The Match of a Thousand Questions: Barça – PSG

The battle we’d all be happy to see.

Champions League Quarterfinal, Leg 2: Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain (2-2 aggregate)

If the preceding matches are anything to go by, tomorrow’s encounter with PSG will be anything but a sure thing. Dortmund left it late and offside (but then again so too Eliseu), but were able to pull one out in dramatic fashion. Galatasaray were unfortunate enough to go into this match without away goals and led 3-1 into the dying embers when another Madrid goal sealed what was probably already sealed. That Drogba goal was ridiculous, the reffing was absurd in the Dortmund match, and Barcelona enter without a true lead in the contest. Losing with any score means adios; 3-3 and higher is goodbye; 2-2 is extra time.

This is what we expect out of a quarterfinal, of course and while Barcelona are in a good spot (don’t concede 2! don’t lose!), it’s far from an easy task. Thiago Silva’s return from injury, Zlatan’s continued existence…these things make it difficult. Beckham will start, Ancelotti says and that may be the key, if indeed the crowd can convince the team to play anything like it did against Milan. Ancelotti will have to be further complicit, though, and sit back in a situation where he can’t really afford to do so. He’ll need to take the game to Barcelona at some point, but perhaps pushing his line up high is the way to do that. Suffocate the tiki and the taka will collapse with it.

But no one really cares about what PSG will do. No one really cares about who they’ll play, how they’ll line up, or whether they’ll wear white, though that last bit might just be suicide. Everyone just wants to know one thing: Messi, sí o no? Given that Mallorca was badly whipped by a side not involving Messi, there will be those who wish to rest Messi, or at least keep him on the bench. Others will rightly point out that PSG is hardly Mallorca and we should act as if Cesc and Alexis will simply waltz through them, scoring manitas left and right. So what should it be?

Now that Messi has suggested he wants to play, feels good, and is fully capable of playing, it’s up to the doctors. We, as fans, must trust that there are those who understand Messi’s body and the hamstring muscle in general better than we do. And if you happen to be the type of person who understands hamstrings better than most or all top level trainers, then you’ll know to look for their okay anyway. So if Messi receives medical clearance to start, start he may, with few grumbles from this opinionated armchair analyst. I’d rather see him kept on the bench in case of emergency–break glass in case a goal is required, but try to avoid hurting Adriano in the process!–but again, if he’s cleared and 90 minutes isn’t a problem, okay.

Another thing: Wolfgang Stark, notorious Barcelona fan responsible for one of Mourinho’s por ques, has been suspended by UEFA for the rest of the Champions League because, frankly, he and his crew blew a bunch of calls in the first leg. Yet it would be absurd to think that anything other than simple errors were involved. And it would be absurd to blame Stark if Barcelona is eliminated tomorrow. Galatasaray has more to complain about, really, and no doubt they’re doing so (and I’m sure Mourinho is riddled with guilt about el escándalo del Bernabeu, part deux), but it all smacks of conspiracy that doesn’t become an institution as privileged as Barcelona. Official complaints to UEFA are fine, they’re a matter of course (grandstanding press conferences are not a matter of course, however), but moaning about reffing before a second leg is boring. I’ve heard enough out of you, Twittersphere!

The teams line up last week in Paris. Far left stands Xavi. Zlatan on the far right in the pants.

Further questions: Cesc, Pedro, Villa, Alexis? If Alexis has the green light, I say play him. He’s been rather good recently–not just against Mallorca but throughout the last few weeks. Cesc certainly earned himself a starting spot with his absurdly good display on Saturday, but only if Messi doesn’t start. I simply don’t see there being enough space on the field for both to fully play their roles. The other player I’d start is Pedro, for his whirling dervish defensive abilities as well as for Villa’s super sub capacity. Tello is also a substitute if needed, but his skill set is more out-and-out attacking, something suited for something needs scorched rather than the slow cooking portion of match. The human equivalent of afterburners, if you will, rather than Xavi’s metronomic cruise control.

If you’re troubled by the team’s reliance on Messi, look no further than Michael Cox’s excellent statement over at ESPNFC:

The secondary issue with “Messi-dependencia” is that he dominates Barcelona too much and to the detriment of their other attacking talents. Of course as problems go, this isn’t particularly troublesome — every other club in world football would thoroughly enjoy having “the world’s best player being a little too dominant” as a major discussion point. It’s the equivalent of having so many $100 bills that you’re forced to leave some $20 bills at home, simply to make space in your wallet — you wouldn’t exactly complain to your friends.

Not too shabby.

