Categorized | Barcelona, La Liga, Preview

Preview: A Little Rayo Sunshine

BarcelonaVsRayoVallecano

A long time ago, when Kluivert, Rivaldo, Guardiola and De Boer roamed the Camp Nou pitch and Van Gaal steered Barça from the sidelines, Rayo Vallecano came to visit with hope in their hearts and dread on their minds. Hope, because everyone wants to feel that they can win, and dread because they were about to duke it out against the Liga leaders.

It was May 6th 2000 – Round 36 in the 1999/2000 season with only 3 weeks left to play.  Barcelona was top of the table; fiercely chased by Deportivo.  Rayo was sitting comfortably in mid-table and safe from relegation.  They sniffed a whiff of a UEFA Cup position and were keen to capitalise on the opportunity.

Barça started nervously and was soon paying for it when Rayo’s Jon Pérez Bolo scored in the 9th minute.  The Blaugrana woke up after that (See? Nothing’s changed!) and laid siege on the Rayo goal, however halftime came with the score still 0-1.

The second half was much the same with the home side unable to find a way through the stalwart Rayo defence, and the visitors put the match to bed in the 86th minute with Bolo scoring again.  The 65,000 strong Camp Nou fans voiced and whistled their disapproval of Van Gaal and Club President, Nuñez.

Here’s a quick clip of the 2 goals, the first of which sees Puyol getting smoked down the wing:

With the loss to Rayo, FC Barcelona relinquished the Liga Lead to Deportivo and never recovered, eventually coming 2nd and trailing by 5 points.

Rayo finished 9th, but did go on to contest the UEFA Cup (now called the Europa League), entering the competition by way of the Fair Play Draw.

The club did remarkably well and made it to the Quarter Finals, before losing 2-4 to Deportivo Alavés.  (Alavés went on to play the Final against Liverpool which the latter won with a Golden Goal in extra time.  I wrote about that match when Alavés faced Barça in this season’s Copa del Rey.)

 

Puyol_Injuries

I’ll be back, even if it kills me

Carles Puyol 5
The only player still playing for Rayo or Barcelona since that match back in 2000 is Carles Puyol.

Our capità underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee yesterday, and appears to be out for the rest of the season.  This is the 3rd year in a row for Puyol to undergo knee surgery at approximately this time, give or take a few weeks.

Immediately after the operation, Puyol told club physio, Juanjo Brau, “The recovery starts tonight.”

Fuerza i Bona Sort, Carles – we’re not ready to say goodbye to you, nor you to us!

(Click on that excellent graphic on the right to read through the many injuries that Puyi has sustained and the surgeries that he has undergone to keep returning to play.

I once saw a Twitter comment – can’t remember whose account – which read: “When Puyol finally dies, I bet that he’ll be back playing in less than a month”!)

 


Personal Disclosure

A little confession – I like to follow a club from Madrid.

No – not THAT ONE.  Nope – not the other one.  Nuh uh – not them, either.  It’s Rayo, sillies!  With their quaint little Vallecas stadium surrounded by apartment buildings whose balconies heave with people watching games for free, to their passionate and diehard, constantly-chanting fans and their gutsy performances on the pitch, this team is one whose results and games I follow.

I believe that Rayo’s young Striker, 20yo Léo Baptistão, has a great future ahead of him.  Brazilian-born, it’s been reported that Spain is also after Léo, and he’s currently agonising over which country he’ll choose to represent.  He won’t be at Rayo for much longer as clubs are lining up to sign him, and all reports point to Atléti Madrid being his destination.

Léo grew up playing with Neymar and they are great friends – just thought that I’d put that out there, Sandro, for you to consider a double-deal – that is when you’re not too busy trying to figure out what you’re going to say at your possible São Paulo court hearing.

 

A Strange Turn of Events
During last week’s game against Espanyol (which Rayo won 2-0), 3 Yellow cards were awarded that have an impact on this week’s match.  In normal play, José Casado received his 10th Yellow of the season, so he misses Sunday’s match.

However, as the game drew to a close, and under orders from the Rayo bench, 2 more players deliberately made fouls and silly plays to earn bookings which will also see them sit out the game against Barcelona.

Javi Fuego was the first.  In the 83rd minute after 2 failed attempts to draw a card (he openly held Espanyol players), referee Muñiz “Brylcreem” Fernandez produced the Yellow as Fuego delayed a throw-in.  This is Javi’s 10th Yellow for the season.

