Anims, VV!


So Barça played today, and won 3-0. Atleti played today, and won 1-0. RM played today, and lost 2-1. The Liga is ours for the taking, if we just win the final 8 matches of the season.

But I can’t say that I feel like doing much except echoing what Javier Macherano Tweeted, which is “Nothing to celebrate. Get well soon.”

This game is, too often, a kick in the face for those who don’t deserve it.

When Victor Valdes went down under his own weight today after a routine save, one that he has almost certainly done hundreds if not thousands of times over the course of a net minding career, this time it was different. Pictures came out, many speculated but nobody really wanted to deal with the reality of the situation until it was made official by the club: ruptured ACL, with the usual 6-month recovery period.

Pinto came in and by all accounts played very well in a match that I kinda have no interest in watching as much as I want to ask just what in the hell the club that I love so much has done to anger the football fates so? It isn’t for me the injury, and wondering who will replace him, blablabla. I have confidence in our players.

For me, from the human angle, Victor Valdes is a man who for too many years, got nothing but crap from everybody. Exxon Valdes was one of the many mean-spirited jibes that flew his way from people who knew better, people who said that yes, he had gaudy statistics but they were because of his defense — as soon as that defense began to falter, goals were going to start flying past Victor of Butterfingers.

And he kept playing lovely football, kept making brilliant saves, kept confounding his critics. Then when the defense in fact did begin to falter, we began to see Victor Valdes for what he was, which is one of the best keepers in the world.

It stopped a lot of the jibes, as did being called up to the Spanish NT. And for stop after stop, pass after pass, play after play, Valdes kept making liars out of those who said he wasn’t up to the quality of the other players on the star-studded Barça roster, even as he kept saving the team’s bacon.

Then, one day, it all seemed to be enough, and Valdes announced that he was leaving Barça. The club decided that it would keep him rather than trying to sell him, so this summer he leaves FC Barcelona on a free transfer.

And then this happens. Victor Valdes is a fine man and spectacular player who has played his last match for FC Barcelona. In no way, shape or form did he deserve to go out like this, laying on a stretcher, weeping. And even if you don’t know exactly why he was weeping, it’s easy to suspect: Victor Valdes loves this club. Whatever rueful thoughts entered his mind, I can guarantee you that they were banished by the reality he must have been wrestling with as he was carted off the pitch.

This would be his last home match for Barça. He had the Captain’s armband appropriately enough. Life isn’t supposed to do stuff like this.

No, he isn’t dying. No, he doesn’t have cancer as Abidal and Vilanova battle. ACL injuries are becoming increasingly common, and there is no reason to suspect that he won’t return to full form and fitness, ready and willing to be brilliant for another club. For me, that is immaterial. This was nasty.

Valdes came up in the system, so it is impossible not to love this club, whatever the reasons that he had for wanting to leave. His best friend, Andres Iniesta, was subbed out in the second half of today’s match as a “precaution.” It wouldn’t take much speculation to wonder if Valdes had a companion to talk to, a shoulder to lean on as he suspected the worst. Having someone that you love at your side when bad news happens doesn’t make the news any less bad, but it acts as a balm, a salve that soothes life’s cruelty.

This was, after all, the season that people finally, FINALLY started giving Valdes his due. They started noticing the saves that he had been making for years, but spinning a different narrative, that he was good rather than lucky. He had a couple of suitors, but had made no final decision that could be made public and was planning to go the World Cup. Now, when that tournament is on, he will still be recovering from a crucial operation, and figuring out his next steps.

To hell with this crap. It’s nonsense when a player at the top of his form with the world at his feet will be, essentially, jobless in a couple of months. Anybody who was thinking of hiring him will be instead waiting and watching, hoping for a bargain on a gimpy keeper, because that’s the heartless side of this game that we love so.

We should be celebrating having the Liga title in sight, having our eternal rival licking its wounds, slashes made by us reopened by Sevilla. But all I can really think about is what a crap deal life has dealt a player who works like a dog for the team that I love. It isn’t reasonable, it isn’t right, and yet it’s life.

