My Moments of Barça 2 – Villareal 1

1. Dangerously beautiful

While some like to believe that Tata is moving his team away from our essence, on the planet fútbol that most of us inhabit, there is only one team that pulls stunts such as these. First Jordi Alba dribbles a good ten yards under pressure through our penalty area. He lays it off to Song, who passes back to Pinto. Our resident pimp channels his inner VV and calmly picks out Busquets who, surrounded by Villarealists, lobs the ball to Montoya on the right flank. Voilá!

When we pass the ball out of our defense while the only sane option is to hoof it upfield, it makes me giggle like a schoolgirl and roll my eyes like the headmaster at the same time. Giggle, because, you know, it’s friggin’ awesome. Roll, because don’t think coaches around Europe don’t look at us and tell their attackers to lure for these moments of arrogance and punish us. After all, pride comes before the fall. Still… it’s friggin’ awesome!


2. It’s a squid! It’s an octopus! No, it’s… Superquets!

Some players go unnoticed even as they are everywhere. And although it is no secret to anyone that our sweet sixteen is exactly that kind of player, there are still matches where his omnipresence goes unseen (especially by someone like yours truly who was typing a minute by minute report while trying to watch the match). Renowned Catalan sports journalist Marti Perarnau calls him Barcelona’s best midfielder and integral to our club’s future. Vincente Del Bosque would not mind dying a horrible death if only he could come back in the gangly form of Sergio Busquets.

Not only does Octobusi distinguish himself by being in the right place and making the right pass all the time, he makes it look oh so easy. In the words of club legend (…)*, “Football is a really simple game. But the most difficult thing is to play it simple”.

Huh, what? Whose quote is that? I trust that at least one of our readers will fill in the gap above in the comment section below.


3. The X Factor

Wait a minute… Beanpole is the best midfielder we got? Well, yes, but on some days mister Xavier Hernandez i Creus is still the greatest. He has stopped bringing it e·ve·ry jornada since two and a half seasons ago, but when he does he will turn a match around quicker than you can say tiki taka. Song was not having a bad game per sé and neither was Barça as a team, but things began to click a whole lot louder once Xavi came on at the 61 minute mark. All of a sudden we were creating chances and it was only a matter of time before we put the ball in the net. Busi’s the best, and Iniesta played an amazing game, especially defensively. However we didn’t start winning until the X Factor. A special shoutout to Gerardo Martino for making the early substitution.




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. Whilst i largely agree that Song was not too bad i noticed that Busquets was immense both offensively and defensively up until Xavi came on. Prior to that he was a colossus. Once Xavi came on his role and prominence was reduced as Xavi assumed the duties Song had fleetingly been fulfilling. The team played well in general and Song’s limited contribution this time was masked by the performances of those around him. Ditto Fabregas.

  2. Huh, what? Whose quote is that? I trust that at least one of our readers will fill in the gap above in the comment section below.


  3. Was watching some arsenal highlights for 2seasons ago and I was wondering what happened to Song at barca. There was this match where Song nutmegged and got pass 3 dortmund defenders then delivered a delicious cross that V. Persie converted. On another occasion,he delivered a deft lob that picked out v.persie who converted. Is he not just allowed to express himself at barca? I had to rewatch the arsenal highlights to be sure it was song that was doing those things

  4. I feared for Man City and guess what, we draw them. WTF! They’re the strongest out of the draw with Arsenal being the 2nd toughest.

    Man City are a tough side to beat. A powerful team. Especially at home. Hopefully their inexperience will be exposed.

    1. Worst draw by a long distance. I still fancy ourselves to go through over two legs but they have quality in every department. Fernandinho and Yaya were phenomenal at the weekend.

      Every match bar ours looks very one sided. Arsenal good make it difficult for Bayern but I think they’ll handle it.
      Madrid generally have difficulties with German opposition but Schalke aren’t that strong. Atletico should be able to get past Milan too.

    2. I am sure we will go through. Whatever, City will not park the bus and that will be good.
      Only ours and Bayerns draw look tough.
      Glad about Atletico too.

