The Ajax Post Game of Our Everlasting Unhappiness

The sky bleeds black. The scorched earth is littered with dead ravens. A cule shouts “HASHTAG BARCA LOST” into a void. The world burns.

I lie on the floor, dazed and confused. Outside my window, it’s snowing and grown men are sobbing on the streets. My body feels like the eyes of a terrified rabbit. Four rabbits, even. It all started so promising: win against our footballing cousins, clinch top spot in the group, score five manitas. Where did it all go wrong?

The injures? The suspensions? The rotations? An intense team that came out to play for their European lives?

I don’t know. I don’t know anything. It’s like I’m living in a bizarro world where Messi gets injured before Adriano and Atletico is an actual title contender.

I forgot what this felt like. It had been 21 blessed games. What was life before that, anyway? Before Pique became Hlebbed, before Xavi scored penalties that weren’t in a shootout, before the world and Eusebio deluded themselves into believing Patric would be a right-back full time. I don’t remember. I don’t remember anything. Who am I? What is this? It’s not real life.

Mother Catalunya is about ten seconds away from going full-Thermoplyae on the effigies of Argentina. My strange metaphors are as terrible as ever.

We should sell everyone: Puyol, Puyol’s old age, Pique, Pique’s waka waka, Song, Song’s swansong before it even happens, Tata, Mata – wait, he doesn’t play for us. The point stands.

Barça lost and I may never be happy again.




Except nope. Everything above this sentence was a lie.

Hoy, mañana y siempre.

Except for the grown men crying part. That’s 10000% accurate.

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. Although watching the game was a pretty miserable experience, particularly in the first half, it probably (hopefully) won’t ever be that bad again. Disappointing, for sure, but I’d rather focus on how our first loss came after three months and in a relatively meaningless game.

    I pity the fools that play us next.

  2. Not surprised we lost tbf. some key team changes; motivation maybe not there due to already qualified and we are due a losss. honestly not fussed at all with this result

  3. The photo of the fan who fell off. I only found out after reading Kxevin’s comment earlier this morning. Strange that my commentators (Gerry Armstrong and another one) didn’t mention anything about it. Hope he’s alright though. It looked like he fell face first.

  4. That’s one way of looking at it.
    But here’s another –
    If a team comprised of Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Fabregas, Neymar, Pique cannot, in all of 45 minutes, against 10 men, create clear cut chances, let alone score one goal, that says something. Even if it was against a spirited and intense Ajax side whose average age was 22 years I believe and all our veterans and household names could not threaten. It isn’t the result, but the way we played. Still, I’m not too worried. We cant be any worse in another game. I’m just a bit disappointed cos I expected at the very least some control when I saw the starting XI with Xavi, iniesta, fab et al, and that 1st half was quite…

    1. I get what you are saying, and people know me of being quite harsh on Barca performances; but to be honest they are allowed a bad day at the office now and then; even more so when it’s in every sense of the word a dead rubber game, basically. I’d rather this blip happen now than in the finals for example.

  5. Not surprised with the result. Fullbacks are very important part of cohesive team pressing. Especially in Barca’s system they are essentialy additional midfielders. When you have 35 year old Puyol not daring to cross the halfway line and rightback youngstar Montoya playing leftback and being insecure about going forward as well, coupled with Song playing DM who is simply not Busquets, especially not when pressed, AND Mascherano making weird clearances all night – yeah, then this is what you get. It doesn’t matter if you have Fabregas, Iniesta and Neymar upfront if you can’t even keep the ball and build attacks from the back. Even the goalkeeper is important for the way Barca play but Barca weren’t just without their GK but without their starting fullbacks and defensive pivot. And without motivation, admittedly. Let’s not even talk about the absense of Barca’s 2 leading top scorers. lol

    Completely meaningless game. Just mad that Tata didn’t start with more youngstars. Iniesta should have rested, Fabregas back in midfield and Dongou upfront.

  6. I agree with IamXavi6. This was a bad day at the office. From Martino’s line-up (keeping an eye on minutes and the Bilbao game on Sunday)to the individual performances. The game was not really completely meaningless, because I wanted the 1 point that assures us the first place so that I could watch the Celtic game more relaxed. I don’t know what made the players play the way they did (besides the fact that it was due to Ajax’s great performance). Everyone giving balls away meant that we could not even make the transitions that have given us goals on counters this season, let alone build up play.

