It isn’t the defense …. it’s everything ELSE, aka “Risk equals reward, and more risk”


This isn’t a Bayern preview, because Isaiah has banged one out for your enjoyment.

Something fascinating just rolled across Twitter, that deserves a post of its own. There is a Club Perarnau breakdown on why the Barca defense has seemed funky this season. Essentially, it comes to the conclusion that the more vertical style means that the press is much less effective. Pasting direct references to it from Twitter, via @zerospeak:

In the past, each Barca player averaged 80 sprints of 5-10 meters or 2-3 seconds per game in recuperating the ball. And usually in a group. The change in attacking methodology has lead to more sprints for each player & over a longer distance, rendering their press ineffectual.

In other words it ain’t the defense …. it’s everything else. Might have to join that Club Perarnau.

Many of us have been saying this all along, that the higher risk system leaves the defense in an odd, more vulnerable position, and that would be true no matter the CB that you put in there. Here’s why:

We began to see signs of a more vertical attack at the end of the Guardiola era, and it continues now, but there are complexities. More vertical means more players farther forward, which leaves more space for opponents to exploit on attack. The tradeoff is an offense that is placed closer to the opponent’s box, if the vertical system works. This means less running for Messi, fewer fouls on his runs, and so forth.

Now, more vertical also means riskier passes. We’re seeing Valdes trying the kinds of attack-starting passes that Marquez used to make. Longer balls are also coming from the midfield. Again, because of the way that opponents are playing us, tika-taka isn’t always the best solution.

But if the team isn’t careful in possession, and it is almost impossible to be as careful as before in the context of a riskier, more vertical attack, then opponents are left with acres of space in which to attack. I said last week that any CB short of Levitating Jesus was going to fall short. For good reason. Any CB would be at risk, from Thiago Silva to Javi Martinez.

Another issue with the higher risk style is that because older players are running more, are we are seeing the effects of it in the players breaking down? Not just the vets like Xavi and Puyol. Look at how tired the side was at end of the Milan tie. Xavi and Puyol are aging, yet they have to run more and more.

I see this change in style as another symptom of (no judgment here) the Messi-zation of Barça. The team wants to get the ball to its best player, as close as possible to the danger zone. That means that the player can’t be farting around pressing the ball, when he is best utilized in this vertical system, in effect standing near the danger zone, waiting for the ball. (All that bandwidth used on arguments about why Messi should and shouldn’t be pressing, and it was staring us right in the face. Color me a dumbass.)

Now it also means on counters, because players are farther forward, opponent counters have a greater chance of success, because our mid and forwards can’t catch up to it. And here’s the weird thing: Didn’t we just buy a shiny new quokka in the summer. What the hell, right?

And people wonder why the defense seems more stable with Abidal, but it’s simple, really: He fills the normally vacant space. With Alba riding the elevator up and back, same problem on right and left with space behind the FB. Abidal’s attacking prowess isn’t that of Alba’s, even as his defensive prowess is beyond Alba’s. So a player such as Song can play a DM/AM combo platter, moving farther forward in conjunction with a more conservative LB in Montoya. Those spaces are filled. Yes, Levante got a few attacks, mostly as a result of crazy, high-wire stuff that only our sprites can manage. And bango …. clean sheet.

What does this mean against Bayern? Hell if I know. But I do know that the higher-risk style is placing Busquets at risk, because it isolates him. Busquets can cause a lot more damage when an attacker has to run the gauntlet of Messi/Iniesta/Xavi/Pedro nipping at his heels, only to turn around and there’s the octopus.

Now, in the case of an example lineup, Villa is on the left, wide. Messi is in the middle. Pedro is on the right, wide. When possession is turned, those three players are effectively out of the play.

Compare that to the treble season, when Eto’o was more central, Messi was just roaming and Henry was ready to light up the jets to chase stuff down. Villa, even at his fastest, never had Henry kinds of jets and Pedro is off to the right. Our most effective midfield pressure generator, Messi, isn’t helping to generate midfield pressure. His defensive contributions were a huge part of that 4-0 Milan hiding.

Here’s something crazy: Is Neymar (if the rumors are true) a defensive purchase? Well, no. But it’s hard not to think of the value of Alba scuttling not as far forward and side to side, in effect becoming an Abidal mini-me, since he really won’t have to play left wing on the attack. Hmmm ….

Anyhow, I have to stop now, as I said I wouldn’t spend more than 15 minutes on this thing, so there you go.

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Dani_el
    April 22, 2013

    Thank you for the article Kxevin. I’m an avid reader of Club Perarnau and I think you were refering to Rafael Leon’s entries about Barca’s defensive desorganization, and what has to be done about it. There are three articles on this subject, this is an extract from the last one:

    “Tough decisions are needed as much for returning to play the game well as to believe in something more than Messi once again. This Barca, the great Barca, began with Valdez starting the play with short passes and ended with wingers biting -not pressing, but biting- rival defenders and goalkeepers. Therefore, the first decision is clear: bye Villa. Because of his scarce contribution to the game doesn’t make up for, even remotely, this denaturation. The other decisions are more debatable due to the quality of the squad, although it seems clear that there’s more need of a new horizon that of a timely strategy. Exactly what smelled like last year’s Pep Barca.”

    • barca96
      April 23, 2013

      Thanks for the translations as always.

  2. April 23, 2013

    Not sure if purchasing Neymar necessarily means that Alba stays back to defend. Unless he is specifically told so, I still see him bombing up and down, as it is in his nature to do so.

  3. Gogah
    April 23, 2013

    Is Neymar (if the rumors are true) a defensive purchase? Well, no. But it’s hard not to think of the value of Alba scuttling not as far forward and side to side, in effect becoming an Abidal mini-me, since he really won’t have to play left wing on the attack.

    While in general I agree with the title “risk = reward”, your above line Doesn’t make sense to me.
    Because by doing so you are not only limiting what a player (Alba) does best and what he was purchased for, you are also taking out a vital guideline which made Barca a ruthless winning machine (the forward press)

  4. Gogah
    April 23, 2013

    In other news, Barca – Be very scared. If not for tonight, then for next year and the years to come. The balance of power in European football is certain to shift with Gotze and Pep going to munich.

    • flyzowee
      April 23, 2013

      Not really. Not even Mourinho and ronaldos partnership was enough to shift the balance of power when they first linked up. Ill believe it when I see it.

  5. KEVINO17
    April 23, 2013

    Not sure why a more vertical style results in less pressing. Shouldn’t it put more players up in the enemies faces. However problems arise if Messi and a few others aren’t pressing hard enough and we don’t play with a very high line to compress the play. Barca’s pressing system requires total conviction and crazy bravery. They showed that against Milan and hopefully will against Bayern.
    The top priority for next season should be another lightening quick CB to play with Adriano ( when he’s not injured) so we can play with that high line. Hummels? no thanks.

    • flyzowee
      April 23, 2013

      Yeah im glad you said it. Hummels is a great defender but if you ask me, hes just an upgrade on pique. The undelying quality that i feel the scouting network should not compromise on in their search for a CB this summer is pace.

  6. April 23, 2013

    I think we can add that this high-risk strategy works great against inferior opposition as they just can’t deal with our quality players, but has so far not been worth it against strong oppostion – against M*drid specifically.

    And although I wouldn’t go as far as saying that it isn’t the defense, those are some excellent points you bring up, Kxevin.

    I still wonder how we would look if our aging and injured defenders had been replaced more effectively. How much do you think a young(er) fit Puyol and Abidal would have mitigated the high risk strategy we are playing?

    “it’s hard not to think of the value of Alba scuttling not as far forward and side to side, in effect becoming an Abidal mini-me, since he really won’t have to play left wing on the attack”

    I don’t know. In that case maybe we should get a left (or right) back better suited for that role. Even with Alba hardly going forward against PSG in the first half at Camp Nou the French attacks were still a lot more dangerous than ours.

    “Not sure why a more vertical style results in less pressing. Shouldn’t it put more players up in the enemies faces. However problems arise if Messi and a few others aren’t pressing hard enough and we don’t play with a very high line to compress the play.”

