blitzen awards, the El Morbico edition

Jordi Roura surveys the pitch in advance of the game.
Jordi Roura surveys the pitch in advance of the game.

They’re back! You didn’t think I could let a Clasico Morbico go by without a nice fresh round of blitzen awards, did you? Oh, you know you missed, them, really.

Golden Kneecap Award: Xabi Alonso, who successfully used his Cloak of Classiness to conceal several quite nasty kicks, or rather knees, to the nether regions of Barça players-including Iniesta, who tumbled over and looked around with a face of complete disbelief. Alonso made it all the way to the 89th minute of the match before picking up a yellow card. Classy.

Stream Of Consciousness Award: According to some accounts, Tito has been having trouble finding Barça matches on television while he has been in New York, so he has had to resort to dodgy internet streams just like the rest of us! I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel closer to him knowing he is also screaming in despair when his feed cuts out just as Messi gets clear through on goal…

MOTMOTMOI Award: I have two deserving winners, here. First, Pinto! He had an excellent game, IMO. He looked sharp, made big saves, and overall showed why the club chose to extend his contract for another year. Yes, he did have one Pintocalypse moment, but if he didn’t go walkabout at least once per game, he just wouldn’t be Pinto, would he? The second half of the award goes to Varane, who at the tender age of 19 had an absolutely enormous game. I struggle to remember anything he did wrong. If he can manage to play at a consistently high level, I have no doubt he will be terrorizing our forwards for years to come.

Pique Memorial Gilded Icepack: Usually it’s our lanky CB picking up this kind of injury, but on Wednesday it was Pinto doing the honours, when Dani Alves raced back to the goalline to clear a dangerous ball and slid in toe first…smack into Pinto’s family jewels! I’m a woman, and even I flinched and yelped in sympathy. Hope there is no permanent damage!

Trollhattan Memorial TOTM Award: Sadly, I have to give this award to the crowd at the Santiago Bernabeu, large sections of which (no, not everyone, of course) spent most of the match hurling racist abuse at Dani Alves. Graham Hunter said in his column that it was about the worst he had ever experienced. Which leads to:

Wizard of Oz Award: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” Real Madrid and their media mouthpieces attempt to distract attention from the racist chants directed against Dani Alves by engaging in a smear campaign against Messi. Enough said about that. Oh, except for this:

Yes, We Have No Bananas Award: Jose Callejon, for his interesting statement that other clubs, including Real Madrid, suffer racial abuse as well, and since nothing can be done about it, we should all just ignore it and hope it goes away.

Gangnam Style Award: To Dani Alves, for launching himself onto Carvalho and trying to ride him like a pony. Someone needs to make a gif of that.

Hear No Evil Award: Jonathan Dos Santos, who tried out his new “Transfer-Talk-Canceling” Headphones this month and managed to secure himself another six months of relaxing on Barça’s comfortable, well-padded bench. Well done, Jona!

Shut Up and Focus Puyol Memorial Award: Clearly, Puyol runs away with this one for the following bit of business involving Pique, a lighter, and an important game we are playing here, hello! Puyol has no time for your foolish complaints!

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Canadian, cule, corporate wage slave. Came late to the beautiful game, but fell under FCB's spell in 2006 and never looked back.

148 Comments

  1. Kimcelona
    February 1, 2013

    LOL where did you find that picture? If I didnt know better I would think that’s Jordi Roura! 😉

    The Hear No Evil Award is hilarious. Jona likes that bench more than playing time. Leave him be!

  2. barca96
    February 1, 2013

    Been missing this Blitzen. Thanks.

    Been really busy lately so couldn’t post this.

    I noticed that these 2 people got quite a lot of flak after the match.

    Cesc – he’s been the same way in every match that he’s played in this season which means in all these matches that we steamroll teams. Why didn’t anyone complain back then?

    Without him, we would’ve had less than half the chances we did as he created mostly of them with his over the top balls.

    Messi – not a bad match at all. Created plays, held the ball well, had a few nice passes like to Alba and Alves. It seems that if he doesn’t score he didn’t play good.

    He played worse matches this season but those one was actually good. I would give him a 6-7.

    Problem was, he hardly had any runners. Pedro didn’t even try to make runs behind the lines whenever Messi was attracting 3-4 players. And Iniesta of course wasn’t on the left wing either.

    • KEVINO17
      February 2, 2013

      I think Tito/Roura almost got it right. When RM pressed high, everybody dropped back to play short-passing triangles to break the press. That strategy meant that, when we lost the ball (as was inevitable) we always had a lot of bodies back to provide cover. However, I think we were just a little too defensive. We needed someone (Alexis) on the shoulder of their centre-backs causing trouble. They were much too relaxed playing a high line. A few times, Cesc was highest up the field and their back-line didn’t look the slightest bit worried because they knew he didn’t have the pace to go past them. Sorry, but Cesc or the Don, but not both. There was acres of space behind Essien and nobody was running into it.
      Still, I think we looked better against RM that we have looked for a while and the game was a positive step forward.

    • February 2, 2013

      When judged upon “human” standards, Messi never actually has a bad game…

      • Laurentiu88
        February 2, 2013

        during the game i thought Messi had a horrible day, that he went missing; now, upon seeing the game once more i think he was pretty ok – gut involved in many combinations came down for the ball, but his game suffered when he did not have one two players with whom to exchange this passes. there are moments when the distance between iniesta and messi increases and they cant combine anymore; few times cesc failed to return a pass to him, and pedro was offside for a few of them; now what looked like a missed ball from messi seemed more a failed combination – where pedro failed to come up to receive…

        the game didnt seem too bad. we controlled it for large portions of time quite in high degree. madrid chances rarely came from their pressure, they controlling the game. i wished only we had more speed at times a bit more direct play..

