Celtic 0, Barça 1, aka “Another day, another test”

celtic

Another day, another moving target for our wee ones.

Levante wasn’t fit to be in the Liga. Wait til Malaga.
Malaga was down on its luck. Wait til Rayo.
Rayo had more possession, we got lucky. Wait til La Real.
Yeah, whatever. La Real are playing like crap. Wait to see what happens against Celtic. And without Messi!
We won, but now Celtic isn’t good enough. So we’ll see who’s next.

This was a very interesting match, because it isn’t often that you get to see a new coach against the same European opponent. And boy, was today fascinating.

We know what happened last season: Celtic pulled out an historic win, cheered on by everyone including the homer Fox Soccer announcers. Rod Stewart wept like a baby, and Barça showed many weaknesses.

This year, same opponent, different coach, VERY different result, because of a great many things, all worth noting individually.

A Plan

Last year, the team was playing tika taka as if by rote. Lots of possession, no real purpose, no player available on the wings to change the match or cause pressure, with predictable results. There was much passing around of the ball in the midfield, few real chances, few opportunities for anything except watching Celtic cheer hard work and work that found them in the right place at the right time. Boom. Loss.

This year, the club had a plan, and you could see it from the outset. It wasn’t just tika taka, it was possession football that probed the opponent for a weakness, happy to be patient until an opportunity presented itself. When Celtic got the ball, almost each and every time, the Celtic attacker was presented by at least three sprites. Closed. There was pressure, and by every member of the team, not just 9 of 10. This meant that last avenue was closed off.

There was purpose and steel, two things that ultimately saw out the match.

Infinite patience

The intelligence of this club this season is not to force things. It’s very easy to pass the ball back to the midfield and reset. This is what Martino means by keeping control of a match. Celtic had a few chances, both from dead balls. But from open play? Nothing, because the match was under control. If you lose the ball, get it back and reset. Just one example, Neymar lost the ball to Ambrose, who took off on the break. Neymar tracked back, getting help from Adriano and Busquets. They stole the ball, and resumed the probing. Patience.

Barça-style defending

What this means is to keep play in front of you, to keep the ball in sight and the play at the defenders’ feel. The few times that things got out of balance resulted in Celtic having a sliver of an opportunity. Turn Pique sideways, or make him run backward and he’s in trouble. When he is bouncing on his toes, anticipating play, he is a hell of a defender. The play of the whole team helps keep the defense in its element.

Bartra roamed forward, Pique stayed home to keep the back locked down. This was the second match we have seen this, with a similar result: not a lot of drama, nor opponent goals. Part of that Barça-style defending was Valdes passing out of the back, instead of hoofing it long. Team attack, team defense.

Picking up after each other

Martino seems to have given everyone a clearly defined role. Xavi was usually forward, with Iniesta in the traditional Xavi role. Neymar and Alves functioned as wing attackers, and Busquets as a defensive-minded playmaker. The attention, the focus, the orientation was on attack, but patient attack. And when one person was found out or had a lull, there was always a teammate with a key intervention, interception or stop.

Bartra on the loose

Last season, when Bartra was asked to be a traditional defender, something that ALL of our defenders spent too much time doing last season, he looked uncomfortable and clunky. And tentative. Duh. When do our defenders play like traditional defenders? Compare that this this season, with the attacking defense. Bartra owned Samaras today, not allowing him much chance to do anything. Steals, interceptions and runs, Bartra made his second lobbying for MOTM. But again, as with the moving target, it is the next opponent who will find him and our terrible defense out.

Real wingers change everything

Neymar started, and Messi was out. And Neymar was a terror. Yellow card for one player, then another, red for another, movement, passing, faking, constant danger. This unbalanced the Celtic defense, and widened the field for them, because whenever Neymar beat his man, two other defenders were called upon. They then had to run back to defend other players.

To be sure, Neymar made a meal of a couple of challenges, the forehead hooraw, and the Scott Brown “Wait, you aren’t the ball?” moment. But you know what? Even those moments showed that he was capable of getting under the opponent’s (and opposing fans) skin. Boo him all you like, but Neymar is a difference-maker, on and off the ball. People aren’t booing him because he playacts. They’re booing him because he gets fouls called, AND he kicks ass. Get used to it.

A real Plan B

The counterattack, some say with a sneer. Barça is becoming a counterattacking team, something that is somehow beneath them. But you know what? During the vaunted Treble season, there were counter goals galore as the defense turned possession, then fired vertically to Henry or Eto’o on the bust-out. If you have an opponent who puts everyone behind the ball, how are you going to generate a real chance on goal? Wait for a sliver of an opportunity, then hit them on the counter. No tika taka, no 45,834 passes, just flying up the pitch and the keeper picking the ball out of the back of the net. Plan B works. Beneath Barça? Maybe. I don’t think so. I rather like it, because now the team has multiple ways of scoring, rather than just passing the ball around and waiting for Messi to make some magic.

And that goal was perfect. The ball was fed to Busquets, who saw Neymar streaking up the pitch. Rather than going for goal himself, taking the opportunity to do something highlight reel that might have failed, he opted for the surer thing, holding up play beautifully until Alexis Sanchez (subbed on for Pedro) came into the picture. A lovely layoff found Sanchez in space with the ball, and time to think.

When Sanchez gets the ball, there are SIX Celtic attackers, all with their attention focused on Sanchez and the ball. Meanwhile, ghosting into the picture on the left side of the box, is Fabregas. Sanchez takes, pauses, and as Fabregas continues his run behind a distracted defense, Sanchez lays the ball in a perfect spot. Fabregas heads across the Celtic goal into the far corner, and that’s that. What a goal.

Counter? Okay, sure. And why not? Meanwhile, your club is still perfect in Champions League and the Liga, until the next test. And I think that’s pretty cool.

celtic team

EXTRA SUPER-DUPER POST WITHIN A POST, ON MANLINESS

In the LiveBlog (thank you, VJ!!!!) thread, in the aftermath of the match, some were calling our players “soft,” and saying that they needed to man up. I don’t understand that, and here’s why:

I find this notion of “manning up,” and “playing like a man” to be a misguided notion that has its roots in this English-style mentality. Leaving aside the fact that the Premiership has more than its fair share of divers and embellishers, a foul is a foul is a foul. If you don’t want a player to exaggerate or make a mountain out of a little foul, I have a suggestion:

Don’t kick him.

On two occasions, Neymar made a lot of a foul: the forehead incident, and the Brown red card. The first episode was a bit silly, and he seemed to know it. But the second was legit, and yes, he did the right thing in calling the ref’s attention to it, just as, in the second half, a Celtic player was fouled by Busquets, and waved his arms around as if suffering the 47 Agonies, waving one arm in a “card! Card!” Gesture.

Where is the manliness them? When “our” player does it, it’s gamesmanship. When “their” player does it, it’s shameful.

Our players get kicked. A lot. Neymar gets kicked more than any of them, even Messi, which is pretty incredible. So why do players do it? To calm the match down. If you get kicked every time you get the ball, at what point do you decide to do something about it? The only way to get it to stop is to get a card on the person kicking you. So you flail around. Samaras was tapped by Alves, and his big ass dropped to the pitch like a stone.

Like anyone, up to and including Neymar, Samaras was trying to get Alves in trouble with the officials. And he was fouled. There is nothing manly about getting kicked, standing there and taking it. That’s just silly, particularly when your team is peopled by small, technically skilled players who don’t have the physical advantages that opponents have. So when you get kicked, to bring the match from their terms to yours, you exaggerate fouls that you receive. Why? Because being kicked hurts. A lot.

Try this: Get a friend to put on some football cleats. Now start running, and have your friend kick you in the Achilles tendon. See what you do. It hurts. Would you fall to the floor, flailing around and making imaginary card gestures? You might.

Some of the stuff that Alves and Alba do is silly. It’s also beyond the realm of exaggerating a foul received. Exaggeration is also different than diving. We have seen Barça players dive. Pedro isn’t considered a diver, yet Pedro has taken dives on more than one occasion. Iniesta isn’t a diver, but he will exaggerate the effect of a foul, so that the ref understands how hard he is being kicked. Messi will take steps to ensure that the ref understands that he is being kicked, and needs protection. No, Messi doesn’t dive. But Messi exaggerates, just like so many other players, including Neymar.

Notice as well how once the desired effect is reached, the exaggerating player calms down and plays through challenges. The kicking has stopped, so the point was made. People sneer about “cheating,” and how Barça are divers. This is nonsense. Barça players are using their physical DISadvantages just as opponents use their physical advantages.

And what in the heck is wrong with that?t

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261 Responses to “Celtic 0, Barça 1, aka “Another day, another test””

  1. IamXavi6 says:

    We did get lucky today though. Again Valdes made crucial saves to gloss over the impotence we have. I feel you are glossing over the fact that in reality, not alot has changed in tactics. Our defending and ability to get exposed via breaks are still there. keeping possession is great but again, for a majority of the game we didnt actally threaten. Foster didnt have much to do at all for greater than 45mins!

    • Kxevin says:

      To the view of a pessimist, EVERY team gets lucky EVERY match. No win is ever an actual win, right? If a ball bounces one way instead of another, if this, if that, if the skies align properly, etc, etc.

      Valdes made one big save today. I have watched the match twice now. Celtic had two chances to score both from dead ball situations: The Valdes save, and the header pushed wide. Aside from that, nothing.

      Now count the number of chances that we had, aside from the goal. Forster had to make four or five excellent reflex saves. This is, by the by, about four or five excellent chances more than we generated last year.

      So in response to your assertion that I am glossing over the team’s alleged weakness, I suggest that people are looking for weaknesses, hence the “Just wait til next week ….” endless supply of hurdles that must be leapt.

      The majority of the game we didn’t threaten, but we kept the ball, which made it impossible for them to threaten. 82% possession in the first half is a staggering statistic on a European stage. Forster didn’t have much to do, but Valdes had even less to do, right?

      I suggest that no luck is involved in today’s result, as I lay out above. I don’t expect people to believe in this club. I’ve been a loner before, and am comfortable with continuing to be one. I reckon if the club beats RM, it will be “But RM is down this season, wait until they see Bayern in Champions League.”

      Belief is a weird thing. I understand the trouble when it is shaken. It’s almost impossible to regain. That’s where the club is right now. We had Messi last year at their house, and we lost. This year, with no Messi, we won and kept a clean sheet.

      Did Valdes have to make a save? Yes. But he’s part of the team. When keepers make saves, that means that the last line of defense works. In a perfect world, Valdes could go out for coffee. But a perfect world doesn’t exist. Every team needs a keeper. Forster is the only reason it wasn’t 0 to 3 or 4.

      So I suggest that if you are going to look at our potential frailties, theirs are worth examining as well. Either way you look at it, I don’t think luck had anything to do with today’s win. Or to put it another way, no additional luck, assuming that luck is a quantity of every victory by every team that wins a match, was required for today’s result.

      • KEVINO17 says:

        Totally agree, we were excellent today, except for a couple of breaks in concentration when we did give them a sniff. Alexis and Neymar are still shaking their heads that Foster kept them out.

      • IamXavi6 says:

        Ive believed in this club for over 20 years.

        All im saying is I disgaree with some of your thoughts. 82% possession is nice for 45mins but again, no end product. if we were playing a more skilled team there would be every chance today wouldvw been a draw or even a goal down at half time. my point is it is more of the same we have seen recently. I dont see a Plan b that you see.

        This result shouldve been more convincing and a chance to demonstrate we do not need Messi as a 1 man show. I didnt see that today. Good thing Cesc Fabulous is in form :-)

        Not all wins are luck involved. But as a statement of intent or change of pace – if I was Bayern or Chelsea; I wouldnt be too afraid.

