The 3rd clasico for the season. Well – technically not, because that term only really exists for the Liga games, but has now become synonymous with every meeting between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid.

The last CdR Final between the 2 teams, at the Mestalla in 2011, didn’t end well for Barça with an extra time Cristiano header sinking our boys.

The CdR trophy, aghast at being in Real Madrid’s possession, leapt out of Sergio Ramos’ hands to fall in front of the bus; preferring dented argent pride to the ignominy of a merengue parade.

Since that match, Barca regained the trophy in 2012 beating Athletic Club de Bilbao 3-0 and, in 2013, Atlético Madrid beat Real Madrid 2-1 in the Santiago Bernabéu.

Tonight will be a huge test for La Blaugrana. After all the difficulties over the past season, we get to see if the team can lift themselves to play out of their skins for 90 minutes.


As this was meant to merely be a Match Comments Post, I’ll leave you with some quotes from yesterday’s press conference with Iniesta:

“The bar has been put very high as we have achieved things that no other team has done for a long time.”

“We might have had bad moments, but we must put them aside, not think about anything except this 90 minutes, this game, this trophy.”

“We all defend together, in our system we need everyone to be good so that it works perfectly. If not, it gets difficult.”

“These are 90 minutes, a trophy, some joy in a season which has had everything, in every way. We all need this joy, players & fans.”

“But true Barça fans love this club whether it wins or loses. We can’t always win. Things don’t always work out right and you curse when things go wrong, but you have to get back up again. You can never stop trying until the end … And you need to go to sleep with a clear conscience, knowing that you did all you could to win.”


Finally – just because.


Better Mario Lanza than Placido Domingo. Because we all know who the latter supports, each time that Real Madrid comes out for a game in their home stadium.


Visca Barça! Sempre.





  1. Dangerman last game was DiMaria running into left attacking zone behind CRon. How will it play out with DiMaria farther forward?

    1. Also hoping for Sanchez to start. Messi false 9. Iniesta back where he will play anyway but with someone in front of him to create more complexity.

    2. Sanchez helps with defending right flank, too, allowing Xavi to stay in middle and control game.

    3. Love Pedro, but Neymar far more frequently causes opposing defenders to wander out of position. He makes scoring opportunities for himself so be attracts 2 defenders.

  2. Alexis deserved to start tonight in my opinion. Oh well, let’s hope Cesc and the rest of the forwards have a few goals in them

    1. On form, the front line should have been Pedro/Neymar/Sanchez, but that was never going to happen. We’ll have confidence in Martino’s lineup, and let’s do this.

    2. I’d love to see that line up but it never happens, and especially wouldn’t on an occasion like this

    3. i’m sorry, but what has Neymar done to merit that position? did he score a hat-trick in the last fixture against our opponents tonight?

      i’d argue that the focus is TOO MUCH on Neymar; we seem to be playing every spare ball down our right to him while bypassing Messi through the center. Messi’s space is likewise being restricted by having the sluggish Fabregas playing narrowly to his left and Neymar wanting to cut in on his right. playing Sanchez and Pedro, both wider, would leave him more room to work against his most favoured opponents. this is all pretty basic and Tata is getting it massively, massively wrong.

    4. Neymar has been our most dangerous player for weeks now. Messi just isn’t playing well. I don’t expect Messi to get a hat trick every match but he is not on form.

      Cesc is playing well tonight but I would still have started Alexis

    5. most dangerous in what sense? has he scored more goals? no. has he carried us through matches recently? no, we keep losing them.

      i agree that Messi should not be relied upon to do everything for us, but he’s the best player in the world and has a proven record of scoring goals against and unbalancing Real Madrid. Neymar is a talented kid in his first season and can only play in a way that infringes on the former’s space, therefore he must be sacrificed during these crucial games. i have zero problem with that; Pedro and Alexis have been criminally underutilized this season and the key, one would think, is to get them firing in time with Messi rather than replacing *the best player in the world, who scored a hat-trick against these opponents not long ago* for the aforementioned talented kid.

      in any event we’re playing ludicrously too narrow, getting nowhere, and the solution is obviously to widen our attack with Alexis and/or Pedro, which Tata is not going to do before the 70th minute. and that’s why we need to be rid of him as quickly as possible.

