1. Excellent! Euler is back. Thank you.

    I hope this is a good sign, and hopefully we will go through.

  2. April 9, 2014

    Euler! Good to hear from you.

    And.. it’s really good to know that everything I have been saying and my thoughts on the tactical tweaks necessary for our progress in today’s crucial match resonates nicely with what Euler says in this post.

    Atleti defend extremely intelligently and the compact middle is something I have been beholding with awe especially during the last game, where inspite of our amazing movement, we found it difficult to break down. I had called for Alexis’ inclusion in the last game along with moving Messi and Neymar to the wings to stretch Atleti and force them to break their shape. But Tata persisted with Cesc for the much talked about ‘control’ he has sought to add to the team in place of the all out verticalidad. This is a clever and useful tactic for away games. But at home, when we desperately needed penetration and goals, I thought this is where he made a mistake by being a bit too conservative. But that’s Tata.

    Tonight, make no mistake, we need a change in tactical setup to progress. Because we have already played Atleti four times with only 2 goals scored in reply to their two. Again setting up with Iniesta on that wing with a 4 man midfield with Cesc, and Messi getting clogged up in the center is NOT going to win us this game today. We need to create that constant feeling of danger. That second half performance for about 15 minutes against Atleti last game, and that 1st 20 minutes against arsenal in the 2-2 away game, are what me must need to channel in order to get some goals on the board.
    I really hope Barca bring on their best tonight and Tata has some ace up his sleeve. The Ref, Bartra, Messi, Iniesta and Neymar need to perform at their best For Barca to go through.

    I had predicted 1-1 in the first game and said Neymar would be involved in it. It was. And he was. For tonight, my mind says 0-0, but heart says 0-2.
    Lets do this. Visca!

  3. PrinceYuvi
    April 9, 2014

    An article from Euleri ?
    Freaking awesome.

  4. mazimi
    April 9, 2014

    Fantastic tactical write-up. On par with Zonalmarking… This is awesome. Thank you very much!!!

    • Jafri
      April 9, 2014

      On par? Haha, you should read some of Euler’s earlier stuff here. Blows ZM out of the water 🙂

  5. CuleToon
    April 9, 2014

    Welcome back, Euler! You were missed.

  6. providence
    April 9, 2014

    Dear Euler, Please unblock me on twitter ~ @Provyhernandez

    • PrinceYuvi
      April 9, 2014

      Just out of curiosity, what did you do ? )

  7. Original Soccer Product
    April 9, 2014

    Not an easy match for Barcelona. I am sure Pique will be missed. We deserve more than quarter-final, I believe.

    Atletico Madid 1 : Barcelona 2 my prediction

  8. flyzowee
    April 9, 2014

    I stand to be corrected but weve never lost a Big game that Mr Euler has previeved. Good Omen.

  9. Jafri
    April 9, 2014

    I’d really rather see Alexis starting and Cesc being brought on for control when we’ve hopefully scored before them. Instead of Cesc on first for midfield control and then Alexis when they’re tired, which is what I think is going to happen.

    • justdoit94
      April 9, 2014

      see the problem with introducing sanchez when they are tired is very obvious.
      Atleti will fall deeper and deeper as the match progresses because they cant keep up the same intensive pressing for the entire 90 mins.
      Sanchez loves to make darting runs behind a high line and a deep defense wont be fun for a pacy alexis.
      I honestly think pedrito would be a better option since imo he is a more clinical finisher and can deal with the confined spaces better.

  10. Hunter offers a helping hand digging out ‘one’ ‘alibi’ for Barca to fight the ban

    Interestingly, FIFA’s own regulation on the compensation due for formation of a footballer states: “A player’s training and education takes place between the ages of 12 and 23… the calculation of the amount payable shall be based on the years between the age of 12 and the age when it is established that the player actually completed his training.”


