Appeals, Douglas and Barça, aka “An investment in rage”

barto

There is probably, I am sure, someone around who would like the sitting board of FC Barcelona gone more than I.

There is probably a person somewhere who has disliked Bartomeu since childhood, who once upon a time had the board collectively kick their puppy in a conga line of canine disdain.

Which brings us to today’s CAS hearing on the appeal of the two-window transfer ban that was handed down to Barça for violations in youth player registrations, errors that the board has copped to in calling them benign-sounding things such as “administrative oversights.” And there is a vile, evil part of me that, if you listen very closely, you can just make out a faint sound as it screams, “Lose the hearing! They will be brought to account for their actions, and it will be one more nail in their coffin. Die! Die!”

But I love this club far too much to ever, ever wish anything bad for it. I love this club enough to apply objectivity and see that the board has done many of the things that it has done for reasons that are valid to them, even as they rile me to my culer core. (Well, except the horizontal stripes … that crap is just bonkers.)

I also know the damage that a two-window ban would do to the ambitions of the club and team that I love, which means that I can’t in good conscience do anything except root for the club and its lawyers, even as there are voices out there in the world who would prefer the opposite, whose views are in alignment with my Dark Side. Sometimes you have to take some healthy tissue out to remove a tumor, goes the logic, and I understand that. I just can’t in good conscience personally support such a thing because of the potential damage it might cause.

Anger is sometimes good. Rage rarely is. Anger can clear your mind, just as rage invariably blinds. We see but we can’t see, because all that we see is what our rage is telling us to see. Perhaps that explains a lot of my stance against being a fan of a certain player. For as you are a fan of a player it is just as easy to dislike a player, to not see something even when it’s right there in our faces, because of the blindness that is an aftereffect of rage. I”m not mad at Douglas. I’m mad at the situation that means a fast-diminishing Alves is still our best right back.

But even there, looking around at the footballing world makes you wonder where the quality RBs are on the market. They seem to be even more scarce than that “world-class” CB that everyone talks about. As the team failed to get Cuadrado and Enrique didn’t want a purely defensive RB, problems arose. Someone, somewhere who knows a lot more about football and assessing talent than I do, decided to take a shot on Douglas. Okay. He’s here. Now let’s see what happens.

It’s a weird thing rooting for a club. There’s so much that you have to put aside as a consequence of that allegiance. I hate that the club I love signed a player who troubles me morally. I hate that the club I love has, as one of its best players, a man who stood accused of calling an opponent a monkey. I hate that it kicked iconic players to the curb as said player sat weeping at a press table. I hate sold shirt fronts, surreptitiously sold stadium naming rights and all of it.

But when our players stride onto the pitch wearing those famous colors, even if those colors are highlighter yellow, I want nothing more than success for that entity.

This makes it a struggle for me to understand things, not only wanting an appeal to fail, but the almost obsessive dislike of players.

I watched Douglas play in the Copa match on Wednesday, and thought, “Hmmm … not as bad as his first time out, and he is actually trying to DO something this time. Better.”

douglas

And it was weird to think that because out in the world of social media, predominantly Twitter, the steadfast belief that Douglas is the worst footballer on God’s green Earth has been pre-sold with such vigor that it is seemingly impossible to imagine him even completing a pass, never mind actually not comprehensively sucking. So when you say “There were positive things in his game,” it becomes the same as saying that Douglas is the second coming of Dani Alves. He isn’t.

Reality is that I, like most observers, still have no idea WHAT Douglas is, but I know what he isn’t: He isn’t as bad as his detractors make him out to be. He can’t be. Because if he were, every pass would have been intercepted by opponents leading to goals, he would have knocked in a couple of own goals to boot … and kicked a puppy while snatching Thiago Messi’s binky.

Douglas, however, is just the latest. Alex Song has been on that list. Alexis Sanchez spent a long time on that list, and even now, many say that he is playing well because it’s easy to shine at a lesser club, and he still isn’t “Barça quality,” whatever that means. Pique is a dimwitted, unfocused playboy, Sergi Roberto is a waste of oxygen who cost us some player or another. What they all have in common is that they are (or were) Barça players.

And there is a perception gap that is often attendant to that worldview. When Sanchez ran at three players and lost the ball, it was often, “He can’t beat anyone 1v1.” But when Messi makes a run at 3 players and loses the ball, it’s “Oooh, man! Almost! He’s so brilliant.” We have to strive to see everything, instead of what we want to see.

There is a seeming craving for the failure of the Undesirables that is odd to me because if they fail, the team fails and the club is damaged. Champions League failure means less prize money means the bottom line is affected means less money for transfers means more whoring out of the Barça brand and a return of the color copies moratorium. No, I want and need for every one of our players to succeed, including the ones with a taste for human flesh and who hurl invective at wild-haired Brazilians from behind the safety of a cupped hand. Everyone. I don’t have a choice in that, really. I don’t want to be right when it comes to the failure of my club.

Yet the silence when a detested player performs well is deafening. One of those players can not put a foot wrong for 89 minutes and 58 seconds, misplace a pass in the last seconds on injury time and it will start: “A-HA! Told you. He sucks. Can’t even complete a damn pass on the ground. Anybody who defends him is stupid.” Can you really see everything objectively then? Good question. But in many ways it becomes like the person who says to you on social media, “Your an idiot.” Applying a bit of perspective sometimes makes a picture clearer as we put our short-term happiness in the hands of 11 millionaires in short pants.

Even when culers circle the wagons, it’s sometimes for good and bad. In a recent commentary piece by Paul Scholes, he said that the team looked “bored,” for lack of a better descriptive. There is much to agree with in that piece, even if the reasoning behind why it is occurring is wrong.

Someone said that Thomas Vermaelen will never play a match for Barça. I hope that isn’t the case, because he’s one of our players, who was signed for a reason and can be a help to this club. I hope that Douglas continues to improve, loses that deer in the headlights look and develops into something other than a punt of a transfer. I have to hope for these things, because of how much I love Barça.

Nobody, but nobody can tell anyone how to support a club. People can love the club deeply even though they find nothing but wrong in everything that the team and organization does. Being a supporter isn’t about blind loyalty or always seeing the bright side. I don’t know that it’s even about wanting the best for the club. I can’t even adequately express what it’s all about, except from my worldview, from my very personal side of things.

And from that world it’s about seeing, not being blinded by pre-sold notions, about expecting the best and being saddened when that best doesn’t come without losing hope that next time, it will. It’s about expectation and heartbreak, tears and exultation, about wanting the best for every player on the team no matter how they came to the team. It’s about pride and history, traditions and beauty. It’s also about going your own way in how you show the love for that team.

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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.

96 Comments

    • December 5, 2014

      Thanks for posting this!

  1. December 5, 2014

    Montoya’s agent says he is definitely leaving in January.

