The Third Method

It’s incredible. It’s appalling. We won’t know what to do until we understand what’s really going down. Everyone seems to be involved … is everyone to blame? It’s a real scandal.

I know everyone is feeling a little bummed lately. But there’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned Spanish scandal to buck you right up. Bad taste, you say? Italian scandals are bad taste (cf. “Berlusconi bunga-bunga party”). British scandals are seamy (hack, cough, hack hack), American scandals are cringe-worthy (cigar, anyone?) and French scandals … well, French scandals bore me. What’s the point of living a double-love life if everyone is going to be so well-behaved at the funeral? Haven’t these people ever seen one of their own comedies?

But Spanish scandals are comedy platinum. The first season, ever, in the whole world franchise of “Survivor”, in which the shipwrecked contestants actually produce fire (The Case of the Hidden Zippo). The legendary flamenco singer who swindles the lovesick mayor out of all the money he embezzled from the public trust (The Case of the Big Fat Crooked Sap). And now there’s … Método 3!

la camargaI’ll do my best to explain, but it’s kind of complicated because whenever journalists try to explain it they wind up giggling. See, it all starts at La Camarga, an upscale dining establishment and favorite haunt of Barcelona politicians. Apparently, there was some curiosity as to whether the sons of a certain former president (Pujol – no relation) of a certain province  (Catalunya – one and the same) were somehow indebted to their father for their professional success. (The phenomenon is nearly unheard-of in Spain, where it is commonly referred to as “el enchufe”.)

The topic came up almost casually, it seems, between the leader of the conservative and national-leading party, the Partido Popular (let’s call her “Alicia”) and her dining companion, the lovely María Victoria, who would know, since she’s an ex-girlfriend of one of the aforementioned sons and therefore has little reason to fabricate. Apparently, according to reliable sources, “the sonofabitch lugged bags of euros into Andorra without even bringing me a bottle of Chanel No. 5 from the damn duty-free shop” (or that’s the gist of it, anyway.)

Now, what business is it of ours what Alicia and María Victoria carp about over their salted cod? Well, someone wanted to know, because as it turns out … the table was bugged! Bugged! A mic was hidden right in the middle of the complimentary gerber daisy vase! And when Alicia leaned over to smell it, she got a squirt of Vichy Catalan right in the eye! No, that’s not true. But who’s running this outfit, anyway? Clarabel the Clown?

facturaI, your intrepid casual news-watcher and sometime Wikipediaist, know. Método 3 (as in “tres”), that’s who. Método 3 is a spy agency that may have been hired by the PP’s political rivals to spy on Catalunya’s regional parties, or maybe by the PP’s political rivals to spy on the PP, or by Mr. Pujol to spy on María Victoria, but it’s hard to say, because the mic stayed in the gerber-daisy vase for, like, three months! Three months of recorded conversations from everyone who’s anyone enough to get a seat at La Camarga. Just imagine the juicy gossip … of course, if you’ve ever had the pleasure to visit a Peninsular eatery, you might wonder, like me, why the mic, because everyone talks at the top of their lungs with their mouths full. Maybe the responsible party should have requested the next table and just shut the hell up. It would have been cheaper, too, because Método 3 sends out Quickbook invoices with IVA included, and super-secret gerber-daisy mics apparently don’t come none too cheap.

Método 3, for all its Marx-Brothers methodology (kinda makes you wonder what methods 1 and 2 were, to be so cavalierly discarded), is experiencing a regular boom among Barcelona’s would-be-in-the-knowers. Several political parties, as it turns out, have enlisted the agency’s services. And – and this is my favorite part – La Camarga itself has contracted Método 3, allegedly to spy on its own employees (watch out for that gerber-mic as you re-fill the water glasses, Ramón). Definitely not, we are to assume, to get the goods on their own classy clientele or identify a possible Michelin critic (it’s got one star already). When the police raided the Método 3 headquarters to investigate accusations of “political espionage” (as if a spy agency were to do something besides espionage), they found pages and pages of documents, and gerber-daisy mics (I suppose), and … weaponry. You never know when an ex-girlfriend is going to go ballistic over  lumpy flan, I guess.

pique por favorWhat has all of this to do with BFB, footy, recent slump, etc., you ask? Last week, I would have confessed, Very little. I just think it’s a hoot, is all. As far as politics go, there are a lot of manchegos pointing out that for a unique and particular people as the catalans, that the situation smacks seriously of, and I quote, “100% chapuza española”. But then it came to light that our own Pepmaster Guardiola, Coach of the Six Cups, was also a Método 3 client. Yes! There have been a few Barça players stalked by the Third Methoders, including Deco, Ronaldinho and … Gérard Piqué! What ever happened to trust? To sportsmanship? To a gentleman’s honor and all that?

I wonder what happened to common sense. What was Método 3 going to discover, anyway? That Deco was secretly a homebody with four cats? Ronaldinho practiced his Brazilian celebration boogies in the privacy of his living room? And what about Piqué? You’ll never guess, but secretly … Shakira’s totally hot! They’re a sweet couple, but they’re not going to win “Saber y Ganar: Celebrity Edition” anytime soon? The secret meaning of code words “moc moc”? It’s like the gerber-daisy mic. Way too complicated. If you wanted to know what Piqué was up to, Pep, all you had to do was follow Pujol’s (our Pujol’s) Twitter account. Instagram!


 See? Now you all cheered up.

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SoccerMom obsesses over FCB and this blog instead of grading papers, burning dinner and/or raising her small children. She blames a Spanish husband and easy access to Hispanic-targeted cable sports channels for her football addiction and consequent failure as a professor, housekeeper and mother.


  1. providence
    March 4, 2013

    I dun understand the post, probably a few pple here understands it, …. I dun get any meaning from it…

    • March 4, 2013

      SoMa might be a bit hard for non-native English speakers to follow, I imagine. She does love to play around with words. Just let it wash over you and smile! 😀

    • nzm
      March 4, 2013

      providence – there’s an article here in English if you want to read more:

      Basically, the story is this:
      A prominent Catalunyan family – the Pujols – are currently under investigation for accepting bribes, among other things.

      A woman politician who is leader of the Catalan Populist Party – Alicia Sánchez-Camacho – met an ex-girlfriend of one of Pujol’s sons in a Barcelona restaurant to discuss the fact that the girlfriend had accompanied the son when he drove into Andorra (a tax-free country on the border between Catalunya and France) and witnessed the son placing large amounts of cash into a bank there.

      Their conversation in the restaurant was recorded by a hidden microphone placed in a vase of flowers that was on their table. Detective Agency – Método 3 – had placed it there and was recording conversations in the restaurant.

      The police seized boxes and boxes of paperwork from the detective agency, and among them were papers to say that Pep Guardiola had hired the agency to spy on Barca players – Ronaldinho, Deco and Pique among them.

      Hope this helps to make it clearer! 😀

      The TV3 Crackovia program used to run skits joking about Pep making late night calls to his players to check to see where they were – mostly with Carles Puyol.

      Apparently there was an element of truth to him wanting to know where they were! 😆

    • nzm
      March 4, 2013

      Looks like a good deal – especially for the Levante match. They are on fire right now – although they almost blew a 0-2 lead vs. Sociedad last night to come back for a 3-3 draw after Sociedad took the lead.

      Of the hotels mentioned, the HUSA Illa Hotel is the closest hotel to Camp Nou:

      Some of the others are out by Sant Joan Despi (harder to get into town) and some of them (Vincci) are by our place, just north of the central city which is good but just takes longer to get to the stadium.

  2. DumbOx
    March 4, 2013

    Happy Monday, fellow cules! If you’ve ever thought about how hard it is to speak Spanish (even for a native speaker), you’ll get a big kick out of their video:

    …”In Chile polla is a collective bet, but in Spain it is penis. Some people in Mexico call the penis pitillo, and pitillo in Spain is cigarette and in Venezuela it is a plastic straw used to drink beverages. The same straw in Bolivia is known as pajita, but pajita in some countries means small masturbation, and masturbation in Mexico is called chaqueta, which at the same time is a type of coat in colombia, country which by the way, a cap with a visor is a cachucha, and cachucha in Argenita is a vagina, but there they also call the vagina a concha, and conchudo in Colombia is someone who is cheeky or fresco and fresco in Cuba is someone disrespectful. I AM MAMADO! [fed up]…”
    Hoping it gives some of us some comic relief. Cheers, everyone! Visca Barca! Visca Catalunya!

    • ooga aga
      March 4, 2013

      and incidentally, MAMADO in several places means “sucked” or “sucked off”

      examples abound, you have just scratched the surface…will check out the video

    • March 4, 2013

      don’t think Spanish is harder than English to be honest…

      here (in Venezuela) “mamado” means really really tired.

      also we say “arrecho” for either “upset” or “with a lot of attitude” but in Colombia it means “horny”…

      Cue embarassing moment when I told a Colombian student “chica tú si estás arrecha!” LOL

  3. March 4, 2013

    Not sure what was in the water in New York, but here is Sandro Rosell, from today’s presser:

    –Rosell: “Our players have been playing at a very high level for four and a half years and they’ve overcome may adverse situations”

    –Rosell expects that Vilanova will be returning by the end of March, and that his treatment is going very well. This contradicts earlier reports that Vilanova would be out “at least” another month.

