Celta De Vigo 2 – Barça 2, as Oubiña put the needle into needless

The crowd was on their feet to let the palms of their hands meet.

The victory snatched away with less than two minutes to play.

No-one shouted, yelled or barked when one man was left unmarked.

I’ll give you  hint: it was not a Barça player.

One team was severely outmatched, playing an opponent that stands seventeen spots higher in the league table. One team recently got embarrassed by Deportivo de la Coruña, while their opponent recently embarassed AC Milan. One team’s entire payroll doesn’t even come close to their opponent’s star player’s salary. One team was fighting for relegation, their opponent league leaders by a comfortably wide margin. And one team never gave up, which led to their just reward when their captain equalized in the 88th minute.

Credit where credit is due

Holy diving headers!

What would Gotham City look like if Batman didn’t feel like fighting? If he just went throught the motions? As if by merely showing his face, errrr… -mask, he could deter crime? As if he could bust heads without that want in his punches?

I can hear the Joker laughing.

What would food taste like if your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/mom stopped caring? If they cooked because they had to, and not because they like to, or even because they love you. If they just went through the motions? What does food taste like without that want in the kitchen?

A lot like yesterday’s game.

With an eye on our upcoming Champions League fixture, assistant schemer Roura came up with a plan B that consisted of Pinto, Montoya, Piqué, Bartra, Dani Alves, Song, Thiago, Cesc, Tello, Messi and Alexis, a line-up that satisfied most if not all culés on our esteemed blog by resting the majority of our regular first teamers and possibly even more so by finally starting our young defenders Marc Bartra and Martin Montoya.

Ballwatching...for now
Ballwatching…for now

Looking at the squad list the most notable inclusion, of course, was king Eric, who received a vigorous ovation from the Celta supporters as he made his way onto their grounds. He did not play however, a glorious moment in F.C. Barcelona history which will be all the sweeter when it takes place in our own stadium.

I personally felt that the technical staff could have sat Messi as well – not only to give our Pulga a well needed break after a vomit-inducing World Cup qualifier played in the heights of the Bolivian Andes, but also because it would have meant that without Puyol, Xavi, Valdés, Iniesta and Leo, the pimped-out one would have captained our squad for his first time ever at what was effectively his homecoming in the Balaidos. Yes Sir, you can call me sentimental like that. Alas, José Manuel, it was not to be.

"I'm back, bee-yotch"
“I’m back, bee-yotch”

Within three minutes of kick-off we had given up possession just as many times with Bartra, Thiago and Piqué seemingly confused as to which color shirt they were supposed to pass the ball. Half an hour later the match had evolved into an all out snorefest. God almighty how the mighty can bore us! It took all of twenty-eight minutes for the first shot to be unleashed and this only after Gerard Piqué, the leader of our defense, almost deflected a pass into our own goal. Pinto’s double save saved us, and kind of served as a wake-up call…well, for some of our players, anyway.

Messi turned his defender to open up on Tello who blasted over and wide, and he then provoked a yellow card from Cabral when he threatened to break free minutes later. Celta de Vigo was lucky to avoid a clear penalty when Lionel tried to find his way through three of their defenders. Then again, we were lucky to still have 11 men on the pitch as we were saved by the referee who judged Park Chu-Young to have committed the first foul when Bartra used his arms and hips to prevent the Arsenal loanee to go one-on-one with Pinto earlier in the game.

Park Chu-Young was a handful

The first goal of the match was to fall on the other side, and it fell way too easily, after a Bartra give-away led to (again) Bartra and Pique leaving Park Chu-Young with way too much space in the penalty area to pass to ball unto a grateful Natxo Insa.

Their lead was not to last, though. Soon enough Leo found Tello who equalized with a sublime finish to take us into half time on level terms.

Up until then, in my not-so-humble opinion, only three players had bothered to show up: Leo Messi, who, although not overly active, at least provided some danger whenever he received the ball; Tello, who consistently got free and created space through speed on the left flank; and of course Golden Locks Dani Alves, whose running up and down the right was further illuminated by his brilliant *cough* head of platinum blond hair.

falling some way short of expectations
Yo, Lexus, is this your “big player” face?

The rest of the team fell some way short of expectations. Pique and Bartra were decidedly not impressive and neither was Montoya who, granted, as a natural right back had to fill in for Jordi Alba and Adriano Correia on the left side of the defense.

Song was not bad without being particularly good. Of course it does not help that his position might be the one where it is most difficult to shine. More alarmingly however was the fact that Thiago and Cesc, our midfield duo for the future, were mostly anonymous – the former showing a bit of flash but very little substance and the latter showing nearly nothing of either.

Alexis Sanchez, well rested after coming home earlier than expected from South America due to a red card in Chile’s lost game against lowly Peru, was horrid throughout the first half. The self-proclaimed jugadorazo* sure didn’t play like one as he hardly touched the ball, let alone doing anything of note when he did, his only completed pass that I remember being to an off-side Leo Messi.

Oh-oohh here he comes. Watch out boy, he'll chew you up
Ooh-oh here he comes. Watch out boy, he’ll chew you up

No surprises here that none of Thiago, Fabregas or Lexus made it to the end of the game. The second half might have been a little bit better, but certainly not much.

