Elx 0, Barça 6, aka “The elf power edition”

"Next, let's help the shoemaker!"
“Next, let’s help the shoemaker!”

Credit is a weird thing, because even when it would seem clear to someone where it’s due, worldview can affect a lot. In this vein, a comment in the Atleti post was fascinating and inspiring, so here it is to get things started:

Kxevin, its quite unfortunate that you are hell bent on crediting every barca victory on paper to Enrique, our turn of form and consistency has been as a result of that feud.
You might not see it but Enrique does not have a system, its funny you even think Enrique’s barca could beat athleti without him trying to tweak a thing or two. We have certainly reverted back to the old ways and system, no more tweaking to fit the opponent.

Players might be rested or subbed or not included in the matchday squads by Him but this transformation and how we play now doesn’t relate to Enrique’s genius.

Let’s play around with that a bit, shall we, and try to deal with today’s match without even considering anything that Enrique might have done.


Now in that world, somebody had to make up the lineup card. Unzue, maybe? Or Dictator Xavi, which explains why he started. We know he didn’t start because of rotation coming into a big match midweek, because that would imply that someone is making decisions that might be beneficial to the team. But that isn’t He Who Shall Not Be Named, so let’s attribute this all to … elves.

Elves, for example, stepped up and got the February friendly in Qatar postponed. Elves have also devised a way to give the team width with Messi and Neymar having starting points on the right and left, respectively, while also giving them the freedom to roam within … well, it can’t be a system, can it, because that would require a coach with a clue, and all that Barça have are elves. Elves strengthened the defense, and elves, because they’re crafty that way, devised a way to have the team defend set pieces much more effectively.

Meanwhile somebody, somewhere, rolled out an XI today of Bravo, Montoya, Pique, Bartra, Alba, Mascherano, Xavi, Rafinha, Pedro, Neymar and Messi. Elf power. And someone structured them in something approximating some formation or another, because elves are capricious in addition to being crafty. And individual brilliance, as vile as that is, accounted for a couple of dead sexy goals while the man who ostensibly has the reins of the team was having a food tour of Elche. He probably had some arroz con costra, as that is one of the featured gustatory delicacies of a city that prides itself on quality eats.

Credit where it’s due

All kidding aside, Pep Guardiola got credit for everything from how often Messi took a crap to Dani Alves’ getting his ears bobbed. More aerodynamic, don’t ‘cha know? In this day and age, Luis Enrique, the man tasked with running this football team, gets credit from many supporters for precious little. But if he isn’t doing it, then who is? It’s much like all Creation theories.

In high school I took advanced physics because I used to be one of the smart kids. And in physics class at a prep school run by brothers of the Franciscan order, we came to creation science and were discussing various theories. We asked our teacher, Father Nicholas, how he reconciled his faith and its belief in a Biblical view of Origin with the science that he was teaching us. He answered, simply enough, that it was rooted in faith and the notion that every theory of creation runs into a complexity: where did that first bit of matter come from.

And he smiled.


Elche didn’t get its ass whipped by magic today (even as sparkly stuff happened) in a match that was exactly what it needed to be: a less-intense effort in which the team could rotate, play at 2/3rds speed and come away with a win against an opponent who might not be in the Liga next season. That match also included some absolutely sublime goals, passes and runs of play that, again, had to come from somewhere.

— First goal came from Pique, at the terminus of a bit of set piece skullduggery that worked really well, even as it needed a bit of a fortunate deflection to get past the keeper, who probably had Pique’s shot sorted. And that wasn’t the first time the team worked out some training pitch set piece trickery. Alba sent a shot just over the bar off an earlier effort.

— Second goal came from Messi after Neymar, at the end of a lovely stretch of football, is bowled over in the box.

— The third came from a heavenly pass from Messi for Neymar.

— The fourth came from a heavenly pass from Messi from Neymar.

— The fifth came via a killer ball from Bartra to Messi, who slotted home.

— The sixth came from Neymar, who made a mazy, crazy run, stopped dead then took off like a shot before feeding a streaking Pedro for the tap in.

There were six absolutely wonderful goals scored today, goals that would do ANY Barça team proud.