  5. Just a small correction if you will, Levon. To say that Pinto channels his inner VV to make risky short passes under pressure isn’t right, cause he does heart stopping dribbles inside the box at least twice as much as Valdes. Past the point of all reason in fact.

    I don’t know what duties Song had on the pitch, but I can tell you that when we attacked he’d inexplicably be the person furthest forward. Like he was our number 9 or something. Which was pretty strange…

  6. Let’s start with the bad:

    1. City are 8-0-0 at home, 35 goals for, 4 against.
    2. Pellegrini knows us better than most CL managers.

    The good:

    1. City have no CL knock-out phase experience.
    2. On the Guardian’s live chat, journo Amy L. answers a “Who is going to score more, Aguero or Neymar?” question with: “Forgetting Negredo and Messi there”. I think she wrote that with a straight face, too.

    Our team has way more talent, folks. Not saying that will necessarily win us the tie, but they should be more worried about us than the other way round.

    1. City reminds me a lot of Inter in terms of the kind of players they have and the way things can go. There is a lot to be afraid of.

      Of course, there was a lot to be afraid of prior to the Classico and we handled that relatively successfully, so let’s have faith in Tata (and keep our fingers crossed for no more injuries)

    2. Speaking of faith in Tata, I think this tie will be hugely important to our coach in terms of the media pressure that will be piled up on him should we not go through.

  7. Why is everyone so afraid of city? That was my dream draw. It’s not blind optimism. Messis absence has been good for some players, Neymar found his scoring boots, Alexis has continued his good form, Pedro is playing better..Iniesta has shaken off his early season form and is playing good at the moment. Now when messi comes back..we shall unleash hell on city’s defense. What else are you afraid of? Navas? Aguero? Negredo? Silva? Yaya? All of them have played with/against our players many times and most of these times we came on top.

    And id like to mention that pellegrini has a very poor record against barca. He always attacks. And that’s why we thrashed Malaga everytime we played them.

    I’m not saying that the tie is as good as won. But like Levon said, they should be afraid of us. Not the other way around.


    1. Yeah, but still that’s a team that destroyed United, Tottenham, Arsenal and came from behind vs Bayern. Healthy respect and some amount of anxiety are perfectly normal, since this is a 2nd placed team that’s better than at least two of the first-placed.

      As for the players of City, it’s true Barcelona have played against all of them, but not together. Based on current form and forgetting that Messi, Alves and Valdes are absent, City is certainly a fearful opponent.

      Nevertheless, I am keeping my faith. There are three months until that time and the fixtures aren’t just before/after very tough La Liga opponents. My hope is that unlike other teams(Arsenal, Chelsea, Bayern, Real, Atletico) City will probably try to attack, which means space.

    2. United is down, Spurs just fired Villas-Boas, they are playing so crap, and Arsenal is still a man away from making something work against a grownup team.

      Barring any injuries, I just don’t see how City can win the tie. If they sit back, it plays into our hands, as their keeper isn’t good enough to keep them from conceding. We aren’t ineffectual passers-around of the ball against a bus any longer.

      If they attack, it plays into our hands because in an open match, I like our players a lot better than their players.

      I respect their quality and physical strength. I just think that barring anything unforeseen, we’re better.

      Subs will be crucial, however. A smart purchase or two in January would make me happier.

    3. I’m assuming that because City is your dream draw you haven’t watch many of their full matches over the past few months.
      Yes, Bayern took them apart in their first leg but they won the second.

      Their front 6 of Yaya | Fernandinho; Navas | Aguero | Silva; Negredo is very impressive, along with backups like Milner, Nasri & Dzeko who can change matches. They have been awesome at home recently and are very dangerous.

      Yes I believe that we should win but one or two mistakes and we are out.
      I’d have much preferred an easier opponent for us and Man City for Madrid

    4. I always follow city as a matter of fact. Not as much this season due to my studies but I always kept an eye on them. I enjoy their game and their players. The reason it is my dream draw is because it’s one of the few big teams this barca team are yet to defeat. All have tried and failed. And before being a barca fan, I am a football fan. These games is what I watch football for. I’d rather barca wins and exciting game vs city than to thrash olympiakos (no offense). If barca loses then ok, I’d rather lose to city than Bayern or real.