    6. BA, if you look at my comment at the start of this reply I said that I thought that Alexis deserved to start tonight and I was advocating Neymar to start centrally in ‘a’ match but not this one.

      Neymar has been brilliant recently considering he is in his first season with us. As soon as we can find a way of getting the best out of both then we’ll be at our most dangerous

  3. Meanwhile at the Mestalla, some RM “supporters” are burning a senyera in the shadow of a Nazi flag. They aren’t representative of all RM supporters, just as the Boixos aren’t representative of all of us.

    Which makes it no less a shame.

  4. Not upset by the 4 mids – as long as Ini plays more centrally at the expense of Cesc – but if Puyol is genuinely at least physically fit then he’d be my choice every time. He knows how to play defence and you don’t lose that. No Marcello is good for us in the sense that it removes an anarchic form of attack and we’ll have enough on our hands with our current defensive line up.

    1. what do we gain from Cesc starting, particularly out wide, over Alexis or Pedro?

      the same daft pointless decision.

      meanwhile, we’re a goal down due to our ragged-ass looking back line and insufficient goalkeeper, with Jordi Alba having to come over from left fullback to the right center-back position to try to close down di Maria.

      yet again we look disjointed and impotent.

  5. we’re letting them counterattack us and we look like shit, as we have all season, in transition. this could get messy.

    1. Don’t think it’s as bad as that. We’ve got decent control of the midfield but are struggling to deliver a telling ball or quick pass in the last third. We need Ini in beside Xavi, Cesc off and Alves to miraculously discover an ability to avoid ballooning crosses. (Not confident in the last of these. )

    2. Alves’ crosses were funny when we were still killing teams but at this stage they just frustrate the hell out of me.
      Add to that defensively he is still a weak link makes me think that it should be his last season with us.
      Now, I don’t put all the blame for the goal on him, Pinto should really have gotten a stronger hand to a weak enough shot like that one

    3. we’ve got “midfield control” because Madrid is ceding that area of the pitch to us in order to compress us into their half and counterattack. they know we’re playing so narrow they can handle our attackers by getting men behind the ball, then breaking quickly; which they’ve done not just for their goal but a number of other chances as well.

      what Madrid is doing through midfield is tactical, based on our insufficient approach to fragmenting their defense with width. and they’re winning.

    4. They are “ceding” as you put it most of their last third to us. Xavi is chucking accurate passes side to side as quickly as he can. If everyone was as accurate with their passing we wouldn’t be one down. We won’t get a killer ball through the middle, as you say because they are so narrow. Therefore we need the extra man arriving wide and late, a good pass inside the FB but all we seem to have is Alves at the moment.

  6. I still have no idea why is Tata so stubbornly persisting with Cesc every game as a false 9…It is so frustrating..

    1. Don’t think he is playing him that way. He’s being played as a genuine mid with Ini pushed wider. Not good. No way Messi can get into the game as it stands.

    2. Why???
      That is the question that is troubling me…whats the need for four mids? Cause of Cesc, Ney and Ini both are playing out of their best postions. Positions where the make the best contribution. I really dont buy into this ides of overloading the midfield to get more control. All it is doing is narrowing the pitch making it easy for them to defend as they have are not spread out, which in turn makes Messi ineffective..

    3. It would have worked well if Madrid were playing the same way they did in the league game a month ago.

      But they have learned their lesson and are playing park-the-bus-and-counter. Against which the 4 mids is suicidal because we have the ball and there is this huge hole in the middle full of defenders in white and nobody to pass it to. Can’t hope to do much if there are two banks of four between the goal and the ball and we keep circulating it from left to right – the only thing that can happen is that we get it intercepted and they counter. Which is how they scored and had a few more good chances.