Anims, Victor Valdes.

By Kxevin

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


  1. I wish our players would just get a break already. For the past few seasons it’s just been one blow after the other.

    I can’t believe that after everything Valdes has done for us, this is how he ends his Barcelona career. He’ll also miss what would have probably been his last World Cup. It’s absolutely heart breaking.

    1. I forgot to add this in my post, but this is the second ACL tear in our team this season. We really do have the worst luck.

  2. Well written. The poor fellow has put up with so much shit from media and fans, the least he deserves is a great send-off. The stress and demands of being Barça’s keeper every day evidently got to him, but that doesn’t mean he can’t leave the club feeling loved and valued by Culés everywhere. Hopefully we can still honour him and give him a proper send-off by winning La Liga, and perhaps more. Anims Victor.

  3. This has been unfortunate.
    We can’t catch a break.
    VV deserved a better send off than this.

  4. Can someone plz tell me a happy story about a futbolista that ruptured his ACL and came back to be roughly good as before?

    1. Daniel DeRossi has ruptured 2 in as many years and has come back strong this season. Like Kxevin mentioned above, ACL’s are common place now. The surgery is nearly perfected. It’s the players ability to recover and how his body reacts that is the question. I know VV will come back as good as ever.

    2. Yes, that’s a good example.

      Basically, if your game is not reliant on speed and acceleration, you can come back just as good as you were before. But if it is, you are in deep trouble.

      In theory, a goalkeeper should be back to his old form, but I just can’t think of any real-life goalkeeper who suffered an ACL injury – they simply don’t get themselves very often in a situations to tear it

    3. Ronaldo was never nearly as good as before after that. He still won a second WC and a Balon d’Or, but he was half the player he was in the three years before that.

      And then he eventually he ruptured it a third a time and he came back again, but he was a shadow of what he once was at that point.

    4. Oh no of course he was never as good as he was pre-Inter days but he was good enough to be among the best players in the world. He was just too good back then during his PSV, Barcelona and early Inter days.

      I don’t think such an injury would affect a GK as much as an outfield player so I do hope VV can still perform as well as he does prior to the injury.

  5. I am possibly one of the staunchest supporters of the current board and its ex-president(until given sufficient proof of wrongdoing) and I must urge President Bartomeu to be coldly pragmatic and calculating. The next decisions of the board could be vital for both its continued “reign” as well as future precedents.

    If Victor Valdes does not have a signed contract with another club, he must be offered one. It does not have to be a long-termed one, a six-month prolongation of his current one may be enough. It would give him time to recuperate, it would give him the confidence and calmness that would enable his entire focus to be on his recuperation. This action would give an enormous “street credit” to both the board and FC Barcelona as a whole. With the money spent the board would be buying the votes of all the currently disgruntled culers who believe in miracles. Dare to be ridiculous, announce the signing of a second keeper, be the first club having four keepers in its roster if need be. If there’s something we can all agree, it’s that the culerada is the the furthest opposite of rational(as board, staff and team can assert unanimously). But the culerada remembers, maybe late, too late sometimes, but it remembers the loyalty, the perseverance, dedication, and it is very protective of its legends. Bet on those and you will win. This is how legends are born and legacies established. This is how tradition is forged.

    And if you ever wonder why, the answer can be seen from the director’s box at Camp Nou, right across the pitch, on any given day.

    1. When the rumors began that it was serious I said that the club should try to renew him for a season.

      Rumor now, growing in vigor, is that Bartomeu offered Valdes a one-year renewal. It would be the right thing to do for all of those self-serving reasons. But it also lets Valdes school Ter Stegen and recover fully. If the rehab goes well, we can move Valdes in the winter window, and everybody wins.

    2. I think that would be fantastic if it is true. I would like to think the Board would make that kinda offer, but their former form suggest otherwise(Abidal). Although, the main conspirator in that crime is no gone. I can’t think of a better learning curve for Ter Stegen than going to the school of Universidad Valdes.

