A chat with the other side, aka “Bassam talks Classic”

Miguel Ruiz/FC Barcelona
Miguel Ruiz/FC Barcelona

In advance of the Classic, we talked to Bassam Dgheim of Real Madrid Football Blog, about 10 things. Bassam, who many of you have interacted with in the comments space here, is good people, and a reminder that we fans are all human critters. It’s the teams and clubs we dislike. I have done my part, which is now up (thanks, Bassam!) at RMFB. So with many thanks to Bassam, here we go:

A Barça win will put us 7 points ahead. How big a dent would that be to RM’s title hopes?

Yes and no. It’s still very early in the season. Major shake ups in the squad have gotten us to the point were we are 4 points away. But I would be worried more about us in the long stretch than right now, because that’s when the team will be a well oiled machine. Right now we are doing well because we have great players. But little hardship might steer the ship the wrong way. So while 7 points away will be rough to come back to, I don’t think it is the end of the league. We meet again at this season and have another chance to pull it back.

To beat Barça, Madrid needs to take advantage of (enter Barça’s weakness and/or key match-up in favor of Madrid)/To beat Madrid, Barça needs to take advantage of (enter Madrid’s weakness and/or key match-up in favor of Barça)….

To beat Barca, Madrid needs to take advantage of the left flank. With Bale set to miss the game, the team will adjust more and more towards CR running the show. Alves is good, but he has his moments, especially in defense. With Rakitic and Iniesta putting in leg work in defense, but not actual positional defense, I think the combo of Modric and Kroos will need to exploit that and spring the ball well to the left flank.

To beat Madrid, Barca needs to do the obvious: Attack from the right flank. Marcelo is brilliant going forward, but he is god awful in attack. And similarly, without Alonso in the center, Messi is gonna have a lot of space dropping deep. If RM don’t control that, then they might be in big trouble.

How has Mourinho leaving affected the clásico, and is Ancelotti too much a pragmatist to care about the hype?

How has rain fall affected the drought? Very well I would say. I’ll keep this more general than just the clásico: Mourinho leaves and we win the double, including the far awaited 10th CL title. And had it not been for poor decision making, RM were easily looking at the treble last year. Ancelotti brings in a aura of zen and calmness that we have not had since VdB. And he knows that one game won’t define his season. With Liverpool done like they were on Wednesday, I think pressure is really off Ancelotti in this one.

Which Barça player(s) do you despise?

Alba. Alves. I used to really dislike Sanchez. Not fond of your manager at all for the all so obvious reasons.

Is the team better without Bale in reality, against Barcelona?

Yes and no, again. Against Barca, the team might miss Bale much more than against any other team. He has the work rate to drop back and form a 442, while maintaining a dominant a quick threat on the right flank. Under any other circumstances, I would say he’s a huge miss. However, his replacement is a guy with the name Isco, and I rate him extremely high. Iniesta with more goals and less assists is a good description. Has improved leaps and bounds since last year, especially on positional play and work rate. Turned from a player that needs the system to be centered around him to a player that is capable of fitting into the system well. I feel more comfortable with him coming in.

What’s the biggest change in this year’s RM side from last year’s?

We no longer need to hear bout La Decima every second. So that’s a big change. Alonso and Di Maria leaving are the other two big changes both personnel and formation wise. With Di Maria gone, we lose that extreme work rate and assist machine. But much more importantly is losing Alonso. He was the anchor in midfield. Organized the defense very well and orchestrated the attack brilliantly. Our defense has suffered most in his absence, as he was the leader in that domain. He was the equivalent of the coach on the field. No surprise that Pep picked him up.

Has Casillas got the support of most merengues? Do we only hear from his detractors because they scream louder?

Getting Mourinho as your manager is like getting a tramp stamp. You might remove it, but the essence and memory of having gotten it is still there (think Ted Mosby from HIMYM). While Mourinho is gone from the team, there are many who supported him that still linger. Chelsea fans, Porto fans, Inter fans, they are all Real Madrid fans. And all want to make sure we never forget we ever got that tramp stamp. So for me, it is definitely a case of detractors scream louder. Let’s not forget, the Ultra Sur gave Mourinho a trophy of appreciation during his last game for us. And they were the only fans he went and bid farewell.

