Tenerife 0, Barca 5, a.k.a. “Doing lots with not very much”

Bring it. Whatever. I'm ready.

Um. Wow.

The record will show that we beat Tenerife like they stole something, in a 0-5 runout featuring a hat trick for Messi, a passel of assists for Krkic and the kind of gaudy scoreline that we got so accustomed to running up last season, back when we were good.

Reality is that were it not for the man you see here, Victor “Human Wall” Valdes, that scoreline might have been reversed.

Which is why he’s my Man of the Match, by a country mile. Because we were pretty awful early in this one, and he came up with the key stops, time and again.

“We’re going to be brave, we’re going to be bold,” said Tenerife coach Jose Luis Oltra. And they were, with the kind of high pressure that has become the flavor of the month for teams facing us, who have collectively decided that we can be beaten at our own game. And when we kept laying out shite passes, not completing easy connections and making gifts of the ball, we can be.

So their pressure forced the ball loose from Iniesta, and Marquez was lazy, leading to the first “Whew!” Moment. Then Busquets puked up a horrifying pass that sent them off to the races, with their attacker one-on-one against Valdes, with the whole net to shoot at. Valdes did what he is so good at, which is to bolt from his line with the quickness, arms up, to at least force the shot to be better than it needs to be to beat him. It was this intervention that forced a too-fine line to be cut, and the shot smacked the crossbar.

Busquets was left in the box, holding his head, probably looking for his brain. But Valdes was keeping busy, snuffing out break after break as our defense decided to take the match off. Actually, I’m being harsh on our defense. The larger problem is that as teams run at us like a jailbreak, the lack of pace catches us out every time. Our back line is running like crazy to get back to cover, with their backs to the play, and they’re being outrun. It’s a fire drill, but nobody knows where to direct the hose. And Valdes was at the ready, every last time.

Guardiola rolled out with Valdes, Alves, Marquez, Puyol, Maxwell, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Henry and Krkic, a lineup that should have been sufficient to not leave a hint of doubt about this one. But there was doubt. Pressing, crushing doubt until three goals in about 10 minutes ripped the heart out of Tenerife, leaving them wondering what might have been.

Did we get lucky again? Yes. Because in addition to Valdes’ excellence, it was the quality of the opponent that saved our bacon. If we play like that, and offer up those chances against a top-10 Liga side, we’re down 2 or 3-0 before you know it, and we’re chasing a match that we probably aren’t going to catch. As it was, Tenerife’s finishing lacked just that little bit of sharpness that allowed us a shot, and allowed Valdes to come up huge.


Our offense was offensive, and I’m blaming the squiggly lines of the grass cut on the Tenerife field. I can’t think of any other reason for our invisible midfield, absurd long balls to nowhere that were quickly turned into breaks going the other way and the general ineptitude of the first half-hour of this match. But once again, another team found a direct route to our back line, which presented all sorts of problems.

Thankfully, Valdes kept us in the match until we could gradually, ever so slowly, find our way back in as we strung just enough passes together to create the first goal out of pretty much nothing, as Krkic decided that he would out-Henry Henry. He took a pass, did that little slow-fast move that Henry does so well, and dive-bombed toward the free space in the box before rolling a perfect ball to Messi, who did the honors.

Just like that Tenerife were down 0-1, and wondering how the hell they were. And yes, they were clearly a little irritated about it, as some late challenges and fouls began to pick up. Then they gave up a dim-witted free kick, and suddenly they were left to wonder how they were down 0-2, as Messi lofted in an absolutely perfect free kick that sat there for Air Puyol to head into the Tenerife net.

And then came the magical one, one of my goals of the season, as Iniesta dribbled through most of Tenerife, on a magical, tightrope-walking run before sliding the ball to Krkic in space, who knew what he had to do: feed Messi, who slotted home.

Just like that, the match was over. Three goals, with Messi having a hand in all of them, with two assists from Krkic.

So of course the second half was, not at all shockingly, boring. We passed the ball around a listless Tenerife, trying not to get hurt and just run out the clock. Valdes was called upon a couple of times, and the only real distinguishing moment was an absolutely transcendent goal that gave Messi his hat trick, and showed why he is about the best player on the planet right now.

Krkic took a pass and clunked up the first touch, so he reined the ball in and, seeing his opportunity lost, gave it to Messi, who with almost the same motion, essentially passed the ball into the upper far corner, an exquisite rainbow of a shot that put the knife into a Tenerife side that deserved better than they got. The fifth tally was an own goal, caused by panic sown by Pedro!, who demonstrated otherworldly control to retain possession as he charged toward the Tenerife goal. True to his word, he didn’t celebrate, only accepting congratulations from teammates, who understood his wishes.

–So, should a five-goal pasting be worrisome? Yes. Because once again, and for the third match in a row, we haven’t played our game. Villarreal were able to exploit it. Sevilla were able to exploit it. Tenerife lacked the quality of talent to exploit it, or they would have, as well. Midfield pressure is mostly absent, which means that teams are allowed to play with the ball more than they should, which exposes our back line.

But without Abidal, our back line has absolutely no pace, so the quick Liga attackers put us as sixes and sevens. Sometimes Valdes bails us out, other times we concede. And matches that should be on lockdown, become troubling affairs. Our back line needs either a quick infusion of pace, or we need to start playing like we do in spurts, like a team that owns the ball, and plays defense through possession. This means cutting out the silly long passes that get picked off and become breaks the other way, or the dimwitted giveaways in dangerous positions.

–Why in the hell, when Henry gets the ball on the wing, doesn’t everyone head to the front of the net, to wait for the cross that always comes? Just asking. Time and again today, he created space and threw in a cross that went begging, or that late-arriving players watched roll through. He almost always gets them in there, and we should be taking advantage of them.

Now here’s something interesting:

Last season: 13-2-1, 48 goals scored, 10 goals against
This season: 13-4-0, 42 goals scored, 10 goals against

In both seasons, we are top of table. The only difference is that this season, the EE didn’t have a pigpile of injuries that dropped them far behind us. And we have only scored 6 fewer goals than last year, putting the lie to the perception that last season was filled with gaudy scorelines, and we aren’t scoring goals this season.

