Barça vs Ajax, Champions League match comments post

In understanding the complexity and the majesty of Levon’s Sevilla breakdown, and the difficulty of its loading for various folks, here’s a handy match comments post in which people can have at it. Two storied clubs with inextricable links, and a cranky old Dutchman who refuses to set foot in the Camp Nou for as long as Rosell is president.

Who will start? Who will shine? Who will be shite? And what of poor Wandering Bobo?

Talk about it here, when the action starts.

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


    1. I don’t think we’re playing that great. Not enough movement up front and some real sloppy passes. We should’ve shot on goal at least 3-4 times in the first 20 minutes.

  1. Actually no one be should be allowed to say anything about Mascherano.

    Truth be told, I am as glad that we have him in our team as I am about Iniesta and Messi. An absolute wrecking ball. Would love to see Tata play him as a Keita in MF when finishing games up and bossing the midfield. That way other CBs can get minutes and we wont have too much spillage in MF.

    The other trend i am noticing is earlier in Pep’s teams, the aggression / attack used to come from the pass. Always ahead. Now the passes are a bit behind and the attack is coming from players taking players on, not so much the pass.

    1. Ok, I agreed with Kxevin we wouldn’t be discussing Masch but since it’s you 🙂 we did all see him losing possession four times in a row with careless passing this half didn’t we or am I imagining it?

    2. I guess we see what we want to see.
      These days I only seem to see messi losing balls cheaply and mascha busy puyoling and snuffing out any attacks

    3. Oh no Jim, it happened. I saw 2 passes that were rather long ones, but he telegraphed them and made them to late. However, I saw a few other players with some loose passes too.

    4. I just don’t think our sharpness is there. There were a few passes that were to heavy. Had they been played better we would have been through on goal for 1 vs 1’s. There are shots there that are not being taken. There are passes that are not being made(cough . .Messi. .cough).

  2. Does anyone else feel sorry for Bobo? Man, he just isn’t that good. I don’t know if he’s digressed at all, but he has certainly not progressed. He looks worse now then he did 4 years ago. Maybe it’s confidence? He doesn’t have the speed to get past his marker, nor the ball skills to creat chances. I’m not sure about his football IQ, but it must be depressing to be playing a team you once scored goals for when you were 16 and had the future before you.

    1. Decent first half but don’t want to be sitting on a single goal lead with ten to go. I’d give it fifteen then bring Xavi on. Not been impressed by Cesc so far. It seems like he’s having to work himself hard just to keep the midfield going.

  3. Sublime freekick from the one and only.

    This game cries for Xavi … does Fabulous4 even play? Didn’t really see him in the first half. Although my stream sucks.

  4. I absolutely HATE this color commentator. He’s never had anything positive to say about Barca. His prejudice is so apparent. i can’t believe they let him call Barca games. He thinks Ajax are pressing better than Barca??? Really? I didn’t know sitting deep with 10 in the back was pressing? What an idiot!

  5. WHAT a run across from Alexis ! Brilliantly drags the defender away from Messi who ofcourse is majestic in putting it into the net…

  6. Xavi coming on when we’re at 3-0 up?! I was hoping Tata would bring on a squad player. If not now when??

    1. well seems he heard us..Barta coming on for the last ten min atleast..Wonder when is Montoya gonna play…

    2. This match was ripe for 2 squad players to come on; Montoya / Tello / Sergio Roberto / Bartra / Song. Alves, Iniesta, Messi and Busi could do a rest.

      Anyways, good win.

  7. Barca is running a counter after counter, Xavi makes two delicious passes in the final third and misplaces an easy one in his own area, VV saves a pen, we look (mostly) composed in defense, and Bartra gets CL minutes? A day of surprises.
    Not surprised at Messi’s hattrick after Oil Can’s recent exploits 🙂
    Glad Ajax is not the type of club to park the bus.

  8. We won the game, that’s all i have positive to say about tonight.
    Everything else was bellow average, even the scorer of 3 goals.

    1. Basel is not a bad team. They’ve been giant killers for 3 years running. Obviously, Chelsea should’ve won with the squad they have, but that’s why we play the games. Love it! Mou has to be so disgusted with his players. Of course, it’s not his fault! Never is.

