Dani Alves and the perfect gesture, aka “Your stupidity is soooo tasty!”

Image courtesy of Mundo Deportivo
Image courtesy of Mundo Deportivo

How often do we get to say the exact right thing, make the exact right gesture?

Many years ago, when my wife and I were urban pioneers, we lived in a neighborhood festooned with um … indigenous businessladies. One night while she was out walking the dog, a car rolled up alongside the curb and a man inside the vehicle asked my wife “How much,” presuming that the dog was a brilliant ruse, perhaps. Her response: “Just me, or me AND the dog?”

The would-be Lothario figured things out pretty quickly, and sped off. Perfect response to a ridiculous situation.

When Dani Alves strolled over to take a dead-ball situation during the Villarreal match on Sunday, it’s a safe bet that he had absolutely no aspirations to perfection, aside from a player’s usual striving for excellence. But when the banana came flying at him and he casually picked it up and ate it, attention and focus fully on the pitch and beating Villarreal, it was the perfect response to a ridiculous situation.

Neymar, not missing a beat, Instagrammed a photo of he and his son eating bananas, starting a “we are all monkeys” campaign that spread like wildfire. A Spanish TV newscaster ate a banana on the air. Players such as Kun Aguero have photographed themselves eating a banana, in the selfie as social revolt vein.


Villarreal issued a strong statement condemning the offending “supporter,” and FC Barcelona came out with a statement of its own, expressing full solidarity with Alves and condemning racism.

Once my jaw finished bouncing off the floor as a result of that last incident, something else remarkable happened. The match official, David Fernandez Borbalan, put the banana incident in his official match report so that it is there, for the record. It was as if to say “Your move, RFEF.”

After the match, Dani Alves handled everything with class and style, saying that such things have been part of the Spanish game, and you just can’t dignify them by freaking out. He added a backhanded thank you to the fruit hurler, saying that his father always told him to eat bananas to avoid cramps, so thanks to the person for providing the energy boost that helped him keep running, keep crossing the ball.


And this is how a football club properly deals with racism:

Villarreal CF wants to communicate that the club deeply regrets and condemns the incident that happened yesterday during the match against FC Barcelona in which a fan threw an object onto the field of El Madrigal. Thanks to the security forces and the invaluable assistance of the Yellow crowd, the club has already identified the (perpetrator) and has decided to withdraw his season tickets, permanently banning his access to El Madrigal stadium.

Once again our club would like to express its firm commitment to promoting respect, equality, sportsmanship and fair play both on and off the field and our absolute rejection of any act that is contrary to these principles, such as violence, discrimination, racism and xenophobia.

Racism is an unfortunate part of the modern game, and I really don’t foresee a point in my lifetime where it won’t be. Xenophobia is one of those irresistibly human things that takes us deeper than racism into those vile nether regions of all discrimination. Some might not be a racist, but a sexist. Might not be either, loving all races, creeds and colors, but is bothered by gay people. The omnipresence of the “other” is what makes discrimination so malleable and inescapable.

We hear of incident after incident. In the U.S., the news is filled with the alleged comments and views of NBA owner Donald Sterling. There as everywhere, strong words have come out. What makes that incident noteworthy is that “safe” players such as LeBron James and Michael Jordan, who usually shy away from unequivocal statements because of the potential image/sponsor damage, both came out forcefully against the alleged remarks, saying that there is no place in the NBA for that kind of an individual.

Boateng walked off the pitch during one match. Los Angeles Clippers players dumped their warm-ups in a pile, and loosened up with their warmup shirts turned inside out, as a form of protest. Two of the biggest sports in the world have had incidents that have drawn global attention to racism.

To what end?

Football has racism. Football will have racism. It isn’t cynical to say that, as much as it is reality. Because racism or any other form of discrimination (football has ‘em all) is the belief that your group is better, based on something that is (usually) unalterable. The object of discrimination can’t fix the thing that offends the assailant. They can’t not be black, not be female, not be gay. It’s easy, and it’s obvious to make someone the Other. And as long as humans have the trait that makes them want to be better than someone else, there will be the attendant xenophobia and its byproduct, discrimination.

Clubs can make statements, football can have campaigns, players can be banned for x or y number of matches, stadiums can be empty. These gestures make some feel like “See? They are doing something,” even as we acknowledge that a big part of such gestures for many is palliative. It’s like an apology, which too frequently serves to make the person making the apology feel better. “There. Glad that’s over.”

Then the game returns to “normal.” Everyone wants things to be back to normal. When you fight with a friend or loved one you regret the fight, but what you most regret is the upset to normalcy. Strife is nasty. So is being confronted by the tangible evidence of man’s inhumanity toward man. It makes us uncomfortable. So let’s don t-shirts and armbands, make a statement and return to normal.

This doesn’t mean that the efforts, the campaigns, the gestures aren’t sincere. They often are. But all of them put together don’t change a single, solitary thing about racism. We know it sucks. We know that people don’t approve. We know it’s a black eye on the game that we all love. Duh. Sadly, the gestures and campaigns also serve to remind us of something we don’t really want to admit: that maybe, just maybe, racism isn’t solvable by any of those kinds of things. That like charity, the end of racism begins at home.

Longtime readers here will recall my Camp Nou incident, where during halftime of a match I was attending a young kid from the posh seats saw me and made a clearly racist, monkey-like gesture to his father. The dad smiled, “Oh, you little card,” not at all uncomfortably until they noticed that I was watching them. Then it got VERY uncomfortable. I shook my head, predominantly because that’s kinda all that you can do in a situation like that. Show clear disapproval and the belief that while someone might think they are superior for the simple biological marker of skin color, that ain’t always the case.

