Valencia 1 – Barça 1, as we could have won a game we should have lost



1. power failure; wide-spread electricity outage

2. lapse of memory, preferrably but not necessarily caused by excessive consumption of your favorite alcoholic beverage

3. Zzzzzzzing! When the lights go off…

Pitch Black Darkness

Denizens of the Third World are all too familiar with definition number one. During my youth and early adult life spent in wealthier (and better run!) countries the rare and occasional power outage was greeted as a welcome novelty – an opportunity to light the candles and uncork a bottle of wine. However, now that blackouts are an almost weekly occurence in my life they are met with a “[expletive], not again!” and an “I hope the circuits of my TV weren’t burnt to a crisp just now…”

Definition number two is a universally shared experience lived by eager college frat boys, hopelessly unemployed slum dwellers and jaded millionaire housewives worldwide. I wonder if Lionel Messi and Andrés Iniesta remember the 2009 Champion’s League celebrations all that well…

As for the match, back-up power generator Jordi Roura turned on Victor Valdés, Dani Alves, Smash, Piqué, Alba, Busi, Xavi, Cesc, Pedro, Messi and Ghostface to light up the Mestalla. Notwithstanding the minor variations of our goalkeeper and Javier Mascherano, it was the exact same line-up of the previous three games.


It’s not a strain to say we started the game with out batteries considerably drained. Add the fact that we were facing a team that, to put it mildly, had something to prove after three encounters with Pure White Arrogance which must have left them feeling distinctly irrelevant and I can only conclude that the lights were off in whichever head came up with our starting eleven…

Whose line-up is it anyway?

Valencia rushed out of the gates like a bunch of linebackers on deer antler spray, snapping at our heels and fighting for every inch to keep us out of the Red Zone.  And indeed, as the first half progressed it became clear that our offense posed about as much threat as a ninety pound running back, so while their defense kept a both mentally and physically fatigued Barcelona in check with ease, their counter attacks grew more and more dangerous.

I don’t think anyone was surprised when half an hour into the match Éver Banega controlled a Piqué clearance and buried it to put the homeside up by one. I remembered the game against Atlético de Madrid not too long ago in which we didn’t wake up until Falcao scored the opener. To react or not to react, is the question. Negative, was the answer.

Pedro getting exlamation pointed

But fear not, a life line was tossed our way in the form of Joao Pereira, who, judging by the incredulous look on his face when he got whistled for the foul, must have suffered a temporary blackout (zzzzing!) during which he both pushed and kicked Pedro at the same time when the forward tried to receive a pass in the penalty area. A clear penalty which Messi put high and hard in the top left corner.* A hardly deserved equalizer, yet the score was tied again.

In the second half we looked a bit livelier.  All four of Cesc, Messi, Villa and Pedro had the chance to score the winning goal, but then again it could have just as easily fallen at our end of the pitch with Valencia continuing to carve out dangerous counter opportunities up until the last minute, in which our Safety Victor Valdés made a key interception. In the end I went home thinking that, yeah, we really didn’t deserve anything more than a point.

So on Wednesday we drew one we should have won and yesterday we drew one we probably deserved to lose. Our record over the previous six games is as follows: D-L-W-W-D-D. We got no more than 4 points out of the last 3 league games and the only two reasons our lead hasn’t shrunk is because M*drid has already given up on the title and because Atletico is well, Atletico.

Give the MOTM some love!

What gives? The last time we played Valencia was at the beginning of the league when we were not yet fifteen points removed from our main rivals. If memory serves me correctly we did not only not just finish a grueling clásico the week before but we also started a recently arrived Song that day, as well as Adriano and Alexis. I would go even further and say that there are two words that perfectly describe the first half of the season: rotation and wins.

Good arguments can be made for and against the inclusion of certain players, but I have no problem with our technical staff’s preferred starting eleven. However, they do not need to start every single match. What use is having 16 million euros worth of African music if you are not gonna play it? Or 26 million euro of Chilean firewater if you ain’t gonna take a sip. And David Villa could do with a couple of starts also. Last season Thiago started too many games, this season not enough. And what happened with Tello?

I can only speculate as to why we have not been rotating as of late, so I’d rather not. I do know that our bench is deeper than it has ever been during the Guardiola era. We were making full use of our squad up until the winter break. Before we get down to the serious end of the season it is essential that we get back to doing just that.

Our boys looked tired out there. We do not want them to look tired one month from now.

Or the lights will indeed…go…off.

Are the Kid’s goals at the Mestalla a thing of the past?

“Villa not starting? It was a tough game, so we thought to keep the same team”

Jordi Roura Solá



* Whereas at the end of last season he had only converted a career approximate of 70% of his penalties, Messi has not  missed one yet this season.





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. …like a bunch of linebackers on deer…

    Kxevin, do we hafta have Steelers fans for mods???


