View from the stands: Spain vs. Chile

One of our long-time members, Eklavya, was lucky enough to attend the friendly between Spain and Chile yesterday, and was generous enough to write up his experience for us! Take it away, Ek:

I was on holiday in New York when I saw a tweet from @barcastuff mentioning this friendly match taking place in Geneva, Switzerland. Matches of this caliber don’t take place here often since the maximum capacity of the stadium is only 30 000. As soon as I saw the tweet, I called my buddies, made up my plans and bought tickets to this match for the really cheap price of 44.- CHF per ticket (approximately €35 and $47).

We arrived at the stadium right in time to see the teams warming up and playing a few rounds of rondos. With the exception of Sanchez, no Chile player got much applause from the crowd when their names were being announced. As you might expect, most of the Spanish players got the full applause, with Iniesta, Ramos and Villa getting the loudest cheers in that order. It seemed many people had never heard of Mario Suarez, Monreal, Javi Garcia, and so were left scratching their heads.

As I noticed the last time I went to a stadium, the bright green pitch looks smaller in reality than on TV, which I guess is due to the height and optics of the cameras.

I had tickets for the corner sector in the north stands, but our seats turned out to be way lower than I had imagined. Although you could see the some players closely, the gridded metal fence was chopping part of our view into perfect cubes. The good thing was that Spain’s bright red and Chile’s white jerseys really stood out well on the pitch.

photo 1

After seeing Valdes and Sergio Ramos high-five and hug, we were treated to a first class view of the Chile’s first goal at only the 5th minute. The thing about watching matches live is that without the visual help of replays from all angles, you (or at least I) forget the overall play pretty quickly. Instead you’re left with the post-goal impact and a vivid atmosphere, which gets accentuated a tiny bit more as you take a big sip from your beer to celebrate.

Much to our dismay, the stadium had plenty of spare seats remaining even after the kickoff, and I felt our (relatively) small town wasn’t doing justice to this team despite being generally very knowledgeable about football matters. They later announced that the crowd was made up of a meager 15000 supporters, exactly half of the stadium’s capacity, and half of the crowd that had turned up for the Argentina-Portugal match a few years ago.

photo 2

After Chile’s goal we decided to try our luck at moving towards the middle sector. As the prices vary from sector to sector, changing seats isn’t “legal” strictly speaking, but after sneaking out and exchanging a few smooth words with the security guard, we found ourselves sitting in the much more comfy and padded seats of the VIP section. For the record, the guy in front of us was holding a 134.- CHF ($143/ €108) ticket. However, the atmosphere in this sector was noticeably more subdued and many more expensive clothes were visible, but I digress.

Coming back to the actual match, which we had sort of forgotten in our excitement, we could now see the whole field perfectly well, as well as make out the formations and the players.

photo 3

The most noticeable feature on the whole pitch was easily Santi Cazorla’s ridiculously small height, even as compared to the low average of Spain’s team. Alexis, pretty short as well, did not give the same impression at all due to his noticeable strength. Combined with his speed and work rate, he looked like a bull willing to take on anyone. Pedro, who is around the same height and capable of matching Sanchez’s work ethic, did not make an noticeable impression on me, although he did have a good game, providing assists for both goals.

Similarly, Xavi and Fabregas, both starters and stars, didn’t strike me in any particular way (as disappointing as that can sound). On the other hand, Don Andres Iniesta, who came on in the second half for Xavi, was clearly on a higher level than the rest. Despite not having any “magic” moments, he still moved glided on the pitch in way that made the pitch glow brighter and better (OK, maybe I’m exaggerating 😀 ).

Negredo, taller than most others, was pretty craptastic in his passes and decision making when he came on late in second half. Koke showed some (surprisingly) good technical abilities and maturity in one particular (somewhat) sticky situation.

Overall, Spain were not exactly impressive that day, and were lucky to get a game-tying goal in the last minute. Also, the Chile fans were louder than the rest of the stadium combined.

photo 4

Highlight of the day:

At half time we decided to go up as close to the pitch as possible and try to get Iniesta’s attention as he was warming up, but he ignored our cries for 10 whole minutes, returned to the bench to remove his training kit and put on his red jersey. Not giving up yet, the small crowd of fans that had gathered up there (mostly consisting of small kids and their parents) jumped up the small chain barrier and ran up to the seats closest to the bench that had apparently been closed off for security reasons. Iniesta, apparently having heard our shouts, came out and threw his light blue training kit at us which I missed by a few only inches.

photo 5

Next thing we knew, all the players were coming out of the tunnel again and the security guys were all over us. Despite the chaos, Casillas came up as close as possible you can get to a crowd of crazy fans and signed a few shirts while mumbling something in Spanish. You can imagine the craziness that ensued when Pepe Reina and Villa came out a few moments later and sat on the bench, right next to where we were congregating. Reina gave us a somewhat warm nod and thumbs up, whereas Villa, who has a full badass black beard, gave us his eyebrows-raised-cold-stare-of-death that he’s known for (that’s just how he is). At this point the security had enough and started booting everyone out, but I couldn’t be bothered: I had just seen three major stars from as close as possible you can be.

So, that sums up my interesting evening. On a final note dedicated to all the ladies on my twitter timeline who might wonder at times: when the match ends and players take off their shirts you can make out the lines of their abs from the stands pretty well.

What, no pic of that??? 🙁 Thanks very much anyway, Ek! We always appreciate game reports from members of the family!

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Canadian, cule, corporate wage slave. Came late to the beautiful game, but fell under FCB's spell in 2006 and never looked back.