Before we go further, the squad: Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Piqué, Fàbregas, Xavi, Villa, Iniesta, Alexis, Messi, Thiago, Bartra, Busquets, Pedro, Jordi Alba, Montoya, Adriano, Abidal, Song, Tello.

The problem here is that we’ve got another question to deal with now: who to play in defense? With Puyol and Mascherano both injured, do we start Bartra, Busquets, Song, Adriano, Abidal? The last name on that list is probably out. It seems too soon to expect 90 minutes of him and we can’t afford to have an automatic sub in defense. So he’s out. The first name seems too inexperienced against players like Pocho Lavezzi, but the second and third seem to slow. Not that Song is truly slow, but Busi is, and anyway Lavezzi is capable of turning quicker players like Mascherano. So Adriano seems the best choice…except he’s injured. Yes, he’s in the squad, but he’s hasn’t received medical clearance and unless there’s some serious gamesmanship by Tito, he might not be able to play. The same is true of Alba, so if the choice is between Song and Busquets, the question may very well hinge on comfort: Busquets should start at CB and Song at DM. And yes, I shuddered just a tiny bit there while typing that.

So, what shall we see? I think PSG will come out of the gate as hard as possible and it will be up to Barcelona to control the tempo early. If they let PSG into the game with an early goal, that could really spell trouble as PSG sit back and spring counterattacks, so control is paramount. Will we do it? I see no reason why we shouldn’t.

Official Prediction: 2-1, goals by Iniesta and Xavi to feel like things are wrapped up before a late goal by PSG unnerves a few people.

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Written by:

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


  1. nia
    April 10, 2013

    I think we have problems both in defence and attack. David Villa has discomfort and is doubtful for the Champions League game against PSG on Wednesday #fcblive, and with Messi being told to at least start on the bench. I think we are more likely to see a front line of Pedro, Cesc, Alexis atm.
    As for the back, Maybe Adriano to partner Pique. Should be a fascinating game and I hope we win of course.

  2. Jim
    April 10, 2013

    If we start without Villa and with Messi on the bench it’ll be an interesting night which should answer a few questions about some of the forwards against reasonable quality opposition.

    As long as we keep a hold of the ball we should be okay but I can see it taking us long enough to get that superiority.

  3. KEVINO17
    April 10, 2013

    It’s been commented that if Messi does play, we lose something defensively (particularly if he is trying to preserve himself).

  4. April 10, 2013

    I wish there was more written about our defensive worries, than about Messi. Fact being that we could advance with a 0-0, it is our defence which is more of a worry than our attack.
    I hope Messi is in the bench and we wont have to use him for this match.

    • Jim
      April 10, 2013

      Defence isn’t a worry for me if they show some common sense. Just don’t want to see a three man defence attacked by three attackers on a breakaway. I also don’t want to see a long ball to Ibra at our back post.

  5. Reto
    April 10, 2013

    Really hope Adriano will make it to the starting line-up alongside Pique.
    Think he could be especially useful against the likes of Lavezzi, Moura or Menez.

  6. April 10, 2013

    The defense worries me, too. A lot more than whether or not Messi plays.

  7. April 10, 2013

    Everyone seems so obsessed with Messi’s availability for the game while his compatriot’s injury will potentially have a far larger impact on the team’s chances this CL.

  8. April 10, 2013

    It’s interesting to me that people are so worried about our defense and seem to confuse “talking about Messi” with “ignoring the defense.” One of the things about Messi’s inclusion is how much pressure he takes off of others by being the best player in the universe (take that, Space Jam guys).

    Think of it this way: if you’re in a pickup game and you’re picking sides, who is the first person you pick? If the answer is Messi, then that is why talking about his inclusion more than whether one of 5 potential replacements in defense makes sense. If the answer is not Messi, then I belly laugh at you. Then I smoke a cigar and watch my team annihilate yours (and yes, I’m envisioning me very much as Hung from Team Evil in Shaolin Soccer). Mwahaha.

    But seriously, Messi is important not only because he does things on offense, but because he allows others to do things around the pitch through occupying opponents, creating space, and doing the occasional defensive work.

    • April 10, 2013

      The other thing is despite the statistics to support that the defense doesn’t have problems, it’s “Lawd, lawd the defense has problems! It will be a wonder we don’t give up eleventyteen goals!”

      This is a lovely, thorough preview that sets up the match very well and offers many discussion points, from the final score prediction to hamstrings, their evolution and the risks of playing Messi. But the straw man, defensive “problems,” is the missing ekement.

      As starters we have Brazil’s starting RB, Spain’s starting CB, a probable CB who often starts for Brazil, and Spain’s starting LB. Most teams in the world would KILL to have our defensive “problems.”


