Video Analysis: Alexis vs Atletico Madrid Aug 21st

We are three games into the season and suprisingly, Alexis and Pedro have started every game. Messi is out with a muscle injury, O Ney is acclimatizing/gaining muscle/learning Català and Tello, well, Tello is being punished or something.

Assuming that La Pulga will soon be jumping around the skin of the defense and leaving goalkeepers with unscratchable itches… Assuming that Cesc is a false false nine who should be looked upon to relief Xavi and/or Iniesta in the midfield… Assuming that  Neymar will indeed earn starting status – and judging by his last two 30-minute cameos the future sure looks promising… I guess we can safely assume the third attacker will be one of Lexusor Pedro.

Possessive of an impeccable attitude, Pedro has long been protected by the fans for having played two excellent seasons (’09/10 and 10/11) who are finally coming around to the idea that he has basically underperformed since then. Alexis’ solid first season was followed by a four month stretch of the Chilean missing every possible goal-scoring opportunity known to man. Some culés were calling for his head, to which others responded, “yeah, but he moves well and tracks back a lot.”

So how well does he move and how much does he track back? In this video of the game against Atletico de Madrid at the Calderon I have highlighted Lexus in yellow before the play develops.

He actually regained possession five times during the course of the game, which, for a forward, is a lot. He is consistently the most dynamic of all our attackers by offering himself to receive the ball or creating space for others to run into. He missed two chances, both blocked by an excellent Thibaut Courtois*

Alexis’s movement and defensive contributions are a constant and in this aspect he is already better than Pedro, who has often been lauded for the same attributes. Also in his advantage are his trickery and his phsyicality. While true that he regularly struggles to get past his man he still poses more threat on the ball than his Canarian counterpart and he definitely uses his body better. Scoring wise, both are coming off of the back of poor seasons and I am one of many who often critized Alexis’ wastefulness. With the opportunities he gets playing for this team, it is not unreasonable to expect fifteen goals.

However, form is temporary, class is permanent. Now that he is playing with more confidence we are starting to see the player many of us thought we had bought from Udinese, as he is finally adapting his firestarter playmaker role to life on the wings. He lacks the decisiveness of a superstar, but the aptitude of moving well and regaining possession, while basically being a pest for the opponents’ defense, could turn Alexis into an invaluable complementary player in a frontline shared with Messi and Neymar for years to come.

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*One of the things I like about Sanchez is that the play never stops for him. When he loses the ball he immediately moves to get it back. Against Atletico when Thibaut stopped his first scoring attempt he recovers at once and passes it to Cesc, who should not have wasted any touches and shot it with his left. Alexis’s second chance is not in the video because his starting position is not on camera. A better finisher would have volleyed it.

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

189 Comments

  1. Gbenga_
    August 26, 2013

    I can’t agree more on this. He’s done himself good by winning back our trust. This will help him grow even more in confidence. Uhm, he needs to start scoring too. Now, we can only but hope he doesnt break down too soon as it’s just the beginning of the season.

  2. August 26, 2013

    I can’t help but chuckle at the fact that people are noticing the player that was always there. He did the same stuff last season, and the season before. It’s just that last season, people were so busy calling for his head because of some missed chances, that they didn’t SEE that he was still that kind of player.

    He isn’t playing with more confidence. He has always had confidence. The difference is in how he is being used, which is as an analog to his implementation in the Chilean system. It also means that he is being used this way by a coach who is less concerned with fitting everything around Messi, but instead fitting everything together. That makes me happy.

    To Levon’s observation about Pedro, is he underperforming, or did he overperform those two seasons? Interesting question. We do know that Pedro thrives on space, which teams aren’t giving us any longer. This requires Pedro to beat men off the dribble, which he isn’t going to do, just as Sanchez isn’t a natural finisher, so will always leave goals on the table.

    • August 26, 2013

      Lexus did do the same stuff last season, but the missed chances were hard to ignore. And yes, they mattered, especially in a team that lacks natural scorers. I always felt that he would come good eventually though(while ridiculing his misses all the same).

      As for his confidence, you could see it against Málaga where for the first half hour he attempted – and failed – to dribble past his markers various times, yet he did not get discouraged and kept attacking the defense in order to make stuff happen. That’s self belief and confidence. All too often last year he would revert to passing the ball back to the midfield.

      Interesting question about Pedro. I agree with your assertion that he thrives on space, and the different set-ups we are facing certainly effect him. However, it is not like we didn’t face parked buses during his “good” seasons, and a lot of chances he did get last season he shot wide or straight at the keeper, whereas before he used to pick a corner and finish.

