Categorized | La Liga, Thoughts

The right thing the wrong way, aka “You models can’t feed me ice cream until your hair is perfect.”

The original FC Barcelona tactical manual (not actual size)

The original FC Barcelona tactical manual (not actual size)

Once upon a time, there was a man. He was a humble man, who went about his humble way, doing humble things. And yea, verily, though he doth kicketh a football around, it was in the most humble way possible.

Then, one day, during his most humble of kickabouts with his most humble of friends, a great shaft of light shone from above. Struck dumb with reverence and awe, the humble men, led by the humble man, quaked in fear. And then, in a voice trembling with fear, in part because his brain was also trying to calculate how much injury time would need to be added, he asked “Wh … what dost thou want with us, most humble of men that we are?”

And a voice like thunder, issued from the glittering column. “Take this. Read this. For verily, this is the way.”

Then the world returned to normal, except for these stone tablets, that were still warm from their otherworldly passage into the hands of these most humble of men. And on those stone tablets were written many things, but first was this:

The Barça Way

What an interesting match today, one in which something extraordinary happened. Rayo Vallecano had more possession than us. Messi didn’t score a goal. And yet, we won. I had some pretty awesome Twitter dialogues after the match, and received some fascinating responses in reply. But what prompted this post is this one:

Barça isn’t about winning, it never was. Barça’s singularity is how they win. Trophies don’t matter if they’re not won beautifully

Barça has had a great many teams over the course of its history. It has had face-smashers, teams that scored from set pieces, teams that scored from counters, teams that relied upon the amazing Ronaldo to work magic, slashing, passing, running and dicing teams.

The Dream Team (pause so that heavenly hosts can sing) brought a different way, and later came a buck-toothed Brazilian named Ronaldinho. The football was less beautiful and more tricky, and fun. Ronaldinho’s bulging thighs rushed past, and bounced off defenders. Lots of different teams have won in lots of different ways.

But man, today just knocked me out. Yes, there is still tika taka, that most logical, elegant extension of the Cruijff way of thinking, triangles, beauty and possession.

What impressed me most about today’s win was NOT the scoreline, but the way in which it was accomplished. Possession isn’t the point. It’s a means to an end, a tactic that is (or should be) one of many in a coach’s handbook. Attacking football is beautiful. Our team didn’t clog the middle of the park, knocking heads with an opponent who still didn’t believe that we weren’t going to clog the middle of the park and try to walk the ball into the net. It slashed up the wings, sliding a ball to a sprinting forward, not once, not twice but three times. It took advantage of a moment of sloppy play and slammed another goal home. And that was that.

Messi ran up the middle, Neymar and Fabregas pounded up the left wing, popping balls for Pedro to dispatch. Because that was Today’s Way, against an opponent that wanted possession and a mostly open game, thinking that was the way to beat us. In the past, it might have been. Today, it wasn’t even close. Valdes, today’s MOTM by a country mile, came up huge, with some astonishing reflex saves of the kind that crap keepers aren’t supposed to make. Did he bail the team out? Nope. But he sure helped with the win, just as in matches where Valdes wasn’t as sharp, his defenders bailed him out. That’s what teams do.

The lower possession percentage was beautiful, the fact that we scored four and Messi didn’t have one was beautiful, because as Mike Tyson once said, everybody has a plan, until you punch them in the face. Rayo had a plan. We had a better, different one. And they got punched in the face.

Messi scores our goals. So a smart opponent who is also talented, says “Stop that little guy.” And everybody gets in the center of the pitch where Messi frolics, and that’s that. Today’s match, and its beauty, I hope, is the first step in an evolution in which opponents watch footage and say “Uh, oh … what the hell do we do now?”

There was speculation, post match, about that possession statistic. Some said it underscored the importance of Busquets. I watched it, and didn’t really think, “What this match needs is …” Part of why Rayo had the ball more is that they were trying to figure out how the hell they could get it past that big dark thing in the middle of the pitch, and we just watched them do it, pressing when they got too dangerous. Adaptation is beautiful.

Possession is a means to an end. So is having Overmars/Rivaldo/Kluivert/Henry/Eto’o/Neymar dashing up the wing or the middle in a bust-out dash up the pitch, to feed or slot home a ball. Seeing the back of that net bulge is beautiful. Seeing a deeper-playing, Neymar-linking Messi celebrating those goals as if he himself had scored, minus the props to grandma, that’s beautiful. The casual way that Xavi dislocated his leg to keep a ball in play with a backheel volley, then run after as if nothing had happened is beautiful. 4-0 is beautiful.

Further, I would suggest that today’s win was beautiful for its elegant play, open style and effective finishing, rather than for its curlicues, triangle and shimmying sprites. Those wins will come, and they will be all purty and stuff, and we will celebrate those as we celebrate these. Personally, I don’t think that “just winning” is for pragmatic teams such as Chelsea, the example most offered up. I think that just winning is for championship football clubs, clubs that, when they just win enough, get to hoist trophies and get drunk on open-top buses.

And that, for me, is the Barça Way that is the most fun. I hope we get to see it this season, even if the only goals that we score come from hump-backed troglodytes shooting the ball into the net from between their butt cheeks. Yes, I rather imagine those goals will be ugly. But that bus ride won’t be.

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264 Responses to “The right thing the wrong way, aka “You models can’t feed me ice cream until your hair is perfect.””

  1. Jim says:

    Very seldom I don’t find myself in tune with the gist of a post, Kxevin, but I really can’t go along with this one. I did think VV saved us today, big time on several occasions and the score coul easily have been different. I didn’t feel at any time we really had control of the game and even in their half, if they have the ball we are doing the chasing and not them. It’s not as if our forwards left them to it. Make no mistake, we expended a lot of energy in this game, some of it unnecessary. I wouldn’t be surprised if we suffered a reaction midweek.

    We are not the best in the world at this. It becomes a leveller with the better teams. It is a more extreme version of what Tito was experimenting with at the start of last season. Looks good against the poorer sides but won’t hack it when the serious business comes to town. To be clear, I’m not talking about the occasional long ball for variety. I’m talking about not valuing control of the ball. The only thing in football we are best at is making the other team chase the ball for long period through quick short passes.

    • Levon says:

      Got hectored on the previous thread.

      Barcelona was almost unrecognizable. Part of me thought that they played that way just to see what would happen. Then Montoya mentioned after the match that they played that way because of the state of the pitch.

      I agree with Jim that it does not look like our smartest gameplan against stronger opponents. After all, we are just not that strong of a team when we do not have the ball. I did enjoy the match, though, and I do think it is a valuable exercise in playing a different way.

      Oh an by the way, it is hard not to love a review/article that features -that- Mike Tyson quote!

    • Rami says:

      Based on statements and interviews from our players, They seem excited about the changes (Vertical play and less passes), And that says something, I think they know things had to start changing, The old ways aren’t cutting it anymore, Maybe like pique said, They became slaves of tiki-taka.

  2. Rami says:

    Everyone wants to win, play beautifully and dominate at the same time, But we already had that last slice of the pie, It’s time to quit looking back and start looking forward, Eat or be eaten.

    What we’ve seen today, Isn’t meant to be a showcase or a template on how the team will play in the future, Many factors were responsible for what we saw, Rayo themselves have the 2nd highest possession in the league after us, The state of the pitch forced to use more long balls, And the fact that the players are still adjusting to the new ideas and it needs more work and fine tuning.

    Any coach with a half a brain will know that we’re not good without the ball, The type of players we have are suited for possession based football, That’s not going to change, Marinto is just waiting for the players to fully grasp his ideas, About when to keep the ball, When to press, When to not press, When to use long balls and open up the pitch, The goal is to reach a ‘sweet spot’, Where we’re keeping the ball, And playing vertically at the right exact amounts, And most importantly, Is to always be flexible.

  3. Have to admit that from a neutral perspective this match would have been fun, but then we are fans and are seldom neutral. I don’t want to see these kind of matches again. Whom did Rayo had? A better team will kill us if we play like this. What was our defence doing? Also Song was pretty bad out there. I would prefer that this was a one off event. If anyone is confident then we can try the same against Madrid, may be. We saw what happens to the team when we become much more direct last season. If the answer to our problems is to become more direct , then god bless us.

    • K-cule says:

      Jesus man! Can’t you just enjoy the game without the qualifiers – “we won but against X and Y we are dead.” “We won but not beautifully”. “We won but Xavi should have rested”.”We won but …”. You get the trend. Not a personal attack but this crying about this and that all the time is becoming too much. It’s like being in a relationship and complaining about your partner all the time. If you don’t like someone or something, just let it be and move on. Find a team that makes you happy or something. It’s not a video game where the fixes are that simple. The team is what it is – we can enjoy or choose something else that makes us happier if this doesn’t work for us. So, with all due respect, y’all ought to support your team or do something about it. If you can’t, don’t dampen it for the rest of us.

      • K-cule says:

        In a nutshell, no one or anything is perfect, to borrow that cliche saying. Not even Messi, and definitely not our team, which has gone through enough as it is. We ought to appreciate what we got and get behind the team – that means all players. Song, alba, pedro, alexis, cesc etc. They will go through rough patches and it’s OK to point out but not make it a narrative. In this case, Song played rather very well,and I wonder if maybe we watched the game through different lenses. Or with different expectations of the player. Or prejudice – dunno, but, hey – this is a whole new level of criticism of our team. I wish we could psychoanalyze cules to see what’s going on in there minds. I wish we could wear gunners’ shoes for a moment – just to know the value of trophies and feel what being a true fan is like, especially when your team needs you.

      • I prefer to point out the issues when I find one, rather than sit with ultimate optimism that everything will eventually come right. Success is not the result of any accident! I did mention clearly that once in a while these kind of matches happen and I am ok with that. Just didn’t want people to start considering that this is the template we should follow.

        I can still wait like you considering everything is fine and wait for yet another 7-0 mauling or a series of not so good result against big teams. I could still wait. Just because I prefer to point out an issue when I see one doesn’t means that I love this team less than you. I may be wrong in what I am pointing out but the one who believe that the fans should always sing praise regardless of what does more harm than us.

        I started following this team when they were winning nothing – the pre Ronaldinho era. So I do know the value of winning trophies. But also I am not going to sit here and say that an X team hasn’t won anything in the past so we are much better. I don’t expect the team to win everything, it’s ok for me if they win nothing. For that matter I am one person who always beleved that the final year of Guariola’s as Barca manager was his best one.

        “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” – Winston Churchill

    • Roberto Senyera says:

      Last season we didn’t have Neymar.

