132 Comments

  1. sandesh
    April 9, 2014

    Longtime lurker posting for the first time here. You guys do a fabulous job of having healthy and interesting discussions on Barca and thanks for that.

    On this game and the current issues, the road back to perfection actually is pretty clear as far as I go. Teams with massive squads and resources learn quickly about other teams’ strengths and adjust accordingly. When you win, and start becoming arrogant about your way and then you fall.

    For a few years, we were the best team in the world because we had best players in their prime, a coach that was ready to tinker and experiment and we had either a variety in our profile (Etoo, Toure, Henry) or massive strength in the clarity of our play (2011) to get us over the line. However, the management decided that other clubs would not move forward and decided not to take the important decisions that were essential then.

    Now, we are in a situation where others have moved farther ahead (Look at Bayern for example). If Barca want to be the best team in the world again, we need to do the following things.

    1. Bring more physicality in the team, but the right physicality. This is key, because you will see articles like “Barca need to ditch tiki-taka”. Not true at all. We need to bring variety in our game, but for that we need a squad with variety of possibilities, unlike now. As much as Dani has been a great servant to the team, we need to move him on and get a more physically able back. The same goes for Mascherano. As much as he is a good choice for a Barca style centreback, we cannot afford to have him as a substitute, which he should be given his problems defending deep and issues in the air. We need to buy two centrebacks, so we have two of them with Pique and Bartra. This also means bringing at least one physical guy who can play well in the passing game, such as Vidal.

    2. We will not win the Cl again if we play against really good defensive teams with a Messi in false 9 formation. Argentina already has provided a template for what we ought to do. Jettison the 4-3-3, and pay over the nose for a Falcao, Diego Costa, Cavani type forward who can occupy the centrebacks and also play on the wing sometimes when we need to let Messi beat Ronaldo on the goal standings. In important matches, Messi will play CAM, which is where his future belongs anyway.

    3. I am either here nor there on Tata Martino because this is not his squad. Having said that, he needs to throw an ultimatum to the board this summer, “Get me my team or I peace out” style. If he does not do that, then he needs to go.

    4. Obviously there are higher level issues such as the board’s truthiness, but I am not going to comment on that because I have seen this discussion many times and it doesn’t go anywhere.

    5. Finally, it is also true that disappointment is a big part of being any sports fan. We do not have a divine right to be following the best team in the world all the time. Think about the Atletico Madrid fans. I am happy for them at least.

    Visca Barca!

  2. April 9, 2014

    That was the worst big game Messi has ever played in his life. I’ve never seen that before. In the grand scheme of things, he should be allowed such a no-show, but that’s exactly what it was.

    I hope we don’t go overboard in wailing about our squad, it needs a forward and a defender and that’s it really (hope the ban is suspended for this summer anyway). League still very much in play and maybe the extra rest will do us some good with this aging squad.

    I’m weirdly not-that-sad about this. I think many of us saw something like this was coming, a team like Atleti is unbreakable for us right now and has been since the end of Pep’s era. Good luck to them, for us at least two of the remaining teams would be completely unpalatable as CL winners and the third would also hurt a lot.

    • KEVINO17
      April 9, 2014

      This team, more than anything, needs active mobile midfielders so that it can press high up the pitch. Barca beat AC Milan 4-0 because of the forward press – just smothered them. No point having small players who control the ball if you don’t, when you lose the ball, press like maniacs. So many of Barca’s goals come from pressing hard and catching their opponents trying to transition to attack.
      Barca will not win another CL final with Xavi in the middle of the pitch. That means it’s time for him to go. I’d say the same about Messi.

      • April 9, 2014

        The forward press was the result of a tactical changr. By pushing alves up and using villa in front of messi we compressed the pitch. The forward press was the result of the same.

        Yiu want to sell Messi? Good luck with that.

      • Nav
        April 10, 2014

        YOu want to sell Messi? Lol holy mother of over reactions

    • BA
      April 9, 2014

      if Messi is walking around doing nothing, as he was this game, the manager of the football club should have the stones to yank him and do something differently.

