Categorized | Soap Box, Thoughts

The burden of expectations, aka “We’re doomed … I think”

"Didn't I used to suck?"

“Didn’t I used to suck?”

I just want to make sure that I understand this correctly:

FC Barcelona won its opening Champions League match 4-0 over Ajax. The team is still unbeaten this season, and perfect in two competitions.

Okay. Got it.

Like Victor Valdes, Barça is this thing that nobody will realize is as good as it is, until it is gone. And make no mistake, this glorious, winning, conquering team will, at some point in the not all that distant future, be gone.

I’m not sure how people will take it. Will buildings have to bolt windows shut to keep people from leaping from them? Will the FC Barcelona bandwagon blow a strut from all the people leaping off it at the same time? Lord knows. (Shudder!) Meanwhile …

The Legend of FC Barcelona

Once upon a time, there was this team of little people, and they won EVERYTHING. Then they switched leagues, because their own league was too easy, and they won everything there, too. They didn’t even have proper boots, just little, little people sandals. And still … everything. And it was easy. I never had any doubt. That team was awesome. I wish they could come back. The end.”

Here is in FACT what happened during the Treble season: The team was clunky during its first two matches under a new coach, then slowly, slowly began to find its legs. Week after week, it faced opponents who were still expecting the former, silverless for two seasons FC Barcelona, and played in a way that got their throats slit. Week after week. That other big Spanish club wasn’t ready for what hit it, and got spanked. Injuries came, the team muddled through, getting results in unexpected ways, but almost always winning. Then it made the Champions League final, where Ronaldo fluffed his lines, leaving two excellent chances that he customarily converts, begging. Then Eto’o nailed an absurd toe poke past Edwin Van der Sar, completely against the run of play, and things began to settle down. But that match was also in doubt, until Messi’s unlikely header.

Club World Cup went to extra time, and Estudiantes scored first, don’t forget, and we didn’t get it back for quite some time. And it was extra time. A LOT of extra time, before we were able to bundle in a goal that sealed the deal. In Liga, that Treble group had 5 losses and 6 draws. In the Copa, it wrestled with Benidorm, winning 2-0 on aggregate, and just got past Espanyol in the quarters, 3-2. In Champions League, it only got past Chelsea in the semis because of that remarkable Iniestazo (imagine if the same thing happened now).

The reason history is bunk and Legends are often misleading is because they can taint present and future worldviews. But over time the Legend of FC Barcelona has become this thing, this massive, unassailable thing that no team, even that Treble team were next season to transpire the exact same way, can ever again live up to. The Treble season, which became the Year of Six Cups, was a whoosh, an absurd blur like this amazing roller coaster ride that you have — you’re scared out of your mind, and screaming, and being thrown around this wee metal car and almost crying and how the hell didn’t we hit that beam and …

That was the best roller coaster ride EVER! Subsequent roller coasters, even the exact same roller coaster, aren’t quite the same, because of the legend.

What About Now?

Players have come, players have gone but the nucleus of the team remains, even as the Legend continues to grow. This year, after so much has transpired, it is unbeaten, perfect in the Liga, possessor of the first silver it has had a chance to acquire and opened the Champions League in grand style but still … “concerning,” “unimpressive,” “problems,” etc, etc.

I have to come back to the words of the late, great Al Davis, who said “Just win, baby.” History doesn’t have an asterisk beside victories or championships, to denote “Won, but won ugly.” It just says “Champion.” It’s a crazy world this club is living in, where legends stomp the halls.

Tito Vilanova, last season, took his club to the Champions League semi-finals, won the Liga with a record points total then had to step down because of complications related to cancer. Somehow, because of the Legend of Pep Guardiola, he wasn’t a success. “Well, the Liga sucks, look what happened when the club faced a REAL team in Champions League. It lost 7-0.” Ah, legends, nifty things that make people forget that the club won the Copa in Guardiola’s last season. No Liga, no Champions League, no Super-anything, no nothing. Legends make people forget that Vilanova actually improved upon the previous season, because legends are impossible to live up to.

If you cross the desert after two weeks of being stranded, and the first thing you run across is a dude with lukewarm water and stale crackers, how good is that meal going to be? Can a saltine ever as good, ever again? Will that stop you from measuring every subsequent saltine to that one, that magic one, despite all that?

Let’s not kid ourselves, here. Treble Barça brought almost inexpressible levels of joy to culers worldwide. It grabbed new supporters, made pundits gush in ecstasy, even sparked books, all about something that was only magical in retrospect.

That was then, this is now. Culers have to let go of that magic, to allow any subsequent magic to happen. Or everything will be tainted. This club could go undefeated, win Champions League, Copa, all those Super-somethings and still, somehow, “Well, the Treble team was better. And we should have bought a CB.” I have never seen a more singularly joyless bunch of supporters associated with this club.

Little People Running Hurdles

– Vilanova left amid season preparations.
– Tata Martino was hired.
– Crappy preseason tour that wasn’t really training at all, for anything.
– No coach yet … oh, wait … there he is.
– Season began, team not in shape, destroyed Levante 7-0.
– Yeah, but it’s Levante. The Liga is a joke. See?
– Team working to get in shape, understand a new coach.
– Kicks Valencia’s butt, loses interest, ships a couple of goals … oh, lawd!
– Handles Sevilla, loses interest, ships a couple of late goals, wins match …
– “WHAT A WIN?!!” Oh, no. We’re in trouble, need a CB, can’t defend set pieces, etc, etc, etc, etc ….
– On the heels of that hard-fought match, a few days later, a rested Ajax comes into the Camp Nou.
– We win 4-0, but it was a sucky 4-0 win, as if there was any such beast.

The Legend dictates that a club isn’t allowed to find its way under a new coach, that problems not be anything other than the obvious ones, that victories must always be tainted, because The Legend dominates all, and sucks the joy out of what is actually a remarkable, remarkable thing on the face of it, bereft of baggage and the weight of Legends.

People will mutter and moan, and say “Can’t we point out realistic flaws in this club, why are we joyless because we just want the best for our football club,” and that’s okay. Perspective is individual, and wildly subjective. For me, it was “Holy crap, what a win,” after the Sevilla match. For others, it was “We gave up two goals. I’m worried.” Chocolate and vanilla.

I have said it before, and I will say it again … celebrate your club. THIS club. Flaws and all, because NO club is flawless. Perfection only exists in Legends. Don’t burden this club with the millstone of history, of victories and memories past, don’t blink or you might miss it. Were people so busy saying “Man, those Sevilla goals … we should have bought a CB” that they missed the astounding wonder of the Messi run and Sanchez goal? “Valdes had to make some super saves to keep the clean sheet,” they scoff. You know what? He did during the Treble season, as well. Don’t forget him stopping Drenthe and Sneijder during the home Classic, and how late, how long in doubt the result was. Don’t forget, even as you should keep that in present-day context: It was a struggle then, and is even more of a struggle now.

And yet, your club, your amazing football club is triumphing. Simeone sent out a club to foul, kick, harry, vex and do anything except play the kind of flowing football that he knew would result in his team getting hammered. Still, we won the tie. Through everything so far, this club has triumphed. And it deserved to triumph on its own merits, rather than being shackled to a hitch and being asked to pull a sled burdened with Legends and History. History is past. What we have today is a wonderful footballing team, one that is being mentioned as a Champions League favorite, one that has pulled out wonderful wins. It might win everything, it might win nothing, but it will be fun, if we let it be.