    But if we learn what we need to from this game then I am glad it happened now in November, with almost no consequences for our season’s goals. A loss had to come at some point. 🙂

  7. Ok, they had a bad day and it occured early enough, not in the CL final.

    Am I the only one to think that it was only Pique who really wanted to try his heart out there, in the last minutes, for an equaliser.
    Liked how Tata still subbed in the youngsters.

    1. And I’m happy that it’s Ajax that beat them. But this is a Barca board so I’ll talk about Barca instead 🙂

      I found this on the Guardian;

      Ajax average age 23. Average salary 700,000euros. Barca average salary 5 million.

      At least they didn’t come up with things like, football 2-oil money 1 kinda stuff 😆

    2. Ajax were depleted too, you’re right. See, some people like to give excuses such as we were not at full strength (e.g. vs Bayern). But it’s not really common for a team to have their full first team available. There is always someone injured or out of form. That’s why I never ever like to use that as an excuse.

      Every team has a chance to buy players during the transfer windows and the manager has a lot of time to prepare the back up players unlike what happened with Bartra last season. Never been given a chance to play and all of a sudden thrown in a semi final vs. Bayern. So I don’t see any reason why that should be used as an excuse.

      And especially at a rich club at Barca, they should not use that as an excuse.

  8. Out of all the teams in the world where I don’t mind Barca losing to, it’s Ajax 🙂

    The players are of course to be blamed. They were lackluster, complacent, just not up for it.

    Tata on the other hand, should get the majority of the blame as he should have known better.

    1) The veterans and key players, basically the first team players are tired and already know that they have qualified, so they are not 100% or even 80% mentally. And that clearly showed. They showed no effort and urgency.

    2) Great opportunity to play the fringe players and the youngsters in a match that we didn’t have to win. Not much pressure on the kids. No matter what, they would’ve at least showed some passion, courage and fire, something that they first team players sorely lack.

    Pep and Tito were the same before. They should understand that they superstars sometimes lack motivation in the games where it doesn’t really matter. So instead of using the same old players, use the youngsters who could use playing time and experience.

    3) Another mistake was to NOT make any changes after Ajax went down to 10 men. Instead of putting more forwards and attack them more, he played with the same strategy. I thought he is a pragmatic man.

    4) I know some people online and Gerry Armstrong praised Tata for playing the youngsters but I thought it was a wrong move. Not too bad but it could’ve done it in a much better way.

    It is better to play them from the start instead of throwing them in the fire like that, when we are down and trying to draw the match. If the youngsters played from the start, there would’ve been less pressure on them to perform.

    If the youngsters started and still lost, I wouldn’t really mind. It’s better than when the most established available start and perform only 40% of their capacity.

    Now because of this loss, there is a much lower chance for the youngsters to be given a start in the last match of the group. If the established players did their job last night, at least draw then Tata could’ve (even then I am not to confident of him playing the youngsters) played the youngsters from the start at Camp Nou. It will be at home and there is less pressure on them. That is the best way to groom them.

    But now it’s not possible to start with more than 1 youngster as we have to get a result vs. Celtic as Milan can still leapfrog us.

  9. On the match itself.

    – sMasch was the biggest FLOP of the match. Couldn’t pass the ball to save his life in the first half. Short, medium or long balls. All straight into an Ajax player. And a foul magnet. This is the 2nd game in just a few weeks where he has performed like this.

    Both he and the whole team played better in the 2nd half especially Pique, but I am really done with Mascherano. Pique really played well in the last 20 mins of the match. He became a warrior. Played with great urgency, something none of his team mates in front of him showed in the match. Although I’m not advocating him to play #9 but I do love it when he crashes the box. It creates havoc.

    – When Neymar,a winger, is the 3rd player with the most recoveries after Pique and Mascherano, Puyol, Pique and everyone in midfield really has some answers to do.

    – Where is Bartra? He is not a youngster or an injury prone veteran key player who should be rested. I assume that he was rested for Athletic Bilbao because I don’t see any other reason for him not to play.

    I’ve said it many times for the last 2 years. Our midfield is weak now. Xavi and Iniesta just don’t have the legs anymore. They hardly press anymore. Of course they still do, but it’s nowhere near the required level. Our midfield getting over run is happening more often than not. Xavi wasn’t in the game at all.