      Martino clearly doesn’t. for that reason alone i hope he goes in the summer.

  3. HisR0yalFlyness
    April 9, 2014

    http://www.sport.es/es/noticias/barca/martino-nos-interesaba-que-messi-participara-mucho-3246480

    “Today we didn’t want Messi to engage much in the game. We wanted him to face his marker one-on-one on the right wing. He didn’t participate much, but had a couple of clear chances. I substituted Iniesta because he seemed tired and we needed to add more forwards. We must think about what happened and move forward.” — Martino.

    I can’t believe this. If it is true then its insanity. What coach in the world tells arguably his best player not to engage in the game? What kind of fucked up strategy is that. In the CL no less!!! Is Tata out of his mind? And even if its true why would you tell the media knowing the backlash it would generate? Can’t see how that could be a viable strategy. Not what i expect to hear from a top level coach at all.

    • G6O
      April 9, 2014

      I am not sure this was the strategy, it might be a less direct way of saying Messi sucked

      • HisR0yalFlyness
        April 9, 2014

        Then say he sucked. Maybe that’s the kick in the ass he needs to stop disappearing when the team needs him.
        I can’t see how Martino would be planning for Messi being 1v1 with an attacker when he was double and triple teamed in the least game and has been in every big game this season more or less. There is not one single team that allows him that kind of freedom.

      • Peter
        April 9, 2014

        I don’t think I’ve heard Tata blame his players. He’s more likely to shoulder the blame.

      • G6O
        April 9, 2014

        Which is what he did by saying that

  4. Huckleberry
    April 9, 2014

    i hope that this loss marks the end oft the arrogant, reactive approach of Barça. instead of going full throttle right from the beginning (what Atletico did without needing a goal), they were shure they would score anyways. Take the slap in your face and start thinking! Hey Xavi, 100% acurate passes. I clap my hands!

  5. Peter
    April 9, 2014

    I couldn’t watch the game, heard some of the second part on radio. I was advised not to watch it “if you want to continue believing in God”.

    Was it really that bad?

  6. IamXavi6
    April 9, 2014

    Nothing to say but congrats to Atleti who were clearly the better side and were good value to go through.

    As above, don’t hang this in Tito. This is solely on the Board and their transfers that have finally caught up with us. We clearly didn’t learn much from the Bayern game after all.

    I hope Atleti go on and win the CL now.

    Time to focus on the league and realise we were outclassed and to accept and lose with grace…sometimes you just arn’t good enough.

  7. KEVINO17
    April 9, 2014

    Welcome to Barca, Tata. There are certain players you cannot drop (Messi, Xavi, Neymar (cost too much)); there are legacy players on the way out; and there is a style of football which can’t be touched. In many ways, Simeone has a much easier job because he doesn’t have any stars and can do whatever he likes.

  8. bedhead
    April 9, 2014

    We need a tall CB yesterday because height is killing us in the back. Barca defenders/wings are asked to contribute to offense and leave two in the back to defend. The two need to be tall / fast in order to accomplish this difficult task. Our midfield needs to attack and defend. Besides Busquets our other 3 contribute little to no defense which is why Atletico ran through our midfield. And bring back the tiki-taka and triangles! The long ball/Alves cross is over utilized and ineffective. Barca doesn’t train like that, they aren’t known for that, I have to assume its the coaching. Its not working.

    • Ryan
      April 9, 2014

      Alves’ incessant crossing was a trademark of the 2009 Champions League semifinal vs. Chelsea, so I wouldn’t say it’s something directly attributed to TAta’s coaching.

      • barca96
        April 10, 2014

        Alves did cross last time but it wasn’t such a norm. Now it’s every single match. Many have pointed it out since the start of the season.

        Alves and co. kept on crossing and me and others used to complain that it’s not really helpful when our forwards are much shorter then the opposition defenders. And it certainly doesn’t help that Alves needs 10 crosses for a perfect one.

  9. BA
    April 9, 2014

    our defense is hapless shit, and Cesc is pointless.

    we may have lost (all credit to Atleti, the better team over 2 legs), but at least *I* feel vindicated.

