Getafe 0, Barça 0, aka “The correct answer to the blame question is ‘all of the above'”

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The rain, the pitch, no penalty, Enrique sucks, Alves …

The quest for blame in the wake of a negative result scatters thoughts like dandelion spores in a hurricane, a fascinating search that often finds them landing in odd places and pollinating certain ideas.

But today’s draw vs Getafe was a great many things all at once, too many to lay at the feet of an individual unless that individual is the Getafe team, which played like lions today. Want to blame someone? Curse them and their moving, aggressive, systematic defense that took full advantage of a Barça team coming off of a very difficult mid-week match against a strong European opponent.

Full credit to a brave opponent, who were it not for a couple of Claudio Bravo saves, could have caused a much bigger upset than the absence of full points for Barça.

Rather than playing the blame game, let’s assess something of what happened today, and whether there are any solutions at hand.

Heavy legs

On Wednesday, Barça played its asses off to spank a rampant Paris St. Germain side, and win its group in Champions League. On Saturday, it had an early match against a traditionally difficult opponent in its fortress of a stadium. Not surprisingly, legs were heavy, which affected everything from movement to finishing. Compounding matters is that Getafe was sitting at home, watching the match and thinking “Man, them boys are working hard. Hope they’re tuckered out on Saturday.”

And yet, Enrique came out with the “Duh!” XI of Bravo, Alves, Pique, Mathieu, Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Rakitic, Suarez, Pedro, Messi. Of that XI’s outfield players, Alves, Alba and Xavi didn’t put out full force against PSG. Xavi was a sub, while Alba and Alves didn’t play at all. It’s worth asking whether a different XI would have been more effective, or just as INeffective against Getafe, one such as:

Bravo, Adriano, Pique, Mathieu, Alba, Mascherano, Rakitic, Rafinha, Munir, Pedro, Suarez

For a coach who was so daring against PSG, Enrique was quite conservative against Getafe, who had come to defend. Would it have made much difference if they were diving into the path or Munir or Messi? Nope. But in the second half, when perhaps the match would have needed a decisive move, having a Messi charging off the bench to run at tired Getafe players is different than having an already tired Messi out there, playing in fits and starts.

Why not take that risk? Why not give Rafinha a go rather than starting Xavi. What’s the risk and what’s the loss against a team that was always going to defend, and play off the counter?

The answer to the heavy legs dilemma is easy and difficult: rest. Real rest, the kind of rest that makes a team spring out the traps like greyhounds, the kind of rest that prevents a press from being players just chasing the ball. Getting that rest, in a season in which a team is active in multiple competitions plus the increasingly frequent international, is rather tough to come by.

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Compensatory complexities

Dani Alves is what he is, for better and for worse. Because he is what he is, dilemmas are created, “for want of a horseshoe” type mini-crises that affect more than just that side of the pitch.

Put another way, when Alves is out there, Rakitic is usually the midfielder deputized to in effect babysit Alves. What this means is that not only is Rakitic not being used to his strength, but Xavi isn’t being used to his strength, which means that pressure can be more effectively brought to bear on our aged maestro. It also gives Busquets more ground to cover, which facilitates counters.

Now, nobody complains about Alves when he’s making stops and banging in accurate crosses (yes, he does), even though he’s the same player then as now, a man for whom defense is never, ever going to be job one. The larger problem is that all of the things that happen as a consequence of Alves being out there contribute to a significant problem: dilution of the Barça midfield.

Enrique knows that Alves needs help, which is why Rakitic has the duties that he has, rather than being a partner in crime for Xavi. It’s also the reason that so many Getafe attacks were down Alves’ flank, just as they were for RM and Marcelo. Because why not?

We can sit and snarl about diminished midfield effectiveness all we like, but it’s a problem that isn’t going to go away anytime soon, because Dani Alves is the best RB that Barça has, the same sort of personnel deficiency that has sparked a reliance on Xavi.

This doesn’t even get into the lack of effectiveness created by poor movement up front. A forward pass needs somewhere to go. Absent that, a midfielder either plays a risky ball that gets intercepted, or passes back/sideways.

It’s easy to say, “We don’t have a midfield” and blame someone for it, usually Enrique these days. But reality is a bit more nuanced.

