Talkin’ bout differences…

I still remember the first time I went to the Camp Nou. It was in the fall of 2004 against Deportivo de la Coruña. Ronaldinho did stuff I couldn’t quite understand from my seat in the third ring on the southern side of the stadium. Giovanni Van Bronckhorst goofed up and gifted the lead to our opponents. Xavi and Eto’o restored peace and calm in the stadium.

There’s a huge difference between watching a game from 100 yards or watching it from 100 miles. From 100 yards you see the whole pitch. You watch the TEAM play football, how they move and where they move. Sometimes (in my case pretty much always) you sit so high up that the “how they move” is often the only way you can recognize an individual player. Of course if you watch the game from 100 miles or, in my case, 1500 yards, the game is shown from the perfect spot in the stadium and you have instant replay, multiple angles, high definition close-ups and even, gulp, goalline technology.

So what’s a fellow to do, when a colleague offers him his father-in-law’s soci card for a seat that would have cost 130 euros to a mere mortal? Note the difference.

On TV, Munir looks promising but, his debut aside, largely ineffective. On the pitch oh boy that kid runs his socks off. He’s still not all that effective but he runs a whole lot more than I realized during the previous games. On TV, he missed a chance in front of an open goal from less than a yard out before getting wrongly called offside. In the stands, about a 100 yards from the action, we were pissed off at the wrongly disallowed goal.

In my row, speaking about wrongly disallowed goals, we were fuming when Messi’s first (or was it 400th?) was canceled for offside. Hijo de puta, we roared. Only in the Camp Nou do the refs still screw the home team, we grumbled. In the Bernabeu they gave two penalties for nothing last week, we complained. Granted, watching the game in a bar we do the same. Until the slow motion replay puts us in check and shows us that Messi was indeed offside by a few inches. Of course in the bar a beer is one euro and it gets brought to my table faster than I can say cerveza. At the Camp Nou it’s three fifty, and I have to stand in line to buy it and they don’t give me free tapas. I digress. Let’s get back to business.

On TV you see what a brilliant passer Xavi is and how he has become really slow on defense. From the stands you see this even better.

On TV, Claudio Bravo acts like a goalkeeper. In real life, the person who is supposed to be our goalkeeper hugs the midfield circle line every time we take a corner. Why is beyond me. Predictably, it was not long before a Granada player tried his luck from his own side of the pitch. Watching the highlights on TV, the commentator said that Bravo had the situation under control. Control is clearly a flexible concept, no matter where you watch the game from.

From where I was sitting it was far from clear how Neymar’s first goal went into the net. It looked like he got lucky and it was ugly as hell. The slow motion would later show he shot it in between the defender’s legs on purpose. He often does this, just like his clasico goal last season, or the mind-blowing assist to Alexis against Espanyol. He tried it again in the second half and found his shot blocked.

On TV, Matthieu played brilliantly from the back and snuffed out a lot of counter attacks. This was pretty much what we saw also and we applauded him accordingly.

On TV Rakitic received a standing ovation as he came off. In the stadium some people stood up and applauded. On TV you hear a lot of singing. In the stadium you see it’s just a group of 100-15o supporters that stand behind one of the goals. On TV you hear the independència chant after 17 minutes of each half. In the stadium you hear it too, but you see plenty of people who don’t participate.

On TV, spectators saw Sandro play a long ball to where no player was standing. In the stadium we saw him play that ball to literally the only spot on the pitch where no player could get to. We applauded him for it because, well, at least he made us laugh. The boy can sprint, though, and it’s fun to watch him run onto the field when subbed in.

In the bar as in the street, people acknowledge Sergi Roberto isn’t Barça quality and will most likely never be Barça quality. In the stadium they support him. Even I, Sergi Roberto-doubter par excellence, have to admit he had a good thirty minutes on the pitch.

That’s it mostly, except for one more thing. On TV. In a stadium. On a Playstation. In a dream. Wherever. Lionel Messi is the best player I’ve ever seen. Truly blessed, us culers are. We can worry about whether or not we’ll win or lose a given game, cup or league and that’s normal. But having Messi on your team is not. We should cherish these years like no other.

Categorized as Barcelona

By Levon

Culé since way before football boots were of the neon yellow and lizard green variety, Levon is a deep thinker with increasingly shallow thoughts. He lives in Barcelona with his gorgeous wife and daughter. The lucky bastard...