  6. Absolutely gutted for VV. I feel like crying. No way does he deserve to go out like this. In a WC year as well. When it happened I didn’t think much of it in live time. Ray Ray kept mentioned the ACL and I was hoping it wouldn’t be so. Sadly, very sadly, it is. VV has been so big for Barca that it can’t be quantified in trophies or dollar signs. I feared him leaving the most. Maybe, some day there will be a keeper with his skill set that comes along and reminds us of VV at his best. I just don’t see any that compare to the unconquerable VV. Animos VV. I wish you all the best in your recovery and future career.

  7. Weird thing today was the news of the loss of Valdes for 6 months and the news of the loss of my quite big rental deal came within 5 mins of each other. Haih. Double whammy!

    1) Our CL and Liga are in the balance right now without Valdes. Pinto can handle Copa games but I don’t really see him as a season long goal keeper. I love him and I’ve always said that I want him to stay for next season.

    2) Valdes should have been the GK for Spain at the WC. Of course it is not a certainty but Im sure there would be quite some noise if Casillas played ahead of Valdes.

    3) I hope the board will still try to renew VV’s contract and that the latter will accept it. And hopefully after he’s recovered he will truly understand that this club and him are meant to be together forever.

    1. Pinto did fine in the 6 weeks VV was absent earlier in the season. We should be fine in the league

      But I do not like the thought of him starting against Bayern in a CL SF or a final – such a game would require a VV at his absolute best at passing the ball and he is not on that level in that area

    2. Yes he certainly was fine but I’d feel much safer with a world class keeper between the sticks, something that Pinto doesn’t give me although he is good.

      VV saved our asses a lot if you think about it, I doubt if Pinto can bail us out numerous times.

      I noticed people don’t find his passing good but I don’t see anything wrong with it. He’s good, probably 2nd best after VV. It’s just that sometimes he goes to the extreme like last night. He had 2 world class saves in one play though last night.

  8. What if this injury is going to be the reason VV will end his career at barca. Its sad news though but I just wish we win him a UCL and/or la liga so he would come lift the trophy(s)

  9. So, EE have ‘real defenders’ but still concede goals our ‘false CB’ (Smasch) has hardly conceded. Smasch defiency lies in just his height. Can’t remember last time we conceded on the break. And oh! EE still gets to play Valencia and Real sociedad right? And confident athletico will drop points too but am just hoping we won’t too

    1. hehe, how fun it was to see pepe send back to the school yard by rakitic:)

      it was unbelievable how poor rm were in the second period, besides high crosses and shots from outside the box they couldn’t create anything. dormund’s chances look slightly better too.

      i think real players suffered a lot physically, their midfield didn’t look fresh at all. and after the rayo game they play in cl and sociedad in between. the worst part for them is that they look without any real backup.. they run isco totally out of form, jesse which was so energetic is out, varane lacks any game fitness, right side has become a problem for them with carvajal there. and when one adds how poor ronaldo has been since winning his golden ball things don’t look good for them 🙂

  10. Now, question is, do we get a new goal-keeper for this most crucial stretch of the season, or try our luck with just Pinto and Oier?

    1. Who would that goalkeeper be? He has to play better than Pinto for such a move to make sense, and this means he has to be better than him and to integrate in the system well (integration into the system actually matters for a GK at this club). Not a lot of options when you look at it this way.

    2. IIRC there is a rule where you can make a purchase if one of your players is ruled out of the season.

    3. Pretry sure the rule is we can only get a replacememt from la liga..correct me if im wrong though.

      Casillias? 🙂

    4. Casillas is the only one the ticks all the boxes – world-class quality, and he will integrate perfectly. But it’s never happening

  11. Inspite of EE losing, I spent the entire day thinking about VV, and how he must feel. I am sure he would have wanted to exit the club of his life on his own terms, on a high, rather than on a stretcher, broken and weeping. This is just a horrible play of fate. Valdes will get his farewell and one that he deserves, because, quite simply he is the best goalkeeper in the history of this club. Just like another captain that will leave us, who is the best defender this club has had.