    –Rosell: “There will be no exits or movements in the technical staff until Tito comes back, even if that costs us every single title.”

    –Rosell:”The Board of Directors will stand behind Vilanova for as long as it takes. He will be our manager as long as I’m president”

    –“Roura is being a hero. We must appreciate the responsibility that he is taking on.”

    –Rosell is asked about Maradona’s desire to train Barça (and Leo Messi) one day. He lets out an uncomfortable chuckle.

    –The club has also ended the cut-rate ticket block sales, and killed the Grada d’Animacio. Both are credited with letting the Boixos back in the Camp.

    –Freixa also said that they don’t really have the power to enforce the guarantee verdict that came down against Laporta and seven other board members (to the tune of 23m, you news watchers might recall).

    –The team will be embarking on a summer tour of Asia.

    On a personal note, I woke up today, saw the news of the Asian tour, recalled what such a thing did to our players a couple of years ago, and started cursing him, something that has become almost a daily routine. Today, after hearing what he said about Vilanova, I have to take that back. For the first time in some time, our president has acted like a President. Badass.

    • Choba
      March 4, 2013

      Yesss I am just happy that he is backing Tito and calling Roura a Hero, I think Roura is a real Hero.

    • nzm
      March 4, 2013

      All I can say about the Asian tour is that the opponents had better be worthwhile opposition to genuinely help with the pre-season conditioning of the players.

      If it’s to be another dog-and-pony show, then that’s of no help to the team to prepare themselves for the coming season.

      • March 4, 2013

        Can you really see it being anything other than a dog and pony show?

        • teddy
          March 4, 2013

          +1, they’re coming to my country, and I can assure you it won’t be worthwhile opposition. though I would pray hard so that none of barca player injured playing in our kind of pitch

    • Judas Pissed
      March 4, 2013

      I don’t like “There will be no exits or movements in the technical staff until Tito comes back, even if that costs us every single title.”

      I’m all for the personal touch – but the club is bigger than everyone. Tito is incapacitated and I wish him all the best, but there is nothing wrong with doing everything possible to make sure Barca wins ALL the titles we still can…

      • ooga aga
        March 4, 2013

        that would go against, i think, some of the core values and philosophy of the club. winning isnt everything. you simply dont abandon your loved ones. sorry.

        • ooga aga
          March 4, 2013

          ok, im gonna predict your response…you’re gonna say…”i didnt say to abandon tito,” but you did say “nothing wrong with doing everything possible”…which could, technically, include abandoning tito. standing by him and not moving to make a replacement speaks volumes about this club, and, frankly, makes me proud.

  4. March 4, 2013

    The club will be visiting China, Thailand and Malaysia for its pre-season summer tour.

    –Rosell admitted that Neymar is a player that the club is thinking of signing. Interesting, particularly coupled with the Neymar comments that he isn’t ruling out leaving Santos this summer.

    • nzm
      March 4, 2013

      Big news in German press is that Bayern is also after Neymar and have apparently informed FC Barcelona of their intent to begin negotiations with the player. Not sure why they’d have to inform Barca of that, unless there’s a bona fide FCB pre-agreement with Neymar.

      • March 4, 2013

        And ain’t THAT interesting. I remember that Tweet from days ago, via @barcastuff, but didn’t think much of it, until now. That thought never occurred to me. Whoa.

  5. KEVINO17
    March 4, 2013

    Back again to Barca’s strategy/tactics going forward, I wonder if the answer is not to change the strategy, but double-down on it. One of the problems with playing total football is that everybody is given multiple tasks. They have to be attackers/defenders, etc etc. That can, when the team is playing top opponents, create doubt in the players minds: should I charge into the penalty area or should I be covering a possible counter-attack. Maybe that is why we often just don’t have enough numbers in the box at crucial moments.
    The suggestion seems to be that Barca will be playing a three man backline against Milan (with a holding/central midfielder I guess). I like the idea of playing a more broken system like that because it means that those who go forward can really go forward and put numbers in the penalty area knowing there is at least three back to cover the fast break. It should allow Barca to transition into a four/five man forward line in attack which should make pressing a lot easier as well.

  6. Huckleberry
    March 4, 2013

    To balance the team aigainst counters, there should be at least one more defensive minded player, either a second holder in midfield or a fullback not bombing foreward when the other does.

  7. Jim
    March 4, 2013

    I’m not sure we’re not gonna second guess ourselves to death in the run up to this game. For me it goes back to basics

    We should always have one defender more than they have forwards. It used to be called “cover”! For me, as has been said both FBs shouldn’t bomb forward at the same time. Neither Abidal nor Maxwell abdicated defence in the cavalier way we appear to be doing at the moment . If Piqué needs to go up then Alba should wait centrally as he has the pace required. Never seen him do that yet.

    We need Xaviniesta in the middle. It’s the only way we can keep the ball long enough deep in their half to spot any opening.

    We need Villa tasked with sticking in the middle of their box, spinning and looking for diagonal runs, occasionally coming short for 1-2s with Xaviniesta or Messi. If a ball comes across the box and Villa doesn’t bust a gut sliding in on it sell him!

    I also have a gut feeling that Tello should play as he has proven himself capable of taking the first chance that comes his way but I’m not 100% on that.

    Lastly we need to have the courage to move the ball as quickly as we have in our best games, commit to runs into the box and not be afraid to pull the trigger when we can.

    There, that’s easy enough isn’t it?

    • KEVINO17
      March 4, 2013

      Jim, we are gonna second guess ourselves, and get it all wrong – but why not.
      I really wouldn’t play Pique. Everybody at the back must be zippy (except Puyol who is there for leadership).
      I’m OK with Villa playing in the middle to score goals. But I would actually chose everybody else (except Messi) for their ability to press (so no Tello). We must use our press to cause panic, push them back and ignite our offence.
      The most vital time in this game will be the first few seconds after Milan get the ball back. If we don’t jump right on top of them we will be in terrible trouble.

      • March 4, 2013

        What’s interesting about the way that teams are attacking us is that they are utilizing either the left channel (Alba) for buildup play or the right channel (Alves) for going over the top, to take advantage of Alves’ rarely closing down hard on the passer, or Alba’s tendency to get caught up.

        Teams are also trying to isolate Pique with long passes to attackers.

        Back in the day, Abidal was there to clean up messes, and hide the positional mistakes made by Puyol and Pique. Now, Alba is scurrying back, usually too late to help Pique or Puyol.

        Sport has been jabbering about some “radical” tactical shift for the Milan match. Wonder if we will see hints of it during the weekend. Frankly, for Milan, as much as it pains me to give up an attacker, I could totally see Song with Busquets in midfield, particularly if Xavi can’t go. I think that then Iniesta sets the tempo, with (I hope) Messi/Villa/Sanchez up front.

        Or maybe even a 4-2-4 with Busquets and Iniesta, a more defensive back line with Adriano instead of Alba, and Pedro/Villa/Messi/Sanchez up front. Three of those four forwards will press and track back, along with Busquets in front of the back line, which will have at least three back in Pique/Puyol/Adriano.

        I don’t think we will have to worry about ceding the midfield with a 4-2-4, as I don’t see Milan even thinking about venturing forward until we get that second goal, and they will HAVE to. Then the shape reverts to something more traditional, as Messi (yes, Messi) slides into the midfield, feeding Sanchez/Pedro/Villa. Now won’t THAT be crazy!

        The defense won’t know what the hell to do, since the person they have been told to keep from killing them, will see more of the ball, and be more dangerous than he would be running at 5 defenders.

        • KEVINO17
          March 4, 2013

          I don’t think you can only play two in the middle because then Barca won’t be able to get through the midfield defensive “box” everybody is playing. Agree that Messi should draw back into midfield to make combinations with Iniesta: Maybe Iniesta-Song-Messi (with Song more conscious of his defensive responsiblities).

          Upfront, a four man attack (Thiago, Villa, Alexis, Pedro). That is quite a dynamic pressing machine, particularly when the midfield join in, with players who can really scramble back if necessary). I can’t believe that Milan would have ever had a team come forward and put the wood on them quite like that sort of combination.

          If Adriano is fit, he plays.

    • nia
      March 4, 2013

      That said, I just read on Sport that, Milan have only conceded 2 goals in 2013, one of that in the 90th min vs Juve in the cup
      o-O. They also had us going with a possible front 4. Alves, Messi, Pedro and Villa/Tello. Don’t know how Alves will help us up there. But, we’ll see.

      This is nervy times for the Blaugrana player and supporter alike. I wanna believe we’ll make it and we will go down fighting till the end. If we don’t we’ll pick our selves up and fight for everything next year.