And yet, everything feels more tenuous, because we aren’t working as we should. I’m sure that Isaiah has a post that will analyze the hell out of why roughly the same numbers, leave us feeling very different about things.

Meanwhile ….

Team: 4. Don’t let the scoreline fool you. This wasn’t a very good group match. We’re being caught in possession because people aren’t moving as they should, presenting passing options for their teammates.

Guardiola: 6. Got lucky with one, as once again he didn’t have his charges ready to play. I liked the experiment with Txigrinski at DM. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of that one.

Valdes: 10. Perfect. Made all the right moves, probably got a bit lucky that his charge forced that first, most dangerous shot a little high. But what a match. Remember when people were throwing around all the names that we should have signed instead of renewing Valdes?

Alves: 5. Adequate, but this match was bereft of his usual flair on the offensive end. His defense was mostly good enough.

Marquez: 3. Good defense is all about position, and you have to have pace to be able to get into position. He doesn’t, and when you couple that with his tendency for the giveaway, the result is danger.

Puyol: 7. Except for a couple of pig-headed plays, he was excellent, far and away our best defender. And boy, does he like scoring in Tenerife. Must be the sunshine or something.

Maxwell: 4. Can you blame teams for attacking on his wing? Yet he doesn’t compensate for it with an attacking presence. Liga defending is different from Serie A defending, dude. Get with the program.

Busquets: 4. Giveaways and wayward passes were not sufficiently offset by his good plays, of which he had many. The problem with Busquets is that he still either does something glorious, or cocks it up massively. I prefer less drama.

Xavi: 5. A rather ineffective performance by Xavi, characterized by first half invisibility. He picked it up in the second, to his credit, but without its governor, our midfield engine was running like crap.

Iniesta: 6. Good performance, but he bears some responsibility for the atrocious first half and poor start, as well as our overall lack of midfield control. Yes, he got it together, and started playing very well. And what a run to set up our third goal.

Messi: 8. Yes, he scored a hat trick, and was involved in 4 of our 5 goals. But his passing was off, and when he wasn’t directly involved in the offense, he was doing a lot of standing around. Last season, he was part of the incessant midfield pressure that created so many good things. He’s allowed a low-energy match, but he has to have a greater effect on a match than just scoring goals.

Henry: 6. One sign of a fully involved Henry is if you see him tracking back on defense, and helping to apply pressure in the midfield, as you did today. Brotha can’t buy a goal, though. That snap shot of his was excellent, and hit the post loud enough to be heard back in Barcelona. He needs to start finishing his chances. But he worked like a dog today, and deserved better that he got in the scoring ledger.

Krkic: 7. He has work on consistency, and playing in areas where he can be effective. His pace was back, and he seemed more involved in a match than he has been in a very, very long time. He’s still thinking a little too much, as when he was in the box, alone with the ball and didn’t quite seem to know what to do. Then by the time he decided to shoot, the defense had closed up. But a fine, fine match today.


Pedro! (for Iniesta): 6. Great movement, energy and interplay from he who is Supersub. He won’t get full credit for that own goal, but it was almost like he put the ball into the net, so comprehensive was his move, control and effort.

Milito (for Puyol): incomplete. By that time, the ball never entered our end of the pitch. So he really didn’t do anything.

Txigrinski (for Xavi): incomplete. But this substitution was interesting, as Guardiola played him at the DM position.

Hey, did anyone note the Tenerife fans singing “Yellow Submarine,” as a very clear taunt to us? Very funny, and you have to love their spirit. Nice one.

Next up is the away leg of the Copa tie v Sevilla. Let’s hope that this goal scoring flurry will leave our lads flying high, ready to kick out the jams against a vulnerable-looking Sevilla side, who lost to Santander yesterday.

Finally, as usual, some joy:

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. great post….messi is the best!

    i think yo’re rite, our midfielders and strikers need to pressure the opponent more often and more aggressive.we lost possession and as guardiola said, we need the ball and retain possession if we want to play our game. and without the ball, our opponent can’t do anything. last year, people always told us..it’s better to defend with our attacker..

  2. Quote of this article:”I’m blaming the squiggly lines of the grass cut on the Tenerife field”

    classic Kxevin literature!

  3. Oh… and Iniesta’s run was aweomse… dribbled through four, decided it wasn’t good enough, so went through two of them again, and then, while off balance, hit a three-toed dagger ball to Bojan, who somehow found the pace to get at it.

    Bojan payed very well. I hope it is a start of a comback.

  4. Like I said in the other post…

    The only thing that annoyed me about today’s match besides the play of the entire team the opening 30 minutes was Henry. Not his play, because he played well, but all of his gestures and body language. I notice this EVERY SINGLE GAME, but every time he makes a run and doesn’t get a ball or every time someone crosses it and it doesn’t go to him, there he is with his hands out or dropping his head or some sort of nonsense. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

    I forgot what game it was, but he wasn’t even in the box for the cross, then made a late run while being marked and of course he still put his hands out as if to say, “Hey! I was open.” I hate when players do that, and Henry is one of the top offenders. He got mad at Messi today at some point, and Messi shouted out to him as if to say, “What is the matter, now?” Other than that, he worked hard and all that, but he really has to cut that shit out.

    Didn’t think we were all that good today, but great contribution by Messi and Bojan. Also, Iniesta played well and Henry worked hard.

    1. i agree. he was also constantly offside and not making any attempot to get back onside.

      which came first the chicken or the egg… or which came first, henry not getting passes or henry not scoring?

      maybe he needs a bit of a benching, but thats just me

  5. The more I think about this the more we need to crush a team that tries to pressure the backline. It is working too well and teams will continue to use it, at least smack them and give them some pause.

    I don’t think Sevilla will sit back next game, pressuring the back 4 and Xavi to keep us in our half is a better defensive tactic than putting 10 in the box and watching Ibra’s tall ass show why he was purchased.

  6. I must confess that I must have missed all of the good Busquets moments that Kxevin cited in giving him a 4. For my money he was worse than Marquez (though not by much). I watched him continually gift passes to Tenerife in the middle of our defensive zone, fail to track back on midfielders making delayed runs into our box and repeatedly fall down for foul calls in dangerous positions when the referee had clearly had enough and decided he wasn’t going to provide bailout whistles. There was a large portion of the match when I seriously wondered if we would be better off playing with 10 men. This performance highlighted all the bad that seeps into Busquets’ game. I would have given him a 0, perhaps a 1. Anything higher is an insult to integers.