Players play the matches, and players decide the matches. Players score the goals, players make the passes. This is true, no matter who the coach is. But that trainer and his staff prepares the team, in the same way that a conductor prepares his orchestra in rehearsal. The great Carlos Kleiber would at times stop waving his baton during a concert and turn to the audience. He believed that if a conductor prepared his ensemble properly, it didn’t need him waving this white stick around. It was just for show, really.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t adjustments within a match. As we saw in an excellent video recently, Unzue is constantly coaching and adjusting the defense on set pieces. Enrique calls over Mascherano to tell him things and make adjustments to the way that the team is playing. Because this stuff doesn’t happen by magic. If people don’t like a baker, visit a bakery and happen to have some tasty cake, denying that the baker had anything at all to do with it, or that the cake somehow resulted from him just throwing stuff in a pan since he doesn’t have a clue about recipes, isn’t supported by objective logic. Nobody needs to defend Enrique, but logic could use some help.

Let it be

There were lineup changes today. BeIN Sport commentator Ray Hudson spent some time going on about how Mascherano isn’t Busquets, and a preference for Busquets. Meanwhile, Mascherano was busy doing things that Busquets doesn’t, because they are different players. The seeming reluctance to just let things be as they are and deal with them fascinates.

Football as a game pulsates with history. From great players to statistics, voluminous collections of knowledge await. But often, things just are. Mascherano spanked lovely diagonal passes, chased down attackers who were scampering away with the aftereffects of loose passes and touches from the likes of Messi and Rafinha, and the only thing I could think is thank the heavens there was a destroyer running around that midfield, breaking up attacks and sowing terror. He was very useful today, in part because of a tactical change that saw Messi return to the middle and go into energy conservation mode.

If Mascherano chases down and dispossesses a player, and you know that Busquets could never have made that same play, what is the problem with evaluating Mascherano in his own context? Evaluate him in the Busquets context, and he will always be found lacking. But the reverse is also true. If you evaluate Busquets in the Mascherano context, he’s just this willowy dude who by comparison isn’t the right kind of defender.

Players and teams exist in their own planes of existence. Messi vs Ronaldo, Messi vs Maradona, who is the GOAT is all pointless for me, because they just are. Enjoy them, strive to understand them. Enrique’s Barça is different from Martino’s, Vilanova’s or Guardiola’s Barça. Let it happen, and evaluate it in its OWN context, or embrace perpetual unhappiness because this team is never going to be what many expect it to be.

Messi was central and rather laid back today, even as he had some extraordinary sequences of play. That was necessary in light of Wednesday’s test. So yes, his heat map will show him more central today, because active creators such as Rakitic and Iniesta weren’t present. Nor was Alves, so the decision was made to play in a way that will result in a fresher Messi on Wednesday, when he will have to run, be active and be more like his best self. And that’s okay.

Evaluations, criticism, assessment and breakdowns are all lovely and fun, but at the end of it all, a team that has been funky away from home won on the road for the third time since the Crise de Getafe. 0-4, 0-4 and 0-6 are the scorelines.

Are there flaws in this team? You bet. There were flaws in every team, even the ones that people insist were flawless. The challenge, really, is preserving the context, putting those flaws in the correct perspective and getting our minds around just what exactly we’re seeing here.

Cricket! Cricket!


Anybody hear that? If you really strain, you can just hear the faint aural decay of the Neysayers, echoes of people who insisted that Messi and Neymar couldn’t play together, that one would force the other out and there were too many chefs, that the board just wanted to buy Neymar because it had the plan of selling Messi and making Barça Neymar’s team.

Results define history, and what we see in the objective sense is two great players who have developed a rapport and are laying waste. By everything that we can see, they enjoy playing with each other for the simple reason that a top player needs and appreciates another one. Bebop didn’t happen because Dizzy Gillespie was playing with music students. It happened because he was having cutting contests with equals, who could match his effort and try to top it.

Barça’s fourth goal sounds simple on paper. Neymar to Messi to Neymar. But Neymar hits a perfect side-footed pass in a fraction of non-movement as Messi moves and barely breaking stride, drops a rainbow at Neymar’s feet that is volleyed home without the ball even touching the ground. They made magic, as they have time and again this season, a year in which Neymar has done what many second-year attackers do at Barça, which is figure out how to deal with all of it, from the team’s system to the entorno.

