Sevilla 2, Barça, aka “Moments change a lot”

suarez

Everything in sport comes down to a moment, sometimes less. Races are lost in hundredths of a second, a moment’s hesitation allows an opponent to get free. A moment is nothing, but sometimes it’s everything.

Barça’s draw to Sevilla came down to a trio of moments, all of which went Sevilla’s way: a Suarez miss, a Bravo misplay and a Pique giveaway. Another time, those plays go differently. Against a lesser opponent, the counterattacks don’t have the precision that Sevilla’s did. But on this day, these three moments were decisive.

More fascinating is that the moments and the resultant mistakes all have roots in how an exceptionally talented player is, which will directly affect the decision that he makes.

The first moment was simple enough to break down. Suarez skied a shot with the goal at his mercy. Perhaps a lesser player just slots the ball home after it falls to his feet. Suarez has such an array of shotmaking skills and such a creative mind when it comes to putting a ball in the net that like Messi against Almeria, when he should have just slotted it home but tried lobbing the keeper, Suarez tried for some sort of top-of-the-goal thing that wound up terrifying folks in the 10th row. He swore at himself for that miss as well as the others during this match, other moments, but none more clear-cut than that one.

1-3 feels very different than 1-2. It breaks a team, makes it them start to wonder as it puffs the sails of the players whose team is on top. Miss a shot like that and footfalls have louder, longer echoes. The feet are a little heavier and the mind says, “That was it.”

The second moment resulted in the first Sevilla goal, and you could certainly suggest that for the first goal, things went awry when Busquets somehow lost that battle for the ball with Bacca on the right, setting off the scramble that leads to the play sequence. But you could argue a lot of things, once you go down that path. And even then, Mathieu clears the ensuing cross, which falls to a Sevilla player who slides it over to Banega.

It’s a safe bet that Banega was stunned to find himself in acres of space. At the time he gets the ball Iniesta is in the box, having needlessly chased a ball that was already covered by the defense. So rather than being somewhere that he might have been able to apply real pressure to harry Banega or even prevent him from shooting, he has to half-ass it out toward Banega and throw up a leg as the barest insinuation of pressure. But like everyone else, Iniesta just had to watch the shot.

Bravo still should have stopped it. Note that when Banega gets the ball Bravo moves to the near side of the goal, then has to dart across the face when Banega strikes it. Maybe if he starts from center he catches that shot instead of having to dive and fist it. Maybe. A moment. That’s all.

The third and most damaging moment leads to the second Sevilla goal, again a moment born of how a player is. When Pique is playing well and full of confidence, he isn’t shy and will try things. So of his three available passing options: Alves, Busquets and Rakitic, he chose the last, which was also the most difficult. A pressing midfielder cuts the ball out, Sevilla break and Barça have no fullbacks. It’s only Mathieu and Pique, in fire drill mode because Alves and Alba are both pressed up. Rakitic might have had an influence but he hesitated before chasing, so in the time that Reyes had to slow down to dance around Busquets, Rakitic still had no chance to influence the play.

Because Alba isn’t there Mathieu has to shade two spaces, which might have worked except Pique compounds his initial error by chasing the ball instead of checking back to track any stray runners. Perhaps if he does he can mark Gamiero instead of uttering a fervent “Oh, crap!” when he sees the ball headed for the Sevilla striker. By then, it’s too late.

Retrospect is, of course, a game that is loads of fun even as it is also fundamentally nonsense. You could ask whether a different keeper would have charged the cross to Gameiro. You could ask lots of questions about a situation when you play retrospect. Maybe if Bravo is more of a proactive keeper than a reactive one, he charges the cross to Gameiro, so Pique breathes a sigh of relief instead of dreading the Monday film session. Maybe.

But as it is, three moments were decisive, making this match fairly easy to sum up: shit happens.

The culerverse is, of course, filled with notions that “Barça let one off the hook.” Objectively, this is true. A 0-2 lead became a 2-2 draw. Enrique is undergoing new scrutiny, because the two subs that Unai Emery made, Reyes and Gameiro, changed the match. The two subs that Enrique made, Xavi (for Neymar) and Pedro (for Iniesta) arguably hamstrung Barça, even though they were the correct subs as they were fundamentally defensive ones.

The reason they didn’t work was because Sevilla was flooding and pressing the midfield like crazy. Busquets suddenly had lots of ground to cover because first Iniesta, then Xavi couldn’t keep pace with the Sevilla mids. This put too much pressure on the Barça defense, a group that is one of the best in the Liga because it doesn’t make enough errors for it to cost them. Bravo makes the saves, the CBs make the right pass, the team celebrates and goes home. That didn’t happen today. Today brought moments that brought to mind failings of past Barça teams going farther back than Enrique, when CBs were left stranded by an unfortunate turnover coupled with marauding fullbacks.

People are asking about the Enrique subs but for me, asking the wrong question. I wonder about taking Neymar off mostly because Alba becomes the principal attacking threat on that left side, which pushes him farther up the pitch without any defensive help from a back-tracking Neymar. Sure, why not ask those questions, as long as you are playing culer retrospect.

But the match still came down to moments. Hats off to Sevilla for picking themselves off the canvas after a sparkling opening 35 minutes from Barça, where the team played extravagant football and forged a 0-2 lead that should have been enough to win and on a different day, would have been. It was the return of the capering sprites, ball and player movement and the kind of football that this broken team was supposed to be incapable of playing.

In many ways however, that kind of football was found out in the usual way: a pressing, physical midfield forced key errors that were capitalized on by an opponent. Past became present. Tactics will be discussed rather than simple failure to execute because we need to have broader reasons for an occurrence than, “Dude just messed up.”

And this draw feels particularly cruel because at 0-2 Barça was cruising, keeping the ball, dancing around and Sevilla looked like a beaten team, outclassed by its betters. And like past Barça sides, the cat seemed to tire of playing with the mouse, which got up and ran away. And in that moment, that fragile thing called culer confidence became, for many, doubt. “See? Told you so,” and the rush to favorite targets resumed. There is comfort in that. “Enrique got the tactics wrong.” “The midfield needs to do this or that.”

But football is a veritable morass of errors, Players misplay balls, miss shots, evince poor control. Coaches make bad subs, referees miss calls. Mistakes everywhere. Sometimes, mistakes decide a match more than examples of glowing play such as Messi’s goal and Neymar’s free kick golazo. But even those were born of errors, as Messi’s marker erred and a player fouled a Barça attacker in that most dangerous part of the pitch. But even then, you wonder if Sevilla said “But Messi takes all the free kicks, and it will be difficult for a left-footer to beat … Neymar? Uh. oh …”

We hate to accept those mistakes because our players, the game and the people who manage it should be perfect. How can refs miss calls? They are paid to be perfect. We paid 82m for that dude? How can he miss a sitter like that?

The game is also played and run by humans. Every day, we make mistakes because we are human and imperfect. So are the players. Three times today, three key times, unfortunately, Barça players were human. But that’s part of the game too.

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.

115 comments

  1. One thing is clear that LE want to use one touch passing football i.e. possession to defend or slow the game rather to attack & counter attacking football to attack. For him one touch football is to defend rather attack. His philosophy is more of a Italian philosophy i.e. catennacio. Today no one actually play catenaccio but play a modified one. Where team stay compact by their midfielder (this is what iniesta do nowadays rather to be AM) & absorb pressure from opponent unlike of pressing & then attack through wings. If we see the way barca is playing nowadays is more likely similar to this. But one thing differs in barca play is pressing (pressing symbolise barca play so no coach risk to abandon it) rather than absorbing pressure. Still even barca style of pressing nowadays is different the way barca used to press. Now we are not pressing heavily but pressing in some time packets i.e. sometimes we press & sometimes we allow opponent to attack. ( We see we allow banega lots of time & space to shoot, we drop pressing after 2nd goal & even vs Madrid in camp nou we didn’t press in last 20 min of 1st half which gave them space to move but when we start pressing in 2nd half we were much better side & they didn’t get enough time & space to move).