“Should have bought a right back then, dammit!” Okay, who? Again, the solution is easier than the question that is in part who, but also would that theoretical colossus have been any better at the high-wire act of being a Barça fullback?

We shouldn’t forget that for months and months the solution was that Barça needed a 9. It paid 81 million Euros for one. But there are other problems, challenges that sometimes, the team overcomes. Accepting that some days this group just isn’t good enough is hard, verging on impossible. Nothing has to be wrong for a tired athlete to come up short.

The necessity of width

When Neymar came to Barça, people scoffed and snarled. Unnecessary, luxury purchase and other things were bandied about. But the fact of the matter is that his absence was immense today, because it meant that Barça didn’t have effective width. It would seem, prima facie, that Neymardependencia is rearing its head.

The consequence was that Barça had to get width from fullback overlaps rather than an actual winger. It also meant that Getafe didn’t really have to worry about the flanks because nobody was out there who could force their defense to move. So they stayed compact in the center, and just kicked balls away all day. It’s worth noting that the best Barça scoring chances came via flank play from Luis Suarez.

A centralized Barça is a predictable Barça. Two ranks of defenders is difficult to spoof for even the most adroit give-and-gos.

getmess

An overlapping fullback isn’t real width because if it’s Alves, it’s easy to wall him off. If it’s Alba, his attacks are usually runs into space rather than destabilizing wing play of the type that Neymar offers. So rather than moving to deal with the player, a defense will just cut off the target, as they do against Alves. Absent any target, the ball goes back to the center and a smart defense can relax a bit.

Mix in the heavy legs and it was always going to be a long day.

There were times that Messi moved to midfield, something that would be effective if there was movement up front for him to lace passes in to. But because there wasn’t, and a centralized Getafe defense could just pack it back when Barça had the ball, Messi in midfield just seemed like a misplaced goal machine rather than an attempted tactic that failed in the execution phase.

The team wants Messi to touch the ball, but in the face of the brilliant Getafe defense, how is that going to happen? They weren’t letting anything near the box, and the few times they did, they either fouled or gang tackled to work the ball loose. So you move Messi to midfield, and he makes his runs into the arms of a packed, waiting defense. So what does Enrique do?

Well, if you try to diversify the attack, you’re a prat for ignoring Messi. If you run the attack through him, you’re a prat for forcing Messi to do too much. The events of a match dictate tactics and reactions as much as any coach does. Players aren’t automatons, who are doing what a coach tells them in bad times, and being individual geniuses in good times. The coach devises a match plan, and relies on his athletes to execute it. Sometimes, they don’t.

Collective malaise

For those of you who are on Twitter, it must have seemed that everyone was poor today. Alves, Pique, Mathieu, what is Busquets doing, dammit Pedro, etc, etc. It seemed that the only player who (thankfully) wasn’t down and out of it was Claudio Bravo. Is there something to the notion of a collective being drained by a big match, even the players who didn’t feature?

Whatever the reason, Barça was flat today, from top to bottom, Messi to Busquets. Flat players aren’t sharp players, so movement that is customarily effective is, when that step’s hesitation occurs, the difference between a goal and a pass eluding an outstretched toe. Concentration also suffers, leading to wonky first touches and passes that lack the usual precision. Yes, it was a crap pitch, but that isn’t the first cabbage patch that Barça has played on, and it won’t be the last.

Barça had gobs of possession, created a few excellent chances but didn’t play well, collectively or individually. And Getafe took advantage of that, reveling in the disjointed mess of a match. Yes, the buckets of rain and a lumpy mattress of a pitch made their tasks even easier, but the XI that Enrique rolled out should be good enough to beat Getafe, even in their house.

Sure, “tactics and positioning” are the brickbats rolled out to whack Enrique over the head. And while he certainly came up short in not acknowledging the difficulty of that Wednesday match and its attendant aftershocks, how is a coach ever to know when his team is going to be flat? And if Enrique knows his group of players well enough to know they were going to be flat, shouldn’t the lineup have reflected that acceptance? Good question.

Feelings

This doesn’t really feel like a team coming together, even as I believe that next season, once Enrique’s tactics fully bed in and the players get used to each other, I will be expecting some silver.