Messi and Neymar are kicking ass, taking names and then burning the notes because ultimately the names don’t really matter. It’s rare that a team can have two such creative players, both doing what they do. It’s funny to think back to how excessively deferential Neymar was to Messi, and to wonder if Messi himself said “Dude, you just be you. I can keep up, no problem.”

Real improvements, or a temporary spike?

The team is playing better. Significantly better. There are a number of reasons for that. The Enrique system is coming into play. Players are understanding their roles. Physical peaks are being reached. Sunspots. Some suggest that the team is just playing the way that it used to, which is true and not true. Barça teams play a certain way, because Barça is Barça. The challenge for those teams and the men who run them is to adapt how that team plays to the demands of the way the game evolves.

Last season, the Barça Way as devised by Tata Martino wasn’t able to beat Atleti. This season, the Barça Way as devised by Luis Enrique has beaten them twice. Luis Suarez has a lot to do with that, a transfer that didn’t just come out of thin air. And at Elche, another potentially tricky away test was turned into what it should have been: a beatdown of an inferior opponent.

History is defined by results, even as many culers say that results don’t matter. Martino is considered a failure because he didn’t win silver, and didn’t play the right way. Both of those are results, objective and subjective conclusions respectively that of necessity ignore a number of mitigating circumstances. But that’s essential to the conclusion.

And yet, it’s worth thinking objectively about any and all situations involving this club. If my dislike of this board was the Earth, you could drill to its core and all you would find is more dislike. But they have done a great many creditable things that have strengthened FCB as a business entity, and should get credit for that. Objectively, I understand that.

Barça wasn’t brilliant against Elche. It didn’t need to be. What it needed was to win, not wear anyone out and not get any injuries. It also needed to rest its key players. That it did exactly that is noteworthy, irrespective of who you credit with that outcome. The team is playing better, irrespective of who you credit with that outcome.

But like that Creation theory or the mystery cake, if there isn’t some credit for Enrique, then any theory runs into problems of Origin.

"Thank heavens for elves!"
“Thank heavens for elves!”

By Kxevin

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


  1. What I find really interesting is, LE, has been given the grace of HALF A SEASON and people are already either pro or against him. HALF A SEASON. Really?

    As with any organization, be it sporting or other, ultimately the buck stops at the higher up. The CEO, the Pres, the MD. While many can nit pick and take shots at LE one way or another, despite what camp you may be in, I would suggest it would be very naive to not at least recognize the man’s efforts lately. If you’re quick to judge in the against, then logically, you should also bend just a dash when things start going smoothly. You don’t have to LIKE the man, but you should at the very least respect him, if not for you, then for the club, you should.

    Personally, LE has and will always be one of my favorite players. He was the first Barca named jersey I got when I was 16. I modeled my playing game on the hot headed chap.

    However, that doesn’t mean I can’t pick up what he is doing right and wrong. Sure, he did some interesting coaching moves so far. Some right, some wrong. Regardless of the root cause of the upturn (and to be honest, most of us could in a way coach this group, they are THAT good when on song, you wouldn’t have to do much).

    Just give him some more time, bend a bit and give credit when its due, and enjoy what the rest of the season holds. The players are doing great, some of that sparkle is back, and it’s no miracle that, an increase in Messi’s form, Neymar etc, all of a sudden things seem a bit more rosy here in FCB.

    Until the next loss! may it be a long, long distance away!


  2. I still want someone to define what the Enrique “system” is besides ” give it Messi/ to the forwards and hope for some magic.”
    There is no midfield control, thank god for our defense and Messi. Would anyone put us up against Bayern? Pep would eviscerate us.
    Points though for not mentioning Pedro getting a goal ” that he was born for, haters sit down” like I saw on twitter today.
    We better pray no one on the forward line goes down or we don’t have to chase a game/ second leg tie because we have absolutely zero depth or game changer off the bench.

    1. Isn’t the Enrique system just that, there really isn’t a ‘set’ system? trying to be fluid?

      I think the system isn’t exactly a secret, but the word itself is quite a buzzword. The key is a reasonably high press to recycle possession back to us. Seeing that the last few games is itself a big key for our last few wins. What ‘system’ do you need? dick around with it in the middle for 30mins and then maybe launch an attack?

