Osasuna 0 – Barça 0: Spots of Sunshine vs Rumors of Rain

1. This match really doesn’t deserve a full-fledged review, but I will offer up my thoughts anyway. Numbered for easy consumption, you should beware that some might be of the knee-jerk variety.

2. A draw at Osasuna is not the end of the world. It is not even the end of the season. Winning streaks aren’t meant to last, and you can thank the mighty Maker for that. It does mean that we are not going to win the league before Christmas. Heck, come to think of it, only a short time ago I wrote we would be empty-handed come June, a prediction I almost forgot about after the eight straight W’s we started the competition with, but oh well, who’s counting. If you are, our club is still three points ahead of proving me wrong.

3. Three points? They would have been five were it not for bad finishing. El Sadar has always been a tough ground for us, and this fixture was further complicated by appearing after two World Cup qualifiers. On a pitch that looks pixelated in a high definition broadcast, Barça really struggled find their rhythm, especially in the first half. Still, Bartra, Neymar, Montoya and Cesc (2x) all had excellent opportunities to put us on top, which, given the lack of threat posed by the home team, would probably have meant we only ever needed the one goal.

4. It was fun to see Puyol start, although I sometimes thought he looked a quarter step off. Well… that is probably a bit unfair, considering that our capita has spent the last two hundred and something days in rehab, so let’s just say he looked good out there. Marc Bartra must have been thrilled to play with his idol. The kid keeps giving us solid performances, and it will be interesting to see how he does against the likes of Balotelli* if he gets the nod at San Siro. I hope he will play, and against M*drid, too. Time for us to see what he is made of when facing teams that can hurt us. I have a feeling he won’t disappoint.

5. I wish I could say the same of our young right back, however. Obviously we cannot world class players backing up other world class players, and I do think that Montoya is an adequate second choice for his position, but I have yet to see anything to convince me he will one day replace Dani Alves for good. He inspired zero fear in an Osasuna defense who hardly even bothered with him and did not always look assured with the ball at his feet in his own half, either. He did have the bad luck that his one good cross was left unmet by Neymar, who arrived a split second slow. Still, in my opinion, with Messi on the bench and Alexis in the stand, this was not a good game for him to start, because it robbed the right side of our attack of its panache, and predictably so.

6. Neither would I have started Cesc as a false nine, a position at which I never like to see him play, anyway. Then again, I would have been proved wrong had he scored either of his one-on-ones with Andrés Fernandez. As it happened, whenever he wasn’t invisible the sheer awfulness of his misses just underscored how bad he was playing – one he blasted a meter over, and the other he tried to lob the ball over a retreating goalkeeper.

7. Last but not least, I would have brought on Tello a lot sooner. To be honest I wanted him to start him over Pedro, but since he didn’t I would have subbed out either Cesc or P. at half time in favor of señor Speeding Ticket. In defense of Martino, hindsight is king, and anyway Tello didn’t do all that much after he came on, as he is still looking for his first goal this season. A smarter man than myself might be able to tell you the what and why of his so far disappointing campaign, although a certain young Brazilian taking up his minutes on the left flank could certainly have something to do with it…

8. As always Neymar had some dazzling moments. It probably would have served us well had he moved to the center of the pitch where he could influence the match more. He still gets kicked a lot, and we can expect M*drid defenders to get away with murder next week when Iker’s shower buddy is arbitrating the clásico.

9. The midfield did a great job at controlling the match that needed to be taken over. Some well-timed forward dashes were sorely lacking. Were Xaviniesta affected by the international “break”? Neither of them played badly, but on a day where our two of our three forwards did not exactly make things happen, it sure would have been nice for our midfielders to step up some.

10. So what can we expect at San Siro? Will we face a similar opponent as in Pamplona, looking for ways to stop us from playing and on a horrid pitch? Will Messi be fit(ter)? Will we rest anybody with the clásico in mind? Your guess is as good as mine, but I look forward to finding out. Let’s hope we’ll do better than our last two visits.