Any positives? Yes. Cristian Tello was a maneater, gobbling up his direct opponent time after time with his guile and his speed. He always made himself available for the pass and he was never afraid to take on the defense. I don’t know if his future lies with Barça – actually, I think  Neymar’s coming might make his particular skill set redundant – but I sure wish that we would have negotiated a higher release clause. A two-trick pony he may be, he was definitely our most dangerous attacking outlet against Celta de Vigo.

And he remained so even after Iniesta and Villa had come on with less than 25 minutes of game time, until Messi found him with a laser-precision pass that burned a hole through five defenders. The Maneater one-timed it with his weaker left foot, right back to our record-breaking Argentine, who neither doubted nor hesitated to shoot the ball into the net and so became the first ever to score in nineteen consecutive league games, against nineteen different opponents.

Another day, another record
Another day, another record

We finally got the lead with a bit over a quarter of an hour left. Just enough time to fall back asleep and let Borja Oubiña head in the equalizer. And, you know, because I just love to contradict myself, Celta de Vigo did not deserve the equalizer as much as we deserved the equalizer. We have to give them credit for not giving up and taking their chance at the end, but they were mostly horrible. They were certainly a lot better when they played us at the Camp Nou half a season ago. But we got our just desserts, simply because we allowed them back in the game.

We did not want it enough.

This might be a cliché… Ok, wait. It is a full-blown cliché, but that doesn’t make it less true. And it leaves me with questions. It is one thing for players to A) be tired after their two WC qualifiers and B) have their minds on the Paris Saint-Germain game this Tuesday. This I understand. And I understand that when the league is as good as won and you are playing against relegation fodder, you might not want it as much. This is very natural, and even more so days before a Champion’s League Clash.

But two of the only three players who are a shoe-in to start this Tuesday, Leo Messi and Dani Alves, showed that want. Tello showed that want. The others, made up mostly of canteranos who should be fighting for more minutes, or multi-million purchases who should be fighting to prove their worth, did not. And it is for those players more than any that that lack of want is incomprehensible.

Wanted by Manchester
Wanted by Manchester

It is that want that can make the difference between a clearance and a half-assed clearance which led to the cross headed in by Oudiña (Montoya). It is that want through which you can obtain more of that much coveted playing time in a defensive line that is constantly daunted by injuries (Bartra). That want is what could lead you to become the “next” Xavi (Thiago), or even replace him in the short term (Fabregas).

For some of our players, the talent is there and in plain sight for all to see. For others it might not be. The want should never be a question, however.

Visca Barça!

tello2

“I’m happy with the chances I’m getting, the confidence the coaches are giving me and I hope to continue to grow”

Cristian Tello Herrera

 

 

 

 

* loosely translated as “great player”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Culé since way before football boots were of the neon yellow and lizard green variety, Levon is a deep thinker with increasingly shallow thoughts. He lives in Barcelona with his gorgeous wife and daughter. The lucky bastard...

62 Comments

  1. Alexinho
    March 31, 2013

    I thought Bartra played as well as we can expect. Has it been months since he’s last made an appearance? It sure feels like it.

    He had some bad moments–nay, he had a few terrible moments–but most were in the opening stages of the game and I thought he found his feet well. He made a handful of very good plays.

    With all due respect to Tito/Roura, he should have more appearances to his name by this point in the season. So should Montoya, though I can’t give the same compliments to him. It could have made the difference vs. Celta.

    • selfie barça
      March 31, 2013

      Yeah, I get what you’re saying.

      It’s kinda like the chicken or the egg… Would more playing have given us a better Bartra, or has he not been given playing time because he isn’t better?

      Very hard to answer from the outside looking in.

      • Alexinho
        March 31, 2013

        Either way it’s not good.

        On one hand, Bartra isn’t good enough. Was he promoted too quickly? When I look at Bojan, JDS, Muniesa, Cuenca, and others, I see some talented individuals who were victims of their own contracts with promotion written-into them. One day, they’re B-team hotshots, the next they’re on the A-team’s bench, and then they’re loaned out before being sold.

        On the other, he is good enough, but he never starts above Pique, Puyol, or Mascherano–all trophy-decorated, proven, world-class players. If you’re Tito and you look at your squad, do you start two of those three, or Bartra, even if it comes at the risk of overuse and injury?

      • Alexinho
        March 31, 2013

        That is to say, I’m sure everyone can agree that Bartra is indeed not better than his CB competitors, but that’s not a good reason for him to play as little as he does.

        Soccer is a young man’s game, and developing talent at the A-team level, and not just at the B-team level, is just as important in the long-term as winning a game is in the short-term.

        Barca is praised for its integration of canteranos into the first team, but this is praise that has been a long time coming. How long was Xavi in the squad before it was apparent that he was the heart of the team? How about Iniesta?

        Sometimes I think that if these two were promoted from the B-team this year, and the competition within the squad was comparable, they would be loaned within a year or two.

        • selfie barça
          March 31, 2013

          What I don’t understand is that Tito used Bartra at the beginning of the season but later after the league was practically won he did not get even a minute.