    But now we must look ahead, not be distracted and get drawn into a space of self pity. Do we sign a keeper to help us finish the season, or rely on a recently recovered, almost 40 year old Jose Manuel Pinto. Seems we don’t have much of a choice. I really hope Pinto is up for it and pumped up to perform, cos we’ll need him to be at his best.

    I’ve always liked Pinto and he has been more than an able second keeper. Personally, I would say that his shot stopping abilities are on par with Valdes. In fact, I would be more confident with Pinto between the posts if we need to save a penalty. That said, This guy just doesn’t inspire confidence with the ball at his feet or with circulation, things VV was a master at, and things we will certainly require in the latter stages of the CL. In our system, the keeper is treated as yet another outfield player, in the way we build from the back. Additionally, Pinto can concede silly goals as well. But now, like Martino said, this team will go on. Has to. And I hope that Pinto will step up and not let us down.

    Visca Valdes!

  12. Sad to see VV’s time at Barca ending like this.

    Can we hire the head scouts of Sevilla or at least can we share them. How are they able to identify all these talents.

  13. Thank goodness nobody was at fault in this injury. Because then the resentment would be crippling.

  14. I feel like crying out load. I will never forget two images – how he called out to the bench, going down – his disppointment when the Benzema header went in.

    At least if he can have one game at the full Nou Camp as a farewell with all his mates and family, please. what an unluck.

    The board can get back the affection of the players, that they (might have?)lost by what they did to Abidal, by renewing him for one year.

    We are really unlucky right? The team is getting into peak form, Liga is in our sight, there are chances for a treble and this too..

  15. The amount of crap this team has had to go through in the past few years is unbelievable.

    1. It’s true.
      I think success, particularly extended success, breeds envy.
      And the by product of envy is usually hate.
      Some cultures believe in the ‘evil eye’.
      We may have suffered from the same as a result of playing dream like football for so long and winning so much.
      People may say ‘No, shit happens, Life happens’.
      But if it happens all the time, to the same team, then something funky is going on. The amount of injuries Puyol has suffered, the Villa broken bone, Valdes’ cruel blow of fate + the multiple cancer diagnoses and relapses of Tito and Abidal is simply not normal.

  16. T_T

    This is really terrible news for Victor Valdes. I think he knew it from the moment he landed on his right foot. He was not crying for pain, but from his heart and soul 🙁

    And all this happened due to a freekick which, according to the German commentator, was given for a not deliberate handball.
    So much bad luck, life ain’t fair!

    Let’s win the league for Victor.

  17. Let’s kill all that noise about buying another goalkeeper for the remainder of the season. It is situations like this that we have Pinto, a zamora winning keeper himself also (which, playing for Celta de Vigo at the time, is all the more impressive).

    He is a very decent shot stopper and better with his feet than most keepers. I remember two or three situations in yesterday in which he made the right pass, under pressure. In fact, I don’t even remember the last time that he had a bad game.

    Frankly I can’t think of anyone more deserving to safeguard our goal than Pinto.

    1. I agree. Hes number 2 at a world class club and his performances in the cup and when else he has been called upon has been more than acceptable.

      He clearly is a favourite with the playing squad and while not ideal- he deserves our support and trust to do well in current circumstances.

  18. Excellent words, Kxevin. I haven’t been able to find the desire to watch this match, it’s just too sad. I really hope the rumour about Valdes being offered a 1-yr contract is true, and that he gets to play again for the club. Bartomeu would earn an awful lot of points with me if this happens (although I still think they should have elections).

    I don’t know why people seem to think the club would be allowed to sign an emergency keeper when we have two healthy keepers in waiting. I have my doubts about Oier’s level of performance, but Pinto has shown us plenty of times in the past that he can play at the level we need, and he deserves our unconditional support. And if he isn’t as good with his feet as Victor…well, who is? No one. The team will simply have to learn to compensate for that and not let him get into tight positions with the ball. That is part of their job.

