Match Comments: Barca vs. Valladolid


The Purple & Whites are back at Camp Nou.

Team to meet them is: Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Bartra, Adriano, Xavi, Song, Fàbregas, Alexis, Neymar and Tello.

Bench: Pinto, Iniesta, Dos Santos, Montoya, Pedro, Busquets and Sergi Roberto.

Valladolid: Mariño, Rukavina, Valiente, Rueda, Peña, Baraja, Rossi, Ebert, Omar, Bergdich and Guerra.

Have your say in the comments, but please keep it polite & respectful.


Visca Barca!


  1. Watching Atletico v Celta Vigo now and Atletico are a really impressive team.

    For us last night I thought it was a very good match from us even though defensively we weren’t at the races in the first half.
    The goal we conceded was bad. Firstly, Alves just strolled out to close down the cross, then Bartra gave away a corner when he didn’t need to. Finally Adriano didn’t even put the forward off his header whatever about winning the header.

    Our goals:
    Neymar to Tello to Alexis for goal no.1
    Neymar to Tello to Xavi for goal no.2
    Xavi to Neymar to Alexis for goal no.3
    Xavi to Alexis to Neymar for goal no.4

    So Neymar involved in 4, Alexis and Xavi involved in 3 and Tello involved in 2. That’s a fantastic team performance in my opinion.

    1. Great to see the goals laid out like that, Ciaran. It was very much a team display last night. Awesome performance!

  2. After the half time result, And already having a bad feeling about this match before the start whistle, I embraced the high possibility of losing points, Kept saying to myself, It’s not the end of the world rami, It’s not the end of the world.

    I felt like a small boy shouting at the middle of the night for my mother, Afraid of the monster behind the closet, But then she opens it up, And tells me, “look, There is nothing to be afraid of”, And then i just feel silly “Well of course there isn’t a monster ‘duh'” then gives me a warm hug and and says “Everything is going to be okay”, Well that’s exactly what the team made me feel in the 2nd half.

  3. Holy crap… NEYMAR!! I always knew he was a talented player and I was very confident he would do well at Barca but I did not expect to see what I am seeing. Aside from his absurd talent he is also very intelligent on and off the ball. He seems to know when to try and hold the ball, when to pass and when to take on his man. He also is excellent at making runs off the ball and getting back onside almost immediately. He really impressed me in the middle yesterday, especially for a player who is basically just getting to know his team. Again something that comes down to his intelligence as a player. For a player as young as he is all these attributes together are quite remarkable.

    Dare I say this short injury to Messi has been a good thing for the team. It has given the other players confidence, has shown what we can do without Messi and his allowed Neymar to come out of his shell a bit. I also think it now gives the coach a bit more tactical flexibility knowing that Neymar can be so effective as a false 9.

    1. Messi being off the pitch helps a lot of people!

      Alexis thrived at the end of last season when Messi was injured.

      Now it’s Neymar’s turn!

      This isn’t to say that I hate Messi – good grief, perish the thought!

      But in his absence, other players are starting to find their own way, taking responsibility on the pitch and believing in themselves. Their confidence is growing.

      If they can continue doing this when Messi is playing, the team will be a lot stronger for it.

      It just won’t be MESSI & Co. It will be Messi & Alexis & Neymar & Pedro & _ & _ & _ &.


      Pep built Barca around Messi. That’s a lot of burden. Also a lot of risk when the team isn’t as effective without its key player which we saw when Messi couldn’t play.

      We now see Pep building Bayern Munich around a whole lot of options.

      It’s what needs to also happen with Barca. Martino is now making it so.

      Sit Messi out for some games? Yeah whatever, no big deal. Try saying that a year ago!

    2. With no messi on pitch, opponents do offer us some space to work with, instead of sitting back & soaking up pressure.
      Not taking away the credit of lexis & co at all.

    3. Uh, oh …. nzm hates Messi. First me, now you. How DARE you suggest that Barça isn’t diminished to a status of a relegation side without Messi. (Hee, hee!)

      It’s so very true. Messi is a brilliant player, but he’s also a space consumer, which affects other players. That will be something Martino will have to resolve, if he wants the absolute best from Neymar and Sanchez. It’s no coincidence that both are markedly different without Messi on the pitch.

      I was also knocked out by Neymar in the middle. When I suggested a Neymar central/Messi on the right tactical wrinkle, some person on Twitter called me “naive.” I would, however, suggest that such a thing would mean that with Iniesta and Pedro on the left, it would be madness for an opposing defense.

      nzm’s comment about Guardiola is also very perceptive. We were his “starter club,” in that he learned a lot from us, from diversification of attack to the value of stopping counters. Martino has also learned from watching us.

    4. Call me a bit cynic, but I think there´s a reason why the players seem to play better without Messi. It’s because they all have to step it up on one hand, and on the other, opponents are more confident with Messi off the pitch, they try to pass the centerline, which means more space which means the Barcelona players can shine.