    In this match sevilla deserve draw coz of their high spirited display.. Taking nothing away from sevilla but when a team is 2-0 up & then lose or get draw then it shows complacency by one team & high spirited play by another. Our complacency can be seen when go 2-0 then we drop our intensity or vary our style of pressing which allow sevilla to grow in last 15 min of first half which resulted in goal through poor clearance by bravo.

    Suarez is beast as striker although he misses two simple chance today. But he should improve his one touch passing & appeal less, play more. Hope next year he improve his passing & appeal less like nowadays neymar. It is gud to be unselfish but being too unselfish is also bad. In 1st half he & neymar were 2 vs 2 then he has lot of space to run & then shoot but instead he goes for risky long pass way from almost middle of pitch which was intercepted by defender. He should had run in space & then opt for shoot or pass to neymar depending on moment coz he would had been closer to box.

    Messi looks tired coz when he is not dribbling cleanly it means he is feeling fatigue. He should understand he is also human so need rest by being subbed or getting match off. We can see effect of rest on neymar . He was lively with full of pace & trick today. So pl messi take rest, 50 league match in a row !!!!!

    LE got his substitution totally wrong. His substitution was redundant rather base on situation.Since suarez was having off day, he should have been substituted by xavi rather than neymar. Rakitic by Pedro & Busi by Masch not because he play badly but knowing that sevilla were counter attacking with lots of pace in 2nd half. In this scenario masch would have been handy coz of his destroyer type of play.

    But we are still leaders. Fearing that at the end title shouldn’t decided by head on since Madrid has one more goal than us . Four crucial match coming which would decide future 2 vs psg, 1 vs Valencia & espan each. Hope we win all those matches.

    Visca Barca!!

    MESSI PL TAKE SOME REST.

  2. 7 Wins and we are champions.But in the end i believe we will be champions with 5w and 2d.Madrid will drop points.I am not looking in individuals mistakes.We win as a team and we draw as a team.In our last 20games we have 18w 1d 1l.Proud of them.Lets go to Wednesday and do our best:-)

  3. And congrats to Handball team for their 5championship in a row!!Bring us CL guys:-)

  4. Fantastic review Kxevin! This was a difficult defeat to swallow and the fact that three of our most reliable players made costly mistakes makes it even harder. However, I still think we are in decent shape to take the league. We were in the pole position today to solidify our lead and we didn’t take it.

    However, nothing was really lost today. It does make our next two league games must wins as we no longer have a cushion. Look forward to getting back on track in Paris and Real getting cooked in the Cauldron!

    1. True, but I am from the Paco school of thought that draws are essentially “defeats with honor” which don’t really help our cause at this point in the season with the table as it is.

  5. Against the top 6 team of La Liga we have 9 points more than Madrid.Tonight it was not a fail or a defeat.Malaga and Celta at home were the bad results.

  6. Its jxt embarrassing……..we sit here and accept the fact that they are humans and they make mistakes…….I think its unacceptable NOT in matches like this……Oh Gosh!!!!……Bravo could have saved that ball,Suaréz could have scored and Piquè could have cleared the ball……….I think we have to play PERFECTLY to win the league and the rest………..

  7. if you’re gonna let the “negative” fans have it after a W , then at least stick around after a L… More balance always best

    by that I mean, from our fans period. After a win
    ” where are you Lucho haters??”
    After a loss ” here come the Lucho haters!”

    of course the inverse it’s true too, some never want to give LE credit and relish when they are proven right

    I hate this ” divide” this season has caused, we all love the same club. Some temperance no matter the result would be welcome

    one can critique without being a “hater” and one can still champion a cause without being an “apologist “

  8. Dang it, sorry about how this came out, I tried to copy paste some of my tweets on my mobile.

    Anyway, your last article really struck a cord with me Kevin, as you can see from some of my views from earlier today.

    As much of ” Garbage Lucho” as I saw there was an equal amount of “So now people will call for Enrique’s head and we’ll be in crisis mode again, my TL is pathetic right now”
    And on and on

    Neither of those things accomplishes anything. I think there was so much of a call foe his head that some people have gone waaay overboard in their defense of Enrique, responding with personal attacks of ” typical cynicules” as opposed to taking a genuine look at what some people are trying to get across, especially when aiming to discuss solely only in footballing terms .

    Middle ground yea?
    It can be possible that both LE flubbing his tactics AND personal errors contributed to this.

    1. I definitely agree with this. I like much of the work of Enrique so far and hope he’ll stay for next season, but his substitutions yesterday didn’t really do the team much good. He still has work to do regarding how to produce verticality while not giving up control of the midfield entirely (not surprising in his first season as a coach).

      Regarding Kxevin’s article, I’m not really a fan of largely reducing a ninety-minute game to a few moments that “all went Sevilla’s way” – mainly because there are always so many moments and actions which are forgotten precisely because our players make exactly the right choices. These were the moments which defined that game just the same way – by denying great chances from Sevilla, producing promising ones for ourselves etc. If these moements had played out differently, we could just as well look at a 2-4 scoreline or something. But enough theory.

      Sevilla was pretty good yesterday, and Barca just couldn’t keep its game of the first half up for the second – I’m not wise enough to tell whether mental exhaustion, conserving strength for PSG, or changing tactics from Sevilla caused it. I’ll reserve further judgements on the team’s strengths and weaknesses until after the Valencia and PSG games next week.

    2. A few points:

      1) For me football is essentially about creating and converting scoring chances and preventing your opponent from doing so. In this game there were three glaring mistakes that lead us to concede two goals and not score one. Many things can be analyzed including Lucho’s tactics and substitutions but for this particular game they pale in comparison to our “unforced errors” which have been quite rare this year.

      2) This Sevilla game reminds me of a bit of our game at Man City in that we played some of our best football in the first half but lost the initiative in the second. Both that game and this one could have been won 4-1, the only difference being that we did not commit such glaring mistakes in that game. I am all for calling players out when they make errors but in this case they were made by three of our best performers over the last few months so I am giving them a pass.

      3) What was exactly Enrique’s great mistake this game? By now we know his tendencies and like all coaches sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. If some don’t think that the Xavi substitution should have been made, then there is no point in having him on the team anymore. It is an unfortunate result and came at a bad time but for me this is a game in which we played well and should have won and that can’t be blamed on the coach.

    3. LE made no “great mistake”, to my mind, but taking off Neymar when he was having a good game… I’m not so sure that was the best move to encourage the player’s improvement (after resting him the game before). I am sure Ney needs to feel important, and I do hope he gets to take more free kicks from the left… I think Rak looked tired after all his running, and Suarez was having a so-so game (though he provides support in aerial defense). And it shows the absurdity of not “being allowed” to sub Messi, as he was clearly tired and/or not fully fit.

      Still, one can also credit LE (and the players) for an absolutely magnificent first half – the first 30 mins (like the City-game, as you point out) were stunning. But there needs to be a working plan to deal with the pressure that will inevitably follow in this scenario.