    1. In the matches when Valdes was out, Pinto was 10-1-1 with 8 goals allowed, someone noted on Twitter. Pinto is a different keeper than Valdes, more stay-at-home and with excellent reflexes, which we saw yesterday vs Celta.

      If the team continues to play as it has been of late, things will be just fine.

      The latest update is that Valdes’ agent is in town for talks with the club, which lends a bit of weight to that rumor about a one-year renewal offer. We’ll see.

  19. Just some news before I goto bed.

    We have confirmed the signing of 17yo Alen Halilovic (take that Spurs and Man U!)

    And Montoya is signing an extension on Friday to keep him till 2018.

  20. Ugh, feel terrible for Victor. Like some have said, I think he would have gotten his shot for this year’s World Cup. Definitely Spain’s most in-form keeper. Obviously not good news for Barca either, but on a personal level for Victor….just crushing.

    While it feels petty to even mention it now, amid many great performances yesterday, Adriano was spectacular – on offense and defense.

    1. That’s not petty at all.
      Those who work their asses off, deserve some accolades.

      VV injury is unfortunate, I don’t feel so confident about our CL chances now.
      VV is much more than a world-class Goalkeeper.

      He’s leader of the backline, an extra passer to beat the press & a wonderful human being.

      Who knows, Pinto might pull some rabbits out his hat.

      At least, He’ll be 100% motivated.

  21. Being someone who’s torn ACLs on both my knees I absolutely cringed when Valdes’ knee snapped. I’d almost cried when I tore mine, I cant imagine what he must have gone through…Wishing him strength…and job well done for our team yesterday

  22. As i watched victor’s incredible form in this season, I said to myself “It’s these kind of performances that’ll deliver us major trophies”………And then this happens,Agh!!

    Pinto in my opinion is one of the best 2nd GK in the world, And there are many testaments to that, His track record and his reliability all those years, The fact he managed to remain a part of such a highly competitive club like ours even at the age of 38, The fact he managed to secure a starting place in an entire competition in a period that spanned 3 coaches and in a club where any season ending with less than a double is considered a failure.

    He deserves nothing less than complete trust from us fans.

  23. Even putting aside how this affects the team, on an individual level this is the worst possible timing for an injury like this. Valdes is tough, so I’m pretty optimistic that this won’t be career-ending, but he had a real shot at starting some world cup games based on his form, and this may limit the amount of big clubs looking for his signature. At this point, I would agree with othed s that a year-long contract with Barca may best for both parties. Whatever happens, culers owe VV a full show of support and love. Anims, Victor!

  24. Devastating yet again. Eric Abidal has announced his retirement from football, after getting cancer for the third time. [via @messi10stats]. CRUEL, CRUEL, CRUEL.

    1. My French is pretty poor but even I can understand his denial of the rumours on his Twitter page.

    2. Heard the news. Barca families are having a tough time right now. Why couldn’t it wait until the WC is done. Sigh.

      So many horrible news for the past week (s) all over the world.

  25. By having complicating lifestyles we complicate our fates, from 99% perspective it would make more sense for VV to end his career here instead he decided to be adventurous thus making a routine save rupturous. Although i’d still love to see him play in blaugrana colours i clearly kick against his one year renewal because we(ok i) on just adjusted myself to his leaving us and i have high hope for ter stegen who is tipped to replace him. One more year for VV is one more heartbreak and one more accusation as to the real reason for departures… And although valdes has been outstandingly good, save for a few occasions the saves he makes are saves everyother top goal keeper SHOULD make and he didnt do well not to draw criticism as he was pretty much crap prior to the 2006 ucl finals and after that game he returned to being one during the barren 07 season. To me 2010 was the key year in his career as he kept getting better and better. Maybe you seem to blot out the memories of him rolling a pass to attackers clearly not inder pressure or howlers. Although howlers are everyday terms in this game, his actually coursed his repution career path to a U-turn, where people build from scrap to masterpieces… That said, quick recovery VV hope to see you flying high again but you have already dedicated your peak to someone else when we saw your rock bottom…anims!