  10. April 9, 2014

    What was the point of using Cesc as a False-9?

    A player who should be used as a False-9 should be at least a striker or should have that quality. Look at his overall position, he was more in midfield than upfront. So Atleti defense and defensive midfielders had a an easy job and could easily press higher.

    Like I have said many times, Barca coaches should know how to adapt formation to counter opposition strategy and formation. Why this heavy fixation with false-9? Atleti played with a 4-2-3-1 formation like Real Madrid played last time and Milan played at San Siro. In a False-9 the key attribute is the striker dragging the central defender in to the midfield. Why would a central defender do that when he knew he have a double pivot in front of him?

    We should have put Sanchez in front of Messi and pigged back their defense. In that way we could have taken more control in midfield and prevent their defense from linking with midfield. Instead we were all over the park and in that scenario you won’t be able to press. There is a view here that players could press whenever they want. May be Sanchez can, then that’s not effective pressing. To press effectively as a team we need to compress the pitch(that means our formation) if you don’t do that you are simply chasing the ball. You could see this perfectly in the Osasuna match where in the beginning we were not controlling the match but once the defense pushed higher, we were all over them. I think I wrote a comment about the same and got blasted here for not enjoying the 7-0 victory and such. I saw the issue we saw last night in that match too.

    For me adding simply one more midfielder will not take control of the match. It is rather ridiculous. In that way if we deploy six man midfield, the opposition should not get hold of the ball at all? It all depends on formation of the midfield! With Cesc not even playing the proper false-9 at times. There is no point in adding one more midfielder without a striker upfront against a team which is ready to defend deep and also have a double pivot in midfield. The striker up front will definitely pin the defense back and give us the advantage in midfield.

  11. April 9, 2014

    Here we go, let’s sell Messi.

    I hope people don’t blame Tata for this one, the players simply did not show up and the Atleti players were amazing.

    • G6O
      April 9, 2014

      Selling Messi is clearly absurd right now.

      But so was the thought of selling Ronaldinho in late 2006.

      What is indisputable is that something has to change in his game. Yes, he was caged by 3-4 defenders all the time. But it’s also true he walked all game and did not press at all, which is inexcusable given the context

      • April 9, 2014

        Messi needs to force a transfer out of Barca, right now. We don’t deserve him. This guy come back from injury helps beat RM at their home to keep us alive, Kill the challenge of Manchester City over two legs to get us to QF. And still there are people who want to sell him because he struggled against a very organised team.

        It’s for his best he realised this and force a transfer. the board does not appreciate him, the fans does not and he got a manager who thinks of how to make Cesc and Neymar work rather than create space for Messi to operate.

        He always struggle against team which play a 4-2-3-1 formation That double pivot with four man defense is too much for him to breakdown without any help. But surely nobody asks any question why we don’t try to create space for him!

        No doubt that he was pretty poor. But it’s too much to talk about selling him. I think the moment he took on Faus, he has too many Catalan enemies who is baying for his blood. It’s surprising when Neymar continued to play poor, so did Cesc no one went after them.

      • KEVINO17
        April 9, 2014

        A team like Atleti can’t be beaten unless a team presses like demons and gets the cheap balls close to their goal and catches them in transition when they steal the ball and try to counter-attack. So the question is, is what Messi does for the team adequate compensation for the fact that he leaves a great big hole in the bucket? Against the best teams, I seriously have my doubts.

      • G6O
        April 10, 2014

        That’s a very accurate description of the situation – the best way to beat the bus is to recover the ball before the bus is parked. Can’t do that if your forwards do not press like crazy.

      • G6O
        April 10, 2014

        Don’t get me wrong – I do not want to sell Messi, and I am well aware of the systemic issues that caused the loss today.

        I was just pointing out that he was passive all game and did not press at all, which was inexcusable in the context of the game – it’s not as if we were down 4-0 or something, the game was still in play till the last minute. Something has to change. Against RM he played like a lion, you saw the results. Yes, he was afforded plenty of space, but he also put in a lot of effort.