What has Kroos brought to the team that wasn’t there before?

It’s a tough question to answer. The main reason behind that is because Kroos is playing a position he has never had to play before. While he grows into that position and while the formation changes to adjust to his strengths and weaknesses, we are seeing more and more why he is so highly rated. He obviously brings the vision on the ball, the mobility in the center of the field and of course, the football IQ. He adds more of a short directness to our play as opposed to the long directness that Alonso had. I think the best is yet to come from Kroos as he adjusts.

What RM line-up do you expect to see start the classic?

I think we will go with Iker-Carvajal-Pepe-Ramos/Varane(depending on fitness)-Marcelo-Kroos-Modric-Isco-James-CR-Benzema. In possession, James will occupy the right flank, drifting to the middle often. In defense, we will shift to 442, with CR slight on the wing and Benzema waiting to get the ball to spark a counter attack. I would watch out for Carvajal on the right, as he will have a lot to do in attack with Bale out. The dude is fast.

If Alonso had stayed, do you think that he would have fit into this season’s RM?

I think we would not have seen a similar style had Alonso stayed. Ancelotti had to change a lot in order to accommodate for Alonso leaving, even though the general formation is still the same. I worry that this game against Barca is where we will miss Alonso the most, especially with dealing with Messi (from an organizational point of view).

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. Like Bassam said, I think I’d have been more at ease with Bale playing. Yes he is fast, But Isco is an intelligent footballer – someone I really liked at Malaga and was sad to see him go to the EE while he could have gone to city to play under his ex-boss.

    Here is something I’d like to touch upon that probably hasn’t been discussed. I think me and many others (possibly) are slightly uncomfortable with the fact that RM have become vastly more likeable. It was easier to take them on when they were downright A***oles.

    Perhaps its Carletto and his no nonsense calmness or perhaps it’s the acquisition of players with the aim of playing a particular system rather than buying folks directly to thwart Barca. Maybe u disagree, But i believe this. 2008-09 season, we kick ass. EE responds by buying Penaldo and a bunch of others. Forget about system, lets get one over them was the thinking. Folks like Khedira, Ozil were all bought to develop a counter attacking game aimed at conquering Barca rather than fighting other teams. Callejon kicks the hell out of Barca while at Espanyol, and sure enough EE are right there to snap him up.

    things have changed.
    Mourinho has left. I have always believed Mourinho was the best signing for Barca. He dragged them through crap while we looked saintly. He played Diarra, khedira, Pepe etc in midfield while we owned them at their house. Now he has left and a calm and composed and (likeable) Carletto has arrived. Folks like Isco and James have been signed.

    Meanwhile we have signed Dracula. (i am not getting in to the sporting aspects. no doubt he is going to kick ass at barca and its an extremely good signing from a sporting standpoint.) But Perception? another thing altogether. Suarez would have been a trademark EE signing. Thank god he is too ugly for them. Pretty boys are what they want..

    anyway I digress.

    This match has quality all over the park. The key would be for us to assert ourselves and dictate the game as we have in past visits to the Bernabeu. It was easier to do that (not allow them to play the game) when they were despicable. Now, it feels like we are going to allow them to play football. Perhaps our style has also changed. We don’t stifle the opposition as much. We let folks play. Atleast a little bit more.

    Here’s hoping Lucho goes all out. We have nothing to lose.
    Here’s hoping that tomorrow we don’t let them play. You’ve had your decima. Time to come back to Terra Firma. Barcelona is back. And its a new look FCB.

    Hungrier. Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger.


    What’ve you got?

    1. I address the diminished hatred in my response, which will be going up at their site later today when those West Coast folks rouse themselves.

    2. You may find this somewhat ‘ultra’.
      But out of principle and practical reasons, I don’t visit any other forums or click on any other links, let alone an RM forum. No it isn’t what you think.
      1. It saves me a lot of time.
      as it is, there is enough information overload (through the internet) and enough football related stuff (through Barca news) in my life, for me to expand interests toward other teams. which is also why you may or may not have noticed my scarce participation around these parts in the past half year.