      Messi is probably going to lose out to Ronaldo in the ballon d’or this year which is a good thing. A hungry messi who is trying to prove a point is unstoppable. If we do get in trouble, the odds are good he will bail us out.

      And one more thing, city’s away form has been terrible this season. Before they won in the alianz arena they were dropping many points away in the epl. The camp nou is a merciless ground. Very very few teams have survived there.

      Again I’m not trying to say that the tie is won already. But I favor a fit barca team than a fit city team to go through.

    5. City has a good combination of physical strength and skill, and can score a lot of goals quickly.

      That is the right recipe to give us trouble.

      Yes, we are the better team and if we play at our best, they will be destroyed. But if they are at their best, and we aren’t, it’s going to be a problem

  8. I know that supporters are adept at selling their own team short, and building up an opponent, but if you look at the lineups, I kinda think that this tie isn’t going to be like the Sack of Troy.

    Let’s have a look:

    Messi vs Aguero. Duh.
    Busquets vs Toure Yaya. Again, I take Busquets.
    Navas vs Neymar? Um … hmmm …
    Iniesta vs Silva. Nope.
    Sanchez vs ???> They kinda have no analog for Sanchez.
    Xavi? I’ll take Xavi over anybody.

    You will also need a world-class, in form keeper, if our recent eliminations (injury-plagued last year notwithstanding) are any guide. City don’t have one.

    If we are fit, we advance. Defensively, we are also improving, and are much stronger with Adriano in the side, as I suspect we will see during those ties. I am confident.

    Can they beat us? Sure. But the reverse is also true, and more likely, from my view.

    1. No way a one on one comparision is gonna work. They play a different system. For the record on the paper man on man we were far better against Bayern last season.

      We cud easily get past Manchester City provided we don’t lose the plot in the first leg. And that could be the key.

    2. On paper, with our injury situation, we were screwed four ways from Thursday last year.

      I think Martino is too pragmatic to get too silly in that first leg.

      Yes, both teams play different systems, but at the core of things, it is still about talent and the ability of that talent to destabilize a match. They are deeper than we are, but (healthy) XI to XI, I’ll take us over any club in the world.

    3. It’s not like that I don’t want us to go through. I do believe that we will go through especially with second leg at home. But it won’t be simple. First they got their strengths at areas we can consider ourselves a bit weaker. My biggest worry is the Atletico Madrid match in January. If we show some kind of trouble with Atletico’s physical approach we definitely is gonna get the same treatment at Etihad.

      On a very positive not Manchester City’s defense is pretty weak, to exploit it we may need Messi in full form. Again I think it will be a bull fight in midfield, with Toure and Fernandinho. But we can’t take them lightly as their record against oppositions at Etihad is scary.

    4. How were we better on paper against Bayern? Messi and Busquets were both playing injured the first leg and didn’t even make an appearance in the second. Xavi was only half fit and we were forced to play a completely inexperienced Bartra, because all our CB’s were injured.

  9. Ideally I would have liked to avoid a tough team at this stage of the CL for no other reason that an easy draw might have afforded an opportunity to rest certain players. That being said you have to beat the best to be the best so bring it on!

    City are a great team, I do not underestimate them one bit, but I am very confident we will go through. They will not park the bus, they will try and play us to win and we all know what happens when teams try to do that. They might be scoring lots of goals but they are conceding lots of goals too and if arsenal can score 3 against them, what do you think the likes of Neymar, Messi and Sanchez can do? All due respect to Arsenal, Utd and Tott but none of those teams are in the same league as Barca so the fact that City demolished them doesn’t scare me.

    I know Barca fans generally lean towards being pessimists but I think people forget that so far this season we are leading the league and we topped our CL group. All that without our best player and loads of other injuries along the way. If Messi’s recovery goes well then he should be back to his best by the time February rolls around and if Neymar/Sanchez stay fit and on form well then I do not see City able to cope with them.

    To be honest what worries me far more than City in Feb is having to play Athletico in Jan!