        • lea_terzi says:

          Thing is, we don’t play the same way against all teams this year. We play to our strengths, but also to the opponent’s weaknesses. Recently, we’ve seen matches with suffocating possession (Celtic, Almeria), possession with intent (La Real) and a more counterattacking setup (Rayo), depending on the players we had, they had, and their gameplan. Want to try and keep the ball? We’ll focus on scoring goals, instead. Parking 11 in the box? Will make you dizzy pinging the ball around, draw you out, then throw on some fresh legs, destabilize you with trickery and penetrating passes from the flanks and runs through the middle, score goals. Strong counterattacking team? Pressing will step up a notch, and you just won’t see the ball. Different lineups, different priorities, same result: 11 goals scored, 1 conceded. So, we might not win against Bayern palying like this. But something tells me we will have a customized gameplan for Bayern, or EE, or Chelsea when and if we meet them. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what it will be and whether it will work. But right now, I’ll just applaud Tata and the team for finding just the right keys to every opponent we’ve faced so far, and doing it with an abundance of style.

        • TITO says:

          It suits us for teams like Chelsea or Bayern not be afraid of us and think they can beat us easily.
          It will just make them more vulnerable due to complacency.

          • IamXavi6 says:

            Make no mistake, and let me be clear, I’ll give Tata his dues, his numbers this season cannot be skewed as a coaching record.

            Also, as a Cule, it’s my job to be pessimistic. But, I still stand on my points I’ve raised in the past and my concerns for stripping away what we’ve seen, and to me in comparsion I very much do not think much has changed.

            Season still all to play for, of course. I don’t think I’m alone here with my thoughts.

        • nzm says:

          82% possession is nice for 45mins but again, no end product.

          They scored. They won. Part of that was keeping the ball from Celtic in the first half & wearing them down.

          No end product?

          I’d agree with you, had they lost.

      • IamXavi6 says:

        Let’s not mention the Valdes flap from a corner and the Celtic player missing an open goal header, either…that’s not luck is it? :)

        • DianaKristinne says:

          That’s not luck, that’s football. Not every ball goes on in. If that were the case we would have much different score sheets.

          The point is, it’s not your job as a Culé to be pessimistic. To wait for doom to strike just to be proven correct in your pessimism. No, it’s your job to support this team. And enjoy it’s games. Each game for itself. Just try watching a game for what it is. Don’t think about Bayern or Real or Chelsea or whoever else you think about. Watch the game we play today. And enjoy it. Waiting for doom is no way to enjoy football or life for that matter.

          • IamXavi6 says:

            I agree with you Diana; completely… I Love this club. It’s played some of the most mesmorising football I’ve ever seen in my lifetime and given me TONS of joy. However, that doesnt mean I cant dissect the current direction or play of the squad and ask for more or critic it on things I believe it is lacking in. Im a fan for life, but not so 1-eyed bias that I dont think there are things that we need to improve on to put us back to the top of world football.

          • Evan says:

            I have been reading this blog for quite a while but I never felt the need to comment until now. I created this account just to say this:

            We were lucky? They had 2 chances to score, we scored once and missed at least 3 other big ones. But yeah, we were the lucky ones. Only watching the goal we scored last night would be enough to see that there are a lot of different things in our game now, it would’ve taken the team at least 5 more passes to get the ball to Neymar in that position if we were playing like last year.

            Moderator’s note This comment has been edited. Heavily. I appreciate that someone is new to the space, and is joining the family. But personal attacks on family members will not fly. Thanks.

        • DianaKristinne says:

          I never said that we are playing perfectly. I just hate to see that people see game after game and only focus on the negative aspects. Has Tata not proven that he knows what he is doing? He has had an appropriate game plan for each of our opponents thus far. Appreciate the good stuff.

          • IamXavi6 says:

            As I said, I will give him his dues so far, for sure.

            As for you Evan, your difference and clear bitterness of my opinion is fine, but to throw cheap insults at someone who has said different opinion on a internet board..is just…shameful. You sir, are the moron.

            I’ve played soccer for over 25 years (and still playing)and watched this club since I was a young lad, so, forgive me for not having the knowledge of the game that you possess.

          • Evan says:

            Edited for content.

          • Evan says:

            Edited for content.

          • nzm says:

            Evan – welcome to BFB.

            If you’ve been reading this space for a while, you’ll know that we call for commenters to be polite and to respect all other posters.

            Name-calling is unnecessary. Insults are unnecessary.

            If you want to comment, please debate the subject, but refrain from the personal insults & name-calling. There is no need for it & it’s not welcomed on this blog.

            IamXavi6:
            My advice would be to ignore Evan’s comments unless he’d care to republish, arguing the same points but without the personal insults and name-calling.

            Please do not lower yourself to responding at his level, anymore than you already have.

            Thanks.

          • Evan says:

            Don’t worry, nzm, there won’t be anymore comments like this one from me. I try to ignore fans like him, but sometimes it just gets to the point where I just can’t, everybody is happy after a very good game and then someone like him comes along to rain on our parade. Fatalist fans are unbearable to me, but now that I have blown off some steam, I will be able to restrain myself from posting such comments (even if a lot of other people shared those thoughts :D )

          • nzm says:

            That’s fine, Evan.

            But you could have done that without the name-calling & insults, yes?

            Please find a way! We’d love to have you stay to comment & debate, but not to negate a person through personal invective. :)

          • Kxevin says:

            Evan, your comments have been edited. I wish there had been a nicer way to say welcome to the space than whacking you upside the dome with the Mod Hammer, but sometimes life doesn’t go as we’d hoped.

            You make good points, however. And we’d love to hear them, now that you’ve blown off that steam.

            Again, welcome.

      • Peter says:

        I agree completely with what you just said and I wish I had that kind of eloquence. I’m seeing way too much pessimism and ill-thinking. The only explanation that comes to mind is that people are afraid to hope and are just preparing the bed for a defeat, under the mistaken impression that it’s better to be a pessimist and be right eventually, at some distant point in the future, rather than be optimistic and have your hopes drowned in a tubful of water by eleven brutes dressed in red.

        @IamXavi6 Using the fact that Valdes made a great save as evidence that the team/defence/midfield/messi is in bad shape is dishonest and incorrect. The other teams wants to win as well and at the stage that Barcelona are playing there aren’t a lot of weak teams. Chances will be had. Shots will be made. What’s important is what happens after that, and the truth is that Barcelona are blessed with a fabulous goalkeeper. Using his brilliant performance on the single occasion when he had to display it to accuse of ineptitude the rest of the squad, who had to storm the proverbial ramparts of a Scottish castle in order to win, does nobody any good. There’s constructive criticism and then there’s autodestructive criticism and apparently a lot of cules can’t tell the difference.

  2. nia says:

    I have to say,, the defence looks a little better than it did last year and I have to give Bartra a big thumbs up for his composure and confidence and how well he dealt with Samaras for most part. It’s a little more balanced with Adriano in there than with both Dani and Alba. It was a good game and VV came up huge again today. Last year it probably would have gone in but, boy is he playing well this year.

    I thought Xavi was a little off colour today. Gave the ball away a few times. He and Pedro I thought struggled a bit. Alexis is becoming very good eh? He was good last year as well though, this year, he’s a bit better.

    I find it hard that Ney is being persecuted for being kicked. If Brown hadn’t kicked him, he wouldn’t have got sent off, simple as that. Pepe blatantly cheated and yet no one made a big deal of it. Poor Ney, gets kicked all match long and to be fair, he has been getting up and going on with it. Don’t touch him then if you think he exaggerates. Haters are gonna be haters, VISCA BARCA!! Three more points in the bag.

    ATM are also playing well. Can see them go far this yr.

    • Chiu says:

      Re Pepe, every football fans in the entire world already know what “unsportmanship” player Pepe is. Even the fellow players condemn Pepe act of stomping Messi hand (remember that Rio ferdinand or Rooney tweet) and his other disgusting act

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      Atleti playin well, but their batteries will expire around Christmas )

      • nzm says:

        That’s what was said last year, too.

        Atleti have now been strong for 3 seasons, and are getting stronger.

        They’re now well-prepared to meet the rigours of European games, as well as the local league games.

        It takes a while to build up the routine of preparing & playing so many extra games.

        Dortmund went through a similar period where the players’ stamina, fitness & squad depth weren’t up to the required levels.

        By comparison, you can look at some teams that have not successfully made that step into European champs & stayed there. Athletic Bilbao is one of them in recent seasons. The team ran out of energy & motivation, & the players were exhausted.

        Real Sociedad is showing signs of suffering because of all the extra CL qualifying games that they had to play at the beginning of this season. This NT break will be a welcome breather for most of their players.

        Barring any big injuries or losing key players/coaches without replacement – Atleti is here to stay, just as Dortmund now is. Simeone is doing a fantastic job with a team that responds incredibly well to his coaching style.

  3. Chiu says:

    I love the Black kit! Looks so elegant on our players

  4. Best Result of the season so far for me. Bartra was brilliant. Once again showed why we should give youngsters an extended run before judging them. Now it’s time to give Montoya, Sergi and Jonathan an extended run. Not together but one by one. Liked the way martino is handling kids. Also we did press well.

  5. nia says:

    Watched post match reactions on ITV and i gotta say, good on Roy Keane for standing up to Gordon Strachan on the Ney incident. Told him to be fair and to also point out how Samaras was rolling all over the ground as well.

  6. KEVINO17 says:

    Now that Barca has rediscovered it’s high press, it’s a lot easier to be vertical because players aren’t so worried about losing the ball, because they know that, if they do, Barca will harry whoever has received it. Indeed, if the press is done right, there are even advantages in losing the ball high up the pitch because, when you win it back, you catch your opponent disorganised as they transition to attack.
    For the same reason, that’s why I like seeing Valdes pump the ball long. It gives Barca a chance to flood forward with numbers.
    Smart guy this Tata.

  7. stefan2k says:

    Very happy we got those points!

    – Bartra was immense! Confidence confidence confidence…

    – We looked much less toothless than we usually do without Messi. After 10 minutes I thought wow! we look sharp, fast and pressing is indeed back.

    – The close up on Lexus face after this tremendous save by Foster was hard to bear. Hes working so hard, making all the right runs and still no goals for him :/

    – Alba will have to fight for his place I guess. Adriano is rocksolid and a serious threat in attack.

  8. Ultraculé says:

    Ok, I thought Bartra, Neymar and Valdes were the MOTMs for me. But I just have one small bone to pick. As soon as Neymar was released through the middle with acres of space and only the GK to beat, I was excited to see what he would do. Usually for Brazilians with the kind of talent Neymar has, the natural thing would be to wither round the keeper and dribble in to goal or attempt a chip / lob. Both these options would be the best choices to ensure a goal. Instead he opted for a Pedro type of finish. Taken early. and low. Of course It was saved by the magnificent Forster but I was a bit disappointed with that. He had a great game otherwise. I actually like him quite a bit in the center, where his unpredictability is magnified. I was surprised Tata didn’t start with Alexis.

    • Barcaleya says:

      Said exactly the same thing on Twitter.

      Neymar should learn to chip. I would have wanted him to pause or feign a bit there to be able to take that chip/lob.

      Offer some kind of variation in his shots. He’s on one speed only when given a clear chance, near the box, and as you said – it’s usually a low finish.

      He does have more unpredictabl shots when taking them farther like he does for Brazil.

  9. PrinceYuvi says:

    Great Post.
    It’s a pity that only Barca fans get to read it.

  10. georgjorge says:

    First of all, a big thanks to Kxevin for keeping that space alive during that time of year almost singlehandedly (no offense meant to the other admins and mods, but he’s really churning out those articles).

    Second, I absolutely LOVE Barca being dangerous on the counter again. It always seemed a waste not to be able to exploit such an important element of this game, and yesterday’s goal was as good as it gets.

    Third, I found the inclusion of Pedro yesterday questionable. For these games, you really need wingers who can beat their man, and Sanchez is better at that than Pedro (so is Tello). He did a very good job pressing and keeping possession in midfield but not much towards creating chances. I am also curious which ones of Xavi, Iniesta or Fabregas will get to play in midfield for this kind of games once Messi is fit again – I thought that yesterday called more for Fabregas (direct play) than for Xavi in midfield.