  3. Blau-Grenade
    February 2, 2013

    *https://twitter.com/barcastuff/status/297716067747393536

    A Barcelona director and a sponsor of the Brazilian have confirmed that Santos player Neymar (20) will join Barcelona in the summer. [sport]

    • February 2, 2013

      — The countdown to the official denials by Santos and Neymar!!!! begin right now.

      — If the player does come, I will start another countdown on when the first cules start to turn on him because he hasn’t scores 437 goals.

      As always with this stuff, until the player is seen grinning at the Camp Nou, juggling a football in front of the throngs, it ain’t happening.

      • K_legit in Oz
        February 2, 2013

        Neymar has the potential to be one of the greatest players ever! At Barça he well could become one sooner!

      • Blau-Grenade
        February 2, 2013

        That I understand.

        I would somehow prefer a pure striker with capabilities like Eto’o or Henry, somebody like Falcao.

  4. Momo
    February 2, 2013

    Gooooal ronaldooooo

    Fantastic technique on that header, too bad it was in the wrong net…

    • jordi™
      February 2, 2013

      Did Cristiano do a ‘Calma’? Did Mou jump on Callejon’s back for a ride?

  5. Jafri
    February 2, 2013

    Ronaldo heads the LWBs to defeat. Ironic? Yup. Hilarious? Absolutely.

    • K_legit in Oz
      February 2, 2013

      Does ‘LWBs’ mean what I think it means?

      • Jafri
        February 3, 2013

        Yup – it’s been mentioned down below. I’ve only heard it on this blog though. Not sure who coined it but full credit to them for a pretty fun acronym.

  6. TITO
    February 2, 2013

    So i guess now he scored against every team in La liga, right?

    Messi surely needs to beat him now in own goals.

  7. nzm
    February 2, 2013

    I wonder if Marca will count that goal towards Ronaldo’s Pichichi total? 😆

    • FalseNine
      February 3, 2013

      Just delurking long enough to report how hard this made me laugh 😀

  8. nzm
    February 2, 2013

    Wow, that news got by me – until he provided the assist for Ronaldo – Nolito is on loan to Granada for the rest of the season.

    And Malaga’s Buonanotte is also now at Granada.

  9. nzm
    February 2, 2013

    In other ex-Barca player news, Mali dumped South Africa out in their ACN semi-final on penalties. Mali will now face Ghana in the final.

    • Kimcelona
      February 2, 2013

      Mali is actually into the semifinals along with Ghana.

      We’ll know the other semifinalists soon.

      And I think Mali will face the winner of the Ivory Coast quarters (not sure who they face).

      • nzm
        February 2, 2013

        Argh – thanks for the amendment. I’m ahead of the rounds!

    • Ryan
      February 2, 2013

      Keita really caught the defense sleeping with that header – he just strolled up to score with both defenders flat footed. Always nice to see him do well!

  10. nzm
    February 2, 2013

    German publication “Der Spiegel” and Spain’s “Marca” are reporting that Tito has to stay in New York until mid/end of March.

    According to the article, the club (through Zubi) has announced it, but I haven’t seen anything on the website.

    Guess we’ll wait to see what is true.

    • Blau-Grenade
      February 2, 2013

      Barcastuff announced this quite a few hours ago. I am sure I might have seen this news yesterday there.

  11. KEVINO17
    February 2, 2013

    RM’s loss puts their ability to draw with Barca in the Bernabeu in perspective. They are competing on a much narrower front than Barca and so are able to play some games with furious energy. Barca doesn’t have quite the same option.

    • Ryan
      February 2, 2013

      Well, with EE dropping points and Atleti without Falcao for a while, we have a bit of a cushion as well.

  12. SoccerMom
    February 2, 2013

    Hello me barçababies,

    I know it’s been a while but I’ve been scrollin’ through.

    The Easter Island Roura is too much! Do they make nylon puffy jackets that big?

    I happened to like the last tie. It was exciting. And it racks up an exciting home leg, too.

    Besides, it’s Champions. Time to play with the Big Boys.

    Today takes a bit of the sting out, too. Granada is my favorite city in Spain.

  13. Art is a blast
    February 2, 2013

    From what I’ve heard the truth about ‘messi-arbeloa love story’ is quiet different. Messi stalks arbeloa bcoz he ‘luvs’ him. So even when arbeloa gives him flying tackles in the football ground, he doesnot complain. He waits for him for 1.5 hrs just to see him. You know how people get when they are crazy in love. Then comes the bitter part. Arbeloa doesn’t care about messi bcoz he is a rich arrogant bastard who has a beautiful gf. So messi confronts him but he tells messi to f— off. But messi famed as the flea is so persistent like the lice in arbeloa’s beard. But arbeloa’s had had enough of the barca players coming at him and his frens. Messi is sad and angry and in the moment of frustation calls his beloved some names. Said beloved says ” I’m a madriast. A respected gentleman… outside the football field. So even though I’m really angry right now, I’ll do what I’ve been taught to do as a madridst. I’ll take care of you in the field next time” and drives away leaving a heartbroken messi behind.

  14. February 3, 2013

    1. Oh how I laughed when I saw the Madrid result and scorer this morning.

    2. What DOES LWBs stand for anyway? I’ve often wondered this on the rare occasions lately I’ve made my way to this blog, but I always forget to ask.

    • barca96
      February 3, 2013

      Apparently Granada is the first team to win without having any single shot on target.

      Ronaldo has done what Messi still haven’t managed to do, scoring an own goal.

      And if this was last season, Ronaldo would’ve been the first player to score against all 20 teams hehe.

