Barça vs Santos in Gamper Trophy match comments post

"My preciousssss!"
“My preciousssss!”

No liveblog for this one, but you can have at the match comments right here. Have fun, and here’s hoping for no injuries, and a win. I still have bad memories of the Gamper from watching Eto’o knock himself sliding in an attempt to score a goal. Ugh.

Anyhow …. VISCA!

Categorized as Barcelona

By Kxevin

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. .
    Starting 1:

    Alves Pique Macherano Alba
    Xavi Iniesta
    Pedro Messi Alexis

    1. i can’t understand why we didn’t demand they be in yellow, like the Qatar Foundation signature was. just goes to show how much power and influence the sponsors really have, if we can’t even get a change like that.

  2. it’s only 25 minutes in, but we look fantastic at 3-0. it’s so obvious that the team is more comfortable playing this intense pressing game, and with it we’re embarassing one of the best teams in South America.

    ladies and gentlemen, we may be BACK.

    1. Santos is not one of the best teams is South America. It was the best team in South America 2 years ago, But these things change very fast over there because European teams come an scoop up all the best talent as soon as it make itself apparent. Like we did with Neymar.

      And teams are broken up very quickly. In the case of Santos, this happened many months before we bought Neymar though.

      It was kind of sad actually that a team with such a history as Santos having to endure an 8-0 humiliation, even if it s a friendly. They are in no condition to play us at the moment, but it was probably they who insisted on having this game as part of the deal.

  3. Oh my. I got goosebumps for nearly a minute seeing Frank de Boer, Bergkamp, Kluivert, Overmars and one more person who I can’t remember in the Amsterdam Arena during the Ajax Roda JC match.

    I wish these crop of players at Barca will come back to Barca to offer their services after their retirement. It would be lovely.

  4. Alexis Sanchez was our best player at the tail end of last season and has taken his form into this preseason. If he continues in this vein it’ll be Neymar and Pedro fighting it out for a starting spot

  5. Alexis looks like he’s gaining more confidence with each game. Playing really well and that goal, last yr he would have taken a touch or missed. It looks like he learned just to blast it in and not over think things.
    Looks like the high pressing is back as well which, I think Barca are more comfortable with than sitting back.

  6. yes…loving the wing play…lex dribbled at defenders 5 or 6 times…that was a serious rarity last season..

  7. aaah, i’ve missed seeing our boys play together 🙂 . anyone got the Ray Ray stream? we’ve got beIN in spanish only.

  8. Pleasent to see the high pressing is back hope it continues. And Dongou scoring his debut goal :))

    Marvelous night.

    1. I know it’s a facile comparison due to their position and nationality, but Dongou reminded me of Eto’o when he dribbled past two defenders and laid the ball off to O Ney (who then hit the bar). Brought a smile to my face, it did.

  9. yes, beautiful play by dongou..beautiful composure from an 18 year old..he does strike me as a bit short for a typical 9 (though no fault of his own)..but im super-excited about his potential..he seems so level-headed..i don’t think i’ve been watching barca long enough to remember a 9 coming through the ranks.. new nickname for him is tron..guy is like a machine..smooth like he’s on wheels..every time he received the ball i caught myself holding my breath like when messi or el ney gets happy for him..

    fab..i know many people seem to be divided on him..his skill level, speed, futbol IQ..whatever..but for me, what he does bring to the game always outweighs the the attacking 1/3 he’s right up there with iniesta for me..maybe even more decisive.. and iniesta is my favorite player of all time..

    el ney…our left flank is some word that doesnt exist…i’ll call it albaney…our left flank is ALBANEY! which is a synonym for lethal.. frankly i dont know how any team is going to prepare to defend against soon as they start thinking about shutting down that side, they’re going to have all other kinds of problems to deal with…should i nitpick..ok..el neys gonna have to pick up the pressing when we get down to business..meaning the start of the season. i noticed on giveaways that there was almost no reactive movement in the backward direction from him..that works for messi, but we can’t have that from more then one person..

    messi..he’s got to be really happy about what he’s seeing..

    santos…are they really that bad??

    the jersey numbers…i thought they were absolutely awesome..i wish we could keep them all season..are team is a masterpiece..and deserving of an artistic uniform.

    cant wait for the the next match!

  10. My takeaways:

    1. Alexis is in the groove and ready to prove the doubters wrong. MOTM for me.

    2. Cesc is feeling good and playing well. He’s not going anywhere. Let’s hope he can keep up his form through the whole season.