194 Comments

  1. Barcaleya
    September 11, 2013

    So happy you got to see them up close, Ek!

    And no – you’re not exaggerating re Iniesta – I’ve seen him/them couple of times and I agree that you do notice him more than the others. He looks like an S in the field while everyone seems to be rigidly vertical.

    Thanks for sharing the experience!

  2. lea_terzi
    September 12, 2013

    Thanks for sharing the experience, Ek!
    Btw, totalbarca shared the translation of the interview Alexis gave before this match: http://www.totalbarca.com/2013/interviews/alexis-if-it-werent-for-football-i-would-still-be-washing-cars/

    It sounds like he finds the system and his role at Barca restrictive, and I don’t see how that’s going to change with Messi and Neymar needing freedom in the front three. Alexis is the one tasked with providing width and discipline and defense, and it’s wearing on him. Hope Tata Martino’s less deliberate, more vertical approach gives Sanchez more space, confidence and allows him to shine. I was always rooting for him to succeed here, and he comes off as a lovely person in that interview.

    • dl
      September 13, 2013

      I have always like Alexis, and after reading that interview I like him even more. Tough, kind, good heart, tremendous work ethic, and no sense of entitlement. Humble and grateful for the opportunities he’s had. I wish him all the luck.

    • September 13, 2013

      I especially liked where he said his friend needs to “earn” the car he promised him, even if it was tongue-in-cheek. Too many footballers just throw around their money thinking they are being generous & attract the wrong kind of friends.

  3. KEVINO17
    September 12, 2013

    Not surprised alexis says its more tiring playing for Chile. he really is a monster, all over the park.
    If there is a better team to watch in world football, I’d love to know who they are. Love to see them make the semis, at least, in the world cup

  4. flyzowee
    September 12, 2013

    Yeah I was going to post a link to that article.
    The part that stood out for me was when he said he that at barca he tries to take on players 1v1 and shoot only to realise that the rest of the team is behind him.
    An interesting read.

    Oh and thnx to Ek man for the match report.

    • September 12, 2013

      Excellent link. Thank you. Much appreciate.

  5. Miguel
    September 12, 2013

    sell eklavya

  6. September 12, 2013

    Interesting, from @barcastuff on Twitter:

    Barcelona games played by Puyol, per season since 1999/2000: 37 – 24 – 51 – 46 – 38 – 45 – 52 – 55 – 47 – 45 – 48 – 27 – 44 – 22 – 0

    • simple_barcafan
      September 12, 2013

      Also @barcastuff:
      Tata Martino had several new printers installed at Barcelona’s sports centre as he wants all information also available on paper. [sport]

      Rosell must be fuming…

    • September 12, 2013

      Nahhh… they just load it with scrap paper and the print settings set to “draft”

    • September 12, 2013

      I was hoping it was a 3D printer. Feed it the specs for Puyol…

    • September 12, 2013

      There goes the budget!

    • September 12, 2013

      Now we know why we don’t have any new CBs…

    • Rami
      September 12, 2013

      In season 2010-2011, We conceded only 36 goals in all competition, The lowest figure ever? Yet puyol only played 27 matches.
      But in that particular season, We reached the highest average possession in our history, a whooping 73.3%.

    • September 12, 2013

      Exactly. Ball control is more important than a CB.

    • September 12, 2013

      Yes, but up to a point.

      More and more teams cede us control of the ball yet create better chances than us over ninety minutes.

    • September 12, 2013

      Which has to do usually with a breakdown in the midfield and loss of ball control, leading directly to dangerous counterattacks.

    • September 12, 2013

      Sure. That and set pieces.

      The question then becomes whether or not those breakdowns and set pieces are inevitable. If they are not (or not enough so), then we might need a different type of defense to deal with it.

    • September 12, 2013

      Ah. That means a Premiership-style defense, which goes directly against the way the club plays. With that playing style, comes risk. So you either play as we do, or you line up Kompany, Ferdinand, etc, and do it that way.

      Personally, I’d rather have our style, with a bit of risk.

    • Rami
      September 12, 2013

      That’s the flip side of our possession based football, We need triangulations, At least 10 passes, and a perfect through ball to even get a chance against the opposition, In contrast all they have to do is make 2 or 3 vertical passes, And they’ll be facing no nothing but valdes, The 3-1 classico of last season, The atletico game in camp this season, Are both perfect examples.
      So the question now become, Is the trade-off worth it?, And the answer currently is yes, But not for long, The triangulation and passes and our execution which we depend on to win, Is itself also dependent on the caliber of the players we have, Like Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas and specially messi, And with them declining and gone, Our style will simply be impossible to maintain.

    • September 13, 2013

      @kxevin
      I didn’t mean thaaat different, lol

      @rami
      Impossible to maintain? Our style has more or less been the same since Cruijff returned to the club as a trainer some 25 yrs ago. It will continue to evolve.

  7. September 12, 2013

    Thank you for your contribution, Eklavya!

    • September 13, 2013

      Anytime 🙂

  8. Jim
    September 12, 2013

    From Barcastuff : Barcelona’s first offer regarding the renewal of Andres Iniesta has not been accepted. A second offer is expected in the coming weeks. [ser]

    Should I be worried ?

    • September 12, 2013

      Nope. Iniesta isn’t a happy bunny, with his favorite trainer gone, role change and best friend leaving because of something that was done to him (yes, I believe this).

      But he is Barça for life. The first offer is almost always rejected.