          It would have made sense to give him more playing time because it would have developed him more as a player and raised his worth if we want to sell him.

          Another thing is that Barça is a victim of our own success. We have such an incredibly talented squad that we risk losing any given canterano at this point. Competition is fierce.

          What we need to do is be more savy. Too many canteranos that end up not making it leave us pretty much for free.

  2. Carter
    March 31, 2013

    Sorry to interrupt and I know I’m way late but anyone know where I could watch the full Barcelona vs. Milan game.
    Thanks

    • Alexinho
      March 31, 2013

      There’s a Youtube channel–amazingly still up–called Barcelona Full Matches, you can find it there.

      • Carter
        March 31, 2013

        I’ve used youtube before but I haven’t had any luck finding the whole Milan game yet.

  3. dean
    April 1, 2013

    Marca, Canal and now Barcastuff all confirming our new home jersey for the 2013-2014 season, pic. The white apparently is to commemorate our 100th anniversary.

    http://tinyurl.com/crnfq79

  4. April 1, 2013

    Again, I point out narratives and unfashionable players. To wit:

    Alexis Sanchez, well rested after coming home earlier than expected from South America due to a red card in Chile’s lost game against lowly Peru, was horrid throughout the first half. The self-proclaimed jugadorazo* sure didn’t play like one as he hardly touched the ball, let alone doing anything of note when he did, his only completed pass that I remember being to an off-side Leo Messi.

    How can you be horrid when you don’t have the ball, an observer would wonder. Also ….

    Song was not bad without being particularly good. Of course it does not help that his position might be the one where it is most difficult to shine.

    Again. Song isn’t Busquets. nzm, Euler and I were chatting on Twitter about how well Song was playing, in the Song context as well as positionally. Yes, Song made a crappy Busquets. But Busquets would make a pretty crappy Song, right? Recall Song’s forward runs. Were you thinking, “Hmmm, Busquets wouldn’t have done that kind of run and pass,” or “What is Song doing running around with the ball? Busquets wouldn’t have done that.”

    It speaks directly to my point about evaluating players in the context of their individual play, and what they are bringing to the team. Song had a good match on the weekend, far, far better than Thiago and Fabregas, who don’t even earn the disdain that Song did, much less the outright scorn that you ladle onto Sanchez.

    Yes, Tello did some good stuff. But somebody should ask him how the pitch was on the other side of the halfway line, if they want to play “Stump the player.” Maybe he is under orders to not track back, or bother with that defense nonsense. Dunno. But for me, every good thing that he does is canceled by a silly shot, or deciding not to pass to an open teammate (recall the shot he blasted over instead of passing to a wide-open Sanchez who, while being horrid, was working his tail off to get into positions to be ignored by teammates.)

    The entire team was below par. Tello shone because he was average. The timing of this match was perfect for Celta, just as the result was flattering to the way that we played.

    • selfie barça
      April 1, 2013

      “Song had a good match on the weekend, far, far better than Thiago and Fabregas, who don’t even earn the disdain that Song did, much less the outright scorn that you ladle onto Sanchez”

      I don’t think Song played badly and never said he did.

      I repeat (and elaborate), when playing a team as bad as Celta de Vigo on the day, it is very hard to shine as a holding midfielder. The (creative) attacking burden is on the more forward lying midfielders and defensively there is not all that much pressure to deal with either (although he could be accused of ballwatching, along with the rest of the defense, during the direct lead up to the first goal).

      As such, I don’t think Busquets would have done much (or any) better than Song during this game (and to answer your question, while watching I didn’t give Biscuits any thought because…he was not playing)

      “How can you be horrid when you don’t have the ball”

      Lexus had a terrible game. He did not make himself part of the attack or of the game as a whole. I doubt there exists a team-wide conspiracy of not getting Alexis the ball. If you are a right forward and you don’t get any touches, that’s horrid. Especially in a team that passes the ball around as much as Barça.

      “Tello shone because he was average”

      Notwithstanding some of the valid points you make about Tello’s game, he and Messi were pretty much the only players creating danger and scoring opportunities. And I would love for a goal and an assist to be an average performance, both of which were pretty skillful, by the way. Love it.

      “Again, I point out narratives and unfashionable players”

      I find this extremely unfair.

      From the first paragraph you are quoting:

      Song – not bad, but not particularly good
      Thiago – a bit of flash very little substance
      Cesc – nearly nothing of either

      Not only did I critize the latter two more harsly, I also singled them out at the end of the article for maybe not wanting it enough.

      Perhaps I should have written about Song that he “played well without being particularly good”, since “not bad” apparently passes as disdainful.

      As for Sanchez, of whom I am on record for wanting to keep, he had one of his worst performances in our colors. With the entire team below par, Alexis was the first to be substituted and deservedly so.

      Could this be more about the esteemed commenter’s narrative of defending Lexus and Song from criticism? Because the “attacking unfashionable players” narrative is certainly not mine and even less so in a review in which I pretty much critized all and any.

      • April 1, 2013

        Not at all. It is a simple notion that certain players are targets. Iniesta came on, and was terrible. Busquets came on, and was all but useless.