But at the moment it is caught between two worlds seemingly, universes populated by lame ducks. Xavi is on the way out, and so is Alves, yet they are two of the automatic selections right now in Enrique’s XI and two of the essential things that make Barça feel like Barça. Busquets has a style that is a holdover from a glorious past, but how does it work in the present?

What we know is that Barça isn’t playing as well as it should be, and we look for answers. Enrique is obvious, because he’s the newest variable. Alves is obvious, because he isn’t the player he once was.

But sometimes, it’s everybody. It takes a lot to craft a below-standard result, from the coaches who prepare and select to the players who execute. It also takes an opponent willing to do the work necessary to take advantage of all that. It’s why the blame game is rarely fully satisfactory. Yes, it provides for the opportunity to have at established targets, but it can’t really solve the problems because sometimes, the problems are unsolvable.

In bicycle racing, as spectators cheer on their friends and loved ones, the most hilarious and misguided cheer is “Move up!” The idea is that by moving up, the racer is where he or she needs to be to take a role in affecting the outcome of the event. One day, in response to the constant cries, lap after lap, a racer yelled back, “I would if I could!” That’s a classic example of a unsolvable dilemma.

“Why are you defending him/them/it?” It’s worth asking whether accepting reality is in fact defending. The team would have loved to feel fresher, be warmer, not have it bucketing rain, not have Getafe be so goddamned resolute, get a lucky bounce or two and be in position to capitalize. The coaches would have loved to have made the exact right selection, and had the exact right subs sitting on the bench, raring to go.

But none of that happened. In admitting this, are we making excuses for someone — coach, unfavored player, underachieving team — or are we simply acknowledging that sometimes, on some days, there are problems that can’t be solved, either with collective excellence or individual brilliance. And in the math equation that is competing in a football match, sometimes 2+2=0

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Written by:

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.

33 Comments

  1. we are dooomed
    December 13, 2014

    I can’t fault the team. Not even the coach. Honestly. Generally played well and put in a lot of pressure but lacked precision in the final meters with heavy legs post difficult CL game against 10 men behind the ball away from home without Neymar. What the hell can I criticize? Maybe the squad selection per se and why Xavi is still first choice in many games in soon 2015, why Rakitic doesn’t create anything (1 assist in all competitions and it’s mid December), why the coach who chose him doesn’t trust him in big games (vs. Madrid and PSG on the bench recently) and what is going to happen next season when Xavi will leave and the transfer ban will remain which will mean an even thinner and older squad. But all of that is irrespective of this particular game, right? It just sums up the sporting project of Rosell, Bartomeu, Zubizarreta and Co.

  2. agar2515
    December 13, 2014

    What baffles me is why Henrique persists with whatever it is he trotted out today. If it’s going to be 343 in “big games” why even go back to this formation with zero midfield because they have to cover for two attacking FB’s. I can’t recall a match playing this formation where we looked really good in victory. I just hope Bartra has earned his spot and Dani only sees the pitch against “lower” opposition like this

    • we are dooomed
      December 13, 2014

      I think 3-4-3 was reserved for PSG because they played flat 4-4-2 with 2 strikers. I don’t think it will work well against teams utilizing the wings.

      • agar2515
        December 13, 2014

        And whatever this was today and has been will? We haven’t seen 343 enough to say that it will or won’t work against this or that formation. We HAVE seen this one enough imo.

      • we are dooomed
        December 13, 2014

        Once the opponent defends so deep like Getafe did today formations go out the window anyway. Alba was effectively playing left winger so what would a “3 man defense” have accomplished when Alba wasn’t effectively part of it anyway? I don’t think formations matter that much in games like today. What matters is what the players do on the pitch and Barca’s players in midfield don’t do enough. No creativity from Xavi, no creativity from Rakitic. Messi drops to the center circle and feeds Xavi with over the top passes in the box. A comical scenario. I don’t want to speak out the unthinkable but why was Fabregas sold again? For all his flaws he did one thing at world class level. Create chance gallore and assist goals. For all of Rakitic’s flaws he doesn’t have any redeeming feature over Fabregas. The midfield 3 that was put out today assisted 4 goals combined the entire season, obviously chances are low they will break a deep defense like this unless Messi pulls a rabbit out of his hat. Unbelievable how much the midfield of this team has declined.