    FIFA accepts that it is utterly normal, perhaps even basic, that a professional player will usually have been getting vital vocational nourishment from the age of twelve. In fact, actually, from the age of eleven given that the compensation ratio starts from the season of the boy’s 12th birthday — which in theory could include seven or eight months of a kid playing from eleven.


  11. georgjorge
    April 9, 2014

    I have a good feeling about this game, but my feelings are pretty bad at predicting match outcomes (I felt good about Bayern last year and bad about ManCity this year, among others).

    Whatever the outcome, I’ll be proud of this team if they play like I know they can. They’ve worked so many miracles – I’m not talking about Champions League wins but the small miracles, Iniesta dribbling to safety in a tight spot, Busquets being where he needs to be at the right time, Messi taking on whole defenses successfully – that I just hope I’ll be able to watch them do that a little bit longer.

  12. kosby
    April 9, 2014

    Wonderful article. Really enjoyed reading the various aspects you mentioned of control vs verticality and Xavi’s importance to the team. Would love to know your thoughts on what Neymar brings to the team in light of the recent criticism heaped upon him. I personally feel he is an excellent player and expecting him to be the difference maker today as well.

    Oh and looking at your article, seems like even you are of the opinion that Tata has been excellent and willing to learn from mistakes…which for me is the most important quality in a manger 🙂

    • ooga aga
      April 9, 2014

      Dorsal Titulares
      13 Pinto
      22 Dani Alves
      15 Bartra
      14 Mascherano
      18 Jordi Alba
      6 Xavi
      16 Busquets
      4 Fábregas
      11 Neymar
      10 Messi
      8 Iniesta

  13. georgjorge
    April 9, 2014

    Someone already give that Euler guy a job at FCB…

  14. ibbe
    April 9, 2014

    Guess that’s why you don’t sell quality players to direct rivals for pennies..

    What a horrible breakdown though. I didn’t see that coming. We can still come back, vamos barca!!

  15. G6O
    April 9, 2014

    We have been atrocious, and Fabregas has been among the worst on the pitch, but that should have been called. Still very lucky not to be down by more, and some hope for the second half (though not much)

  16. barca96
    April 9, 2014

    No way we can score 2 if we play the same way as in the 1st half.

    Cesc OUT! Waste of space in a tight match.

    • We just need to score once. Then the tide will change as Atletico will panic because of the away rules. remember the away goal rules apply even in extra time.

      • barca96
        April 9, 2014

        We don’t look like scoring and they’re extremely dangerous on the counter.

        We need to stop with the long balls. Messi needs to get more involved. Cesc out but one clumsy for another.

  17. TITO
    April 9, 2014

    Awful, dreadful first half. Those first 10 minutes was like Men playing Kids. I can’t believe how immature we looked in moments. Iniesta, Dani, Messi, Jordi, Xavi, Busi, they all have to raise their game if we want to take something from it.
    Cesc (poor kid – not his fault for formation) is not even worth mentioning.

  18. Valdemar II
    April 9, 2014

    Easy to get chances when you’re allowed to foul yourself into possession. I wanna get my hands on that bald brit.

  19. georgjorge
    April 9, 2014

    Hmm, an insecure defense AND Messi losing his scoring boots? I don’t know what magic Tata can work, but at least one of these needs to change in the second half, or this is going to be not even close.

  20. ibbe
    April 9, 2014

    The fact that it’s the 70th minute and atletico are yet to recieve their first yellow says a lot about Webb..

    • georgjorge
      April 9, 2014

      Sadly, in this game it also says a lot about our chances of getting the ball into dangerous positions…

  21. barca96
    April 9, 2014

    Bloody Mascherano again committing a foul and acting like he’s fouled and hurt. We’re lucky once again. It was a 100% penalty. First half he got away with it.

    Not surprised Iniesta, Messi and others look tired and lacklustre. Tata unnecessarily played them last Saturday. No excuses as Atletico with a smaller and cheaper squad with 2 key players missing still can soldier on.