Celebrate that and be happy, because trust me, nothing great is never, ever forever.

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151 Responses to “The burden of expectations, aka “We’re doomed … I think””

  1. Great post. I totally agree with your points and your attitude.

    What matters at the end of the day is that we win the game. Even if I would really have liked us to sign a defender, I can’t help but be really excited for this year (and for Martino). The team is adjusting to a different (if not too different) style of play, and doing a hell of a job at it.

    Also, I think the fact that they clicked in the second half was part of the plan based on the past two games v. Sevilla and Valencia (and subsequently reminds me of the Pep years a bit).

    Barça seems hungrier. Cesc is changing the way we attack. Alexis is finishing. Messi has something to prove again. Busi/Masch/Adriano are having great starts. Neymar’s has been incredible, and it was good to see him take some shots yesterday.

    I think we have a shot at all the cups, but win or lose, the games have been fun to watch, especially the Sevilla game. I mean, at the end of the day, this is a form of entertainment, and a game where the team you love wins in the 94th minute is really the best type of match you can hope for.

  2. Hilal says:

    Brilliant post. I have been frankly quite dumbfounded by all the negativity surrounding the club so far this season. People forget how difficult the treble season was, as if we dominated every single game and never had any problems whatsoever.

    I think we have started the season exceptionally well considering the circumstances. People like to focus on the negative so far but I am going to focus on the positives;

    100% in La Liga
    First CL game, 3 points at home
    Neymar kicking ass
    Messi scoring for fun without being anywhere near his best
    Sanchez kicking ass
    Fabergas looking great
    VV kicking ass
    Mascherano’s form – btw anybody who has watched either Luiz or Sakho or Agger or any of the CB’s linked with Barca (besides Thiago) will have seen why we didnt pay silly money for them when Mascherano is just as capable, if not more so. Luiz has been awful in his last two games. 50m? HA. We would have been the laughing stock of Europe!

    All this and the team/players are trying to adapt to a new coach a new style of play, which while similar is certainly different enough that it is going to take a bit of time.

    I shudder to think how people are going to react after the first bad result if this is how they are reacting amid win after win!

  3. flyzowee says:

    I gather from this post that Kxevin is calling for more logical thinking and less emotion driven analysis.
    I appreciate the points he makes but that kinda ‘cold read’ analysis is not a gift that we all have.

    That being said I think many of us are still hurting from the bayern loss. I think its the kinda hurt that will only go away once we get our pound of flesh via a convincing win in the CL (preferably semis)

    Ill admit that ive been guilty of watching barca lead 3-0 and be thinking to myself……’well but if this was Bayern/EE then’…… only for barca to ship two goals in quick succession.

    That more than anything is why I sometimes scoff at our Liga wins coz well the CL has become the litmus test for me.

    I realise the flaw in this way of thinking but im just saying sometimes I cant help it.

    • bhed says:

      I don’t think that way of thinking is flawed at all. While others may disagree, their eloquence (or vehemence, or sarcasm) doesn’t diminish the validity of your opinion.

      We are one of the best in the world (I still think, THE best) and should measure ourselves against the best. Bullies measure themselves against the weak, and gain satisfaction from the inevitable feeling of superiority.

      As far as this game, I thought we were sluggish in the first half (except Neymarrrr!), and much better in the second. There are many understandable reasons for this, but hey, that’s the game I saw.

      One question I have – was Cesc playing a different role than he has in the previous games where he looked much more dangerous, or was he just having an off night? If the latter, not worried. If the former, who WILL end up orchestrating play in the absence of Xavi? While Xavi is unquestionably irreplaceable, the team will need a creator and pace-setter at some point.

  4. Stephen says:

    Thank you Kevin,

    I think there are some fans out there that confuse being critical with being negative, and are just plain negative masking their negativity as criticism.

    … 2009.. on the eve of UCL Final vs ManUnited, my dad said “I’m excited for tomorrow, but I don’t it’ll happen.” and I responded with “I think it will.” When we discussed why we each thought that, it seemed as if him and I had been watching two different teams all season.

    Barcelona won.

    Sometimes we all see things differently, but I wondered if he enjoyed it as much as I did or did he just suffer more?

  5. Levon says:

    Well said, Kevin.

    I personally am not bothered by the negativity and I share some of the criticism that floats around these parts. I think it is human nature to be negative about football teams until they win everything upon which point nature dictates we speak in hyperbole.

    I always think we are victims of our own success. Victims of having a club that fields eleven superlatives for whom in the fan’s eyes failure is impossible. Victims of a league where draws are the new defeats, with a rival who makes you have to win every game.

    I don’t carry the expectations of our treble season with me, but I do feel that exactly because we know this era will end one day, I want the club to win as many titles as possible. I don’t want bad decisions to waste the incredible potential of conquering the world with our football.

    But yes, some perspective is definitely needed.

    This club’s success over the last five years is unpararelled in modern European game, possibly going back to Johan Cruiff’s Ajax 40 years ago.

    Milan’s team is renowned for winning back-to-back European titles but failed to win the scudetto during each of these campaigns. Bayern München and Liverpool have both been incredibly successful yet fail to capture the imagination as the years pass. We have won 4 league titles, 2 domestic cups, 2 world cups and 2 Champions Leagues in five years. We remain the only club ever to have won a “sextuple”. Our star player is the only one ever to win 4 balons d’or.

    We really we should just be grateful. And especially when we complain. Provided a lot of “negative fans” don’t fall off of the bandwagon and get crushed by incoming traffic, they will one day, like all culés, look back at this golden age with teary eyes.

    For it is beautiful.

  6. TITO says:

    I think you guys are confusing negativity with criticism.
    If someone is criticizing the team, it doesn’t automatically mean that he/she is negative about the team.
    People are just expressing their opinions and are pointing out the flaws in our game which to their eyes are obvious.
    Why is that so hard to understand?

    • Stephen says:

      Or are people confusing criticism with negativity?

        • Kxevin says:

          No, I am definitely not confusing criticism with negativity. Criticism is usually tempered with some acknowledgement that the club is doing something good.

          Then there is analysis, which is another level.

          So:

          “This team needs to buy a CB or it’s doomed. No way it beats a good team when it matters. Can’t believe what a mess it was.”

          vs.

          “Great win. That Sanchez goal at the end of Messi’s run. I almost wet myself. I wish we hadn’t shipped two goals, but it seems like we lost focus at key moments. Still perfect in the Liga.”

          vs

          “You can see how the two goals happened in the midfield, when x and y happened. Hopefully Martino is working on bringing up y player for those kinds of situations, particularly when Alves and Alba are both pushed up the pitch.”

          For me, the first is negative, the second is criticism, the third is analysis.

          So when TITO says People are just expressing their opinions and are pointing out the flaws in our game which to their eyes are obvious. Why is that so hard to understand?

          It isn’t at all hard to understand. It’s the steady diet of it, bereft of any perspective or sense of the present and what the team is in fact accomplishing that becomes difficult for some of us to understand.