    3. Neymar obviously understands how he will be expected to play in this system. A very encouraging start from him, although I was frustrated that I didn’t get to see how he will work with Iniesta and Xavi. Also, even though he only came on in the second half he was obviously tiring near the end. He needs to build up his endurance if he wants to ever play a full 90 minutes with this team!

    4. Neymar didn’t dive! But he did get knocked off his feet several times. Needs to bulk up more, even beanpole Cuenca could stay on his feet more than that. (Admittedly his former teammates may have been targeting him just for laughs.)

    5. Bartra looked much better. The only real problem that boy has is nerves, IMO. He freezes up a bit when he feels pressured to perform. It’s easy to relax when you are 5 goals up.

    6. If Adriano could manage to stay healthy for more than five minutes and keep taking shots like that, he would easily be one of our best players. I really hope this is a breakout season for him.

    7. Sergi Roberto continues to exceed expectations. I really liked how he combined with Cesc. Not exactly perfectly fluid, but they seemed to have a great awareness of what each other was doing & worked well together.

    8. Song was better in this game, but still not great. He really looks slow and unfit to me.

    9. Dongou has a great future ahead of him. I hope it’s with us!

    10. Keep your eyes on Macky Frank Bagnack. He looked very calm and composed. I like that a lot.

    1. Just to follow up my own post:

      Martino said in his presser that he is pleased with Neymar’s performance but he needs more training sessions to build up his fitness. He also made a point of congratulating other players for coming back from their vacations already fit. Makes me think Neymar was indulged a bit at Santos and allowed to slack off fitness-wise because he could make up for it with sheer talent. Won’t be happening here. It may take him a while to catch up, though.

      Look, even Neymar himself was impressed!

  11. Bagnack has me thinking a lot..i really think he will be ready soon…so do we really need to buy one of the best cb’s in the world now? do we need d. luiz? looking towards the long term..pique will be around for many years to come..batra..who knows? we have masch..he is 29..has a lot of years left in him..i really think people will be talking about bagnack like they are varane…in a perfect world puyol would be healthy and we wouldnt be in such a bind for a cb right now..and bagnack could move into the A team next year..

  12. oh god, I don’t know why am I laughing at the 6th goal, neymar assists to cesc, it looks so so easy, just walking, one glance to the right, pass and shoot.

    it’s too early to judge but then the future sure looks bright

    1. Most interesting about the Neymar assist for me was the quality of the pass, with so little effort and backswing. And the space the runner had because of the attention Neymar drew. That’s why I think Pedro is in for a good season.

  13. I missed it! Does somebody know a way to watch the full match online without having to download it from rojadirecta?

  14. I think some people are getting too excited about Bagnack too soon. He shouldn’t get any more than Copa del Rey matches at most this season.
    Rather than having selective memory about the short time he played he got roasted by one of the Santos forwards in the box only for Adriano to rescue him.
    I like the look of him on the ball and I like his interceptions but we shouldn’t start thinking that he is the solution to our problems. It would not solve our problems.
    The other problem, which is a bigger one, is that it would most likely ruin his career assuming that he failed. Promoting a player too early is a huge problem as shown by the likes of Gio dos Santos and Bojan.

    1. definitely hats off to tata..way to get the team firing on the first outing. i loved seeing him on the screen. he looks like a great guy to drink a beer or play a game of bocci with..

      i hear what youre saying ciaran..i agree. i just can’t imagine being a young player in our know that you literally have to become one of (if not) the best player in the world in your position to be able to “succeed”. i can’t imagine that mental pressure. i’d imagine that once these players get their chance on the field-they are never able to “just play”..the first focus must be to not make any major screw-ups..and regardless of how you play, there already maybe a log jam at your position.

      look at deulofeu’s situation..before him he has messi, neymar, sanchez, pedro, tello..and they are all 26 or younger! heck, barring injury, i don’t see how tello can even get substantial minutes this that i look at that list (and knowing that fab sometimes lines up in the front line) i could even see the arguement for tello being loaned out this year..

    2. I think you are wrong.
      Pressing like this consistently requires major rotation in order to keep the players fit.We don’t need to have messi,pedro or alexis(who will be a major force this season) in the lineup to win most liga matches.This goes the same for defenders as well.Even with a fit puyol and a more mature Bartra players like Bagnack will be given a chance at the first team if they are up for it.