      • agar2515
        December 13, 2014

        For me anyway, the Mayfield is hampered by having to cover for the fullbacks. This Rakatić is not the one that bossed games for Sevilla, because he’s asked to do different things. It’s a shame we’re still so reliant on Xavi, more comical to me is how we let Kroos slip through our fingers because we “believe” in Sergi Roberto for some inexplicable reason, absolutely absurd. He can’t even get a game these days while Toni is now a real part of the madrid juggernaut.

      • G6O
        December 13, 2014

        I would have kept Fabregas too – as it is we have been short of midfield options all season, so it would have been perfectly possible to both give him sufficient playing time and not play him against opponents which could expose his defensive weaknesses.

        I had high hopes for Rafinha (after not having watched any Celta games and just based on what I was hearing) but he has not provided any real creativity when he has played (of the kind that his brother does provide). And we also have Sergi Roberto…

        So it’s the aging Xavi-Iniesta duo plus Rakitic who does many things well but is not a midfield maestro. And that’s it. And all of a sudden we of all teams have a midfield problem…

        But that was not the major problem today – if there is nobody to pass to and you’re faced with two banks of 4 or 5, right in front of the box, the midfield does not matter that much either.

        It was many things coming together at once, but the absence of Neymar tipped the scales. You have him there, it opens up the defense a little bit, they play a few one-twos with Messi, something good might happen. Without him it’s Messi around the center circle with the ball, Suarez surrounded by 5 defenders at the edge of the box, and no options to do anything.

        And even then, the purest handball penalty imaginable was not given and had that free kick been an inch lower, it would have been a goal.

        But that’s payback for two weeks ago I guess.

  3. Jim
    December 13, 2014

    Dang these highlights. It’s impossible to get a true flavour of how a game has gone. I’ll need to have a better look tomorrow but on first impressions although it’s a stinking result I don’t think the team played too badly. The defence was solid and didn’t give much away although they weren’t very adventurous to say the least. Bravo also showed he can keep his concentration with virtually nothing to do with that save.

    Not sure in what way you meant that Xavi is a lame duck, Kxevin. Maybe it’s used in a different way in the States but for me he had a pretty good game. He was everywhere in the highlights, from picking the ball up beside Pique, keeping possession when it seemed unlikely, trying to thread balls through their two banks and even crashing the box himself on a few occasions, nearly getting on the end of Messi’s through ball. These things all happened. If I turn to Rakitic I’m not sure I can remember him doing much. I’m beginning to think I don’t even know what he can do. He’s barely getting into games and I’m not buying the cover for Alves really. With four at the back and therefore cover for your FBs from the CBs if not the DM it’s ridiculous to take up another of your midfielders covering for a full back. It looks to me like at the moment he’s a rabbit in the headlights. What we have to do week in week out against buses ain’t easy and he’s going to have to improve his technique to be able to function well in the congested area just outside the box where we’re doomed to spend a fair amount of our time. . He’s also becoming the go to man for first sub although tbh in what I saw Iniesta still looks a little short of confidence as well as maybe a little match sharpness.

    I’m also not clear what Rafinha would have added today but as he wasn’t added not much point debating that. I’m not sure what happened with the forwards to be honest. There were some good chances – Pedro and Xavi were only inches away from connecting with through balls but there was a feeling they were a yard short of full sharpness which Neymar might well have helped with. I keep wanting to say something good about Pedro but Apart from not connecting with Suarz’s cross my mind is a blank about him. Suarez likewise tbh. I can see he is trying hard and when he finds himself wide he can certainly throw in a wicked cross but it didn’t happen for him today. Messi tried hard for me but needs the quick one twos on the edge of the area to at least get him past some of the covering defenders and that didn’t happen today.

    This now takes matters out of our hands and LE will probably take a caning in the press but I didn’t see a lot he did wrong. Munir had to be worth a shout as Pedro wasn’t looking likely, unless LE really did shackle Rakitic into covering for Dani which to my view would be a mistake. Not only would that take him out of the game but as Kxevin points out would also have an impact on the rest of the midfield.