      With the front three we have, why wouldn’t you ‘give it to Messi’ for some magic? it’s seem to have word for Pep and Tito..

      Not sure I agree about Depth. Players who are on the pine would be out and out starters at most other clubs.

      As for Pedro, glad he got a goal, but I’ll standby what I said earlier. He shouldn’t start, and I’d consider selling him end of the year unless he starts scoring again circa 2011.

    2. Yea… Pep had a playstyle, worlds apart from whatever LE is doing.
      Agree on Pedro but I was referring to our attacking depth: Pedro, Munir, and ummm…? Wish Sandro was getting minutes instead of wallowing under Eusebio ( heard rumors he has offers to leave to the BPL on loan too…)

    3. Pep did, yes, but he also had the benefit of a few seasons at the club, and majority of the players right in their prime. not that Lucho doesn’t have an amazing amount at his disposal, but lets at least give him a season or two.

      Attacking Depth…fair point actually. Sandro should be in, and what about Dongou?

    4. This is why people wanted Reus to get signed, can play on either wing or centrally AND in the mid…
      More to the point, both of you have fair points, as to the attacking depth… Munir was throw to the first team to soon after a hyped preseason, Sandro is toiling on the wing for Barca B, Dongou hasn’t come along like we’ve thought… most people seem to want Adama to get a shot.

    5. Well, the “thank god for our defense” is to my mind slightly contradictory, here. I assumed part of the tactics are greater emphasis on the forward line and defense, as the play becomes more risky compared with absolute midfield control. Curbing Alves forward runs is another move – part from the set pieces – that has improved stability (and Raki). But “no midfield control” is an overstatement. During the games agains Atleti I believe both Iniesta and Raki played important roles, only that the play is a bit more direct now, and consequently there will be less control.

      For me, any tactics (be is a divine “system” or no) devised to create space for creative potential in Messi and Neymar (rather than full midfield control) seems wise at this point.

    6. SO we play to our strengths now as we did back then…. back then it was our movement, control and passing in midfield. We lost that and we are adapting to different strengths.
      Come on lad/lass… at least be objective.

      Also, don’t know if you watched any of the Atleti games recently… we do have midfield control… plenty enough.
      It’s funny… many of us were upset about one million sideways and backwards passes and now you wanna go back there?

      Visca Barca!!!!!

  3. A brilliant dissection of the tortured image some fans project time to time about this team and its leader. Not that they are in the wrong ultimately, all are entitled to all opinions.
    We have to remember however, complexities in athletics prone to compare to complexities in our everyday lives. Without us putting in the effort to influence change and to enable the players in our social and business environment to better themselves, there is no improvement. Someone has to ignite that spark.

    I appreciate the article for what it stands for: in essence a voice of sanity and wisdom, supported by rather crafty metaphors.

  4. Ronaldo kicked and slapped an opponent and guess what? the referee didn’t include it in his match report so he may potentially get a lesser ban

    1. Two punches & a kick.
      Ban or not, I love it when the idiot pulls stuff like that.

      It ruins the carefully engineered image of his, by his PR team.
      He should do it more often.

      Best professional in sport they say….

    2. It’s the 2nd time now this season that he has raised his hand to a players face. He should get a tougher punishment even though the earlier punch (double punch in fact on Godin) wasn’t recorded by the then referee.

  5. Ok, it was Elche, but note how good Mash did….surely a starter over Busi right now. Leave Bartra there as well, Lucho!

    1. I don’t know – Mash did very well, but so he did as CB against Atleti. Bartra was uncharacteristically sloppy (but a wonderful assist). When Busquets entered the pitch there was an increased level of control, so I guess it depends on what you want (with reference to Kxevin’s discussion above).

    2. Great win against a more organised side this time I thought. Made better by the fact we didn’t have a CF with good box movement to unsettle them. Personally I might have left Suarez out as he has had a good run of matches ( and Neymar needs to see he’s not the go to guy when one of the three has to come off) but I’d certainly have brought him on for the second half. I’m afraid poor old Pedro had another of his lots of effort but not enough creativity or threat games.

