Bayern München 4 – Barça 0, as far as embarassments go…

This was a timely one.

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The prelude

Between 2008/09 and 2011/12 we won fourteen out of nineteen possible titles. Our unprecedented success left culés worldwide elated and our head coach exhausted. While over the first half of this season Pep Guardiola spent his time carefully chosing which team he would manage next, Tito Vilanova came, saw and conquered the Liga before the winter break.

27 wins, 2 draws, and 2 losses. The question was no longer whether we would win the league, but whether we would win the triple. When Messi would score his hundredth goal of the season. How long before Xavi would get a 105% pass completion rate and if Tello could break the sound barrier. After our first game against Málaga I wondered if we were peaking too soon. I argued that we still had room for improvement. We seemed unbeatable. Unstoppable. Undefeatable.¹

Now here we are, almost exactly three months later. Our defense beaten to a pulp. Our offense stopped without getting a shot off. Comprehensively defeated. And I’m okay with that. But more on that later.

Librarian Tito spelled out VV, DA, Bartra, Piqué, JA, Busi, Xavi, Ini, Alex, Leo and P. As it turned out, Jupp Heynckes is well versed in Catalan literature.

1st goal

The blame game

Offside. Rugby tackle. Run harder. Jump higher. Shoot more. Press, goddarned! When the ball comes at you, you stop it. When you’re not fit, you don’t play. And hey, when the opposing coach says he knows your team like the back of his hand, how about a little surprise in your line-up? I agree and then again I do not. Sometime after the game, Kevin tweeted the exact same thoughts I had after the game had finished:

“When your team gets beaten like that, nobody is to blame. Nobody. And everybody.”²

This was a team loss against a team win. I’m sure people have filled internet comment pages by now talking about how we didn’t play our hearts out and how we didn’t leave our skin all over the pitch. Oh yeah? Name me one player. Mmm, I thought so. Speaking of internet comment pages, if you want to blame anyone, start with ooga aga for predicting that we would win by four goals to zero. Four goals to zero is a ridiculous score.

Of course, it would not even have been 4-0 if it weren’t for the ref. It might have been 4-0 earlier, what with the hand of Piqué and all. And while Müller’s bodycheck on Jordi Alba bordered on the incredulous³, Gomez’s offside was very close. Anyway, the ref did us a favor. This is a good score for us. But more on that later.

The truth is, we looked tired. It could be that we had a rough flight. Or that we have too many first-year daddies in the team. Can you say for sure that Bayern Munich did not have bellhops in lederhosen stomping on the floors above our hotel rooms the whole night? Or maybe, just maybe, we haven’t rotated enough throughout the season.

messi & martinez

Were we that bad, or are they that good?

There is another reason why we looked tired. though, and that reason is Bayern Munich. They ruled the Allianz arena like gladiators, spurred on by thousands of Bavarian throats. When they attacked we seemed few. When they defended they seemed many.

I said before the game that we have better players, but they (right now) have a better team. And their team sure made their players look good tonight. Schweinsteiger and Javier Martinez locked down the middle. Boateng and Dante held it down, as did Lahm and Alaba. Franck Ribery was as impressive on the ball as he was a nuisance off of it. Müller played a part in all four goals and Gomez got his, too.

The most impressive on the night, however, was Arjen Robben. For years now he has been the one I have disliked the most of all the Dutch national team players (and that’s no small feat, let me tell you). Yes, he is one of the most talented players in the world and as such I am happy that he plays for Holland, but he has that arrogance that makes me go “ewww”. That selfishness that makes me gooooh”. That face that makes me go “dude, are you constipated?”.

So naturally when I read a story about how when the Bayern brass offered Guardiola to sell Robben and received the reply that he was quite fond of the player I went something like “huh? Pep actually likes this self-important star player who drives his teammates crazy by ignoring them every single time?”

Just let me give credit where credit is due. Robben passed, and tracked back, and dribbled, and passed, and passed, and dribbled, and defended, and passed, and tracked back, and passed, and defended, and scored the goal of the match, and then some. He has never played such a complete game as tonight, possibly the best he has played in his life. Basically, he outmessied Messi.

And although Bayern did not quite outbarça us, they definitely outclassed us. They made us look tired from the very beginning.


Barça – meet – Mirror

This season we have played six clasicos and five CL knock-out games. That’s eleven games, of which we won two: the home supercup leg against an out-of-shape M*drid and an out of this world performance against the cheapest version of AC Milan the world has seen since more than 25 years ago, the same team that had beaten us quite comfortable some weeks earlier. We drew twice against our arch rivals and lost thrice, one of which an embarassing beatdown in our own house. We were unable to beat Paris Saint Germain in two games and went through to the semis on aggregate.

Let me repeat that. We have won 2 out of 11 games.⁴

In the league we have not looked the better team in either of our games against Valencia and we only defeated Atletico Madrid after spending the first thirty-something minutes on our back feet.  To make a long story short: as much as we have dominated against inferior opposition this year we have undeniably struggled against stronger opponents. To make a long story worse, they often dominated us.


Fatigue obviously plays a part. We have a nucleus of players that have gone to six straight CL semi finals. The Spanish nationals have won three consecutive international tournaments and have been flown out to Confederation Cups and friendlies all over the world. The most incredible thing is not that they are tired, but that they still look like they care about winning.

Furthermore, Kevin raised some really interesting points in this here post that did not generate a tenth of the discussion it deserved. I strongly advise you to read it and think about it. The premise is that our defense is not a problem, but that our risky vertical play leaves our defenders too exposed. There is much that I agree with there,  but unfortunately I think it is worse than that.

Our risky vertical play leaves our defenders too exposed AND our defense is a problem.

If Arjen Robben of all people almost scores his second career header against you from a free kick, your defense is a problem. In the eleven games I mentioned above, we conceded from six set pieces.

If you don’t replace Carles Puyol or Eric Abidal with players of similar defensive skill and physicality, your defense will at some point suffer as a consequence. And yes, I realize the sheer impossibility of replacing what have possibly been the best two defenders to ever defend our colors. Of course, if you expose that defense with a high risk strategy, a quality opponent will take advantage.

Equally worrysome is that in a lot of those games the high risk strategy has left us vulnerable on the defensive end of the pitch without adding potency to the attack. Against smaller teams it pays off, because we can always count on scoring more goals than our opponents. But in Munich we barely created chances. Likewise in San Siro and at home against M*drid and PSG.

Not only did the risk not pay off, it hasn’t given us all that many benefits to begin with. The big teams have found us out, and we need to figure out what’s next. How? I don’t know. We need to restore the balance. Neymar might be part of the answer, but only if we are patient. Victor Valdes departure might prove difficult, but he is not irreplaceable (again we must be patient). And whether we do so by rethinking our team strategy or by direct replacements/reinforcements, we need to figure out how to fix the defense.

Almost just as difficult as chosing who we buy will be who we let go. I won’t get into that right now, because I am not a big fan of knee-jerk reactions⁵. What I will say is the following: I am not all that upset about this loss. It’s football. It’s the semi-finals. We are up against an excellent team. And I prefer to lose by four goals than by one. I’d rather be humiliated now than to scrape through to the finals and lose to a better Real M*drid. And a 4-0 loss will make us a better team than a 1-0 loss. A team for a new era.

goal again

End of an era

Some fans never doubt their team. They will believe that their team will win it all, until mathematically impossible.

I am not one of those fans. I believe Barça will always have the possibility to win, until mathematically impossible. But I doubt we will go through to the final. And I’m okay with that.

Some fans say this Barça is not done. I agree. Always. Pundits and journalists will speak of the end of an era. I also agree, although they are wrong. The era ended when Pep left and we surrendered the league to M*drid while finding infinite ways of not putting the ball in Chelsea’s net. Between 2008/09 and 2011/12 we won fourteen out of nineteen possible titles. No club will ever match this.

They will talk about the end of an era that has already ended. This season we have started a new one and we are starting it by winning our league. By getting Tito back from his fight against death. By the return of King Abidal. By being forced to improve upon what is no longer the best team in the world but in my opinion still the most talented. I do not only believe that this is possible, I believe that we will. I believe we will keep adding to our trophy cabinet over the next years. I believe that we will be the best again, and if not, that’s okay.

A couple of weeks ago I had a conversation with a friend of mine, a lifelong Internazionale fan. He asked me what was up with Barça. I told him we have the most beautiful club in the world, to which he replied, “the most beautiful, but not the best.”

That is fine by me. Visca F.C. Barcelona, the most beautiful club in the world!

"They were the better team, we congratulate them. That's football." Xavi Hernández i Creus
“They were the better team, we congratulate them. That’s football.”
Xavi Hernández i Creus


¹ We were to draw and lose the next two matches

² Yes, dear reader, we do think alike every now and then. Oh, and it’s @kevvwill and @barsalev

³ First of all, what, exactly, is the fifth ref’s job? More importantly, Jordi Alba never fully recovered emotionally from that foul. Even though it made me giggle, I feel it is a disgrace how he threw the ball into Robben’s face. We have attracted a lot of haters over the last couple of years by winning gracefully. We should regain some respect by remaining graceful when we lose, also.