    • IamXavi6 says:

      I think you’ve answered your own question. Fabregas is finally getting more time in the coveted position he so desperately wanted and is a natural to play. This alone is a major reason why his form has been off-tap this season. It also releases the burden from Xavi to pull all strings at all times.

      To me, Fabregas now is the more key player than Iniesta and Xavi (who is declining). Look for Fab to continue to go from strength to strength pending injury :)

      • Kxevin says:

        Pedro was included because of his work rate and possession qualities. That was what was needed against Celtic, as we defended with the ball. Sanchez’s tendencies to take on defenders mean lost balls, counterattacks and potential set pieces.

        So even though it wasn’t Pedro’s match, really (no space, and wasn’t ever going to be), his inclusion made perfect sense.

        • blitzen says:

          That was probably Martino’s thinking, but ultimately I think the game was better suited to Alexis due to his physical strength and ability to shield the ball while deciding what to do with it. Pedro didn’t play badly by any means but he was definitely the least effective player out there yesterday. Alexis’ entrance made an immediate impact on the game (although the sending-off of Brown had something to do with that too.). It seems to me that Martino is effectively quite happy to rotate those two on the right, with Tello the big loser in the playing-time stakes. Since I think Tello has less to offer the team, I’m happy with that as well.

          • Kxevin says:

            What I thought was that Martino was going to make that sub, after the Celtic players were nice and tired out from chasing us around all night. And it worked. Pedro would never have made the run/pass to set up that Fabregas goal.

            But I also don’t think that Sanchez is a diligent about maintaining possession as Pedro, even at the cost to his own ultimate effectiveness.

            I think that probably had something to do with why they weren’t shooting as much, either. There were times when instead of shooting, they passed the ball back. It all makes sense now, I reckon. If you don’t shoot, Forster can’t hoof the ball long so that Samaras can run under it.

          • blitzen says:

            It’s true, Alexis loses the ball more than Pedro. It’s because he tries to dribble, which is riskier, and which Pedro rarely does (Pedro always says it is something he needs to improve). It’s the same reason Messi loses a lot of balls. Overall I like Martino’s judicious use of subs, except that he is also fond of the last-minute of the game time-wasting sub. I hate those.

    • Peter says:

      Hi, first post here. I think that Pedro’s inclusion was a good thing. True, he didn’t do a whole lot, but against such a team and such a gameplan(Samaras was getting ovations for winning the ball at the left corner of his own box) patience and tiring the opponent out, both physically and mentally counted for a lot. And that’s what Barcelona did, worked patiently to draw the opponent out, constantly changing the direction of the ball and tirelessly pressed the Celtic players whenever they had the ball. This incessant tempo of winning the ball back as soon as possible, taking a (very short) breath and trying again, all this must have been incredibly tiring. And then on came Lexus, with Celtic one man down and dead tired.

      P.S. I was reading older posts and I have to ask why are you calling Real(it seems to be Real) “EE”?

  11. endico says:

    I am thinking we could use the following formation in el-classico and other big games in CL

    Alves—–Bartra—–Pique—–Adriano

    Masch—–Busquest

    Cesc

    Messi—–Neymar—–Iniesta

    This could be a beastly team because Masch and Busquets will be able to help the defense when we are under pressure and also help the Midfield and attack when we are attacking. What do you guys think about this revolutionary tactics. I would love a response from Roberto Senyera.

    • IamXavi6 says:

      Alba doesn’t get a look in? No Xavi, Sanchez?

      I don’t mind the Mash\Busquets partnership, however you’d be taking away a significant amount of creativity build up from down back due to those two in place of a Xavi.

  12. PrinceYuvi says:

    Er where are the regulars ?
    Their brilliant comments made this place affable.
    I was blown away the day I found this place by chance.

    • nzm says:

      A lot of them got disillusioned by all the negativity being displayed in here – mostly in the comments.

      They have either moved on, or just lurk – reading the articles but not the comments.

      Thing is, we mods can slave over producing articles with worthy content that take us hours, sometimes weeks to prepare depending on the required research, image searching etc.

      And then the comments will be off-topic, barely acknowledging what’s been written or not even bothering to discuss it.

      We mods get disillusioned too!

      As commenters in this space, there are certain responsibilities on all of us to keep this a place where people want to come to discuss & not get turned away by what appears to be a constant stream of negativity.

      Kevin’s been holding the fort – writing articles to get things more positive and to keep this space going, & Lev has certainly been doing more than his share, too.

      My personal situation has meant less time to be spent in here over recent months – something which I hope will change once plans are put into place in my private life.

      And, to be honest – towards the end of last season & during the Summer break, I grew more than tired of coming into the comments space to see what seemed like a constant barrage of negativity & doom.

      This space is a labour of love – none of us get paid for the articles that we write, nor the hours sometimes spent in research & preparation.

      If the cost starts to outweigh the reward, then we have to step back & review what the hell we’re doing it for.

      People – Barca is winning, the team is undergoing change & it’s exciting! We should be happy & eagerly looking forward to what’s coming.

      As far as the team is concerned – the past is the past. We’d be better off to leave it there & concentrate on what’s happening now.

      That’s not to say that we can’t critique the team & point out areas of weakness or praise its strengths, but there’s a huge difference between a critique and outright negative criticism that often has no substance behind it, other than it’s become like a meme that is repeated by rote.

      Let’s make this place more fun again – a place where knowledgeable discussion takes place. Where people want to come to learn, share views & discuss our team and club.

      And if we can get more of the lurkers to comment, & some of the older commenters back, we can claim to have succeeded!

      • Rami says:

        I certainly relate of what you’re saying, The negative atmosphere can be a massive put-off, And it’s something that’s affecting all message boards and blogs, Last season, It got me so frustrated and even depressed that i considered stop reading or posting on any online FCB community.

        The article you and the mods put, Are always a source of delight, It’s what made me latch onto this blog, And make it my only source of interaction with cules, I don’t personally thank a mod after every article, But it certainly doesn’t mean i didn’t enjoy and appreciate the effort, And if i have to make poems just to get you write more posts, I’ll happily do it, Because i enjoy them that much.

          • nzm says:

            I promise total transparency.

            I promise to abolish the GA and make voting available to all socis.

            I promise never to ignore Cruyff.

        • nzm says:

          Rami: I just don’t want regular old poems – I want sonnets! :D

          Joking aside, thanks for your comment.

          I think that the mods would be ecstatic just to have the comments kept on topic & to have a good discussion about what’s been written. That would be all the thanks that we need!

          I realise that when games or news happens, people want to discuss those too, and this is the place in which they like to discuss them which is also a great compliment to the sense of community on this blog.

          It’s a fine line, I know!

          But if all the commenters could at least read the article first, and make some sort of contribution to the conversation, we’d appreciate that more than coming in to find, somewhere in the first few comments, one beginning with “Off-topic, but…”, or “Haven’t read it yet, but…”

          That can be pretty disheartening, especially to the author who has more than likely eked out time to write the article over doing something else in their life!

      • Serena Andre says:

        I have a confession to make. I’ve been a lurker for the past few weeks and this comment of yours finally spurned me to register and comment.

        I love this place. When our guys play, all I see on Twitter is complaining and more complaining. And then some more complaining. The articles here are so refreshingly positive.

        So, I’d like to thank you guys for lifting my mood on numerous occasions with your delightful articles, and I promise I’ll stop being lazy and comment from now on. =)

      • PrinceYuvi says:

        Heartwrenching, nzm.

        Barca play the most complex football there is.
        I by my lonesome was truly lost out there.

        Found this place, learnt much [I keep digging old posts, they're so informative, how the hell I missed them?]
        I’ve yet to stumble upon any other site with such Scary high football IQ.

        Many are lurkers. I was too. Lurking was the best, I was concentrating on what’s being written instead of who’s writing it.

        Real life beckons, I understand. But It’s my request to all mods and members to enlighten us every once in a while, as we’re lost without you.

        It may sound pathetic but after following comments for seven to eight months, you guys have become an extended family.
        And it’s quite depressing not seeing many familiar names around.

      • Barcaleya says:

        Agree.

        There have been too many negative comments and commenters here the past many months for this to be the fun, happy place I wanted to spend a lot of time in as before.

        It would be good to have a place where we could be proud of our team. I’m already constantly defending the team against fans of other teams who I would like to think are just biased and ignorant. To have to do the same with fellow cules is just tiring.

        In any case – I think things are getting better. The posts are still top notch and thanks very much to our tireless contributors.

  13. mei says:

    Edited for content.

  14. Rami says:

    - This being an away CL match against a parked bus and without messi, I thought we played very good.

    – The team maintained the pressing for almost the entire match, Indicating that their stamina has improved from previous weeks, When we used to break down in the 2nd half (AM,Sevilla,Valencia), I’ve said it before, When the physical aspect of our squad reaches it’s peak and we maintain the pressing for 90 minutes, We’ll stop talking about the defense all together.

    – I think i might understand why Martino opted for pedro as a starter over alexis, He’s better at holding the ball and short passes, In general he the best at keeping possession, Which is favorable when playing away from home. You certainly don’t want to give the ball too much, Martino looked for security.

    – Neymar was the MOTM for me, The kid never cease to amaze, Constant thread and nuisance to celtic, Bartra deserves an honorable mention, I’m glad he tapped into his confidence, And is no longer that ‘shakey’ defender from last season.

    – For those who keep mentioning the ‘huge’ save from valdes, All i can say is, There is a reason why we’re paying him millions of euros every year.

  15. ciaran says:

    I don’t understand the constant argument that against X opponent we would lose/draw/concede or whatever.
    You can only beat the team in front of you.
    After the game we played against Levante where we won 7-0, people could come out and say that we would beat any team in the world on that form but again it is pointless.
    We played Celtic, away, and came back with 3 points and a clean sheet with their goalkeeper as my MOTM.

    Valdes made a world class save… yes, but isn’t his job as a world class goalkeeper to make world class saves? To rely on a player to do his job is what every team in every sport in every match does.
    Cesc played as a forward and did his job to score the winning goal. I don’t understand the issue.
    If Valdes had made 4 or 5 world class saves like Forster did and we didn’t create chances, or control the match, or played badly it would be different.

    On the match itself, I thought that Valdes, Bartra, Busquets, Cesc, Neymar and Alexis all played well. I thought that Xavi and Iniesta controlled the match well while I was a little disappointed in Iniesta’s rather cautious approach on a number of occasions.

    I wonder if we are taking a look at Forster for one of the two goalkeeper positions that are becoming vacant in the summer.

  16. barca96 says:

    I’m the one who mentioned last night for the players to man up and umpteenth other times.

    You’re missing the point mei. What I and some others mean by soft is the players milking the situation. Why is there a need to roll around or react as if it’s a hard tackle nearly every time?

    I find it very irritating and embarrassing for the players to exaggerate a foul (Busi & Alves are the masters in this). Just man up and get on with it.

    I am totally opposite to these types of acts. Just recently in a league match vs an Irish team, I was tackled and bulldozed over a few times but I just got up and get on with it like always. The guys at the end commanded me for never going down or complaining. They’ve never seen anyone like that.

    I’m not trying to brag but why is that such a special thing? We have the ability to continue and get on with it, so why try to disrupt the play or complain to the ref or try to get an opponent booked?

    If the player gets fouled after the whistle has been blown, that’s a different story. Even then, there’s no need to milk it. But the foul on Neymar was a clear red for me and Neymar wasn’t overreacting to me.

    So yeah you don’t been to kick me in the face :)

    How did you even get from fouling, man up to kick my face? It has nothing to do what my face. I thought you were going to come and kick me how they (like Neymar) got kicked.

    • Kxevin says:

      Because by “manning up” you often minimize the effect of being kicked. And if you want to stop getting kicked, minimizing the effect of it is not what you do.

      The “stiff upper lip” English footballing school brings hard fouls and injured sprites. I don’t want to see that. Neymar calmed down once he had the desired effect, which was to get protection from the referee from being kicked all the time.

      The only way you can stop Neymar is to kick him. I think it is well within his right to exaggerate the occasional foul, to cut down on the kicking. Our players are competing at a significant physical disadvantage. Against some teams, we look like the kids who walk out with the teams before the match! If they kick us, it hurts. How to stop it? Bring the ref’s attention to it, and hopefully get a card or two. Then you resume playing in a more fair match.