  22. barca96
    April 9, 2014

    Stop over complicating things. Pads and move, pass and move. Atletico will double mark and steal the ball. And they win all the 50-50 balls.

    This match feels a lot like Chelsea 2012.

    • ibbe
      April 9, 2014

      At least Chelsea 2012 we were by far superior and had over 40 chances in 2 legs. Chelsea were lucky, Atletico aren’t.

    • ibbe
      April 9, 2014

      Though it reminds me of Chelsea 2009. This time though Iniesta is not there to score a heart-breaker.

  23. faizal
    April 9, 2014

    Messi looks disinterested, perhaps saving for world cup…

    • G6O
      April 9, 2014

      And that has been a big part of the problem – Atletico played pretty much as intense a game as it humanly possible. You cannot afford to have players putting in way less than 100% against a quality team that’s doing that.

      Furthermore, the same issue that killed us last season was exposed now too – we don’t have the physicality to play against teams that press so hard, especially when the ref is lenient. We were completely outhustled and outworked today, every 50/50 ball was theirs, they scored, parked the bus and we were reduced to hopeless crosses to our mighty physically imposing forwards… Can’t hope to win that way. The goal came for the same reason too – first Mascherano was too short to intercept the over the top balls, then he was overrun for the header to Koke.

      • faizal
        April 9, 2014

        At least show your fighting spirit…shame when messi just standing and looking to the ball while alexis & pedro at least tried to pressure oppenent

    • barca96
      April 9, 2014

      I disagree.

      What do you say when Messi actually wants to play and score? Why is he not saving for the World Cup then?

    • HisR0yalFlyness
      April 9, 2014

      I say he should be benched. Walking around like that in the league against a small opponent is one thing. Totally unacceptable in a CL match. Flop of the match over both legs for me.

  24. barca96
    April 9, 2014

    First time I clapped my hands for our opposition after we lost. Congratulations Atletico! Deserved it over 2 legs.

    We were better than them only for a 20mins spell which was after they scored in the Camp Nou. Atletico were either equal or better for the test of the tie.

  25. HisR0yalFlyness
    April 9, 2014

    Hats off to Athletico Madrid. Their players are hungrier and more motivated. Our defending was atrocious. Players were lethargic. Neymar was the only bright spark in the 1st half. The second they picked it up but still did not put out the required effort. Great players stamp their presence on a match no matter the opponent. Messi was marked out of the match and took it lying down. Fuck this shit. we deserved to lose with the display shown over these 2 legs.

  26. TITO
    April 9, 2014

    First impression.
    It’s on Tata this one.
    When you know that Costa and Arda are not playing, and you need to score at least one goal, what the hell is he still persisting with 4 mids?!?!!??!!?
    Congrats to AM, they definitely deserved it. True winners.

    And, to not forget awful, awful awful Iniesta. Dani’s crosses are a story on their own. Can’t believe how many balls those two lost.

    • barca96
      April 9, 2014

      I’m not a fan of the 4 mids either. It’s only useful if we’re defending a lead or there’s NO NEED to score.

      Cesc is simply not good enough. Tata is making the same mistake as Pep and Tito of shoe horning Cesc into the team.

    • mazimi
      April 10, 2014

      I thought Dani put a couple of great crosses for Messi & Neymar but they didn’t score. He was actually alot better with his crossing than he is usually in most other matches.

  27. Valdemar II
    April 9, 2014

    Yeah yeah they outplayed us, for 10 minutes out of 180. Scoring from their first chance, last game scoring from their only, but I suppose we really did deserve to lose this second game, those were some pathetic 10 minutes.

    • Valdemar II
      April 9, 2014

      I’m really unhappy with all the lost duels and scrambles for the ball. What was the rotation good for if we play like 40 year olds?

      • barca96
        April 9, 2014


        Who was rested in the last match against a relegation team, at HOME? Cesc! Tata’s key player for the big games.

