Categorized | Champions League, Thoughts

Manchester City 0, Barça 2, aka “Worry banished, if only for a moment”

pique

Pam, pam, pam, pam …

The players move, amoeba-like shapes forming and breaking apart, being chased by other players like a schoolyard game of keep away defined by an incessant rhythm.

Pam, pam, pam, pam …

A lunge, a shove and a press to shift play for a bit, an effort met by an anticipatory trot, like a battle in which one opponent has read the other’s plans, and order is restored.

Pam, pam, pam, pam …

That distinctive sound of a boot-clad foot striking a leather sphere, a situation that lives at the intersection of theory and reality, as practice rondos become match day execution.

Pam, pam, pam, pam …

So much has been written about this match that you wonder whether there is anything more to say, even by a maniac who lives and breathes Barça. And yet, there is because there always is. Beauty is inspiring. In a match where FC Barcelona wasn’t supposed to have a chance against the bigger, stronger players of Manchester City, in a stadium where those colossi doth bestride the earth like goal-thwacking Goliaths, beauty and execution had their way, expressed in that beautiful sound that culers have come to love.

Pam, pam, pam, pam …

The worry, the fretting, the doubt. Has there ever been a more talented team surrounded by so much doubt as this one? Every hurdle, every obstacle is greeted by a “Okay. But wait until …” Manchester City at the Etihad was the latest for a team that has heretofore done everything asked of it: won its Champions League group, beat a big rival in a pre-season trophy clash, beat its historic rival at home in a match that wasn’t as close as the scoreline indicated, is leading its domestic league and has reached the final of the domestic club cup. Everything.

But in a world in which everything isn’t enough, where success is defined by a nebulous psychological comfort that nobody can exactly put a finger on the exact form of, there is always uncertainty. The Way of the Culer is paved with pessimism, but doubt and disbelief are new annexes along that path, rooms built in the sad, angry aftermath of a 7-0 demolition.

Let’s face it. That two-legged tie has defined everything since. The reasons behind it – fatigue, injuries, cancer, a damaged superstar – are by now immaterial, seen as silly excuses by people who don’t want to admit how bad this team is. So it’s not at all surprising that everyone, still suffering the psychic damage of that scoreboard thrashing, is reeling, distrustful of anything good that happens. The team won the league. So what? It lost 7-0 to Bayern. They stomped Rayo 6-0? So what, that was Rayo, wait until Manchester City.

When the Champions League draw happened many, including culers, were already thinking that this would be it, a round-of-16 elimination for very logical reasons, it must be said, stark black-and-white assessments that served as evidence that the light at the end of the tunnel was a blue-clad train.

What others dared to mention, in dark corners lit by the sunlight of hope, was that Barça would do well in this tie because it still has a collection of the best players in the world. Let’s think about this for a moment … what other team has a collection of talent in its starting XI as we do? Start from top to bottom, keeper to forward, and list them: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba, Busquets, Iniesta, Xavi, Pedro, Sanchez, Messi. And Neymar comes off the bench! Every last one of them doesn’t just start for his national team. They run that team, star for that team, are integral parts of that team. It’s an enviable collection of talent that, prima facie, should inspire complete trust.

valdes

The second guessing began even before the match started. “Fabregas isn’t the right choice.” “Alba AND Alves? What is Martino thinking!” “Mascherano is going to let us down.” “Set pieces, oh, my!”

Then the match, and the rhythm began.

Opponents have a lot more faith in our team than its supporters do and Pellegrini, rather than opting for business as usual, sat back in worry, even in light of the Xavi/Fabregas/Iniesta/Busquets midfield that very clearly had a single mission in mind: keep the ball. And as they sat back the ball circulated, from Sanchez to Messi to Xavi to Fabregas to Iniesta to Xavi to Fabregas to Sanchez to Messi as the players passed and probed. Possession stats climbed, an immaterial number except for those who understand how Barça in fact plays defense.

And then, in a sudden explosion of passing, the Manchester City striker, Negredo, had a chance. The defense did its job in forcing a difficult shot that floated wide of goal, and the rhythm resumed. Xavi was playing as if years younger, slicing through balls to attackers and darting toward the box as Iniesta, Busquets and Fabregas had his back. Iniesta floated into the box as if by magic, then, when you figured he was going to shoot, when a normal attacker would indeed have shot, Iniesta’s heart just didn’t allow him to be so mean like the matador who, in the face of the bull in the ring, decided he just couldn’t put the sword in.

The first half ended scoreless, and without any intimate knowledge of his brain, it isn’t that difficult to imagine that Martino was pretty happy with that. The first leg of a knockout tie has a dual advantage for the away team, in that it doesn’t really NEED to win. It just needs a scoring draw because of the power of the away goals rule. And as the ball moved faster and Manchester City’s defenders began to lunge and get stuck in, it was clear that Barça was at some point in the match, going to score.

Social media was fascinating, because the few attacks that City was able to muster showed some purpose. They got a set piece that was calmly dealt with. Then they got another set piece that, thanks to Valdes making a hash of the clearance, was not so calmly dealt with, even as he was surrounded by his defenders until all was well. But in the Twitterverse, a snapshot of the vox populi, the mood was one of doom. Streaming the match via mobile with Twitter in the other window, it wasn’t all that hard to remain immune to the mood because if you had eyes, the balance of the match was clear. But doubt creates need. “Alves was poor.” Not if you watched the match through something other than that doom-colored shades.

Pique and Mascherano made liars of their doubters, Xavi giggled at the people who want to find a spot for him in the pasture and Alba found somebody his own size to pick on.

martino

For observers with a sense of positive as well as negative history, Tata Martino, a man so many allege is clueless about The Way, erected a shrine to the tactical past, a return to tika taka as a way of defense and limiting chances. You don’t have the ball, which means that you don’t have as many chances. When you don’t have as many chances, what you do with those chances begins to press on you. Valdes stops one, Mascherano snuffs out another, Valdes flicks one away, and that’s that. Because you don’t have the ball, and there’s that damnable sound.

Pam, pam, pam, pam …

Water torture breaks you through inevitability. It’s the next drop, drop after drop, the feeling that the drops are going to continue forever and there is only one way to make them stop. Wait … NO! … here comes another drop. And so, pass after pass, as English-centric commentators nattered about ineffectual possession, you could see the cracks. One player in the box, forcing a defensive intervention. Then another player in the box, forcing yet another intervention. Passing lanes were open where suddenly there weren’t any as that sense of inevitability grew and grew.

Tika taka was revealed for what it was during one elegant sequence early in the second half. One defender was a little less vigilant, alerted to another form of danger, which resulted in his teammate being left in the clutches of a vile combo platter of the team’s most dangerous player and its best attacking player on the night. An explosive run dictated the cutting pass, just as the Barça Way demands, and that victim was exposed. The option was to lunge from behind, in false hope that a defender who is good enough at his best tried to stop the best attacker alive.

Three months ago, Dimichelis might make that play on Messi, whose explosiveness and capabilities were blunted by a succession of injuries. But on this night, fit and in form, the result was a red card and a penalty, duly dispatched by Messi for a 0-1 lead.