11. See 2.

 "I'm happy I'm back, they have been tough months, but not happy with the result. We knew it's always a difficult game here" Carles Puyol i Saforcada
“I’m happy I’m back, but not happy with the result. We knew it’s always a difficult game here”
Carles Puyol i Saforcada

* EDIT: Just found out Balotelli is not playing. That’s too bad, I prefer a full strength Milan four days before the clásico.

By Levon

Culé since way before football boots were of the neon yellow and lizard green variety, Levon is a deep thinker with increasingly shallow thoughts. He lives in Barcelona with his gorgeous wife and daughter. The lucky bastard...


  1. Last night’s match was a bit underwhelming, but there were some positives. And the one I’m going to focus on is our defense. I know it’s difficult to accurately compare seasons, but I’m going to do it anyway.

    These are the statistics for the first 13 matches of the seasons in all competitions:

    12/13: 3 clean sheets, 18 goals conceded, 1.38 goals conceded per match
    13/14: 8 clean sheets, 7 goals conceded, 0.54 goals conceded per match

    The difference is staggering. We also currently have the best defensive record in La Liga. Who’d have thought. To be honest, I can’t wait to see how our defense holds up against EE.

    1. Thanks a lot. I wonder which year was the best defensive performance. I would believe that it’s either one of 2009/10 or 2010/11.

      It was only when Abidal was comfortable and consistent that our backline looked badass. Abidal had 2 tough seasons. It took him 2 seasons to be that good (that we all remember him of).

    2. Your comment evoked my curiosity, so I looked up the same statistics for the Guardiola era. If we only take the first 13 matches of each season into consideration, 09/10 was the best one. And the only one with a better record than our current season. Not by much either. We had 9 clean sheets and 6 goals conceded.

  2. 3. Xavi had a pretty clear opportunity that he missed as well. Everyone is quick to blame Cesc, but no one brought their shooting boots yesterday.

    4. I thought Puyol looked terrific. I can’t think of a single error he made, and if he wasn’t the fastest, well, he never has been. He turned on the jets when he needed to, and Bartra used his younger legs to good advantage. I have been waiting forever to see these two paired up and I was really happy to see how well they worked together. I would actually love to see them play at the Clasico, but I suspect Pique will get the nod over Bartra.

    5. Montoya. I have never been fully convinced by Montoya. He played a good defensive game, but brought almost nothing to the attack. He was irrelevant for large parts of the game. Everyone is talking these days about selling Dani Alves, for what reason I have no idea, but Montoya is not going to be the one to replace him IMO.

    6-7-8. I have no problem with Cesc as a false 9 if he has Alexis playing next to him. That works. It might even have worked if Dani Alves had been there to feed him the ball. I understand the need to rest Dani & Alexis before the big games coming up, but this front line just wasn’t creative enough. And I don’t really think Tello made that much difference either. Maybe Iniesta on the left wing with Neymar in the centre and Cesc in midfield?

    8. Neymar did have some great moves, but he was Iniesta-like with his finishing. Bad day at the office.

    10. I suspect Messi will start midweek. Neymar may be rested. I’m thinking a Tello-Messi-Alexis front line, or maybe Pedro gets the start over Tello. I’d like to bubble-wrap Adriano, but I don’t see any alternative to playing him against Milan unless we want to put Montoya on the left again.

    1. 4. I really think those people on other blogs like Guardian or even here, who wrote Puyol off since last season being extremely harsh. It all started after his SLIP against di Maria and then another mistake against AC Milan.

      No way is Puyol done. He has the experiment and good positioning to make up for his old legs. Look at John Terry, Nesta, Maldini, Cannavaro, etc.

      5. Alves as I said many times since last season is still a key player for us. Yea he is not terrific defensively but we use him mostly for attacking in which he is extremely useful, one of a kind player.