      So if nobody posts your response (over at RMFB) somewhere here, I am afraid I’ll miss out on it. unfortunately.

      Not called ultracule for fun.

    3. Ultracule, was thinking Bale’s pace and shooting would hurt us more than Isco’s intellingence, who I suspect might be sacrificed for one of their DM especially with RM likely to assume a more defensive and compact configuration.
      The only thing I’m thankful of is Di maria’s absence- who has a combination of pace plus intelligence.

    4. You know, honestly, this time I really don’t care who they line up with. I am really only interested in the way we line up and the attitude with which we show up. Umpteen times I was F***in pissed with Tata for not starting with Alexis in a lot of key matches (including away classic and Copa final). This time I really hope Lucho puts out the best team. Like I said, we have nothing to lose, not at this stage anyway. But we do have a lot to prove and a lot to show to the world. I expect our team to go out there with the ‘pre manita’ / ‘pre 0-2 CL SF’ / ‘pre 2-6’ mentality.

      Hungry. For EE blood. No time for softness. And the good part is this time around, we are actually equipped with enough bite. no pun intended.

  2. Great interview without much emotion beclouding his reasoning.
    His line up is a fascinating one for me seeing he never included any of their natural dm.
    I’ll jolly well wager on Ancelotti deploying either one of Khedira or Ilara…if he does, it’ll most likely be Khedira.
    Another strong feeling of mine; I see Ancelotti replicating the tactical template utilized against us in the copa and against Bayern in the UCL. Which means we would be seeing a much more defensive Madrid as opposed to the more open one that played us in the league.
    Likewise, majority of their plays would most certainly occur in Alves’s territory. Hopefully,we see the positive side of him we all love.

  3. Thanks for that link.

    Can you also link your interview later?

    And a note to Ultra, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that we don’t ‘hate’ Real as much. I prefer a pleasant rivalry. The 2011 stuff was terrible (I was living in Barcelona then). It’s just a game after all (as pedantic as that sounds!).

    1. I get what you’re saying deerio.
      But I never said that it’s a bad thing, did I?
      I was trying to investigate whether it was easier for the team put out its collective best when there was common ‘hatred’ for the EE.

      Maybe I’m over analyzing stuff. I prefer that they be full on EE. Now its like they’re NSE. It also made me think stuff like ‘did we look so good back then, cos they were so bad in their approach to the game’ and so on..
      but agree with you, there should be respect in the rivalry.

  4. I really like what Ancelotti is doing with RM. He’s trying a formation with no natural DM, which is pretty courageous. He loves to field as many technical players as possible.

    1. yeah =)

      i only agree with disco there. but i guess, i’d only take isco anyway so it’s a moot point. unless, maybe carvajal.

    2. I’d take Varane in a heartbeat.
      I think even a zoo would refuse Pepe.

    3. Well, you’d definitely want Pepe by your side if it was a rugby scrum, or a bar brawl … but in a Barca shirt? His ultra-violent attack against that prone Getafe player in 2009 makes Suarez biting antics seem benignly eccentric.
      That said, the prospect of those two in (possible) close proximity during tomorrow’s Clasico is even one more savouring aspect, albeit of the more atavistic variety.

  5. I like both posts. Bassam makes eloquent points and Kxevin, you surprised me.
    Benzema is so inconsistent I would have little interest in him. I’d much prefer to have Ramos than Pepe due to the formers set piece abilities and the latter’s mental deficiencies.
    Isco I get, although I would dare to say we have young players that could yet exceed his level.

    I can’t wait for the match. I can’t wait for the line up. I can’t wait to see Suarez in a competitive match.

    Love him or hate him he is a special player and one who can destabilise defenses as much as Neymar, Messi and Iniesta. It’s crazy to have such great players on the same team at the same time.

  6. Yeah, probably should have clarified that my “3 players” was absent any precipitating crap, and based solely on skill set. The things you think about after the fact.

  7. Bassam, I’ve been constantly hearing that Romaldo is injured since the end of last season. Yet he keeps on playing every match from CL final to the World Cup into the new season without any issue. Is (was) he really injured or was it all just to make him look like a hero?