  2. norden
    December 5, 2014

    I think, at a basic level, being a supporter means always wanting your club or player to succeed. You don’t even have to believe it’s going to happen, but you wish for them to do as best as possible.

    Things like pride, love or even following every game are optional extras, I’d say.

  3. BA
    December 5, 2014

    Montoya, then, is out. Douglas clearly does not have the confidence of the coaching staff; and nothing in his play leads me to believe that’s the wrong decision. Alves has, after a long and successful career, come to be a liability, and is likely leaving in the summer (maybe in January?) anyway.

    why, then, did the club not sign a right-back as Lucho requested? because they were busy setting up the Suarez transfer? because they claim we’re out of funds? surely that should have been prioritized in our transfers this past summer; but instead we ended up with a galactico, a 31-year-old stopgap, and a perpetual injury machine. that’s simply not good enough.

    soon we will be down to 1 trained right-back, then none. none of our whining appeals to the CAS will be met with sympathy (as perhaps they shouldn’t; this was a self-inflicted wound). yet there are still some who attempt to defend the transfer policy of this board and the sporting director. incredible.

  4. lala10
    December 5, 2014

    i get it that coaches have their preferences and all that but letting Montoya go would be downright dereliction of duty. Puyol started at right back and was not convincing either. I rember a Champions league game in 2001 asking myself who this guy with frazzled hair was. He looked sub par but time polishes many imperfections. Montoya lacks that bit of quality going forward. Indecision, hesitancy, imprecision and what not. What he lacks there he covers in defensive solidity. Look at Carvajal. Life is not fair and Barca has been unfair with Monty. If he goes its because he was never given a proper go.

  5. December 5, 2014

    Montoya didn’t convince any of 4 coaches. He had his shot, time to move on. Is a player who doesn’t meet your specifications better than nothing? Enrique doesn’t seem to think so.

    Note that in a presser today, Bartra spoke of playing RB in recent trainings. Could be interesting.

    • BA
      December 5, 2014

      will never work. Bartra doesn’t have the speed (remember the Copa final…) or positional sense that high up the pitch to play there effectively. maybe, as some of us have long wanted, we’ll switch to a back 3 [3-1-3-3], and allow Alba/Adriano to fly the flanks. that might go a long way towards resolving our defensive issues as well.

      Bartra-Pique-Mathieu
      Mascherano
      Adriano-Iniesta-Alba
      Suarez-Messi-Neymar

      with Messi withdrawn into that 10 position. such a formation asks alot of Andres, but it’s past time he starting running the team in a more central position rather than just functioning as the turbocharger on Xavi’s engine.

    • December 5, 2014

      Depends on whether Bartra plays as a defensive RB rather than the traditional Barça RB. Also don’t forget that in that Copa final, a) he had a gimpy hammy and b) he was up against the fastest player in the game in Bale, who also had a head start.

    • December 5, 2014

      He won’t work in the current scheme where the wingbacks have to provide width and there are three bus-bricking strikers, but in a normal scheme against a normal team?
      Yep, I think so. Less exposure to counters, more safety for set pieces and more target men for corners and set pieces. Don’t expect a right-footed Abidal though.

      Still, I think the notion could be explored. It won’t hurt to try it, especially if at some point by the end of the season there is a shortage of right-backs and excess of CBs.

    • Jim
      December 5, 2014

      His only mistake in the CDR was not taking Bale out completely. He won’t make that mistake again. It wasn’t a question of speed and speed isn’t the number one requirement. He’d also be the best defensive RB we’ve had in all the time I’ve been supporting the club. We can work around the rest.

    • December 5, 2014

      I’m with Jim. With Mascherano back there, no way Bale scores that goal.

    • senyera7
      December 5, 2014

      It’s a question of defensive maturity,most experienced defenders do a professional on Bale and take the yellow. I seriously believe that Bartra could cut it at right back. Of course, he wouldn’t attack nearly as much down the flank as Alves would, but that would make the right side much harder to get through for opponents. Of course, it would significantly reduce the width we have while attacking, but, tbh in the absence of Cuadrado, I think it’s our best option/

    • Josep
      December 5, 2014

      Forgive me for forgetting which of the 4, but he played a lot under Tata, I believe. Including on the left.

      He was impressive enough for a Spain cap, as well. For Lucho, yes you can count this, but for four coaches that’s an extreme stretch. I mean when Pep left, he was 20? On top of that, played the CDR final versus Athletic one season.

      You can definitely say he didn’t impress Lucho, but I wouldn’t say you can say the 3 others. Harsh.

    • December 5, 2014

      Yes, he played with Tata, mostly because Alba and Dani were injured a lot last season. I can’t forget the mental image of a screaming Tata after Monti had sent a cross that instead of finding someone in the box went out on the near side of the goal.

      I really want him to perform better, but if Douglas is before him…
      Fact is, Douglas seemed petrified. If he loses that panicked look, he will get better.

    • December 5, 2014

      I’m actually going through last season now, and am about halfway through. There isn’t much of a Montoya sighting. I honestly don’t recall him playing all that much under Martino, but Josep could well be right. If I didn’t keep looking at my DVR’s recordings list and the pile of blank DVDs with fear, I would know more by now.

      Everyone remembers Montoya hitting the crossbar against RM, including me.

    • December 5, 2014

      Here you can see all the games Montoya played in.
      Games played under Tata:
      Rayo away, Osasuna away, Celta away, Espanyol at home, Betis away, Granada home, Athletic away, Villarreal home, Elche home, Levante away, Sevilla away, Real Sociedad away, Granada away. Started all, subbed out vs Sevilla.

      A squawka comparison between Douglas(72min vs Malaga), Montoya(90 min. vs Atheltic) this season and last season Montoya’s La Liga and Champions League performance.

      http://www.squawka.com/comparison-matrix#la_liga/2014/2015/douglas/136/136/6400/0/p|la_liga/2014/2015/mart%C3%ADn_montoya/136/136/1580/0/p|la_liga/2013/2014/mart%C3%ADn_montoya/136/69/1580/0/p|champions_league/2013/2014/mart%C3%ADn_montoya/142/81/1580/0/p#defence_score/possession_score/total_forward_passes/total_backward_passes/pass_completion/tackles_won/tackles_lost/successful_take_ons/aerial_duels_won/aerial_duels_won_%/fouls_suffered/fouls_committed/interceptions/clearances/cards_for_bad_tackles#avg

      Keep in mind, of course, that Douglas has NOT moved through the levels of La Masia, does not speak Spanish or Catalan, has never played in Spain or in Europe, and knew his colleagues for about a month when he first played, against a parked bus to booth.