  1. Thanks Levon, envy you to have witnessed a 6-0 at Nou Camp. I am still dreaming about that day.
    I agree, watch these world class stars on tv and in real life are two different things. When I watched Argentina – Venezuela live in my country, I realised this, how much the TV does cover up. All those off the ball movements and what not. And finally, how much more thrilling it is to watch Messi dribble and run in real life than in tv. That feeling cant be explained.

    1. Messi live is incredible. On the way to the stadium I. Are across an elderly culé, Barça shirt and all, and I said to my girlfriend imagine supporting your club for 70 years and watching Messi during the last years of your life.

    2. What a way to put in Lev 🙂

      But if they are in their 70’s, that means they witnessed Pele in the Great Brazilian and Madrid sides in their young and now at the last years a great Barca side. You should’ve asked them which side is a better team 🙂

  2. Great post. Makes me really want to go see a game in the stadium again. Has been a while…

    I have seen live games from different areas of the Camp Nou. Even from the cheapest seats it is still a better experience than watching from the sofa. So amusing how you can identify players just by the way they run.

    And I agree with you: when you can see all movements on the pitch and not just those around the ball, you get quite a different impression of the team and players.

    1. Depends. I was at the Getafe game last season and sat behind one of the goals quite close to the pitch. The second half was unwatchable.

  3. I just coughed up a very large sum for a ticket to the Ajax game in October. I’m really looking forward to it as I don’t expect to get a chance to see any of these players again.

    1. You never know. I never expected to make it out of Venezuela as little as a good six months ago and now I live in Barcelona. Life is funny sometimes.

  4. That Sandro pass made me laugh so hard, as well.

    Last year I saw the match versus Getafe where Messi returned from injury to score twice. Messi is unbelievable. A football match is a football match but when he’s on the pitch it’s like a ballet.

    1. The funny thing about the Sandro pass was the German guy sitting behind me who let out an incredulous “and they applaud him.”

      I’ve been to more soccer games than I can count but I’ve never seen an unforgettable goal. The Xavi-Dani Alves-Messi goal comes close but won’t be a classic.

  5. They let you drink in Camp Nou now? Also, where the hell do you get a free tapa in Barcelona? The Catalans are too cheap for that!

    Great great great post Levon. I’ve been missing Barcelona a lot recently. I used to live in Les Corts and would do my run around the stadium. I’m very jealous you got to see that match. The last one I saw live was vs Atletico 5-2 in 2009. Anyway, thanks for the nostalgia!

  6. No Ibrahimovic OR Thiago Silva tomorrow, but we shouldn’t be deluded into thinking that things are going to be easy. They still have the other two CBs we were allegedly chasing, and Cavani is usually better without Ibrahimovic.

    1. Yeah, in fact I think it might even be a bigger test without Ibra and Silva. Barça are clear favorites now and they’ll have to deal with that, and possibly an extra defensive PSG. Lavezzi’s absence gives me some extra confidence. He’s a very smart and pacey player.

      It should be a great game either way.

  7. Abidal interviewed today, talking about a return to the club. I suspect this might be his last season as a player, and he said that Barça will always be his club, before referencing the offer made by “the ex-president,” and that he would return if the offer still stands.

    Ball’s in your court, Bartomeu — can’t see him NOT taking Abidal back. Not now, with his political ass on the line. You don’t say “No” to a talisman.

  8. The reference here is Abi should come back on some sort of staff/coaching level. Non player specific.

  9. I was there too. Everything you said applies. Id only add that Mathieu needs to work on his clearances, punting the ball mindlessly will hurt us against a better team. That and Thank you Lord we have Ter Stegen, what a beast that kid is. Just watching the absurd ball control during warm ups was jaw dropping, let alone the actual game itself. Everything about this culture was fantastic, I am so sad to be coming back.

  10. Hmm, no Pique? Looks like LE is nailing his colours to the Mascherano mast. Well, we’ll see how that goes….

    1. I was just thinking that myself. This match has virtually no control and he would be perfect for it. I’d even take off Pedro and push Iniesta forward.

  11. Pedro again is non existent when we are in possession. It’s a pity that there are no real alternatives when it comes to a big match like this. I’d love if Alexis were still here to play in matches like this.
    On the positive side, Suarez will slot in without any disruption to our system seeing as we are so reliant on Messi and Neymar.

  12. Neymar is never going to get the credit he deserves for a finish like that but that took incredible skill and composure to control that volley. Absolutely unbelievable talent.

  13. That third goal really hurts

    They kept the ball for more than a minute and scored. We’re the ones who are supposed to do that 🙁

  14. Credit to PSG, they came out and played…and how ! Cracker of a game, not too high on quality but end to end stuff. Was on the edge of my seat for the last 20 mins…we got 2 away goals..thats most important.