    In Henry’s defense, he made a number of great runs through the Tenerife high line and never received a look, mainly because our midfielders were knocking the ball around sideways and backwards unable to sort through the pressure.

    Since I have been hard on Bojan recently, I will credit him here with an excellent all around game. As Kxevin noted, he was much more involved today.

    Iniesta was responsible for some of the more egregious turnovers in the first half, but on a night when Xavi was largely subdued I thought the game turned for good when he started to take advantage of space and make attacking runs through the midfield.

    Some credit should be given to Tenerife today. The scoreline doesn’t reflect it, but they came in with a good game plan and played bravely.

  7. “out henry henry” when was the last time H made a run and pass like that, that resulted in a goal? last season maybe. i could be wrong.

  8. Rollin’ into Seville on a high…awesome! We can definitely advance, it is just a matter of executing opportunities. Hopefully, we come hungry, especially Ibra.

  9. agree with the point about henry’s crosses very much. last season, henry was doing the exact same thing which had resulted SO MANY GOALS for Eto’o and Messi. We saw a lot of those today! but hey, Messi wasn’t really running, and Bojan really needs to learn how to be that at-the-right-place-at-the-right time forward with his size.
    speaking about bojan though, he played so well which is really surprised me. that step-over slow-fast move reminded me of his wonder-kid era. but he really has to know how to make better runs.

    10-star review as always, thanks.

    1. thats just not true.

      henry’s crossing with his left foot has always been a butt-hair below atrocious. he quite simply SUCKS when crossing with his left.

      for him to do anything good he needs to cut inside on his right, though sometimes he can exhibit a decent left footed shot (hit the post vs tenerife) but goddamn his crossing is awful.

  10. I’m going to apologize upfront, because this is going to be a long post.

    First of all, credit to Tenerife. They played without fear and with no respect for our accomplishments. Luckily for us our individual class showed in the end, but they deserve an immense amount of credit for the game they played today.

    Completely agree on Busquets. The guy is a rollercoaster. Give me a flat train ride, even if it doesn’t reach as high as the rollercoaster. Maxwell had some decent-to-good offensive play, but damn there’s a huge difference between him and Abidal. It’s so sad to see Marquez playing poorly, but I’d rather not see him at all than be sad to see him play poorly.

    This game highlights how important Xavi is to our team. He has a poor game (comparatively) and we just don’t control the game at all. Iniesta stepped up, but he just doesn’t control a game like Xavi does.

    Henry played well, worked his ass off, and scored a goal. However, he seems a bit out of sync with the team. Someone on this blog (sorry, can’t remember who) once said that Henry acted as an alternative option to our normal style. If our normal control passing game wasn’t breaking through, Henry could give us a different option because he acts independently of our style. Now when we’re firing on all cylinders this acts as an extra option or safety valve. Right now we see he is just disconnected. He beats a man and crosses and no one is there. The midfielders are controlling the ball and he makes a run and the ball isn’t passed and he gets a bit frustrated. For some reason the chemistry isn’t there right now. It could be due to his extended layoff, it could be that Eto’o facilitated the synchronization. Either way, Henry is working his ass off, and I expect him to contribute much more the second half of the season.

    Bojan played well, and that bodes well for the team. Last year pressuring us high was a death wish, this year it’s fairly effective. The difference is we no longer have Etoo’s excellent diagonal runs that allowed us to get behind the defense if they defended high. Ibra is a baller, but he just isn’t as mobile. He was brought to break buses, but we’ve lost some effectiveness against high pressure. Bojan showed a desire and some ability to make those runs tonight and get behind the high defense. If (and I stress if) he can continue to do this it will renew our effectiveness against the high defense. Think how awesome it would be to have both options be very effective, how could you stop us then? Also notice that Bojan’s runs relieved the pressure on Messi, and all of Messi’s goals were one touch shots.

    Finally, a thank you for Valdes. He doesn’t get a lot of recognition, but he’s big when we need him to be.

  11. Also, I’d like to thank the people who run and comment regularly on this blog. Unfortunately, we recently saw how many people conduct themselves on the internet. It’s great to be here where people can conduct themselves with maturity and where we can have intelligent discussions and even disagreements without any maliciousness. Awesome

  12. I think Barca played well other than the first 20 minutes. It’s troubling that the team hasn’t put forth a strong 90 minutes after the winter break, but again, I don’t think it’s a massively big deal. It was nice to see Bojan play well, and Henry has been much better in December/January than August-November. Messi’s scoring touch is coming back, as is Iniesta’s form. All in all, it was really only Xavi of the big boys that had a below-par game, and I can’t help but feel he just needs a week off i.e. his next game should be in two weeks. He’s the one guy who hasn’t had a real break at all this entire season.

  13. Personally what I really took away from the match was a couple things:

    1) the numbers don’t lie –
    Last season: 13-2-1, 48 goals scored, 10 goals against
    This season: 13-4-0, 42 goals scored, 10 goals against
    we are just are better than last season, except with all the pressure on us to be the greatest show on earth, it adds a lot of negative pressure. It’s kind of a good thing, because we only expect the best performances from our team and players. The funny thing is as the numbers show, we’re getting the results, and we still haven’t lost!

    2) Iniesta was scintillating! Best game I have seen from him this season, and put a smile on my face because it reminded me how amazing he can be. Sure, maybe a quiet first half, but he was just electric out there.

    3) Unfortunately Xavi probably had his worst game of the season. At times I couldn’t even spot him on the field he was so invisible. I think we have yet to see him and Iniesta in rhythm this season, but I feel we are getting closer. With messi scoring a boatload of goals and Krkic slowly gaining some confidence, I think we are about to peak at the right time, with the Knockout stages coming soon. Odd, however, that this result came when there was a certain Giant Swede missing from the lineup……..

    oh and Marquez is awful. he’s slow, is caught off-position constantly, and thinks he can still does the long angling passes. I’m beginning to feel like I did when I saw Hleb on the field when Marquez plays.