    Well, from Kxevin’s article:
    1) throughout the match, the vertical attack has players sprinting more often. It leaves them with less energy to press.
    2) there is more space behind them for the opponent to take advantage of.

    It’s funny, because reason number 2 has been clear for all to see. M*drid and Milan got us in trouble by almost just kicking the ball foward sometimes.

    Reason number 1 is news to me, but goes a long way in explaining why we don’t press as effectively. It’s a problem which needs to be addressed yesterday, if we want to have a shot at winning the CL.

    • April 23, 2013

      …And although I wouldn’t go as far as saying that it isn’t the defense but everything ELSE, those are some excellent points…

      (forgot to write the “but everything ELSE part”)

  7. K_legit in Oz
    April 23, 2013

    Goetze signs for Bayern.. ‘Fuck!’ says the rest of Europe.

  8. April 23, 2013

    I understand that people WANT our defense to be bad because if it isn’t then what of narratives, right? People commented on us having all FBs in the back line vs Levante. But when you consider that Barça CBs play like FBs anyway, ehy not?

    Oh. For me, Alba was purchased as one of the best LBs in Europe. We have seen how effective he is defensively when more conservative. I expect that to continue if Neymar comes. Because Alba is an excellent FB with fine attacking skills — but he isn’t anywhere near the offensive player that Neymar is. We might see the occasional overlap, but nothing like the marauding quokka of present.

    • April 23, 2013

      Wasn’t Abidal a CB at Lyon? I could be wrong.

      I think Alba has fine defensive skills but nowhere near the player he replaced. His added value lies in going forward. I don’t disagree with your idea of giving him a more defensive role, I just think another FB might be better suited for this in the long term. We’ll see…

    • April 23, 2013

      I would like to believe that also, but it is a very strange moment for both clubs to announce this transfer.

    • Blau-Grenade
      April 23, 2013

      Loved the title, and the article of course.
      “Bayern Munich v Barcelona: Pep past v Pep future in a Pep-less present”

  9. Jafri
    April 23, 2013

    Any word on Messi and his injury? Can he start/be subbed on etc?

    • April 23, 2013

      Trained as normal with the group. It is expected that he will get the green light and start today’s match.

  10. April 23, 2013

    Man, stuff is going CRAZY today. In addition to the Goetze news, it seems that Isco is strongly rumored to be Chelsea-bound, and PSG and Cavani is all but done.

  11. mom4
    April 23, 2013

    Alves, Pique, Bartra, Alba
    Busi, Xaviniesta
    Alexis, Messi, Pedro

    It’s really too much to ask of Abi to play 2 games in 4 days this soon.

    Alexis and Pedro are gonna hafta cause havoc down both lines to keep Bayern’s fullbacks busy and track back like crazy to make Robben and Ribery’s lives less pleasant.

    At least that’s what I’d do. But I’m not Tito.

    IF we play like we can, the forces of hell can’t prevail against us. Just have to play like we can. Please boys, play like you can.

    My heart says 0-2 and Abi gets a few minutes. My head says 3-2. I hate my head.

  12. mom4
    April 23, 2013

    Oh, and it’s Saint Jordi’s day. Buy your honeys books and roses.

    Really, shouldn’t we win on Saint Jordi’s Day? Would just make sense!

  13. Kojo
    April 23, 2013

    Hello fellow cules,is my first time posting here and i would like to use this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to the administrators of this blog for your immense work for our beloved club fcbarcelona.Anyway,my name is Kojo(Monday born in Ghana) and a banker for Ecobank Ghana Limited(a subsidiary of one of the largest bank in Africa-Ecoabnk Transnational Inc.)as Credit Analyst and also Soccer Analyst.Now let talk football here,it seems most of the pundits have written barca off in tonight’s tie against Baryen because to them our era has ended and also we don’t have defense which is not news to we barca fans.Did you guys recall our champions league final match in 2009 against Manutd when the so-called pundits wrote us off based on Manutd form at that time(C.Ronaldo and co) and we missing our key defenders due to suspension coupled with our so-called weak defenders at that time?The rest is history now fellow cules,am not here to give you guys false hope,neither am i a prophet but am here to tell you guys that barca is going to shock the entire world tonight.Is not that i don’t respect Baryen or i am blinded to see their form this season but the fact is without the ball baryen is useless and tonight they will be useless because barca wont let them have the ball.Arsenal(2-0) and Bate Barisov(3-1) have beaten them this season and of all a sudden the so-called pundit have forgotten about it because they can’t still believe why barca is still dominating for the past 6 season(mind you,they have ended this team era for the past seasons).I will halt my rant by asking you guys this question,have you thought about why barca overturned the 2-0 deficit against ac milan?History is repeating it self and this barca is destined to go to wembley aka you hear it first here.Let me work small.Am on twitter@Slybigie,bb pin:28068AB5.

      • bmaq007
        April 23, 2013

        Levon, how come you know that word, “Chale”?

    • ooga aga
      April 23, 2013

      great post, welcome kojo. KOJO just went KUJO on those football pundits

  14. BA
    April 23, 2013

    is “shining the quokka” a euphemism?

  15. criven45
    April 23, 2013

    I am new here and i want to say thank you to u guys for such a wonderful community u ve here. It is such a pleasure reading your analysis on barca games. About tonights game, i think barca is going to get a favorable result @ the arena and then we will finish them off @ our camp. Would there be any liveblog for tonight?

    • April 23, 2013

      Sadly I don’t think anyone is available to run a liveblog. Midweek games are so difficult.

  16. criven45
    April 23, 2013

    In other news Messi has been given the green light to start tonights match.Yipeee.
    I smell a brace by Messi. #runbayernrunforurlife#

  17. Blau-Grenade
    April 23, 2013

    barcastuff ‏@barcastuff

    Bayern line-up (official):
    – Neuer
    – Lahm Boateng Dante Alaba
    – Robben Schweinsteiger Muller JaviMartinez Ribery
    – MarioGomez
    Barcelona line-up (official):
    – Valdes
    – Alves Bartra Pique Alba
    – Xavi Busquets Iniesta
    – Pedro Messi Alexis

    • ooga aga
      April 23, 2013


      11 del Barça: Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Xavi, Iniesta, Alexis, Messi, Bartra, Sergio, Pedro, Jordi Alba

  18. barca96
    April 23, 2013

    – 1st time in years bar finals we go in a match as an underdog.

    – Alexis must play!

    – I hope the Uli Hoeness tax evasion and Goetze transfer news might shake the players up a bit.

  19. Blau-Grenade
    April 23, 2013

    This tactical preview from Zonal Marking is another fantastic read.

  20. ooga aga
    April 23, 2013


    my prediction, 0-4 barca in una goleada.

  21. criven45
    April 23, 2013

    I hope bartra makes a case for himself tonight just like varane did against us. Vamos barca

  22. mom4
    April 23, 2013

    OMgosh, Dani playing with the kid’s hair in front of him was adorbs!

  23. Jim
    April 23, 2013

    Sorry, my TV isn’t working properly. It’s showing Piqué without any hair !!!

    • barca96
      April 23, 2013

      At first I thought that he was hurt and wearing a bandage.

  24. replayed
    April 23, 2013

    Given the number of corners Bayern had been getting, I suppose this was just a matter of time.

  25. nia
    April 23, 2013

    Hopefully that will force Barca to come out of their shell a little bit.

  26. Jim
    April 23, 2013

    Old problem. We have nobody in the box.

  27. replayed
    April 23, 2013

    Alves has had the (few) best chances to do anything creatively, and he’s completely misfiring.

    The central midfield is being completely controlled by Bayern. Humbling.

  28. nia
    April 23, 2013

    Poor showing by Barca and unfortunate poor/unfortunate defending on that goal. Dani needs to grow a few more inches. Need more movement upfront and Messi needs to be involved more.

  29. chillipod
    April 23, 2013

    Song may well have a role to play (early) in the 2nd half. We’re being bullied in midfield and need some strength. Oh, and Busi needs to get his finger out! Bartra and Dani get pass marks thus far.