⁴ During the first half of the season (up until jornada 19 against Málaga) we won  83.7% of our games. The second half up until now? 45% winning percentage. Against top opponents throughout the season? 18%

⁵ Unless the jerk is Mourinho’s face and the knee is, well, somebody’s knee. Then I’m all for it.

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Written by:

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


  1. KEVINO17
    April 24, 2013

    I’m with Kevin. Our defensive problems start at the front (and mostly end there). If Barca doesn’t have a dominant forward press and an extremely high line, I don’t think that our defense is going to be able to stop much (though I think we need some better CBs with exceptional pace to cover in behind).
    However, unlike Kevin, I don’t think the problem is so much our verticality it’s the fact that Messi is now a defensive passenger (even Ronaldo is defending these days) though Messi showed against Milan what happens when he does put a foot in, and we have players like Busquets who, ahem, do not cover the ground very quickly.

    • Watch the video of the Milan match. The reason why Messi and Villa pressed so well in that match was that because we compressed the game to a narrow area. The midfield and defense were virtually close to each other from our positioning. That’s why he pressed that effectively. Use the same formation and you see both Villa and Messi pressing.

      • April 24, 2013

        I dont understand why most cant see this point.
        Except in that Milan match we have played with too much space between our 3 lines, for long now.

          • I still not going to admit that it’s an end of an era. What we are seeing is the incapability of the Management staff too address this small and big issue.

        • KEVINO17
          April 24, 2013

          And because, when Barca plays well it compresses the field, it is better suited than any team in the world to having a big centralvstriker, even if he isn’t very mobile, because he won’t have to counter attack and he won’t have to run far to press.

    • BA
      April 24, 2013

      do you and Kxevin also believe that the 2 goals we conceded in this game from set pieces were the fault of the forwards?

      or does it simply come from our defense not being good enough? Pique has “automatic starter” status which i believe is mostly to blame for his complacency and reduction in form, and we were playing 20-year-old Marc Barta besides him in a CL semi-final against the best team left in the competition. we’re down to bare bones for center-backs (we only have *3* adult, orthodox central defenders in our squad: THAT’S INSANE); and the center-backs we’ve attempted to convert from midfielders aren’t making the grade.

      yes, Messi not pressing is a problem. but our lack of pressing this season is a separate (tactical) issue, and one that has to be addressed separately. at the heart of this problem is the club’s inaction and lack of planning in the transfer market towards bringing us reliable defensive players. instead, we have the Saga of Fabregas and the Quest for Neymar. the club’s misplaced (read: ego-driven, by Rosell, for big flashy signings) attention has cost us, and WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO until these problems are addressed with the addition of REAL defenders, who’s acquisition isn’t as sexy but is every bit as vital to the squad.

  2. April 24, 2013

    Physicality, Set peices and counter attack – thats what Bayern did to us. And congrats to them.
    We may not be having a poor defence, but we do not have a good defence who can defend set pieces. If we did, this match would have been only 1-0 (ignoring the ref errors) and we would have had more hope for the second leg, in spite of a very poor first leg.
    For me, it is very clear our problem is our defence. The only way to protect this defence – for many here – is to press in the front areas, but for that we also need 3 compact lines, which we dont.

    And please, anybody who have played football know this, Pressing is not easy, to expect players to press hard each and every game is too much. May be the present tiredness is the result of our hard press in the first three seasons with Pep.

    I still like to hope that we can turn up at Camp Nou and at least win a 3-0, and celebrate our best victory of this season.

    • One of the reason we struggle badly with our zonal defending in set-pieces is the presence of Alba. I have nothing against him and he has been our best signing. But last season till Abidal was there our back line was Abi, Pique, Puyol and Alves. Now we had Busquets guarding the near post in the zonal defending and Pique, Puyol and Abidal in middle. Now having Alba in defense means we have one guy less with height and that’s hurting.

  3. April 24, 2013

    If somebody would’ve told me at the beginning of the season that Tito will be away with a cancer for half of the season, Abidal would make it back to the football field, after fighting a year with his battle, Barca would win the league comfortably and reach to the 6th consecutive Champions League semis, with all those injuries, that forced Barca to use 16 different CB pairs among others etc etc, I simply would not have believed him.

    Sure, Barca could’ve acted better in certain cases like strenghted their defense at the beginning of the season, made some things differently in key games etc, but I’m not too down with this season looking back.

    If Barca stays fit next season and they get some players they need, I think they get only better. End of an era? No. I hope Barca wins the league this week, that would take their and also our spirit up and also have already one eye on the next season.

    • barca96
      April 24, 2013

      To me it’s not just a question of being fit. I agree with it and mentioned previously that the players were being run into the ground and will not be able to be in peak form at the business end of the season.

      The bigger picture is that the players and coaches need to have a tactical plan. Not just go in a match in the same line up, same 4-3-3 formation and without any any tactical plan. We can get away with that in La Liga against inferior teams but not in Europe.

      Another thing is to react during the game. We need reaction from the coach.

      I still think that we can with the league next season but I doubt that we can win the CL as we even have a tough time in the first stages of KO stage this season.

    • G6O
      April 24, 2013

      I agree with the general sentiment that we should be celebrating the league title and be happy with it.

      But there is a general problem with the way the team is set up right now and this has to be addressed. Back in 2009, the best lineup would have been Valdes-Alves,Pique,Puyol,Abidal-Yaya-Xavi-Iniesta-Messi-Henry-Eto’O.

      That lineup had a lot of athleticism and physical strength, and has only four short players (Alves,Xavi,Iniesta,Messi)

      Today we had only three tall players (Busquets,Pique,Bartra) and none of them is very physical anyway. Everyone else was 1.70 or less.

      Unless you are at the absolutely top of your game and simply don’t give the other team the ball, which we weren’t, the most natural thing is to get destroyed from set pieces and counters if the disparity in physical strength and athleticism is so large. Same thing as in the recent classicos.

      Note that I am not saying this from the simplistic “Can they do it against Stoke” perspective that a lot of people have about the game and the need for big and strong players.

      But in the beginning of the Guardiola era we had both a physical presence and were able to play tiki-taka. And that’s why we were so good. There is no requirement for the whole team to consist of midgets to play tiki-taka.

      Since then we have replaced most of those physically imposing players with short players, Xavi and Puyol have aged and slowed down, and we have become very very vulnerable as a result.

      This has to be addressed somehow though I don’t see how it can be done quickly given how many holes we have to fill. After all, it was the result of several seasons of changes in the squad.

  4. TITO
    April 24, 2013

    What does the most beautiful club in the world stands for?

  5. Enzo
    April 24, 2013

    Its the end of a cycle…. which happens to every club its up to us now to address it by identifying the factors that have resulted in our downfall:

    1. Fatigue
    2. Lack of Penetration against Top Teams
    3. Failure by Wingers to make Incisive Runs
    4. Inability to deal reasonably with set-pieces
    5. Inability to deal effectively with counter-attacking sides
    6. Lack of physicality to challenge physically imposing sides
    7. Dependency on Messi
    8. Lack of goals from Midfield
    9. In-properly applied pressing

    In addition we need to realise that we need to diversify our game:
    1. Develop the ability to counter-attack swiftly
    2. Develop the ability to score from set-pieces
    3. Make use of the crossing positions our wingers often find themselves in
    4. Develop an aerial threat
    5. Shooting from range

    Times come and football changes… Teams change as football develops. False 9 has been figured out which is fair and right as it no team can expect to be successful with the same system forever. Time to adjust and tweak our methodology slightly to regain competitiveness against the top European teams.

  6. April 24, 2013

    >”I’m sure people have filled internet comment pages by now talking about how we didn’t play our hearts out and how we didn’t leave our skin all over the pitch. Oh yeah? Name me one player. Mmm, I thought so.”

    Umm . . . Messi? And that’s just for a start. Honestly, the only player I saw last night who left skin on the pitch was Alexis. Others showed varying degrees of heart and grit, but leaving everything on the field? Not in the game I saw. For that matter, I haven’t seen many performances like that have from the team since the Xmas break—those gritty, claw-from-behind wins from the first half of the season.

    There are of course many tactical and personnel changes the club needs to make. We’d have lost last night even with more heart. But to my mind the club needs a shakeup not just for the hundred reasons of tactics and personnel that have been outlined in BFB’s posts and comments (many wise and excellent—good going, folks!) but because of the complacency that has crept into the club. If the players are only tired, they only need rotation and rest, and Tito would “only” need to alter his tactics. But if the players have lost heart too, then among the many changes the team needs is to bench or sell some of the most complacent ones and promote or buy others who can spark the fire.

  7. I know it’s a 4-0 result and there is a 0.0001% chance of us going through. But the key is once again to forget what happens. This team’s identity has been questioned by this defeat. The fact that we didn’t trouble them a bit does not bother me as we actually were setup not to trouble them. Let’s go with the same way and same formation as we played against Milan at Camp Nou. Just show them what we are and show them that they may still struggle to beat us if the Real Barca turns up. Once again fingers has been pointed at our identity and class, that must be answered. Forget the end result just give them back what we got.