    • fotobirajesh says:

      I can understand you barca96. Its been sooo many years that I played football now, but I never acted when I was fouled. I would shout back to the player or even the ref, but never acted.

      But nowadays, it is quite confusing, what is right or wrong.

      The red yesterday, was a 200% red. No doubt. Did Neymar exaggerate, yes he did. But then, may be in modern day football, this exaggeration is required. I dont know, when you listen to ‘pundits’, they are on both sides.
      A British commentator would say, Busquets was disgusting to do that. But when it is done by an EPL player, they would say he was so determined to earn that kick.
      G. Neville – the best man nowadays on punditry – seems to take all this as part of the game.
      No one seem to talk about that acting by Ronaldo to get Rooney red carded, but they still talk about Busquet’s peek. What to do..

      • Kxevin says:

        Note that none of them mention Samaras, or the other Celtic player who rolled around and screamed to get Busquets his yellow. Maybe they rolled around and flailed like men?

      • I won’t mind a bit of play acting. After all you don’t get any special reward for getting kicked all over. One of the problem is that more referees appears blind to obvious fouls when players stay on their feet.

      • barca96 says:

        @foto

        You screamed at the ref? lol. Why would you do that? Ref’s don’t have the benefit of a replay.

        Screaming at a player I totally agree with. If someone fouls you, we should be mad at them, not the referee. I really don’t totally understand the point of players shouting and bullying refs when they are just trying to do their job. It’s the offenders who are trying to cheat (by illegal tackles).

        • fotobirajesh says:

          when they walk past as if nothing happened, what to do..
          but friend, there is something. In India, in our generation, there is an unwritten rule to respect elders, even if they are just an year old. Most refs would be at least 5 years older than us, and even our screams are addressed properly and have a basic respect. They too know this.
          But I agree, refs are lonely out there.

  17. Kxevin says:

    So, the GoBarça censure motion has been withdrawn. Rosell is still a lying weasel, they say, but the raising of the required number of socis on board from 5 to 15% is a big, i.e. impossible nut to crack.

    To my view, they should have had their ducks in a row, and known about that. Now, it just belittles the antis, and strengthens the Rosell view that there are only a small number of socis who are against him.

    I believe had it come to an actual vote, we would have seen now many were in fact against him.

    • fotobirajesh says:

      May be I am wrong, but this requirement of 15% minimum as a law is still not in force, right? (the present law requires only 5%)

      Something not sounding right, I think.

      Whatever, Go Barca aroused my hope, short lived though.

      • Peter says:

        Apparently there’s an actual law(passed by the Catalan government) that states the minimum of signatures is 15% of the socis that can vote. As such, it supersedes the internal rules of Barcelona. And the secretary of Sport for the Government has called Barcelona to put their statutes in accordance with the law ASAP.

        Now the question remains who and when decided to pass that law. Some comments I saw state it was passed in 2010(and that Laporta pushed for it), others say it was passed in 2011 or 2012. Unfortunately I don’t speak Catalan so I can’t look for evidence in the local press. All I’ve got is Spanish articles.

        I’m all for democracy, but the censure motion shouldn’t be used for publicity stunts or for launching election platforms.

        Abidal left a bad taste but I understand the reality of it. The rest… On the pitch things have been good. Hell, equalizing the record of Darth Mou and his Stormtroopers in the year when nobody would bet against me that a team facing Real wiould be punished either with a red card or a penalty, and doing it with the manager missing for three months, with Messi injured for the last month, that was truly something. Five trophies in 2010-2011.
        Financially, while I don’t like Qatar’s treatment of guest workers, the sponsorship at the moment of signing the document was a record deal(of course, it has been since eclipsed), and it’s much better than bwin, wouldn’t you say? Besides, in the first two years of Rosell the estimated value of the club according to Forbes rose 2.67 times, from 975m Euro to 2600m Euro. In the last two years of Laporta(which included the sextuple) the value rose 0.0156 times, from 960m to 975m.

        So my point is, what exactly was the censure for?

        • Rami says:

          I agree with pretty much everything.

          Clearly the group and many barca fans didn’t like some of the things that happened in rosell’s term, But for me it doesn’t call for a censor, Especially when we’re doing great in terms of sports and money, Which are the two main pillars for any club, And i have the right to take these two under serious consideration before considering censoring him.

    • Rami says:

      It was doomed to fail from the start, They would’ve needed 66% of eligible soci votes to remove him from presidency, And since our club is no distressed state right now, Both in sporting and financial department, It’s just plain impossible they’ll get the 66&.

      The 61% laporta got, Indicates that the large majority wanted him out, Yet it didn’t stop him from continuing his presidency for the next 2 years, Showing a president how unpopular he is, Is useless if you can’t remove him from presidency.

      • Kxevin says:

        Ah, but note that only a small percentage of the 118k eligible socis voted in the Laporta censure vote. It was essentially a local issue. So while a majority of the voting socis wanted him out, an actual majority of the TOTAL socis did not.

        It’s also worth noting that the simple reason the Laporta censure percentage was so high, was two silverless seasons. At the end of that very season, Laporta could have humped a zebra in a wading pool filled with cava, and nobody would have given a darn.

        Had the 5% still been in place, the GoBarça group could have brought its motion, then made its case. And I would have flown to Barcelona to vote “yes” to the motion to censure. With joy in my heart.

        Would a 66% number of the total voting socis have been reached? Impossible to know. But as it was with Laporta, the opposition is strong locally, never mind internationally.

        • Rami says:

          Didn’t previously know foreign socis are allowed to vote on such matters.

          Just checked the numbers, one third of the 118k took part in the voting, But the other two thirds simply didn’t take part, Not with a yes or a no, So it all came down to the votes of lapora’s strong supporters (Bothered to vote no), And the votes of laport’a strong opposers (Bothered to vote yes).

          The reason i’m not in support this censor vote, Because an alternative isn’t always better, When such censors take place, The sporting or financial aspect of a club are in ruin, And what ever alternative choice there is, It’ll be better than the current, But in this case, We’re doing great on both of these aspects.

          Yes there will be a democratic election if rosell was removed, But it’s the same election process that brought us rosell with a historic win!, Will i be blamed for not trusting them?, At least after these 3 years, I know rosell and what to expect of him, And i’d rather tolerate him for the next 3 years than to risk with another one, When our team is in such a great shape.

    • Peter says:

      Personally I think that if they were serious, then the way they did it was really stupid. If you want to collect lots of signatures, you’d do in on match day at Camp Nou. The next Camp Nou is this Saturday, then it’s two weeks of international break – then it’s away vs Osasuna. If they had done it three weeks earlier, they would’ve had three home fixtures in ten days(Sevilla, Ajax, Real Soc.)

  18. Kxevin says:

    Hey, did anyone except me notice Iniesta’s new role last night? I suspect some was (and will continue to be) a consequence of the Neymar effect, but he was much more Xavi-like yesterday as Xavi assumed that traditional Fabregas role. Xavi also ran the most of anyone yesterday, btw.

    But Iniesta was that linchpin/reset button, rather than his usual firestarter role, as Xavi performed as … well … Xavi. I thought it was a fascinating tactical wrinkle from Martino.

    — Daddy Bartra is saying “Told you my boy rocked. And if you’d given him more time last year, he would have rocked it then, too. Neener!” Would he have been right then? Dunno. The past two matches, Bartra has certainly been wonderful. But I would contend that the way the team is defending this season fits much better with Bartra’s skill set than the way the team defended last season.

  19. bhed says:

    Nice post Kxevin, and thanks for your continued dedication to this site. It’s true, you can only beat the team in front of you.

    IamXavi6 makes a valid point too, and the people who attacked him for it (as opposed to making a counter argument) should really lighten up.

    My thoughts on the game…

    Both center backs played very well. It’s true this wasn’t the ultimate defensive test, but still, they handled their business nicely.

    Adriano solid again, also handled his business.

    Dani…oh Dani. I’d love to see some actual stats on balls won vs. balls lost, completed passes, etc, to compare to my impressions of his play this season. He has his moments, but still… Maybe he needs a rest, and Monty definitely needs minutes.

    Midfield was solid. Xavi gave away a few, but still performed well.

    Neymar was quite good, again. Why don’t we let him take free kicks? I like his chances better than Xavi’s. I would also like to see him more in the middle when Messi’s out, especially once he finds his scoring boots.

    Pedro – one of the absolute worst performances I’ve ever seen from him. MLS level touch, never in the right place, ugh. No coincidence we scored as soon as he came off.

    Overall the team played well against a disciplined (except for Brown of course) opponent in an intense environment. I like what I’ve been seeing so far all season.

  20. Kxevin says:

    On another note, commenters like IAmXavi6 keep us honest. While I wouldn’t agree with all of the views expressed, it is important to apply some alternate perspective. Would it have been a different match had Valdes not come up huge? Good question, and worth exploring.

    It is easy for some culers to say “We’re going to beat everybody!” IAmXavi6 reminds us to take things one day at a time.

    But as others have said, you beat the opponent in front of you. I think this year’s team is better mentally than last year’s team, even as it has the same personnel. There is a steel to this group that we didn’t see last year. I think that, as noted above, some of it is due to having a plan. But also, last year was SO unsettled. Nice to get back to the business of playing football.

    • ooga aga says:

      we had a pretty good start to the season last year, too….record setting. lots of mental toughness. things really did seem to change once tito went away…

      no doubt though, in Tata I Trust

    • Humphrey Bogart says:

      I think, at least in my case, i got really shaken up with what happened in last year CL semi. I know the club had more dire periodes where everything seemed much worse but i can hardly remember 2 games that shocked me that much too the core, i never expected our players to get slaughtered and humiliated like that and to accept it like something given. That is for me the reason for ultra caution bordering on pessimism, because if you tell yourself again and again that we are not that good and that we might get picked up by better teams then when it finally happens it can never be a shock and disappointment again like it was last season.

      Criticism and pessimism in that way is a way of self protection

      • bhed says:

        Hey! Good to see you post again. I was just a lurker when you used to post more, but I always liked your comments.

        I totally agree with your comments, both the shock of THAT tie, and the idea of pessimism as psychological self-defense. Very well put.

    • Serena Andre says:

      I think we saw this kind of steel at the beginning of last season. Similarly, the team just refused to lose. Especially in La Liga. Matches against Sevilla, Osasuna, Spartak and even the home match against Celtic come to mind. Comebacks galore.

      Then everything just fell apart when Tito got sick again.

  21. barcadan says:

    great post, great blog, great contributions all round! I even love our grumpy drunks! we all need a mourinho now and then to spice things up. . .
    I think the team is definitely on an evolutionary track. some people perhaps overreact to the doubters (we are cules afterall), but if youre not just being a hater you can clearly see improvement and new options opening up. counterattacking, more effective tiki taka, neymar, bartra, valdes!
    i remember the year i arrived in barcelona, van gaal and gaspart and overmars. i remember ronaldinhos last year, when he and deco and company werent even showing up for games. weve come a long way baby. to see the team full-court pressing, with spark and youth and a new coach everyone seems to like, even after all the successes, its gotta make you an optimist.
    and if go barcelona manages to chuck out rosell, well then, the sky is truly the limit

  22. lea_terzi says:

    Great writeup, Kevin! Don’t know what happened, but I pretty much agree with you on everything this year.

    I’m on the fence about the “man up thing” – on the last thread, I posted this: “it’s just part of the package for a team built around short, slight, tricky and somewhat fragile players, challenging for all trophies every year. Our stars can’t win too many physical duels, push opponents off the ball or burst through defenses with power, but they can be pesky and draw fouls. These fouls need to be called for us to have a chance at level playing field against physical teams.”
    Of course, we want to win every game 5-0 with no interference form the referee, but this is football, and in football results balance on the razor edge, the best team doesn’t always win, and luck and a friendly whistle frequently decide results. Look at any CL / World Cup winner ever and their path to championships, and you’ll see what I mean. Research shows that “home ground” advantage is caused by the way referees deal with pressure and call the match, more than anything else. So, luck matters, ref’s perceptions about players, whistle, cards, free kicks, penalty calls matter in any given game. They matter even more as they accumulate over the course of the season. Competitive as they are, our players can’t disregard this aspect of the game – nobody else does, either.