Some say that the match changed at this point but it didn’t, really. Not for me. Possession didn’t really change, nor did the sense of looming danger and the effectiveness of typical Barça defending, which intervenes more than stops. And as the match progressed and the sense of necessity multiplied in the minds of the Manchester City players, their spines stiffened as they mounted an assault on our end, including a particularly dangerous attack that, for a few seconds, encapsulated all of the objections to Jordi Alba in the starting XI, never mind the excellent match that he had been enjoying to that point as he removed a key component of the City attack, Jesus Navas, from its quiver of arrows. The defense, however, as it did all night, dealt with it, and then a curious thing happened from a not-so-curious moment.

That Neymar was going to be subbed in wasn’t a shock to anyone. That he was subbed for Sanchez was a bit surprising, but even more so was that Neymar promptly stationed himself on the same side of the pitch as Dani Alves, the right side, a double dose of Brazilian “Wheeee” for defenders already struggling with Alves alone, to consider. And as wonderful an attacker as Alexis Sanchez is, as fine a match as he was having doing all that non-attacking stuff, Neymar was Next Level attacker that City didn’t have an answer for.

neymar

As with Messi, you don’t really have a list of available options for Neymar. As a defender, you know normal attackers have lapses, weaknesses that make them predictable. Control is lax so you can get them as they rein the ball in. They aren’t quick or fast so you can catch them from behind. They don’t pass and are one-footed, so shade them to a favorite side. Like Messi, Neymar almost always has an answer. Shade left, he shifts to right. Cover the favored foot, he can pass or shoot with the other. And because control is usually absolute, passing lanes that disappear for ordinary players in that instant they wrestling with the ball are visible and gaping to those Next Level attackers. Neymar made that second goal a near certainty. So when he and Alves combined for a Julio Belletti moment that sank the knife into yet another English side in Champions League, the screech of joy was leavened with a little bit of “See, I knew that.”

I have no idea what is going to happen in a few weeks’ time. For all I know City might do to us what we did to Milan last season. But I do know this: the time for doubt has passed for me, not that it ever was that time. I was predicting a 2-2 scoreline yesterday, mostly because I was thinking the match would be more open and attacking. Pellegrini surprised me by being fearful. Of course, he further surprised me by being a Mourinho lite, blaming the official for not only how he called the match, but suggesting that his country of origin had a bearing in his qualification to be part of that match officiating team. It was stupid, shameful and I would hope, in the less-heated aftermath, regrettable.

The final score was 0-2, but it was more than that. It was two away goals by a team that was supposed to be bullied off the pitch. It was redemption for doubting culers who were expecting, and wouldn’t have been surprised by another Bayern-style hammering. It was an affirmation of style, of the power of passing and beauty. Size didn’t matter, magic did.

But it was also just another win in the Champions League by a team that should have, by all rights, been the favorite. Our players have been better than the City players in their previous settings. What made people think that it would somehow be different when you combined all those players? Negredo took many a Liga beating from Barça, as did Navas, and Silva and Dimichelis. Toure Yaya helped administer some of those beatings, so he probably watched that rhythm, that movement and said to himself “Oh, crap … I used to help do this.”

Is it as simple as reducing it all to a batch of parts? No way. They have excellent players, athletes who can score a couple of goals at the Camp Nou just as we did at the Etihad, and they will have their most dangerous attacker back in Sergio Aguero. But at some point, we have to start having faith in this team, even if that faith might be dashed at some point. You have to fall in love again, believe in our sprites, because fit and on form, I firmly believe that our team can beat any team in the world, up to and including Bayern.

Only a fool would suggest that this team doesn’t have needs, that it is far from perfect or even as good as it has the capability of being. But that is stuff for the summer. For now, here and now, there is a delightful night in England. Was this a great match? Nope. Was it a big win? In context, yes, but in consideration of the capabilities of both sides, not really. But football matches always get extra stuff precisely because of the context in which they exist. Past failing as present paranoia. Was a bit of faith restored? Maybe, maybe not. Because after all, belief and faith are odd qualities, reassuring and at the same time, oh so fragile. But to love something to the fullest, they are essential.

duo

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155 Responses to “Manchester City 0, Barça 2, aka “Worry banished, if only for a moment””

  1. georgjorge says:

    What a beautiful tale about a match…I love it!

  2. PrinceYuvi says:

    Finally, the article I’ve been waiting for.
    Thanks kx.
    It’s very hard to miss your upbeat tone, joy of a man who is proven right. Ha.

    We toyed with city at our sweet little pace.
    Verticality, quick counters are all very Sassy.
    But the way we played yesterday always lingered on the boundary of Poetry, Gorgeous.
    Reminded me of Spain, world cup 2010.

    I’m thoroughly embarrassed for thinking City could actually dominate against us.

    It was great to see Barça bullying a big side into submission like that.

    Goals, referee, scandals aside, We were far better at ‘Playing football’ than them,
    and that’s what matters to me.
    WTG Martino.

    Quick question : Who is better at keeping hold of ball ?
    Barça or A Black Hole ?

    • Kd says:

      Physics would say black hole!!
      But language as in Petry or the way the ball circulates when the aristocrats of World football are playing is not wedded to grammar or algorithms.
      Hence Barca is the right answer!! :)
      Tata is a brilliant coach. He has played extremely smart in all the crunch games and I cant see we not reaching the semis again!!
      Forcaaa…

  3. Noldorin says:

    A good article; thank you for this. It’s a fair appraisal of the the state of our team and the performance in the match. I may disagree slightly on just one or two points (I thought Alexis was poor going forwards), but yes, it doesn’t give in to either of the two alluring extremes (over-confidence or doom & gloom), so well done.

    • Peter says:

      I have to disagree with you on the Alexis part.

      Alexis had a magnificent game. He and Alves were against not one, but two very, very good dedicated left backs – if I am not mistaken, both of them are national team players. No player alive is expected to be able to handle two of his opposite numbers.

      Furthermore, if you look just into the physical aspect of it, Alexis is 1.65m. Clichy is 1.75m. Kolarov is 1.87m – and he isn’t thin. Alexis won aerial duels against those two time and again.

      So yes, I disagree that Alexis was poor – basically he and Alves were the reasons why a very good coach with a very talented team started with two left backs. Some teams, when they play ultra-defensively, will have their wingers drop back and help their respective fullback or instruct a wide midfielder to track back constantly. But few teams would even think about starting two dedicated defenders.

      Pellegrini was thinking defensively – trying to plug the gap on the left, while hoping that on the right the threat of Navas would neutralize the attacking prospect of Alba. What he got instead was a neutralized Navas and one more defender to stick around and secure the threat posed by the City frontline.

  4. blitzen says:

    This a lovely piece of writing, Kxevin. Makes me want to go watch the game again.

    Now, responding to Jim’s question in the last thread:

    Can you clear up why we would be eligible for taxes on money legally paid to a foreign club or rights holder? I’m not sure how that works.

    The payments in question are not to Santos or to the two companies that owned part of Neymar’s rights. The payments specifically mentioned are the €10M “loan” prepayment made in 2011, and the €40M (actually only the €29.7M that has already been paid, I believe there is still one instalment of the total sum outstanding) paid to N&N. This €40M has been represented by the club as payment on a “penalty clause” in the original agreement signed in 2011. The clause states that Neymar will officially sign for Barça in June 2014 –so because Neymar actually signed in June 2013, a year early, the club is held to have breached that clause. The prosecutor is saying that the “penalty clause” is really just creative accounting and the money represents a signing bonus for the player, which would make it taxable under Spanish law instead of in Brazil.