  9. Bartra played well ? Switched to chels** game in last half hour, couldn’t miss watching them lose at home.

  10. Yea,chelsea conceded from a counter-attack and set piece(corner-kick). Hmm… And they had Ivanovic, Cahill, Luis and Ashley cole. These are all worldclass defenders,so we are not gonna die afterall. We even kept a clean sheet

    1. Something else’s going on at Chelsea though. Mou-Mou’s Second Coming has not started well.
      As an aside, Bayern too has world class defenders and they kept a clean sheet yesterday. What does that mean? That more often than not good defenders tend to do a better job than poor defenders; that a solid defense will take you further than a weak one.
      I’ll take the clean sheet, and it will surely boost our conffidence, but again, we cannot allow opponents (even one with young players such as Ajax) 7 shots on target and get away with it very often.

  11. Could only watch first half. It seemed a lot closer than what the final score would suggest. Ajax had a couple of clear chances to equalize. I’m glad we kept a clean sheet. Stats are interesting. Ajax shot 7 times on target (equal to ours), had 4 corners, and held the ball for 44% of the time.

  12. Interesting from martino, He ditched the pressing in the first half, And brought it back in the second, Not fully but very noticeable, Maybe that’s his a temporary solution for the burning out we’ve been suffering at the last 30 minutes of each matchو Which almost costed us points against malaga and sevilla.
    Like i said, Just a temporary solution, until the squad reach optimum fitness level in the coming months, Loved his flexibility.

  13. I can’t wait to go home and watch this one. A sucky 4-0 win? What kind of standard do people have for this club? Serious question rather than rhetorical, by the by.

    For me, results are ultimate beauty, embodied in the legendary Al Davis quote, “Just win, baby!”

    “Almost” and “close” are words for horseshoes and hand grenades. You don’t almost have an accident. You do or you don’t. If you almost do, you didn’t.

    The Treble season was a surprise, and really, in hindsight, the only season in which this current group of players was invincible. But the aura of that invincibility is being retroactively applied to each subsequent iteration of the squad, irrespective of the evolution of the game and ways that clubs are choosing to defend against us.

    That’s a difficult burden to bear. We won 4-0. I was able to watch a few minutes via various crappy streams, but never really got a good enough picture to comment on the match, which is why I want to wait until I get home. I did see that non-pass from Messi, which sparked a bit of invective from me on Twitter, but that was pretty much it.

    But here is the thing: This club has been through a LOT since that Treble season. Player changes, coach changes, ways in which opponents play against us, even refereeing has changed in our matches. We’re the big, bad wolf now, and are seeing the effect in calls not made (even though people think we get the benefit of calls). So much has changed, everything except this standard of nonexistent invincibility.

    That Sevilla match was bonkers. And there are two ways to look at it, essentially: Omigodweshippedtwogoalsourdefensesucks, or “What a match! Lord knows how, but this resilient, strong club found a way to win.” I think that today, and the things I am seeing on Twitter and elsewhere, make me wonder.

    This club is under a new coach, who is doing and trying things. Of course it’s going to look messy and disjointed at times. Better now than April and May.

    1. Even in the treble season, Not every match was a master piece of art and a lesson on dominance, There were mediocre games, And some horrendous ones, Sometimes we managed to win them, Sometimes we didn’t.

      This is the commonest flawed way of setting up an expectation from our team:
      Our main eleven = Strongest
      Opponenet = Ajax
      Location = Camp nou
      Expectation = Dominance and nothing less.

    2. In the last two years Ajax has beaten both Manchesters in Manchester. Not saying they are world beaters, but they can be dangerous if a team is not on form. So yeah, I’d say we should be happy with a 4-0 win.