  26. Valdes is very unlucky, ACL tear as a GK + the poor timing.

    Pinto… he is a decent keeper and a good comedian, love watching him dribble opponents’ forwards.

  27. Barca fans always diss mascherano and under rates him. Only Kxevin realizes his worth over here . After mascherano leaves everyone would realize how great a player he is .

    Even though you guys won’t probably realize this because now finally barca board are gonna buy some quality defenders as it seems. but still.

    I mean , come on. Get real . Pique was never the same in last couple or so years as he was in the guardiola time. Mascherano bailed us week in and week out.

    During the copa win of real’s and this recent clasico is the only two games he fell short that too is the reason for his height and nothing else.

    His incredible tackle on bendtner during our last CL win campaign, i would never forget that. He should go anywhere else only then maybe he would get the credit he deserves only then.

    Among Real and Barca team , Masche and Di maria are the two most under rated players.

    1. Eh, okay. How about you give us some actual examples of Pique letting us down rather than just throwing it out there as if it’s accepted fact? If you do that I’m happy to look for you the occasional example of Masche doing the same.

      Better make it quick though before we sell Pique in the summer and buy a decent CB.

    2. Arafat, you shouldn’t get Jim started on Pique vs Mascherano. Best to let that nodding dog lie. Besides, every defender on our back line has come up short at one point or another this season, usually when they are asked to behave like real defenders.

      Look at Bartra against Celta. He was almost playing like a DM. But the few times Celta got into our box, he got a case of the “Duuuuhhhhs.” It happens. But Bartra is a spot-on Barça-style defender.

      I would rather give up goals to set pieces than sacrifice that skill set in our back line. Set piece opportunities are rarer than opportunities to build possession from the back, and have a defender tackle the ball as part of a high line, and feed it right back to a midfielder, or even make the run himself.

  28. i am quite nervous about the game tomorrow. there are some problems with iniesta which creates lots of problems ahead of ucl game.

    i hope the team treats this as a final. unlike valaidollid final, that is.

    1. I think they take all Catalan derbies seriously thankfully. I’m not too nervous. Xavi was rested so he can play, then we can keep control of the match. It was definitely noticeable the other day how much Sergi Roberto ≠ Xavi or Iniesta, but then again, no one does. I’m still on the fence with SR though.

      Otherwise, our forwards are playing such damn exciting ball these past three weeks, well, I think it will only get better. I really think Tata worked our how to peak our team at the perfect time.

      Also @Arafat: Though lot’s of people have been anti-Masch the past couple of weeks, I think he gets a lot of support here. He has had some amazing matches this season. That being said, his lack of height can sometimes be a problem. I’d like to keep him to switch out Busi, who plays a lot (though he has too). Nothing against Song, but I’d prefer Masch. Pique, on the other hand, has showed up to play in every big match this season. No one is without errors, but he is having a better season than last year without a doubt.

    2. To reply to the recent posts together,
      I’m confident going into the Espanyol match because we are better than they are and the match means everything to us. I’d imagine that the team will be even more focused on winning for Valdes as a final farewell.
      In terms of playing, as above Xavi being rested is a great and was a very good call by Tata. There’s no doubt that a midfield of Xavi Busquets and Cesc is good enough to win games for us especially with the form of our four main forwards.

      On Masch, I think people have very high expectations of Barca players and being world class isn’t enough for people. If he was 5 inches taller then he probably would have prevented the two Benzema goals and it isn’t wrong to hope we learn from our mistakes and hope that we sign players that may be an upgrade to our current defensive options.
      I for one hope that Masch is kept for next season even if we do sign two defenders.

      My choices for defensive signings would be Mats Hummels and Mateo Musacchio. Having the option to have Masch as cover for the DM position is also good but he is never going to be my first choice ahead of Busquets.