    – Why insist on playing Cesc at false 9? When is this experiment going to stop?! He is slow as a turtle and can’t dribble! Why when we have the opportunity to have pacey youngsters such as Dongou and Adama, we don’t utilize them? Tata could’ve EXPERIMENTED Neymar at #9 with Adama/Tello on the left and Pedro on the right.

    Cesc seems to be the type of player that is better to come on as a sub. I guess in this Barca team, his best role is a super sub.

    I hope this is Pedro’s last season as a started or a 2nd choice. His time is really up. If we don’t have any B-team player to replace him and if money wasn’t an issue, Reus would be my ideal replacement for Pedro. I don’t really count on Deulofeu. Watched him a handful of times at Everton. I’m not banking on Deulofeu for next season. I still don’t think that he is good enough for an elite team like Barca, yet.

    Sergi Roberto would’ve been my ideal player to start instead of Xavi. Tata shouldn’t have played all 3 of our key midfielders. At least one of the Xavi, Iniesta and Cesc should rest in favor of Sergi Roberto.


    That would’ve been my preferred line-up. Only 1 inexperienced player in each section of the field, not so risky. With Dongou replacing Neymar in the 2nd half to give some time and Cesc to come on for Cesc to play false #9. Adama and Dongo’u can play off cesc and run riot with Cesc’ direct balls. And at the back Mascherano can come on for someone.

    I am sure this line up would’ve been better. Not too many inexperienced players in the team. A mixture of young and old. Enough to give a fighting spirit and boost up everyone.

    1. I completely agree with you about Pedro. He has been on a decline for some time now and I feel he is too far gone to be a productive squad member anymore.

      Not sure about Cesc being slow and or can’t dribble though. But, he needs to be in the middle of the park in games like this. He is one of the keys for Barca in the next 5-6 seasons and he needs to be given chances to show leadership and keep doing what he has been doing this season….not comming off the bench.

    2. We shouldnt blame the team really, this was just our first loss.

      But still, I would pick up our midfield maestros, Xavi and Iniesta, as the big flops of the game, if I have to pick somebody. It was our midfield which killed us in the first half.

    3. @Jim

      Yes indeed. I enjoyed it with my 1 half red and white tinted glasses 🙂

      And the fact that they played with some key players missing is what amazes me. Sometimes you gotta throw in the young players as they are hungry to impress.

  10. Interesting statistic from last night: Barça ran 114 km (5 less that Ajax who were a man down for almost half the game – 119km). Bayern and BVB average at about 120 km or higher/game. These 114 km were the record of this season in the CL for us, our average being about 108km. We just can’t run as much anymore.

    1. And ever since that Classico match, I have a feeling that our players are quite tired.

      If we are dominant in the match, 108Km should be fine with our style. But in a big match, especially if the opposition play like yday (read somewhere that Ajax also had 5/6 players injured), we would look like how we were against Bayern.

      In the past seasons, even without any rotation we didnt look tired in Nov. I think this tiredness is more mental than physical.

    2. I think it’s physical too. The player who ran the most yesterday was Iniesta with about 11.5km. Here’s the comparison with Ajax players.

      It could be the way in which the season is planned by the staff so that we don’t get to the end of the season on an empty tank. also the basically non existent preseason. I don’t know what the causes are, but I do know that it will take more than what we saw last night for a win at San Mames.

    3. This has been on my mind for a couple of years now as I am on the fence on this one.

      Is it better for the team to run more or less?

      My take on running more. Shows that the team works harder, more movement = good.

      My take on running less. Ball circulation is good, that’s why the opposition has to run more, they are chasing the ball.

      I’m really confused which is supposed to be in favor for us.

  11. Thanks for the nice bit of perspective, Kari. I’m pretty calm about the loss. Obviously I am disappointed with the way the team played, but we were always going to lose a game sometime, and this was a good one to lose. We are already through the group, and if I have to pick a team to lose to, Ajax would be right up at the top of the list.

    Not going to get into particulars of the game as others have covered it well enough. Like I said on twitter, I think Tata got the lineup wrong (not that he had too many other options), and I was especially frustrated by the lateness of his subs. Once he saw that his starting lineup was clearly not performing, he should have tried something different, at HT or shortly thereafter, not in the last 10 minutes of the game. However. As I also said on Twitter, I think Tata has got a lot more right than wrong over the last 4 months, and has the results to prove it, so it would be ludicrous to crucify him over one bad result in a game that doesn’t really matter that much to begin with. Let’s cut him some slack, he’s earned it.