      The occasional counter attack with that fella is just the right recipe to keep the opposition uncomfortable. If we’re less predictable and score goals in more varying ways then that’s a positive evolution. Neymar is just the thing we needed from an attacking perspective and culés the world over will enjoy the football he’ll bring to our team. The lad is the closest thing to Ronnie I’ve seen yet.

      • Jim says:

        Absolutely. I’d assumed that he’d been bought as the missing piece in breaking down the buses. And I think that works.

        It may be that this isn’t the way Tata wants to play. He’ll certainly know that we got the rub of the green in this one. However, to say that it’s okay to have less possession than Rayo. Because they have the second highest. Is accepting second best- something this team shouldn’t do. I’d have loved to have heard Xavi’s ( or even more Iniesta’s ) private thoughts after the game.

        The thing is I like the occasional long balll which stops the opposition throwing too many players onto us. That’s not what we saw last night though.

  4. Don’t go by the scoreline. 4-0 is usually beautiful, but not this one. But it’s ok, and will happen once in a while. But this is not a template for the future; but definitely it’s one for fun.

  5. blitzen says:

    I had fun watching this game. Did we play a great game? No. Did we work hard? Yes. Did we score goals? Yes. Did we prevent our opponents from scoring goals? Yes, with the assistance of Spain’s best GK, Valdes. Is there room for improvement? Obviously, yes. Should we be worried? Obviously, no.

    • Roberto Senyera says:

      “… Spain’s best GK, Valdes”.

      Jesus. I’ve gotta contact my insurance agent early this week and see if he offers ‘Cheetos insurance’. I very nearly just choked on them reading that.

      He’s playing well, at the moment, no doubt. So I’ll give him the credit he’s due. But he’s having a fine run of form. Nothing more. Anything more is simply hyperbole such as Arsenal fans saying that Aaron Ramsey is the best midfielder in the world at the moment. Both are going through a moment of fine form. Form is temporary. Class is permanent. Neither player, to be deadly honest, is classy from a playing perspective. Their mothers, wives, and family might say they’re classy — from a general perspective. Both are good players at best.

      • Jim says:

        I’m not sure what Valdes has done to produce this view of him. He won the Zamora four years in a row, has equalled Ramalletts, he even won it when we weren’t winning the league, I can only remember three or four genuine errors over that piece – have a look at the compilation of Nauer’s errors- and any number of one on one saves. The only criticism I think is fair is that he doesn’t command his area as well as some, which in our side would be a help.

        I don’t think that any objective look at his career could support hat view.

  6. PrinceYuvi says:

    I concede we didn’t [couldn’t] control the game, but we controlled the goalscoring chances just fine. Isn’t that something?

    Ever since we played that infamous game where we reached 75% possession and zero shots on goal I wanted to see a game like this.

  7. nia says:

    I’m not surprised by this match at all. I might be mistaken but, the last time we played Rayo at their home ground, they played us the same way. VV had a few good saves then and we won 0-5. We didn’t even dominate the possession either. Although I must admit, I would rather have the team control the ball a bit more but credit to Rayo, they played a fine match.

    It seems some of the players are not happy with rotations. Cesc: “It looks like he’s doing it with everyone, even the important players. We don’t like it, those of us who want to play every game, but it’s an intelligent approach and we’ll thank him at the end of the season.” I guess they all know who the Jefe is. If the Bayern match didn’t motivate the players to rest more, nothing will. FYI Cesc, in a team, everyone is important.

  8. fiazhamsath says:

    I can’t buy all these fuss. Barça had ‘only’ 49% possession last night against a team that had the second highest possession in La Liga last season? It’s as if we did an Inter or a Chelsea in a CL semi final, parked the bus and had 15-20% possession. Give credit where it’s due. Rayo was brilliant last night. They pressed brilliantly, they built from the back brilliantly. They were narrowly better than Barça in keeping the ball. Can’t we face one such team once in 5 years?

    This Barça – Getafe game ( in February, 2010 had more or less same possession. And according to @OptaJoe’s statisticians, Barça had lesser possession (!). In second season of Pep’s Barça, the high flying Pep’s Barça. I don’t see much difference between this, and last night.

    Agreed, Barça played ‘poorly’ last night. But for a change we still won 0-4. Don’t we all like ‘that’ change?

  9. bhed says:

    I also really had fun watching this game. Some nervy moments on D, but there was no time to fret. The next moment they’d be up the pitch, giving Rayo’s keeper an ulcer.

  10. G6O says:

    Ultimately Rayo played a suicidal game – they did not dominate possession (51-49 is not domination of the ball, it’s just an outlier for us) and were so open that they got picked apart with ease. We win 4-0, and even if that penalty had gone in, I am quite confident we would have scored the necessary goals to still win it.

    The question is how do we get more teams to play us like that. If it means a few more games like this one with the end result that we see fewer parked buses and teams coming out to play us like they did back in 2008-09, so be it. Is a trade-off worth making IMO.

  11. Roberto Senyera says:

    We won the game and got the three points at an away ground: check.

    I’m happy with that and the match was exciting. We rotated the squad which we needed to do with la Real coming to our ground in just a couple of days. Rotation was necessary and it was intelligently done.

    But at the end of the day we held serve and shouldn’t get too high or low about this match. We just held our serve. Nothing more, really. Rayo have been utter bollocks this season and are a serious relegation candidate. They lost at home to Levante already and are leakier than a paper battleship and couldn’t score on a two dollar hooker.

    Not being negative. It was job done. Professional job done.

    Happy Pedro got his first hat-trick for FCB to match that for the NT. Pedro!!! VV getting a clean sheet. Well done. But that boy should be drug tested. He’s never played better in his life. Maybe it’s because he’s playing for a masaive contract — elsewhere? But it would be cynical of me to say such a thing. He’ll play well for the time being but once that Clasico comes around we all know he’s just as likely to bottle it and pass it directly to Eczema for a sitter. I hope his purple patch continues.

    Well done Song. He’s our new Keita and gives us something different in the centre of the park. He’s physical and can pick a pass. That’s a good combo. I’ll admit that we never should have bought him. But what’s done is done. That llama has left the enclosure. I hope he gives Busi some decent rest from time to time and comes in late to lock up a tight match, when needed, via a double pivot and possession football. The good thing about the lad is that he’s a beast and hardly ever gets injured. What’s more, he shouldn’t be the type to be in a huff about limited minutes. That’s a plus.

    Glad to see the Iniesta, Cesc, Xavi rotation for those two spots continuing. I believe that’s a key component for a successful season this year.

    Visca Barça!!

  12. Roberto Senyera says:

    After reading through the comments I can’t believe some people feel that the team played ‘ugly’. I can’t believe that sentiment.

    If that was ‘ugly’ then that’s the kind of ‘ugly’ I rather like. Most mortal men would love to have such ‘ugly’ lady companions.

    Off to watch those ‘ugly’ highlights again.

    Have a great day everyone. Peace.

  13. KEVINO17 says:

    Song was excellent – but I always say that. I love the way he manages the ref. Doesn’t scream that he’s innocent when he’s just clattered another opponent. Doesn’t get under his skin. Just looks sheepish and shuffles off.
    Team was pretty good on a crap pitch.

  14. efcmentor says:

    Remarkable things happened on my birthday. FCB lost possession battle for the first time since 2008,a historic record of 317 games. Pedro scored his first ever hatrick for FCB and his second overall after Spain NT. John Mikel Obi of chelksi scored his first ever EPL goal after 7yrs.
    On a side note,what is wrong with Valdez? Saving a second penalty in a space of four days. Neymar is a real deal but he needs to score.

  15. Spiza7 says:

    Wining away at Rayo was never gonna be easy, the last couple of encounters with them have been games where the results could of gone either way. I think this is more about our opponent than it is about how we are playing. However we did allow a few too many chances for Rayo to capitalise. Without a doubt Valdes was excellent, but to me apart from the start of the game our defence couldn’t stop anything and it felt like Rayo had a direct path to our goals every time they had possession.

  16. psalmuel says:

    People are mistaking something here, the fact that we didnt have 99% possession like we do every match doesn’t mean we played ugly. Though, personally I didnt like the so many long balls that made us concede possession (Valdez). I also feel disgusted, when people here allow sentiments, cloud their judgement about Song. Song had a good game,was responsible for our first goal, was solid in contributing in both attack. But because, ‘he’s that signing we didnt need’, he gets criticized for imaginary poor performances. I just wish allforbarcelona would give me video links highlighting how song was poor yestaday.

    • Jim says:

      Not getting at Song- I thought he did okay- but “responsible for our first goal” ? You mean apart from Messi beating three defenders in no space at all and laying a perfect ball to Pedro who produced a top class finish – with his left foot ?

      • Messiah10 says:

        Jim, Messi did a lot of work to lay it off for Messi, but Song was definitely the catalyst for the goal. He made the tackle to win it back and instead of taking the easy path of moving the ball up the pitch, he fired a strong pass into Messi right near the box. It was a great pass and he asked a great question of Messi by making it.

        • Jim says:

          Again, not getting at Song, but what happened was Song stood where he was and the Rayo player attempted a pass which he hit straight at Song. Song then played a good pass to Messi but to say he was responsible for the goal when Messi still had four defenders in front of him is stretching it to say the least. Call it for what it was; a good pass that played its part in the goal. If Messi had played the pass and Song had beaten the three defenders and given Pedro a perfect layoff would we be saying Messi was responsible for the goal ?

  17. psalmuel says:

    *and defence*

  18. Hilal says:

    I really don’t get what the problem is here. Martino is doing what everybody was asking for which is to change things a bit so we are not so damn predictable all the time. Tiki-taka is all well and good and having 70% possession is lovely and all but the aim of the game is to score goals. We had way more of the ball than Bayern did last season and they scored 7 to our 0 so something had to change. Also, there are other ways to play beautiful football, it doesn’t have to be just possession based tiki-taka ALL THE TIME.

    Personally I loved what I saw yesterday, which was a coach who adapted his tactics to suit the circumstances – the opponent and the pitch. This is something I always wished Pep and Tito did a lot more of.

    Furthermore I think what we are seeing now is a transition period and once the players settle into this new style of play we will see a lot more of the Barca we are used too, just with this less predictable side to it as well. I also think the coach will vary his tactics depending on who we play. I actually cannot wait to see how he decides to play against Madrid, who are not a possession based team and who have probably the best counter attack in the world.