      In the end it worked out because, again, we didn’t lose the first so didn’t have to get anxious and could afford to take our time breaking them down. Another excellent game from Xavi ( 97% pass completion with all of his forward passes successful, one – should’ve been two – assists if Pedro was up to it). Just mention this because I know you inadvertently missed him out of your comment about “active creators”, Kxevin. Or is it because he should have hung up his boots and gone away quietly ? Given that there was virtually no presence in the box to work with I reckon that was pretty impressive.

      Ok, I’m only mentioning this as we’re going overboard again about Mascherano. I’ve praised Masche for a couple of recent CB performances but I have to say I thought that while he played fine it wasn’t his best last night at DM, although I still think it’s his best position. For me, he was getting drawn to the ball too much an old issue from CB which I thought he had improved on in the last two games. Have a look at their best chance in the 23rd minute. There is no danger when they get the ball on the wing close to the centre line. Masche is marking his man but you can see he is totally ball watching. His man then slips him to become the danger man in attack running at our CBs and who eventually slips the ball for the free shot inside our box which Bravo saves with his knees. Busi, for me, doesn’t make that mistake.

      On LE, I’m with the thrust of the article in that since he has taken the brunt for mistakes and lack of direction in the first half he now needs a bit of the credit for our resurgence. I suppose it’s the annoyance I still have with his macho style which led to him leaving Pique out early in the season which may well have cost us points/ games, playing Mathieu at LB obviously to his surprise, leaving aside my thoughts on our CB pairing and the ridiculous sit outs which led to the blow out – and the improvement. (Btw, watch in comparison Jose’s masterclass on how to deflect attention away from him doing the same).

      However, there is no doubt, whatever, the reason, we are now playing with more confidence. No, it is not a new system or fast breakaways compared with ponderous build up play of before but we have now found a box player with magnificent intelligence and movement in Suarez, a great position for Messi and a Neymar who is just starting to feel comfortable enough with this team to show us what he’s got. Add that to a defence which is working well ( still to be tested in the air – not buying this defending set pieces better: what we mean by that is that Pique is getting his head to everything at the moment . That won’t last ) and options in our midfield and we have a side which could be close.

      Whether that is all down to LE or not I don’t know but there is no fairness in kicking him when we’re bad then booting him again when we improve. Let’s look at the end of the season. A couple of small requests for LE. Keep letting the players know the squad the day before. You lose nothing and they feel you’re listening. Second, don’t keep talking to Masche on the touch lines. It’s disrespectful to the captains and won’t be endearing you to them. If you wanted him as captain you should have done it.

    3. You must appreciate you for your active bias for Xavi and Pique and against Masch….

      I am one who believes in Mascherano: He is really what I look for in a player… carries out his role and one who for me is very consistent.

      I too remember the Xavi you speak of and I think he still offers a lot but I honestly think some of your opinions are a tad exaggerated… same with Pique.For all that Xavi offers, sometimes what he offers hinders the team,…. note I said sometimes. Lol
      I am glad the Pique’s form (or confidence or what ever he missed for quite a while… maybe it was a delusion of grandeur) has returned… He is a boss in the air.

      Visca Barca!!!

    4. Not bias, Rivaldo. It may be wrong but it’s what I see. Last year I had to defend Pique against what seemed like the majority of posters here who thought he wasn’t worth a place in the side and told me so. Now suddenly he’s the hero and everyone is praising him. Neither is true. However, he’s our only world class CB and we need him in the side.

      Masche may be a world class DM but he’s certainly not a top class CB. I’ve always said I’m happy for people to come back and debate where I’m mistaken which is why I always try to give actual examples from matches to show why I think something. Did you have a look at the example I mentioned when Masche was ball watching? Did you agree or not? Doesn’t matter if you didn’t as we’re all entitled to our own opinions but it’d be good to hear reasons rather than the blanket Masche was great. I praised him in the last two games because I thought he played well but I’m not one to go along with the crowd for the sake of it. I’m sad enough to watch every game at least twice and goals scored or given up fascinate me because often popular opinion, imo, fails to look beyond the immediate. There have been at least six or seven occasions this year where I think Masche could have done better and cost us and said so. I can’t say the same about any of the rest of our back four. Doesn’t make me popular but doesn’t make me wrong. I remember starting a fairness committee for Maxwell years ago when everyone reckoned he couldn’t hack it and he’s still playing at top level in CL with PSG. Not bad for a flop.