  3. Hey guys! I just wanted to let you know that I think you are doing a great job. Always enjoy reading your articles.

    I completely agree on point 6 here btw, Cesc is much better in midfield where he can make those runs into the box coming from deep. He is a decent finisher, but he is no forward

  4. Not crying Conspiracy, but just asking questions.

    – That EE were awarded innumerable penalties during Liga campaign 11-12 and red cards for their opponents in stark contrast to our countless denied penalties and yellow card accumulations for the silliest reasons, there appeared to be a silent agenda to ensure that the champions should be ones from the capital rather than that other team for the 4th consecutive year.

    Now this can either be regarded as perception or fact.
    But Am I the only one sensing a similar narrative at play this year.
    Yet another 200M Euros spent after a hugely disappointing year and shouldering the pressure of having to justify the most expensive signing, is it so ridiculous to wonder if the pressure of the ‘capital’ may work after all, on what is already an incompetent body – The Refs. The Elche-EE penalty awarded at the time it was, to the type of player who won it, it all reeks of the same stench I smelt right at the beginning of 11-12. When its just one game, people want to brush it away. And only when a pattern accumulates and consequences are suffered when it can’t be corrected, do we start complaining. I liked that Tata proactively called out the fouls on our buy cos We cannot, shouldn’t and needn’t be taking this shit. Pep was a purist and he had his style. If Tata is the pragmatist, I’d be very interested to see how he takes ownership of this role, because the manager of FCB needs to be in some ways more than just a football coach too.

    Here’s to hoping the good guys will lay a Manita next week.

    1. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. Period. It’s an unsupportable notion that is offered up as an excuse for a team coming up short. Both mouthpiece newspapers will do the “table if the refs didn’t screw up” revisionism, and both will be skewing matters in a way that favors their team. It happens.

      Penalties are a very difficult thing for many refs to get right, precisely beCAUSE our players are so skilled with the ball at their feet. What looks like a stone-cold penalty on the replay, might not quite look so in real time. Again, that stuff happens.

    2. We’ve had that discussion many times and many people will disagree strongly with you, including me

      1) The Elche situation happened right in front of the ref’s eyes, and if anything, he had much better view of it than the real-time TV feed provided to those watching at home. But it was clear it was a laughable penalty the moment everyone saw it on TV.

      2) The Bale situation yesterday was a clear yellow for simulation from any angle you watch it, for the simple reason his body motion was so unnatural that nobody with half a functioning brain could have fallen for that trick. It was a lot more like what you see on comedy shows on TV when they try to ridicule football players diving than a real professionally done dive that can actually fool someone. Yet it was given.

      3) Let’s apply some Baysiean reasoning here Let’s say you flip a coin N times and it comes heads N-M times, where M << N. At what values of N and M are you going to start seriously considering the possibility it is actually a biased coin? Infinity? And a coin may not even the perfect example, because an unbiased coin has a 50/50 chance of being heads or tails, while most of these situations were more like 5-95.

  5. Without a doubt there is no conspiracy against us. If you’ve followed La Liga long enough you’ll know that playing in Pamplona is always difficult. Sure we could assume that we were duped by the ref for not calling that penalty but the fact is that we dominated and had more than enough chances to win the game, we just didn’t finish them.

  6. A few things:

    — Bartra was (again) a delight to watch. He looked even better with Puyol next to him, probably because of how much our Capita talks and coaches.

    — Speaking of our Capita, I had an inkling he might start, but did NOT suspect that he would go the full 90. There are some interesting selection questions coming up. My guess is that we get a Mascherano/Bartra back line for Milan and Pique/Puyol for El Clasic, because Martino will want the veteran presence back there, to prevent the rookie (Bartra) getting the benefit of the doubt against him on calls.

    I echo Levon in thinking that at times Puyol looked a smidge off stride. Duh. Hasn’t played since the 12th of Never. He’ll be fine.

    — Montoya got his chance and did feck all with it. You don’t whine about playing time, and have your agent make threatening chatter, then perform like that. Note the different tone yesterday post-match, in saying that he understands that Alves is Alves and that he has to wait for playing time. That’s more like it. My jury is still out on him. Tello as well.