That kid learned what he knew from the parent who tacitly approved it by not kneeling down and sternly explaining to that kid why what he did was wrong, laying out how absurd it was to for the kid to return to his seat and cheer for a team that included Lillian Thuram, Toure Yaya, Eric Abidal and Samuel Eto’o with a clear conscience. That is the time to stop racism. What in the hell is a FIFA campaign going to do when the people who the kid looks up to says “It’s okay to discriminate.”

That kid probably continues to go to Barça matches. Maybe an incident happens in his life that makes him understand everyone can be lumped in asshats and non-asshats. And that ain’t color, gender or sexual orientation specific. But more often nothing happens because just as we segregate ourselves into groups of Barça supporters, we tend to gather among friends who share the same views. It’s uncomfortable not to. It’s a safe bet that the Villarreal banana thrower was at the match with like-minded souls. So where is the disapproval? To that group, racism is fine. It’s what you’re supposed to do.

We scoff and snark, call them silly or worse, but they don’t care, because beliefs supersede all. Racists have kids, and those kids have kids. Allegiance to a football club is deep and usually lifelong, so the racists potentially keep raising generations of racists. You fix that not with campaigns, but in homes and seats around the perpetrators. Today, word came down that the Villarreal member has been identified and expelled. The identification came with the help of those seated nearby. And that’s how you do it. If a racist speaks up, people around him say “Hey, that is enough of that crap. It isn’t right.” And the racists learn they aren’t wanted, even if they don’t change their views.

This doesn’t augur well for a football future in which black players won’t suffer monkey chants, hurled bananas and the like. English football fans feel better about themselves because their FA has cracked down on racism in a way that makes racists much less likely to act on their views, even as that reluctance to act doesn’t make them any less racist. It doesn’t remove racism from the game, it just removes the overt gesture from the game. Dependent upon how much discrimination you have had to deal with in your life, you might or might not prefer to know who dislikes you because of how you are. The devil you know, right?

But the absence of a gesture doesn’t mean you don’t have racism. It just means that you can’t see it. Whether that is any better is up to you. For most of us, it’s better. We can’t see it, so it isn’t there. Personally, I want racists out in the open. I want to have the hope that kids will see how ugly it is. I want to have the hope that the kid who has a shirt with Alves/22 on the back of it will ask his father why those people over there are being mean to his favorite player. I want to have the hope that the kid will resolve to not be like that, and then raise his children not to be like that.

That is when racism begins to be erased from our game, which is what has to happen for the game to be truly better, rather than beautiful and “normal” until yet another incident turns it ugly again.

By Kxevin

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


  1. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful article. Your wife sounds super sharp – that’s the kind of response most people think up after the fact.

    I have been critical of Dani from a purely sporting angle, but this move was so … perfect, so awesome, I’m humbled.

    I’m hoping to jump into the ongoing discussion (and mourning period) more properly, but time has been at a premium lately.

  2. About the first para – WTG Mrs. kx )

    Someone tweeted earlier –
    ‘I think the bad times have made us forget the amazing human qualities of our players.
    Hopefully this game was a reminder.’

    So, Pedro – 169 cm, short, not messi.
    Lets sell him for 15 millions.
    What is he ? A vegetable ?
    That just doesn’t sound Right.

    1. For 15 millions he can’t be a vegetable, more like a ton of coke 😛

      Anyway, don’t be offended by those who want to sell him. They don’t set the policy, they don’t vote. Most of them probably aren’t old enough to vote. 😀

    2. Not offended, hurt maybe.

      Everywhere else, players are investments, buy low – sell high.
      At least, we should know better.

      Buy him, kick that one out.
      Do anything to get those 3 trophies yearly.
      If that happens, we’d be like any other club.

      Tall, barrel chested athletes running the show, seen that before, countless times.

      Xavi spinning web of magic happened only once.

      These tiny men have made us stand so tall.

      Fans don’t set the policies, but when cules (best fans of them all ‘TM’) think of players only as two legs and a price tag, it bugs me.

  3. Nothing to add. Your wife’s a total badass.

    On the sporting side, these players are really just incredible. Blow after blow, loss after loss (let’s not forget about poor Iniesta and his family) they just stand up and do their job with class and dignity. What I’m most proud of. Easily.

    Orgullosos de ser culer, more than ever.

  4. I tweeted this earlier, but the original incident with Dani and the social media campaign from supporters in reaction to it even made the mainstream news here in Canada–on CBC, which doesn’t normally cover football-related stories outside of the World Cup. So gestures do have some impact, in that they focus attention on the issue. The more people talk about racism in football, the less acceptable it becomes. It’s a start.

    And I am very impressed with the way Villarreal dealt with this. They didn’t just issue the usual empty statement and hope everyone would drop the issue, like most Spanish clubs would (including, sadly, Barça in many cases). They used the tools at their disposal to find the culprit and give him a lifetime ban. Boom! Done. I can only hope that this represents a real change in the way incidents like this will be handled in the future.

  5. Great article Kexvin. Who would have thought a week ago that the Villarreal match would be a match no Barca fan will ever forget. We see again that in a moment anything can happen. I guess that what makes following this team so much of a pleasure, though being a Barca fan has been anything but pleasurable for the last few months.

    Who else but Dani would have the zaniness and audacity to make that moment so perfect. Every Barca fans knows that sometimes that is “just Dani being Dani” but its just magic when it comes in that perfect match of character and situation that makes the world take notice and even say enough is enough.

    Also, as a Barca fan how sweet was it to actually see a team pay a karmic price for using just the strategy that has made us tear the collective hairs out of our heads. Villarreal would have won that game yesterday had they did anything else but parked the bus. Hopefully this is the beginning of new cosmic punishment against bus parkers that all attacking football players who pray to Saint Tito will avenge.