        • Valdemar II
          April 9, 2014

          Not my point, meant earlier in the season. We are so slow.

    • G6O
      April 9, 2014

      It wasn’t 10 minutes, it was at least the first 20 when they dominate completely. And they had the better chances after that too

  28. April 9, 2014

    Kudos to Ath. Madrid. They outplayed us and were worthy winners. Inspirational what Simeone has done with their limited budget and I hope they go onto to win CL. Hopefully the board realises the shortcomings of the sporting project and invest accordingly in defence…depending on the outcome of the transfer ban of course.

  29. Cule
    April 9, 2014

    Well, atletico were better but we had our chances to equalize. Neymar was 1 on 1 and didn’t shoot, messi took too long with the rebound too but Neymar was in a much better position to shoot.

    Neymar, learn to take an attempt.

  30. G6O
    April 9, 2014

    BTW, when we lost to Valladolid, I mentioned that Bayern went down 1-0 in an away game in exactly the same minute Valldolid scored. Today Bayern went down in the 57th minute and would have gone out had it stayed that way, but still won it 3-1…

  31. G6O
    April 9, 2014

    Also, today is the first time since 2007 we do not make the semis in the CL…

    • Messiah10
      April 9, 2014

      This is something no other club can say right now. It takes a lot of skill, effort, fortitude, & bravery to make it to the semi’s of the best competition in the world. An unbelievable run. I’m proud of our players.

  32. ibbe
    April 9, 2014

    We didn’t deserve to go through. I think betting on atletico to win the CL is a good idea since every team that beats us ends up winning. Though it’s tr first time we go out in the QF in 7 years or so.

    Not going through and atletico advancing is not going to have any effect on the league IMO. They will be just as fit and determined till the last day I the season.

    But we can still beat them at camp nou. I’m sure of it.

    • faizal
      April 9, 2014

      No way if we still play like tonight

  33. Cule
    April 9, 2014

    We deserve to lose because we haven’t learned anything from last year. Teams are able to do whatever they want in the air. Their goal was similar to 2 of bayern’s goals last year. The defense has a massive weakness, and we knew this last year. Can’t expect different results.

    The attack was the same as always, no plan b. Nobody audacious enough to have a go at target, just wasted possession.

  34. Xavi6
    April 9, 2014

    In my eyes , Barca players tried everything they could . and am proud with them .


  35. April 9, 2014

    Initial reactions :

    1. FUCK YOU Messi. That wasn’t cool. At all.
    2. Congrats Atleti. You were a team and you deserved to go through against an unimaginative Bar5celona.
    3. We have lost the ‘system’. The kind of system where Barca babies beat Bate Borisov 4-0. We are relying on some freak magic to happen from one of our players. This is not the real Barca.
    4. Neymar’s start is totally justified and anyone who thinks otherwise, go get a clue. He and Iniesta was our most lively players. Neymar showed great promise, especially in the first half.
    5. Messi, take a look at Sanchez and see how he works like a dog. I am only asking you to put 1/10th of that effort. Atleast in a damn QF in the cL when we are about to get eliminated. Show some urgency and intent, if not execution. The failed execution can be forgiven, not the lack of desire.
    6. I really hope Atleti can go all the way and win it. But alas, that might not be glamorous enough for UEFA who will want to give it to either Bayern or EE.
    7. Sorry for you tata, your days may be numbered. But I hope we channel this disappointment and find it in ourselves to win the CDR and the Liga.
    8. Even if we dont win the liga, atleast beat Atleti once, on the last day.
    9. finally, yeah… fuck you messi.

    • Cule
      April 9, 2014

      Neymar wasn’t bad, but on two occasions he had a clear shot at goal and tried to dribble instead of shoot, one of these chances was a 1v1, IMO our best chance of the night. 1v1, and he didn’t shoot. He my be one for the future, but right now he is not a top player. He had to shoot.