  15. We deserved a point for our performance in the last 30 minutes but we are outfought before that. Munir came so close to rescuing that point but it wasn’t to be.
    They are a very dangerous team though.

    Disappointed with the goals we conceded, very avoidable. Masch should have been tighter to Luiz for the first, Ter Stegen shouldn’t have gotten caught under the cross for the second and van der Wiel got too much time for his cross and Dani should have cut out that cross for the third.

    1. Disappointment is also my general consensus toward this match because of those cringe worthy mistakes, And as you said, They were avoidable.

      Disregarding those flunky moments for a few sec, I thought we played good, The team looked much ‘healthier’ than the last 2 years, With more training at set pieces, And the addition of Suarez, We can be a formidable team.
      And PSG are much stronger than the last time we met, By a margin!.

    2. Without Thiago Silva, Lavezzi and Ibra ? PSG are not a team who could win this trophy. We need to look closer to home for the answers. We played right into their hands with an end to end game.

  16. Done in by shambolic defending. At times reverted to the Barca of old with the sideways passing. This was a game begging for a couple shots from the outside, yet nobody took a chance.

    Alves…..Alves… I don’t even know. Is he allergic to taking on defenders now? Once again he gets freedom of the whole right side of the pitch as they know he’s either gonna pass it backwards or “cross” it.

    When we decided to up the pace we cut through them at will. Slowing down the game played right into their plans.

    I think we could have won this game but made too many errors against an opponent of this quality. First big test this season left alot to be desired.

    Somebody PLEAAAASE get Iniesta some shooting practice. Its embarassing now man.

  17. for me it was apparent as the first ten minutes that Xavi was needed. Especially for Raktic. He was not good tonight and he seemed caught between two worlds. Until Xavi came on we absolutely did not have control. None and that trio of Busi Ini and Rak wer to blame. Why it took Lucho so long only he knows. Meb its because its his debut season.

    Another anomaly i found was the positioning of the front three when we had possesion. They immediately formed a line close to their markers and no movement to receive the ball. Once we lost that ball it became so easy for Psg to counter as we had less bodies behind the ball. First half today and against Granada first half too. It was better in the second half.

    All in all not too shabby a result considering the amount of changes made over the summer though the goals conceded hark back to the porous Barca era

    1. Agreed on Xavi in terms of controlling the game although if the forwards are static and our chief tactic is still relying on Dani to throw in high slow crosses it doesn’t matter who is pulling the strings. I’m still thinking there’ll be a huge difference when Suarez arrives but we should still be doing better without him. The problem is that none of our forwards are by nature backs to goal poacher type players who can find small gaps and show for the fleeting second they can receive the ball. Pedro has surely sealed his fate tonight. He’s a really likeable hard working player who can show great skills everywhere other than when faced by an opponent. Not sure what happened to him, other than the lack of space our forwards have to operate in these days. Also, slightly worried about Iniesta this season. I prefer him when he’s running at defences.

      Btw, on the subject of ageism as it relates to our players, that useless, slow LB we used to have didn’t do too badly at 33 did he ?

  18. Can’t wait to have Suarez in the team, Pedro is now our RB who over laps. He is a zero attacking threat and that’s why Ney and Messi were always double mark without paying attention to him. with Suarez on the team, team will be double marking ney and messi at their own peril. The guys tried but am still not happy with our lack of intent to counter-attack… come on! we have to start practicing this in training…

  19. We still have problems being a considerable threat with our 2 and half man upfront.
    Regardless the loss, i think we had a good game, with a mistake here and there which cost us in the final result.
    If i have to make someone a scapegoat tonight, i’ll point at Pedro for his nonexistence and Alba because for most of the game he was lost in space.

  20. What worried me most was how much we looked extremely vulnerable whenever psg attacked us. Our defending in every area of the pitch never inspired confidence a bit. Marking was atrocious. Didn’t see us applying sufficient pressure and aggression to dispossess them.
    I sincerely hope LE sort out the fragile performance we put out today, cos on the evidence of today’s game, any hope of winning the Ucl is nothing than a pipedream.

  21. Ter Stegen needs more playing time to catch his form. You CANNOT just go from playing games in training to playing in the freaking Champions League.

    I blame Lucho.

    1. i agree with this..i cannot see any logic in having a liga keeper and a CL keeper…you cannot get form by playing once in a while..and that 2nd goal could have happened to anyone, but especially to a keeper that isnt on form.

    2. Totally agreed. It’s crazy. I also blame him for not subbing Pedro 58 minutes earlier. It’s like we’re playing with 10 men, but worse – a missing player wouldn’t give the ball away so much.