    3. 4-0, sure, against a young Ajax team, at home, after some great work from our goalkeeper and Messi scoring 3/4ths of our goals.

      we are a good team. we know that. there certainly isn’t a person here on this blog, or anywhere else for that matter, who would claim that we’re not at the moment a better team than Ajax.

      that isn’t the point. the point is that we’re still seeing a few serious fault lines in our game that are worrying as our season progresses, foremost being that the defense looked ropey when having to actually defend in the final 3rd, even against such an inexperienced Ajax team. particularly in the first half, and Neymar aside, we looked ponderous in possession, our pressing was disjointed and Fabregas again seemed too slow. these are insights into larger problems that we, as fans, will pick up on. and if we don’t, you can damn well bet Mourinho, Klopp and Guardiola will.

      so, yes, Messi scored a hat-trick and we kept a clean sheet. awesome, glad it happened. but to say that the scoreline is the entire story, especially to a group of serious supporters as we have here who watch the team FOR THE LONG TERM, just seems trite.

  14. I only saw the second half in which Barça was great and Ajax was not. People told me about an awkward moment in the first half in which Messi got upset with Neymar for not passing. Anyone care to give his opinion?

    “The Treble season was a surprise, and really, in hindsight, the only season in which this current group of players was invincible. But the aura of that invincibility is being retroactively applied to each subsequent iteration of the squad…”

    Yes. Very well said. I also think that the Spanish national team success (with a Barça core) and a certain Lionel Messi influence people’s minds. We simply have not seen a club dominate the game the way Pep’s Barça did ever since Ajax in the 70s, and most of us (myself included) are too young to remember or even have seen that team.

    1. If Messi got upset with Neymar for not making a pass, this team is going to have problems, because people don’t have the right to yell BACK at Messi for not making a pass. And that spells locker room difficulties.

    2. You don’t think guys like Xavi or Iniesta would feel within their rights to yell back if Messi behaved that way? I get that Alexis, Tello, Neymar etc might be very deferential, but the senior guys have plenty of self confidence to handle a scenario like that, I hope. I know it’s not their personality to be assertive confrontationally in that way, at least as far as I have seen. But I’m genuinely curious as to what people think about that dynamic.

      As to the actual incident, it was clearly much ado about nothing. Not much of a reaction, and given the angle for the pass I think Neymar was better off taking the shot anyways.

    3. If they’re talking about the moment that i remember, Messi simply jumped in the air after neymar decided to shoot and the GK catches it, There was no evidence of yelling, Not even hand gestures, And jumping in frustration is a common reaction with most footballers, And a benign one.

    4. AS has nothing to report whatever on this issue. They usually pounce on this shit like predators for a kill. I didn’t seen anything at all.

    5. You can see it here at the 2:21 minute mark:

      Messi does look a little extra frustrated. Can’t tell for sure, but it seems like he might have yelled something.

      I am glad Neymar is taking these shots. We need some variation in our game, plus Messi wasn’t in a better scoring position, and the pass wouldn’t have been easy.

  15. I didnt see the moment you talk about, Lev, so I don’t think it could’ve been anything more than the usual frustration any forward has when a pass doesn’t come after you make a run.

    Great opening win in the CL for me. I’d rather Messi wasn’t scoring all the goals again but I’m so grateful we have him on the team. Without him tonight that could have turned into a difficult game to finish off. I quite liked the football Ajax were trying to play and can’t say I’m disappointed that its one in the eye for Cruyff after his comments about supporting Ajax.

    Now on to Glasgow and I don’t have a ticket … Yet. 🙁

    1. exactly jim — anyone who has played the game know how one striker can yell at another striker: “how could you not pass that, i was wide open!” it is STANDARD. and now if messi does it, he is a bad person. haters gonna hate.

      and kxevin, the reason that others dont yell back at messi — it’s cos they are humble in the face of the greatest. not that it is a rule. on average, the shot has a better chance of going in if it comes off Messi’s boot. everyone recognizes.

    2. In that particular situation, Neymar should have taken the shot – he was in a very good position to shoot, he had momentum, and he didn’t really have a good angle for a pass.

      To assume that Messi would have yelled at him for that is to assume that Messi lacks the football intelligence to recognize that. Which goes contrary to what we see every game – Messi is one of the most intelligent players the game has ever seen. This applies to all other situations in which he was supposedly yelling at teammates unfairly, BTW. And it also applies to the general Messi-vs-Neymar issue – I have hard time imagining that Messi himself is so selfish that he cannot recognize why at this point he does need Neymar do to well for the team to keep winning. Especially in the context of what happened last season. We haven’t seen anything to suggest there is going to be a conflict, but the media is trying very hard to create one by making up one, because it’s the kind of story that generates headlines.