      I also liked that although most times a coach is supposed to win the dressing room full of superstars; it’s coming the other way down. These boys played like they had something to prove to the coach last night and went fully along with his plea to bring back the pressing and did so both halves.

      Also thrilled about the la masia utilization – many people suggesting rosell and co. looked to move away from the use of the academy recently. Coach selection and his decisions prove the opposite ; la masia has so much talent that even rumoured to leave players like fabregas(who won’t leave nonetheless) seem replacable.

  15. I don’t think more players should leave on loan to get more minutes. In a great side no one is guaranteed a game. Keep kids like Sergi Roberto, Dos Santos, Dongou, Sagnack et al snapping at the established players heels – with all sets of players knowing that Deulofeu, Rafinha and Cuenca are already on loan at top sides ready to come back and challenge for places.

    Let’s just sign that one established centre half. Please…

    1. Messi, Neymar, Sanchez, Pedro, Tello, with Dongou and potentially Deulofeu and Cuenca. Best group of forwards in the world?

  16. What a match, even though we shouldn’t forget that Santos is mid-table in Brazil right now. Lots of players looked very good. Now that the press is back, expect him to capitalize on the chaos that it creates to get back among the goals in a big way.

    Neither Dongou or Bagnack are ready, but that they are being taken on the Asia tour shows that Martino wants to have a good, hard look at them. It also buttresses confidence among Masia players, in giving them a clear look at a path to the first team, if they earn it on the pitch. Perfect read of a situation, and an excellent move.

    — Note Martino’s words on Fabregas, which some are reading as there still being doubt that the player will stay. I have said before that he isn’t going anywhere. He played today like he had something to prove. I also like how Martino played it. I like the player and want him to stay, as he is a big part of my plans. The rest is up to him. This is absolutely true, just as it was for Thiago, it must also be noted.

    As much as we would like concrete denials from the player, Fabregas might be thinking that it isn’t even worth dignifying such talk with an answer. Or as some have speculated, perhaps he is using the silence and the pressure from the rumors to lever more playing time or something. If that latter is the case, to hell with him. Leave. But I don’t believe that to be the actual case.

  17. The biggest thing that Martino can do this season (which I think he will do) is to rotate a lot (except for Messi). If he rotates properly, they should be able to press all season long.

    1. He should definitely be able to rotate Messi considering the kind of depth we have (especially assuming/hoping Cesc stays). It’ll be another matter if Messi’s on his way to setting Liga records and stuff and won’t want to take a match off though.

  18. Great match!! Goals are actually overrated, even though we should not get carried away as Santos is not a yardstick for greatness,but the passing,pressure,and intensity was a beauty! And the 4th goal…goal of pure orgiastic proportion,I love O ney’s cameo and Alexis seems to have something up his sleeve,everyone looked serious#Tata’sEffect! More of that this season!,get a CB and
    Bring on the 2013/2014 season and Let the hostilities resume! VISCA EL BARCA!!!!!!

  19. .
    I concur with the praise for yesterday’s play by Alexis, Cesc, Messi, Sergi Roberto, and others. But it strikes me to see how much do we take Busquets for granted!

    Except for a mistake at the end of the first half —understandable because he, as the rest of the others, had been training for just four days, and they were already 4-0— he played majestically, with a couple of incredible faints and one or two excellent long passes. And he sweeped the midfield as always. His play was in stark contrast with that of Song: I liked him very much in the last games of last season, but, so far, and keeping in mind that he’s been training for three weeks, I’ve felt disappointed with his level of performance: he seems somewhat distracted.

    The first Liga match is in 15 days. Not that much time to wake up!

    1. Can we have possibly have Busquets as our Xavi replacement? He has the second best intelligence and passing on the team. Maybe he could utilize it further up the pitch?

    2. I see Busi as one of the best solutions to that «Xavi conundrum», as long as we find someone to play Busi’s role in the first place!

      However, I’ve always felt —and said— that I don’t worry about that issue. We’ve got plenty of players, in the first team and in La Masia, which play decently in the position of Xavi, albeit with their own style.

    3. I’m not usually one to correct other people’s spelling, but this:

      a couple of incredible faints

      made me giggle, because of Busi’s reputation for diving. 😆

      You meant “feints”, of course. 😀

    4. And the worst —or funniest— thing is that I looked «finta» in English and, when I got «feint», I thought, «Mmmm… so similar to “faint”» and… Well, hope it’s not the age!