    • Jim
      September 13, 2013

      Yeah, you’re probably right. I wondered if he was a bit miffed at being benched for Cesc over the last few games and just wanted to put down a marker.

    • September 13, 2013

      One rumor is that he is very unhappy with club management. I still don’t know that he is unhappy enough to leave, even as he might be unhappy enough to make them sweat.

    • Rami
      September 13, 2013

      We’re forgetting that this is just a rumor, Neither confirmed by the agent or the player, Sport and MD report that the negotiations are in fact progressing smoothly.

    • September 13, 2013

      So much talent. Suarez was a very nice bit of business by ZubiZa and the board.

    • Rami
      September 13, 2013

      I’m not sure if he can ever reach the first team, He’ll turn 20 in few months, With roberto already there and rafhinia coming next season, His chances are very low, But if he keeps developing we might sell him for a good price.

  9. September 13, 2013

    The noise about this River Plate defender, Eder Alvarez Balanta, is increasing. The River Plate president quoted today as saying “Tata said he is going to need defenders.”

    Here’s a YouTube highlights package:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ6_B8iTvIs

    Like all YouTube players, he looks like the Second Coming. I find individual (complete) match highlights more interesting, because there isn’t any cherry picking, as there would be with a player compilation.

    • lea_terzi
      September 13, 2013

      He’s 20, too old for the B team, but could be a welcome addition to the 1st team bench with opportunities in copa, rotation matches and as injury backup. It would spell the end (or loan) for Bartra, who the coaches don’t seem to trust. There’s quite a bit of hype surrounding him, might opt for a season at a Porto/Udinese/Roma type of club, and then a big money transfer to the elite if he pans out. If we have a positive scouting report and coach’s approval, it could be shrewd business to get him now on the cheap.

    • September 13, 2013

      On the cheap? Doubt that. The reason River Plate’s president is talking it to raise the price. Let’s just hope PSG don’t swoop in just to annoy us.

    • Clouseau
      September 13, 2013

      Initially i didn’t take it seriously when MD mentioned it after all it happened after he became a Jorge Mendes client a couple of weeks before. But yeah Passarella put the cat out of the bag.

      Hope the club will benifit from Tata’s knowledge of SA football.

  10. September 13, 2013

    The MiniClasico between Barça B & RM Castilla is on at 6 am EST Sunday morning. Anyone going to watch it with me?

    • September 13, 2013

      That’s 7 a.m. CT? I’ll be looking for streams, and trying out my laptop’s HDMI connection to the big TV.

    • September 13, 2013

      No, dear, that’s 5 am CT. Remember which way the planet rotates. 🙂

    • September 13, 2013

      In that case, hell no.

    • September 13, 2013

      Wimp. 😛

    • alpinegroove
      September 13, 2013

      Do you ever find streams that look good enough on your big TV?

      I hardly find streams that are good enough to view in full-screen mode on my 20″ computer monitor…

    • September 13, 2013

      They are rare, and are usually the first ones to get whacked in that whack-a-mole game of stream hunting.

    • alpinegroove
      September 13, 2013

      Do you find them on the usual sites, or is there a secret source somewhere?

    • September 13, 2013

      Idk. You can get a STRAIGHT RED CARD just for looking for a stream nowadays… hint, hint… wink, wink…

    • alpinegroove
      September 13, 2013

      I’ll take that comment as first yellow…

    • September 13, 2013

      @alpinegroove
      first yellow? naaahhhh, it’s just that the site is banned in the US. If you look for its Spanish name you’ll find it.

    • alpinegroove
      September 13, 2013

      Got it…

    • September 13, 2013

      Hmm… 3AM PST, I might still be up.

  11. alpinegroove
    September 13, 2013

    What would you do when Puyol is back? Mascherano seems to be in the best form right now, but I can’t see taking Pique out, the only tall defender…

    I suppose there will be some kind of rotation. Mascherano and Pique can’t play everything as they have been…

    • September 13, 2013

      Mascherano’s form is too good for him not to be first choice at CB. Height isn’t everything, particularly with “No Jump” Pique.

      I imagine he will be worked in gradually, once he returns.

    • September 13, 2013

      Height isn’t everything, but height + body go a very long way, which is why Pique doesn’t have to jump to be an excellent aerial defender.

      On the other hand Mascherano’s lack of height has already led to him giving up a couple of set-piece scoring opportunities in the handful of matches played so far. Agree that he is the man in form and should be considered first choice over an aging, back-from-serious injury capita.

    • September 13, 2013

      It’s not so much lack of height, as lack of vertical. I mean look at Nate Robinson, he’s the exact same height as Mascherano and I guarantee there is not a person in football at any height who could outjump him for a header. Maybe we need to get the Barca basketball coaches to work with our midgets. 😛

    • September 13, 2013

      Heightwise, comparing basketball players to soccer players does not work. Most NBA midgets are UEFA giants.

      Also it is not all about outjumping people. It is about using your body and height to dominate the space where the attacker wants to jump to.

      A strong vertical can go some ways to compensate, but does not completely eliminate the original handicap. Nate Robinson might get up higher than a lot of his taller colleagues, he still stands to get his shot blocked / outrebounded because a taller and stronger body is already there where Nate wants to go even before jumping.

    • September 13, 2013

      Nate Robinson actually has a good finishing % around the basket, and some spectacular tip dunk rebounds. The problem with height in the NBA, and why it is necessary has nothing to do with controlling airspace, and everything to do with the ability to shoot over someone. Even if you can jump and block someone (and 7 footers in the NBA do get blocked by smaller players like this from time to time) a simple shot fake can do you in. Those problems don’t really exist in football.