    • Kxevin says:

      Yep. Cynical types would say that the “penalty” was planned all along. The question will be whether it can be proven that the 40m payment was a penalty, vs an actual payment.

      Seems kinda hard to prove decisively.

      • Jim says:

        Would’ve thought that if it was enshrined in contract a year before the penalty came to pass it’d be very hard to prove. Especially if the money was paid to a bona fide foreign company ( Neymar senior’s) which would presumably have to acknowledge any payment to Neymar junior in its accounts. I’m guessing if that was the case they could keep the money till Neymar leaves Barca and it couldn’t be liable. Why start something like this that would be so difficult to win unless that’s not the main reason ?

    • Peter says:

      Back in the day when the first news for the 10m loan surfaced, it was claimed that Neymar Sr. bought a boat with them.

      In the whole brouhaha nobody is asking this: if say Real Madrid had signed Neymar, paid Sr. 60 million and 40 million to Barcelona, would those 100 million be counted as a signing bonus? Would Barcelona have had to pay taxes on those 40 million gained? And since the answer to the second question is yes, why in the equivalent case Barcelona is supposed to declare those as a signing bonus – and pay taxes on them in Spain?

      A couple of things:

      First, when the prosecutor asks a judge to start a criminal case, usually it is done silently, in order to preserve the dignity of the defendant – innocent until proven guilty, you know. What is generally frowned upon is distributing the information. That is unless said prosecutor intends to plaster his/her name on the front pages and actually damage the defendant through the fourth estate.

      Second, some very nasty rumors are emerging for that prosecutor, something about him being moved from where he worked initially because of some eyebrow-raising interactions with drug traffickers.

  5. Laurentiu88 says:

    wow …how good are bayern! looks like a german version of pep’s barca, (without the latin touch of genius)..

    still weird to see pep at a non barca game…like seeing an ex girlfriend. thiago really looks like the new xavi…still hate the fact he decided to leave us…

    still, how different this game started…

    • Valdemar II says:

      Watched the second half. BM looked nothing spectacular, like a worse version of us. Then again perhaps they were relaxed at 0-1. Arsenal heroic in defense, too bad they didn’t hold all the way.

    • ooga aga says:

      from bad to worse for the gooners…ozil misses a penalty in the first 10 minutes, sczneckzy gets a red in the 35th, and finally kroos scores 54th. coulda woulda shoulda…

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      Their goalkeeper had to save them in first twenty minutes.

      They conceded a penalty.

      They missed a penalty.

      They scored ‘only’ two goals against 10 Men.

      They had sterile possession for majority of time.

      In Language of cules, that’s called ‘Beyond crap’ !

      But, you say they’re very good ?

      Very nice of you )

      • Serena Andre says:

        Culers swooning over Bayern more than they do over our own team. That’s what my TL looks like right now. And it’s appalling.
        Needless to say, my unfollow button is getting some serious exercise.

        • PrinceYuvi says:

          Double Standard.

          If we play such a match, It’d be Crisis time already.

          Nobody is asking whether
          Mandzukic has lost passion for game
          Or For how much pennies Boateng should be sold to pawn shop, I wonder why ?

      • fotobirajesh says:

        Even my wife thinks Bayern doesnt have the class and aesthetic of Barca’s passing. She say that from a purely visual aspect.
        Bayern is like a Machine, who is tuned to pass the ball.
        Barca is pure talent.

  6. Jafri says:

    So no home team has won (or scored) in the round of sixteen so far.

  7. ooga aga says:

    good for atletico, winning 0-1 away at milan

  8. ibbe says:

    Great artical Kevin. I wish more cules would read it but then again, more popularity means more trolls so let’s keep Bfb the way it is :-P

    I just don’t get why people are so scared of Bayern. Just watched the game and in the first half, they were lucky not to concede twice..the red card changed everything obviously. If they decide to go head to head with us possession wise then there is nothing to e scared of. They are good but at our peak they aren’t even close to barca. I would love it if they become our QF opponents. Everyone knows how our players play when they are the underdogs.

    Btw I’m very happy for At. Madrid..good for the Liga.

    • Puppet says:

      I think what makes them a good team is their tactical flexibility. When they can, they have a pretty good possession game, but they are also a good counter attacking team when they play a team to whom they must concede the ball.

      I agree with Kevin and most everybody here that the 7-0 (which is now essentially the standard to which Barca must answer, according to every non-culer) is skewed, and given the circumstances at the time, sorta flatters Bayern. But I think it’s equally disingenuous to belittle the quality of that team. In terms of talent and midfield genius, we have the edge. But they have a more well-rounded team. Different strokes, different folks, and all. If both teams play to their potential this CL season, it will be only a matter of time before we see a Barca-Bayern rematch–
      and I think it will be a hell of a lot closer this time around.

  9. Ryan says:

    It’s always nice to come here and get a healthy dose of realism and clear-eyed analysis, especially after venturing to other football websites and reading their comments!

    With the CL, there have been no surprises in any of the ties so far. I didn’t expect Courtois to need to pull out so many heroics, but that’s why it’s vital to have a good keeper! I didn’t think Bayern would struggle to finish off 10 man Arsenal, or for their game to mirror ours to such an extent.

  10. lea_terzi says:

    Thank you, Kevin! We are in full agreement, except I don’t want to see us play Bayern for the next three years or so…

  11. IamXavi6 says:

    Excellemt piece of writing. These moments of clarity after we come through another challenge ahould be embraced. I admit I have never doubted my team more this season than ever before; but now I see it was foolish!

  12. bhed says:

    Excellent analysis of the game, and excellent take on “cule pessimism”. I agree on almost all points. I still think Masch looked a bit shaky early in the game, but he played himself back to better form. I also thought Alexis was pretty ineffective on both sides of the ball, but in general the team was in the groove, if not exactly raising the roof. We’ll hopefully reach maximum awesomeness against you know who.

    I think the extraordinary individual talent on the team (that you alluded to), plus their experience playing as a unit (for most of them), is precisely why expectations are so high, and disappointment so acute when we fall short.

    PS – this Fabregas kid looks pretty good. I think we should keep him.

  13. Messiah10 says:

    Great writing Kxevin! Thanks. I am forgiving Pellegrini for now. I think the heat of the moment and the pressure got to him. He was probably remembering the Dortmund game last year when Malaga were beat by an offside goal. To much to take and he blew a gasket. It was sad to see, but I still rate him as a manager and person. He did go Mourinho though. Hope it never happens again.

  14. PrinceYuvi says:

    Missed earlier comment section and missed most of fun.

    Many Brilliant comments,
    Especially one by Hilal which taught us exactly how to use Block letters. Ha.

    & other by peter
    who under mild influence of certain catalan drink,
    christened cityzens as ogres
    (those creatures are in style since Shrek btw)
    – I better make a Tshirt out of that comment.

    Last one by gaspersm
    about the ‘boring’ football we play.
    Different people, Different tastes.
    Honestly, I can’t get enough of those passes.

    Thanks for pearls of wisdom everyone.

    Lastly, Be safe, Lev !