      Also, it does at all not help that we have so little speed and off-the-ball movement in our game.

    4. Cesc isn’t false 9 tonight, he’s playing in a midfield 3 with Xavi and Busquets. Iniesta is playing on the left.

      We’ve played alright but still not creating chances.

      My problem with Iniesta up front is that when Messi gets the ball centrally he has only one forward option and that’s wide right to Neymar who is being double marked by Ramos and Coentrao.

      If things are the same 15 mins into the second half I’d change Xavi or Cesc for Alexis

    5. Can’t lose Xavi or we lose the control and we’ll know all about it. Happy for Cesc to go off and bring on Pedro or Alexis.

    1. Messi is playing with back to goal and marked by three. Not sure what he can do in that situation other than lay the ball off first time. He needs to get some speed up in going at them. Easier said than done though.

  7. M*drid with a sorry Chelskea-like performance. We are using Tito-era suicide tactics, so we’ll still concede again.

  8. I am getting tired of watching 75 minutes of 1 – 0. Same storyline in the past three games. Every game seems like playing Chelsea in 2012. I hate being negative but its getting VERY frustrating.

    1. I’m like a worn record but look at Masch’s starting position. Same with the booking. Just slow him down by showing him wide. Don’t commit.

  9. No news of an injury to Alba. If it is tactical, I would rather sub Adriano with Alves.

    1. In the middle of the first half he winced after a run I think and Adriano started warming up do I guess it’s precautionary

  10. as much as i enjoy watching Pepe get kicked up in the air, that was a stupid foul from Mascherano. Pepe wasn’t going anywhere, and a real center-back would have simply contained him and wrested the ball away. Mascherano far too often makes those kinds of inexperienced, just-plain-dumb fouls that showcases how far out of his real position our pathetic transfer policy has left him.

  11. I’d actually be tempted now to put Pedro on at RB for Alves. Given the good positions and Pedro’s better delivery it might be worth the risk.

    1. Leave it to Barça to turn a resource into an issue eh?

      My hatred for players played out of position is over nein thousand lately.

    1. And if anyone says again Xavi can’t play an unbelievable through ball, when it’s on , I’ll point them to that moment…

  12. exposed on the counterattack once again.

    we did absolutely nothing to deserve to win that game. Tata get the fuck out.

    1. How is this Tata’s fault? Sergio Roberto was just outclassed and outpaced on that goal, he went in for a foul and didn’t even bring Bale down.

    2. Sergio Roberto? Dude, did you even watch the match? That kid played his heart out, showed leadership and even scored for us.

    3. It was Bartra. He is a defender. He should know better. If you can’t outrun him, stop him. It’s quite easy.

    4. Bartra should have pushed him harder out of bounds – you get an yellow, but you don’t get scored on.

      But you can’t really blame him for getting outrun – very few players can win that race, and he is not one of them, plus he was playing injured.

      At least he gave it all during the game, which cannot be said about many others.

    5. He had a thigh injury and got the green light hours before the match. There’s no way he could go toe to toe with Bale even without his injury.

      I do agree with you that he could’ve stopped Bale by giving up a yellow card.

      Pinto should’ve come out earlier though.

      Now we’ll most likely miss Bartra for the rest of the season.

    6. first of all: who?

      secondly: as i noted in the first half, Madrid were looking to catch us on the counter, and we know that Bale in particular has tremendous speed in behind. our right-back was nowhere to be found, our DM was caught flat-footed, and our center-backs were completely out of position. Bartra did us a service tonight and looks like a good player in the making, but the way in which we were set up tactically meant we were getting hit on the counter again and again and again; Madrid arguably should have scored a couple more but for some profligacy in their build-up play. it isn’t the fault of any one particular player, it’s a problem with the system. and that system is determined by the manager.