    3. Yeah, but I think he’s better than Song, especially because Masch is a leader, and he can play enforcer even without the inches! I’m not anti-Song either. I mean, he’s a great player, but I’d sacrifice him for more defensive depth IF we were to keep Masch. One of those two need to stay.

  29. A couple of quick things:

    — Alex Song is a complex player, and one of those players whose good play is greeted by the sound of crickets, but if he so much as ties his laces incorrectly, watch out. There is a player like that most years, so observant culers have gotten used to it.

    He will be sold this summer, and will not be missed by most, even as what he brings to the table is of value.

    — If the club sells Mascherano, someone needs to have his head examined. Many here aren’t fans of his play, but he would be captain material if he was Catalan. In the context of a traditional defender, he is wanting, as are all of our defenders. In the context of a Barça defender, which is more like a glorified DM, he is on the mark.

    He is never, ever going to defend aerial balls like a taller, traditional defender. Neither did Puyol, who happened to blessed with extraordinary leaping ability which saved him time and again. Pique is a taller defender, and doesn’t defend aerial balls all THAT well. Stick a Gary Cahill in our back line, and all those traditional defender troubles would go away. So would notions of a defender being an integral part of building play from the back and pressing forward with a high line.

    But people don’t want that. They want a tall defender who leaps like Puyol, has the foot skills of Busquets and the positioning/aerial ability of a young Rio Ferdinand. If the club finds that defender, I will myself jet to Barcelona and sprinkle rose petals at his feet, for he will be from Heaven.

    1. The last para just made me laugh… Spot on assessment of the high expectation of the fans…

    2. Mascherano would be captain material if he could play CB well, nothing to do with Catalan, just as Pique would be an obvious choice if he had a more aggressive personality which he doesn’t so no point in wishing things were different.

      Not sure where your evidence for Pique not defending high balls well comes from, Kxevin. I seem to recall last time you accused him of being no good in the air he scored with a great header from a corner the following week 🙂 and it has been quiet since then. Puyol was an exception in that he was never vulnerable in the air because as you say he has an amazing leap. He also knew when to leap into someone when necessary which is my only quibble with Masche for Benzema’s first goal. However, our problem with Masche couldn’t have been better illustrated than in the Clasico. Pique sent to mark Ronaldo? Okay, Benzema make sure you’re the opposite post and there’s an easy header waiting.

      I’m sounding like I’ve a bee in my bonnet about Masche. Tbh, I think where we are with him is as a result of Guardiola’s failed attempt to play three at the back and fill as many positions as possible with midfielders. Masche should only have been a CB in a dire emergency and that I could live with. I’ve never questioned his bravery or attitude but he’s not quick or tall, he’s impulsive and a liability at the top level.

      Still, if I’m wrong and Masche is the first name on the team sheet every week Pique will be on his way in the summer and Spain will be using one of their many other top defenders instead of him in the WC. I’m happy to wait and see.

  30. I know Kxevin but Overall Masche takes a lot of undeserving shit since the day 1 he was signed. I simply don’t get it how ignorant people can be. Masche is a leader, a bed rock.

    and about Defenders, Did any of you guys notice Federico Fazio against Real Madrid? Although i am not sure about his passing skill but man he is a MONSTER this season. He literally made cristiano,benzema and co. his bitch. He was winning aerial balls with such ease like spartan gods (i think he did not miss a single aerial ball or lost any aerial duel) and was tackling like an old school italian.

    One of the best CB performance in the last few season from Fazio. Nevertheless Musachhio might be more suitable for us.

    1. I wouldn’t say “ignorant.” Puyol has set a very, very high bar for the position. Now that his marker has been thrown down, it’s difficult for anyone. Pique has been bashed as well, and people have rushed to his defense.

      I just think that if you look at it objectively, a player is rarely as bad or as good as culers allege. Although if Iniesta continues scoring goals, he will be every bit as good as culers allege, it must be added.