        But we have seen more than one genius-level player fade earlier than he should have because people were cutting him too much slack for his lack of effort. We don’t want that to happen to him.

    • barca96
      April 10, 2014

      Cmon now. Can’t he have a handful of matches where he plays below average? He turns up for 80% of the matches.

      • barca96
        April 10, 2014

        And Tata should shoulder some of the blame. I usually prefer to critisize the players as they are the ones who are playing. But Tata chose the wrong players (Cesc) and didn’t have the balls to take Messi off. Recently Tata has been really slow with subs.

      • KEVINO17
        April 10, 2014

        Tata took Messi off he would be on the next plane back to Argentina (economy class – if lucky)

      • barca96
        April 10, 2014

        😆

        But on a serious note, in the beginning of the season Tata showed some courage but lost it during the winter break.

  12. barca96
    April 10, 2014

    Why is Tata to blame for alves crossing?

    We’ve seen it all season long, not just in this match. Previously we never crossed as much as we did. It only started this season. Long corners too. Is it a coincidence?

  13. April 10, 2014

    Let’s sell Messi? Whoa. Let’s sell him. Doesn’t press. Looks disinterested. He’s basically the problem. I get.

  14. April 10, 2014

    I have not said a word against Tata all season and have vehemently supported the guy. But I need to say one thing.

    ~~ I dont know what Tata was smoking when he decides that Iniesta (the most dangerous player capable of unbalancing the opponent after Neymar) had to come off. “Lets just put out as many strikers as we can and hope for the best” is what he might have been thinking. And that’s just desperate.

    ~~ In five games against Atletico, he hasn’t improved or altered his tactics one bit even though he expected them to play the same way and they did. What does that say about his managerial / tactical expertise? I honestly do not know.

    ~~ Against a team that presses so intensely, shouldn’t we try to counter that with some muscle and press of our own? Doesn’t this simple fact alone warrant a start for an Alexis who runs and presses like a dog?

    All season I have defended Tata. Yes, he hasn’t had the backing of the board or the players he wants and has been caught in the crossfire. But in line with the 3 points I made above, it is clear that he hasn’t had a clue on how to play Atleti for 5 straight games (just relying on his players to create something rather than give them a clear system to enact) and has simply not used the weapons he had at his disposal effectively.

    • TITO
      April 10, 2014

      We must have watched 2 different games. What did Iniesta do that was dangerous last night?
      He was one of the poorest in penetrating, constantly losing the ball, giving away it, and no pressing whatsoever.
      But again, i agree that this was Tata’s fault.
      It’s not his fault how the players perform on the pitch, but definitely is if he got the tactics wrong, the formation, the inspiration etc.
      We needed to press from the beginning, we needed to run more, to be more faster with and without the ball, accurate paces. We knew how will they play, everybody here was discussing the same thing for days, can’t believe that Tata and the coaching stuff did not know that, and we still persisted with the same game plan that had no success against them.
      Bearing in mind that their 2 best players were absent last night.

      • April 10, 2014

        Even I second that. I have never seen Iniesta this poor. Not even a single time he got past his marker. He was pathetic and I was pretty happy when he was replaced. For me we need to swap Cesc with Sanchez at half time. That would ahve helped us in going all out from start of second half.

      • KEVINO17
        April 10, 2014

        My only disagreement with you is that I think, in a game like this, Barca really should give up their possession game for the first 20 minutes and soak up the pressure. Give them the ball. Make them use it. This was a replay of us against Madrid with YouKnowWho in charge when they would come out like storm troopers and turn Barca’s desire to play out from the back into a huge liability and usually grab a few quick goals. We could have easily been down 2 – 3 after 20 minutes.
        In other words, you just can’t play out from the back in the first 20 minutes against a pumped up team that presses high and is in front of 50,000 screaming fans.
        The fact that Barca went out and actually tried that suggests to me that the players are doing their own thing rather than Tata’s thing.

      • Messiah10
        April 10, 2014

        I will also add to your post. No Valdes! So playing out from the back is virtually impossible with a one footed keeper.