    Watching the match it was like a repeat of San Siro feeling. You were hoping badly that the team will just step up and hurt Bayern. To be honest like Milan, Bayern setup to hurt us where we were weak and they did better than Milan. We at no point looked like getting anything out of the match.

    • Chiu
      April 24, 2013

      Yup, I just want us to beat them in Camp Nou. Whatever the score. Just fight, fight and give our all, please my Barca!

  8. Gogah
    April 24, 2013

    The 4-0 result is the BEST thing that could have happened to us.

    Xavi said that in football, the result is an impostor. You can do things really well but still end up with a poor result. His assessment is accurate for the opposite scenario as well. And that’s been the story of our season so far. We have got the results. But unconvincingly. This 4-0 drubbing (the worst defeat in over a decade) is a timely reminder and a blessing in disguise for us to re look at ourselves, get up to speed and shed the enormous baggage we’ve accumulated.

    Barca for life.

  9. georgjorge
    April 24, 2013

    Thank you for this great review, which helped ease my heartache over yesterday’s defeat. As for judging the effort the team put into the match, I will just say that there’s a thin line between calmness and complacency.

    For what it’s worth, I found Bartra to do ok compared to what could be expected of a young player with few minutes being tossed into that sort of game head-first. Strangely, he was found wanting the most not at the back but in front of Bayern’s goal when he punted the best chance our team had of scoring one.

    I agree that this is an opportunity to build a “new team” (with many of the old faces but different ways of approaching the game). I hope that Thiago (my favorite young player) can have a role in this new team.

    • Bartra did actually OK. On another night he may have ended with two goals also. He struggled because those ahead of him kept on exposing him. I may not start him in return leg if Puyol is available, but he will be my first choice center back for the rest of La Liga season. He simply needs more playing time. Trust him, he may emerge as the best find of the season.

      • bhed
        April 24, 2013

        Agree, for most of the game, he was solid.

  10. KEVINO17
    April 24, 2013

    This is not the end of the cycle and Barca need to get better, not different.
    The really big question is whether Messi has lerant his lesson.

    • April 24, 2013

      The really big questions are
      Did the club admin learnt their lesson in buying a good CB
      Did Pique (dont want to put Bartra their) learnt his in defending
      Did Alves learnt his in crossing in a big game under pressure and doing something good with the ball, when most needed
      Did Alba learnt his in keeping his cool
      Did Xavi learnt his in making a good connect with forwards, rather than passing behind
      Did Iniesta learnt his in not having a really worthy end product after all the magic
      Didnt Busquets learnt his in not being his usual self once pressed – he too was not fully fit it is told now
      Didnt Pedro and Alexis learnt their in being good wingers, than just being Pedro and Alexis (I still think they worked hard but..)
      Didnt Tito learnt his in not preparing enough for the match or making changes at the earliest or not doing anything from the sidelines, or not recognising we had too much of space between our lines??

      If we are to blame, we can blame each and every one.

      It is definitely not the end of anything and we need to and can, pick ourselves.

    • Ahmad
      April 25, 2013

      Whether Messi has learnt his lesson? What lesson? What are you even talking about?

  11. April 24, 2013

    4-0…that hurts !

    But I don’t see it as an impossible task in a week at the Camp Nou. It is all down to Messi to be healthy, and to Barça to score one goal in first ten minutes to get the crowd to believe in the miracle… remember Arsenal (twice), Milan AC this season. Barça played on a different level (strikes of luck help at times…)

    Also, I would put Tello instead of Alexis, and switch position with Pedro. Tello Left wing and Pedro right wing. Without Alba (very stupid yello card in my opinion) : Montoya. Bartra has done the job in the first leg (if only he had score on that free kick from Xavi) and Piqué and Alvés will do.

    For next season, Barça needs a solid Center back, Neymar (?) and above all, a healthy Messi.

  12. April 24, 2013

    Not much left to say that hasn’t already been said.

    What i will say is that Javi Martinez was a BEAST yesterday. Worth every penny. We should have forked out on him instead of Song, or day i say it, Cesc.

    • April 24, 2013

      Absolutely! Barca wanted him but he cost too much and went for Song instead who they thought could sort of ‘do the same job’ What an awful piece of business, clearly biting their asses now.

      • How many of you think actually Javi Martinez would start ahead of Busquets. He plays brilliantly when Schwein is around, without him he struggles like anything

        • barca96
          April 24, 2013

          Like I mentioned last night, Martinez and Schweini both bossed the midfield but where would Martinez play with us?

          He would be on the bench because we never play with double pivot until recently. Last night was a great opportunity to use a double pivot but Tito didn’t use that option so I don’t see him making any difference for us.

          If we would change our style to a double pivot then yes, I would’ve purchased him but last summer it was obvious that they want to buy him to convert him into a CB.

          • BA
            April 24, 2013

            Javi Martinez can also play in the center of defense. unlike Alex Song.

          • April 24, 2013

            That’s the point, Javi Martinez can actually play in defense as well. Also with Xavi getting older people often talk of Busquets as his successor. Guardiola used him in his first season there and he also started as an attacking midfielder in B team so I think with J.Martinez in the team, this could add another dimension to the the team, especially defensively. This could add several tactical changes to the team starting with 2 midfielders who can actually defend, to using a #9 in the system.

          • Jim
            April 24, 2013

            Martinez wouldn’t last five minutes in the first team if he loses the ball as much as he did last night. Lost possession in nine out of twenty six passes?

            He was excellent in a closing down sense but not imo much to do overall with our loss. He benefitted from us shooting ourselves in the foot by a tactically inept setup in offence and a pitch that suited the bruiser rather than the player.

        • cliveee
          April 26, 2013

          Martinez is the best Keita upgrade, or say Keita Ultimate. He won’t bench Busquets. But he is extremely useful in our system. Including covering CBs.

  13. Nick
    April 24, 2013

    Just some things I’d like to through out there.

    1. Bartra was our best defender last night.
    2. Alba’s behaviour disgusts me. He needs to change now.
    3. Why didn’t Tito react? Villa in 83rd minute is odd.

    Someone above has mentioned that we were not set up to trouble them. I think this is the main reason for our attacking performance. One shot on target with 666 (scary?) passes. Fabregas over Messi was a much better choice for such a match.

    • April 24, 2013

      1. I agree. I just hope the poor kid doesn’t let the scoreline destroy his confidence. Also, Pique needs a boot in the ass.

      2. This is the third time I have seen Alba let his frustration with the game make him lash out like a petulant child. Needs a boot in the ass.

      3. Tito’s passivity in the 2nd half is the thing that troubles me most about this game. What happened to our master tactician who is capable of making game-changing decisions on the fly? He looked out of it. Whether or not he should have taken a chance on starting Messi is a subject for debate, but I think we all agree that once it was clear Messi wasn’t in the match, he should have been off the pitch. I cannot fathom why Villa wasn’t sent in much earlier, and other changes should have been made as well. Very worrying. Maybe he needs a boot in the ass?

      • replayed
        April 24, 2013

        Tito’s passivity in the 2nd half is the thing that troubles me most about this game.

        Same here.

        I’d like to be able to say that this was a shock to me, but it wasn’t.

        You will find that the team has failed to make all 3 substitutions in a number of matches which they were failing to win.

        I still remember the first time against Real Madrid at the Camp Nou back in October, when I commented on this to express my disappointment.

        Other instances:
        – at Real Sociedad
        – at Madrid in the Copa
        – essentially at Valencia where Thiago came in at minute 90
        – at Milan
        – essentially at Madrid in the league where Tello came in at minute 85 after Ramos had pulled Madrid ahead

        So there’s plenty of precedent, even if none so dismaying as at Bayern.

        I mean, *one* substitution in a rout!? For real?

        • cliveee
          April 26, 2013

          Tito wasn’t 100% fit to me. He didn’t prepare the players well enough to compete for a team of beasts in Munich. Tello exclusion also showed it. As for not using subs, I don’t think subs will make a lot of difference when a system is crashing. Bayern’s game plan simply was better executed than we did. Neymar won’t change it.

    • barca96
      April 24, 2013

      Agree with everything Nick except for Cesc. I still believe that a 50% Messi is still better than Cesc at false 9.

      Cesc needs too many touches and doesn’t protect the ball well and isn’t able make penetrating runs and based from last night, I don’t think he would fare well.

      • April 24, 2013

        I think Cesc is far too slow to have played effectively against this Bayern team.

    • Clouseau
      April 24, 2013

      1.Agree. His yellow card may have been avoidable but overall he played very well.

      2.Alba was known for his petulant behaviour pathetic that the club didn’t discipline him enough.

      • barca96
        April 24, 2013

        Alba is known for having a temperament since his days at Valencia

    • Jim
      April 24, 2013

      Disagree with the first but agree with 2 and 3. Not blaming Bartra but have a look at his positioning on the goals and he was lost. He was put into a situation not of his own making and will get better.