    — For me, the sole issue(s) that I have with Fabregas as False 9 are that too often he receives the ball with his back to goal. Then he has to control, turn, and then the defense is there. He also has a slowness of foot that manifests itself in a general lack of success when a man plays him tight.

    And while Fabregas had the two best chances to score, we had plenty of others.

    — If we were going to drop points, as many predicted, that match was going to be the one. Milan coming up, Classic after that, just off the international break, away to a difficult opponent at home, etc. I’d be more worried if we didn’t create chances. Finishing is concentration. To be expected in that case.

    — Sanchezdependencia?

    — I am waiting to see what Cuenca will do in the side, because for matches such as the one yesterday, neither Pedro nor Tello is the correct answer. Neither can beat a defender off the dribble, which is what you need. That, or overlaps from wingers to create space and a threat. Cuenca is that tricky type of player who is great with the ball at his feet, can create space and lever in a cross.

    In the previous thread, our wingers were described as “gutless.” Couldn’t be farther from the truth. They are, however, ill-equipped for the job they were being asked to perform. Might have been better with Fabregas and Pedro flanking Neymar, but hey, it ain’t my lineup card.

    — Messi didn’t look all the way there to me. We will see against Milan, as I assume that he will start, even if I don’t think that he should. It isn’t worth rushing him back to a team that has demonstrated that it can play and win without him.

    — Overall, this was a team draw, but don’t count out the resolute display from Osasuna, who played their butts off, and were mostly comfortable during the match. Kudos to them. I can’t imagine how it must be to have every last opponent that you face fighting for its life for a draw, which feels like a win to them. Yikes.

    — That Arsenal goal. I watched it, and giggled a little bit. Folks on Twitter were making over it, many couldn’t stop watching it. All I could think was “So? Culers are used to seeing those with some regularity.” Then I realize how lucky we are.

    1. “Sanchezdependencia”

      Hee hee! After all the crap Alexis took last season, this makes me smile. Because it’s true–he is our most in-form forward right now. 😀

    2. Your Arsenal goal comment seems a bit pretentious to be honest. That is one of the highest quality goals i’ve ever seen, including similar Barca goals. The flicks mid air off balance were just pure genius.

      Even though you’re a barca fan, you can compliment other teams you know, even if its just for the sort of football they’re playing.

    3. The goal by Arsenal was very, very beautiful, but it’s also true that Barcelona have managed to do this time and again, and against tighter defences to boot. There was a play against Real Sociedad recently, which included Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Iniesta, Neymar and once again Messi, and didn’t end in a goal due to pure bad luck.

      Of course, even if it had ended in a goal, the Arsenal goal would’ve been hyped up to eighth heaven, because that’s what the British press does.

    4. It’s only as pretentious as you want it to be. We ARE indeed lucky to have the kind of team that can do that. And observant culers are indeed used to seeing that kind of play. But as I said, anyone can find anything they like in any set of words.

      One of our players would have just gotten kicked. And Norwich obligingly stood around like practice pylons. Yes, the goal was lovely. But my observation stands.

    5. Yes, your observation stands. People don’t have any memory at all. On the youtube channels, they are so anxious to say “what tiki taka, what barca?” They are somehow trying to give it different names coz it leaves a sour taste in their mouths to compare it with Barca, some insecurity. And the defenders were encouraging them. If only Barca had such soft defenses to face. It was a great football but the hype was because they see it so rarely from their teams.

  7. Usually when one of the big teams don’t get points in Osasuna or Getafe, they usually lose the title. I might just be pessimistic or just panicking at the fact that we don’t have a big a lead as we had last yr going into the clasico and the fact that EE have been given pens and 5 points that, send me into a doubting mood. Add to that Iker’s buddy is reffing the match. Against Osasuna, it was like deja vu of the Chelsea match where we huffed and puffed and lost. I guess we had to drop points sooner or later 🙁 now the press can stop talking about THE record.