          Other writers have noted the current culer joylessness, Martino has, Mascherano has. They can’t all be crazy, or comparing notes.

          Balance and perspective are key in any discussion of anything, or it does become mere joyless negativity. So a bickering couple can do two things:

          “You NEVER take out the trash. AAAAA!”
          “Or, what if we put the trash sticker by your keys, so you remembered to take it out when you left. That would be helpful, as one less thing I have to do.”

          I understand the talent we have, that sense of the clock ticking and the need to do something with all of that talent. Who doesn’t? But every conceded goal isn’t a disaster, or evidence that our defense sucks, or we need to buy a CB, etc, etc. It is, to me, a tactical solution that needs solving, and I trust that our coach is setting about it.

          I can watch a goal and figure out HOW it happened. So can Martino. As he said the other day, much of our set piece dilemma is physical, as in we’re short as a team. No way around that, at key times. So what’s the answer? Concede fewer corners, to start, then you go from there.

          So that would be my analysis, rather that “We suck at defending. Every time an opponent gets a corner, they score.”

          See what I mean?

          • TITO says:

            Well, my limited English vocabulary will prevent me from stating and write everything that i want to say, not just for this particular matter but any other.
            Personally, i think i have never said that we are doomed because we didn’t bought another CB, just that it would have been nice to add some height over there. But for me, the problem is more about the awareness of space that a defensive player must posses in order to instinctively prevent any dangerous situation. Puyol was such and Abi was such…they just knew where, when, how…
            Another point, and i will say it again, being critical of your club doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t cherish everything that the players do and every effort that they give on the field.
            I really really hate and dislike laziness. No matter what we won in the past. This is entirely new season and i want to see them put all they have on the pitch and forget about the past glory.

          • Kxevin says:

            I don’t mean you personally. I am never the kind of commenter who veils direct responses to people in a “people say” or some such. So it’s a general observation.

            I just think there is a mood around the club that was worth commenting on. Some of the expectation, I think, is tempered by when people came to Barça. I came to the club when a Rivaldo goal just meant the team had qualified for Europe, never mind having expectations about winning the Champions League.

            Another supporter will have come to the club during the halcyon days of Ronaldinho. Still others might have come to the club during the Treble season. It’s been weird, seeing the progression of people’s reactions when I wear a Barça shirt. At first it was no reaction. Then, is that a badge or something? Then, what’s FCB? That’s for people who were at all curious.

            Then, about midway through the Treble season, I was in a food store and this person says to me “Barka,” (that pronunciation, as in “Barkalounger.”) I LOVE them!” And now, it’s all kinds of people yell things. “Barça! Cool!” etc, etc.

            So I also think that how someone views the team is related to their success matrix, so to speak (without casting any judgment on when someone came to the club. I hate the “We used to walk to matches with no shoes on,” kind of misery ownership).

  7. Rami says:

    This is the best piece i’ve ever read from you Kxevin.

    There is nothing that i remember so vividly as the reactions i saw after winning our historic 100 points league, I was excited, Happy as a child, I wanted to celebrate this achievement with the rest, But what i saw was nothing resembling a celebration, All there was are Criticism after criticism, Attacks after attacks, To the players, To the coaching staff, To the board, The criticism even reached the main-line of the final match against malaga, Some even mocked the 100 points!, It’s hard to describe how negative the atmosphere was.

    After what i witnessed, I recall becoming distraught, Feeling tight in my chest, To the point where i stopped visiting any FCB fans communities including this blog for days, I even considered quitting them all together, And just stick to reading news and watching games, Nothing more, But seeing some cules like Kxevin, Levon and many others , Still willing to celebrate as i was, Having the same pragmatic way at looking things as i did, I decided to stick around, And this blog became the only community i’m involved in.

    All of the previous may sound odd or exaggerated, But i can assure you, It was real.

    • Kxevin says:

      Thanks for the kind words. And I feel you on the absence of celebration. Certainly the Champions League exit had something to do with that. But there was a whole “change of era” mood that permeated proceedings that just made last season weird.

      • Rami says:

        For me, A defeat, No matter how humiliating it is, Has no bearing on an era.
        Bayern who thrashed us last season, Were humiliated by us in 2009, Yet they came back the next season, And reached the CL final.
        We humiliated EE along with it’s new coach, 5-0!, The next season, Then won la liga and set records, And defeated us in the same stadium we thrashed them in.

        An era ends, In my opinion, When the great players that defined it are gone, But i just saw them yesterday, Kicking ass like i always remember them doing.

    • 86ed says:

      Personally I was unhappy with how the league was won, not that it was won. I was unhappy with the team’s conduct in important matches throughout the season. I was unhappy that we won the league without ever defeating Real: I was especially pissed at our conduct in the Bernabeu in March. When Real won the league in ’12, we were saying, before their beating us at the Camp Nou to settle matters, how it should mean less if they can’t beat us. I was unhappy at how the younger team members were treated as the season drew to a close, when we had long won. I was unhappy at Villanova’s conduct throughout the season, but especially his treatment of Bartra. Bartra isn’t a good defender. I get that. So why throw him against Bayern when you hadn’t shown him a shred of confidence throughout the season. Right right. Mascherano was suspended. Hmmm. Prepare for it then by preparing Bartra for such a situation.
      Never you mind the Champions League. One solitary victory in the last 9 games is nothing to write home about even if we did reach the finals.
      So that at least is why I was unhappy.

      • 86ed says:

        Sorry: semifinals.

      • Rami says:

        There is a favorite quote of mine, By morgan freeman:
        “Get busy living, Or get busy dying”

        Maybe it shouldn’t be literally interpreted, But it shows the two contrasting attitude one can take toward a certain matter.

        You want to spend your thoughts thinking about what makes you unhappy, Well that’s your choice, For me, I occupy my thoughts with what makes me happy, And i can draw a list just like you did, There is no absolute right or wrong way at viewing things in life, But i have utter convection that my attitude is the one to take, And i have no regrets.

        • 86ed says:

          It’s just footy, man, which neither of us are playing, not as pros anyway. Regret what? All I did was state the reasons why last season made me unhappy as a fan, not a manifesto for my general unhappiness.

      • Levon says:

        Apart from Vilanova’s “conduct” (I guess you mean decisions?) I get what you are saying. I really do. Especially the part about oour games against Real M*drid.

        But figure this… We had a better season than the other 19 teams in la Liga. A historical one, as a matter fact, one during which we were without our coach for a long, long while. Upon which a lot of us said at the time that the biggest possible victory would be for Tito and Abidal to get better. I think it is worth celebrating.

        I think it is worth celebrating our players who, after four years of winning almost everything they could, were still hungry enough to obtain 100 points in the league.

        You can be unhappy if you want. But if you’re unhappy now, you must have been depressed for a good season and a half before Pep. Or suicidal before Rijkaard.

        • 86ed says:

          Suicidal. Well I wouldn’t go that far. When I say unhappy, I mean it in context, not in some existential way. I was unhappy as a fan. As a person, I could’t care less: I don’t stand to gain anything whatever Barca’s results.
          I had hoped Villanova would see reason and use the dead rubber games at the end of the season to try something new, something daring. Nope. Nothing of the sort. Xavi Xavi and Xavi over and over again.
          And yes. Not literally ‘conduct.’ English is still in many ways a foreign language to me.