    5. Hee hee! I wasn’t trying to embarrass you, I just got this vision in my mind of Busi running along with the ball then suddenly swooning dramatically! 😀

  20. Just a few things I’ve noticed from what I’ve seen of Neymar in our colors:

    – Iam convinced he has been brought to make space for others – Leo, Pedro etc and he will do that.

    – I must say though, that he has a tendency (like most brazilians) to linger on the ball a little longer. He must realise that he shouldn’t be the one slowing Barca’s quick game and rapid movement.

    – He might be likeable as hell. We may have paid 57M for him. But the Camp Nou and me included, may not show too much patience, if he loses the ball a lot with many people committed forward. Don’t get me wrong, I liked most of what I saw. But the dude does attempt nutmeg passes more often than normal ones in the attacking third and while they may work, they may also lead to dangerous turnovers.

    – He definitely needs to bulk up. Not because we need hulk type players, but because the rhythm I spoke about in point 2 also gets disrupted when a dude is writhing on the grass much too often.

    – I don’t want to sound like a critical nit picking person. Just wanted to point out some early blemishes I am spotting in his game. All this said, I must say that I am optimistic. I feel he is going to do really well and may well make that Barca LW his own. He will no doubt make space for others like Leo, Lexus and Pedro to thrive and if he continues to keep such a great head on his shoulders and handles media attention gracefully like he does currently, he will certainly become successful. I, for one, am damn excited about the upcoming season.

    – If only that CB came sooner… 😀

    1. Well it looked like to me he was desperately trying to get that first goal of his, could explain why he held onto the ball a lot longer than usual. Kudos for him trying to set up other players though, he has a good eye for that.

    2. You mean like Messi dwells on the ball as he figures out his next move, or Iniesta holds up the ball as he figures out his next move? That is less a Brazilian tendency and more a tendency of talented players, as they consider what to do next from the array of options at their disposal. The Neymar assist is a classic example of that.

      And by turnovers, do you mean like the Messi one that cost us at the Bridge two seasons ago?

      Bulking up? Like Iniesta has done so effectively during his time in the first team?

      Messi takes his fouls and goes down. So does Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets, etc. The difference is that Neymar will be getting fouled closer to the box. Once a few free kick or set piece goals whistle past an opposition keeper, the fouling of Neymar will stop, I can assure you.

      I would just suggest being careful about picking too many nits about a new player, when established first team players have those same nits that could be picked.

      As for why Neymar was purchased, it was to be another fluent attacking player in our arsenal, period. Expectations become millstones without a lot of extra effort. Sanchez, for example, carried the expectation of goals, for some unfathomable reason given his history at Udinese and with Chile. He is a wide creator who CAN score goals. Neymar is also a wide creator, with a greater facility at scoring goals than Sanchez.

      But placing any sort of expectation, numerical or otherwise on a player will only lead to disappointment. Look at Sanchez, who could have an otherwise excellent match, miss a chance and have people say “Man, Sanchez needs to get on the stick and demonstrate why we bought him.”

      I’d suggest just letting the team develop, and enjoying what happens this season with Martino, Neymar and other players such as Sergi Roberto.

  21. I agree with most of your observations.

    However my default expectations of Neymar is someone who has been brought in to score goals (Preferably 15 -20goals) and take off some the goal-scoring pressure off Messi. Every other thing is just an added (and welcome) bonus IM0.

    I made sure to ask fellow cules and 1 Santos fan (via twitter) and they all said my expectations were reasonable for his first season.

    Im still open to alter them BEFORE the season starts but based on his little Cameo I believe my expectations are (so far) right on the mark.

    1. We’re back in the same situation. Why does Messi sometimes lose the ball? Because he tries things ! Why will Neymar lose the ball? Same. I didn’t see the game but I’ve been crying out for Alexis to take on his defender – I gather from some of the posts here it is finally starting to happen. Great.

      There is no problem with losing the ball in the opponents third of the pitch. The problem comes with our inability to cope with that which stems from partly the lack of pressing and both FBs going too far forward at the same time – and playing converts at CB.

      Great score but the question remains. Who are we gonna get and when ? Players are now settling into their team for the season. It’s looking like an error to pursue TS all that time rather than realising it wasn’t gonna happen.

      Looking forward to the season though. Saw the goals on YouTube and it looked like we had movement in the box which is good. Santos looked a shambles defensively which is a pity.