  15. Puppet says:

    Great article! The thing that I gleaned from this match is the fact that everybody on the team is playing well. The degrees to which they are varies, of course, but at the moment i’d be hard-pressed to pick a Barca player who is playing badly, or really far off their standard. Alba was good in both phases of the game, Alexis was solid providing hold-up play and keeping the defenders honest, Pique was solid as was Masche, and Alves was a candidate for MotM imo, as he was full of energy and fight.
    And Neymar? Neymar showed obvious rust, but this guy is clutch. Just like in the Rayo game, he has a knack for coming off the bench, losing some balls and having some bad touches, then just when you resign yourself to him having a “just getting some minutes in” game, he contributes at the exact right time. That, more than any move or bit of skill, has convinced me of how special he is.

  16. Laurentiu88 says:

    a few thoughts on Bayern and Us…

    – I, for one, never put too much emphasis on the 7-0. no need restating all the circumstances surrounding that game or how some of their goals were scored. history. that the german side is the new scary thing in Europe right now may just be valid up until the next game. With that said, their formation reminded me of how we used to play, having so many players up and then in defense too (still against 10 men, if we count Ozil too). That they moved the ball so fast, and pressed Arsenal men all the way to 10m is some feature. On the other hand, maybe they can afford to do that, compared to us. I say this because we are hardly the team to use crosses and crowding the opponents box didn’t help us in many nights in EUrope and agaisnt English sides. So maybe its a welcoming tactic for us not to press teams too much, to still let some space form at the back.

    It is worth noting that even with all that pressure they manage to score the second goal due to a midfielder’s mistake in positioning. It may not work against a better defending team, aka Chealsea.

    – I do think that us and bayern played two different types of games, different strategies. while our game plan was more risk avoidance, Bayern were quite lucky not to concede early on where they looked a bit surprised.

    – I am curios how Real play next week. I havent been to interested in their liga games, which were either too boring or too simple for me. Since most of their big games will happen in the next weeks, their last 7, 8 la liga games are more simple, I hope we begin to see some imbalances there…

  17. fotobirajesh says:

    Kevin, you should send this article to Guardian.
    I am fed up of every one talking as if we were lucky because of the red card.
    My only concern – which I would never discuss outside, but here amongst us I would say this – we could have killed this match completely.
    Hope all is well with you Levon.

  18. IamXavi6 says:

    Athletico had a fine 1-0 win as well against Milan…keeping things nice and quiet there but they are as good a team as anyone else to come up against in the quarters….

  19. Jebreel says:

    Hi all,

    I’ve been following this blog since its inception (Aug. 2009?) and Barca for a few years before then. Kxevin, I haven’t always agreed with the things that you’ve written (those player ratings!!), but this was a beautiful piece that inspired me to create an account. Your point about faith really resonated with me; it’s time we moved on from that Bayern match and just embraced this team for what it is — a group of the most talented, classiest players on the planet who have work to do but are also capable of some pretty sublime stuff.

    Cheers,

    Jebreel

  20. Levon says:

    @Kevin thank you for the review. I’m looking forward to the return match.

    @princeyuvi @fotobirajesh @barca96 @Jim @Blitzen
    Thank you for your well wishes. I watch the games but I don’t feel like writing or commenting all that much. People have gotten shot at different points of my commute route last night but for now my bosses allow me to skip work.

    I’m still online but I don’t know for how long. Goverment has cut off the internet in the west of the country to keep people from organizing a rebellion and they might very well do the same here if things keep going as they are right now. Also, they can hardly be thrilled about all those pesty videos people post of the military, the police and militia shooting, beating and robbing people that are appearing all over the web. Even so, the death toll is a lot higher than what has come out through the media and social networks.

    I won’t be commenting that much in this space, and I won’t post any articles either. (I’ll still watch the games, though!) For those interested you can check my TL on twitter, which unfortunately is not all about soccer these days. My handle is @barsalev

  21. psalmuel says:

    A chelsea fan friend of mine was criticizing Tata. He felt Tata lacks creativity compared to Pep and adviced me to pray we don’t meet Chelsea, Bayern or EE else Tata would be thought a footballing lesson. According to him, with City’s 10 men, he expected more creativity. I was quick to remind him of how The Might Pep conceded 2 goals in that 2-2 draw against a Ten man Chelsea at the camp nou. That Tata was just after match control, he wanted to take a result home and that alone is creativity unlike our previous coaches that attacked no matter the result. And lastly, I shut him up, I simply asked him the number of our matches he has watched and he kept quiet. Tata deserves more credit than he gets but I guess things will only change when we beat Bayern and slay aliens from outer space and then win 200 trophies this season.

    • Jafri says:

      This was our second away win at this stage in six years. Second. In six years. Before this match, we had just one away win in six years, and we were versus a team that’s scored well over a hundred goals in all competitions this season, lost only once at home in the Premiere League and scored 42 in 12 matches while conceding only 9. We scored two and kept a clean sheet vs the most potent attack in Europe. And people are complaining that we didn’t put the boot down.

      Well personally, I think Tata deserves some kind of award for that performance.

  22. fotobirajesh says:

    Kxevin, I also would like to say, I feel glad that I am not into all these facebook/twitter stuff and have lots of peace. The way you describe the twitter world, it should be something like goal.com comments.
    I havent even read totalbarca comments in a long time, even if I follow their posts.The only places I read/comment now are bfb and mundoalbiceleste, occassionally. We know about BFB standards. And in the Argentina blog too, mostly its very civilized, with some brilliant commenters.

    • barca96 says:

      Ya, I have heard i many times from Kxevin regarding Twitter. I have no idea really as I don’t go on twitter besides Barcastuff. I do notice a lot of people asking silly questions like the score. I mean, really??!! You can just google the score. Another one that I really hate seeing is people asking barcastuff to change profile pic. It’s his twitter so let him/them choose!!

      I have recently started going to Totalbarca again. It is quite quiet there. I don’t know what happened. It used to be full of kids even when they put in a system where you have to log in using facebook to comment.

      Your a Guardian user. It’s fun to read the comments there. Not many trolls. A lot of knowledgeable guys. But I wouldn’t dare to comment there though. The guys there are tough to deal with.

      • fotobirajesh says:

        You are right, Guardian blogs are a tough place. Especially with my limited English, its difficult. Sometimes we dont even understand, what they really mean, sarcasm or , you know..

        anyways, if I really feel like commenting, I do… may not go back to check..:)- But there are some trolls in Guardian too, some of them really annoying.

        Totalbarca lost a lot of good commenters, once they started using facebook login.. But they still have good posts, especially they do translate important stuff from Spanish..

  23. PrinceYuvi says:

    ‘Barça win bring City back to the Earth’ ,
    says the Headline.
    I like the sound of that.
    My room is full of newspaper clippings.
    One is adorning the wall.
    Ha. Fun times.

  24. Seyi38 says:

    What do you guys have to say about Guti’s tweet two nights ago?

  25. Jim says:

    From Barcastuff: Xavi was the Barcelona player who ran most in the game against Man City: 11,6 km. Cesc, who played 85 min, ran 11,3 km [via @Vida_Blaugrana]

    Hopefully will give some of the naysayers something to think about. :)

    • barca96 says:

      He looked fresh yesterday. He did look slow and lethargic at times this season though.

