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!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_hN-HkoBf0

By blitzen

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. 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. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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. *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]

    1. — 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.

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

    3. That I understand.

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

    1. 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.

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

    Messi surely needs to beat him now in own goals.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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).

    2. 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!

  7. 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.

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

  8. 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.

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

    1. 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 😆

  12. 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.

    1. 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.

  13. 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.

    1. 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!

  14. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

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

    1. 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.

  16. 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…

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

    1. 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.

  18. 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?

    1. 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.

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

    1. 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.

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

  21. 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?

  22. 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…

  23. 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.

    1. 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.

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

  25. 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…

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

    1. 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).

    2. 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.

    3. 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).

    4. 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.

    5. @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.

    6. 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.

    7. 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)

    8. “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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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?

    1. 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.

  32. 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

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

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