  14. barca96
    April 24, 2013

    Blitzer, I thought that Pique was our best defender out there. He was the only defender we had who could contest an aerial battle out there.
    And it was a very matured display.

    I for once agreed with Tony Gale / Martin Smith. If Bayern gets the ball over Pique, then they have overcome the only hurdle in terms of high balls.

    • Jim
      April 24, 2013

      Agreed. Too often this season Piqué has been left with defenders who don’t really know what they are doing. Bayern beautifully took Piqué out of the equation after early successes in being where he ball was.

  15. barca96
    April 24, 2013

    I actually had a good feeling in the first 10 mins because usually we start slowly and then regain control. Bayern were chasing shadows!

    But instead of pushing on harder, they allowed Bayern to get into rhythm and the rest is history.

  16. bhed
    April 24, 2013

    I was on the fence about Alexis before this game. Fairly or unfairly, I’m not anymore – time to clean house. For the people complimenting his work rate, I must have been watching a different game. At least in the first half, he was poor defensively (tracking back is one thing, effective defense is quite another) and on offense, he was easily knocked off the ball, made very few dangerous runs, and most of the time seemed to be wandering around with his arm outstretched complaining to whoever was watching about some perceived injustice. He was a bit better in the 2nd half, but really, in a game of this magnitude, to only have one semi-effective attacker (Pedro) was unconscionable. True, Messi shouldn’t have been on the pitch, but at least he had an excuse, plus “equal treatment” be damned, six years of superhuman consistency should count for something.

    Of course it was a team loss, but that shouldn’t be an excuse not to make some difficult choices. The system needs the right kinds of players.

    Next year? Possible squad (2 deep):
    GK – new guy, Pinto
    CB – new guy (please be tall AND fast), Pique (who I thought was worse than Bartra yesterday), Masch, Bartra
    FB – Alba, Alves (isolated, yes, but didn’t do himself any favors with typically errant crosses), Adriano? Montoya. This is where I think the higher-ups are continuing to ignore a problem. Who thinks Adriano will have less injury problems next year? I’d like to see a taller, more defensive minded right back instead of Alves, so you have the Abidal Alves combo, with Alba and new guy, but on opposite sides of the pitch.
    DM – Busquets, Song (should have got a shot in the 2nd half)
    AM – Xavi (but not every game), Iniesta, Cesc (maybe we should get rid of him, not sure myself, but we won’t), and Thiago
    Forwards – Messi, Neymar (its happening, like it or not), Pedro, Tello, Deulofeu? new guy? (possible if we sell both Villa and Alexis)
    Coach – I think keep Tito for one more season at least, but that was a shameful coaching display yesterday, for many of the reasons mentioned on this blog.

    A squad is not the same as a team, and some new tactics will have to be implemented, rotation will have to be smarter (and bolder), and we must recapture that high aggressive press (which means more rotation for Messi).

    Oh well, life goes on, we could all use a dose of humility (but no more humiliation please), and as someone else said, at least this lessens Rosell’s chances of a second term.

    Visca Barca!

  17. Clouseau
    April 24, 2013

    It’s pretty unfortunate that the players had to endure such a beating and pay off for the errors made by sporting administration.
    But it had to happen pretty ironic that about 4 years ago Barcelona won against Bayern 4:0 and made them change their policies and now they returned the favour..

    Visca Barca!

  18. mom4
    April 24, 2013

    I’m strangely OK this morning. Last night was a wake up call. We’ve had several of those this year, but I think this one will sink in.

    We have the bones around which to build up again. As long as we do it wisely it should be a fun ride.

    And thanks, players and coaches, for one hell of a ride these past few years. Very grateful for you teaching me to enjoy this game.

  19. Gogah
    April 24, 2013

    Isn’t Jupp Heynckes out of a job in the summer? Maybe we..

    • April 24, 2013

      He is a brilliant tactician. But I am into thinking the water swamped pitch – especially in some important areas, also could be part of his tactics.
      Would Catalans enjoy that kind of tactician?

      • April 24, 2013

        He is not “out of a job”, he is retiring. By choice. Although Bayern management is guilty of being a bit too eager to rush out and sign up Guardiola and not giving Heynckes the send-off he deserves. He has built a brilliant team, and if he ends the season with a treble I hope he rubs it in their faces a bit.

        • April 24, 2013

          As I understood it, Heynckes “was retired.” That is, he wasn’t ready to go, but the team got Guardiola and they all decided that it was time for him to move on.

  20. April 24, 2013

    People, sheath your long knives, please. I have seen barbs hurled at Song, Sanchez, Bartra, Valdes and lord knows who else, but here’s what happened yesterday: Bayern Munich had to play one of the best matches of football I have EVER seen to beat us. Period. That is how good we are, that an opponent has to play at THAT level to put the hammer down.

    Again, this is a systemic failure. It isn’t pointing at certain players, or saying “If only X or Y player were there, it would have been different.” What, were we going to replace the entire starting XI in the transfer window? Because that’s who got their asses kicked yesterday — the entire starting XI, from A-Z, from Bartra to Xavi.

    Messi was one of the worst players on the pitch yesterday. Nobody is saying that it’s time to sell him. There have been good performances this season, and bad ones. This is a time to calm down, and appreciate what our players have done, not only to bring us unprecedented joy, but historically.

    Journalists who were praising tika taka to the heavens, and the triumph of small, technical players, are now coming to bury it. Good for them. Tika taka wasn’t beaten last night, not the way that it should be played. A one-man show was easily shut down, as a team that has essentially forgotten how the play the style that brought such success and renown got reminded of the value of that style.

    And that’s that.

    I don’t see change in style required, unless that change is to get BACK to the notions of total football and how they relate to tika taka. Was Javi Martinez brilliant last night? Yes. All of Bayern was. Would Javi Martinez have been brilliant for Barça? As part of a two-man back line frantically backpedaling against opponents running full-tilt on the break? You tell me. My guess is that cules would have by now been crapping on him for being so expensive, and not performing up to some lofty standard.

    Cycles happen in sport. They come to an end usually because a great team either holds on too long, or forgets why it became a great team. In our case, it was a little bit of both.

    Here’s something else I know: Bayern better bring that same damn game to the Camp Nou next week. Because if they don’t, recall how they almost gave up a big lead against Arsenal? We ain’t Arsenal.

    • April 24, 2013

      Agreed, what broke down yesterday was the system, simple as that. We did not play the way we know how, why that is the case I am not sure. We are still capable of it, as we showed against Milan not so long ago, but we certainly did not employ any of it last night. Their soggy pitch didn’t help and some of the decisions made me sick, but regardless we didn’t even come close to playing our game.

      There is no shame to losing to this Bayern team. They really are an exceptional team and hats off to them they played a remarkable game. They worked their assess off as a team and tactically they knew exactly what to do for pretty much the whole 90 mins. Reminded me a lot of ourselves in our first season under Pep, that hunger from every single player on the pitch! Unfortunately you cannot buy that sort of thing and our players have won so damn much it is only natural that the same level of hunger isn’t there.

      On the return leg; I wouldn’t put it past our boys to turn up and put one hell of an asswhooping on Bayern. Maybe it won’t be enough to overturn the tie but as long as they show up and make me proud then I will be happy. Then again, who knows, its not so long ago we put a manita past an on form Real Madrid with non other than Jose Mourinho at the helm! 🙂

    • bhed
      April 24, 2013

      But a system is made up of players. The “should we replace our entire starting 11?” or “should we sell Messi?” argument is a bit of straw man. The questions are, do we have the right group of players in the right roles, and is the system/training getting maximum effectiveness from those players?

      There are plenty of players who have had some stinkers, who I still think are great assets to this team overall. There are others, who I just don’t see working out. I was at the Malaga game, and really rooting for Alexis, but I thought he was flat out awful yesterday, at least in the first half, a total waste of space. I’m not going to watch this game again (I’m not a masochist), but everytime I watched him in the first half, he had an outstretched arm and a look of being aggrieved, more to his teammates than the refs. “I couldn’t have made that run!” “But he’s being mean to me!” Those were my impressions, I’ve been wrong before, but my wife who was watching the game with me was making the same observations. There were a host of other problems, but that one stood out for me today.

      • April 24, 2013

        But why single out Sanchez, is my point. That loss is on everyone. So my point is if yesterday convinced you that we should sell Sanchez, the transfer list should be a lot longer.

        What stood out for me today was that the team didn’t have a clue, because the match yesterday laid bare how far from pure tika taka the team has moved. I didn’t really have time to parse individual performances, because I was too busy being appalled at that.

        Bayern played the perfect match, and they caught us on a crappy day. Or maybe it’s time to admit that it wasn’t a crappy day, but a level of play that has become more the norm than the Milan 4-0.

        So for me, singling out Sanchez is like being at a dam collapse, and wondering why one kid doesn’t have his finger in the hole.

        • He will be singled out because he is setting the grass on fire against other opponents also. He still cost 38 million. I am not blaming him for the loss but Tito has to define the role he has to play first.