    2. If they don’t take on their defenders and take risks then it will be the same as what has been happening with Alexis and Pedro, recycle and recycle. We needed more risk takers besides Messi and now we have Neymar.

      Hopefully Neymar won’t turn out to be the same as what happened to Alexis where he is so focused on following the system and scared to take on defenders and prefers to recycle.

  22. barcastuff ‏@barcastuff
    Mourinho: “Before being manager, I was assistant at great clubs. When I was 30, I coached Ronaldo, the real one, the Brazilian one.” [espn]

    Is that supposed to be a dig at CR7? If so, didn’t really deserve it for his achievements but yeah, R9 has more than goals and hard work.

  23. I gotta say watching our team in the first half was like watching a different Barca. It was like nothing I’d ever seen us play over the past 5/6 years. Obviously the way we pressured aggressively all over the pitch was nothing new, but when we had the ball we were oh so different. It’s really hard to describe it but one thing I could say is that we were far from predictable. I mean at some points we played our usual poised tiki taka possession, but next thing you know it, we were bombing long vertical passes, players were constantly swapping positions, making overlaps, giving one-twos. The players movements were so chaotic the Santos defenders couldn’t keep up. We’ve lost a bit of that finesse to our game though (most likely just the players being rusty). But I actually like what I saw, opponents used to just watch us in awe, now I think opponents will be covering their eyes so that they don’t end up having nightmares.

    -I’m still clueless as to how the players will be able to play with such intensity week in week out. I mean our starters only played 45 minutes and I was already exhausted just watching them work.

    -Is it me or were we a lot more aggressive in the way we defended, tackled, hustled etc? How is this going to work in La Liga? Will we be seeing our players receiving a lot more bookings this season?

  24. the logjam at left and right wing? How about dealing Pedro and using Tello more.
    Also I worry about the day Sanchez begins to get the ball stuck under his feet again like most of last year. I hate to see Tello stuck behind Pedro and Sanchez when I think he has the ability to be better than both by a light year or two…… if given the chance to play. Neymar can be a real factor but does he have a liking for tiki taka.
    Cesc is the conundrum. Where and when do you play him. Good luck to the new manager!!!

    1. If Tello were good enough to make us consider selling Pedro, his buyout would be more than 25m. Tello is talented, but could still go either way in terms of his development. Doesn’t track back, dodgy first touch, doesn’t see the whole pitch, etc, etc.

      Look at the Neymar assist, and imagine Tello over there. He wouldn’t have drawn the same defensive attention, which would have negated the quality of his cross, even were he to decide to do something other than cut in toward the center and shoot, or run toward the end line and bang in some hopeful cross.

      Tello is a bright, bright talent with the ability to come into a match late, and turn it on its ear thanks to tired defenders. But he’s not much more than a super sub right now.

      As for Sanchez, if you watch him at the start of last season and the start of this season, it’s a different player. The confidence that he gained from playing while Messi was absent, seems to have stuck with him.

    2. Kxevin:

      First, thanks for your previous post. It was a perfect read for the start of the season, in a season that begins with what seems to be more variables and unknown potential than usual.

      Also, I very much agree with your observations about Alexis. At some points in the game, he kept that ball with such determination (as in the leadup to the 5th goal, whew!) I kept wondering when he would play it back, and he just kept playing at the defenders. He’s playing like he has a chip on his shoulder.

    3. Opinions! Mine is that Tello is waaay behind Alexis and Pedro. Kxevin says, look at the Neymar assist, and imagine Tello in his place. Well, I would say one doesn’t have to imagine it: We’ve seen already what Tello does, both last season and in the first matches of this preseason. I think Kxevin describes him perfectly when he talks of «a supersub right now».

      Since this is a pre-WC season and Barça will have play two matches per week too many times, I’m sure that Tello will have a lot of opportunities. The same opportunities we will have to evaluate his play.

  25. It’s funny how meteoric the cule worldview is. Before, it was a 0-2 loss to Bayern in a friendly, and we’re all going to die. Then we were great again after another friendly. Then worried again after the 2-2. Now we’re great again, instead of people saying “We all gon’ die, and our defense sucks!”

    This club is going to entertain the hell out of us this season. I’m still not sure what kind of silver it is going to grab if any, but the potential is immense if things come together quickly.