  22. Never seen a Barça for years losing the ball so easily and frequently in their own half. Must have been a joy to counterattack and play setpieces against Barça tonight.
    Btw. Iniesta can’t lead the team. Yet…

  23. agreed. Our play has always been about a pause. Its about thinking and doing the right thing. We just harried things and in turn lost possession a lot and also got bullied off the ball quite a lot. At times PSG seemed like Barca in their pressing and when in possession also playing it calmly. Maybe its because we are a team in transit but those are things we need to sort.

    Also until Xavi came on we had no rythym to our play. One of the joys of watching this Barca for me has always been the progression of its play. Frankly most of the times it has felt like sex in the shifting of the gears with the gradual movement towards the climax. Until Xavi came on we had none of that. PSG were not like a boxer on the ropes.

    We need to do better and think we will be better because we will never have a double agent in Cavani again.

  24. Definitely echo the people calling for more playtime for Ter-Stegen. Let Bravo play the Copa and lower league sides

  25. So we lost our 1st test against a 2nd tier opponent with 2 of their key players missing; Ibra, Thiago Silva and a started Lavezzi. Many would say that PSG is still a strong side but imagine Barca playing without Messi, best CB and a work horse who is actually a threat (looking at you Pedro!).

    -Mascherano didn’t made any mistakes except for Luiz’ goal but I thought Pique or Bartra should’ve played when you know PSG has a lot of big players. It’ll help a lot with the set pieces. Pique/Bartra could’ve prevented goal #1 & 2 before it came into the box. They would’ve headed it out as they are usually the first line of defence in a set piece.

    That said, with Pique/Bartra starting, it wouldn’t have been possible to play a 3 men defense. But we wouldn’t even need to come to that point if either of them started.

    -I knew Ter Stegen f*ucked up as soon as he left his position in the 2nd goal. That was straight from the Valdes 101.

    He should play more in La Liga though. Not only in Cup matches. I noticed that some said that he needs matches to regain form and that training is different to a match but I don’t believe a training match and an actual match is that much of a difference for a GK. It is a big difference to an outfield player but not a GK.

    -I see Busi gets criticized a lot but he really only made 2 errors which was in the 1st half when he dithered too long with the ball.

    -Matthieu’s passing/clearances are a horror show at times.

    -What is up with Pedro and Iniesta? Munir did more in 10mins that Pedro. Iniesta should be rotated with Xavi from now on.

    Superb interchange by Iniesta with Messi. Top 3 goals this season by this team.

    -Rakitic came up short today. CL is a different ball game to La Liga & Europa League. He needs some more time but I still think he should be a starter.

    -Alves. Moyes would love to have you in his next team. Seriously, when is Lucho going to give Montoya his chances? Alves isn’t going to get any better. He plays one good game and he’ll have 5 shitty games. Very poor return.

    And Lucho actually wanted to take Douglas along to Paris instead of Montoya. Now imagine if Alves got injured, then it will be Douglas who will be playing. Christ.

    Lucho has done a lot right so far but his insistence on using Mascherano/Alves, his reluctance to play and not play Bartra/Montoya and his reluctance to rotate Messi might come back to bite us later on.

  26. -Neymar needs to stop show boating. Leave that when we are leading a match comfortably. Do note that there is a difference between dribbling and show boating, trickery. If he is trying to dribble a man properly, it’s cool. These trickery has a low probability of succeeding. He also needs to know when to dribble. At one point he dribbled right into 3 players!!

    Wonderful goal though. Passed it into the corner. Good technique.

    But why is this man so self centred??!! Instead of collecting the ball and get on with the match he wanted to run and celebrate. He stopped only when he saw Messi & co running to collect the ball from the net. I hope by the end of the season he’ll become more of a team player.

    I thought Neymar could become a better player than Ronaldo this season but it seems he needs more time. Yes he might score a lot of goals for his age, but he is quite inconsistent and not clinical.

    1. I am in accord with most of what you say here. I was screaming more than couple of times at Neymar, to Pass. He should soon learn when to pass, and also to do it right. Right now, it looks like, he cannot make a good pass in the final third, even more so when he is running with the ball. Only Messi and Iniesta to some extent can do that so well.
      Also, we all know you Neymar as someone with incredible talent and tricks. But in a real match, please forget your tricks and think about the team, please.

  27. I’m not happy with the loss, but I’m not too worried either. Yes, PSG without Ibra and Silva is still a dangerous team, and I thought we looked quite good out there as well in terms of the skills displayed and the will to win this game (which was absent from the team a lot of games last season – just compare this game to the games against Atletico in the knockout stage).