  6. lala10
    December 5, 2014

    Montoya has been way better than he has been given credit for. He has played in some Classicos as well. Never looked out of depth against Cristiano and company. Fact is his career has not kicked on. It speaks of how far he is disregarded that an unknown punt was deemed better over a Masia product. Add in the circumstances and it gets madder. To me there is no doubt that with a Pep like coach Montoya improves. He has the basic qualities no doubt. All needed is a coach who can coax that and improve his forward play which leaves a lot to be desired

    • December 5, 2014

      Attackers got behind Montoya far too easily. For me, the “poor Montoya” myth strains credulity, mostly because I watched him. He was always going to be a sub, never, ever a starter. So it’s best for him to leave.

      I don’t believe, for the of the magical powers ascribed to Mr. Guardiola, that he would have been able to make Montoya into anything more than a sub. And that’s okay, because teams need squad players.

      But in today’s meeting with Enrique, Montoya learned that he was bottom of the pecking order, behind Douglas. So for him, leaving is the best option.

  7. we are dooomed
    December 5, 2014

    Excuse me but … I don’t quite understand what the article is trying to tell me. It looks like a piece that is trying to tell me that Douglas wasn’t quite as catastrophic as the social media exaggerations would suggest. As in: “He only crossed the ball to the opponent around his own box for reasons unknown to anyone including himself and got a bit embarrassed against 3th division opposition here and there, but he didn’t actually score 20 own goals.” Plus something something “supporting the club”. Which is, of course, true. What is also true is that Barca is chasing away a homegrown talent who maybe might never become a world class player but who also managed to not get embarrassed in a Clasico despite getting limited minutes for someone who will CERTAINLY not even play 10 Barca games in his career because he looks out of his depth against 3th division opponents – even without scoring 20 own goals.

    TL;DR: This blog needs less “let’s all be happy hippos, hold hands and support the club” and more “WTF IS THIS MONEY LAUNDERING POS DOUGLAS DOING AT MY CLUB AND HOW DID ZUBI THE FAT BADHEALD MANAGE TO GET THE CLUB IN A SITUATION WHERE ALVES IS A FREE AGENT NEXT MONTH AND MONTOYA LEAVING THE CLUB WHICH LEAVES GLASSMAN ADRIANO AND 5TH DIVISION QUALITY PLAYER DOUGLAS AS FIRST CHOICE FOR NEXT SEASON IN A CRUCIAL POSITION – WITH A TRANSFER BAN TO BOOT, BECAUSE WE ALL KNOW IT WON’T BE LIFTED?!”

    Or something similar at least.

    • ooga aga
      December 5, 2014

      that stuff you wrote in all caps. we need less of that, not more. thanks in advance.

    • December 5, 2014

      we are doomed, this blog “needs” exactly what it has: a group of writers with opinions that are their own, opinions that don’t pander or do affirmation, that don’t kowtow to the necessity of the people who want to see certain things. And it has what it needs in an assemblage of commenters who meet those same standards.

      When I am on Twitter, I tweet as though I don’t care an iota if anyone follows me. You have to, or you aren’t being honest. When I write here, it is the same. It is what I believe and feel.

      So what you perceive as “let’s all be happy hippos, hold hands and support the club” is in fact not what was written. What is above is my view, and how things are for me. If someone else has a different view, that is theirs.

      You probably missed the parts where I question the quality of Douglas, and state that like most, I have no idea exactly what he is yet. That’s okay. But if you are going to suggest that this space needs something in its articles, it’s generally beneficial that full familiarity is reached about the thing you’re commenting on. Otherwise it’s a flawed contention.

      If this blog ever gets what you suggest it needs, I can assure you that it will not be under the aegis of me or anyone else on this team. That isn’t the spirit with which this space was founded, nor is it the spirit in which it continues to exist.

      There is a comments space in which people can say what they like, provided it doesn’t attack a commenter or violate general bounds of respect. That is how this space will remain. So if you have an opinion, and I assume that you do, state it, and it can be debated like all other opinions in this space.

      The other option is if the blog isn’t providing what you need, there are other blogs that might. It’s as when I tell people they should unfollow me on Twitter if they don’t like what I have to say — it’s okay to not come here if your needs aren’t being met. This space aspires to conversation and commentary of all kinds about FC Barcelona. It will always be thus.

    • we are dooomed
      December 5, 2014

      Haha, I have to laugh a bit about the serious nature of the answer. The bolded part was obviously meant in jest, I wouldn’t seriously want to read a professional blog in such fashion. Although there is an element of truth to it IMO when I say that the blog often has too much of a “let’s all be happy hippos, everything is/will be fine” tone. Even after a game where Douglas looks out of his depth against 3th division opponents the most scrutiny expressed is “I don’t know what he is yet”? Some stronger, more polemic and polarizing opinions don’t hurt. I don’t write much but I follow the blog for a long time now and I feel it’s in the nature of the blog to sugarcoat and relativize things just to distuingish itself from “the raging masses on social media”.

    • December 5, 2014

      Not at all. I think that generally opinions here happen in a vacuum, and certainly not as a response to some sort of external stimulus, though sometimes such things might inspire a thought or post, as with the Douglas stuff yesterday.

      Perhaps this “sugarcoating” that you see is because there is a lot of ill-considered ranting out there. Vehemence doesn’t equate to veracity.

  8. TITO
    December 5, 2014

    I blame Pep for placing such high standards for people that they will moan about everything in and around the club if it doesnt have a world class player in every position.

    We won the Champions league and La liga with freaking Oleguer as our right back!!!

    • we are dooomed
      December 5, 2014

      Yes, Barca won the CL after Oleguer got subbed off and his substitute scored the winner. Funny, eh? Signing a player who is above 5th division standard has nothing to do with Pep standards, it should be common logic for a club of Barca’s stature. Why people would try to find ways to justify this signing I’ll never know. Sometimes there is no secret, deeper explanation behind the very obvious. Sometimes the obvious is the truth. Douglas is not a Barca level footballer and never will be. That’s the obvious truth.

    • December 5, 2014

      Just because Oleguer’s substitute scored the winning goal doesn’t obliterate or minimize the quality of his contribution to that winning effort.

      The reason we keyboard warriors aren’t coaching a top-level football club is because that isn’t our job. When people suggest an opinion that is different than yours, it isn’t an attempt to justify a signing. Far from it. It’s just their opinion. Debate it, and respect it as such.

      If you think that Douglas is not a Barça-level footballer, whatever that means, that is certainly an opinion that you have a right to. But I don’t consider it to be a truth, because it hasn’t been proven yet. And Luis Enrique, a man being paid a lot of money to coach Barça, certainly does think that he has the chance to reach a level necessary for him to be an effective part of this football club.

      That strikes me as a more obvious truth than any other presenting itself at the moment.

    • we are dooomed
      December 5, 2014

      I wouldn’t call that a more obvious truth. More like shying away from presenting strong opinions to be frank. Luis Enrique getting paid a lot and us just being keyboard warriors is a typical thought-terminating cliché. According to that logic every official decision by all multi-million revenue football clubs is “closer to the truth” than differing opinions just because they are all highly-paid in what they are doing and we aren’t.