    • December 13, 2014

      Jim, in the States “lame duck” simply means an incumbent who is on the way out. No depiction of quality implied.

      Your point about being a step away from full sharpness is precisely what I reference above. Nobody’s fault, just sporting reality. Pedro was forced to play with the ball, and he’s never going to have success at that, not against the kind of defense Getafe was throwing out there. His game is to run onto a ball and shoot, or control it in space and shoot. Anything else and he’s screwed.

      Enrique is being taken to task in social media land for his subs and tactics, but in the case of the former, you have what you have. As you look down the bench to see who is available to change the match, who do you have, really?

      As for tactics, that’s like the “positioning” brickbat. It’s a malleable thing. Tactics are rendered relevant or irrelevant in the face of a stimulus, i.e. the opponent. I have yet to see a tactic that can compensate for a flat team.

      • IamXavi6
        December 14, 2014

        Xavi a lame Duck? really? that’s how you respect the guy, Kxevin?

      • December 14, 2014

        IamXavi6, dudgeon is best applied after a thorough inspection of the area. To wit, my comment just above yours:

        Jim, in the States “lame duck” simply means an incumbent who is on the way out. No depiction of quality implied.

      • IamXavi6
        December 14, 2014

        I know what ‘lame duck’ means, even though I’m not in the U.S. I just thought that was a really harsh assessment of the man.

        Anyway, here’s a question, given on what you’ve seen so far of Xavi this season – would we have been better off or worse off at the moment if he went to American or Asia? Holistically I mean, league placement, formation, player choice etc?

      • Jim
        December 14, 2014

        I’ll not bother answering the second half, IamXavi6, as my admiration of Xavi is well known. However, Kxevin has made it clear that there was no patronising or derogatory element to his statement and that’s fine by me. There are those who still think Xavi is a liability. I’d rather save my outrage for them 🙂

        I was quite excited over the last few weeks to see Xavi get into the box a lot more – he could have had two yesterday ( gonna draw a veil over the long shooting which should be better) – mainly because he offers a late presence which Messi can use to play his one twos to get that little bit of space he needs. There is nobody with better first touch control or passing than home and there is no space to do it in so you need Xavi, Iniesta or possibly Neymar for that. Maybe also Suarez once he gets attuned to the speed and lack of space. However, that didn’t happen yesterday – still not sure what went wrong.

  4. agar2515
    December 13, 2014

    Some interesting things to digest:
    https://twitter.com/lucasammr/status/543762726557069312

    “Montoya wasnt happy with Lucho and talked about it with his team mates.
    Lucho found out, confronted him and hasnt given him a single minute.”
    “This also makes it clear why Pedro was so keen on showing support to Montoya on that Huesca match.
    The dressing room must not be happy.”

    Just possible food for thought…

    • December 13, 2014

      I saw that, and didn’t bring it here because it is absent any corroborating information. No source, no nothing, just a rumor, as of now.

      It also assumes that a lot of people are liars. Recall that Pedro said he wasn’t saying or implying anything with the Huesca gesture. Enrique has also made it clear that Montoya is capable of playing his way back into the rotation. A comment during his presser yesterday again made the same very clear implication.

      From a broader sense, a coach has the right to do what he wants with and to a player who isn’t going to be part of his program, if we assume truth in that Tweet. Few questioned Guardiola when he froze out Eto’o and subsequently, Ibrahimovic.

      So if the rumored rift is true, then Enrique and Guardiola would seem to have similar temperaments when it comes to “managing” a player who isn’t interested in, for whatever reason, being part of the program. I didn’t agree with it under Guardiola and if true, don’t agree with it under Enrique.

      But I just haven’t seen any evidence at all from the Montoya appearances this season, of a top-quality RB just waiting to break out. And that is the evidence that we are left with, absent any other verifiable data.

      We can’t believe the rumors that we want to believe, and discard the rumors we don’t want to believe. So back in the Ibrahimovic days, there were rumors of an “It’s him or me” SMS from Messi to Guardiola that precipitated decisions that resulted in an unhappy Ibrahimovic. People were quick to call B.S. on that, because Messi isn’t like that, etc. Okay. But then the culerverse should be as quick to discard other rumors that seemingly don’t make sense.