    1. Apparently there’s only about 15 minutes of actual playing time in an average American Football match. All the rest of it is the replays/ preparation time etc.

    2. Baseball is worse. Actual action- from the pitcher’s wind up to the end of the play- averages even less time. I can’t bear to watch baseball anymore and can only stand Am. football if my beloved Ravens are playing.

      BTW, y’all know I was teasing Lev above.

    3. according to the study by the wall street journal, it is closer to 11 or 12 minutes of actual live action in an american football match.

    4. I have stopped watching American sports altogether. The commercials, t.v. timeouts, clock stops, instant replay challenges, etc. etc. are all to much for me. I have no desire to watch. The NBA is not what it used to be. The 80’s & early 90’s were the heyday where fundamentals, team play, actual offensive sets and motion offenses, players able to shoot from beyond 8 feet, fast paced, high scoring games made it the best show on Earth. Now it’s low scoring, walk the ball up the floor, post up, one v one, travel not called, crap! Baseball is a purist sport and I do still love the game. It’s a game that has so many nuances and facets that are so lovely to a person who truly knows the game. It’s a chess game. That said, it’s a spectator sport and one where being there for the experience is the only way to thoroughly enjoy it. Watching it on t.v. is like watching paint dry.

    5. There is so much start and stop in American Football that I loose focus, start doing something else, and I never end up finishing seeing matches. And then I loose interest all together.

  2. Given that the 2nd Valencia game was of no consequence to the league standing… Jogging my dog in the park this morning I was clinically obsessed with coming up with a completely different starting 11 and brief pre-game speech along the lines of, “Messi won’t be subbing in at 60 mins so you’d better win this one long before that.” Someone who has been a coach or even had a decent footer coach (I’m USer pushing 50 so there weren’t any when I was youth player,) please tell me why not throw out:

    Montoya, Bartra, Pique (didn’t he have a day off recently), Adriano
    Song, Masch (let him play defensive mid, he’s good at it), Thiago
    Sanchez, Villa, Tello

    and tell them to keep the ball when they have it and get it back when they don’t and try really hard because the only sub tonight is the coach.

  3. Hmm, don’t see Tello on the list of players at FCB website. There goes my roster. What about this Jonathan Dos Santos dude? He’s fit. Let him run around in short pants for 90 mins and see how he likes it.

    1. Tello wanted to keep his Barca B shirt # and, as a consequence, I don’t think that he can be listed as a First Team member if he doesn’t have a shirt # that is 25 or lower, in Spain.

      He didn’t like any of the available numbers…

      All I know is that if I got to play for Barca, I wouldn’t care what number was on my shirt.

    2. Abidal is 22 and Song is 25. Tello’s got two choices 23 or 24. Fear of numbers adding up to 5 or 6, perhaps?

    3. There’s also #20.

      Lev – I think that he wants the #7. Fancies himself wearing that over Villa!

  4. I was pretty sad with the line-up, given how it failed to zing mid-week against RM, and felt that some fresh legs were needed for the Valencia game. Not a complete change, but some personnel changes were required.

    For instance, I would have definitely played Adriano on the left wing and then subbed Alexis in for Pedro.

    I’m also pretty frustrated with the experiment which is Cesc, Iniesta and Xavi on the pitch together. It results in too many bodies being in the same place on the pitch – they start running into each other and doing short passes which don’t come to much. If Cesc is played, then Xavi should be rested as Cesc then tends to assume a lot more responsibility when Xavi isn’t on the pitch. It means that Ini can play inside again and we get a decent player with some movement on the left wing to maintain some width.

    Also not sure why, when Messi runs towards the goal, there is no other Barca player tracking with him to either receive a pass or take some of the defensive heat off Leo. I think that it’s because there are too many mid-fielders on the pitch who aren’t used to being further forward! Also, Messi is having to start his runs when he’s too deep.

    2 shots on target for the whole game is pretty appalling for a top team like Barca. Valencia had 6 by comparison.

    The bench also needs to get the subs on the pitch much earlier than we’ve seen in recent games. This has been a key factor in winning some games in this season when subs were made around the 60′ mark which gave them time to be effective.

    Our back-line defence would look ok if the attack was more successful. Sure, Pique has some baffling moments, and if it hadn’t been for Alba’s and VV’s outstanding performances, we could have been looking at a defeat.

    The Mestalla has never been kind to Barca. I’m not sure if they pulled Unai’s trick of not watering the grass last night, but the tactical foul rondo between the Valencia players was in full swing. Those factors aside, the blaugrana team was tired and showed it.

    1. It’s still acceptable for me if Messi starts his run from deep but there has to be runners making runs like when he made that glorious pass to Cesc.

      He can’t be the furthest up field at the center circle and start making runs. He will just run into a wall.