      I think Pique’s mistake is nothing to dwell on; this happens to a team with our style of play. More annoyed with Suarez’s miss.

      Overall, a great game – and all cred to Sevilla, too, for managing to keep up such relentless pressing and intensity the entire game.

    4. Regarding Neymar, I don’t think he’s doing himself any favors by complaining literally every time he’s taken off. I agree that the decision can be discussed and looking at it now, maybe something could have been done differently there, but he’s a professional and a part of a professional team. Can’t act like a kid. If the coach sees best fit to take him off, then off he goes, and that’s it. Said the same about Suárez when he’d be visibly upset on the bench – I understand a player’s desire to play but surely the team comes first.

    5. I agree – in theory. But as it is, you need to manage the players as people, too. In Barca, this is made even more difficult by having a player who never comes off, regardless. I don’t care about the gesture (which I agree is silly, as was Suarez’s, and should be avoided), but rather the signal of confidence and reward to a player who has been struggling somewhat lately.

    6. Yeah, fair enough. From a tactical point of view I can see the logic behind the sub, and I hope it’s at least been explained to Neymar too. There wasn’t really anything wrong with his performance, which – without ever playing a minute of professional football – I imagine would be important for a player to know to not lose confidence. First half especially showed how important it is to have that guy who can create things from out wide and we need Ney to do that well.

  9. Just want to emphasize a point that those first 30 minutes or so were one ot the best that we played this season.

  10. I found the Barca-twitter quite depressing after the match. Of course it’s easy to talk after the match and slaughter Lucho for taking Neymar off for Xavi, but it was clear that the match was getting out of control and in that moment, to me, that sub made all the sense in the world. (And also, Neymar needs to stop complaining every time he’s subbed off, it’s getting annoying. He’s not 12 years old and whether he agrees with the decision or not, he needs to be a professional about it)

    I don’t think the sub had the impact it should have, because frankly Sevilla was a pain in the ass, but in the moment of the sub, how are you gonna know that it won’t work the way it’s worked several times before this season? Hindsight is easy. I’d probably have made the same sub because Sevilla had numbers in the midfield and the front three was starting to drift further and further away, kind of like they did v Celta in the 1st half. Barca couldn’t afford a wide open end-to-end game.

    But anyway, what can you do. Three big individual mistakes in a match like this is way too many and you can’t really blame Lucho for any of those. The first half gives me a lot of hope though, more of that and this Barcelona is almost unplayable. Shame it ended the way it did, but we march on. Still in our own hands.

  11. agar2515 makes an excellent point about balance. These days, evaluating Barça seems to be an on/off switch rather than a rheostat. So Enrique is either flawed or doing great. Both can happen.

    As I note above, if Neymar is on the pitch, Alba almost certainly isn’t as far gone and might have been able to help with that second goal. Maybe. Maybe not. But as I also note, his subs made sense with a match at that stage. He’s done them before, Xavi has come in and laid down the control law, and the praise has come down about how he isn’t past it, because see what he did.

    The game is about moments and situations. Some days you try it and it works. Some days you try it and it doesn’t. The game is also about tactics and personnel. It’s rare that we see as glaring an example of the outcome of a match existing irrespective of tactics and personnel.

    When Emery subbed on Reyes and Gameiro, I was sitting with the Chicago Penya and I said, “Shit. I hate that sub.” Because both those players have the capability to change a match. But if those errors had not been made, they would have just been two subs that didn’t matter to the 0-2 final score. Or they would have been subs that almost helped Sevilla pull a draw from a 2-3 loss.

    I chatted via Twitter with someone who was at the match, and he said that as Suarez left the pitch he was livid, verging on inconsolable. He knows what happened, and his effect on the outcome, because even as athletes are human, they have every bit as difficult a time accepting that humanity as supporters. He had four chances to score, two of them excellent. He didn’t convert any of them. That’s that day. They happen just like the Classic goal happens.

    What was unfortunate for me in the Culerverse after the match was the immediate reaction that Enrique screwed up, that his tactics and subs somehow affected the outcome more completely than they in fact did. Sans errors, it’s a 0-2 win and culers are happy.

    More distressing is that Barça looked a tired team in the second half. We will see how they recover for PSG.

  12. First of all, can’t deny that this was an exciting game. For me, the first half performance was the first time I’ve seen the team sling the ball about well without Xavi which bodes well for the future. Some of it was great to watch. When it goes at that speed you see the gulf between those used to the system and the rest. Suarez’s touch just isn’t good enough for it at the moment and Rakitic struggles just to get involved in it.

    First plus for me, though, was that Mathieu started over Masche. I was really expecting him to revert to type so I’m pleased he’s realising that a pairing is important. I was surprised Masche didn’t come on at some point but more of that later.

    For me, the game illustrated nothing better than the power of momentum. In every sport it players some part; in some sports it can be everything. Tennis is a good example of this. You can be two sets and a break up but if the opponent can get a foothold and a few positive points there is a danger of momentum building. Football is another of those sports and yesterday showed it in abundance. We were so on top in the first thirty minutes or so with our passing Sevilla players were regularly paying just to get back into the ground. Two great goals. Loved Messi pretending for all the world he was going to hit the FK ! No way they were coming back. Yet all it took was a small mistake – and it was a small one- for everything to change. Btw, on Iniesta Kxevin is spot on. He should be ashamed of himself for his attempt at closing down so it’s not just Bravo.

    Second half the momentum just built and built. I was panicking, as can be seen from my barely literate posts, from about five minutes into the second half because the belief just flooded out of us and into them. They were always going to score. At this point, five minutes in, although personally I’d have done it at half time, a change was needed and it was blindingly obvious it was needed.

    Now, you can argue who and where, and I shall in a minute, but the purpose must be to get more possession and stop them flooding through at our defence. To me, you remove Iniesta who looked knackered after a great first half so no criticism there and put on Xavi and you remove Rakitic who just leaves me wondering if we paid whatever for a runner ( said in the last thread and I’ll say it again – it’s the Sanchez argument all over again. It’s not enough at Barcelona to just cover ground. I’ve yet to be persuaded that he’s even doing that. I mean in the lead up to their first goal why does Pique have to run thirty yards to close down a man on the touch line at half way ? Alves is caught upfield – who have we been told repeatedly is his cover? I saw him make one great tackle in the game in midfield and can’t remember another thing he did. )

    So, to me, you have Busi and Masche as your two DMs. That allows you to cover if your FBs are caught upfield. That was one of the disappointing things about the goals. We’ve not been losing games to individual errors or defenders going AWOL but we did both yesterday. You have those two sitting in front of your defence you tell Xavi to go get the ball and play with it and stitch everything together and off he goes. (Btw, I didn’t see anyone running past Xavi apart from that astonishing burst from Vidal who left Alba even further behind in the same move.). However, you can’t bring someone on with about fifteen to go and say on you go calm down this raging torrent. Too late ! That’s the thing about momentum. It’s like a fire. You spot it early and snuff it out or it becomes unstoppable.

    Another point on the subs. I thought Neymar had a decent game and I wouldn’t have been taking a forward off. The best thing for calming down opponent’s fervour for going forward is having to constantly also run backwards to defend. By taking him off we allowed them to forget about the hard bit and concentrate on the fun of going forward. As has been said, if you’re going to take one forward off its not the man who is your out ball who can run fifty yards with it.

    This isn’t a crucial loss of points and a few things console me. Our defence was brilliant again. Pique and Mathieu are turning into a great pairing. Their line holding is getting better every game and Mathieu is now looking a lot more confident on the ball, although as Kxevin says Pique had safer choices for that pass and should have taken them.