    • Rami says:

      Martino’s flexibility is what i love about him.
      Using long balls to overcome the state of the pitch, Is something pep would’ve never even consider it, He had an unchanging convection that possession is king, Tito tried to bring vertical play, Yet we can still sense he wasn’t completely free of the shackles of his predecessor faith in possession.

  19. Hilal says:

    Oh and Song was was brilliant yesterday by the way. Not sure how anyone could think differently. He may not be as graceful as busquets but for a game like the one that was played yesterday he was perfect because he is brilliant at tactical fouling. He knows where and when to foul a player so that they cannot start a dangerous counter and where the resulting free kick is not so dangerous. This is something opposition teams do to us ALL THE TIME and I love to see us doing it too. It may not be “beautiful” but it a very important part of the game and I am glad to see us doing it. He must have done it 5-6 times yesterday to prevent counters and also managed to avoid a yellow card!

  20. ciaran says:

    I didn’t get to watch this match live so I knew the score and the possession statistics before I watched it.
    What I liked most about the match were how we scored.
    Teams like Madrid and Bayern and the others in the CL are much better defensively now and if it takes us 20 passes to create a chance then we wouldn’t do well against them when we face them.
    Being able to create chances and score goals on the break is what all great teams do and for the past two seasons we haven’t done it nearly often enough.
    Someone mentioned the match we had no shots on target and had 75% possession and to me that’s far more defensive than last night’s match.

    Another thing that I would love to see is a match where we start with a midfield of Song and Busquets with Cesc in front and Neymar, Messi and Alexis up top. Defensively it would be very solid and that front four would definitely create and score goals

  21. TITO says:

    We had two identical scorelines in a week, the one last night and the one against Ajax. I enjoyed the one last night much more for many reasons.
    As we debated many times before, it’s not about possession, it’s about what you do with it.
    I’m perfectly fine to let other teams have more of it if they dont do anything the whole game.
    It’s about adapting, there will be games when we need to impose our play, our style of possession domination (with an end product and not just for the sake of it), and there will be games when we need to be less possession hungry and try what we tried last night.
    It wasn’t our best performance, but i felt we controlled the game from start to finish, regardless few glimpses on the way to the end.

    • Jim says:

      Not sure how much control you have if your keeper has to make 9 saves- some of them almost world class reactions- while theirs has four. The truth for me is that this was open end to end play and we won because on the day we took our chances while they missed theirs. That won’t always be the case.

      Also, as we’ve often said before and as others have said about playing against us, if you have to chase the ball to get it back all the time you’re too tired to do anything with it. That’s why I’m hoping last night was a one off. Not many teams will play that open against us and the others that do, such as RM will finish a lot more of the chances they get.

  22. TITO says:

    Oh, and Song was great.
    Bthw, how we will look if Iniesta leaves?

  23. barca96 says:

    Got Hectored too.

    – Calm down. Iniesta 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

    – Watching Ajax now. Poor guys are playing without supporters at PSV due to the unavailability of the train. And the mayor doesn’t allow them to come by coach because he was scared of fan violence.

    Can you guys imagine Barca playing away without any fans?

    • Jim says:

      At a time when we are looking for Iniesta to renew and still a couple of million apart, sitting on the bench watching inferior players getting most of the playing time match after match won’t be helping his mood. Are we really saying Cesc did more last night than Ini would’ve done? If we’re really rotating when does Xavi get his rest?

  24. barca96 says:

    A young defender from Rotterdam called Bruma is having a great game so far. 3 last ditch tackles. Poor Bojan. He’s having an ok game but 2 poor decisions in front of goal instead of passing led to 2 players chewing him out.

  25. barca96 says:

    I haven’t watched the match yet but so far this season he has looked pretty lethargic. Yes, I would’ve played him to make him feel that he’s still a key player and therefore making the negotiations smoother but I guess Tata is a player that chooses players based on form and nothing else.

  26. barca96 says:

    Supposed to be a reply to Jim

  27. barca96 says:

    Shit. Went to bed at half time thinking that it’s a stroll in the park for Ajax and according to my friend, a blunder from that weak GK Vermeer and 3 counters. Haih.

  28. barca96 says:

    Wow. 4 times in a row the reply option doesn’t work. I’m not trying to spam. I’m just checking if this one will work.

  29. ciaran says:

    To anyone watching the Manchester derby… How does Shinji Kagawa not get in this United team? It’s shocking

    • Messiah10 says:

      It definitely is. I don’t understand it at all. He’s the most creative player they have besides Rooney. He was pure class for Dortmund. I have some friends who support Man U and they are perplexed.

    • Messiah10 says:

      However, I still don’t think it comes close to what Mata is going through at Chelski. He’s been their best player 2 years running. Word is that Rafa wants to bring him to Napoli.

      • ciaran says:

        Well if Iniesta is thinking of leaving then we could do worse than Mata. I could see it happening unfortunately but while Iniesta is one of my favorite players there will be life after him too

  30. TITO says:

    So, Cesc comes out and says that WE are not happy with rotation, we don’t like it. Who’s WE? Him, Iniesta, Ney, Dani??

  31. psalmuel says:

    EE are shipping in goals left,right and center with ‘real’ defenders and I wonder if their fans are also crying,’crap! We don’t have a good defense, we are gonna be roasted by Messi and Co’

  32. nia says:

    What’s the deal between Baena and Messi. Apparently, Baena refused to shake Messi’s hand and they’ve been enemies for a while now. Someone pls share what went wrong.

  33. barca96 says:

    Top 10 fastest players according to FIFA;

    Antonio Valencia ( Man Utd ) 35,2 km/h
    Gareth Bale (Real Madrid CF ) 34,7 km/h
    Aaron Lennon (Tottenham Hotspurs )33,8 km/h2
    Cristiano Ronaldo ( Real Madrid ) 33,6 km/h
    Theo Walcott ( Arsenal FC ) 32,7 km/h
    Leo Messi (FC Barcelona) 32,5 Km/h
    Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) 32,1 km/h
    Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich) 30,7 km/h
    Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) 30,7 km/h
    Alexis Sánchez (FC Barcelona) 30,1 km/h -

  34. lala10 says:

    Hello cules and sorry for joining the debate late. Many thanks to the mods for giving us the platform to air different views. I hear there are some fantastic contributors on Twitter who used to spice these pages with their input. Unfortunately i am not on Twitter so that is my loss but i have to say that these pages are the best fora of any footballing blogs. In that regard allow me to air my views and forgive me because this post is rather long.

    The appointment of Tata is/was a positive development especially in light of the nuances he promised to bring to the team. Reverting back to the press was an realignment that was so positive. Adding an alternative to our attacking play is another positive HOWEVER it ONLY a positive if we were to add it to our arsenal INSTEAD of it becoming our weapon of first choice.

    I say first choice because it is becoming increasingly clear that verticality is becoming a chief weapon of this team. We fear to talk about it but against Ajax and Rayo there were times when we had a low block of men in midfield closing the lanes to our danger area. Whilst defending is a part and parcel of the game and mastering it is a part of the craft it is folly if our coaches think our can be such masters.

    If you were to put a template on most of our players the template would most probably read “SMALL, TECHNICALYY GIFTED”. That’s our main strength we excel at playing the ball moreso in tight places. Its almost like we play RONDOS in most of our matches. What that does is that pass and moves positions players in a small space which continually moves up and down the pitch as one and that coupled with the press makes it easier for us to recover the ball. On the other hand verticality to work needs player to be a distance from each other. It exposes our players to the type of footballers that they are not comfortable being. What it will mean is that Busquests has to be an adept at physical play and running hard and tackling; it means that the genius of Messi to disappear and ghost from nowhere to change the direction of the match has to change to a RONALDO-ESQUE athletic brilliance which is an ability to run hard for every game in whole season; it means that Xavi does’nt have to pause and pick the right pass; that Iniesta does not have to dance around a defender because the window of opportunity will be shut down; it means that instead of playing it to feet as the norm he will continuosly hoof it up top to Messi (see Rayo) who will be in the company of men over Six feet tall.

    I could be very wrong and exciting times could be around for cules but the way i see it this is a portent of things to come. Don’t tell me this is a nuance to our game. If it were we wouldn’t aggressively be changing this strategy. Against Rayo we would have seen it in parts and whats damning is that all our goals were counter attcking goals. We are different in how we want the game played and how we view our wins. That is fine but as fans if we truly love our club we have a duty to know how the actions of our tactical swithches impact on the short and long term of our beloved club instead of calling each other whiners, negative fans and imploring each other to find other clubs to support if we are not satisfied with how the team wins. Personally i forsee ala Bayern if we were to pursue this as one main game plan but i hope and pray am wrong. Also would not it be nice to hear a thought or two from Xavi “an ideologue” of our recent footballing principles. Thank you and forgivenes asked for the long ramblings of another cule.

  35. psalmuel says:

    Football is evolving and definitely, we can’t keep on doing same things, expecting different results. From what I perceive, Martino is trying have an array of alternatives, so we would be playing each opponents in a different way, depending on the set up of the opponents and even the pitch conditions. If I am not mistaking, our last two opponents came to play an open game, and there you had the verticality. Against Rayo, we adopted long balls because of the state of the pitch. Now, thats how its supposed to be. Xavi doesn’t have to turn a blind eye to a counter-attacking opportunity because wants to stick to ‘our philosophy’. We must become unpredictable. Look at last season when Jupp of Bayern said, ‘I know barca and their players like the back of my palm’ he wasn’t bluffing and we clearly saw it. Whether this will become our template, only time will tell but this season, I don’t ever want to hear a coach say,’I know barca and their players like the back of my palm’ especially if he’s coaching a team that wears white, blue or red.

    • barca96 says:


      Xavi doesn’t have to turn a blind eye to a counter-attacking opportunity because wants to stick to ‘our philosophy’

      That is true for the past 2-3 seasons but now he’s more inclined to play vertically.

  36. psalmuel says:

    *EE, chelski and bayern

  37. lala10 says:

    I have no problem with verticality if it is a part of our weapons. But not the major. I don’t know if what we saw against Rayo and Ajax will cut it against the better teams. To say that Rayo are one of the best passing teams and therefore we had to hoof it up is a shame as is the excuse over the condition of the pitch since Rayo played it on the floor. Like Rami always say we can’t just flick a switch and then bravo we are playing possession football. What we are seeing are the results of is being taught at training. Let’s get unpredictable but let’s not lose who we are. For me the funny part is that whilst we seem to be moving away from our roots more and more teams are trying to play our way.

  38. PrinceYuvi says:

    Cesc is not included in squad for tomorrow’s game.
    Busi back.
    Loving this rotation thing.
    Seems like everybody is fighting for a spot.