  6. Dani Alves is awesome. Mr. Banana thrower will never again eat a banana without thinking of how he got owned by the world…


  7. Basically, it has taken me this long to even care about typing words since I have been overcome by the shock and sadness following Vilanova’s passing.
    His strength in silence and dignity is something I will always remember and even when silent and non expressive, he has always come across as an extremely intelligent, sensitive and strong man. May his soul rest in peace. This is a huge loss to FC Barcelona, the players and football in general and If I, someone who never met Tito, can feel such overcoming grief, I can only imagine how the players who have grown up with him should feel. Strength to them.

    Dani Alves is. Boss. Always been.
    Please stay. There’s really no one quite like you.

    Last year, we thought that the injury roster was ridiculously absurd and that there simply cannot be another year with such drawbacks. This year, the football gods have managed to hurtle even more setbacks and disasters at this team. How they managed to kick that ball around at villarreal continues to astound me.

    May you guys catch a break soon.
    RIP Tito Vilanova. You will never be forgotten.

  8. Racism is ignorance. The times I have faced it have been bizarre, mostly centered around how English may not be the language I speak. At times like that all you can do is scoff at how ludicrous that situation is and respond in a way that totally throws the offender off their game. Kudos to Dani!

  9. Would you want Madrid or Bayern to go through?

    I am really torn. I think in the end, I’d prefer Madrid to go through.
    I wouldn’t want Bayern to have a better era than us. This is our era.

    If Madrid wins it, hopefully they’ll lose in the final, but if they win, at least people it won’t put a dent into our era.
    And they’ve spent what, more than a billion and waited over 10 years for it.

    1. If Real win La Decima we’ll be hearing about it for the next decade. Probably the way it would be talked if/when Barcelona wins its fifth title. 🙂

    2. For me – definitely Bayern.

      I’d rather know – if M*drid and Ch*lsea are making it to the final, who would you prefer to win.

    3. I’d definitely want Chelsea over Madrid. I’ll also admit that there is something to admire about Mou even though he will cynically do anything to win. He gets his players to play for him.

      I don’t dislike Madrid as much since Mou left, but to me, being anti-Madrid is just part of being a Barca fan.

    4. Imagine the awesomeness if Athletico played Real in the final and Athletico won…probably the best scenario for me

  10. So much for Bayern playing a more effective possession-based football than us…at least Barca didn’t allow M*drid three goals in a half with having barely a shot on goal themselves.

    Now I hope Atlético can actually carry their weight in the semifinal and final.

  11. So much for the reigning champions and the best team in Europe.

    For me what Pep Guardiola and basically every other team has shown is that only one team in Europe can play attacking football against big opponents and win – and that’s Barcelona.

    Three of the four semi-finalists come out and play as if they are playing against a vastly superior opponent and the only recourse is to play with two lines of four and one of two, and rely on counters and set pieces. Three of the four semi-finalists in the Champions league rely on “Come at me bro!” tactics.

    P.S. Valdes would’ve saved that.

    1. Yeah, not impressed by either Bayern’s GK or defence. Small consolation after what we’ve been through unless it buys our guys a little more respect.

    2. I’ve been saying this for months now – the defence of teams like Bayern, Real, Atletico and the rest relies on two dedicated CBs playing behind two pivotes and between two very restrictive full-backs. When people laud this and that defender, they usually speak out of context.

      Barcelona play with two wing-backs, one pivote and one DM converted to CB, and the two starting CBs injured, and their second-keeper – and they have the fourth-best defensive record of Europe’s three top leagues: only Atletico, Chelsea and Bayern have conceded less. Also Bayern play in the Bundesliga, and have played three games less than Barcelona.

      IF the defensive deficiencies are diminished(one left-footed CB and a return of the pressing may be enough) Barcelona can again become a fortress. That’s all the truth I know. 😛

  12. This is going to turn very ugly but on a more serious note. Pep is never gonna be able to turn this team into a bus breaker. Their control and passing isn’t good enough. This might even start a revolt against him

    1. As much as I hate to admit it, this EE team is playing some amazing counter attacking football. I look at their defense and think there is something for us to aspire for.

      This match also goes on to show how amazing our team used to be. Also I wonder if this style is going to be the new “template” for the next few years just as we were trendsetters few years ago. Chelsea, Athletico and EE have all used it with various adaptations with success and all of them are still in the tournament.

      Given a choice between beautiful football and trophies (mutually exclusive) what would you want to see ?

    2. I still believe that Barcelona’s choice can be “both” 😀

      If the defense/midfield becomes more effective and strong(i.e. more impervious to high balls in the area), which would also make the team scarier during the multitude of corners in the opposing area, and the pressing returns, I believe Barcelona can both play beautifully and win. The fact is that Barcelona are the team best-equipped to brick a bus, and those buses can be broken if the defense holds and just one corner/cross is scored.

      That’s actually true bus tactics – score through a set piece/corner and don’t concede, but I believe it can be done by attacking, possession, skill and patience.

    3. I agree with you, just that the last couple of years have shown just how difficult it is to do that. I used to believe that we can break those buses with constant movement around the box but that has made us immensely vulnerable to those long diagonal balls…the speed and overall athleticism required to cover those balls is proving almost un-attainable.

      “If the defense/midfield becomes more effective and strong..” this is something that I wonder if its even possible..we thought Bayern had that this year, but doesnt look like its helping them too much right now.

      While I think theoretically this should work, I dont know if its feasible to find the right personnel to make it work…I apologize for my gloomy outlook 🙁 right now..