Next was Léo Baptistão.  The ball went out over the goal-line and Espanyol’s GK Casilla grabbed another ball.  Baptistão brought the original ball back into play, dribbling it up-field and then abandoning it as soon as Fernandez showed the 5th Yellow for the striker’s season.

You can see the video showing both Fuego’s and Baptistão’s deliberate Yellows at Marca.com.

 

What Could This Mean?
I can only think of one plausible answer, and it’s that Rayo is prepared to lose some key First Team Players (especially Baptistão) for this match, thus clearing their card slates so that the team can focus their energy on their upcoming games in order to secure at least a UEFA Europa League spot.  In the next few weeks, the team is meeting other teams who are all vying for similar positions on the Liga Table – Málaga, Betis and Valencia.

With their Card-gathering record this season (98 Yellows, 2 Yellow/Reds and 2 Reds), there is no chance of them receiving an entry with a UEFA Fair Play position as they did in 2000, so they must earn qualification the hard way!

 

Rayo’s New Players Since the Last Meeting
The team got busy during the January Winter Transfer Window and shored up their ranks with 4 new players:
~ Spanish Right-Back 25yo Anaitz Arbilla from Hércules.
~ Iconic former Espanyol Striker, 35yo Raúl Tamudo, has rejoined Rayo after being released by Mexican team Pachucha following an unsuccessful 6 months in which he failed to impress.
~ Spanish Centre-back and Catalunya-born 25yo Jordi Figueras, who is on-loan from Belgium’s Club Brugge.
~ Brazilian Forward 23yo Gabriel Teixeira Machado from Romania’s Steaua București.

 

Bound for Camp Nou
Manager Paco has selected the following players to travel to Barcelona:
Reuben, Cobeño, Tito, Adrian Galvez, Amat, Arbilla, Figueras, Nacho, Piti, Trashorras, F.Vázquez, Isi, J.Carlos, Tamudo, Chori, Deli and Lass.

Isi (Isaac Gómez) is a Rayo cantera player who will wear the #39 if he gets to play.  This is a huge show of confidence in the Juvenil B 17yo to include him in the team at this stage in his career.

Rayo currently sits in 9th position on the Liga Table, 3 points or less away from higher Getafe, Valencia, Betis and Málaga.

Despite missing Baptistão, Casado and Fuego, as well as Labaka and ex-Blaugrana Rodri through injury, Rayo will still put out a strong team, headed by Captain and Team Pichichi, Piti.  They will be inspired by memories of how their team achieved the improbable back in May 2000, and motivated by their bonus pay-outs should they finish the season in a UEFA competition place.

Although Rayo lost the first encounter this season (Barça won 0-5), there was general consensus, at the time, that it was one of the worst performances by the Blaugrana for the season.  If Rayo presses as it did in that game, we may see a scoreline which more accurately reflects their efforts than the result back in October 2012.

 

Tony Stark – Rayo’s Secret Weapon
When Barça played Rayo at Vallecas late last season, the home team wore a special sponsor across the shirt – advertising for the movie “The Avengers”.

Rayo has again partnered with Disney and will be promoting “Iron Man 3” at Camp Nou. To quote the movie’s Aldrich Killian, “The whole world’s gonna be watching.”

This shirt will make us invincible

This shirt will give us an ironclad victory for sure


Un Crit Valent

After Tuesday’s high, Barça will have to be fully focused back on their La Liga duties for the last game before the International Break.  Make no mistake about it, with 11 games remaining, the Liga is by no means in the bag for the Blaugrana.  With big away games still to play against teams such as Atléti Madrid, Bilbao and Espanyol; games against teams that are desperately fighting to avoid relegation, and the last game for the season at Camp Nou vs. Málaga, the team can’t afford to relax just yet.

In his press conference, Jordi Roura (who might possibly be guiding his last game as interim coach), had this to say:

“It’s very important and especially complicated. We’ve just had a very intense game which was a huge psychological and physical effort. After such a big boost we have to guard against a drop in our intensity. We have to be very careful. It’s vital to win all our home games.”

I will be surprised if there is a lot of rotation before the PSG games, however with Valdés, Puyol and Xavi sidelined, Pinto will at least play the next 3 games, and I’d expect to see Piqué, Mascherano and possibly Adriano share the CB roles with Bartra perhaps getting some action, as a sub to begin with.  Xavi will be covered by Thiago and Cesc, and we might see Song and Busquets play more minutes together.  If Iniesta isn’t on the pitch during the next 3 games, we’ll get to see Messi wearing the captain’s band again.

Messi will be adding some new weaponry to his arsenal, because he hasn’t yet managed to do this:

 

The game kicks off at 21:00 CET on Sunday 17th March.