      For me, it will be 1-1 at the half, until a second half goal from us wins it. Villa was feeling “discomfort”yesterday,which makes the attackers decision easy, assuming Messi doesn’t start, as I don’t believe he should, though PSG would certainly like him to start, for all the obvious reasons: injured, tracking back, saving energy benefitting their counter, doesn’t mess up defensive plan.

      So we will see. I’m confident, even more so than vs Milan, who matched up a lot less favorably against our vulnerabilities than PSG does.

      • Archie
        April 10, 2013

        The defensive concerns are not limited to the quality of individuals who line up at the beginning of the game as defensive players. The CBs are a concern, whatever their pedigree, as they are vulnerable against counter attacks when the midfielders don’t cover. I suppose you could say this about any CBs, but the tactic has become standard for most/all opponents of Barca, so Barca has to adjust. I think that many football thinkers on this blog would not mind some strong fast CBs with fewer national caps (I’m thinking of the Varane lust of late.) A return leg of a two way quarter final with the score 2-2 means that Barca has already won if they play good Barca-style defense. Barca must minimize the speed of LucasM, the opportunism of Levezzi, and the hold-up play of Ibra. How will they do it? I agree that having Messi on the field creates a whole other kind of imbalance, but how can it be as effective without him, given that a strong Barca-style defensive game is called for today?

    • April 10, 2013

      Good points!

      Mind you I never thought you ignored the defense and of all previews I read, yours was by far my favorite.

      I was surprised that some of the other articles I read by known and respected football writers were entirely about Messi.

  9. dl
    April 10, 2013

    We’ve got a boatload of magnificent players, messi of course leads the way. To me they resemble a jazz ensemble, with a star trumpet player who right now may not be able to play. But it also has a brilliant rhythm section, sax, ‘bone, whatever. There is no way we can’t still make great music, though it will be a different sound. They all tend to make space for the trumpet solos, but now there’s room for others to shine. No reason at all why we can’t have a great show.

  10. Blau-Grenade
    April 10, 2013

    Alves Pique Adriano Alba
    —Xavi Busi Ini———-
    —Pedro Cesc Villa——–

    I am not sure I like Xavi and Cesc in the same lineup. Tello would probably have been better than Villa to give width and allow Cesc to score. Now we have everybody bunching up in the middle.

  11. Clouseau
    April 10, 2013


    official lineup tonight like that PCV forward lineup.

  12. April 10, 2013

    Adriano as a CB. Funny how he only plays there for the BIG games.

    I would have started Lexus instead of Villa, but oh well.

    Visca Barça!

  13. mom4
    April 10, 2013

    Road shotgun today while kid #3 (with learner’s permit) drove.

    NOTHING scares me anymore.

    Bring it, PSG!


  14. replayed
    April 10, 2013

    So Barca is essentially starting the Spanish National Team plus Alves and Adriano.

    I’m okay with that.

  15. Clouseau
    April 10, 2013

    So Piqué,Alba,Adriano and Song might miss the next leg if they get booked.

    Hope they get the job done. Visca Barça!

  16. replayed
    April 10, 2013

    So many loose passes. It’s like the team has come down with a bad case of Thiagoitis..

    Barca’s best spell was when the team was playing keep-ball, while waiting for Alves to be waved back onto the pitch. PSG have to chase the game. Why not use that?

    Mallorca seems so far away. Amazing what a difference the opposing team’s willingness to work makes.

    The sitting/standing on the bench can’t be doing much good to Messi’s hammy.

    • Lavezzi and Ibra dropping into midfield is creating a one man advantage for their midfield and that is resulting in Busquets especially being put under pressure. Vilanova has to push Alves firmly into midfield to correct that.

      • Blau-Grenade
        April 10, 2013

        The one man advantage is because nobody is playing in the right forward position for Barca. Maxwell is free to roam around and go forward. And that is giving PSG a one man advantage as they are able to push an extra player in the middle.

    • georgjorge
      April 10, 2013

      I thought they were playing rather good (Iniesta, Busquets, Alba stood out for me), but the opposition is rather good as well, especially with regard to pressing and counterattacking. Very good match, eager for the second half.

  17. Blau-Grenade
    April 10, 2013

    Villa and Cesc are playing in the same position when Cesc is playing up front. They are in each others way. When Cesc drops back, Xavi and Cesc are playing in the same position. One of the three needs to leave the pitch. Xavi has been great for Barca, but he is not Cesc in the way he can open the pitch up. I prefer Cesc in the Xavi role.