      I read that the commentator joked after the own goal that Messi will score 2 own goals vs. Valencia 😆

  15. elcapitan
    February 3, 2013

    LWB I think stands for Lily White Bastards….

  16. February 3, 2013

    The RM defeat puts the price of a draw with us into sharp perspective. They left a lot on the pitch at midweek, and it sounds like it showed. Not that Valencia is going to be a stroll in the daisies, either. If we win today, that draw was an even better result than Isupected.

    And ATM will have to learn to play for a bit without Falcao. Makes you realize how incredibly durable Messi has been. I’m not a fan of counting chickens, but if we can win today and they fail to, even the most paranoid cule would be hard-pressed to imagine a scenario where the Liga usn’t all but done and dusted.

    It also means that the coaching staff is almost at the point where it can really start thinking about rotations, and keeping key players fresh for CL battles. It’s difficult to imagine a better situation for the club and its staff.

    Anims, Tito.

    • yassir
      February 3, 2013

      If there ever was a must win match, then it’s this one with Valencia, if we win and Atleti lose all the better, Fortunately for us Atleti started to wane and they now have the “shortest squad” in la liga & they play in the EL, i expect them to drop more points sooner than later.
      Big game tonight, I’m susprsised no one is talking about it, Valencia away is always a tough game.

  17. endico
    February 3, 2013

    I don’t even expect us to draw with this Valencia. I am not hapy with them at all. They were totally outclassed and thrashed by RM over three games couldn’t even put on a fight. They drew the third game because RM was one man down. I expect Barca to thrash them as well.

    • Richzorz
      February 3, 2013

      You missed the CDR first leg then? Valencia played exceptionally well against Madrid (a few glaring misses aside) and were unlucky that a few phantom offside calls went the way of the home side…

      Their results have improved since the managerial change (except for the 5-0 capitulation against RM) and they could provide a stern test given a full week to prepare for tonight’s match!

      • nzm
        February 3, 2013

        Also, the Mestalla is historically not an
        easy pitch for Barça.

  18. mic
    February 3, 2013

    Real’s loss in Granada puts our draw with them in a bad light. They are nowhere near their best and they are toothless in attack -Granada’s defense allowed the first shot on goal in 58th minute.
    We were too cautious with them, we should have believed in our system and go for a kill. Hopefully at home things will be different.

    • Ryan
      February 3, 2013

      I’m not sure you can really compare the two games, as Grenada played all defense. Barcelona goes for the attack, which leaves us open to what EE does best – counterattack with pace. Remove that option and you see how EE can struggle without Ozil or Ronaldo providing a moment of magic.

  19. Jafri
    February 3, 2013

    No Alexis OR Villa in attack. Best time to give them a look-in. What a timid selection.

    • FalseNine
      February 3, 2013

      It’s pretty clear who has won the Alexis vs. Villa battle — Cesc has.

      This is the first choice attack now, with Iniesta on the wing and Cesc, Xavi and Busi behind. Away at the Mestalla is never an easy task and it shouldn’t be a surprise that they are playing the offense they think is strongest.

  20. Judas Pissed
    February 3, 2013

    Weren’t EE about 4-0 up by now? Why do teams play out of their skins against us and roll over for EE..?

    • replayed
      February 3, 2013

      Because it’s as Ryan says above. Being “up” for a game against Madrid is the best way to fall behind to one of their counters. Meanwhile, being “up” for a game against Barca is the best way to put a shaky defense under pressure.

      As in the goal Valencia just scored.

  21. Judas Pissed
    February 3, 2013

    We have given the ball away more times in the first half of this match than we did in the first half of this season…

  22. Blau-Grenade
    February 3, 2013

    Can’t say that wasn’t in the works. But I am positive with Barcelona’s play.

  23. Jafri
    February 3, 2013

    Still waiting for VV to actually, y’know, make a save or two.

  24. Jim
    February 3, 2013

    Just joined the game in time to see them scoring. Missed the rest which was meant to be on Sky’s red button 🙁

    • replayed
      February 3, 2013

      You didn’t miss much if you don’t enjoy watching Barca bass the pall around under extreme pressure before someone loses the ball. No shots on goal from Barca so far.

      The penalty will be the first.

  25. Jim
    February 3, 2013

    How poor is Gerry Armstrong ? Thinks piqué is Fabregas, announces that Tito should be back at his desk next week and says it wasn’t a pen for him…. And he’s getting paid?

    • replayed
      February 3, 2013

      Yeah, I’ve pretty much decided to avoid his commentary at any cost. I’ll watch a stream in portuguese before I subject myself to his blathering.

  26. Blau-Grenade
    February 3, 2013

    Valencia is playing really well. Love this game. It is very even.

  27. Jim
    February 3, 2013

    Is Xavi playing? What’s going on. I don’t think he’s touched it since I started watching.

    • Blau-Grenade
      February 3, 2013

      Iniesta Fab and Busi are pretty much running the midfield. Messi is dropping back at times. I have a feeling Xavi is tring to get forward to score and save his old legs.

  28. replayed
    February 3, 2013

    The team clearly needs to practice counters at speed more. They just don’t seem to know how to do it anymore.

  29. bhed
    February 3, 2013

    How many times has Alves been out of position this season? How many times have we seen an unmarked attacker around that corner of the 18 yd box?

  30. replayed
    February 3, 2013

    Barca are still having little joy with their passing game, but some of the first touch control being displayed in this match is truly dazzling. If not for that, Barca would be having even more trouble.

    I’m guessing Valencia have another 10 minutes of this kind of intensity in them. If Barca can just hang on till then…

  31. Jim
    February 3, 2013

    It’ll be interesting to see if they do tire badly. I’m not sure the style of football we play these days tire the opposition to the old extent.