  30. Obii
    April 23, 2013

    This match has convinced me now, more than ever, that the 4-2-3-1 formation, if played at the level Real and Bayern have been able to play at, completely counter the 4-3-3. Every single man is accounted for, and there is no threat of losing shape. Even if you pass the initial press from a 4-2-3-1, it can VERY EASILY transition into a 4-4-2, leaving little space between the lines. Maybe im over simplifying it, but to me, barca has no forward thrust simply because there is no one playing in the hole, apart from Messi and he too is having to drop too deep. Iniesta needs to play there. Barca needs to change shape. Switch to a 3-2(xavi,busi)-2(iniesta-between the lines,alves-wide right)-3, i say!

    • Obii
      April 23, 2013

      Or bring on Villa, and play Messi in the hole!

  31. Enzo
    April 23, 2013

    Is Alexis playing…… (Sarcastically). Come on Barca we can see Messi is at 70% Pedro & Alexis must step up and Busi needs to play with more conviction.

  32. TITO
    April 23, 2013

    Not that we are playing so badly, but something is missing. I think we are showing to much respect and we’ve being victims of the resent invincibility of Bayern.
    Of course they will score from a header when we are letting them having so much crosses. Iniesta is nowhere to be seen. We need to show more desire and determination. We can score, and we can win it, they are nothing special.

  33. Blau-Grenade
    April 23, 2013

    Thoughts on the first half:

    Bartra has been solid apart from a couple of lapses of concentration where he conceded a corner that resulted in the goal.

    One of the things that makes Messi the best player in the world because of his explosive pace, in which he is beyond a defender by five yards with his first touch. He is missing that today. He is not fully fit. And Bayern are aware of it. Pedro and Alexis are not goal scoring threats. They hold the ball, defend, or play keep ball. For that they should put in somebody more physically imposing like Song not play Pedro and Alexis for that function.

    Bayern midfield are quite the force. Martinez and Robben stripped Iniesta. Busi is covering Dani Alves’s position when he is forward. Xavi is playing holding midfielder. The Barcelona midfield is not working. They probably need to bring in Cesc and remove one of Pedro or Alexis to get numbers in midfield.

    The front line of Bayern, Gomez and Muller are putting quite a bit of pressure on the Barca back line.

    Dani has surprisinly had quite a bit of possession, given that Ribery is playing on the same wing. But his forward runs are being covered a little bit by Busi.

    With the number of corners Barca are conceding, it is very likely that Bayern are going to get another goal. I do not see a Barca goal in this leg.

  34. Dani_el
    April 23, 2013

    We’ve played in dry fields. We’ve played in very dry fields. We’ve played in the freaking Mojave desert thanks to Mou. But we have never played in a marsh. The football squad is playing waterpolo.

    Still, they’re beating us. Let us see what will this team show on the second half.

  35. Jim
    April 23, 2013

    Need to stop the set pieces coming in, get some presence in the box to take some attention away from Messi and we need Ini to get fired up. We’ve got enough possession – we’re not losing the midfield battle but everything is dying with Dani. They’re happy to have him hitting the telling ball rather than our midfield.

  36. nia
    April 23, 2013

    This is pointless. Are we this useless at defending?

    • Jim
      April 23, 2013

      No, this is actually an excellent side we are facing, plus on a heavily watered pitch their physicality will be an advantage.

  37. nia
    April 23, 2013

    OH OH, Messi is looks like he’s struggling.

  38. Enzo
    April 23, 2013

    Hmmmm…. Two goals from corners….(Surprised Really?) Its called a centre back and we should sign two instead of Neymar. Come on FCB

    • barca96
      April 23, 2013

      We also lack scoring threat beside Messi.

  39. barca96
    April 23, 2013

    Just don’t concede any more corners or free kickstand please…

  40. Jim
    April 23, 2013

    This exactly where Neymar would be useful. We need someone apart from Messi who can carry the ball at them.

  41. barca96
    April 23, 2013

    Schweini and Martinez are completely nullifying Messi.

  42. barca96
    April 23, 2013

    Glad to see Alexis getting more involved.

  43. nia
    April 23, 2013

    Seriously????5 refs no one saw that block on Alba?! No more uefalona now? RIDICULOUS.

  44. Dani_el
    April 23, 2013

    1st goal. Fair and square.
    2nd goal. Offside.
    3rd goal. Offensive foul.

  45. Jim
    April 23, 2013

    We need an away goal. It’s now or never. Villa should have been on 15 mins ago.

  46. nia
    April 23, 2013

    This isn’t our title/day etc. Skied by Bartra. Whole team off. Bayern didn’t play that well tbh.

  47. Jim
    April 23, 2013

    Bay earn have been fabulous imo. Didnt deserve their last two goals but they can’t play much better imo

    • Jim
      April 23, 2013

      Make that goals two and three. You have to admire them. Villa at last but way too late.

  48. nia
    April 23, 2013

    This is revenge in the highest order. The cup goes through Barca. Well done FCB. I don’t even feel sad tbh. Well done, well deserved loss. Hope this will force the board to buy proper defence next year.

  49. Enzo
    April 23, 2013

    A lot of money… Needs to be spent this summer our teams cycle is at an end. A lot of players…… need to be sold too. Starting with Alexis.

  50. Huckleberry
    April 23, 2013

    So, the end of an era.

    But, what does Bayern want with Pep. They have everything…

  51. Jim
    April 23, 2013

    Hardly the end of an era. Lets not go overboard. They are about to win a league containing possibly the second ( or third?) Best team in Europe by a margin.

      • caosanping
        April 23, 2013

        Indeed I think this is the end of an era (maybe the start of another). These players have carried all the honors and burden for too long. They need a reset button–a humiliation like this properly serves as one. Barca has lost the dominance in European games and Classico games for almost a year. But luckily we turned games around many times, either with luck and/or hard work. But this time it’s not gonna happen.

        The Barca board needs think about how to rebuild a team on the basis of the current squad. Xavi will fade out or become a supportive role like Giggs in ManU. We need at least 2-3 defenders, one replacing Alves, one replacing Puyol and one as a backup. We also need find an alternative option at the attacking line when Messi is not playing or not at his best. Nymar is a good option. We need give more playing time to young players like Montoya, Tello and Bartra. There may be more down time like this. But with these players, we see hope. The current Bayern squad also had bad time (beaten by Barca, two loss in the Champ final, also losses in the National team). But they are growing and growing. I am just curious what Pep could bring to them next season.

  52. G6O
    April 23, 2013

    This brings back some very bad memories from 1994…

  53. BA
    April 23, 2013

    the end of an era. we looked utterly listless and were completely outplayed.

    any claim we had to “best team in the world” is now gone.

  54. faizal
    April 23, 2013

    Buy proper defender instead of we really learn something from this match?

  55. Enzo
    April 23, 2013

    Wow. Its like Madrid in 2008 all over again.

  56. BA
    April 23, 2013

    oh and to Kxevin: what part of “the system” makes us unable to defend set-pieces and balls into the box properly?

    or, is it simply what many of us have been saying all along: that our defense just isn’t good enough?

  57. Jim
    April 23, 2013

    Oh dear! Looks like some are in double doom mode 🙂

  58. Gogah
    April 23, 2013

    Wow so this is what rape feels like.

    • ooga aga
      April 23, 2013

      oh, no…you didnt just say that.

      • BA
        April 23, 2013

        yeah let’s not go overboard, at the end of the day it’s still just football.

        • Gogah
          April 23, 2013

          It’s an expression. And an apt one.

          • Sam M
            April 23, 2013

            Seriously? You need to educate yourself and shut your trap. Jew me down, fag, etcetera are also just expressions. Unbelievable.

  59. barca96
    April 23, 2013

    Even though it’s a bigger loss and we played without any fire but it’s still less embarrassing than any Chelsea or Madrid matches. That’s the only positive point I can take out from this match.

  60. Don’t blame the defense for this defeat. It’s the midfield which actually set this up. Against a team like Bayern if you concede that many corners they will score. We never pressed , lost the ball easily in midfield, that meant they countered quickly which resulted in us conceding too many corners.

    • Enzo
      April 23, 2013

      Its like you saying that Bayern have the right to score from corners… According to who? We concede corners and we supposed to defend them how can you call yourself a football team when you tremble at the sight of the opposition taking a corner.

