Match Comments: Atléti vs. Barça Supa Copa

SupaCopa03

Here we go – the team is in Madrid for the start of another lengthy season where numerous clasico games will be played against Real Madr…. oh wait a minute, it isn’t Real Madrid?  It’s Atlético Madrid?  Damn – we’ve swapped a Mad Mou for a Snarky Simeone.

Kicking off at the ridiculous time of 23:00 CET (there are CL qualifiers being played earlier & apparently the Supa Copa couldn’t possibly be played at the same time), the game will start on August 21st & conclude on August 22nd. Bit like a cricket match.

At least the club has paid the city for the Metro to remain open longer after the return match in Barcelona. Usually, it shuts down at midnight on weekdays. This caused us great angst after once attending a 10pm mid-week CdR game, only to find that the metro had closed & we had to find an alternative way home. A couple of bus trips & a few hours later, we were home just before 3am. We did wonder why the stadium had started to empty out about 20 mins before the game’s end. Some people were in the know.  We were not.

Simeone has played down the significance of this match for his team; saying that it was probably more important for Barça to win it.

Don’t believe him. He’ll most likely field a strong frontline – ooh – something like David Villa, Diego Costa & Léo Baptistão. Falcao who?

Martino has indicated that Xavi will possibly not be starting, so it may be a Midfield of Iniesta, Busquets & Cesc – perhaps Song instead of Busi.

The Attack will be spearheaded by Alexis, Messi & Pedro. In goal will be VV, and the back-line will be Alves, Piqué, Mascherano & Alba.

At least, that would be my team.

Adriano is missing. No! He’s not injured! His red-card tackle on Cristiano in last season’s Supacopa keeps him out of this game. Apparently it was far, far worse than a poke in the eye on the sideline.

Click this link to convert the 23:00 CET kick-off time to your local time: SupaCopa

And please share any good streams in the comments for those who can’t view it on TV.

 

Visca Barça i Visca la Samarreta de la Senyera!

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288 Responses to “Match Comments: Atléti vs. Barça Supa Copa”

  1. ooga aga says:

    im glad to see NZMs name popping up a bit more again. hope all is well in BCN, NZM.

    thanks for setting up the match comments post.

  2. Archie says:

    I thought that NeymarJr looked lost during the Levante match, like he didn’t understand where he fit. Since the second half was played at significantly lower energy level, he entered a pretend game having missed the fun. One result was that he intentionally tripped a player just outside that players own penalty box and received a yellow card. I hope that he doesn’t have a trend of petty fouling like I saw in the ConfedCup. NeymarJr’s first La Liga game could have gone better from a coaching perspective. Iniesta and other players were being generous with passes to him and he did dribble past a defender in a very awesome way. Will he accept that he won’t start every game? Or will he start regardless of whether he is the best choice, once his fitness is 100%?

  3. blitzen says:

    Barça starting XI: VV, Dani Alves, Piqué, Masche, Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Messi and Alexis

    No surprises there. In it to win it!

  4. Ryan says:

    Oh, there’s Villa…

  5. nia says:

    How Villa celebrated v Barca but not v Gijon?

  6. nia says:

    I take it Athleti has a point to prove. Playing well so far and keeping Messi quiet.

    • G6O says:

      He doesn’t really look like he’s trying. He’s just standing.

      And he lost the ball in dangerous positions on four different occasions one of which lead to the goal

  7. Tarik says:

    Not gonna lie, I find us to become increasingly bratty every year… or else my tolerance for our poor sportsmanship declines dramatically. I really hope the trend doesn’t continue this season.

  8. Messiah10 says:

    The strike by Villa had to be perfect. It was. Not many players can take a volley on the inside foot and with the outside of it. Beautiful.

  9. nia says:

    oooo, that was close.

  10. bhed says:

    Great by Biscuits.

  11. bhed says:

    Everything seems a bit off.

  12. Jim says:

    Good defending by Masch

  13. 86ed says:

    This is our sorriest display since the Bayern debacle. A team without ideas against a well-organized defense, quick counters, and physically aggressive players.
    Thankfully it’s only August football.

  14. Jim says:

    It’s also early in the match, though. They’ve put an awful lot into this first half. Both FBs booked . It’s made for Neymar. Took us a while to realise we were in a match to the death. Don’t know why it came as a surprise.

  15. Judas Pissed says:

    1st half analysis – Barca obviously have the better players, but Atletico obviously have the better team…

  16. lea_terzi says:

    This game could use some Cesc (the good version). And what’s up with Messi? He looks out of sorts.

  17. Messiah10 says:

    I can always count on over the top supporters saying how awful we are and this and that to give me a bit of perspective of how I look at the game.

  18. nia says:

    What happened to the organised pressing from Saturday? The team seem a bit of, be it Athleti are playing well(dirty) and defending really well. Ney and Cesc maybe?

  19. Rami says:

    Our defense and pressing are great, Nothing could have been done about the goal, It was simply a perfect strike from villa.

    • lea_terzi says:

      Yeah, 36 interceptions to their 20..
      But still, organized defense – we overcommit players forward (especially the fullbacks) – congested space – lose the ball – quick counter – we are out of position / slow to recover – overload on defense. I’m missing Abidal so much :'(

    • bhed says:

      True, but we’re not bossing the midfield, lacking a certain rhythm.

  20. stefan2k says:

    Mascherano plays one hell of a game but the midfield seems a little sleepy.

  21. Archie says:

    How about, at a goal down, attack with more urgency any time Athletico has men forward? Why always let them get 8-10 players behind the ball? Can’t messi, pedro, and alexis counter? Goals come when defense is out of shape, therefore, attack when they are out of shape, don’t even bother if they are lined up, pass back to keeper and wait till they come out.

  22. psalmuel says:

    xavi’s time is up me think!

  23. Messiah10 says:

    I hate to say it, but Alba should not have started. Adriano please. He gives us much more defensive cover.

  24. EnzoBarca says:

    Yeah Atletico using the tried and tested tactic against Barca again. Sit deep, ignore width and strike on the counter using space left behind by full backs. I think we can still come back in the second half and even murder Atletico tonight purely because Atletico can’t sustain the tactic they using for 90 min like Real or Bayen not because the tactic isn’t effective.

    Looking forward however, to how Tata is gonna address the use of the Mourinhoesque Tactic against us moving forward. Because its gonna be heavily used in Champions League. But tonight I still believe Atletico Madrid 1-2 Barca. Visca Barca.

  25. Jim says:

    Messi off ? Feeling ill at the weekend.?

  26. 86ed says:

    Interesting. Messi is off.

  27. Jim says:

    Can’t believe Neymar didn’t come on with Cesc. For Alexis or Pedro.

  28. y2k156 says:

    Mightily impressed by Atletico in first half. They played extremely well. Barca having tons of problem.

    Something was wrong with Messi. He was not pressing at all. Hope that this improves the team.

  29. psalmuel says:

    pedro cant beat a man, pathetic!

  30. Jim says:

    Messi slight knock. Off as a precaution acc to Sky

  31. EnzoBarca says:

    I’m sorry for Messi but this could be a blessing in disguise let’s the coach see how the team plays without Messi. Looking forward to Barca showing some character in the second half come on boys, Visca Barca.

  32. Jim says:

    I’m afraid that’s why Masch can’t be a long term CB solution.

    • Messiah10 says:

      Ha! Poor Smasch. Jim was just waiting for him to make as mistake. lol. Jim, I’d be a millionaire if I wagered you’d make a Smasch isn’t a long term solution comment! lol! :)

      • Jim says:

        To be fair I’ve just finished praising him a bit earlier but it doesn’t take a genius to see we can’t keep playing him there. He didnt make a mistake. He just can’t compete in the air.

  33. lea_terzi says:

    Tactical instructions seem to have been to shoot from outside, speed up transitions and use vertical passes to kickstart attacks. Result, we are losing lots of balls and looking like headless chicken, but the pitch is opening up. If only we could exploit it. Underwhelming midfield play.

  34. Jim says:

    How stupid can Busi get….

  35. EnzoBarca says:

    You know that a tactic works against you when you have over 60 per cent possession in the 60th min and you haven’t had a shot on target. Atletico playing well but still believe in the come back.

  36. TITO says:

    Like we shouldn’t have drawn conclusions after the Levante game, we also should not do that after this game, it’s still too early.
    BUT, one thing is funny though, it feels like a copy paste to some famous games that we had in the past.

  37. Judas Pissed says:

    ‘Atletico can’t keep up this intensity for 90 minutes’ ‘Atletico can’t keep up this intensity for 90 minutes’ ‘Atletico can’t keep up this intensity for 90 minutes’ – I’d like to see us have some intensity for at least 5 minutes…

    • Judas Pissed says:

      Diego Costa has absolutely ruled Jordi Alba tonight in both attack and defence…

    • Jim says:

      This was a pretty good athletico side, fired up and at home. Nobody in Europe would’ve had an easy time. And no they couldn’t keep up the intensity for 90 minutes and we have a decent result without ever hitting top form and without Messi for most of the game. Not a bad night’s work imo.