  39. Rami says:

    Exactly how many times martino was asked about our play style, And had to explain himself?, He even had to pull up stats from last season match against rayo and general possession stats to try and ‘defend’ himself, Ridiculous.

    Euler returned from his twitter slumber, And echoed what i and other have pointed out previously, The team is still trying to figure out the correct amounts (Ratio) of controlling the ball and playing vertically.

  40. IamXavi6 says:

    Cesc Fabulous at it again!

    I note a few quotes of playing saying they are upset of rotations and Iniesta rejected a new contract offer. Forgetting the possession stat; I hope Martino knows how to handle the rotations this year AND the personalities…Im sure he is capable but I dont want him to rock the boat to the level that our key played mutiny :-)

    Anyway; while its true Im still wary of Tata; I have no problems with him changing and adapating our team and or style where needed. as long as the cost isnt a rob Peter to pay Paul thing.


  41. barca96 says:

    via Barcastuff

    Martino: “Less possession? We don’t want to change anything. Last season, Barcelona had 66% possession after 8 games, now 65,8%.”


  42. Kxevin says:

    So I put up this post then had a nice weekend away from the site, figuring that things would go exactly as they did in the comments, and I wanted a break from all that stuff. I had a lovely weekend, and unfortunately, I’m not wrong about my predicted impressions.

    So, where to begin:

    — The Fabregas quote is being widely misinterpreted by various media, who are trying to start nonsense. The full quote is posted above. Read it, and understand.

    “It looks like he’s doing it with everyone, even the important players. We don’t like it, those of us who want to play every game, but it’s an intelligent approach and we’ll thank him at the end of the season.

    — Oh, Lord, Valdes had to make 9 saves. The keeper is part of this club. He is as essential to it as other players. There will be matches where he will be able to sit back there and crochet, as the offense bangs in 5 or 6 goals, just as there will be matches where he has to be more part of the team. It happens. What it means is that every part of the team worked, even the last line of defense. There is nothing “wrong” with that. Each part of a team goes through cycles in “saving the day,” so to speak.

    — If Guardiola were still coach of Barça, people would be hailing this latest tactic as genius, and a way to circumvent opponents who are hell bent on clogging the center of the park and parking the bus. It would be genius at doing more (goals) with less (possession).

    But it’s Martino, so it’s an uncertain, clunky mess. Someone above is “wary” of our new coach. I’m absolutely terrified of a man who has led our to its first CL win, a perfect Liga season so far and SuperCopa silver. Terrified. I’m going to my underground bunker right now.

    — The TEAM wins, and the TEAM loses. Matches will transpire with more certainty, just as matches will transpire with less certainty. You know who’s second in possession in the Liga? Rayo. You know how much possession we had against them last year in their house? 55%. Ye gods.

    — “Let’s not lose who we are.” We’ve sold the shirt, whored out the Camp Nou and use players as pre-season fundraisers. Exactly who are we, anyhow? More to the point, you should go back in time, and watch some of the long balls that were being played by Guardiola, Cruijff, Ronaldinho, etc, etc. “Who we are” is an attacking football club, who prefers to attack than defend. Tika taka is a tactic based on the personnel that we have to play with. Neymar changes a lot, just as Henry did on that left wing. A Plan B is developing before our eyes, but people are too busy not trusting or believing in what they see to understand that.

    — Last season, everyone wanted rotation, and damned that fool of a coach we suffered through for not doing it. This year, our coach is doing it, and he’s damned for that. Messi hasn’t played the most minutes, Xavi has been left out of the squad and been rested, Fabregas being rested, Busquets being rested, Iniesta was a sub. Two matches this week, then Champions League next midweek. That’s a lot of matches. It isn’t a question of Iniesta sitting on the bench watching an “inferior” (don’t get me started on that one) player play in his stead. It’s a question of a coach doing what he feels is best for the players, and the long-term health of the squad.

    — Lucky we didn’t face a REAL opponent, or we would have gotten beaten badly. Whenever I see comments such as those, they strike me as absurd. We played the opponent we played, and got the result that we got. Simple as that. Different tactics against different opponents. Would a better opponent with more to lose have played us as open as Rayo did? Valid question. Rayo wanted possession, and pressure. So let them have it. As Xavi crowed about possession as we stared a 4-0 Bayern deficit in the face, perhaps they will, as well.

    • Rami says:

      You blew up some good materials for your next post, Because this deserves a post of it’s own.

      When neur makes saves for bayern, Or Buffon for juventus, The fans starts cheering for them, But not due to surprise, But it’s expected of them, Just like when messi scores for us, But in barca land, One of the best GK in our history apparently isn’t supposed to make to ‘much’ saves, I mean why force him to do his job, When you can prevent anyone from reaching him in the first place, It’s never good enough isn’t.

      You hit it right on the nail with guardiola, I can partially understand the skepticism with him being a foreign coach and all which he himself admitted it, But we’re not chelsea, We don’t asses our coaches after 6 months, And fire them after the 12th, Our coaches are brought to build a project for future years, So let’s let him do his job.

    • Puppet says:

      “Tika taka is a tactic based on the personnel that we have to play with. Neymar changes a lot, just as Henry did on that left wing. A Plan B is developing before our eyes, but people are too busy not trusting or believing in what they see to understand that.”

      Exactly! Rijkaard’s Barca at it’s peak would be considered haphazard, maybe even sloppy by the possession-obsessed standards of the Barca of recent years, but that was simply the way that team played. It didn’t make them more or less “Barca,” because they were still playing fantastic attacking football.

  43. cliveee says:

    Nice piece. To me, this feels like an Osasuna kind of tough away win, but with a different scoreline. We used to struggle a 0-1 win or 1-2, but as our finishing improved in Pedro. We got that ‘punch’.

    About the possession, I think I am gonna provide the less agreed view on Alex Song in this match. Rayo played well as a team. Forces a lot of long balls from us with extreme pressings. Alex Song intercepted and defended really well as well. But to me, he is part of the reason why we were defending so much. The midfield was owned by Rayo and as some said, Xavi would have felt this 0-4 away win as a loss because of that.

    Problem with Alex Song is not because of his passing. As he demonstrated with the vital pass to Messi in Pedro’s first goal, but the way he sees space. Count how many long balls Valdes played, rewatch if you could, where was Song when Valdes played those long balls. Of course VV plays great long balls, but his short passes are just as excellent. Reason for not doing more? Rayo pressed well or our midfield didn’t provide option. Song was in so many occasions, not a passing option in the midfield. Even if he was open, he was either close to a defender or in a very bad position that may have high risk of losing the ball that leads to counter. So, while he played well defensively, there are reasons for us to be defending so much.

    Overall speaking, Song is not our Keita upgrade. More of a downgrade to me. If you recall some Keita, he makes every right pass and is always available for a pass, and make runs that open space for teammates to run into. Song has not progressed in that area yet since his arrival. I don’t know if new coach will give him any insights anytime soon.But that’s how I saw him in the match on Saturday.

    (far side: ok fire!)

    • Kxevin says:

      Actually, Sport has tracked how many long balls Valdes is playing from season to season. It is highest of all 6.1 per match this season, when Song hasn’t played that much. So to blame Song for that tactic wouldn’t be accurate.

      Further, did we lose control of the midfield or cede control of it as a match tactic that worked? I’m sure that people would rather have Xavi/Iniesta/Busquets making ineffectual triangles and 27 passes against an opponent who was pressing and jamming passing lanes. I rather like the evolution that we saw on the weekend.

      Back to Song. He isn’t Keita. He’s Song. He has played up very well, just as on the weekend he played back very well. He was an available outlet, rarely wasted possession and almost always played the right ball. He got in the way very effectively, and was a physical presence in the center of the pitch.

      Here’s more blasphemy: Based on the way that we approached the midfield play against Rayo, that was exactly how Song was supposed to play, and he did so very effectively. How do we know this? Because Martino didn’t change it, or sub him off because he sucked.

      So, why did we defend so much on Saturday? Part of it was tactics, against an opponent that clearly wanted possession. As Chelsea did against us, so give it to them. Did we spend the whole match defending? Far, far from it.

    • Rami says:

      The decision to sign Song wasn’t specifically meant to replace keita, Evident by the difference in their skill set, We were a man short in the midfield and CB department, Song was supposed to fill both and meet the shortage, We later found out he can’t be used as a CB, So in a way one might argue he’s no longer ‘eligible’ to be in the team, Since bringing him wasn’t purely based on what he can bring to the team in the midfield, Which is the only he can play now.

      Let’s talk about facts, He’s definitely not busquets, But he has been a very decent replacement for him, Now one asks, What does that predict about his future with us?
      We’re in no position as outside views to decide what’s best for the team, It’ll depend on martino, If he’s more than happy or feels ‘secured’ having a good replacement for busi, Then he’ll keep him, If he thinks he needs something more than just a good replacement, Some one who can add new skills to the midfield, Then he’ll give him up.

  44. barca96 says:

    As I said before the Barca vs Malaysia friendly match, I would shout at VV and ask him to stay. Hopefully he got the message;

    Can’t really hear me in the video. It’s all my little brother that you can hear. I did scream non stop but my voice just doesn’t come up.

    Me and my 14 yo brother ran alongside the bus from point A (in the map below) to point B but we just couldn’t keep up anymore as we had to run through traffic. To make matters worse it was an uphill from the start. Point A should’ve been under the stadium where they boarded the coach but Google can’t bring me there.

    Most of the other fans only ran from the bus stop to the stadium exit, not even to the A point in the map. So I was thinking of sending a photo of me and my little brother to Messi (who smiled and winked at us 3x), Pinto (smiled) and most importantly VV (who nodded twice at my gestures of asking him to stay at Barca by pointing at the crest on my jersey and using hand gestures to stay).

    I was hoping VV would see how much it meant for me to focus 90% on him when Messi was just behind him. VV was the more important player for me on that day. So I hope VV can feel that the fans really want him to stay, value him.

    Do players like Messi, Pinto or VV really respond to fans on their Facebook account? I would love to send a photo of me and my little brother and hopefully he remembers that day and I would like to explain to him what I meant.

    What does the board need to do to make Valdes stay??

    Money? Should not be an issue.
    Love? I’m not sure how much love he gets but he certainly shut his critics finally.

    Culture? I understand that he wants to experience different culture but can’t he do that after he retires? He has enough money to experience every culture each year until 2100 :)

  45. psalmuel says:

    How on earth could song be the reason VV was playing long balls when Martino clearly stated that he had to adopt long balls because of the state of the pitch?