      Also, that jump could be simply the reaction of genuine disappointment of the miss. Many players do that.

      Finally, for all the people commenting on that situation nobody is mentioning the situation in the second half in which Neymar passed him the ball right to his left foot and his shot just missed near the post. He thanked him twice for that.

      That said, if I was Neymar, I would be disappointed I have not yet scored as a starter. But I would not be mad at anyone for that and I wouldn’t feel jealous of all the goals Messi scored. Today Messi had 4 shots and scored three goals if I have my numbers correctly – it’s not that he hogged the ball or anything, it’s simply the kind of amazing ruthless efficiency that makes him so special. Neymar himself has actually had a decent number of good opportunities that he usually buries, it’s just that his shot has been often tentative so far. But he has certainly shot the ball a lot more than Alexix and Pedro combined would shoot it last season. The goals will eventually come as he gains even more confidence, and hopefully picks up some of Messi’s shooting technique by watching him closely – I don’t think there has ever been a player with such good shooting technique in the history of the game

    3. good comment.

      I am kind of surprised by the discussion happening here. That kind of reactions are expressed by every forward player, when his compatriot tries an unfruitful shot. Well, it is a big issue, when done by Messi. terrible.

    4. Well, I asked for that discussion based on something I had not seen – so thank you for reacting. I watched the 1st half last night after I got home and wouldn’t have even noticed it had I not been looking for it. Nothing to it, me thinks.

  16. A clean sheet we didn’t deserve at all: check.
    This group will be a cakewalk. Bartra time come MDs 5 & 6 (he even got 10 minutes today). Knockout rounds will be the litmus test. Hopefully, we’ll be well rotated and clear of significant injuries (unlike last year) with CB cover bought in January.

    Mou Mou losing at home to the forefathers of our colours: check.
    Losing at home doesn’t bode well for advancement out of the group stage. Could Mou be managing in the Europa League after XMas? Schadenfreude grinning widely with feet up on the coffee table and a fine cold wobbly pop in hand 😉

    1. “CB cover bought in January.” You and I can keep dreaming, but it isn’t happening. If it were going to happen it would have happened in the summer. It is then, very early in the summer in fact, that defenders are signed, not in January. January is for panic buys.

      I fear this is what will rather happen. Barca will peak in November/December, like the false dawn we had last year before Villanova had his relapse, thrashing poor Liga teams along the way. This will convince Martino and Rosell and the fans that we’re A-OK, and who needs a defense anyway. Then February-April period will hit. We will be plagued by injuries, by a string of poor results, and exhausted players. We will have to travel to Madrid without a proper D, and poor Bartra will be thrown to the wolves again having player perhaps 10 minutes of significant football. We will likely face Bayern again in the CL (provided we pass the group) with the same results as last season. That’s what I fear will happen. Essentially a repeat Villanova’s season: great against the weak, weak against the great.

    2. An extra CB will turn us from a weak against the great into an equal…
      The first image that came into my head, Was a CB with magic wand in his hand.

    3. Was it Harry Potter?
      We’re past needing an extra CB. Too late for that. To get back to parity with Bayern (and, I feel, Real too: they’ll get better as their teams gets to play together), it is probably close to three good defenders to what we need now. Which is why nothing will be done in January.

    4. Three defenders!, Since in association football you can only field 2 CB at a time, I can’t see how increasing the no. of CBs on the bench can somehow improve the positional awarness, Match analysis, And increased reaction times, Of the ones already on the pitch…Telepathy perhaps?

      Sarcasm and joking aside, The only problem we have in defense apart from the physical and tactical ones, Which will be corrected with time, Is the depth issue, Since it’s hard to count puyol as a permanent member of the CB A-Team, We’re down to only three, Okay some can get picky and include adriano, Giving his reasonable performances in that position, But i’ll be lean, And throw him out along with puyol, So that leaves us with only needing ONE CB, Making it 4.
      Four CB competing for two available seats, Is what’s present in most teams in the world.