  38. Messiah10 says:

    NEYMAR!!!!!!!!

  39. Jim says:

    Neymarrrrrrrrr!!

  40. EnzoBarca says:

    Neymar you beauty.

  41. lea_terzi says:

    Way to break in! Really happy for the kid :D

  42. Jim says:

    Now lets keep it tight.

  43. Messiah10 says:

    How was that not a foul!

  44. Messiah10 says:

    So that’s a foul but hacking our player down and letting them break isn’t? Almost a goal on that B.S.

  45. Messiah10 says:

    Fab just escaped a card for that! Wow.

  46. lea_terzi says:

    The rumours of Villa’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Glad to see him leading the attack again, he was wasted out on our left wing. Too bad he’s playing us tonight, and at least three more times this year..

    And yes, Atletico cannot keep up that intensity for 90 minutes.

  47. Messiah10 says:

    Ghostface hasn’t been his best today.

  48. lea_terzi says:

    Sergi Roberto for Xavi would’ve been welcome just about now. But he’s not in the squad. JDS is.

    Not a knock on Xavi, his delayed pass to Alves for the assist was lovely, like playing at a whole different speed for all three players involved. But Chameleon eyes played 90 minutes on Sunday.

    Maybe Tello in, and Cesc down to midfield?

  49. Jim says:

    They’re starting to tire.

  50. ooga aga says:

    neymar what are you thinking

  51. Jim says:

    Not sure the point of making a switch with a minute to go.

    • Messiah10 says:

      Definitely Jim. I’ll take that. Hostile environment. Early season form. I like our chances at the Camp Nou. I’d like to see Neymar start that game in place of Pedro. Have Adriano play in place of Alba. If Messi is not right then play Cesc false nine.

  52. Jim says:

    No! Sky saying its a hammy for Messi…

  53. Jim says:

    Bale 93m euros plus Coentrao ??? Deal done?

  54. lea_terzi says:

    Whistle. The boys chummy with Villa, Neymar basking in adoration of fellow Brazilians. Not too many conclusions to draw here, we’re obviously not up to game speed yet (thank you, overseas tour from hell), Tata is still figuring it out. Props to him for the early subs, but what’s up with Xavi playing 89 minutes?

    • Jim says:

      I don’t think we ever had enough control of the game till the last fifteen to be able to take him off. Pity as he’s needing to be used more sparingly. Maybe if Messi had stayed on he could’ve dropped a little deeper to replace him.

      • lea_terzi says:

        He’s not going to be there forever. He’s not going to be there when we need him at the business end of the season, if this goes on. Thiago wasn’t good enough? Ok. There is Cesc, Sergi Roberto, JDS, Song. Like the frontline has to learn to cope without Messi, the midfield has to suck it up and do it without Xavi sometimes.

  55. EnzoBarca says:

    So are they gonna develop an alternative tactic (Plan B) or keep clinging to 4-3-3 false 9 like glue and blame performances like this on a lack of pressing.

  56. barcadan says:

    Great result from a tough, grueling physical game in the heat, and the Calderon. Atletico is never easy, they use their physicaility well. Tata found the right solutions. Cesc a brilliant sub for a possibly injured Messi. Changed the dynamics completely. And Pedro had a difficut night, so in comes Neymar and snatches a goal. From an Alves cross! Good signs. We have solutions. We have plan B’s

    Bad Busi. Iniesta in “ghost” mode, i.e. disappeared. Alba was beat by Diego Costa – the man is a monster. And clever. And he has the face of a total gangster.

    Interesting to watch the early moments as the game settled into “they kick us, we dive” mode. Got pretty ugly there for a while, and absolutely no respect for the ref. This is the ugly side of the Spansih league.

    All in all, a good, bad, and ugly game.

  57. Jafri says:

    Well fought draw. But we really need to figure out how to not get overwhelmed in the face of intense pressure. More than the bus, that was our greatest weakness last season.

    Not happy with Jordi Alba though. Seems to be the exact opposite of everything we need in an LB. Short, aggressively high up the pitch even when there’s no space for him to run into, bounced off the ball easily, and such a play actor.

    The exact opposite of Abidal basically.

  58. psalmuel says:

    when messi plays theopposition crowds the middle, when cesc comes on, he is neglected and space is freed up in the middle. Pedro has lost his place in the starting XI, couldnt beat a single defender off the dribble, he’s one of the players that makes width become stupid

    • barcadan says:

      I was thinking that this was one of those classic games where Messi’s presence actually hurts our play more than it helps – Atletico seemed to have us on lock down until he left. Of course he was playing injured and might have grabbed a goal at any minute. But I loved the way Cesc’s entrance changed the dynamics completely.

      I wouldnt count Pedro out yet. He had a bad game tonight, up against an in-form Juanfran and Diego Costa on his heels. . .

  59. Artur says:

    Some thoughts:

    Alexis was on fire. He was everywhere and everywhere he was hell was raised. He combines with Dani very well on the right side.

    Glad Messi got subbed. I hope we get him off of the lazy cautious regime that his physio put him on during the games that allows him to play 90 minutes every game. A new more intense Messi that doesn’t play every single match would be very much welcome

    Cesc, for me, is one of a kind. Every time he plays he just adds so much composure and stability. He’s really growing on me.

    Iniesta drifted in and out.

    Xavi was ok. I liked the Song sub, but wanted it earlier. I’d like to see what Song can do offensively when we have Busquets on the field.

    Pique and Mashe were impeccable. Very solid performance by both of them.

    Atleti played their asses off, but I didn’t really like the hostility. At one point in the first half of the match I wanted to stop watching as it didn’t look like a game of football anymore. I know they were asked to play intensely and use their fitness to their advantage, but c’mon one stupid move can end somebody’s career.

    Satisfied with the result. We’ll take it home second leg.

    • barcadan says:

      Classic Barça-Atletico.
      Agree that Alexis was really active and dangerous, but Im a little concerned with some of the hesitation. I suspect his confidence can just as easily weaken if he doesnt keep getting goals. And he still tends to get muscled off the ball more often than not. But good to see him out there hustling. Hoping for a better goal-haul from him this year.

    • lea_terzi says:

      Martino: “Bartra not on the bench, no centre back there? If needed, my idea was to bring in Song and for Busquets to play as centre back.” (barcastuff)
      Waaait a minute.. Has he SEEN tape of Busquets at CB? In an actual match? Surely Marquinhos, Mathieu or Rami or just about anyone else would’ve been an improvement? So our bench is a guy who’s had about 40 injuries in his 14-year long illustrious career, and another guy who wasn’t played by the previous manager, and apparently won’t be played by this one? I must be forgetting someone? Oh yes, Adriano! Um… I guess I’ll just get myself a drink. Interesting times ahead.

  60. psalmuel says:

    adriano should be first choice LB,he’s more solid defensively in games like this and we could use an out of the box volley

  61. ooga aga says:

    official site at this point makes nothing of it and only says he had “muscle pain” (‘molestias’ — ‘bothers’ or ‘pains’)…doesnt say he will be subject to tests or anything like it usually would, so hard to say.

  62. ooga aga says:

    soccernet has us with 74% possession and 4 shots on goal to their 3.

  63. KEVINO17 says:

    Barca’s biggest problem is that it is soft defensively in the middle of the park. I love the fact that Barca has regained the forward press. But Xavi and Iniesta just don’t help out enough. Further, teams just drop off Xavi, so I’m not too sure what he really contributes.
    Song should replace Xavi I’m afraid.

  64. Rami says:

    Zubi said that messi only suffered a muscle bruise, If that’s true then it’ll only take him a few days to recover.

  65. providence says:

    Valdes

    Pique. Mascherano

    Busquets

    Alves. Alba

    we are exposed defensively. Effective teams like Dortmund, Bayern, Madrid, will finish us off so easily

  66. flyzowee says:

    I dont understand, Neymar takes freekicks for Brazil. He spends extra time practicing freekicks with lucas Moura while on international duty.

    Yet Barca get a freekick and he shows absolutely no interest whatsoever. Why? I dont get it.

    Also Alexis Sanchez. He was everywhere. I think all our best chances fell his way.

    Also… Games like these make me realise how much we lack athletism. I know you cant have it all but still its our opponents go-to strategy to take advantage of our lack of it.

    Finally, Alexis Sanchez.

    • KEVINO17 says:

      Totally agree that we lack athleticism. And the big problem is in the centre of the park with Xavi/Iniesta when we lose the ball. We’re way too soft and good teams WILL kill us off.

      • Doug says:

        We’ll also lose the ball a lot more often if neither Xavi or Iniesta are in there.

        Are you seriously suggesting benching both of them?

        • KEVINO17 says:

          Nope, just benching Xavi.
          Xavi doesn’t lose the ball much because he’s not put under pressure. Teams just drop off him so he does lots of easy east-west passing. Watch the game. Then, when we do lose the ball, he’s a liability.

          • Messiah10 says:

            I seem to remember Xavi making a North/South pass against Levante that maybe only Messi would be able to make as well. That was in the middle of a brick wall on the edge of the box. Xavi is just fine. He wasn’t playing high up the field this game. That’s why he wasn’t being pressed as heavily as the other players. They didn’t start attacking the ball until we were near their box. It was Ineista’s job to keep it then, which today, he didn’t do very well. How often will that happen? Not much, so I would urge caution in the face of 1 game.