    The second consolation is that, if not for actual errors they weren’t looking likely despite their efforts. Finally, since I’ve given him a hard time I thought Alves had a great game. Must be contract time, eh ?

    1. Well said. I agree on both Mat and Rak. The former is coming into his own, really; and the latter is struggling – I’m sure providing work and positional play and outlets, but very seldom does anything but to pass back. He lacks the calm and composure to look up and add something to the play; as it is, he is simple trying to avoid ruining it, to be a bit harsh. Perhaps it’s confidence; we are told his passing foot is great, and he has showed this on a few occasions. Next year, however, he must step up and make his mark.

    2. Very true, Jim. Notice how brave Sevilla got when they didn’t have to worry about Neymar running in behind their defense.

      This is a strange world when three such glaring errors can happen and so many say after the match, “Damn Enrique!” I just have to giggle at that. He certainly didn’t get it perfect, but yikes.

      Another thought I had is that when Busquets tried to intercept that ball from Reyes, I found myself thinking, “Mascherano would have just cleared the man, taken the card and moved on.” Thug life.

  13. Take Me to Church and Luis Enrique

    Whenever I hear this song, it reminds me of Luis Enrique and his current barca team. Maybe it’s because I think about the team too much.

    “My lover’s got humour
    She’s the giggle at a funeral
    Knows everybody’s disapproval
    I should’ve worshipped her sooner”

    These lyrics seems to me, Luis Enrique knows he has a different style and he knows “specialists” have “disapproval” to his style.

    If the heavens ever did speak
    She’s the last true mouthpiece
    Every Sunday’s getting more bleak
    A fresh poison each week

    But for him, it’s the ultimate style. If his team loses, ties or wins badly, “Specialists” reactions are like “poison”.

    “We were born sick” you heard them say it

    As they say, his style isn’t appropriate.

    My church offers no absolutes
    She tells me “Worship in the bedroom”
    The only heaven I’ll be sent to
    Is when I’m alone with you

    But he has only one goal. Making sure the team wins by any means. It’s the only “heaven” for him.

    I was born sick
    But I love it
    Command me to be well
    Aaay. Amen. Amen. Amen.

    Whoever says what, he “loves” his team the way it’s playing and winning.

    Take me to church
    I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
    I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
    Offer me that deathless death
    Good God, let me give you my life

    But win or not, it doesn’t matter. The specialists want his throat. Every presser casts out weird questions to him.

    If I’m a pagan of the good times
    My lover’s the sunlight
    To keep the Goddess on my side
    She demands a sacrifice

    If there was no Pep Guardiola during 2008-12, probably, Luis Enrique’s system would not be question. But every system needs a “sacrifice”. His Luis Enrique’s case, it’s Andres Iniesta.

    Drain the whole sea
    Get something shiny

    It’s impossible to satisfy all the fans. But definitely he can satisfy some.

    Something meaty for the main course
    That’s a fine-looking high horse
    What you got in the stable?

    “Specialists” believe other style are better. But Luis Enrique wonders what’s the other style are when every best coaches are being pragmatic.

    We’ve a lot of starving faithful

    Probably there’s others who share same style of Luis Enrique.

    That looks tasty
    That looks plenty
    This is hungry work

    When his team is winning following his style, it’s look tasty, plenty. His players seem to be hungry.

    No masters or kings
    When the ritual begins
    There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin

    When the match begins, every fans support the team. So Luis Enrique is thinking, there’s no “sin” when the team winning whatever the style is.

    In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene
    Only then I am human
    Only then I am clean

    At the end, Luis Enrique accepting who he is and didn’t care what others say and loving his style of play.

  14. Shit does happen, Bad luck and individual mistakes can occur, And since no one can really predict when or if they will happen, It makes sense to keep those points in mind when a coach makes his decisions, That’s of course a logic enrique decided to shove down the toilet.

    I vividly remember turning to my wife with my jaw dropped when neymar was subbed out, I said to her: “What!!!, There is still 20 minutes left!, It’s only a one goal lead, What if they scored from a stupid corner or mistake, It’ll be game over, We’ll never score another goal with just 2 forwards.

    And what you know, That exact thing just happened, And since our coach decided to strip the team from it’s teeths and claws and effectively turn it into a punching bag for the next 20 minutes, Coupled with what seems to appear his mass reliance on the millions watching and praying somehow we don’t concede, There weren’t any last minutes heroics, And who is surprised really.

    It has to be the first time, That i saw a barca coach, Try to secure a measly one goal lead, One third of an hour before the end…….Outside of home……..Against one of the best in your league…….
    The more i think about it, The more my brain starts to melt, And i’m not one of those hot tempered, Doomsday fans, With the attention span of a computer mouse.
    I took the loss against celta vigo and malaga, Much more gracefully than this single draw against sevilla.
    Sorry, But i’m not blaming this draw on why bravo’s hand wasn’t a few centimeters higher, Or why suarez didn’t make it 3-0! (If you can call that a realistic request), I won’t even blame pique, I had no problem praising LE when we won, And i have no problem doing the opposite when the opposite happens.

    Yet just to make it perfectly clear, I fully know that in football risks and tough decisions are made all the time, But just as there are smart and calculated risks, There are the dumb, Reckless, Unnecessary and arrogant risks, And just as you reap the rewards when your gamble works, You also reap it’s consequences when it fails.

    1. There have been countless occasions throughout the recent past when Pep, Tito and Tata all brought on an extra midfielder to try to close out a game.
      We were getting completely outplayed in the second half and the natural thing to do was to bbring on Xavi for extra control. Taking off a midfielder was unlikely to help giving the momentum that Sevilla had at home in front of their incredible support.

      Me personally, I would have taken off Suarez but it is really a toss of a coin considering the talents of both players and their ability to win matches.

      It was a calculated risk but it failed as any risk can. To call it arrogant seems baseless in my opinion.

    2. Completely agree about Suárez-Neymar: it’s a toss of a coin there. Either you take off the man who can win a physical battle and hold the ball up with his back towards the goal (Suárez), thus allowing the team to go forward, or you take off the man who can receive the ball in his own half and run it to the other end (Neymar). Both have risks, because Suárez isn’t going to win every ball and Neymar isn’t going to complete every dribble. Ultimately it probably came down to the fact that Sevilla scoring from a set-piece was a real danger and Suárez’ role in defending those is quite large. Still very much debatable, though, of course.

    3. We know they did, But you failed you mention on what circumstances they decided to do that, Which is the key point, Here is a rough sumamry:
      In a a one goal lead in camp nou, 10 minutes before end will be pushing their luck to the maximum, Against an opponent with poor offence, Maybe slightly more than 10.
      The same one goal lead outside of home, And against a decent opponent, I’ve almost never seen more than 5-6 minutes before end of official time, Against a poor opponent it may extend to 10.

      And there is a reason why pep, Tito and tata stuck closely to these ‘guide lines’, Because they’re the most sensible, Any more than that and they would be exposing the team to unnecessary risk.

      What enrique did, Wasn’t a calculated risk, Replacing iniesta or raki with xavi and/or repalcing pedro with suarez or neymar is an example of a calculated risk, It means that the coach is looking to preserve the score while also at the same time keeping the offence and our chances of scoring alive, In case something goes wrong.

      But when someones decided to pretty much obliterate our chances of scoring for the security the extra midfielder will provide with so many minutes left, It means one thing, And that he is almost certain it will win us the game, Because it is an extreme solution by simple common sense.

