My Moments of Barça 4 – Granada 0

1. Tiki Taka Ini Dribble Combo Ney

Every press conference, Gerardo Martino defends his team – and by extension, himself – against accusations that we don’t play as beautifully as before, that we’re playing badly because we don’t hold on to the ball as long as under previous coaches.

Tata has introduced a bit more directness in our attack. Is the way we play better? Time will tell. Probably not, because for some time Guardiola pretty much achieved perfection. However, perfection in football gets found out. It gets unperfected. So we must move on and adapt.

Well here’s a newsflash to journalists throughout Spain: Our spells of possession are shorter because we pass the ball to create opportunities and not to hold on to it. We use possession to attack, and not to defend. We still enjoy more than 65% the ball but we score from counter attacks instead of conceding from them. Yet you complain.*

Now watch the above video again and tell me that was not beautiful. The move starts with Don Andres, Fab Four, and Mr. Glass ticking the taka, continues with Iniesta ghosting past several opponents before combining cleverly with Mr. Da Silva Santos Junior and culminates with swinging the ball to Alexis, who attempts to thread through a cross. Sure, we ended up losing possession. And of course, Lexus could have opted to pass the ball back and wait for a better opportunity-creating opportunity. But we create opportunities by creating opportunities. I for one like how this coach has our team play. Oh, and by the way, did I mention we won 4-0?

2. “The basics is the first touch. With that you can create your own time”
Dennis Bergkamp**

I love Alexis. I loved him when we bought him. I loved him our first season. I loved him and defended him while at the same time heaping gigantic buckets of scorn upon the poor guy for missing chances my unborn daughter would have scored from my girlfriend’s belly, or for at times seeming hapless whenever a ball was played in his general direction. I feel my love for Alexis Sanchez has been vindicated this season. Some wanted to sell him because he sucked. Others wanted to sell him because he will be great at another club but not at Barça. I said yes, he sort of sucked, but he can still be great at Barça. And look what happened…

He is kind of great, right?

All kinds of great, really. But Lexus, for the love of God, please, please, pleeeeease improve upon your first touch! Those are two one-on-ones you’re giving up for receiving the ball like you’re wearing astronaut boots on a tight rope. Tata, Jordi, Rubi, have this man do drills the rest of the year!

3. Deulowho?

We love it when Masía players make their debuts in the Camp Nou. Yesterday Adama Traoré (17), who was born in Catalunya from Malian parents and has played for Barcelona since the age of eight, saw his dream fulfilled and made his first appearance with the big boys, subbing Neymar ten minutes before the final whistle. With a stutterstep like Ali Farka Touré plucking on his guitar, he slipped through two defenders, avoided a third and took a low hard shot which was saved by the keeper.

I’m not gonna say that Adama has a great future at Barcelona, because I don’t know. What I will say is that by comparison, Gerard Deulofeu, the most widely praised young talent to come out of the Masía since Thiago de Alcantará a couple of seasons ago, debuted in the same position as Traoré and made zero impact as he got pushed around like a boy among men. Here’s hoping our man keeps developing. Amazingly Martino has given young Adama first-team minutes without ever having started a game for Barcelona B. Am I as naive as to expect Eusebio Sacristan to make some changes soon?


*Although I doubt you’re reading.

**Nobody had a first touch like Bergkamp, one of the most elegant footballers to have ever graced the pitch. Despite drawing interest from Cruijff, who had given him his debut as a seventeen-year old at Ajax almost ten years before, he chose Arsenal when leaving Italy because he didn’t want to be a player signed by a coach whom the president didn’t trust. Sure enough, Nuñez sacked Cruijff the following season. Oh, the things that could have been!

Categorized as Barcelona

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. Iniesta was amazing last night. I don’t know
    what happened to him during the
    international break but he got his mojo back.
    He skipped past defenders with ease,
    something he had a hard time doing this

    Busquets probably had his worst match since
    his debut season. He looked a few paces off,
    so lethargic. His mind was somewhere else.

    It was refreshing to see Sergi Roberto getting
    a decent playing time. He really could do
    with playing time. So energetic!