        It was funny to hear from Arsenal supporters on Twitterwho were loving Song’s game and wishing he had played like that for them. For us, he isn’t Busquets. The supporters of this club have a way of signing off on a player, and that’s that. Song is an 18m purchse that was made as a utility player. He has surpassed expectatation. But you get the feeling that he could have two goals and two assists and people would say “he’s out of position too much.”

        Your history in this space and The Offside means you don’t know this, bit I defend any and all players from unjust evaluations. My list of “favorites” or players that I “love” is long, for that very reason. It includes no Masia players, because there is never any need to defend them from unfair criticism. They are anointed, after all.

        Sanchez was ineffective. He also rarely got the ball. Is that the player’s fault, or the fault of a crap, rhythmless midfield that was being stunk up by not one, but TWO Masia products. Valid question.

        Were I doing match ratings, Song would have gotten the second or third-highest rating. And people would have screamed. Tello would not have. Sanchez would have gotten an incomplete, frankly.

        But as I said. Everyone was middling to bad with a few exceptions, including Messi, who was clearly resting for Tuesday.

        • ooga aga
          April 1, 2013

          having played soccer for many years, (sorry for playing that card…also happy to admit that others know more than I) i can say that if you are as invisible as sanchez was (i was at the game, and i was like, where is he?) it is nobody’s fault but your own. of course, it is a system issue as well, but you need to make yourself available, and be part of what is going on around you. he seems lost.

          that said, thiago was also poor. i have been more sober in my assessment of his play than many commenters here, for quite a while. but this showing makes the future seem…a bit dim. not saying sell him, but he has a ways to go.

          still, not to complain too much, i am blessed to be in spain watching this team. i sound like a schmuck bagging on these 2 players. alas. but i also want to challenge the narrative that we are all out to get the non-masia players.

          song did just fine, he did his job, i cant say he stood out though. the last goal was disappointing but it was great to see the ecstasy in the stadium. i clapped, what can i say.

          • selfie barça
            April 1, 2013

            “having played soccer for many years….. i can say that if you are as invisible as sanchez was it is nobody’s fault but your own. of course, it is a system issue as well, but you need to make yourself available, and be part of what is going on around you. he seems lost.”

            Exactly!

          • barca96
            April 1, 2013

            but you need to make yourself available

            I thought so too. I’ve been playing for a decade & half now so I know how it feels.

            All this talk that he is being ignored is rubbish. It only happens in school playground. It doesn’t happen in a proper football team at a club.

            ps Kxevin. Wasn’t Villa accused of the same thing (being invisible/anonymous) as Alexis last season or before but you looked at it differently? I can’t remember exactly when and on which post.

        • selfie barça
          April 1, 2013

          Right. That’s fine and all but you are defending Song from some imaginary “disdain” I treated him with and suggest I gave Thiago and Cesc a free ride. If anything it was the opposite.

          As for Sanchez, the fact that you would have given him an “incomplete” rating after 64 minutes of play is almost more damning than anything I wrote in the review.

          Our Masia midfield was crap and rhythmless, though. Fully agree with you there.

      • Did you notice that the same person, who will try to exaggerate any possible negatives on Messi, and criticise him anyhow possible, is now saying –How can you be horrid when you don’t have the ball,– which is true for Messi (and any of our forwards too in many of our games – when our midfield is poor) but this is not applicable for Messi, only for Alexis. funny.
        –It is a simple notion that certain players are targets. – very true with Kxevin with respect to Messi. the bias of Kxevin is sometimes very funny.I try to enjoy it mostly.

        For me we had a poor game, but at the same time it was after the i.break. If not for Messi, we might have lost this game.
        Tello scored and assisted but also wasted. Our midfield was poor. But Song was better than Thiago and Cesc. Pique was poor. Alves is a bit like Banega, with respect to his Crosses. Either he cross very well, or they are poor.

  5. Jim
    April 1, 2013

    For me, the major point from this match is that our fringe players just aren’t good enough, even to see off a pretty poor side. Not particularly worried about it in the context of this season but there is going to be a night of the long knives coming at Barca. Of that I’m pretty sure and there will be some big casualties. To succeed in the top team at Barca you need to do everything well and have at least one item in your skillset that is world class. Too many of the fringe players have the general ability but not the one killer skill. That was what saw off GDS, Bojan, Chiggy, Jeffren, etc. and as Kxevin says will likely mean no more Affellay, Cuenca and four or five of the current squad.

    Tello was good at the things we think he could be good at. He does need to work on defence but there is no denying he can finish chances regularly which is a rare commodity and comes from a confidence in his ability. A goal and an assist in that match was pretty important and shouldn’t imo be downplayed as average. For him, at his stage of development, we couldn’t ask for much more. I’d be more worried if I were Thiago and had failed again to shine against very average opponents who weren’t even pressing particularly well. It’s also a pretty weak defence of a player,imo, to say that he couldn’t have been horrid as he didnt touch the ball ! This match and these comments won’t be what sinks Sanchez, however. If he does go, and its looking more likely, it’ll be because all the comments in the world about running and pressing well in the end don’t hack it for a player for whom we paid that amount. There must in any neutral assessment of his play at Barca be a growing thought that for whatever reason he isn’t just going through a lean spell.