    I know that we defend or score as a team, but the first two goals really seemed to come down to individual errors – the needless Alves giveaway which resulted in his handball and the freekick, and of course Ter Stegen for the second. On the other hand, I really liked Mathieu, Alba, and of course Messi yesterday.

  28. alves frankly isnt gettin us anywhere .. why not think out of the abt having batra at right back ..with dracula in soon..i think our rt flank ll be covered both defensively and in attack…v add height to our defence ..more pace and stability… can play a 3 man defence when needed ..solves a lot of our problems…most importantly a natural defender ala ivanovic…

  29. My mate was telling me that Cuenca could have been trained to be one of the best RBs in the world. Way better than Alves. Made me laugh hysterically.

  30. pique has started 3 of 8 games this season..this is making me sad. pique is a world class cb, mascherano is a world class dm..and we are consistenly having neither in our lineup as such.. hopefully sitting a CL game will send the message to pique that he needs to fix whatever lucho isnt liking..hats off to Matthieu though, for coming in the side and basically taking piques place..i would really like to see 3 of our tall cb’s playing at the same time..

    1. It’s a no brainer for me but I’m starting to get a little concerned that LE is turning this into a macho thing as I feared. He couldn’t have looked at that match last night and not realised Pique should have been playing, even without Ibra. It’s not just height – it’s judgement and decision makingas well. Have a look at their second. When the ball comes to the back post they have two or three unmarked players. How did they get there without their markers? Slow it down and have a look.

      However, there is a little item on Barcastuff that caught my interest. Pique missed the flight home because he was too long in doping. He wasn’t even playing! First of all, do they really not make a distinction when choosing ? How could he take so long to give a sample! I just feel that he may be getting hacked off. He hasn’t put a foot wrong this season in any game yet is being overlooked. If he’s slacking in training I’ve little sympathy for him but I haven’t heard anything about this. Hmm, …….

    2. Sorry but what macho thing, And what judgment and decision making??, He saved us from two almost guaranteed scoring chances for PSG, One with cavani and the other one with pastore.
      Pep, Tito, Tata and LE are all macho thing by the way, That’s 4 different coaches.

      Putting the blame on set pieces mistakes automatically on the shortest player, By the logic that if there was someone taller in his place that immediately decrease our chances of conceding, Is just a superficial and unfair view, He was no where near that second goal, Had nothing to do with the 3rd, And the ball went straight into luiz legs into the first.

      Ramos is 183, Pepe 188, Varane 190, Nacho 180, And set pieces are more of a nightmare to them than us, The idea that BOTH of your CBs have to be taller than 180 or you’ll suffer at set pieces is unsupported by anything.

      I never bought those ‘unfair treatment’ scenarios, There is always one in every season and with every coach, “Tito is treating thiago unfairly”, “Tata is treating montoya unfairly, Alves SUCCCCKS”, And now “Enrique is treating pique unfairly”, And who knows, Who will it be next season.
      If he is the better player in training, They he would’ve already been a starter, Period.

    3. Not blaming Masch because he isn’t tall although that would help. I’m saying he was to blame for the first, that he makes too many mistakes and he should have been somewhere near the second goal because the man he was meant to be marking was right beside the scorer. Marquinhos, have a look.

      I was talking about Pique’s judgement rather than lack of it on Masch’s part as he has some good games at CB but he is and always has been a liability there for a variety of reasons. On the other hand the moaners about Pique struggle to identify any actual mistakes he makes or incidents where he costs us yet Masch gets the nod over him for a serious game like this and promptly costs us the first. I had literally just finished typing a short post above wondering why he got the nod and suggesting it would cost us when he gifts the first goal.

      The macho thing I referred to is really just a personal viewpoint at the moment and something I hope doesn’t come about – when a coach comes into a club and sets about showing what a hard man he is. I’m not sure I like the €400 fine for being a minute late for training thing they were talking about on Sky last night and I’m not sure he hasn’t just got a downer on Pique although as I said before if it is down to lack of effort in training which we don’t know I have no complaint.

  31. That second goal was quite embarassing and killed us. Agree with many here that TS needs to play more.

    This PSG with Ibra, Thiago and Lavezzi can be quite good, or they were super motivated for this match. I especially liked how they closed the passing channels to Messi, quite easily.

    I hope we we will beat them at NC.

  32. Raketic had 3 men around him for that 2nd goal. I wonder what kind of tactic this. But it surely can’t be zonal marking. Or zonal marking gone wrong. It didn’t help that Ter Stegen did a Valdes.