  14. Last season: 13-2-1, 48 goals scored, 10 goals against
    This season: 13-4-0, 42 goals scored, 10 goals against
    Is there a typo or are we comparing 16 matches vs 17?
    I don’t want to be grumpy or anything just need to know!
    Great review by the way…although i think bojan does deserve a little more credit…
    P.S Is it me or is our attack much more mobile without Ibra?

  15. Marquez is a man who “trots” when everyone else is running (That is a fancy word for “walks” in my book). He smokes too much weed. (For legal purposes, that is not slander, it is a joke.)

    I think Ibra needs to be the anchor of our attack. Everything must go through him, not Xavi actually. Ibra has top level shooting AND passing. If we can move our passing triangles up the field, including him, then he can pass to set up a goal in the box or shoot himself. Another thing we need is Abidal to make more offensive runs. I believe he is capable of almost as good offensive play as Alves. If he can start pushing up more and Alves falling back in sync, plus the supreme central forward playmaking of Ibra at the top of the 18, we will totally kick ass. (Anchor in the middle, flood the sides.) Chips Ahoy

  16. While watching the first half, I remembered the discussions Hector and I had in this post:


    Aside of the usual TOWANATA bashing, this game reminds me of that goal regarding the basic tactical scheme.

    I always read the liveblog after each and every game TOANATA plays. The entertainment is always guaranteed noticing how a young boy can drive everyone crazy :D.

    I won’t defend his case as it’s another Keita case that will solve itself by time. There were many players who performed worse than TOWANATA in this game. Though it’s hard to believe that this will ever be a possibility.

    1. And by the way, I won’t paste it here but on my blog I summarized Tenerife Scoring opportunities in the first half. It may shed more light about what we had to deal with.

      Just another way to see things…

  17. i missed the game..
    why didn’t pep let jds or thiago come in for xavi since he was
    having a poor match and we were winning by quite a big margin?

    if you ask me, i’d rather rest xavi and let jds or thiago play for him in the seville match..
    i find the copa cup quite a burden since we won’t have any fresh faces in this transfer window..

  18. A misleading but welcome scoreline.

    I usually think Kevin tends to score Messi lower then what he deserves but this time, he is spot on. Though he scored a hattrick, he was nowhere as influential as he could be.

    I think that the teams pressing us high up in field can go either ways. When we are on roll, that will play in our hands so we need to find our A game soon and consistently.

    Marquez is, for me, definitely now behind Puyol, Pique and Milito in pecking order for defenders. Chryggy as midfielder makes more sense as his pace will not hurt us as much.

    Last season, when we were on, we moved the ball at excellent pace. This season we are not that quick and it is hurting us. Sevilla match will be interesting.

  19. Is anyone else tired of hearing “Tenerife should have been up 3-0”? The media, the fans (both Barca and other fans), bloggers. Wow. Does anyone realize that had the first goal gone in, the game would have changed? If a team misses 3 chances, it is N/A to say they should be up 3-0 because if the first chance goes in, different events would have happened and who knows if the other 2 chances come.

    1. Agreed, its akin to saying that Chelsea would have won 4-1 if the ‘penalties’ would’ve been given..

      IMO, we would’ve overcome a two goal deficit, I’m not too sure we’d have taken any points after being 3 goals down..

    2. Pep will do everything possible to win against Sevilla. We can’t assume that we will win the Liga or the CL. Finishing the season without any title will not be acceptable.

      Don’t count me in. I had no doubt we will get the three points here, but it doesn’t mean we don’t point out the defects. The two offense fullbacks with one holding midfielder and Iniesta+Xavi infront never works for us defense wise. This game was another evidence. Especially when one of the Center backs is not in his best form.

  20. We suffered a lot the 1st 30 minutes, tenerife started really great and should have scored first but still the team looked better than other games I think… even with xavi kinda off and busi giving up balls. We saw some great plays and golazos so I’m happy, besides bojan got some great minutes and a little respect.

    How do the ratings work? Are the they compared to a player’s self or ideal? iniesta compared to any other player should have gotten a 9 at least, he was trashing defenders most of the game with his magic moves. No way he got the same as henry for instance.

  21. Agree vehementy with Poipoi. No way Iniesta deserved only a 6. He was the man throughout the second half, and partly in the first. How does Henry get the same rating as him? Yes, that shot on the post was nice. But as usual, there were too many random crosses. Crossing well requires more than just sending the ball in, one needs to find a teammate. And, if, our attackers are bombarding the box expecting a cross from Henry, how come they never get to one? Then there were a couple of lazy offsides.

    But still, good game from Titi. Better than the first few of the season at least.

    I thought maxwell did well on attack in the second half ?

  22. Couldnt have said it better myself. We miss pique, if we are to win against Sevilla, we NEED pique back there WITH puyol. Seems like they are now a package, and also we NEED xavi back from whatever the hell he went, because this match he was invisible to me. Cant run the ship without the motor!

  23. I pretty much agree with everything said here. First half was terrible, unlike anything I’ve seen. A couple of things:

    -I definitely noticed Messi’s lack of defensive pressure, but I vaguely remember thinking that about every forward/outfielder at some point.

    -I see the lack of pace in defense, but it’s hard for me to agree with the notion that our “needs” an injection of pace when we have Alves on the field. Although this is a stat-sheet way of thinking, I’ll admit.

    -Perhaps a sustained run of appearances has whipped Bojan into shape a bit?

    An Arsenal friend of mine was arguing that we shouldn’t be worried about fatigue for our CBs, Gallas and Vermaelen, even though they invariably play every single match, because rotating CBs necessarily means danger. I told him that last year, Barcelona used a few different combinations of CBs and won everything, and his response was, “they don’t play in the Premiership, though, right?” Thoughts? Do our defenders struggle a bit more than they should because their partner is rotated a lot? Is this a weakness exposed by the loss of our midfield pressure this season?

    1. Good point, Alexinho. When you play with the same people, you identify their strengths and weaknesses and you learn how to compensate for them. It’s why you see the “fire drill” look with unusual back line combinations for us, because nobody knows where anybody will be, really.

      I think that’s why Guardiola, last year (and he will this year as well) settle into a definite squad, that will be mostly unchanged.

      Speaking of, I do agree with the “dump the Copa” view. I don’t think we have the squad to compete on all three fronts this season. Squad players such as Hleb and Gudjohnsen were important, if only (often) from the viewpoint that they got rest for Xavi and Iniesta, from not forcing them to work as hard at command/control.