      I don’t understand how Adriano is not getting any minutes.. He doesn’t deserve this after all those performances and goals earlier this season. I understand that our first choice is back on form but its okay to switch it up midway through the match.

      Tello is another one that I think have been neglected. He always creates havoc when he comes on.

    2. Messi’s deep runs allow the defence to organise themselves to strip him of the ball before he gets to the penalty box. Same with Iniesta when he starts his runs too deep.

      Sure we’ve seen some stupendous goals scored by Messi when he’s started deep, but I’ll warrant that he’s been stopped more times than he has scored when building up from half-way.

      More often than not, the way to stop Messi is to foul him before the box. This tactic of Messi picking the ball up deep and then being fouled is risking injury to him, as well as causing a lot of bruising to his legs – the latter causing him to train separately after being so beaten up after the Madrid game. Yesterday, he also trained alone in the gym in Sweden where he’s with Argentina.

      Messi (and Ini) are far more effective when they can start making their moves further up the pitch. With the element of surprise, and an unsettled defence, their quick plays in tight situations often bring more success and rattle defences into making errors.

      I have no problem with Messi starting deep if he has supporting players running with him, but unless you have dedicated forwards who can think quickly enough to do it, Messi is going to run solo a lot. Even Pedro couldn’t think fast enough to do it in the last couple of games, but I bet that Alexis and Villa (and even Adriano and maybe Tello) would do so.

      But if the team continues to base its forward movements on Messi (and Iniesta) starting deeper, the risk of more frequent injuries is there because, if it’s necessary to stop them, opposition defences will be resorting to deliberate fouling which means that their legs and feet will be under constant threat.

    3. Been saying that for ages. My biggest issue with wing Iniesta is that Messi then has to do that Iniesta stuff. Iniesta is much better at it.

      It’s like that silly “completed dribbles” stat. Who cares? Messi is so much more dangerous when the defense has less time to prepare for him. I know that people

      I know that people find his runs all ooh and did you see that inducing, but all I think is “There goes the system.”

      Someone noted that often Messi is alone, with nobody making support runs. Good point. Been saying that a lot recently. I wonder if in efforts to save energy, certain players see a look in his eye and say, “He ain’t passing,”might as well conserve. Dunno. I do know that our most dangerous player is at his best when he is less predictable. That means getting him the ball already IN a position of danger, rather than having him make his own space. Another value of Sanchez.

    4. If players aren’t running because they think that Messi won’t pass, then they need to question why they are playing at all.

      The aim is to get the ball into the net. The more people forward, the more chances for being successful.

      And yes – that’s what Alexis works his butt off doing.

      Pedro usually does too – but not in the last couple of games. This relates to a comment that I recently made about Pedro not being a play-maker – he needs the balance of another winger on the other side of the pitch which is why he played so well with Henry and plays well with Villa. It doesn’t work with Ini or Cesc because they are not playing as more conventional wingers would do. It will be interesting to see how he performs if he plays in Qatar tomorrow.

    5. This thread echoes all my sentiments regarding the last match. I was very disappointed when I saw the lineup of this match. And then when I saw Xavi playing, it was clear that he did not have it in his legs, and that Jordi Roura did not have balls to sub him.

    6. Very well said
      As to your comment about lack of support for Messi runs I think it could be related to the fact that everybody expects him to finish on his own. Whether its because he’s a bit selfish in front of goal (for a good reason, we have no other good finishers at) or expectation from the team is up to debate

  5. Tim Stannnard, in La Liga Loca:

    “You say when we win, it’s self-management and when we lose it’s the fault of the coach,” complained the Madrid manager to the press after the Granada defeat, the fifth on the road in la Liga this season, and the fourth in Andalusia. “Mourinho cries a lot. Too much. You could hire him for funerals and burials,” was the response from Roberto Palomar writing in Marca.


    1. No small comfort in knowing that however bad things may get, at least we don’t have to put up with him for a coach!

  6. I think the fear is that Tito’s unfortunate illness is starting to impact what has been an absolutely fabulous season so far, in terms of results. Make no mistake, his presence is crucial for our chances of progressing in the Champions league, much like how Pep voiced his concerns of not having Tito around when he faced Milan too, and if I remember correctly, we drew that game.
    We have earned a nice cushion in the Liga and we must leverage that to our benefit to prepare for the CL. That is the smart thing to do, whether that means keeping key players fit and fresh or giving the bench warmers valuable playing time and ensuring that the whole team is sharp and in form.
    Players like Villa, Alexis need to feel they are valuable and that will certainly improve their performances.
    And on a tactical note, while I realise Iniesta is more flexible and happy to play wherever, I am dying to see him in the midfield. I hope his advancement forward towards the wings is not a permanent move due to the acquisition of Cesc. Visca! Hlebruary indeed.