          • KEVINO17 says:

            MESSIAH10 – But that’s the whole point. Xavi doesn’t play high up against good teams and they drop off him. As a consequence, the biggest contribution which he can make is not offensive, but defensive, and that is just not his thing.

          • Jim says:

            Just off the top of my head, the pass to Cesc on Sunday, his run into the box for his goal and the pass to Dani for Neymar’s goal last night. I think we do all watch the game but there aren’t many who reckon either Xavi isnt put under pressure or that Song is a better midfielder than Xavi.

            We won’t find many teams putting us under more pressure in the middle of the park than last night but because of our passing game they tired badly towards the end. We also won’t lose many better one touch goals than last night.

    • Doug says:

      I would substitute athleticism with “size and strength”. Atletico was bigger, stronger, and more aggressive. They also foul a ton.

      But I agree – we definitely have issues with bigger, stronger teams.

  67. nia says:

    This match was awesome and yep, it’s footy season as my heart was beating at a 1000 beat per min. Barca was a bit off their game in the first half be it thought that, Athleti were brilliant. They wouldn’t let us settle down and that threw us off. It’s a good result for us, away from home with a draw in a very intimidating stadium.
    What I learned from this match, Alba should NEVER play these kind of games as he is easily wound up and I think Adriano is a better defender. He play acts a lot and is easily frazzled. Bad enough they still go on and on about busi’s past so, the squirrel needs to tone it down a bit.
    Wonder why Messi is getting all these injuries and why they don’t let him fully recover before bringing him back. Just like last season at the Calderon, Barca played better when Messi came of and Lexus played even better. Too bad he couldn’t finish off the chance he got.
    I kind of liked Villa sticking it to the players and giving his all for his knew club but, he was just being an asshole though. VV didn’t like that.
    Overall, good result and Ney was finally baptised today. Great goal that was. Visca Barca.

  68. flyzowee says:

    One final thing I would like to say is that Atletico really targeted Alba in this game.

    There were so many diagonal balls angling in his direction.
    It reminded me of his match-up against Hulk in the Confed Final where similar tactics were used.

    We will be seeing a lot more of this. I Bet.

  69. Rami says:

    Now that everyone have calmed down, It’s time to for me to comment about the game:
    Nothing out of the ordinary happened in this match honestly, In fact i couldn’t help but to feel a nostalgic feeling, It’s just the same old, Same old tactics from the all time classic ‘How to stop barca’ guide, And semione followed it to the letter:
    1-Stay compact
    2-Stay disciplined
    3-Use physical play to thwart their rhythm
    4-Maintain all above 3 steps as long as humanly possible

    But just like old days of pep, Unless your blessed with a miracle no one can’t maintain this for 90 minutes, And it simply wouldn’t work in camp nou.

    I predict 3-0 back home.

  70. Ahsan says:

    Deliberately haven’t read any of the comments (yet) because I don’t want my impressions colored by others’. Overall I thought we played well. I don’t know if Messi was unfit from the start or picked up a knock during the game, but he looked completely listless out there. Can’t remember the last time we improved so much when he LEFT the field, but there you go.

    Xavi and Busi were brilliant, Alexis grew into his own in the second half. Pedro and Alba continue to worry me for different reasons. The more I think about it, the less Alba makes sense in that spot, esp if Adriano can stay fit (hahahaha).

    Also nice to see VV’s short passes back, hated that longball shit from last yr.

  71. Kxevin says:

    Briefly:

    — People waiting for the “old Pique” to come back should stop. This is it.

    — Alba was shit. Worse, he was a joke. Appalling behavior, and owned the entire match. For me, a more questionable transfer than Song. Every opponent targets his side of the pitch when he’s in there.

    — My MOTMs: Mascherano, Sanchez, Fabregas (even with his “I’m here. NOW what?) dithering.

    — Give Messi as much time as he needs to actually heal.

    — Yes. The Villa goal was well taken. And if he could do that with somebody around him, he would have cost more than 2m.

    — Neymar did exactly what he was brought on to do: make a difference. Brilliant cross from Alves, too, one of the 2.3 good things he did this whole match. And no, we haven’t before had someone to score goals like that.

    — The first half lack of movement was ridiculous. Like the players were uninspired. And it wasn’t just Atleti. Iniesta was off, Xavi was subsequently off.

    — The Old Pedro, Recent Vintage was back. He was on the wing, unable to find space because he can’t beat anyone off the dribble. He thrives on space. Without space, he’s just a dude passing the ball back to Xavi.

    — Fabregas is a random chaos generator. His movement and passing are exceptional. He just needs to shoot. Now.

    — Atleti will not play a better match. We probably won’t play a poorer one. I like our chances at home, with or without Messi.

    — Sanchez was in beast mode. Still isn’t a striker at heart, or those two chances, probably one gets put away. But Courtois deserves some credit, as well. He came up huge for Atleti.

  72. Ahsan says:

    Why don’t we give Alba’s spot to Pedro and Pedro’s spot to Neymar? Would Pedro really be a worse LB right now than Alba?

    • KEVINO17 says:

      It’s not a bad thought because Pedro certainly has the straight-line speed needed, and endurance. Only question is whether he could adapt tactically, and only God knows that.

  73. KEVINO17 says:

    Oh, yes, and mascherano was flat-out magnificent. Why bother buying a CB when you’ve got Mascherano.
    And don’t tell me that he’s not very good at the set-pieces. If Barca play their game properly there shouldn’t be many set-pieces. And they will only play their game properly with a smaller, agile player like Mascherano at CB.
    You can’t have everything in life.

  74. Spiza7 says:

    For a two leg cup final, a 1-1 draw away in a hostile environment is a good result for us.

    Our performance wasn’t bad, and NO this was definitely not like our performances against Bayern.

    Some thoughts.

    – Atletico played really great, staying compact and moving very fast on the counter. But overall atletico still created very little chances. Our tackle success rate was probably our most improved aspect of our game.

    – Like against Levante, again lets not jump to conclusions and giving up hope on our squad’s ability to perform. This season is long, and we were never going to solve all our problems two games into the season. This is a season long challenge. Let’s wait and see what Tata and our staff have in store for us.

    – One issue that I think Tata should address over the season is our lack of discipline in the closing minutes of a half or full time. For example Seconds before half time we gave away a stupid corner that gave atletico a golden opportunity to grab a second goal. All because we pointlessly tried to play the ball out of a crowded defense when Valdez instead should have cleared the ball out so that the ref could blow for half time with no worries.

    – I tend to back Pedro, but I have to agree he did struggle to create anything on the ball. BUT, which player in our team didn’t struggle? I understand why Tata started Pedro, 1. he is currently the most fit forward player behind Alexis in our squad and 2.Apart from Messi, Pedro is the only attacking player in our squad who can score goals. Alexis is a great dribbler but not so much a goal scorer. I was surprised though that Pedro doesn’t take long shots more often, he ain’t that bad at it.

  75. Didn’t watch the match but saw some highlights. This is my take on some of the viewpoints expressed here.

    1) Cesc – Cesc definitely is playing really well and there was an argument for him to start. But those who believe that Cesc would have been an ideal choice with this kind of opposition pressing in midfield, tend to forget that he(when played in midfield) usually goes MIA when exposed to these kind of pressing. He has been playing exceptionally well when deployed further up in the pitch and form me it made sense for Tata to start him on the bench.

    2) Alba – He might have been crap while defending. But stop pretending that we didn’t knew that. Two seasons back everyone used to lament about Abidal’s reluctance to go forward like Alves does. This is what happens when you have a similar full back on the left too. You cannot play with two flying full back and one defensive midfielder. You wanna use them, then install a double pivot in the middle and then use them.

    3) Villa – Some are seriously angry at the celebration. But I always expected a celebration from him. After having to be deliberately sidelined and overlooked for majority of last season, he had something to prove. I think we would have seen a bigger celebration had Tito Vilanova was in charge! That goal was brilliant, it was a miniature version of that brilliant Zidane finish.

    4) Messi – His injury streak worries me. But what worries me more with people saying we played better with Messi absent. I think we said almost similar thing in that La Liga outing prior to that PSG second leg. I think in that match also Sanchez and Cesc was brilliant and people were claiming that we didn’t need Messi for the second leg against PSG. But once the real thing started at the Camp Nou, Cesc went MIA and we knew what happened from thereon. Bigger, compact and strong teams used to close Messi really well. One of the reason why they do this is we play him solely as a center forward. I think may be in situation like these, Pedro or Sanchez should move to a classic 9 role and create space for Messi in front. One of the reason why we played better could be Atleti took it a bit easier after Messi was subbed out, maybe I don’t know. Think if Ronaldo is not present in next Clasico, I guess Alves will remain more or less camped in Real’s box. Maybe something like that.