      Tata keeps getting it wrong, plainly cannot motivate the players and shows no signs that he is capable of making bold decisions to turn things around. for a club like ours, with the players at his disposal, that’s unacceptable. we’ve given him a season, in which we will very likely win nothing, and he needs to be shifted out quickly so the incoming manager can have firmer control over our brief transfer window.

    7. Not unless he sprang off the bench unnoticed, he didn’t. Think you mean Marc Bartra ?

      It’s easy to blame Tata and thats far from the whole story but on the other hand he really hasn’t offered a lot for me, tactics wise, and as I’ve said often I hate watching Iniesta out of position.

      I suspect that tonight sealed a few fates. But there will be time later to talk of such things. For now, I should be able to find it in me to congratulate them but I can’t because theirs is the coward’s way to sit back. Effective, yes, but only if the other side is prepared to make the running. If we did the same there isn’t a game worth watching. Still proud of the effort our guys put in and the fact that even RM have realised they can’t take us on and have gone back into their shell.

    8. BS. They gave it all. It was a heroic performance by Bartra and it could’ve been 2-2 just at the end – and that would’ve crushed them. No luck whatsoever for Barcelona. Three out of three defenders injured plus Alba, plus Valdes, plus a goal-post in the very end. Barcelona could’ve taken them.

      Real didn’t have Ronaldo. Barcelona didn’t have Valdes, Puyol, Pique and had a half-fit Bartra. Fit Pique and Bartra would’ve eaten them alive.

      So talk about Tata screwing things up, fact is with him as a coach and a more or less fit team Barcelona won twice the Clasico. Two out of three times. I’ll, take that, even though tomorrow I have to face my merengue colleagues. A fit Barcelona would’ve taken them head-on. And killed them.

    9. Peter you’re wrong. If Pique is fit, Tata would gladly tell Bartra to warm the bench or stadium seat 🙂

    10. it’s easy to say “would have”. a fit Ronaldo running at that ragged back line “would have” had a hat-trick. see?

      but instead, let’s look at what actually happened: we were exposed tactically, Tata laid out the team in a predictably stupid and ineffective way, and we lost. we can argue about why that happened, but let’s not get caught up in hypotheticals.

    11. Yes, “coulda woulda shoulda”.

      Barcelona would be exposed tactically against a more fit and taller opponents every single time. Apart from missing the fastest defender in the team due to an injury, the whole backline was crippled. Tata for me tried to minimise the exposure of that crippled backline, but couldn’t, because he had to try win the game as well.

      Cruyff says the best thing for Barcelona would be if Guardiola comes back. Duh. He’s not coming back, he signed not the 6-month contracts he used to in Barcelona, but a three-year one if I recall correctly, and is being paid handsomely. He’ll have to be sacked and the Bayern board would have to be stark raving mad to do that.. He’s not coming back. Barcelona and the culerada needs to accept this once and for all. Personally, I don’t want to see Tata get the Rijkard treatment. He does not deserve that. He’s taken on a team he knew just from watching it on TV, and managed to keept this team in the pole position for half a season, despite a media shitstorm, despite not having a proper team and his star player playing that first half-season in a state of a imminent injury – and then he had his other star player injured. And then the whole defence was injured.

      Gomen Nasai, I cannot blame Tata. He had to play with the pieces he was left with, some of which it seems cannot be bothered.

  13. The players gave it their all but Tata got it wrong again by starting Cesc. I don’t know how many more losses he needs to understand.

    I’ll hope we will win the league now or the least, finish above Madrid. If we really can’t win, rub in their nose by losing to Atletico.

  14. The feeling that i had against AM is nothing compared to frustration and anger felt tonight. And yes, i will mention individuals, cause they are fucking payed to run, concentrate and fucking die on the pitch.
    if they do that, and lose, that i can accept, but not this.
    Iniesta, Dani, Messi, Ney, Busi – absolutely awful, awful.
    Dani can be shipped to whoever will pay the sum. Iniesta, Messi and Ney need to get their attitude revised or bench them.
    If you are Alexis, and you have your best season ever, and then suddenly you are benched and limited to only few minutes in some games, what will you think? Still play for the club or search the future somewhere else.
    And TATA, absolutely guilty for fielding yet again the same line-up.
    What a hell do Pedro and Alexis who were scoring goals and assisting each game they played deserve to do to get minutes from the beginning?
    I am absolutely nvbjkcvbdfkjvndmvwbkvbn!!!