    4. I’m not sure anyone thought Bayern had a great defence even last year. Dante is an accident waiting to happen. Not sure why Martinez hasn’t been getting a game there but that’s not our problem.

      I’m also not sure we’re as far away as you think. We need a genuine CB, we need to ensure both FBs done attack at the same time and then I won’t worry about our defence. We’ve got a pretty good record despite everything as it is. We have much better mids than Bayern although breaking the bus will require us getting our mids into the box ahead of the attackers.

      And we have Messi and Neymar. What’s not to like ?

      Just like last year when everybody was calling BM unbeatable this RM side isn’t great. They have run into form at the right time, that’s all.

    5. Mutually exclusive in our case seems impossible.

      A group of messi, xavi, ini, ney can’t really stop playing beautiful football.

      Even when they scored many on counters in first half of season,
      it looked just Gorgeous.

  13. Now will they cut Tata some slack? He beat these guys twice and lost to a Neymar post

    1. I believe a wholesale defensive injury and a Welshman running like a demon also had something to do with it.

      But no, I don’t think Tata will get some slack. It doesn’t matter that he won two times against Real, it doesn’t matter that he won against City and drew four times against the most brutish team in Europe, don’t matter the off-pitch tragedies that turn grown men into sobbing wrecks – what counts in the slack dispenser is that Tata “lost” against Atletico, Real, Valladolid and Granada.

  14. To me the message of this year for Barca and what we see in the Champions League is how important it is to not let your opponent score first. Unfortunately, if you have strong defenders or are good at set pieces and corners using a bus and looking to score on the counter just works as a strategy and we will continue to see it used almost every game against us.

    Next year, hopefully our squad will be better at taking and defending set pieces and scoring on crosses. We should be looking to get at least two more players who are awesome in the air. One will be our new CB (maybe Hummells or Luiz), who can play along with Pique, and the other perhaps a CF who is good in the air and can score scrappy goals whether we need him each game or not.

    Ibra didn’t work out, but Pep knew that we needed someone like him. Putting the ball in the air in front of goal makes stuff happen, even if it’s an own goal like we saw in Villarreal. Not every goal has to be a work of art.

    Whether realistic or not, how about some players who may not be happy on their teams:

    Do you think Bayern would sell Javi Martinez for less than the 40 million they paid?
    How about resurrecting the careers of two EPL busts who may come on the cheap: Soldado or Torres?

    1. But we haven’t really seen that against the buses have we ? Which tall CFs have broken the bus? I’m also not sure looking at this game if Pep is a great judge of what to do.

    2. Can’t really argue against either of your points, but look how many times Pique has scored or nearly scored when he plays up front against a bus because either because the score is tied or we are losing late in a match.

    3. Pique is alone.

      Put Pique, Bartra/Puyol/another good CB next to Song and Busquets, while Messi and Alexis are also in the area and the defence can be overloaded. You actually need to overload it once, at just one point(that’s local superiority for ya) and score that first goal, then Barcelona can concentrate on pressing and defending in depth – and the opponent has to attack, has to open up. His defences can be stretched, his backline needs to get up the field and leave empty space behind.

      I look back at the Barcelona of the Six trophies and the Spain of the World cup and here’s what I see:

      Barcelona of the Six Trophies, apart from Pique, Puyol and Busquets had also Eto’o(1.79), Henry(1.88), Toure Yaya(1.92), Keita(1.83) and Abidal(1.86). No opponent took corners with that Barcelona with levity.

      Spain of the World Cup had Busquets, Xabi Alonso(1.83), Pique, Puyol, Ramos(1.83), Capdevilla(1.82) and Torres(1.86).

      What I am trying to say is not “sell half the squad”. No, not really. What I’m trying to say is that the squad really needs to be more diverse. If it were up to me, I would sign one single CB(the more I read about Laporte, the better I like him to be honest, fits absolutely the model), get a tall wide striker(Sorry Cuenca, Tello and Affelay 🙁 ) to be used as a power sub and try out the B defenders and DM.

      And that’s really it. Like a coach once said “On Sunday I’m ready to bench the whole team. On Tuesday just eight. On Thursday I think the guilty are just two or three. And finally I end up with the same eleven bastards(cabrones) as always.” Of course, it was a Real Madrid coach, so maybe we should rethink that. 😛

    4. Great Points! It is an interesting debate about whether we were better a better team in 2009 or 2011. But for a Champions League tie today I would definitely go with 2009.

    5. I wouldn’t. The 2011 team was bloody amazing. I would’ve kept it essentially the same, just keep Yaya instead of letting him go to City – and I would’ve still brought in Mascherano.

      The 2009 team was an underdog. The 2011 team was polished and honed to audible sharpness and it faced opponents who had wizened up to the real threat that Barcelona represented. Barcelona were the top dogs, had been since Rome, and still they continued to win – emphatically.

    6. I agree that the 2011 team was better and no team will ever play as well as our 5-0 vs Madrid. But I still think that in the Champions League today having an athletic physical team is a huge advantage and I think we were more so in 2009, although our style was not yet perfected and Messi was not yet the greatest player ever.

    7. also, Ibra is not a header of the ball. He would rather do a roundhouse kick than head the ball.

  15. End of Era.
    Would’ve preferred Tata ending it.
    But all the talk of German football being superior was too Tiring.

  16. That’s why i preferred RM to win this tie, cause i want US to be that team with a back to back CL title.
    As much as i want Atletico Madrid to win it in the end, i wont complain if that happens to be Chelsea.
    The OTHER team will just have to wait for its decima.

  17. Simple, really. Last year Bayern wasn’t That team. People played them differently. This year as the Bestest Team Evah, teams were tighter. RM played it perfectly.