      We would have to believe that Enrique would discard a useful player and a potential solution to issues at RB over some animus. That notion didn’t fly under Guardiola. Why would it fly under Enrique, except in the aftermath of a negative result?

  5. agar2515
    December 13, 2014

    Is stuff like this that is starting to grate with people

    https://twitter.com/barcastuff/status/543981248725921792

    LE doesn’t seem to have a coherent idea of what he wants. He’s getting a pass for ” on the job training ” because? It makes someone a ” gloryhunter” to question the coach? That they’re in charge therefore they must always know more than anyone else ?

    Roma fans were happy to see him go, Celta is not the pressure of Barça. Though I’m just playing devils advocate here im getting a little tired of people referring to Pep as well when anyone decides to take a run at a coach for being in over their head.
    ” Pep didnt have any titles! He had little experience too! Trust in ‘x’ !”
    As if lightning so easily strikes twice.

    • FCB16
      December 14, 2014

      Kudos to taking a hard stance. I am reading a lot of the same talking points that I heard last year for Tata.
      Give it time, Pep wasn’t a top tier coach yet either, blahblah. We ended up losing the league on the last day AT HOME and off Tata went.
      Point being sometimes it DOESNT pan out, sometimes the “naysayers” are proven right. Im sure ill be given a long defense of why this and that happened but it wont change the facts of the matter.

      As it stands, if we continue with this type of play (and formation) I see a silverless season. Call me a doom prophet or whatever if you must. Im not alone in being worried about this, about being skeptical of Enrique’s prowess.

      • IamXavi6
        December 14, 2014

        And if we have a *GASP* silver less season…so..what happens? does the world end? do we just rock up and win EVERY competition available to us every year do we, simply because we are Barcelona? Against a team that has spent gazillions of dollars trying to even get close to the recent success we have had…

      • December 14, 2014

        I laid out a simple challenge, as laid out below. If you were Enrique, what would you do? If he is so tactically inept, how would you repair his ineptitude?

        Nobody is being called a gloryhunter for questioning the coach, because almost everybody is questioning the coach. There is a person here or there, saying that all the evidence isn’t in yet, etc, but as with Douglas, Vermaelen this season and others before them, evidence doesn’t matter in a rush to judgment.

        The reason people mention Guardiola is because of the standard of that single season, a standard that even Guardiola couldn’t live up to. No coach can. So as coaches are dismissed for coming up short of an unreachable standard, what’s next. Who’s the next hire, and how will he be deficient? Then who?

        At what point to we, as a fan base, sit back and wait for things to happen instead of assuming the worst, grabbing the torches and storming the ramparts?

        People like me have already predicted a silverless season, so it won’t be a surprise to me if it happens. Nobody is a doom prophet for looking at what RM has done, and predicting they would have more success, particularly as Barça would be in the building process, etc.

        I do wish that the “Why can’t we criticize without being labeled x or y” would stop, mostly because all that most culers are doing is criticizing. It’s open season on that. If anything, the people cautioning circumspection should be saying, “Can’t we call for patience and a long view,” instead of the other way around.

  6. Tata2
    December 14, 2014

    Its not about Pep and its neither Enrique’s fault. I doubt whether even Mou can do anything special with the team we have now. The quality is not the same in the starting XI and the even the bench. In those days, Xavier and Ini were at their peak and we had several players who were of top quality and in their even on the bench. Now, Xavi is 34 (35?), Ini is lost, Messi has to do it all by himself, Pedro is our Winger who defends and so many other issues. Our bench is Rafinha, Sergio Roberto, Munir, Montoya, Douglas and if I may add Rakitic. These guys aren’t clearly super subs and won’t instill fear into any team out there. Its more of short in quality of squad personnel than a coaching problem, though LE isn’t also exactly a world class coach.
    Saying, we played poorly cos of the PSG match doesn’t cut it for me. We aren’t the only team that plays tough matches in the UCL, EE too does and they are on a 20 match winning streak. I don’t want to believe their players are on coke or something. We don’t have the squad to compete at the highest level anymore… And it isn’t LE’s fault that he isn’t world class yet and has to handle such a team

  7. Tata2
    December 14, 2014

    *sorry for the typos

    • IamXavi6
      December 14, 2014

      Firstly, lets all stop saying Pep this Pep that. Pep won because he had an superhuman x11 all at their prime and was a good motivator, he wasn’t some godlike figure.

