can’t do that alone (like Alexis) and needs someone on the other wing to be doing the same. It’s why he and Henry and he and Villa worked well together. Iniesta isn’t the ideal wing-man for Pedro, and neither is Cesc, because they aren’t the stereotypical wingers.

      I think that Alexis and Pedro could be a good wing combination IF one of them could also score more consistently. I’d say that would be Pedro – the opportunist – because Alexis is too busy being a selfless decoy/assist-player to also be expected to score more regularly.

      But I still believe that Alexis’ true position is on the (inside) right but not a winger or even a 9. He’s more of a 10 or false 9, but someone else has that role!

      The Alexis-Pedro scoring conundrum would be easily solved if we had a mid-field that also scored more goals. Just putting that one out there for everyone to digest! 😆

  6. @barcastuff- Real Madrid have started a campaign to damage the image of Lionel Messi. Journalists are instructed to spread false rumours. [radio marca]

  7. OT- It might be early to talk about this but are there really any chances that we’ll be buying a new CB next season?

    -The €17.5m convert-Song-from-DM-to-CB experiment failed miserably.
    -VV being poised to go, we’ll need to get a good GK.
    -Ro$ell seems hell bent in bringing Neymar who would cost almost anywhere near €50m.

    1. Rumours state that the coaching staff has been scouting Dortmund’s Mats Hummels for quite some time but would we really be able to buy him in any viable way? He is certainly a class player.

      *stat- He has never been sent off.

    2. *2 fouls of any kind and you’re off as a Barca defender though 😉

      I think we’d need some “steel” to go alongside Pique’s “style” so Hummels might not be the best fit in that sense – they’re somewhat similar as players…?

  8. As Guardiola once said: “If you get fouled, it’s your own fault. Play faster!” Yesterday it applied 100%. Our rondos and off the ball movement were slow. Players waiting too much before passing the ball. Not sure what happened, this season we were able to withstand quicker and tighter pressing from our opponents.

  9. Varane – 19yo – pacey, strong, aggressive (good), young.

    Chiggy – over rated in passing, slow as a turtle, soft.

    I’ve seen Varane play twice now and get is going to be world class to me. I didn’t really get all the love and MOtM calls yesterday. Ok he made two great last ditch tackles. But I think he got more attention because of the goal. But in any case, I thought he was extremely good and composed for his age.

    We certainly, no, Pep certainly got it wrong with Chiggy. Slow, no confidence, over rated in (long) passing because most of his long balls were off target, slow feet.

    And too bloody expensive for a player that no other big club coveted unlike Varane who had many big clubs chasing his services. I already expected something amiss when we bought Chiggy all of a sudden. It’s not like he is a teenager. He was already in his 20’s at that time.

    And we don’t even have any young player that is as good as Varane right now to step up. Bartra is good but lightweight and not too aggressive and assured. Definitely not someone who will be world class but that okay. At least he can be a sub here in the future and maybe even a starter.

    Now even if we get Hummels who I think is good but I checked him at the Euros, he is not pacey either. He’s similar to what we have at the moment. So I don’t think he is an upgrade of what we have, just on par.

    We clearly need someone who is mobile, pacey, strong, able to head and tackle. I would emphasize on pace as we don’t have anyone now who could make the 2 last ditch tackle like Varane did.

    None of our players are able to catch up like that. That is very important since we play a high line and can get exposed at the back and VV in a 1 on 1 situation quite a lot

    1. Sometimes I think we missed the trick with Caceres… maybe he could’ve been our young Puyol: good in the air, agressive, fast, hard tackling, plays right across the backline type of CB.

      I know I might be alone in this but I really liked the guy and the difference he brought to our backline. Only if…

    2. First game that we saw live at Camp Nou was the 08/09 game against Malaga which Barca won 6-0. We were really impressed by the guy wearing the #2 shirt – had no idea who he was. He was all over the place, shutting down Malaga attacks and making their lives miserable.

      When we got back home, we looked him up. It was Martin Caceres. After that game, he didn’t get much more play, and I’ve always wondered how it would have been if Pep could have better managed him, rather than opting for getting rid of him. Sevilla missed him when he left for Juve – they still do.

    3. Glad to find someone else who appreciated what Caceres brought to this team. Imagine a developed him and Pique. Wouldn’t be having some of the discussions we are having about CBs now.