  10. Another thing worth considering: Martino has won the team over, which is some of what accounts for the improved play recently. I think that he is a stand-up guy, and that is more important to the players (almost) than tactics, etc. Like Guardiola, he will go to the mat for his players. Being a new guy, they didn’t know that before.

    Recall his comment about how he thought the boos for Fabregas were because the fans didn’t like the timing of the substitution. A lesser coach would have said something about Fabregas not having had his best match, etc. But Martino defended his player with a simple, single sentence.

    Throughout the season, he has had ample opportunities to do a Mourinho (“Certain individuals aren’t doing their job, blablabla”) as an easy way out. He has always taken the heat, and the load, just like Guardiola after the loss and the draw to start the season.

    Few things resonate more clearly with professionals than knowing they are being led by one. Our team is still getting better and better. If the trend continues, look for awesomeness.

    Celtic is an interesting example. No, Celtic weren’t fully engaged, but even at that, they didn’t really have a chance to be. The ball and players moved so quickly. It was gorgeous. I don’t think this team has the energy to make that the standard, but I think that for important matches, it can be the standard.

  11. Very much looking forward to Busi vs Yaya. It is a shame that one had to go to make room for the other, cause I would LOVE to see Yaya Touré team up with Sergio to play the “Song” role Tata is trying out.

    Also, I really like Gerardo Martino, but I wish he would protect Cesc more by not playing him as a false 9 as much, although it must be said that he had a decent 2nd half yesterday.

  12. players called for the 2nd leg vs cartagena:

    Pinto, Olazábal, Montoya, Fàbregas, Puyol, Pedro, Iniesta, Alexis, Neymar Jr, Mascherano, Bartra, Song, Jordi Alba, Tello, Adriano y Sergi Roberto.

    adriano puyol masch alba
    fabregas sergi roberto
    pedro alexis tello

    1. wouldve liked to have seen a couple of B teamers called. then again we have a 2 week break coming up.

  13. Manchester City is bad luck indeed. The strongest team we could have possibly drawn. Obviously a fit and firing Barcelona will prevail against any team on any day. But will we be on form in Hlebruary is a question worth asking.
    People have sought to compare the lineups and we may be better man for man, but the single most important factor in all this that gives me anxiety and cause for concern is their coach – Manuel Pellegrini. Again people point to his Malaga team and how we fared pretty easily against them. But this guy is not only good at taking average low budget teams really far in cup competitions, he is a completely different beast when put in charge of big quality teams. Remember his real madrid. If i remember right, both the games were extremely close even with a Barcelona at its peak and managed by a god. If Pellegrini can take lowly Malaga far in its debut CL season and give the likes of Dortmund frights, I cannot imagine what a quality squad of City under his direction can achieve. Even if the players and the club is inexperienced at this level, it is a non factor for me as He certainly isn’t and will have his side BELIEVE that they can progress. This and the level of want is what scares me.

    Still, we are Barca and we have everything it takes to win. Only that I’d have liked City to remain in the competition and eliminate other teams as I like some of their players and the coach and they are a team that you’d want to see in the latter stages. Anyways, I look forward to two great games which will hopefully see my team come through convincingly. Visca!

    1. I agree 100% about your Pellegrini assessment. He is a brilliant coach in my opinion, and the two games Barca had versus Real when he was their coach were, imo, some of the toughest Barca has ever had.

      That said, I believe Barca can take this game.

    2. And that’s not even considering Pellegrini’s CL exploits with Villarreal. Not many could have taken such a small team to the semi-finals.

      I think we’re still the favorites here, but City’s coach knows what he’s doing.

  14. Have been reading a lot of comments..Most of the fans seem to think Man City is gonna win it..Are Cules pessimistic? Are EPL fans more optimistic? Intersting perspective regarding the mindset of the two sets of fans..

    For the neutrals the shadow of Bayern defeat makes it seem Barca will crumble again as they are not the same fierce unplayable team that we once were portrayed to be..

    What if Pelligrini had done his math properly and somehow Mancity had scored one more goal and topped the group..We might have had the possibility of facing Bayern..ahh..dreams (or nightmares)..

