blitzen awards, the “Where have you been?” edition

Valdes like to work on his macrame when he's not busy keeping goal.
Valdes likes to work on his macrame when he’s not busy keeping goal.

I admit, I’ve been off to a slow start this season. But then I heard that Rio Ferdinand was planning his own awards, the “Footies”, and I was spurred to action! Make no mistake, the blitzens are the premier football awards going. Accept no substitutes!

Falling Up Award: Neymar is a diver. Even his biggest fans admit that. It sucks that someone with the immense skills that he has also resorts to sleazy tactics like diving and simulation. He also gets fouled a lot. I think the commentators said that he has been fouled twice as much as any other Barça player so far this season. This might give him extra motivation to go down easily. HOWEVER. Tata said the other day that he expects the same of Neymar as he does of any other player when he gets fouled: “get up, put the ball on the ground & play”. To his enormous credit, this is exactly what Neymar has done.

Still Waters Run Deep Award: Tuesday’s game had several remarkable sequences of play, but none was more special than the clusterfuck in front of goal that saw Messi’s shot ping-pong back and forth just shy of the goalline, then get frantically cleared…right into the path of the one Barça player who can be relied to never take a shot on goal if he can possibly avoid it. Except this time he didn’t avoid it. It wasn’t the most elegant strike in the world, but it was powerful and straight, and when it went in, Busquets broke out in the biggest, sweetest grin ever–and once his teammates had recovered from the shock, so did they. I really hope Busi keeps taking shots like that, it was the highlight of the game for me.

The Kid Is Alright Award: I have been holding off on commenting much on Neymar’s performances so far this season, because I don’t think it’s fair to judge a player until he has had a chance to settle in properly with the team. For the record, I was against buying Neymar because I didn’t think he was a necessity and we needed a centre-back far more (still do!). I still think we overpaid for him. Neymar showed up with a good attitude and intention to work hard, but although his talent was obvious, he still lacked something in his connection with his teammates. Tuesday’s game was the first time I really felt he really got it, that connection, that seamless give-and-go, that makes this team what it is. It was a very complete performance, and I was honestly impressed. I look forward to seeing him continue like this as the season goes on.

Never Mind The Bollocks Award: You can debate Tata’s tactics* all you want, but his press conferences have been nothing less than brilliant. Our new coach is impressively straightforward. He doesn’t dodge questions, he says what is on his mind, and he is very clear on who makes the decisions regarding the team. If he is less “media-friendly” than Pep, he makes up for that by outright refusing to entertain questions with an obvious agenda. It’s pretty awesome, really.

You Spin Me Right Round Baby Award: Rotation. We have it.

Small Packages Award: So our best players in the air are Leaping Lexus, and Messi, who now scores headers at will? Um, Pique? Not to single you out or anything, but your height has always been kind of one of your best features, and it just seems a bit odd that the two shortest players on the team can outjump you. So maybe work on that?

The Kid Is Alright Award, Part 2: Not only did Bartra get to play 2/3 of a game (get well soon, Masche! Please?), but he also scored a goal! I think this is exactly what Bartra needed to give him confidence. I have been watching this kid play for several years now, and I am sure he has the quality to succeed at Barça, but he has a tendency to get nervous when playing for the first team (this doesn’t happen when he plays for the U21 team). Some serious minutes, no major mistakes, a goal–this will all help him to relax and step up his game. He has no choice now, anyway. Masche is out for another week or two and Puyol hasn’t been given the green light yet.

The Pause That Refreshes Award: Messi was subbed out with 10 or 15 minutes left in the game. Was I the only one waiting for him to go into the dressing room, then come back out holding a can of Coke and drink it right in front of Tata?

Fashion Fetish Award: It’s not just me, right? Tata has worn the same blue sports jacket to every game. At first I thought he must have very few other options, living in a hotel as he is, and his wife still being in Argentina and not being able to shop for him. But certainly the club could have found someone to pick him out some new threads by now. No, the truth is that Martino, after having made a perfect start in the league and winning all the possible points available plus a Supercopa, has fallen prey to superstition. He is afraid that if he changes his jacket, his perfect run will end. This is the only explanation.

The Kid Is Alright Award, Part 3: There was a joint training session today, with the first team and Barça B training together as well as a few Juvenil A and B players. One of the lucky Juvenil B players was 16-year-old Adria Vilanova, son of former coach Tito Vilanova. I imagine he got an extra-warm welcome from the senior players. He’s a good player, too. A centre-back. Tall. Catalan. Just saying…

*”Tata’s tactics” Say that three times fast!