      We are a very privileged club. Having won so many trophies in the last few yrs and now, I for one expect the team to win it all every yr. I seem to have lost perspective that we can’t win everything all the time. I forget that other clubs have never won the CL or any other cup for that matter or, that other clubs have waited for over 10 years for ‘la decima’ 😉 . Even when other fans know their teams are going to lose, they are still there singing very loudly. After Rossells’ speech today, I realise that, life is more important than trophies, everything else is secondary. I will be happy if my team wins and I’ll be celebrating with all of you. I’ll be happier to see a man I don’t know recover from cancer and return to coach my team.

  8. Kimcelona
    March 4, 2013

    I admit I’m not all too confident we can make it to the quarters of the CL. We may very well win at home but it might not be enough. I am confident however, that the players that will start will give their all. As long as they do that, Visca Barca!

  9. March 4, 2013

    Gaaaah! Now, after not admitting a shard of regret or culpability for the Boixos, only a vague notion of “forgiveness,” Toni Freixa is saying that THE PLAYERS wanted the Grada d’Animacio.

    For the unfamiliar, the Grada d’Animacio is a special space for supporters, linked to cut-price (EUR 10) tickets. It is widely known as the most effective way for the Boixos to find their way back into the Camp Nou.

    The club worked with the Mossos to make sure that security was tight, etc., before trying it. The flare incident made it clear how well that was working. So the club at the presser today said that the Grada/cheap tickets thing was no more. What that does to quell the Boixos, we will have to see. It certainly should help.

    But the “anyone but us” business is reprehensible. Had the players called for the Grada, we would have seen it reported somewhere. That didn’t happen.

    • March 4, 2013

      I haven’t seen that particular quote from Freixa, but I imagine if you asked any of the players whether they would like to see a special section of cheap seats for enthusiastic fans who are guaranteed to make a lot of noise in support of the team…they would say YES. Of course. Who wouldn’t?

      I am also pretty certain that if you asked them whether they would welcome the presence of supporters who perpetrate violence and abuse of opposing fans/players…they would say NO.

      It’s all in how the question is phrased.

  10. Miguel
    March 4, 2013

    Hi SoMA you should join twitter I want to be your friend.

  11. KEVINO17
    March 5, 2013

    I had look again at some film of the milan game and Kxevin is so right. Messi must come back and play midfield, whre he would join Iniesta and Song ( the three players in the Barca side best able to step past the three-man central midfield chain that Milan used to smother Barca’s midfield) Playing Iniesta on the wing was an absolute disaster in that game because he was needed in CM to defeat the chain. Playing Cesc in CM was also a disaster because, for all of his skills, he cannot beat someone one on one. Having Messi play as a forward was also a disaster because he was always coming to the ball and receiving it with his back to the goal.
    messi, Iniesta and Song must receive the ball in CM, facing the goal. Because of their great ability, one on one, they should have little trouble slipping through the chain. Once they have slipped through the chain, Milan’s backline iwill be dreadfully exposed. It will just be a matter of chosing the best through ball.

  12. Choba
    March 5, 2013

    Mascherano :
    “The best way to get up is to think about what is ahead and to have a positive and winning attitude.”
    “We should stay calm and have the modesty to see what goes wrong and to again be the team we were three weeks ago.”
    “The president was right when he said that you feel the impact of the news about Tito more as time goes by.”
    “This team didn’t get tired of winning. Barça is the club with most pressure in the world. You lose two games, end of the world”
    “We have to return to the foundations. Tito is not there, so we should all give something extra and help each other.”
    “Media reactions? Three weeks ago, Barça seemed to be Disneyland, and now it seems as if this is the House of Terror.”
    “Jordi (Roura) was brave enough to take up this task. The group admires him. We’re all to blame, this is not about one person.”
    “If someone has doubts about the team’s playing style, they should analyze the last 5 years, not just the last 15 days”
    “We’ve been talking with Tito, since he left he has been in touch with the players individually. I talked to him last week.”
    “Man United-Madrid tonight? Since they can’t lose both, it doesn’t really matter what happens and who qualifies…”

    I think we should speak more often, he is class.

    • March 5, 2013

      Masche gives the best pressers of anyone on the team. Intelligent, thoughtful, no bullshit, no deflections. The journalists love him too, they once gave him a standing ovation after a press conference.

      (You should probably credit @barcastuff for the translated quotes, though.)

      • March 5, 2013

        CASA DEL TERROR!!!!

        If somebody is going to change the name of the Camp Nou, I vote for that.

        And note the Mascherano quote about Roura and responsibility. So right. He’s my choice of Capita, once Puyol and Xavi are finished with the armband.

        • mom4
          March 5, 2013

          Oooooh, if they build a new stadium that would be such a cool name 🙂 .

          But we all know that Catalan pragmatism/seny will cause it to be named something more boringly descriptive like Camp Nou Nou.

          • Choba
            March 5, 2013

            “Camp Nou Nou” hahahha
            blitzen I forget to mention that the source, I will keep it in mind next time

    • elacule
      March 5, 2013

      Thanks for posting these, Choba,

      i had seen them this morning on barcastuff, too, and was coming here to make a little post about how much I appreciate his comments and perspective. He is mature, smart, and clear with his articulation.

      also, immediately after the 2nd EE match last week, i noticed people talking about how the guys need yelling at, etc., rather than leadership. there has been a lot of commentary about how the players aren’t really working together, too.

      from barcastuff this morning – “Captains Puyol, Xavi, Valdes, and Iniesta have called a meeting with the squad for today to discuss the team’s situation.” —

      it seems to me that losing 3 times probably surprised them, too. they are trying to take steps to address what’s gone wrong, take responsibility, and work as a group to overcome what’s missing, which has been acknowledged by them as their leader.

      one thing that i think is a pity is that people are so incredibly quick to jump up in swearing judgment against others when not in their shoes. we act as if all the solutions should be plainly obvious to the players, when they are viewing the experience very differently than we.

      also, there is a kind of rash harshness to a lot of reactivity – “sell this guy, change the system…” etc., and although that hasn’t been what people here are saying so much, it’s flaring in other places. what happens here seems to be a kind of righteous feeling indignant anger that the team isn’t successful in doing its best, because we all think they should be.

      personally, i am still floored by their achievements. that they see the problems and are working together to fix them makes sense – is that the kind of press statement you EVER heard from the EE camp after successive losses? no. you heard crap from Mou about how it was everyone else’s fault, and manufactured claims of doping, racism, etc., oh, and then there was the eye gouge.

      i’m really impressed with what Mascherano said today and that the team is going forward together – using what they know, and what they’ve experienced and learned to get the job done – and to show support and loyalty to their whole group, not just jumping ship or blaming others for their difficulties.

      Mascherano is correct – they live under enormous pressure to get it right EVERY SINGLE TIME. when you listen to commentators, if a Barça player misses a pass, it’s an EVENT. that’s hardly how they can approach other teams.

      pardon me if this is a bit ramble-y.

      visca barça!

      • BA
        March 5, 2013

        while the idea of Puyol, Xavi et. al calling a meeting of the squad to discuss the recent plummet is in some ways a heartening gesture, it also seems to highlight a larger problem: that the team is effectively coaching itself. while it’s nice that we have the maturity and mutual respect in our squad to attempt more invested leadership, the kind of decisions we’ve needed (and will need against Milan) are predominantly tactical ones, which can only come from a strong bench. the fact that the players are trying to take things into their own hands is a pretty serious indicator that Roura is not capable of providing that sort of leadership.

        you’d never hear such a thing from Real Madrid under Mourinho, because Mourinho keeps hold of his squad with an iron fist and will wheedle, manipulate, browbeat and bully them into line (see: Ramos, Sergio). the way in which Mourinho often goes about this is reprehensible, but we seem to have the opposite problem.

        • elacule
          March 5, 2013


          you might be correct. an alternative possibility is that this group of players, who collectively have decades of experience playing extremely successfully at the very top level of their sport could put their heads together to strategize solutions to their problems. at least some of their ideas might be presented to the management – to Tito in NY, for example, and incorporated into experimenting in practice, etc.

          so many people here have tactical advice, suggestions, ideas. do we imagine that the players can only do what they’re told? people talk all the time about Xavi, particularly, becoming a manager later – well – he has the moment now to be creative and show leadership.

          it might not be the usual, nor would it be what Mou would do, but then, “mes que un club” — might be another revolutionary response.

          i have a lot of confidence in the players, actually – in their native intelligence and problem-solving ability. they learned all the time under Pep – you could see him teaching in all kinds of moments. trying to figure out a strategy in the middle of a match wouldn’t work, because of the pressure in the moment. but working on it now makes a whole lot of sense to me.

          just my other 2c.

          • March 5, 2013

            I’m with elacule, and it’s why I said previously that it starts with the players. A coach can only do so much. At some point, it’s time for the mirror check.