    Interesting tactical battle awaits against a team whose management is mainly from Barcelona and whose coach has faced Barca already with three(?) different teams..Tough battle for Tata.. Pep could always spring a surprise which caught the opposition unawares. Dunno if Tata has on up his sleeve (or whether he requires one)…And it is in Feb..not the fav time of the month for Barca..

    I am curious how this will pan out…

    1. once Bayern went up two goals, Citeh needed 4 to steal first place. i think Bayern took their foot off the pedal a bit. almost cost them…

    2. Reading a lot of comments? Most fans think that Man City is going to win? Barca fans pessimistic?

      Where did you get that? Please bring me to that Barca blog. Cause I haven’t seen anyone here saying that Man City is going to win. Haven’t have time to sniff around other blogs.

      Like Peter said above, it is perfectly normal. Not everyone approaches like you, very confident and optimistic. Before a match, I always hold my opponents in high (er) regard. I don’t know why I do that but I think I can perform better that way.

      Anyways, I also hope the Barça players don’t approach the match so confidently. I just don’t think it’s the correct way. It’ll lead to complacency.

    3. I never said I underestimate City. The point is we underestimate our team..No where did I come across as over confident or dismiss City. I want to be confident of our team and our coach. Period.

      As for the comments I read were: twitter, guardian, espn and of course this blog.

  15. I’ve seen our players get very uncomfortable with a high intensity press against them. If City aren’t parking the bus, then they’ll be in our faces and trying to muscle us off the ball. I’m not looking forward to that, to be honest. It seems we have even less of an answer to that than to bus parking.

    1. That seems strange..We are supposed to be extremely comfortable with the ball. People used to say “Players applaud when the ball is taken away from Xavi in training, It is impossible to pluck the ball from GhostFace, Busi the Octopus, Messi with glue on his feet…”. Now we fear a team that wants to play and press as well?

      What changed I wonder…

    2. I share your concern especially since that is how Athletico and Bayern played us last and we didnt exactly fare well. However I am also confident that if we play like the way we played against Celtic, we should do fine. Somehow I am not worried by their pressing, they have muscular midfield players but they arent as agile as Bayern’s midfielders. Also, their game is based on possession and we definitely are better in that respect…

    3. I’m not sure City’s midfield is particularly suited to a pressing game though. Yaya never really fancied that part of it imo.

  16. – We got City! Would be an exciting tie. Sooner or later we’ll get strong team, just a bit unhappy we should play City in February, quarter final timing would be better imo. But bring it on, i am optimistic we can eliminate them, and we play 2nd leg at home which is crucial in CL KO stage.

    – the more i think, the current injury on messi could be a blessing, becuase he can rest now and be ready in Jan/Feb for the big games. Good timing for giving messi some time out, and hopefully come back with full fitness;.

    – the 2nd leg in Camp Nou would be in the same week the classico??

    1. No the clasico is a week after. Actually we got the schedule right this time with not many big opponents between these two clashes. Had watched the Arsenal vs Manchester City mathc and we may have the same weakness of Arsenal in terms of defending corners. We don’t have enough height in the team to deal with a delivery on to the near post. If some one like Demi meets it first, then we are in trouble.

    2. If memory serves, we did well in limiting the number of corners to EE in the last Clasico. So I imagine we’ll be just as careful against Citeh to prevent us from conceding from set pieces.

  17. I just know its gonna be tough unless aguero gets injured. Also,the writter on this blog writes amazingly well but could as well do with a lot of consistency. Was really expecting an article on barça’s losses on a row..i really love your articles,so please write more is a win-win situation

  18. Wowza. Next two months are gonna be so much fun with all the Anticipation and Apprehension.

    I’m totally psyched that we drew City. Tata will be shadowing & stalking Man city, scaling each and every chink for next few months.

    The standout fixture of group 16.
    Barca needs these kinds of games to win back the Bad Ass aura of distant past.

    Difficult games means Extra motivation. That’s what brings out the very best out of our insanely talented legends.

    This is not messi vs man city this year. The whole team is coming out to play.
    Lets hope we do serious damage to their well oiled imported machine.