    Puyi did look good out there in that senyera kit, eh? Well

    1. Here’s some more pessimism for you, we still have the away game at Anoeta (haven’t won there in how long?). We’ll drop points this season, more than the 2 vs Osasuna.

  8. One thing i’m sure of is that Pedro can dribble. We’ve seen that on numerous occasions, especially playing for the NT.
    Why isn’t he doing that for us (in ages) i still can’t figure it out. The thing is that even if the coaches are telling him to play safe and not try something on his own, in time he will loose that skill and belief that he can take his man out. Then he will be a dead wood.
    Which is a pity for a player of his class.
    I’ve said it many times, i like attackers with guts and a little bit of arrogance. That’s what distinguish one attacker from the rest of the bunch.

    1. Pedro has never been great at dribbling. It’s one of the things he constantly mentions that he needs to improve. Pedro’s strength is in his positioning, his runs, and knowing exactly where the ball is about to be. That’s why the majority of his goals are tap-ins, nothing easy about them, he has worked his butt off to be at the right place at the right time. But a dribbler he is not.

    2. Pedro can get out of a tight spot with a dribble or two. But that’s it.

      Running 1-on-1 at a defender, he’s clueless. That’s the problem

    1. I think it’s hogwash. So much so that it inspired a post. Our biggest problem in Osasuna was crap finishing. Another problem with two useless wingers in Pedro, then Tello.

      Aside from that, I don’t see any problems.

    2. Iniesta had an assist against Belarus the other day. Of course, it was in Albacete, with the stadium chanting “Iniesta! Iniesta!” almost as much as “España! Espanña!”

      Is it Iniesta’s drop in form, or is it an increased performance of opponents who find no shame in playing ultra-defensively and are allowed to foul continuously, combined with Fabregas finding his true form?
      True, Iniesta seems a bit off-colour right now, but seriously, a three-year long hole, that’s BS. The first goal in La Manita was an assist by Iniesta, threading the ball through a forest of white. The final of the 2010-2011 season was at Wembley, and included an assist by Iniesta.

    3. Couple of stats from Barcastuff which I think give us a hint of what’s going on.

      Most completed passes vs Osasuna: Iniesta 109 – Busquets 100 – Adriano 81 – Xavi 79 – Bartra 68 – Puyol 68 – Neymar 58 [via @BarcaStat]

      Passes Puyol vs Osasuna > Most from: Bartra 15 – Busquets 10 – Adriano 9, Most to: Adriano 17 – Busquets 14 – Iniesta 13 [via latdp]

      I’ve felt this season that Tata is seeing Iniesta more as a Xavi successor than an extra dribbling option up front, since the arrival of Neymar. Because of that he is dropping back more into the Busi/ Xavi position of picking the ball up from the defence rather than allowing Xavi to do it and getting involved further up. Notice the amount of Puyol passes to Iniesta, almost as many as to Busi as well as the number of completed passes by Ini. If correct I think this is a waste but I could see Tata’s reasoning so we don’t suddenly suffer from Xavi loss when he does have to give up. Iniesta is one of the VERY few players I’ve seen in Europe who could play that role.

      The supposed decline is barely worth talking about. Top three Balon D’Or in two out of the last three years, World Cup/ Euros winner in a team with easily the largest number of gifted midfield players. It’s just like those commentators who don’t see the crucial part Xavi plays in all our games. They somehow think that any player could string the number of passes together that Xavi / Iniesta / Busi do but somehow choose not to. Opponents tell the true story.

    4. I’ve felt this season that Tata is seeing Iniesta more as a Xavi successor than an extra dribbling option up front, since the arrival of Neymar.

      Absolutely. I have said this before, as well as the fact that to my view, Iniesta is the most natural “next Xavi,” if such a beast can be said to exist.

  9. Kinda glad our winning streak came to an end. Need tough games like this to keep La liga interesting.

    Tata rested all the right guys. He’s keeping one eye on Big ears.
    The guy with Pistachio shirt must want those trophies even badly than the players.