      Yet this is where it gets all hairy, There is no way for any one to be certain of such a decision, Apart from having a magic crystal ball that tells him the future, Which i can assure he hasn’t, And if he did, Then it’s broken.
      He had no place taking such an extreme decision so early in the match, More sensible approaches were possible.
      So yes, It was a dumb, Reckless, Unnecessary and an arrogant risk, And he deserves the salting he’s been getting.

    4. Bringing on Pedro for any of our forwards obliterates our chances of scoring a much as bringing Xavi on.

      Look, the same XI that destroyed Sevilla in the first half should be capable of at least holding their own in the second. Blaming Lucho for each and every one of our players underperforming for 55 minutes is a little much .

    5. I’d just like to point out that Xavi played a couple of great through balls to Suarez in the fifteen minutes he was on. 🙂

      Agreed on Pedro.

    6. What I don’t understand is the necessity for coaching failure here. The Xavi and Pedro sub has helped Barça see out matches before. It’s a defensive sub rather than an offensive one.

      http://busi1325.blogspot.com.es/2015/04/risky.html?m=1

      This tactical breakdown gets deeper into what I was noting above about the similarities to Guardiola’s Barça, and how the exact same things caught the team out yesterday.

      On a broader note, the team seemed too tired to shift gears, and didn’t have the right personnel. I kept screaming at the TV for someone to break behind the Sevilla defense. But just as Pedro seemed to preclude Barça from scoring, the presence of Xavi and the middield-dominant style that so many clamored for meant the kind of deliberate, rather than swashbuckling play that caught out RM for that killer second goal.

      Pique posted an apology to Twitter after the match yesterday. Noble gesture.

    7. “Bringing on Pedro for any of our forwards obliterates our chances of scoring a much as bringing Xavi on”

      Said tongue in cheek, It is quite giggly, But since you’re saying this seriously and with a straight face, Coupled with with your barely a few sentences response, Means you’re not really looking for a serious discussion.

      So do yourself a favor, And feel free to move on.

  15. Substituting your best player is questionable, but we should have been able to kill the game by possession with four midfielders. This game was decided by the two defensive blunders. Some bad luck in return for the good luck away against Valencia.

  16. bcdr,
    loved your chop-logic pagan rant. Really appreciate the range of voices in this forum.
    keep it rolling. It brings out even more of the beauty and magic of this incandescent game.

  17. Think one of the interesting points brought up after the match was that Iniesta, Xavi, Rakitic and Busquets had never played together at the same time before this game. Wonder if that could have been tried sometime before if it was something LE saw as a potential option in a match as tough as this.

  18. Neymar was our best player in the second half??Really??How many chances he created or had in the game??Suarez missed some chances but he created them himself with one-two and his brillant movement.He is working very hard in every game.

    1. Someone might suggest that had Suarez been as brilliant putting the ball in the net as his movement, the full poimts would have been a foregone conclusion.

      He didn’t just miss “some” chances. He missed them all. And it worked out unfortunately for his team.

  19. Interesting, and quite enjoyable game. Too bad we didn’t get all the points, but Sevilla earned their two and really, they are fine team.

    A very general comment (this may be too late in the day for anyone to read, but anyway) regarding conversations here. I noted up top in the thread that a few people referenced either their own, or others twitter posts, and the thought occurred to me that perhaps some of the testiness and misunderstandings in the previous posting was a result of people bringing in their twitter conversations and attitudes to the discussions here. I don’t follow twitter, so what culers say there is of no concern to me. I get the impression that some posters here also have conversations with each other on twitter, and perhaps that explains how sometimes someone will feel they’ve been singled out here for special criticism or something. I haven’t ever felt the blog as a whole was not completely fair and welcoming — the occasional spat notwithstanding.

    Anyhow, this all came to me as I was walking in the mountains with my wife and I thought I would suggest that people try as best they can to keep their twitter and the blog lives separate. Cheers.

    1. YOu are very spot on Dl. I have also mentioned the same here. Most of the time the negativity comes here because of outside factor – twitter discussions. It would be nice, if we discuss here purely about BFB, whatever happens on twitter, let it be happening there.

    1. Yes. I just wanted to write something to amuse after a tough game. I am glad most people are upbeat again. Thanks for reading!

  20. We played excellent in the first half, except for that Sevilla goal. Credit to players and LE too.
    I expected team to come back into second half desperate to score a third one. But thats where, I think, it looked to me, that the half time talk must have been different. We were looking more to hold on to the one goal lead than scoring a third. The ‘quite early’ Neymar- Xavi sub reiterated my thoughts, and I was really panicking , felt we would concede a goal any time. Taking away Neymar, who was looking very good, after his off form, seemed to help Sevilla to put more efforts to attack. So if I give credit to LE for the first half, I think I can also discredit him to trying to hold on to a one goal lead, in a tough away ground, so early on in the second half.

    Anyways, we still are leading and hopefully this has happened early enough for us to rectify.

  21. A result that is a little tough to take considering we were up 2-0. Not the end of the world, but we can’t afford another slip up now.

    However, we may have to win every single game. Any slip will put RM at the top, and even though I think it’s unlikely that any team wins out their remaining games, it’s the furthest thing from impossible.

    The best bet for Enrique is to assume Real Madrid will finish with 94 points, so we have no choice but to get 96.

    1. You’re right, Even a another single draw may cost us the league, Us and real madrid’s best ever points were 100, We now lost 18 points out of a possible 114, Real madrid lost 20.
      So if we lose another 2 points, It’s more than possible that real madrid can win all the remaining games and take the trophy ultimately, But again, The same thing applies to us.
      Everything is open right now, The only thing i know is that we can no longer count on them losing further points.

    2. For some it is “more than possible” for Madrid to win all the remaining games, but for me it is rather more than possible for EE to drop points. I would be surprised if Madrid get all the 6 points from Malaga and Celta, let alone from the Sevilla and Valencia games.

  22. Yeah, though Valencia has to come and Espanyol and Atletico await in their lairs, there are seven games to go. Win them and it doesn’t matter whether Real wins theirs – and if Real slips along the way, then Barcelona can too.

    Yes, it’s a long way, but Barcelona has Valencia and Espanyol to face, and then it’s Atletico. The rest can be won if the team plays well, the way it played for the majority of the Sevilla game. Operation 21 points.

    Real Madrid start the same program this weekend – Malaga at home, Celta away, Almeria at home, Sevilla away, Valencia at home, Espanyol away – and they are facing Atletico tomorrow and next Wednesday, games which will not be easy in any way. Sevilla.

    Nothing is over yet. Nothing. Real could get drawn by Malaga, Celta, Sevilla, Valencia and Espanyol – all of these teams are fighting for Europa League and Champions League spots.

    I just read a tweet by The Chief – that the Sevilla draw may be a blessing in disguise, because it may refocus the players – and I reckon and hope he’s right. 🙂

    1. Great points Peter. Everything is still in our hands and if we win the next four games then the Sevilla game becomes just another unfortunate draw. By that time our remaining schedule will be considerably easier than RM and it is even quite likely that we won’t even have to beat Atleti to win the league.

  23. Some incredible football to look forward to in the next two days. Despite getting some of their best players back, Real has still not beat a quality opponent in a long time so hopefully Atletico take care of business at home and kill whatever deluded winning streak Real are fantasizing about. On Tuesday the blaugrana turns rojoblanco and the flat track bullies succumb to Simeone’s brave army of soldiers.