    • August 26, 2013

      Ah. But the Sanchez actions demand the question of what was required by the system being played last year, compared to this year. Note that all of our forwards passed the ball back to midfield, Villa, Pedro, Sanchez, Tello.

      We faced parked buses, but Pedro also had grownups to distract defenders. His best seasons he had the likes of Henry and Eto’o running around, making defenders crazy. Who has time for that dude doing the windmill thing? So he had more space and time to pick a shot.

      Now that he is being marked, it’s very different for him.

    • August 26, 2013

      Tello regularly gets past his marker. Villa and Pedro are simply not strong dribblers, although Pedro certainly is fast enough. Sanchez is a very skillful when defenders come at him, not so much the other way around. The fact that he repeatedly took them on against Malaga I find very encouraging.

      Pedro made 14 appearances in 08/09 and scored zero goals. His breakout season came the year after Eto’o left, when he replaced Henry. I do agree that he profited from the fact that defenders were more concerned with Messi and Ibra (later Villa). Maybe he did overperform during those years and what we see now is what we get, a fine squad player who will bleed for the club when called upon.

    • petog4realz
      August 26, 2013

      Am I dreaming or something? How many games did Pedro even played with Etoo? I don’t think he featured in less than 12 or 13 games in the treble season(mostly CDR games)

    • Ryan
      August 26, 2013

      On top of that, Spain faces the same parked buses but Pedro has no problem scoring plenty of goals for them. Spain plays differently than Barcelona, for sure, but it’s a shame that we can’t benefit from his goal-scoring for Spain.

    • August 26, 2013

      True, but most international teams don’t have such well organized defenses as clubs, where players train together for a complete season. Also sometimes they simply don’t have such good players either.

  3. August 26, 2013

    1. Totally echo the funniness of People now starting to see in Alexis the player that was always there. I have always defended staunchly in these boards during the frustrating finishing times, the invaluable nature of the player. A technical and talented but selfless team player. When he sorts out his finishing and tactical shenanigans, he is going to be a beast.

    2. Interesting thought on Pedro. Is he also now the player he always was? I don’t know. When he burst on to the scene, he could do no wrong and was a deadly finisher. With Excellent percentages on converted attempts, he had a thing for huge vital goals as well in numerous competitions. This guy benched the likes of henry and ibra in his first 2 years. But his shot taking abilities / confidence / whatever has definitely dipped. I think Pedro and Tello are amazing subs to have. We cannot blindly keep starting a guy that can’t beat a man, in big games, just because he runs a lot. But I am sure Tata is going to turn him into more of a goal threat.

  4. ian_percival
    August 26, 2013

    bale is in spain and spurs has agreed with EE over bale,WHAT ARE WE DOING FOR GODS SAKE,why have we not signed a centre half yet,any one would do please,its like we are not after anyone at the moment,everything just died off lately,EE is going to rip us into pieces,and even if we win the league,we’re sure going to be disgraced again,our management is just irritating,madrid is so very equipped now,and our fans is just to lazy to say anything about the centre half issue,lets not blindly ignore the management impotence,WRITE,THEY CAN READ!!!

    • petog4realz
      August 26, 2013

      So much whinining. Don’t you have any positive thing to say at all?

    • ooga aga
      August 26, 2013

      wow, ian, you have tears in your eyes while you write this?

      well, it was good for a laugh.

      there’s joy out there, you just need to tap into it, mate….

      visca barca!

    • 86ed
      August 26, 2013

      We won’t sign a defender. If we were going to we would have already. As it is we might was well wait.

    • ibbe
      August 26, 2013

      That’s what everybody said when they bought CR7, Kaka and Benzema..

    • stefan2k
      August 27, 2013

      You watched any EE games lately? Guess not

  5. Jim
    August 26, 2013

    I notice David Luiz wasn’t playing again for Chelsea tonight. Is he injured? If he’s not assured of a place with Terry’s return he might be unsettled. Not sure how I feel about that but if he isn’t injured there might be something going on in the background.

  6. KEVINO17
    August 26, 2013

    Interesting thing about Sanchez is that he hasn’t been injured for about 6 months. That must help. I read somewhere that, last year, Barca staff put him on a different diet which would reduce the number of muscle tears.

  7. KEVINO17
    August 26, 2013

    Sanchez is also a very cunning defender. See how many times he runs a long way to steal the ball from behind because he knows the attacker does not see him as a threat.
    Great compilation Levon. But it’s also important to remember that good defending isn’t usually about the steal per se but putting pressure on the man with the ball and forcing him to make a poor pass which a team-mate gobbles up. Sanchez is very good at that too.