    1. This simply cannot continue – there is no pressing by the forwards, which in numerous situation resulted in the midfielders having to move forward to close down, which, because they are all so slow, they often failed, and then we were completely exposed.

      Watch the Bale goal and look at what Messi did just before the pass to Bale – he could have blocked it, he made a run towards the player with the ball but it was not a committed one, Alves or whoever was there also half-assed his challenge, and then you saw what happened…

    2. We need an overhaul, not in personnel, but in attitude. This cannot continue like this, and we still have 5-6 games until the end.
      Just my opinion, but TATA has lost it, and before all, he lost control over the team, something that we were all proud in the first half of the season.

  15. Coach gave up at christmas. Our players are outpaced by the likes of isco modric and -benzema-. CBs at the half-way line, playing to their only strength. Dani Alves’s crosses. Pinto GKing. Fabregas on the pitch.

    Very unflattering match for both teams, but of course ours is the largest shame. Aside from that we played pretty well somewhere around midfield.

    1. i feel we our outplayed for the most of the match and never did we have possession when it counted. Whenever we had long spells of possession, rm calmly sat back and absorbed the pressure with 2 very solid banks of 4 which had a breathe of AM in it..
      Look, i am all for beating RM but this team has been in a steady decline for over 3 years now and nothing has changed. Perhaps a trophy less season might change their( the puppets in charge) mind ? Who knows ..

    2. That’s not really fair on Tata. Pique stays fit it could have been very different. It’s small things that decide seasons. He got us into a good position with just a few weeks left but came up a little short.

    3. Perhaps. I was speaking of the scrapped ‘verticality’, this disposing of the system shift happened at Christmas. I am also bitter over today’s tactics, we looked as vulnerable as last season, playing to our opponent’s only strength. This coach did but good things in the early months of the season. Don’t know who to criticise over the lackluster performances of the past months, balls are given away in very sloppy fashions, no press, etc. We rotated more than our domestic rivals, most teams actually, why are our players looking exhausted? Can anyone but a new coach fire them up? Sell everyone? Not enough information.

  16. I’m bummed out.
    There was effort but very little end product.
    Neymar couldn’t have done any better when he hit the post but if that went in we would be celebrating right now.

    Rarely in the biggest matches this season did we take the lead and that is vital in matches like this.
    Alves & Pinto gave away the first goal. Dani gave the ball away numerous times tonight dangerously.
    Busquets hard a very difficult game and struggled.
    Xavi did his best and had one of his best matches this season.
    Masch’s positioning we dreadful on occasions but his tackling bailed him out a few times.

    Bartra was unlucky. If he was more experienced he would have taken Bale out and taken the yellow card. That’s the decision to make every time in a situation like that. Bale is one of the fastest players in the world so take him down and reset.

    I’m prepared for everyone to bitch about Cesc’s performance but he had a better match than Iniesta who was disappointing.

    1. I didn’t mention Messi… nothing much to say. He has been largely ineffective recently and that didn’t really change tonight. Had one or two promising plays but nothing to get excited about.

    2. Agree with everything except for the Cesc better than Iniesta. Iniesta was aggressive in the first half taking players on. Cesc tried to dribble but it was so slow and pathetic. He didn’t do anything of note other than push Iniesta out wide.

    3. He kept the ball moving well in midfield.
      When people look for faults they find them but he had 90% pass success in that match and got into a few promising positions.

      I don’t agree with him playing if he forces everyone else out of position but watching the game he played he done alright.

      For me, drop him or drop Iniesta. I don’t care which but there’s no point playing both, especially when you have to also push Neymar over to the right.