  13. March 5, 2013

    Agree with the people talking about Messi’s position vs. Milan. We will need everyone to press hard, but we also need the forward line to run behind their defense. Since our wingers are often told to stay wide and Messi has to drop deep very most of the times to help out with possession, it would perhaps be a good move to play him as CAM, similar to his role in the 3-1 Clasico win in December last seasoned Benzema scored in 22 seconds.

    My XI:

    Alves Piqué Puyol Alba
    Messi Busi Iniesta
    Pedro Villa Sanchez

    Not entirely sure about the defense, but the offense should have Sanchez and Pedro fired up for the pressing, and Villa to contribute to making runs and creating space for Messi by occupying Milan’s CBs. Of course, the team as a whole will have to step up in terms of pressing and movement, but this should/could be the general idea.


    • March 5, 2013

      I like, except for the inclusion of Alba, who creates too much danger because he isn’t as diligent in getting back as he is getting forward.

      I also think, as noted above, than a midfield Messi in that traditional 10 role, would confuse the heck out of Milan’s defensive plan. If the forwards make their runs, he can get passes to them.

    • KEVINO17
      March 5, 2013

      Like formation a lot, except would play Thiago instead of Busquets because of his ability to beat the man in front of him. As mentioned above, Milan love to push up their holding midfielder to create a three-man chain. That stifled Barca because Iniesta was out wide, Messi was up front and Busquets and Xavi are passers, not dribblers.
      Iniesta-Thiago-Messi in the middle should provide enough on-the-ball skill to slice through their packed midfield and charge straight at the CBs (who won’t even have a holding midfielder for cover). That will give Barca enormous verticality, particularly with the three up front making diagonal runs. Milan’s defence will crumple like a paper bag.
      However, if Busquets, Xavi and/or Cesc play, I think we’re in big, big trouble, because Milan just love seeing Barca try to pass around the midfield block.

  14. March 5, 2013

    Would the inverted pyramid formation employed towards the end of last season against Getafe work against Milan?

  15. Jim
    March 5, 2013

    Wow! Rooney left out against RM? Got to be a mistake for me. Still, makes it even more compulsive viewing.

    Glass of wine in hand and feeling we can’t lose on this one…

    • replayed
      March 5, 2013

      I was surprised by the Rooney omission, but it makes sense to me.

      Given the goal lead, the Man U midfield is largely set up to defend today. They’re relying on the wings and long balls for their attack today, along with set pieces. They’re still managing to get chances without a central, creative midfielder.

      Sure, it would be nice if they could be in the position of benefiting from a piece of magic from a player of Rooney’s caliber, but their first priority is to stop Madrid. Rooney can always come in later if Madrid manage to score.

      Frankly, that’s the kind of bold tactical decision I wouldn’t mind seeing from Barca more often.

      Also, I’d consider a Madrid failure something of a win for Barca.

  16. March 5, 2013

    A little something as what I wrote:

    Hello Sir Alex, my old friend
    We’ve come to play with you again
    Because Perez softly creeping
    Left his dream while I was sleeping
    And the vision that was planted in my brain
    Still remains
    Of the Cup of Champions.

    In restless dreams Mou walked alone
    Fighting off the Barça clones
    ‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
    He turned his collar to the cold and damp
    When his eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
    That split the night
    And touched the Cup of Champions.

    And in the naked light he saw
    Ten thousand journos, maybe more
    Pundits talking without speaking
    Players hearing without listening
    People singing chants that moved him to despair
    And no ref dared
    Withhold the Cup of Champions.

    “Fools”, said I, “You do not know
    Mourinho like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words, like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed
    In the Cup of Champions

    And the people bowed and prayed
    To the teflon god they made
    And the sign flashed out its warning
    In the words that it was forming
    And the sign said, “The names of the champions are written on the Camp Nou walls
    And Golden Balls”
    And inscribed on the Cup of Champions

    (with massive apologies to Paul Simon)

    • elacule
      March 5, 2013

      looks like EE is starting to pull out the dirty tricks, and holy crap, Nani out on a red card! ???

      • elacule
        March 5, 2013

        blitzen! so sorry for mis-placing my accidentally sent comment on your hilarious ear-worm rendition. maybe someone will delete it for me.

    • Miguel
      March 5, 2013

      Nice! I wrote one of these to the tune of Johnny Cash’s Cocaine Blues but I never posted it. 🙁

      • Miguel
        March 5, 2013

        I only remember the line “stuck that lovin’ Four-Four-Two beneath my head”

  17. KEVINO17
    March 5, 2013

    Mou is screaming on the touchline: Puuleese let me counter-attack. Puleese.

  18. Momo
    March 5, 2013

    United are doing to real what real and milan have done to us… Feels good to watch them get completely nullified

    • KEVINO17
      March 5, 2013

      Totally agree. Every time ManU form two banks of four, RM looks totally clueless. Boy, Welbeck is some player.

    • Jim
      March 5, 2013

      Yeah, I’m actually enjoying not having a horse in this particular race. I think what strikes me is that RM are pretty much set up as an EPL side in terms of physicality and route 1. It’s working as they’re closing Madrid down well although you still feel Madrid are somehow encouraging them forward.

      • Jim
        March 5, 2013

        I may have said I didn’t have a horse in this race. The leap from the couch in the last few minutes would suggest I was lying 🙂

        • nzm
          March 5, 2013

          Ha – I see your true colours, shining through! 😆

        • Momo
          March 5, 2013

          Haha, I haven’t celebrated a goal like that in a while. Welbeck has been electric.

          Eat it ramos, couldn’t have happened to a nicer player.

  19. Jim
    March 5, 2013

    Memo to Man U: please don’t allow unchallenged crosses into your area. It has been our undoing.

    • replayed
      March 5, 2013

      No doubt Nani is an idiot, but that was not a red card, hardly even a yellow.

      • Artur
        March 5, 2013

        Studs up and a high leg ? Red card. No debate here.

        • replayed
          March 6, 2013

          To quote a band I love, “I was wrong, that don’t mean you were right.”

          The high leg with the studs showing was only “playing in a dangerous manner” (Laws, page 113). That’s a judgment call by the referee who has the option of cautioning the player. So it that’s all Nani had done, a yellow card would have been the correct call.

          But Nani pushed his foot into Arbeloa at the very end of the challenge. I didn’t see that at first. I’m not even sure the referee did. However, that action by Nani falls squarely into “serious foul play” territory, and “a player who is guilty of serious foul play should be sent off” (Laws, page 118). Once the referee became aware of this — probably from one of the assistant refs — it was the correct decision to show red by the letter of the law, even if absolutely no one would have blinked if the ref had stuck to yellow.

          But this particular ref is notoriously officious, and he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to show off.

  20. nzm
    March 5, 2013

    Well – that’s put Man U into disarray – just as Madrid likes it.

  21. KEVINO17
    March 5, 2013

    Ridiculous decision though – he didn’t even know Arbeloa was there.

    • Jim
      March 5, 2013

      Completely ridiculous. They were also needing something as they weren’t looking good.

      • Messiah10
        March 5, 2013

        That call changed things completely for RM. They had no life, no belief, and United were going to score again. You could feel it. It’s probably one of the worst caLls I’ve seen in a long long time. Unreal. How can you even think that’s a red. You have to be 100% sure that intent is there to harm. Nani wasn’t even looking at Arbeloa and didn’t even know he was there.

        • ilie
          March 5, 2013

          If you look closely, he pushed at the end with his foot into Arbeloa. Even though he didn’t see him at first. So that’s probably a red.

  22. Artur
    March 5, 2013

    So I got a break between my classes .. conveniently during the CL times. And I’m sitting in my uni library among many Man U and RM fans.

    Now, I dislike RM as much as any of you, but in the end of the day they still kind of represent La Liga and they’re up the “best” EPL team, so I decided not to have a favorite for this game .. just wanted to see a decent game of footy on my spare time.

    I’m really surprised what people consider good looking football now. British commentators were raving that this Man U is the best counter attacking team in history of EPL and they got excited every single time Man U would hoot the ball on the other end of the field in hopes of Welbeck or Nani sprinting to it and then going from there. Majority of the time it doesn’t work of course. But you should see all the Man U fans screaming and jumping up in joy every time they hoot the ball towards the other end of the field … and when that SLIGHT chance of creating a dangerous attack fades away they go “OOOF” as if they just missed a 1on1 with a goalkeeper.

    Sorry for my mumbles…

    Boring game btw

  23. Momo
    March 5, 2013

    Amazing atmosphere at old trafford, thats what we need next week

  24. KEVINO17
    March 5, 2013

    You a manu supporter, that would have to leave a terrible taste in the mouth.

    • replayed
      March 5, 2013

      Me a ManU supporter? Nah, just a Mourinho hater.

      • KEVINO17
        March 5, 2013

        Yeah, sendings off like that suggest that God isn’t watching the game.

  25. nzm
    March 5, 2013

    That’s that.

    Man U need 2 now.

    In the other game, Dortmund are taking apart Shakhtar Donetsk. Beautiful football.

  26. Messiah10
    March 5, 2013

    Hopefully Pepe does something stupid like usual and gets sent off quickly!