    Also, Ancelotti has RM playing football again, and they have a player or two to call upon.

    For me, the biggest part of this is that maybe, just MAYBE, people will realize how freakin’ good even a damaged Barça is. If buzz that the players knew about Vilanova’s progress from when it worsened around mid season, a few things start to make sense.

    We have a wonderful team. Beat RM twice in season, and took a Bale wonder goal to beat us in the Copa. People can rip at this or that, this coach, player, whatever. Fact is our team kicks ass, even when it doesn’t all the time.

    1. Totally agree that our team is still awesome. But I think that a lot of things also come down to match-ups. Our players just know how to beat Madrid and we just somehow have the belief that we will win even if we go down a goal.

      Bayern had no answer to Pepe and Ramos, who are both very physical and great in the air but aren’t nearly as effective when they play us.

    2. Ballague confirmed tonight on Revista that they knew at least weeks before that Tito didn’t have long. Must confess, after slagging a Hunter recently I thought he found the words quite well for Tito tonight.

      Agree absolutely with you, Kxevin. Carrying that horrible information and unable to show it because it’s not widely known must have been a terrible burden. You just have to love this set of human beings. Despite everything they possibly came within an injury to Pique and a post of having a chance of winning two trophies.

      So no quibbles from me. Offer Tata another year, let Zubi have a chance to bring in the right players, give them as much rest after the WC with minimum of friendlies and come back ready to show everyone that we are still the best. There are gonna be a lot of buses to be broken ……..

    3. If by people you mean “Barca fans”, then it’s false hopes.

      Wait till Atletico/Real come!

      Anyway, Tito’s situation must have leaked. According to some commentaries I read in MD and Sport, Sandro Rosell personally went to France to look for the newest treatments, so the situation must have been known – but they could not excuse their uninspired performances with “Tito is dying and we all know it”, especially when the Vilanovas wanted everything to be hushed, and especially when the team looked all sunshiny in the fifteen minutes of training open to cameras.

      The team didn’t look the same since Celta – and Valdes being stretchered off could’ve been the final straw to an already overloaded psyche. Remember our conversation about everything that has happened to Barcelona and you said something about the plague of locusts? I also remembered something else – back in autumn when Barcelona had to play Ajax at Camp Nou, Tata’s father died the day before the game. Tata did his presser, watched his team win, and the same night flew away to Argentina. Then came back for his pre-game presser on Friday.

      And people/press are talking about sending this coach off?

      If “Seny, pit i collons” is to become the unofficial motto of this club, I cannot think of anyone else I’d like to continue to lead this team.

  18. Checking in on a Bayern forum and they are totally fuming at Pep.
    One comment: Guardiola financing a new horror film: The Possession!

    Pep had two choices: take on a slumping Manchester team and take few years to build it up or be like Phil Jackson and jump on the next juggernaut. He got himself into this situation. It will be interesting to see how he gets out.

  19. This result will give Barca no credit; nor should it. A loss is a loss. I think we’d delude ourselves to think otherwise. Possession football died last year. We should have heeded the message the 7-0 gave us and prepared for it. We didn’t so a counterattacking team knocked us out. C’est la vie.

    Bayern had a hell of a team last year. Now it has great players led by a manager who’s using them wrongly. The Javi Martínez signing last year, I felt gave Bayern a huge advantage. I do not then understand why Guardiola doesn’t play him.

    Having 65% of the ball, making 600 horizontal passes a game: these mean nothing if the other team runs to the other end of the pitch and scores, or is better than you in the air, or has a better defensive setup than you. Lose the damn possession obsession already and pillock the other team 4-0. There is more than only one way to play.

    1. No philosophy dies. It remains. Only thing you need to check whether you have the players to perfect the system. Possession football is not dead. Just because its exponents have failed sometimes doesn’t mean its dead. The same with every other philosophies.

  20. Pep is starting to look like a general still fighting the last war. I wonder if, in modern football the pitch is, basically too small. Players are getting bigger, stronger, faster, with more endurance, but there is a limit to how much better techniques can get, so good defence will always be stronger than good offence.
    Maybe they should get rid of the away goal rule, because it basically meant that RM camped in their own half AT HOME and then went to Bayern to nick a goal. This tie was really over when Bayern didn’t score in the Bernabeu DESPITE doing all of the attacking. That is ridiculous.

    1. Maybe they should get rid of the away goal rule, because it basically meant that RM camped in their own half AT HOME and then went to Bayern to nick a goal. This tie was really over when Bayern didn’t score in the Bernabeu DESPITE doing all of the attacking. That is ridiculous.

      I was thinking the EXACT same thing last week.

  21. Kind of puts into perspective just what an amazing team guardiola’s barca was. No team will ever be able to match that. To play at such a high level year after year is astonishing. Not taking anything away from this current team, but pep’s barca will probably go down as the best of all time.

    I have a proposition. Let’s have two separate champion’s leagues. One for exciting attacking football and another for the bus parkers. Cause the way I see it, defensive counter attacking football is the way to win trophies. Such a shame.

    The way EE played at their own home was appalling and would never happen at Barcelona. I think someone mentioned this earlier but their fans are so desperate for a champions league trophy that they dont really care how they win. Kind of sad really.

    Now that theyre in the final it will be really interesting to see how ancelotti uses his players, considering its one game only. If chelski go through it will be very boring to watch.