  24. Iniesta eatned his rating for being fairly crappy in the first half, complete with some awful giveaways. At least when Xavi was being invisible, he wasn’t turning the ball over. As noted, he improved dramatically in the second half.

    To poipoi’s question, players are rated on their overall play, and in specific, contribution to the side’s overall effort, and in the context of their individual standard. It’s why some have the perception that I rate Messi low. In fact, Messi has a very high individual standard.

    Contribution to the team effort is crucial. Henry, for example, despite not having turned his chances, worked his ass off. He was pressuring in the midfield, making runs and laying in cross after cross. With a different striker, he has at least two assists. So yes, Henry contributed to the result as much, if not more, than Iniesta.

    No offense meant to anyone, but people get seduced by a few great plays, and think that those moments should define a player’s rating. I don’t. Puyol played strong, but was dragged down by some dimwitted moments. It happens.

    Finally, every player starts with a 0. They then play up from there.

    Hope that makes things clearer.

    1. hey Kevin, may be i got it wrong but i thought everyone started at 5 and then got plus or minus based on their performance. In fact, if i apply that criteria, your ratings make more sense then if i apply 0 as start point. In later case, some of the players would have to be minus by end of game:) and i have never seen a minus score.

    2. Talking about Puyol, He continuously failed to organize the offside trap and he gave away dangerous balls that if he was /that other guy/ he would have been shot in the head.

      The same goes for Xavi as most of the dangerous Tenerife attempts started from either a give away by him or a wrong pass by Marquez.

    3. Nope, yogi, everyone starts at 0. And obviously, it isn’t a 1-for-1 plus/minus thing, as that would drive me crazy(er) than I already am.

      It also changes on second viewings of a match. After the live viewing, I was thinking about a 5 for Krkic. But a second viewing lets you see more, mostly because it’s difficult to focus on individual players during a live broadcast.

      Puyol’s boneheaded moments were more than offset by his good plays, not to mention the goal. This just wasn’t true of Busquets (not sure why he’s labeled by something other than his name), in my book. But everybody is more than welcome to see any match as they see fit. Nor am I the “stone tablet” of evaluation. The comments portion opens up the debate, and we learn from each other.

      I would have liked to have seem more of the Txigrinski at DM experiment. I’m sure that Guardiola wanted to taste it a bit, just to see what would happen. There was one instance in which he got a little too far up the pitch, and got smoked on pace.

      I want to watch again, that period in specific. Some (I’m still not so sure) think that he might be better served as a DM, particularly given that Busquets works better with more of a safety net in front of him. Could be a possible solution for the remainder of the month.

    4. “This just wasn’t true of Busquets (not sure why he’s labeled by something other than his name), in my book.”

      Give me the minute Busquets flop and I will give a more deadfull mistake made by another player and mention the minute of play. Regarding the naming thing, Thats the least to do after reading the liveblog. People wanted to kill him (for nothing) so its better to give him another name so he lives undercover.

      On my review I listed the most threatfull moments in the game (the first half) and aside of one debadable moment, he had nothing to do with any vital threat. Thats not the case for the others. I mentioned them minute by minute so we dont get too theoritical. And everyone is welcomed to tell where exactly he flopped (at which moment) and compare it to every other player flop. Those who have the game can watch it again and more than welcomed to tell where I discribed the incedents wrongly.

      One of my neighbours today was cursing TOWANATA today. He think its his fault that it is getting too cold in Sweden these days 😀

      Aside of that, as I mentioned before, its a matter of time till we start hearing that:”TWANATA improved dramatically”. And both Pep and Del Bosque will sound less stupid for trusting him, and I will sound less arrogant I guess. ToWANATA wil become TOWAFATA. Till then, peace.

    5. Buquets may not have made a lot of extremely significant mistakes in the game, and there are players who made worse mistakes than any of Busquets’.

      However he still deserves a four. He makes a lot of little mistakes that add up – he gave away possession a lot even if it wasn’t in absolutely critical places (on that note, was I the only one who saw him trap it to the opposing forward on the edge of our box?). We never had control of the game, and Busquets continually giving up possession played a large role in this.

      I like Busquets, and I think he’s going to be a great player for us eventually, but he didn’t have a good game today. These two ideas aren’t mutually exclusive. Saying he had a bad game =/= wanting to kill him.

    6. Ramzi,

      Your blog is really well done. Perhaps some are to quick to judge Busquets, but I think you were too quick to defend him.

      At 3:58, that pass is absolutely Busquets’ fault. Busquets is already dragged over to the right to receive the ball from Alves, so there is no cover in the center of the pitch above the CBs. He sees Xavi coming toward him in the middle and makes a very soft pass that at best is going to put Xavi in a defenseless position while offering no real advantage to our offense. Unfortunately the pass is so soft that the Tenerife defender up the field closes down 10 yards of space to intercept it before it gets to Xavi. Once he does Busquets is not in position to defend against the ensuing counter attack. This is what steams me about Busquets’ play — the soft turnovers in the middle of the pitch that come from poor decision making and not physical limitations. This is why I always am happy with Busquets when he plays higher up the pitch with Toure behind, because he is freed up to make creative plays and absolved from much of the force of the casual play errors that are part of his game.

      6:48 — Agreed this play was started by a horrible Marquez giveaway. But Busquets had a clear opportunity to break up the counter or take a professional foul. Instead he closed slowly and allowed a 1-2 to be played past him into a danger area.

      12:07 — Busquets comes way up the pitch on the left to make a one-legged, half-hearted challenge on Alfaro. Then as the ball is played past him, he jogs slowly back on the left side of the pitch as Alfaro runs past him (and Xavi who was also asleep) into the box and almost scores.

      On your blog you credit Busquets for being in the middle of almost each of them.

      1. Busquets made the initial, simple pass to Bojan which led to Bojan’s carry into into the box. A good play, but it was Bojan and not the initial pass which made the play.

      2. Busquets was not involved except that he was standing behind Puyol when the captain rose for his header.

      3. Busquets makes an early run which is not found and ends up in an offside position. The CB who is beaten doesn’t react to Busquets’ run, but rather is focused on Iniesta which opens the channel for Bojan to move behind the line.