        • bhed
          April 24, 2013

          I freely admit it was personal perception, but if you can stomach to watch that match again (a big ask, even for a dedicated mod!), keep your eye on him in the first half. It wasn’t just a matter of (in)competence, he looked alternately lost and petulant. Make the damn runs, stay on your feet, and don’t be a punk! Pedro wasn’t super effective either, but he looked much more involved and generally up for it. Again, only my perception, but I haven’t really been anti-Alexis in the past (although he does go down when the wind blows, but then again, so do Alba and Cesc), and was bit shocked and surprised by how ineffective he was, rather than feeling like earlier perceptions were just confirmed.

          I don’t think the team were all equally bad, and while I agree that Messi was the most ineffective of all, as I said in an earlier comment, 6 years of mind-blowing superhuman consistency should count for something. It was the technicos who should’ve benched him.

          I think you can legitimately criticize the system AND individual players (and the front office for that matter). One doesn’t preclude the other. Not too happy with Pique either, but that’s another comment.

    • G6O
      April 24, 2013

      There was a key word you used in that post and it was “total football”. It had disappeared from our game, and that’s where our problems are coming from

  21. ilie
    April 24, 2013

    Whatever the “reasons” for what happened yesterday are, we definitely need an influx of height and athleticism.

    As I said in another comment, other than Neymar, how about Sakho from PSG? He has all the tools and last I heard, he’s looking to leave

  22. drexler
    April 24, 2013

    The biggest concern for me yesterday was Tito’s limp reaction. Hate to use the term “deer-in-headlights” but that was what it looked like. Clearly after the 2nd goal, something vastly different was required either to keep the scoreline steady and have something to fight for in the second leg or go gung-ho in attack. He completely left them out there when it was patently obvious nothing was working. Thiago for Pedro and a switch to 4-5-1 after going down to 2 – 0 would’ve stabilized them. Messi will then switch to playing as a 10 with Sanchez as the out and out striker. Support from Iniesta and Thiago/Xavi and play a double pivot of Busi and Thiago/Xavi. That is, if Xavi burst forward, Thiago stays to mind the shop with Busi or vice versa. If that worked for the next 10 mins,then Villa and Cesc/Song to be considered. Cesc if a goal seems likely; Song if things still remain shaky. Shocking from Tito. Btw, i’m a lifelong Liverpool fan.

    • Jim
      April 24, 2013

      It’s not hard. We have been taught the same lesson three away CL games in a row. Messi alone up front as a threat can’t hack it every time. We need a figure up front who can hold the ball back to goal or spin off CBs to create a situation where they not get a moment’s rest. The only person who fits that bill at the moment in our squad is Villa. That gives Messi either a wall or a decoy in the area he needs it. And when Villa goes – I can see a perfectly valid argument for getting money for him this summer but only once we have a ball playing replacement- we won’t be ale to ind a big man with the correct skills because he has to be lightning quick at spotting a chance , like Eto’ o and Villa.

      I’m sorry but the Alexis argument is becoming wearisome. The guy can’t hack it at Barca – for whatever reason. He carries no threat whatsoever. Done. Tell me he saved us defensively and I’ll ask you who he was marking at the first two goals. He is also really starting to irritate me with his constant falling to the ground and moaning after losing the ball. The more worrying aspect for me is that I’m starting to think I was wrong about Pedro and he may have to go as well. He has been ineffective for a while now and just doesn’t seem to be finding the attacking spaces he once did. Yes, we can blame the midfield but there comes a point where we say but what are you bringing to this very expensive party? We can’t afford to pay megabucks to players who can’t beat a man in a one on one situation. It maybe is a case of me cutting a La Masia product too much slack, I don’t know. However, I don’t want to continue watching teams feeding us space on the right for Dani to launch a ball into the west stand. I want wingers who can beat a man and hit hard low crosses into the danger area and one one following up for the scraps. We are allowed to score bad goals.

      Other than that we somehow need to address the height issue although the urgency for this season has gone. Finally, as someone has said, we need to reduce the space between the lines to allow a little more effective pressing.

      I’m really not too concerned about this loss. We won the league and stopped Madrid crowing. But we need to get our thinking – and buying right without changing our philosophy.

      • drexler
        April 24, 2013

        Jim, the loss out to concern you a lot. Think back to the second leg against AC Milan. When Barca played with Villa as a 9 and Messi in behind with Pedro playing for as a left attacking mid than winger, Allegri later stated that Villa movements concerned him. The implication is Barca deviated from their 4-3-3 and expected game plan. Everyone knows…it’s always Villa,Messi,Pedro; Iniesta, Busi Xavi + Defenders. Anytime, one of them is shifted around into a new formation, opposing teams get confused because that is not the “expected” Barca formation. That’s was Guardiola was trying last season with the 3-4-3. It was totally unexpected and if it hadn’t been for injuries and adjusting new players into the system, it would have proved devastating. Games such as the semis requires a tactical approach slightly different from the usual style. Bayern did it against Arsenal, Juve and now Barca. They didn’t play the same way. Contrast this to Barca’s games against AC, PSG, Bayern. With the exception of the home game against AC all encounters featured the standard 4-3-3 approach and tactics. Messi singlehandedly rescued the team against AC and PSG. Half-fit and having not played in a long time…it was just tempting fate asking him to do it for the third time again on the bounce. Something different is required and only a coach can come up with it.

    • georgjorge
      April 24, 2013

      While Tito’s been around for some time, it’s still his first (half) season as head coach. If he is half the man that I think he is, I’m sure he will learn a lot from yesterday’s failure (as will a lot of the players, hopefully) and improve his decision-making.

  23. TITO
    April 24, 2013

    Apparently Bayern have also signed Lewandovski.

  24. Jim
    April 24, 2013

    Btw, did anyone hear journos giving Roura a hard time over the blatant lie about Messi getting the medical green light? Not sure it happened and wondering why not.

  25. Gogah
    April 24, 2013

    Tito better speak.
    He said that he took this job because he felt strong enough and now while his fight might be admirable and all that, an inaccurate self assessment is also a betrayal to the fans, the job and this incredible club.

    leaving that aside, I wonder what role he played in the buildup to the match with regards to preparation, motivation etc. Yes, this team is allowed to lose of course. But so spectacularly? With so little inspiration, imagination or motivation on such a grand stage? Its perplexing. A team with so much talent, potential and pedigree CANNOT lose so spectacularly and so comprehensively. Not to mention being tactically overrun. This, after Heynckes declared he knows the team better than he knows his own players. Maybe he should manage us. Couldn’t Tito have tried to offer something a little imaginative? Did he learn anything at all from Pep all those years when they stayed ahead of the curve keeping people guessing about lineups and formations and tactics? Did he learn anything at all about motivating the players, players who obviously are tiring from an overdose of winning. What about the promise of “we may win or lose, but not for lack of trying”.

    Here’s another thing. we won that milan game 4-0 because it was friggin knockout round of 16. There was simply no option of going out at such an early stage. the players coached themselves and got it done. But now, pique shows up bald (wtf), everyone’s all cocky ‘Barca making it to a record 6th straight semi final’.
    Something to think about: Did they lose because well.. it was okay to lose at this stage? and to such a formidable opponent? In the absence of any work before or during the game from Tito, the players also just sort of rolled over. I don’t believe Bayern played such a great game as some are making it out to be, I just believe that we reallly sucked. And it was shocking to see. Yes, nobody and everybody is to blame. But I’d start with Tito and also end with him.

    • April 24, 2013

      No. Watch that match again. Bayern was as extraordinary as we were in the manita against RM. Perfect tactics and execution by fit, fresh players. Impossible to argue with. A team in the condition that ours was in, coming up against Bayern in the condition that IT was in, was always going to get its ass whipped. It’s why I said this team needed to play two more great matches to win the CL. One needed to be yesterday. It was far from great. But couple that with the way that Bayern played, and it was inevitable.

      People can blame whoever they like, because often in a catastrophic failure it is easy to focus on a single person, be they a coach or player. But that blame is misguided and incorrect, in my view. The team didn’t have it. TEAM. And Bayern did. Boy, did they.

      Robben tracking back and defending. Those five words alone show how much, how hungry that club was. This was their moment, and they seized it. We had the chance, and we didn’t.

      Vilanova. What could Vilanova have done? Let’s look at the options:

      –Thiago. No. What could he have done that Xavi or Iniesta weren’t?
      –Villa. Again, he would have been standing in the box or on the shoulder of the defense. But the way Bayern were playing the passing lanes, the ball would never have reached him.
      –Song. Double pivot with Busquets? Okay, so who comes off in his place? That would have been playing not to concede, rather than to score. We just don’t do that.
      –Tello. Playing canasta with JDS.

      Sometimes, there is just no answer. Yesterday was one of those times.

      • Jim
        April 24, 2013

        You’re right in that sense, Kxevin. No advantage of Villa without Messi or Iniesta capable of carrying the ball towards the box. However, it would have been worth a go cos it didn’t take much to see we were clueless offensively and I got the feeling Messi realised this early on and didnt see the point in damaging his hammy further.

        There was one really telling shot I saw where Piqué pushed forward into their last third and when he looked up there were 6 Bayern players right ahead of him and not one Barcastuff player. We set up like we were scared. However, again I’d agree that on that night we might not have beaten them even if we had played. They executed beautifully and you have to admire that if you like good football.