    However, KevinO17 made a decent point in Sanchez’ defence when he pointed out that while Messi is the only one playing the through balls they wil tend to be played inside the RB which suits the left winger and leaves Sanchez out on a limb but that only applies when the opponents leave that sort of gap by allowing their RB to play as wide as was the case in the last match. Most would pull him in narrower and those gaps wouldn’t be there.

  6. Jim
    April 1, 2013

    This made me smile.

    “@barcastuff: Alex (PSG): “Messi? I prefer to deal with a player of my stature. I’ll ask Thiago Silva to take care of him.” [canal+]” loote

  7. April 1, 2013

    The thought of Mascherano’s imminent aerial battles against Ibrahimovic gives me the jitters.
    Would still want Alexis to start though. Tello is a better super sub.

  8. barca96
    April 1, 2013

    An NCAA player (college basketball) snapped his shin, just like that. Graphic video warning.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Os7HP7F60vo

    Big ups to his team mate #11, Luke Hancock for sitting by him while the rest, understandably, were too distraught to even look.

    How did he snap it like that? Is it because he landed on one foot? With toes touching the ground first? But I reckon that it happens a lot in basketball.

    I play basketball too especially in high school while I was in Hong Kong. I was the center so obviously I jumped more than others so now that I look at it, I feel pretty lucky to never break my leg like that.

    • mom4
      April 1, 2013

      WHY did I click on that link????
      OMgosh that was awful. Nobody touched him it just snapped. I too played basketball in high school and was the center and thankfully never did more than roll my ankle. It’s easy to land wrong when jumping but he didn’t seem to be landing wrong. Good luck and God bless him with a speedy recovery.

  9. April 1, 2013

    “Song is an 18m purchse that was made as a utility player. He has surpassed expectatation.”

    Song was brought in to be both a backup CB and backup DM. He has succeeded in one of those roles and failed pretty spectacularly at the other. Considering that the team needed a CB about a billion times more than it needed a DM, as a transfer Song has been an abject failure; even if as a player he is shading towards success.

    The question I continually ask myself is: If we had played JDS instead of Song in all the games he has played DM, how different would our results look? Bit less of a lead in the Liga I imagine, but other than that no change. Might even have a better record if the 18 million had been more wisely invested.

    • barca96
      April 1, 2013

      I understand that we needed a CB more than a DM but we had absolutely no back-up DM! On the other hand we had back up CB’s.

      • mom4
        April 1, 2013

        We had Mascherano as a back up DM. He would have been stretched rather thinly since we needed to use him so much as a CB, though.

      • selfie barça
        April 1, 2013

        Although Song has generally performed well at that position, Masch is a good enough back-up DM.

        I have to agree with Calvin, here…

        • mom4
          April 1, 2013

          Masche was fantastic as a DM vs Venezuela. I’d love to see him do it for us occasionally to spell Busi. Hasn’t had much of a chance to because we’ve been needing him so often as a CB.

    • mom4
      April 1, 2013

      I like Song. I think he is very good. When we signed him I thought that signing another midfielder could only be justified if he could be turned into a CB. After all, we can’t just throw an ordinary defender into our back line. We have to choose those who can play the ball well and DMs just seem to be the best to convert.

      Since we haven’t seen him back in the CB roll in months I suppose that particular ship has sailed. We had Masche as a more than adequate sub for Busi so it’s easy to see this signing as a failure.

      Song is really good, though, so it would be great to find a roll for him. But what would that roll be?

      This may be the wrong place for this comment but I really, really, really miss Keita.

      • April 1, 2013

        Speaking of Keita, I wouldn’t mind seeing Song in the Keita role of yore.

        With Fabregas, Thiago, Iniesta, and Xavi all fighting for that place though, it doesn’t seem likely.

        And I just want to be clear, think Song is a good player, it was just a really poor transfer.

      • April 1, 2013

        Song isn’t speedy enough to play that role. (And that is an observation, not a criticism!) Cesc gets criticised all the time for being too slow in that position, Song would be the same.

        I’m sorry that Song didn’t (or hasn’t so far) adapt to playing CB, but I have no problem with keeping him as our alternate DM. Busquets didn’t work out so well at CB either, if you recall. Song is a good player who has adapted well to our style of play, and if he doesn’t offer the same kind of control at his position as Busi does (another observation), he certainly brings other things to the table.

        And yes, I miss Keita too. A Song-Thiago-Keita midfield in Saturday’s game would have been nice.

        • mom4
          April 1, 2013

          I think there may be times when a Song/Busi double pivot would be useful.

      • April 1, 2013

        Song is really good, though, so it would be great to find a roll for him. But what would that roll be?

        That role is precisely the one that he played yesterday, and one at which he did quite well. But people don’t want that role for him, for some reason.

        I wish there had been more time with him and Busquets, because the role that Song more fully assumed when Busquets came onto the pitch was interesting. I also wonder, if Song was supposed to be Busquets, why he wasn’t subbed in favor of Busquets, as someone pointed out in the Twitterverse.