    Montoya hardly gets many minutes, it’s only natural he wanted not to take many risks.
    I thought you guys badly wanted a RB who defends not very long ago.
    Seems everybody wants Dani back now.

    1. Not me. I want Montoya to not be mediocre. Without a viable alternative to Alves, the club will ultimately suffer as Alves fatigues. Montoya has to be better, or we have to find an Adriano for the right side (even as I know he plays very well on the right).

    2. RB is actually Adriano’s preferred position.
      I think montoya is lacking in confidence section, just like yesteryear’s Bartra or Lex.
      Only minutes might cure the situation, at least in copa matches.
      Or we could sub him in for Pedro / Lex who play as defensive wingers anyway, push dani up, let montoya have 15 minutes or so…..
      He’s quite young & not crap at all. Instead of spending 40 M in next two years, we should keep montoya & let him flourish.

  10. Hi everyone.

    Like what Tata said. Basically agreed with it all.

    My small quibles were with his subs. I don’t know why he chose Xavi and left Fabregas. To me Fabregas (aside the misses) disappeared for the majority of the match. I would have subbed him earlier.

    The other thing was the timing of the Messi substitute. Again i would have changed earlier because Osasuna were deep. We needed a sharp razor and one that intimidates.

    Performance wise i am very happy. If there was going to be a winner then it was us. I liked how we restricted the hosts to very few if any meaningful chances.

    *** Re penalties above: Its unproductive and unfounded to talk of conspiracies but come on guys; we have the Madrid media painting Ney a diver subsequently we don’t get our deserved pens whilst EE get dubious dubious pens. Talk about conditioning refs.

    1. Messi’s substitution was planned before the match. He was supposed to play for 20-25 minutes, most likely to build some match fitness before Milan and EE. I have no complaints about the time he played because he didn’t look 100% fit and I’m not completely sure he would have been able to affect the result anyway.

    2. In the sense that it was pre planned it’s logical. But situations are fluid aren’t they. Messi’s fear factor and physcological boost to team mates is massive alone. We don’t like it very much but most of the time he scores. It’s a safer bet he would have scored had got two decent chances. But in the grand scheme of things this draw may be a small matter. It certainly does spice up the Classico.

    3. The point I was trying to make is that since the sub was planned and Messi didn’t look quite fit when he came on, he was probably not ready to play more than the minutes he did.
      I commend Tata for his decision. I know I would’ve been tempted to sub him in earlier. However, our next fixtures are crucial. As is having a fit Messi playing them.

    4. In 2011-2012 I made a tidy sum(initially) betting with my Real-supporting… acquaintances before matches, that Real would get a penalty or a red card in favour. They stopped taking my bets by mid-season.

  11. I am bemused how some fans appear out of nowhere and start calling out team gutless..Criticism is appreciated but this???.. it was a match just after international break against a team fighting relagation who gave it their all.

    1. Some Alexis quotes caught my eye:
      Alexis: “Playing with Neymar gives me joy and confidence. It’s very nice to play with him, Leo and the others.”
      “I have to win my spot in the team every game. I want to play every game, but with Pedro and Tello there’s a lot of competition.”

      Seems Neymar has cemented his starting position, 13 games into the season. Now, about those scoring boots…

    2. No surprise. Neymar is brilliant, and getting better as his confidence. Martino using him in the center was immense, psychologically.

      I like Sanchez’s attitude, even though he should have cemented his auto XI spot as well. I don’t reckon had he been in the side, Osasuna would have been a draw.

    3. excellent excellent video. Thanks for posting. I dont speak spanish/portugese and dont understand what he said, but its self evident. I feel for the poor guy. He is brilliant and this “physical” play is annoying and frankly needs to be called foul play. I know we had a whole article about embellishment but I just cant resist mentioning, if this is what a player has to go through, no wonder he needs to exaggerate to get the ref’s attention. This is football for goodness sake, not rugby.