  27. G6O
    March 5, 2013

    That’s just scandalous – who is the coach the UEFA is helping now??

  28. Messiah10
    March 5, 2013

    Once again a referee decides the outcome of a huge game. I would hate to see the beautiful game slowed down at all, but something has to be done. A red card should be review-able. There are to many games being ruined by idiot referee’s and their horrible decisions.

    • G6O
      March 5, 2013

      This one did not have to be reviewed – you can’t show a red without seeing what happened, and if you see what happened, there is no way you show a red unless you’re absolutely crazy or you have a agenda…

  29. Artur
    March 5, 2013

    I bet EE fans are loving the tika taka posession football RM’s at for the last 20 minutes of this game to try to hold onto the lead lol.

  30. Messiah10
    March 5, 2013

    Diego Lopez has been huge this game. He’s made some tremendous saves to keep Madrid in it and keep the lead.

    • Messiah10
      March 5, 2013

      There’s another one. What a big pick up he’s been.

  31. psalmuel
    March 5, 2013

    its no longer uefalona its uefamadrid? Nani? Red? Mou who’s having a conspiracy now?

  32. KEVINO17
    March 5, 2013

    How is that not a penalty. He almost kicked him in the nuts

  33. Jim
    March 5, 2013

    How often is Ramos going to get away with bad tackles inside the box?

  34. Jim
    March 5, 2013

    Now I’m going to have to listen to Mourinho saying what a bad decision the sending off was and how he feels sorry for Man U – a great team. And all with a straight face.

    • replayed
      March 5, 2013

      Good call. He avoided getting on the referee’s bad side, but you were spot on about the fake humility.

  35. HisR0yalFlyness
    March 5, 2013

    If that was Barcelona all now there would be outrage and conspiracy claims…..But is Madrid…so no biggie. All’s fair. Hypocrisy reigns supreme in this competition.

  36. KEVINO17
    March 5, 2013

    I think the important thing about the red card was that it wasn’t even a challenge. Nani was trying to control the ball (and charge off on a counter-attack). Arbeloa ran into it.

  37. Momo
    March 5, 2013

    United fans were booing ronaldo when he got the ball, which got me thinking, if messi were to hypothetically go to another team in another league would you boo him at games? Don’t think I’ll have it in me TBH…

    • Nav
      March 5, 2013

      Never, unless Messi does something royally stupid to piss me off

  38. Messiah10
    March 5, 2013

    Gus Johnson knows nothing about footie. It’s painful to listen to him. He’s an exciting play by play college basketball announcer, but has no business calling a game like this. The Fox Soccer crew are idiots. Eric Wynalda saying, “sometimes when a great team is down, they find a way to win” Really? The ref found a RED card in his pocket and found a way for EE to come back. I didn’t see anything EE players did on their own when it was 11 vs 11 to get back in the game.

    • KEVINO17
      March 5, 2013

      At least it’s hard to see EE beating either of the German teams.

      • Messiah10
        March 5, 2013

        I think EE could beat Dortmund right now because they aren’t as sharp as they have been the last 2 years. Bayern are in a league of their own right now. Their defense is SOOOO good. Their entire team is stacked. Roben has come off the bench the last few games and been deadly. Muller may be watching is rearview mirror. I don’t think you should lose your spot because of suspension or injury, but if I was a Jupp I’d be glad I had that problem.

      • jordi™
        March 5, 2013

        They probably wont beat Juventus either.

    • nujerzrey
      March 5, 2013

      Pfff you think thats bad, I got fox deportes “analysts” that claim RM were clearly the better team and deserved to go through and that the red card was justified.

  39. Messiah10
    March 5, 2013

    Again! Eric Wyanalda, referring to Dortmund, “This team, they’re not beautiful, they way they play, but they have a drive about them, they have a trust. .” Not beautiful? Dortmund have consistently played the best football besides Barca the last 3 years. Bayern are up there with them this year. I can’t imagine what Pep is going to do, because it could be Bayern domination when he gets a hold of them. 🙁

    • March 5, 2013

      I would be interested to know what you think of Real Madrid’s style of play if you consider Dortmund’s the “best football besides Barca”. Especially considering both RM and Dortmund have a rather similar template, with perhaps the center axis being the left at RM and right in Dortmund. Quick, direct, counterattacking football.

      • One thing which showed up yesterday is that if we have a huge problem with you guys sitting back and hitting on counter. Then you also have the same when good teams does the same to you. That’s why I thing Dortmund could be a very bad team for you to face. May be this Bayern side als. From whatever I saw of them against Arsenal, they are more defensively organised this season than ever.

      • Dortmund has a very different template than Madrid’s. In fact, watching Dortmund, anyone can feel a pleasure in seeing their incredible attacks – not just when they counter attack – , even against RM in the group stages, they played much better football than RM. They are a beauty to watch, even when they dominate, not just when they counter attack.
        You could say RM play the best counter attacks or play a very effective game or something like that. Your counter attack is wonderful to watch.
        Isnt there a difference in a normal and counter attack in football.

  40. jordi™
    March 5, 2013

    Evra was through on goal at the Bernabeu and Varane fouled him but far from send him off, the referee didn’t even call a foul. 3 weeks later, another of Uefa’s finest sends of Nani for something far less obvious. The inconsistency is getting more than annoying.

    • March 5, 2013

      Do you really think so? I thought the red was harsh, but not completely out of the universe. This was confirmed by most analysis shows phoning in refs and asking them. Nani did have a leg so high and he was no where near the ball. But let’s say it was undeserved (i wouldn’t have given a red)…

      RVP was offside on the Ramos own goal. And right after the red card, Rafael clears the ball off the line with his hand. That’s a red and a penalty. I would much rather have the Rafael call + penalty than the Nani red.

      When the game is played at such a high pace, it’s really hard to get these calls right. Not sure introducing replay technology would help, as it would slow down the game.

      • First of all it’s never a red card – simply because Nani wasn’t charging on to Arbeloa with his foot raised. There both are coming from a V angle. There is no way that’s a red not even a yellow. And what does it mean that he was nowhere near the ball. Are you blind?

        Remember the issue you guys created when Pepe was sent off for the foul on Alves. Pepe clearly went with his foot at(straight at) alves, but you guys won’t recognize.

        But in football these kind of decision happens. But you guys are the biggest hypocrites. Had this happen with us – you would have been crying UEFAloan, UNICEF etc , now what.

        • March 6, 2013

          I do have a major myopia and astigmatism, butt the doctor said has a side effect of hypocritisis. I’ll be fine, though. I just need to double check with him on the side effects.

          • K_legit in Oz
            March 6, 2013

            What are you even talking about?

          • Boy that’s not the side effect or symptom… That’s the root cause of your problem 😉

            Get that fixed, Myopia and astigmatism will be cured.

          • March 6, 2013

            Bassam is right. High boot, studs up, that’s always going to be a red. People sit in a broadcast booth or watch on TV and say “Well, that was harsh.” In the blink of an eye, at the speed at which elite athletes travel? Looks like the real deal.

            Yes, refs are supposed to be able to boil all that momentum down, etc, etc. But they are as human as we are.

            Should the ref have taken the match into consideration and given the yellow? It depends. There are the folks who say that a foul is a foul, whether in the second or 92nd minute. Others say that a foul is not a foul, that when the match is on the line, you shouldn’t call certain things, “letting the players decide.”

            But are you letting the players decide, if one does something illegal, and the rules aren’t enforced? And further, aren’t the players STILL deciding the match in the second minute? So that yellow that you call early but not late, is STILL affecting the match.

            Anyhow, Bassam is good people, and as level-headed as they come when discussing the bosom of evil (hehehehe!). We agree on a great many things, including this incident.

          • March 6, 2013

            @ Bassam welcome back, haven’t seen you in a while.

            you’ll have to forgive AllAboutFCBarcelona he is just a bit excited with all the fortunate refereeing your team has had the last 5 big games 😉

            It should have never been a red card for Nani. He didn’t challenge for the ball he simply raised his leg in order to receive it. Neither was he nowhere near it – he actually made contact with it a split second before Arbeloa ran into him.

          • G6O
            March 6, 2013

            @ Kxevin: Exactly the same thing Nani did is done by multiple players each game. The difference is that it is usually done in plenty of space and nobody from the other teams connects with the boot. And that’s what Nani thought was the case here too – he simply didn’t see him, and if anything, Arbeloa had better view of the situation.

            According to your logic, we should start giving yellow card every time someone tries to control that kind of ball with his foot.

            That’s absurd.

            It’s a contact sport, and sometimes collisions happen by accident, without any intent to do harm. Yellow and red cards are there to prevent intentional foul play, not those unavoidable situations.

          • March 6, 2013

            Okay, let’s try it this way:

            Make Nani Pepe, and Arbeloa Iniesta. Same point in the same match otherwise. What would cules be saying then?

            I think that team-specific myopia can sometimes lead us to things that might not otherwise be there. We all do it.