        • Taps
          April 2, 2013

          Because it was a pragmatic move from Roura. As we were leading by 2-1, we strengthened our defense by bringing in Busquets for Cesc. However we know, it didn’t worked out as expected.

          PS: (As many people have mentioned this before me) – I’ve been reading this blog since some time, however this is first time I am commenting here. Just wanted to mention that quality of blogging here is very high and I really appreciate all the effort mods puts in. Thanks and Cheers!

  10. mom4
    April 1, 2013

    My wish list for tomorrow:

    (Note: I’m not a fan of starting half-healed players for all but the most important games…of which this is one)

    VV
    Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba
    Busi, Xaviniesta
    Tello, Messi, Villa

    Do it Barca v Milan style…everybody presses like it’s the knock out stages…because it is.

    If Cesc starts, seriously, I won’t be able to throw things at the TV as I will be at work, but I can only hope that my reaction doesn’t leave coworkers concerned for my sanity.

    Then over the weekend they can all rest and hopefully the fringe players kick it up a notch.

    • mom4
      April 1, 2013

      Oh, and if Tello doesn’t track back in this lineup, pull his butt and put in Sanchez.

  11. TITO
    April 1, 2013

    Was trying not to comment on this game anymore, but good that people stopped justifying the poor performance due to tiredness from the international break and rather spotted the weaknesses of this line-up, but mostly our midfield.
    I wouldn’t be so hard on Alexis, cause he didn’t had a poor game. There were several occasions when he made the run, but the pass never came, probably because either our pass players are scared of those passes or they think that he wont be able to get the ball and do something from the situation.
    Either way, i do think that he needs to be played more with some through balls like for example Tello was.
    About Tello, i dont know what else can you expect of him. What he did was a great forward play throughout the game. Did he matched our expectations about tracking back all the time? No. And he wont. And i like that way, cause he is more focused on scoring goals rather than tracking back.
    Starting without none of Iniesta, Xavi or Busi was a mistake from the beginning, missing all of them from your starting line-up is wrong. But even when they came in, they seemed disorientated, not interested and probably never wished to enter this game, having just returned from international duties and thinking about PSG.
    Tello was ok, Bartra was ok, Alves was so so, Messi did ok, Alexis was so so, while the others were either average or very poor.
    Anyway, let’s see if they want to play football tomorrow evening and get a good result.
    I’m really scared of any crosses, or corner kicks from PSG considering their height compared to ours.

    • mom4
      April 1, 2013

      “starting with none of Iniesta, Xavi or Busi was a mistake…”

      Don’t think it was a mistake. It was a calculated risk. The risk of dropping points(of which we had a few to maybe not squander, but certainly risk) was worth the reward of resting very key players for the more important CL game.

      I’m scared of corner kicks too. But I’m more scared of that cross from our left that has been finding players on our right behind our LB.

      • selfie barça
        April 1, 2013

        yeah, i agreed with the line-up as well… Song/Busquets – Thiago – Fabregas has the potential to be a very strong midfield.

        Actually it should be quite strong already which is why the crappy performances of the latter two are somewhat upsetting.

  12. April 1, 2013

    I’m calling bullshit on this whole idea that Masia players never get unfairly criticised. That may be true in the Barcelona papers, but around these parts even the “anointed” , as Kxevin puts it, take a beating. Currently the narrative is that Fabregas is a waste of space (even when he’s not). Pedro, Pique, Thiago Valdes and Tello have all been piled on on occasion. Messi has taken his share of criticism as well (or is criticism only unfair when it is someone else doing it?). If Masia products Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets tend to get a pass when they have a rare poor game, it’s probably because they are consistently brilliant the rest of the time.

    Players are going to get criticised—sometimes unfairly, sometimes deservedly—but I honestly don’t see anyone in this space being especially biased towards La Masia products.

    • April 1, 2013

      You could pile up all of the criticism that all of the Masia products have taken, and it wouldn’t even reach the ankles of the statue of criticism that could be built on the Sanchez disdain, to use just one example. Price related? Maybe. Henry had the same problem. Price vs production.

      Fabregas IS a waste of space when he’s bad. That’s fair. He’s slow, dithers on the ball and is always in the wrong spot. Yet I wouldn’t hesitate to start him against PSG, because that’s his kind of match for the same reasons the Milan match wasn’t. And yes, Masia products have been piled on “on occasion.” Non-Masia players, for the same level of play, would need a snorkel to even be able to think about breathing under the pile they’d be under.

      And it is precisely the getting a pass that I dislike. NOBODY should get a pass. Period. If you played great last week, so what? Good for you. How did you play today? So Messi plays crap for most of a match, scores two goals and people say what a wonderful match he had. And THAT, to me, is something that I call bullshit on.

      Non-Masia players get more stick from cules than Masia players, to my view. Fair or not, and “fairness” is subjective, this particular cule doesn’t dig it. I know that it ruffles feathers when I bring it up, but I am past the point of caring. For me, a player is a player is a player is a player. I shudder to think of the rail Song would have been run out of town on had he played the way that Iniesta played against Celta after he was subbed in.