      Secondly, “I doubt whether even Mou can do anything special with the team we have now” – Forget Mou, cheque book manager extraordinary. But, let me tell you this…This team is FULL of superstar players all WORLD CLASS. This isn’t Sporting Gijon or Brentford here. The class of these players in this team is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

      What baffles me most about this game, Busi shouldn’t be starting on currently form. I fail to see why Lucho completely passed over Masch….that was a really bad error.

      Pedro doesn’t start nor should he, even with Neymar out. Pedro sadly has massively declined and I don’t want him to be the fall guy, but his place in this team and club isn’t what it use to be. Time to seriously consider to shop him out and let him go to the EPL.

      We played poorly…not because of PSG…but, just that – WE PLAYED POORLY. It happens….maybe it’s happening more often than we like, but that’s human nature. It’s still a long season, and we are 4 points behind RM and into the round of 16 in the CL. So what, it happens…lets dust off the pants and keep going.

      I agree that LE has along way to go, but it isn’t time for any knee jerk reactions or fans to turn on LE. We gotta stay strong and positive. The only slight I have on LE is right now, changing the team (22 times now without the starting 11 being the same) – this has to stop.

      Let me ask you this Tata2, if it’s a personnel problem…who? and what position? Do you mean it’s depth? (which the club has in abundance; just look at who is in Barca B and the kids coming up).

  8. December 14, 2014

    Let’s not forget that we are four points behind a team that has won what, nineteen games in a row already? That’s the real problem right there. We need perfection in a league where perhaps the strongest team in the world right now gets consistent help from the referees while Barça gets consistence hindrance from those same referees.

    People can blame LE for not having a perfect start to the season (and with perfect I mean perfect) but by doing so they set the bar so high I’m not sure anyone would be able to reach it, let alone hold on to it.

    • IamXavi6
      December 14, 2014

      yes, but lets not forget there is plenty of the season left and more fixture congestion to go which hopefully will even things up; and another Clasico at Home. Madrid get significant help, but this hasn’t changed overnight, it’s always been the case. We need to rise above that excuse.

      LE; you’re right. The bar may be set too high. That’s the way most Culers are though.

  9. December 14, 2014

    If there is one perception I would like to fix, it is that RM gets tons of help from the referees, and that there is some black hand thing going on against Barça. I know that is fast becoming culer legend, but as Graham Hunter noted during Saturday’s match on Twitter. BOTH teams are perceived as getting help from the officials, when you are looking at it from the view outside the big two.

    Liga refereeing is crap on a good day. But nobody cares when Almeria or Celta gets screwed by incompetence, because that isn’t a talking point as those teams don’t matter now, do they? It wasn’t the fault of the officials Barça couldn’t score a goal against Getafe, a task that group should have been able to accomplish.

    • December 14, 2014

      When retired referee Eduardo Iturralde González basically says on national television that most referees privately support M*drid, I think it’s neither a perception you can fix nor culer legend, and if next season Barça wear the Catalan flag away kit it will be even worse.

      • December 14, 2014

        It doesn’t matter what one official said. It would also have to presume that a private leaning leads to a professional bias as well. None of that washes with me, but I do think it is convenient and easy to blame referee favoritism.

        RM did their homework, built a kick-ass team and got the right coach to lead it. Do they get the occasional dubious penalty? Yep. Do we? Yep. I repeat that if you’re Almeria, all you know is that you’re getting screwed twice.

        Assuming that refereeing bias, yesterday’s ignored Getafe handball should have led to a call against Alves for his, but that didn’t happen. The ref ignored both, because in his judgment, neither affected the game or was sufficiently intentional to warrant a penalty call (though I rather imagine he watched the replay of the Getafe handball and realizes he got it wrong).

        What other incidents were there that pointed to a “black hand” influencing events? Barça is 4 points off of RM because they lost in their house, and couldn’t manage to score a goal against a mid-table side. RM isn’t in the lead because of favorable refereeing decisions. They’re in the lead because they have won 19 matches in a row.