  46. psalmuel says:

    Martino said it all the other day. There are times the team needs to be vertical and times they need to keep possesion. If we are to hold Tata by his words, we shouldn’t be in panic mode because we had 49% possesion. Tata is an intelligent coach learning from past mistakes. He has learnt that you don’t have to field ur gala IX from august to april(Tito, Roura coughs…). Another question, apart from Messi, Ney,Pique,Smasch, Alves,busi, whoelse is gonna make it into the gala XI?

  47. psalmuel says:

    Suddenly, no one is no longer whining about how poor defence is, now its all out for ‘attack a tiki TATA campaign’

    • 86ed says:

      I seriously think Martino will at some point sooner rather than later try out the double-pivot with Busquets-Song in front of the D, with Fabregas, Messi, Neymar, and Sanchcez up front. He will also I think drop Alves if the Busquets-Song duo isn’t used to bring more balance to the team. I think this would be the next logical step. Martino can’t afford allowing so many chances to Bayern or Real.

      If this turns out to be true (it may well not), what would it mean for Iniesta and Xavi?

      • Kxevin says:

        Was just discussing that on Twitter. I think that every position, every player is in play, so to speak. For many reasons, Barça can’t play the way that it used to. Part of it is the way opponents play us now. Part of it is that adaptation is required to meet the changing skill sets and physical capabilities of players we have. It’s HARD to play tika taka.

        Some of it is new personnel. Neymar changes a lot. So can a player like Song, properly used. I think that what culers have to do is rather than saying “So and so isn’t x or y player, therefore he is inadequate,” to consider what that particular player brings to the table and evaluate him on that basis.

        Fabregas is a lousy Xavi, just as Xavi is a lousy Fabregas. But there is room in this club for each of their skill sets.

        To your question about Xavi and Iniesta, they have the talent to adapt and change, while remaining true to the foundation of what this club does and how it plays football. Physically, they have no other choice, as well. They aren’t going to grow or get stronger, right?

        I am less worried about Xavi than Iniesta, but I’m not that worried about him, either. Both are brilliant players. Look at how much Xavi was interacting with Neymar on the weekend. Recall that the left side, except for Alba or Adriano overlaps, used to be a dead zone.

        The times, they are a’changin’. How and how fast remains to be seen.

        I could see him dropping Alba faster than Alves, given the requirements of a right-sided attack presence and the presence of Neymar, which is increasingly dictating a more traditional LB in the Barça system, as differentiated from the Brazil one.

        • 86ed says:

          You’re probably right about Alba–and anyway, it’s irresponsible to play both him and Alves at the same time. Juve is prepared to play that version of the 3-5-2; we aren’t. I think I’d rather alternate: Alba plays when Montoya plays, and Adriano (who’s the better player) partnered with Alves. That way we can also rotate and our positioning has a better balance to it.

          The changes are exciting but the weakness in defense leaves me shaken even after heavy victories. I’d feel better if we tried the 4-2-3-1 to see where that’d take us. It might bring bring the best out Fabregas and it’d leave Messi (who no longer tracks back anyway: we might as well admit it and profit from it: 2008-09 Messi isn’t coming back) as the tip of the diamond.

          I’m not as confident as you about Iniesta and Xavi’s abilities to adapt to this sort football. For almost half a decade now the way we play has been tailored around the Xavi/Iniesta combo, essentially two number 8s floating around the pitch with the ball at their feet. Iniesta especially seems to me lost out there, as if the game is passing him by.

          By the way, did you happen to watch the Schalke-Bayern game on Saturday? It eerily resembled (to me anyway) a Sevilla-Barcelona game at the Pizjuan (which ended 0-3) from the early part of our treble season. I think Bayern (as Honigstein said) is finally getting what Guardiola is saying and that doesn’t bode well for Europe.

          • Kxevin says:

            I think everybody is a mess right now, frankly. The only attacker playing up to form/capability is Neymar. Sanchez is close, but has a bit to go. The rest are still finding their way to full fitness.

            As for Iniesta, something is going on with him. He will get that sorted, and return to being the player who was so extraordinary last year. There is a peculiar joylessness in the way he approaches the game these days. Whether that is contract, Valdes, both Valdes and Ricart or all of the above, I couldn’t say.

            I think that eventually, the club will be okay. I’m pretty happy to not be facing any Euro giant in a knockout, as we’re still rounding into shape. By April, barring injuries and nonsense such as that, I’ll be feeling a lot better about things.

            But if you look at RM, they are pretty much in the same boat as we are. So is PSG, etc. Even Bayern, from what I read, are up and down.

            I do know this. When our club gets rolling, it will be just as formidable a juggernaut as any other European club. It’s nice that for now, we can rely on individual excellence to get things done, be it Messi, Valdes or Pedro. That is where high roster quality comes into play.

            Now for some blasphemy:

            To your point about Xavi and Iniesta, at some point this club is going to have to face some significant changes. At present, it has players who are set up to play a certain way. Now is the time that the adaptability of those players is coming into question, i.e. can they learn variations on the theme that they know.

            Tika taka is a tactic, evolved to fit the skill sets of our sprites. Now that opponents have figured out ways to thwart those skill sets, coupled with the diminishing capabilities of those players …

            Is Barça too sentimental about players, and the turnover necessary to keep a top club at the very very top, without struggle. These days, a club needs either luck, or to be two world-class players deep at every position. Are we?

            Messi–superstar exemption, but Sanchez or Neymar could play there.

            Neymar: Just him
            Pedro: Tello could, give space, perform pretty much the same function in attack, but not tracking back and work rate.

            Midfield would seem to have us stacked, yet Xavi is aging (though still brilliant), Iniesta struggling a bit. Busquets is a marvel. But after those players, who do we have? And that would be true even if Thiago stayed.

            So the club is going to have some hard questions to ask, sooner than culers would probably like to be asking them. But for now, Martino has to make the current team work. Here’s hoping he has the mojo that I think he does.

            As for Guardiola, culers have to accept that Barça was his starter team. He learned to coach at the top level with us. He was recently quoted as saying he has learned the value of stopping the counter. Where do we suppose he learned that? He left the club, and left it in one hell of a state. Vilanova tried some adaptations to fix deficiencies. Martino has his own ideas. Let’s see how they work.

          • 86ed says:

            I don’t in the least think your argument blasphemous.I agree with it, and it’s about time someone at the exec level of the club made some hard decisions. I’d play them less and less this season, especially Xavi, and give those minutes to S. Roberto. That, or put Iniesta and Xavi on the market and invest that money into the team. It’s a terrible reward, I know, for the best midfield duo the club has ever had. It is cruel. But the alternative is even more cruel. Take Milan, for example.

            Milan became overly attached to its stars from the mid 2000s and, by 2012, 6 or 7 out of the 11 starting personnel of the 2003 CL final against Juve were still regulars. To me that’s bad. They stuck to their emotions and kept their aging players, refusing to see reason and refresh the team. A major reshuffling should have been done in ’05 after Istanbul, but Uncle Fester extended everyone’s contract. His reward was the CL in ’07 with the same players, but the cycle was over by then and Milan is still somewhat paying for it now, for besides Balotelli, they have nobody, and their defense is the worst they’ve had since before Berlusconi. Barca cannot let that happen. Winning a CL is scant reward for 7 seasons of mediocrity.

            We’d be better served making the hard decisions now, rather than having them made for us when it’s out of our hands.

  48. Rami says:

    “Neymar and Messi are two attacking players, but that means there’ll be one less player doing the defensive work. That could be a problem.

    “Barcelona have a style of play in which the players on the wing have to work hard; however, Neymar isn’t a work-horse like Pedro or [Cristian] Tello.”

    We all know how he vowed not to step one foot into camp nou while rosell is still there, But i’ll tell you what, The guy doesn’t even watch our matches anymore.

    And it’s funny how he missed some one like villa, Who fits what he described perfectly, I guess this indicates that he might’ve actually stopped watching long ago, Or perhaps he’s just looking for something to talk down about neymar, It wouldn’t be the first time, Anyone one remember the nike-adidas thing.

  49. andrecito says:

    sell iniesta…are you serious?

  50. Huckleberry says:

    Before the circle began, people said, that it is impossible to field Xavi and Iniesta together. Nowadays people say it again, just because other successful teams play with two strong holders. If you want this Barça to be like Bayern or Real or Chelsea, go watch them.

  51. PrinceYuvi says:

    Different game, Different tactics.
    Barca fans think there is only one way we can play good – quite amazing that.
    Wait and the players might even suprise you.
    Hope Tata’s ideas come to fruition.

  52. lala10 says:

    Life is what it is and our choices are reflected by our needs. Circumstances often dictate what has/ hasn’t to be done. I believe there is no blasphemy in suggesting that the team moves on certain members of the squad/ curtails their playing time or influence. Every leader has a right to choose the path they want to follow; what becomes of that choice only father time has an answer. Martino as a coach has every right to set up the team the way he wants, to move on players and buy as he wishes.

    In my view i think if he persists with the counter attacking philosophy then the team will need to be rejigged. In that regime Song takes precedence over Busquests, Fabregas over xavi and Iniesta becomes superflous and has to be replaced. The wings will be ok since Neymar, Tello, Pedro and Alexis could fit this line of work. I am not so sure of Messi fulfilling that role quite well.

    But we will have to ask; what will be the relationship between the first team and the whole junior structures? Since the whole set up has been synchronised to the same philosophy what will happen? Will there be seamless intergration between the whole Barca structure? We await to see if there will indeed be changes and if they will to that extent.

    Which brings me to my own blasphemous propositions borne out of extrapolating the little we have seen so far from Martino and how Rosell has the Club especially in the most recent of times. We know Neymar was brought as a ROSELL statement signing the question is to what extent he wishes to push him out so he becomes the main man. Did Cryuff forsee something when he said if you have Neymar the next logical think is to ship out Messi. What does the current tactical switch mean for our star player? Mostly it affects Xavi and Iniesta but we don’t really know how it affects Messi only time will tell. I know Tata works independently of the Board and its President but is it a coincidence that the Board opted for a pragmatic coach and opted against an in- house type of appointment. Was it really informed by a need to refresh things up or was it to finally get rid of any link to the previous Laporta regime and Martino appointment is a gesture of really starting his reign that surely if things pan beautifully will forever be remembered as ROSELL’S TENURE?

    Like i said this is highly blasphemous so don’t take it too seriously.

    • Huckleberry says:

      ok, after losing the possessional battle once with 1% less possession than the opponent after 350 games with more, we finally have to consistenlty reshape the whole team into that, what it obviously is and has to be since Sunday: a counter attacking team.