    Villa is not involved in the game.

    Pedro has made a little positive impact in the forward lying areas. Glad he can defend, but that is like playing Pepe in the midfield.

    Rest of the players are playing well.

    • May not be necessary just push Alves into midfield, he can take the pressure off Xavi and create a bit of space for him to operate. Right now Xavi is pressed out of the game and Busquets is also suffering.

      • barca96
        April 10, 2013

        Pedro out for Tello. And Villa for Alexis.

    • Jim
      April 10, 2013

      But they shouldn’t be. Cesc should be dropping off, like Messi, and taking the ball onwards Villa, and getting the return or else slipping him through. That’s not happening.

  18. Jim
    April 10, 2013

    They still look pretty quick and could hurt us. Thankfully Alba seems to have decent pace but he can’t afford to be caught too far away from Adriano. Busi is having a bit of a mare so far for me. His lack of pace just in front of the defence is being exposed.

    In attack we’re not using Xavi or Iniesta to go towards Villa with the ball. They have tried the occasional through ball to him but they’ll have to try it longer second half if we dont get anywhere with the current possession. Cesc is lost again for me. He’s not playing the Messi role at all. Still, they have to score or they’re out.

    • replayed
      April 10, 2013

      Yeah, Villa is more or less MIA. He’s not getting service, but he’s not helping himself being static in the middle while PSG aren’t busy worrying about Messi. PSG are perfectly willing to let Cesc run around, confident that they can pick him up.

      Meanwhile, the midfield is suffering. Xavi hasn’t lost a ball yet, but he’s too busy trying to help Busquets out to have time to look for Villa.

  19. barca96
    April 10, 2013

    PSG has to attack as they will be desperate to score so that will give us space. Therefore I would put Tello in.

  20. ElShowDeJason
    April 10, 2013

    I would’ve liked Alexis to start…
    With Villa and Cesc occupying the same space it shows why.
    I think I’d switch Alexis for Villa to start the half.

  21. Jim
    April 10, 2013

    Why do we always try to put our foot through the ball when shooting?

  22. mom4
    April 10, 2013

    Well, if we were playing American football, we would be leading by a huge margin. Field goals are worth 3 points!

    Here comes Messi.

    • barca96
      April 10, 2013

      Haha. Your comments always ease my tension. Thank you!

  23. Jim
    April 10, 2013

    We can’t keep giving the ball to Alves. He’s carried absolutely no threat so far.

  24. nia
    April 10, 2013

    As much as I believe in my beloved Barca, I think our CL for this season ends today. I hope they prove me wrong.

  25. Jim
    April 10, 2013

    Messi / Villa combo. That’s what we’ve been waiting for.

  26. replayed
    April 10, 2013

    System or Messi?

    You tell me.

    Here’s hoping he can recover in time for the semis.

  27. barca96
    April 10, 2013

    Bitter taste in my mouth.

    And Alves was utter shit!!

    • Jim
      April 10, 2013

      Where both attacks and possession went to die I’m afraid. However, just can’t fault his effort and he was an out ball.

    • Blau-Grenade
      April 10, 2013

      Alves was isolated the whole match. Inieista was playing to the left and Xavi was supporting him. There was no right forward. Alves was covering the entire right flank by himself.
      In the second half Cesc moved a little bit to the right and supported Alves. But, given the responsibility, Alves had an absolutely outstanding game.

      • Jim
        April 10, 2013

        Can’t agree. He couldn’t even get past Maxwell who i was told for years has absolutely no pace one on one for goodness’ sake. He had more time to control and move the ball than anyone. Yet continually put in poor crosses where he lost it. Anyway, we’re through.

        • Blau-Grenade
          April 10, 2013

          You dont have to agree with me Jim. You see what you see.

    • mom4
      April 10, 2013

      um…we went through. Why the bitter taste?

      • barca96
        April 10, 2013

        I do notice that Alves had little support but he kept making the wrong decisions like dribbling when there were 2-3 defenders waiting for him, passing the ball straight to PSG, the poor crosses are back and of course the unbelievably poor shot.
        Bitter taste because we had to play an injured player. We had to rely on him yet again.

        And for winning the tie on away goals against the 2nd weakest team in CL.

        • TITO
          April 10, 2013

          How is that a 2nd weakest team in the CL? You mean in the quarters?
          Even then, Juve was shit, Malaga was so so, and PSG was by no means weaker than them.