  8. – My line up for tonight:

    Alves – Pique – Masch – Mathieu
    Rakitic – Busi – Xavi
    Messi – Neymar – Iniesta

    – With such line up, I think we will have the balance between experience, physicality and technique to grab the 3 points from Bernabeu.

    – Alba could be benched to give slot for Pique to add more height and strengh in defense. We lacked of this aspects against Madrid in recent years. But now we have better advantage with Rakitic and Mathieu on the field.

    – Xavi experience to control the rhytm in big matches should be utilised, without sacrificing the specific function of Rakitic.

    – Munir is too young for the big stages and Pedro won’t instill fear or strech the Madrid backline. Iniesta is the better option to drag a marker and free up more space on the expected tight/semi-parking bus Madrid defense.

    – I predict the scoreline would be tight, but still cautiously optimistic some magic from Messi or Neymar would win us the game. 0-1 or 1-2 my bet.

    Visca Barca !!!

  9. We always forget that given the way Messi plays, he needs a LW making those runs in behind the RB so he could slot a pass in between the CB and RB or a lobbed pass over the RB(David villa, Pedro Tello, Neymar, Abidal and to a lesser extent Iniesta have all benefitted from this). But Iniesta won’t be dedicated to making those runs as will Neymar and even the youngsters. if we play Iniesta at LW, then we take out one of Messi’s outlet for creating chances. And for the first time, everyone wants Smasch at CB, I thought he sucked at CB

  10. I don’t expect us to go all out and leave our asses at the back open for Penaldo(He has 6 penalty goals already in la liga, deducting it from his 15 goals makes it 9 tied with Neymar and one above Messi who all haven’t scored a penalty goal) and co to have a joy ride. We draw and they still lag behind by 4 points. Am not advocating for bus parking but this shouldn’t be one of those games were we attack no matter what the score line is. Look out for the early storm, hide the women and children in the basement and barricade the temple doors until after the half hour mark. I hate classicos, they make me nervous and excited same time Lol

  11. Though I have no idea how they would know, RAC 1 says starting front line will be Suarez/Neymar/Messi.

    Also Sandro returns to B, which is no surprise, really.

  12. my prediction is 0-3. Ney, opens the scoring in the first half with a well taken counter attack goal. Suarez notches one in and Messi puts a free kick pass iker in the 74th minute

  13. I got it right, except for Xavi in Rakitic’s place. That’s a vulnerable right flank, not sure about the choice. Ballsy line-up, this could go very well or very wrong lol.

    1. On the other hand their line-up is jokes. No DM, double wing-backs, Casillas in goal. Low odds on a high-scoring game.

  14. Perfect line up. Perfect. If we play to our potential we dont have to worry about Madrid. Suarez gives us intense pressing. A delight

    1. Clearly I should get a twitter for this. 1-1 in a game we should’ve killed. I think that’s 9 penalties in 12 games for real?

    1. I have not watched Mathieu much outside of when he played against us with Valencia. But in those games I remember him as a serious offensive threat, and I can’t understand what’s happening with him now when he gets the ball forward and why…

  15. we have to keep the faith. We have played with handbrake on. Maybe its the fear of their counter attacks. We need to speed it up a bit

  16. nonsense,our team is crap, what kind of defense do we have, our attack is great but defense is useless,screw you Enrique!!!

  17. seriously our problem is not even CB ,it’s full back, alves is shit, pique is garbage, mathieu is playing out of position,am ashamed of our defense. am so so angry!

  18. I don’t think even Jim can defend Pique now. Just God awful. A liability. It’s better to groom Bartra now. Give him playing time. Let him learn.

  19. I am ashamed. We got this one wrong today. Alba should have started…. with Masch in midfield…
    Suarez shows promise…. Xavi shouldn’t have started either. We still had no control.
    Busquets was out of his depth.. Xavi didnt offer what we needed.
    Ti be honest I have mostly defended the players and coach… noy today

  20. it’s we didn’t fix anything, set piece, defense, nothing, we did nothing. Enrique is a joke, total joke

    1. Yup. Some players really need to buck up. And I’m not sure why Lucho was so quiet today. Usually he’s at the side lines shouting instructions, pushing the players on. I guess he’s scared of the crowd at the Bernabeu.