            That is was a bad call is beyond argument. That it was a call that the official made for a reason that he thought was valid is also worth considering. And that is my point.

  41. KEVINO17
    March 5, 2013

    The schadenfreude (against ManU) on the Guardian is quite awesome.

  42. KEVINO17
    March 6, 2013

    Dear Mr UEFA, can Barcelona puleese have a sending-off against Milan. Golly Gosh, it would help so much. Thanks in advance.
    Barcelona Fan.

  43. March 6, 2013

    – Scholes’ disallowed goal against Porto.
    – Offside Milito goal against Barca.
    – Bojan’s disallowed goal against Inter.
    – Nani’s sending off.
    Oh Mou, I’d love for you to win one CL cleanly.

    • March 6, 2013

      A devil’s advocate could say the same about Barça, right? The Lehmann sending off against Arsenal, the Overbo stuff, etc. I don’t think that ANY Champions League champion has gotten there without getting, at some point in the knockout stages, a call that raises eyebrows. It’s just part of a game that is adjudicated by humans.

      • March 6, 2013

        It would be a DEVIL’s advocate, though. Our players were protesting against Lehman’s sending off because it meant our goal was cancelled also. I think we were extremely lucky with some of Overbo’s decisions and Chelsea was right to be outraged (although we were denied a clear penalty in the Camp Nou, so who knows).

        Madrid has gotten major, game-changing decisions in their last 4 big games (2 clásicos and the two CL legs). In Spain we are used to this, but it is still amazing.

        Again, we are the biggest sport in the world. How our governing bodies don’t let video technology back up live referees for big decisions is beyond me…

        • March 6, 2013

          Basically this ^^^ and wasn’t abidal also sent off wrongly? maybe the ref was trying to make amends in that case..
          but additionally, at the risk of opening a can of worms, I’d argue that Certain teams are more likely to suffer in case of a 50/50 situation .
          I’ve observed over the years that Barca’s style of play (in their control of games and the seeming ease) makes it very hard for a ref to not want to help other teams. So a close penalty will most likely not be given cos the ref’s thinking why gift this gifted side a goal? they can create another one
          An atrociously great goal executed with ease will be called offside if its very close.
          A defender getting in a clean tackle will be booked for a foul because you simply don’t see these guys defend. when it happens rarely, it makes the team look, I don’t know.. greedy, rash. I don’t mean to assert, just putting out some fodder for debate on this perhaps unspoken reality.
          It just STUNS me how FIFA cannot install a 3rd umpire with access to the replays and a phone to the ref on field. We’d be talking about seconds. That a high stakes game can be spoilt by of a moment of human stupidity that is protected under some faff that it makes the game unpredictable and exciting really frustrates me with all the technological progress we and sports too, have made.

  44. nzm
    March 6, 2013

    4 match suspension for VV.

    He’ll miss the Depor, Rayo, Celta and Mallorca games.

    Could have been worse – Ramos got more for his outburst.

    • March 6, 2013

      Apparently the club is appealing, which I don’t see the point of. Valdes lost the plot. Understandable in the circumstances, but you can’t say he doesn’t deserve the ban, especially as we already know how hard the referees are cracking down on verbal abuse this season.

      And just to be pedantic for a moment, Ramos got a 4-match ban for his outburst as well, plus one more match for the offense that got him sent off. So they both received the same punishment for abusing the ref.

        • March 6, 2013

          He was furious about the missed penalty call when Adriano was fouled in the box. Had Barça been given it (and scored), the game would have been tied. What other reason would he need?

          • March 6, 2013

            But we have had ridiculous decisions before and he hasn’t gone crazy like that.

          • March 6, 2013

            Still beyond my imagining. Ronaldinho got run down by Past Diarra in the box in a Classic, and things weren’t that crazy. That was also in their house. It was uncharacteristic behavior by a player who should know better and has done better. I’d tack on an extra game for stupidity.

          • March 6, 2013

            Completely gree with the ban. Also agree with VV – the referees are a disgrace.

          • sd
            March 6, 2013

            Valdes made huge saves and kept Barca in the game. As a goalkeeper myself when you do that and your team has a chance to level it up but a player blows it, its disheartening and infuriating. When a ref does it, its even worse. Regardless of how much respect you have for refs given that they are human and do a very thankless job, the moment can get the better of you. To him it must have felt like all his work had been undone.

          • March 6, 2013

            I don’t think referees are a disgrace. I think they are human beings, like any of us, who make mistakes.

            Once at work, for a cover story, I wrote a caption that confused a Seurat work for a Caillebotte. BOTH are major, iconic pieces at the Art Institute of Chicago. I know the works, I know the museum, I am the visual arts editor. And I screwed the pooch. Yes, there was a reason. Which is immaterial.

            So we wrote a correction, which didn’t say “Hey, the editor had a massive brain cramp, so we screwed the pooch!”

            Was I a “disgrace?” No. I was a human being who made an error. We all have.

          • March 6, 2013

            If a player jumps up with both hands stretched in the air it is a disgrace that the ref does not blow his whistle.

            When Xabi Alonso ran full speed into Pedro and sent him rolling down like a bowling pin it is a disgrace when the referee does not blow his whistle.

            And when one team has 19 fouls and the other 5 yet both end up with 3 yellow cards the referee is a disgrace.

            Mostly though, it is a disgrace that so many big games are decided by ridiculously bad and hugely influential calls while readily available video technology is not used (especially in the CL and the WC)

      • nzm
        March 6, 2013

        So, to be pedantic with applying the ban time to VV, he should have got a 1-2 game ban for the direct Red Card and a 4 game ban for the Abuse? 😀

        If I was the club, I’d be shutting up about now and forgetting about any appeal, lest the RFEF Judiciary remembers that they’ve punished VV too lightly when compared to Ramos!

        • March 7, 2013

          No, Michele, that’s not how it works. (And he didn’t get a direct red card, he got two yellows.)

          He got the first yellow card for the abuse. He got the second yellow card for continuing the abuse. That’s the 4 match ban.

          Ramos got a first yellow card for something or other. Later he got a second yellow card for a foul & got sent off. That’s a on-e match ban. Then he abused the ref. That’s the other 4 matches.

  45. March 6, 2013

    Regarding the red card incident yesterday. As I understand it, red cards are all about intent. Is the offending player intending to cause harm. In this case I just dont see how the referee or the linesman could have seen it that way. Nani was fixated on the ball, all the way, at no point did he look to see Arbeloa rushing in as well. In fact he was so fixated on the ball i doubt he knew anyone was there at all. He was clearly going for the ball, he even got a faint touch on it. Was it a high boot, yes, but we see those ALL the time and unless there is clearly intent to harm the other player reds are never given.

    Remember this? –

    Now that is a red card cos DeJong is clearly intent on hurting Alonso. His eyes are not on the ball at all and his foot ends up nowhere near the ball and yet the ref decided to give him a yellow because even in that situation he didnt think a high boot should ruin the game.

    Sorry, awful decision yesterday anyway you look at it.

      • March 6, 2013

        I think everyone agrees that it was a bad decision. The only debate I think is the how/why of the decision. I saw it in real time and said “Nani’s off.” It was only after benefit of the slo-mo that I reconsidered. The ref didn’t have that luxury.

        And as someone else notes, had Nani leapt to his feet and apologized to the player instead of doing his “Don’t card me, I’m hurt” pantomime, it might well have only been a yellow. Ref could easily have decided that his playacting was to distract from his intent.

        • Jim
          March 6, 2013

          I’m afraid the laws of the game don’t make allowances for intent in this case. The only consideration is probably was it dangerous play or not. For me, the reason something becomes dangerous (i.e.. a tackle) is a combination of where it lands on the victim and the speed with which it is inflicted ( which kinda encapsulates intent).

          In this situation, even if you accept that Arbeloa was caught on the chest which is unlikely given the replays the question becomes was it dangerous. It would have been dangerous imo if the foot had been travelling at speed ( which it wasn’t) or if it had caused damage ( which it didn’t.) In fact, Arbeloa’s reaction was disgraceful given that he saw the whole thing happening and still attempted to run through it to maximise the incident in the eyes of the ref. )

          We can clearly see that he didn’t know Arbeloa was coming ( disregarding Roy Keane’s opinion that it was a justified red last night because such criteria applied to him would have meant he spent more time on the sidelines than playing and also he would be anti Man U no matter what given the circumstances of his departure. A horrible man imo. ) Given that, it is clearly a decision where the referee can choose to do nothing and tell Arbeloa to get up and man up as it wasn’t intentional and didnt hurt him – my preferrred option, give him a yellow or give him a red.

          The fact that he chose red tells us more about the referee than it does about the incident.

          • March 6, 2013


            Even on this replay, even on slo-mo, it’s clear that the high boot makes contact with the player, studs up. Generally, if a high boot comes in with studs up AND makes contact with a player, a red is the usual result. I would argue that rather than setting a template for leniency, the non-red against De Jong was patently absurd.