        • Messiah10
          April 10, 2013

          Have to agree with TITO. PSG are a damn good team. Moura is a fantastic player and so is that bald frenchie. If we are talking about the quarters then Malaga and Juve were behind PSG IMHO

  28. nia
    April 10, 2013

    That was a horrid match. A better team would have ripped us to shreds. Well, a win is a win and Barca set yet another record by being the first team to reach the semi’s in six consecutive seasons. We are running out of personnel though. VISCA BARCA!!! OH, and a shout out to Bartra, he did good in his little cameo and VV save our petudies today(and still he gets no love from some so called supporters).

    • mom4
      April 10, 2013

      That was a “better” team. Didn’t you see the names on the back of their shirts? Makeshift defense, Messi/ Pedro/, Adriano playing so soon after injury. This was not a Mallorca that a less illustrious front line was destined to run rampant over.

    • TITO
      April 10, 2013

      Yeah, Bartra filled me with more confidence in 20 minutes than Pique for the entire match.
      This was not us, far away from or most average display, but we are through to the semis. That’s all that matters. Now rest half of the team the remaining weeks until the semis.
      And bthw, i want Borussia.

  29. barca96
    April 10, 2013

    And what was up with the players? A lot of poor passes, poor dribbles, bad first touches, slow and poor shielding of the ball. So unlike them.

  30. TITO
    April 10, 2013

    We went through. All that matters for the moment.

  31. replayed
    April 10, 2013

    This was Dani Alves’s 12th (that’s twelfth) consecutive full* match for Barca starting with the match against Granada on February 16.

    I think he’s allowed to show some signs of weariness.

    *He was supposed to get a day off against Rayo, but the Man of Glass had to come off after 22 minutes, and Alves played the rest of the match.

    • barca96
      April 10, 2013

      Yeah true. I was calling for Alves to be rested for weeks now for La Liga games. Such a wrong timing for Puyol and sMasch and Alba to get injured.

    • Jim
      April 10, 2013

      That’s a fair point. The same goes for Pique.

      • Messiah10
        April 10, 2013

        Absolutely. Montoya, Bartra, etc. can play a couple of games. I could care less about beating EE’s total Liga points haul or breaking our goals in a season record. I DO care about giving our 1st team players proper rest and the CL. Maybe if Messi was given rest he wouldn’t have a muscle tear. Huh

    • Jafri
      April 10, 2013

      If we sell Adriano this summer we’ll be putting ten or twelve medical staff members out of a job.

      • Messiah10
        April 10, 2013

        Honestly, that’s the truth. When he went down in the 2nd half I had the thought, “Seriously? Just sell him, because even though he’s a phenomenal player and super sub, he can’t play a full match without getting injured.” It’s past the point of stupid.

  32. dl
    April 10, 2013

    Whew. But we really stunk the place up tonight. No fizz, no creative movement, and a ‘lot’ of bad passing. Enough time to sort it out for the semi’s though. I’d like to see a game against bayern (assuming we are more or less mended by then…)

  33. mom4
    April 10, 2013

    Can we be happy just a little bit? Dang, dudes!

  34. barca96
    April 10, 2013

    Or this could be due to complacency because they suddenly had the urgency only after PSG had scored.

    Tito should give them a good pep talk before these kinds of matches to wake them up because they thought that the tie was won.

    I hate it when they pass the ball around without any penetration. It’s like they think too much strategy when it’s best to go all out in every match.

    What I mean by strategy is like in this match, they knew that PSG had to attack and they don’t as the result of the first leg is enough to secure a SF. So they play without any intensity.

    Same goes to the 1st Milan match. Instead of trying to get an away goal, they adopted a cautious approach. It can backfire.

    • georgjorge
      April 10, 2013

      I don’t know, I saw a lot of urgency right from the starting minutes. Putting the ball into the attacking third and their penalty box, pressing to get it back when lost…can’t keep it up over 90 minutes of course, and they kinda lost track at the beginning of the second half and after the goal, but I sure didn’t see them NOT trying to get a goal at any point up to the last ten minutes of the game.

      • Messiah10
        April 10, 2013

        I agree. I saw a lot of penetrative play in the 1st half. We lost some of that in the 2nd half until Messi came on, but I thought we had a decent game. We played with a make shift defense and the best player on the planet missing. We had plenty of opportunities on goal that should have hit the TARGET. I’m not displeased with anyone’s game throughout the entire 90 min. There were occasions when I was upset with particular players for isolated plays, but that’s it. I think everyone’s being a little harsh.