    I hope the team gets plenty of rest this week and recuperates both physically and mentally. This weekend we have a tough game against Athletic Bilbao. I expect we will see a very different team come out to play.

    This is football. Perfection doesn’t happen.

  12. Love your writings and your attitude Kari! Visca Barca 🙂

    It was indeed quite painful to watch. I thought there was some kind of disintegration between Song and the rest of the team. He often seemed out of place between Pique and Smash and had very little influence in the build up. As a big fan of the old Pedrito its hard to see him outmuscled and harmless again and again.

    What was going on right before the second goal? Our center backs were raising their arms and complaining instead cleaning the ball… annoying!

    1. If you read the first link that I have posted below, it explains a lot about what people were seeing with Song. Makes a lot of sense.

      It also puts a lot of player criticism into perspective in the fact that a performance is part of an interrelated whole. So Song seems out of position because he is, because someone else is, or has failed at their job.

      It’s something that I always try to think about when I evaluate matches and performances, not just what the player is doing, but what the players around that player are doing, and what everyone is supposed to be doing.

  13. Some reading links for your reading (or Google Translating) pleasure.

    This, on how Song was a one-man battleship yesterday:

    Dermot Corrigan with a nice breakdown of the match, and Martino’s honest assessments:

    This one, on Neymar, is excellent, on how quickly he has adapted and what a finished product he is:

    And finally this, from @JenFCB on Twitter, on the match yesterday and the notion that Barça play in a vacuum, with opponent quality having no bearing on the outcome of a match:

  14. As I spare a moment to claw my way to the surface and take a deep breath-
    You see, I’m not drowning in football disaster of an Apocalyptic scale angst; I’m drowning in Thanksgiving dinner preparations.

    They were good.
    We were bad.
    They won. It works like that.

    They played their hearts out.
    We couldn’t be fussed.
    We lost. Your play earns a win, not your pay scale, not the colors of your kit, nor the names on the back of them.

    We are missing some key guys, but that lineup should have gotten the job done. I twitter screamed at Pique for holding up his hand for offside rather than actually defending the 2nd goal yet really that was just one example of the cluster**** that was our defense. Our defense was scary, our midfield was overrun, and our offense was ineffective because collectively we were just plain bad.

    And it happens. We all have days like this.

    On to Athletic Club. A trip to the Basque country is never easy but I think the guys will be extra motivated. A little bit of Busi and Alexis couldn’t hurt either.

    Back to Thanksgiving. It’s true that it is an US tradition, yet thankfulness is or should be practiced pretty universally. Take a moment to be thankful for all the good in your life…that includes this team, which 99% of the time gives us something beautiful to watch (and other fans with whom to discuss it).

    1. 4ish. But I wouldn’t suggest flying over here as we’re having a bit of unpleasant travel weather here on the East coast! May even get some of that four-lettered “s” word! Yuck! (Yes, Canadians, I know I am a winter weather wimp!) 🙁

      Happy Thanksgiving!

    2. Nicely put, mom!

      I love this team and these players to death. And even though I yell at them and get angry and sad at times, I am thankful for all that this club has given me: the good, the bad and the ugly. Because that is what life is like.

    1. ME!

      That would be sooooooo cool!

      If they play with half the intensity as they did against us they’ve got this!

      Are they playing at home?

    2. They’re playing in Milano. But I think this win gives them confidence. Although, knowing Milan and their sneaky ways, I wouldn’t bet against them.

  15. Ouch, but a post from Kari takes the sting out a bit. Especially because she included my favorite gif of most adorable fan ever. He is like a little Blizten award all by his own selfie-self.

    The good news, if it can be considered thus, is that the injured fan is in critical condition according to Spanish media. So there is hope for recovery, and of course all of our wishes for health and wellness extend to him and his loved ones.

    The players give no excuses, which is refreshing. On the midday news I heard Piqué describe their performance as “horrible”; Xavi and Tata called themselves out for a lack of intensity; and Cesc added, “We didn’t run? I felt like we ran a lot. Maybe the problem is, we ran poorly.”

    Ajax was pretty fierce and even though it might not be very loyal it does make me happy to see fans of the lesser team (even as the lesser team is Ajax itself) so, so happy to win at home. I mean, those folks were really, really happy!

    Also, what was the deal with that pitch? Was it undercut with banana peels or something? I expected Buster Keaton to show up out there it was so crazy slippery.