        • Rami says:

          Sometimes i giggle when imagining the scenario of karanka leading EE for more than 3 months while communicating with mourhinio who’s in new york via skype.
          They would’ve been fighting with real sociedad for a spot to the play offs round.

      • Kxevin says:

        “even if we did reach the (semi) finals.”

        Exactly. If you are going somewhere nice, are you vexed because the route might not be ideal, or are you happy to be there? The team won the league in record style. It didn’t beat RM? For me, so what. There were a lot of other teams we beat that RM didn’t. I doubt that you will see anyone suggesting that we give the trophy back, because we didn’t win it in proper style.

        As for younger team members, you get what you earn. If they were earning playing time in training, they’d have been getting it in matches. They weren’t, so they didn’t. That is their fault.

        As for Vilanova’s conduct, surely you jest. His comportment was exceptional. I am sorry about the circumstances, and that he didn’t really have time or the opportunity to implement his game plan. We saw glimpses of it during the record-setting run to start the season. I think it would have been very interesting.

        Why play Bartra against Bayern? Who else are you going to play? You throw him out there and hope that he rises to the occasion. He didn’t do badly. Did a lot better than Alba, for my money. Playing time is earned, rather than given. Or it comes suddenly, in the face of a series of catastrophes, and a player shows what he is made of. But nothing could have prepared Bartra for the buzzsaw we were facing. Nothing.

        And here’s something else: Martino isn’t playing much of Bartra either. There has to be a reason.

        Obviously we are different, but for me, there is nothing but pride and joy in what our team accomplished, in the face of overwhelming odds, from injury to illness.

        • 86ed says:

          I fully accept that Bartra isn’t Barca material. Even in the preseason friendlies he was awful. So why are we still keeping him? Villanova kept him and hardly ever used him. Even in the relatively easy home games he was overlooked. Then Tito comes back on his words and throws him utterly unprepared against the best team in the world. And we disagree on another thing. You can prepare for absolutely anything with practice. Bartra didn’t get to have that chance before Bayern’s buzzsaw. Heynckes said he knew Barca like the back of his hand. (To be fair even my gran knew how Barca would play.) So instead of switching module entirely to confound Bayern, Villanova used the 4-3-3 with exhausted and injured players and they wiped the floor with us.

          Villanova’s verbal conduct was exemplary. Some of the decisions he made however were terrible; most of the decisions in important games were wrong in fact. The list is long and the hour is late so I’ll only mention one.

          Song, I think, is a really good player, but he has to be used properly, like all players. Villanova said he’d surprise a lot of people, but he didn’t help him to achieve that goal. Instead he threw him to swim or sink and turned his back as the poor guy struggled in unfamiliar positions. He would have been superb I think alongside Busquets in front of the D, but Tito thought otherwise, and Song was wasted trying to cope with Busquets’ responsibilities when the latter got a day off. Worse still: Song (who led Arsenal in assists in his last season there) was played in D. In D! It was madness. He’s not Yaya, you know. Nobody is.

  8. simple_barcafan says:

    You Mr.Kxevin are a wonderful positive writer. I might not agree with analysis of some players from you, but you do a wonderful job of urging people to support the club which I can see how much you love..Kudos to you..

  9. 86ed says:

    I think you Kevin are the one still clinging and making the comparisons. You mention this often, even when it is unwarranted, how we’re supposed to appreciate this team because it will be gone. The all-conquering team, glorious team that you mention left long ago. Probably 2011; certainly by 2012. Personally I’ve long moved on and consider this Barca vintage on its own merits.

    • Kxevin says:

      Ah. You say you are judging this team on its own merits. If that is the case, do we really know enough except to be happy with the results? As Alves and Martino have said, the team is a work in progress. We can see it developing, and regressing. That will happen.

      To my view, at the root of much of the unhappiness is indeed the ghosts of Trebles past. Otherwise to my view, people would have their chests stuck out as far as mine about the fact that this club isn’t even in shape yet, or having a real clue about how to properly implement what its new coach is asking of it, and it’s winning everything so far. That is awesome.

      If I am judging THIS team on its own merits, that is what I get. Because if this team is this team with nothing from the past clouding that view, there is no standard or template by which to judge. And if that is the case, this team is pretty darned close to perfect, as regards results and more often than not, execution.

      • Levon says:

        Well the Treble, or should I say Sextuple, is one thing, but I think there are a lot of factors, for some of which don’t even have to go that far back. A lot of people were unhappy at the end of last season because of the expectation created by the first half of the season. In some ways it is hard to celebrate a league which we all knew we had won three months before, right?

        • Rami says:

          The irony is that it wasn’t celebrated enough because of how good we were in the first part!, This is a micro example of the team becoming a victim of it’s own success, Just as you pointed out above.
          A macro example, Is our achievements in the last 5 years.

  10. Rami says:

    For those who like seeing match compilations of neymar, An uploader called ‘Gui7hermeComps’ Makes the best compilations in my experience, This is of the ajax match:
    http://vimeo.com/74913846

    Enjoy!

    • Messiah10 says:

      Thanks for posting that Rami. The 2nd clip of him bursting past his man to the end line is what excites me the most about Neymar. He is so expolosive when he makes that first move and his burst of pace is unworldly. I see him becoming an assist machine. That pace will creat space for runs in the middle and he can pick them out as he did with Messi against Sevilla. Special talent this boy is.

  11. May be we are overreacting a bit considering that it’s only just start to the season. Then we were also thrilled in the early part of last season when we were doing so well. At that point I didn’t see any post urging caution. Some of us did point out that our inability not to concede will come to hurt us in the first half of the season itself. Also some of us point out that the lack of pressing also could hurt. But then many said those didn’t matter.

    Do we have a problem? Yes, we do, in the defense. Valdes is making at least three to four very good saves per game now. We can’t expect him to be that good throughout the season. He will have his dip. That could decide tight matches. The positive is that even Martino acknowledge that, hope he will find a way to give Valdes some cover.

    Why the last League wasn’t celebrated much? May be, everyone recognized the end of an era. Even though I refuse to agree. I don’t agree the disappointment of last season was because of the expectation build up by the treble season. It’s just because the aura of invincibility just vanished from our team. When your team Great team become another Good team, you usually don’t celebrate much. That was what happened last season. Reaching the semi-final was a brilliant achievement but with the talent we had we expected it.

    • Jim says:

      Not sure how last season was the end of an era if Guardiola’s last wasn’t. It was way worse. Surely any aura vanished then?

      The reason it is hard to maintain trophy laden seasons is that others start to plan and set up specifically to beat you. RM suffered that in the league last season and couldn’t cope. We cope every week with worse. It is also only human that after a season where everything goes your way bodies start to disintegrate and tire. This team has done really well to keep the. Desire and the winning ways in the face of what it has had to put up with.

      Look at the EPL clubs. A few years ago they thought they owned the rest of Europe. Now they are reeling having been passed both technically and in terms of having the best players. We could be there in another three or four so by all means let’s have the conversations about how and who to play but let’s keep it in the context of having what everyone considers to be (at least) one of the best three teams in Europe and taking football to a whole new level.