  35. Jim
    April 10, 2013

    How long till Puyol comes back? And yes, Mom, we are happy. Look. 🙂

  36. georgjorge
    April 10, 2013

    As expected by many, our attack was a big problem this game. Cesc and Villa didn’t get along at all, missed the goal a number of times from good positions, and it didn’t help that Alves was putting cross after cross in the wrong place. Glad that Pedro is back to scoring for Barca (not only Spain) though, if Sanchez did overcome his drought with the Mallorca game as well we might still get to see a very dangerous Barca in the remaining Champions League games.

    Outstanding for me today: Iniesta and Alba. Xavi and Busquets were working very hard to keep them from taking over the midfield, and Adriano was pretty good for playing out of position before predictably going off.

    Overall, can’t really fault the team much for having problems in what was always going to be a tough match. In the 75th minute or so the statistics showed them having run 93 kilometers to PSG’s 86, and with Messi doing almost no running at all you can see that they really gave everything.

  37. Jafri
    April 10, 2013

    We’re through! Hurray!

    Not to be ungrateful after we made it, but that was a low quality game, from both sides. PSG had a good first half but as soon as we equalized, they panicked and started resorting to punting the ball upfield to hope and get a goal. As for us, we were so slow and mostly ineffective in possession. Like a team version of Cesc? :p

    But yeah you could really see the belief after Messi came on. And the way PSG’s confidence dropped when he did. Like the commentator said; ‘get him on in a wheelchair if you have to, just get him on!’

    Also, around the 75 minute mark we’d run about 93 km to their 85 km… I thought having 66% possession was supposed to tire them out, not us?

  38. BA
    April 10, 2013

    our defense still looked terrible, but what a difference a Messi makes. he really is our savior.

    sharp finish from Pedro, despite him doing nothing else the rest of the game, so props there. Iniesta was peerless and Xavi really steps it up when the game is on the line, some great tackles in his old legs. nobody else really performed. Dani Alves was appalling.

  39. It shows what happens to our game when we have unoccupied zones. The moment Messi came in the change we could see. He went and straight away occupy the zone behind Villa, that brought Villa and Pedro back to game. We could see suddenly they were pressing. People say Villa does not put pressure on defenses. I tend to disagree. villa presses really when within his zone. he does not do a Alexis, who will be running all over the place trying to close down opponents.

    The biggest mistake for me was to have Cesc and Villa playing together. They have no understanding at all. When Messi and Villa play together, they always switch their place and will not occupy the same position at the same time. Here Cesc was sometimes occupying the same position as Villa at other times he was standing along with Xavi, for what I don’t know. Sanchez should have been a better starter with Cesc than Villa because he has a habit of covering the positions vacated by Cesc.

    I thought Batra did really well after coming on. We have to keep giving him more playing time. For me the Man of the Match for us was Jordi Alba. he was brilliant in the match.

    • BA
      April 10, 2013

      you’re right. Pedro-Villa-Tello or Pedro-Cesc-Alexis. what i really don’t get is after the Cesc + Alexis combo did so well at the weekend, they break it up to the detriment of both players AND our game.

      why do i feel like it’s all just more attempts to shoehorn Cesc into the side when he doesn’t belong?

  40. Barcastuff: Messi felt pain in a thigh muscle after an effort tonight. No official report yet. #fcblive #ucl [rac1]

    Hope he didn’t aggravate the injury. Also could we give an extended rest for Adriano.

  41. April 10, 2013

    Happy with the result and the progression but quite disappointed with the team’s performance in a CL QF AT HOME.
    Relatively poor display of inspiration, tempo, passing accuracy and pressing but Valdes and Iniesta, the two captains really stepped up.
    A bit pissed that the team couldn’t get it done without Leo. Also Bartra should have started for me instead of rushing a just recovered Adriano who inevitably broke.

    • April 10, 2013

      That’s what i’ve been saying all along.

      It’s very sad, yet it’s the ugly truth! Even with the brilliance of Iniesta & Valdes we couldn’t capabilities with such defensive quality we have now ..

  42. Xavi6
    April 10, 2013

    Winning is always a good thing .

    I have to say that am convinced we have the best RB , the best midfield and the best attacker on the planet but all of this is hampered by our horrible defense and GK .

    Our midfield and attack play it safe coz they are afraid to lose the ball causing pressure on our defense , this led us to be predictable and to depend too much on Messi.

    Not buying a CB was a horrendous mistake from Rosell and the board ,We really need a CB and a GK . and need to have another source of scoring goals other than Messi .

    Am not happy with today’s match , can’t count the number of matches we had a clean sheet in this season , this is a shame

  43. April 10, 2013


    Was always like this, specially last season!