    I am confident we will beat them at “CN” 😉

    1. for the second goal we had a mixture of marking. There were three marking zones along the six yard box with Mathieu in the middle and Rakitic at the back. We had another five man marking while the scorer skulked unmarked on the edge of the area beyond the back post. To me, and acknowledging that I’m not an expert in these things, you’re wasting manpower. We’ve nine players in the box and still one at the back we can’t mark?

      Anyway, as the ball comes over he races in unmarked and gets the header as Rakitic has moved forward. Not sure whether he shoulders any blame as Mathieu who was in the middle slot has moved towards the front leaving a gap which kinda defeats the notion of marking a zone.The keeper is nowhere and its a howler. However, even if the scorer hadn’t got there they also have Marquinhos who has far too easily lost Masche who was meant to be man marking him. Almost a carbon copy of the way he lost the man he was marking last year against AM. No one person to blame but a shocking goal to lose and we can’t go on losing these.

  33. sys issue

    far too many backpasses can left the last man in more troubles
    the system means mostly ‘defenders’ have to get more used to facing mids usually with better footwork and passing that have some further work to do in ‘normal training’.

    Facing tighter marking in a ~4:6 spacing ratio in the attacking third and ‘defensive third’. It may seem mad to pass the ball to the former in the risk of losing possession. But a smart player could outpossess, outpace, outdribble to get and ball and attack the huge space behind to easily turn the table. Right, you could lose the ball but in a much further away zone
    But trying a variety of different kind of passes and dynamic pos changing/running could generate a potential goal scoring chance. Risks are there for sure. They have to anticipate to lose the ball in that kind of passes and get it back again.

    Before the player (who can have a shepherd protector’s work-rate..don’t tease/angry, no offense ) can play, most high crosses is basically ineffective unless some stunning overhead kicks are performed(but highly risky). Squeecing the mid and ceding the flanks are the usual observation. coz a skillful dribling WB is quite useful, but ask yourself how ‘common’ are these players?

    In reality, most of these players will have been converted to play in mid/even forward in some teams as skillful dribblers are rare. They usually have less distinct defending skills, as time goes, playing in a more forward position means their defending skills will probably decrease and the reason is obvious..

    Meaning the profile/skillset/best position of that kind of player who would better build from the ‘back”s average pos is around the mid. But only a few teams utilize that formation/system to play.
    But in most (youth) teams, most defenders are geared to defend 1st, so you can imagine their dribbling skills, but when system changes/varied,
    ‘defenders’ & their training can be kept constant/~? This takes time but you will see later on..Also, can such a player ‘sacrifice’ to be tactically discipline enough taking care both attacking and defending roles accordingly?

    Speed is possessed by many WBs, but those special kinds and world class types are almost[..] since decades ago. But only time and other elements you know can solve this

    They have seen or imagine the worse/worst case scenario of facing lines of 5/ even more when the opposing team shape varied in defense which have happened. ~ problem occured before. They didn’t cut deep enough, true, the passing angle will decrease, but it has the other ‘sides’. perhaps they need to revise and practice quick rondos in different distance and heights

    for the dribbling (WB/defensive winger)problem, only consistent metho training can help, or they have to find and wait until the suitable time has arrived.(That is also one of the problem why Dunga’s Brazil lost besides that red card and others, ~ problems/lessons have happened before)

    Some kind of changes also have to made in youth teams as well, that is the root. Can they find such a player in their youth team/current team?

    other potential issues, it isn’t good for a GK to have a match in 2 weeks’ time. For GK of an attacking-based team, match fitness can only come from consistent being played.

  34. And it reassures me that here and on social media, people take up familiar spaces. Those who think Mascherano isn’t a CB have their space. Those who think Bravo should be playing over Ter Stegen have their space. Those who think Enrique isn’t a good tactical mind have their space. Those who want to say “Told ya our defense sucks,” have their space.

    The beauty of this Barça club is that there is room for everyone.

    Every goal has a bunch of steps. It’s easy to isolate a single step and say “There you go.” But I watched the match and just shook my head. It’s a complete and comprehensive failure from a team that had been defending set pieces well, and went on a collective psychic walkabout. Caught in possession, the ball moved slowly, no passing outlets which also led to being caught in possession.

    Despite all that, and PSG playing out of their minds (better than I have seen them play all season, and I watch their matches), there were many chances for Barça to equalize and even pull out a narrow win.