    Isn’t it strange that Adama got a match time
    with the 1st team before the B team? That’s
    an indirect slap to Eusebio’s face. That’s
    how I see it. Eusebio can’t seem to recognize

    A few other players I would like to see getting
    playing time with the 1st team (especially
    those who are not appreciated by Eusebio);
    Samper, Dongo’o, Espinosa, Grimaldo, the
    Portuguese pair, Sanabria and Babunski who
    both are internationals already.

  2. Your gf’s pregnant? Congrats!!

    Adama makes me happy. Iniesta, Neymar combo makes me happy. Eusebio does not make me happy. Fix it, Barca!*

    *But you won’t cos you don’t care if the B team gets relegated. Dear God.

    Thanks a bunch for uploading those videos too. I remember uploading a vid to YouTube once and it took forever

  3. Wait, what? Dennis Bergkamp could’ve been a Barça player???!! Laudrup and Bergkamp in 1 team. Magical things would’ve happened. Two mercurials. As Brian McKnight said, should’ve , could’ve , would’ve.

    1. No. Laudrup was long gone by then. What arguably could have happened was for Guardiola and Bergkamp to be joined by Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima a year later. That truly would have been something.

      Mind you, I didn’t know that Bergkamp actually chose Arsenal over Barça until I came across an old interview in the Guardian (dated 2004) this morning while trying to look for the “first touch” quote. I have always felt he would be perfect for us, though.

    2. Laudrup had left the yer before that time.

      We’re talking about the year 1995.

      Those were very bad times – the Dream team had fallen apart over the previous season. Laudrup and Zubizareta left in the summer of 1994, Romario left in the winter in 1994-1995, Stoichkov left in the sumemr of 1995 after falling out with Cruyff, and the team had finished fourth in the league in 1994-1995. We bought Haghi in 1994 (to replace Laudrup) but that didn’t work out very well.

      I can definitely see why we would have been interested in Bergkamp. Cruyff was trying to rebuild and I remember very long lists of players we wanted appearing in the press but it was clear he was on his way out too. We ended up buying Prosinecki in that position but that did not work well either. We also bought Figo that summer and that worked out but the 1995-1996 season was still one that nobody wants to remember, and then Cruyff left.

      Could have been really great indeed – remember that in 1996 we bought Ronaldo and those two would have partnered quite well.

  4. I was very impressed with 2 Granada players
    (can’t remember their names but both have
    Arabic names) especially the one who is their

    And as a team, they have a good passing
    game, also from the back. Very impressive.
    Perhaps I was wow’ing at them during the
    match because I was watching EPL matches
    prior to that 😆

    1. The winger was named Brahimi if I’m correct. As you said he was pretty outstanding for them. his movements, ball control were good.

  5. The best thing about Adama’s debut was how he seemed completely unintimidated at being on the same pitch as Iniesta, Cesc, ect. He might have been forgiven for second-guessing himself and going for a safe pass to a teammate, but instead he saw an opportunity to make a play himself and took his shot. Very impressive! (although if we hadn’t already been 4 goals up I might feel differently)

    And I loved how Cesc applauded him for it. That was great to see.

  6. I second that, gefeliciteerd Levon!!

    Btw Kari, it depends on your upload speed. For example for a 100mb video file, it’ll take me 45 – 60 mins to upload at home with a 512kbps upload speed (4mbps download). At the office it’ll take me less than 10 mins with a 5mbps upload speed.

    I really wish I could upgrade to a plan with a higher upload speed as I upload a lot of property video of my listings.

  7. “The basics is the first touch. With that you can create your own time”
    Spot on. for all the good things Alexis Possesses,(is the spelling correct )his first touch is simply average and that has not improved.He should practice it.

    Disagree with the Bergkamp first touch(i remember his goal against my fav NT argentina in 98,he is also in my top 5 elegant player list along with Iniesta,Zidane,Riquelme and Rui Costa)but Zidane,Iniesta,Messi all have as good touch as him,if not better.

    Regarding Bergkamp,one of the most under rated player in the history of the sport.

    You picked your moments,thats for sure.

    This is the first time i saw Adama,he has pace,physicality and confidence to take on.Observe how the seniors encouraged him after the match.

    I like how the Messi Less Barca is playing.