  21. I’m not even angry. Wtf was this? Should’ve scored three in the first. Should’ve conceded five in the second. Minute 55-80 was the worst football I’ve seen. The players stopped defending. Before that it was OK.

  22. Daniel alves is finished, all their attack came from the right and from the middle. alves and pique are nonsense, alves is affected by age,but pique is garbage

    1. Deep inside I want to thing Lucho was doing a Mourinho in 2009 with this game. Mourinho may lost 5-0 but that did help convince his players to fully commit to his negative tactics. Which did not work 100% for them but nevertheless did bring them some results. Very similarly today we field the same kind of team as last year and unsurprisingly it does not work.

      The problem is that it could have gotten very very ugly in the second half, which is a stain we just cannot afford. Yet even then there was no urgency whatsoever to defend, to maintain possession, and to something with it…

  23. I’m stunned. Didn’t expect us to go out with a whimper like that. No urgency at all. I don’t understand how our level of play could drop this much, its the freaking Clasico ffs.

    Not even gonna single out individuals..this was a collective piece of crap. There’s no way Madrid is this much better than us.

  24. As usual, it’s not a single reason why such things happen, it’s systemic. But that’s sometimes worse. So many frustrating things:

    1) After being repeatedly exposed defensively in midfield over the last two seasons and rebuilding the midfield being one of the main priorities over the summer, we field the same midfield that got overrun last season. And not only it gets overrun again but we also fail to maintain control of the ball.

    2) The goals once again come from schoolboy defensive errors, but they had so many chances that this was just a coincidence, they would have scored even if we did not make those

    3) That the forwards did not press hard enough did not help either. Suarez actually ran, but it was not really coordinated with the rest of the team, and Messi was back to what we saw in 2013-14 (those multiple offsides after not tracking back to get onside are inexcusable).

    4) The Pique+Mascherano, Mathieu as LB experiment failed too

    5) The most inexplicable thing – we had many, many opportunities to counter attack ourselves, yet the ball was moved through the wide open spaces in midfield at a walking pace and with no clear intent to do something threatening with it. I don’t understand that – you can say we were worried about the counter-counterattack, but we failed to stop those anyway, and such considerations cannot excuse the man with the ball for not running with it faster when there is so much space and letting the defense settle.

    6) That the forwards were not moving did not help either – offense was very static. Very little off-the-ball movement.

    Deeply disappointed. I am really hoping that things will improve as Suarez settles and we do not field both of Xavi and Iniesta anymore in such games. Their time has passed unfortunately 🙁

    1. Thank you…
      Point number one was the main reason.


      There was also a lack of urgency. ..
      Wow…. was that really the classico?

  25. There’s no shame to lose to the best team in the world. In all truth we were lucky to escape so lightly, Real were that dominant.

    Our coach’s decisions helped them. I mean, they had Kroos, Modric, and Isco, all three young and hungry, vs a declining Busquets, and (in my opinion) the past-it Iniesta and Xavi. What’s the point of bringing Rakitic in if all you’re going to do is what the previous two coaches did, viz play Iniesta and Xavi with Busquets, a trio that’s now obsolete?
    Enrique must show more courage. That’s two tough matches and two defeats earned: 6 goals allowed. That’s not good enough at this level I’m afraid.

    The positive was Suarez’s performance. In fact I felt the entire front line played well for the first half an hour before being deprived of resources. They pressed, committing fouls, earning cards. The other positive is that we do have the tools to do better, but as I said, more courage.

    I hope this game convinced most people of how inadequate that mid trio is now days.

    1. We bought Rakitic, but I am starting to fear we should have bought one more midfielder – Iniesta has also become too big a liability in defense at this point.