    • fotobirajesh says:

      I was just going to comment about the Messi factor after going through the comments and saw your point.
      Very true, Atletico played differently without Messi, they were a bit more relaxed (tired already) and a bit less compact, and this helped us to do better than in the first half. Thats how I felt it.

  76. nia says:

    Anyone notice how the Spanish FA appointed the two refs that really(and I’m using the term loosely)always let Barca get clobbered without punishing the opposition that much for these super copa matches? Mallenco and Lahoz for the 2nd leg. The former is the worst when it comes to Barca. I think we haven’t won a game for the longest with this ref although, he did save Busi from a second yellow.
    It’s also appalling how the Spanish fans get away with monkey chants all season long. Dani Alves and also Ney when he came on and surprise surprise, the ref didn’t put it in the match repot :( and of course our board don’t say a thing either.

  77. Ultraculé says:

    Crazy, I predicted before the game Villa would score. And he did. At 55 Minutes, I said to my friends that the game would end 1-1 and Neymar would get one. And he did!

    Anyways. Some observations from the match :

    – In the first half, I thought Xavi was really poor. There was no confidence when receiving the ball under tight spaces. There were some uncharacteristic wayward passing and some poor control of the ball. He is getting muscled out pretty easily.

    – Alexis was a total nuisance to Atletico. If only he had stiker’s instincts, he’d be the complete package.

    – The ball didn’t move fast enough or precisely for us. And our touches and runs weren’t as measured as usual. Atleti made us very uncomfortable.

    – Alba is not a defender even if he can defend. We need more height in our backline.

    – Mascha, as usual was a boss. He reads the game better than any of our defenders.

    – I liked that Villa celebrated. And what a goal that was! This guy isn’t finished yet and he showed us, stuffing it to those who are saying he is a ‘has been’. Tata saying he would have liked to coach el Guaje makes me sad.

    – Tata needs to come up with proper solutions for the problem of aggressive physical teams. We clearly do not have the muscle, athleticism or height to cope.

    – Messi’s injuries worry me. How is it that he was 100% fit throughout all of Pep’s era, while playing every single minute of every game?

    – I liked the calmness of Tata when we weren’t getting our shit together.

    – Song needs to be given more confidence by our staff. When he is confident, he is a unique weapon we do not have. Just like Lexus.

    – I think we will win this tie with a 3-1 win at the Camp Nou.

  78. fotobirajesh says:

    For the whole first half, it felt like we were looking at a replay from some big match, last season.

    Xavi, Iniesta and Pedro had a poor match. Our midfield was terrible

    Masch and Busquets were excellent. Masch, especially, is growing into our main man.

    Talk about all rotation, and I wonder, why Xavi started. It is better we start him for the big matches, right? Ya, yesterday was the big match, but then why didnt we rest him on Sunday.

    Within a few minutes, I was wishing for Cesc to be in. This is the kind of match, which suites his directness rather than Xavi’s control.

    Messi, why is his injury occuring again and again.
    Teams play us differently with and without Messi. This, I think, is the reason why we managed to find some more space in the second half. Atletico was a bit less compact in their defence in the second half.

    I really liked how they played in the first half – a lot of heart, synonymous of Simeone.

    We looked exactly like the team of last season playing the big teams. No difference at all. Only the Neymar goal was different.

    Masche and Puyol plays with their heart. Pique doesnt. He is brilliant on form, but he is not consistant at all and this makes me think that, it will be disastrous if we dont have a new CB.

  79. psalmuel says:

    our opponents have evolved and they easily use physicality and athletism to nullify our tiki-taka. As far as they are concerned,we can dominate midfield and have 100% posession, but once they out-muscle us and win the ball,they counter-attack on the spaces left by our fullbacks. Xavi has been superb since the Pep era but now, the game has evolved. Cesc should be starting over xavi to enable us transit from defence to counter attacks. We can’t keep on playing tiki taka week in, week out. Sometimes we might just have to do a man utd,plant bodies in ur opponents box and keep on launching balls in. I know our players are midgets but there’s no way our opponents will not miskew a clearance that will be to our advantage. And plus,we neymar and cesc have decent headers and we could use Pique as a 9. Better still, we could use some adriano volley from outside the box. Adriano definitely should be starting over alba cos, he is more solid defensively

  80. valderrama says:

    Godin supposedly suggested to Miranda to kick Messi in the injured hamstring. On 0:25.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=pH2pAnc80f8#t=22

    I’m all for a bit of physicality and hostile atmosphere, but line must be drawed. Constant fouling, dangerous play on the verge of incident and harrassing the officials who cave in, is ugly and unacceptable.

    • Rami says:

      Simeone on more than one occasion praised and admired mourhinio’s ‘winning at all costs’ mentality that he gives to his players, So there you have it.

    • Levon says:

      Wow. Yes, Godin should receive a ban for this.

    • barca96 says:

      Let’s not jump to conclusion. I admit, I was furious too after seeing the signal. But as time passed by, I was waiting for Miranda to strike Messi’s hamstring but it never came.

      So it could be that;
      a) Godin indeed asked Miranda to aim Messi’s hamstring or
      b) Godin was merely telling Miranda that Messi is hurt.

      It could be much clearer if they showed the time of the match it happened. If the time to the half time whistle was just like in the video, it really looks like “b” is closer to the truth.

      • fotobirajesh says:

        Sensible comment.

        I am not sure, but I think that is immediately after our first goal. Remember, there were three people on Messi and there seemed to be a foul, but ref didnt call. It was this lost ball, which went into our goal. And actually after this, we didnt see anything from Messi at all (before that there were some moments). Xavi was taking even,all the free kicks. I guess, that must be when he got hurt.

        I could be wrong, though. But being a Simeone lead team, I will not be surprised if Godin actually meant that.

        I am wondering, how did this video came out. It was definitely not part of the telecast, right? I dont remember seeing it live.

  81. culeasacucumber says:

    For the rest of this season, whilst he’s wearing #22, can you refer to him as “Abidalves”?

  82. psalmuel says:

    to some extent, its good messi is injured now so we learn how to play without him. Was getting fed up with everything having to be for messi. If we were going to have tactical width, it was going to be to create space for messi. If david villa would play as 9, it was going to be to allow space for messi. If villa would be on the wing, DITTO. If … It was going to be for messi. When are we ever going to play messi at RW, Neymar at LW and Pedro or Lexus at ST? Is false 9 our birthright? It use to work but it doesn’t now. Every team playing against us alters its tactics. Why can’t we evolve? Can’t we implement our philosophy through another formation? Until we evolve,we will keep on meeting teams with cavity wall set-up

  83. Rami says:

    Official: Messi is suffering from post-contusional intramuscular hematoma (Muscle bruise), He is doubtful against malaga.

  84. Archie says:

    It seemed to me that the first half Athletico was not the using the “new and improved method to defeat Barca,” but a throw back to 2 years ago, Chelsea style. NIMDB ™ is to keep a high defensive line and pressure in the middle third and higher, isn’t it? (Bayern/Mourinho)

  85. ciaran says:

    I watched the match and thought it was one of the worst performances that I’ve seen from us.
    Valdes wasn’t bad in goal.
    Alves lost possession numerous times but at least redeemed himself with a rare good cross for Neymar’s goal.
    Pique didn’t have a bad game but gave Villa too much space for his goal. Good in possession and made quite a few interceptions.
    Masch had a good game as usual, but given his characteristics he is as good a centre back as we can hope for.
    Alba was bad, just plain bad. There was no space for his over lapping runs and he was just safe in possession but in defense he was just bullied.
    Xavi was awful, bar that one move which opened up space for Alves to produce the cross for the goal. He was slow, cautious and unproductive.
    Busquets was good in possession at times but gave away far too many fouls and was very lucky not to be sent off.
    Iniesta was very poor, probably the worst I’ve seen him play in quite a while. No forward movements and didn’t take anyone on.
    Alexis was better than most and when he was playing with Cesc in the second half he was much more confident, I think that Cesc makes him a better player.
    Messi wasn’t himself and looked uncomfortable all night.
    Pedro was disastrous and failed in every attempt to pass forward or take on a player. He was absolutely terrible. Whether it’s Neymar or Tello or Cesc or whoever that starts in his place but he shouldn’t be starting the big matches.
    Cesc himself had a decent match and should have had a penalty but in my opinion he should be starting these kinds of matches.
    Neymar was decent too without doing a huge amount except the goal, he opens up space for others and that’s always a good thing though. He will need to curb some of that temper though because there are too many ‘clever’ players in La Liga.

    Atletico spent the whole night bullying our players. Diego Costa should start every match with a yellow card because he is an asshole.

    The match was a good eye opener though, it was very tough and there were no spaces for our team. Maybe we’ll be treated to a much better second leg

    • Jim says:

      I certainly didnt think it was a bad performance but not our top form either. The problem was that Athletico went full on from the start knowing thy couldn’t keep it up in the hope of going ahead and then sitting in. They were pretty cynical about this at times and it took us a little by surprise. Having said that we should have moved the ball a little quicker. However, this was not Xavi’s fault. He struggled like everyone the first twenty minutes but after that he began to get a hold on the game. Anyone advocating Cesc for games like this has a short memory as he just can’t cope with numbers piling in on him. Iniesta was poor and it hurts me to say so but he wasn’t the support to Xavi that he should have been. Maybe not match sharp.