    4. Yes ciaran, I agree. It’s either Cesc or Iniesta. They can’t play together. If I had to make the choice, I’d choose Iniesta, especially in the big matches.


      Iniesta was taking the initiative to penetrate in the first half. He kept on trying to create something. That’s what I meant by aggressive.

    5. As for Cesc or Iniesta, id choose whoever is on form.
      As for the other thing, sorry, but except for one through ball to Cesc i didn’t see him do ONE thing correctly.
      To me, it was one of the poorest performances in our shirt from him.

    6. No comparison for me. We can’t keep playing Ini out of position. I can’t help feeling Tata doesn’t really get Iniesta. I remember loads of times when Iniesta retained possession brilliantly ( didn’t run at RM much) but can’t remember a lot Cesc did at all. Not scientific analysis, just anecdotal. I thought our shape looked a lot better towards the end when Cesc went off and Iniesta joined Xavi in midfield.

    7. Our shape is better with 3 forwards, I think the rest falls into place, regardless of whether it’s Iniesta or Cesc.
      Iniesta has not had the influence of the game that he normally does.

    8. Seriously?/??? You place Iniesta and aggressiveness in one sentence????
      It’s not Cesc’s fault that Tata asks him to play something that he is not accommodated.
      Iniesta on the other hand was pathetic in every single meaning of the word.

    9. i blame so much of Iniesta and Messi’s bad performances lately on idiotic tactics. over the course of the whole season they’ve been characteristically excellent for us; but being displaced on the field by Cesc and Neymar (2 politically connected players, it has to be said) has shunted them out of that groove and left them a bit listless. they are, for me, the best 2 players in the world in their positions so the idea that this has happened to them is ultimately the manager’s doing.

      Guardiola understood that in order to be successful you have to play in a way that motivates and enhances your best players; Tata it seems has actively fought against that idea, to the team’s great detriment. he has to go.

    10. Iniesta was fighting like hell in the first half … hustling, pressing, running. If every player would have played like that we would face a different result now.

  17. We had a good run this year. Up until two weeks ago we could have had the treble. But our players are tired — physically and mentally tired. Their human beings affected by a number of factors that are non- soccer related. This year was just too much. Every one needs a break and regroup. Hopefully they come back next season umped and ready to win more silver. This team is special. They have given us so much joy in the past and still does. I for one gets my stress relief just by watching them play. The Club management is another story. They don’t deserve to manage this team and to have us as fans. Visca Barca!

  18. I have no regrets. I did all I could to help my team. Barcelona was crippled in defence and it showed. If I have to fight over this, I will – with a fit defence Barcelona could’ve won that game. And even with a crippled defence(Alba left as well) Barcelona could’ve won that game, if it weren’t for the unlucky shot of Neymar.

    I know it has nothing to do with it, but it wasn’t fair. Bartra did not deserve that ending. Barcelona as a whole, did not deserve that ending.

    My culers, now we have drunk the bitter cup of loss and dispair. Now we know what it felt to be EE during those years. Now is the time to support your team. Not by whining, not by being objective. Scream to the heavens, cry and weep if you must, but raise your head and show the fucking world of haters who will laugh at you that you are cules. Wear this badge with pride, for on this badge you have pledged to support this team. Not just in health, but in sickness, not just in light, but in darkness as welll.

    Visca Barça!!! Visca Barça!!! Visca Barça!!!

    1. You can do it (much)better than me on any given day. More elegantly, more eloquently, more passionately. Mine’s just the drunken ramblings of a hurt cule cradling his bruised fist with which he tried to murder a cheap IKEA table. 😀

      In other words. Write. That. Post. Make us believe there is life after CdR.


    2. apparently Bartra didnt practice the last couple days, he was a last minute inclusion in the side, and his leg cramped when Bale blew past him.

  19. No matter what happens, I hope the players won’t get abused by their own fans on their way back or at Camp Nou.

    1. they will, sadly.

      this has very likely put the final nail in Martino’s coffin as well. on that point, however… good riddance.