            There IS an extra little push that Nani makes after he makes contact and the ball is gone. It is abundantly clear at the 1:33 mark of this YouTube video. It is a red card offense from that moment. If he tries to control the ball and makes contact with Arbeloa, absent of the little extra push, it’s probably a yellow. But Nani was stupid and petulant.

            Did he know Arbeloa was coming? He’d be a player with appalling pitch vision if he didn’t. Did Arbeloa come in at the wrong (right for his team) angle, guaranteeing that Nani would make contact? You bet. And if Nani hadn’t gone for the little bit extra, he might not have cost his team. And if an RM player (or any other player) goes into one of our players, making contact with a boot high like that, cules are screaming bloody murder.

            Yes, Arbeloa’s reaction was excessive. But Nani topped him. And yes, the RM players did come to the ref, pointing out the incident. The ref waved them away. It was clear from the “I got this” gesture that Nani was gone.

    • March 6, 2013

      about de Jong incident…

      if it in any way helps my credibility when it comes to judging arbitral decisions: I, as a Dutchman, was stunned he did not get a red card for his “tackle” on Xabi Alonso. Was very grateful that he didn’t but it was a ridiculously bad call of Howard Webb.

      • Jim
        March 6, 2013

        Sorry, but answering Kxevin above.

        It does make contact with the player but as I said not at speed and certainly not with any force on the area Arveloa is holding or his body would have either slowed down or turned before Arbeloa’s dramatic endeavours forced it to. Watch the immediate effect after impact.

        Secondly, you can CLEARLY see that Nani doesn’t see him coming just by looking at the angle of his head. It’s not an argument to say he must have when the pictures clearly show he didn’t. The angle the boot hit at was probably better seen admittedly last night on ITV where it showed it from quite a few angles.

        Finally, if a high red boot was an automatic red we’d see quite a few double sending offs as two players both vye for a high ball with feet up while seeing and running towards the opponent. Remember the last time we saw that? I can’t. So its not the fact that a boot is high which determines anything.

        What 1:33 shows me is that it was a glancing blow ( if you push into the body it wont come off at that angle) and therefore not one which would inflict any damage, a suspicion borne out by the fact that Arbeloa suffered no damage.

        • March 6, 2013

          True, but the question is does damage have to occur for the red to be shown? And what I mean by Nani had to have known is that any player worth a damn knows who is in the vicinity, even if he doesn’t know exactly where he is.

          I think the two players going for the ball thing is different from a high boot with studs up going into a seemingly defenseless opponent, even if that opponent is a douchebag.

          If a player contacted one of our players the way that Nani did Arbeloa, I would want him sent off.

        • replayed
          March 6, 2013

          But to extend your own argument, actual damage has nothing to do with anything.

          To quote the laws, “a tackle that endangers the safety of an opponent must be sanctioned as serious foul play.” A sending-off offense.

          It’s the potential for damage which the referee must adjudge, and Nani gave the ref plenty of grounds to ruin the match.

          • Jim
            March 6, 2013

            I was more trying to make the point that I don’t think there is necessarily any danger involved just because the boot was high.

            I think I said in my original post that for me there have to be two elements to constitute danger. You aren’t posing any danger if there is no speed in your movement especially to that part of the body. It would be much more dangerous lower down imo. If it were potential for damage you would have a sending off every time two players went to head a ball together especially if one was in front and backheaders the ball on but you really don’t see these given a red, not because its not dangerous – heads are the most dangerous area there is – but because the one in front usually doesn’t see the one behind is about to header the same ball. And that’s where I think intent comes in even although the laws don’t recognise it.

            If you ever try to bring down a high ball travelling at speed like that you’ll know that you cant afford to take your eyes off it for a second. It’s not like Xavi can afford to do when its on the ground by taking a quick look around then focussing again.

            Nani is one of my least favourite players ( and many will be aware that SAF is one of my least favourite people despite being a Scot) but on this occasion I think Nani was done in by a ref who could have chosen a different action but chose to take the most punitive one. The very fact that there is a ( rather lively and enjoyable!) discussion seems to me to suggest there is more than a little doubt as to whether it merited a straight red.

          • replayed
            March 6, 2013

            No argument that Nani, SAF and the ref are all prats.

            But I think you need to break down Nani’s actions into two stages (or phases if you will).

            There’s the attempt to control the ball. And then there’s the kick out at the end.

            Just because Nani’s foot was in the general vicinity of Arbeloa’s torso at the end of the first phase doesn’t excuse his actions in the second phase.

            A foot in the ribs may not kill you, but neither will a broken leg. If actions that put legs at risk can be deemed dangerous, then so should actions that put ribs at risk.

            Plus, people routinely get sent off for raising their hands to an opponent’s face. This doesn’t endanger the opponent but still qualifies as “violent conduct,” another sending-off offence.

            So on the strength of Nani’s actions in the second phase, the ref had him on either “serious foul play” (if the referee thought the ball was still being contested) or “violent conduct” (if the referee thought the ball — long gone at that point — was no longer being contested.)

          • March 6, 2013

            Sorry, replayed, but you are completely wrong.

            Demy de Zeeuw got kicked in the face so hard in Holland’s semifinal game against Uruguay at WC 2010 that he had to leave the game with a head injury.

            The Uruguayan (I think Caceres but I’m not sure) got a yellow card. Nobody complained, because although it was a dangerous play he was trying to clear the ball (with an overhead kick).

            Nani was had his leg up high but he was not applying any force. He was neither kicking nor tackling. He was just lifting his legs to control the pass. Fair play to Arbeloa for going in full force in order to win the ball, but it was a collision – no foul play of either player, although a card-happy referee could have been an *ss and given Nani a yellow.

            The red card was truly and utterly ridiculous.

          • March 6, 2013

            The very fact that there is a ( rather lively and enjoyable!) discussion seems to me to suggest there is more than a little doubt as to whether it merited a straight red.

            Not to mention high-quality, and good-natured discussion.

            For me, I certainly think the red changed the match, and if the ref had it to do all over again, he probably wouldn’t call it the same way, even as I understand why he called it that way initially.

          • replayed
            March 6, 2013

            Nani was had his leg up high but he was not applying any force.

            Sorry, Levon, but you’re only takin into account what I called the first phase, the attempt to control the ball.

            That was a yellow card offense at worst, no argument.

            But I’m arguing that Nani got sent off for what he did in the second phase, the kick out into Arbeloa, which you have in no way acknowledged.

      • March 6, 2013

        oh i’m sorry, you’re right, i didn’t.

        First Nani received the ball with his leg high a split second before Arbeloa barged into him challenging for the same ball.

        What you somehow perceive as him kicking out is simply his right leg reacting to his loss of balance due to the collision. In doing so it softly nudged Arbeloa’s elbow. Hardly any murderous intent. Watch it again.

        • replayed
          March 6, 2013

          This is where it gets down to interpretation, where there is always room for disagreement in good faith.

          The way I see it, if Nani were really trying to regain his balance, his foot would instinctively move down and in. But his foot clearly moves up and out.

          And if you watch the ref when he’s surrounded by the United players after the red card, he clearly makes the gesture of pushing out with his flattened hand. That’s why he zapped Nani.

  46. ilie
    March 6, 2013

    His foot pushes into Arbeloa at the end, that’s why it was a red. Now can we please stop bitching and get back to our own issues?

    • March 6, 2013

      No, no, please let us keep bitching about this! It’s such a nice change from bitching about our own team. 😛

    • replayed
      March 6, 2013

      Yeah, this was a compound case of “dangerous play” and “serious foul play.”

      At first I thought it was just “dangerous play,” which, according to the laws of the game, is punishable by a yellow card.

      But Nani’s choice to grind his foot into Arbeloa, whom he knew was also coming for the ball, pushes it into “serious foul play.”

      In a way, Nani only made things worse for himself by rolling around on the ground for such a long time. My guess is that he might have gotten away with just a yellow card from the referee if action had resumed quickly. But all that dead time gave the various assistants plenty of time to advise the referee that Nani had been very naughty at the end of the challenge.

      • replayed
        March 6, 2013

        “WHO he knew was also coming…” Ack.

      • Jim
        March 6, 2013

        Not sure how you grind your foot effectively into someone at that height. Seriously you cant try to do someone damage that high up. Also, I’ve watched it quite a few times and I dont see his head turning until the foot is already high up.

        Maybe I’m just losing some flexibility 🙂

        • replayed
          March 6, 2013

          Nani knew exactly what he was doing.

          To realize that he knew Arbeloa was coming, you have to catch the replay early enough to notice that Nani does look upfield just as he starts his run towards the ball. Then for the next three or four seconds, he only has eyes for the ball as he tries to pluck it out of the air. While he doesn’t turn his head again until contact, he definitely knew that Arbeloa was coming and he wasn’t backing down from any challenge.

          I’d also argue that his decision to push his foot into Arbeloa at the moment of contact betrays his clear intent. He would tried to withdraw his foot had there been any element of surprise. Worse, he wasn’t merely bracing for contact. He was taking the offensive. This pushes it into “serious foul play.”