      Another one from Barcastuff;

      Jupp Heynckes (ex-coach Bayern): “Messi is a genius and is certainly on a par with Maradona and Pele.” [fifa]

  26. wind1795 says:

    The team played good in the last UCL match. But the margin between both teams is small. The red card/last-man challenge did change almost everything..Quite surprised to see 3DMs featured in City formation though. Though in the return leg it’s not likely. Not trying to predict possible formations for both teams though. Still far away and not the next/important match. Coz city has a few injured/unfit players which will possibly feature if circumstances allowed. But it showed reckless challenge’s consequences. Mascherano looked ok in this match..but defenders can see reckless challenge’s side effects in this match and reminded of the lesson.

    Coz the memories of certain rash tackles involving both Italian and English teams are really horrible.Not saying these does not occur in other leagues.. Think about that if you are the one accelerating in top speed, twisting and turning around defenders (towards the goal) before you put a foot in/slide in. Skillful players are rare.. Remember the reason why Pele/other skillful players was injured in certain matches?..

    Do think tech is available to aid refs, may take a bit more time, not a serious problem, more added time..This is the most obvious and plausible solution to misjudgements as human is human..nobody is perfect..

    Sin ‘bins’, think about that method and that [word]..
    Some managers and teams would be very happy about that..
    Not the ones who are inclined to skills, even in the economical sense it doesn’t make sense unless somebody enjoys ‘certain horrible scenes’ which shouldn’t be mentioned to trigger nightmares for others.

    Problems should be avoided, not to create more problems..
    Somebody mentioned certain rugby players’ injury types, it’s really horrible, still copy non-workable ‘methods’?
    Tech can also aid ref to avoid some offside goal allowance as well.

    Would tech ELIMINIATE all refs?..good question
    No,usually a third-person can avoid violence and fights if some players/other persons in the stadium cannot control their temper.
    If the situation presents a few cm before the ref and unless he has eye problems, he did not need to consult the machine to avoid slowing down the match rhythm.

    big matches and certain ‘expressions’ can trigger the limit test..
    the 2nd half season will get harder logically..They can also expect a more intense return UCL 2nd leg as well..

  27. az says:

    i always enjoy the chemistry these two shares on the pitch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCD0rx_74_c

  28. Kxevin says:

    This is such a smart analysis of the sending off incident in the Arsenal/Bayern match. It’s also why I generally say that when goals are conceded, it’s usually a team effort:

    http://blogs.thescore.com/counterattack/2014/02/20/how-seven-seconds-completely-changed-the-game-between-arsenal-and-bayern-munich/

  29. gaspersm says:

    But before the red card they were the ones who looked most likely to score
    I am skeptical of what could have happened had they been 11. Yes we had possession but little to non existant penetration, while they had chances in the first half. You want a proof of this, go to the matchday thread and you will see what you guys were saying!!!!
    I would like to face them with 11 on the pitch, and with their key players just like us the same way we complained that bayern beat us because our key players were either injured or out of match fitness
    Ofcourse it is easy to defend a 10 man man city. Overrating the win as usual!!! We are playing too slow IMO!

    • PrinceYuvi says:

      ^Non-sensical, Absurd, Misplaced petulance.

      Better pundits than you
      (even from the british press)
      have conceded that
      Man city are just not good enough
      to compete a ‘worst barca side’ in history,
      despite all the wealth & plethora of superstars.

      Name other teams who can beat this City team at Etihad 2-0 whilst playing their most defensive line-up.

      Over-rating this win ?
      It’s a huge achievement
      to get a Clean sheet against this City team with our well documented Defensive Liabilities.

      It was almost impossible, but by some freakish sorcery they managed it.

      Learn to give the credit where it’s due.

      Oh, and multiple exclaimation marks do not add any weight to hollow sentences.

    • fotobirajesh says:

      If there was no red card – which implies Demichilles didnt foul Messi – City would have been down by 1 goal. Which further implied they would have forced to break out of their bus, giving us more space.. IF’s are a lot friend…If, ref had not wrongly called off side for the Pique goal –??

    • TITO says:

      You’re sure Barca IS your team?

      • gaspersm says:

        Sure! I want barca to reach farther stages convincingly. I get tired of these uefalona chants, people keep saying that we rely on red cards to opponent teams in order to win games, like thered cards against inter (which we didnt win ofcourse),against arsenal, against real madrid and against chelsea. Something inside of me wants us to be commended for how we passionately sought goals and defended against opponents!!!

        • Peter says:

          Be sincere, do you really think that the people screaming UEFAlona and saying the team wins due to red cards, do you think they will admit that Barcelona won some match by playing better? Excuses will always be found, because it’s easier to find an excuse than to admit being wrong.

          • gaspersm says:

            I dont hear those excuses against bayern, or inter or man utd when they were crowned

          • Peter says:

            That’s because since 2008-2009 Barcelona are the team to beat. People have noticed one recurring trend – either Barcelona become Champions, or the teams that defeat them do.

            People don’t grumble against Bayern, Inter or United, because their “reigns” have been too short to create a grudge – and for the most part haven’t been so convincing.
            People don’t want to show it, but Barcelona are a scary team to play against. That’s why you will see fans cheer wildly when their world-class teams defend with ten men behind the ball against Barcelona and display tactics at their own stadiums that would have them whistled out of the stadium if they played any other opponent.

            Here’s a list of opponents that Barcelona have eliminated in Europe since 2008:

            Sporting, Porto, Benfica; Bayern Munchen, Bayer Leverkusen, Stuttgart; Lyon, PSG, Monaco; Shakhter, Dynamo; Rubin Kazan, Spartak Moscow; Inter, Milan; Akax; Celtic; Real Madrid, Atletico, Athletic, Sevilla, Malaga, Valencia; Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal – you are talking practically every top team across the top leagues in Europe. That’s a lot of smarted behinds and wounded pride.

  30. psalmuel says:

    The fact that they looked more likely to score with 11men doesn’t mean they could have scored or even won the match. Of cos they had more chances in the 1st half cos its more difficult to create a chance against a parked bus than against a team with an exposed defense like ours. And how many of their key players were missing? Aguero? They have Dzeko and Negredo, plus their coach is not fighting cancer. We won and thats it, if any one has any problem with that then its their cup of tea. After all when we received the bayern drubbing,we didnt have Bay 7-0 Bar( but their coach was battling cancer and their best player was not fit) written that way. Same should apply here. M.city 0 -2 Barca. Case close!

    • gaspersm says:

      I am basically talking about lack of penetration when in possession something that zonalmarking also noted. . I wasnt happy at all with the first half. And it ended with me being sleepy with a headache.

      • Kxevin says:

        They had two chances in the box, and our defense intervened. We had Sanchez and Iniesta on the doorstep and their defense intervened.

        The “lack of penetration when in possession” is a mindset that ignores how Barça defend, which is with the ball. In a post-match quote, Nasri of City said that the match would have likely ended 0-0 without the sending off. So I reckon you rate his teammates’ chances substantially higher than he does. A culer rethink needs to happen, but I doubt that it will.

        So this team did something that few thought it could: defeat Manchester City at the Etihad. But still, it isn’t sufficient, and that’s fine. People who know culers never expected that it would be.

        • G6O says:

          The lack of penetration when in possession is not a problem when we’re playing games like this one – it is a virtue because it keeps us in control and the draw is a good result.