    2. Iniesta Baffles me all the times. His shooting is so poor yet at the crucial moments he scores goal which top notch seasoned striker would find it difficult to score, with such accuracy and calm.

      I bet Cristiano would have had only 5-6 goals against barca rather than 12 had puyi was fit.

      Pique has been bashed they said, well said ! He had been out of the stride for a long while. This season is not a bad one for him though.

    3. Iniesta ‘s recent shooting prowess is interesting. It brought to mind. a player who used to play for my hometown club who had the most cultured left foot I’d ever seen as a boy. However, his shooting was naff and a joke among us in the East stand. Until Sergi Baltacha ( some of you may remember him) came to the club, made a comment about how anyone with that sense of timing should use that foot to place accurately and try shooting with their poorer foot. Overnight change and it was as if a weight had been lifted. I’m wondering if Tata has said the same thing to Iniesta whose right foot shooting was generally awful ( Chelsea aside ) and who before his recent goals had a couple of really accurate pile drivers earlier on in the season with his left as well. If he can add that he is undoubtedly the second best player in the world for me.

    1. Not sure what you mean by “long-serving”, but Luis Enrique was captain before Puyol, and he is Asturian. And in the 90’s we had Munoz and Bakero, neither of whom is Catalan.

  31. Son of a … Fox Sports could mess up sex. As of right now for most U.S. viewers, the Barça CL match will NOT be shown live next week, unless you are one of the 12 people who have Fox Sports 2. Bayern vs United is on the main Fox Sports, probably because of the United name recognition.

    First actual broadcast I can find is a delayed one, on Friday morning.

    1. i was just wondering, you there in US still watch the games on tv? most people i know have given up on tv all together, games are watched online on regular basis. even tv’s broadcast them online as well, 99% of the times free.

    2. Agreed, although is more seducing than mine if I recall.

      Can’t beat watching footie on a decent sized TV in HD. Even if I do hate Sky.

    3. I personally haven’t lived around a TV set for almost a decade now. And I have hardly missed a game.

    1. i dont like espanyol this season. RM barely won 1-0 and same goes for us..
      I expect one tough game where espanyol will defend resolutely

    2. For me a lot could depend on Neymar. He has had a few games now to get match sharpness back and he is a dude with a whack to prove at the moment.

  32. Neymar has been very close on a few occasions. He has been our best hope of an opening goal so far.

    Espanyol are playing really physical. Hopefully we can get a couple of goals to kill off the game early in the second half.

    1. Both him and Messi missed numerous chances, but they were all of the kind that look much better than they really are, i.e. you are close to goal but you don’t get a chance to properly adjust your body and make sure you get a good shot. Normally we would be a one or two goals up, but no luck so far. And that’s a reason to worry – when we miss a lot, we tend to lose points

  33. Fine kickboxing display from Espanyol. Tough second half awaits, but I think we are creating enough chances.

  34. God I hate games like these, too many chances being wasted and they look dangerous on the counter. Neymar is looking like Sanchez early last season. Too hesitant, doesn’t seem sure of himself when he gets the ball and thinking too much in front of goal.

    This second half is crucial. If we can bag these 3 points the league is going to be very close. Need to get Messi into the game a bit more, hopefully Espanyol will start to tire soon and more spaces will open up. Just need to take those damn chances!!!

  35. Dani Alves made the most stupid foul on Sergio Garcia. Busquets had shepherded him wide and he was going nowhere with no support. In runs Dani and just barges him over to give away a freekick and a chance to swing a ball into our box.
    As it goes, it came to nothing but defensively Dani Alves makes a lot of terrible decisions.

  36. Pedro is having a very below par match. I would like to see Alexis on for Pedro as soon as possible

  37. It looks like Simao is really into hurting someone today. 2 challenges within 5 mins of each other going straight to the ankle.

    No yellow so I expect him to continue doing it.

  38. So Neymar was again a difference maker but again I’m not expecting him to get the headlines as Messi converted the penalty.

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