    • replayed
      February 3, 2013

      Fabregas has been making that run all match long, and it’s the first time that pass from Messi wasn’t intercepted. I think Valencia are already slowing down a bit.

      Not to say that Fabregas shouldn’t have buried it, lest he not get that chance again.

      • Jim
        February 3, 2013

        Maybe but as soon as he hit it you could see it was beautifully weighted.

  32. Jim
    February 3, 2013

    See that’s by pique / Puyol is good. Both moved at the same time instinctively to catch him off.

  33. Blau-Grenade
    February 3, 2013

    Wowww…. what a miss by Villa!!!

  34. replayed
    February 3, 2013

    Oh, Villa! You really should have scored that one.

    Anyway, it’s so refreshing to watch Barca being held by a team that can frustrate them without resorting to Madrid’s cynical fouling.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see the 4 Spanish teams make the quarters of the CL this year…

  35. replayed
    February 3, 2013

    I think it’s fair to say that on balance, Valencia will have had the better chances.

    What with that dodgy penalty call and no major refereeing gaffes against Barca, I’d say Barca are lucky to walk away with a point from this match.

    Good game. Valencia won the tactical battle, but Barca’s individual skills (outside of defense) were enough to save the day.

  36. K_legit in Oz
    February 3, 2013

    Fuckin’ Valencia again! Can’t seem to win at that place!

  37. Jim
    February 3, 2013

    No problems. I’ll take that any day given the circumstances.

  38. Momo
    February 3, 2013

    Fantastic match, and a wonderful performance by Valencia, why didnt they play like this all season? EE would have been fighting with malaga for fourth for sure.

    Alba was IMMENSE, I’m going to say it now, without a doubt the best left back in the world right now, no one even comes close.

    We looked much better with iniesta in the middle and some true width in villa. Villa does seem off though, can’t tell if it’s fitness, or he’s just depressed at his standing in the team, but it is sad to watch.

    • bhed
      February 3, 2013

      Agreed, Alba was my MOTMIM (… including Messi).

  39. sd
    February 3, 2013

    There is a clear blip in form right now. Lack of communication, misplaced passes even when not under pressure, poor decision making, lack of off the ball movement. But it is nothing to be too worried about. Its a part of every season. I am sure they will be fine by the time Madrid, Milan and the CL knockouts roll around.

    • Ryan
      February 3, 2013

      It’s that time of the season known as Hlebuary.

  40. Mik
    February 3, 2013

    Anybody who moans David Villa deserves a starting place should be made to watch the match, 10 times over. What a miss. Cesc with another horrible miss. What we need is for Messi to have superhuman powers so that he can be at the end of his own passes. All problems solved.

    Who picks the team line-up these days? Tito? Or Jordi with input from Tito? It seems like the tactic is to throw a team out there that coaching team feels most comfortable with and throw in one or two players who will whine and moan to the press if they don’t get to play, regardless of the opposition or the previous matches. We just had a tough game away at Bernabeu ffs and Jordi sends out the same line-up with one change!

    This match was screaming for fresh legs and minds. Messi can’t do it all for himself, although he nearly did (again). Thiago and Alexis should’ve started, Cesc should have been dropped to the bench.

    I hope Alexis can find a new team this summer. Quite depressing to see such a talent go to waste.

    • KEVINO17
      February 3, 2013

      Totally agree.
      I don’t mind Villa’s miss – that happens (although if it had been Alexis we’d never hear the end of it). But Villa’s general lack of involvement. He was supposed to be the fresh legs, but it was as if he’d already been running around for 70 minutes.
      Can’t help feeling (probably wrong) that the Barca management are too busy trying to keep superstars happy (e.g. Cesc and Villa) rather than selecting on merit. They just renewed Tello and he hasn’t had a sniff of a game.
      Biggest loser though was Song. Don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes, but this was the perfect time for him to play (and that’s not just because I think he’s a better player than Busquets, who offers very little going forward).

      • Momo
        February 3, 2013

        You lost me with the bit about song

        “and that’s not just because I think he’s a better player than Busquets”

        Busi is a level or two above Song, specifically in this system.

        • KEVINO17
          February 3, 2013

          Busquets great strength is that he does the simple things well, and that’s important. But you will very rarely see him provide a good offensive pass or a headed goal. Song is stronger on the ball, more mobile and just as a good a passer (and a better when playing the ball forward).

      • Jim
        February 3, 2013

        Villa should have scored there – no question but he was only on for 5 minutes at the time. Wouldn’t agree with your assessment of the rest of his game. The width he kept gave us something cesc really didn’t. Not getting at him – its not his game. Also, Villa was involved in some pretty slick passing moves with Alba , Messi etc. To me, the left looks more dangerous – I just wish Tito and Roura would give their real opinion of Villa though. All this keeping him for vital games, not wanting to risk him in tough games etc. is demeaning to a player of his stature. 20 minutes occasionally won’t get anyone match fit.

        The problem for me in this game was, as I feared earlier, we hadn’t done enough passing wise to tire them out. We don’t have a divine right for the opposition to peg out in the last ten of each half unless we’ve run it out of them. We won’t do that with this lineup or this style. Xavi had his worst game in as long as I can remember. If we want to go toe to toe with teams fine but we throw away our skill advantage.

        Having said that, effort was great as usual and the result is decent. Won’t win us the CL though.

      • Mik
        February 3, 2013

        @KEVINO17-
        Agree, I wasn’t complaining about just Villa’s miss btw. He offered absolutely nothing, seemed disinterested, pretty rubbish tbf. Alexis would’ve offered something different with his runs, then again, he is not Spanish with spiky hair and a beard. So, many fans won’t be happy.