      Mascherano actually does a good job of using his body to control space, but a lot of times he looks weak on corners when the ball sails over him and someone jumping behind him is able to connect. From my anecdotal experience watching him, I think jumping higher would cure most of his ills. After all, at 5’9″ he’s only losing some inches to the taller strikers out there, and many of them don’t have amazing vert themselves.

    • September 13, 2013

      If Pique is an “excellent aerial defender,” I am Queen Elizabeth.

    • September 13, 2013

      Well, right now he is our best after Puyol anyway.

    • Jafri
      September 13, 2013

      Your Majesty.

      *bows*

    • September 13, 2013

      Queen Elizabeth? Isaiah? is that you?

      (BFB in-joke for those who remember that far back 😀 )

    • Jim
      September 13, 2013

      Have a look at the Bayern games, your Majesty 🙂

      Seriously, I can’t believe people are even talking about Mascherano in the same breath as either Pique or Puyol. We have already seen he is a liability on cross balls, he is still jumping in when he shouldn’t although I think he is starting to get the message there and he gets left playing forwards onside …. because he is not a natural CB. We will win nothing with him as first or second choice. You can’t have a tiny tot at the heart of your defence at this level. They draw Pique wide and fire in a cross. I suspect that is why, despite the fact that Tata seems to be going for man to man he has left Pique free reign to go where he is needed on set pieces and corners.

      Did I mention the quality of Pique’s distribution going forward because when everything gets tight that’s gonna count big time.

    • September 13, 2013

      I have seen Pique done in the air too many times to consider him an excellent aerial defender. If he could actually jump, that would be one thing. He can’t. Not his fault, though, if you want to blame genetics.

      He also takes long strides instead of short ones in the box, thus often finding him off balance at key times. This means he gets muscled around a lot, or lunges too often.

      I think Pique is a fine defender, and works in the Barça context. But for all of Ferguson’s pique about his sale (see what I did there?), I reckon his only complaint was about the price, rather than the transaction itself.

      As for Mascherano being mentioned in the same breath as Puyol and Pique, yes. The way Martino has the CBs playing now is right in Mascherano’s wheelhouse. No, he isn’t a natural CB, but a natural CB (Ferdinand, Vidic, etc.) isn’t what our system needs. The way Martino has drawn it up so far, it actually prefers a DM’s skill set.

      I would take Mascherano’s tackling, anticipatory and ball winning abilities over the few times that we have to worry about him in an aerial duel.

      As well as he played last season and so far, this season, I admit to being surprised that there is still doubt about his capabilities at the center of our defense.

  12. PrinceYuvi
    September 13, 2013

    Come saturday, come already.
    Can’t wait to see more of our signing of the summer.
    Tata, I mean. Pedro dropped but the babies are all in. AnimsTito.

    Also, thanks eklavya

  13. Gogah
    September 13, 2013

    !

  14. Rami
    September 13, 2013

    Santi nolla, The director of mundo deportivo, Gave his thoughts about cruyff’s recent statements, I also shared similar opinion, Here is my ‘loose’ translation for everyone:

    “Luckily cruyff, Receded what he called ‘pin’ that distinguished him as the honorary president of FCB, Because he wasn’t a clear example today (Supporting ajax)”

    “Time always puts everything in it’s place, Laporta made the decision to appoint cruyff the honorary president near the end of his presidency, Without asking the assembly when he was about to leave, And he left rosell in a tough spot when he knew he was leading the polls”

    “The decision to give him the title didn’t happen in consensus, Not for a minute”

    “We must thank cruyff for his past and contribution to us, But an honorary president character should never be diving it’s environment”

    “Another thing we should know is that he won 3 European cups with ajax, The club that made him, Yet he finished his career with feyenoord, Ajax rival”

    “You can be with one or another (Rosell or laporta), But the team never changes, Yet cruff said he won’t set a foot in camp nou while rosell is still the president”

    “The fans may be with or against rosell, But they’ll always support the team, Any other attitude won’t be acceptable”

    “We remember cruyff’s importance, Magnitude, And reputation, But his support of ajax against FCB is anything but honorary”

    I apologize for any mistakes that i may have made in the translation, And this is the source:
    http://www.mundodeportivo.com/20130913/fc-barcelona/cruyff-con-el-ajax_54382388875.html

    • September 13, 2013

      Nolla is the chief suck-up at a suck-up publication that is part of the media empire helping Rosell solidify his power base. I am surprised he doesn’t accuse Cruijff of boiling and eating babies on weekends.

    • Rami
      September 13, 2013

      I didn’t who nolla was until today actually, I just happened to came across his piece, And i decided to post what he said because it happened to echo perfectly with what’s on my mind, Nothing more.

      And i don’t see what is it about this piece that is being a suck-up, What does make of me then, Since i share the same view.
      By the way i’m not saying this in a high tone, Or getting defensive, Although it might look like it from the first impression.

    • September 13, 2013

      Yeah, what he said. Santi Nolla is, to put it mildly, akin to an undigested bit of meat lodged very far up Rosell’s large intestine. His most recent bit of vitriol was an attack on Guardiola for trying to “score points” with the media by trying to repair his friendship with Tito. He’s a piece of work.

    • Rami
      September 13, 2013

      I’m in the dark on what ever pieces he wrote before, And if i ever happened to read them i might also detest them, But it’s not logical do dismiss before-hand what someone says because he said X and Y before.
      In regard to cryuff, He didn’t say anything illogical, At least in my opinion.