      Apart from that I haven’t really seen any signs that Luis Enrique believes Douglas will be an effective part of the club. After almost halfway through the season he has played a total 73 minutes more than Montoya who has been told that he can leave and isn’t counted on.

      The initial argument is also a weak one (“but Oleguer …”) as it basically just says: “We won trophies with a bad player in the past so what’s the problem if we have another bad player again?”

    • we are dooomed
      December 5, 2014

      Oh, and let me add something else. If the Douglas signing was the only gaffe in an otherwise acceptable sporting project it wouldn’t be this infuriating. But it isn’t. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. Since Chygrynskiy – that was more than half a decade ago – the CB reinforcements in defense have been Alex Song who was advertised as a versatile DM who could play CB when needed like Mascherano – who is now on loan at West Ham -, Vermaelen who is the 873th underwhelming Arsenal reject who might debut in 2019 and a 31 year old for € 20M who is at least doing okay but far from great with weird clearances, rush tackles and less than La Masia standard passing out of the back.

      In midfield Fabregas was bought and taking up Thiago’s minutes who found himself on the bench after Pep left. Which led to Thiago searching playing time elsewhere. Only for Fabregas to be sold as well 1 season later. Incredible planning and vision.

      At rightback we are in a situation where Alves, who is clearly past it, has his contract running out next summer with Montoya leaving and a transfer ban in full effect, leaving the team with either a 5th division quality player or a player who can’t stay injury-free for 3 consecutive games. Incredible planning and vision.

      They’ve signed an € 80M striker who is yet to score his first official La Liga goal in December DOE. Only 9 goals short of Alexis. Who cost Arsenal about € 20M + Vermaelen’s hospital costs being outsourced to sunny Barcelona.

    • December 5, 2014

      Or it might suggest that a championship team should have the flexibility to be able to adapt and compensate when a player doesn’t match the standard of the rest of the group, as happens sometimes due to injuries, etc. The impossibility of having 24 world-class players who can start for any team on the planet is rarely considered. Sometimes, you need your basic squad player, whose job is to go out there and not screw up.

    • BA
      December 5, 2014

      reply to Kxevin below:

      except, dear Kxevin, what many of us are going on about is that we DON’T have a championship team with the flexibility to adjust and compensate for injuries and poor performance, due to the inadequacies of the oversight and direction of the sporting project. Douglas on his own is just a mystifying terrible buy (and a few million wasted); Douglas in conjunction with a looming transfer ban, the prospect of no viable RBs in the Fall (and only a misfiring Alves in the Spring), a lack of options at CB and a glossing over of the manager’s transfer targets to “settle” for a player not up to the standard of the club is a squad management clusterfuck.

      it is yet another case of the club shortshrifting the immediate needs of the sporting project in favour of we know not what. the books? marketability? inside deals?

      what is crystal clear is that we desperately needed a dynamic new RB, and instead we got hardly a 2nd division quality player. we desperately needed at least 1 dynamic, commanding, quick, starting CB and got a 31 year old and a perpetually injured player yet to start a game. i don’t understand why people are willing to gloss over this, i really don’t.

    • we are dooomed
      December 6, 2014

      What more, let me quote Kxevin from a few replies above:

      “Attackers got behind Montoya far too easily. For me, the “poor Montoya” myth strains credulity, mostly because I watched him. He was always going to be a sub, never, ever a starter. So it’s best for him to leave.”

      So, let me get this right. It is best for Montoya to leave because he is definitely and “never ever” was up to standards but when it comes to Douglas who has performed worse than Montoya ever did against 3th division opposition (and anyone who has watched Brasileiro has warned Barca fans that this was his level since day 1) we are searching for justifications how a team can also perform without 11 world class players and it’s fine to have another Oleguer (Douglas is an insult to Oleguer by the way)? Seriously?

    • Benj
      December 9, 2014

      My ,
      Anyone would think they had stumbled across the blog of a team that had just lost 5 games in a row… or maybe at least 2 or 3. Instead of ‘ermegerd our forward line is boss, our midfield is boss, hell even our defense is doing pretty well, most of our signings are gelling quickly, we have 2 top class GKs, an amazing pool of young talent to draw for, we are 2 points off the top spot and scored 23 goals in the last 7 games, all of which have been wins, 4 of which have been clean sheets…ermegerd’.
      You say it shouldnt be all beer and skittles on the site, but to be honest, it is. You have a transfer ban, but also a squad with massive talent and a youth pool to draw from that is regarded as one of, if not THE best in the world, results are going your way, you have introduced players who should be with the club for years to come and a great leader to manage them. You will struggle for a right back because Dani is leaving and it also looks like Monty will go, but you have played 3 at the back before and still have Adriano, who is a freaking boss (when fit).
      Kxev doesnt try to be mr happydays and rainbows, he is realistic, and the realism of Barca’s situation is that they continue to perform like one of the best in the world, continue to dominate opponents and display great football. If anything, it isnt that Kxev is sugarcoating, it’s like you are taking the coating off, ignoring the good for the bad. Personally I can’t afford that outlook, my team has very little sugar coating to strip, so count yourselves extremely fortunate to support the club through this relatively awesome time in Barca’s history.
      At least you aren’t relying on a frontline of Rickie Lambert…

  9. senyera7
    December 5, 2014

    After seeing Douglas’ performances in the games that he has played, well I wish he would just calm down. Sure, he may not be the most talented player. But if only he would focus, stay calm and take it one step at a time, he could do decently if not spectacularly. He seems so terrified that he’ll screw up, that he doesn’t really play his game. I want to see his ‘A’ game before judging him.

    • agar2515
      December 6, 2014

      I think what is annoying people is that this isn’t some mid- table club where a Douglas level player can be brought along slowly, this is freaking FC Barcelona, the standards are higher. Simple as that for me.

  10. lala10
    December 6, 2014

    Nothing is set in stone. The notion that Montoya is never going to be world class is tricky. We really don’t know. How many times have coaches fucked up? That we are willing to discard a known quantity for the unknown is baffling.

    Enrique is entitled to his opinions and judgements. But from the outside some are difficult to fathom. Unless he absolutely knows something we don’t. Maybe he knows the ban is to be lifted and Cuadrado is coming. Maybe because sans that it seems illogical.

  11. TITO
    December 6, 2014

    I think we are speaking the same language, just that somehow we don’t understand each other.
    What im saying, and i believe the majority here feels the same, is that nobody is defending the board for some stupid decisions in the transfer market. We all wanted Cuadrado, it didn’t happen, so it’s pointless to go back and cry about it. Same as Silva, Hummels, etc.
    They bought what they bought, and that’s it, deal with it.
    If that will be sufficient at the end of the season, we will see. Some are predicting doom, some a season without a trophy, only few if not none a glory, but we’ll see.
    As for Douglas, we all know how and for what we will remember Belletti and his time in our club.