        I am baffled how Cesc keeps his starting place, if Alexis had played half as bad as him, many will be calling for his head. He gave away the ball in front of his own penalty area by trying to pull some stupid trick and that led to Soldado’s header which was just inches wide off VV’s post.

        I can only imagine Cesc has incriminating pictures of Vilanova/Roura/Rosell or maybe it is because of his nationality. After Cesc moaned to the press that he is frustrated at being dropped to the bench, he has been a permanent fixture in the starting XI. Maybe that is what Alexis has to do, whine to the press.

        Why Pedro? And Thiago in the 92nd minute? WTF? Why the same starting X1? Incompetence? Arrogance? Or sheer idiocy? Or is this Roura being spineless? Whatever it is, I hope Vilanova/whoever is in charge, sorts this out soon, because you’ve to be pretty blind not to see the problems.

        I fear that we are going down the same path as last season. Play Messi to death and he ends up having nothing left at the business end of the season, and he is playing with a knock.

      • Kimcelona
        February 3, 2013

        So basically Villa was supposed to get back defend, then take the ball forward, while providing the assist to himself to score the winning goal? (going into the match with a team full of tired, uninterested bodies)

        “Can’t help feeling (probably wrong) that the Barca management are too busy trying to keep superstars happy (e.g. Cesc and Villa) rather than selecting on merit.”

        If this was the case wouldnt Villa be in the starting line-up every week?

        I won’t even tackle your “Song is better than Busquets” argument. Too funny.

    • KEVINO17
      February 3, 2013

      I wonder if Jordi sees himself as a “caretaker” who shouldn’t rock the boat too much until Tito gets back. In that situation, it’s much easier to tell the new boys to wait their turn. Bad mistake of course.
      Hopefully, Xavi and Puyol will take him in hand and point out the facts of life (or are they embedded too deeply with the old guard)

    • Kimcelona
      February 3, 2013

      “Anybody who moans David Villa deserves a starting place should be made to watch the match, 10 times over.”

      If this is the argument, then Villa should start every match! Considering Villa only played 15 mins, and during those 15 we seemed more in control, less loose passes, more width, more movement and forward play compared to lacklustre 70something mins prior, I’d take my chances with him in the starting 11 more times than not.

      I totally agree with the rest of your post though. I agree that Alexis and Thiago should have started..along with Villa, imo.

  41. mic
    February 3, 2013

    Good second half. Great combinations from us under tight Valencia defense unfortunately marred by some misunderstandings and individual errors, but we didn’t stop believing and it almost paid off.

  42. Jafri
    February 3, 2013

    Jordi Roura blames the midweek Clasico for a lack of intensity. Yes Jordi, the players were bloody tired. This was not a sudden revelation that dawned upon you at halftime. This is something you knew for four days. So you shouldn’t have put the exact same team out there today, should you?

    • KEVINO17
      February 3, 2013

      My guess is that the old guard got into his ear and said they were fit and raring to go and Jordi didn’t have the authority to tell them they would be sitting this one out.

      • Peterj
        February 4, 2013

        What å dumb comment!!. We α̲̅я̩̥̊ε̲̣̣̣̥ chelsea f♠я̩̥ god sake

  43. Dave
    February 3, 2013

    Some observations on the game
    The lack of width is terrible. Tello,Sanchez Villa anyone
    The lack of directness that was there earlier on this year is gone. There is no one to play off the last man like Eto/Henry,so the opposition can pressure high knowing they won’t be caught
    This is what happened last year ponderous passing for its own sake.
    The one dimensional tactic of Messi droppng deep and getting snuffd by 4 players. Messi is then getting tactically fouled too far from the opposition goal
    Players are tired bcoz they are doing a mini preseason -so rotate in the guys that haven’t played often Song,Thiago,Tello,Adriano

    • KEVINO17
      February 3, 2013

      Messi needs a player in front of him he can pass the ball to and get it back. That is one of the great advantages of Sanchez. Despite his size he is very good with his back to goal. When not doing that, he is pulling off defenders with his runs and threatening to break the offside trap.

    • caosanping
      February 3, 2013

      I totally agree—Roura took a safe choice. He used Cesc to strengthen the midfield control but sacrificed the attacking power. Guadiola used such line-up against strong teams. But he emphasized the fluidity of passing and switching positions between midfielders and attackers. So I didn’t really feel we lack of attackers at the front. But now players are static and a lot of passing in the midfield are ineffective. Yes, we might have less chance to concede goals (maybe not). But we also failed to create as many chances as before. We need players like Tello, Sanchez, or even Villa to be on the left or front position to attract defenders and create space for others to score.

  44. alpinegroove
    February 3, 2013

    Meanwhile, Balotelli, scored two in his AC Milan debut.
    Bojan will probably be seeing less playing time.
    The upcoming CL tie has just become more interesting.

    • KEVINO17
      February 3, 2013

      Think Balotelli played in CL tie for Man C

    • Mik
      February 3, 2013

      We need someone with a bloody spine to make decisions. Looks like the players are picking the line-up at the moment. Worrying trend.

      Barcastuff tweeted yesterday that we’ll use the same line-up today as against RM. How did that information get out?

      • caosanping
        February 3, 2013

        Seriously I think it’s time Tito thinks about resigning (at least for this half season) and Barca assign a coach to take over the left season, Roura or whoever can have full power to take charge of the team. The current situation is not good for Tito’s health. He has to handle team business during the tough chemotherapy. I know what the patients would be like when they are under the therapy. They will be very sick, vomiting, losing hairs and weight, and can’t really focus on things. The most important thing for Tito now is to put all his duty aside and have a good mood and strong mentality. During the last season of Pep’s era, Pep almost couldn’t bear the pressure of being Barca’s coach. I can’t imagine what kind of pressure Tito is having now, worrying about his life, his family, and his work (one of the most stressful jobs in the world, if not the most). Tito needs time off and fully focus on his treatment.