    • August 26, 2013

      The thing with Pedro is he is the ultimate team player who would probably be okay to come off of the bench most games.
      Also selling him would leave us with only 5 forwards. Having said that, 40M would be excellent money. I’d be tempted.

    • 86ed
      August 26, 2013

      It’s probably a fake news story. If it were true, Barca’d be silly not to take the offer.

  8. ooga aga
    August 26, 2013

    from the last thread, about pep driving messi like a cab because he played 88% of minutes…yet many (same?) people last season were complaining he wasnt going all out 100% when he was on the pitch…the explanation cited in many places that while He Messi always wanted to play, he was being asked to tone things down, press less, coaches’ orders, in order to avoid injuries…which he did avoid…he avoided them and yet people complained he was walking instead of running…and now when he presses he gets hurt (probably not really related, though) and then people drag pep/tito name through the mud…whoa

    so which narrative are we going with now? was he being underused or overused? just seems weird to me that’s all.

    messi is fine. he got a charley horse and Martino is playing it safe. so no need to tar this or that person, im just pointing out the strangeness of these competing narratives.

    • August 26, 2013

      “People,” “some people.” Call them like you see them. We’re grownups here, and should be able to discuss things without innuendo.

      Messi is broken more often, and norden, in reply to an earlier comment that wondered how Messi stayed fit for all of the Guardiola years, mentioned a special diet that he was one. htMillBay replied that there was such a thing as cumulative mileage on an athlete’s body, which is true. I likened it to a car that has been driven hard, and finally breaks down.

      And that’s where we are. I have seen comments that Messi has pressed for two matches and is already broken, that’s why Guardiola stopped asking him to press, etc, etc.

      There is no double standard or people being unsure of what they are asking for. I assume that I am in the “some people,” as I am on the record as not being a fan of Walking Messi. And I’ll go you one further: A coach shouldn’t give a crap about how much a player wants to play, I don’t care who that player is.

      Messi playing 88% of all possible minutes is patently absurd. I don’t think that anyone’s name is being dragged through the mud, at least not as I read the comments, nor do I see how anything can be loosely interpreted as dragging Guardiola or Vilanova’s name through the mud. But my 88% of all minutes is absurd comment stands. It IS absurd. And a player who puts in those kinds of minutes for his club, then goes and plays 90 minutes each match for his country, is going to break down sooner or later. No mud, just simple, objective reality. Tired muscles get injured.

      To your question “which narrative are we going with now,” I don’t see how he was underused. I do believe that he was being overused. I only wish he were being underused. The Bayern tie probably would have gone differently had he not been chasing records and goals. No, it is impossible to know the future.

      Finally, I don’t think the competing narratives, such as they are, is strange at all. I think that people are asking questions, other people are attempting to answer them. It’s a point of discussion, and one that could be interesting if the barriers didn’t go up as soon as Guardiola or Messi’s name is mentioned.

    • ooga aga
      August 27, 2013

      great! discussion is good, and i am tossing in my one cent. cos i dont have two.

      honestly kxevin, while i might have had the feeling you were one of the people, i certainly didnt think you were the only one, and it would have been unfair to just name you, or any one or two people…because i just got a general ‘feeling’ (to quote pep)

      i meant ‘underused’ in that he wasnt going all-out, whenever he was on the pitch.

      so how should pep/tito have used/managed him? put him only on the field 60% of the time, AND ask him to press less (again, besides the diet — first i ever heard of that — we have heard reported from several corners that he was being asked to work less hard, to preserve himself)? in that scenario, i just feel like messi, pep, or someone is gonna get stick, even if something like this really were the solution.

      i think it really is just a case of, you can only please some of the people some of the time.

      no barriers here, no sacred cows. if i wanted to find fault with either P or M i certainly could. xoxo

    • August 27, 2013

      Good question. My ideal would have Messi playing roughly 60% of the matches. There are a number of Liga teams you don’t really need him for, or don’t need him for a full match.

      The larger problem is that Messi in effect decides when he plays. Or he has in the past. And he loves the game, so he wants to play all the time. Good problem to have, right? Not when his absence is so felt by the club in key matches. I’d rather not have him vs Rayo, so that I can have him vs Bayern.

      If I could fix one thing about this world, it would be the notion of culpability when something doesn’t go as planned. Sometimes, stuff just happens. So pressing Messi is injured. The question becomes did it just happen, or is it related to cumulative stress and mileage, or just a fluke incident? Ach! Madness, right?