Click here to convert the match time to your timezone: FC Barcelona vs. Rayo Vallecano de Madrid

Streams for the match are usually found on First Row, Roja Directa and Bar TV.

 

Finally…

Button

And wait for it to load.

You’ll thank me for it – or maybe not.

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98 Responses to “Preview: A Little Rayo Sunshine”

  1. nia says:

    WTH!!! I clicked the red button, thanks a lot, the link gave me vertigo :) ha ha

    Am I the only one who thinks that Barca players seem to get injured with only ‘minor discomforts’ that turn out to be more serious? Every time time they release a medical statement, it turns out the player is injured worse than ‘minor’. I feel like one of these days, a players leg will fall of and they will still call it a ‘minor discomfort’ kkkk.

    As for Rayo, I like Paco’s team. Very fast and if Barca fall asleep, they will be made to pay. I hope for Barca to start building momentum for the important part of the season after that delightful display in the CL. I would like though, to see Pedro offer more to the team than just ‘windmill’ arms. Everyone keeps giving Alexis flak for poor play(which I think is unjust) but, I think Pedro also needs a looking at as well. He doesn’t assist or score and has a poor first touch plus, he’s on the groung just as often as Alexis lately(bet he’ll score for Spain though during the break). He’s not bad but, I think he can offer a bit more to the team than just being a cantera.

  2. blitzen says:

    I like Rayo too, for the politics. If I was ever in Madrid I would love to see one of their games. Still hope they lose tomorrow, mind you.

    And NO WAY am I clicking that buttonQ

  3. Kimcelona says:

    Love your previews nzm! They’re so informative, creative and well-written.

    I like Rayo for the way they play. They always give us an open game but also cause problems too. We’ve just been able to escape punishment in the past, cause of their lack of finishing quality up front.

    With Puyol out for goodness knows how long, we’ll have to preserve Masche and Pique. I would hope Bartra gets a run out but I have my doubts. We seemed to have abandoned meaningful rotation for the young members of our team. Cesc is definately starting tomorrow, prob Thiago and Song will start as well in midfield. Hope to see Alexis and Tello tomorrow as well.

    Btw, clicked on the button and brought me back to bfb, in a smaller font. Is that supposed to happen?

    • nzm says:

      Thanks, Kimcelona.

      It just gets harder and harder to find games into which the young ones can rotate.

      When you think back over the season so far, how many games were not important to win where the young ones could have played? Just the Benfica one at Camp Nou really, and we all know how unimpressive the young ones were in that game.

      I can see why Pep wanted to keep a smaller squad – although that came with different issues. However, he could borrow from the B team, and when those guys stepped up into the First Team, they had something to prove and usually played as if their lives depended on it.

      Now, with a squad full of mid-fielders, there is more rotation happening in that area (and the left wing) than in any other on the pitch, while the back-line remains the strongest line-up that we have in order to support the mid-field experiments. This leaves little playing time for the likes of Bartra and Montoya.

      Maybe we’ll see them at the end of the season, but if Adriano stays (and he’s currently finalising his renewal), Abidal’s return is a success and the club is looking to buy a more experienced CB, it may be better if Bartra and Montoya look to go out on loan next season, so they at least get some match time under their belts.

      • bhed says:

        This is going to sound like blasphemy, but at his age, after being out for so long, I don’t think we can count on King Eric to fortify our defense in the near or distant future. I’d still like to keep him in the squad though, and see him get some minutes – més que un club.

        • nzm says:

          Still doesn’t fix the Monty and Bartra situation though, because Adriano can play both left and right back positions and if the rumours are true, the club is looking at buying a Centre-back with more experience. Those guys are still looking at a lot of bench time.

    • BA says:

      we do absolutely need to ensure that Mascherano and Pique are available for the Champions League games coming up, and even though we have a serious dearth of center-back options (something a few of us have been vocal about for a long time now), there *are* ways we could use our surplus of midfielders to help the back line rotate.

      most obviously we could simply play 3 at the back; telling Dani and Jordi to stay home more would help them sharpen their defensive discipline. playing, for instance, a midfield diamond is feasible for upcoming games against the likes of Mallorca and Betis. even resting Xavi, a midfield of Busquets (or Song), Iniesta, Thiago and Cesc is formidable. personally i’d like to see Alexis given a shot at the tip of a midfield diamond, a similar position to where he excelled at Udinese, which would also leave a wing open for Pedro or Tello.

      the overarching point is there’s no reason we should be wed to a 4-man back line if our defensive rotation is already creaking under the pressure (and not working all that well to begin with this season).