      I’m also glad you witnessed it live.

  10. Mad respect to Beckham.

    1- all his salary is going to a charity in Paris.
    2- still has the motivation and able to play at the highest level.

    1. But I wonder if this includes the percentage of his brand. A lot of the stars have image rights.

  11. Was it just me, or did people think that Barca’s forward pressing wasn’t as good as usual and, as a consequence, RM players had far too much time to lift their heads and spray balls around. If so, a major reason is surely that Alexis didn’t play. Xavi and Iniesta are decent defenders, but not great. Messi has a different function in the side. This team needs both Pedro and Alexis to provide the aggressive forward pressing to cut off RM’s outlet balls at the source.
    Further, surely it’s time for Song to come into the frame. Much as I love Xavi, Song would provide a lot more steel in midfield and support for the defenders. I also wonder if Varane would have scored if Song was back covering the cross. The other option is to play with three at the back and bring Song into the midfield with busquets. Surely that will be enough defensive cover while also allowing Barca more forward defence.

    1. It wasn’t just you. The time and space allowed to Ozil for the assist goes a long way in proving your point. You make a good point about Song as well. His debut in the previous Bernebeu Clasico was impressive and he seemed to have begun his adaptation quite well. Don’t know why exactly its gone downhill from there.

      In other news, I cant seem to recollect the last time Pedro! & Lexus played together. How many times has that happened? Anybody with the stats?

    2. Song is adapting excellently to the holding midfield position, but from where I’m sitting I can see two big problems:

      1. Busquets is the best holding mid in the world.
      2. Tito said that he bought Song for holding mid AND center back. The latter hasn’t worked out so well…

    3. Actually, i think Song is the world’s best holding midfielder, although I accept I wont get many supporters on this blog.

  12. Re: Messi-Arbeloa- Of all the things in the world that never happened, this never happened the most.

  13. http://pic.twitter.com/4jXESJUz

    This average position graphic (via @allas4 / @barcastuff) is very revealing. They pushed Barca back and ended up with 4 players with an average position in Barca’s half as compared to only 1 (2 if you count Pedro).

    Another thing that reveals is how (relatively) deep CR played and helped with the closing down as mentioned in Kxevin’s post.

    Also, with Varane playing like that, Ramos or Pepe might actually have been a step down. Just my $ 0.02.

  14. “Also… Dani Alves is back, beeyotch! Steadily slaying all doubters and naysayers, playing all over the pitch making key stops in the defense while attacking at will. Adriano who? Montoya what? Daniel Alves Da Silva. Say the name, the man ain’t done.”

    Seriously did he have such a great game? He was horrible in the first half and put the defense in pressure.

    1. Yes, hyperbole not withstanding, I think he had a good game.

      M*drid put our defense under pressure in the first half, a tactic they have shown to be very effective over the last two seasons which Barça as a whole doesn’t cope very well with. It affected all our players, yes, including our RB. I thought Xavi in particular was terrible.

      Nevertheless Dani Alves saved our hides more than once with key interventions and was dangerous going forward as well.

      In this form he is still one of the world’s best right backs.

      After a horrid start of the season I think he has been working hard to kill the debate of whether we should sell him or not.

    2. Not sure why you thought Xavi was terrible. Was it losing the ball or not able to create anything ? Personally I thought he had a great game against the odds as this system we have adopted ensures we lose the ball more and he no longer has Iniesta beside him in matches like this where only the best can keep the ball. If we can’t keep the ball and thereby end up slowing the frantic nature of Clasicos we are going to lose more than we will win and Xavi is our best weapon in this. The big wins against RM were achieved from a platform of having run the legs off them. This fast tempo of play tires us as much as them and units them down to the ground.

      Having said that they are now prepared to dig really deep against us (even CR7) and they are such a physical and quick side they are giving us more problems

    3. Ha! Well I guess I am guilty of what I always feel people are doing when they accuse Messi of having a bad game, that is not using normal standards when judging them but our unreasonable expectations of what their ceiling is…

      I thought Xavi lost the ball a lot more than usual, but this is the direct result of M*drid’s tactics to make him lose the ball a lot more than usual. Terrible would indeed be an exaggeration on my part, but I don’t think he had a good first half.