      Defence didnt actually do too badly. Alba wasnt great but he will be better, Pique and Mascherano played well. Don’t know how anyone can have a go at Pique after that game. He was a rock. If you really want someone to have a go at on their goal, and you shouldn’t as it was absolutely brilliant, then look at Dani Alves. Talk about jogging while Rome burns
      … !

      Villa’s goal was the absolute answer to those who have been saying that he is finished. His part in it was stellar and the reason he didnt do it with anyone around him is that he comprehensively lost various members of our defence on the way. It still galls me that we were foolish enough to waste his talent. Nothing to do with Messi losing it either as we had our other ten men goal side at the time.

      In the forward line Messi was struggling from the start for me. I just don’t think he was fit. Pedro was poor and I don’t know where he superlatives for Alexis are coming from. I reckoned he had one decent run which might wll have led to something had he not been fouled and he rest of the game was very average. Not faulting his effort here. Cesc is looking up for it though and I’m impressed by his movement. That doesn’t mean he could cope in Xavi’s absence in a big game as I don’t think he would.

      Neymar isn’t match sharp yet but we saw a glimpse of his natural scoring ability and you can’t teach that. All in all a good display against a very determined, organised and talented side. We should take them in the return.

  86. TITO says:

    Apparently the Bale deal is on and almost done, 98 mill euros plus Coentrao. Should be finalized or announced tomorrow.
    As for new talents and the search for them, including a CB for us, was wondering when did the last time a talent came out from the former footballing glorious countries such are Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria…Surely there must be something worth a look over there. In the end, some of the best players n history came from there.

    • Ryan says:

      Players from that region still seem to do well in England, such as Vidic, Berbatov, and Modric. Although they haven’t had a Stoichkov-level of player for a while.

      • barca96 says:

        After more than 10 years, Ichiro Suzuki still can’t speak English?

        • barca96 says:

          Accidentally replied there. Was supposed to reply regarding the players from that part of Europe.

          I too notice that it’s been quite there. Many years ago like more than 5 years ago when I still watched a lot of football, there are some exciting youngsters but they never grew into good players.

          • TITO says:

            It was not meant for former Yugoslavia players, but these other countries.
            The last good thing from there was Berbatov, and that’s around 5-6 years ago, even more.

    • G6O says:

      Don’t expect such a player to come out if those countries any time soon. I am originally from one of them and the situation there is the following:

      1) The well organized talent development system that existed prior to 1989 was completely dismantled and not replaced with anything. It used to be that coaches would walk around all the playgrounds in cities watching for talented kids then pick them up and develop them. There is nobody to do that anymore

      2) The kids themselves aren’t even interested in playing the way they used to back in the days – it used to be that you could not find a place to play because all school and street playgrounds were occupied all day. Now you cannot find anyone playing.

      3) The end result is a drastic reduction in the size of the talent pool and that talent pool is feeding into a youth development system that is decades behind the rest of the world.

      So don’t expect anyone on the level of Stoichkov or Hagi to appear anytime soon.

    • htMillBay says:

      I’m secretly hoping for a Bale deal because that will mean an unhappy Cristiano. Despite what anyone thinks, CR has been the biggest thorn on our butt these last few years. I sense an implosion.

  87. kosby says:

    Athletico’s pressing was bad ass.

    – They were overly physical and made it into a pub brawl rather than a football match.
    – I think our players saw that they couldnt play their normal game nor did the referee prevent bad challenges from Athletico and hence started falling down as soon as someone even touched them. I don’t blame them for this.
    – Athletico cut off all the passing channels every time a player had the ball with 3 and sometimes even 4 players. They know that our players prefer playing the short pass and will not play a long ball (not just a random long ball, even a simple pass to a player who is unmarked but at some distance).
    – Speaking of long ball that is exactly how the goal came about. 4 players surrounding Alves and the player next to him. This leaves Neymar free. Big mistake. Goal.
    – Busquets needs to buck up. He is extremely slow compared to the previous few seasons.

    Overall I think we need to tweak our game based on the opponent sometimes.

  88. htMillBay says:

    SC has always been a glorified friendly. Some of our players are still in pre-season shape such as Ini. You can tell that our players who had more pre-season training like Masch and Alexis were sharper. I think Sergi Roberto would have done better, and dos Santos at least as well as Xavi for this early match.
    I agree with others that this was a game suited for Cesc though I think he has been giving good signs that this year will be better than the first two. AM is also on pre-season form so they were too tired by the second half to keep up the intensity. Upcoming Liga dates with them will be interesting as they have the physicality to trouble Barca, and their confidence has grown in the last two years. I do hope they start giving RM real tests in Liga. Guaje is still one of my favorite players.

    Neymar is getting by on pure natural ability at this point, but he is the real deal, a natural goal scorer and exactly what we needed to escape Messidependence.
    I’m a bit worried that Messi was jetting around on causes this summer instead of getting a proper rest. Expect Tata to put the lid on him for Malaga.
    Rapid fire succession of tough games: Malaga in 4 days, AM in 3 then Valencia in two. Martino already gave that signal that he will rotate when he subbed Messi two games in a row. We’ll see if he is as good as his word.
    I expect to see Montoya, Bartra and Roberto, maybe even Song and dos Santos to start in Malaga.
    Normally, I would be happy to give up the SC to get a good points lead in the league but this time I would be willing to settle for a draw in Malaga to win the SC at Nou Camp, then win at Valencia. Due to having a new coach and the CL drubbing, Barca needs to send a message by taking home a trophy right away.

    Alba and Pedro can be overwhelmed by physical teams so I expect to see Adriano and Neymar start in the second leg. I think Tata has been using Ney as a sub partly to send the message that everyone has to fight for a place in the team and no one is guaranteed a spot due to their name, but its coming sooner than later that it doesn’t make any sporting sense to use your second best player sparingly.

  89. ooga aga says:

    htmillbay, good point regarding this being a friendly fitness for all our spain/brazil players. still our players never want to lose. atletico played a great game yesterday.

    masch in postgame said pitch was poor, very dry.

    • htMillBay says:

      Yes, we will see this kind of pitch in just about any away game. Next week in our stadium I expect to see a 3-0 or 3-1 win.

      Btw, we’ve always discussed the lack of a Plan B. Usually, that has always meant getting a traditional big number nine to head goals. However, Cesc, Neymar and Roberto may actually be our Plan B. It will be interesting to see the Barca style evolve to a post-Xavi era.

  90. Kxevin says:

    Messi definitely out for Malaga, and a doubt for the return leg next week. This is as it should be. That man needs to rest, and heal.

    — Transition defense needs a lot of work. If you look at the Atleti goal, our players seem to be trying to run back to get in front of the ball, rather than picking up the man nearest to them and running with him, and teams good in transition defending do.

    It strikes me that counters will be the primary means of attacking our defense.

    • htMillBay says:

      Messi can be on the bench for the second leg on a break glass if needed basis. That will allow Tata to start Alexis, Cesc, and Neymar as the front line – a combo that seems to have good chemistry.

      Counters and set pieces seems to be the best ways to score on Barca due to a high line and short players. Thus the need for a pacy and not-too-short CB. Perhaps our next CB signing should also be a converted DM but one taller than sMasch. But as you say, it’s the defensive system especially transitions that still need a lot of work. AM is good practice since they are good enough to trouble us and expose our weaknesses, yet not good enough to beat us.

    • Jim says:

      Agreed, although it was a series of first touches which makes it very hard.

  91. Kxevin says:

    A stat came out that prior to the PSG match in which he pulled up injured, Messi had played 88% of all possible minutes for Barça. Wow. That is WAY too much. Something around 70% probably workable, my ideal would be 60-65%.

    • Rami says:

      This doesn’t tell the whole story, For example he has by far lowest distance coverage per match compared to his team mates.
      Pep and tito found it more suitable to lower his workload for the sake of playing him more minutes, Because messi’s impact on a match doesn’t directly correlate to how much effort or distance he puts, His presence by itself can turn the outcome of a match.
      I wouldn’t mind reducing it to 75%, Now that the intense pressure is back.

      • Kxevin says:

        Lowest distance covered because of all the minutes he plays. I’d rather have a full-pitch Messi 60% of the time than a quarter-pitch Messi 88% of the time.

        • Jim says:

          Lose a lot of goals that way. Where are they going to come from ?

          • kosby says:

            Full pitch Messi equals havoc for opposition defense which in turn equals more goals for Neymar, Alexis and Pedro..or atleast thats the theory

        • Rami says:

          You didn’t seem to pay attention to my comment Kxevin.
          There is simply no need to have a full-messi 60% of the time if he can still win us matches by playing with quarter of the effort and thus play win and help us win more games.
          Last season is the best example, Where tito removed what ever defensive duties he might had with pep which decreased his workload further, But surprisingly, He goal stat risen up, Specially in away games which helped us secure a historic la liga.