  4. KEVINO17 says:

    Yes, wonderfully written.
    Barca basically has to replace the whole side because it will take some of them weeks to recover from that effort against Milan. Fortunately it’s a truly amazing B Team.

  5. barca96 says:

    I pressed the red button. Couldn’t resist. But it brought me back to BFB.

    Off-topic.
    Does anybody know where I can purchase basketball shoes online besides footlocker or eastbay. No eBay please.

    I am looking for Nike Lunar Hyperdunk in particular, high or low, Olympic edition preferred. Anyone here uses any of these 2 shoes? Was also looking for Kobe 7 low Olympic. But they’re impossible to get.

    I know low-cut doesn’t really protect the ankle but I am also looking for a gym/running shoe atm so I guess why not get something that can be used for both. I find it awkward to go to the gym with basketball shoes. I just don’t find basketball shoes nice to wear outside the court at all actually. Just looks awkward.

    Many thanks in advance.

    • fotobirajesh says:

      Sorry I dont have any idea about most of the things. But tell you something on running shoes.
      The best running shoes should be the ones with the most flat soles, which would make running effect as close to the bare foot running situation. I have only heard and read bout the Vibram 5 fingers – which many runners have talked about as the best – but unfortunately they are not available in India.
      After trying many shoes, few months back I bought a very simple canvas shoes (which looks like the school uniform shoes) – simple, plain soles, and I think I have found the right running shoes. It was quite cheap too, so can get a new one after 5/6 months.
      May be only vibram could be better.
      Happy running.

  6. allasFCB says:

    Rayo is such an interesting club. I remember their coach saying after Barca won Celtic 2-1 and he was criticising Celtic and said that they would never ever play like them. Couple of days they played with Barca, put immense pressure on them and Barca struggled a lot, although the end result was 5-0. One of Pep Guardiola’s assistants whispered to him: “All these coaches who say they’re going to come here and attack … none of them ever do. You lot actually did.”

    Although they haven’t got any results against Real & Barca their tactics have worked against other teams so well. Those games are always fun to watch when teams come at Barca and try to play with them.
    Such an intelligent pressing last year at Camp Nou
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lENaC7y6lO4

    • nzm says:

      Great pressing, and they were like that at Vallecas this season – it just didn’t work out for them.

      The defence is going to have to be on their toes tonight to contain Piti, Chori and Trashorras.

      • allasFCB says:

        People often think it’s so brave when a team defend with their lives, the stereotype defending like we’ve seen over the years aka Chelsea, Inter etc. Well, for me, what teams like Rayo does is the ultimate bravery and badass. There’s nothing braver than to be confident and play your own game and make teams like Barca to struggle and to have on their toes is just so amazing. Theres nothing braver to play a high defendive line, make one of your CB to mark high up the pitch and leave 3v3 in defence, just to put pressure high up the picth to win the ball on the other half. It’s also mcuh easier to build your attack from 30-40 meters from goal rather than 70-80 meters from goal. Hope the world watches tonights game and learn from Rayo.

        • barca96 says:

          One of Pep Guardiola’s assistants whispered to him

          It was this season’s match right? If that is so, then it should’ve been Tito’s assistant, right?

  7. nzm says:

    When you click the red button, wait for the page to load, if you’re on a slow connection. It’s BFB as a current, popular meme. ;)

  8. Gogah says:

    Just heard about the Puyol surgery, really frustrating news. Hopefully we will not go through another summer with the club refusing to buy a center back. We have been doing this for three seasons now. Wasn’t vertonghen literally being offered to Barcelona for some 7M? But no, apparently song for 20m makes more sense…
    And what’s with the Sanchez rumors? For me this guy is un sellable. The only issue currently is his lack of sharpness in front of goal. But even folks like Pedro, fabregas have that and no one suggests that we sell them. Where else will we get a player like Sanchez – fast, technical, strong, talented and above all, willing to slave for the team with great humility. Neymar may score goals, but will he defend, hassle and showcase the selflessness Sanchez exhibits?
    Probably not.
    Buy a damn CB guys for the love of god. If this marquinhos is who the scouts have identified, just buy the guy, no dilly dallying.

    • bhed says:

      I feel you. Vertonghen has been solid with Tottenham, but not amazing. Still – tall, strong, fast, and he can play anywhere across the back 4. They need a striker desperately, so maybe a Villa/Vertonghen swap? Villa is worth more, but when you consider the age difference…

  9. olbucky says:

    Just got a googlel alert that Verizon is announcing this week that they are adding Bein Sports in HD to their line up and that the wait is finally over. NO MORE STREAMING AND DOWNLOADING!!! And I don’t have to go back to Comcast. FINALLY!!!