    1. Interesting how much praise was waived Cesc’ way, especially because he seemed to catch a lot of flack around here for being ineffective.

      I think he did well to get in those scoring positions – had he been a bit more efficient he would have been the hero of the game.

  15. Just watched the first half again. Really, RM were quite appalling and barren. Just feeding of scraps. But we made it so easy for them to press high by not having two wingers. Overlapping fullbacks are good, but RM knew they could scramble back in time to deal with them, and they certainly didn’t respect Cesc’s ability to spring the offside trap.. Too often Messi turned and ran at the defence with no support. Sorry, but if Alexis played RM would have had a lot more trouble sustaining the high press.

    1. In fact the RM High press wasn’t all that great. Xavi had plenty of chances to lift his head and look for a through ball, but there just weren’t any options. Bet he’ll be right into the coaches ears about that..

  16. My last comment was more than 8 months ago or something. I just logged in to say the following :

    1-1 isn’t that good of a result. EE doesn’t have to win in Camp Nou. They only need to draw. There’s no way the 2nd leg will be ending 0-0. They’ve been able to score 2 goals in their last 5 visits.

  17. Seems Mourinho has started campaign to throw mud on messi. As part of destabilizing Barca and also maybe as carrot to Ronaldo. Even if it is all false, if there are enough people shouting (and given status of Madrid, there will be), some of it will be repeated ad infinitum.

    This is pathetic. That guy is one of the worst humans ever. As a rule, i never wish ill of anyone. With Mouvil i am willing to make exception.

    1. Bit unfair to lay this one at Mourinho’s door, as he’s not exactly a popular figure with the Madrid press at the moment so they are unlikely to do him any favours. No, I think this is something some crackpot “journalist” came up with on his own & the rest of the pro-Madrid media just ran with it.

  18. *https://twitter.com/barcastuff/status/297356392325607424

    note: madrid’s callejon was caught lying saying messi waited for arbeloa for 1.5h, barcelona bus left for airport 45min after game [sport]

    1. Blau-Grenade I’m not sure whether to thank you or to insult you, because just when I had lost that bitter feeling now I am outraged again!

  19. Rosell better put official statements out before the end of the day responding to the lying war madrid puppets have started.

    He should also adress the immense protection they got from referees.

    Staying humble and keeping reactions to the referee to a minimum during the match is one thing(while the other team commits 4x as many fouls and gets the same amount of yellows), lowering your head watching your players get harassed , kicked and ridiculously in the press is another.

    We must protect the players from next match probable injuries and the public image of our team.

    1. *ridiculously lyed upon

      Also forgot to mention racially abused , and thrown objects at.
      Protect the team!

  20. Instead of being in media as the brain dead player who left Cesc onside by miles, he gets to shift attention onto something else. A move straight from the Mou playbook. We all know Callejon isn’t that clever (cant tell time by the looks of it) so it makes you wonder…

    1. It’s the same sh*t. To paraphrase someone one Twitter, they change topic of discussion from what everyone saw (the monkey chants at Alves, the Messi non-offside, CR’s non-yellow, terrible “tackling”) to what no one saw. Except, surprise surprise, Madrid players – specifically Callejon, one of players most loyal to Mourinho, – and the usual suspects in the media. Couldn’t even stay consistent with the times.

      Their plan is simple – distract from game and own shortcomings, and project them and other reprehensible behavior onto others (Mou waits in parking lot to abuse ref = Messi waits in parking to abuse Arbeloa.) It’s obvious and barely disguised and yet people believe them. Even the people who claim and act like they are above such things are the first to perpetuate it.

      Crazy thing is, most people know they’re being stupid – and that’s what it is, stupid because anyone with an ounce of common sense and has been involved in the Clasicos knows it’s BS – and yet they try to play both sides: sprout crap then play in the middle. Why do I pay attention to these people? They’re clearly not worth it.

  21. re-watched the game – and its quite ugly how both arbeloa and alonso come after messi – especially in the last 15 min. there are a few minutes (after thiago has a tackle on cr) when arbeloa goes after messi’s ankles not once but several times. also worth reviewing alonso’s challenge on messi -the one where he got yellow.

    no players act like this on their own. this is the cup-final strategy of getting messi kicked out of the game.

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