  22. Even in those loses against AM and EE we created enough chances to turn the tie around considering we were without V.V, Pique, injured Alba,a half fit Bartra, and an out of form Messi. Simply put, our defense was inadequate due to injury and offence failed to convert. In bayern’s case defense wasn’t there and they lacked ideas in the final third. This barca has been ordained to break buses and with little addition in defense and midfield, we would be BUS BUSTERS. We need not sign a CF, we signed one from man-united in Pep’s first season, Pique? yea! you guessed right. Mind you, we break buses in every other match in a season

  23. I doubt that the football authorities will allow this to continue for too much longer. They will have to tweak the rules. My candidate is to make the wall go back at least 15 metres, or limit how many can be in the wall, or remove it all together. That way there will be a positive incentive to play attacking football and less incentive for defending teams to foul on the edge of the box. At the moment I don’t think the attacking team gets a big enough advantage from a foul on the edge of the box.

  24. München were as unlucky in this game as they were lucky against us a year ago. Conceding three goals from set pieces, while getting nothing from a tie total of 25 corners. That said, EE were much sharper and deserved to win against a ghost BM, but they still played anti-football. We all saw Chelsea – AM, matches between two “tactically smart” teams are direful. Looking forward to the new fad “EE is the best team in history”, and the sainting of Cris’ for a lousy performance and an 88th minute dive, but I’ll spare you guys some negativity…

    Gained a new appreciation for the team and club this past week. Proud of all our boys, heroes everyone, dreaming I could give half of what they give every day.

  25. If the gods are just, Atleti deserve to win it all this year. Champions league and the Spanish League. We beat EE twice and almost did it a third time. Atleti beat us once and drew 4 times. Atleti beat EE once and drew once. Hence proved Atleti > Barca > EE. I hope they do win. Last year I wanted Dortmund to take it and believed they would, but they didn’t. So…

  26. I do think Pep knows only to play one way. When it works, it looks like football of the gods indeed, when it doesn’t, it looks very average and contrived. Truth be told, this SF tie was the first Bayern games I was watching under Pep and I was very excited to see how the team would look and play under him. I also wanted to see how Pep, the perfectionist used the new tools at his disposal to create a beautiful yet effective system. verdict: Quite under whelmed.

    Barca is the best place for him. And He is the best for Barca.

  27. Well well well. Looks like Bayern are not so amazing after all are they? I felt a bit bad for Bayern. Pep is trying to get them to play in a way that is just not suited to the players they have. They looked like “barca lite” out there. Lots of possession, but even less incisive than we have been of late and far less accurate or intelligent with their passing. I guess it just goes to show just how hard it is to play like that.

    U know what this CL has taught me, that Barca are by far the team who are best equiped to “beat the bus”. We have seen numerous teams try it and fail miserably. Bayern last night in theory have all the things people have been calling for right? Big, physical, athletic and fast players, a proper tall CF who can get on the end of crosses and a solid defense. Didnt work out so great for them did it. Another thing, their defense, which was so great against us last season, looked all over the place this year. Why is that? Maybe because when you are trying to defend on the counter (as we do 80-90% of the time) it is a completely different story to defending normally. Puts into perspective how difficult it is to be a defender for Barca.

    We had to play the toughest bus in football (athletico madrid) twice in the CL and while we may not have been all that successful, we created more chances against them then I have seen anyone else create vs a well drilled, well organised defense who keep everyone back.

    This team does not need a revolution, what it needs is a few tweaks in the right places to freshen things up a bit. I actually think all we need is two CB’s and a RB to replace Alves who looks to be on the way out. Midfield is stacked, especially with Rafinha on his way back and Suarez being promoted next season. Unless we sell Cesc I do not see the need for another mid. Up front is the same, unless we sell Pedro or Alexis I see no need to buy anyone new.

    Ideally I would keep Martino but it looks like he wants to leave and when a manager wants to leave there it normally very little you can do. Seems like Luis Enrique is the favourite.

  28. It’s time that we stop this notion that RM played “anti-football.” Yes, it could be argued that they did such things under Mourinho. But against Bayern, from what I saw, it was intelligent football.

    The whole idea that someone is supposed to play in a way that doesn’t suit their strengths for the beauty of the game … not sure where that notion came from. A team is supposed to play in the manner that will get them the best result. RM played controlling, counter-attacking football. That’s what they do, and they did it well.

    The better team won, just as it did when we played Atleti. Those two set piece goals were simple slack marking. Funny how good that Bayern loss has made us look for many, who were calling us the worst Barça in years, couldn’t defend, blablabla. Nothing is ever as good or as bad as football fans make it out to be.

    Ramos took advantage of a zonal marking scheme. Twice. On the third goal, it was the classic counterattack by two very fast players against a team pushed up in an effort to score a goal. No answer for that. Simple. I hate RM. Full-on. But I also have to give credit where credit is due. They whipped Bayern.

    1. I don’t think they played all that defensive in Munich. At the Bernabeu however, and especially the first half… Let’s just say that we would not accept Barça to set up like that.

    2. It’s time that we stop this notion that RM played “anti-football.” Yes, it could be argued that they did such things under Mourinho. But against Bayern, from what I saw, it was intelligent football.

      ^^ this.

      I’ve also noticed that the term “parking the bus” got a bit overused around here – basically for every team that dares to be good in defense.

    3. forgot the cite from that…

      What has been confused recently, however, is the difference between parking the bus and playing on the break. The two can be combined, certainly, but playing one style isn’t necessarily the same as playing the other.

    4. Here’s not overused that much but elsewhere yes. Basically, anything other than tiki taka is a bus parking tactic. SMH

    5. No, it’s for teams who even when they are attacking leave six or seven players back. Bottom line as someone else has said is how long would we accept Barca setting up this way? There was a time RM fans wouldn’t have accepted it either but circumstances have reduced them and for the moment they’ll accept winning.