  10. Kxevin says:

    I clicked the button because I’m a curious soul. That slays me every time, even though I’ve seen/heard it before. Nice one.

    Bartra. Every time the club has played him, he has looked good. Confident and assured. Not sure what the complexity is, but I do know that the club shouldn’t be carrying players that aren’t capable of playing. This has been the case for a couple of seasons now. Hell, JDS can sit in the stands and cheer on his own dime.

    • mom4 says:

      Wait. How come it works for you? You have Comcast too, right? Just keeps sending me back to BFB, dangit.

    • bhed says:

      Totally agreed. I like what I’ve seen from Bartra, but haven’t really seen enough of him to make a judgement one way or the other. I mentioned in a previous comment (a few posts ago) that when Tito gave him the seal of approval in a press conference, and then went on to play everyone but him at CB, something didn’t add up. If he is as good as he seems to be, it would go a long way towards soothing nervous Cules like myself when it comes to our defensive concerns, and justify not buying a proper CB last summer.

      • bhed says:

        Dang it – I didn’t close my italics tag! Sorry!

      • mom4 says:

        Maybe it was just a way to make sure Puyi, Masche, and Pique had the playing time that would keep them content. After all, Pique and Puyi kinda always had the distinction of being the first chioce pairing, but you can’t keep a player of Mascherano’s calibre on the bench too often. It’s more important to worry about senior players ego ( and yes, whether we like it or not, psychology matters in the care and keeping of elite athletes) than the up and coming player’s.

        Short sighted approach that has come back to bite us, though.

        • bhed says:

          Good point, but when Tito played Song and Adriano at CB, was that to give them minutes? They both know they’re not usually starters, and I think Masch accepts that Tito has to do what’s best for the team – he’s that kind of guy.

  11. barca96 says:

    El Shaarawy (Milan): “Last year I got Messi’s shorts, this time his shirt. I again want to make clear we swapped shirts, as some had doubts”

    Wait. What?
    Why on earth did he ask for Messi’s shorts last year?

    It must’ve been awkward. :lol:
    I’ve never ever heard of this before in my nearly 20 years of watching football.

  12. barca96 says:

    AEK Athens midfielder Giorgos Katidis has been given a life ban from all national teams after appearing to make a Nazi gesture after scoring a goal

    Di Canio did something even worse when he was at Lazio but his punishment was nowhere close to this. But in Italy they seem to be quite forgiving or the authorities simply don’t give a shit. Just look at the continuing racist chanting. Idiots!

  13. barca96 says:

    Would you guys rather

    a) have Fontas back
    b) sell Bartra
    c) sell both
    d) keep Bartra

    I would keep Bartra. I see potential in him. Never expected him to be one of the greatest but I always thought he could be a 1st team player in years to come. I’ve always preferred Bartra over Fontas & Muniesa of the recent academy defenders.

  14. barca96 says:

    If it’s true that Messi could barely walk after the Milan match, he should not be playing tonight. Perhaps only 30mins max to get some match rythhmm.

    I would like Tito & Roura to use the same line up as they did against Super Depor since they had a tough match last week and an international break coming up where they will no doubt be playing the full 90mins. Plus this is a home match, the squad players will have full support.

    Same line up except Adriano for Alves. Alves has been playing a lot on a very high level of late. He needs some rest. Alba has no choice but to start since he was rested against Depor. Most ideal situation would be to play Adriano RB in the first half then take Alba out for Alves and move Adriano over to LB.

    Pinto
    Adriano/Alves – Pique – smash – Alba/Adriano
    Thiago – Song – Cesc
    Pedro – Villa – Alexis

    Tello & Bartra as the must play subs.

  15. Euler says:

    Great preview Michele-as usual!

    What I’d like to see from the team today is a combination of 2 things: rotation and furthering the 3-1-4-2/ 3-3-3-1 formation the team has been experimenting with & used to strong effect vs Milan.

    This is the template the team is going to need to use to get through the CL & they should use these Liga matches to grow more comfortable with it. They should in particular work on dynamically changing shape during the match.

    Rayo will be interesting as they will look to pressure Barca in the build up phase. this is an area where Barca has struggled at times this year. Milan sitting deeper in leg 2 I thought was a real mistake from Allegri and made Barca’s chore a more feasible one.