    • September 14, 2013

      “but it’s not logical do dismiss before-hand what someone says because he said X and Y before.”

      Actually, as the head honcho of a publication that actively seeks to discredit certain people on behalf of the current administration, you should keep in mind his agenda when reading his columns.

      When taken at face value it sounds logical, but you should be very aware of the agenda behind his words.

    • Jim
      September 14, 2013

      But which bit of it is wrong? I confess to not being an expert on this matter.

    • TITO
      September 14, 2013

      If we are ok with it, when we detest almost everything that Rossell does and stands for, but regardless we still love our club and go to the stadium (those who have a chance)…isn’t that what Cruyff should do as well?
      Rossell isn’t Barca and Barca isn’t Rossell.
      That’s how i understood the column, and i don’t care what he wrote in the past. It’s this particular column which is discussed, and as Jim and Rami, i don’t see anything wrong there.

  15. September 13, 2013

    Cruijff has always claimed to have two loves in football, Barcelona and Ajax which, given his past with both clubs, is completely logical. That he is being pushed towards Ajax makes me very sad, but it is understandable (and completely in his character).

    Our club has stripped Cruijff from his honorary president title and refused to pay money owed to the Cruijff foundation destined to handicapped Catalan children. Its president disrespects him publically and has pushed both Barcelona football dailies to conduct smear campaigns against a man they should honor to this day.

    No man is bigger than a club, but our current administation is not bigger than Cruijff, he who turned around the Barça’s fortunes and put in place the philosophy for which it is revered around the world. I can safely to say that without Johan Cruijff the majority of us would not be FC Barcelona fans to begin with.

    • barca96
      September 13, 2013

      Yup. Without the Dutch influence, I wouldn’t have had more interest in Barca in 95. They used to show it unusually a lot on tv, I guess it was because of Cruyff.

    • Rami
      September 13, 2013

      Cruyff wasn’t ‘stripped’ down from his title, He resigned, There is no such thing as honorary presidency in our club laws, Laporta by himself decided to create this title near the end of his time at the club, WITHOUT even taking the votes of the assembly on the matter, And when rosell came he put the title position under the vote on weather it should exist or not, But cruyff decided to take the short route and resign before such a voting took place.

      I’ve said many times before, Politics are very low on my priority list, And generally don’t like to discuss them, And certainly don’t have any ‘sides’, But cruyff isn’t an angel, Being great on the sporting aspect, Doesn’t necessarily makes him great outside of it.

    • September 14, 2013

      So what? Plenty of big clubs have honorary presidents/members who haven’t done half of what Johan Cruijff has done for Barça.

      Threatening to take his title was a stupid, petty thing to do and should serve us as indisputable proof of the complete and utter hypocrisy of our current president when he says that he wants to “unite” the different factions that exist in barcelonismo.

    • Rami
      September 14, 2013

      Threatening?, Who said anything about that, I’m not sure why you’re insisting on having ‘cynical’ view on this matter.
      If we were ever to have such thing as honorary presidency, The votes of the members should be taken on the matter, And i would’ve done the same, And that’s how all decisions that concerns the club as a whole should take place, It prevents any president from having excess authority over the club, And i’m sure you’ll agree on this.
      I honestly do understand your frustration about this, It’s not a pretty sight to see someone like cruyff step down from such a title, But if we look at this objectively, The current board shouldn’t take the blame of either a deliberate incompetency or just willful ignorance of the past administration, Because if they really cared about pinning down this title in the club laws and ensure that cruyff stays for future presidency, They should’ve done it in the right way.

    • September 14, 2013

      For me, it’s a question of tone. Cruijff is quite clearly an Ajax-supporting bad guy, is how my editor’s eyes read it. Presumably that piece is an editorial rather than anything purporting to be “news,” which makes it the writer’s opinion.

      His view on Cruijff doesn’t stray very far from my “to hell with Guardiola” view in reality, right? But again, we need to apply some perspective, and I find it in top portion, about Laporta ramrodding the honorary role for Cruijff, and putting Rosell between a rock and a hard place. Should Rosell have put it to the Assembly? In retrospect, maybe. But he also shouldn’t have used another president’s Assembly vote to guide his decision to sell the front of the shirt. No MD editorials about THAT, though.

      How is it thus? For a wee honorarium for a man who helped define the club we are exalting today, and the club that Rosell wanted to be president of? What possible harm could could come of a little medallion, or whatever in the devil it was?

      The harm was in Rosell’s mind. He couldn’t well be seen in any way, shape or form honoring a man who, despite what he has done for the club, is an outsider. And the fact that Laporta gave him the award makes him not only an outsider, but the enemy, because any friend of my enemy is my enemy, right?

      So when you write a piece that is, in effect, a naked attempt at justifying Rosell’s petty, vindictive behavior, you are a sock puppet, plain and simple.

      Were I that person’s editor, I would have suggested that there is a way to write that piece that calls into question the deep ties that Cruijff has to both clubs, Ajax and Barça, and how complex it must be for him. You could craft an opinionated, yet neutral piece on such a thing.

      Instead, the sock puppet has given us, “Laporta gave him this important thing, and Cruijff supports Ajax anyhow.”

      So for me, the view that he supports is immaterial. One of my rules is always “consider the source.” The source(s), in this case, are flawed and demonstrably biased.