          • Kxevin says:

            I absolutely did. You are suggesting that more Messi on the pitch is a good thing at a diminished work rate. I am suggesting the opposite. This club is of sufficient quality where it can subsist without Messi.

            We beat Levante 3-0 instead of 7-0. What’s the harm? As kosby notes, many goals start from turned possession at the other end of the pitch. He’s our best ball winner as well as our best goal scorer. Whether he steals a ball and feeds Pedro for a goal, or scores it himself, it’s still a goal for Barça.

            I care nothing for his individual stats. I just see the result of a team that used to attack AND defend with 11, now defending with 10, and I don’t like it.

            It’s funny how we question Guardiola and Vilanova for some things, but not others. If they were fallible in some ways, couldn’t they have been fallible in that one?

            P.S. On a different note, never, ever assume that I am disrespectful enough to reply to a comment without reading and understanding it. Such an action would undercut the spirit of this space and the quality of its discourse. As one of the founders, who understands the value of that quality and respect, rest assured that such a thing will NEVER happen.

          • Levon says:

            What could be a cause for concern however were the reports that Guardiola lessened Messi’s (defensive) workload to avoid muscle injuries.

            Martino has the Pulga going all out for less than 90 minutes and he has had two muscle injuries in one month.

          • Jim says:

            That’s a fair point, Lev. Hadn’t crossed my mind.

          • Rami says:

            This is where we disagree, I don’t think we’ve reached the point where we can subsist without messi, His absence was severely felt in many of the games he missed last season.
            Neymar is a major step toward a capable messi-independent team, But he’s a work in progress, I don’t expect him to take any major responsibly until next season, At the very least.
            So who’s going to take over the burden in the other 40% of the games?, Last season we had the luxury of 11 points ahead of EE, But this time it’ll be neck and neck, And we’ll need messi even more, Even martino himself knows this, That’s why he’s planning to substitute him as much as possible so it can add up later to a full game of rest, Without having to be forced to droop him off from an entire match and risk losing points.

    • Bill says:

      Maybe it’s just me, but for 60 goals a season and over 20 aszists,, if personally buy him a lazyboy arm chair and place it outside the other teams ’18’.

  92. barca96 says:

    What a nice gesture of Nate Robinson to wear #10 because of Messi. I was surprised when he went up against the Superman (Dwightmare) many years ago in the NBA All star dunk contest. He’s a midget amongst the NBA players.

    Messi should send him a signed autographed jersey.

    • Kxevin says:

      This is the kind of thing that a professional image management team does in two seconds. It’s a boon, that gives them the opportunity to brand build in a whole new arena. But then a professional management team isn’t trying to skirt tax laws, either, because it understands you can’t do that kind of stuff.

      • Huckleberry says:

        Hm, FCB is located in Europe, even southern Europe, and therefor professional management has not the same meaning as in England or the USA.
        And that is good and that’s one reason I like this club.

    • Bill says:

      This happened a while back, more than a month ago. Messi have him a shoutout on his Facebook, thanked him and welcomed him to the ’10’ club.

  93. nia says:

    Am I reading too much into this pic or all those rumors that Messi and Villa were at odds had a tad bit truth in them? They were the only two who didn’t hug at handshake plus Villa didn’t even look Messi in the eyes.

    http://www.mundodeportivo.com/20130821/futbol/supercopa-espana/las-imagenes-del-atletico-barca_54379624991.html

  94. Levon says:

    Denis Suarez signed a 4-year contract with a release clause of 12M, to be raised to 35M once he makes the first team.

    • ciaran says:

      I always find it strange that we always sign players on 4 year deals while Madrid always sign players to longer ones.
      They often sell players at a profit and we hardly ever do.
      Once people know we don’t want someone we basically give them away while Madrid sell players like Higuain at a profit.
      Maybe it’s just me

  95. ooga aga says:

    3M aka afellay today had surgery on his leg, not sure what, and recovery could be 4 months. good luck Ibi.

  96. nia says:

    OT: excuse me for asking his question which is non Barca related but, why did Mou and Karanka part ways? Jus curious coz they’ve been together forever.

  97. nia says:

    This is the kind of sh*t talk that got Schuster fired from EE:

    Bernd Schuster (coach Malaga): “A loss against Barça is planned. Maybe if we get a referee who favours the home team, we can get something.”

  98. barca96 says:

    There is a player at Betis who only costed them 1.20 Euros, I kid you not. La Liga clubs, sign me please!! There is no need to have shoddy deals involving fathers *Neymar* :lol:

    http://www.bubblews.com/news/760055-betis-hires-congolese-120-euros-per-clause-and-puts-in-20-million

    • Archie says:

      And he blew by Ramos and crossed for first goal.

    • Kxevin says:

      And so the question is, while Neymar was banging in hundreds of goals for club and country, and owning the other countries in the Confederations Cup, what was this cheap player doing?

      The CLUB made the deal that tacked on an extra 40m signing bonus. They could have always said no. I find the reluctance to accept the quality of a player who so clearly has quality and has been signed on to help this club, mind-boggling.

      He came on in midweek and did exactly what he was supposed to do: change the match. He scored one goal, and forced a good save from Courtois to prevent another. He created space and possibilities, and had a good match for a player who, lest we forget, is still new, very new, to the club and a difficult system.

      If RM had actually taken Betis seriously and played them as they play us, I daresay that player’s game wouldn’t have been as glowing. Rare are the bargains that club under a club’s radar. Betis took the risk because financially, they had to. Ask them if they would rather have Cedric or Neymar, and see how fast they answer.

      • barca96 says:

        Why are you getting defensive on Neymar on my comment? Not on that comment or any other for months did I complain about his transfer fee or his talent.

        Leave that comment on for the doubters because Neymar has won me over quite some months ago.

      • “He scored one goal” – that’s precisely the point. Please for heaven’s sake stop saying that we have found the messiah. He just scored a goal and it wasn’t like he took the ball in around the center line, dribble past the entire Atletico defense and scored. It didn’t come from vacuum. Xavi and Alves could have been crap the entire match, but had they not been there would that goal have happened? It was a wonderfully taken goal, but hailing it as the cure of all our problem is far fetched.

        As far as new signings goes, we always have a history with them. Ibra, Sanchez all started scoring goals from the very beginning. Ibra was sensational at the start. So I would wait till we hit February, that’s when we need Neymar really. And that would be when we really have to assess his impact. So wait till that time, and that’s actually fair on him too. Also we will get a clear picture of his impact against top European teams by then.

        Now calling Real Betis making RM sweat as a result of being complacent is really unfair. They made RM struggle at Bernebeu last season and if I am not wrong beat RM at home. So against RM they were better than us last season. To have that happen again is not accidental; but still if you think so, it’s disgraceful.

        We signed Neymar because of his quality. His price will not be measured against smaller teams, it will be judged for the first time in the Clasico. So let’s not make a call until then; i would say wait till the dreaded February strike. Just as you think he is a value for money; others may differ and they have their right to.

  99. TITO says:

    We should be worry about Messi’s fitness.
    He only played one full game in the last 25 for us and Argentina, which is a worrying sign for me. Something is not right.
    If he needs more rest, just give him, heal him properly and then let him play. We don’t need a cripple Messi. He’ll do more harm than good.

  100. barca96 says:

    Kevin017, are you sure you’re not FlashRat over at the Guardian? The similarities and continuous support of Song for months now is making me really think that you are the same person ;)

    • Levon says:

      @Barca96
      I often appreciate your comments and your contributions, but nothing good can come from calling out another commenter like that. Please don’t.

      • Kxevin says:

        I agree with Levon. There are many people here who have players that they support, or don’t support. It happens. There are people who comment here, as well as in other spaces. That happens, as well.

        What should NEVER happen is for someone to be called out or scoffed at for having an opinion contrary to any party line. If the commenter thinks that Song is an excellent player and deserves more, that is his right. Ridicule for having that idea is unacceptable. Completely. Emoticons notwithstanding.

        Such things stifle debate and breed defensiveness and hostility. I echo Levon in the simple request that it not happen again. Thanks.

        • barca96 says:

          Calling out? I am not calling him out. I’m asking because in case you haven’t noticed, I’ve asked him that before, jokingly, and he knows that too. He answered it but I am not sure if he meant it sarcasticly or seriously. But I didn’t want to go further because some people here find conversations like that too offensive.

          I should’ve copied and pasted the comments of the reader at Guardian and then you’ll see how similar it is.

          I am not attacking him in any way. I fail to see where in my comment it seemed offensive.
          Why can’t there be a bit of lightness in this space. It has be so strict like a library or something. Why can’t we have some banter amongst ourselves? We are all matured men in here, not teenagers.

          I am sorry Kevin017 if I hurt for your feelings and Levon and anyone who I cause hurt by my comment. I hope it will be the last.

          • barca96 says:

            Ah I found the most recent comment.

            Barca’s problem is that they are, defensively, too soft in the middle. The return to forward pressing is fantastic, but Xavi and Iniesta (playing together) leave a big hole in the bucket.

            The biggest problem is Xavi. Teams drop off him and let him roam around with little pressure making east-west passes. So his creativity isn’t used much. And when Barca loses the ball, he doesn’t have the defensive qualities of someone like Song.