      • If you concede ten corners in first half itself some of them are bound to go through – it’s the law of averages. Any other team also will conxede goals from that many corners.

  61. Momo
    April 23, 2013

    Oh well we still have la liga

  62. TITO
    April 23, 2013

    1.It was like men versus kids.
    2. As for goals, the first one was also foul on Dani, but regardless.
    3. Glad that thus happened now and not in the finals with the way we approach these sort of games against on a level with us opponents.
    4. Why did Tito waited so long for subs?
    5. As usual, we again lost the plot against quality opponent.
    6. They didn’t played that well, they just out muscled us, outrun us. I felt they were all over the pitch.
    7. What a hell was with that pitch over watered?
    8. Don’t like to point out some negative thoughts about our players, but i have to, because they are hardly criticized – Iniesta, Alba, Busi…way bellow average.
    9. Again, what’s the point of having forwards when all they do is defend?… because that’s our new policy…again, when we face someone with quality.
    10. Someone mentioned that we should start with the sells, starting with Alexis. He was one of a few i liked tonight.

    • Jim
      April 23, 2013

      Wouldn’t agree with Iniesta. I thought he had a great game.

    • Iniesta was the only one who tried to push forward, but then he can’t do that alone.
      Your point 9 is the most important. The only goal scoring option in that pitch was Messi, no one else is going to score against class opponents. We always have to play these matches with a proper 9 as it give Messi some respite.

      Messi may have seen a Balon d’Or alsoslipping with tonight’s defeat.

      This could become worse if RM makes it into the final and win Decima with Mourinho in charge.

      • TITO
        April 23, 2013

        Yes, he was trying, but he did nothing.

  63. Also when we were playing like shit, then why did Vilanova wait till 80th minute to make the substitution. Should have brought in Villa around 60 minute and Cesc also. Cesc should have been slotted in midfield to at least get the numerical advantage in the midfield.

  64. Gogah
    April 23, 2013

    And for the first time that I’ve seen him in Barca, Messi actually helped the other team give us such a resounding thrashing.

  65. ooga aga
    April 23, 2013

    bayern was fantastic, hats off

    but i felt way gave the ball away way more cheaply than normal. unforced errors. though, plenty of forced errors too. messi too was giving the ball away very easily.

  66. Momo
    April 23, 2013

    Why the hell was messi playing? Clearly not nearly fit enough.

  67. barca96
    April 23, 2013

    This is the difference between having great players and great coaches.

    You need a great coach to motivate and prepare the players for these kinds of matches.

    I know Tito’s gone through a lot but I must say that he is not of a great coach calibre like Pep, SAF, Mourinho. He’s more like Wenger, Mancini type of coach.

    The great coaches prepare a match tactically into details but it looks like Tito didn’t do any homework.

    Great coaches also prepare the players for the matches mentally but the boys didn’t look up to it.
    Secondly, it could be due to fatigue but again, it’s Tito’s fault for running them into the ground in less important matches.

    • faizal
      April 23, 2013

      Totally agreed, tito was clueless for this game

    • Barka
      April 23, 2013

      Because under Pep we had such a great game at Stamford Bridge.. Right?

      But I guess you have the talent to draw conclusions from a single game or event.

      • barca96
        April 23, 2013


        And I guess you are fickle minded for already forgetting Milan away & PSG home and away matches. Same teams, different teams.

        And it looks like you are the one with the talent of drawing a conclusion from a single match. Can you tell me how many times under Pep we looked so clueless, toothless and not even forcing a save out of the opposition GK?

        • barca96
          April 23, 2013

          Oh and Chelsea + Stamford Bridge has always been a tough place for us in case you haven’t noticed.

      • Barka
        April 23, 2013

        “Same teams, different teams” – What does this even mean?

        I also remembered matches at the beginning of this season where Tito’s subs made a big diference. I’m sure many people in this blog were praising him for actually using his subs early and to great effect, unlike Pep. Or was my memory wrong?

        And I didn’t draw any conslusion whatsoever. I used Pep’s match at Chelsea to dispute your sweeping claim that “The great coaches prepare a match tactically into details but it looks like Tito didn’t do any homework.” That’s silly. Mourinho’s Madrid lost many times against Barcelona, does that mean that he didn’t prepare his team and he wasn’t a great coach? He wouldn’t be judging by your definition.

    • dleans
      April 23, 2013

      Agree as well.

      There has to be Plan B and Plan C in every game and we didn’t have it.

      There are lot of questions now but tomorrow will be better and we have to look forward.

      To be is to dream, to dream is to fight! Visca el Barca!

      • Jim
        April 23, 2013

        We lost last year to a much poorer team.

        • dleans
          April 23, 2013

          If you are referring to Chelsea: True, but we were making chances.

  68. faizal
    April 23, 2013

    Callling for the foul is not what we called “defender”. Game is on until you hear referee’s whistle..

    • BA
      April 23, 2013

      hard to play “game on” until the whistle after you’ve just been floored off the ball by a clear foul.

      if these worthless fucking officials at the goal line aren’t going to make obvious calls, what’s the point of paying them to stand there?

      • faizal
        April 23, 2013

        Agreed for the 3rd goal..but you can clearly see the trend when our defenders prefer to put up theirs hand, wishing for the foul instead of making effort to save the goal..

      • barca96
        April 23, 2013

        I hate it when refereeing decisions go against us and when they favor us!! The lines man and 5th referees has to be held accountable for their mistakes!

        After a watching any NBA match I never had any doubts of an injustice. But with football, there is so much mistakes, costly mistakes being made by officials almost in every match that just makes me watching football at times.

        With NBA, I always know that the better team won but with football, I dare say more than 50% is decided because of a bad refereeing decision due to poor decisions such wrong offside calls, handballs, out ball, fouls, etc. All these wrong mistakes can switch the momentum of a match.

        • G6O
          April 23, 2013

          Basketball is a very high scoring sport. You get 90-100 possessions in a game, over that many situations referee mistakes tend to average out. In contrast, football is a very low-scoring sport and this magnifies the significance of referee mistakes.

          Yes, we got screwed this game, but this was not the main reason why we lost, tough it very much matters whether it would have been by 2-0 or 4-0…

  69. barca96
    April 23, 2013

    Now the players, sometimes I am in a losing side but I will still give my 100%, hustling but tonight and on many occasions like in the KO matches bar Milan at Camp Nou, the player’s haven’t given their all.

    And for some reason it doesn’t look like they are a team that has been together for many years.

    Makes me wonder if Tito has changed their practice drills.

    2 years in a row now the players look exhausted during KO stages . When will the coaching staff learn to rest the players earlier in the season instead of running them into the ground??

    • I don’t know whether it’s the practice drill. If youy watch the side this season you tend to see too many space between Defense, Midfield and Attack. I think that’s the reason why we are not able to press properly this season as there is too much space to cover. It has to be something to do with the organisation. They are playing too apart for my liking.

      In that return match at Camp Nou against Milan, we managed to close out those pace by Pushing Alves up front and adding one more person in midfield. May be a 3-4-3 is the future.

      • Jim
        April 23, 2013

        Think he tried to do that with Xavi tonight but that is a waste.

    • Helge
      April 23, 2013

      Well, maybe they looked exhausted last season against Chelsea. But there is a very huge difference between now and then, between this season and the last seasons: Today, first leg against Milan, CdR against RM we deserved to lose, because we were actually the inferiour side by some distance.
      Last year, we had bad luck against Chelsea, we dominated them and created lots of chances, hitting the woodwork 4 times in 2 maches, for instance. And we were just one goal away from qualifcation.

      Same against Inter, 3 years ago. If Bojan’s goal counts, we are through to the finals. And we were still dominating the match, not onyl possession-wise, but also with respect to scoring opportunites.

      That has changed this season. We dominate possesson, but we lack goal attempts (against top class teams). It’s like Bayern played under Louis van Gaal in the season he got fired.

      Tito is a good coach but I think he does not have the capability to lead this team succesfully through the big matches. That it makes it even more bewildering how the clubs spokesman can claim that Tito is better than Pep in every department.