    Our game against PSG is going to be equally interesting as their entire team is predicated on making the jump to the semis and establishing themselves as a “big club”. We must to everything we can to make sure this does not happen. Their team is particularly vulnerable now and we must seize the opportunity, put them in their place, and show them that they will never be more than a wealthy regional power struggling to contend with the likes of Lyon and Marseilles.

  24. Just want to appreciate how well Neymar and Messi have gelled the past games. Assist by Neymar is his first in a long time and he could have had several against Celta. Beautiful play by the whole team. At the same time I would like to see a fresh more physical midfield finish games against the desperate pressure we saw in Sevilla. Especially Busi and Pique carrying yellows was asking for trouble. The attacking mids were hanging on after 70 min

  25. I see that nobody said anything about the behaviour of Neymar after the subtitution.He must grown up,he is not a teenager anymore.I hope he will not have Ronaldhinio career.

    1. Luis Suarez got mad when he was subbed off against Granada. Dani Alves kicked a water bottle when subbed off against Manchester City.

      Messi had a little snit when Martino subbed him off, and refused to come off this season during one match. Players have been subbed and thrown boots while on the bench, any number of reactions from any number of players.

      The larger question is at what point are culers going to accept Neymar, who has been subbed 15 times this season so far, more than any other Barça attacker by far. When some people are subbed and express chagrin, they are competitors. With others, their reaction is a sign of childishness. It depends on the player, doesn’t it?

      And you know what? If we are lucky, Neymar will have a career like Ronaldinho, who was the core of two Liga championship and a Champions League team. I’ll take that any day.

    2. I definitely agree. I’ll start to worry about a players attitude when he pouts while still playing on the field, refuses to run and shouts insults at his team-mates. Whatever happens off the pitch definitely shouldn’t be blown out of proportion. He can sulk all he wants in public if it doesn’t lead to him questioning Enrique’s authority to make that kind of decisions in general. There are people who direct all their anger to the inside, and some who show it on the outside.

      We had the same discussion a couple of seasons ago when Messi was unhappy with some team-mates on the pitch and letting them know it – it’s just a way to release pressure. They are humans after all, even if you couldn’t always tell from some of their post-match interviews ;).

    3. I actually feel sorry for neymar.
      Generally speaking, A coach shouldn’t feel the need to justify every decision he makes to the players, You can imagine how quickly things can get haywire doing that, Losing your place as a power figure is an easy way to lose your squad.
      Even with that, Managers come in all sorts of shapes and flavors, There is ‘the friendly, Close, Best budd’, To those somewhere in the middle, To those ‘Kneel before me, I am your god’, Each one has it’s pros and cons, Luis enrique is more like the latter type.

      But what is happening with neymar is a special case, No matter what coaching style you have or team you manage, Some explaining has to be done when you’re subbing a star player so much more than the rest of his team mates, A frustrated main player is not good for the team.
      Yet watching neymar’s reactions, It’s not the reactions of a player who had a proper sat down with his coach about what is happening and why it’s the best for him and team, In fact they’re the reactions of some one who’s been left in the dark with no explanation what so ever.

      Anyhow, Even if enrique is unwilling to come out of his shell, Isn’t there a psychologist on the staff, These type of situation should be within his expertise, What are paying him for exactly.

  26. Whats unusual in this case though is that Neymar grumples almost every time he is taken off. Frustration, passion or whatever the reason he has to manage it better.

    The lad need not do that. With LE’s personality it might create another ruckus which we don’t need.

    1. I thought he was actually pretty restrained, certainly in terms of what I saw. He’s young but he’s also the Brazilian captain so he has a whack of a reputation to maintain and regular subbing doesn’t help. We’re also hoping he’s the next main man after Messi and he strikes me as the kind of lad with the sort of game where he needs reassurance that he is considered that way. After all, it’s not his first season any more when he could shrug it off as being settling in. At the back of my mind is Kxevin’s view that he won’t stay anyway. While I dont necessarily agree with that I can see a situation where this builds in his mind and causes doubts. Especially when I don’t really see why he was removed.

      Having said that he still looks pretty fragile ( thought he was bulking up a bit? ), his style means injury is never far away and it’s difficult to argue when the man waiting to replace you is Xavi and the team needs to get a hold of the ball.

      To my mind some of this could have been ameliorated ( yet again ) by LE taking the time to meet him at the touch line, pat him on the back and explain his thinking, as well as possibly using this as a way of persuading Messi to come off in an upcoming game to make him feel better. Messi might just respond to that.

      However, I confess the man’s relationships with the team still worry me.

    2. Martino didn’t stand at the touchline, pat backs and explain. Nor did Guardiola. Few coaches do, because they’re usually busy at that time.

      The Enrique “bad relationship” stuff still doesn’t wash with me. We see the team in training without game faces on and it is a tight group that is enjoying what it does and working together.

      I would caution against reading something that we don’t know into a situation. The “he has a bad relationship with the players” stuff came up when people were on Enrique about his attitude in general. For me, it was as much nonsense then as it is now, because I don’t know. Nobody does.

      This isn’t to say that Enrique isn’t closer to a traditional Mister than his predecessors but frankly, that is what the team needed.

      As for Neymar, I would be more worried if he did NOT express pique at coming off when he’s playing well. Dollars to donuts he now understands exactly why he was taken off, because that is what a good coach does, and it seems that Enrique is a good coach, based on what we saw at Celta, and are seeing at Barça.

    3. I’ve no idea what his relations are with the team other than what we know ( or think we know – channeling Rumsfeld here – ). I only said they worry me because of what I’ve seen or heard from the players. I know he took agin Pique which was a mistake, Mathieu suffered for his Clasico comment, (Messi hasn’t fallen out with any of his other managers), he totally ballsed up the Christmas leave situation which led to the “crisis”. From all that has been said you can’t possibly think there was nothing in it. It’s the only time I’ve ever heard Hunter and Balague agree on anything ! I have a feeling the players ( and maybe Xavi in particular ) have taken the sensible option and decided to give it their all till the end of the season. After that, all bets will be off. That doesn’t mean I don’t think he should be here next season, just that I want to see him learning and changing his ways where appropriate. To me, he is learning slowly, and the hard way, with the lineups but still has some way to go with managing a big side.

      With regard to the arm round the shoulder, Guardiola did do that on occasion if he thought it merited it although it was more a playful scuff on the head. I’m also not sure how busy a coach can be at such a time when he is usually up on the touch line anyway that he can’t acknowledge a contribution. Failure to do that is to not understand the sensitivity of the withdrawal. Doesn’t cost anything in terms of time or effort. Both SAF and Mourinho do/ did it and it just prevents anything bubbling. I’m sure LE will have taken the time later to do it but as I always said to kids who cheeked a teacher, if you do it in public we’re going back to apologise in public. Neymar isn’t Xavi or Iniesta who don’t need recognition. Im not fond of managers who don’t realise you have to man manage and that people need different things.

      Still, he’ll not care what I say and we’ll see at the end of the season. He has a team capable of winning a big one and did have since the start of the season.

    4. Jim, with all due respect, do u really think LE was wrong on Pique?! Was Pique up to the business in all aspects up until that decision of LE?

    5. Welcome, Yaredinho. I don’t think I’ve seen you post here before.

      Yes, I think he was absolutely wrong on Pique. Just as wrong as all those, and there quite a few, who wrote him off last year. I think LE came in with a totally unnecessary macho attitude towards a squad which needed a couple of new faces but had already acquired them. We could have had a Pique / Mathieu CB pairing from the start of the season and it wouldn’t surprise me if we’d been at least a couple of points better off if we had gone that way. Far too much was made of him using a mobile on the bench and I think there was also a dispute with a policeman over parking. A quiet word at most was all that was needed but I think LE needed a victim to show the rest he meant business. Unfortunately, he found that he needed him. Same story with Mathieu.