      • G6O
        April 9, 2014

        It’s not such a straightforward situation as it might seem – he was not in a position to shoot first time and was surrounded in such a way that when he touched he was going to be easy to dispossess. Which is what happened. His first touch could have been better, but it was not like what we had to work with last week.

        Also, pretty much everything dangerous we created happened through him. There was another superstar out there who should shoulder much more of the blame for the loss if we are going to name call players

        • barca96
          April 9, 2014

          High chance his shots would’ve been blocked. But yeah, in hindsight, he should’ve just shot it first time. Who knows it might find a way to the back of the net.

          There is simply no time against Atletico. Can’t hesitate or dribble too much or over hit the ball. They’re everywhere.

          • Cule
            April 9, 2014

            Just watched it again, no chance any defender was getting to neymar, he had a clear shot and chose to dribble close to the goalie. That was a garbage play, it is senseless to suggest it was anything less than terrible.

            If you want to see it, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbXoCb_JpLw

            starts 11:30

            Just so bad, in this kind of match we were never gonna get a lot of chances. I just can’t understand how he doesn’t shoot that. Awful

    • mazimi
      April 10, 2014

      Fuck you Messi??? Really???

      You do know what Messi has done for this club, right? I know he was terrible tonight, but that’s just over the top.

      Last week he sent two great through balls for Iniesta and Sanchez which they should’ve burried, but they didn’t and it’s Messi’s fault?

      If you want to blame, you should blame EVERYONE. Don’t just single out one player. Busquets was terrible, absolutely terrible; same with Bartra and Mascherano and Alvez. The others were just as bad.

      • April 10, 2014

        So everything he has done for this club absolves him of this kind of performance? Sorry, but I don’t think so. Many others may have performed equally poorly, But I know Messi is on another league and people expect the best player in the world ‘ever’ to step up. This was unacceptable.

        • mazimi
          April 10, 2014

          Even if he is the best player ever (which I doubt – I will give that credit to Maradona), it doesn’t mean he has to “step up” IN EVERY GAME. He is still a human and will have his bad/unlucky matches.

          There is a difference between critisizing a player and saying “fuck you” to a player, who might be one of the greates to have every played the game in our colours. It just doesn’t look good for a club FAN to say this.

          As I said above, even this “poor” Messi still created two good chances in the first leg which we should’ve taken advantage of. But other than that, he was really below-par.

          Anyways, thanks for reply and hope you don’t get offended by my response 🙂

          • April 10, 2014

            Who is suggesting that he should “step up” in every game. Fans are not so dim witted to expect him to perform every game. Fans do however expect him to show some intent and desire in huge games that matter. Whether he performs or not is immaterial, only that the required ‘want’ is displayed from a player (weapon) that means so much and is so integral to a side’s success which I noted in my comment.
            Messi is a public figure. I am a club supporter and I will criticize my club’s players in a manner I deem fit just like the way I VENERATE and revere them. Which is more often.
            I appreciate you trying to school me, and Leo may be untouchable for you, not me. Also my comment started with the title “INITIAL REACTIONS” right after the game. It is certainly not some thought out deep insight which you want to debate.
            P.S > I dont care enough to get offended. 😀 cheers

  36. First of all, over the two legs Atletico was the better team and deserved to go through. We never learn isn’t it? Against dodgy defense the false-9 doesn’t work. We learned it last time against Real, AC Milan and PSG. But still like religiously we follow that. What is the point in using a false-9 when there is no chance of the defender being dragged in to midfield. Atletico plays with a two man defensive midfield, hence expecting the central defenders to be dragged out of position is crap. And then we tried Cesc as false-9. This guy plays really well in situation where space is offered. But in tight matches he never performs. How many season will it take for our management to realise that.

    Why do we constantly overlook how we overturned that deficit against AC Milan last season? We should have tried the same here . We had luck on our side, otherwise it would have been an embarassing scoreline by half time.