      The best way to keep the golden goose laying lovely eggs is to make sure it gets plenty of rest. We can all see the effect of a layoff on Messi, how he scampers about and is all danger, all the time. We also see how he looks after his 10th match in a row, when he is just sullenly skulking around.

      I’d much rather have the electric Messi, but that is going to require a coach to say, “You aren’t going to play all the time, or even when you want.” Martino might be that coach. I think that if he is, Messi and Barç (and Argentina) will be better for it.

    • G6O
      August 27, 2013

      The worst thing about playing Messi so much is that it is not even necessary.

      A 100% Messi that presses like he can usually means the game is over by half time. Like what you saw against Levante and what it was in 2008/09.

      I can only imagine the horror in the defenders’ minds when he they have the ball and he starts chasing them. Because if gets it from them, which he is very good at, it’s an almost certain goal. But that fear only makes them much more prone to lose it.

      So you play him at 100% from the beginning, we’re up 4-5-6 goals at the half, game is over, you take him out, he gets a rest. Why we have not been doing it, I cannot understand.

      P.S. I don’t think he got injured because he started pressing again. He was pressing against Levante. And go taken out, precisely the thing that should have happened. Against Atletico, he was walking from the very beginning.

    • August 27, 2013

      60% is not workable. Any star player of any team would balk at the idea of only playing 60%, and we are talking about the best player of the world, here.

      I do agree that 88% is too much. Martino should try to bring it down to the 75% range.

    • simple_barcafan
      August 26, 2013

      Pep/Tito did what they felt was best for the team and I feel it is sad that Pep’s name has to be dragged every time…He gave us so much joy, yet we need to point fingers at him..pity..

  9. nia
    August 26, 2013

    Alexis did good this match as he always does. Worked well, created danger and gave an assist. He has always been good. Even though he got some flak last season, I think he’s playing at almost the same level with an end product, maybe slightly better. He can only keep on improving.

    Just watched some cuatro and I got to tell you, Jordi got an ear full from VV and Masche on his defending in those final mins. I’m sure his ears are still ringing 🙂 Hope he improves as teams have kind of figured him out somewhat. If Adriano is fit, maybe he can start in the super copa and put Costa in his place.

  10. psalmuel
    August 27, 2013

    Hey! That team in madrid (not that one we played recently, the *real* madrid team, the one that wears white) is grinding out results against ‘weaker’ teams even with their star studded squad and here we are, a narrow win over a top side, without our best player and we are calling for heads. I dnt think even with bale (we’ve got to find him a BFB nickname), they will rip us off and hope they drop points soon.
    *See what I did in my opening phrases? I did a Mou! Lol!

    • ooga aga
      August 27, 2013

      he already has a demeaning one. donkey kong. apologies to any i have offended, im just the messenger.

  11. nia
    August 27, 2013

    Nice to see the team getting along. I always thought Song didn’t have chemistry with his team mates. This vid just showed me otherwise. Dani looks like he’s so much fun. Would like to hang out with him and Pinto.

    http://youtu.be/McZe6A_l41U

  12. nia
    August 27, 2013

    and this vid just shows how Malaga got away with roughing Neymar up. I think Ney can fight back if he has to but, the refs need to clamp down on such dirty play.

    http://youtu.be/QMf4-M756UI

  13. pr17
    August 27, 2013

    Agree with analysis that sanchez is better than pedro. he recovers more balls. Still, till he either delivers assists or scores goals, dont you think all this pales into insignificance.
    Dribbling is a rare art which very few are capable off. Shouldnt Alexis be beating people with pace on the wing, which he doesnt seem to do. He had an excellent cutback with the back of his right foot aka cr7 style, which gave space to come inside or cross whhich he doesnt perform now.

    Let him take on defenders more and more. it is fine game of poker. if the defender knows the person cant beat you or cross, he will not mark you on the flanks. so imperative that alexis learns to ping balls across the goal or atleast beats defenders to prove a useful addition. otherwise i say play 2 fullbacks on wings. much better than a fullback and a forward if the forward is only contributing to defence.

  14. August 27, 2013

    Wait till the business end of the season, everyone will be out there with knives for Sanchez due to his missed chances in big matches.