      Politics

      I can respect Rami’s view that politics sucks, and I just want to watch magical sprites kick a football around. But politics are, have been and always will be a part of this club. They taint so much, and explain worldviews that might otherwise seem innocent (or not). Politics is at the core of the way that the club is being run now, just as they were at the core of the way the club was being run under Laporta.

      Laporta wanted to use Barça as a stepping stone to becoming King of Catalunya. So he figured success would help that. Unprecedented success? So much the better. He did things, spent money, did ratty stuff. Was his heart in the right place? No. Were the accomplishments ultimately a delight? Yep. So that’s the quandary, but it’s also why I won’t be voting for Laporta in 2016 in the hopes for a better alternative.

      Rosell, because he hates Laporta, had to make everything that Laporta said and did, shit. Hence austerity, and selling the shirt because that evil man left the club in a bad way, etc, etc, right down to snatching a simple honorarium back from a man who has a vital role in this club’s history.

      Yes, Cruijff has said that he won’t set foot in the Camp as long as Rosell is president. So think about that for a second. He loves this club. Yet, his opposition to Rosell is so deep that he won’t see the club that he loves so, live, because of that man.

      That is politics. It’s a very real part of this club, as much as any of Messi’s goals or Iniesta’s mazy runs. Do I wish it wasn’t? Yep. But there it is.

    • Rami
      September 14, 2013

      Thank you for the effort you put into this long piece.
      Politics can be head scratching, Subjective, And messy, And it gets darker the deeper we get, We can keep arguing about all the details, But in the end i don’t feel it’s necessary, Let’s just be glad we’re just outside viewers.

      If anyone ever sees me commenting about a political matter, My intention will always be to add balance to a certain discussion, I don’t like seeing Pro- or anti-rosell, Pro- or Anti-laporta cules, Taking ‘sides’ will weaken our club, And i don’t want it to ever reach the point of harming what we love the most…….Our football

      I’m dying of wait for the sevilla match, two very long weeks have passed without my beloved team.

    • Jim
      September 14, 2013

      I asked above what he had said factually that was wrong and I can see that the writer’s point of view doesn’t strike a chord with many here but in the interests of balance (especially for the likes of me who aren’t really aware of the old politics) it’s good to hear both sides. I wouldnt learn much if all we got from this space was one side. Very rarely in situations like this does there turn out to be one clear black hatted villain. I can see why some don’t like the things Rosell has done and now I’ve a better idea why some don’t like Cruyff. FWIW, my only memory of Cruyff, except as a player and watching cameos like that unbelievable turn, is from a documentary on his life where I have to say he did come across as an opinionated asshole.

      As a teacher Kxevin I’m interested in the mechanics of journalism. Would you call in an article like that and suggest a change of slant ? Does that happen often? I watch Sunday Supplement with the football writers on a Sunday and boy army opinionated. Not sure any of them would take kindly to not being allowed their own slant on things. I’d assumed they were a law unto themselves on their newspaper.

    • Jim
      September 14, 2013

      * boy are they opinionated

    • September 14, 2013

      Wow, Kevin just hit several nails right on the head.

    • September 14, 2013

      Yes, Jim, I would suggest that the writer massage his piece to remove the slant. To be as brief as possible, there is point of view, and bias. So my point of view is that Guardiola is the enemy at Bayern. Bias is “I hate Pep Guardiola for going to Bayern.”

      Both are valid, as long as they are understood, but the latter person, when they write anything about Guardiola, would necessitate that it be seen from that worldview.

      That article could very easily have been made more interesting and impactful without the poorly hidden slaps at Laporta and Cruijff, and the writer’s point would have been better made. Cruijff IS on the fence in this series, with his deep ties to both clubs. And he is an opinionated asshole, as you so aptly note. So you can treat him on that, leaving off the disputed honorarium and defense of Rosell’s role in it, which is perspective dependent.

  16. barca96
    September 13, 2013

    Yup. Without the Dutch influence, I wouldn’t have had more interest in Barca in 95. They used to show it unusually a lot on tv, I guess it was because of Cruyff.

  17. Jim
    September 14, 2013

    From Barcastuff : Barcelona have rejected the offer of a betting company to have their logo on the left sleeve of the team’s shirt this season. [md]

    Dunnit !!! I’ve finally found something Rosell did right. Come on, come at me ….. 🙂

    • Rami
      September 14, 2013

      Maybe they didn’t offer enough :p

  18. Rami
    September 14, 2013

    Barcelona line-up (official): Valdes – Alves Pique Mascherano Alba – Xavi Busquets Iniesta – Tello Messi Neymar

    Martino coming in gun blazing, Poor emery…..

    • 86ed
      September 14, 2013

      I don’t think that’s not our best lineup. Horribly unbalanced in the flanks.

    • September 14, 2013

      Wow, Tello! I expected Alexis to start because he was rested before the international break, but I am happy for Tello because he renewed even though Neymar’s arrival will make it very hard for him to succeed at Barça.

      Dani Alves is simply that much better than Montoya. And Sevilla is always a tough opponent.

    • Rami
      September 14, 2013

      You got your wish Alba is our.

      @Levon
      Tello plays much better on the left, So far he’s been okay, And a suffered a severe lack of ball supply, Weird.

  19. 86ed
    September 14, 2013

    Does Alves have to be on the operating table for Montoya to get a match?

  20. simple_barcafan
    September 14, 2013

    Any English streams? much appreciated..

  21. PrinceYuvi
    September 14, 2013

    Header by dani. Not celebrating. But Ney is sensational.