    One of the things I most liked about the Gamper match was Pedro. The club has missed that extra reliable goal scorer, but the way that opponents have been defending us has neutralized the effectiveness of Pedro, who thrives on space and creative chaos. Messi and Iniesta running around makes Pedro much more effective. So will Neymar and Sanchez running around with the ball.

    Even when not scoring goals, Pedro is a very effective player. But when he is scoring goals, his effectiveness skyrockets.

    Martino is going to be fun, though I will note that he hasn’t been with the club long enough to change anything except his underwear. That dynamic, slashing, attacking style that was at times unpredictable in a good way, is I imagine what Vilanova was working on for this season.

    1. Almost everyone is very excited about martino and what he can bring, And i’m one of them, But i don’t expect this season to be very successful in terms of silver ware, It’ll be more of a trial and error for martino to build our team for subsequent seasons, Because that’s the way i look at him, A coach that can stay with us for the next 4 years or even 5, Everything about him shouts Barca.
      For example keeping JDS, He could be seeing something tito didn’t or has some sort of a plan for him, Yet there is the possibility that he’s misjudging JDS or miscalculated his plans, And eventually realize that he made a mistake keeping him when the real season begins, And i won’t be surprised and certainly won’t blame him, One day he’s enjoying a nice cup of tea with his wife, Next day he’s negotiating his contract with us, Plus it’s his first time in europe.
      Like i said it’ll be a trial and error kind of season for him and us, But what i hope is that cules be patient with him, Cause i believe he can form his own great era.

    2. Not sure I’d agree about the silverware. With a squad like this I’m expecting good times ! We can’t afford to waste this generation of players. I’m happy with either the League or CL but I’m looking for us to put up a good showing in both.

    3. Asking for CL is asking for disappointment, There is no recipe for it, It’s too unpredictable.
      That leave us with Copa del ray and la liga, We can both of them or one of them Or none!, And even if we won the latter, It won’t be as easy as last time, What happened last season was the exception, Where we sliced through away games like a sharp knife through warm butter, With messi absent in over 8 matches, Yet we reached the 100 mark.
      My point isn’t about the exact amounts of trophies, I’m trying to say that if the season didn’t meat the cules expectations, Is not the end of the world, martino in my opinion can fill our trophies case if given enough patience.

    4. Last season did meet my expectations. I thought we were absolutely brilliant and no way is the league a disappointment.

      However, challenging and winning the top trophies is what this club should be aiming at just now. We have the best player in the world, probably the best midfield in the world and have just purchased possibly the next greatest player in the world. Why shouldn’t we aim for the sky? If we don’t do it now we never will.

      Whether we do win them is of course in the lap of the Gods but will I be disappointed if we don’t make at least the semis of the CL and take the league to the wire? Yup. In my younger years I played a lot of football at various, but not pro, levels. The difference between the better teams I played for and the rest was a belief that we were better than the opposition. That carried us through games we shouldn’t have won. I’d be very surprised if Messi isn’t sitting at home fully expecting to be a CL winner again this year. Doesn’t mean it’s gonna happen but it’s a starting point!

    5. Let me correct you, Kevin: It’s funny how meteoric the worldview of some culés is. I’ll even settle for the worldview of half the culés. But no more than that.

      And I agree with you on Pedro (will he recover his «!»?). In fact, I think everybody looked fine in general, specially in the first half. Right now I don’t remember anyone underperforming apart from Song (although I’m sure he’ll regain his best form again).

  26. Looking very good
    My probable line up for this season
    Alves piqué masche alba
    Xavier Iniesta
    Alexis neymar

    1. And with such a scenario, in a World Cup year, barcas problems will be more in he dressing room, issues with rotation, motivation etc

  27. Approve my comments with moderation please mods. It’s been more than an hour. Download links for the match in there.

  28. Guys, what are your thoughts on Martino’s man marking marking in corners? Pep & Tito have always used zonal marking, but yesterday I noticed Barca used man marking in corners.

    1. About time for me. Zonal often means a standing jump ( weaker) and shared responsibility (blame). With man to man marking if you lose your man everybody knows. The opposition also don’t know for certain where your tallest defenders are gonna be.

      Only downside is it does mean a lot more traffic around the box and blocking tactics.

    2. …and shared responsibility (blame).

      I’m not sure what you mean by this. Are you saying it’s better to have man marking because you know who to blame when a goal is scored?

    3. Not just for the coach to know, Nik, but also the player himself. In zonal there can be doubt about who should have attacked a ball. Man to man, if your man scores its your fault. Clear and a great motivator. Especially in our defence where tbh after Puyol and Pique, nobody really attacks a ball.