    More later when I have time, but there were so many poor performances that Enrique didn’t have enough subs: Pedro, Busquets, Iniesta, Alba, who can’t cope with an FB as fast as he is, Alves, who was all over the place, forcing Rakitic to cover for him, which led to an imbalance in midfield. Despite all that and the midfield being overrun. PSG attacked up the wings because Blanc isn’t stupid. You don’t have to watch much Barça to understand that it has defensive fullbacks in position alone.

    I always say team success, team failure. But the same group that kept 7 clean sheets and only had a single draw in 7 matches until the PSG mistake fest, can’t suddenly be poor in so many aspects. Sorry, but it just can’t.

  35. It was indeed a team defeat, with many poor performances, but it’s worth looking at some of the larger questions that this game underlined. Of course none of these questions have universally agreed upon answers.

    The closest thing we have to consensus among fans is that Pedro has been dreadful. Even the most optimistic apologist surely cannot find anything positive to say about his form. The kids (Munir and Sandro) may not be ready for the big leagues just yet, but at least they have an excuse for botching it up on occasion. I see no reason for Pedro to start at all anymore.

    Less apparent is the relative worth of this year’s Dani Alves to the team. Ray Ray and some here think his very presence somehow leads to scoring chances, but many others think he’s doing more harm than good. I’ll happily admit he looked good against Granada, and he still runs his tail off, but he’s just not that effective in most games these days, on either side of the ball. I still think Adriano should get the start, and it might have the added effect of pushing Dani a bit harder.

    Central defense – here’s where it gets interesting. What IS Lucho thinking? Are Matthieu and Masch really the starters? Should they be? Pique has looked good when he’s gotten minutes, so what’s up with that? Bartra has also looked good when HE’S gotten minutes, so what’s up with THAT? I think we can all agree that Matthieu has looked good, except for some truly terrible clearances. I also think that we can agree that Msch has looked good except for some key positioning mistakes and fouls that could have cost us dearly (in fairness – not many). What to do, what to do… I’d go with Matthieu and Pique as starters, give Bartra regular rotation, and try to get Masch on the pitch more often as a DM, or on the right instead of Dani! (I can’t believe Lucho tried this – not enough time to see if it could have really worked)

    Alba was bad against PSG, but has generally been good. Likewise for Busquets, Rakitic and Iniesta, although there might be reasons to be a tiny bit nervous about all four, especially Rakitic. I think he was given the title “the answer to all our midfield problems” a bit prematurely. I don’t think he’s been very good offensively (mostly in terms of accurate final passes) at all this season, and he was pretty bad defensively yesterday. Still, he’s definitely got potential and brings a nice defensive backbone when he’s firing on all cylinders.

    As far as Ter Stegen, I agree with the commenter who said it’s pretty unfair to just toss him in for a big CL game after he’s been riding the bench, and expect a top notch performance. Still, Bravo has been great, so who SHOULD be our starter? No clue here.

    At this point in the season, there are still a lot of questions, and many tough tests to come. I expect good things, but I wouldn’t save space in the trophy case just yet…

    1. Impossible to know until Cannibal comes online. What we do know is that Alves said to O Globo today that this is his last season at Barça, and he will be playing in the Prem next year.

      We also know that like Bayern, which also has fast wingers/FBs, up our wings was the place to attack for PSG. This probably makes some positional arguments that Enrique will begin to solve once he has full access to all of his personnel.

      We can agree that ALL of our defenders, not just Mascherano, have been guilty of positioning mistakes. As for mistakes that have cost the club, PSG was the first time the club has conceded, so …

      It’s Enrique’s call, and the reasons that he wants Mascherano on the pitch are clear to me, anyhow, irrespective of what any of us think about things. I can’t tell people what to think about a player that many have issue with. But Guardiola, Vilanova, Martino and now Enrique want him on the pitch as a starter whenever possible. He must be doing something right.

      Alba was bad against PSG because he ran up against a player faster than he was, which exposed the positional frailties that he can usually make up for with pace. His marking (if you want to call it that) was abysmal, then Alves was late picking up Matuidi. Bang.

      This is the 7th match of a season where fully a third of the team is new, as is the coach and entire coaching staff. Although Enrique has Barça roots, this isn’t business as usual.

    2. Totally agree with everything you said, even that Masch should be on the field, although I don’t think as a our #1 choice starting CB.

      Of course it’s ALL Enrique’s call, but that kind of puts the kibosh on all sorts of interesting (if ultimately pointless) debate, and isn’t that what sports blogs are for?