    On the other hand, I think that, in the long run, Neymar would benefit from staying with the play more often, instead of going to ground at the first contact. It would just make him a better player, more dangerous and unpredictable. Fouling is a tactic, and if defenders know they can take him down in less dangerous areas, they’ll do just that. Besides, if he gains a reputation as a diver in Europe, and refs stop calling some of the fouls against him and handing out cards, his effectiveness will suffer. (look at Alexis, for example).
    However, the practical side of helping someone as slight as Ney stay on his feet more is problematic. I think we have all seen his great attitude, tenacity and competitiveness, but if a much taller and heavier defender shoves or clips him, he’ll go flying. Coaches can’t ask him to bulk up quickly without risking injury and compromising his greatest assets, speed and trickery.
    Maybe some practical lessons from Andres “I walk through people” Iniesta and Leo “I’m too fast for you” Messi are in order to help Ney evade some of the fouls and follow through on his dangerous attacks.

    If what really bothers cules is the perception of Barca outside the culeverse as a whining, diving team that gets help from the ref, this really can’t be helped. Messi won’t grow any taller, Busi, Xavi and Iniesta will never be a physical midfield, our fullbacks won’t become defenders in the classical sense, Neymar won’t gain significant weight this season, they’ll get abuse from defenders with less talent and more brawn. They’ll counter by being faster, smarter, more precise, and yes, by drawing attention of the ref to fouls.

    • barcadan says:

      good points all. I remember in my highschool the soccer players were sneered at by the football players for being little pretty boys. But from an athletic perspective their skill sets were amazing compared to the other bulky jocks. and they didnt really care, because they got plenty of chicks.
      I havent seen Neymar dive once this year. he goes down easy, but the kid is like 60 pounds!

      • Kxevin says:

        True, but I would note that Neymar usually gets on with it, so to speak, once he has had his effect and can play his game on a more level playing field. I don’t think, after the red card, he even went down once.

        Some would say that proves he can do without it. I would counter that he has made his point, and can now play without fear of being kicked every time.

        @lea_terzi: No shame in agreeing with me, though it does mean that the danger of the Dark Side of the Force is increasing (muhahahahaha!). And thanks for sticking around after the abuse from Mr. Senyera. It’s appreciated.

        • lea_terzi says:

          @Kxevin, or maybe you saw the light at last :)
          I couldn’t stay away too long. Your (and all mods’) dedication to keeping this space alive and maintaining the standards of quality discussion is admirable. It takes a while to write a comment, and, no matter how well intended, I often see my thoughts coming out looking jumbled, inane or plain wrong. Can’t imagine what it’s like to write quality posts every other day, direct traffic and stay positive through it all. Major props.

          • bhed says:

            “I often see my thoughts coming out looking jumbled, inane or plain wrong”

            Yeah, me too. Also, I often read this blog on my phone, and being over 40, I kind of suck at typing with my thumbs. My coherent replies are almost always written from an actual keyboard.

        • Jim says:

          You’re right, Kxevin. I was trying to be careful when I used the phrase “man up”. I should have said “cheating”. It’s quite simple for me. If you feign pain or injury you are seeking to gain an advantage through cheating. The ref had a yellow card in his hand but changed to a red as a result of Neymar’s simulation. Never been a fan of that never will. As I’ve said before, I’m not defending Brown. He is a horrible, needlessly aggressive player. I would have disagreed but could understand if Neymar had got up and the ref had awarded red. However, he barely touched Neymar who pretended he was dying. Dress that up any way you like it’s cheating and we don’t need to do that and shouldn’t be setting that example to youngsters. Yes, we can dress it up as somehow getting justice because the refs won’t give us any but we’re just kidding ourselves. I’m not particularly getting at Neymar here. He’s young and imo made a big mistake last night but he will hopefully learn. I have more issues with people supporting and attempting to justify the indefensible. Spoke to a couple of work colleagues this morning who were at the game and had missed the highlights by the time they got home. They said the crowd was unhappy with Neymar after his dive early on – don’t really remember that – and that they knew Brown must have done something but equally knew that Neymar was feigning injury. They also made the point that there was an awful lot of goodwill still for Barca which was why Iniesta got the applause he did on leaving and Neymar left to a chorus of boos. For me, they got it about right.

          I’d also chase out of my office any youngster who was foolish enough to offer the excuse that that other boy Samoras did it as well so why shouldn’t I? Is that the moral level we are operating at?

          Rant over, there were a number of positives. This was not an easy side to play away from home. I thought Bartra was pretty good, I thought Busi, Xavi and Iniesta strangled Celtic, along with a refreshingly aggressive pressing and I thought Alexis did well on the cross and his chance which produced an unbelievable save for me. Neymar also looked particularly good through the middle … But that produces all sorts of structural problems for us.

          • blitzen says:

            The ref had a yellow card in his hand but changed to a red as a result of Neymar’s simulation.

            No, Jim. The ref had a yellow card in his hand for the initial foul. He changed it to a red as a result of seeing right in front of him with his own eyes Brown kick a player who was already on the floor. That’s a clear red no matter what amount of pain or lack thereof the kicked player is in. It’s very simple.

          • Jim says:

            As I said in the last thread Blitzen, the ref doesn’t have any card out until the whole incident is over. You see it quite clearly on the ITV coverage with Scott Brown having run on and turned round after the incident. The commentator even says “Scott Brown knows what is coming next. The yellow card is out.”

            I know that in a lot of replays that angle is missed out and tbh it’s not really my point whether he was successful in what he did or not. I just reckon we should never support something we know is wrong. I railed against Pepe a couple of weeks back but by this token we could say that he just exaggerated the defender’s touch on him.

            However, I’ve said my piece and don’t like dwelling on the small points that irritated me about our performance. There was a lot of good in that game last night and Celtic on European nights at home are never a pushover. We worked our tails off to make it seem like that.

          • Peter says:

            Hi, Jim, I have to say it gives me great pleasure to tell you that what you just said can be put down under the general definition of bovine excrement.

            First of all, sir, “cheating” is what the brave Celtic captain with a history of violence does – he kicks a downed opponent, but does it in a way that would let him get away with it, after first fouling said opponent.

            Second, if you look at the replays of the foul, Neymar doesn’t react to the initial foul – and that’s when Brown kicks him, which makes Neymar shout out.

            Third, if you only look at the frontal slow-mo videos, it might look to you like a casual grazing loving tap with the pointy tip of the boot driven by a very fit man. However, when you look at the slow motion replay from the back, available for your viewing pleasure at the tube: /watch?v=ajok76msgYI you can clearly see it’s a real kick with the part of the boot from the tip to the first row of cleats. Unlike you apparently, I’m no expert on the pain threshold of Neymar, but given his skinny frame and obvious lack of muscles, I’d say that a sucker punch kick at the lower back and in immediate vicinity of the kidneys would hurt quite a bit more than a plastic bat scraped vigorously across the same area. In any case you are welcomed to try it on yourself and then report on the levels of pain. Not that it would matter, because cards are given for intent, not the level of damage done, but it may just make you swallow your words. I know I would definitely feel it, even though that area of my body is (unfortunately and temporarily) much better padded than Neymar’s.

            Fourth and most important, it’s not Neymar’s reaction that gets the big tough cheating cowardly scum sent off. It’s the ref a couple of meters away and in plain view of the situation. Using again the slow motion replays, it’s bloody obvious that the ref sees it all.

            Fifth and almost as important as the fourth, what matters is what Brown does, not what Neymar does or does not.

            Sixth, I have no objection to Cules trying to be objective. However, I have quite a bit of aversion to Cules bending backwards and bashing unnecessarily the players in their misguided attempts of objectivity.

            Seventh is the charm, Neymar has been showing a remarkable stiff upper lip for quite a bit of time, at least since the Sevilla match. Considering the fact that he’s a very light player and that opposing players try to abuse his “diving reputation” by claiming a dive every time they push him in the back to the ground or send him flying to the ad boards, Neymar has been showing a remarkable restraint, quite a bit more than a certain 1.92m 86 kilogram long-haired darling of the Celtic supporters.

    • Rami says:

      Neymar likes to look for the foul, Instead of avoiding it, A habit he seemed to have kept from his time at santos, Useful to get set pieces and forcing yellow cards, But he puts himself in a risk of an injury, Martino expressed the same concern.

      As time passes by and he becomes a more integral part of the team, The effect of his absence due to injury will outweigh any benift we’ll get from the fouling, Something messi realized at one time.

  23. Laurentiu88 says:

    great writing again…

    I will have to disagree in some respect with the idea that what was on show was patience, that we used our game of passing to continuously look for weaknesses in Celtic’s defense. Surprisingly, I will agree more with Ben Hayward from goal.com, when he wrote that without Messi we didn’t look to pose much threat… This is what it seemed during the game, that we were good at playing the ball around, from side to side, but there were hardly any chances.. That the majority of them came after Celtic were down to ten men its a fact to that i suppose. It did not seem that any serious threat could come from none of our guys, I was expecting some combinations between our midfield guys and wingers to see some threatening one’twos in their penalty box… In this regard it felt quite little.

    How great was Tello at one play tricking one defender then bursting in the Celtic’s box.. maybe he’s penetration proneness is what will take him ahead of Pedro in a couple of seasons…

    Man… that kid Neymar is good… so happy he wants to play for us.

    Funny how real’s supporters feel sad now about Ozil’s and Higuain’s departures. I am really happy for the former’s success at Arsenal. Can’t keep on wondering about the reports at the time saying he wanted to play for us…

    I find the whole debate, ok in the UK media, about Neymar’s exaggeration or whether the ref was right so silly, and then trying to guess what was in the ref’s head, he had this card, then he pulled the red one… that replay was so clear :) i suspect if one wants to get into the intimidation game what should accept it’s rules all the way. like the all saying goes, dont do the crime if you cant do the time. Also, what a lesson for Spanish ref’s this decision should have been, if one has in mind the, still very good ref, of the Madrid derby.

    • Kxevin says:

      Funny, I had just watched my highlight compilation (such as it was) of last year’s Celtic match in their house. We weren’t all that potent last year, WITH Messi.

      And keep in mind that as long as we kept the ball and didn’t pose any threat, they couldn’t pose any threat. So mission accomplished.

      Also by keeping the ball, mental fatigue sets into a defense. We don’t score that goal in the first. They are too fresh, psychologically. But look at the acres of space that play had to develop. And in the first half, they would have just knocked Neymar down, rather than letting him take the pass and do damage.

      Tello, for me, is running (no pun intended) in place. He still isn’t tracking back as a Barça attacker should, and he gets tunnel vision when he gets the ball. If Deolofeu actually develops at Everton as he is on pace to do, when he returns Tello will be loaned/sold.

      • Laurentiu88 says:

        i do remember last years game, but i thought the idea was that the team is trying to change this aspect somehow :) we did control the game, I am just wondering if some incisiveness was missing. maybe generally the team creates less chances, maybe at moments they are more interested in controlling the tempo of the game as was the Almeria game.

        it is true, I too wished Tello would be a more refined player, more involved in combinations there. he does have some speed thou’ and speed is such an asset in this game..

        i suppose the jury is still out on Tello and Deolofeu, as the former is still with us, playing in ucl.

        I was wondering Kxvin, because you wrote many times about our team’s physical and mental tiredness, how the 4 years under Pep influenced last season, how do you think the team looks now after the 10 or so games? (there isn’t that intensity that was at the beginning of last season, maybe Tata is trying to conserve some of the energy with rotations, with making the team control games rather then go all out on occasions?