  15. psalmuel
    August 27, 2013

    PSG offering £40m for Pedro! Come on! Sell him! We are always going to be playing against parked buses, and he’ll be as useless, as the two last letters in queue (I didnt mean that). Come on! When was the last time we sold a player for 40m? Afterall, Abi was ro$elled, so its not going to be the worst thing we did this season. We could use that money to buy a CB, and use Adriano in attack if the need arises. And yes! our ex-strikers will always do better elsewhere cos, we are the only team that faces parked buses week in week out. Tell me villa would have had that space to score if he were in our colors!

    • ciaran
      August 27, 2013

      If only real life was like football manager we could sell Pedro to PSG and buy Luis Suarez.
      Even if it was a real offer I can’t see us selling him this summer, it’s too late in the window. Transfer rumours are always fun though.
      next summer I’d be happy to cash in on him if Deulofeu and Rafinha both have good seasons

    • Messiah10
      August 27, 2013

      I know it is late in the window, but if it’s true, I would take the $ in a heartbeat. We have Neymar & Tello to slot in on the left. Why would we need to buy another forward if we sold him? We could also play Cesc/Iniesta up there if need be. However, I find it hard to believe someone would offer $40 million for Pedro at this point in his career. His form hasn’t been superb and that’s superstar $ we’re talking about. He’s certainly not worth that much. I’d take $15-18 million for him and would be happy.

    • Huckleberry
      August 27, 2013

      They bought Marquinhos for almost that price. So…
      PSG probably just wanted to show their buying power (If there was really an offer). pPrhaps as a sign for more valuable players like Messi, Iniesta etc.

    • ooga aga
      August 27, 2013

      as has been noted elsewhere, so much for FFP…

    • Jim
      August 27, 2013

      The space was created by a string of superb first touch passes. The space would’ve opened up against anyone and no keeper was saving the shot. The only slight quibble would be if the equivalent of Dani had managed to sprint all the way with him.

  16. August 27, 2013

    Apparently our scouts watched Mangala.
    Hope we get him. What a nice surprise that’d be!

    • ooga aga
      August 27, 2013

      well since this horrible trend spans managers now, we can only look at Zubi…really our players deserve more. horrible from zubi and the rest to not be by their sides.

  17. Jafri
    August 27, 2013

    Random OT: Does anyone know who Sébastien Chabal is? Dude looks like a Hulked up version of Pirlo.

    • Sangoku
      August 27, 2013

      A French rugby player, and he does look like a Hulked up Pirlo, nice one! 😉

  18. TITO
    August 27, 2013

    Breaking news:

    Monica Bellucci is getting divorced.
    So all of you/us who were dreaming these past 20 years, try your luck!

    • August 27, 2013

      I guess that means Vincent Cassel is getting divorced, too. Please nobody tell my gf.

    • Jim
      August 27, 2013

      Yeah, looks good.

  19. layibiyi
    August 27, 2013

    No love for Deco in these parts?

    Needs some acknowledgement as a Barca legend at least.
    Helped regain the winning spirit 🙂

  20. bhed
    August 27, 2013

    So the first leg of the Supercopa was on ESPN2 in the US, but I’m not seeing tomorrow’s game listed there, or anywhere else. Anyone know what’s up with that?

  21. bhed
    August 27, 2013

    Never mind, I see it’s on Deportes and ESPN3 (online). Drat, it’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with a stream to see the boys. Goal and then BeIn have totally spoiled me.

    • August 27, 2013

      Sandro Rosell. The gift that keeps on giving.

      Today, at a presser pimping the QA ad spot/sponsorship/whoring out (they get a spot in the MUSEU as part of the deal, you know), he was asked about the Brazil allegations. He got all huffy, and replied that everything he has done has been honest and above board, and people shouldn’t ask him about stuff that happened before he became president, only stuff that pertains to his present role.

      He also said he was thinking about clearing the air on matters, because he didn’t want a single soci to think that he was dishonest.

      I would have more to say about it, but I fear someone would have to wash my hands with soap after I typed such words.

    • nia
      August 27, 2013

      Maybe this explains why VV was the only club capita who wasn’t involved in the Qatar commercial. Sad really, coz I like VV. Speaking of the ad, did anyone notice Iker in the ad as well? LOL 🙂 37 secs in, the part when Ini an Busi were painting with the ball. Don’t worry Iker, Barca’s got your back.

    • Huckleberry
      August 28, 2013

      Didn’ see Xavi either.

    • August 28, 2013

      Xavi is there. He’s the first one to kowtow to the new masters. Look at his face as he walks behind the barrier to set up for the photo shot.

    • Jim
      August 28, 2013

      Sorry to say it again but I don’t see anything wrong with sponsorship money coming into the club and if you dig deep enough you can find something wrong with every sponsor including, im sure, UNICEF.