      Finally, I will confess to a love of Xavi’s play ( and by extension possibly a bias) and I’m not looking forward to the day he won’t be there but I’m not defending him because of nostalgia. I believe he is still our best midfielder and needed when the really big games come around. At the moment our front three are enough but the last few games of the season are a different matter. Rakitic and Rafinha will need to step up another notch if they hope to offer us anything in those games. Iniesta I know has the ability. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to reply.

  6. As much crap as he gets, hats off to Pique, he’s been fantastic. I’ve been wanting him to turn into the “leader” of the team every since Puyol stepped down but I’ve accepted it’s just not his personality ( and we have Masche for that).

    His form is even more welcomed because as stated elsewhere ,Zubi’s defenders are habitually broken :

    Mathieu: “It’s not yet clear when Jeremy Mathieu, who has now missed 3 games with Achilles’ heel discomfort, will be able to play again. [sport]”

    TVerm: Out for season

    or just plain not good enough (Douglas).

    Another round of applause for Zubi everyone.

    1. Yes it is very unfortunate, we bought 3 defenders finally, and it looks like none of them will play. Mathieu was falling out of favor even before the injuries.

      How is Benatia doing for Munich? We did have a chance on him…

    2. Benatia got himself sent off with a penalty to boot(and it was his own fault) vs City.

      So far he has played a total of 614 minutes in the Bundesliga, and he was supposed to be a starter with Javi Martinez recovering from his destroyed knee. Against Bundesliga teams, which Muller has said “some of them are less competitive than the Bayern reserves team”, who have nover heard of busses. Yeah, against those guys Benatia has played half of what Mathieu, Masche or Pique have.

      Did I mention the guy is a foul magnet? Even compared to Masche, the guy commits more fouls. As a matter of fact, he commits as many fouls per 90 min that Mathieu and Bartra together, or Pique and Mathieu together (and that’s without last night’s game in the stats).

    3. Yeah I saw he only has 7 apps. As for the other summer target, Mangala has less apps than Demichelis, and hasn’t impressed from the little I’ve heard. No sure bets. Still, having 0/3 defensive purchases work out after such a long postponement is depressing, but maybe one should not give up on Mathieu already.

    4. Laporteshpildve been signed, beast. Unfortunate indeed, hope Bartra finally sees action for a sustained period of time

    5. Mathieu is a cracking CB, just not a LB. He should be playing regularly. However, since his comment about being surprised by being asked to play LB at the last minute in the Clasico he is suffering Pique syndrome – to our detriment. Mind you, it would help if he were fit!

    6. And Peter, do you necessarily have to tape a link between Zubi’s ineffective 3 transfers au moment with Bayern? Because I’m curious.

    7. It’s just a consequence of the context, having written about Benatia. It’s ridiculous to blame Zubizaretta for the injuries of players. Players get injured. All. The. Time.

      Iniesta was taken off injured in the Clasico, days after he terrorized Ajax, a month on the sidelines. Do we blame Txiki or Zubi for that?
      Valdes tore his ACL on a hop landing that he had done probably ten thousand times before that.
      Javi Martinez tore his ACL in a situation in which players usually fall, lie for a few seconds to be sure everything works properly, then stand up and run 10 km.
      What about Thiago, with his second long-term knee injury? Do we praise Zubi for cashing in on a want-out player who makes Adriano look like he’s made of reinforced concrete and carbon nanotubes?

      That’s my main concern here, using insane troll logic to find ammo to play the blame game. Yes, currently both designated new CBs are out injured and the RB Douglas tore a muscle the other day. That still leaves Pique, Mascherano and Bartra, who are currently being rotated as often as possible to keep them fresh. As of this moment Barcelona’s defence is the second-best defence in Europe, having conceded 15 times in 31 matches in three competitions, including 2 own goals and 2 penalties, having played Atletico two times, PSG two times, Real Madrid, Sevilla, Valencia. In comparison Bayern, who have the best defence in Europe, have conceded a total of 10 goals(12 if we count the German Supercup), having played 25 games(26 if we count The Supercup). Two of those goals were from penalties, the rest from open play.