        On the other hand, Roura is very conservative in terms of the line-up in the past few matches. He was almost using the same line-up. One reason for the success of Tito’s first half season is because he is willing and daring to rotate players (even Messi when he thinks necessary). But now we are stuck to the same players (yes, I know Puyol wasn’t starting in this match). You can see the players were tired and not running around a lot. And the youth players and bench players (Tello, Montoya, Song, Villa, etc) haven’t got enough playing minutes for several matches. This could be a problem when the CL games are back. I can understand why Roura chose to do so because it’s a safe choice and he is only an assistant coach. But we can’t be like through the whole Feb and March (or maybe even longer because Tito can’t be back to work immediately after the painful and exhaustic therapy). Either the club give Roura full power to be a true coach in the next two months or find another short-term coach to carry the team. Anyway, I don’t think the current mode is good for Tito and for the team. It could be a loss for both.

        • Jim
          February 3, 2013

          Not sure things are as bad as being suggested. I’m not a fan of the more direct approach but I have to admit it’ll work in most situations. Maybe Tito would’ve played the same lineup for such a tough away match. Anyway, I wouldn’t blame Roura at the moment. Maybe the time to introduce the rotation is at home under easier conditions.

          You can be sure that Puyol, Messi, Xavi and Iniesta are having their say behind the scenes if they think there is something wrong. I’m pretty sure Xavi will already have spoken to Tito about the new style.

          • caosanping
            February 3, 2013

            No, I am not blaming Roura. I am blaming Rossell and Zubizarreta who should think about solutions instead of letting things be like this until Tito is back. Roura is an assistant coach and I totally understand he doesn’t want to make mistakes. So the safest way is to send out our strongest players. Also I don’t know if players like Messi, Puyol, Xavi, etc would tell the coach “I am tired. Could you rest me next match?”. They are competitive pros and they always want to play. The only way to rest them is that the coach tells them firmly so.

        • Mik
          February 3, 2013

          @caosanping

          Good points. I don’t think anyone saw coming – Tito’s relapse and such a lengthy time away from Barca for the treatment. I hear he will be in NY until end of March? In hindsight, I don’t think it was such a great idea for him to take this job, granted no one would’ve expected this, but did the stress cause his condition to worsen? Who knows…

          I think the club is caught in two minds now. Tito is being terribly missed, on the other hand, Roura, on this evidence, is not the best back-up manager, he just sends out the most used line-up during Tito’s time. Does he have the presence and personality to control and manage the egos in the dressing room? Does he have the authority to bench the superstars in the dressing room? I don’t think so.

          Too much player power is not good for any club. Unfortunately, I think that most influential players are playing all matches now, youngsters and non-Spanish internationals are being completely ignored. I hope club finds a solution soon.

          • barca96
            February 3, 2013

            If it’s really true that Tito will be the out for that long, I hope they get Lucho or Garcia back. At least they’ll have someone to look up to.

          • caosanping
            February 3, 2013

            Tito will only come back later than sooner. It takes a few months to recover from the damage caused by the cancer cells and the chemotherapy (the latter most often causes more damage). After the treatment, the doctor will definitely suggest him to rest for a while before he comes back to his stressful job. So it doesn’t do any good on him if he hurries his recovery process. The best way is that the club find a substitution in next few months so Tito can have a peaceful mind. There is nothing more important than his life and his family.

  45. caosanping
    February 3, 2013

    Another bad news- Xavi has some thigh injury. He is 33 already. Remember how careful Pep used him last season? Even earlier this season, Tito used Song and Thiago to rest Xavi when necessary. This is not a good sign. I am worrying more of our 11 start up players will be caught by injury while our bench players are not match-fit because of lacking playing time.

    • Jim
      February 3, 2013

      That kinda figures. He just wasn’t his usual self tonight. Best he gets a week off.

    • caosanping
      February 3, 2013

      Sometimes I feel Rossell and Zubizarreta had been resting on Pep’s shoulder for too long so that they don’t know how to take responsibility at such critical moments when Tito is sick. We need a coach and we need someone who can tell the players what to do when the team is in difficult situation. I know RM and Valencia are tough opponents. But the thing I worry the most is not the result but the current situation, e.g. sticking to the same start-up players, slow response to what happens on the filed, no substitution until 80+ minutes, and tired players on and off the field. We need someone standing behind the team when the situation isn’t easy, just like what Pep and Tito did.

  46. barca96
    February 3, 2013

    Hmmm.

    Roura playing the same players and no rotation?
    -Pep did it too remember?

    Roura not firing the squad up during HT at Madrid?
    -Pep surely didn’t have an effective Pep talk at HT of the home match vs Madrid in the most defining match of the season in terms of the league.

    I don’t like both of their styles. They need to protect Messi more so that he’ll peak at the business end of the season. It looks like they’re more focused on Messi getting goal scoring records rather than team trophies.

    • caosanping
      February 3, 2013

      Pep did it when it reached the end of the season, which I understand. But now is only early Feb. No way we can play the left season with 11-12 players. We did it with 13 players 7 years ago but it was almost a miracle and there wasn’t another choice. But now we have almost 25 healthy players for the coach to deploy. We need someone who is brave and wise enough to rotate the players. Otherwise we will see more injuries of the start up players and complaints from the bench players.