    4. Meh, I don’t buy this line of thinking at all. If you’re worried about apportion of blame, coaches can figure out who was at fault after a goal by looking at whose zone the goal scorer was in. I’m sure the players also know whose fault it is when the goal is scored (again, they know who is assigned to each zone), so I don’t think they need to switch to man marking to figure that out.

      Your last sentence indicates an issue with defensive technique rather than an error in motivation or the system. Switching to man marking won’t magically fix any individual flaws in a player’s defense.

    5. Not worried about apportioning blame afterwards. My point was that the clear knowledge that you have one man to deal with makes you more motivated than a ball which falls between two of our positions. Particularly with players who aren’t aggressive in the air, as most of ours aren’t they know they have one job, one man to beat or disrupt.
      Just a matter of opinions. I’ve played in teams using both systems and know that my job was much clearer to me under man to man and there was no way he was getting a free header ( in fact you could usually take him out early in the flight of the ball with a well placed nudge) whereas in zonal I was forever having to make an early judgement as to whether it was gonna land up in mine.

    6. Ah, I see. I didn’t realize you were using ‘motivated’ in the sense of being decisive. And fair enough. Like I said originally, I’m not married to one system or the other. But I think more than anything else, we have some basic issues in defensive technique that need to be addressed before fiddling with the system.

    7. Did not notice that. If he did, he will have his work cut out for him. Correct me if I’m wrong but it is not just the corners that we are moving from a zonal marking mentality.Practically pressing higher up the pitch requires in essence the same thing.
      Will have to wait and see how will he implement his ideas and what the results are like.

      Generally speaking Barcelona did not concede that many corners for a small team in the height department since the pep era. However we did get picked off in crucial moments when the strength of the opponent was such in that department.

    8. I’m ambivalent to the change for now. I thought that because of our lack of height, a zonal defending system would be the best to use. It seemed to work during the Pep years. Maybe Tata feels differently. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and wait before casting judgement on his decision.

      However, that being said, I find the backlash against zonal defending, particularly in the British media, hilarious. This article from Michael Cox of Zonal Marking fame discussed the anti-zonal defending mania quite well I thought:

    9. Bodying up properly can negate much of that height advantage. Maybe they should bring over a Barca basketball coach for a few training sessions to teach them.

    10. Totally agree about the British obsession with man marking. Rafa Benitez got a lot of unfair critisism but his zonal marking worked a lot better than any other Liverpool side with man marking. Also their obsession with covering the posts which is clear nonsense IMO and I hope Martino never use that in Barca. The mixture of zonal and man marking isn’t the wort thing either, but to go completely over man marking would not be good mostly because Barca have such a short team.

    11. Leaving aside the zonal vs man to man issue about which we could argue all day why would you not cover posts?

    12. 1) You lose 2 men, either you play zonal or man marking.
      2) It’s much harder to play offside, especially when you play zonal, or a mixture of both even. Barca always push forward when they clear the ball to play the other team offside.
      3) Maybe you’ll save like 1 or if lucky twice a year a goal and be a hero, but not worthy in a bigger picture.

      Covering posts is just another very typical British football stereotype. The revard you get is not worthy of basically losing 2 men in corners.

    13. The two men you lose are usually the smallest and therefore not major players in marking at a corner. If you leave someone up the opposition will leave at least two back to cover. You will also already have about ten men in your area. You certainly don’t need more hanging about.

      What team in their right mind would try to play offside from a corner kick ? The opposition will already have a man on your goalkeeper so you will put someone in front of them. That takes the chance of a reliable offside out of the equation right away. The only time it comes into play is if the ball is cleared in which case both players come out with the defence. You’re not losing any players if they are goal side of the ball.

      We must be watching different games if you think players on the line only save one or two a year. I was up watching my local team play in the Europa cup last week and there were two clearances in that game alone. One covered the keeper who came out and flapped at a corner.

      Not sure what you mean in the last sentence. If you mean it’s done more in Britain I don’t know but it could well be. There’s no implication in that statement that its a bad thing. I wouldn’t say EPL defending is any worse than Spanish and until two or three years ago I would have said it was better.

      Just different ways of looking at the game.