By blitzen

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


  1. Good job blitz!

    Everyone hold your breath. Lionel and papa are in court today over that tax bug-a-boo. Hopefully, they don’t have capital punishment in Spain and the little genius isn’t hung.

    Keep your fingers crossed people.

  2. I confess of participating in ‘Say No to Ney’ campaign without ever watching his games [except club world cup final where puyi taught him alphabets]

    Thought of him as just another twinkle toed trickster, short in stature – long in hair.

    Boy, I was being silly. Thank goodness we got him.

    1. I was also against Neymar signing because I thought he was too expensive. But I am gonna wait till February before making a judgement. All our marquee signings starts well and just disintegrate after Feb.

    2. Well, that’s comforting lol.

      If he helps cracking open freakish defences like bayern, he’ll be worth every penny.
      Help pepe getting red cards will work too.

      He’s unpredictable and fun to watch. Cant ask for more.
      Plus he scored against atleti, that’s something. Their’s is some stingy defence.

    3. Those who thought Ney was expensive will say we got him on the cheap when compared to the LWB’s purchase of Bale.

    4. For a team earning nearly € 500M in revenue yearly, we made too much fuss of Ney’s price.
      The guy can sell shirts. Just my opinion. Might be wrong.

    5. Exactly. Some of us sounded like Arsenal fans concerning the transfer price. Hell, have people seen the general transfer fees paid this past summer?

      I know the funny hair fella only had a year left on his contract but, as you say, that’ll be more than made up via shirt sales. We’re talking about the star player of the Brasilian NT (you know, that country with five stars above their crest) for the past two years, twice named South American footballer of the year, we needed a goal scoring winger capable of destabilizing defenses via dribling, he’s just 21, and he’s got the best years ahead of him.

      Hell, that’s as no brainier as no brainers get. That’s a slam dunk.

    6. The problem for me is not the amount of money spent. That part seems all right (after taking into consideration the absurd amount of money spent on transfer fees in modern football). I do have some issue with the 40M that was reportedly given to Neymar’s father, which I fear sets a precedent that is simply unsustainable in the long run.

    7. Actually it seems some reports are saying that Neymar Sr. didn’t receive the entire sum. And those signing bonuses are what big clubs do. Non culers consider paying Messi’s medical bills a signing bonus, right?

      Neymar is a Barça player. People seem surprised that he isn’t crap, or he cost too much. A few folks said if he is half as good as his talent, 57m will seem cheap.

      Even now some are saying they will wait. There is still plenty of time for him to suck. Look, our club signed the brightest young attacking talent in world football for significantly less than he would have cost in a bidding war. Nice work, I say.

  3. Nice piece, but I have a quibble:

    If Neymar is a diver, so is Iniesta, Busquets, Sanchez and yes, Messi. Why? All of those players get the crap kicked out of them, match after match. Only half the fouls they actually receive get called, the ref reasons, because the flow of the match would be nonexistent. So they get kicked.

    What the player decides to do is exaggerate the effect of the foul, to draw attention and hopefully a card so that at least one player will stop kicking them. Again. Iniestadoes it, Busquets does it, Sanchez does it, Alves and Alba? Please. And Messi goes down rather easily when it suits him.

    Neymar has taken more than a quarter of all the fouls meted out to our team. Nobody else is even close. I know. Thankfully they are kicking him so they don’t kick Messi. Sacrifice. I get it. But if every player who exaggerates contact to get some ref help is a diver, then only Puyol and Xavi, on our first team, are NOT “divers.”

    1. Oh, please. Even Neymar’s biggest fanboys admit he is a Divey McDiverson. I’m happy to see him manning up and putting that behind him. It was a compliment. And when was the last time you saw Iniesta take an outright dive and roll around in fake agony?

    2. Oh please, my ass. When was the last time you saw Neymar do it? Exaggerate? You bet he does. So do Alves, Alba and Busquets. Pedro has also taken dives. Is he a diver? Players get a rep. Ashley Young is a diver.A diffrentiated from an exaggerator. Ronaldo used to be a diver. He stopped. Almost all of them do.

      But if you’re going to label anyone who does it a diver, you have a long list on your hands.

    3. Some people foul, other people dive. Depending on one’s football culture either both are part of the game or the latter is a blatant form of cheating.

      I think that Ney, at least from what we have seen at Barcelona this season, understands that whatever view one has on such matters, it will do him no good to build a reputation as a diver.

      Alexis has made gigantic strides in that regard also, by the way.

    4. Yes, I commented on Alexis’ improvement recently as well. he used to wave imaginary cards around all the time, so embarrassing. Hasn’t done that in ages.