  12. agar2515
    December 6, 2014

    I see what you’re going for Kevin but, if I may echo one lucasmmr from Twitter , I am under no obligation to blindly support players simply because they wear our colors. It is an absolute joke that Douglas is playing for FCB, he belongs in segunda. Saying ” well I mean hes not THAT bad” doesn’t do anything for me, especially with how much LE needs dynamic FB play. Dani leaving/fading, Montoya leaving, and we have a C-level RB in waiting. I can totally see why people are so angry.

  13. agar2515
    December 6, 2014

    I also take issue with the notion that people ” Dont know what Douglas is” when we have all read heaps and heaps of shocled commentaries from people who know his play in Brazil, I am not sure why all those voices carry no weight. Just because we wish him to be good doesnt mean he will be, just because we wish Vermaelen to not break doesnt mean he isnt going to ( Which I called when he was signed).
    This is NOT directed at you personally, but I am getting really tired of my fandom being called into question because of my annoyance with the Douglas and TV situations.

  14. agar2515
    December 6, 2014

    Since I can’t reply directing to your comment BA let me say I agree with you. I cant believe Im reading ” Well when he stops looking so scared/lost/ deer in headlights maybe he’ll be decent” REALLY!? He’s already 24, at the biggest club in the world (after not remotely lighting up Brazil League) in a massively important period in it’s existence ( New coach, aging players, Transfer ban, and on and on). I can’t believe how lax people are being, Im with social media on this. Call a spade a spade.

    • Jim
      December 6, 2014

      Not necessarily disagreeing with the assessments of Douglas but I’ve only seen him twice. Used to be we’d cut a player a bit of slack for their first season with us and that was usually coming from somewhere in Europe. He’s being largely kept out of sight, hopefully till he gets used to the lifestyle, way of playing – crucially the fact that decent defending means a lot more here than in Brazil judging by some of the kamikaze stuff you see across there – and finally living up to the need to produce immediately at Barca.

      There are only two options as I see it. Either we have been involved in some shady dealings which have resulted in his arrival or, more likely, somebody has seen something in him. They wouldn’t have made a judgement on two outings so I’m gonna withhold my thoughts on him till I’ve seen enough to back it up. Enough of the concentration on the pass across the area as well. I still wince on his behalf when I see Cesc’s back heel to Iniesta before he joined us on the edge of the Arsenal box.

      On the plus side he has some pace and decent technical skills. On the negative, for me, his tackling needs work and he badly needs some confidence which will cure some of the headless chicken stuff. Stop and think what it must be like arriving at training and ending up in a rondo with Xavi, Iniesta, Busi etc. – even Pique’s technical skills are pretty awesome.
      With regard to the urgency of a replacement for Dani, he’s not going anywhere in January, he’s not bad, especially when he puts his mind to defence. He’s unfortunate that a fair whack of our attack up till now leads to him delivering the final ball. That ball isn’t easy, either, given the fact that the lob cross shouldn’t be an option. If he’s needing a rest Barta has a defensive head on his shoulders and could easily fill in. No bad thing if one of the FBs stays back a bit more but I think we’d find him choosing his time to attack more sensibly and coming late which might mean more space. I haven’t seen his crossing so can’t comment on that.

      So it’s not disaster. I reckon we have a much improved defence, who seem finally to be getting some coaching, two excellent GKs, four competent CBs which is as much as any team and a front three ready to explode. Unlike many around here I wouldn’t be surprised if we do lift one of the big ones this season. We will score against you: if you can’t score against us, we win 🙂

  15. December 6, 2014

    I will just group a response to BA and agar2515 here, as it’s easier given the mess of unrelated comments that WorsPress sometimes presents.

    It’s actually very clearly stated above that I would rather get angry at the situation that still has Alves as our best RB and places hope in a project, than the actual project, who is trying to do what any professional in any field does, which is meet the standards of the entity that employs him.

    It’s also pretty clearly stated that TO MY VIEW, and the entire piece is to my view, the rage at him is misplaced, as it usually is with unfavored player. That same piece very clearly states that (I will cut and paste it here to make life easier):

    Nobody, but nobody can tell anyone how to support a club. People can love the club deeply even though they find nothing but wrong in everything that the team and organization does. Being a supporter isn’t about blind loyalty or always seeing the bright side.

    So when I stand accused of somehow supporting the board, or telling people they should support things they shouldn’t, or “glossing over” the Douglas situation, you can understand how I would worry that they haven’t read the post as carefully as they should have. agar, you can’t believe how lax people are being, but nobody is being lax. Nobody is saying that Douglas is good, or the second coming of Alves. The few people who don’t want him drawn and quartered, are simply saying that he wasn’t as poor as he was his last time out.

    There is an impatience with Douglas, who as purchased as a project, while people clamor for the inclusion of B team players in the first team such as Adama, who are every bit a project. People are willing to patiently wait for them to develop, while other players get no chance, for whatever reason. Bigger upside to Adama? Maybe, maybe not. The first team, where he so far has NOT been impressive, will sort that out. That is my view, by the by, and mine alone.

    As a matter of fact, the piece above is very clear that everybody has their own view of a situation and can react to it as they like, which has somehow been misconstrued by three different people as “You’re telling us how to support the club,” etc, etc, when I am doing no such thing. As a matter of fact, a careful read of the piece would make clear that it is exactly the opposite, that I am telling nobody how they should or shouldn’t support the club.

    One thing that I think needs to stop is the overstatement that goes on when someone doesn’t agree with a prevailing view. Nobody is being lax, whatever that means. Nobody is failing to uphold the astronomical standards of FC Barcelona, the same standards that certain beloved players are allowed to fall short of, by the by, while others will never meet them no matter what they do. It’s far and away the worst part of existence in the culerverse.

    Treat everyone the same, every player the same, every coach the same. Judge them by what they do, not by rants or preconceived notions. Again, my view.

    I can’t speak enough about the dangers of readings things into sentences and statements that aren’t there, particularly with me, who doesn’t put such things there. It leads to long-winded screeds or machine-gun comments that in effect call me a biased jackass or some sort, when the black-and-white words usually argue against what the commenter is throwing toys out of the pram about.

    In saying above that I don’t know what Douglas is, it is precisely that. Nobody knows what Douglas is, even the people who insist that he is a Traffic boondoggle, a crap player who will always be crap, etc, etc. As Phil Schoen, who called the match for BeIN Sports noticed, had Munir been on his game, Douglas would have been a crap player with a couple of assists to his name.

    Culers scream, cry and rant that Montoya needs playing time to develop, but are unwilling to grant that exact same boon to someone who the coach of Barça believes has a higher up side. It’s some of the double standard that I allude to above. And it’s all because people have been screaming, before Douglas even played a second for Barça, that he is shit.