      • Gogah
        April 24, 2013

        Dont want to watch it again. In fact didnt watch the last 10 mins. Just couldn’t.
        Kxevin, I share the exact same views as you in many things. Except in this case, the (due) criticism you are trying to shield Vilanova from.

        -Yes it was a team failure. a system failure. an execution failure.
        -I too care little about nitpicking individual performances or analyzing personnel alternatives as you have done. It would have made no difference.
        -Because I too, was busy being appalled at the way everything collapsed in that match.
        -They had a plan. We didn’t. Or ours was the master creative plan to show up with the (best) 11 and do our thing. (that thing which we have forgotten to do as you’d agree)

        Vilanova. What could Vilanova have done? Let’s look at the options:
        yes lets look at the options indeed.

        1. Prepare the team. mentally first. (is that a big ask) physically ,second. and tactically, third – would have been a bonus (considering the mental strain on his health)

        2. Be aware and made the team aware that they didn’t exactly crush milan or PSG to make the semis. Bayern were cruising.

        3. That during the game, from the get go, as they kept getting corners and clearly demonstrated a gameplan, on a semi final. Not only did he look like he didn’t anticipate this, he amazingly chose to do nothing during it. What do you think was said at half time?

        I dont know about you, but even a crappy barcelona on a shitty day managed by a half decent guy with the resources he has should be able to manage a situation what was 1-0 then to 2-0, even 3-1 max. But 4-0? the way it happened? I don’t know buddy.
        I want to believe you that Tito wasn’t the guy who probably goofed it up the most.
        At a stage like the semis, the first preparation would have to be readying the players for war. You have to show intent. And it has to start from the coach. of course the next step is for players then to execute it. But one must flow into another. The dude before didn’t do his part I feel.

        • April 24, 2013

          But Bayern was getting corners because the defenders were making silly plays. No pep talk can prepare for that, right? “Okay, don’t be stupid out there.”

          The team was mentally prepared. But sometimes, you just don’t have it, or your opponent has more of it.

          Without knowing what was said in the locker room and how, it is impossible to know how Vilanova prepared his players. But I know that he has done pretty well up until now. Bayern played the EXACT kind of match you have to play to kick the crap out of us. No sugar-coating that.

          • Gogah
            April 25, 2013

            I just don’t see how you are saying the team WAS mentally prepared.

  26. Gogah
    April 24, 2013

    And The board’s comment about Tito bettering Pep in every level just infuriates me, in its blatant attempt to undo or sugarcoat the heavy loss of a legend / quality in Pep during their regime. Such a petty group of administrators. They would have embarrassed the hell out of Tito and Pep the same, with a comment like that.

    • Jim
      April 24, 2013

      Not sure that Pep leaving can be blamed on the board other than by making a lot of assumptions. As I remember it Pep dithered for a lot longer than he should have then walked out on us.

    • April 24, 2013

      I don’t think you can blame the entire board for a comment that Toni Freixa made on his own. And I do think Freixa meant to praise Tito rather than put down Pep, something along the lines of, “Tito is so humble he said he would never measure up to Pep as a coach or a person, but he has exceeded everyone’s expectations on both levels.” He just said it in the most awkward possible way.

      • April 24, 2013

        It’s like when he made that comment after the PSG game about the referee not knowing the rules and everybody thought he was referring to the offside goal, lol.

    • Jim
      April 24, 2013

      …. And that may have ended the Hummels debate !

      • April 24, 2013

        3-1 Dormund. Apparently Lewandowski is kicking ass. Hat trick for the man. Dayum!

        • April 24, 2013

          Um, make that 4-1 in the 70th minute. It could still end up 4-4 with Dortmund down to nine, though.

  27. KEVINO17
    April 24, 2013

    Didnt think it was a pen,. Reuss left his leg in a bit.
    Hummels too slow anyway. We need blindingly quick CBs so we can play a high line

  28. KEVINO17
    April 24, 2013

    The only conclusions to be drawn from yesterdays game is that Messi should never have played and Barca needed an alternative which they didnt have. The number of times we got into good positions and there was no target in the box was criminal

  29. April 24, 2013

    Wow. So many reactions and understandably so after a game like this.

    @end of an era
    In Pep’s last year we no longer dominated domestically and failed to win the CL. Actually the last emphatic win of that season was the away game at the Bernabeu in which Abidal scored. This year we won 18% of the clasicos and knock-out legs.

    Also the team has changed a lot since 2008/09. Apart from the coach, more than half of that season’s squad players are no longer with us. This summer VV (among others?) might leave also. That seems like the end of an era to me.

    If we regain our world domination next season future soccer fans might say this year was a lull in the era. Or perhaps we will talk about a “double era” like part one and part two (I’m hoping for a trilogy).

    @Tito Vilanova
    Jupp Heynckes remark that he knew Barça like the back of his hand should have warned Tito. However it is a bit strong to call for his head after he pretty much won the Liga after 19 games.

    @any individual players
    At the end of the season we need to take a cold look at who is in and who is out. At the end of the season. We can’t base those decisions on yesterday’s game

    @they played the perfect game and we played like crap
    True. But this season we have heard this phrase a bit too often

    @team defense vs defense defense
    Two problems that exacerbate each other. Team defense gives away too much space. From the space we give away too many counters, corners and set pieces. Midgets can’t defend them.

    I will also say that ANY defense in the world who loses players like Puyol (age and injury) and Abidal (cancer) will be worse off. Those two are giants of the modern game and not easily replaced.

    Oh, and Hummels is not the solution. But we knew that before he gifted RM this goal. By the way, I cannot think of a team that had more luck throughout their CL campaign than M*drid this year. Let’s hope it runs out soon.

  30. Ryan
    April 24, 2013

    I can’t watch the game either, but oh my Lewandowski has a hat trick within 55 minutes! Would be a shame to have both Spanish teams crash at the semis yet again, but would rather not have EE win la decima if possible!

  31. KEVINO17
    April 24, 2013

    Alonso forgot its not a La liga ref. 4 -1

  32. mom4
    April 24, 2013

    Zubi, I want a Lewandowski for my birthday this year. Pretty please?

  33. Huckleberry
    April 24, 2013

    Barça is a victim of its own success. All big opponents learnt from Barça, but it kept on adding more of the same thing. More passers, more possession, more Messi, more small players. And that started with Pep. Not one of the signings after the initial season had really a big impact. All the big signings failed or, if not failed, could not carry the team (Ibra, Villa, Mascherano, Alexis, Cesc, Song, even Alba), not one form the youth teams could make the first eleven since then. But the team lost Eto’o, Henry, Pep, Puyol and Abidal, and also their actual coach for half of the season. Alves and Xavi seem to be over their peak. Valdes, Piqué, even Xavi look saturated and tired. All the attackers lost their confidence in the shadow of the big Messi. And if he has an off day, no one can step in.
    Vilanova did not really coach the team yesterday. But make no mistake, the team that lost 0:4 yesterday is all Pep’s team (minus Alba), who started its decline in the middle of the last season.

    • April 24, 2013

      “Barça is a victim of its own success.”

      Very true. I think we are the first team in the world that is so good that opposing teams with more than 100M worth of players still sabotage their own pitch in order to keep us from playing football.

      • April 24, 2013

        Oh, piffle. If playing on a bog could help us, we’d do it, too. Fact is that a billiard table-smooth pitch that is slicker than snake snot is what helps our style. Every club controls its own pitch, within dictates imposed by the appropriate governing body.

        The pitch sure didn’t slow them down on that Robben goal.

        • April 24, 2013

          Agreed! I did not mean it as a complaint, but rather as a compliment to our team because, really, it is quite amazing.

          I remember that Ajax in the early 90s used to use their pitch to an advantage in a very similar way to Barça but they were not as awesome as to have powerhouses like M*drid, Chelsea or Bayern Munich take these kind of measures.

        • Jim
          April 24, 2013

          Hardly piffle when you set up a pitch to avoid slick football being played. It was obviously within the guidelines as they got away with it but the statement is quite accurate that it wasn’t set up for positive but rather negative reasons and to that extent it was a kind of complement. I also suspect they were told they had gone too far as they had an army of groundsmen out spiking the pitch at half time.

          • April 24, 2013

            I just think that a home team can set up the pitch any way they like. What Bayern did is no more or less bad than what we do to the Camp Nou pitch. So teams can say “they just water the pitch and cut the grass with nail clippers so their passing game can work so well.”

  34. TITO
    April 24, 2013

    That’s how Merkel decided to forgive Spain’s debt.

  35. simple_barcafan
    April 24, 2013

    Germans and their blitzkrieg tactics…

  36. KEVINO17
    April 24, 2013

    Boy gundagan is a great player. A young Xavi who can attack.

  37. Gogah
    April 24, 2013

    I don’t think I can love Dortmund any more.
    They’ve been glorious all season.
    Such a shame Gotze.

  38. deckardcain
    April 24, 2013

    Now I know how M*dridistas felt last night.