    The truth is our squad is good enough to deal with most liga teams without Messi,but are we still good enough to beat BM,AT MADRID?(the best team in Europe right now IMO)That is the question?

    The way Tata likes to play Sergi Roberto is that kind of a player IMO.

    Now if TATA Decides to play Dongou,Adama,Sergi against AJAX that will be …………………

    1. Zidane, Iniesta and Messi have incredible first touches. You can add Ronaldinho and Mesut Özil to that list as well, and probably a whole host of others.

      Bergkamp, in my opinion, is the king of first touches. Time and time again he plucked long passes from the sky to create space and time for a goal scoring opportunity. Another example would be his goal against Newcastle where he spinned the ball behind his back turned his marker to score.

      While the players you quote are greater, Dennis’ first touch was simply unparalleled.

    2. Iniesta,Messi all have as good touch as him,if not better.

      We actually don’t really know that. How many times have you seen them in a situation where they have to perfectly trap a long 50-60-meter pass with defenders on their back? This is what Bergkamp was the best ever at (his first-touch reputation is based on all the goals he scored after perfectly controlling the ball in such situations) It almost never happens in our system – the few long balls we play are usually in empty space for players to run onto.

    3. I’ve never seen a 50 yard ball as the hardest test of control. You actually have plenty time to adjust and the ball is losing pace as it comes to you, (although Bergkamp’s control was awesome). The control that amazes me is when Messi, Ini or Xavi have a shorter pass hammered at them surrounded by opponents with no time to adjust. The way they can take the pace off the ball while moving it into he right position in front of them is incredible.

    4. What is hard is when you are running top speed and with the first touch with which you control the 50 yard ball you lose the marker who was running with you…


      “Don’t give me these soppy little passes, give me fast, hard balls because I can deal with anything that comes at me and playing faster is playing better.”

      Dennis Bergkamp

    5. Exactly. Defenders actually have great advantage in such situations because all they have to do is get a touch of the ball and deflect it away. In contrast, having to actually control it and lose your marker in the same time is not at all easy.

      And I hadn’t seen that quote before but it’s the absolute truth

  8. Cesc is the most direct players I’ve ever watched… Receives-ball-looks-up-makes-the-pass-or-shot at once around the box, no beating about the bush!

  9. Levon encapsulates things very nicely above. The more that I watch this club, the more I like what Martino has done with it. Neymar is growing more comfortable with tika taka by leaps and bounds, and Iniesta looks happy again. It shows in his play. Fabregas is (it must be noted as he always does in the first half of the season) kicking ass and taking names. He is a wonderfully direct player that combines Masia training and Premiership “better do something before I get kicked.” It’s a fascinating combination.

    Set pieces no longer cause dread for some, and Bartra looks to have been brought along at the exact right pace.

    Some will say “It’s only …” and seek to demean the team’s accomplishments. I say that you beat the opponent in front of you, which Barça has done this season, including RM. Can people ask more than that? Some journos believe so, as once again, in another post-match presser, Martino is asked questions about the team’s more direct style.

    Now this boggles my mind, in part because the inadequacy of that previous approach as opponents get it sussed out, has been demonstrated. This team tika takaed its way to a Copa at the end of Guardiola’s last season. More verticality led to a record-setting Liga. This season, it’s even more direct precisely because of the players that the club has, making Martino the ultimate pragmatist.

    Only a fool would take players like Neymar, Sanchez, Pedro and Fabregas, and make them play short passes in triangles all the time. Yes, there were clearly times when they were indeed making lovely tika taka. But those folks are random chaos generators. Turn them loose, and good things will happen, even if nobody is quite sure what.

    You know what? I will take that over a logical, perfectly knitted together series of passes that terminates at a very logical point, so logical that the keeper is standing there, saying “Hey little fella. That progression makes sense to me, as well. Now give me that.”

    I also like that we are seeing the beginnings of the end of Messidependencia. I know. I hate Messi, so of course I will be. But seriously, I think that a great team that includes the best player alive is very different than a collection of great players depending upon the best player alive.

    Rotation. Everyone knows that I don’t really value the Copa. I hope that the pragmatist in Martino views its presence as an opportunity to get the key players some rest, and rely on B teamers and subs to battle for that crown, rather than going all in as Guardiola did.