          I have the sneaking suspicion that SAF was so apoplectic because he was mostly furious at himself for trusting dunderhead Nani in such a huge match. Dollars to donuts, Nani’s career at United is done.

  47. Choba
    March 6, 2013

    I am just calm about how madrid play and how they think they are good, they think that they dominated barça and even mu (yes a lot of madrid fans think they dominated mu), and that’s a good think because if barça go through milan and face somehow madrid they will beat them.

    Madrid are measuring their greatness against a dull barça and an unlucky mu and they are forgetting the great help of the referees each time. So for me is a good thing for barça, now the later should just wake up and if so we will see good things coming !

    • Jim
      March 6, 2013

      Not for me. They are playing at their peak just now and are pretty capable. However, if we play at our best or they drop we are back in business.

  48. TITO
    March 6, 2013

    As for dubious moments last night, what about that CLEAR penalty from Diego Lopez on Vidic’s header? The GK missed the ball, Vidic got it first, and instead of punching the ball he actually punched his head.
    And on top of that, a foul is given for the visitors. Hilarious. 😀

      • TITO
        March 6, 2013

        Nope, he didn’t touch the ball at all.

      • March 6, 2013

        I wouldn’t have given a penalty for that as there was no intent, but I would think the case for penalty and straight red after forcefully punching someone up the side of his head is stronger than the ridiculous red card handed out to Nani for trying to receive a pass.

  49. ian_percival
    March 6, 2013

    I learnt something from our recent slack in form,i’v noticed european clubs fear us a lot,they’re scared that we might be unpredictable at this state,remember ”a wounded animal is always dangerous to play with” its like they think we’re pretending by our loss of form,no one has publicly addressed we’re in crisis,no tabloid,newspaper etc.unlike madrid and others when they get roasted by the media after every loss in form.i think its only that have indirectly said something,i’v been to different madrid blogs and forums and you can sense their fear even though they won us.they still don’t have faith in themselves that they’ve found the antidote to our pattern,just like that strange feeling ”it was way too easy” just like in math,when its too easy for you,then you know you’re getting it wrong

    • March 6, 2013

      Don’t trust journalist speculation. That article is no more grounded in objective knowledge than the one about the coaching staff telling Messi not to run. Both are journalists and their opinions.

      Neymar isn’t stupid. Neither is Santos. And frankly, were I advising him, I’d be telling him to take German lessons. As far as the world is concerned, Bayern is on the rise, and Barça is falling. Further, he has a solid, solidified head coach there in Pep Guardiola, rather than a guy who will be recovering from cancer who might or might not be coaching the club next season.

      This doesn’t even take into account the fact that Messi has been chewing up and spitting out world class players, which makes the Barça situation complex for any player with “star” aspirations.

      I would tell him to go to Bayern in two seconds, from an objective worldview.

      • March 6, 2013

        “I would tell him to go to Bayern in two seconds, from an objective worldview.”

        You’re probably right, but somehow Bayern doesn’t hold the same attraction for Brazilians (or any other non-Germans, for the most part) as Barcelona.

        Ronaldo, Romario, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho… That is quite some history.

      • ilie
        March 6, 2013

        I’m not sure he likes Pep any more after the Metodo 3 news 😀

        Also, while everything you say is true, as long as he’s comfortable in sharing the spotlight with Messi, I’m sure he would much rather prefer the conditions in Barcelona and playing in the Spanish league over those in Germany.

      • nzm
        March 6, 2013

        If it comes down to money, a lot is riding on how much Bayern is willing to offer Neymar, Santos and FC Barcelona – the latter if there is a genuine pre-agreement between FCB and Neymar which Bayern would need to buy out.

        The Bavarians have very deep pockets against which Rosell could not even dream to compete.

  50. KEVINO17
    March 6, 2013

    Good video of Milan’s tactics against Barca. Still gobsmacked at how often Barca’s midfielders had their heads up but didn’t have any options for the ball over the top. If Alexis doesn’t play it will be absolutely ridiculous.

    • Jafri
      March 7, 2013

      Well either that’s an incomplete tactical video, or Milan basically had just one tactic. Yeah I also found it strange that no one was really making runs at the back for those long balls over the top. It seems the Barcelona system is in one of those stages where it becomes a parody of itself, with everyone trying to tiki-taka the ball into the net. It happens from time to time. We should have just knocked the ball over their high back line. Bypassed all the clutter in the middle. Xavi’s quite good at doing that actually. Wish there’d been a bit more intent from all of them.

      I expect a deeper parked bus in our leg though. So we’ll need to work on the width, the pressing and the half-touch football we occasionally use in our best form.

      And if Messi doesn’t press in THIS match of all matches, bench him!!

      • March 7, 2013

        Now you see why I kept screaming “RUN!!!!” at my television. The spaces and holes were there, just begging to be exploited.

      • KEVINO17
        March 7, 2013

        I think looking for width is a bit of a trap. Iniesta and Messi have to drive through the middle in combo and take their lumps.
        Cesc at holding middie because he’s got better range than Busquets?

        • Jafri
          March 7, 2013

          I’m not all that convinced about width myself because when the lines are as compact as they were in that match it becomes easier for one of the midfield players to drop back and reinforce the back four. Or to have the entire back line shift to one side and stop the ball being crossed to the other side. But it’s an infinitely better tactic than trying to play through the middle; not sure what Kxevin’s talking about but I didn’t see much space for through balls. The defense was compact and seemed to be staggered in such a way as to cut down the passing angles. There didn’t seem to be much space for ground balls at all in my opinion. So either balls over the high back line, or try to stretch them with width and poke a ball through.

          Also I don’t know how I feel about Cesc in the starting lineup. When he’s good he’s really really good, but when he’s bad he’s horrid. Although I suppose the same could be said of our entire team right now…

          • KEVINO17
            March 7, 2013

            No, I’m actually talking about trying to dribble through the middle or playing very quick one-twos. Messi and Iniesta are the two best dribblers in the world. The moment there is a half-chance, they should drive forward and try to suck in defenders and attract fouls. And when they lose the ball, Barca has to press hard to win it back.
            I know it’s a dangerous tactic. But we are 2-0 down.

          • Jafri
            March 7, 2013

            Now from what I remember we didn’t get anywhere because we tried to dribble through the middle and there was no space to do so…

        • KEVINO17
          March 7, 2013

          I don’t think we ever tried to dribble or quick-pass though. We just passed from side to side (which played into their hands).
          One reason we didn’t try to go “up the guts” (as they say in rugby) is that Iniesta was wasted out on the wing and he kept bumping into Cesc (who is a passer rather than a dribbler) and Messi was hovering around on the forward line.
          Anyway, I think that unless we force their midfield defenders to commit to tackles we’re not going to get anywhere.

    • Jim
      March 7, 2013

      Absolutely brilliant, Kxevin. Thanks for that. Could so sympathise with the players.

      Why Villa?

      • March 7, 2013

        Every time I saw him standing around instead of running around to drive the defense crazy …. BZZZZT!

        The guy trying to take the throw in had me weeping.

        • Jim
          March 7, 2013

          Yeah. The guys on the buzzers had a great sense of comic timing.

  51. Jafri
    March 7, 2013

    I don’t think both Alves and Alba should start unless one of them is willing to be more conservative in going forward. And I’d love to see the Alexis Villa Pedro lineup with Messi Iniesta Busquets in the middle but that’s about as likely to happen as seeing oil can in a blaugrana shirt.

  52. March 7, 2013

    Hey dudes and Dudettes!

    Regarding the discussion we had above about the red card. I think you guys would be interested in seeing what Collina had to say



    And here are some quotes from what he said:

    Colina: “A player who hits a player from the side, front or back fighting for the ball with one or both legs endangering the player will be guilty of dangerous play and therefore will be punished with a red card”

    “The rules dont talk about whether the player sees or does not see the player, the kick is a red card, the ref was right”

    “I criticize Cakir only for not sending off Ferdinand after the match when Rio applauded him inches from his face”

    “Cakir was right to send off Nani & I agree with his decision not to punish Rafael for handball in United’s area”

    It kinda goes along the lines of what Kxevin said. At the end of the day, if a player is gonna go with that much force and a foot so high, then he needs to make sure there is no harm to other players around. Otherwise, yes it’s accidental, but perhaps still dangerous.

    • nzm
      March 8, 2013

      Thanks Bassam.

      I’m rather bemused that Collina criticises the ref for not carding Rio, but at the same time UEFA chooses not to post-sanction the player. Double standards!

    • replayed
      March 8, 2013

      Collina is wrong. Yeah, I said it.

      “Dangerous play” is only a cautionable offence. So say the laws.

  53. March 7, 2013

    New post up. Be forewarned that it has nothing to do with tactics, matches or any players. But there are some serious allegations being made about Rosell and what/who he didn’t know in the case of ultras finding their way back into the Camp. So. Anyhow.

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