    It was very much the other team who has score 1st to trigger That ” urgency ” … It changed slightly better this season, but our defense sabotages our lead all the time, so it always seems that we’re not sharp enough unless we go down by a goal or so.

  44. April 10, 2013

    1st preference for the SF draw : Barca vs Dortmund
    2nd preference : Barca vs Madrid

  45. April 10, 2013

    CL semi-final draw is goon be on Friday!

    am hoping we get Bayren & BVB vs. EE (BVB knows how to play Madrid), but if we get clasicos in both games (German& Spanish) i’d say Madrid almost would get a free ride to the finale, it’s not good news at all for us.

    • rg23
      April 10, 2013

      A free ride in a clasico? That ain’t happening.
      Yes, we might lose. Madrid will go in as favorites… But this is a clasico at the end of the day.
      And our boys will be playing with a massive chip in their shoulders after the recent clasicos this season.
      I have a feeling that if we get Madrid, we might get another performance for the ages, similar to the Milan second leg.


  46. April 10, 2013

    ” No one’s as good @ anything as Messi is at soccer. Messi is so good at soccer that Messi’s not even as good at soccer as Messi is at soccer. ” YUB!

  47. KEVINO17
    April 10, 2013

    I think people have under-estimated PSG a bit. They are a top class outfit with some very technical players. Indeed, technically better than RM.
    I thought that, if there is a problem with our approach it was with the high pressing. Against a side that good, the high pressing has to be relentless – but we gave them too much time to start threading balls through the midfield.
    Still, I thought the backline was magnificent today. No free headers. Only one goal conceded against a very good side that often over-ran our midfield.
    My MOM was iniesta. For long periods of the game he was our only creative spark.

    • nzm
      April 10, 2013

      My MotM was Victor Valdes.

      Without his saves, we would have been out.

      • KEVINO17
        April 10, 2013

        True, true. Maybe the decision to leave has taken a burden off his shoulders.

      • mom4
        April 10, 2013

        Strangely, the idiots at Fox Soccer Chanel were calling him our weak link after the game.

        • Eric THE EYE Wynalda
          April 10, 2013

          this is a cut and dry issue: Valdes is not a good enough keeper for a squad of Barcelona’s pedigree. Everyone knows it. The English know it. The Germans know it. The Italians definitely know it. How long before it clicks in the Barcelona superstructure that they NEED a world class keeper like Buffon or Casillas?
          For me, Barcelona – the team, not the city – is dynamite. It’ll blow you out of the water, unless you cut its fuse before it counts down to zero. And that fuse is Victor Valdes. He’s gotta be cut.

          • ooga aga
            April 11, 2013

            wynalda (funny you choose the name of a football analyst i cant stand), do you realize how many times he has saved our bacon? valdes IS world class. it is cut and dry for me that he IS good enough. tell me how many times he has failed us this season, or how many points we have lost because of him. i need some evidence. i cant disagree with you more strongly.

            for one, name a keeper out there taht is as good with his feet as valdes. do you realize how important his ability with his feet are?

    • rg23
      April 10, 2013

      I think people(fans only, not the players) were underestimating PSG.
      It was always going to be a tough game… Just look at the quality of their players.
      Dare I say, they are as strong as a Madrid/Dortmund/Bayern.
      I am sure they will be regular quarter/semi finalists for the next few seasons, with all that money and quality of players. And they have a very good coach as well.

      They breezed through the group stages with 15 pts out of a possible 18.
      Beat Valencia in the round of 16. We need to appreciate their strength.
      It was never going to be 4-0 and out like the Milan game.
      Although we could still do that on our day, but that doesn’t happen so often. Especially with so many key players banged up.

      • KEVINO17
        April 10, 2013

        Agree. PSG were so much better than Milan it wasn’t funny. Tito will be feeling fantastic that he dodged this bullet.
        Regarding the PSG goal, I noted that Barca’s tactic was to go the full-Dani on the right side and basically play him without a winger for defensive support (Villa played centrally) However, that left Dani an awful amount to do when PSG broke through the left channel.

  48. rg23
    April 10, 2013

    It’s not very often that a team can overrun our midfield over 2 legs.
    There were periods of time in the first leg where PSG was on top of us.
    And then of course we had our own moments of brilliance.
    Same story in the second leg.
    Playing at level like that against Barca is not a fluke, it’s the sign of a very good team.
    I would say over 2 legs barca were slightly better… And only slightly. Also PSG had that offside goal given to them.
    Hence, on the balance of it, we deserve to go through.

    • Jim
      April 10, 2013

      I wouldn’t say they over ran our midfield at all. We controlled large swathes of both matches. However, they played really well in the gap between our defence and midfield which made it seem like they were doing so. They also used runners from midfield beyond our defence very skilfully. We need to sort that.