      • lala10 says:

        of those 350 games how many has Martino been in charge of? What has been the possession trend been like? At this moment in time it’s all conjecture but it’s not ridiculous to think this team could be turned into a counter attacking unit.

    • Kxevin says:

      Interesting. I think that Messi would be as adaptable to a vertical, countering game as any player alive. As to your thoughts about the Rosell remake in his own image, Eusebio is already spurning doctrine in the way he has the B team playing, let’s not forget.

      I think that Rosell is a mean, petty little man, but he isn’tstupid. But, expect a lot of renewals to be until 2016, election year. A new president will either have a huge headache, or I think at THAT point if Rosell wins reelection, you are likely to see his real plans for the club/team.

      As for a team reshaping to a more dynamic entity, if you look at potentialities … Rafinha and Deulofeu can thrive on that kind of game. So can Suarez, who is up for auto promotion next season as part of his contract. We know Fabregas can. Messi and Neymar would thrive as well. But defense and the back line would have to be reshaped. Different, more traditional back line.

      As I said, interesting. Thanks for the comment.

  53. Temple says:

    A little divagation.

    Really creative and chucklesome piece of craft on LM10 by SB Nation’s Graham MacAree. Almost a-year old, though. Don’t know how many of us read it last year. Clogged on it again, thought to share it — for those without no wind on it yet.

  54. ManoDeDios says:

    Hello fellow Culés. My first post here. I read lala’s post and simply had to respond.

    @lala, Messi plays in a counter attacking system for Argentina and has been scoring lot of goals since they have started to play this way. Brazil also play a fast transition game and Neymar has been absolutely brilliant since Felipao took charge. I have no doubt about them shining in this new style that Martino is adopting.

    Barça was in dire need of some verticality in their play. They were taking too many touches and this gradually started affecting the form of all players up front except Messi. From March 2011 till the end of last season, our wide forwards were really suffering. At times, the likes of Villa, Pedro and Sanchez just couldn’t buy a goal. This happened because of the system rather than their lack of ability. Other teams wised up to the way in which Barça uses width.
    There is no point in having 75% possession and just 3 shots on goal. Martino isn’t making Barça a counter attacking team. Barça is still a possession orientated team. He is simply adding new variations to their game which doesn’t make them too predictable. It’s best to experiment early in the season when the risk of defeat is lesser against some of the league’s weaker teams. I fear for Martino though. He is being criticized even though Barça is yet to lose. The reaction is going to be so much worse when they lose a game.

    Usually when Barça are not playing well, it’s the wide forwards and the defenders who receive the most flak. But in the Bayern defeat and Spain’s defeat against Brazil it was the midfield which was completely outplayed. Bastian-Martinez and Paulinho-Gustavo did a man to man marking job on Xavi and Iniesta and basically bullied them out of the game with lot of tactical fouls. Xavi & Iniesta are the symbols of tiki-taka domination but they seem to have declined and that is what worries me most about Barça.

    PS: Barça’s best game last season was the 4-0 win against Milan. The first goal was an amazing one by Messi but all the other goals were at the end of midfield interceptions and 3-4 quick passes towards the goal. Some seem to have forgotten how Barça won that game.

    • Kxevin says:

      Wait …. THIS is your first post? That’s like having your first running race be the London Marathon. So much win in your comment, which I love, and not just because it shares my worldview.

      Welcome, and don’t be so quiet in the future. Another thoughtful voice is always welcome.

    • hammeronmessi says:

      “Usually when Barça are not playing well, it’s the wide forwards and the defenders who receive the most flak. But in the Bayern defeat and Spain’s defeat against Brazil it was the midfield which was completely outplayed. Bastian-Martinez and Paulinho-Gustavo did a man to man marking job on Xavi and Iniesta and basically bullied them out of the game with lot of tactical fouls. Xavi & Iniesta are the symbols of tiki-taka domination but they seem to have declined and that is what worries me most about Barça.”

      absolutely spot on

  55. Kxevin says:

    Random plug for something that should be good: Sid Lowe’s “Fear and Loathing in La Liga,” which is a very in-depth look at the Classic, and tangentially a broader look at La Liga, is on shelves this Thursday.

    I have already ordered mine (Amazon UK), which should be in my hands by Monday. Review/author interview, a la the Graham Hunter book, should also be happening once some of your Team gives it a read.

  56. TITO says:

    Genuine question to everybody. Have you bought anything this season from the new official kit, training equipment etc.?
    I don’t know about you, but i think i have maybe to much of it in my closet, collected over the years. Luckily my wife ain’t complaining about it and i’m trying to get my kids into that groove.

  57. Jim says:

    Just listening to Ten Cate on Revista. Thoughtful and quite decisive about our current state. Loving his defence of Valdes and how he and Rijkard told him as a youngster he was their number one and he could make as many mistakes as he wanted and would still be the number one. Way to take the pressure off your keeper.

  58. Jim says:

    Hey, we get a lucky break! We’re not meant to get that…

    And now Messi with a diving header ? I’m liking this.

  59. Jim says:

    Now that’s head up and a perfect cross from Neymar.

  60. Kxevin says:

    It should be 24-0 right now, and we should have all of the possession. I’m worried about this team.

  61. teddy says:

    anyone has any good English stream? can’t find any at rojadirecta

  62. PrinceYuvi says:

    Masch pulls out. Injury woes.

  63. fotobirajesh says:

    Witnessing some orgasmic passing out there. Absolutely fantastic!

  64. ciaran says:

    I think even Soceidad wanted THAT to be a goal.
    Neymar has been great and Messi is only a whisker away from a few more goals

  65. lea_terzi says:

    Why so quiet? Our boys are looking crazy good out there. Neymar, Alexis, Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Dani, Adriano, Busi (apart from trying to break Masche’s leg) serving up delight after delight. Alternating long and short passing, excellent use of width, accurate crosses, through balls and balls over the top, fantastic control and linkup in the area, making “the stingiest defense in the league so far” look like training cones. And no one here to scream and shout about it?

  66. PrinceYuvi says:

    That’s one gorgeous team.
    Nothing like them.

  67. teddy says:

    Messi is being subbed out again. aww yissss

  68. PrinceYuvi says:

    Bartra scores. Worried, Very worried indeed.

  69. PrinceYuvi says:

    +17 Goal difference.
    Thanks Tata.

  70. simple_barcafan says:

    Sorry for bringing this up, but why do we have a league game mid week?

  71. lea_terzi says:

    So, after jumping up and down with joy at the beauty of our football, I decided, as is the custom on this site, to focus on the only two negatives I saw today: Masche’s injury and Messi’s unhappiness with being subbed (plus some other things cules like to fret about).
    And to do it in a constructive manner, I looked at Tata’s rotations, and how the numbers correlate with our perceptions.

    Piling together the Liga, Champions League and Supercopa (basically, all competitive matches so far – not differentiating because of the small sample size, and not counting extra time), there was a total of 9 games and 810 minutes to play.
    Valdes played all of them. Brilliantly. (Martino: “Chants for Valdes to stay? I would also have sung…)

    CB minutes were split as follows: Pique 99%, Masche 93%, Bartra 8%.
    Martino: “Centre back is the position where I least like to rotate, it has always been like that, you need stability there.”
    Last season, Bartra did not feature at all until late October.
    He looked decent in his extended cameo today – could’ve been more aggressive trying to intercept Sociedad’s pass for the goal, and gave away a shot by heading the ball away weakly, but also scored, won a few aerial duels, and looked confident with the ball at his feet. That said, the backline wasn’t under much pressure today – easy match for a Barca CB to shine.
    “Mascherano, subbed off with thigh muscle injury tonight, would be out for around a week. He’d miss Almeria game and maybe Celtic game”. [md]. Quick recovery to him. Meanwhile, we might get a better idea of Bartra’s quality and whether we need a CB in January.

    Fullbacks: Alves 83%, Adriano 59%, Alba 46%, Montoya 11%.
    Alba’s injury aside, Martino seems to prefer Adriano: he played twice as many Liga minutes, completed the CL match, and didn’t feature in the Supercup only due to injury+suspension. The line of thinking is that Adriano works better if Alves is your primary right back – a view many on this site would support.
    Last season at this point, Montoya had played the exact same #of minutes: 90. He had real trouble dealing with Rayo’s tricky winger/fullback Mojica, and his wing was frequently the source of dangerous Rayo attacks. Not to forget that shocking back pass. Was conservative in attack, but had one or two great dribble+cross sequences.

    The DM minutes were split neatly between Busquets (78%) and Song (22%). Probably fair, as Song has not really been.. um.. on song to start the season. Yet, he’s way too young and talented to keep solely as backup to Busi (he played 42% of available minutes last season). Tata will either have to experiment with double pivot, try Song in a more advanced position, or bid him goodbye in January and rely on Masche, Dos Santos and Roberto as cover.

    Now, the fun part: Xavi 79%, Iniesta 70%, Fabregas 68%, Roberto and Dos Santos 2,5% each. Given Iniesta’s contract negotiations, his relative dearth of playing time has been cited as a potential problem. Yet Cesc’s goal and 5 assists make him unbenchable on this form, Xavi contributed more to midfield stability and scoring opportunities, Neymar staked a claim on the left winger spot, and I think for a pro like Iniesta competition from great players can only lead to improvement. Cesc: “It looks like he’s doing it with everyone, even the important players. We don’t like it, those of us who want to play every game, but it’s an intelligent approach and we’ll thank him at the end of the season.”
    My only quibble here is that, if Sergi Roberto is heir to Thiago’s minutes, and Tata counts on Dos Santos, why couldn’t they pick up some of Xavi’s load? But then, unbeaten record, 18 points and a trophy make me trust Tata’s judgement.
    Also, Martino: “My way of thinking won’t change, I repeated the whole time how I want to play, maybe this game helps some to see things clearer..”. We’re not turning into a counter-attacking unit with that midfield rotation.

    And the most fun part: Messi 80%, Neymar 71%, Alexis 64%, Pedro 49%, Tello 13%. What a headache. With all of the above in scintillating form and doing what they do best (Ney – lightning-quick transitions, creating magic, Alexis – speedy, strong, smart, tricky, team-oriented play, Pedro – scoring, Messi – everything, Tello – running, gunning, doing his best on the unfamiliar right wing), Tata has the luxury of selecting the best combo for any given situation. Luckily, the season is long and matches are many and varied. Also, this:
    Fb Messi: “I didn’t make any gesture when Martino subbed me. Nobody likes to be go off, but we must accept it as it’s the best for our team”

    Some implications of this “no fixed 11″ approach will hopefully be tactical flexibility, tweaks in response to different teams and situations on the field, less predictability in our play, but also maybe some confusion – the telepathic understanding we’re used to seeing might not always be there. It was there tonight, and it was glorious!!!