  12. lala10 says:

    Tata has said the fans need to be patient. I get that completely. During the Ajax match from what i could see on the telly the fans in the stadium were passive a handful shown clapping one or two moves. I might be wrong but they lacked energy and were not lifted sufficiently enough by the game.

    To be honest the past is always a benchmark in football the future an unknown quantity. To hope that this team won’t be judged on it’s past is a bit unrealistic. Is it unfair? You could argue both ways but the point for is that essentially we are comparing the same players to a standard that themselves set. Its not like we are expecting Xavi to be Guardiola; Messi has to be Messi and Iniesta should be likewise. So the comparisons fairly or unfairly will always be there.

    What standard are we holding this team to? This i think is where the problem emanates from.In general the RESULT in football is king but this Barcelona had exposed us cules to another avenue; winning with panache with daring and playing in a certain way. That is where the doubts and difficulties are coming from because we had acquired an identity in winning because in our RECENT CULE WORLD we did not just win our wins were calibrated the Barcelona way. We did not win like Chelsea or Man United or EE. That is why the 4-0 over Ajax is not so astounding because we are not a results based team. Were the years so sweet because of the trophies won or were they so because of the football we played? So depending on the side you fall on we will look back to the past with different glasses.

    The past conditions the present and the present the future there is not doubt about that. Maybe after a sufficient present of the present diet when the expectations are tempered and the past becomes distant will we take status quo as it is and jugdge it accordingly.

    • Jim says:

      The problem for me with this is that we’re not then judging like with like. The treble winning side wouldn’t have looked as good against defences set up the way they are now.

    • chaospheory says:

      I too have wondered about the line between negativity and criticism, and wondered where the feelings of negativity (both mine and others’) stem from. I think both lala10′s comments and others comments about the weight of expectations might contain a clue.

      When we say that our style of play is crucially important, and that we would rather lose playing our way than otherwise, isn’t the obverse of that philosophy the idea that we would rather NOT win any other way? That is to say, we would rather lose pretty and we would rather NOT win ugly?

      I feel like I totter on the side of “negativity” when our wins (and I have to remember that a win is still a win) shade toward the “ugly”. I think the expectations loaded in words like “world’s best player”, “best team ever”, and such reinforce expectations that every win will be pretty, even as we are *supposed* to be prepared for the “beautiful” loss as well. Those expectations tend to crowd out my more rational emotions.

  13. lala10 says:

    It may be true but they would have tried and tried never losing the desire to take the initiative. Football being football you can’t win them all but at least after the defeat you had feel proud and pumped up knowing your team gave it their all until the very last. That is why the fans cheered when Chelsea knocked us out of the Champions League in 2011. They recognised we lost despite giving our all.

  14. TITO says:

    As for laziness or however you want to call it, look at Xavi’s non/reaction when they had the penalty.
    Ajax player takes the shot, and everybody who was waiting at the box line runs for the ball, except for him. He just stood there and watched what will happen in the box, like whatever, it’s covered.
    It’s not a perfect world, ok, but these are little details that frustrate me.

  15. norden says:

    An off-topic article – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2426426/Chelsea-built-team-Pep-Guardiola-got-Jose-Mourinho.html

    Love the first quote – “Put Jose Mourinho in a scrap-metal yard, and he will build you a tank. Put him in a Ferrari plant … and he will also build you a tank. ” :)

  16. PrinceYuvi says:

    I dont understand why the crosshairs are always pointed on kx.

    As it seems, he’s more worried about cules than barca itself.

  17. raj says:

    BFB always has something like this rolled out every 2-3 months just in case someone forgot to wear the cheerleader dress. I also read other blogs and I know that 90% are not negative in this sense and I quote
    “This team needs to buy a CB or it’s doomed. No way it beats a good team when it matters. Can’t believe what a mess it was.”

    Those who seem to be upset probably don’t have the right words or patience to express the constructive criticism (like me) and end up looking unfair.

    But I come here coz I love these kind of articles, they are very personal in approach and touch points I think I understand.

    Btw I am a bandwagon follower, I dont like being called a fan and make it a commitment of sorts because if someone plays better style of football than Barca at some point, I would start following them more. No, Bayern doesn’t necessarily have a great footballing style. And even though barca is changing now, the grace of the style is there to see and it wont go as long as iniesta, messi, xavi, busquets and alves are working and hopefully it will stay even after.

    Also, Iam one of those readers who follow this blog since 2 years but never take the effort to comment (this is an exception)

    • barca96 says:

      Namaste. How did you come across this site since you’re not a fan? In any case, it sounds like you are actually a fan already, not just a bandwagoner. A bandwagoner wouldn’t be so interested in following the team considering that 2 years ago we just won the Copa and you wouldn’t spent 2 years following a Barca blog.

      • raj says:

        Oh, lets make it 3 years then. I started following the team 6 months before FCb beat ManU in UCL final like its a league match against a minnow.
        That win made me more curious and I followed more since.

  18. PrinceYuvi says:

    Right you’re Jim!
    Cancer ridden tito & whole team worked hard for 9 to 10 months to get liga, still people say, ‘I don’t care about stupid 100 points.’
    Well, that sounds a little cruel.

  19. Temple says:

    To me, Culers are not a hivemind. Different frames of reference, different frames of reference.

    And each is within their right to be critical (nb, not destructive) of the Team. Expecting Cules, generally, to be in resonance of a particular locution is like having a chicken put in a mobius band.

    I — specifically — am Critical of an arc of the Team. Nope, not the Attack, and nope, not the Midfield.
    What rankles me is the Defence. By the Defence, I mean, some Positional Nuts and the Depth Snag. This was encased in this extracted statement I made in the previous post;

    “…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.”

    There are lumps in every system, and codified censures are required to knock them off. Besides, not everyone has that tack to draw up codified censures, and such pitfall requires patience, or understanding, or a non-attendant ear.

    The Past is mostly a benchmark, and does it necessarily have to be a touchstone of the Present, or the Future? — valid question, and varied lines of thought.

    I still hold the view that the Team (detract the Levante-mojo) haven’t been Brilliant, generally. Yes, that includes the Ajax win, and Tata shares in a similar view. This rubs over the factoid that it, the team, is still adjusting to Tata’s model, which would be for a while, a short while, and then we would have our crackerjack — that would either bring joy, or disappointment.

    Now, the top drawer of my cabinet
    contains a racket of principles; notely is Heraclitus’ World-in-a-Constant-State-of-Flux ism.
    The Club cannot, cannot always be a paragon of excellence, yes, but in a garden of sense, should always maintain a level of fairness, and such level wouldn’t exclude censures, by the by.
    The only Joe who would want a constant site of euphoria is the one in bedlam, on a strait-jacket.

    Barça has become another sort of belief. With the Lordy years came attendant levels of censures. The well-arranged, and the ill-arranged, from outside persons, and Culers. This isn’t going to stop, don’t expect it. Don’t.

    Dank je wel.

  20. Levon says:

    Reports abound that Milan wants Alex Song for 10M and that Man Utd will want him on loan.

    Funny that. If Albiol = 12M and Callejón = 10M then how much do you guys think Song is worth?

  21. Huckleberry says:

    Does Song play more than they did?