      Busquets is still 26, he should not declining. Same for Pique. But maybe all that overuse and fatigue over the last 5 years is showing its effects now

    2. I called for Isco 2 years ago. I said he will equal Iniesta and might even be better as he can score.

  26. Whats up with the negativity? I saw some great plays and a team which is work in progress.

    Masche was tremendous as was Alves. I really liked what we saw of our front three in the first half and Suarez showed a glimpse of his magic. We contained all of their deadly counter attacks but one which was down to Iniesta. In the end I cannot be bitter with this loss and instead look forward to our next games. Visca Barca

    1. I agree, the season is still very long and currently RM are probably more in form than us. I didn’t understand LE’s choices though… It’s a shame that Vermaelen and Mathieu are both lefties because they’d be my first choice. Piquè is not going to get any better , and Busquets didn’t seem fully fit today. Starting with both Xavi and Iniesta vs RM is not a good idea either, Rakitic was brought on precisely to give more balance to the midfield in difficult games.

      I think we have good chances of winning La Liga, but we’ll have to improve to be able to fight with the best of them in the CL.

    2. Exactly. Had they been better in passing in and around the edge of our box, they could’ve easily score more than 5 goals. That’s a big negative for me.

    3. Agreed. They were very dominant going forward and compact in defense. Last season’s barca showed up at the wrong time with all the sideways passes and lack of movement. We got off lucky with the scoreline.

  27. Only positive I can think of is how good Suarez looked. An 70% fit Suarez is better than a 100% Pedro.

    It was sad when we Iniesta was injured and only option we had is Sergi Roberto. Few years back it was Thiago. How far have we fallen.

    Pique and Alves should sit for the remainder of the 1st half of the season. They really need sit and reflect.

    1. First of all, well played to Madrid. That’s as good as they’ve played against us.

      Some unrelated first thoughts. Positive first – and there was.

      1. We could easily have gone two up in the first half. That would have made it hard for them to come back.

      2. Generally speaking we controlled the first half. I liked what I saw of our passing and movement although as the half wore on we became less offensive. Wasn’t that we didn’t have the ball – and I thought Xavi had a great first half- it was that we stopped going at them. Was that because the forwards stopped moving? Certainly Messi dropped deeper and adopted walking pace. That was inviting them back in.

      Suarez will be good for us.

      This was an away game and we still have more points than them. They are on top form at the moment we aren’t but will come good.

      That’s probably where the positive runs out. Negatives? Starting with selection just when we needed a lift we had to bring Pedro on for Suarez. Other way round everyone in the team gets a lift and a fresh Suarez is up against tiring defenders. Big mistake.

      Secondly, Busi doesn’t look right. He had an awful game but I think it’s his injury, compounded by lack of play. Masche would have been a better bet, with Alba at LB and Mathieu in the middle with Pique. As far as Pique is concerned I thought he made two mistakes in the game, one of which, the sliding tackle, cost us a goal and that is important. The other, when he had Benzema beaten and rather than hoof it out he tried to turn quickly and keep it in play. A mistake borne out of being down and time running out. Didn’t cost us. Other than that I thought he played really well, with several vital interceptions. I will say again that whoever we choose as our CB partnership need time together. You can’t get a relationship overnight. You could see we didn’t know where yo hold the offside line.

      The forwards. If Messi is going to keep dropping this deep we need midfielders bursting the box. There was no movement in there. No point in just blaming Xavi or Iniesta here. Rakitic isn’t doing it either. We need box movement ! As was correctly said on Sky after the game, passes all went to feet rather than someone running on to a ball. In attack we need to commit defenders. Didn’t happen tonight.

      Pressing didn’t really happen. We’re they too good ? Looked to me like we left to big a gap between defence and mids for pressing to work. Whatever, we were murdered down the wings.

      Bottom line is we really killed ourselves in some ways. We lost goals to a ( needless ) penalty, a free header (who was marking him – suspect Dani? ) and a mistake when Iniesta actually had the ball under control. Won’t beat RM making errors like that.

      Still, long way to go. It’s good that the focus will now turn to LE a little more. We need to see if he actually has answers or not. I wasn’t particularly impressed by his game plan today but it probably came within one Casillas save of coming off.

      Need to go lie down. In a perverse way that was actually a very exciting game.