      • barca96
        February 4, 2013

        No Caosanping, Pep has always been like that. 1st match till the last match of the season he played Messi for the full 90 mins. He even played Messi in a meaningless Copa del Rey match that is already won. And I remember for this one particular match where he said he brought Messi on for the fans. Ridiculous!

        Fans want what’s best for the team not for the fans in the stadium.

        And even on those rare occasions where he did take out our key players, it was most likely in the last few minutes of the game. I find him very poor in that aspect, the way he ran the key players to the ground and leave them on when we are cruising.

        Tito seemed different in the first quarter of the season when he had to make impact subs but ever since we steamrolled past our opponents, he got back to where Pep left. Leaving key players like Messi, Xavi and Iniesta on for the whole match or the last few minutes.

        I don’t expect them to take themselves out whenever they wish to like in the NBA because it’s not possible but take take them out when we receive already winning. I prefer us winning a lot of 2-0’s and have our key players fit and fresh for the business end of the season and win most of the games especially those important ones in March-May rather than going for big wins in November-February.

        • barca96
          February 4, 2013

          You are tight though in us having 25 healthy players compared to before when we always had a paper thin squad.

          Why not utilize them? What if our key players gets injured? How are the squad players ever going to gel when they hardly get playing time to catch a rythmm?

  47. February 3, 2013

    This year: 59 points after 22 matches.
    Last year: 48 points after 22 matches.

    This year: 9-point lead on 2nd place, 16-point lead on 3rd place, with 16 matches left.

    So this club that has to date only had a single Liga loss in 22 matches, would have to find a way to lose 3 of its last 16 matches, and the second-place club would have to be perfect during that same period. And that’s 5 losses for the third-place club to catch, a club that would first have to catch and pass the second-place club.

    Possible? Sure. But with each week, the likelihood diminishes. I’m damned happy with where this club is, and very pleasantly surprised, given my dire season prediction.

  48. sebanovic
    February 3, 2013

    Hey look other Baltimorons on here 😀

    We need a Baltimore Barca chapter

  49. y2k156
    February 4, 2013

    An excellent match and fair result.

    Valencia pressed really hard throughout the match. Ref was allowing EPL level of physical contact and they made the most of it. It was not dirty so no complaints. I have always liked Valencia so happy to see them play well.

    As for Barca, thought we played well. We could have won with Villa & Cesc missing great chances.

    So lead still remains and we even have a week without mid week match before we play Milan. So things are quite ok i think.

  50. February 4, 2013

    Poor match selection again.
    I cannot believe the same team that endured an intense match against EE were put out against Valencia at their home, even though we are quite comfortable in the league. The tired legs and lack of freshness was easy to see. This was a game to start Alexis, Villa, Thiago, Song, etc and opportunity to test them against top quality opposition.
    This cancer plague on our club is really starting to annoy me.

    • February 4, 2013

      “Cancer plague?” Dang, homie …. (Unless it’s a direct reference to the Vilanova and Abidal situations, in which case I would say that “Life happens.”)

      The players finished poorly, but I rather imagine the coaching staff is breathing a sigh of relief right now rather than ruing points that were lost. Because Valencia was rested, ready and serious. Poor finishing was a problem again, for both sides even if we are just focused on our side.

      But I rather imagine we would have been hailing our players for gutting one out rather than cursing the moon, had Fabregas or Villa been able to finish excellent chances. It happens.

  51. February 4, 2013

    Which was more ordinary from us, against Madrid or Valencia. We were just lucky to have that Penalty.
    Very disappointed with Villa, a world class striker, even if he is in for 1 minute or 45 minutes, that was an open chance for a world class striker.
    Our midfield really needs to catch up. If this means, Xavi, Cesc and Busquets has to be rested for a week, let it be.
    Almost all our best chances were created by Messi, who always had more than 2 players taking care of him – very strange. And wonder what Gerry Armstrong and many others expect him to do every match – a hatrick.
    Iniesta does many things, with an elegance on the field, but 95% of the time it results in nothing – no goals/assists/chances, just a feeling there could be danger few meters away, and then nothing.

  52. mom4
    February 4, 2013

    Don’t understand the Roura hate above.

    We drew at the Mestalla. Pep had only won once there and it was an ugly, scrappy 0-1 affair from what I recall (correct me if my recollection is off). Two draws in a row. Away games. Against two strong teams and we’re panicking?

    Valencia didn’t have a game mid-week. They went into this well rested. Look how the mid-week game affected RM. Did we expect to be fresh as daisies?

    It’s Hlebruary. I’d extend a little grace to the players and coaching staff and have a little faith. Geez, it’s too early to panic, y’all!

    • February 4, 2013

      Yes, I don’t understand the calls to replace Tito/Roura with an interim coach, either. We are having an extremely successful season. Panicking and bringing in someone new—with different ideas and ways of working– would have a destabilizing effect on the team, not the other way around. Yes, I think Roura made a serious error in judgement with the lineup in the last game, but you know what? That’s going to happen sometimes. Pep did it too. But throwing out the baby, the bathwater and the bathtub itself would be a complete overreaction.

      Congrats for your team’s win, mom4! Go Stallions Ravens!

    • February 4, 2013

      I’m not a math whiz, but let me try this out:

      The team has dropped 6 points in 22 matches. Even if ATM and RM were perfect for the rest of the season, Barça would still need to drop a third again as many points in the remaining 16 matches than it has the previous 22 for second place to draw even in the standings.

      In looking at the rest of the schedule, there are some difficult Liga matches:

      –Away to RM
      –Away to ATM
      –Away to Athletic Bilbao

      The Champions League legs against Milan are sandwiched by Granada home/RM away, and then Deportivo and Rayo for the second leg.