    14. JIM

      Why do you need the shortest men to cover posts, if the ball comes high they can’t clear it anyway, you can use them covering the front area to clear the poor balls, so many corners are wasted and short so the first man can clear it easily and you can put the 2nd one to cover 16 yeard area in 2nd balls and not allow long range shots. So you have then do the work that doesn’t need height and use all your better head players in the box for headers.

      If the other team put somebody in front of your goalkeeper in zonal marking you simply won’t cover him and push higher, like Barca did. So there is absolutely no need to even cover him, he has 0% value. That’s why most teams against Barca don’t even bother use anybody in front of Valdes and thus Valdes have all the 6yard box basically on his own.

      Everybody knows that man marking and covering posts is very much of a British football culture and philosophy. They want to see 1v1 battles and the heroes who clear the ball off the line by standing just still and thus be MOTM almost automaticlly.

    15. Even the shorties can cover every attempt except one which goes in immediately under the bar 🙂 you have another seven players to cover the box – you don’t need any more than that. I would say that as a short team opponents are more likely to get a header on target against us making the post covering even more necessary.

      Just off the top of my head I remember a CR7 goal against us from a corner at the Nou Camp- cant remember the exact game- where he headed it low and into the corner.

      Plus another important occasion i remember vividly where we lost an unnecessary goal because we didn’t cover the post.

    16. The change to man marking was so obvious that Tata was asked at least twice about it in his post-match presser, and IIRC he said that he would choose among man-marking, zonal or mixed as needed, depending on the opposing team and other circumstances. It sounds like, for the time being, he’s still experimenting.

  29. If the last few seasons have taught us anything is that there is more than enough minutes to go around for the deserving. Over the course of 60+ games there will be time for all 5 of our forwards to show their qualities along with Dongou to get some minutes like he has in the preseason friendlies.

    Even though our forwards have similarities they all bring their own traits which is why is see us having a better scoring season than last.

    Messi can’t be expected to score the same amount of goals as he has done for the last two seasons but I still expect 50+ goals in all competitions. I’m going to take a second to appreciate the ridiculousness of that fact.

    Neymar is an excellent finisher and phenomenal in one-on-one situations meaning that he has to be double marked like Messi does. His goals contributions given his Santos and Brazil record should be similar to what David Villa and Thierry Henry got in their full seasons with us so I’d say approximately 20 goals.

    Alexis Sanchez has a better scoring record with us than with any of his previous teams. YES, it’s true, so anyone complaining that he isn’t scoring enough goals should really reevaluate who the player is. He is an awesome winger with a goal/assist every other game even though he is only finding his feet with us over the last 6 months. I genuinely think that he will be irreplaceable for us this season. His work rate is epic and he is truly delivering in the final third.

    Pedro has had two very poor seasons in a row for us and is probably under the biggest pressure, but if he can bring back the scoring touch that he had 3-4 seasons ago then he is a unique weapon. He is unpredictable and as his goal v Santos showed he is the most likely to find himself in the 6 yard box other than Messi.

    Tello has something that defenders fear most… speed. His acceleration is something that most defenders can’t cope with. He is not a starter, at least not against the biggest teams but he has the ability to get goals off the bench and considering that he is not a starter, he still has maintained his average of 1 in 4. As he progresses he might be able to get that up to 1 in 3 making him a very effective weapon.

    Dongou will only play fleetingly but has shown himself capable. His scoring record for Barca B is relatively poor but I don’t trust that because Eusebio’s team play poorly.

    Thinking of all this I’m very confident that we’ll be even more productive in front of goal. Along with that Cesc will probably get double digits and Iniesta, Xavi & Sergi Roberto will probably get a few between them.
    My last hope is that if we get the right centre back and Tata works on set pieces we might actually get another few goals in our least productive area, corners.

    1. .
      Bearing in mind that next season will be a pre-WC season, all matches —Liga, Copa, CL and NT— will have to be played in just 35 weeks (36, less the X-mas week). Therefore, there will be more weeks with two matches than usual and rotations will be essential.

  30. From Barcastuff: Neymar suffers from anemia, a blood disorder. He’ll have treatment and train at lower rhythm. Not clear if he’ll play Asia friendlies.

    And so it starts …

    1. If it’s due to lack of iron, Then it’s easy to treat, Nothing for a major concern.

  31. How did it slip through the medical tests he had for the transfer and later on another one before the 1st training?

    1. I don’t think the medical team overlooked it. AFAIK they monitor the players constantly, specially in preseason, so they must have detected it as soon as it appeared (for whatever reason).

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