    5. I think that depends on the quality of the opponent, Peter.

      Certainly Valladolid tried to keep a tight defensive line in their half last night & were quick to press our players to shut them down. They just didn’t have the fitness, tactical discipline nor mental capacity to keep that up for 90 mins.

      But if you look back to the Celtic game, Celtic did have that ability, and it wasn’t until the end when they got tired (& a man down) that a fresh Alexis was able to blitz past them to put the assist in for Cesc.

    6. True, but I’m talking about something else. Do you think Celtic would’ve gone upfield to try and score, with ten men, if Messi was on the pitch? I don’t think so.

      Even so, I may be mistaken and that may be what Tata wants the opponents to think. I’ll have to watch the Celtic match again to be able to tell with certainty, but I think that in the immediate aftermath of Brown’s sending off Barcelona stepped off the gas a little bit, which gave Celtic the confidence to get up and try to score – and in doing so, their already tired players had to cover even more ground, which allowed space to open up. Again, that’s the impression I got, and I’ll have to watch the match again to be sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Tata seems like the gentle Daddy type in conferences and in training, but as the saying goes:

      “Beware the nice ones.”

    7. True, but I’m talking about something else.

      And what is that? 🙂

      Also, in the away game to Celtic last season, we saw them win going forward with Messi on the pitch.

    8. Key words being last season 😛 Besides it was the last game of the group IIRC. In any case, it was last season, there was no Neymar and no Tata and there was no red card for Brown.

      With Messi, Neymar, Tata, the team playing like they do now and a red card for Brown, I believe that Celtic wouldn’t have gone out of their half come hell, high water or a bunch of hot chicks wearing the colors of the Rangers.

      But we’ll see soon enough, I suppose. I just wish Neymar didn’t have to go to those friendlies, I’d want him and Messi to just kick a ball for two hours a day under Tata’s guidance.

    9. Peter

      You seem to have shifted the goalposts within your argument. At first, you say that the absence of Messi encourages teams to play over the center.

      So when I give an example of Celtic doing that with him on the pitch, you nullify that by stating that it was last year, & now if Messi had been on the pitch this season with Neymar, Tata’s tactics etc, they wouldn’t have come out of their half?

      So, it’s not just Messi’s presence then, it’s also Neymar’s and the new tactics that would keep them contained?

    10. nzm,

      Sorry, I should’ve clarified what I mean. What I mean is this: This season with Messi off the pitch, four matches If I’m counting correctly, I’ve seen more confident opponents on the field than compared to the teams when Messi is on the pitch. Maybe it has to do with the quality of opponents Barcelona face when Messi is off, but I think his absence gives the opponent more courage and the will to actually attack and put bodies forward.

      They have to keep a lookout on Neymar, and the tactics of Tata as well, but with Messi off the pitch I’ve seen Valladolid actually attacking, Celtic going forward in numbers. If same conditions apply(Neymar on pitch, Tata’s gameplan in execution, red card for Brown) but with Messi on the pitch I don’t think Celtic would’ve gone out of their box at all. The pressure to contain both Messi and Neymar, with ten men, would’ve precluded any notions of going for the winner.

    11. Those of us who had been watching Neymar play for Santos in more than the one game he played against us in the CWC, already knew that he is not just a flashy player with tricks but also has tremendous football intelligence. He did a lot of that for Santos too – holding the ball, defense splitting through balls, etc. Also, he is often criticized for getting the ball and then freezing with it, but that can actually work out very well for the team – if you make the game freeze for a second or two then you have a split second advantage if you restart it quicker than the opponent and that can be the difference between scoring and having to recycle the ball back in midfield. We already saw that a couple of times when Messi was in the middle (who is the best in the world in looking asleep and then suddenly springing into action at the right time and the right moment)

      One thing I will not agree with is that Neymar played much better than without Messi – he played great yesterday but he played just as well when Messi was out there. And I expect them to play even better in the future when they learn how to exploit the space that each of them opens for the other even better

  4. Diego Costa; an absolute great player for Athletico. 2nd only to Neymar for number of times fouled and scored twice again today. I hooe Spain picks him for a game so he can play for the national team over Brazil!

    1. Spain wants to play him but Brazil has lodged some paperwork to stop this from happening.

      Brazil doesn’t want Costa, but they don’t want Spain to have him is what is being interpreted out of all of it!

      The paperwork is with FIFA. It will hold up Costa’s selection for the team. It’s doubtful that he’ll be available for many Spain games before the World Cup which means that he either won’t play or VdB will select him on form alone, if the paperwork is sorted by then.

  5. Two of the next three matches after the useless international break will be huge. At Milan, where we lost last season, and vs the Real that has rather owned us since 2012.

    1. Yeah, honestly I’m looking forward to the Clasico for the first time in a while. Not because I’m particularly optimistic (I think with the number of personnel and tactical changes both teams have undergone, the result could go an infinite number of ways, good or bad), but because how tactically fascinating the match will be. I think Martino may have some plans up his sleeve.