      4. Busquets isn’t involved here.

      5. Busquets isn’t involved here.

      You do make an astute point about Guardiola making a tactical change to move Xavi into a deeper-lying position to cover Busquets. And I will say that Busquets made some creative runs in the offensive zone in the second half. But this is the crux of the issue for me. Busquets’ value is found in his ability to make these creative plays going forward. His liabilities with respect to making dangerous plays, being out of position or going to ground too easily are not traits suited to a DM.

      I feel like in some ways he is a victim of his size. He is tall, so he looks like something he isn’t. If he were a midget like Xaviesta no one would find him a suitable DM. Instead we would be thinking of him as a midfield partner for one of them. And to me that is what his role should be — playing further up the pitch with a true DM behind him. Like a more effective Gudjohnsen.

  25. I just thought that Iniesta was enormous yesterday. I always look at him cloer since I’m a fan of him. He played as beautiful and simple as it can be, and ruled the midfield showing unhuman skill and vision. Plus he waved arms and gave orders which is something I had never seen from him. Barça has been known in world football lately for their pursue of beauty and Andres is one of their biggest if not the biggest artist. The play in which he went past 6 players, the “cucharita” to bojan, the “chilena”. He didn’t score or give any assist but he made the match worth watching before messi did the vaselina. Messi scored 3 goals but to me he did’t play as well as he should, lately he gets too lost in the game like yesterday, but then chips that divine goal. Iniesta should have scored that chilena, it would have kicked ass… I start to sound like a blind fan 🙁 …… So, on the other hand, if xavi was so weirdly off thiago or JDS could have played a bit with the 0-3.

    1. You’re right about Messi, poipoi. Even weirder was that for periods, we had three guys who weren’t sure who the striker was.

      So more often than not, I saw Messi slotting into that role, as Henry was doing his wing thing, and Krkic was flitting about. So he actually got a higher rating than he would have.

      And no shame in being a fan, blind or otherwise. It’s one of the beauties of this game. I thought that Iniesta and Henry deserved a goal.

  26. It’s been a long time since I contributed anything worth reading on this blog. Mainly because I find it overwhelming when I look to read a post by Kevin or Isaiah, and while it may only be 10 minutes after it was posted, there are usually 30-40 comments already submitted. A testament to the quality of the posts, and the community established. Well done sirs.

    Anyway, while the rest of the world freaks out about Yaya, our ever-present disconnect in the midfield, and the increasing Henry vs Bojan comparisons, I think it was a refreshing glimpse of what’s to come, and not because of the 5 goals. Yes Messi HULK SMASHed that ball into the net, and yes Pedro continues his campaign to be superhuman, second only to the YAYA. But for the first time in awhile, our boys looked…


    They were having fun. Messi’s nonchalant effort gave me chills with how effortlessly, and unsurprised he was after his ball neatly tucked itself in for the night in the top right corner. Our boys looked joyful, and I think, just maybe, Henry showed a smile again.

    When we’re relaxed we’re unbeatable, and obviously that comes from being 3 goals up after 10 minutes of awesomeness. But i think there’s a monkey on everyones back, that we’re finally finding a way to lose.

    1. JMo, I wouldn’t say that the first statement of your comment is at all accurate. 😀

      Having said that, you’re right. That’s why I liked that last picture so much, because goal celebrations of late have been rather grim, more “Whew!” moments of relief than true joyful events. Yesterday’s match was different, maybe because of the surprise. I would also contend that Krkic being the firestarter probably made a lot of people happy, because I’m sure that like most folks on this blog, the players want to see Krkic succeed.

      Krkic and Henry’s performances filled me with hope, more than anything, because both of them are crucial. If Krkic can become like he was yesterday, more consistently, that would be huge. It’s even funnier that his excellent performance comes right on the heels of my observations about his exceptional work in the Champions League group stages last season. Then DING! up pops Wonder Boy.

    2. Agreed.

      I’ve said from the beginning that he’s been thinking wayyy too much, and not reacting to play.

      Ronaldinho never thought about what he was going to do, he just did it. (I’m not comparing Bojan to Ronnie). On that first goal, he instinctively slowed play allowing messi and henry? to penetrate into the box, and then exploded to offer the sublime cross resulting in his hadouken into the ole onion bag.

      It was the same for his goal against Argentina. He’s got the talent, now he just needs his brain to shut down and start enjoying himself.

      He’s still my favorite player to score because his joy is infectious. He looks like a little kid who found a lollipop or something.

  27. And Ivory coast is playing now. My bet for a world cup surprise. Lets see how they are preparing (even though usually the teams that qualify to world cup fails during ACN. Algeria just lost 4-0)

    The best part of it: Yaya the playmaker!

    1. I went to Vegas last month. I don’t know how to play cards or anything, but I did wander over to the sports books. I checked out the odds for the World Cup. Brazil are favorites (5-2), Spain second (3-1). Argentina — yes, Argentina — are third, don’t remember the exact odds.

      Here’s my point. Ivory Coast were 25-1. They were rated as less likely than Portugal, France, USA etc. I put 20 bucks on them.

      But now I have to support Drogba for 4 weeks 🙁

  28. Bojan runs at people, gets involved in the attacks and gets 3 (count: THREE) assists. earns a 7.

    Henry does significantly less running at people, puts a couple decent balls into the box for nobody, then isn’t really involved in any attacking play for the rest of the game. earns a 6.

    come on Kxevin. only one of our attacking players other than Leo provided the goods today, and if it was Ibrahimovic getting 3 assists we’d consider it a stellar performance and be crowing about how much he brings to the team. i agree little Bojan hasn’t been great this season, but he was this game and did Henry’s job for him as well as his own.

    granted this wasn’t the best of our team games, but i thought Bojan, and Messi, were brilliant despite our lack of dominance. and talk about high standards; do we HAVE to dominate every game, have wonderful passing and 80% possession throughout that results in bags of goals in order to placate the fans after last season? 5-0’s without really getting into gear are fine with me for the foreseeable future.

    i’m not sure you’ll see too many of those kinds of games against teams who are trying to follow in the footsteps of Villareal and Sevilla with high pressure and working to close down, because i think Pep has recognized that alright, our possession game can get stifled by teams working hard. so we’ll increasingly focus on playing on the counterattack, as we did for 2 of our goals yesterday, and Lord knows we’ve got the players to do it. you want to pressure us high? alright, but that means your backline is an awful long way from goal and all it takes is 1 ball from Iniesta or Xavi (like that exquisite one yesterday for the 3rd) and now you’ve only got 1 or 2 defenders between Leo Messi or Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Thierry Henry and your keeper. and good luck with that.