      • April 1, 2013

        Have to agree with blitzen here, I don’t really see it this season. In the past it has been there no doubt, but I think this season we’ve seen a leveling of the playing field as fans come back down to reality and realize not every Masia player is a Pedro or a Busquets (and even Pedro has been getting a lot of criticism lately, which I really don’t understand).

        • mom4
          April 1, 2013

          Yep, I think that recently we’ve been fairly equal opportunity bashers. Heck, I’ve even criticized Xavi occasionally (and then felt like a turd shortly thereafter after finding out he had been playing hurt or with pain meds) and y’all know how perfect I think he is ;-D .

          As for the Messi thing, he’s saved our butts so many times that we maybe can be forgiven for cutting a little slack. On the other hand, we saw recently that when he gets his little butt in gear and presses and tracks back things are so much better. His problem is at a player management level. He holds back because he plays too many games. That’s for the “powers that be” to fix.

          • selfie barça
            April 1, 2013

            Equal opportunity bashers, lol. I like that…

            Fair or not, expensive transfers will always be judged against the price we paid for them. It’s the price that heightens our expectations, which for a non-Masia player can be high to live up to.

            I love that we have so many homegrown players and personally I feel that every club should have their fair share of ’em.

            However when it comes to judging how they played (or in Barça’s case, who to keep, since we have so many of ’em) I could give a rat’s hiney where they learned their trade.

            Case in point:

            Sanchez was horrible on Saturday. When I played soccer if one of us was not part of the game the coach takes that player off and brings on someone else. It’s as simple as.

            A larger cause of concern is that he was better last season than this one, which is a development contrary to our wishes and expectations.

            Yet I still think he has more potential than “our very own” Pedrito and would prefer to keep him and sell our academy player.

            Now if both had the same qualities and the same potential and everything else being even steven? I would most definitely keep Pedro, I’ll admit to that without batting an eye.

            Masia-bias? Yes… AND most definitely not.

          • April 1, 2013

            Fair or not, expensive transfers will always be judged against the price we paid for them. It’s the price that heightens our expectations, which for a non-Masia player can be high to live up to.

            This, for me, is an illustrative point, as it means that yes, non-Masia purchases do indeed have a higher bar to hurdle, because we paid for them. The height of the bar is defined by the price paid, as I read the comment.

            Neymar, if he comes, is screwed. He will NEVER be able to hurdle the bar set by his fee, and will be deemed yet another failed transfer when he doesn’t. Fair? I’ll let others judge that, but to me it will be absurd. Even now, you hear “He’d better be tracking back and defending.” Why? Messi doesn’t. Tello doesn’t. Neymar should be expected to because …. in his context, he’s already a superstar, and Tello isn’t. So why should he have to track back? That situation is going to be a mess, and he will be sold before his time, just as Sanchez will be. And another player will have failed at Barça, and cules will say that the club’s transfer policy is a failure.

            For me, players are players, and judged match by match. No slack, no love. It will almost certainly shock people to know just how little I care for any of our players. If they knew, it would make the accusations of loving X or Y player, or having some sort of secret bias in favor of X or Y player, one of those “D-oh!” head slapping moments.

            I have said it before, and will say it again: I don’t care a whit about them. They are chess pieces in the team’s attempts at achieving excellence. Yes, that is up to and including Messi. This means no slack. Has Messi saved our butts countless times? Sure. So have lots of players, such as Mascherano, Alba, Alves, etc. Goals NOT scored count as much as goals that were scored, right? So if Messi is divinity, why isn’t Mascherano. Or Valdes. Or Puyol.

            It’s why I don’t care about players. I can’t see the matches clearly, if I do. But everyone is different. And no, I am not claiming some sort of higher calling, based on not being a supporter of any player. I am saying that this influences (or more correctly, doesn’t influence) my judgement in a way that isn’t going to be to the liking of many. I’m okay with that, and have come to live with being the outlier.

          • selfie barça
            April 1, 2013

            “This, for me, is an illustrative point, as it means that yes, non-Masia purchases do indeed have a higher bar to hurdle, because we paid for them. The height of the bar is defined by the price paid, as I read the comment.”

            Well, I can only speak for myself but the price vs performance does not really count when I judge a player on a game to game basis.

            It does when deciding whether the transfer was a success or not.

            ” Has Messi saved our butts countless times? Sure. So have lots of players, such as Mascherano, Alba, Alves, etc. Goals NOT scored count as much as goals that were scored, right? So if Messi is divinity, why isn’t Mascherano. Or Valdes. Or Puyol.”

            Not right. If it were than soccer game scores would end in 17-12 instead of 2-1. It is incredibly harder to score a goal than to prevent one. Which, incidentally, is why the most talented players play up front. And win ballon d’ors.

      • Jim
        April 1, 2013

        Yeah, I think I would agree that Cesc could start this game. I’d like to see him paired with Busi at DM in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Villa up front and be more content to sit and hit them a bit quicker but, hey, we know it’s not gonna happen 🙂

      • Jim
        April 1, 2013

        I’m not sure about that, Kxevin. I still have the hard hat from defending Piqué last year and he wasn’t even playing badly. Folk just piled in !