  49. Clouseau
    April 10, 2013

    Messi and Hummels have given their Teams in the few minutes they have played so much more confidence and calmness. Impressive players and leading figures.
    Today’s game reminded me of the game againsts Basel four years ago but unlike today they struggeld to create opportunities until Leo came on.

    Team reached the most important task and I’m happy and proud about it but I’m not sure if it still makes sense to burden an already weakened defensive line with two slow paced Midfielder..

    On a positive note like what i saw from from Bartra overall! Came on a difficult Time but he didn’t care and played his game.
    Big kudos to Valdés who made sure Barca we´re still in the game. Impressive performance MOTMOTMOTM.

    • ooga aga
      April 11, 2013

      Leo helped, but by early in the second half we had twice as many shots (20-ish) and several more shots on goal. later in 2nd half, esp after we scored, PSG narrowed the statistical gap, understandably.

  50. KEVINO17
    April 10, 2013

    According to Barcastuff, Cesc’s daughter was born during the game and he’s off to the hospital!!

  51. KEVINO17
    April 10, 2013

    Absence of Alexis from the roster was quite interesting. Right or wrong, surely this means he will be very keen to leave at the end of the year and maybe go to a team where he can be the playmaker. Pedro will always play, no matter what happens; Neymar will probably turn up. Why hang around and be the auxiliary false-winger.

    • stefan2k
      April 11, 2013

      Didn’t he pick up a knock in the Mallorca game?

  52. Eric THE EYE Wynalda
    April 10, 2013

    Hey guys, long time fan and reader, don’t always get the time to chat about the beautiful game as much as I want, but a good space you guys have going here.

    To me, Messi was the key to tonight’s game. Soccer’s a game of two halves, but tonight, boy, I don’t think we’re looking at an even 45 split if you know what I mean.

    When he’s not in the game, Barca just can’t score goals. Yet as soon as he comes off the bench they pull out the magic? To me, it just doesn’t get any simpler than that: you gotta stick with the players who will win you the big games. And to win games, you gotta score goals. That’s what the Champions League is all about.

    Maybe it’s just me, but Ancelotti should’ve gone with Beckham from the start. Class is permanent, and does it get any classier than Becks? No offense to Thiago Motta or Veracatti or whoever, but if you got Beckham in your squad, you gotta bring him out for a game like this, even if just for the dead-ball situations.

    It would have only taken PSG one more goal to have gone through and they had a full 90 minutes to do it in. The best team didn’t win, because no one won, but the best team is advancing.

    • ooga aga
      April 11, 2013

      i dont think we were bad in the 1st half at all without messi. at end of 1st half we had plenty more shots than the other team, and more shots on goal. with a bit of luck, we could have been ahead. as is typical, our style of play gave them counterattacking opportunities, and they looked dangerous when they came forward. but it’s not like we couldnt get near the goal.

      messi helped, for sure.

      valdes was awesome.

      • ooga aga
        April 11, 2013

        official uefa stats have 61$ possession us, 22 shots to 14 shots us, and 10 to 9 shots on goal in our favor. and besides pedros goal we didnt have any other shots on goal after messi came on.

  53. jmiddy05
    April 11, 2013

    long time follower, read daily – unfortunately don’t post nearly enough…

    does anyone have a list of who is suspended from each team for the semi-finals?

    ps: (and you heard it here first) we will draw Bayern…while Madrid will draw Dortmund (who they will trounce in the first leg…while we will have a very tough two legged affair with more injuries and scares…but we’ll still win the comp!)

    • Dortmmund is a side i don’t want to play in semi’s. don’t go by what happened against Malaga. In that match they were the firm favorites and they couldn’t sit back and hit on ethe counter. They had to take the initiative. But against Barca, Bayern or Real; Dortmund will sit back and hit on counter. That’s a hell of a cup team.

      • jmiddy05
        April 11, 2013

        i still prefer Dortmund. I believe you are wrong in the sense that Dortmund are a counter attack team. Dortmund have a similar style to us, in the way they like to dominate possession and play short quick passes. I think they will struggle to sit back and don’t believe their counter is as strong as Madr*d’s or even PSG’s for that matter. Either way, at this stage its all so close…i just don’t believe Dortmund have the quality and form to deal with Mard*d’s attack (if they were to face one another)

    • ooga aga
      April 11, 2013

      Adriano will miss the game due to accumulation of yellows.

      BTW adriano was not injured….just that he was cramping, that is why he came off.

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