    So regardless of which players are selected I’d like to see the nominal RW operate as a hybrid wide forward/9 w/ overlap from the FB to play as a winger. In this set up the other winger retains tactical width & the other FB plays conservatively in a back 3. The axis can also be flipped so the “9” plays off the L, etc.

    Will be very interesting to if Bartra plays some kind of significant minutes today. If he doesn’t that will further suggest that the technical staff most likely isn’t happy with what they are seeing from him in practice.

    The team should rotate one of Masche &/or Pique-but how they can do that is unclear. And if they don’t rotate at least one that will be a real shame. The club simply should never have put itself in this position at the CB spot. But they didn’t learn from the last 2 seasons adequately enough.

    • nzm says:

      Thanks, Euler.

      Would love to see more mixing up of the formation. Would especially love it if that meant seeing more of Busi and Song on the pitch in mid-field together at some stage!

      If Alexis is played on the RW tonight, I think that there’s a good chance that we’ll see that hybrid overlap player that you write about.

  16. Nice preview. Rayo fills the space Gijon left behind :( Really cool fans.

    BTW Anyone caught the Ajax match today? Is it worth watching cos AZ have been poor lately? I’m finding it quite hard to follow Ajax this season, through streams and such and they’ve been pointless in Europe, again.

    Team needs rest but hasn’t it been 5 days already? I want Villa to start every match now. He is the most important forward for the CL. And Alexis to try & find scoring form, our most important forward long term (why in gods name are we planning to sell him, I don’t know)

    Would be nice to see more of the cantera boys in the remaining matches, Bartra Montoya need time on the pitch and Rafinha, Espinosa and maybe Deulofeu need to be subbed in.

    • nzm says:

      Rafinha will perhaps get his chance when he is promoted to the First Team next season together with Sergio Roberto. Either that, or they’ll be warming the bench with Dos Santos.

      But I don’t think that we’ll see much of Barca B until the Liga is a surety because we have enough players in the First Team. (Except CBs maybe, and I wouldn’t be bringing any of the B Team CBs after watching their mostly woeful performances!)

  17. Ryan says:

    Line up has been announced!

    Pinto, Adriano, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba, Sergio, Fàbregas, Iniesta, Alexis, Villa, Messi.

    No rest for Messi it seems… but hooray for continued game time for el Guaje!

    • nzm says:

      That’s a good line-up.

      Alves has been dropped because everyone is scared of his blonde hair! :lol:

      I’ve always advocated that Cesc works better with only Iniesta, so let’s hope that he proves me right!

  18. blitzen says:

    There will be no liveblog today. Unless one of the other mods feels like setting one up.

    My apologies.

  19. Blau-Grenade says:

    Ooooh Yeah Baby! The Harlem Shake and an NZM preview; Life is good!

  20. replayed says:

    Messi had a bad first touch there. How unusual.

    Villa looking sharp, though.

  21. Ryan says:

    Villa slammed that one in! 1-0!

  22. Rivaldo says:

    Question: Should we really give Adriano a new contract or ahould we look for a durable and alternate to Alba (Abidal style…technique and all)?

    I ask because of his injury history at 28yrs old. Not suggestion his playing form isn’t worthy. For me He’s one of those few on our team nowadays who make their own “luck”…but injuries.

  23. replayed says:

    Leo and David, sitting in a tree…

  24. Ryan says:

    Mesi -> Villa goal!

    and now Villa -> Messi goal!

    I’ve missed this!

  25. KEVINO17 says:

    You’re right Paco – this is the sort of balls that Celtic should have shown.

    • Jim says:

      Not sure who you’re replying to … but why would you think Celtic should have playd differently?

      • Nik says:

        He’s referring to this:

        Rayo Vallecano coach Paco Jemez has criticised Celtic’s approach to their Champions League clash with Barcelona, insisting he would be ashamed to adopt those tactics when Rayo face Barca in La Liga on Sunday. [...]

        “I could use the same approach as Celtic, but personally I would be too ashamed to look fans in the eye,” Jemez said. “We would also get torn to pieces on the pitch. I don’t want them to watch Barca dictate the game. We might lose, but we’ll decide how we play against them.”

        (source: http://espnfc.com/news/story/_/id/1203108/rayo-coach-insists-he-won't-be-fearful-against-barca)

        • Jim says:

          Thanks. Not sure we could claim to have torn Celtic to pieces though. Having said that, good on them for having a go. As we’ve often said, if we play , their only choice is how to die…

          • Nik says:

            I think Jemez was trying to say that his team isn’t built to play the way Celtic did, and they (Rayo), not Celtic, would get torn to pieces if they tried to do so.