      • Jim
        April 23, 2013

        I agree that we aren’t creating the same amount of chances but then we will insist on playing without a forward line 🙂

  70. This also raises a bit of question – do we actually want two wing backs defending especially this small. Lahm was brilliant for Bayern he stayed back for most of the time to negate any advantage Iniesta could get on that side. For the return leg I will go with the 3-3-4 used against Milan with Pique, Abidal and Adriano as defenders. We have to sign off this campaign in some style at home – just to garner some pride.

    • BA
      April 23, 2013

      Tito’s selection was wildly wrong. Abidal should have started, Bartra left on the bench; Villa should have started, Sanchez on the bench. Messi, as vital as he is, should not have started at all since he was clearly not fit.

      • I would agree with Villa selection as he could open up some room for Messi by keeping that back like pinned. Abidal! no way he is not ready for another 90 minutes this soon.

        • BA
          April 23, 2013

          then he shouldn’t have played 90 at the weekend in a pointless game! again, Tito would be at fault.

      • barca96
        April 23, 2013

        I don’t think Villa should have started. He could’ve never done what Pedro or Alexis defensively today. They were both immense!

        • Yes agreed, at least he could have kept Dante and Boateng occupied for sometime. For heaven’s sake we need forwards to open up the game and score goal not for defending.

          • barca96
            April 23, 2013

            Villa might have occupied them but he wouldn’t be able to save our asses a few times tonight (morning for me) like Pedro and Alexis did. I don’t mind playing Villa if we could control the midfield or have Song in there as a double pivot.

        • HisR0yalFlyness
          April 23, 2013

          Immensely useless in attack. We need a proper defense so attackers can focus on scoring goals not tracking back on defense all game.

        • Jim
          April 23, 2013

          If you don’t carry any great you give the other team confidence to come forward. With Villa there both CBs are occupied.

        • Jim
          April 23, 2013

          Actually, having just watched the goals again have a look at who Alexis was marking on both occasions.

      • Jim
        April 23, 2013

        Abidal couldn’t start a game like this just. He looks frail and played just a few days ago. Give him a break. He will be in the return though.

        What I would say is that we learned nothing from the away games in Milan, Paris and now here. If you set up to defend ( ie play runners up front who carry no threat) the game will eventually swing against you.

        Won’t blame Bartra as he’s probably our 4th choice CB. He’s young – I’m not sure he’ll ever make it- but he deserves his chance to play his way in over the next season or so. Unlikely to get it as a CB will now be a priority.

        Finally, as Kxevin has often said, we have no divine right to be the best team on any given day. Luck and fitness always plays a huge part in a CL campaign. We came up short today but have won the league so don’t tell me Tito is a failure compared to Pep. More wins, less losses, more goals and less conceded acc to Revista tonight. Sounds pretty conclusive to me and Tito comes back after what he has been through when Pep walked out on us?

      • G6O
        April 23, 2013

        Abidal is not ready to play a CL semifinal, let a lone a CL semifinal that also happens to be his second game in 4 days.

        Unfortunately, the Bartra experiment failed (where was he for the 4th goal?), but this was no unexpected.

        If you look at the squad lists of Bayern and Madrid, and compare them with ours, you will notice that they have equally strong replacements for pretty much all positions except for the superstars. Right now we don’t. And that’s the story of this season.

        • barca96
          April 23, 2013

          I wouldn’t call Bartra experiment a failure. He is new in this. Again, I will give the coaching staff some of the blame for refusing to give him more minutes earlier in the season.

          Bartra is a CB and is our only option for this match. You wouldn’t swap him with Song would you?

          • barca96
            April 23, 2013

            Btw Bartra did alright in this match. Pretty average to me. Looks promising.

        • Jackieboy
          April 23, 2013

          For the 4th goal, Alves was hurt by that nasty Scheinsteiger challenge (which should’ve been called and booked, but the ref tonight was a complete and utter failure), so the whole backline had to shift and adjust a bit.

  71. chillipod
    April 23, 2013

    Ai Ai Ai Ai, what a hiding.
    OK so 2 of them shouldn’t have counted but they could have had more and sadly our 2 chances – such as they were – fell to our young centre half.
    I thought at 2-0 we were going to score but we didn’t and on reflection didn’t really deserve to if I’m being honest.
    We just didn’t match them in midfield and I’m not sure why Song and Fabregas didn’t get game time, especially given it was clear early on that the ref was going to allow more ‘robust’ challenges.
    I’m sure more eloquent contributors will dissect things calmly over the next few days and we’ll see where go from here but if you defend that poorly and attack with such lack of commitment against a great team then I’m afraid there’s only going to be 1 result.
    Visca Barca

  72. HisR0yalFlyness
    April 23, 2013

    Poor passing, apparent lack of motivation, horrible defending. We were totally outmuscled and outplayed. Why is Messi starting when he is so clearly not fit, when we have >$80 mil worth of attack power sitting on the bench?

    Fuck Neymar…get me a quality defense.

    • Sorry mate… Neymar is the priority like the way showered the cash on Cesc without asking why we need him. It’s going to continue like that.

      • BA
        April 23, 2013

        yeah how did our big signing Cesc Fabregas do today sitting on the bench? did he knit a nice warm pair of socks?

        should have left him at Arsenal and spent his fee on Thiago Silva. but of course you’re right, we’ll spunk $40,000,000 on Neymar when what we actually need are 2 real center-backs.

  73. criven45
    April 23, 2013

    We will need a comeback of gargantuan proportions. And woe betides the team we meet in the final.
    This shd serve as a wake up call to the barca organization ( am looking @ u Zubi) to buy a proper defender and stop the obsession with midfielders turned defenders. Still hv faith we will be in Wembley.

  74. Enzo
    April 23, 2013

    People blaming Tito must relax…. Our team was beaten by a better team we were humiliated cause of Tito so adjust your blame accordingly.

    • barca96
      April 23, 2013

      I’m not laying full blame on Tito but besides what I already mentioned above, he didn’t learn from the mistakes from the other KO matches and did any homework on Bayern.

      Another thing I would like to add is that he kinda lacks any in game character. Look how Jupp Hynkes wad during the match. Remember how Pep was pushing his players on?

  75. TITO
    April 23, 2013

    Many wrongs tonight…but nothing that we haven’t seen this season and partially last season. Still, as i said, imagine RM doing this to us. That would have hurt!!!
    We lack determination. Yes, we still want to win, but if it’s possible with no effort at all.

    • KEVINO17
      April 23, 2013

      I didn’t think there was anything wrong mentally. But with Messi as a passenger we just couldn’t pressure them enough. Players like Alexis and Pedro put in immense shifts, trying to compensate. But you can’t play a team like Bayern with ten players (actually it was nine if you include all the times Messi coughed up the ball).

      • TITO
        April 23, 2013

        So you think having someone else rather than Messi would have changed things?
        I’ve been saying this all season long. Forwards must think like forwards…not just put pressure on the opposition and pas the ball back to your midfield players.
        They are attackers, that’s what they should think, attack. But the problem was not there, it was in the midfield.
        The approach to the game was a big let off.
        Oh, and i almost forgot… my favorite moment of the game? Alba hitting that piece of sh.t in the face. God, i dislike him so much, even from his Chelsea days for his antics.

  76. barca96
    April 23, 2013

    Yes Jim. Tito is a good coach for La Liga but he lacks what it takes to win the CL.

    In La Liga, there isn’t much that a coach at either Barca or Madrid needs to do besides the Clasicos but in CL, especially KO stages, the coach has to do much more.

    I’m not calling him a failure. I never did that if it was aimed at me. But what I’m saying is, he isn’t a great coach that can elevate the players.

    It’s the big matches like this where a coach can show his tactics and knowledge. He clearly is lacking so far based from the Clasicos and KO matches.

    • Jim
      April 23, 2013

      Does this apply to Mourinho who may win neither?

      I do think he made a mistake setting out to contain them rather than cause them bother but to be fair if Messi wasn’t really fit and we have to play a fairly average youngster in a CL semi against the form team in Europe we can’t be too upset at losing. Hacked off at the severity of the defeat but then again if it had ended 2-0 as it could have done we’d have felt we’d be in with a chance.