          But it becomes a problem when we play games in which the draw is a great result for the other team. I understand the defensive aspect of it very well, but I still think we need to find a way to break the bus more consistently

      • ooga aga says:

        so gaspers, when did the team play the way that you liked? was that also when you became a fan? or did you become a fan when the team was playing a way you didnt like?

        i remember a time, when i started being a fan, when rivaldo was with the team. the games were different then. we created chances every game, and you probably wouldnt have complained about a “lack of penetration in possession” because….hold on to your hats here….we werent as good of a team. thats right, we werent as good as we are now, so we created more chances.

        how does that work? well, teams werent as scared of us back then. they didnt park the bus in every match, to an extreme extent, the way they do now. as such, we could penetrate more.

        now, our team is great, and opposing teams — including great teams like Man City — park the bus. hard for ANY team to create chances against a parked bus, as kxevin has wonderfully pointed out many times in the last few months. maybe you werent reading.

        i dont know how to solve this for you, gaspersm. i think you better get used to the state of things…

        • gaspersm says:

          Atleast shoot from outside the box, that will create corners and rebounds if not goals, get pique to play target man and send him crosses, while getting somebody to cover him in defense like busquets

          • Serena Andre says:

            Shots from outside of the box have an extremely low success rate. Most of the time they just result in loss of possession and a counter attack for the opposing team, which would defeat the entire purpose of our lineup.

  31. justdoit94 says:

    The pure talent and ability of some people to find fault even with one of the most impressive victories in UCL knockout away games.
    What can i say ? some people …

  32. PrinceYuvi says:

    Some brilliant mind above suggested that winning against ’10 man man city’ was easy.

    I completely disagree.

    We’ve to keep in mind that the Thrown out man was Demichelis,

    their bloody awful weakest link.

    Yeah, he kept Leo busy before the Idiotic tackle.

    But after every interception he was giving away the ball rather cheaply in the last third, just near their box.

    Whenever he had the ball, our sprites were suddenly active, they knew he can’t put most passes together.

    The referee showed him red & took away that weak link.

    If he had played 90 mins, the score-card could’ve been different.

    You put a 33 yr old inept defender against Messi, you pay for it.

    The referee did City a favour by taking him out of the picture.

  33. barca96 says:

    Allas posted a new video. It’s brilliant that he managed to catch that action!! Thank you Allas!! But I must say that Busquets is even more brilliant for performing it. What a smart player.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJfulWCJxks

  34. barca96 says:

    It’s Mascherano’s birthday. His wife tweeted me. Just kidding. Feliz cumpleanos soldier.

    https://twitter.com/Mascherano/status/436441070038044672/photo/1

  35. teddy says:

    here’s comparison between the worst Barca in decade vs Bayern

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bg82e-XIAAAp8GQ.png

    • Ryan says:

      Wow, both of those are some nasty stats, especially considering they’re away from home. 79% possession at Arsenal, even a man up, seems so crazy considering they’re a possession-based team too.

  36. providence says:

    let’s save the talk of 10 men for the 2nd Leg at the Camp Nou, there they’ll start with XI

    but i’ll leave you here with @_PaulHayward’s quote

    “Can’t ignore red cards and say teams would have been equal otherwise. Mistakes – with consequences. Let’s be honest: Barca and Bayern better”

  37. barca96 says:

    I get tired of these uefalona chants, people keep saying that we rely on red cards to opponent teams in order to win games, like the red cards against inter (which we didnt win ofcourse),against arsenal, against real madrid and against chelsea.

    I totally can relate to that. But it is not entirely our fault you see. The other team commits fouls so what is the ref supposed to do?

    Wrong decisions, yeah, that sucks but again, it’s not like it’s Barca’s fault. The refs make mistakes. It’s not like the players put a gun to the referees head.

    • gaspersm says:

      Exactly, that is why i want us to win a game Especially away against a parked bus with 11 vs 11 in UCL. Even our win vs celtic was accompanied with a red card

      • georgjorge says:

        That sounds as if red cards were some kind of thing that got dealt out randomly to this or that team. You are underestimating the connection between our style of play and our opponents getting dealt red cards. If you don’t have the ball for a long amount of time, chances are higher you’re going to commit a foul than if you do have it, and if the ball happens to be in your third of the pitch chances are higher it’s going to be a yellow or red card because you’re more desperate to keep the ball away from your goal.

        Since Barca is a lot about keeping the ball in their possession, the opponent will be forced to foul them more, and cards will start coming (not to mention players being forced to chase the ball the whole match losing their cool).

        Alternatively, the red card against ManC is what happens when a player like Iniesta makes the perfect pass to a player like Messi – if ManC would have been capable of engineering the same situation in front of our goal, maybe we would have been a man down instead. But they couldn’t, and we weren’t.

        • Kxevin says:

          Mourinho would always mutter about how his team always had to play us while down to 10. The answer he never considered is maybe, just maybe if his players were football players instead of these monsters he created, there wouldn’t be as many red cards.

          Reds aren’t handed out like candy. “One for you … one for you …” They are reactions to a foul. Dimichelis fouled Messi. As last man, that foul, by rule, is a red card. Would he have been better off letting Hart try to stop Messi 1v1 and trailing the play in hopes of an error? For sure.

          Instead he lunged in and got tagged.

          And folks need to stop it with the “parked bus” talk. City couldn’t break a bus. Chelsea couldn’t break a bus. Many is the team that can’t break a bus. That’s why it works. Buses haven’t really worked against us. Our finishing has worked against us. Chelsea, Inter, you name it. Chances are there, but finishing isn’t.

          This team has nothing to prove. People who say we can’t with 11v11, can’t break a bus or some other Trials of Hercules-type barrier that we must hurdle to gain real respect, don’t rate with me.

          • G6O says:

            This team has nothing to prove. People who say we can’t with 11v11, can’t break a bus or some other Trials of Hercules-type barrier that we must hurdle to gain real respect, don’t rate with me.

            You’re in fact describing the deep irony of the situation with these words.

            I said above that we need to find a way to break the bus more consistently, but I have also said many times, as have others, including you, that we are the best team there is at breaking the bus. And those are not mutually contradictory statements. The problem is that the bar has been raised to such unrealistic heights that the team is not allowed to not break the bus all the time, thus the need to improve the success rate, even if it is already as high as can be realistically expected to be… The wide open spaces of 5-6 years ago are long gone, the expectation that every second game should be a 4-5 goals win is still here (even though that wasn’t true even then)

  38. gaspersm says:

    Exactly, that is why i want us to win a game Especially away against a parked bus with 11 vs 11 in UCL. Even our win vs celtic was accompanied with a red card

  39. Kess says:

    I always thought 11 vs 11 we were better, the red card to me ended up in our own disfavour as it denied us a tactically worked goal, demichelis knew it was a sure goal and tried to stop barca from going ahead, its what we PES heads do, the last man has to foul the striker coz everybody holds on to the possibility of your opponent missing the resultant penalty. Prior to that, we were having bad calls, how come nobody is talking about the hand ball(not ball to hand coz the arm was outstretched from the body)?, prior to that city were relegated to half-chances while you could feel we were inches away from a goal, messi and iniesta were specifically picking on yaya toure in other to draw him away from kompany…we were just one pass away, one shot away and before that penalty, one goal away. So whats all the fuzz about?, we played a very very good game against a very good team whose good reputation might be altered by misplaced comments from the manager. That offside goal and we had two of those!…negredo could have seen yellow were it not for pique[via @barcastuff] so what are your grieviances???…the only flaw of the match to me was not seeing pedro! Have a crack at the game…hopefully he starts at the Nou camp… Except you are trolling theres really no point in saying the red card changed the game when it denied us a certain goal.