            Agreed on the rest.

  26. Jafri says:

    Just as I was about to say that with Alves out, they could totally try a reversed 3-4-3 with Jordi Alba manning the entire left flank and Alexis providing the width on the right, Adriano decides to pull an Adriano.

    Would have been really interesting to see though.

    Also, loving the Villa-Messi connection!

  27. mom4 says:

    So far so good.

    Rayo is a nice little team.

    Villa’s back.

  28. replayed says:

    What’s the deal with Cesc? He has managed to go MIA today again even though the midfield isn’t that crowded.

    Props to Alexis for continually making runs, but there’s a reason they end up being mostly decoy runs…

    Pinto is looking good today.

  29. Jim says:

    Villa to Messi !

  30. Ryan says:

    Now let’s just end this with a clean sheet!

  31. Jim says:

    Decent night’s work.

  32. Gogah says:

    So thats Puyol and Adriano out for the crucial stretch of the season. Will we manage?

  33. Tank says:

    Does anybody know why the pitch at the Camp Nou was so slippery today? Really hindered our performance.

    I was very impressed with the way Rayo played today. That was the closest I have ever seen to “beat Barcelona with their own style”. Unfortunately for them, nobody does the tiki-taka like Barca does.

    That was probably the worst match Busquets had since… last season?! Not bad but… he did make mistakes, like a human would do.

    On a more serious note, I was kind of shocked by Fabregas’ display today. He seemed slow, lacked agility, and often stood too high up the field, forcing the defense to play long balls. He often took way too long to control the ball and pick out a pass. He was genuinely bad today.

    I hope his form improves fast, because we need him. For now, I see Thiago ahead of him. But of course Fabregas has the quality to play much better than tonight.

  34. TITO says:

    I thought he wasn’t so bad, maybe a little bit slower, but definitely not bad. On the other hand, Busi was quite unimpressive, especially with the missed passes that he made. But overall, i liked the tempo of the play, some of the build -ups, some pressing, and to a neutral fan, it was a great game to watch.
    Of course, WE do like it when we are in control of everything. When we are not, it’s automatically a bad display. But, i do want it from time to time a team to give us a go for our money. Rayo did just that, they never did surrender, great shots, some nice passes and they pressed us in some areas which made us make uncharacteristic mistakes.
    Villa, Messi, Alexis combination is doing great. But watch it, it’s due to the fact that all three of them are making efforts and running, not just waiting for the ball to come to them.

  35. Kxevin says:

    I have had match viewing outings end in all sorts of ways, but never because of a fire. The Chicago Penya meets at Old Town Social in Chicago. So shortly after the Villa goal, we heard an odd chirping sound, then “Fire! Everyone out!”

    And bango. Place was going pretty good for a while. The speed and quality of Chicago’s firefighters was exemplary, and I got to send some cool fire shots to our breaking news site. Day well done.

    So I still have to watch the match, but I find the compendium of opinions on certain players fascinating: Sanchez has been bad and good today; Busquets has been excellently vertical, and off today; Fabregas has been a pokey mess and wondrous in the final third.

    Can’t wait to watch this one.

    • mom4 says:

      Didn’t read all the comments yet but the good/bad assessment, even though it was a compendium, is pretty accurate imo. Some brilliance followed by some what the heck moments.

      Just saw your FB fire pics. Dang! Thankfully everybody’s OK! Enjoy the DVR version.

      • BA says:

        Cesc was dire. our midfield looks vastly more composed and coherent with Thiago in there, the triangle flipped just a bit.

        as for being great in the final 3rd, well, if i had the freedom to just jog up and play little 3-yard passes around the edge of the box, with the excellent movement of Villa, Sanchez, Iniesta and Alba around me i’d look pretty damn good too. unfortunately for Cesc our midfield position requires alot more than that, and he wasn’t good at any of the rest today.

  36. Kxevin says:

    Adriano joins Puyol on the hard luck list, out 6-8 weeks with a torn hamstring. Ouch!

    • KEVINO17 says:

      Those passes coming over the shoulder are just deadly, aren’t they. Rarely worth the risk trying to trap them, but players can’t (won’t) pull out.

  37. KEVINO17 says:

    I thought pretty good today. It was obvious for most of the game that the team was determined to try and maintain the Milan standard (although they couldn’t). Periods of sloppiness were inevitable once then went two goals up against a very good side.

    Now only have to win six out of ten, if RM win every game?