    5. I count only one real defender available, Pique, and one converted defender, Mascherano. This central pairing has been played in all but 10 minutes of the competitive games played in the season so far. I don’t see that stopping for the simple reason that that’s all we have. You can try playing as many converted defenders in there as you like. Hell you can even put Messi there, whatever makes you feel better. We will continue to leak goals until the brass admit we have a problem. It’s nor exactly rocket science.

    6. That ‘converted’ mascherano, Has been our best defender this season, Even more than our only ‘real’ defender, RM last season conceded more goals than us against the ‘weak’ teams of the ‘crappy’ league, Yet they only have ‘real’ defenders in their team.

      A CB contribution to the team isn’t measured by what label we put on him, But by what he delivers on the pitch, When guardiola used mascherano as a CB, Or when tito used adriano as a CB, Consistently, I can assure you, They didn’t do it for the fun of it.

      You’re right, It’s not rocket science, At the same time it’s not as simple as labeling defenders as and ‘converted’ and ‘real’ , Then buy ludicrous amount of the latter, And hope it works itself out.

  17. Neymar looked really gassed when he was subbed out, though he was doing plenty of heavy lifting when he was in the game. I’m hoping his conditioning keeps up over the season, because he’s looking amazing so far.

    1. The mind boggling thing for me, Is that he’s putting these kind of performances after been training with the team for a little over a month and a half!
      Talented or not, He spent most of his football career in brazil, And for him to already make impact against la liga and CL opponents, The sky is the limit for him, Scary!

    2. You’re selling the Brazilian league short. Yes, it’s not on the level of the Top 5 leagues in Europe but it is the 6th best, and definitely the most competitive there is (every year there are about 10 teams that can win it).

      If you remember last year when Oscar went to Chelsea, he did quite well in his first CL appearances too.

    3. I’m talking about his seamless integration in barca specifically of all teams, We know of already established European players who struggled in our team, And some who have failed miserably, And for a 21 year old kid from brazil to make such a smooth transition and belnding, I think it’s a amazing, Irrespectable of how talented he really is.

      When i appeared to speak down on Brazilian football, I guess ‘Paulista’ was coming into my mind (Add kerrison and henrique to the list), It’s the state league of sao paulo, In the last 5 months before his signing for us, Santos only played in ‘Paulista’, Against teams that are in 2nd or 3rd division, The Brazilian league started after we signed him.

  18. Whenever the Portuguese Princess nets a hat trick, invariably, the Messiah gets at least the same, if not better. It’s an eerie habit that’s not a coincidence, imho.

  19. Surprised no one yet commented on the observation that messi is spending a lot of time on the right wing, More than i’ve been seeing of him over the last 2 years.

    In an old interview, Martino said he liked messi more when he plays as a right winger, But in his first press conference for our club, He denied the intent of changing his position, And he seemed to kept to his word, Messi technically is still a middle forwarder, Yet martino didn’t appear to completely ditch his old idea, And seemed to instruct messi to spend more time on the right, And produce more of his infamous inside runs.

    Now what do you guys make of this change?, What does martino hope to accomplish with this, And what are the possible tactical ramifications.

    1. He’s just trying to find Messi space. That was part of the point of ‘false’ 9, to receive the ball deeper with space to run at the defense. (Well that and overload mid) If people are conceding space outside, then it makes sense for him to drift outside to get space. I think having others in better goalscoring form makes it easier to ask him to drift out wide also. At times in previous years it felt like he was the only one we could rely on to finish a move.

    2. I agree about giving him more space (Giving him more room to breath is what i like to call it), But by doing that, He can no longer be an actual false 9, Or to be be more correct, Perform what a false 9 supposed to do.