    Was chatting with Isaiah on Twitter last night, and we came up with a couple of full-rotation Copa XIs that, unfortunately, we probably won’t see:

    Isaiah: Oier, Montoya, Bagnack, Bartra, Planas, Song, S. Roberto, Espinosa, Cuenca, Adama, Dongou

    Me: Pinto, Montoya, Bartra, Puyol, Alba, Song, Sergi Roberto, Fabregas, Cuenca, Tello, Pedro

    Strangely, my lineup could be closest to a possible truth, but I wonder how much pressure there is on Martino to go for every possible trophy, to burnish the legacy of a president looking to have his own successes. Dunno.

    Citeh hammered Spurs 6-0 today. Jnice raised the point that nobody is calling for superleagues in the aftermath of that result, and I agreed, further stirring the pot with the notion that when Citeh beats Spurs like that, it’s strength of the attacker, rather than opponent weakness, blablabla.

    A counterargument was that there have been more scores like that in Liga this season, which wasn’t the case in my casual perusal of recent results. We only had the 7-0 over Levante.

    Anyhow, my main notion is that there are matches, and sometimes stuff just happens. Granada defended better than 4-0. The doors came off for Spurs this morning. Matches happen. Not sure why people always try to read more into a result than what it is, which is a simple result.

    1. Kxevin, I thought I told you: get in line with the popular narratives!

      1. La Liga is awful, a 2 horse race (even Simeone says so, a fact that at this point a find to be a bit hypocritical…).
      2. We are playing bad and we will be crushed in the spring.

      I have come to accept them and embrace them.

      *sarcasm off

      I loved Martino’s response to the press last night, when they were hammering with questions about “style”: “I think the people are having a lot more fun then you guys tell me when we meet here.”
      I love Martino’s attitude and the fact that he has a plan for the season. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I feel that with each week he gets he is getting closer to it. I want us in full form in April and May, not now.

      A fun fact from an article by MD’s Miguel Rico: when he was interviewing for the job on the phone, the board was telling Martino what the “preseason” was going to be like. And his answer was: “And when do you have time to train?”

  10. Cesc: “Penalties? It was a bit strange. Andres wanted to take the first, couldn’t say no because of hierarchy. Second was for me.” (@barcastuff)

    Heh heh. The power of the captain’s armband went to Iniesta’s head! I think he really just wanted to get on the scoresheet. Such a bully! 😛

    1. That was a very well taken penalty though (Inniesta’s). I don’t recall ever seeing him take one before.

    2. Remember Sara Carbonero asking him if he had wanted to take a PK against Portugal at the Euros? “Actually I did take one…” 😀

    3. lol @ the dictator comments. He is the last person I can imagine being a dictator. Oh snap, I actually thought of the movie the Dictator 😆 Put Iniesta in Ali G’s shoes

  11. Random points: Adriano is injured. Who all called end november? I wonder if we’ll see Puyol at LB now. And one day… Grimaldo.

    Deulofeu is not worth the hype from what I have seen. Seems Tello Mark II to me. Fast, tries to take on opponents and yet lacks the close control and dribbling skills to go past them. Wouldn’t be upset at losing him.

    Glad to see the kids being given a run-out. Especially Adama, was happy that he’s being given chances which he isn’t getting in the second team.

    Speaking of which, will it take Barca B getting relegated to finally fire Eusebio? Does he know some inside information about Ro$ell’s Nike Brazil business? What is the deal here??

    More than anything, what I’m liking about the direction the team is going is that I don’t nearly have a heart attack every time the opponent gets the ball into our half. They’re there frequently. And we deal with the problem now. So much more calm.

    People who are complaining about the style change are idiots. It’s working. Don’t knock it.

    Talking about poor first touches reminds me of Tello and his horrible first touch… And Thiago and his amazing one 🙁

    Doubt Tata will rest Neymar for the Copa, but will expect to see at least two three more second choice players start those matches, or maybe he’ll take a first choice team and try to kill the game in the first leg and rest people for the second.

    Really enjoyed the few minutes Sergi Roberto got. Not quite Xavi levels of being all over the pitch and always the available outlet, but keeping things calm and showing good decision making under pressure in the final third. Have great hopes for him for the future.