            Barca should move to a double-pivot: Busquets and Song.

            This is just one of the many whereby I see so much similarities between the reader at Guardian and Kevin017. I just would like to know if they are the same person. I guess it’s an offence to ask if there are similarities between these 2 commentors. I apologize.

            I also found fotobirajh at the Guardian. I asked him here too. It was easy because he used the same handle. But in the case of Flashrat and Kevin017, they used a different name but the content of their comments are 90% the same so I just wonder if they are indeed the same person. It’s fun to come across fellow BFB readers on other forums or blogs.

            Geez. Why do I even have to explain this??!!

          • TITO says:

            You don’t need to explain, at least i understood it like that, it was nothing personal. Maybe he himself can explain it, which will surely pave the pattern that some things should not be take too seriously and cause drama out of nothing.

          • HisR0yalFlyness says:

            Agreed. There was nothing offensive about the question. He didn’t call him out or ridicule him in anyway. You guys really need to lighten up sometimes. “protecting the spirit of the space” is all well and good but it goes overboard in some instances without proper cause. Swear people need to walk on eggshells with every comment for fear of hurting someone’s feelings.

            It’s only the internet. Not that serious. Calm unno self.

          • fotobirajesh says:

            Kind of unbelievable, that you are warned (if thats the right term) for that comment.
            I remember reading ‘flashrat’ often on guardian. And it is very clear what you mean.

  101. Ahsan says:

    Anyone else not super upset about Messi’s injury? If he has to sit out 3 weeks, won’t that mean he’s fresher in April/May? Especially with his dumb off season playing charity games everywhere from Miami to my front yard. We’ve shown we can without him, and frankly, it may do the team some good to have to play without him (similar to how the Bulls players got better not relying on D-Rose to bail them out last yr).

    • Kxevin says:

      What vexes me about the injury is that it is born of simple neglect and overuse. Messi is never going to say “Stop. I’m tired.” Someone will have to put the brakes on him. The club pimps him out for friendlies, Argentina calls him up for friendlies even though he is injured/recovering from an injury.

      The injury doesn’t bother me. Those happen, and Messi has had extraordinary luck in avoiding them until now.

      I disagree with the notion that his return to pressing and defending caused the injury. Messi pressed and defending like crazy in the Treble season, and stayed healthy.

  102. barca96 says:

    And Kxevin, I am pretty have enough of you and your double standards on calling me out when there are many others have done it before me. This Song comment is the last straw for me.

    It has happened a handful of times over many years. It’s easy to pick on me right when I can’t reply back to you in a such eloquent manner? Hate to say it, but I think you gotta find a new whipping boy from now on. Tot ziens.

  103. ooga aga says:

    alves in re messi

    “los Ferraris en ocasiones también tienen que pasar por el taller”.

    “Ferraris at times also need to go to the shop”

  104. ooga aga says:

    chelski got willian for 30 million. crap, i thought spurs would get him.

    elsewhere:

    …Godin told Uruguayan radio station Radio 1010 AM in his home country such things were all part of the game.

    “These are football gestures and those who play know what they mean,” the centre-half said. “I see that he is touching that part of his leg. I made gestures to my team-mates so that they know to put pressure on.”

  105. barca96 says:

    One last thing. Just another suggestion. Make a sticky on some topics. I’ve mentioned this a few times already. Make a sticky on how (Kxevin) rates players so that he won’t have to answer it after each review, what the readers can’t say (write) in this space.

    It’s good to have rules and regulations but apply it “consistently”.

    I now leave this space in peace. Nice talking to many of you.

    • olbucky says:

      Dude you need to chill out.

    • Levon says:

      Since you send your greetings in Dutch I will give you what I suspect that you want, my two cents.

      I think you are taking this too personal.

      No matter how well written our comments and thoughts, internet message boards leave a lot of room for people to misinterpret each other. For the record, I don’t think you meant any harm with your original post. I know that whereas our shared culture is very direct and we joke and jest a lot, other people see this as confrontational.

      Ultimately it is up to the mods to safeguard this space so that everybody feels welcome. Kxevin and I asked you respectfully to refrain from something of which you yourself acknowledged that you “didn’t want to go further because some people here find conversations like that too offensive.”

      I am sorry you feel the way you do but I think you are wrong to feel that way. You aren’t anybody’s whipping boy. Don’t like to see you leave, but to each his own. Tot ziens.

      PS – Since you are a long time reader, if you feel the need to discuss this any further you can write me at levonschuller@gmail.com. No need to clogger this thread with arguments.

  106. Humphrey Bogart says:

    on my way home i thought about the game and our squad and come to a terrible conclusion:

    Martino did leave bartra on the bench and said in case of emergency he would play Busi as CB, everybody still remembering the times busi had to play there knows that it is a way straight into desaster. it also means that martino has a very low opinion of bartra which means he will either be loaned out, sold or be in the stands the whole season. So we can take bartra out of the line of possible CBs, as well as busi. That leaves us with just 2 guys who play regulary there, one of them is not even a real CB. And now guys reach for your Gin Tonic, at least i will do if i entertain for one minute the thought of an injury to Pique. That would us leave with Masche and that’s it, nobody else, only him. to go into a season with that “options” is not stupid, it is downright criminal in footballin terms

    and now i need a big drink

  107. psalmuel says:

    Playing messi at false 9 has been our bane in recent times. If only we could move him to the RW and play either of Cesc or Lexus at CF,there will be space in the middle. Tactical width won’t work long as messi, the focal point is in the middle. No way defenders will ignore messi on the wing like they do pedro and sanchez

    • Kxevin says:

      No worries. It’s an interesting complexity, where to play your best player. The thing for me is that Messi is so dangerous whereever he is, that you want to have him in the spot where he can do the most danger. Whereever he goes, the defense is going to follow him.

      I think that on the wing, you lose his passing ability (recall that setup vs Levante for Pedro).

      • Levon says:

        Good point about Messi’s passing. I agree that he shouldn’t play on the wing. That old Cruijff mantra of playing your best player where he gets the ball the most makes a lot of sense to me. I do like the idea of Alexis and Messi switching positions throughout the whole game. Heck, Alexis, Messi and O Ney switching positions might work well, too.

    • Rami says:

      Playing messi on the wing is a waste of his full godly capabilities, Being in the middle gives him freedom, It allows him to be in the position to start an attack or be in the other end of finish one, Having messi to be the orchestrator of the attack is every coach’s wet dream.
      Being on the wing is restricting, And puts him farther away from the goal, And you simply don’t do that to the best finisher in the world.
      Messi does drift to the right wing from time to time, To either escape heavy marking or start his signature runs by cutting into the middle, But in the end, The middle is his natural habitat.

  108. psalmuel says:

    Playing messi at false 9 has been our bane in recent times. If only we could move him to the RW and play either of Cesc or Lexus at CF,there will be space in the middle. Tactical width won’t work long as messi, the focal point is in the middle. No way defenders will ignore messi on the wing like they do pedro and sanchez. Still looking forward to the day, pique starts at CF

    • blitzen says:

      You’re kidding, right? When Pep moved Messi to the middle he exploded as a goalscorer. No way is he going to be scoring 50+ goals a season out on the wing. Yes, on occasion he gets squeezed out of the game, but even when that happens he typically draws 3 or 4 opponents away from our other forwards and one of them ends up scoring.

    • Levon says:

      Why on earth would you want Piqué to start at CF? He severely lacks speed, agility and scoring prowess for that position.

      • nia says:

        Watching Pique and Busi run is terrible, although Pique is a bit faster that Busi but, still slow non the less. Even Villa sprinted past Pique just after Ney scored the goal. We need someone fast, a Brazilian maybe or African for that backline. Maybe someone like Yaya. I never noticed how fast Yaya is and very agile for a big man. Pique is no Ibra although he does score some good goals once in a while. Also, I’ve never seen him score a header.

  109. psalmuel says:

    *sorry for repeating myself, I mistakenly posted the 1st one*

  110. flyzowee says:

    With regards to the messi issue, I hear people say moving him from the centre will be counter productive to HIM and a waste of HIS godly ability etc.

    Well isnt it all about the team?
    I think it was Kxevin or someone who made the observation that from the treble season onward (where goals were distributed more evenly across the fwds) as Messis individual goal count rose our trophy count fell. Is this just a coincidence to be swept under the rug?

    Thats just by the way. There are some questions though that I really want to ask. If you would kindly indulge me.

    1. What led to the creation of the false 9 in the first place? Why did we bother when we had an in form Eto’o?

    2. Did the false 9 tactic provide us with any tactical advantages over our traditional striker when introduced 4-5yrs ago?

    3. How many of those advantages are still apparent today?

    3. Is the false 9 in ANY way limiting what our wide men could otherwise bring to our game?

    4. Does the false 9 in anyway affect how opposition fullbacks perceive and react to our wide threat?
    If so, is this change negative or positive?

    5. How much of our persistance with the false 9 has become about keeping Messi happy? And how much has to do with getting optimal returns from our front 3?
    Do we risk unsetting La Pulga with a move back to the flanks?