        It has been discussed that Mourinho’s teams usually suffer a downfall after his departure. does anyone think Madrid’s players suffer from a lack of intensity? I kinda’ didn’t see a intensity or determination in their game…

        • Kxevin says:

          Good question. I think the team looks more mentally prepared than physically. Last year they started like a house afire, clearly with something to prove.

          This season, much calmer and more workmanlike. The group understands what the task is and how to accomplish it.

          • Peter says:

            Something to prove seems about right. They lost La Liga to the Eye-poker and his ref-supported thugs, lost Villa to a broken leg, lost Abidal to a liver transplant, lost the semis against a double-decker parking Chelsea, and lost Pep.

            And they proved it, at least a part of it. Best half-season in history, Messi set a new record for goals, the team equalized the (Not so)Special one’s points total of the previous year, set a new record for most points over the second-placed team, despite Tito’s relapse, despite the injuries.

  24. Rami says:

    Given the two pleasant and reliable performances from bartra, How much does this affect the club’s intentions about buying a CB in the winter?

    The arguments for buying one in winter are well known and discussed: Increase depth, Puyol isn’t reliable…etc

    Arguments against: All worthy ones had already participated in CL, Needs time to adjust..etc.

    • Kxevin says:

      I think it certainly diminishes them, but the need is still there. I predict that Puyol will break again this season, and probably announce his retirement over the summer.

      But don’t forget that Bartra is looking good (like Pique) because the team is back to playing Barça-style defense.

      • Jim says:

        I hope not but there is certainly an air of giving it one last chance which is never good. However, having seen a video of him running a little while ago now he was certainly getting up a decent speed. I know…. It’s not the same as a hard challenge :(

  25. Humphrey Bogart says:

    For me it all depends on patience from coaching stuff and fans. Bartra impressed with 2 good performance, but there will surely some bad performances be along the way. That is the way it is. He is still young and learning, gaining expeeriences and that means also makeing mistakes. Just think back to Busi and his teething problems at the start.

    I still remember Vincent Kompany from his time in Germany and he was surely nothing to write home about, but he got chances, worked hard and developed, the same way Puyol improved again greatly under Pep.

    It also depends on us fans to be acceptable of mistakes bartra will make and those in the Camp Nou and media and not slugging him off after such a mistake

  26. mohit says:

    Bayern are looking stronger than last season. Physical yet possession-based football. Can’t wait to face them this season (if we do). Would be absolutely gutted if Bayern manage to win the Champions League this year and would love for Barca to end this run.

  27. KEVINO17 says:

    What shocked me about MC was how little pressure they put on the ball. Lots of teams in La Liga press a lot higher and more determinedly than MC did. They just let Bayern settle on the ball and overrun them in midfield.

    • mohit says:

      Absolutely. Toure and Fernandinho were outplayed in the midfield. I’m not sure what MC’s strategy was exactly. I expected Pellegrini to do much better!

    • Jim says:

      Yeah, they weren’t set up right imo. Also I’ve never really thought many of them go the extra mile for their team. Bayern did look good and they have the energy and physique to press really well.

      However, I’m happy Bayern are playing well just now. Doesn’t matter how good a team you are you’ll have a dip somewhere in the season. I’d rather theirs came at the business end. It’s so hard mentally to keep putting themselves through that.

      Btw, if VV had performed like Hart he’d have been run out of town.

      • 86ed says:

        Bayern are frightening. Strong, technical, and willing to change the way they play to match circumstances. Unless some unforeseen mishap happens (and it well could), they will win the CL again this season.

        Why is it though that opposing teams never defend en-bloque vs the Bavarians like they do vs us? That’s the best team in the world right there, so I’d have thought coaches would have caught on and try to soak pressure and hit them on the counter, like they do us.

        • mohit says:

          I think technical ability to hold the ball is lesser compared to Barca. Teams have fewer opportunities to steal the ball from us, hence, they sit back and wait. Against Bayern, there is still hope to get the ball off them.

        • fotobirajesh says:

          we seem to be superior to Bayern, only on the technical aspect. They managed possession so well y’day. They are physically better than us, and their biggest advantage over us would be their defense.
          We are yet to see what they will do against a strong p.bus.

          I cant wait to face them.

  28. Puppet says:

    I’m definitely interested in what happens once Alba comes back, and if Adriano can stay healthy for a long period. Obviously, Martino will most likely just rotate the two, but I think having both available opens up options up front, perhaps as a contingency plan if Messi gets hurt again. I seem to remember Pep played Adriano at LW a couple times, maybe try the same with Alba?
    Probably won’t happen, since Tello already is starved for minutes, but considering Alba’s speed, link-up play, and proven finishing ability, it’s fun to entertain the notion.

    I’m very content with where the team is at right now, especially in regards to our attacking line. Neymar may not have been crucial, but I think we signed him at the perfect time, both for the club and his own development.

  29. Manish says:

    Heartless Qatar..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5R9Ur44XV8

    Don’t know why fifa is turning a blind eye..

  30. barca96 says:

    Great comment from Guardian;


    OMatzerath
    02 October 2013 10:24pm

    The very best teams in Europe, the legendary teams tend to have at least 3 or 4 world class home grown players.
    Think Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets; Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Alaba. Thinking further back, Scholes, Giggs, Beckham, Neville; Davids, Seedorf, Overmars, Kluivert; Baresi, Maldini, Costacurta.
    I think there are a few reasons that this is the case: first, they have a love for the club, a desperation to win; secondly, it’s much easier to add the finishing touches when you have the core already there.

    You generally can’t buy a great team, because the very best players aren’t for sale. So you have to grow it. City have a lot of second rate players – guys who are extremely good, extremely expensive but ultimately not world class. Players who don’t even start for their national teams – Silva and Nasri and Clichy and Negredo and Fernandinho. It’ll be 10+ years until City have a hope of being among the best teams in Europe.

    He is absolutely right. You need home grown players as the core.

  31. PrinceYuvi says:

    We should still sign a cb, if there is any barca-esqe available.
    A proper 9 would do too, to use sparely.
    Either buy or promote. Someone with a skull, we just have legs.

    One or two dead balls, a corner and a free kick here and there and Boom. Suddenly the hard work of 90 mins is down the gutter.
    Busi, pique, bartra and a head. That sounds like enough )

    Pep used 4-1-4-0.5 .
    I hope Tata is watching these games and taking notes.
    Barca babies did fairly well in the friendly against them.

  32. Just went through the comments posted on top, especially the replies to IamXavi6’s comment.

    Why a lot of us are being pessimistic? The reason we saw the disaster that happened last season against bigger teams. I know calling last season a disaster is kind of a joke, but then from being the Best team in Europe we were relegated to Just another good team in Europe last season. For me it’s a disaster simply because we have all the ingredients to be named the Best in Europe barring one which is will management’s will to correct the deficiency we had in two seasons. So it’s natural for us to be pessimistic.

    I personally thought that the victory against Celtic was the best result of the season. It was tough against a well drilled Celtic defense. Simply put I thought a draw would have been a good result, so a win is magnificent. But that should not hide the fact that IamXavi6 pointed out. Especially the save pulled off by Valdes and the miss from open goal. No doubt Valdes is in the team to make saves. But we are seeing a pattern emerging here where he is forced to make 3-4 exceptional saves in each match. This needs to be addresses as sooner or later his form may drop or he will have to face exceptional strikers. The teams which have beaten us in the past are the ones who have been pretty effective with the chances created. Don’t give the nonsense of “disaster can’t strike twice” – it has, many times! Last season we were so dependent on Messi for goals that it came to hurt us in Europe in the end. This season the same could happen with Valdes unless we start to address the defensive issues. There is no quick fix to this and this season may go like this. But then there is no point in jumping onto the guy who points the same.

    Being a pessimistic does it make you a bad fan? At least the feeling we get here is that it does. Just because one prefer to point out a problem when he sees one; is it necessary to question is loyalty. If he doesn’t love the club why on earth would he take up the time to write something about the club here. If the idea of the ideal loyal fan is “See no bad, Hear no bad, Speak no bad”, then I would prefer to be a bad fan than a good one.

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

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      ^Great comment

    • IamXavi6 says:

      Nail > Head. Well said sir and exactly the angle Im trying to present. No one wants this club to be the dominent force we all know it can be again more than me in Europe!

      However that doesnt mean I cant voice concern and spot flaws when I see them.

      Visca!

      • Kxevin says:

        Of course the people who espouse that worldview would agree. There is value in criticism. But by lumping everyone who doesn’t join in the chorus of “we’re doomed against a real side,” you dismiss and diminish them as Pollyannas in the face of your more unstinting analysis. I don’t believe that to be fair OR accurate.

        We know that every time people have said “Wait unti ….” this team has prevailed. And if some choose to emphasize and explore THAT, rather than sitting on pins and needles in anticipation of the next disaster, it no more makes them delusional than it makes the naysayers bad fans.

        Further, I personally believe that sitting around waiting for the iceberg to hit rather than enjoying the journey, raises stress levels and leaves you unprepared for if the iceberg never hits.

        Fuck Bayern. Let them play us with a full, fit squad and let’s see what happens. For right now we are beating the teams that we are facing. And those who wonder why that isn’t sufficient can not be dismissed for wondering why such a thing would be so.

    • nzm says:

      Again – nothing wrong with voicing concern or pointing out something not right with the team.

      But hey – let’s please balance it with comments about what’s right with the team – because there’s plenty of that too!

      IMO – that’s the difference between a critique and criticism – a critique will address both positives & negatives; criticism will concentrate on what’s wrong.

      Comments that include discussion on what’s great & what’s not will help to make the comments section a more balanced place – perhaps a space where more people may feel encouraged to participate.

    • Jim says:

      I’m not sure that the semis of the CL and winning your domestic league with a record number of points makes us anything else than second or at worst third best team in Europe. Also, a lot of things came together in that first game against Bayern. It would be unfortunate if we suffered a similar set this year. By all means make the point that we need a defender but given the summer’s prices who would you have bought ? I agree we won’t know how good this team is until the business end but the extra bit of vertical play on occasions, the rotations, the great start to the season and Neymar suggest to me that we’ll not be far away again.

  33. Rami says:

    What is everybody’s thought about opening a section on this blog called BFB Café, Where we get to discuss things outside of FCB, Like movies, TV shows, Music, And video games (Anything but politics), And each one of those having it’s own section.

    This always seemed like the last lost piece from making this blog the perfect haven, And i think it’ll strengthen our small community, Perhaps by finding more things in common between us other than our love for barca, And it’ll be just a general place to relax, relieve stress and blow off steam, For example when our team doesn’t perform well.

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      Nice idea )

    • blitzen says:

      I’m glad you enjoy the blog so much, Rami, that’s really good to hear. But no, we’re not planning to add a message- board section. It’s just not the direction we want to take, plus none of us have the time for the extra administrative duties involved.

      • fotobirajesh says:

        Alternatively, Blitzen, do you think it is possible at all to know a bit more about all the regular commentators here.

        It would be nice to know how old some one is, where in this world are they based, what they do to live, where they manage to read this blog basically, have they played football ever, have they been to Barcelona etc..
        simple things, which will definitely be informative. Which would even help us understand the comments sometimes, better may be.

        If we can click on the name of the commentor and it takes you to a BFB profile page, something like that.

        I will understand, if this is not possible.

      • Agree with this. A blog can be moderated and easily driven in one direction, but not a message board. We may start all with nice intention, only to realize that the admin have to spend twice the time to keep the trolls and spammers away. May be you could use the comment section a bit!

  34. lea_terzi says:

    Here’s a video of Bartra being overhyped by Gol:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOcBgyRSpDo
    (plus a video analysis of his performance against Almeria).

    Hope the hype doesn’t go to his head and he stays calm and assured in the coming games.

    • lea_terzi says:

      And renews his contract. He and Montoya can leave on a free after this season.

      • That’s important.

        Bartra and Montoya are good players may not emerge as world beaters. Then a great team is never made up of eleven legendary players. So these two guys can do the job. But it’s essential not to hype them so much. Remember the comments made of Montoya this season! He was brilliant last season whenever he got a chance to play, but has been shaky when given rare opportunities this season. The key is they will have more bad matches than good in the beginning of the season. That’s why it is necessary that they get playing time along with the first eleven players. They will learn a lot from their elders. After all a defender has to learn a lot like positioning in on the job training.