  40. kosby says:

    Just read about Martino’s press conference. Wanted to share how glad I am that we have such an amazing, classy, intelligent manager..if at the start of the season someone had told me with a new manager in town we would still be league leaders, almost in the quarters of Champs League after beating a team like ManC and in the CDR final, I’dve been very happy.

    ref – http://espnfc.com/news/story/_/id/1723147/barcelona-coach-gerrardo-martino-neymar-staying-focused-amid-transfer-saga?cc=5901

    excerpt 1
    “When [Messi and Neymar] have played together they have played well,” he said. “I know there are a lot of expectations to see them playing together, but we must think about the group. When we play with three out and out forwards, it is much more difficult to control the game.

    “They all like to go into spaces, to take people on in one-on-ones. With an extra midfielder the team runs less. It is not so much about the team evolving, but more that we decide to play certain players in certain games.”

    excerpt 2:
    “[A new contract] is the last thing I am thinking about at the moment,” Martino said. “We will see about that later. The most important thing is to focus on the 21 games we could have left this season.

    “We have not had any meetings [about the future], and I will not be commenting on this until the end of the season. Neither victories nor defeats will affect my decision.”

    • Seyi38 says:

      From his last statement “Neither victories nor defeats will affect my decision” I’m beginning to get scared. What if he’s tired of the endless lack of support from Cules and the press and has decided to leave? It’ll be a really sad thing for us if he leaves because I think he’s the only coach not inclined to fielding the same players and using the same style every single game even if it becomes our own shortcomings. Remember Piqué’s comments about we becoming a slave to our own style? After 4 years of intensively aesthetic and quality football, Pep left us (it hurt). The only way for us to move forward is to almost completely let go of the past and Martino is a breath of fresh air.
      I’m not trying to get we Martino lovers scared but I’m just saying there’s a possibility. Hopefully he’ll stay longer.

  41. Jafri says:

    I’d like to see Messi and Xavi rested for the next game (though Messi probably won’t let himself be), Neymar to start, and as heavy a rotation as we can handle.

    • Serena Andre says:

      The next game is Real Sociedad at the Anoeta. We haven’t won here in 7 years. This definitely is not the game to rest Messi.

      • mom4 says:

        Next game after tomorrow’s is next Sunday. That’s a nice long rest. Strongest XI for the Anoeta!

        • IamXavi6 says:

          We’ve had rotations all year…now is the time to call in the benefits. With the table evenly balanced as as stated above, going to a tough away trip…the ‘first’ 11 shouldnt be rested at all…crucial times and we need to field our possible strongest lineup on this way, no question.

          • Jafri says:

            Whoops, didn’t realise! Apologies, all. And some grim stats from the official site:

            Barça have not won away to Real Sociedad since the 2006/07 season, when under Frank Rijkaard, FCB won with goals from Iniesta and Eto’o

            Since the Basques returned from the second division, Barça have drawn twice and lost twice

            Arrasate’s side is unbeaten at home since September 1 when Atlético Madrid ended a 10-month spell without defeat

  42. KEVINO17 says:

    I see that Manchester United is supposed to be talking to Alex Song. If they’re serious, he’d be mad not to go. He’s just what that team needs. I bet Barca would also make them pay top dollar.

    • barca96 says:

      I look at it this way. He’ll be mad to go to a team that might not even play in Europe next season :)

      I would be sad if he does leave though. Besides being a good squad player, he seems to be taking care of the Cameroonian youngsters which is really admirable.

  43. andrecito says:

    looking forward to a neymar start….does anyone know if this is in the realm of possibility?

    id hate to see song leave…although i completely understand his not wanting to sit on the bench during the prime of his career. i really hope we get a chance to see him play during the next few months..

  44. barca96 says:

    What an end to Chelsea vs Everton. And what a captain John Terry is. Throwing his body. It was Howard who punched the ball though.

    I still have not seen an above average performance from Deulefou at senior level. I hope he can stay at Everton for another season.

  45. kosby says:

    Expecting a bus again tonight :(

  46. raj says:

    Even though this is only a league game in which we are most likely to win, I am looking forward to this since the Man City game. So is the case for every match this team plays. And I am even more excited to read a new article in this blog. In fact I check this blog every time I take a break at office to catch few nice comments. Just reading the awesome comments some people come up with, I feel urged to add something myself. I wish I had the observation skills or understanding of the game like some others do so I can contribute any value to the conversations, but I don’t. Also being the lazy bastard that I am, I sit back and read all the articles and think in those terms about the play.
    I am kinda addicted now, so I may have to change my status from a bandwagon fan to a regular one soon. Then again, knowing myself, I am inclined to skip following the team if it stops winning like this. So I am still not quite tested enough to call myself a true fan. But one thing is for sure. When we lost to Bayern 4-0 in the first leg, I didn’t watch the 3-0, but I was a lot more optimistic that we would bounce back the next season. More so than some long time Cules at that time. Anyways. I am enjoying every bit as of now – many thanks to Barca and BFB. This team and this blog deserve each other. Happy Times.

    On another note, Got to know Levon’s status in Venezuela. Hoping things will calm down there.

    • Kxevin says:

      Thank you for the support. And you know what? EVERY fan started as a bandwagon fan. The only question is what bandwagon you hopped on at the time. I dislike the term “bandwagon,” because it implies that newcomers aren’t somehow “true” supporters.

      While newbies certainly don’t have the misery tenure of a long-time culer, that doesn’t mean the passion and interest isn’t there. Glad we can help fuel that flame for you.

  47. Kxevin says:

    We have a “rotation XI” I like it very much:

    Valdés, Montoya, Piqué, Bartra, Adriano, Busquets, Song, Iniesta, Pedro, Messi y Neymar.

    • raj says:

      Bartra, Montoyo and Song? Risky? Good thing Busquets will be there cleaning up. Excited about Messi and Neymar. This is not-so-great for Pedro, he must be brilliant if he were to avoid getting over shadowed by those two.

    • georgjorge says:

      Ah, the double pivote some on these forums have been asking for at various times, though if La Real play like they did the last two games against us we’ll see a lot more of Song going forward than cleaning up. Also good to finally see Bartra get a start. Does anyone have stats on how many games Pique has started this season? It seems like almost all of them.

  48. @Wardhigleey says:

    So Barcelona were playing away to the biggest potential winner of the best league
    In the world and that team let us have the ball and defended with 11 men
    and their game plan was to take advantage of the mistakes
    We make while trying to score a goal.

    And somehow ppl talk bout barca were not creating much
    All they did was pass the ball. They did not seem
    Likely to score etc.

    When did it become only barca’s obligation to score?
    The match commentators kept saying “this way barca will
    Never score, they are having hard time creating anything, they need
    this or that”

    The more teams rely on us making mistakes
    The more will we try to minimize the mistakes and
    Make that extra pass to make sure our forward play
    is close to 100% goal apportunity. It’s simple math

    Yet barcelona is criticized and not the other team
    for failing to play football what so ever

    Guess its something we have to accept

  49. kosby says:

    turns out I was wrong, no bus tonight ! evenly poised at the moment..