  16. I love this blog. Great writers great analysis. But I question the practicality of the comments sometimes when we as fans, connected in an amorphous, sentimental way, do not know how to lose. We place these men if I dare call them that, in the pantheon of God’s as if anything less than a manita means that there is something gone a foul with the balance of the world. Being part of an amorous sporitng relationship means taking risk. Risk of loss, disappointment and joys. Joys are not the norm, disappointment and loss is. Cules however have ben gifted with this talented team that has blessed us but cursed us with the misalignment of what is normal. Three things are sure in this life death, sickness and loss. All others are joys to be cherished.

  17. Cesc had to be in the middle of the park in a game like this, particularly on a sticky pitch, quarterbacking the team with his long passes. He has quite a few flaws, but he has the best range of any Barca player.

  18. Once again, Song proved himself the master of one of the most important and overlooked phases of the game: the apres-foul. Love the way he never complains, never makes eye-contact – just disappears into thin air before the Ref even thinks about a yellow card.

  19. Hey, we can win without Leo but not so rosy without Busi.

    Quite intriguing.

    The Ajax guys must be happy, this will be their favourite dinner time story.
    Hullo guys. Hope everybody is wondrous.

  20. I haven’t changed my opinion that we are too strong for the teams in La Liga and will win it but not Europe.
    Next summer is going to be difficult. We will need to change a lot of players and potentially the tactics.
    I think it’s obvious that Tata wants a striker. Toni Sanabria isn’t that striker, ideally he re-signs, spends next season with the B team and maybe the following one on loan before joining our first team. Maybe he’ll leave but either way, we’ll buy a striker.

    Valdes is leaving so we’ll be buying a goalie, maybe two depending on Pinto. Ter Stegen, Courtois and/or Reina. Either way it’ll change us slightly.

    We’ve tried unsuccessfully to buy a centre back for the past two seasons but we won’t miss another opportunity. Sentimentality aside, Puyol isn’t a world class defender anymore. He has his attributes and has been amazing for us but by next season he’ll be 36 and can’t be the same player he was.
    Luckily, Bartra is really progressing and in my estimation he’ll be first choice by the end of the season with Pique.

    In midfield no change is obvious but if Song isn’t happy with his role by then you’d imagine that he’d be looking to move on.

    All of this could result in a tactical change if Tata sees fit but it might not be a bad thing…

  21. One of the reasons we lost is because our real goal threats, Messi and Sanchez didnt play. Messanchez dependencia? Maybe yes. If we look at it, Pedro is the defensive RW who tracks back and only scores when the defenders are taking a nap.
    Neymar- He left his scoring boots in brazil (lets pray his mom sends them soon).
    Fabregas- He only scores against the ‘Celta Vigos’.
    Xavi- From where he comes from, scoring is a taboo. You pass the ball, you don’t shoot it.
    Iniesta- He scores only when the other team is wearing a blue chelsea or when its a worldcup final. So, who was suppose to come up with a goal? Pedro’s stay at camp nou is so over, he can’t even stay on his feet. I learnt his favourite hobby is passing the ball back to midfield and tracking back. He has to go. We could get Aguero or Reus you know? Isn’t it frustrating to be watching a match not knowing who or whether your team is going to score? Thats what I was going tru on tuesday night

    1. You should try watching my local team. Last time I saw them from the kick off they literally strung three passes across the defensive line and the RB passed it straight out of play !

      Seriously, all of these comments take a grain of truth and work it into a mountain. Messi is the best player / goals order in the world so of course we miss him. Alexis is having a good season in front of goal but doesn’t create much on his own. He needs to be fed into a goal scoring situation and they didn’t give us much time to work those. Neymar for me has settled better than I could ever have imagined despite being in no doubt that he was a sensational purchase. Would I like him to finish some of the chances? Yes, but it will come. Pedro is struggling and needs something to happen to boost his confidence, a bit like Alexis but what did he miss that he should have finished?

      It’d be wrong to dismiss this defeat as it does show us lots and in my view it’s right to discuss them but it has to be in the framework of us leading La Liga again with a new manager who is learning all the time about his team. If he keeps us ahead there and learns lessons come the spring I’ll be more an happy.

    1. Why would FIFA have a photoshoot way before the ceremony? The player themselves could leak it or the people involved in the photoshoot. Doesn’t make sense to me for FIFA to hold a photoshoot with the winner so early. Or is this the normal practice every year?

Comments are closed.