  28. Got lucky with the scoreline for sure. We had a decent first half which i thought we could build on. Alas it went haywire. After Pepe’s goal it was downhill. There was no urgency whatsoever

  29. In the first half, Dani Alves was constantly attacked and that right side was overloaded, what did the clueless LE do? no one has the right to tell me of any positives cos apart from, smasch, bravo, Suarez and neymar, everyone was crap. I was hoping to see pique and Mathieu in defence and smach in midfield but no, Busquets is the best DM in the world(crap!). Iniesta is gone never coming back again. its embarrassing that when Iniesta was injured, our substitute was Sergio Roberto (bwahahaha!). I have never had confidence in LE and I hope he gets shown the exit door soon if he doesn’t start thinking. No one should tell me of any positives or defend this piece of crap coaching. if this match is to be replayed we will lose by more than that margin cos LE is clueless. There was every sign that Ancelloti knew what he was doing…

    1. There are plenty of positives. Let me show you.

      1. We have a pretty good trio up front. Maybe not as good as Real or Bayern’s forward line, but still very good.

      2. This decisive defeat will surely (surely) convince the coach that the holy central midfield triumvirate no longer works.

      3. Enrique will have to show more courage in his selection. Xavi has one excellent home game vs Eibar and suddenly he gets to start over Rakitic? There’s no way he will make that mistake again.

    2. Agree. This side doesn’t need any more creativity up front. What it actually needs is midfield destroyers who win back the ball so the front three can attack: I would start Mache, Rafinha, Rakitic. Too bad Song has disappeared, because he’s the great central midfielder Barca never had. But those three basically should ring-fence the play so that our world-class goal-scorers can do their stuff.

    1. That’s true, but I think we’ve seen the last of those three playing together for our colours in midfield. Enrique out to be furious with himself. That’s the second loss this season due to his mistakes in an important match.

  30. ~ to PSG,they bascially self-inflict the loss. No harsh feelings plz..
    set pieces(penalty),poor reaction time espe.from tall defenders, can let the ball go to the ads. board instead of risking a rob from behind. Not enough anticipation, coordinated mvt, and quick,crisp passing, very robotic in a sense, where are the teamwork? Barca almost totally lost (MF) control in the 2nd half after the 2nd goal RM scored.
    It is not 1st time..the problem reoccurs due to ignorance at least partially.
    It’s almost sacrificing MF trans def. to place Iniesta,Xavi concurrently in big matches..Just remind Giggs & Scholes in their 30s(~ disastrous..)
    The transfer activity regarding the MF at least partially cause the mf trans def problem. Does S.Roberto warrant a place in the senior team?!!
    If energy is his best attribute, then many young players also have energy..How many of them are able& willing to step up, (and given the chance)?

    Not just trans. def, the attacking and combo speed is slow. Player Mvts are extremely essential both in attack and defense. The ball can’t ‘walk all the way’, this is outdated. With both, chances increase, with either one, the chances are slim in crucial moments. A through pass is almost always better than a accurate static pass because of its unpredictability at least in attack. even for attacking players, receiving ball to feet directly is less exciting than running for a through pass unless he did not have enough stamina at that time.

    Rather have 2 man target the man, would rather 1 target the man, 1 the ball.can’t have both waiting for sthg to happen
    Strange things do happen, but don’t reckon it’s coincendental.
    Every time Barca does transfer with the blue and that self-proclaimed [man], sthg backfires. Check the records.Not superstitious, there is a reason behind logically.It’s just Barca is not shrewd enough in its transfer business relatively in those transfers.

    The defense(esp. the backline) is incredibly slow both in mvt & anticipation. Where is Adriano? the SBs didn’t often cut deep enough.forward run doesn’t have to be a 0 deg.st line, that’s way too predictable. the mid again does provide enough support for the attack, waiting too far away from the attacking players in front. Teamwork?!!

    Both BM & Barca shared the byline prob. if checking past data.
    guess sacred of the byline/decrease in angle prob. Because both managers come from the same ‘school’, but ‘curriculum’ can’t teach students everything since no man is perfect..

    Yea, new players, need time to click..why don’t let him observe for a while before unleashing him when legs are tired? Pedro on for Suarez, mentally & strg losing a ff. When important moments come, why don’t go all out? The result may be the same, but who knows?