      However, the really unfair bit for me is the reference to Xavi “cow towing” . Where did that come from? Are you saying Xavi doesn’t care about the club as much as you? I’m really struggling with the thinking behind this constant sniping at everything the board does. He’s the team captain and an employee of the club. What do you want him to do?

    • August 28, 2013

      Forgive my poetic license, Jim. I think it’s an organized dog-and-pony show in which the players have to make nice and look all happy for a sponsor. It isn’t the first time they have done it, and it won’t be the last. There will be more kowtowing when they are all handed keys to their new Audis this season.

      I understand that Rosell is a marketing guy, and that our club is a heretofore untapped source of zillions and zillions of dollars. But the dimwitted romantic in me still wishes it wasn’t being done so blatantly, willy-nilly or frankly, at all. Has the shirt front been sold from the moment the Nike logo adorned its front? Many say yes. For me it isn’t quite that clear-cut.

      Others are noting that the deals are also being done for below market. I’m not interested in parsing things in that fashion. $1 or $1 billion, it still bothers me and always will. It’s a personal view.

      As for the constant sniping at everything the board does, I don’t believe that is a fair assessment. I am quick to praise the good things, such as the Neymar purchase, the Suarez addition as well. I also don’t think the Villa deal is at all bad. This board has done some good stuff.

      But my opinion on the sponsorship stands. It’s a deal that allows the Qatar overlords to put whatever they like on the front of the shirt. It also gives Qatar Airways space in the Museu. For what? Further to my view, the sponsorship billboards now festooning the Camp Nou are just preparing everyone for when the naming rights are sold.

      None of that sits well with me. I wish it did or that I could hold my tongue (fingers?), but I can’t.

      Faus, when talking about future versions of the SuperCopa being held overseas, spoke of the millions of dollars that would be reaped from such an event. Money, money, money, money.

      Meanwhile, the club’s president is facing very serious allegations in Brazil that he won’t deign to answer.

      If people want club politics to be kept clear of the sporting project, majority rules, and I am happy to live with the decision. But as it sits, I am not happy, nor comfortable with many of the actions of the club’s president and its board.

      Finally, I don’t think you need to preface any view with “Sorry to say it again.” No worries there. If we can’t discuss this stuff here, where can we?

    • ooga aga
      August 28, 2013

      me heart is with kxevin here and while i love xavi too i sympathize with kxevin’s feeling…when one of the lovely reasons you began to love the team was the no-corporate-logo…not to mention the footie…now thats gone, and then add to that the general distrust of rosell. just look at him, i feel slimy even knowing that i support a club over which he reigns. he is so plastic and vain. now of course every man in this position will have an ego…and i would like to say that i doubt the brazil allegations, but it really only perfectly jibes with the ‘feeling’ the man gives me…

      and then add to this, if i were a player i would vomit with all the promotional stuff that had to be done…now going to childrens hospitals im all for that…this qatar airlines stuff though….wouldnt it be lovely to see a superstar avoiding commercial advertising…of course some of it they have to do simply because they have a contract with the club…but frankly victor valdes just became a hero to me. thats the kinda stuff i love to see.

  22. August 27, 2013

    In general news, Monaco is buying Kongdobia from Sevilla for his 20m buyout clause. Screaming deal. That ownership is a third-party nightmare. Sevilla stands to get only 8m from that sale.

    — Meeting tomorrow to possible close the Eto’o to Chelsea deal. Look for Dos Santos to gain a big, blond, Spanish partner for his card games.

  23. August 27, 2013

    Growing buzz that we might see, for the first time, the Neymar/Messi/Sanchez front line tomorrow.

    • Jafri
      August 28, 2013

      I’d really want Messi to start from the bench…

  24. IamXavi6
    August 28, 2013

    Hi guys,

    Just an observation from the postings. Have you guys strated off slowly this season compared to previous seasons postings and reviews\analysis?

    I know we lost authors, and you also put out a post last year saying it was likely to have a reductino of active posts; but it just seemed quite ‘light on’ recently.

    Please dont take it as a petty criticism. I truely appreciate what you all do and I’ve run my own blog in the past and know how much time is required to generate good, articulated and thought provoking articles; but I’m just asking the question I guess; is this a trend that will continue?

    Cheers

    • August 28, 2013

      Not your imagination. We are, in full honesty, still trying to figure it all out, particularly as regards sustainability. It isn’t that there hasn’t been anything to say, but rather that it has been, for me, next to impossible to find TIME to have something to say.