    I have nothing invested in whether Douglas is shit or not. If he turns out to BE shit, I will be as angry, if not more angry, than anyone else. But that anger will be directed at the right parties, and I will cast my vote against those parties when I have a chance.

    To me, and ONLY to me, it isn’t fair to judge a player before he even plays a second for the club that we all support. It isn’t fair to demand one thing for one player but something else for a different player. It isn’t fair not to give the coach of the club that we support an iota of trust, i.e. “Enrique puts Douglas above Montoya? He’s stupid. I can’t believe that idiot.”

    You can’t know what the answer to an equation is before you even know what the numbers are. To me, that just isn’t logical.

    • December 6, 2014

      Very well put. Not sure how anyone can judge a player based on 2 games, in a new system, in a new league and with new players. Best to reserve judgement till he has a season under his belt where he has played consistently, if he doesn’t get that chance then we can all assume he wasn’t good enough. He could be the pile of crap that everyone is saying he is, or he could be a decent player who surprises a lot of people. We just don’t know yet. A lot of players start out rough around the edges when they join a new team. Abidal was one, I remember he wasn’t “Barca quality” till all of a sudden he was. Henry was past it, Keita was useless, etc etc. Barca fans just love to hate players that do not live up to some ridiculous standard they have set in their heads. Doesn’t stop at players who were brought in either, Sergio fell victim to this too, who the now infallible Pep was “crazy” and “naive” for playing ahead of Yaya Toure.

    • we are dooomed
      December 6, 2014

      Absurd to draw parallels to Abidal, Henry and the likes just because they started their Barca careers shakily. Abidal was a French international before he came to Barca. Henry was possibly the best player in Premier League history. Douglas doesn’t even look like a footballer just as everyone who follows the Brasileiro predicted, that’s not some “crazy Barca fan standard”. He panik-crossed the ball to the striker of the opposite team infront of his own box. Against 3th division opposition. It’s not that he doesn’t impress. He simply looks inadequate to execute the basics at this level.

      Here is a bet. Douglas won’t play 10 games for Barca, get shipped out on loan next summer and never return until his contract runs out.

    • December 6, 2014

      Actually the fact that players like Henry and Abidal were both experienced at the highest level just makes my point more poignant. If it takes time for internationally capped, world class players to settle into a new team and surroundings, players that have played at the same level for years, than I imagine it might take a bit longer for a player from a different level of football altogether. Like many here have already pointed out, nobody is saying he is great or that he is going to end up great, just that some people are willing to give him a bit more time. You obviously aren’t and that is your prerogative, but there is nothing wrong with those who are.

      As for his mistake last week, yeah it was bad, but I have lost count of the number of times Dani Alves has done similarly stupid things trying to play the ball out from the back. Does that make him inadequate at executing the basics at this level too?

    • December 6, 2014

      The Treble season was like when a kid’s hungover parent just gives them a slice of chocolate cake for breakfast. The next morning, the kid runs downstairs like “Hey, whoa! What’s this cereal and toast crap!”

      That cake was an extraordinary occurrence, just like championships. So when the kid has a tantrum because he doesn’t get chocolate cake, it’s okay, and understandable. Chocolate cake is good. Especially for breakfast.

      Likewise, winning is good. Really good. Supporters can be forgiven for wanting it all the time. The most difficult thing is always to get people to understand the magic trick, the crazy alchemy of stringing together enough success to win a championship. ANY championship. It isn’t a question of talent, even, though gobs of talent certainly helps. Stuff just has to come together in the right way.

      But when championships define everything, then everything is found wanting. Tata Martino becomes a failure and a fraud, rather that a coach who did something extraordinary with an exhausted, oft-injured bunch of athletes who had already won everything, through personal tragedies getting them close … so close. But he’s a failure because there was no championship, and his legacy is defined in the eyes of many.

      In a recent interview, Martino said that he would do pretty much everything differently were he to be able to repeat his season in the abyss. Many construed that as an admission that he didn’t do things the “right” way. But I wonder if he means he would have stuck to his ideas, and told the entorno to suck it, benched underperforming darlings and run the team like it was his, for however long it was his.

      Expectations are a burden, really, and that is the most difficult part of being a supporter.

      Imagine being a Sevilla or Valencia supporter, without a snowball’s chance in hell of hoisting any kind of silver. Just imagine that, for a second, if you can. A chance of winning the Champions League group, two points off the top in Liga and not even firing on all cylinders, and it’s insufficient. Enrique, Douglas, Vermaelen, that chain-smoking ancient at CB, this, that, the other …

      I will never, ever forget how extraordinary and special winning is. And to me, personally, it’s too extraordinary to expect it, or demand it, or do anything except marvel at it when it comes.

      Probably explains a lot of my worldview, I reckon.

    • agar2515
      December 6, 2014

      We were also playing Huesca… Douglas makes that error against a better team and it’s a goal.
      Kevin, my words were totally not directed at you, as you know if I ever have any issue with anything you’ve personally said I’ll just come out and say it :-P.
      Also, Im not all “sky is falling”, I am happy with how the team is progressing, especially with new purchases, coach and that coach’s desired “system” trying to be implemented. I am solely very,very irked at Douglas and the TV situations because, with a ban coming up/Dani and Montoya leaving, I am baffled at their purchases.

  16. Dar_vincy
    December 6, 2014

    That really was a breathless affair at st James’ park.
    Being an unflinching hater of Mourinho’s habitual morbid egotism, was glad he wasn’t opportune to gloat about some unbeaten record. Good riddance!

    p.s: sorry for the irrelevance of my comment to the post.

  17. December 6, 2014

    @ Kxevin,

    Yeah but even in that treble season people were complaining, about lots of players as well as Pep. I just think there are certain types of fans that will never really be happy, they look back now and think “Wow, that team was perfect! I wish we were like that now!” but at the time Abidal wasn’t good enough, Henry was past it, Eto’o had forgotten how to score, Sergio wasn’t Yaya, Keita was a waste of space and so on. It is like the spoilt kid who always wants the neighbours toy and is never happy with the room full of toys that he has.

  18. December 6, 2014

    the amount of penalties that madrid receives is almost laughable.

    • ciaran
      December 6, 2014

      It is rather incredible really. I’m not going to comment on every single penalty decision that gets awarded to them but overall the statistics are amazing.
      There is rarely a game these days that they don’t get one.

    • December 6, 2014

      that’s 7 penalties in 14 matches. they were awarded 6 penalties all of last season. ridiculous.

    • agar2515
      December 6, 2014

      PK7 for Fallon D’Flor

    • posthipsterpope
      December 6, 2014

      And Barcelona had 10 last season. Was that discrepancy last season laughable too?

    • December 7, 2014

      You call a 4 penalty gap over 38 games the same thing as a 6 penalty gap over 13 games?