  22. Rami
    September 14, 2013

    Neymar is on FIREEEEEEEE!!

  23. chop
    September 14, 2013

    Messi has been crap. Pique looks incredibly slow on defense.

    LOL @ the two-handed push on Neymar.

    • Jim
      September 14, 2013

      I think it’s been really interesting so far. We’ve done well to not lose a goal and get one ahead. We’re also pinging the all about well at the edge of their box. Xavi’s control and vision at the edge of their box is awesome.

  24. psalmuel
    September 14, 2013

    and am bored to death

  25. 86ed
    September 14, 2013

    Sevilla were robbed.

  26. BA
    September 14, 2013

    BAD. DEFENDING.

    on both goals.

    anyone attempting to excuse our defensive inadequacies now?

    • G6O
      September 14, 2013

      The second goal was completely inexcusable. We weren’t even outjumped, he was alone in a few meters of space, in the middle of the penalty box – how is that even possible on that level????

      The first goal just showed once again how slow and how we can’t defend the counter as a result.

      And then I think of the names Ronaldo and Bale and get really scared…

  27. Rami
    September 14, 2013

    I turned off the TV from frustration before the 3rd goal, NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

    • barca96
      September 14, 2013

      Hahahahha it ain’t over till the oil can #2 blows the whistle.

      And I almost regretted staying awake till 4. And a few seconds later, I’m glad I stayed up. What a big difference 1 minute makes.

    • Messiah10
      September 14, 2013

      So did I Rami! So did I! 🙁

    • Rami
      September 14, 2013

      I feel so guilty, I’m a bad cule….

  28. simple_barcafan
    September 14, 2013

    that was close…

  29. barca96
    September 14, 2013

    MESSI MESSI MESSI……

  30. Flippy
    September 14, 2013

    What a nail-biter!! Incredibly lucky win, and we have much to learn. Nevertheless, 3 points!

  31. PrinceYuvi
    September 14, 2013

    Messi is fearless. Dunno how he finds that sliver of space in all that stampade

  32. simple_barcafan
    September 14, 2013

    Masch was outstanding…
    Neymar was terrific…

    • Messiah10
      September 14, 2013

      Neymar was definitely my MOTM. He was incredible today. So dangerous, so quick, and a little bit to unselfish if you ask me. I thought he could’ve had a poke at goal a few times he laid it off. Especially the Messi break away that he tried to get back to him.

    • G6O
      September 14, 2013

      He should have absolutely taken the shot. It was on his right foot too.

      In the first half, we showed a lot of confidence and took a few shots, but in the second it was pass-first only.

      Still, MOTM for me too, and an amazing performance overall. Can’t wait for the next game when hopefully both he and Messi will be on from the start

  33. Messiah10
    September 14, 2013

    Well I had to turn it off after the equalizer. Unbelievable. Such poor man marking or zonal defense on set pieces. We were lucky to not be losing 3-2. Of course I missed the Sanchez winner. Saw it on my phone alert. lol. Oh well, still not happy about the lack of concentration and ability to finish the game off.

  34. Messiah10
    September 14, 2013

    I’d be thankful to anyone who posts a clip of the last minute winner we scored! Since I was so disgusted and closed out my internet connection.

  35. barca96
    September 14, 2013

    Coleman, the ex Fulham and current Wales coach just uttered shit on live tv. They didn’t know that the cameras were still rolling.

  36. stefan2k
    September 14, 2013

    Everybody doubting Masche should be silenced by now. Just when I thought Messi has an “off-ish” game he makes a run and wins us the game… WOW

    Hope Tata gains the same insights as allas does on Twitter. Man-Marking didn’t do us any good this game.

  37. TITO
    September 14, 2013

    Anyone can explain why their first goal was disallowed???
    I noticed only that mistake from the ref, and maybe a red or two on Sevilla players after they really deserved it.
    Too much ups and downs, and i will write this down to the tiredness after the international break.

    • G6O
      September 14, 2013

      Their first goal was a foul and was correctly disallowed. He pushed Dani Alves down with his hand.

      They also called a foul on us when Pique hit the post in the first half so that was consistent.

      One can argue that Messi committed a foul for the third goal though

    • TITO
      September 14, 2013

      That was not a foul, at least from, watching it on my TV.
      As for the third goal, there was no foul from Messi, cause he was just faster that their defender, and used his arms just to accelerate more, that’s all. That is not a foul on my book.

    • Flippy
      September 14, 2013

      I believe the ref called a foul on Alves. It’s not exactly clear if it indeed was a foul, but that was the call, if I’m not mistaken.

  38. Xavi6
    September 14, 2013

    1- Messi is a phenomenon , In one of his worst games , he scored a goal and assisted a crucial goal that gave us 3 points.
    2- I think our defensive fralities is down into 2 things :
    A- The weak defensive contribution from Xavi and Iniesta .
    B- Lack of height in the team that leave us exposed in set pieces.
    3- Worried about Iniesta , very bad form since the start of the season .

    • Doug
      September 14, 2013

      I actually thought Iniesta played well.

      Very bad form? Sorry, I thought he has played well the last couple matches.

    • barca96
      September 15, 2013

      I agree with all of them Xavi. I’ve been noticing that Iniesta has been a passenger quite a lot for the past 2 seasons. That was my main worry when Neymar got here, we would have 3 passengers in Messi, Iniesta and Neymar. Thankfully, Neymar improved a lot in that aspect of his game.

      I am a midfielder myself. Have played both wings, whole midfield and RB and I can safely say that the midield’s job is the toughest in terms of work load. Join in attack and help in defense.