  39. stefan2k
    April 24, 2013

    Guess Dortmund would have trashed us too :/

    Those germans are basically playing tiki-taka just with more atheltic players and more directness… impressive!

    Nevertheless we will be back! 🙂 Looking forward to take La Liga

    • G6O
      April 24, 2013

      Looks like European dominance has moved from Spain to Germany…

      Which may not be such a bad things as it was done mostly with homegrown players (Dortmund in particular).

      Their combination of speed AND skill on the ball is frightening – it has been apparent for a few years, but the players were mostly too young an inexperienced and this prevented them from reaching the top. Not the case anymore.

      We will have to address the athleticism issue – you can overcome that if you have a sufficiently large gap in technical ability. But we no longer have that advantage – we still have the most skilled players but the gaps has been narrowed and it is not enough anymore

  40. TITO
    April 24, 2013

    Oh, that’s how Hummels plays when he’s not the best Bundesliga defender.

  41. Gogah
    April 24, 2013

    Barring miracles, the best two sides in this CL will face off in the final. Football justice?

  42. Gogah
    April 24, 2013

    Are you f*****g kidding me!
    No way should Pep be allowed to add a Gotze and a Lewandowski to this Bayern squad. I’m guessing he isn’t finished.
    And any Cule who isn’t afraid of this prospect is just kidding themselves.

  43. April 24, 2013

    I know it wont happen but I would love it us to sign Lewandowski. He really is a great striker. Good on the ball, good in the air, works hard and presses, great with his back to goal and linking play.

  44. April 24, 2013

    4-1 your final. RM left with a shard of hope, given the away goal, but not much. A wee bit more than us, though. Both Liga sides would need minor miracles to advance. In many ways, we have a more of an infinitesimal chance of advancing than they do.

    But in both cases it sounds like (didn’t watch them) the German sides figured out exactly how to play them. They neutralized Xabi Alonso, from what I gather from the social media universe.

    • Jim
      April 24, 2013

      It was certainly pleasing to watch the much lauded Varane and also Pepe having such a torrid time 🙂

      • Nav
        April 24, 2013

        Varane is probably the most overrated player right now. It’s him, then Ozil.

      • The truth varane’s success came mostly against us. He was never tested by a striker properly. We used to negate ourselves playing the false-9. But don’t over blow it, that kid is good.

        • Nav
          April 25, 2013

          Good and overrated aren’t mutually exclusive 🙂

          • barca96
            April 25, 2013

            Ozil over rated?! I still think that he would’ve been a better buy than Cesc. And still wishing if he could jump over to us.

            Varane is good. How many young CB’s out there are better than him?

  45. Clouseau
    April 24, 2013

    Mourinho outsmarted himself hahaha. His team looked clueless on that 4-1-4-1 formation.

    Well done BVB, rooting for them if they manage to advance. Pretty interesting to see how Borussias defence manages to win majorly their aerial duels.

    And yes Mom4 having Lewa would be a treat unfortunately he is said to be a Bayern bound 🙁

    • KEVINO17
      April 24, 2013

      Mou’s one-dimensional strategy (counter-attack only, please, gentlemen) really rose up and bit him on the arse, particularly when they were chasing the game.
      Lewandowski’s third goal was just sublime.

  46. KEVINO17
    April 24, 2013

    If Lewa is going to Bayern we must grab Gomez.

  47. TITO
    April 24, 2013

    Pique was a subject to drug test last night. 😀
    Of course he was. What a hell was he thinking with that “haircut”.

    • April 24, 2013

      Insult to injury. If he was on drugs, they sure weren’t “performance-enhancing”.

  48. KEVINO17
    April 24, 2013

    Funnily enough, despite the game against Bayern, I think we still have a better team in all aspects except structure (though we probably would have still won with a fully-fit Messi). The big problem is the absence of a serious TARGET in the box. People will be amazed at how good our wingers suddenly look with someone big to hit in the goal mouth (instead of waiting for a midfielder to turn up, if they’re lucky). So often Dani overcooks his crosses because he just can’t find someone to hit. Most depressing aspect of the game came when Alexis had the ball on the edge of the penalty area – looked up and tried to find someone in the goal-mouth and there was nobody there. That absence was far more ridiculous than the set-pieces we conceded.
    Whereas look at Dortmund. All of their goals came because, at the right time, they had a lot of numbers in the box.

  49. K_legit in Oz
    April 24, 2013

    Do not reveal in their defeat for their defeat does not take away the pain of ours.

    • mom4
      April 24, 2013

      Sure did make facing the Madridista at bowling a bit esier tonight. That much is sure.

    • KEVINO17
      April 24, 2013

      Actually, after years as a sports fan I’ve inured myself to the sting of defeat. Nowdays I only feel the joy of victory (oh, and Schadenfreude at the defeat of an enemy). Everything else passes me by. Superficial, I know, but worth trying.

  50. April 24, 2013

    Luis “Nom Nom” Suarez got a 10-match ban for making a meal of a Chelsea defender.

    • K_legit in Oz
      April 24, 2013

      10 matches for a nibble? And the worst of tackles get a 3-4 match ban?

      • barca96
        April 24, 2013

        I don’t get it. Did he injure sandwich? No. Did he make a career threatening injury to sandwich? No. Why go overboard and ban the guy for 10 matches??!!

        Ok. It was bad and inhuman like but he didn’t injure anyone and how can bad tackles get 3-4 matches while this which doesn’t pose any injury scare get 10 matches.

        • April 24, 2013

          I would encourage folks to consider how they would react if Suarez grabbed Puyol’s arm and had lunch. It was an act of barbarism that deserved 10 matches and more. Tackles occur in the heat of battle, and are misjudged. Even the bad ones are at least within the game’s boundaries. That bite was a new level of heinous.

          That nobody was injured isn’t the point for me.

          • Agree. A tackle is made as a part of game. So a 3-4 match ban is fine. What Saurez did was disgraceful and the ten match ban is just fine. And remember he is a repeated offender. I would have liked a lengthier ban because of that.

  51. KEVINO17
    April 24, 2013

    Wonder who Jorge Mendes is going to shop this RM side to next. Price must be dropping fast.

  52. barca96
    April 24, 2013

    Go to Google and see who is on the cover 🙂

  53. Nick
    April 24, 2013

    Performance of Lewandowski is highly dependent of his teammates. Comparing his matches for Borussia and Poland is a good indicator. So he might well not be a good fit for us even if there was a chance of signing him.

    • Momo
      April 25, 2013

      Performance of any striker is highly dependent on his team. If they get him the ball in promising positions like at dortmund he will score, if he’s surrounded by mediocrity like at poland he will obviously be less effective.

      I would take him in a heart beat. The system needs to evolve away from messi at false 9. That tactic is always found wanting at the highest level now, we need a proper striker.

    • Puppet
      April 25, 2013

      I think it’s safe to say he’d get better service at Barca than he does with the Poland NT.

  54. barca96
    April 25, 2013

    I remember that there were talks of Hummels being better than Pique here last week. I was away on holidays so couldn’t comment on it.
    And I’ve only seen him play during the Euros.

    My question to the guys who think so is, have you seen him play many times (league + CL matches) to come to that conclusion?

    I think he is on par with Pique and I don’t think he is the answer to our CB woes. We need an Abidal like player. I hope our scouts are watching Ligue 1.

    ps. I haven’t seen the Dortmund Madrid match. So I don’t know how he performed.

    • Momo
      April 25, 2013

      Agreed on Hummels and Pique being of the same mold. I do think he will improve our defense but it will not be the same it is when pique and puyol are partnered. We need some pace at CB. Although hummel’s set piece defending and attacking is fantastic.

      Hummels like you mentioned isn’t very quick, I would say at the moment that positionally he is better than pique this season from what I’ve seen.

  55. barca96
    April 25, 2013

    How did Gundogan play?

    Over the past few weeks, his name came up a lot on the Guardian blog. I’ve only seen him play once early in the season and wasn’t impressed.

  56. ElJefe
    April 25, 2013

    Neymar, welcome to Barca.


  57. barca96
    April 25, 2013

    Love reading comments on the Guardian whilst uploading dozens of large photos on the net with a slow connection. Good way to kill my time.

    And amazing atmospheres.
    Old Trafford, the ‘Etihad’ and the ‘Emirates are libraries in comparison, (though still better than the hanky-waving plastics that frequent the Bernabeu and Nou Camp.).

    Real Madrid obviously decided to get thrashed out of sympathy for Barcelona, that’s their excuse anyways.

    Real Madrid starting XI: £345m
    Borussia Dortmund starting XI: £29m

    Regarding the stadium. I’ve always wanted to ask why Camp Nou uses an announcer who looks like he is more suited to a sombre occassion like at a funeral or something. Compare it to the Bundesliga announcers. They help create an atmosphere!

  58. Gogah
    April 25, 2013

    Is a Dortmund Barca final still possible?

    • Chiu
      April 25, 2013

      🙂 I just keep some faith. Read statement from Dante (via barcastuff), he said if Bayern can score four, they can also concede four.