      A false 9 needs to be somewhat in the middle to be of best use to his team, By dragging the CBs towards him, He can make room for the wingers, Which he can deiced to pass them the ball, To either the left or the right wingers, And he has those 2 options because he’s roughly somewhere in the middle, But by placing messi all the way to the right, You’re not only limiting his source of receiving the ball when has to come from his left side, But you’re also limiting what he can do next, Which is either cut inside, Make a straight run on the right wing, Or do short link-ups, A completely different scenario from what he could’ve done if he was in the middle, We’re now depriving the left wing or his contributions (AKA neymar)

      I like to note that in previous season, Messi was sometimes forced to play all the way to the right to escape the heavy marking, Most notably against celtic and milan in san siro, This photo shows it clearely:

      Immediately a problem arises, Even though had more room to breath, He left a huge gap in the middle, Because there is already a right winger on the field (Pedro), And messi supposed to be in the middle, Yet is spending time on the right, The middle is left unattended, Now even if messi somehow dribbled those two AC milan players in front of him, No.4 and No.23, Can intercept him, They can do that because they have no one to occupy by them in the middle, Even if we tried to suggest moving fabregas into the middle when messi drifts to the right, We’ll be even more vulnerable to counter attacks, Keeping in mind we lost that match 2-0.

      There is no harm if messi drifts from time to time to the right, Like what we’ve been seeing with martino, But if we encountered heavily defensive team, And messi has to spent most of the time on the right just to escape the heavy marking, It’s better to field him as a right winger from the beginning, And leave the middle for someone else.

    3. Alexis was often occupying the central position when Messi was drifting wide. That was very clear in Messi’s goal after Busi’s pass. Alexis dragged the defenders with a diagonal run, leaving Messi unmarked.

    4. Noticed it, But keep in mind ajax played an open game with us, Nothing like Celtic or Milan, Where alexis won’t have space to run into, And messi will have to dribble from a ‘stopped ball’ situations, And generally those kind of switches will be harder to do.

    5. Rami, thanks for posting that pick and reminding me of the most disgusting away kits I’ve ever seen! lol.

  20. It’s official. There’s a crisis at Chel$ki. They lost their last league match at Everton and their first UCL group stage match at home. Back to back losses, no less. Crisis in motion.

    I’d like to begin a Save-a-Mata campaign. The poor little fella isn’t getting proper playing time under Mou. He was the Chavs’ best player the last two seasons before Mou remarried with that wicked club. Now, Mou isn’t giving Mata the proper respect he has earned.

    Mata isn’t a player we drastically need at the moment. But he’s a quality midfielder that plays a possession based game and is very talented. He could be part of a rotation and Xavi isn’t getting any younger. He’d get more playing time with us than he’s received so far this year at Chel$ki under Mou who simply doesn’t fancy him.

    We’d never get him from that club under Mou’s management though. That’s a practical reality.

    This season is, so far, shaping up to provide Exhibit A that Mou is an overrated cheque book manager. Ever since he’s been with Porto he’s always been with the club in the domestic league that’s either willing or able to spend the most money. This year that’s not the case as Man City have even greater resources and that club has the better manager (if all other things are equal). The Engineer will give that disrespectful Portugeezer a proper footballing lesson this season and hopefully make him rue the day when he said he’d never manage at such a small club like Malaga. Revenge is a dish best served cold.

    1. I will suggest we wait till the season is over before saying “Mou is an overrated cheque book manager”. He may come back to win the PL and CL. You know he’s still trying to blend the team together.

  21. I must start by admitting that i yesterday was the first time this season i have watched a full of the first team. And i was not overly impressed. There were so many issues that were not right in my view; issues that got me questioning if i was still watching Barca. Results matter i know but in our case we have been getting them playing a specific way.

    We are Barca and we play in a certain way we are the protagonists and we carry the fight to our opponents. We not only win but we play purposefully ever seeking combinations passing and moving and the midfield is our axis. Did we pass and move yesterday? What was our axis?

    Verticality is a good tactical variation but in our case it only has to be a further trick up the sleeve not the main weapon. Why do i say so? Being vertical requires athleticism and in that regard we forever be found wanting. Iniesta is what he is so is Messi and Busquests and the whole gang. If we take on opponents physically we will more often lose than win because that’s not our competitive advantage. This team needs to add some features to its general play without losing the fundamental side that made it so good.