      The problem with Pique as I see it, is that he’s too easy a target for lazy viewers. He’s good looking, has a famous wife, plays poker in his spare time and by all accounts is the team joker. He is also, however, a very stable family person, articulate and thoughtful.

      On the pitch he is world class. I’ve been saying that for the last three seasons and not many listened. His problem is that a defence relies largely on positioning and in particular a CB pairing which knows what it’s doing. He hasn’t had a really good partner since Puyol. To me, a barometer of how well we are defending is how little Pique has to go to ground tackling where others see that as a badge of honour. That is what worries me a little about the last few games. He seems to me to be having to go to ground too often so something isn’t right on that side.

      However, as I keep saying to folks, it’s all just opinions so feel free to come back at me. The good thing about this place is that we can discuss things civilly.

    6. Pique wasn’t playing well. Enrique was right to sit his butt. The results speak for themselves. The player got the message, got focused and is now excellent again.

      As far as his relationship with the players, what do we believe? Xavi says locker room is fine. He’s always said that. And the only evidence that we have of a fallout with Messi is a training match discussion that was overblown by one and all.

      So I just don’t buy the contentions that Enrique isn’t a good man manager. Poorly managed teams don’t play like Barça does. They just don’t. Do they play like City does? Yup.

    7. I agree, Neymar had every reason to show his displeasure when, it was Suarez who was looking poor and who should have been subbed. That sub, so early on, killed our efforts and chance for a third goal, irrespective of, if Pique make a wrong pass or not. As Capello recently said, Neymar is no where near Messi, but as a player he is still far ahead of CR7, and his presence would have given more worries to Sevilla. With only a one goal lead, that was poor. We have never been good in clinging on to a one goal lead.

      And Jim, I dont think we will ever see LE giving a pat on the back to any player coming out. He is not that kind of man.

      Whatever, I cant wait for tomorrow.
      Somewhere in my mind I feel, at least a double silverware is coming..

  27. A bit in the match thoughts above that I expected more people to pick up on, echoed in a link to a review in the comments, is how the most “Classic Barça” team that we have seen this season, the one that even the purists were enjoying watching, also evinced the exact reasons why that system was due for an evolution.

    That is for me interesting, and far more so than pinning Enrique to the wall because he made subs that have worked in the past and would have again had Pique not screwed up.

    1. The classic play lasted only until the 35th minute. Not pinning the end on LE but that sense of adventure, dynamism and danger slowly dissolved in the second half. Ditto the City first leg. Don’t know the reasons for that but we have so many games when we have been unable to exert concerted uniform play.

    2. I don’t agree with your reasoning here. The team played possession-based football with a lot of short passes to great effect (2-0 lead) in the first 35 or so minutes – that’s probably what you’re referring to with the “Classic Barca”. That the team broke down in the second half wasn’t as much due to the possession-based football with a lot of short passes as to mental or physical exhaustion and too little tracking back from the forwards. It’s the inability to continue the style of football played for the first 35 minutes and not the style itself that drew the match for us. Alternatively, with 2 goals out of 2 shots on target for Sevilla, there’s a strong inclination for me to chalk a bit of it down to luck as well.

    3. Sorry, I hadn’t picked that up in the article. Old age doesn’t come alone.

      The first thirty five were complete vindication of classic Barca. However, we do need to ask why it vanished. Too hard to do? Relaxation? Would it have vanished if Xavi had come on for Rakitic at half time leaving Neymar on ? Don’t know.

    1. A bit similar to our game against Sevilla; RM dominated first half, second half a battle field. 0-0 seems fair, though AM were so close towards the end… It is AM’s to take now!

    2. Great match in fairness. Only one team looked like winning in the last 20 mins but Madrid played well before that. Ronaldo had a poor match but that’s nothing new at the minute, unless a chance is laid on a plate for him he creates nothing himself.

      It’s a good result actually for Atletico considering how close matches between the two generally are, a score draw and they go through and Madrid are yet to beat them in 5 attempts this season

    3. I actually think Atletico are going to miss the semifinals this time, but I have to give them that: the matches they are involved in are hardly ever boring. Even if not much exciting football is happening, there’s always a lot of drama and fights involved (honorary mention for Mandzukic “working on his second yellow” for a whole half as my commentator called it).

    4. Never had any expectation or hope that atleti will knock them out, Maybe in a better universe, Yes they’ve been tormenting them in the last few games, But EE were always going to break through eventually.
      I’m simply glad they didn’t get an ‘easy’ meal like monaco, Porto or even juventus, To lessen their focus on la liga.

    5. Think they can do it. 0-0 is a very neutral score, doesn’t give any team an edge. Not crazy for them to get a score draw.

  28. 0-0 for a tie between teams from the same city is not bad at all. The home advantage is minimal in such cases, while the away goal rule still applies, which actually favors the team that’s visiting in the second game.

  29. Hm so Carvajal can punch and bite Mandjukic but no red card and no 4 months ban will happen i guess.And Ramos can do whatever he want but also no red.Great.

  30. First time here…love the atmosphere, way the discussion flows & yeah kevin’s article…so I went on and registered 🙂

    I was just curious if anyone else has notice this. We are playing tonite and then we have a early kickoff against Valencia on Saturday. Shouldn’t we be playing on Sunday? Normally one gets 3 days off after CL game. Real Madrid play yesterday and they still late on Saturday. We essentially get a day less to prepare for a big league game against Valencia. I am worried that fatigue would come in play against Valencia.

    1. Welcome, Ams. I’ve long since given up trying to work out the thinking of the fixture schedulers in Spain. It will mean a bit of rotation though.

      What I’ll be interested in tonight is how we approach it. They, surprisingly for me, played Chelsea off the park in midfield at times in the last round but will they attempt that against us. They’ll certainly be a lot more mobile up front without Ibra, ‘though. Questions for me are how LE uses Masche over the next two games, when he uses Xavi and who he takes off up front if Neymar is playing well !

  31. Interesting how the game starts. I think without Zlatan PSG is more dangerous. They are definitely more free flowing, as you said more mobile. I think key miss for them is not Zlatan but Veratti and Motta in the midfiled. Without them I would doubt they would play through the midfield. Lucas is also key because he can run into our defense with his pace…like he did in the 1st game. Looks like Lucas could play for few minutes.

    I think LE should go for a kill at the beginning. PSG is good team but they are without lot of their key players. We have to take them on for first 40-45mins. Ideally he would like to play like we played first 35 mins against Sevilla. He would like to take lead in first half without conceding. 2-0 would be perfect. If that’s the case, 10-15 mins into 2nd half we could see him benching key players(Messi is not key player so no chance of benching him :)) In that situation, I think Masche might come in for Bushe. Also Masche might start in place of Mathieu against Valencia.

    Also, I think he will start with Iniesta, Rakitic & Bushe…and then he will switch Xavi. I thought Iniesta had a good game against Sevilla. 1st half performance was quite good.

  32. My only wish is we will not try to hold on to a 1 goal lead. Hopefully we will have our scoring boots today.

    Turan made a beautiful run yesterday. I like this player a lot.