      Like any “the sky is falling” proper cule, I see doom around every corner. I think, “The last three Liga matches have been L-W-D, and “Lawd, lawd, what if that trend continues?!” I see the potential for broken players to come back from international duty. I, like the kid in “The Sixth Sense,” see dead people.

      But while I am not smug or overconfident because mathematically, things are still possible, anything could happen, etc, etc, etc, it would take something pretty much beyond the realm of comprehension for our beloved club to cough up its Liga lead.

      –Now. Would I have started essentially the same group that battled to a bonkers draw with RM in the Copa? No, because I wouldn’t have started my best XI in that Cops. But I’m not coach of FC Barcelona. Tito Vilanova is, even if his second, Jordi Roura, is in charge at present.

      Roura knows what he is doing. Villa played well, even if he also played too slowly for my liking at many a time. He had a glorious chance that if he buries, then Roura is being hailed as a genius at nailing the right substitution, and the Return of El Guaje is being sung around cule campfires.

      In a difficult match against a tricky opponent, any coach would go with his best XI, I rather imagine. You count on your players to get their jobs done, is all that I can think. It happens.

      As mom4 notes, Valencia was watching us wear ourselves out against RM on the telly, stretching and preparing to get in that ass. Of course this was going to be a difficult match, as anticipated by many. They pulled out a draw. Given the chances Valencia had, and the immensity of Valdes, it could have been very different.

    • nzm
      February 4, 2013

      The only thing that I’m not getting about Roura is his timidity around the substitutions. They’re coming too late to be effective – much like Pep did.

      If Roura could make the sub calls a bit earlier, then all would be well. Bigger cojones are needed – and perhaps that’s not a call that he’s in a position to make. We don’t know how much communication there really is going on between Roura and Tito, and who is really calling the shots. And maybe that is the real issue.

      But those subs – the right replacements in a timely fashion – have been critical for the success of this team over the season. Without them, it’s like going back to the old ways.

  53. February 4, 2013

    Xavi is out for two weeks with a hamstring injury. So he misses Getafe and Granada, but is back for the first Milan leg and RM away. Couldn’t have happened at a better time, frankly. Song also pulled out of the Cameroon friendly, with a sore knee, which I’m guessing is directly related to the Xavi news, as in “Uh, what say you rest for that friendly, Frylock?”

    • February 4, 2013

      That is in fact good. Without Xavi, we will be less predictable.
      Let the maestro come back rested for the Milan match.

    • Jafri
      February 4, 2013

      Xavi might be out of the Milan match as well… Man…

      • February 4, 2013

        No. The club has said 15 days, which is effectively two weeks. That means he’s back just in time for Milan. In watching the match, you wouldn’t have known Xavi was injured. My guess is that the 15 days isn’t actually going to be, and that he will be passed fit the weekend before Milan, or pass a pre-match fitness test and play.

        And even if he doesn’t, I’d go anywhere with a Iniesta/Busquets/Thiago midfield.

  54. Ben
    February 4, 2013

    OT: I’ve heard references to Pedro coming out of the Barcelona C team. Why was the C team disbanded? Cost cutting?

    • Blau-Grenade
      February 4, 2013

      The C team got promoted to B.

    • February 4, 2013

      When Pep came in to coach the B side it was decided to merge the existing B & C teams to consolidate resources. The B team was in the Tercera division and the C team was way down in a regional league. It just didn’t make sense to keep them both. Pep cherry-picked the best players of the two teams and let the rest go. One of the hardest things he ever had to do.

  55. barca96
    February 4, 2013

    Sigh. So there is 1 CL match that was rigged that was played in England which happened 3-4 years ago.

    They haven’t said which game it was but I fear that people might point out at our infamous Iniestazo match.

    • dean
      February 4, 2013

      Implying any ref can fix that bullet of a shot by ini.
      Match fixing would not go as far as top level play, probably some small eastern european side’s goaly in a qualifying tie lets 5+ goals making a certain type of bet appealing.

      • Richzorz
        February 4, 2013

        Or Chelsea vs Napoli last season, I remember thinking RDM was the luckiest manager ever after that one…!

        • nzm
          February 4, 2013

          Odds are that it would have to be a privately-owned club owned by a filthy-rich oligarch who could afford to offer such a bounty to get a lesser club (or some of its key players) to throw a game.

  56. February 4, 2013

    Interesting EMD piece about Bartra, Tello and Montoya, and how the coaching staff in the cases of the latter two seem to be more concerned about how they are dealing with not getting playing time. The intimation is that their complexities are attitudinal.

    http://www.mundodeportivo.com/20130203/fc-barcelona/toque-tecnicos-montoya-tello-bartra_54362684206.html

    But let’s not forget that competition is brutal at the best club in the world. There’s also the Abidal question.

  57. barca96
    February 4, 2013

    I thought it happens in the small leagues too but then Calciopoli happened.

    No. I don’t believe that that match was fixed but since they mentioned that there was ONE CL match played on an English soil and considering that that match was the most controversial match in the last 3-4 years.

    Of course they can not predict the Iniestazo but the refs that are bribed are usually told to help one particular team.

    But I don’t believe that the match was fixed. It doesn’t make sense because Abidal was wrongly sent off.

  58. rocherto
    February 4, 2013

    I just want to extend my heart felt expressions to a rabid fan…
    Sooooo happy for you Mom4. Ravens pulled it out at the end. Must admit was a little set off by the “safety play at the end” but kudos for your men with the play!! As a skins fan I am really happy for a victory so close to he beltway!!

    • mom4
      February 4, 2013

      Awww, thanks! We were screaming for John to call for the safety at the party we were at. Ooof, but the field position for the kick if we hadn’t!

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