    To each his own but for me results do not matter that much. First and foremost this side has thrilled me because of the football it played and that it is why after watching it win so many times it has not dulled my enthusiasim of watching it play be it against Real Madrid or Hercules. Because you were always almost guaranteed a proper football lesson but what i saw yesterday left me scratching and doubting about what the future holds.

    1. Hi lala 10
      Its rather unfortunate that this had to be the first full barca match youve seen.
      Its not a very good game to draw conclusions from especially after a gruelling match vs Sevilla.
      I would encourage you to look up other games it should help you relax just a little bit.

    2. Though I understand where you’re coming from, you have to recognize and accept the reality of life, one of which is that nothing lasts forever. Does this mean that this great team or Tiki Taka is finished? absolutely not. What it does mean however is that in keeping with our style of play that has served us gloriously over the last few years (also not forgetting that it is the ethos of the entire youth system), we do need to evolve, again a reality we need to accept.

  22. Inspite of that result, I am forced to say we have lots of petty issues.
    The first half was painful to watch, we were just a bit better in the second half. Since Ajax is not the old Ajax, that bit better helped us win.
    Remember, after the Chelsea matches, there was an arguement – Chelsea didnt defend well, because Barca created so many chances. Thats the truth from yesterday too. Valdes had to make 3/4 (more?) brilliant saves to keep it clean.
    I feel very sorry that, we will not have him next season.

    1. Yep. Decent first half, very good second half. Clean sheet, no major errors except the penalty, and four goals–two of which were from set pieces!

      I am perfectly satisfied with that game. Room for improvement? Of course. Team in crisis? Certainly not.

    2. The issue is fans are expecting us to overwhelm every team every time with close to 100% ball possession. It simply won’t be that way. When Barca was having 70 to 80% possession yet without real penetration fans were complaining. Now we are having less possession with better penetration fans are still complaining. We have to understand that we are trying to evolve our style under Tata. It’s going to be different from Pep and Tito and we’ll need time to fully adjust to the new style. I am liking this new Barca.

  23. Could be we were watching different matches. How do we define easily? The scoreline? Did Real Madrid win easily against Gala? I don’t know. Its all about perception but for me how we narrate a match is easily influenced by the final scoreline such that what was going to be termed poor is glossed over. I think this applies here because that team was mightily sluggish. But like you said we see the same things differently.

    1. Well, while you call them sluggish I’m still wondering whether that was Busi or Magic Johnson who led the fast break for our second goal…

  24. Maybe some found it unappealing or felt uncomfortable that our team didn’t have the ball as much as we’re used to ( only 57% possession).
    Sure it might take away the ‘image’ of dominance, Having the ball at our feet most of the time, But that’s not necessarily how things must be in every match.
    Marinto said it after the game:
    “The second goal came after only 2 passes, You don’t always need 20”

    1. We will see how the team evolves but as i said above our players are not suited to vertical play. We win by suffocating opponents adminstering a slow killing poison if you like. We did not win on the basis of our physicality because we are no George Foreman. Its more like we are the dancing Ali. Trying verticality will expose us to a different ball game. Am i the only who was seeing Busquests exposed in the middle of the park in the 1st half only to be let off the hook by the inferior quality of the Ajax midfield and forwards. Again we call it differently.

    2. Speaking of Ali, the way we played was more in common with ‘rope-a-dope’. At times after they countered, and we countered back, fast. We defended their body blows, and then came back off the ropes.

  25. @Levon: One play does not necessarily define a game. The team was sluggish. I hate to say it but in a bar i was watching with multiple screens people started to shift to the Chelsea Basel game mid on. Times change but in a not so long life time we used to school Barca lite teams. There was a time mid first half when i said God is this Barcelona. We had 54% possession and did not really dictate play. Against better opposition if we play that way we will be whipped. Hope i am wrong

    1. Yes, the team was sluggish. Is that because the season just started and the fact that we’ve had a crappy pre-season and international friendlies in between? I think so.

  26. The team’s going to only improve from here! And IIRC, we will hit peak fitness and form around the Clasico. On the other hand, cules must look up the word satisfaction in a dictionary and embrace it!

  27. For me, the result is flattering.

    Barcelona generally played well, so did Ajax.
    The first-half display was pathetic, especially after Messi’s free-kick goal. A lapse in focus, mis-directed passes, un-calculated run-ins, and sorts.