  6. Exactly. Opponents do cut us some slack if messi isn’t there. How he manages to cut open a solid block of 8 players every 10 minutes, I haven’t figured it out yet.

  7. Neymar is perhaps not yet ready to play in the middle for us, He misplaced many passes under pressure, Which exposed the team to multiple counter attacks.

    Playing as a false 9 puts you in the middle of a wolf pack with your back turned to the goal, It’s not an easy job avoiding losing the ball, Specially when under pressure, Keeping in perspective that this match was played in camp nou, Outside of home where opposition will be putting enormous pressure and work rate. It’ll be a different scenario and not necessarily a prettier one, Every counter we concede will heavily count.

    Putting that aside, Neymar’s attacking ability as a false 9, Puts fabregas to shame, No arguing that, But i feel it’s not yet balanced with his ‘defensive’ side, So in an away game, Putting neymar back to the wing and cesc in the middle, Is the most balanced.

    Anyway, What i said is subjective, It can even differ from opponent to opponent, Nothing has to be written in stone.

    1. But that quality that you mention, the misplacing of passes and losing of balls leading to counterattacks, just makes him even more like his idol, Messi. The number of balls that Messi loses is significant. And when he loses them he shrugs his shoulders, and lets the others clean up the mess.

      (Not a judgment, just a chronicling of what happens.)

      Neymar was involved in all four goals yesterday, and scored one. It’s difficult to make a more eloquent argument for being ready to play a position than that.

      If we are going to count the lost balls by Neymar that led to counters and deem him unfit to play a position, who would pass that standard. Xavi loses balls that lead to counters. So do Messi, Iniesta and Fabregas.

    2. Whoever plays that position will lose more possession than anyone else in the team. That’s a given. I’m with Kxevin here. It’ll be much more than Xavi, Iniesta or an other midfielder. However, if you want to get a goal you need to take chances. We can’t berate anyone for lost possession on the edge of their area or dribbling and losing it.

    3. It’s not simply about losing balls, Cause everybody does at some point (Unless your name is song), It’s about how good some one in avoiding it when the environment is non-favorable, Which include things like, Constant pressure from opposition, Tall & uneven grass, Hostile crowd..etc, Because my main point was about the away games, Messi has tremendous ability in withstanding those factors, So is fabregas due to his exquisite passing and generally safer play.

      It all comes to down to benefit-risk assessment:
      Does the attacking contribution Neymar adds to the middle compensate for his less safe play and more balls conceded?
      Is placing Cesc in the middle to avoid counter attacks can disproportionately decrease our attacking capacity, And is it worth it?

      I really don’t know exactly how things will turn up, That’s why i said ‘perhaps’, I just made an early judgement, The real answer we’ll know against Osasuna, Weather Martino will stick to Neymar as a false 9 or revert back to Fabregas, And for all i know, Neymar can kick-ass in the middle again and prove me dead wrong.

  8. A comment from a commenter in realmadridfootballblog, ‘Barcelona are looking like they
    could go on to win La Liga
    without losing 1 match, Messi
    or no Messi’. Now you are not gonna beat us simply by parking the bus infront of messi

    1. Ha. I read that one, from Matthew.

      They know they’re being awful still mostly happy )

      Another one said : team like barca, man u, bayern treat their players nicely,
      they do not throw their misfiring players under the bus. [read ozil, higuain]
      Sanchez is prime example he said.

      Theirs is state of somalia, complete chaos but interesting )

    2. It’s quite fun that EE supporters seem quite scared of us, messi or no messi. Not many of them are looking forward to classico.

      I’m not sure what to expect against a counter-attacking team with a few proven goal scoreres though.

  9. There’s nothing like watching a team with club legends, world class homegrown players in their prime, well integrated and beloved internationals (leaders of Brazil, Argentina and Chile playing for us) and some of the best young talent in the game, all of whom seem to be decent human beings. Can’t think of another squad that’s as cohesive, fun and easy to root for.
    This season, we are following the narrative of 33 year old Xavi becoming the player with most games for the club and still adding new wrinkles to his game, the challenges Iniesta is facing in adapting to the tactical changes and staying one of the best players in the world, how it took Neymar all of two months to go from “unnecessary, overrated, selfish, troublesome, diving kid with awful hair” to an instant fan favourite, the evolution of Cesc and Alexis who look ready to make the next step into stratosphere, the emergence of Bartra as a solid and fun to watch defender, just when we needed one, and so many other compelling storylines.

    Of course, there will be losses, bad days at the office, doubts and endless (sometimes deserved) cule complaints, and we might not win anything at all, but nothing can ruin this team for me.

    1. So true and well said! Adding to the delight: the long-awaited reappearance of Puyol (and maybe, dare I say it, even an appearance from Afellay?)

Comments are closed.