    • Rami says:

      Messi IS part of the team, HIS productivity and HIS abilities has an impact on the whole team, And vice versa.

      The first time messi was used as a false 9 was against RM in 2009 and we made history with a 6-2 result, Guardiola recognized what he can bring to team playing in the middle, Compared to eto or any true CF, It allows him to draw defenders, Deform defensive formations, And create dangerous through balls and that itself outweighs whatever a true CF can do playing in his positions and the latter ones in essence are simply static forwarders, AKA ibra.

      The false 9 became embedded on our style of play, Even when messi is absent we still use it, And i don’t know why the low goal stat of our wide forwarders is blamed on the false 9 tactic, When 2010-2011 season shows that’s not necessarily the case.
      Sorry i couldn’t answer each one of your question one by one, By i hope this may answer some of it.

      • But the problem nowadays is that we are using false-9 in every match and the opposition defenders never allow themselves gto be drawn to Messi dropping into midfield. Instead smart teams make their midfield with hard pressing players who will form a second line of defense.

        False 9 is a brilliant tactical revolution, but if we gonna use it in every match opposition get used to it. They are not fools playing against us. Remember in the last season our best performance came when Messi played behind Villa against Milan. Milan was prepared for the false 9, but they weren’t ready for the more traditional style.

  111. psalmuel says:

    How has he faired in his ‘natural habitat’ against the following teams: celtic,chelsea, Mou’s EE,inter, milan(1st leg),bayern? We can’t be always stereo typed in our tactics. All the teams mentioned above nullified us (him) by parking the bus in the middle and midfield area (check zonal marking). You argue that he wasn’t fit against bayern but how about the rest?

  112. alpinegroove says:

    There are a lot comments about Barca’s inability to overcome high quality teams that choose to play very defensively.

    Can anyone give examples of teams that are very good at playing against super defensive high quality teams?

    Most teams are not subjected to the kind of defensive treatment Barca is. But still, is this an issue that other teams have managed to address?

    It’s very easy to speak about lack of movement, lack of a 9, etc., but the bottom line is that I don’t think much can be done when teams like ATM, Chelsea, Inter, and RM choose to apply all of their talent to aggressive defending.

    • Jim says:

      Just look at RM’s inability to break down a parked business La Liga last season.

      Can we also have a think before referring to past glories? If we keep comparing this to a team which won everything because teams were foolish enough to come out and play against us and we got most of the breaks then we are gonna keep coming up short. Winning everything just doesn’t happen more than once in a lifetime.

  113. psalmuel says:

    how about celtic,chelsea(2012), milan (1st leg), Mou’s EE of last season. Messi has been our best player,but we can’t keep on doing same things that are no longer working. Its not like we will completely abandon false 9, there will be games we could use them. Plus, I’d like us to for once, sit back (not park the bus) and allow athletico take the initiative, in the return leg. Was the use, sending our FB’s forward and leaving us expose to counters when a 0-0 score line would mean we win the cup. Not like we would not go for goals, but if athletico decide to park the bus, fine! lets just keep the ball at with smasch,pique,xavi and valdes and buy messi a lazy boy am chair and put it just after the center circle. Lol!

    • Jim says:

      No chance of us doing that at the Camp Nou. We wouldn’t get away with it anyway. However, it’s something I would like us to look at for away CL ties. With Neymar, Pedro, Alexis and Messi plus some of the best passers in the game we should be able to draw the home team onto us and hit them on the counter while keeping most of our team goal side.

  114. psalmuel says:

    *lots of typo errors cos am using a phone and not a pc*

  115. KEVINO17 says:

    Someone on another blog said that buying another CB is just throwing money at a problem without solving it. The problem is that we just keep getting slayed on the counter-attack. That is not the fault of our CBs it’s because we’re leaving them too exposed.
    Why we leaving them too exposed? Because our forward press is not as strong as it should be. Why not? Midfield. Midfield. Midfield.

    • Jim says:

      Not for me. The press can help but its like saying we should avoid set pieces. thats not gonna happen so when we’re in trouble I’m looking first at the full backs. If our CBs are getting drawn wide as happens quite often the FBs at the very least should be able to get back and cover them – are you listening, Dani?

  116. And by the way Eric Abidal played another 90 minutes.

    Where is my Gun and where is Zubi and Rosell!

    • Jafri says:

      I was just about to ask; I know he’s been playing the full 90 in the last handful of matches but has anyone seen how he’s been doing on the pitch? Is he back to being the solid Abidal of old?

    • mega_tajh says:

      That just pisses me off. I even bet Abi would’ve taken a slight pay cut to stay.

    • Jim says:

      As you said above, maybe the time to judge is in February not after one or two games. I’m not saying we didnt make a wrong call, just that we don’t know that yet because we don’t know why the decision was made.

  117. Jafri says:

    The biggest difference from the Guardiola era is that both fullbacks go up the pitch now. When it was Abidal in the team, you’d still have 3, 3 and a half men back (counting Busi). With both Alves and Alba in the team trying to get forward, there simply aren’t enough men at the back to stop the counter. Name me the two best CBs in the world. Then tell me if they could stop a full tilt Real Madrid counter together, just the two of them.

    The solution could be as simple as just having one FB hang back. And I’d prefer it was Alba, because Dani pushes up and provides the tactical width on the right side. Alba’s game is more about running into space and/or overlapping the left winger. Which really doesn’t work when the opposing team are parking a bus at the back like Atletico were. Then it just becomes a squirrel charging headfirst into a brick wall repeatedly, and that’s as ineffective as it’s cringeworthy. He needs to stay back and pick his moments to get forward very carefully to be effective, like that last goal against Milan in the 4-0.

    Having said that, in the Villa goal, it wasn’t just about getting caught on the counter, it was some poor defensive play, and horrible positioning, and general lack of communication. Alves – totally out of position in that whole play, and instead of running out wide to cover the run from the winger and leaving the center to Busi and Pique, spends the whole time chasing the ball back and forth, and then just stays in the middle when the ball is played out wide. This makes Pique start to run out wide to cover that player, then pull back to the center when Mascherano runs all the way across from LCB, across the goal to intercept their LW. By this time Pique is running back at about half of Mascherano’s speed to cover Villa, but since he hasn’t turned around to look at where Villa is, he is totally out of position when the cross comes in. And Dani? Has inexplicably decided to start jogging back from midfield without ever having actually covered anyone since this whole mess began and has not even reached the penalty box. In fact, the most ridiculous thing is that the referee accelerates faster than him. He’s initially behind him and ends up closer to the goal when Villa scores.

    This is taking nothing away from that unbelievable strike though; I think 8-9 times out of ten that position and shot would not have lead to a goal. And we can talk about tactics and about buying center backs till we’re blue in the face, but this is basic defensive discipline. Something one would assume is covered in training every day. So that Mascherano doesn’t have to cross the length of the goal to cover Dani’s position. So that Dani doesn’t leave the winger open (And it’s not about getting caught out on a counter because he was level with the guy who went out on the wing when they made the interception; all he had to do was stick to him), and so that Pique doesn’t get caught in the middle of nowhere trying to head out to RB and then come back to the middle, and then doesn’t look to see if he’s covering the guy he thinks he’s covering.

    A little organization, that’s all it would have taken. No restricting our fullbacks from running, no fancy expensive CB buys, just a couple of guys keeping their heads.

    I really do miss Puyol.

    • Doug says:

      Yeah – I’m surprised this hadn’t been mentioned before. Dani was tracking Villa pretty well on that counter, but then, in the final third, just started jogging.

      It was a great finish by Villa, but Dani could have made it a little more difficult for him.

  118. ciaran says:

    Messi is officially not in the squad list for Malaga. Sergi Roberto is though and should get his first start of the season.
    Tata said that Messi’s injury won’t have any impact on the game time for Neymar, suggesting that even if he starts he won’t play a full match.
    my expectation:
    Valdes
    Alves Pique Masch Adriano
    S Roberto Busquets Iniesta
    Alexis Cesc Neymar

    • KEVINO17 says:

      Martino said he’s going to rotate so I will be very surprised if he plays Busquets 3 times in 7 days.

    • alpinegroove says:

      Tello has a good chance of playing as well. Alexis has been playing a lot.

      • htMillBay says:

        Malaga is weaker, and we have Atletico 3 days after, and Valencia, 2 days after AM.
        I would save Adriano for the SC as Alba is not suited for defending Costa. I wish Montoya was taken to Malaga, but it seems Tata is playing Alvez 3 times in 7 days. Or maybe he’s on the bench vs AM, as he did not cover himself in defensive glory in the first leg and Tata might feel Montoya will be a safer bet as a defensive FB in Nou Camp.
        Same with Busquets, is Tata playing him 3x within less than one week? Or is the Malaga game a chance for Song to start and erase doubts after a lacklustre pre-season?
        Roberto should definitely get his first start.
        I would like to see Alexis, Cesc and Ney in the front line at some point in Malaga although that front line also looks best suited for the SC second leg especially if Messi is still healing. So it’s a chance for Tello to get a start with Neymar coming on as the usual super sub.

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