        Don’t know if you’ll remember but I was also a staunch supporter of Henry and what he offered us. My recollection is that he was pretty well regarded until the second half of his last season. However, by the end even I had to admit that his heart wasnt in it.

        As far as Messi is concerned it just seems that we have different criteria for what makes a great match. If Messi scores two and we win 2-1 then for me he’s probably had a great match because of the impact he has had on the result. If he scores 19 league matches in a row then fails to score in the 20th, will I be on his case? No, because he has earned the right to be cut some slack. Just different ways of judging I suppose.

        • selfie barça
          April 1, 2013

          I agree completely, Jim [edit for clarification: about the impact of two goals when judging a player’s performance]

          Does anyone here remember Romario? Imagine how he would be judged as a player if we take into account things like tracking back… and being part of the game… and running and stuff like that.

          • April 1, 2013

            I don’t agree. Because maybe if the player in question stepped up and played a complete match, we wouldn’t need to BE bailed out. Goals aren’t everything, not on a team where everyone attacks and defends (or everyone used to).

            For me, a player can’t stand around, not being part of the match, come to life and score a goal or two, and expect praise. Because before the goals, when the player is standing around not being involved, that just makes him Sanchez and “horrid” in the context of the above review, which means that a coach should pull him, right?

          • selfie barça
            April 1, 2013

            Ok, and I am saying this as somebody who has seen him play live in competitive matches in which he did not score and was indeed horrid (lol), do you remember Romario?

            Your key words are “before the goals”. This is not basketball, football, or hocky even.

            In a low-scoring sport that are decided by very few scores, goals are crucial. Which is why a horrid Romario was rarely substituted – more often than not he would end up winning the game for you (unless he asked for it himself because he was cold, lol!)

  13. nia
    April 1, 2013

    Is there something special going on at Barca or is it just the norm that family members travel with the team? Just saw some pics of Xavi’s, Abi’s, Thiago’s and several other family members. I just found it odd that so many went this time considering it’s not a final. Abi’s family I understand.

  14. selfie barça
    April 1, 2013

    @dean

    lost your comment in the shuffle:

    “Marca, Canal and now Barcastuff all confirming our new home jersey for the 2013-2014 season, pic. The white apparently is to commemorate our 100th anniversary.

    http://tinyurl.com/crnfq79

    So much white on a Barça shirt, and certainly unimaginable as our home kit.

    Then again, I have seen this jersey in the street since two years ago (very sporadically thank God) so I doubt we have much to worry about. Knocking on wood as I write this, though.

  15. April 1, 2013

    Got it. I give. I have been found out in the above comment:

    Did you notice that the same person, who will try to exaggerate any possible negatives on Messi, and criticise him anyhow possible, is now saying –How can you be horrid when you don’t have the ball,– which is true for Messi (and any of our forwards too in many of our games – when our midfield is poor) but this is not applicable for Messi, only for Alexis. funny.
    –It is a simple notion that certain players are targets. – very true with Kxevin with respect to Messi. the bias of Kxevin is sometimes very funny.I try to enjoy it mostly.

    I hate Messi. Lord, how I hate him so. I cringe every time he scores a goal. Simply put, it disgusts me, and I can’t wait until he loses a step, so that I can fully unleash my hate.

    Does that make folks feel better? Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time for a wee bit of respect for the fact that I don’t see things in the same as so many others. Once, just once, I would kill to have a divergent opinion, without being accused of bias. It is as wrong as it is divisive, and it makes my bothering to offer any opinion, comments or posts whatsoever pointless, as they are seen through the prism of that alleged bias.

    If that’s the case, what the heck am I doing here?

    • ooga aga
      April 2, 2013

      it goes both ways. in more than one way. you see:

      1. your opinions might be divergent from one of ours, but our opinions are divergent to you. and you comment on it, and we comment on it. goes both ways. e.g. we feel it is ok to criticize alexis, and we give non-arbitrary reasons.

      2. you are possibly the single most important reason that this blog is what it is. and people have told you this, they (and I) have heaped praise. but as one of the most visible commenters, and as one of the commenters (content aside) with often the strongest opinions and loudest voice (my opinion based on being here for umpteen years), you (or rather, your opinions) are also going to be a target when people disagree. it goes both ways.

      but it’s nothing personal.

      and also, if everyone loved you all the time, it would be boring. sometimes people agree, sometimes they dont, seems a fact of life of being the most prominent voice on a prominent blog.

      go over and look at the comments on francesc tomas’ blog. we should feel very lucky.

    • April 2, 2013

      Of course we respect your opinions, Kxevin, but that goes both ways, as ooga aga points out. You cannot complain about being accused of bias (against Messi, or whoever) and then accuse others of the same thing (against non-Masia players, or whoever). It’s dismissive and belittling…at least you seem to feel it is when it happens to you, right?

      For the record I do think the comment you refer to above went a bit too far and made it personal. Let’s just all agree to respect each others’ opinions.

      • ooga aga
        April 2, 2013

        “For the record I do think the comment you refer to above went a bit too far and made it personal. Let’s just all agree to respect each others’ opinions.”

        a good point too made by blitzen.

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