  20. I don’t see how we are more tired than them?
    I wont say that the wanted more, but the 11 of their players on the pitch gave it all for the title. It’s a fucking final. Try hard, and if that’s not enough, try harder cause there’s no other chance for a repeat.

    1. the board is the biggest problem, we all know. but the coach DOES manage the team, and this team looks like it’s, well… very poorly managed. so how would getting rid of him (albeit not now with only a few games to go, but certainly the day after the season ends) not be a positive step?

      concurrently in order to single out players one has to put them in the context of the system in which they are playing; which is also determined by the coach. if the players on the field look bad, it can be their fault. if the players AND the system look bad, it’s the manager’s fault. that we need better/more players in crucial positions is the board’s AND the manager’s fault. does no-one remember Tata saying at the start of the season that he was satisfied with the defense he had? because i do, because it was madness.

      i want a total clear-out from president to the sporting director to the manager to the dead weight on our payroll (Jonathan dos Santos, Song, Sergi Roberto…). bring in a new board and a new manager with a mandate to order things as he sees fit,. that’s the only way out of this morass.

    2. What would he have been better advised to say?

      Moyes started with the excuses and the lowering of expectations from the very beginning, and these things have a way of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies.

      He said it because he knew he was not getting any defenders, I highly doubt he really meant it

    3. I don’t know about that.

      Sure, there could hardly have been more off-the-filed factors going wrong, and it would have been a miracle if that had not affected our game.

      But, and this is something I really really wish I am wrong about, if one just watches the games without any context, the conclusion would be that there are are primadonas in the team who do not work hard enough, and this is a significant reason why we have lost so many games. As we all remember quite well, we have been there before, and know that the solution to this problem is to either ship those players out or exercise the necessary authority to make them work hard. Right now it is not clear where the force capable of doing that is going to come from.

      Again, I really really hope this is not the case, but with every game like this one that we are served, that conclusion strengthens.

      Why is it that we are so vulnerable to counters?

      1) Because we have always been, this a tradeoff inherent to the system
      2) We have no real healthy defenders (blame the board for that)

      but also:

      3) We were not o vulnerable to them in the past, and the reason was that they did not get past the midfield so easily. And they did not get past the midfield because the forwards pressed hard, and then it was much easier for the midfielders to intercept, who were working equally hard themselves. Now we lose the ball in front of the the other team’s box, the forwards make no effort to recover it, the midfield is caught to high up the pitch and the sorry excuse of defense that we have is completely exposed.

      You simply cannot afford to have even one player who does not participate 100% in the defensive phase of the game against the top teams of the world in the year 2014 – the game has evolved to that point – let alone 2, 3, or 4 players.

  21. Perhaps Alex Ferguson’s greatest strength as a coach was that he broke up highly successful teams (often near the height of their success) and rebuilt them because he knew that once your are on top the only way is down. He also once said (I think) that if, after four years, a coach hasn’t turned over a team, it turns him over.
    The canary (actually eagle) in the coal-mine was Pep leaving. He knew he was losing his strength in the dressing room. The old guard were taking over and making themselves invulnerable (Messi, alves, Xavi, etc etc).
    Tata really never had a chance and should never have taken the job. This was never HIS team.
    Barca still hasn’t come to terms with winning the CL against Man U.
    Their big problem is getting a top coach prepared to deal with Messi, Xavi, et al. Good luck to that. They’ll get a top second-rater without the balls to bench players.

    P.S. On the messi front. We had to wait until the 80th minute before he made a triangle on the edge of the box with Alves (even though he was supposed to be playing on the right). He used to do that in the first minute.
    Alves keeps pumping in crosses (which he’s no good at) because there was nobody giving him support. With Alexis he’s looked good this season. Apart from that, useless.
    Be interesting to see who wants to get away at the end of the season. I would have thought Alexis will be desperate to leave.

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