    1. On the contrary, his close control and dribbling skills are precisely what makes Deulofeu so talented. He kind of reminds me of a young Thong Boy. It’s his personality and decision making which raise doubts. And the face I don’t like (but that’s not his fault, I suppose).

      Also while Sergi Roberto played fine, let’s not forget it was the last 15 minutes against a ten-man Granada. It was interesting to hear Tata’s comments, though. We will see how he pans out. For the foreseeable future we still have Iniesta, Cesc and Busquets. And Xavi. And in Barça B we have the likes of Denis Suarez and Sergi Samper. All in all, our midfield is the least of our “worries”. I feel bad about JDS, because I really liked what he showed us before his injury.

    2. I agree, Deulofeu has immense potential and is already a talented guy. His problem is that he has been the best player in every team he has played for up until now and has always taken on more dribbles and shots than any of his teammates.
      Now that he is playing at a higher level he needs to change his game and trust his teammates more.
      Creating chances can be more effective than taking shots for a wide player.
      For the u21’s he has been sensational in the wide right forward role, creating chances and scoring goals.

      If he becomes more humble and more efficient he could be a future world class winger.

      In terms of losing him, I wouldn’t be happy with it until we know what his potential turns out like.

    3. I did sound too harsh in my assessment of Deulofeu, but what I’m not happy about with him is what you two already pointed out: too many take ons and fancy stepovers. There’s a reason Messi doesn’t ever do them and even Cristiano has reduced them considerably. You lose all momentum standing and doing a flashy move.

      I’m sure he’ll learn with time, but it’s not fun watching him fail at take ons and shooting from wonky angles when he has teammates open inside the penalty box. And when you contrast that to Messi at that age, you can see that he still has a long long way to go.

      Mind you, I’m not saying we should sell him, or that he’s rubbish; just that, in his current iteration, he wouldn’t add much to the Barcelona squad.

  12. Found this part to be really relevant from a Graham Hunter piece;

    His competitive international goals, only four in eight matches prior to the Sweden games, had come against Northern Ireland and Luxembourg. It was this failure to score in crucial qualifiers that helped ensure that Portugal were left in the playoffs .

    He couldn’t swing Real Madrid ‘s Champions League semifinal against Borussia Dortmund in his side’s favourite nor, despite scoring, could he see Los Blancos through to Copa del Rey final
    glory against Atletico Madrid — a rival that Madrid hadn’t lost to since 1999.
    Incidentally, he was also red-carded in
    that game.

    One of the few things the Ballon d’Or criteria do specifically emphasize is” performance in big matches.” (Trophies aren’t specifically mentioned.) Though I’m very far from “against” Ronaldo winning this year’s award, I’m shocked by the number of people, fans, journalists and professional football people who say he’s the outright World No. 1 for 2013 largely because he has been white-hot since September.

  13. Who to play at LB??

    Puyol at LB to accommodate Montoya on RB or
    Montoya at LB and play Puyol at RB where he first started out and last played in 2009 Final.

    I prefer the former. Montoya is more comfortable on the right. He did ok whenever asked upon to play LB but I’d prefer if he plays in his natural position.

    Puyol is versatile and experienced enough to play LB. Plus, he did play LB last season or the one before.

  14. Pinto, Olazábal, Montoya, Piqué, Fàbregas, Puyol, Xavi, Pedro, A. Iniesta, Neymar Jr, Mascherano, Bartra, Sergio, A. Song, Sergi Roberto, S. Gómez (26), Patric (27), Adama (28), Dongou (29).

    that’s our squad for tomorrow.

    Monty Masch Bartra Puyi
    Iniesta Song S Roberto
    Alexis, Ney, Pedro!

  15. what time zone do BFB use? u always seem a bit confused with the time the last post was sent in. 🙂 🙂 🙁

    Dear Kevin, can we get UK time for the purposes of last seen? 🙂

    1. Y’all have my prayers for a safe delivery and a healthy baby! Let the sleepless nights begin.

      She’ll be the only kid with a Barca jersey, Ajax scarf, and Ned. hair barrettes on the first day of school.

  16. My Bad, Congrats Levon. great read | Deulewho? Deulefou 🙂

    @Mom 4. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙁 🙂

Comments are closed.