    • Kxevin says:

      That is correct. 5 home, 5 away:

      Celta-A/Mallorca-H/Zara-A/Levante-H/Athletic-A/Betis-H/ATM-A/Vall-H/Espanyol-A/Malaga-H.

      Celta, Athletic, Atletico all tricky ties. Malaga at home won’t be easy, but there won’t really be anything for them to play for by then. Luckily, this is true of many of the remaining opponents:

      Celta: Playing for their lives in relegation zone
      Mallorca: Same as Celta
      Zaragoza: Not safe from relegation worries.
      Levante: Mid-table and secure. Relax.
      Athletic: Ditto.
      Betis: Playing for a European spot. Hungry.
      Atletico: Revenge wanted, in their house.
      Valladolid: Safe in mid table.
      Espanyol: Should be safe, but derby!
      Malaga: Chasing European spot, assuming appeal outcome on UEFA ban.

  38. ooga aga says:

    i was there! my first camp nou and first competitive FCB match! (saw a friendly in seattle a few summers ago)

    it didnt really rain right before the match…i came into town 8 hours before kick off and it was a light sprinkle, then stopped. i dont think it rained all that heavy so it must have been over the last few days. all the same, the sprinklers were makin things quite wet before kick off. youd think the groundskeepers would use less sprinklers if it had been raining. but yeah lots of slipping.

    tamudo got whistled really badly and had the ball in the net within 30 seconds of coming on, if memory serves. made me laugh, the socio next to me didnt find it too funny.

    messi, iniesta, villa, alba all did quite well. despite the win, xavi’s absence was notable.

  39. K_legit in Oz says:

    ‘En el vestuario del Barça y en el de la selección saben que Busi no busca flores para sí mismo, sino que gana partidos para todos, y que los focos le incomodan de tal manera que no tiene ni Facebook. “Todavía no sé para qué sirve el Twitter”, insiste convencido de que el fútbol va de su taquilla al Camp Nou y que lo demás no le reporta nada. Hasta rechaza cada semana alguna oferta de publicidad. “Ya gano bastante”, suele decirle a su representante.’

    http://deportes.elpais.com/deportes/2013/03/13/champions/1363207092_536513.html

    Busquets is such a breath of fresh air as a player and person!

  40. bhed says:

    OK, mea culpa, Dani was fantastic again. I definitely wrote him off too soon. Now we have to keep him healthy and eligible to play – that means Montoya’s gotta get minutes, ready or not.

    • KEVINO17 says:

      Did you notice how Barca’s right winger starts running in behind, taking the left-back with him, and then someone hits Dani with a pass. It basically never fails to put Dani in acres of space.

    • barca96 says:

      Article is on 16th of March but the pic looked like it was taken even before Pep became the manager.

      I never knew Messi had such a well crafted abs before.

    • fotobirajesh says:

      Thank you a tonne.
      I cant remember seeing any other video with Pep and Messi, in such a personal form. Add to it there is Baggio as well.

      Is there any way, to know what they are talking about. Please.

      Once again, thank you so much.

  41. fcbfan10 says:

    with 53.2%, it’s the lowest possession Liga game by Barca this season.-barcastuff

    Our passes were short or couldn’t find the target many times. It’s understandable as we had the hard fought game the other day.

    I expected more from Fabregas since he’s the only one with fresh legs and without Xavi in the middle, however, he looked lost or couldn’t connect with other players well enough to me.

    I don’t know. Maybe I have too much expectations for him because of all the praises I heard from his Arsenal days.

    And here is a hope for them all safely returning from the national duties.

  42. Chiu says:

    - Didn’t watch the match. But yeah 3 more points, we are getting closer to liga celebration. Happy for Villa featuring in scoresheet and providing assist.

    – What Adriano? Injured again? Out for 6-4 weeks, probably would miss CL QF and SF. It happened in such a bad timing of the season. We are suddenly short of real defenders now. I dont mind to play Masche in fullbacks position to give some minutes off for Alves/Alba. Calling LB from B team (dont know who) could be an option too for liga games.

  43. pr17 says:

    Great to see el guaje happy. he is such an asset.
    Alexis should remain next season. What is with fabregas.
    I am not for giving adriano an extension. Would rather spend the wages on good centre back. Pique, masche, new CB and bartra should give all the cover we need. I wonder how sergi gomez has performed in B team.

    Monty as backup in both FB positions.

  44. providence says:

    off topic: Who saw Ballotelli’s Penalty against Parlermo yesterday? how is that different from Busquets’ penalty against Milan last year?

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