    • Levon says:

      Well, the season is young. Song played against Málaga, so far…

      I don’t remember Albiol playing much, but I would say that the price for Callejón was not outrageous…

      • Kxevin says:

        Speaking of Song, an interesting stat from WhoScored:

        Since joining Barcelona in 2012, Alex Song has played 2071 of a possible 4860 minutes (42.6%) in Liga and Champions League.

        • Levon says:

          Well, he definitely got a lot of minutes during the second half of last season, but Tata doesn’t seem to value him. He could have easily rested Xavi and subbed in Song against Ajax, for example.

          I would not mind if we sold him for a decent price. Get that CB we want. Masche can cover for Busi at DM when needed.

          • Roberto Senyera says:

            Exactly.

            That’s the scenic version of saying that we never should have bought Song in the first place (the expressway version).

            The match at Rayo today is the quintessential Bartra & Song type of match. Both should start and play the full ninety. It’s the perfect match to rotate.

            Visca Barça!!

          • Levon says:

            I wonder why he hasn’t played more minutes, though. I could be mistaken, but my feeling is that so far Tata has rotated less than Tito at the same point last season.

          • blitzen says:

            Both Sergi Roberto and JDS (if he stays) are also perfectly capable of playing DM if Masche is needed as CB. Sorry to say, but I do think Song is surplus to requirements at the moment, and I see him leaving in January.

  22. Kxevin says:

    This is an absolutely wonderful piece of reading, on the differences of first goals, managing us vs Stoke, etc:

    http://blogs.thescore.com/counterattack/2013/09/19/the-skeptical-tactician-why-its-harder-to-manage-stoke-than-barcelona/

  23. teddy says:

    so Busquet is not included with the team to Rayo. Rotation has been wonderful so far, well it’s unfair to say Bartra and JDS is not getting much minutes, but we have to agree, these couple first Liga match is toughest.

    God knows what’s the reaction of cules if we are fielding the young one and losing those matches against valencia, sevilla etc. Hell, we’re winning and still whining.

  24. Ahsan says:

    Must be honest that this place can be hard to come to after wins, let alone losses. For me the big change happened not after 09 but after 11, there was a weird sense of entitlement after that year. For the record, I completely agree with the substance of your post Kxevin, and Iniesta’s crappy form to start this season has me worried the end may be a lot closer than any of us think so we should definitely try to treasure it and enjoy the good times.

  25. nia says:

    For some of you who missed the documentary on Iniesta when he went to his home town for the unveiling of his statue, here is the link. I’m not surprised that he lives a very humble life and how his house is not ‘blinged’ out at all considering he can buy anything he wants. I’m very humbled indeed. Also, the fact that he has the Barca crest on his house and at the bottom of his pool is pretty cool.
    http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNjEwNjA1NjI0.html

    • Roberto Senyera says:

      Thanks for sharing. He’s my favourite player.

      I’m from the Charles Barkley school of thought wrt not holding athletes up to be role models. Kids should look to their parents for that, generally. But if there ever was the ideal athlete to look up to as a role model then Don Andres is certainly it.

      My favourite part of the documentary was the bad ass rooster calls in the morning. That cock owns that small Spanish town.

    • Messiah10 says:

      Are you able to post the same video with English subtitles?

  26. efcmentor says:

    ¡hoy es mi el cumpleaños!
    My birthday is today. Hope fcb willl give me a nice gift today.i can’t wait to see messi and neymar on the scoresheet.

  27. Roberto Senyera says:

    http://ca.soccerway.com/players/eder-alvarez-balanta/246755/

    Here’s a lefty CB we should seriously consider bringing in during the January window. Tim Vickery’s been raving about him on the BBC World Football Phone In for some time. He fits the profile, has the pedigree, and has a long & bright future ahead of him. Why not buy him directly from River Plate now rather than after he plays a couple of seasons at another European club and thereby inflating the acquisition price (i.e. Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, etc)? It would certainly be less expensive that way. Just a thought.

  28. georgjorge says:

    Thank you for this post, Kxevin. I also was very suprised to come here after the Ajax match and read lots of comments about how the team was poor, because I saw a match with lots of good things from our side. I also saw a lot of hunger for the victory from the squad, which can’t be taken for granted at all from players who have won as much as they have over the last years. The thing that stood out most to me was the high number of combinations in the opponent’s third of the pitch that ALMOST came together perfectly but didn’t for lack of this or that movement or pass – which is something that I think is going to get better over the next months.

    Like someone above stated, I also don’t view myself as a fan but as a bandwagoner – I support Barca because they’re the team that plays the most beautiful football. And they still do.

    Barca still should have bought a Centreback though.

  29. Roberto Senyera says:

    What’s the latest news on the Piqué and Busquets injuries? How long are they expected to be out for?

    I think Alba is expected back in about two weeks.

  30. Rivaldo says:

    Thanks here is what I call a “BOSS” article Kxevin. Woke me from my slumber! Seriously, this was needed. I know it’s not right but sometimes you feel as though people should start supporting another club and not your beloved.

    Anyways, back itno hibernation.

    Hi guys, Bye guys.

  31. Roberto Senyera says:

    http://www.totalbarca.com/2013/news/the-front-sport-21-09-2013/

    Well, I guess we now know why VV is seeking a new challenge away from FCB after this season. When professional athletes say it isn’t about the money:
    1) Alarm bells should sound inside your head.
    2) You should have a good chuckle.
    3) It most certainly is about the money.

    • Kxevin says:

      But the situation that precipitated his departure is not about the money. You don’t leave a club that you love and are on good terms with on a free, when you have value in the transfer market, particularly this wacky one. You renew, then work something out behind the scenes, and the club puts you on the market for top dollar.

      • Roberto Senyera says:

        Which only goes to prove our incompetence in the transfer market from a management perspective and VV’s greed knowing that he’ll earn more if he leaves on a Bosman.

        I’m not impressed with either our mgmt or VV on this one. It has a massive odour.

        If VV doesn’t renew with 18 months left on his contract then you offload the player in this past summer, get a transfer fee for him, and use that transfer fee to bring in a new GK. it’s not rocket surgery and we are utter pants when it comes to these things. The paltry fee received for David Villa is another example.

        • barca96 says:

          I actually prefer VV to stay as long as possible (run out his contract). Make use of his incredible talents as much as we still can cause there won’t be any better than him.

          • Roberto Senyera says:

            Don’t let his current purple patch fool you.

            He’s always been a brave & talented shot stopper. But there are a lot of GKs out there that are. VV’s decision making is poor and he’s not rated highly by many experts — he single handedly has revived the phrase, “an Exxon Valdés moment”. He’s been a weak link to a top side for years. A club as big as ours should have had a better and more consistent GK years ago.

            That’s the cold hard truth.

            I’m not sad to see him go. I just wished we sold him in the summer for a decent fee to a willing buyer (like Monaco) and brought in a long term solution (like Ter Stegen).

            Just my silly two cents.

          • Jim says:

            Not for me. One of the best goalkeepers around . I suspect that the reason he is leaving is that he’s never been appreciated fully. Still, only opinions.

        • Messiah10 says:

          We’ve never been assertive in the transfer market. I agree we could be more proactive, but the VV situation is different to me. I’m extremely happy he chose to stay this season and leave next summer. I honestly don’t see many keepers out there that we could’ve brought in that could even come close to doing what VV does for us. His peformances this season are crazy good. To me, that’s worth the loss in transfer fee alone. Especially, if the league follows.