      Personally I think we need to consider a 4-4-2 away from home in Europe ( tonight for instance I’d have started with Messi and Villa up front with any width coming late from midfield. Our away record over the last few years hasn’t been great partly because we chase every match in a really kamikaze fashion.

  77. barca96
    April 23, 2013

    If Messi wad unable to run like he did today, maybe he shouldn’t play #9. What is the point of having a striker who plays deep but can’t run to goal?

    If it’s really necessary to have him on the team, put him in midfield and make sure there are enough numbers behind him.

    Don’t get me wrong, this Messi is still better than our alternative Cesc. Perhaps play Villa #9 and Messi behind him. I find it pretty pointless playing Messi as a striker tonight. He couldn’t or was scared to run in order not to re injure himself.

    • Sorry boss, Alexis defends better so he had to ply that meant Messi continues to play false#9. Good teams always prepare fo that.

  78. Judas Pissed
    April 23, 2013

    Don’t care. Gonna win La Liga in the next 2 weeks. Bad times like this make the good times feel even better..!

  79. Enzo
    April 23, 2013

    And I Quote

    “Here are the reasons that Bayern were better:

    1. Bayern are a team with enough height to defend set pieces well and score from set pieces. Our policy of only buying short players has to change. But even our taller players have to learn to attack the ball better – we are so poor at set pieces its unbelievable.

    2. Bayern has speedy wingers who can and will beat their man. Our wingers only know how to pass the ball back. Even the substitute wingers like Shaqiri are speedy dribblers.

    3. Depth: We have so little depth when you look at it – most of our reserve team are young players with little experience. Bayern can replace almost any player in the squad, with only a slight drop in quality. Mario for Mario, Gustavo for Schweinsteiger, Badstubber for Boateng, etc.

    4. Back to the double pivot: Bayern started this game with Schweinsteiger and Martinez. We almost never start matches with the double pivot – it’s a strategy that needs to change. Our coaches need to be more flexible.

    5. No false 9 stuff. Bayern have their very traditional 9s and use them very effectively. Messi starts, he must play as false 9, whether it makes sense or not, whether Messi is crowded out or not. We don’t experiment with Messi on the wing or any other formation. Teams have found the false 9 out and it’s no longer a tactic that catches opposing defences by surprise.”

  80. HisR0yalFlyness
    April 23, 2013

    The system has been found out and countered completely. This was apparent 2 years ago. Other sides have evolved yet we still hold on to this misguided view that if we play the system perfectly all will be well. The wake-up call was sounded a while ago but it looks like we just intend to ignore it.

    No side is invincible and I can take a loss in stride. It just stings to keep losing the same way over and over again at this level.

    These guys are paid millions to play a sport they claim to love. Yet somehow lack the motivation to go out and fight tooth and nail for a victory when we are so close. Either find what motivates them and use it, or ship them out and find people that will be happy to go out and try their hardest to prove they are the best on one of the biggest stages in world football.

    Why must the “best team in the world” always depend on a miracle comeback? I’ll be happy if it happens but I wish it didn’t take these kinda situations to get this team to play the way it can and should.

    • Momo
      April 23, 2013

      Actually the system used to be great when it was about movement, pressing, and unpredictability. Unfortunately it has mutated into a gimmick of itself where posession is held for the sake of posession, width is there for the sake of width, and too much is going through messi.

      Barca used to have the Yin to the yang in 2008-10, a balance of technical precision and physicality. Purchases need to be made to bring back physicality all throughout the side.

    • Jim
      April 23, 2013

      Why do you assume they lacked motivation? I didnt see any sign of that. Is it possible that on this occasion Bayern were better than us? Or did every team we have beaten 4-0 lack motivation?

      The same system has also seen us turn around the last two rounds. Let’s take time, think about this and decide on a strategy for away CL matches. Everything else is going pretty well.

      • Momo
        April 23, 2013

        Agreed, motivation is the last thing we should be talking about, xavi’s face said it all really..

        • TITO
          April 23, 2013

          They didn’t lacked the motivation. It was a lack of real effort.
          I don’t know, we are just repeating the same things over and over again.
          There is something wrong, and as soon as we admit it, we’ll start to find a solution.

  81. KEVINO17
    April 23, 2013

    Decision to play Messi (and keep him on the field) was disastrous. He didn’t get above a trot all night. Clearly didn’t trust his hamstring.
    His non-presence not only effected our attack (they knew they had nothing to worry about) but it totally negated our press. Did you see how many times Xavi ended up being the highest presser (he must have been knackered by the end of the game). It also meant that Alexis (who was excellent all game, I thought) and Pedro had to work like galley slaves to compensate.
    A small mobile team like Barca lives and dies by its forward press, and it just wasn’t there tonight. As a consequence, they got too many corners and, as a consequence, we lost.
    Other points:
    – Thought Bartra was excellent. Big future;
    – They should sell Dani. There is a reason why he gets so much space in games, its because other sides don’t respect his offensive threat. Time for a more defensive-minded right back (maybe with a bit of height).
    – Says it all that Tito looked behind him late in the game and just saw a lot of little guys – no-one he could bring on as a game changer.
    – If Barca had a big forward like Gomez it would have made all the difference, both offensively and defensively against set-pieces. I expect Tito will now go out and get a Plan-B striker.

    • Momo
      April 23, 2013

      Ehh have to disagree on Bartra, no where near ready at the moment I am afraid. Not even sure he’s good enough to be 4th choice. Pique didnt exactly help him but I was cringing just watching him attempt to position himself

      • Jim
        April 23, 2013

        That’s a bit harsh. It was really no game for him but he wasn’t great. My worry is that we’re now gonna be looking for tall defenders and he doesn’t fit that bill.,

  82. Helge
    April 23, 2013

    Bye bye, Pep Team. Hello Bayern, new dominators of Europe – for probably several seasons to come.
    Hats off to them, incredibly solid team. Javi Martinez showed why he cost 40m, he was EVERYWHERE, as soon as a Barca player in the central offensive midfield position got a ball, be it Messi, Iniesta or Xavi, he was there. My MotM actually.

    Referee-wise, this was the payback for Stamford Brdige ’09. Fair result probably 2-0. Nonetheless, this time, similar as against Milan in the first leg or CdR semis against Real Madrid, we simply got owned. Always 60+ % possession, but the teams just defend highly, with intense pressing, and going fo the counter. That is essentially the way RM has been playing and winning against us over the last 7 matches. And Bayern did kind a the same. I don’t know if we would have reacted differently to that tactics, or if our tiki-take and in particular counter-pressing was much superiror in, say 2011 or 2009 – but right now, Barca seems clueless against this strat.

    And comments from the club officials, that Tito is bettter than Pep in EVERY department of the game ?!? Are you kiddign me ? Why making these stupid, audacious comments? Since Pep left, we are conceding twice as many goals. We were actually inferior to RM, Milan (1st leg) and kind a lucky vs PSG in two legs. It was foreseebale that this Barca will fail against an absolutly worldclass, in-form team like Bayern. The comments of the club about Tito are not humble, they were arrogant. Now you pay the price.

    And what a dilemma it will be to see a Madrid-Bayern final… I hate them both. Bayern even more since they bought Götze, destroying competitiveness of the Bundesliga by severely weakening their only opponent left, BVB. And all this one week after Hoeness claimed ‘We have to take actions against the lack of competitiveness’. Bayern Munich turns to be such dirty hypocrites as Mou and RM. Fcuk it all, seriously! This is the worst day of my life, football-wise, since I can remember. Take care!

    Visca el Barrca! Campions de Liga! 🙂

  83. barca96
    April 23, 2013

    Mourinho has been around for many years and proven that he is a coach of the highest caliber.

    I admit that I that I don’t know squat of his time at Porto but he did manage to carry the team to CL victory. You gotta give him credit for that.

    I watched a lot of EPL last time and he was good at Chelsea. Didn’t watch Serie A, but we all saw what he did with Inter.