        It’s easy for culers to sit around and cite some evil plot. It’s far more difficult to demonstrate the real effects of that nefarious endeavor.

      • Jim
        December 14, 2014

        I don’t believe in conspiracies either but aside from that I’m struggling to think of us getting many penalties, never mind ones that aren’t deserved and certainly not in the Ronaldo class.

  10. December 14, 2014

    For the people citing Enrique’s tactical deficiencies:

    Cite examples of those flaws and how he could/should have corrected them. These days, despite people saying that they are getting tired of people defending Enrique, I don’t see anyone defending Enrique. I see loads of people lined up to crap on him, week after week after week.

    If the team wins, it’s individual brilliance that bailed them out, despite their idiot of a coach. If the team loses, it’s because of the tactical failings of the idiot of a coach.

    So let’s hear it. The accepted legend is that Enrique doesn’t have a clear vision, is tactically in over his head, etc, etc. To not make it seem like a game of Telephone, where one person’s nattering leads to others simply echoing that person, but with increasing vehemence, let’s have it. What are some of Enrique’s tactical failings, and how would the people who insist he is so deficient, correct them?

    I will presume that the people here who raise these issues aren’t just parroting others, and have their own ideas.

    The discussion should be fun.

    • IamXavi6
      December 14, 2014

      As above, my only frustration is the odd reason why Busi seemingly starts automatically over Mash despite Busi clearly being out of sorts. That REALLY irks me.

      That, and the rotation of 22 different lineups this season. Too many changes every week; not enough stability. Formation wise I don’t mind a tinker.

      The rest, I don’t have much of an issue with. I appreciate LE discipline and his no crap, i.e benching Pique early in the year, being open and honest with both Dani and Xavi. I also like extra game time to Munir, Rafhina et al.

    • Jim
      December 14, 2014

      Don’t think Im in the camp of moaning without suggesting alternatives and I’m also not in the hang LE camp – he gets the first half of the season to work things out and if that means no silverware okay as long as by the second half we’re starting to fly. I do think he has the players to make a great team at his disposal. I’ve also not been short I hope in saying all along the same things which stand out for me and which I’m happy to say seem to be getting a chance from LE. However, in the interests of repeating myself I would

      Backline of Bartra, Pique, Mathieu and Alba and play them at least four games out of six. I’m not hopping on a Bartra bandwagon – I suggested this way back. I also suggested sticking with a designated pair of genuine CBs, let them know they are it and get that partnership going. This could be a genuinely great defence imo. They move well together and usually cover for each other. Alba is a shoe in at LB and the FB who gets to go forward most. They can’t both go at the same time and shouldn’t need to.

      In midfield a fit fresh Xavi is ( still) first name on the sheet followed by either Masche or Busi depending on form and either Rakitic, Iniesta or Rafinha. I’ve said I don’t buy the protecting Dani idea so if Bartra plays in a back four we’ll get a chance to see what Rakitic can do. I’m not saying that to see him fail. The guy was a star last season but isn’t producing it this. This midfield will not get run over but even if it does the point will be to have a genuine defence back who will not lose many. This means we’re not chasing again.
      Up front picks itself. The only other things I would do if LE would be 1. Lighten up in Pressers ( some signs of that- I liked the remark about the White hankies being a sign everyone had the cold ! ) and 2. Let the team know who is playing early enough to avoid the perception he’s clueless. There is just no justification I can see for that – if true.

      I would say to those who see this last display as terrible to look at it again bearing in mind we are trying to sling the ball in and about a packed defence at top speed just to create an opening in a downpour where controlling a ball or passes is almost impossible. You know this if you’ve played football which I’m guessing most of us have. Not so hard to just lump the ball up the park which is what they did.

  11. TITO
    December 14, 2014

    Perhaps the only thing that worries me is his constant rotation of players. I understand that some players here and there must be rotated and that we asked for it from other coaches, but to have in 20 or so games 20 different line-ups is not healthy. Sometimes, the players themselves are confused how or what should they do on the pitch.

  12. TITO
    December 14, 2014

    And, if an X player is bought for Y position, the player should be maximally utilized for that position.
    The majority of the players we bought the last few seasons are surprised of what should they actually do and they end up not giving what they are capable of.

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