      A 140-character Twitter observation isn’t the same, content-wise, as a thought-out post, to be sure.

      We have some thinking and discussing to do among the mods, a roll call, so to speak, then will proceed or not from there. Thanks for asking.

  25. August 28, 2013

    The president says he is
    1. Straight
    2. Honest
    3. Transparent.

    So that makes him
    1. Gay
    2. Dishonest
    3. Opaque

    • August 28, 2013

      I would prefer you had called him crooked instead of gay.

    • August 28, 2013

      oops. of course. my bad. though it was a joke. not an all inclusive one as i can see now. feel free to edit.

  26. August 28, 2013

    The XI that many folks are saying will happen today:

    Valdés; Alves, Masche, Piqué, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Cesc; Alexis, Messi y Neymar

    Adriano trained with the group, but wasn’t passed fit yet.

    • Jim
      August 28, 2013

      That would worry me. I know Iniesta hasn’t had the greatest start to the season, at least in my view, but he’d be on my starting eleven for a big game where control is important every time. If this becomes hash and bash end to end we’ll suffer more than them. It’s a big surface and it’s at home. We should be stretching them with a quick passing game.

      Looking forward to seeing Messi and Neymar though. Big test for their first appearance together. If they can destabilise Athletico they can do it to anybody.

    • Oliver
      August 28, 2013

      Don’t mind the rotation and getting Cesc in there, but are we really going to play Xavi another 90 minutes? Wouldn’t mind seeing how the squad did with Busquets/Iniesta/Cesc, with Busi picking up some of the slack in distribution. Might as well test out some Xavi-less configurations now, both to prepare in case his fitness catches up to him, and to rest him so that it doesn’t.

    • August 28, 2013

      I know that Martino said that Iniesta would take some time to round into form. Perhaps this is a sign of that. But I would rather see him than Xavi, particularly going into the international break, where you know Xavi is going to play.

  27. Gbenga_
    August 28, 2013

    what’s up with the news going round about how Messi bullies and insults teamates? Is this a plot to destabilize him or what?! It’s kinda disturbing, I must confess. I just dont want to belive any of it.

    • Jim
      August 28, 2013

      Source? Wouldn’t believe a word of that. Puyol would sort that out in a minute.

      Just settling down to watch Celtic before our game. Looking forward to that unique European atmosphere of a full house at Parkhead while hoping as usual that the commentators won’t talk over the singing of “Walk on”, letting the pictures and sounds build the atmosphere naturally.

    • G6O
      August 28, 2013

      Even if it is true, I would not consider it abnormal – the majority of players in teams sport on Messi’s level (as small as sample as that is) are known to have done such things, and much worse.

    • August 28, 2013

      This excerpt from the story is relevant, I think:

      Until quotes from players themselves emerge, flatly condemning Messi’s attitude, this story should surely be regarded as hearsay.

      Would I be surprised that Messi got in teammates faces during practice? Nope. Michael Jordan was notorious for riding teammates mercilessly. Being mentally strong is part of becoming a great player or, in this case, playing with a great player.

      Without knowing the tone and circumstances of any of these alleged remarks, it’s impossible to be able to say decisively anything at all. At present, it’s gossip, as the publication itself is quick to point out.

    • Jim
      August 28, 2013

      Aah, Jeff Stelling gets it. Peace to listen to a great outpouring of emotion. Just need to win the tie now !

    • Jim
      August 28, 2013

      Exciting game. Celtic 2-0 up so heading for extra time but could go either way.

    • Jim
      August 28, 2013

      Yessss! Celtic back in the group stages….

    • Roberto Senyera
      August 29, 2013

      Hail hail!! Three group stage matches in Paradise. Can’t see more than that this year, unfortunately.

    • August 28, 2013

      The source appears to “El Confidencial”, which is about the equivalent of News of the World or the Penny Saver. It’s a rag.

      Remember that story a few years ago about Messi starting an Oasis cover band? Probably just as believable.

  28. ooga aga
    August 28, 2013

    atletico:

    Courtois, Juanfran, Miranda, Godín, Filipe Luis, Gabi, Suárez, Koke, Diego Costa, Turan y Villa

    • August 28, 2013

      And our official XI is as above:

      Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba, Sergio, Xavi, Cesc, Alexis, Messi and Neymar

  29. ooga aga
    August 28, 2013

    barca

    Valdés,
    Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba,
    Sergio, Xavi, Cesc,
    Alexis, Messi y Neymar

  30. Oliver
    August 28, 2013

    Rumored Barça lineup now official.

    Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba, Sergio, Xavi, Cesc, Alexis, Messi and Neymar

  31. nia
    August 28, 2013

    Anyone else got the hibbi jibbies for this match? I have major ones, yup, footy season is back. Not good for my nerves o-O.

  32. August 28, 2013

    nzm says Messi is grimacing, and rubbing his hamstring during warm-ups, which apparently they get in Barcelona (dammit!).

  33. TITO
    August 28, 2013

    So, he should rest.
    But, will Martino leave him behind?

  34. Gbenga_
    August 28, 2013

    Finally, we get to see the ‘Nemesis’ play right from the blast of the ref’s whistle. I hope all goes well in the first half so Xavi can gets his deserved rest and I hope we win!

  35. Jim
    August 28, 2013

    Wow, they’re really targeting Messi tonight. Also, don’t know how Diego Costa has escaped a card.

  36. Oliver
    August 28, 2013

    Atletico putting together a better sequence than anything we’ve done there.

    That Valdes guy is pretty good

    • Jim
      August 28, 2013

      Yeah, it was like their goal last week ; beautiful, first touch passing and movement.

  37. ciaran
    August 28, 2013

    I certainly am glad that Atletico are competitive but they are now the biggest bunch of cheaters, moaners and cheats under Simeone. Tactical fouling and constant complaining but the referee is doing nothing about it.

  38. 86ed
    August 28, 2013

    We have all the ball, they all the chances. Does Martino know that it’s Atleti who’s at a disadvantage in this tie? Why the hell are we attacking a parked bus when the parked bus has to move to win the cup?

    • Rami
      August 28, 2013

      Why are we attacking?, Well why don’t we give up our possession, Pressing, And just throw our entire style out of the window, What the hell let’s just sign mourhinio while we’re at it….

      Your comment makes no sense.

    • 86ed
      August 28, 2013

      Oh dear. Our style our style. How can you press a team that’s packed so densely in the last 25m?
      You have to adapt and evolve, mate. Playing the shit we’ve been playing will get us nowhere. The emphasis is on Atletico to attack, not us. As it is, they have come closest to scoring, while holding onto the ball for about 11% of the time.

    • August 28, 2013

      Actually, 86ed’s comment makes logical sense. They need to score, so let them bring it. But we are an illogical club, who attacks no matter the score.

      Breathe deep …. no attacks, please. Thanks.

    • G6O
      August 28, 2013

      The probability of allowing a goal is higher if we sit back and wait. It’s as simple as that.

    • G6O
      August 28, 2013

      Just to clarify – that is true for us, not for most other teams

  39. August 28, 2013

    The officiating in this match is disgusting. That said, Messi needs to concentrate. He had two great chances to score, best of anyone else.

    They are going to be allowed to tactical foul. That much is clear. Play through it, and leave the whining to us armchair quarterbacks.

    • Oliver
      August 28, 2013

      Yeah, Messi has looked a little off to me. Don’t know if it’s the injury, the physicality of Atleti, or both.

      Absolutely gorgeous through ball to Messi from Busi early in the half, expected Leo to score there. That and Lexus’s header were our only solid scoring opportunities I can remember.

    • Jim
      August 28, 2013

      To be fair when you see the pace of the pass and the fact that there was no space, the fact that he controlled it at all was pretty impressive for me.

    • Oliver
      August 28, 2013

      Oh, it certainly was. But this is Leo; I’ve come to expect the impossible. 🙂

    • August 28, 2013

      The Greatest Player Alive makes that play. I wonder what reactions would have been had Sanchez got that ball on the doorstep like that. I think that on form, Messi just uses the pace to slide the ball past Courtois. But the team isn’t on form yet.

  40. stefan2k
    August 28, 2013

    Amazing save by Valdes … chasing the game at this point would have been the worst case!

    We had some lightning fast passing sequences but there simply is no space :X

  41. Rami
    August 28, 2013

    I never knew celtic had a kit with red and white strips.

    • Jim
      August 28, 2013

      I’m gonna presume you’re talking about the quality of their attacking football….

    • August 28, 2013

      Agree with Jim. Celtic got in our asses last year, without fouling and by executing a perfect game plan over two matches.

  42. EnzoBarca
    August 28, 2013

    Atletico extremely impressive so far with closing down spaces. They’ve created more clear cut opportunities as well. Hopefully the effort their putting in catches up to them second half and we have more space to attack.Tata seems to have told Messi to come a lot deeper, Alexis to make the run inside and for Fabregas to run in behind. Will see if this tactical jig is enough to overcome a well drilled Atletico defence.

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