    4. First, after the orbit launch by Iniesta Neymar asks him to combine with him, or at least that’s what the commentator says. Then Neymar explains to Xavi he couldn’t finish pass the “wall” touch because he had been pushed.

      Neymar was telling Adriano to look up. “Lift up one’s head” is used in the meaning of looking up, seeing a fellow player and passing him the ball.

      When Neymar goes to the sideline to ask for water after taking a hit, the Barcelona doctor asks him if he’s all right. Neymar then tells the fourth ref that “it was a foul”.

      After the hits to the face he shouts at the Osasuna player “Are you crazy? Go f… yourself!” and then after another foul “Go f.. yourself… Prick.”

      It has to be said this is a literal translation, but it doesn’t necessarily has the same meaning as the english phrase. “A tomar por culo” in this case is not an insult towards the player as it is a demonstration of anger with the actions of the player and the lack of action from the ref. I suppose it translates more as the “F. this S!” type of exclamation. 🙂

    5. Hey Peter. Thanks a lot for taking the time to translate and reply ! The video just became more interesting 🙂 Thanks.

  12. Dear BFB,

    Apologies if this link has been shared:


    It is from the comments at ZM’s Tata Martino article. Perhaps some of you with Tivo and DirectTV have had a better look at some of the games this year than I and can offer some comments.

    Key points: FCB is following the other teams positioning, not the ball, to define how high a back line to play and avoid 1v1 against Valdes, i.e., not appearing to rush forward for offside trap; FCB uses long balls to drive opposition defenses deeper to create room for passing; FCB uses very safe passes to manage game and exhaust other team then starts running at them in second half.

    1. Exactly. I think some of the video thoughts are speculative, but without knowing exactly what Martino is planning, it’s ALL speculative. Thanks for putting that up. Very useful.

      I have a supposition that we are transitioning away from tika taka toward possession football, but can easily slide back and forth as the situation required.

    2. Nice points. Thanks. Particularly useful for those who say, ‘Oh, but we were crap in first half.’

  13. Just watched MOTD regarding the Chelsea match, where they specifically discussed David Luiz performance, and labeled him as “The Casual Man”. People would laugh at us if we were paying 50mil to get him last summer.

  14. Ok, for me this game is a great window into Tata’s mind for the season. Two big questions. The first, who plays here and on Saturday, and the second whether or not we see a less gung ho approach to an away CL tie.

    I’m curious…

    1. Was just thinking same thing. The Classic is more important, and the lineup that he chooses today will directly affect Saturday’s lineup. I wouldn’t start Messi. I would defo give him a runout, but would probably give he and Neymar each a half.

      I would also put Song out there, and Bartra, assuming Pique will be held out for the Classic. Probably a Mascherano/Bartra CB tandem, and Puyol/Pique (old school) for the classic.

      Adriano is the problem. 4 days rest is insufficient, but Alba is broken. Montoya on left, Alves on right? Dunno.

      Midfield also interesting. Time for Sergi Roberto? Fabregas as False 9 again? Neymar central? Too many questions.

    2. Why not Puyol on the left, Alves on the right, Masche/Bartra and Pique in center, or should that be left for El Clasico?

      Edit: saw the line-up, Puyol, Dos Santos, Sergi Roberto and Oier are out.

      Adriano, Mascherano, Pique, Alves
      Iniesta, Busquets, Xavi
      Neymar Messi Alexis

      So that “ultra”defensive line-up with Puyol, Masche, Pique and Alves will be shelved for the time being.

  15. A very interesting thought from our own Linda (sparked by Euler) yesterday, via the Twitterverse:

    Point I find interesting – hard for us to evaluate a player’s performance without knowing what they’re being asked to do tactically.

  16. Unfortunately I have no idea of the way the Italian players work, but from Barcelona’s line-up I think we may be seeing a more possession-minded first half and a more direct second part. I expect to see Fabregas at some point, unless something unnatural happens.

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