    Now the fun part, David Villa may have missed a number of chnaces. But he was brilliant in the first half. Sold for 2 million and he is going to the semi-final. We had the same thing happening with Eto’o. Hopw he and Atletico wins.

  37. KEVINO17
    April 9, 2014

    Why against a brilliant pressing side did we try to play out from the back for the first 20 mins. Let them have the ball.

  38. barca96
    April 9, 2014

    Simeone lifts his team up. He pushes them on before and during the match.

    I complained about this last year too. We need a coach who has passion, fearless, not scared to have a go at the players, not scared to make changes, foresight in terms of resting key players and character.

    Tito and Tata are too passive. They just stand on the sidelines talking to the bench instead of pushing the players on, giving instructions, motivating them, pushing the crowd on.

  39. bedhead
    April 9, 2014

    Tata has put his stamp on this club and it’s starting to look less and less like Barca. These players are trained to one-pass, make triangles, pass and move, always have 3 outlet pass possibilities., play low. Slowly, all of that is slipping away. Alves seems to only be allowed to make crosses that no one can reach plus their keeper is so tall that he had a crazy height advantage. Why so many crosses? What happened to Messi-Alves tiki-taka through tight spaces? We are lethargic, without ideas, and playing a game where we look desperate, trying to kick and cross balls into the box hoping something goes in. This is not Barca.

    • barca96
      April 9, 2014

      Tata’s obsession with crossing is getting out of hand. Could it be Moyes who influenced Tata?

    • Messiah10
      April 9, 2014

      Why is Tata to blame for alves crossing? Tbh, we weren’t doing much else to create chances. He was hitting & praying. Tata has brought long diganol balls across the pitch from defensive backs. Not balls across the box. That was Alves taking the initiative.

      • G6O
        April 9, 2014

        Alves did not have many other options – he could pass it back (and he did that a lot), try to pass across the middle (most likely leading to a lost ball and a dangerous counter), or cross it.

        BTW, it almost worked – on another day either Messi converts that header in the first half or Neymar’s header in the second goes in. Those were very close.

      • BA
        April 9, 2014

        there’s no way Alves throws in that many crosses if he isn’t directed to do so; his first instinct is almost always to play a 1-2 (sometimes to his detriment). Dani Alves isn’t stupid, he knows his crosses aren’t reaching (can’t reach?) their intended recipients. Tata Martino, on the other hand, i’m starting to wonder about…

  40. Messiah10
    April 9, 2014

    Congratulations to Atletico Madrid. They played us off the pitch in the 1st half. I haven’t seen our team that man handled in a long time. Well, since the Bayern debacle. I think we missed VV & Pique badly. VV more so. We just can’t play out of the back & get a foothold on possession w/Pinto. Our height haunted us again on the goal allowed. Out jumped & out muscled on the header back across goal. It’s a shame. Messi moving to the right did nothing for us. I still think Alexis & Pedro should’ve started both legs. Time to focus on the league. It can only help that Atleti’s small squad has to play more games.

  41. ciaran
    April 9, 2014

    Congrats to Atletico, they fully deserved it. They were hungrier, worked harder and made the most of their talents.
    We were terrible. Messi was a disgrace and should have been substituted when Iniesta was taken off. 5 matches against Atletico this season and he hasn’t been decisive.
    Neymar was our best player again tonight, unlucky not to score and put in a lot of effort.
    Alexis deserved to start and I hope he does in the league match.
    Pinto frustrates the life out of me, he needs to go in the summer.
    Mascherano was again a hindrance in a big big match and should not be a starter in big matches for us.

    Last year when we exited the CL I hoped that we would learn from it and invest in the right players and we didn’t, this year we better if the ban is overturned.

    Overall what I’m upset with was the effort and the same mistakes being repeated. Some players can look at themselves and be proud but thats not a long list

    • Messiah10
      April 9, 2014

      He is going. Announced it today. We’ll need 2 keepers.