    1. True, BA, but a rating is often more than tangible things on the scorecard. Do the runs of Henry that open up space for Krkic and Messi count toward something? It probably depends on who you ask. How about the crosses that deserved better fates, or the midfield pressure efforts? Good questions, right? If there’s nobody on the end of a very good cross, is it the fault of the crosser, or the attackers? Another good question. But if Eto’o had been our striker, he would have had 2 or 3 goals today, with an attendant number of assists for Henry. This was one of those matches where you could say that he was missed in theory, though not really, because what’s the difference between 5-0 and 7 or 8-0, right?

      Krkic got 3 assists, and had some nice movement. What did he do beyond that? Is 3 assists enough in and of themselves? I figured I would get a hard time for not giving Krkic a 10 because he had 3 assists, and some nice moves on the corner. 😀 I’m okay with that.

      By the by, if Ibrahimovic had done the same as Krkic, he would probably have gotten a worse rating, because he’s supposed to do more, and in the context of his individual standard, he should do more. For instance, I expect Ibrahimovic to serve as that link between Xavi and the back line sometimes, as he takes a pass then runs forward for the return ball. That’s part of his skill set, so the expectation isn’t unreasonable. He’s done it in the past. So to extrapolate probable ratings based on a player isn’t going to be entirely accurate.

    2. I’ve built something of a reputation for being a staunch Bojan defender, but I think the ratings are fairly accurate (by which I mean different people value different actions on the field differently and this gives small margins of difference in how players are rated by individuals, but the ratings fall well within these boundaries).

      Bojan played much better than he has been, but he still faded in some parts of the game. His decision making wasn’t perfect either. Meanwhile Henry also put in a lot of hard work, and was unfortunate not to have something to show for it (except a 5-0 win).

    3. if Bojan doesn’t get as much credit for creating 3 assists and not doing much else, what garners Pedro so much credit? all that kid does is score goals; he adds very little to our attack in terms of link-up play. don’t get me wrong, i love Pedro! and obv. thankful for his saving our asses with those goals on several occasions. but his OVERALL play in the sense that you mean it is substandard; in that sense he’s the anti-Henry (all goals, little supporting play rather than the opposite from the Frenchman).

    4. True, BA, but the job of Pedro! is to come in and stir shit up. So again in his context, what he’s supposed to do is roll in, create chaos and bang in a goal or two. Now, he does have a very nice passing game, and displays it from time to time.

      But my issues with Pedro! are his tactical awareness (cited before) and general scatteredness.

  29. I’m always bitching about Marquez and Bojan so I must admit that I think that is the best game Bojan ever played for Barca first team. Now to the dreaded Marquez , who decided to give this guy a new contract ? He is shockingly bad worse than atrocious , has to go.

    1. i’d defended Rafa here in the past, and i still maintain he’s one of the best passing center-backs in world football when he’s on (as he was for portions of last season), but he’s been utterly awful not just this game but in all of the 09/10 season.

  30. vicsoc8, I will go as far as saying, count those little ones, you will find it less than those of Messi for example. Henry, or (not sure thought) even Xavi in THIS game.

    Besides, if one player makes three crutial mistakes that could have cost 3 goals. Nothing could be compared to that. But its a matter of either waiting some players to see the good things they do, or picking others for their wrongs. Which lead me to put specific minutes in question.

    Even the good things he does goes under the clouds of doubt. Like his offense contribution in this game, which was brilliant.

    If he was 1% as bad as some claim we would have seen Pinto playing in his place. But lets not start this again, as some people get a bit erritated when TOWANATA get some praise. (no one specific is meant).

    1. I don’t think that anyone gets irritated when Busquets gets praise. We’ve all praised him when he’s done well. Nor do I think that standards for him are any different. I think that we are allowed to admire any Barca player who does well, just as we are allowed to lambast any Barca player who doesn’t do well. Nobody gets a free ride, or a blind eye.

  31. vicsoc8 eloquently sums up the view of Busquets from my world, because here’s the thing:

    Contrary to widely held belief, I don’t love or hate any Barca player. I’m not really a fan of any Barca player, even as I can admire the skill sets of various members of the side. When I advocate for more Yaya, it’s because he moves the pitch forward 10-20 meters, and makes life easier for Xavi/Iniesta/Messi. It isn’t because I love him, or think that he is better than Busquets or anybody else, just that his role is more complimentary to what the side needs, in my humble opinion.

    And generally, Busquets is better with The Yaya in the house. The safety net does him good. He has immense talent. When he uses it properly, he is an exceptional player, and you can see why Guardiola is so fond of him. I’m also willing to bet that Guardiola has “Jesus, Sergi!” moments while sitting on the bench. That’s part of the maturation process. If the surrounding talent weren’t so high, Busquets’ growing pains would be more anonymous.

    We have a lot of young talent on this club, on the bench and in the wings. If Krkic becomes the player that everyone here thinks that he can become, hooray for Barca. Same for Busquets, Dos Santos, Assulin, Thiago, Pedro!, etc.

    But I don’t honestly believe that anyone has it out for any Barca player. Because to do so would damage the club, and none of us want to see the club damaged.

    1. i’d go out on a limb and say Yaya is better than Busquets in our system still. Busquets has got the potential, but for the time being in both this Barca team and for the national team, he should leave it up to the Bald Masters: Yaya and Marcos Senna.

    2. ahhh, but you do add a exclamation mark after Pedros name. and you also call bojan krkic instead of just bojan.

      i propose when talking about a player, we use the name on his jersey. cuz obviously thats what they want to be called by.

    3. True. Pedro! is a bit of mirth started by Isaiah. No reference to anything other than that. The old journalist in me likes AP style, which is last names. So it’s Busquets, not Sergi, Krkic, not Bojan, Henry, not Titi, Yaya, Pique, Puyol, etc. Xavi is the only exception because like Ronaldinho, he’s just …. Xavi. Word.