      Sorry to use a twitter phrase, but “Dude, do you even math?”

      Right now Real Madrid have more penalties in favour than Atletico, Barcelona and Valencia together.

      Real Madrid also have been given more penalties than any two teams currently leading any of Europe’s top five leagues, with the exception of Juventus. If you combine Juventus and Benfica, you get one less penalty than what Madrid has been given.

      Right now it’s becoming even ridiculous. Ronaldo doesn’t even bother to hide the fact that he’s diving. It’s not like someone will not give him the penalty; it’s not like someone will give him a yellow for simulation.

  19. TITO
    December 6, 2014

    It’s incredible really how these guys get all the dubious penalty calls in their favour.

  20. agar2515
    December 6, 2014

    On another, far more positive note… Let’s hear it for Bojan resurrecting his career at Stoke. I’m happy for him.

  21. luisthebeast
    December 6, 2014

    If someone watched the game stoke vs arsenal and want to share his view on how marc muniesa perfomance was it will be nice:-)

  22. Tata2
    December 7, 2014

    Getting soft calls like that isn’t just ridiculous, its an injustice to the smaller teams. Could Celts get a soft call like that against Madrid? Every other anti-barca fan believes neymar is an Olympic diver (in the same class as Michael Phelps) but when Ronaldo dives, its praises about how he breaks records and in between, when was the last time Neymar actually dived?. There’s nothing wrong in getting a bucket load of non-dubious penalties but when there’s so much controversy then it becomes debatable

    • Jim
      December 7, 2014

      Wow! Pretty impressive.

      Notice Bartra not called up for today. So we’ll not be seeing any experiment at RB but is Dani not suspended for PSG? I’m guessing that means Adriano has got the nod ?

    • December 7, 2014

      Or another way to look at it is maybe he is being rested for PSG 😉

      What a goal from Alen. That kid is going to be something else, hopefully we see more of him in the first team soon!

  23. Ryan
    December 7, 2014

    It’s time for the Barcelona derby!

    [LINE-UP | ALINEACIONS | ALINEACIONES]
    13. Bravo
    3. Piqué
    4. Rakitic
    5. Sergio
    6. Xavi
    9. Suárez
    10. Messi
    11. Neymar
    14. Mascherano
    18. Jordi Alba
    22. Alves

  24. kosby
    December 7, 2014

    Terrible first goal conceded. Super high quality goal by Messi to come back. Espanyol essentially playing a block of 6 players in the center and we keep running into the wall. Until Messi decided to curl it around the wall. What a player !

  25. stefan2k
    December 7, 2014

    A moment of individual brilliance in those lackluster first 45 minutes!

  26. ooga aga
    December 7, 2014

    amazing goal by messi, and even though the 1st half is basically over, he isnt celebrating, hes trying to get back to the center line, and telling everyone else too. intense. hes turning into a leader too.

    espanyol has the bus parked and the parking brakes on lock down.

  27. TITO
    December 7, 2014

    That’s the difference between him and the thong boy.
    But i was furious with the first goal, cause it was bound to happen eventually with Busi’s overconfidence that he will always get away in those silly situations. Just pass the ball, you @#&*#((#@*# !!!!!

    • G6O
      December 7, 2014

      It looked like a foul on the replay

    • TITO
      December 7, 2014

      Regardless.
      Even if it is a foul, sometimes you will get the call, sometimes you wont.
      The point is that he should not complicate things as he rather likes sometimes, and instead just pass the ball. Its much easier, especially when you have an open player to make the pass.

  28. Ryan
    December 7, 2014

    One goal down, another goal to go! So happy we got the equalizer before the half. Bravo kept us in the game until then.

  29. Valdemar II
    December 7, 2014

    Christ, he’s evolved.

    • ooga aga
      December 7, 2014

      LOL

  30. ooga aga
    December 7, 2014

    wow. never ceases to amaze!

  31. Ryan
    December 7, 2014

    Neymar to Suarez to Messi, wow.

  32. ooga aga
    December 7, 2014

    wow, five goals, another messi hattrick of very high quality…and a little tension after going a goal down to begin… that was fun!

  33. georgjorge
    December 7, 2014

    Iniesta back from injury, Pedro back from his scoring/assisting drought…looking forward to Wednesday!

  34. barca96
    December 7, 2014

    Only quibble is once again our defense was carved open so easily (in the first half). Even against Huesca it was carved open so easily. And Suarez needs to play 90mins. Lucho needs to give him more time to score a goal. He’s not helping the cause. The longer it takes the worse the situation is going to be.

    Why wasn’t Neymar or Messi taken off instead? They have all the confidence. They don’t really need a goal or a hat trick. They could do with some rest for the most important match of the season so far. Suarez needs to score just one goal to make him reach his potential. Lucho has already destroyed one players confidence (Montoya), I hope Suarez won’t follow suit. It’ll be a catastrophe.

    Messi once again with a hattrick without penalty. 2 hat tricks in 2 weeks and 5 with right foot. So much for the Messi only scores with one foot. Messi was like a man on a mission last night. Pre 2012 Messi. Too bad sometimes he just doesn’t want to run.

    • December 7, 2014

      It was carved open because Busquets was stupid. Without that error, it’s probably a clean sheet today. Teams are going to get chances. Liga teams aren’t a Sunday pub league. The team won 5-1, with something around 70% possession, goals scored in many different ways and a hat trick for its best player.

      I’m disinclined to work hard enough to find something to complain about.

      Suarez? Let him get his goals like all the other players do. He’s a grown man, and a very expensive grown man at that. Enrique has to coach for the team. Pedro came on and within 5 minutes got a goal and an assist. THAT is why the substitution was made.

      Enrique didn’t destroy Montoya’s confidence. Montoya did it himself, by not being good enough. Enrique wasn’t the only coach who didn’t play him.

      I truly don’t understand what this team and its coach have to do to get a modicum of respect.

    • barca96
      December 7, 2014

      Busquets was stupid on ONE occasion. Or are you turning a blond eye to the other situations. Ok I get that Espanyol is not a Sunday league team but don’t you think it’s worrying that a 3rd division team could attack so easily last Wednesday?

      Suarez can be subbed off because he didn’t score but Messi can stay on for 90mins in every single match to increase his goal stats and keep him happy? Why can’t Messi be subbed off to keep him fresh for a very important match in midweek and keep on Suarez on the pitch so that he can score a goal against a team that has already waved the white flag? Both will help the team in the long run.

      Montoya mightve put himself in that position himself or Lucho has a personal vendetta. We will never know. But based from what you’ve seen for the past 3 seasons, don’t tell me he would do worse than Alves who today actually played well for once.