        Both Montoya and Bartra has shown that it is worth sticking with them. I do like Martino’s rotation as it gives the young players a lot of opportunities to play along with their idol. Last season and may be previous season also, we were giving the youngsters only opportunity in Copa matches, where literally it’s always a second eleven which is being employed.

        • lea_terzi says:

          Montoya’s problem is that he is, deservedly, our 4th choice at fullback. Now, Alba-Alves pairing is not ideally balanced, and Adriano has been fragile. If he goes down and Montoya can focus on being defensively solid and smart about his forward runs, he might get a run of games. But, as a Barca fan, I hope Adriano stays healthy throughout the season. He is phenomenal when healthy and the best option on the roster to play alongside Alves or Alba.
          Also, while Martino doesn’t mind playing one of the youngsters in the backline, he draws the line at two. So, while Bartra is out there, Montoya will sit.
          I wouldn’t blame Montoya for not extending his contract, with some amazing fullbacks in the squad and not much hope of a starting position. Alves’ time at the club might be drawing to an end, but, unless Montoya gets an extended run and shows his quality, I’m not sure he can take over. Hope it all works out for the best.

          As for Bartra, he is also fourth choice, but his competition are a 35 year old and a converted midfielder. Phenomenal defenders both, but as a young, tall, natural centre back with excellent ball skills, Bartra may fancy his chances more, if not this season, then the next.

          Completely agree with you that youngsters need to play serious minutes with the starters to grow and show what they can do.

  35. barca96 says:

    @Rami
    That’s a good idea Rami. I think somewhere in the past I mentioned something similar.

    @foto
    That’s a great idea. Like a profile. It will help everyone understand each other better imo and foster the relationship thus less misunderstandings in this space.

    I’m always interested in the people here, everyone. I’ve been talking about football for years here but I only know the lives of a few people (you included).

    Maybe we should all reintroduce ourselves if foto’s request is too hard to do.

    • Kxevin says:

      What I am thinking is a thread, which will live in perpetuity, in which everyone can bang out a short bio. I will put something up this evening, and it can live on. We will insert reminders into subsequent posts, and people can pop in (or not) and add/update.

      I agree that it’s a nice idea, not as much because it would foster any greater or lesser understanding, but I feel like people who spend as much time caring about what each other says as we do, should have some idea of who they’re “talking” to.

      Great idea!

    • fotobirajesh says:

      Thanks barca96, I have always wondered about the regulars here, so I really wish to know about others. A lot of misunderstandings can be undone, by knowing a bit more about the person. For eg. if there is such a profile, I will definitely mention my inability to express properly in English, and often I do comment in haste, from work.
      The problem in just introducing every one here is that we (I sure will) might forget with time, and after a couple of months if one needs a recap, will have to search back for the introducing post.

      Having said that, I hope BFB will not make the login using facebook/twitter. I am still in the old world, dont have such social accounts.

  36. ooga aga says:

    eric abidal is playing 90 regularly for monaco it would appear. i know he played 90 against PSG in the 1-1 draw.

    wow. visca Abi!

  37. Kxevin says:

    By the by, people will probably notice fewer typos in my comments. I got my Galaxy Note 3, which is about 47 kinds of badass. In addition, it likes my fat fingers better. So there’s that.

    I am fully prepared to gush about it to anyone who wants. Yup.

  38. drexler says:

    I’ve been a Liverpool fan for over 23 years. Often i sneak in a peek of Barca just to wonder how it’ll be if my beloved Liverpool can play such breathtaking football. However, this blog astounds me due to the constant criticism of this unbeaten team. I mean you guys lost to Bayern in the SEMIs of the champions league yet that has become the yardstick of this team. Incredible! After every win…someone out here is bound to say: “but if that was Bayern…”, good grief! Even Real Madrid fans didn’t lay into their team like this after losing 5-0 to you in Jose’s first year – yes i do read their blog too. Quite fascinating lot they are as they’re always coveting the “next best thing”.

  39. Messiah10 says:

    I haven’t been able to frequent the blog as much as I am used to of late. However, from reading several comments I gather there’s been some negativity about our play? Also, some jabs at Neymar for the red card? Really? Dude ran by Ney and attempted to kick out at him. So what if he didn’t connect 100%. A kick out is a kick out. Period. I also don’t get the negativity about our play. We Dominated! At no point was I nervous about the outcome because we controlled the match from the set. I thought the first 45 minutes was a masterclass in possession and high pressure defense. It was beautiful to watch. It’s hard to break a bus in the first 45 minutes. Always is because the opposing defense is still fresh. The break through almost always happens past the 70th minute mark in the 2nd half. That’s because the opposing defense is tired and unable or unwilling to make that extra effort to close a player down or cut off a passing lane. I thought Tata had a great game plan and have been extremely impressed with his tactics in each game this season. Extremely grateful for his hire and am feeling very positive about where the team is and where it’s going. Visca Barca!

  40. ibbe says:

    Thanks Kevin for this great piece! It’s really nice to see some optimism and positivity for a change. Everywhere I go, cules seem to have lost faith and all they think about is the doomsday when we face EE or bayern.

    I think that the only way to change their minds is for barca to reach perfection. If a player makes one mistake: “oh we are doomed if we face Bayern they will beat us, bla bla bla”. No team has ever reached perfection. Not even Barca under Pep. So the pessimism will ccontinue untill we win another treble I guess..

    The game vs Celtic was an awesome game..If cules can try to remember the guardiola era, we didn’t win that much on the road in CL did we? We played at Celtic, we dominated, we got the 3 points. It can’t get better than that. We can’t just play an away game, get 95% possession, 25 shots on target, 10 goals and 0 attempts conceded. Never happened and never will. Celtic had only 2 (TWO!!!) chances to score at HOME!! And you still aren’t satisfied? I think Cules need to get realistic with their expectations. The team is not perfect but it’s improving, the manager is new. Give the boys a chance.

    So thanks again (to all the mods) for keeping this place positive and keep up the good work. Visca!

    • ooga aga says:

      another good comment and great point, it seemed we could only ever expect a draw on the road in UCL with guardiola…and we did just fine then, too. this time, we got the win. without messi.

      im happy.

  41. barca96 says:

    I read the post match comments of the Man City Bayern match on the Guardian. Everyone was raving about Bayerns performance. A lot of people said that
    -total domination
    – one of the best beatings they’ve ever seen
    – upgrade from over Jupp’s team
    -upgrade over Barca

    So I made a point to watch the match. I could only watch the first half though.

    It was a good performance but it is nowhere close to what our team can do this season, let alone in those golden years!

    Their passing is perhaps only 70% of ours at best. So many loose passes. So many speculative shots from outside the box which we hardly do.

    Maybe my criteria is different to how beautiful football is but Bayern definitely didn’t walk over Man City as easily as how many described on Guardian. In fact, Bayern played a better game against us last season. I guess Bayern is still in honeymoon period.

    I am not denying that they’re a top 3 team or even the best team right now but they’re really not as mighty as how people make it out to be (based from the Man City match comments and match).

  42. barca96 says:

    @Rami

    I actually think it’s the opposite. Pedro is a player better suited to fast passing. He can’t and shouldn’t hold the ball!

    Alexis on the other hand holds the ball for too long. So I was glad to see Pedro starting over Alexis. Against Celtic who defend deep, Pedro is better suited.

    Actually I this against parked busses we need someone who can beat the full back but I don’t really have faith in Alexis to pull that off as he is clumsy and aways does too much. Holds the ball for too long. He himself said that he gets excited (maybe that’s the reason why he always pulls his already short shorts so high lol).

  43. barca96 says:

    You love to show off don’t you? Hehe.

    Note is perfect for the older generation or more politically correct, people with a diminishing eye sight. For that reason, I can’t jump over to iPhone until they produce bigger screens (not in length but overall) and the unavailability of SwiftKey.

    But how do you fit it in your pocket other than cargo pants? Women can put the phone in their handbags but how about men? I do not know any men who uses Note and they’re all saying the same thing. Can’t fit a Note in a pocket. I have to settle with Galaxy.

  44. tutomate says:

    We only won by one goal? AAAAHHHH the sky is falling!!!!!!

  45. mom4 says:

    Once upon a time, not so very long ago, a team named Arsenal staged a late game comeback to beat the mighty Barcelona 2-1 at home. This loss was made much more unpalatable due to the fact that it was the hobgoblin himself, Arshavin, who scored the winning goal (HGH is Blitzen’s nickname for him).

    There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    “We’re all gonna die!”, said many.

    “My cereal is cold!”, said Eklavya.

    We don’t know what Jnice said because he went into exile for a while after this.

    End of an era! It’s Rijkaard’s last days all over!

    Well, we all know what happened after that as we, despite the brilliantly headed ball by Busi…into our own net, went on to dominate the return game, make mincemeat of Shaktar, have a puto amo moment from Pep, give Man U a master class in football, and see our beautiful French greyhound lift that huge trophy at Wembley.

    So Bayern beat us last year. They beat us convincingly. But they beat us while we were down. They are the hottest thing since sliced bread right now with talent that can only be matched by their arrogance.

    But you know what? We ain’t half bad either and I’d fancy our chances against them this year, barring injuries and all other things being equal.

    Regardless, I’m willing to give our guys the benefit of the doubt before throwing in the towel before a ball is kicked.

    The reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated.

    Cheers!

  46. lea_terzi says:

    Fantastic comments all around! As for Bayern, let’s cross that bridge when we get to it. Personally, I’m excited about what this team can do.

    In other news, Diego Costa chooses Spain? Strange decision in light of Brazil’s performance in the Confeds cup, but it’s not like Scolari was knocking on the door. Both squads have an obvious weakness at center forward. As a long-time Roja supporter, I can only be happy with a shiny new weapon in the arsenal.

  47. TITO says:

    Having a positive comment about Barca it’s like giving a compliment to a gorgeous woman. It just points out something which is obvious. Doesn’t need to be complimented. :D

  48. swamidigital says:

    It’s funny but I think the way our team plays, even when defending with possession, is pretty fearless. Parking the bus, playing on the counter, these are tactics designed to minimize the opponents chance of winning and give yourself a chance while minimizing the risk. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it gives some clubs a chance to compete if they are diligent and work hard enough. But inherently as a fan I can’t applaud attempts to ‘not lose’ vs attempts to win, especially with style. It’s probably why many of us outside of Catalunya have opted to support Barca. Why do I think this is funny? Because so many cules seem to attempt to combat the fearlessness of their teams approach with a sense of dread pessimism.

    We have a truly great team, but there are many variables that go into winning championships, whether La Liga, CL, CDR etc. When you lose it’s easy to pick apart a team, but the margin between winning and losing at the highest level is so small. Yes it’s difficult to argue that about the 7-0, but even there the variables of health and fatigue meant that the same team could have had a different result. Even in our title winning years, with mesmerizing football, the margin has always been pretty thin. Of course, this is always pointed out, by better and more prolific posters than me! Here’s hoping we all realize it and enjoy and cherish every Barca win!

  49. Rami says:

    The match goal with catalan commentary by RAC1 (My upload):

    http://youtu.be/1-b9aCMIQRc

  50. Martino: “At Barça, I discovered the need for a weekly crisis. Sometimes they last a week, sometimes 3 days, like after the Rayo game.”

    • Kxevin says:

      Our Mister learns quickly.

    • lea_terzi says:

      You beat me to it :) Martino’s pressers are almost as fun to read as this blog.

      • Kxevin says:

        This is another good one:

        Martino: “It surprises me that Alexis gets a lot of criticism when not playing well, while now no one mentions his assist on Tuesday.”

        AND

        Martino: “There’s an evolution ongoing, the team is making progress. We still have to take more steps, but we’re getting better each game.”

        He also said that Puyol is going to be back in the squad for the Osasuna match, and that Neymar could play as a 9 at some point(s) this season. Man, that would be fun to see.