      Oh, and I call Henrique Adriano, because he hasn’t played well enough to earn his real name. Another joke, btw. 😀

    4. You are correct Yaya is the first name not last name but it doesn’t matter really whatever name “stcks” and sounds better is ok with me

  32. Ramzi, I disagree with you. He did do some excellent things offensively, such as the deceptive little flick he had in the opponents box to (I don’t remember who). He also did some things great defensively such as intercepting a couple balls around midfield. But he made some big mistakes. He trapped the ball to the opposing forward on the edge of our box, he turned to play the ball across the field once and hit an opposing player square in the chest, and he did one of his patented falls when he got touched once, while the other play took the ball and counter attacked.

    That’s the thing, when Busquets makes a good play, he makes a really good play. The problem is he makes mistakes too often – the decisiveness of his mistakes was diminished yesterday, but they were still abundant. He made some very nice plays, but overall he had a mediocre to poor game.

    1. “1)He trapped the ball to the opposing forward on the edge of our box, 2)he turned to play the ball across the field once and hit an opposing player square in the chest, and 3)he did one of his patented falls when he got touched once, while the other play took the ball and counter attacked.”

      1) Minute 3:59, Watch that one again and tell me, is it him who passed wrong or Xavi who didnt recognize the player who was coming from behind. When was the ball intercepted? ON the way to Xavi, or two inches far from Xavi foot who was standing still since TOWANATA Passed the ball till the opponent stole it. Yet, if you watched this one and still feel its his fault, them watch minute 20:28 there you will have exactly the same thing between Xavi and Iniesta. It also caused a counter that no one mentioned.

      2)Minute 25:35 it didnt lead to anything as the player who stole it played it to another one who was in the offside position.

      3) I dont know which one you mean here, but its not in the first half for sure. If you can give me the exact minute I will check the counter attack resulted from that one.

      But in any way, compare that to Xavi, Puyol, and Marquez mistakes that lead to direct threats on the goal, then its fair to critisize them all including the boy. But picking one for being salty while the rest are honey is not fair.

      Appologies for the blog owners for mentioning my report often as it aimed to comment less (and short) through putting the main points there. if the first half was the big trouble for us, again tell me what are the other opportunities Tenerefi had beside the ones I mentioned in the game report. Its easy to find the exact minute through watching the game again or even the highlights where you will find them if they were really crutial. If there are nothing specific beside general “feeling”, then I cant buy the case.

      Look I am not saying he is perfect nor he was man of the match. I pointed out his defects in that same report. But He was as good as everyone, more or less. Thats if we are comparing him only to those who played and not -at usual- to the ones who didnt. As for me, I can only take the performance of who played in consideration, the “If this one played instead of that they woulda coulda etc…” is not serious. When they play we praise or critisize.

    2. Fair enough. Noting that I wasnt basing my arrgument on the ratings (rating is not my thing), but more on the initial Passive/positive approaches that varries toward one player or another.

      When you (not you but in general)pass out the moment you see the starting line up because a player is playing or feel excited because another is starting you set up your mind to the way you will see the game and the players contribution in it even before the game start. And that leaves an impact on the after match view whether you want it or not. thats how one player flop sound more ugly than the same flop sounds when its done by another (as I demonstarted by evidances), the good things goes the same way as well. Some has to do extra good to overwrite their previous image while for others its enough to be good to add on their positive account, and vise versa.

      With showing the other side of the story its a way to contribute in enhancing the football understanding, not to prove a point. I only have to prove a point in football toward those who pay me for it, and their fans. Everything else is for the fun of it, and the love of it.

    3. 1. Not the play I’m thinking about – was much later in the game, and it was from a cross from the other team.

      2. I consider that a lucky break.

      3. It was in the second half, he was dribbling in the opposition end fell, and the player started a counter.

      Either way, it doesn’t matter, as I used the examples to be illustrative of my point, not exhaustive. Honestly, I can’t be arsed to go find the exact minutes that they happened, because I’m not all that interested in proving my point.

      I will just leave with this. I’m not saying he made the worst mistakes. Other people made mistakes too. I’m not saying all his mistakes led to goal scoring opportunities, but in my mind if you give the ball away a lot this is a problem, as it upsets our overall flow and control of the game. I’m only considering the rating he got for this single game, and I think it is an accurate depiction.

  33. I though Iniesta played really well although i don’t remember too much from the first 30 (my eyes were closed). What’s the yellow submarine in reference too?

    1. Villarreal. The nickname for their team is Yellow Submarine, so they’re having at us for the Liga draw, which sullied our 6 trophy celebration. It was pretty funny, actually.

  34. Ramzi, I have to take issue with you there. On minute 3.59 Busi is looking straight at Xavi and sees the Tenerife player making an unexpected sprint towards Xavi. Not a good choice of pass imo. Not a problem if he puts pace on it and its Iniesta making the pass as his favourite ball to Xavi is the hospital ball but then puts himself in a position to receive it back first touch. Its a hallmark of a lot of our midfield play. Busi makes virtually no attempt to make himself available for the return – indeed he hasn’t moved from his marker even if Xavi had managed to retain it.

    I’m not sold on the “it didn’t lead to anything” either. That mistake didn’t but he wasn’t even close to completing that pass and to play DM you need to have a mindset that you are not going to give up possession as its likely to be important quite often. As we’ve often said, the way we play, cover in defence isn’t a given.

    Like others, I’m in the camp that he is just learning the position and that he has the skill to play the position but I’d like to see him taking the easy option more often and working harder on being available for passes more of the time.

    Last point I would make is to echo some of the comments about Iniesta’s performance. I thought he had a great game, pressing, distributing and creating while, it pains me to say, Xavi was very quiet.

    1. Bienvenido Matias!

      Hay algunos aqui que seguimos tu blog religiosamente. Agradecemos tanto tus consejos tanto como los videos que produces. Estoy escribiendo un articulo para esta semana en este web site sobre la efectividad de la presion alta en contra de nosotros en los ultimos partidos. Estaba pensando utlilizar algunos de tus videos como referencia (dandole credito a Paradigma Guardiola, claro). Apreciaria mucho tus comentarios y reaccion.


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