      However, both Xavi and Iniesta don’t seem to follow the script anymore. Iniesta started first and now even Xavi doesn’t track back. Only Cesc tracks back from our midfielders.

      You could argue Xaviniesta might be tired after all the years at the top but how about the 99.99% of the other midfielders out there? They have played top flight football too. Either you work for the team in attack and defense or you sit out. That’s how I feel.

      Either we can’t play Xavi and Iniesta together anymore since they both aren’t able to run up and down anymore or we need 2 DM’s to carry them.

      I hope there is a stat that shows the distance that they’ve ran to prove that I am wrong.

      Still love their contribution in attack though. Still the very best at that.

  39. Rami
    September 14, 2013

    I wouldn’t be quick and blame the defense, Technically speaking we can point our fingers at them, But with that we’ll be missing the original source of the problem.
    The team is getting tired in the 2nd half, And they lose control of the match, More sloppy passes, Less tracking back, And the defense gets overwhelmed with waves of attack, This happened in every single game this season, The pressuring is taking it’s toll on the players, It’s going to take a few more weeks for the players to overcome the their physical problem.
    I’ve said it after the malaga match, Be prepared for close call matches, Until the players reach their peak physical condition.
    Let’s also add that this is a fifa virus match in case we forget.

    • September 14, 2013

      Echo’s from last season’s 2-3 at Sevilla… Happy for Lexus that he got the winner.

      Surprised nobody mentioned it, really.

    • Rami
      September 14, 2013

      wow, Completely forgot about this, Back then i screamed my lungs out at villa’s goal, This time i turned off the TV, I hate myself.

    • PrinceYuvi
      September 14, 2013

      Sorry about that, messi confounded me. We’ve a 9 !

    • G6O
      September 14, 2013

      Good points. We’ve always struggled in games immediately after an international break. And most of the squad didn’t have a proper pre-season – there was the Confederations Cup, then they came back at the end of July, had a week of training were shipped to Asia for a week, then some had another week of training while others were sent to yet another international game, and then real games started. That’s a complete insanity.

      So we should be happy with the 3 points (which does not mean we should forget about the glaring defensive deficiencies).

  40. Jim
    September 14, 2013

    Great result and that is the only important thing at this stage of the season. The goals we lost were nothing to do with Xavi or Iniesta but it is fair to say that they aren’t the quickest once the counter starts. Iniesta’s form isn’t great just now. Maybe what he needs is a spell on the bench. He has always been a really humble player who gives you the impression he only produces the magic if the team is struggling. He needs not to let Messi and Neymar outshine him.

    Not claiming hindsight but I’d just finished saying to my good lady that no game is over with Messi till the whistle goes. He is quite simply incredible.

  41. PrinceYuvi
    September 14, 2013

    We accidently* broke a chair celebrating Shh.
    Special applause for everyone who’s up and awake so late in the night to watch the game.
    Good night.

  42. TITO
    September 14, 2013

    I did miss Cesc in this game.

  43. G6O
    September 14, 2013

    1-0 Villareal!

  44. September 14, 2013

    Some observations:

    = in the first hour, Neymar was by far the best player on the pitch, Pleasantly surprised and genuinely excited for the future from this guy.

    = In the first hour, Messi was as crap as I’ve ever seen him. But then he turned around and how!

    = Nobody and I mean nobody has the right to say anything about Mascha. Ever.

    = Alba is broken. We are going to fix that with Adriano? Funny.

    = Iniesta is a bit off. But he’ll get sharper.

    = Ok this is important. Regarding man marking vs zonal marking. One thing is for sure, that second goal we conceded from the corner would NEVER have happened in a zonal marking system simply because a player will not get so much time and space in such a crucial area when the zone is protected. I always thought that for a team like Barca and its characteristics, zonal marking is the best way to defend corners simply because it thwarts any height advantage and uses numbers to defend properly. I dont know, but maybe Tata needs to rethink this one. Busi is one of the weakest guys I have ever seen in the air. I think I could outmuscle him.

    = I also think its worth experimenting with Neymar on the right. Just so that Tello gets a few outings in the left.

    = Neymar should have scored today. To cap off a fine performance.

  45. September 14, 2013

    One thing is for sure..
    That second goal conceded from the corner would have NEVER happened in a zonal marking system. Maybe Tata needs to really rethink this one, but I have always thought that for a team with Barca’s characteristics, zonal marking in set pieces seemed like the intelligent thing to do as it safeguards critical areas with the use of numbers where height disadvantage is thwarted to some extent. Busi is so weak in the air, i am sure i could out muscle him. That goal would have never occurred when protecting zone as the guy would have never had the time and space he enjoyed in such a critical area.

  46. 86ed
    September 14, 2013

    Our defense is a sick joke.

    • PrinceYuvi
      September 14, 2013

      Watch pepe. You’ll feel better.

    • 86ed
      September 14, 2013

      Villarreal is cutting Real open but they’re wasting too many chances. They’ll lose this one.

  47. ian_percival
    September 14, 2013

    wow bale derby goal

  48. September 14, 2013

    God how come M*drid is not 3 goals down already!!!

    • 86ed
      September 14, 2013

      It’s rather embarrassing how many chances Villarreal have missed. If you don’t take your chances you will not win.

    • September 14, 2013

      That’s okay, though, because draws are the new defeats.

      M*drid 2 – Villareal 2. Amazingly they ignored the accepted strategy of parking the bus against M*drid and outplayed them straight up.

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