    1. “This is not messi vs man city this year.”

      Actually, we still don’t really know how Tata will make our forward line gel once Messi gets back.

    2. PrinceYuvi, you missed the stake by || that much. 😛 Good choice, even though I’d still put Xavi on the right of Busquets. Fabregas can go on the left.

      Of course a lot depends on the fitness levels and injuries, as well as the particular plan of the coach. I still think that Song starting vs Villareal was a great idea, just like when Pep started Keita – Xavi went in against Villareal players who were already tired and had to up their game even more so – and couldn’t. Normally Xavi’s introduction means control, but Xavi as a power sub can mean verticality. Xavi isn’t fast, but his positioning can compensate for his lack of speed. He also needs someone to make the running that he can’t anymore.

  19. A bit surprised by all the worries about Citeh. I’m not saying the tie is done and dusted, but I’m confident we will go through. I’ve watched Citeh a lot the last few seasons. They are great playing EPL competition. We would be too. There is no technique or touch in the EPL. Most teams hoof it out when the balls in the box and no players around. I think Citeh are exciting to watch and I love Pellegrini, but they won’t be able to take the ball off of us. We will dominate possession, hence, dominate the game. My concern is their counter attacking ability. It’s very good. Dani will be back by then and I would play Adriano on the Left instead of Alba. This way we have more solidarity and defensive cohesiveness.

    1. b4 anyone brings up Bayern 2nd leg. . . Bayern were two goals up and took their foot off the gas. By the time Citeh came back into the game it was to late for Bayern to get that energy back. Trust me. If that game were do or die and was a must win for Bayern, Citeh would’ve had no chance.

  20. @Peter Why the Idea of Messi at 10 is so blasphemous ?
    He’s going to drift Goalwards anyway. There’s no stopping him.
    He plays as 10 in the NT, wins matches there on his own.

    We always ask helluva lot from him. Lets ask some more. To be our new Xavi (too).

    Maybe my idea is absurd. Playing a four pronged attack sounds crazy. Only we could manage it.

    1. You forget something – it won’t be a four-pronged attack – it will be a six-pronged one. Dani Alves and Alba are wingbacks, not fullbacks.

      The majority of the teams that Barcelona are playing have two pivotes(DMs or Holding Midfielders). If Barcelona were to start using Messi as false ten it would mean that the opposing DMs would be able to man-mark him much more easily, and would also have an easier time against Busquets and the other midfielder. The team would become attack-heavy and the performance of the midfield would be disrupted, and the midfield, the possession and the pressing, this is the first line of defense for Barcelona.

      Messi can play as a goal-scoring playmaker for Argentina, because Argentina play direct and attacking football – that’s first. Second, Argentina play with two pivotes IIRC, and the fullbacks don’t venture that forward. The back is more secure than at Barcelona.

      And then there’s the fear factor – personally, I don’t think that Argentina is that feared. Yeah, despite Messi, Aguero, Pipa and Di Maria. Argentina are considered imperfect in defense, which makes teams come out and attack them. As previous matches have shown, nobody but the very best consider themselves good enough to defeat Barcelona by taking the fight to them and controlling the match.

  21. Great Points on all accounts. Especially the one about the mid-field control. If Ini-xavi-busi get going, they dont even let opponents sniff the ball.
    But marking Messi isn’t so fool-proof anymore, is it ? Ney & Lex tend to go berserk when that happens.
    If DMs shadow Messi, there’ll be plenty of workable space between Defence & Midfield.
    And if there is space, Pedro transforms into a world class forward.
    One on one against neymar – no need to say anything. Besides I always thought that Pedro & Lexis are our best defenders, unparalled work ethic. Feels quite safe if both are manning the wings, that’s why I’m trying to stuff pedro in the squad somehow.
    He’s messi, he might tie the whole midfield in knots Or VV might get roasted, I’ve no Idea. merely wondering. I always forget to count our attack crazy wingback duo though.
    Tata wanted a proper 9, no idea how he would fit in.
    Hope Messi learns a few defensive tricks from busi and turns into the scariest thing in football. Ha.

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