    From the starting formation, Barca does not look aggressive enough. slow defense, mid, combos, some players looked ‘wandering their minds’ and body in sticky, murky water, poor coordination..

    did not see that ‘sparky spirit’ for almost the whole team,too timid, lack of composure.And the manger at least need to indicate sthg on the pitch or shout sthg when sthg is wrong(sometimes).
    Seriously, reaction time tests,not just fitness tests are needed, especially for Pique..Time and time again..in crucial moments/games/matches, seeing the ~historical stuff.

    and Barca has an extra day of rest..
    and SBs need extra practicing passing the ball closer to ground considering the heights of their attacking players.

    1. I am actually kinda worried about the future. So we have a lot of great young midfielders in the youth system. But they are all in the Xavi/Iniesta mold, and I am not sure even young Xavi and Iniesta would be capable of coping with the kind of speed and pressure that EE are playing with right now unless the forwards do a real good job at pressing. Which is clearly not going to happen with both Messi and Neymar there. And Iniesta has been so poor this season, but we only bought Rakitic, and we have a transfer ban coming. Is Sergi Samper or someone like him going to solve our problem? Hopefully Rafinha steps up, he looks like someone who has the physical attributes, but even with him. things are not looking good

    2. to clear misunderstanding, the mid does not provide enough support for the forward by offering enough mvts, especially in the forward direction

  31. What I would love not to happen is our excusing this loss as we do some times. Yes Messi missed a great chance, bus Real too had some opportunities with Benzema and Rodriguez.

    We played like shit and in the home of the best team in the world right now. They outshot us, and were first onto the ball almost always in the second half. Despite reinforcements we were still tactically inept. Third coach in a row tries to force Xavi and Iniesta to play against players who are now better than they. Ancelotti, for example, would never do that, but he has more experience.

    We have to move on and learn from this debacle. Our performances this season have been good generally, even if we have tanked at the two big games played thus far. There is hope.

    1. Yes, this was painful – but it is certainly unfair to expect LE should match Ancelotti in terms of coaching already. I feel that even though several of his decisions did not play out well, the selection did not lack logic in itself.

      -Playing Mathieu as left back I think had wide support, for instance, though he in retrospect would have been more useful as CB, especially since Bale was not playing.

      -Playing Busquets was a necessity in light of the Mathieu-choice – Masch was needed as CB, since Bartra obviously is not deemed good enough for quality opposition.

      -Playing a rusty Busquets together with Xaviniesta, however, was a silly mistake, as he would’ve needed to be at his dry best to make up for their lacking defensive support (as last season made painfully clear).

      -Starting Suarez was a flip of the coin – he did well and assisted Neymar’s goal and Messi’s should-have-been-goal. Had the latter been goal, the move would have been a success, but now it instead left us without spark when Pedro entered to turn things around…

      -Messi had a rather lackluster performance – looked tired and uninspired, but on the other hand he cannot carry the entire team and RM closed him down well.

      -Neymar, apart from the goal, was hugely disappointing. Still learning, I’m sure…

      Hopefully, LE learns form his mistakes -I think NOT playing Suarez, for instance, would have been more along the line of his coaching style so far. Similarly, leaving Rakitic out was certainly questionable and out of line with what seems to be his A-plan.

      We’ll see how LE tackles this – the team is still coming together, but is starting to look slightly weak in midfield at the moment, mostly due to Iniesta’s failure to dominate, I think. Perhaps he is not suited to be the main man?

    2. I was in favour of starting Mathieu at LB over Alba, but with the caveat that Bartra should start at CB and Mascherano be moved to midfield in place of Iniesta. Rakitic would have replaced Xavi and Munir Suarez.

      We were completely overrun in the middle by the dynamism of Kroos-Modric and the balance Isco brought onto the pitch. (And to think that some scoffed at Kroos’ signing, or at some here accepting that Kroos was the better passer.) Xavi is painfully slow and very conservative, Iniesta has been disappointing for months, and Busquets is in a decline–he saves himself only with decent positioning and by throwing himself to the ground at the easiest challenge.

      It’s ok though. This is a learning curve. It ought to have happened a year ago but that’s pointless now.

      Onward to the next match.

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