    Mourinho is more than a coach who just picks his best 11 and sends them out like Rijkaard and I’m afraid based from this season, Tito is the same in putting his best on paper 11 players on the pitch and hoping they would work some magic.

    Great coaches prepare and are able to make in game changes.

    And notice how the great coaches are intense whereas Tito is laid back like Rijkaard. I wonder if it’s the same during practice. Because Rijkaard is known to have a not so intense practice sessions.

    I gotta give it to him in the first half of the season though for those super sub changes that won us matches.

    I was really hoping for a double pivot in the match. There is simply no way we come go there with the same old formation and players who are not 100% and expect to get a result. I wonder if they even sent a scout to watch Bayern play and watch their matches on DVD.

    Hynkes already warned us that he knows how to beat us and here we have Tito coming in with the same tried and tested line up hoping for the players to work it out themselves.

    Btw, I’m not a fan of Mourinho whatsoever. Just used him with the likes of Pep and SAF as great coaches.

    • barca96
      April 23, 2013

      Meant as a reply to Jim. Shit. It’s already 6 and I still haven’t gotten any sleep.

    • Jim
      April 23, 2013

      If you are saying it is easier to win La Liga then Tito has shown Mourinho a clean pair of heels. How did that happen if he is the poorer coach? He has better stats than Pep’s last season. What more can he do? It’s still his first year and he’s having to deal with a situation where other teams have found decent answers to our play.

      I’m disappointed with the loss and I do think he made a couple of tactical errors but not sure we were ever going to win this away tie.

  84. Momo
    April 23, 2013

    Also, putting personal stuff aside, Tito massively let the team down today. Messi should not have played, no attempts at changing strategy midway was made. Fabregas, thiago, song should have made appearances at some point.

    He is still a fantastic coach and by no means should be replaced, if his health can handle it. I was just shocked at his lack of response. The magical subs he had in the beginning of the season that was a feature that seperated him from pep was no where to be found

  85. mom4
    April 23, 2013

    Depression hurts; gin and tonic can help but I gotta wait until I get home from work. 🙁

  86. Srini
    April 23, 2013

    I know this is a Barca blog.

    I know that the third goal was off a blatant foul against Jordi Alba.

    I know that the second goal was somewhat offside.

    But please.

    This was, in my opinion, the most comprehensive defeat by Barca (and not just the margin) since Pep Guardiola took over as coach and Tito went on to take reins by basically retaining the fundamentals of his system more or less, with some tinkering.

    Full kudos to Bayern, who pressed in a very clever and coordinated fashion, much like what AC Milan did. They did not press the defenders – even them selectively – as much they did the midfield. The pitch helped as well and their defense was magnificent. Added to that, was their passing from the back as well, as they played a fully efficient game.

    Barca clearly lacked a few things – a fit Messi, their trump card, a tall striker (a pie from the sky), and their zone defense of corners was bound to flop, as it relied on some high risk defending. Pique was stationed in the center to take off any threat and the entire defense was supposed to act as a zone to get offside trapping going. The trouble was when Bayern realised this, the corners were played to the farther or nearer post, and off another headed pass, the Barca goal was made super-vulnerable.

    In other words, Heynckes was not exaggerating when he emphatically said that he knew the Barca fundamentals inside out. This was a major and a comprehensive win for Bayern. I do believe that the false 9, 4-3-3 with short skilled players alone has run its course. Barca need to either go up a “dialectical leap” in their system or have to drastically correct its frayed edges.

    It is a major lesson for Tito in his difficult first season. It should not be an insurmountable problem. Some players need to be sold and some have to be quickly and ideally sorted for retaining a new kind of balance that will have to be rebuilt for the Barca system. The writing is clearly on the wall.

  87. lyd
    April 23, 2013

    We lost to a side that played better football, made less errors than us. A side that exposed our usual weakness of the aerial play and took full advantage of the difference in physicality. A side that justified their preparation with superb execution.

    Please refrain yourself from blaming Tito, the players, the system etc. We’d have lost this game 0-2/1-3 three out of five times, anyway. Even a 0-2 would be a mountain to climb against Bayern.

    We beat Bayern 4-0 once and those were clean, beautiful goals, remember?
    Did Bayern outplayed us in our own game? In terms of pressing- yes. Possession, ball circulation- No. Did Bayern show creativity in build up, that we at our best do?

    Bayern needed us to field a makeshift CB pairing, an injured Messi. They needed assistance from messed up linesmen (once again these linesmen at away CL games.. makes 2-3 glaring errors! unbelievable. What do this goal line ref do really? re block on Alba).

    Get over it Cules. Now off to the mythical San Mames….


    • Jim
      April 23, 2013

      Again, not making excuses as I’ve already praised Bayern but the ridiculous amount of water especially around the middle third of the pitch was deliberate to slow down the quick ball movement which was our best defence against the pressing done there. It gave them the vital time to get to us.The little ones were literally dragging the ball through it and passes were arriving with almost no pace on them. Just a small point.

      • lyd
        April 23, 2013

        Jim, the water pissed me off too. Dry, tall grass, flowers- we’ve seen it all.

        But look, our game at its best doesn’t bank on the center of pitch entirely. The cutting edge to our possession play was missing overall. We were playing the game to not concede from the very start. The feeling of superiority faded as the game progressed. We lost control and they eventually smelled blood and did what they came out to do.

        • Jim
          April 23, 2013

          Agreed partly. Our best game is predicated on total control of the midfield which was difficult on this pitch but you always felt the possession had no cutting edge around their box. This was largely because neither Pedro nor Alexis carry a threat on their own and there was no Villa, back to goal, to help Iniesta and Messi as they head towards the box looking for one twos or spinning off the CBs into the channels.

          This in turn, as you say, gave them a feeling that we couldn’t hurt them and they grew in confidence.

  88. Jim
    April 23, 2013

    Lest the idea that the midfield was overrun takes hold, pass completion % were

    Xavi 92%. Finished? Really? In that sodden, crowded midfield ?
    Busi 90%
    Iniesta. 86%. Lower than the other two but still way above any Bayern player and probably because he played most passes around their box.

    Bayern were better offensively and defensively than us and deserved to win but it would be foolish to write off this team. We do need a CB, a fit Messi and a forward who can beat his man and score 20+ per year but that is all.

    • KEVINO17
      April 23, 2013

      Absolutely agree with you – though I do have some doubts about Busquets in this team (despite received opinion). I’m not sure that he brings much to the table. He is a very neat passer and looks good defensively when the Barca press is working (because he gets to gobble up the stray balls). But there are lots of other good passers out there who are a hell of a lot quicker and offer more offensively.

      • Jim
        April 23, 2013

        My biggest beef with Busi is that he is our only other defender with height and you still couldn’t slip a newspaper under his feet when he jumps !

        • KEVINO17
          April 23, 2013

          Yep, he’s totally unathletic. He NEVER seems to get his head on the ball.

  89. TITO
    April 23, 2013

    And because nobody else mentioned or thinks it’s not a problem… what i like about Valdes leaving? We’ll probably get a GK who has the balls to come out of a goal line when there’s a cross in your box. Especially when you know how short your players are.

    • Jim
      April 23, 2013

      Need to look at the goals again but my impression at the time was that at the first goal Dante was outside the six yard box hen he headered and at he second I think it was Muller and he was well beyond the back post when he headered it back. Neither of those if correct are keeper’s balls.

      • TITO
        April 23, 2013

        Was not talking only about the goals situations but in general, throughout the game, and the years respectively. He needs to show more balls and to go out on crosses.

  90. BA
    April 23, 2013

    oh, and by the way, the guy we signed to give us “cover, experience, height and power in the defensive third”, Alex Song, was sitting on the bench busily being not good enough. what a waste of money *that* was.

    • KEVINO17
      April 23, 2013

      Actually, I’d now slot him into the holding midfield position instead of Busquets, because he passes just as well (and better offensively) and does everything else better.
      I would have toyed with the idea of bringing him on and sending him up to Centre-Forward to at least give us some muscle.

  91. Blau-Grenade
    April 23, 2013

    Fantastic article by Michael Cox.