  50. georgjorge says:

    Hmmm, our offense seems to be less dynamic and our defense less sure what to do than would be desired…I hope Tata finds the right words at halftime.

  51. Jim says:

    No real platform for us to cause them problems. Missing Xavi. Not enough touches from Song and Busi playing a strange mixture of positions for me.

    • kosby says:

      Think Song and Busi are both feeling out of place. I wont say I am against this combination, they perhaps just need more time to get accustomed. Just goes on to show the true meaning what it means when they say “You realise Xavi’s importance when he’s not there”…

  52. Ryan says:

    Now it’s 3-1. We are looking quite shaky on defense.

  53. Jim says:

    Messi’s decided to move back to get the control.

  54. BA says:

    we’ve been seriously outplayed in this game.

  55. BA says:

    our defense is absolutely farcical.

    Carlos Vela alone could have won this 4-1 for Sociedad.

  56. Ryan says:

    It looks more likely that we’ll end 4-1 rather than 3-2. Rough game and the winless streak at Real Sociedad continues.

  57. stefan2k says:

    Ok Tata got em wrong this time… frustrating to watch, a lackluster game and certainly a team effort.

    Nevertheless, in Tata we trust!

  58. BA says:

    going to enjoy the post where someone tries to defend that performance. that was *dire*.

  59. georgjorge says:

    Well, better to get the 1-3 done now instead of in a few weeks against Man City ;). Let’s put this one down to the Anoeta curse (keeping the feet of our forwards from making runs, putting doubt in the mind of our defenders where to place themselves), shall we?

  60. kosby says:

    Extremely well played by Sociedad, they came out and caught us napping.

    As for our team, we were sluggish and had no control throughout the match. Whether the players were tired after the ManC game, I dont know. But we did have 6 changes from that team though.

    Especially poor performances from Pique, Song, Messi (yes even though he scored). This does not mean others were playing, everyone other than Iniesta and maybe Pedro pretty much played there worst game this season.

    Infuriating from Messi…he disappeared for most of the game. If he is not injured, then he seems disinterested…something definitely seems wrong with him (hopefully its just his health which he should be able to recover). Sadly, it looked like Neymar and Messi hardly knew each other.

    Also contributing to the poor performance from the forwards was the missing midfield control. Very slow transitions from defence to attack, we could hardly get the ball out of our own half for several extended periods of time.

    Hoping all that this team needs is some rest and a nice pep talk (no pun intended).

  61. psalmuel says:

    I didnt get to watch the match so, it wouldn’t hurt much. But there are 13 games left right? The 2 Madrids won’t win all of ‘em right?

  62. TITO says:

    We got outplayed, outsmarted, outmuscled, outf.cked, outwhateveryouwnnacallit. So much lack of focus, running, even desire and maybe lack of interest i haven’t seen from this team for a while.
    And when you are going to a place where you have not won for a while, well, there should be at least an effort to prove something, but we didn’t.
    Can’t figure it out why we played so badly, but anyway, disappointed with the approach. Hopefully we’ll be more serious in La liga.

  63. Jafri says:

    Agh. That was… disastrous. So much confusion, so little intent… And I think we can put this one on the team rather than blaming one person. Like Song, for example.

    I’d like to see how much they ran vs how much we did. They seemed to be literally everywhere on the pitch.

  64. flyzowee says:

    Im going to watch the match a second time but I must say that positionally speaking adriano seemed to have the worst match I have seen from a fullback in quite sometime. Constantly being caught upfield whilst providing very little in attack. I know hes scored a few golazos but someone needed to call him into order. He essentially converted pique into a make shift LB who struggles when dragged out to the flanks. These are just my first impressions. I need a 2nd viewing to be sure.

  65. Seyi38 says:

    Disappointed with the lineup today but the players are equally to blame (except Iniesta and maybe Valdes & Pedro). Sociedad played like they wanted it more and deserved to win. Seems like Martino was somehow jinxed by that Song stat. LOL. Tonight’s defeat was valuable experience for Montoya and Bartra as long as they don’t pull a ‘Thiago’ on us.

    • bhed says:

      While the loss certainly wasn’t Montoya’s fault, based on every game he’s played this season, he’s just flat out not good enough to play in the colors in my opinion. His passing, positioning, crossing, defending… everything has been lacking this campaign.

      Again, not his fault tonight, but I hope we don’t need to count on him much this year.

  66. Hilal says:

    Wow. Football is a funny old game isn’t it. Just a few days ago we saw a very complete team performance and tonight we saw the complete opposite. It is natural to try and lay blame at the feet of individuals but this was as collective a breakdown as I have seen. Yes there were a few brain farts from the likes of Pique but all in all the whole team was just not there tonight. It happens in football and it has happened to this team many times over the past few years including the treble season so lets not all go claiming this is the end. It was a shitty night. It happens. Suck it up and move on.

    I have to say I like the way Martinho handled the presser, taking the pressure off the players, very “Mourinho-esque”. That being said I hope he gives them a right old bollocking the dressing room because they just didn’t show up tonight. Messi in particular was just not interested in the slightest. In fact none of the players were. Maybe the feeling among the more senior members of the team is that the priority is the CL because the difference in concentration and focus between the last game and this one was just astronomical. Difficult to understand why. Oh well. Lets hope Athletico drop some points tomorrow.

  67. Seyi38 says:

    Really Love this Martino dude. Plain honest man. Could have easily blamed the ref for playing Ramos in MF but simply admitted he was outsmarted especially with the position Canales played.

  68. Huckleberry says:

    Worst Barça I have seen in years…
    That would not have been happened under Pep or Tito.

    • Kxevin says:

      In the Treble season, we lost 5 times/drew 6 times. We didn’t win the league in Guardiola’s last season, which means that it DID happen under Guardiola. It also happened under Vilanova, and every other Barça coach. Matches like this one happen from time to time.

      Martino says that he got the selection wrong, but it was more than that. Iniesta said the players got it wrong as well. Doesn’t take a genius to figure out what he meant by that one. La Real kicked the crap out of us. Could have been 4 or 5-1, really.

      Mama said there’d be days like this …

    • Jafri says:

      I’ve seen a fair amount of these performances – usually right after a big match or international break – and I’ve only watched the team under Pep and Tito.

      They were simply unable to raise their intensity for this game and I think it’s myopic in the extreme to blame this all on Tata.

  69. mom4 says:

    That was sad. Very sad. And pathetic. And painful to watch.
    Someone said it’s national margarita day. On the rocks no salt please.

  70. KEVINO17 says:

    Too easy to blame the defenders. We didn’t press (Im looking at you, neymar and Messi) and got done over by a deadly counterattacking side that was much fresher. In hindsight, should have played Xavi to slow the game down to our energy level.

  71. kenny says:

    The most lackluster performance ive seen in a while. You think they’d have learned their lesson against Valencia at home. But nope. Messi was sleepwalking, balls were given away in dangerous areas. I know these games happen and we can’t win all the time but what a lifeless performance from the team who just had a great game in England. Consistency is key and I’m not seeing that from this side at the moment.

    • KEVINO17 says:

      The way easy passes were missed in the middle of the pitch was the biggest sign of how tired and jaded they all were. Sociedad really were the wrong team to have to play at this time.

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