    1. Yes, the proverbial elephant in the room is how Tito’s absence is affecting our team. Of course nobody likes to talk (or even think) about it because of the very reason for his absence…

      @mom4, i was rooting for B’more cause I can’t stand the 49ers, prancing around in their silly golden leggings! Besides, I always like to think that Steelers and Ravens are each other’s secret admirers: we are a hard-hitting defensive team and you are our slightly (ahum) less successful mirror image!

      Also (and yes, I realize you might not take this as a compliment) I am a fan of your city ever since the Wire!

      So congratulations on your Super Bowl 🙂

    2. I have to hate the Steelers but it’s a fun, good-natured hate (oxymoron ?). And I will always cheer for them if they make it to the SB because they represent our division. Think two other teams could have this morbo-less rivalry? Nope!

      And Polumalu has all that great hair!

      The media build up to the Super Bowl was shamefully one-sided. And the commentary and play by play made the Fox Soccer Champions League guys look like geniuses. But I’d like to think that all helped our guys. We thrived on it- ornery little cusses that we are. One writer even joked that the media has us at 6 point underdogs for our own victory parade today!

      So thanks! And it’s on again next year. 🙂

    3. Vaguely…I was too busy with babies at the time. I never was a fan of football (American) until the 1999-2000 season, although I have fond but even more vague memories of cheering for the Colts with my dad. We, Baltimore (I don’t live in the city but in on of the nearby counties), never really got over the hurt of the Colts absconding in the dead of night until the Ravens came. I do remember that the Stallions were embraced more than expected by us, they were pretty successful, the name thing never went over well because we’ve always held onto the notion that the name “Colts” belonged to us and wanted to call them the Colts (btw, up until the most recent playoff game this year, the scoreboard at M&T Bank stadium has never acknowledged Indianapolis as the Colts. The scoreboard would just say “Indi”), we were still bitter at never getting an expansion frachise team so to us the CFL thing was like- well, we can’t have the real (no offense intended but we were a proud NFL city) thing so let’s support what we do have (think of it as Barca leaving Barcelona secretly one night and showing up in a different Spanish city still retaining the name FC Barcelona, and someone gives Barcelona a team and says “it’s OK, your new team will play in the Eredivisie. Now go love this team.” Maybe not the best example but you get the point).

      BUT, the Stallions were the more successful American team in CFL history 🙂 !

    4. Mom4 I’m from Annapolis and I was crushed when the Colts snuck out of town. I still have fantasies of taking back the the Colts name and uniform from Indi.the Ravens are a good organization as far as NFL franchises go. A good friend of mine works on the Ravens owners yacht and has nothing but good things to say about him. It’s no Barca but still a top notch club. Barca is the 8th most valuable sports franchise in the world, the Ravens are 18th.

    1. He takes the pitch in a match and I’m not gonna be able to watch. Anybody gets a cleat anywhere near the man and I’ll go into overprotective hypermom worry mode.

  7. How does Abidal fit into current squad? What might the implications be for Alba, Adriano, and Mascherano?

  8. Definition # 2 is why my lights go out on BFB from time to time. Too much BeIn sports, too many manitas. (“I sthaid stirrrred, Blitz! hrphtzh.”) Actually it’s becauseI’m catching up to SoMo4 in the progeny department. So instead of slurping manitas I’m sniffling over Villa (Let’m feel the love, Roury!), snarfing up all the Chee-tohs, and then passing out on top of the remote. Blllzzzz.

    I asked d.h. what it means for Barça to practically play without a coach? And he said, It means Barça doesn’t need a coach. I was like, wow, but then again I’m really stoopid lately. Where Chee-tohs?

    He didn’t mean that everyone is off playing at keepie-uppie without a thought to their beloved Tito, or that a well-executed plan wouldn’t come in handy oh right about … now, or that I don’t love Mr. Maoi as much as the next gaoi.

    It’s just that Barça really doesn’t have a “coach” right now, or at least “a” coach … and there they are. Their off-days are draws. So now they’re only, what? 8? 18? points ahead in the League?

    I actually can think of some teams who might be better off without a coach right now.

    As Kxevin would say (and often does): Think about it.

    1. Congrats!

      And as for your acute case of mommybrain, sorry to say but it becomes chronic after the 3rd. ;-D But the extra cuddles make it worth while!

  9. Can anyone explain the absence of Tello for the last 8 games or so? What is going on there? I understand Alexis & Pedro are our preferred lineup, but this kid contributed so much early in the season and even last season that I cannot understand why he’s not getting games. He gives that width and pace we need. He also has a strikers instinct that cannot be overlooked. When he has an opportunity he takes it. I would rather have him shoot at goal and test the keeper then Alexis pass it back to the middle and make not effort at goal. I just don’t get it. Really mind boggling to me that he hasn’t been given time lately.

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