      • Roberto Senyera says:

        The general mgmt rule is: if a player doesn’t renew his contract with 18 mths left on the current one then you transfer the player when there’s 12 mths left on the contract and recoup some transfer value from the asset. You do not let the contract run down and let the player leave on a free. That’s the last thing a club should allow. That’s basic Transfer Rule 101.

        • lea_terzi says:

          Barca is not a 101 type of club. When you have a unique generation of players and compete for all trophies every season, transfer fee becomes less important than another chance to win it all, or at least some if it. And no matter what so-called experts say about VV, he is the best keeper for this club. Alway was, always will be, and showing it every day. Ter Stegen, by the way, conceded two goals per match on average this season. Keeping VV for as long as we can and making the push for shiny cups is a no-brainer. And then we can poach one of Chelsea’s excellent keepers, none of whom, btw, is nearly as good a fit as Victor.

  32. Kxevin says:

    This year, the team has kept 4 clean sheets. Last year, Oct. 25th marked the occasion of the team’s 4th clean sheet.

  33. Kxevin says:

    This is crazy:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012%E2%80%9313_FC_Barcelona_season

    Just over halfway down is a list of the injuries the club suffered last season. I admit to having forgotten about some of them. It just goes on, and on, and on. Hoping for better luck on that front this season, but it isn’t looking very promising so far …

    – Look for a possible Dos Santos to La Real move. They lost Granero, and have received permission from the Liga to fill the spot. Word is that they are going to come knocking, and Dos Santos wants the move. Will be up to Martino, MD’s rumor mill suggests, but I can’t think that Martino would say no, unless there is a card game that Dos Santos has yet to master.

  34. PrinceYuvi says:

    Off topic.
    Guardian commentator is asking whether mou is enemy of football.
    Now this is fun.
    Bless the guy.

  35. Momo says:

    Anybody watching Pep’s Bayern this season?

    Watching them vs Schalke, they look fantastic and incredibly well rounded in their approach. Super threatening from set pieces, able to keep the ball well, counter at speed and their press has improved tremendously.

    Don’t think it will be a 7-0 again obviously because of the terrible circumstances last season, but I still think they have an edge over us if we meet again.

    • Roberto Senyera says:

      Borussia Dortmund would disagree as will your opinion, I should hope, after both Neymar and Cesc get fully integrated into the first XI this year and we don’t get ravaged with injuries during the business end of the season like last year. I’d be more than happy to face BM and still contend that we have the best matchday squad (best 18) in Europe if we have a full team.

      Have you ever considered purchasing a BM jersey? I would … but only to burn it. That club is the EE of Germany and has been for quite some time. I’d rather see BVB succeed in the Bundesliga.

      Just my opinion.

  36. Messiah10 says:

    Not sure if anyones posted this, but Graham Hunter has a new piece out.
    http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/blogs/blog=ucl_blog_spain/postid=1998292.html?rss=1998292+New+trends+emerging+at+Barcelona

    I for one am happy with more long passes and less possesion. I’ve been thinking we should concede more possession for the last 2-3 seasons. It’s an effective way to me to break up the bus. It does leave us more exposed to the counter which we are not fanastic at breaking up, but it gives our players with pace, i.e. Neymar, Alexis, Pedro, Busi!(lol) a chance to counter the opposition with tons of space. Similar to 08-09 when Messi, Henry, & Eto’o were on the break often.

  37. nia says:

    I have a nagging feeling that it’s gonna end in a 1-1 draw. Hope it aint so.

  38. Messiah10 says:

    Valdes again to the rescue!

  39. Messiah10 says:

    Wow! VV! 2-2 on Penalties this season!

  40. Messiah10 says:

    Big tackle by Pique!

  41. Messiah10 says:

    Defensive problems??? WHAT!

  42. Messiah10 says:

    HA! Ray Ray just said testicular fortitude! Hilarious. LMAO

  43. Rami says:

    47% possession for us in the 1st half, Make of it what you wish.

  44. Roberto Senyera says:

    Happy to see some rotation utilized today.

    Glad to see Monty get some time although he had a poor back pass to VV and gave him a heart attack for a moment. Dani needs a rest and Monty needs some playing time.

    I’m cheering for Song! Can you believe it? This is the perfect match to play him considering the schedule and the opponent. He’s playing alright … keep it up, Song.

    Adriano made a poor decision and gave up a penalty. Pedro had a nice finish off of sheer genius from Messi. Pedro was also fouled and should have been awarded a PK. We didn’t get the call. It’s a home team decision, the ref missed it, and we have to play through it. Keep the pressure on and score another goal or two. This match isn’t over. It’s a small, tight, and bumpy ground with fervent homer support. Barça’s in town. The fans and Rayo have upped their game.

    Lets up ours and capture the three points.

    Visca Barça!!

  45. PrinceYuvi says:

    Second penalty save.
    VV is making me look like an idiot.
    Not long before I was waiting for him to leave for good.
    Darn it. Miss him already.

  46. Messiah10 says:

    What a bad foul called on Song.

  47. Messiah10 says:

    Well that was Song’s 1st big mistake I can see. Trying to force a pass through the middle when he should’ve played the easy pass outside. Hope this…was about to say free kick doesn’t come to anythign but it almost did!

  48. Messiah10 says:

    Great 1 2 with Neymar to find Pedro! So happy for Pedrito!

  49. Messiah10 says:

    Phil just said VV has 7 saves today!

  50. Messiah10 says:

    Nice! high pressure leads to Cesc burying it.

  51. PrinceYuvi says:

    Dani rested.
    Song, monty playing.
    Messi dishing assists by bucketload.
    Pedrito is pulling a 10.
    We’ve meaningfull possession.
    Lets hope everybody is happy today.
    Thank goodness we got Tata.

  52. Messiah10 says:

    Great win at a tough away ground. Man those Rayo supporters are fantastic. Less than 12k there and it sounded like 50k crazy maniacs supporting their team. Was really impressed with Song, Xavi, & Pedro today. Messi had a very good game and should’ve received the ball a few times, but didn’t. Tello needs to get his head up or he doesn’t deserve the minutes.

  53. Messiah10 says:

    My MOTM is VV. Huge today! The penalty save changed the momemtum of the game and gave us the chance to get the 2nd goal quickly after the break. That last save off our dreadful defending of the set piece where NO defender got his head on the ball was incredible. I thought it was in for sure. I like how he’s spreading the ball around in the air from the back. It’s allowing us to quickly move up to attack if we maintain possession from it, or quickly press and try to counter from it. Visca Barca!

  54. bhed says:

    Very entertaining game! Valdes – wow! Song looked good; rested Xavi is the best Xavi; Cesc was good. Oh Pedro, every time I write you off, you pull me back in. What’s a critical Clué supposed to think?

  55. Rami says:

    The team still hasn’t found the sweet spot for when to play vertically and when to try and keep the ball.

    In the first half we excessively used long balls to cope with the pressure rayo players were putting, And as result our possession drop significantly, And it had a negative impact on us, Yes vertical play is a great addition to our arsenal of tactics, But possession is perfectly suited to the type of players we have, It’s what we do best.