  36. To lay the blame for most goals at one persons feet is usually very much incorrect. Very often a series of errors leads to a goal and people usually look at the last error and find the scapegoat.
    On the other side of things, players are paid millions of euros to eliminate these errors and fans have the right to point out errors that shouldn’t have occurred or are out of character.

    Dani Alves both gave away the ball in the build up and hand balled to give away the free kick. Masch failed to cut out the cross and failed to block the shot from Luiz for that goal. That is a preventable goal and people have the right to call out those players on that play.

    Ter Stegen could become a great keeper and I believe that he will. Errors are part of a keepers game and unfortunately, unlike any other position on the pitch, when a keeper makes an error there is no one to bail them out. Still, by the time the ball got to the back post, Rakitic was surrounded by PSG players and could do little to prevent it.

    For the third goal, 3 PSG players out played 4 of our boys and got acres of space for van der Wiel to pick his cross. He did what we never do and put in a quick early cross in the no man’s land between defense and keeper. We were two for two in the centre with Dani and Masch both marking attackers but neither got close to the cross and ter Stegen was helpless from that range.

    On the flip side, Neymar scored a wonderful goal and is truly in great form. Those who wish that he kept everything simple should never get their way because his audacity to try things is what makes him unpredictable and unmarkable.

    Pedro… I really don’t know what to say. There is no positive redeeming feature of his game anymore. He has a 90% pass rate because he takes no risks whatsoever. He rarely shoots and never takes on a player. Is he a winger anymore or just a ball carrier who chases opponents like a dog chasing a car.

    1. Exactly right, ciaran. It becomes easy to lay “blame” for a goal at the feet of a player, and that player varies because conceding a goal is almost always a team effort, unless the keeper punts the ball to an attacker, own goal or some other aberrant situation.

      Ter Stegen is a huge talent. Had Valdes been jettisoned for his early errors, he wouldn’t be a Barça legend, but a player at some other club right now. You also wonder if communication is a complexity.

      Barça has heretofore marked set pieces very well. The PSG match was an exception that is easily fixed on the training pitch. Those are goals that Barça B shouldn’t be conceding, never mind the first team. There was a queue facing Rakitic to head that ball past. So a significant breakdown occurred at a level beyond Mascherano.

    2. You missed the second part of Ciaran’s first point – “players are paid millions of euros to eliminate these errors and fans have the right to point out errors that shouldn’t have occurred or are out of character.”

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if it’s everybody’s fault, it’s nobody’s fault, so while it often IS everybody’s fault (I get that), that statement just becomes a way to shut down criticism of individual players. Those poor young millionaires, how ever will they cope with anonymous internet criticism? My heart bleeds for them.

    3. Oh, I very clearly got that part. But you miss my point, which is that the collective fails. You bet mistakes are made. And you know what? The players don’t give two craps what anyone says, because they know what happened. And I bet you their (or Enrique’s) dissection of a goal would be quite a bit different than any of ours, because of their different ways of seeing the game.

      I am very aware of the affinity for slagging individual players. It’s the favorite culer pastime. I am simply suggesting that maybe, just maybe, the thing is, rather than shielding someone who doesn’t care what I think from any individual criticism, that it’s worth looking at a systems-based approach.

      So would Enrique try to fix the marking specificity, or the lax play that allowed the set piece in the first place? Valid question, particularly given that you know your team is vulnerable on set pieces. For me, that should be as much a part of the dissection as “Mascherano did it,” or “Ter Stegen screwed up.”

      Shutting down criticism of individual players in the culerverse would be like drinking my fill from a cistern by using a thimble as a cup. Maybe you’d get there eventually, but the task is fundamentally impossible.

  37. Ronaldo is probably one of the fittest, muscular players in the game but when there’s even an iota of contact on any part of his body he falls like sac of potatoes.

    1. He does it because it works. If the officials stopped calling it, he would stop doing it. And yet people call Neymar a diver. I’ll never understand it.

  38. MD says the club is considering removing the Qatar logos from the shirt starting in 2016 season. Cynics among you (yes, me) will note that is also an election year. But stunt or not, I wouldn’t examine that gift horse too closely.

  39. i thought there was a general consensus about our being better at set pieces this season because of the additions we made. System breakdowns occur but they should not almost always lead to goals. When one part of the system fails the other should pick up the slap. I think we can all recount the sequence of events and agree on where there could have been systemic compensation to prevent the goals.

    Otherwise who will assume responsibility for the concession? Where will the buck stop? Masch for all his faults takes primary responsibility when he errs. Dani cocked up on both times but his errors were not terminal errors. Because we are a team we should have dealt with the subsequent results of those errors. Masche Rak and MATS wer complicit in the first two goals

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