    • Rami says:

      Great comment.

      Rotations are of low priority early in a season, The senior players need to get to rhythm and best physical capability as soon as possible and maintain it through out the season.
      The bigger reason is to avoid early screw ups like the plaque, We know experimentation are best done early, But doing that with a half mixed line-up of seniors and youngsters is asking for trouble, Losing points early means later in the season the coach to will be forced to play his best players to avoid losing more, Yet at that time they should actually be rested more because of copa and CL matches cramping their schedule, And exhaustion will be knocking at our doors.

      • lea_terzi says:

        That’s a good point. However, at the moment I would struggle to name our best 11. It might be situational. Is it more important to get Xavi, Iniesta or Cesc going? Neymar, Alexis or Pedro? Dani, Adriano or Alba? We haven’t had so many healthy options in a while. Apart from the youngsters, who are still pretty raw, everyone else is staking a claim for more minutes and starts, at least in certain situations. The young’uns also need to be groomed for the moment team needs them. Hope Martino can read those situations well – so far I think he has.

    • kosby says:

      Brilliant comment. Tata really seems to know what he’s doing unlike the rest of us who like to create a storm in a teacup – “we are turning into a counter attacking team”. It looks like Tata approaches and plays each opposition team based on their weaknesses and strength which is also a factor in determining which players play on a given day. It makes us un-predictable which really is his goal as he and some players have already said. I foresee a lot of evolution, lots of joy and ofcourse some sadness as we cant expect to win all the time :P

  72. 86ed says:

    Yeah alright I’ll take it. I couldn’t watch the match so I have nothing whatever to say about how we played.
    I think we beat la Real quite convincingly last year at home too. Let’s then cautiously wait for sterner stuff to come our way before making any proclamations. For me, and only for me, the first stern test will be vs Celtic, an uberdefensive team, where we lost last year. That match will tell us if Martino has learned anything or implemented something new.
    Until then, onward to Alméria.

    • 86ed says:

      Having now watched the highlights, I cannot believe the chances Messi missed. There are reports of his being displeased with his substitution–it may well be he was pissed at himself. I know I’d be.

    • petog4realz says:

      So Celtic is now the real test? I have been noticing some of your comments since the beginning of the season,you always have something negative to say after every game.
      Why don’t you just enjoy the game,why the blah! Blah! blah after every game? Its tiring

      • barca96 says:

        Maybe he sees it differently than me and you? I mean since Levante, there were many question marks.

        And I think he is right to see Celtic as a test. We narrowly escaped defeat at home and lost on their ground. We didn’t look like winning in both the matches and the match next week is at Celtic so it is indeed a big test.

      • 86ed says:

        Celtic IS the real test. We lost there last season.
        I have some bad news for you. If you find my comments tiring, you don’t have to read them–you can simply ignore them. But don’t you try to impose anything on me or anyone else. That will not take you very far here. I’ll enjoy what I bloody well want, and criticise what I feel needs criticizing. Got that?

      • ooga aga says:

        petog4realz, i noticed the same thing about 86ed’s comments. a negative voice, time and again.

        and he/she admits not even having watched the game.

        what a delight this game was. we could have scored more, messi could have scored more…but this is a Champions League team that had absolutely no hope. a great performance from our lads.

        i wish iniesta smiled more, makes me worry, but then again he never was super bubbly.


        • Kxevin says:

          I have said it before and will say it again:

          No personal attacks. Hell, to me, almost everyone at this site is negative. That is absolutely no reason to call anyone out, or suggest that what they have to write is “tiring.”

          We don’t use the moderation hammer often, but it will come down when that sort of thing happens. It’s how discussions get out of hand, and how comments threads go to hell in a handbasket.

          This space is in a good way right now. Let’s keep it that way. Thank you.

        • 86ed says:

          I did indeed admit not having watched the game. What has that to do with anything? How precisely is saying to be cautious until a better opponent comes our way a negative comment?

  73. PrinceYuvi says:

    Sad scoreline.
    Everybody deserved to be on scoreline today, they were that good.
    Pedrito, lexis, dani, xavi.
    Damn you crossbar.

  74. nia says:

    Alexis is pretty good in the air considering his size. Very good header of the ball, better than most tall players. It’s a shame he wasn’t rewarded for his effort tonight.

  75. Chiu says:

    Just watched the highlight:

    – the team played so well. i really enjoy the highlight and would certainly download the full match. some fantasy football were produced and lots of chances made, what a pity that xavi-iniesta-messi-ney combination didnt end up with the goal.

    – hopefully masche could be back soon and nothing serious. we’re pretty short of defender now (alba, masche, puyi still on recovery). Montoya as the only back up for fullback post and Song/Busi as alternative CB.

    – Neymar continue to impress. his contribution and his skill set really improving our game. Tata keep saying that ney sacrificed a lot for the team both in defense and attack; which I undestand it as a humbleness and team player. I really love his attitude, which 180 degree different than i thought before he joined us.

    – I dont believe Messi was upset. Its just the media that exxagerating everything imo. Tata from the first day have said about rotation and i believe he has been talked with messi and other key players too, to accept his policy. This is a bold approach from tata and i hope we all will thank him by the end of the season because the team will still be fit for the decisive part of season (April-May)

    Visca Barca!

    • lea_terzi says:

      To be fair, Messi was sleepwalking, botching some promising chances and giving the ball away out there, and it was a bit more obvious against the backdrop of overall brilliance. It’s like he was a bit shocked at how good his teammates could be. And then he makes that amazing run+assist, and Tata subs him out on a high. Good decision, I thought.
      Reducing Messidependence was one of priorities for the season, and it’s looking good so far. I just hope it doesn’t piss Messi off too much. I want to see him happy an enjoying his football and winning trophies. The only moment he looked really happy was when holdong Thiago.

  76. Srini says:

    Hey folks, long time since I replied on this board.

    Wanted to say that I love the new “Tiki – TATA”, frailties, warts and all.

    Thats all.

  77. lala10 says:

    Did not watch the match but hear the team was good. Glad for the nice win the way. Hope what this game was can be the future. Visca Barca.

  78. Jafri says:

    No mention of the double backheel? Highlight of the match for me. Goals are goals but the image of two of our captains showing such style and panache at the edge of the penalty box is one that will linger with me for a long time.

  79. ooga aga says:

    just noted that atletico’s wins have come against the 11th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 20th ranked teams in the table.

    we have played the 7th, 8th, 10th, 11th, 16th and 20th teams…

    fun with numbers.

    my prediction: real m*drid will drop points against Elche today.

  80. 86ed says:

    Sometimes short-tem injuries to starting players can be a boon to players who’d normally be on the bench. Let’s see what Bartra does with his opportunity. Mascherano will miss, it is possible, up to three games.

  81. Kxevin says:

    Just gonna throw something out there that is worth considering: Martino has looked at the calendar, said “Boy howdy, there are a lot of matches coming up,” and decided to alter the playing style the team takes to not only suit the opponent, but the looming schedule.

    I would wager that longer passes and a less possession-oriented style results in less-tired players, which is beneficial given the conga line of matches we have coming up. Then dependent upon what rotation is planned and which players are going to be used, the style changes again for the opponent.

    Probably for Celtic, you will see the return of Fabregas, for that more vertical style that gets right at the Celtic defenders while they are unsettled, rather than doing the Dance of 97 Passes that has a logical terminus, at the feet of a defender in the passing lane.

    • stefan2k says:

      Interesting thoughts. Why do you assume that a style with less posession is less tiring? I’d assume quite the opposite…

      Long passes results in more runs, more defensive expense, more chasing the ball and opponent

      • Kxevin says:

        But more standing around waiting for the ball to come, rather than chasing it around and pressing an opponent. So note that with Rayo, the club was defending more rather than pressing, and passing long to attackers, who weren’t tracking back as much or as far.

        • Jim says:

          Need to be careful with that assumption. It can mean that but it can also kill the midfield who feel a duty to be up to support attacks then get back quickly. Never been lucky enough to play in a team that genuinely believed in tika Taka ( well it IS Scotland) but I personally preferred to pass our way up the park. Nothing worse than seeing a fifty yard ball fly over your head and trying to get up quickly to support the attack then losing it and hearing the defence shout “Where’s our midfield?”

          • Kxevin says:

            But note how the whole team was pushed up, which accounted for so much of Rayo’s possession being in their own half. Would love to see km run stats for Rayo vs La Real.

          • Jim says:

            Yeah, I’m happy with that although it’ll be better with someone like Puyol dictating the line to be held. I was more talking about the ball launched from deep in our half.

  82. Kxevin says:

    Not over yet, but Elche just equalized at home vs RM, in injury time. 6 minutes of it, so plenty of time for them to get one back.

    But ….

    Tell me again how we are in crisis?

  83. Archie says:

    Ridiculous foul by Pepe!!!! And the game winning penalty by CR who has the temerity to celebrate?????

  84. Archie says:

    BTW. Youtube elche’s goal. one touch pass from keeper playing as sweeper, headed by wide player over defender, run onto by attacking player, first time cross, striker hits near corner, all one touch.

  85. Roberto Senyera says:

    Absolute highway robbery. César Muñiz awarding that penalty was criminal. It’s officials like him that give Spanish football, and Spanish referees in particular, a bad name.

    I feel like someone just ran over my dog and seeing that late travesty of justice I’m in need of a shower :(

  86. Kxevin says:

    Same ref who took away the Sevilla goal, someone tells me on Twitter?

    And to be clear, the quality of the officiating in La Liga is in the toilet. It’s just that everyone watches the Big Two matches. Nobody watches Elche play Almeria except the locals, and dedicated Liga scribes such as @sidlowe.

    • G6O says:

      Sevilla’s goal was a clear foul. I wouldn’t use that as an example although I do agree with the general idea that we are also more often favored by refs than not (I don’t agree that this happens as often as RM are helped by refs though)

  87. Rami says:

    There is a reason why i never watch RM matches, I spare myself the unbearable nasty feeling after seeing similar robberies, I can’t imagine how it must have felt for those who watched it.

  88. 86ed says:

    From the replay it looked like a scandalous call, but I’ll give the ref the benefit of the doubt.
    Sometimes we benefit from them, sometimes Real does. It’s a shame that it’s happening in the first place though.