    • ooga aga says:

      the pitch was a potato patch.

      the pitch was small.

      the rayo players were all over us.

      we played some long balls, apparently more than you liked.

      we won 4-0.

      visca barca.

  56. Kxevin says:

    A few quick things:

    – Song’s biggest sin is that he isn’t Busquets. Or Thiago Silva.
    – Before the “Pedro is back” stuff starts, the next opponent that shuts down space will bring back the normal of late Pedro. With space to run into, he will always bring you goals. Take away that space, and he’s an unproductive good worker.
    – Iniesta as defensive substitution? Awesome.
    – Xavi might be “over the hill,” but he’s going, kicking and screaming.
    – I very much like this New Barça, that takes what an opponent gives it. Hats off to Rayo for playing brave and open. Won the possession battle, lost the war. I’ll take it.
    – Valdes. If Rosell and this board are remembered for nothing else, it should be for creating the conditions that have angered the best keeper for this club enough to make him want to hurt them by leaving ON A FREE, and to make the renewal of Iniesta more difficult than it should be.
    – Pique’s biggest problem is mental. That first year, he read the matches so well. He isn’t doing that, which is why his slowness afoot is a liability.
    – Who else was praying Adriano, aka Our Last Healthy LB, wasn’t really injured in the aftermath of that collision.
    – Another 4-0 win. I could get used to this.

    • Huckleberry says:

      Is there any proof that Valdes is leaving because he wants to hurt Rosell, the board and the Club?
      Goalkeepers are special people.

      • Kxevin says:

        None. That is my speculation, as well as that of others. If you want to draw a line between Valdes being unhappy enough to leave on a free, Valdes’ best friend Iniesta complaining in public, not liking the dumping of his favorite physio and now, being a bit difficult about his renewal, it’s an easy link to make.

        Could all of those things be coincidence? Sure.

      • blitzen says:

        I don’t think it’s any one thing that the club did that is making Valdes leave. I think it a combination of things.

        –he is an adventurous person who has always said he wants to travel and experience other cultures.
        –over the years he has received way more than his fair share of abuse from the Catalan press and the “fans”, even as he is the best keeper Barça has had in years, possibly ever. He’s probably sick of it.
        –there have been rumours that Valdes asked for some changes in his training routine and was overruled by the club, and this is what has pissed him off. No real evidence for this except that he clearly doesn’t have much love for Rosell (but gets along very well with the sporting director, Zubi, whom one would think would be involved in those decisions).
        –some sources say his partner is the one pushing for a big move for a lot of money. No idea if this is true or not, but they have 2 and 3/4 kids to support…

        • Rami says:

          I conquer.

          Sadly for me, Valdes has fell from my eyes, He’s one of the best keepers in FCB history, maybe even the best, But after deciding to leave the club, i can never give him the same status as xavi, iniesta or other iconic FCB players, What a shame.

    • bhed says:

      Totally agree on Pique (and the other stuff too). It would seem ridiculous to say Shakira ruined him, but he’s never fully recovered that focus he had pre-Shakira (at least to my eyes). I still can’t bring myself to really put it down to that, but you’re right, he just doesn’t read the game as well as he used to, and we need him to now more than ever. Maybe he should use one of those brain training programs designed to improve concentration.

      • TITO says:

        Well, i don’t blame, every sane man would be distracted by her!

      • Kxevin says:

        Some things in Pique’s defense:

        – With Abidal owning the left and center, all he had to worry about was a narrow corridor.

        – 95% of the play that first great year of his was in front of him. It’s easy to look like a boss when that happens.

        – A fit, healthy Puyol changes a lot. “Pique! Stand there!” Puyol knows. Without that marshaling, his life is undoubtedly different.

        – Shit, if I was married to Shakira, I wouldn’t leave the house. “Uh, coach, I’d come to practice, but my wife is coming home, and well … you know … ”

        – He is a very good Barça CB, who is adapting to his suddenly, greatly extended role. We will see how fully he does.

        • bhed says:

          Good points. I’m not in the “sell Pique” camp (I get incensed when Stevie Nichols writes him off), but keeping your caveats in mind, especially the direction from Puyol, his progress at reading the game should have improved more than it has. I keep waiting and hoping. I really don’t doubt his commitment, but even with the increased responsibilities you alluded to, I still find it a bit of a head scratcher.

          I thought you didn’t rate him that highly – change of heart?

          • Jim says:

            It’d be interesting to hear from these critics where exactly you think Pique is putting a foot wrong. I counted maybe two possible mistakes he made tonight. Can’t say the same about his partner.

  57. Messiah10 says:

    Here’s a neat YouTube clip of Iniesta being interviewed on what he does during his off days. I love the clip of him joining in with his friends playing music. He’s just a normal dude who likes to eat out and hang with his buddies. It does have English subtitles as well!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7o8dPzMvlE

  58. Huckleberry says:

    Very entertaining game. The chaos in an open vertical game suits our gifted forwards. But the outcome seems less predictable.

  59. Kxevin says:

    People worrying about possession need to look at heatmaps of today’s match. Rayo had possession, mostly in their half of the pitch. Sure. Keep the ball. Hope ya choke on it.

    – Oh, that interplay between Messi and Neymar deserved a goal. That one would have been playing on highlight reels for the rest of the season, instead of just being a moment that culers revel in on match replays.

  60. TITO says:

    So, after 316 games we finally gave up the possession. The last time another team beat us to it was RM in 2007. Incredible.

  61. Rami says:

    Extended highlights with ray hudson commentary.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beKMsXOy5zU

  62. kosby says:

    Super Duper amazing Valdes !! What reflexes… plus 2 penalty saves in 2 games…

    And Messi – this guy day after day match after match never ceases to find new ways to amaze us..brilliant…the way he hugged Pedro after the first goal, shows how much it meant to him to finally score..

    Special mention Neymar and Song. I wish Song plays more often.

    Also the scoreline does not tell us how hard this match was, it was not a cakewalk at all and we still won 4 – 0 ! This is why its so much fun watching us play..

  63. Jim says:

    Decent win but this isn’t going to work against better sides. We shouldn’t be ceding possession to sides like this . Also not liking Iniesta being benched. Our keeper shouldn’t be forced into making five or six decent saves per game.

    • Levon says:

      Interestingly enough, Montoya said that the tactic was employed because of the bad state of the pitch…

    • blitzen says:

      Iniesta wasn’t “benched”, he was rested, FFS.

    • Roberto Senyera says:

      Benched? Don’t use such an obtuse word as that and Iniesta in the same sentence. That’s an absurdity and worthy of punishment of imprisonment for blasphemy.

      The word is rotation. The central midfield, in particular, needs to be rotated this year to keep players fresh and snappy at the business end of the season. It would be nice to have Puyol back asap so that the CBs can be rotated intelligently too.

      Word for the day: rotation ;-)

      • barca96 says:

        Calm down. He was on the bench wasn’t he? And this isn’t the 1st time.

        On the other hand, I don’t mind him riding the bench at all. He’s clearly not in form. Maybe that’s what he needs, time on the bench.

  64. barca96 says:

    Calm down. He was on the bench wasn’t he? And this isn’t the 1st time.

    On the other hand, I don’t mind him riding the bench at all. He’s clearly not in form. Maybe that’s what he needs, time on the bench.

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