    5. Most of these were fouls. Even if his reaction to them was ridiculous at times.

      I don’t know how many of the people making the diving accusations have actually played the game and thought about how its played sufficiently to understand what really goes on.

      There is an order of magnitude more fouling in a football game than what actually gets called. It would get quite ugly if everything was called, but that doesn’t change the reality that a push with the hand is foul, that a kick on the heels is a foul, etc. Because they do disrupt the player’s balance, concentration, control of the ball, etc. The difference is that Neymar is very very lightweight and those slight fouls that will not cause another player to fall often send him to the ground. While if you are 6’4”, 200+ pounds it’s just not possible for that amount of force to move you and you stay up, even though it still affects you negatively. Note that not everything in that video is in that category, but a lot of the times when he falls down after what seems like a soft intervention are.

    6. P.S. I’d rather have Nemyar diving than this:

      Pay particular attention to the fact that some of these weren’t even shown a yellow card.

      It would be absolutely impossible for a player like Neymar to physically survive in that kind of environment – it’s one humiliating move, a second, maybe a third, and then it’s straight to the hospital.

      I don’t condone the exaggeration of fouls, but if that’s the only way to completely eliminate pure thuggery of the kind that existed 25-30 years ago, I will accept it as a necessity

  4. I’ve gotta agree with blitz on the diving issue. We may not have seen the worst offences from Ney regarding diving while he’s worn the blaugrana but, make no mistake, he’s got a Ph.D in the subject matter. Also, Ronaldo is definitely still diving. It just takes a slight breeze to have that lad hit the ground like a ton of bricks. He’s got the Portuguese disease — dribbles too much and dives like he gets paid for each flop. And saying that Messi is a diver or even an embellisher is blaugrana blasphemy and is deserving of a yellow card.

    Divers (not ours):
    Ashley Young

    Divers (ours):

    Not Divers (ours):
    Casper (Iniesta)

    1. agreed. if you call messi a diver, then the goalkeepers, the coaches, and the people in the stands are also divers. maybe we meed to set some definitions. it shouldnt be called a dive if you *occasionally* go down easy, *when you are fouled*, in order to draw attention to a transgression. messi might do that on occasion, but i think it is very unfair for Kxevin to say he dives. “messi goes down easy when it suits him” — you mean when he is fouled and wants to get the call? that isnt diving. if it is something more than that, i challenge kxevin to show some evidence.

      diving is when you either repeatedly go down easy, and dont even try to stay on your feet when contact/foul is made….or complete simulation.

      if you have played soccer/football, you know that even slight contact can cause you to go down…you are off balance, you are at high speed…and sometimes it is actually safer to go to ground than to try to stay on your feet. try it sometime.

    2. btw “you” is not directed at kxevin. it should be “one”…as in “if one has played football…”

    3. Messi Dives ?
      That’s news to me.

      I haven’t yet finished watching all the ‘Messi Never Dives’ youtube compilation videos yet.
      There are so many of them.

      Maybe you were watching his Beach videos, there he dives, in the sea water, you know.

    4. Oh, it’s not an all inclusive list. Just a quickie.

      Dive Maria and Ney would battle for the gold medal though. Those two take the cake.

    5. Ha! Good one.

      And that’s a good educational tool also. It just goes to prove that falling over properly should be left to professionals. Don’t try this at home children. For it could be carnage.

    6. May be Messi should get a leaf out of Neymar’s book, so that he earns more calls for the fouls on him. Most fouls on Messi are not called as he tries to carry on.
      One thing I have noticed is that for all most every fall of Neymar, the ref calls it. This is also mostly true for Ronaldo who will go down even if somebody sneezes near him.
      Since you included Ronaldo, Young and Nani, you could have also included De Maria, Marcelo, Pepe..

    1. As I argued on Twitter earlier today, the tax evasion knot was the consequence of the ill-activity of Messi’s lawyers and wealth managers. Dude has chimed now and again that he never takes care of the tax stuff, and has no clue about it.

      I don’t think he would be found guilty, as that is, practically difficult. The Tax Evasion Knot falls within the legal purview of DECEIT. To find them (Messi family) guilty, the prosecuting counsels have to prove its essentials;

      — That the defendant (Messi family) had KNOWLEDGE of such.

      — That there was an INTENTION to DECIEVE, to evade payments of tax.

      Clanging on Messi’s NO-KNOWLEDGE (of the-tax-evasion) testimony and how difficult it would be to prove INTENTION, the end-point would taper that he settles the underpayment. ?Which he has already paid some.

      Beside, let’s hope it is concluded fast, and it doesn’t upset his play.