  89. K_legit in Oz says:

    Pretty sure the ‘R’ in RMCF stands for ‘Referee’.

  90. Roberto Senyera says:

    How did Ramos escape, again, from not being sent off in this match? César Muñiz is a corrupt clown. He’s a FIFA official?? He need to name and shame this type of corruption and/or incompetence. The club should petition the league never to let him do one of matches — ever.

    Does the LFP have referee assessors in the crowd like the EPL? If not, they should. And also a comprehensive video review of officials’ performances after the fact should be implemented. I’ve seen him before and never cared for his competence. I’ll never forget this official, César Muñiz, for as long as I live.

  91. G6O says:

    I just watched the replay – that’s simply outrageous. How is that even possible???????

  92. Rami says:

    Let’s look on the bright side, A league is won by sustainable high form through out all 38 matches, No amount of help from referees can correct the mediocre performances of a team that even struggles against newly promoted ones.

    Our squad is well experienced and perfectly adept to la liga, It’s ours to lose, Simple as that.

    • Roberto Senyera says:

      There’s some famous quote along the lines of ‘it only takes good, honest, noble men to say nothing in the wake of continued injustices for evil to perpetuate and prevail’.

    • G6O says:

      They only need a few of these wins. They may well start playing well in a few weeks. It does make a difference.

      At this point almost everybody has forgotten but if it wasn’t for the refs both killing us on more than one occasion and pushing them to multiple undeserved wins, the 2011-12 season end up very differently.

      And we are in a quite different situation now.

      Last season there wasn’t nearly as much of that as 2011-12 but if this year ends up being a return to the 2011-12 conditions, we will have problems.

    • G6O says:

      To continue my thoughts:

      They lose points today, perhaps they lose points on Sunday too when they play Atletico. Meanwhile we play Almeria, Valladolid and Osasuna. It could well be 6 points or more difference entering the Classico. That’s very very different from startign the game with only a 2 point lead.

      • Rami says:

        Your view only takes the account that they will benefit from referees but never be harmed along the way, And we get harmed but never benefit.
        Is this PLAIN possible?, Yes, Is it statically likely?, Nope.

        Because of the large no. of matches in a league, From a statistical point of view, You’ll be harmed and benefit along the way and in THEORY the net result you’re left with is the team actual performances on the pitch, There could be skewness to one side (favoring), But to my own personal view, It’s negligible, Others may disagree on this point.

        • G6O says:

          How much we are harmed (or gain) depends on the following parameters (and under the assumption it’s a two-horse race, which is quite justified despite Atletico’s good start):

          A: How much we are helped by refs
          B: How much we are hurt by refs
          C: How much they are helped by refs
          D: How much they are hurt by refs
          E: The difference in sheer footballing class between us and them

          If (C-D – A-B) > E, we have a problem. In 2011-12 that was the case even though E was still in our favor

          • G6O says:

            *correction: (C-D) – (A-B)

          • Roberto Senyera says:

            Referees’ performances really do matter. RM picked up two points today based on a single referee’s corruption and/or incompetence. Neither aspect is acceptable for a referee.

            A league can be won by less than one point. A league can come down to head to head results.

            Let’s say that all 38 matches for both teams are officiated justly and we end up ahead of RM by just one point. Then factor in this one bank robbery today and that alone could put RM ahead of us by just one point to win the league.

            Point is: officiating does matter, must be unbiased, and must be perceived as being unbiased. That line was crossed today. Big time. Heavy duty.

  93. Roberto Senyera says:

    He did do our match against Sevilla this season. The disallowed Sevilla goal was debatable. Some say Alves was fouled because he jumped. Others would have allowed the goal.

    The PK awarded to RM was no where in that category. Not even close.

    • Rami says:

      Just a friendly advice from my part, Stick to only reading the scores after a match of theirs end, Like i learned to do, It can make the difference between sleeping well at night which what i’m about to do and what is happening to you right now, You’ll thank me later.

  94. KEVINO17 says:

    La Liga just died of shame. The RM players knew that if one of them flopped they would get a penalty. The ref wouldn’t be able to stand the pressure. Unbelievable

  95. Roberto Senyera says:

    Just backreading a bit. Some people actually think that Celtic will be a real test this year? Seriously??

    Celtic are far weaker than last season. They lost the strength of their spine: their best striker, best CM, and best CB. They lost at home to second tier Morton last night in the Scottish League Cup. Celtic should be absolutely delighted that they made the group stages this season. Period.

    Celtic is one of the teams I follow. This season, we should be able to go there with our weakest 11 and still win. After their shock victory at Parkhead against us last season our squad will be fully focused on next week’s match. Celtic are anything but a real test.

    Our whole group is very weak. Milan, this season, is about the weakest Milan in my memory. They’re having serious problems in Serie A already and have plenty of injuries. Ajax lost their best player in the offseason and lost a league match 4-0 this past weekend.

    Our entire UCL group is total pants. We won’t have a real test in the UCL until the R16 at the earliest. Depending on the draw, our first real test in the UCL may not occur until the QF.

    • Jim says:

      Celtic, at Celtic Park, can always be a test. Never underestimate the effect the crowd has, not on Barca, but on the performance of the home team. It can be frightening.

      Having said all that you are right – they are weaker and we should beat them.

  96. ooga aga says:

    i agree that pepe and his friend (Atraco!) were scandalous

    i will say that sergio busquets goal the other day should have been disallowed. alexis was in an offside position and was partially blocking the view of the keeper. hence should be an offside call, since he affected the play. not sure how the ref could have ever made that call, but just sayin…for the sake of fairness.

    wouldnt have affected the outcome, as it did for RM, though…

  97. Jafri says:

    That was a proper takedown by Pepe… Whether due to corruption or incompetence, the referee did make a grievous error. My question is, why is there no accountability for this sort of thing?? He’ll probably still be refereeing and screwing up matches five years from now.

  98. Saw the incident of penalty… The only question is who fouled whom? Sanchez did hold him in the beginning but when Pepe was doing his judo move, he looked to have simply let go off him. Brilliant application by Pepe… Something all team could do when this referee is officiating… The best person to replicate this is in the other Madrid team – Diego Costa. Come on Diego, show us what you are capable off this weekend.

  99. barca96 says:

    Not liking this at all. Pique shouldn’t have commented at all. And I don’t like Isco being close to the Madristas (less chance of him ever playing for Barca).

    Tw Pique: “Watching a comedy on Canal+ Liga… Always a good thing this time of the night!”

    Arbeloa’s response;

    “Very happy because of the three points. I’m glad someone changed theater for cinema/movies, that’s always good!”

    This is what it’s all about;


  100. Ultraculé says:

    Since I’ve been traveling, I missed 2 Barca games in a row.. for the first time in 6 years. Did I miss a lot? Lot seems to have happened.

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      In 6 years ? That is admirable devotion.

      Two completely contrasting games, but somewhat same result.

      Apparently, now we play differently against different opponents.
      Sounds pretty badass to me.

  101. Hilal says:

    I just saw the highlights of the penalty for Madrid. I don’t even know what to say. It is shocking and disgusting at the same time. Disgusting that a player as dirty as Pepe still gets away with shit like this and shocking that a referee as bad as this can officiate in one of the best leagues in the world. This ref should have been fired the next day but knowing our league he will probably be assigned to the clasico!

    • barca96 says:

      Problem is now people are saying how WE get favorable treatment as well due to the foul call on Sevilla 2 weeks as many don’t bother to check the replays. 2 different situations. It was a clear foul on Alves.

      • Hilal says:

        To be honest in general the refereeing in the league as a whole is just a joke. We don’t get as many calls in our favour because our players are not as good at getting calls as Madrid’s players. There is an art in tricking the referee and it is an art our players have not mastered.

        I do not think it is favourable treatment for one team or another, it is just really poor officiating all around and some teams/players know how to take advantage of it better than others. I do not really believe that the refs favour Madrid, I just think they are really shit at their jobs and the Madrid players (well some of them) are really good at taking advantage of that.

        The problem is that there is no accountability for refs, which is just ridiculous really. How can anyone do their job properly if there is no accountability for their actions. This referee for example should not be officiating games at the highest level, that has been clear for a while now and yet here he is, making another awful decision.

        The Spanish league really needs to get its shit together.

  102. Roberto Senyera says:

    Interesting read about the Scandal of Elche 2013. The guardian is an intelligent football site with relatively intelligent football commenters — not unlike this site. I suggest a quick perusal of the comments section.

  103. Roberto Senyera says:

    And isn’t Ronaldo an absolute disgrace for celebrating like he just won the WC after scoring from the spot as a result of an unwarranted penalty? The guy has absolutely no class whatsoever. Is it any wonder that he’s a Portugeuser? Here’s a short litany: Ronaldo, Pepe, Mourinho. There must be something in the water in that country.

  104. teddy says:

    was googling around for free soccer API, just came across some interesting stat, we have 5 clean sheets in contrary to EE only one. The only clean sheep they had kept is against Granada if my source hasn’t fail me. Fascinating.

  105. Roberto Senyera says:

    And Sid writes about the Scandal of Elche 2013:

    Today we weep along with Elche.

    • Let’s be honest. These kind of things do happen, only that it happen with Madrid more than often. If you study referees performances across Europe, one could say that many favor the big teams. It’s not that it’s a deliberate choice, there might be more pressure on them when dealing with a big team.

      The problem with la Liga is there is absolute no penalty for a bad performance by the referee. Or may be I would word it better, there seems to be no penalty for this referee even after repeated horrible performance.

  106. ooga aga says:

    Iniesta’s presser, in progress….he says he wants to end his career at the club…and maybe i missed it but maybe he said he wants the club to offer him a longer contract than the one they offered.

  107. psalmuel says:

    People are complaining about the sevilla disallowed goal too, but they forget that it was a different scenario cos, if the goal was allowed, it would have been 2-1 with enough time for us to score(remember we scored 3mins into injury time). Thats very different from awarding a non-existent penalty at the death

  108. Kxevin says:

    So. Fernandez was “sanctioned” for his performance in Barça/Sevilla. The referees’ committee is also studying Elche/RM in the aftermath of which, presumably, Fernandez will be executed.

  109. Kxevin says:

    In an interview, Iniesta says he wants to end his career with Barça, and that the contract renewal is not a question of money. So there ya go.

  110. ooga aga says:


    i thought that justified some caps…

  111. bhed says:

    So who do we like in the Madrid derby this weekend? I hope Athletico can pull it off, not least because I think they’re more likely to drop points over the course of the season than those lily white bastards. I’m not holding my breath though.


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