      And this is the defence which has the same players as last year, with exactly one new player who has had minutes. This is the Barcelona defence, which at this point is besting the numbers of every Guardiola season, without Puyol and Valdes, without Abidal. Let THAT sink in.

      @PrinceYuvi 😀 I never really left, just couldn’t sit down to form a post.

    8. Thank you Peter…not that I am in love with Zubi, Im pretty impartial, but I think it’s important that we remain fair and not sling mud just because it feels good. Thanks for the reality check. We have bad luck every year, this year again with our CBs. overall we are having better luck than in previous years. 🙂

    9. I’m just glad you didnt say the good defense has anything to do with LE… you woulda opened the gates of hell.

    10. except, in actual context, no. those defenders that were purchased were:

      A. 31.
      B. already injured AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE.
      C. probably never good enough to begin with, but we have a longstanding deal with the company that has his ownership rights.

      to try to absolve a sporting director of that terrible record is disingenuous at best.

    11. A. has been defo Barca quality at CB, despite previous claims to the contrary
      B. was on the verge of coming back early in the season and was, bad luck, injured again
      C. i dunno… 🙂

    12. @BA don’t even try to reason, Peter will come with his usual,immovable bias paragraph rant

    13. ooga aga,

      A. the point is that older players have a greater likelihood for injury; particularly in the CB position. therefore buying an older CB comes inherently with greater risks. we shouldn’t be surprised that Mathieu is injured, because that’s what happens to older players who play in stressful positions.
      B. he was injured when we bought him, and he’s still injured. he won’t play at all this season; and he’ll be nearly 30 before he does begin playing again, assuming he regains the kind of form he hasn’t been in for… 4 years at that point.
      C. the Douglas purchase was, in sporting terms, indefensible. it’s understandable only in the context of pre-arranged deals made with Traffic, the Brazilian talent company that owns his rights. which itself smacks to many of corruption.

      that’s a piss-poor record of bad defensive signings. let’s call it for what it is.

  7. “Neymar also said that it’s difficult to see how FC Barcelona can lose when they show the right attitude.”
    “I’m very happy with the season I’m having. I am always improving. With our attitude, it’s hard to lose.

  8. Who do you guys think is the most improved player this season compared to the last one?

    For me it’s a tough choice between Masch and Neymar. The former improved a lot in positioning and he makes less rash challenges and less sliding tackles now (which means his positioning is good). But I think I gotta go with Neymar. He dribbles players for fun now and his decision making is so much better. And most importantly, better end product

    1. Actually Mascherano’s, and the defensive improvement is related to the pressing of the strikers and midfield. Opposing players now have less time to receive, control and bomb the ball forward, which increasingly means easier work for the defenders.

      For me it’s Neymar… And Messi. There was one point in the game vs Deportivo, which in retrospect almost made me shed tears of joy,

      86th minute, less than 3 days had passed since the majestic display in the Atletico match, just three days before the first CdR Atletico match, Barcelona were already 4-0 up, Messi had scored a hat-trick. Depor got a corner. The ball was cleared away, but feebly, landing still in the Barcelona box.

      Messi, Lionel Messi was there to fight it out with a Depor player and clear the danger.

    2. In truth, Mascherano can’t be said to be the most improved player because he has never had a gross deficit in quality and performance. His commitment to the game is akin to Puyol’s and Abidal’s. In defence, there has been an improvement, surely.
      I do like the comparison made by Kexvin of Masch and Busquets.
      For a dm, Masch embodies what you want in a DEFENSIVE midfielder.
      I need not highlight his qualities as I often do.
      Busquest’s passing ability and the kind of system we operate have often made him favored above Masch.
      Nonetheless, with the way teams set up to counter us coupled with Masch’s quality, and seeing the coaching crew aren’t overly traversing and obssessed with ‘the way’, Masch IMO is the suitable candidate as the first choice.
      Playing the duo means they’d both complement each other….and this itself needs a run of games for consummation.

      And, without doubt Neymar has been the most improved player- greater efficiency, productivity and acculturation with team…

    3. Hit the nail on the head with Masch….he rarely has a dip in form… the guy is just commited to the task.
      Like I said above… for his career consistency has been a key aspect.

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