      If they can score 4 in their home, we have probability to score 4, too, in our home, no matter how small the chance is. Hope for a miraculous night next Wed. When everything goes well and the team give 100%, anything can happen. Keep hope till the final whistle.

      Visca Barca!

  59. Gogah
    April 25, 2013

    Can Lewandowski win the Ballon D’Or if they win at Wembley?

  60. barca96
    April 25, 2013

    Iniesta: “if we want to keep on
    winning, we have to improve many
    things. Not talking about 4-5
    transfers, it starts with those who are

    Really surprised that Iniesta would say this. I guess there is something going on.

    • April 25, 2013

      Depends on whether he means himself too, or if he is talking about others.

      My guess is he talks about the team as a whole.

      • barca96
        April 25, 2013

        For him to imply that there are many things needed to improve suggests that he, or maybe a lot of them already knew that something is not working for quite some time.

        Besides that, I also find it strange for him to say this publicly. I can’t remember our players doing that.

  61. ooga aga
    April 25, 2013

    interestingly, tickets to the semifinal 2nd leg became very available (on the official website) after the loss vs bayern.

    it was much much harder to get a ticket for the PSG second leg than it is right now to get one to the semifinal.

    im guessing a lot of socis have written the team off.

  62. Obii
    April 25, 2013

    Don’t know if anyone has mentioned this, but I feel this team was unable to evolve this season. When the season began, we saw Tito trying to change the way Barca attacked and defended. We were quite impressed with the changes Tito was able to make during the game to alter the team’s tactical dimensions. I believe that had Tito been able to spend the whole season with them, this team would have been a different beast all together. No team coaches itself, and no team is able to deliver results when their main coach is indisposed for half the season. To get this far without that sort of guidance, and without being able to implement a plan that was designed to take this team forward is an accomplishment in itself. Next year will be different. I genuinely believe that.

    • barca96
      April 25, 2013

      Great points but I don’t totally agree with you.

      Tito had enough time to prepare this match and enough time to make some tweaks during the match.

      Football, especially this team, doesn’t need to change something drastically. Just minor changes. If you mean that the team had to evolve then yes, it would’ve been possible if Tito was there.

      But this team only has one style. I don’t think Tito would and should’ve changed its ways.

      • Obii
        April 25, 2013

        I disagree, this barca team does need to change the way it plays. Unless the players are all on top form, this team does tend to struggle against the high press. Also considering the fact that they aren’t at their peak physically, it gets even harder. Other teams have evolved to counter the way Barca plays. Why would you say Barca doesn’t need to? I’m not talking about a plan B, as in stick a tall guy in the box. I’m talking about the counter to the high press being more than having all 3 of your midfielders drop deeper to facilitate sterile possession, without any forward thrust, which is what is happening at the moment. I’m talking about the insistence on using your wingers as just a means to stretch the opponent’s backline, with no direct threat on goal. That approach NEEDS midfielders to make runs down the middle, which is impossible when you’re dropping deeper and deeper to retain the ball against such an aggressive pressing system being employed against you.

        Tito had enough time to prepare for this game, but old habits die hard. Changes need to be methodically drilled into your brain over the course of a season in order for you to not resort to what you feel the most comfortable with when being pushed to the limit.

        In this match, did you see how Barca was beginning to have more of an attacking threat when Sanchez and Pedro started moving between the lines? Tito, i’m sure, did the best he could. This team may have been lacking for want here, but they weren’t underprepared. I just think the solution to the problem being presented by Bayern was just not second nature to them as yet.

  63. barca96
    April 25, 2013

    Jupp Hynkes’ post match was awesome. Watch or read it. He really has done his homework on us. And I could see it. The way many of our passes were intercepted, how they pressured us. Th

  64. barca96
    April 25, 2013

    Would anyone like to replace Reus for Pedro or Alexis?

    • April 25, 2013

      You mean replace Pedro or Alexis with Reus? (English lessons from the reviewer who wrote foots instead of feet and misspelled Messi – blame a 12 hour workday and staying up until 4 in the morning to write the review)

      I honestly haven’t seen enough Borussia Dortmund games this season, and I kind of regret it. Let’s see how they do at the Bernabeu next week, first.

      • barca96
        April 25, 2013

        Oh snap . The way I constructed that sounded like I’m a Dortmund fan.

        Based from what saw he did a pretty good job as a winger. Have only seen the first half so far though.

        I still dont know what the fuss about Gundogan is.

        • Obii
          April 25, 2013

          Gundogan worked hard and was very intelligent with his distribution/marking. Ran has socks off, just like Javi Martinez against Barca. Not the most technically gifted players both of em, but very valuable to the team.

  65. Ahmad
    April 25, 2013

    Since Alba is out for the second leg after his temperamental display, am I the only one who thinks that Abidal could fill in the left back position next leg?

    I think he’s out best choice and although its uncertain if he’s 100% fit or not he should definitely be a consideration.

    • Jackieboy
      April 25, 2013

      If we play with a back four, then he’d be a decent choice, given how Adriano injures himself literally in every game he plays recently. But does he have the stamina to run up and down the pitch? Personally, I’d like a back 3 a la the Milan game, with Abidal, Pique and whoever else is fit (Barta? Masche? Adriano?) as the CBs. Go all out at Bayern and either make a miracle happen or get knocked out of the CL with a bang. Nothing to lose.

  66. barca96
    April 25, 2013

    I somehow think that this current team is like the current Federer.

  67. ooga aga
    April 25, 2013

    i know we can score four against em in our house. all it takes is one, two, and then it becomes panic psych mode for the germans

  68. April 25, 2013

    Iniesta and Bartomeu had quite a lot to say in the presser today. Iniesta sounded even …. dare I say …. angry.


    “The end of an era’ – “Talk of the end of an era makes no sense.”

    “Last 5 years, we’ve won 2 Champions leagues, reached the semi in the other 3 and won 4 out of 5 leagues. That’s a hell of an era.”

    On the tide changing – “All that is unfair. We’ve been winning trophies and in the running for everything for many years now.”

    “To analyse 5 years through one match in Munich makes no sense. The end of an era means going years without winning silverware”

    “People should have a lot of respect for this squad, the coach and the club in general. Obviously, we need to improve & we will.”


    “This isn’t the end of an era. There is a structure and continuity here. There will be no overhaul this summer.”

    “I can not imagine Barça without the likes of Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Piqué, Busquets, etc.”

    “Tito will manage Barça next year. We have confidence in him, it wasn’t an easy transition to make and he’s done a great job,”

    “This isn’t 2009, when we brought in 9 players. That was an era change. There’s a foundation here. Just a few tweaks are needed.”

    “Why can’t we spring a surprise? We haven’t conceded defeat. Madrid thinks it can turn its tie around and so do we.”

    • April 25, 2013

      I liked that press conference!

      The team won’t be overhauled this summer (nor should it be) but it has changed significantly since 2008/09.

      It all depends on how one defends an era, I guess… I made the argument for a double-era in one of the comments above.

  69. April 25, 2013


    I don’t follow tennis, but at 31 yrs old Federer is past his prime and won’t get better.

    Do we need to make some adjustments? Absolutely.
    Is this the end of an era? It arguably ended last year.
    Is this team done? Far from it.

    With Iniesta(28), Cesc(25), Busquets(24) and Messi(25) we have some of the biggest talents in football They will probably be joined by Neymar (21) this summer.

    The comparison with Federer does not hold any water, imo. I think we are well placed to make another run at dominance in the next couple of years. Roger is not.

  70. Srini
    April 25, 2013

    I like the combative response by Andres Iniesta in the presser. The 4-0 was as much a tactical defeat to Bayern as much as anything else – personnel as suggested by others. The key for me was that Messi played his worst game in some years and was clearly unfit, unable to provide that initial burst of acceleration after receiving the ball that he always does. We only got to see the Passer Messi and that too a mediocre version of him, who was clearly unwilling to test his sore hamstring. I do think if Messi was being Messi, this couldn’t have turned out so bad at all.

    Second, the requisite zip in the midfield passing was clearly missing, with Busquets somehow being completely neutralised.

    I think Barca must try to go the Argentina way for one now. They have to play Messi as a 10 in the next game (fingers crossed, his hamstring recovers fully, although it is still doubtful if it really would). And then play Villa further along with Pedro.

    Heck, they could even try a 3-5-2 as was envisaged by Pep. Maybe play Abidal, Pique and Alves as the 3 and Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta and Thiago/Cesc/Song in midfield with Messi, Pedro and Villa upfront. Play Cesc in that diamond role that Pep envisaged and let him co-ordinate with the MVP upfront.

    By overloading the midfield, I think Barca can indeed put further pressure on the Bayern midfield. They have nothing to lose, not even pride. If they can make Bayern stumble in the first half and score a couple of goals, then it could make the tie very interesting.

    That doesn’t mean that there won’t be necessary changes next season. There has to be. A tall CB with proficient on-ball-skills, and a decent centre forward who offers some aerial threat as an another option are imperatives. Barca are increasingly being sorted out for their remnant but minimal weaknesses with no answers and that need redress come next season.

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