      I know you brought up the 3 managers argument but he is still young. He was young back then and should be given chances now just like how Ancelotti is giving Carvajal chances last season and Pep to other young players. Lucho said he will give youngsters chances but what have you seen so far? Montoya, Bartra and Sergi Roberto are regulars on the stadium seats. Munir rotting on the bench or stadium seats when he should be developing with the B team.

      I don’t think I’m saying anything disrespectful to the team or coach so don’t need to talk about respect here. In my first sentence I wrote my only quibble. You used to say that people act like Messi shit rainbows. You said it to me on at least 2 occasions when I was defending Messi in the past. So why is it when I criticize Lucho for something that’s obvious to see, you want to mention respect?!

    • December 7, 2014

      “I truly don’t understand what this team and its coach have to do to get a modicum of respect.”

      Yep, it is getting quite silly now

    • December 7, 2014

      As I said, barca96, you see what you want to see. I can’t control that, and won’t even bother commenting on it, moving forward. No point, really.

    • barca96
      December 7, 2014

      How many times this season have I said anything bad about the team or commented here? So please don’t put me into the “always criticizing never give respect” category. It’s just that it’s been on my mind and it keeps on happening and I raise it once and I get lumped into the same category. Why not respond to it and enlighten me how you view it differently.

  35. December 7, 2014

    This space is wonderful, and such a psychic balm after the wars of negativity that was Twitter. Thank you all.

    P.S. Whoops! I spoke too soon.

    • barca96
      December 7, 2014

      I reckon it was directed to me. You spoke too soon indeed 🙂 Could you tell me how long I need to wait after a match (a win of course as we usually win in this league) before I can write anything negative.

    • December 7, 2014

      It isn’t a question of writing anything negative, or time frames. As I say above, people think as they like. We can agree to disagree, and perhaps when Barça is relegated, as so many seem to think from their reactions is a possibility, you can come back and say “I told you so.”

    • barca96
      December 7, 2014

      Who said anything about Barca getting relegated? I really don’t understand what you’re saying. Fotobirajesh raised this point last week. You seem to be talking about someone or multiple person but I also don’t know who or where. Facebook or Twitter? Why don’t you talk to them? Why bring problems caused there and dump it here and generalize every criticism as if it’s the same as those on other mediums who spout nonsense.

    • December 7, 2014

      It’s a joke about the general overreaction in the overall culerverse to a football team that is in fact quite excellent. Perhaps you should calm down a bit. You’re very aggressive at the moment. It really isn’t worth having a discussion that is in fact an argument.

    • barca96
      December 7, 2014

      Oh I didn’t know it was a joke cause you seem to be painting all other fans using the same brush based from your recent posts. So I thought somebody said it here that I missed or elsewhere.

  36. December 7, 2014

    By the by, I thought about this, from an agar2515 comment about Douglas:

    We were also playing Huesca… Douglas makes that error against a better team and it’s a goal.

    Unfortunately, Busquets proved that point in a way, about the destructiveness of individual errors in dangerous positions. Just so happened that Huesca was not the same quality as Espanyol, and the error was cleared.

    But it also goes to show that not only unfavored players can make stupid mistakes.

    • BA
      December 7, 2014

      i continue to be baffled by the fact that Busquets, clearly in a rut of bad form, starts consistently at DM when we have arguably the world’s best DM (on form) in Javier Mascherano shunted into a CB spot. again, this seems to be a clusterfuck brought about by not having enough cover at CB.

      that said, the team played well enough against an Espanyol side in the bottom half of the table. the stats look great: 5-1, Messi hat-trick, big possession; but we again exhibited some defensive frailty and needed Messi to bail us out with some brilliance. we really need a convincing win against PSG, and to finish atop our CL group in midweek.

    • barca96
      December 7, 2014

      Besides that mistake he was good. I’m not sure why many are having a go at Busquets this season. He makes 1 mistake in every few games. Every player makes mistakes from time to time but it seems that Busquets is on par with a goal keeper now. Make one mistake and get criticized online.

      Mascherano is good but he is different. He is faster and usually tackles and runs a risk of getting booked. Busquets on the other hand uses his positional skills and long Leng to steal a ball. I prefer the latter. Look how many times he did it today.

    • ciaran
      December 7, 2014

      For me Busquets has been inconsistent for most of this season and Masch is often prone to an error at the heart of the defense so it seems obvious in the short term that Busquets should sit out a couple of games at least from the start and allow Pique and Mathieu to develop a real understanding.

      I would love to see Bartra getting a run of games too. Too often we underuse an option only to over rely on them at the tail end of the season. We then blame that very same player for not being in form when called upon.

      A good performance overall even though there are areas to improve. Pedro was great after coming on which was refreshing and Iniesta looked like he had a good recovery.
      Bravo once again had a good match and had proven his worth over and over this season.

  37. lala10
    December 7, 2014

    Very very good performance. Trailed for some time but the intensity was great. Aggressive pass and movement.

    Funny that Leo is the conduit of almost all the attacks. Messidependencia will be around for some time in one form or another. LE should devise a way of keeping him fresh. So too Xavi. Don’t know if Xavi will cut it Wednesday after today’s full 90 mins.

    • Davour
      December 7, 2014

      Indeed, he is hub of most attacks. But with Neymar coming into his own, Suarez hopefully finding his way, and Pedro (pray) returning to a higher standard, I think the team would manage some Messi-absence. Despite Messi’s dominance, I feel they acted like a team (only saw second half). And also: with Messi passing like this, I don’t see a big problem. As long as he doesn’t have to score every goal, we’ll be fine.

  38. Jim
    December 7, 2014

    Great display and result. Not in any doubt for me, even in the first half. Only thing I didn’t expect was us going back to leaving ourselves exposed.

    Just to look to midweek for a moment I have no idea what is going on in LE’s mind. I’d started to think he had settled on Pique and Mathieu as his CB combo then today he throws that up in the air. Then at the end, he brings on Mathieu and moves Masche back into DM. That would make me think that Pique / Mathieu will be the CBs with either Masche or Busi at DM but it’s a strange way to do it. The Sky commentators were suggesting there’s a problem between Mathieu and LE stretching back to his comments after the Clasico and going on through making him play the Copa and Mathieu in reply going through the motions do he’s sub today. Do we know anything about this ? Not good if true.

    The other baffling thing for me is Xavi going 90 minutes. What’s that about ? You can’t now ask him to play again midweek. I thought we were past that overplaying of players. Unless he’s not planning on playing him which is fine but taking a chance.

    • Davour
      December 7, 2014

      A guess: starting Raktic and Iniesta (who looked good!), with Xavi coming on to replace Iniesta at some point.

      I missed the first half, but second was old school (or rather, timeless). Lovely. Messi in incomparable, but Pedro looked good, too, coming on. Neymar’s move to start off the 2-1 goal was simply candy. Suarez looks a little heavy – let’s see if he finds the rhythm eventually. And Piqué scoring from A CORNER. My oh my.

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