    “Javi Martínez the key weapon as Bayern cut Barcelona down to size”


  92. TITO
    April 23, 2013

    On the ref mistakes:
    They had 2 clear calls for penalties, and that’s it.
    On our side, their 4 goals were dubious. First one was foul on Dani from Alaba, second one was offside, third one was a foul on Alba from Gomez and the fourth one came after a foul on Dani from Schweini which led to the goal with us having a player less on that side.
    We deserved to lose, but not with this margin.

  93. SteveHK
    April 23, 2013

    I am thinking about the pre-game Xavi interview where Xavi says at Barca it’s not enough just to win – they have to do it the Barca way. Right now I think the team is not good enough OFFENSIVELY to win the “barca way” against the best teams – certainly not with a half fit Messi.
    Bayern’s defense dominated the Barca offense – if that is because of the quality of Bayern’s defense rather than any failure on the part of Barca’s offense – then still Tito and the coaching staff should have known in advance how great Bayern’s defense was.)
    I think if the team/coach had put winning first, no matter if it was done the Barca way or not, they might have decided that they would be lucky to score a goal with Messi not fully fit, and played a very defensive game – play for a 0-0 or 1-0 loss, and trusted for a fitter Messi at home.
    I’m not a football tactical expert. But it seemed like maybe our coaching staff wasn’t realistic enough or humble enough to see that we weren’t going to be able to beat Bayern playing the usual Barca way, and come up with more realistic tactics.
    Or maybe Bayern is just that good!
    On the positive, I wasn’t ashamed of our team or our effort in any way. I am guessing Messi, who I believe is a very intelligent disciplined player, was playing at the pace he had to in order to prevent a re-injury.

  94. Blau-Grenade
    April 23, 2013

    The Zonal Marking analysis on the game:


    The key to Bayern triumph was Javi Martinez.

  95. Bill
    April 23, 2013

    Carnage in munich! I can’t even be mad. Can’t complain at refs. Just clap for bayern. Or issues were exposed in the worst way possible. Just a few comments about or players…

    The team has two sides now, good Barca and bad Barca. The good one moves the ball quickly, one touch passing with lots of intent to attack. Usually a minimum of 3 players crashing the box. Bad Barca is tentative with passes, too many players holding the ball with 3-5 touches, wayward passing and no one crashing the box.

    Why bench Bertra at the beginning of the season, hardly giving him a game, then play him in a game like this?

    It was wrong for the team to believe they can’t play without Messi.

    We need another goal scoring threat.

    The team is still bypassing Xavi. That and Valdes kicking the ball forward means no control. Which brings me to…

    Can’t wait for Valdes to go. I really can’t explain that keeper. That first goal was directly at him. He was falling backwards into goal, why? That started the floodgates.

    • April 23, 2013

      Bill is spot on. I have been saying this stuff for some time, and been hammered for hating Messi, which is very, very far from the truth. I love Barça, and it has become clear that over the years, the team has morphed from a possession-based side with a diverse attack, to a one-man show.

      Messidependencia began under Guardiola last season, but was meant as a stopgap, because of all the injuries and breakdowns. It became permanent, and was exposed today. It happens.

      The thing now is what to do about it? Don’t forget that Bayern was overconfident and almost gave up a big lead against Arsenal. I find it difficult to believe that our team will lay two eggs.

      For me, no blame. We just got our asses kicked today, up and down the pitch. No Valdes, no Bartra, nobody. The whole XI took it, and good.

    • Reto
      April 24, 2013

      Who do you think could be that goal scoring threat?
      I do agree with you that we desperately need one but personally I can not specificly think of a name.

      It’s the same with the central defence for me.
      Yes we have to upgrade but who could help us?

  96. Blau-Grenade
    April 23, 2013

    This is a game that Barcelona could have won. But with the right tactics. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Bayern were playing at a level above Barca.
    Some people seem to be in denial that any club could play better than Barca.

    Here is a copy of the comment:

    Bayern is the best team left out of the remaining. Yes, they are better than Barca at the current moment, and, in my humble opinion they are playing at a level above Barca. I am very torn between supporting either club in the semi final. I have to say that Bayern have won my heart with the kind of football they have played against Juventus and Arsenal.

    Mandzukic being suspended might be something that can give Barca some hope. And Barca should take full advantage of it in the first half. This guy can hold the ball and make plays like nobody’s business, besides scoring goals. He will win every single ball in the air unless he is fouled. Because his replacement Muller does not move very much in and around the box and it is easy to positionally defend against him in open play.

    Ribery can burn Alves, and Robben can burn Alba. Gomez/Mandzukich and Muller can more than occupy Busi and the two centre backs. That leaves Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez to orchestrate the game. Schweinsteiger is the most complete holding midfielder for me at the moment. Yes, he is a long yard ahead of Busi. His long range passing is something to behold.

    Then there is the backline of Bayern – Lahm, Dante, Van Buyten, and Alaba, and the keeper – Neuyer. This is currently probably my favorite backline among all the teams in the world.

    I do not see Barca getting past Bayern, not with the tactics they employ at the current moment, nor with the team they have at the current moment. Bayern have too many way’s to open Barca defence. Through the wings with Ribery and Robben cutting the ball in, with overhead balls to Gomez/Mandzukic/Muller.

    The thing that can make Barca stand a chance in the match against Bayern is if they play a double pivot of Song and Busi in front of Pique and Bartra. This four man wall gives some hope for winning the areal duel’s with Muller/Gomez/Mandzukic in the middle, and during the free kicks. And Alves and Alba will have to be very careful with Ribery and Robben.

    Anyway, I look forward to seeing some amazing football in the Semi’s.

    Barca should consider themselves very lucky that Mandzukic and Kroos were not on the pitch. The scoreline could easily have been a manita or more. And that is what Barca should be afraid of when they come to Camp Nou.

    The right tactics seem to have not employed lead me to believe there is a problem with the club at the coaching level.

    One of the two is happening here.

    1. It seems to me either that Xavi/Messi control the dressing room, instead of Tito.

    2. And/Or, Tito has been spineless in substituting an ineffective Xavi/Messi/Pedro/Alexis and did not have a plan B against Bayern. He is too stuck up with his ideal starters and cannot think outside the box, or beyond the system. His substitutions were too little, too late. His lineup was all wrong. He should have put in two holding midfielders.

    In my book both these situations call for a change in the coaching staff.

  97. Chiu
    April 23, 2013

    What a shocking morning to wake up. I didnt watch the match, just checked the news we were beaten so hard, 4-0. Kind of humiliation, scoreline wise

    Now it’s almost impossible to come back. I just hope we play the return leg in Camp Nou with the erased memory that last night game never happened. Just put effort to win the game without thinking the aggregate. Then see what the final score would be. Again, two or three early goals in the first half would be crucial to shed tiny hope for Wembley.

    Congratulation for Bayern, what a great night for them in Allianz Arena!

    Visca Barca! La Liga almost wrapped up! Cheers 🙂

  98. K_legit in Oz
    April 23, 2013

    What a hammering! I’m quite stunned!

  99. ElJefe
    April 24, 2013

    Sure we can talk injuries, we can talk momentum, but this is really a squad that would beat us 6-8 times out of 10 with full line-ups, really the first time Barca will truly have to re-evaluate just as every other team on the planet has had to do in response to us the last chunk of a decade:

    1) We all knew our size and set piece weakness would catch up to us in the Champion’s League. Well, might as well get it all over with in one match.
    2) Perfect counter-attack squad with Ribery AND Robben. We have no answer to it other than possess 100%
    3) A true number 9 who can cut through any non-Puyol/Abidal defender liker butter. Ibra also looked very dangerous against us.
    4) A slasher in Muller who can stretch the defense across the box, yet score from anywhere.
    5) Arguably the best goaltender in the world right now
    6) Dual threat mids who rival our own in Lamm and SSteiger
    7) BIG back line

    This team was designed to beat us, and did as planned. We need a legitimate 2nd threat and a UCL sized back-line if we want to be on top in 2014. I continue to ask why Tello is not playing as he’s the only one with the eye of the tiger on the team right now. The good news (on paper), Neymar will be coming.

    I love our Cules. I feel no pain. We will respond. Let’s get to work.

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