  15. stefan2k
    April 10, 2014

    Iniesta was surprised when being subbed off? He shouldn’t have been, because he lost more balls in this one game than all season long. Pedro at least brought his speed, dribblings and most of all a pair of fresh legs.

    Would have been a shame if we proceeded after such a game… collective failure no more no less.

  16. ciaran
    April 10, 2014

    I know Cules are likely to overreact but selling Messi? Holy crap.

    Blaming Tata is a cop out, he hasnt been bought the players he needs so Zubi as much as anyone could be blamed, maybe even Rosell.

    I believe that tactically we need to improve and maybe evolve into a 4-2-3-1 but it’ll be hard to do it. Busquets needs help in matches like this, our defense was overrun in the first half.

    I understand some of the points that are being made but last week we deserved to beat them and didn’t, that was where the tie was lost.

    The referee was absolutely terrible last night and most people knew we would struggle when he was announced for it.

    For me, this summer will be incredibly important. It could be make or break for our era. In defining transfer windows clubs can get things amazingly wrong and end their own eras so who we buy and who we sell has never been more important. When we sold Deco and Ronaldinho most people thought that was crazy and maybe now selling the likes of Masch, Alves and others might be good or bad and this summer is going to be where Zubi earns his spurs.

    But for me it’s evolution not revolution, changes in personnel and tweeks of the system, not ditching our way of life

    • BA
      April 10, 2014

      the thing is, i think we could look great in such a system but with Mascherano there next to Busquets, only playing the position he’s spent his entire career excelling at up til now: a defensive midfielder. continuing with him as a center-back IS, as many commenters have said, arrogant and wasteful. filling in here and there against lesser teams is one thing, but to start in that position against a ferocious opponent like Simeone’s Atleti in a Champions League quarterfinal is simply mismanagement. period.

  17. April 10, 2014

    The best team won. We must accept the reality, Atleti are the better team now, more hungry,motivated with a passionate and clever coach. I dont have any idea how they manage to have at least two players approach the ball, all the time, anywhere on the pitch. So compact through out the pitch. Brilliant. I hope they win the CL.

    The whole team was poor. True Iniesta and Messi was the worst as these are the two, whom we look up to.
    I dont know if anybody else noticed this. We keep Messi on the right wing, and in the first half, almost every ball went to the left wing.
    Anybody has any stats as to how many balls were received by Messi in the final third?
    Our midfield was terrible. I dont blame it on the defence or the frontline, but the midfield. It was a shame.. Neymar got the best chance, but it was good he didnt shoot immediately. We didnt deserve a draw.

    I dont think the coach alone is to blame. But there was this news Tata didnt had lunch with the team as he was still watching Atleti videos!!! Some hours before the match, our coach was still looking for ways to break them?

    Really wondering, if Tata had seen the AC Milan match.

    • barca96
      April 10, 2014

      Ya, I noticed it too that the ball was on the left the majority of the time.

      Tata after a handful of games played against Atletico, still needed time to figure them out. Was he watching them play and figuring how to break them or was he just replaying the Diego goal 😆

  18. wind1795
    April 10, 2014

    seems familiar scenario to Chelsea’s approach, or actually more defensive than Chelsea.Would be interesting if the two meet in the semis..plz don’t curse or shout, not pouring salt on wounds.
    But that formation, at least the players are~ to RM played their rival in the cup game. Strange, that is the match where a ‘Chelsea’-minded team are beaten by >1 goal margin(Due to injury issue).

    And even more intriguing, RM started to play better when they play Modric instead of the so called’def pivot’. RM is physically better, more rigid central defense than Barca when facing these kind of opponents. Again, that RM-Ath match is controversial where certain red cards can be given out but..

    If you look at the close game (4-3) in Bernabau(correct me if spelling is wrong, not ‘spelling champ’). Both teams style are closer since RM change their manager. Their supporters would be happy about that..
    Hope you understand what that means..