      Maybe anti football is too strong , Kxevin, but it’s not what I want to see on the football pitch and again maybe Bayern and ourselves have made a rod for our backs by being so good that now even top teams feel this is a worthwhile way to play. It’s not just the CL I’d worry about as it has gone through spells of this before. At least there there has to be a winner after the second leg. But what if all the Liga sides decided this was the new philosophy that would bring them success rather than just saving it for us ?

      It’s a good point made about zonal marking though. This is one of those areas where I’ve taken a bit of flack for good old fashioned British defending but I’ll say it again. You man mark set pieces, if only so you know who to blame if you lose a goal. That’s one quick way to ensure you avoid the statues of last night or the “after you Claude” syndrome in assuming someone else will deal with it. While I’m at it I’ll also throw in that you will avoid a lot of goals by putting short people on at least one post at corners. Lost count of the number of goals that would’ve been stopped, just in La Liga by doing this.

  29. Well then, lets see how their controlling and counter-attacking football will fare against Mou’s or Simeone’s bus

  30. Counter attacking is different from parking a bus.
    Real Madrid played with Di Maria, Bale, Ronaldo & Benzema last night which in theory was a more attacking lineup than Bayern played. They created chances by exploiting the spaces left by Bayern’s high line and fully deserved to win both legs by a big score, even more than they did.

    Counter attacking is an incredibly successful tactic as the chances that you create tend to be with low numbers of attackers and defenders in a lot of space.
    We tend to face 8 or 9 defensive players in much less space meaning that we create fewer chances.

    I’d love if we could introduce some counter attacking into our game with players like Neymar, Alexis & Messi which we used to do with the likes of Eto’o, Ronaldinho & Henry at different stages. As they say… possession became THE obsession. Possession became the end rather than the means.

    I think that something has been forgotten about our best football. We were a possession based team in the opponents’ half. When we lost the ball, we worked to win it high up the pitch and counter attacked in the tightest spaces.

    1. Tata was trying to indulge in Ini-Cesc-Busi midfield.

      Lots of chances, counters & goals (in spite of messi’s absence) and 48% possession.

      Media and fans shot him down.

      Our tactics kinda regressed from there.

      Besides, because of our fragile defence Tata couldn’t play that midfield combo in big games.
      Hopefully in Next season.

    2. Sorry, but with 30% possession and only 49 passes in the opponent’s half all night , although it was undeniably successful, it was parking the bus for me. Counter attacking is usually only a kick in the teeth away from, and a slightly more palatable way of talking about parking. RM are very good at it but I wouldn’t be happy watching that all the time. Matter of taste I suppose.

  31. You forget that this tactic works only against teams that come out to play (e.g Barca and Bayern), against teams like AM and Chelsea, they park a bus and almost always leave 4-6 players behind in a low defensive line when attacking. I don’t see it right to say certain tactics are meant for certain teams based on the skill set of their players. These top teams come out to play against inferior opponents but retreat into their shells and play on the break when facing barca and bayern of recent. Barca can play possession footie and counter-attacking footie too as shown this season. Teams adopt parking a bus(whether in midfield or 18yard box) and hitting on the counter against us cos they are cowards not because they can’t come to play. Arsenal, Mancity, Bayern and Madrid: teams that have players that suit attacking football change their strategy once its barca.

  32. At the beginning of the season, we were criticised for playing same way as EE are doing now but now it is called ‘intelligent’ football. There’s this default mentality with teams playing barca, ‘lets defend and play on the counter’. They are so obsessed about it that even when they are a goal or two down, they still play same way. There was a copa match this season that an opponent was two goals down and needed to score 5 to qualify but guess what, they still refused to alight from their bus

  33. Based on the comments here it seems Tata’s approach in the first half of the season is getting popular now. While several of us (me included) have been vouching for that approach I fail to understand why it was being so severely criticized. That eventually we lost to Granada is a different matter (which I hope to never remember again).

    It sickens me how some papers are already printing stories about the next manager being confirmed.

    1. Tata did a admirable job as coach this year, but there is no way he is going to stay after the way he was treated this year. I think a lot of Barca fans and the team are in a position of learning we made a mistake only after the divorce.

  34. Amazing comments above! Defensive oriented counterattacking football has been in the game since before all of us have been born and calling it anti-football or a bus doesn’t really change anything except making Barca fans feel morally superior to our opponents.

    The question, of course, is how to play against it. I agree that our team is as well equipt as any other to play against a strong defense but still submit that we may often need a proper striker to make our team even more effective against it. Pique plays well up front but unfortunately he also is really injury prone especially when he goes crazy up front.

    As a back up, I don’t see why having a proper striker on the team is so bad to use in some games unless it is just morally offensive to some Barca fans. To test this proposition, since I think having both Pedro and Alexis on our team is slightly redundant, I wonder how many people would be willing to trade Pedro for Soldado if somehow we were given that opportunity?

    1. Feel free to substitute Negredo in case you want to use the argument that Soldado is not currently in form.

  35. A parked bus looks to sit back, soak the pressure then score on the counter or a set piece, so how was EE’s tactic not bus parking?

    1. It was a parked bus IMO. It’s just that Bayern allowed them to counter so many times it looked like real were playing attacking football.

    2. The parked bus is an attempt to end the game without conceding. Real’s tactics last night were to absorb pressure and counter. It’s a substantial diferente. A parked bus goes forward to relieve the pressure on the defence. Counter-attacking football goes forward in order to exploit the exposed defence of the opponent.

    3. Aren’t bus parking and counterattacking football mostly the same thing. It’s just that Real have the best players in the world to launch a counterattack. Most other teams that sit deep just don’t have the players to do this so we call it bus parking.