  42. flyzowee
    April 9, 2014

    Anybody who puts this on Tata M. Just makes me laugh. This is a man who has just been caught in the cross fire. We had our chance to react after the Bayern 7up but we did nothing except buy Neymar. Todays match (1st half) was a replica of that game last year. We have no one to blame than the people responsible for ensuring that player recruitment to the first team meets not only the requirements of our philosophy but also the demands placed on it by the changing approach of our opponents. Record Profits my ass.

  43. KEVINO17
    April 9, 2014

    As euler says, to maintain dominance of the ball and defend in the middle tata has had to play an extra midfielder. That means no Alexis out wide which means no triangles with Alves which means Alves has no option but to cross. Far more mobility needed in midfield

    • G6O
      April 9, 2014

      And, it should be noted, we were still overrun in midfield in those first 20 minutes, even with four midfielders

      • BA
        April 9, 2014

        that’s because Cesc Fabregas offers virtually nothing but “vertical running” from midfield; which is useless against teams as defensively solid at Atleti. he isn’t capable of playing the Barcelona moving triangles through midfield, his time in England ruined that for him. the idea that Iniesta is being wasted out of his natural position to make room for him and still putting in admirable performances infuriates me.

  44. ooga aga
    April 9, 2014

    hats off to atletico, i hope they win it all.

    we coulda done better but i am thankful for the exciting matches i have been able to watch. more to come.

  45. Here comes the internet comment parade of “the end of an era.”

    Or, even more puzzling, the “Martino has no European experience” narrative. Tata has done a great job so far and I don’t think the game would have been all that different had Alexis started over Cesc, who, however, did not make a good case for himself today. I like him, but his lack of speed was definitely noticeable today.

    That was a pretty appalling display of intensity today, especially Messi. However, I think that these two legs tell a story about Atletico and not Barça. We didn’t seem like the protagonists. They wanted it more.

    That being said, there are still two trophies to play for, and if we can win the League, I’ll take the trade. I am happy for Atletico. They deserved that win.

    • G6O
      April 9, 2014

      I am fairly confident we will win the league, and I think we will also win the copa del rey.

      However, it will be very hard to swallow if Bayern repeat (first team to do it in the CL era) or, much worse, RM win the CL. And given who is left, one of those things is highly likely – I will be rooting for Atletico, of course, and I wish the good luck, but I somehow just don’t think they have it in them to win the CL

    • KEVINO17
      April 9, 2014

      On messi’s intensity it struck me that in previous years Messi was always making triangles with Alves and nibbling away down the right flank. He did none of that in this game (despite nominally playing on the right). Now he just lurks around in front of goal waiting for his chance (and then not defending when he loses the ball).
      Maybe he is completely and utterly burnt out and nobody (least of all himself) realises it.

  46. Dinkar
    April 9, 2014

    Hi ,
    This is my first post on the site but i have followed it for quite some time. I generally don’t like posting a lot anyways but am heart broken today. The reason is not because Barca lost but because i predicted they would loose and they did 🙁 … I know i might come across as je*k finding easy targets after a loss but the problem against team that defend with 10 players behind the ball is xavi.. don’t get me wrong he is great when there are players trying to take the ball of him higher up the pitch he protects it really well and i will say would have a great game in copa finals against real and i think we should win that match…. but against a defensive minded team we have a problem because he would not give a pass in tight space for the fear of losing posession … he tends to hold on to the ball longer killing counter attacks which are crucial against team with defensive orientation.. this way of playing will become common as teams and player get fitter….

  47. 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!

  48. 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.

      • 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.

  49. HisR0yalFlyness
    April 9, 2014


    “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.

  50. 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!

  51. 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?

  52. 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.

  53. 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.

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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

      • 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.

  58. 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?

  59. April 10, 2014

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

  60. 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.

      • 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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.

  63. 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 😆

  64. 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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