    The second-half was fair, was fairer with Xavi’s posture — a better hold on possession, well layered passes, and improved tarks, though some lapse in focus flashed up immediately after Messi’s fourth goal (insert: brief erratic plays, and the penalty).

    The defence line, to me, is still somewhat askew, could have been 4-3, but for VV.

    There were batches of space left between the Pivot and the Defence and across the Defence — batches that would fiercely be blotted-out by any brilliant team on a zerg rush.
    I believe the Defence is still adjusting to Tata’s model, and yes, it would take some games to make a fine tapestry… then the January depth signing, hopefully.

    A few personal bits:

    — Fabregas, showed some touches, but his game last night was a no bueno.

    — Busquet, had a bad first-half, was more composed in the latter half.

    — Iniesta, was good, very good.

    — Xavi, plays beautifully when he’s fully rested.

    — Neymar, was easily the pearl across the attack line. Brilliant lad, but sure, everybody expects golazos from him. Time…

    — Messi, had a hatrick because he is Lionel.

    — Sanchez, had a good game. Played good, worked good. And missed a sitter.

    — Pedro, made some nice run-ins.

    Per the Neymar-Messi bitty feud, I saw nothing. Such reports are no more valid than creationists or conspiracy theorists.

    My observations by the by, as I pointed from the outstart.

    1. Fabregas will never excel in xavi’s position, No escaping that.
      He can still put somewhat a decent performance in that role, When martino wants xavi rested, But Iniesta’s role is what he do best.

    2. Fabregas isn’t Xavi. Fabregas is Fabregas. He has his own role, and his own set of skills that he brings to the table. Constant comparisons to Xavi will never leave Fabregas in a good spot, because Xavi is already a perfect Xavi. What can Fabregas possibly do?

      What Fabregas does best is be Fabregas. Judge him on that.

    3. I was referring to the duties of a central midfielder, An orchestrator, Didn’t intent a direct compression to xavi.

      It’s understandable when some see him as ‘lack-luster’ in central midfield, Same reason why he might luck ‘meh’ as a false 9, Because he’s playing in a position where we’re used to being spoiled by the work of two magnificent players, Xavi and messi.

  28. It’s obvious that the team will only improve in time, but some of the misplaced passes last night, especially in the first half were ridiculous at least. That coming from players like Iniesta, Messi, Busi etc.
    As someone else already mentioned it, there were moments during the game when i was wondering is this my team that is playing.
    And, we are not Chelsea, where only the result matters.
    We play by our own style and pattern and that’s what separate us from others.
    Personally, i rather win 1-0 but control the game than win 4-0 and not controlling it.
    Ajax with better finishing could have scored at least 2 goals last night. Some of their plays and passes were outstanding and completely took us out of the game.

    1. So a “pretty” 2-1 loss is better than an “ugly” 4-0 win? Not for me. No way, no how.

      This team just played an intense match on Saturday against an opponent that was rested and loaded for bear after the international break (how many internationals did Sevilla have?). Then Ajax, who again was loaded for bear. Tired players aren’t perfect.

      With EVERY team, the results matter. I wouldn’t dismiss Chelsea for thinking that only results matter. Poor results get coaches fired and players sold. Our club, when that day comes, will be no exception. Look at Rijkaard. Guardiola came in and sold Ronaldinho, Deco, eventually Eto’o, etc, etc.

      The expectation of constant perfection is absurd. Fundamentally absurd.

    2. But as i understand nobody is asking for perfection. Unreal expectations can only hurt the results that you want to achieve. I think i understand football quite good, and when i see players or the caliber that we have misplace simple passes like last night, i don’t point out at their tiredness cause that’s not the problem.
      They lack concentration this season, more than we are used from them. It’s Martino’s job to realize that (i think he does) and try to fix it. Perhaps they need more training sessions, more seriousness, more sex before the games, i don’t know…
      Messi score 3 goals, i know, i know…but he is such a walker bar the first game against Levante.

  29. I will watch the game again tonight and try to see are my first impressions correct or i was just expecting too much from them.

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