    4. Peter gets it exactly right. A parked bus is a completely negative tactic. You see it from significantly weaker teams who simply want to keep the stronger opponent from scoring, or the team in a two-legged tie who has the advantage.

      The parked bus team keeps 10 behind the ball, not even bothering with a forward except as an advanced defender, and just hoofs everything away. They don’t venture past the center line, usually.

      Compare that to how RM played, and it’s clear that their tactics in no way resembled a parked bus. For me it’s arrogance to assume that anything other than swashbuckling, attacking football is parking the bus.

      Counterattacking is a tactic just like tika taka, in that it plays to a team’s strengths. The biggest mistake supporters make is in transplanting their team’s style onto the universe, and damning anyone who doesn’t play in that manner as somehow inferior.

      There are just teams and tactics. You play the way you need to get the result you want.

    5. Yes, that’s what I imagine under “parked bus” too.

      The closest “definition” I found was in the urban dictionary:

      Tactic used by football (soccer) teams, in which they play defensively for the entire game, in order to deny an apparently superior team any goals and escape with a scoreless draw and thus with one point, instead of risking it all and going for three points and possibly getting none.

      Often involves pulling all 11 players in front of the ball, essentially daring the attacking team to send all 11 of theirs out.

      Name is suggestive of putting a bus in front of the goal. One of several tactics referred to by football fans as “anti-football,” and generally frowned upon by all but fans of the teams employing it.

  36. Lets be real, Madrid parked the bus pure and simple. Ancelotti just rolled out the Mou plan and played on the break whilst not playing with three pivotes.

    Saying that they parked the bus is not deriding them. Every team is entitled to play to their strenghts. Defend in numbers and pour forward once the other team loses the ball.

    As for intelligently i would say that at that level those teams all play intelligently. Its about the execution.

    Great victory for EE but we cant fail to say it as it is for fear of being labelled sanctimonious. they parked the bus and counter attacked to great effect. Bayern had no reply to the breaks.

    Watching the match i was greatly made to appreciate the control that Busquets and Xavi help us have.

    The problem for Bayern was the ball never circulated quickly enough or long enough to have EE dizzy.

    More than ever we need to cherish and understand what we have. In our present moment counter attacking is not suitable for us. In a straight physical duel between us and EE we had get murdered. With the right CB purchase we are not too far from competing again.

    1. You should go back and watch the Mourinho RM sides, then the Ancelotti sides. The Mourinho sides defended, and sent Ronaldo forward as a lone attacker. Compare that to the interplay and build up in Bayern’s half yesterday, with Modric, Di Maria, Ronaldo and Bale. As different as night and day.

      So many people confuse defending with parking the bus, particularly Barça supporters who think that defending is somehow a Neanderthal pursuit or something, and if your defenders aren’t up around the halfway line playing like DMs, you’ve parked the bus.

      Ancelotti had a 1-goal lead in the tie. It wasn’t his responsibility to attack. Further, why should he have played football that played against the strengths of his team, and to the strengths of Bayern. That isn’t brave. That’s stupid.

    2. lets not dress it up for what it is not. They are clever enought to use the resources they have to good effect. Any can have some interplay. What defines teams is how they achieve their means. Mourinho is unpopular in these parts but EE play the same as they did under him. Ronaldo rarely played as the target man under Mourinho, only time readily springing to mind being the why why semi.

      Real scored five times in the tie against bayern. Three were set pieces and twice they scored lightning breaks. Twice or thrice they could have scored from lightning breaks as well.

      Under Mourinho EE also faced the bus against smaller sides. Then as now they could not break the bus. They are the same bus parking entity. They can mix it up a bit but thats it.

  37. In my opinion, parking the bus is going out with the game plan of not conceding and hoping. Normally teams who park the bus have very few chances which mostly come from set pieces.

    Over the course of the two legs, Madrid deserved to win by seven or eight goals while Bayern didn’t look like scoring at all.
    You can’t park the bus with 4 forwards in your team.

    Now, Jose Mourinho can show the world how to park a bus.
    Cole, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic, Luiz, Azpilicueta and Ramires in the team to face Atletico. What the hell?

    1. It’s also nice to know that Mourinho has a defender on the bench in case he needs to tighten things up 🙂

    2. Madrid didn’t play with four forwards, imo. Bale said afterwards he was happy to play defense as that was what the manager had asked them to do and hit on the counter if they got the chance. 49 passes in your opponent’s half all night speaks volumes about your intent. If Bayern hadn’t been so naive as to pour everyone forward they’d have been happy to sit tight all night. As was said earlier it was probably more reprehensible at home and folk are right to point out it’s their choice but they won’t get any admiration for their style of play from me. The bigger question for me is when will Pep start to take defending a little more seriously.

    3. I’m not saying that I admire the approach but Bayern were terrible and Madrid tore them apart even with only 49 passes.
      Bayern’s defending from set pieces was worse than ours especially considering the height differences between us and them.

      When Bayern beat us having 30% possession we didn’t accuse them off parking the bus so I think we need to be objective and differentiate between the two styles.

      To some possession based football is the same as tiki taka in the same way as defending and counter attacking are the same. For me, they are very different.

  38. I know Luiz has his deficiencies, but I can’t think of a more promising player to partner with Pique. It would be nerve-raking and they would make their share of mistakes but the pluses would be would help make our team a lot more formidable.

  39. I’m reasonably impressed by AM’s approach tonight. Quick ball movement and prepared to push some men forward. I think Chelsea’s lineup has them less worried about their attacking prowess.

  40. The Barca fan’s nightmare is coming true. Someone please tell me that I am asleep and this is not happening.

Comments are closed.