  5. I just ran into this stat:

    Penalties for/against since Perez returned to Real Madrid presidency in 2009: Barcelona 25/15 (+10), Real Madrid 44/10 (+34)


    1. And that’s even more striking when you consider that they are a counter attacking team while we have spent vast portions of those seasons camping around and often in the opponent’s penalty box…

  6. It is indeed fascinating, when you look at how different events have transpired to make this Barca team evolve in styles of play and approach, right before our eyes. I am actually starting to really like this Tata and his guts when all the things we’ve asked for in recent years (directness, planBs, rotation, rests, etc) are being implemented in plain sight to see. Now Cules whine about having suffered less possession in a game after 5 years and how Rosell has shat his pragmatism all over a romantic club and so on. And after the next game, we seem to have recovered all those values.
    Guys, Enjoy these games.
    A Miraculous and wonderful transformation (modification) is happening right before our eyes which is wonderful and intriguing for anyone who is interested in football / tactics etc. We are seeing a beginning of a new era. And you know what, it excites me. As it should to all Barca ‘FANS’.

    Am I still pissed off that we didn’t buy a CB? You bet. Do I think Rosell is ruining my club? Yes, but he wouldn’t dare try to ruin things on the pitch. Do I like what I have seen of our superstar signing? You know what, I was one of those vehemently against this signing mainly because of prioritization and needs unmet. But if this kid has started like this, I am not sure what to expect when he hits full flow. But here’s where my biggest concerns lie.
    Rosell has also clearly demonstrated his intention to make this, his team. Notice how fabregas has gained importance in this new direct setup. Notice how a manager (nothing to do with Cruyff / pep schools) has been brought in (from s.america) who seems to really like Alexis and he looks a rejuvenated player (good thing, no doubt). But all – Rosell signings (cesc, alexis, neymar, etc). People like Abidal, keita (pep pets) have been booted out. Valdes is leaving.
    I am a little concerned about how Xavi and Iniesta feel about their new roles. When, on many occasion the play seems to bypass midfield. Having said all of this, I guess the only constant in this world is change and we have to start getting used to the idea of a Barcelona without the current captain pillars – Valdes, Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta.

    On the way the Elche-RM match was officiated:
    I am ready to kill someone.

    1. Keep the gun in the holster there, Ultraculé. Homicide is illegal in most places on this planet … even in Texas. Muñiz would have been shot in Tijuana and Colombia though.

      Just the very presence of Ney on the pitch would have forced our team to evolve, ever so slightly, into being a more vertical team no matter who our coach was this year. When a team has a talent like that you occasionally have to play to his strengths — which is open space and that means hitting teams in transition. Sure Ney can play in tight spaces and play one-twos (something he’s already more adept at than CR7 btw) but he’s best when there’s space behind the FB for him to run into. A more vertical game will make both Alexis and Pedro more effective on the other flank also.

      I can’t wait to see Ney give a proper roasting to Arbeloa in about a month’s time. I bet that twit won’t be so bold with his Twitter account then. Ney is the best remedy to shut his trap right up and double quick style — like instant contact cement.

    2. Why would it be Arbeloa and not Carvajal?
      Either ways, I think the clasico this year promises to be about football for the first time in many years and if our trend of new signings (Ibra, Cesc, Sanchez, Villa) scoring on their classic debut continues, then Neymar will get in there too. He’s probably going to suffer about 30 fouls in that game though. Be prepared kiddo.

    3. Keep the gun in the holster there

      Where do you come up with these type of lines? I’ve noticed this with you. It’s wicked. It’s making me giggle. I think your funny way with words is close to Kxevin and Isaiah’s level. They used to make me laugh all the time with words only (by that I mean not face2face or movie or YouTube).

  7. A head’s up for anyone interested in Sid’s new book. He’s previewing it on a 45′ podcast with the guys on Beyond on the Pitch. I’m sure it will be worth listening to.

    Big day of footy. Madrid derby should interesting as I think the days of Pathetico are now behind us as long as Simeone is in charge and Muñiz doesn’t officiate. I expect a draw and a blood bath. Things which help us on both counts — I’m breaking out the pino tinto and popcorn for this one. It should be fun.

  8. Is schalke supposed to be crap ? Bayern walked allover them.

    Looking for chinks in their armour, don’t see many.

    Pep looks sharp, he has more star power than any of his pupils. Hope that pisses them off.