        Valdes
        Alves Pique Mascherano Adriano
        Busquets Fabregas Iniesta
        Messi Neymar Pedro (capitalizes better on chaos)

        Yes, that’s right … Messi on RW. Imagine the poor defender over there. The whole defense would shift to the right/right center to account for the switch. I’d reckon Fabregas and/or Pedro would have a brace or something. Interesting.

        • Peter says:

          I keep on getting back at the expression that combines incredulity, pity and maybe a bit of disgust, directed at the journalist(term used loosely) of “La Vanguardia” who asked whether it’s paradoxical that the team plays better and “more purely” without Messi. Priceless?

          Messi on the right wing would probably start a new trend in tactical schemes that have multiple left backs. :D

          • Levon says:

            I’d position Messi in the center over anybody else, but I can see how a three man frontline with Messi/Ney/Alexis interchanging positions would be awesome…

          • barca96 says:

            I used to ask Messiah to be played at RW before this season but this season it seems that he spends quite a lot of time on the right and create chaos.

            I’ll swap Tello with Pedro on LW. Image them on a counter attack…

          • Serena Andre says:

            Lennon had two right backs, Lustig and Matthews,
            trying to stop Neymar. We know how that worked out.
            Imagine if we had Neymar and Messi on the wings and opponents playing 4 fullbacks in their line ups. :P

        • Jim says:

          Yup. My favourite from the latest one :

          Martino: “Pique is one of the best centre backs in the world.” #fcblive

          This man will do for me :)

  51. DennyCrane says:

    On the manliness thing: Maybe the question should rather be what’s so manly about kicking players around, especially those who are in a physically inferior position to begin with.

    btw. Hi Rami, this blog is great. Thanks for inviting me here.

    • barca96 says:

      Welcome. Where did you meet Rami?

      Btw noONE is saying that it’s manly to kick players around. If you read my comments careful, I find that illegal. But what me and others are saying is for our players to stop milking fouls all the time. Just get up and get on with the play. If it’s a foul, then ok, no need to roll around and pretend that it hurts so bad like you’ve been shot.
      If the ref didn’t call the foul, just get on with the play and chase the ball. Don’t put your team at the disadvantage by lying and rolling around.

      • DennyCrane says:

        Sorry, should have made that clearer. My post wasn’t aimed at anyone here, but is merely a statement of its own since I always found it strange that people see a rough physical playstyle as manly, whereas milking contact is considered weak or even cheating.
        And I actually agree with what you posted, so no argument there.

        Met Rami in Barcaforum btw.

      • Kxevin says:

        Actually, they don’t put the team at a disadvantage. They get a foul or card on an opposing player, which earns a set piece and lessens the chance that same player will be kicking them a lot more during the match. Both those are advantages.

        They sometimes exaggerate to call attention to a systematic tactic by opponents to kick us.

        The times that our players leave the side a man down because of lolling about in the aftermath of a foul are so rare as to be almost nonexistent. They would get a sharp word from Xavi or Puyol if that happened.

    • Rami says:

      It’s good to see you here Denny.

      As you can see, The pace in here is slow in terms of comments, And in many occasions dense with text, But i think it’ll grow on you, Just like it did with me.

      Looking forward to your future contributions on this space.

  52. dl says:

    From K_oz, this was really interesting:
    http://www.fcbarcelona.com/football/first-team/detail/article/andres-iniesta-its-clear-that-barca-have-a-good-player-in-neymar-for-years-to-come

    It suggests that the sticking point is a clause of some kind regarding whether Iniesta can be loaned. He seems to be saying that he never wants to play for another team (and I’m glad for that!).

  53. Jim says:

    Had to laugh. One of my Celtic pals read what Ini had to say about loving to play in an atmosphere like Celtic Park and how the standing ovation came from their heart and that made it real for him.

    He then interpreted this as Ini possibly preparing the way for a move to Glasgow for the last few years of his contract as he didn’t need any more money. :) You’ve got to love your Scottish football fan. Depth of despair or La La land …

  54. drexler says:

    Thanks for the invite fellas. This is off-topic but as much as been said about Barcelona’s lack of Plan B but i think it already ‘exists’ only not used as it make the team more counterattacking- something to be frowned upon(?). What do you guys think of an in-game formation switch like this:

    alves-pique-puyol/masch/adriano
    iniesta – busquets
    alexis
    messi
    pedro neymar
    cesc

    My thinking is with Cesc a bonafide aerial threat and passer, why not have 3 speedy players on the pitch with him at the same time? I admit this very much depends on a Alexis’ dribbling ability but the idea is similar to how Sabella has Argentina set up. Messi is an incredible finisher but an even deadlier midfielder when he plays as a roaming 10. With an onrushing Alexis combining with either Pedro/Neymar on whichever flanking he’s breaking into, Messi can be relied upon to provide that crucial assist. I reckon it’ll be a nightmare for any defense caught cold.
    Besides, the one blessing from the champions league drubbing at the hands of Bayern means that top teams are not going to do a Chelsea when they face Barca, meaning more space for this formation to thrive. Xavi can come on for any of the front 5 and the 4-3-3 is restored.

    • drexler says:

      One more thing..this makes Barcelona even more unpredictable. Everyone knows for top games Messi will always play as a false 9 with Neymar on the LW and then either Pedro or Alexis on the right. So that means for any defending team, 2 out of the 3 attackers they’ll be facing and their playing styles will be known in advance. For instance the key to the win over Milan at Camp Nou was the Messi playing as a 10 and Villa as a 9. Allegri even commented about it as that having a disruptive influence – meaning they weren’t prepared for something like this. That’s the only time i sign Barcelona try an tactical switch apart from the Guardiola’s days. To buttress my point, can any of you predict with any certainty Bayerns midfield starters and their tactics, it’s increasingly getting difficult and that’s what Barca should be aiming for.

      • drexler says:

        sheesh so many typos – too much caffeine here.

      • Peter says:

        I don’t agree with this necessarily. There are quite a few combinations to be made, and then you can add the midfield which makes predicting the attacking trio even more complex. Examples as follows(LW-CF-RW):

        Neymar-Messi-Alexis

        Tello-Neymar-Messi

        Neymar-Alexis-(Dani Alves)
        ——Messi—-

        Of course you should never arrange your team in vacuum, you have the weaknesses and strength of the opposing team to consider, but in general the attacking team is easier to pick than the midfield. Off the top of your head, what’s the attack of Bayern, provided no injuries are present? Roben, Ribery, Muller and maybe Manzhukic, right?

  55. K_legit in Oz says:

    We have an actual coach this season fellas!

    • blitzen says:

      We had one last season as well. Tito managed the team really well for the first half of the season. It’s not his fault his cancer returned. I know you don’t mean it as a personal slam, but I am still sad that Tito never got a real chance to own that job. He was good, but all people are going to remember is the cancer and poor Jordi Roura doing his best to hold things together.

      • K_legit in Oz says:

        No I was actually lamenting for the club because of the misfortune! It was not a slight at Tito or Roura for that matter and I am sorry if it came across that way!

  56. Ultraculé says:

    I’d be very interested to see a hybrid 4-2-3-1 formation lineup this way:

    Alves – Pique – Masch – Adriano
    Busquets – Fabregas
    Alexis – Iniesta – Neymar
    Messi

    Gives an opportunity for Fab, Ini and Messi to constantly change positions to add verticality and breaking between lines. There’d be complete havoc in attack and decent defensive cover too.

  57. PrinceYuvi says:

    Hope song plays today or perhaps montoya. Whatever our lord tata wishes. He knows the best )

  58. psalmuel says:

    these days i always look forward to watch our games because even we the fans don’t know the expect frm tata

  59. PrinceYuvi says:

    We do not appreciate lex /pedro as much as they deserve.
    Found an interesting read, I hope it’s okay if I share this :
    http://www.footballcourier.com/news/story/2566499/being-good-just-isnt-good-enough/full_story.html

  60. raj says:

    Anything going on here todays matchup?

  61. Messiah10 says:

    OK. This is CRAZY, but super cool. Messi has released plans to build a football inspired house. Check out the details here with photos and a youtube clip. The video is in Spanish and I couldn’t translate, but this architect’s other designs are shown and they are amazing.

    http://metro.co.uk/2013/10/04/taking-your-work-home-lionel-messi-set-to-build-football-inspired-house-4134303/

  62. Rami says:

    I get an uneasy sensation in my stomach everytime i think of this match, Hope nothing goes haywire.

  63. PrinceYuvi says:

    Dortmund, Bayern, Monaco (Abi was awesome) & all the Moneypants from England are losing points.

    Except the Lucky barca, That must be some luck.

    It’s ridiculous how good our team is. Its given, we took helluva beating last season, but still most interesting team to watch )

  64. Kxevin says:

    So. Bayern Munich, the most fearsome team in the world, where women and children tremble and grown men have been known to rip their own heads off rather than face it?

    Draw. To Bayer Leverkusen. Didn’t watch, but apparently Bayer kept their defensive shape, played and pressed well, and Bayern couldn’t solve that shape problem.

    Imagine that!

    • 86ed says:

      I watched it.
      Bayern were all over Leverkusen. I mean they had some chances even I could have scored. Mueller`s high header with an empty net topped it. I still don`t know how it ended 1-1. In the last minute of added time, Bayer had a clearance on the line.
      As for their defensive shape, Ribery, Kroos, and Shaqiri, who missed a glorious chance as well, tore it apart. Only the end product was missing. It is the most important part, I grant you, but all teams go through this someday, where the ball just won`t go in.
      We may joke about it all we want, but Bayern is indeed fearsome. They are the team to beat now, whether we like it or not. The team that wishes to win the CL will have to face and defeat them at one point or another, and as things stand I don`t see any team capable of doing it.

      • nzm says:

        And when that happened to Barca vs. Chelsea, I can’t recall many comments of us being fearsome!

        • 86ed says:

          You`re confusing situations. And I don`t think there`s a need for comparisons anyway.

          Bayern drew in the league, away to the third-placed team, in a match I felt they dominated and should have otherwise won. This does not diminish their ranking as top dogs in the Europe.

          • Kxevin says:

            No. nzm is exactly right. We were all over Chelsea that year, lacking the end product. But people here were saying we couldn’t beat a parked bus, rather than how fearsome we were.

            Respect this club. We have just a wee bit of talent lying around.

          • nzm says:

            Not confusing anything.

            What’s so different about the situation?

            Bayern draws to 3rd place Bundesliga team and is branded as “fearsome” by you. 18 shots on goal.

            We faced a similar situation in CL vs. a team that goes on to win the trophy, yet we’re not fearsome?

            We dominated Chelsea; we were still considered 2nd in Europe (1st was Real Madrid in that year based upon previous 5 years’ results) despite going down to Chelsea.

            http://www.uefa.com/memberassociations/uefarankings/club/index.html

        • Chiu says:

          yes michelle. this!

      • Evan says:

        Let me get this straight, you are a Barca fan, a team that has won all the matches it has played this year in La Liga and the CL, a team that has players like Messi, Neymar, Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas etc, but you don’t think we can beat Bayern? This is exactly the type of comment that you would expect to see from a hater, not from a fan. The beating they gave us last year is not relevant now because both teams have changed coaches and altered their playing styles a bit. Plus, we signed Neymar and Alexis is playing a lot better this season. In my opinion, after watching both teams play this year, we are the slight favorites. But even if you don’t think we are favorites, not believing we stand a chance against Bayern when we have the best generation in the club’s history, is really mindblowing.

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      Watched it. It was a Meh )

    • Messiah10 says:

      Leverkusen have been very very good this season. They made some good acquistions in the summer and are scoring a lot of goals this season. I definitely see them finishing in the top 4 for sure. That said, with the form Munich have shown and the players they have, they should’ve won. However, you could say that of EE and us. Watching the EE/Levante match. Looks like a matter of time before EE score to win the game.

  65. PrinceYuvi says:

    Neymar as CF, Song is playing. Wow Tata, No Cesc as false 9 finally.
    Hope Song succeeds, afterall he’s our player.

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