    However, one glaring issue which may be -ve but +ve at the same time.
    That is ~ to Man Utd in recent years whenever one of Giggs or Scholes is present(or both). These players are less prone to be targeted. And the reason is quite obvious..Plz don’t chuckle..

    Now, you should understand why Guardiola make certain subs in his late managerial career with Barca.
    He hasn’t always carry Barc to win in his last season, but when you’re trailing why don’t be more aggressive esp. in the last 20-30 mins,be more risky. Taking off 1 def..instead of an AM. The risks are large for certain..the 2CBs need extremely well coordination to keep the offside trap->pitch is squeeced-> the pressing will be more efficient
    players are tiring so but new legs will complement that. The backline is already high but in those dire circumstance just no choice..
    It’s would be mad if you can succeed with this throughout the whole match but in certain periods it may work.

    This kicks back the midfield issue. The positioning of the forwards while not perfect but not ‘disastrously crap’. Just a question, who keeps and use the ball a lot, really a lot in the MF compared to others. It is both +ve/-ve concurrently. But when you compared to iniesta, who is more tightly marked and the space..

    Contiunally stretch the line/space/layers whichever discription you want to use, but timing and acceleration is the key(esp. in latter stages of the game).

    in those stages, chose goal(-creating chances)/’absolute control’?
    (they can try rotate that ‘MF’ playmaker more)../or else what’s the pt of ‘totFtball’?

    They can bring Rafina back, but the question is sbdy’s mind x= other,..see the Thiago case? not cursing, but question remains..
    They have quite some AMs in the ladder, (very) young,still developing
    Xavi is becoming a legendary player.., but that deeper position, who else can play consistently at a high level. You may suggest ans very quickly, but that position alongside CB is really thin.

    This brought back the memories happening in AC Milan,Man Utd
    it’s obvious..~ status, ~ management.Everything has a cause and precedents shows like a mirror. poor transitioning without proper reinforcement. And the problem will be larger for an attacking team more than a counter-attacking them coz they sit back and waiting for chances to lurk. But if players are trained mainly in attacking first, reinforcements have to be on-time or the ‘debt’ will be paided.

    The scenario is complex though particularly related to transfers.
    Because if one checks the regCenter(considering all youth academies, just want to know how many ‘offenders’ of the ‘rule’ out there and how many young prospects’ dreams or possible careers will be destroyed(because of their nationality and in a sector ‘which constitutes a staggering portion of the economy?!!). And if either one/ both has occurred, full reports should be presented and ~court, not convicted X= offenses unless proven guility..Not sure and will not make any inconclusive judgements..

    But they can take a gamble on that german MF, problematic injury history and out for a long,long time.
    You may think of certain players with ~ problems.
    Hargreaves(his club history you can chk if you don’t know,assuming you know ..), Man Utd relied him too much and that is a telling factor of his injury record. You would notice the difference in their pressing and def if you have time with&w/ot him(but that is another issue)

    If handling well with proper rotation and the rest belongs to the medical&fitness team, a gamble can be taken on such player esp in an inflated world(but more imptly, that current Intl. german plays well and would suit the system(if given some time coz). And the playing time will not be a serious issue like that Thiago one.

    A team does not function well if the any positon does not, esp mid(thrash obvious..) but incisive cutting into space momentarily opened only is extrmly impt and stamina..
    Barca may have won by giving Messi a rest vs Betis(at least some mins)
    But the shooting accuracy really needs huge improvement..~the Passing height accuracy.
    They do have the ball a lot and play a lot of time on the other other half, but have less dangerous chances(e.g. sq-zone)/on-target accuracy.
    [not just transition def but (zonal/[not necess]//blocks)transit Attk]+ ultizing the space asap(thr running&ball translocate], not always the space created btw CB & SB coz the opponent counters that successfully sometimes, and run,..chipped balls may be ok to by pass overcrowding

    they want to win all remaining league games?
    else no league chmp, right..
    They haven’t won Ath by >=1 goal in a single match this season.
    IF that’s the case, then they can kiss + wave to the league trophy.
    And the tone from some ppl will change to [they never win RM-> Ath once]

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