    1. Thanks for sharing. I don’t understand Spanish. What went on?

      In a some what related news;

      Most Barcelona balls recovered 2013/14: Pique 64 – Mascherano 54 – Busquets 44 – Alves 37 – Adriano 35 – Valdes 29 – Neymar 20 [via latdp]

  9. First time seeing Eriksen at Spurs. He was their star. It seems that Spurs just can’t beat top teams. They always lack the last 20% push.

  10. Neymar is the Barcelona player who so far suffered most fouls this season (26) #fcblive Fouls on Messi: 9, Total: 97

    Not surprised at all. I can’t wait to see the total numbers at the end of the season and compare with Messi’s in the previous seasons.

  11. Alineación confirmada

    11 del Barça: Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Bartra, Adriano, Sergio, Iniesta, Cesc, Alexis, Messi y Pedro

    go bartra! good to see Ney getting rested too.

  12. We are toothless without Messi (and Neymar). As much as I want Neymar to be rested for Celtic, we need him to win now that Messi is gone.

    On the other hand, that defensive play by Bartra was probably the best chest clearance I’ve ever seen. So cool.

    1. Even when Messi was still playing, the situation was very reminiscent to last season. We scored from a miracle play by Messi, not because we were systematically picking them apart.

      I would definitely insert Neymar in the game, and I would do it at the half

  13. watching arsenal-swansea and i don’t know if am the only one who notices this with EPL teams, their passes always look wobbly unlike la liga

    1. Watched for 10 mins after our match ended to watch Özil. I thought Arsenal and Swansea were the 2 best football playing teams but they both could hardly string 3 passes together. And both of them didn’t press so much. It was just careless.

  14. Nice offside trap by Pique. Bailed Bartra out big time.

    Bartra needs to learn to not turn around away from the ball and defender. He’s been doing this forever.

    1. I don’t mind disagreements but not with VV running like a mad man. He ran all the way to outside the box to confront Xavi. It was pretty extreme.

      Last year it was Messi vs Villa and now VV vs Pique & Xavi. People are going to say that this team is not so tight after all. Real Madrid even though with many big egos in the team, doesn’t have public disagreements like this. I guess our team is not as rosy as it is usually painted as.

  15. It is matches like this that Villanova ought to have played Bartra last year. We may have had a more experienced defender in the squad by now, which is what we need.

    Much better game in the second half. Too bad about Messi who’ll likely be out for 3 weeks, missing Celtic but also the useless Argentina games.

    1. Well, that’s just my experience with these kind of injuries. Could be less, could be more. Let’s wait what the doctors say, but I think he will miss Celtic and Valladolid for sure.

    2. To be fair to Tito, Tata didn’t choose to ‘t play Bartra either. He was forced to with sMasch being injured and Puyol not ready yet.

    3. Well, Tata wanting stability in defence pair makes sense. Masch should’ve been a wee bit taller.

    4. You’re perfectly right of course. Injuries never forced Villanova’s hand until it was too late do do anything about it. Martino has to be smart and learn from last year. If you’re short in defense, even the workload, don’t just depend on the same two guys for every game.

  16. Happy about the 3 points, 21 out of 21!!
    I feel urged pointing this out, the front-line of pedro-cesc-alexis is ineffective and probably our weakest, Yeah we can get away with it in camp nou where everything from the grass length to the large size of the pitch are in our favor, It’s a different story in away games, If messi hadn’t taken the initiative before getting injured, This could have easily ended with a draw.

    1. I do rather agree with you. That trio upfront with Xavi-Busquets-Iniesta in the middle somehow feels a bit less dynamic than you’d think. Could it be due to Fabgregas’ not being as quick as Messi?

  17. I thought Sanchez had the poorest game of his season. And Pedro was just awful throughout. Poor guy drifts in and out, alternating good performances with mediocre ones, but I understand Martino’s desire to bench Neymar to give him a breather.
    Solid game otherwise. Though I’ll never know what’s happened to Alves’ crosses. For every good one he has four that go nowhere.

  18. Pedro, lex aren’t crap really.
    They aren’t messi to score a goal a game, that’d be unreal.
    But I do agree cesc at 9 is rodonkulous.

  19. I don’t know, but it looks like we watched different game. Alexis was awesome, so was Pedro…they played the way they were told to play.
    And, for the millionth time probably repeated, Cesc is not Messi. Cesc is Cesc and he is great in what he do.

    1. Exactly. We push cesc up the pitch and expect silly things from him.
      He’s a midfielder.
      Besides, noone has more work ethique than Pedro & Lexis.
      Last season they shared messi’s defensive workload between themselves.

  20. Is Atleti really going to match us by beating EE and winning their first 7 games? They’re winning 0-1 so far at the Bernabeu with 7 minutes to go!

Comments are closed.