  33. Hello. Long time lurker, decided to join.

    I hope today’s game will be like that 35 min vs Sevilla, but during the 90 min. Total domination, and lots of goals scored, none conceded.
    I might be asking for a lot, but that would be lovely 😀

  34. A hearty “Benvingut” to ams and MSN. Welcome to the house, and really glad you joined us.

    So, the interesting news of the day is that the club is said to want to renew Pedro, and … (drumroll please) … Klopp is leaving Dortmund.

    The talk has already started, and for me, if he is available in the summer and Enrique doesn’t win something big (Champions League or domestic double), he’s gone. And that might be true even if Bartomeu wins.

    1. For some reason I find it hard to imagine a trainer like Klopp at Barcelona, though.

      If LE doesn’t win the league or CL, Bartomeu will not remain president. It’s not a stretch to assume Laporta would win the elections and if he decides to not continue with LE, he will most likely go for a president with links to Cruijff and/or Barça… Maybe Frank de Boer, who is leaving Ajax this summer?

      Personally I think that LE should stay on for another season, although if his relationship with Neymar and Messi is as strenuous as it seems, this is definitely a reason for concern.

    2. I think what is good for me is that there seem to be quite a few recently who have a look at our discussions and decide they feel comfortable in this space. Always interesting to hear new voices. Hopefully this will help ease Kxevin’s ongoing anxiety about the site’s descent into acrimony and debauchery. ( not really sure the debauchery is relevant but it is such a good word ) 🙂

      On a slight tangent does anyone know if Bassam’s RM site has resurfaced anywhere ? I like to keep an eye on the opposition and he seemed a decent guy. I also always felt when he posted here he showed signs of being a closet Cule anyway . . .

    3. Debauchery is indeed a beautiful word, Jim. Can we at least agree that there is not enough (read: any) debauchery at BFB?

    4. Hey, you debauches (debauchers? debauchs? there’s a choice epithet in there somewhere) this is a family site! 🙂

    5. Jim, I like to think that more people are speaking up beCAOSE the site is less snippy and more respectful. But the newcomers can speak for themselves if they are so inclined. But it’s feeling like a fun place to be again. I like that.

      I don’t care if anyone agrees. But respect has to be present, or high-quality discussion is impossible.

      The RM site is gone. So far, no resurfaces but I will ask Bassam on Twitter if there are plans in that regard.

    6. Reading the happy reactions from some cules in social media regarding this news is nothing short of astonishing.
      I mean here you have your team 2 points ahead in the league race with only 7 matches left, Reached the copa del ray final, And is a strong contender to win the CL, With the coach still only in his first season, And they’re already day dreaming about another manager.
      They’re the same sort of people that think everything in life works in a linear fashion:
      “Look man, He won so much with just BVB, Then with our squad he can win a one hundred gazillion sextuple in a row!!!”

      Enrique is our 4th manager in the last 4 years, That’s not a number to be proud off, Building a strong team for the future takes more than just a single season, And the first step to accomplish that, Is to stop changing the goddamn managers, In fact LE has exceed my expectation in his first season, If someone thinks another manager will get better results on his first year then he’s delusional, Enrique should regardless of the outcome at the end of the season.
      But of course politics will be involved and it’ll only take couple of weeks if not days, For the election candidates to try and attach their names to klopp, And enrique will be surrounded by knives and pitch forks, Waiting for the slightest slip up, to sack him, Produced by the toxic, Overly ambitious and unrealistic environment he’s working in.

    7. I don’t get it either.

      What guarantees any success whatsoever from Klopp? The man’s tactics gave him a couple of trophies, but at the same time they are the reason why so many players are injured.
      The defence is a leaking sieve

      Sure, he “only” has Borussia, but at the same time he’s only playing in the Bundesliga! He has no knowledge of La Liga whatsoever, and domestic opposition counts for two of the three competitions!

    8. You have to assume, first of all, that Enrique is the cause of all the “problems” that the team has. I would wager there is many a team that would kill to have our problems, but that’s another story.

      Klopp is the favorite among many culers because of what he did with Dortmund. I also wonder (would love to hear from folks on this) if they don’t see some Guardiola in Klopp. Driven, mercurial, attacking, pressing, lovely football, etc.

  35. Klopp, though great he is, is not a good fit for Barcelona in terms of vision and style. In the same manner we sift through players we should also do that here.

  36. Oh, well. It’s colours to the mast time for LE with Masche at the back instead of Mathieu. Not sure why you would do that but here’s hoping Masche has the word ” discipline” tattooed on his forehead and gives us one of his good games. With Montoya also in the back line I think I’m gonna pour another glass of wine before the kick off.

    1. Considering PSG’s power in the air at set pieces I find it incredibly difficult to understand starting Masch instead of Mathieu

    2. Agreed but I’m still not convinced by PSG. Messi up against Maxwell should be interesting. I’ve always rated Maxwell and to be still playing at this level is pretty good. He’s also a cracking defender but quick he is not.

  37. For the record, it’s freaking hilarious that Porto lead Pep’s Bayern 2-0 after 10 minutes.
    Go on Quaresma

  38. There aren’t many people on the planet that you’d rather have the ball one on one with the keeper, Neymar is very calm in front of goal

  39. Well, I was expecting to be elated, upset, nervous, something. But this is poor from both sides. Don’t get me wrong. I’m loving the lead but we’ve stopped quick movement of the ball since then and they have no great ambition.

  40. Hey kids, that was one hell of a match of football. The Bayern result is stunning. I figured Porto would make the tie interesting, but not THAT interesting. Could Bayern win 2-0 at home? Yep, and by more. But they absolutely have to. Their backs are against the wall.

    Meanwhile, PSG will have to score 3 and keep a clean sheet at the Camp Nou. 0-3 would have been better, but 1-3 still an excellent result.

  41. Just saw the porto-bayern highlights. Ridiculous mistakes by alonso and dante, felt kind of sorry for pep, it looked like he was crying after that second goal! He will get a lot of criticism but what can you do, when your team gives up two free goals in the first 10 mins..

  42. Some post match comments:

    1)Great performance by Luis “The Cannibal-Robespierre” Suarez. With his Reign of Terror in Paris, our #9 has become the best villain in world football history. It’s awesome and I just can’t get enough.

    2) Absolutely elated by Bayern’s fail in Lisbon. My only regret is that Neuer was not sent off for a clear red card. We could have a Semi-Final of Barca, Atleti, Juventus, and Porto.

  43. That was a very interesting game. It wasn’t spectacular, as most of the action took place in midfield rather than in the boxes. On the whole, it wasn’t a lot of astonishing football. But it was a very calm display of how to dispatch a quality European side without spending too much energy.

    The last game PSG lost at home was in 2006. Since then, they’ve faced any number of European heavyweights – just recently, Chelsea and Barcelona itself (multiple times) – and didn’t lose. Today, they lost by 2 goals (and were quite lucky not to lose by 3). Let that sink in for a moment.

    As good as Suarez was, the part I was pleased the most with today was the defense. It’s not that good at dealing with counterattacks, which is something that was avoided with great care by the whole team today. Outside of lightning-fast counterattacks, the defense held firm, mis-clearance of the year from Mathieu notwithstanding. Barca didn’t have to have the ball all the time – it could also sit back and absorb pressure because the back four as well as the midfield (and sometimes even the forwards) did a great job at stopping their players from creating many clear-cut chances at a goal. PSG combined well – but somewhere outside or just inside the box, it usually ended with a blocked shot or a well-timed tackle or something else that took away the ball. PSG could have scored another goal, which is only to be expected from a team with that quality, but doesn’t take away from the quality of the defense.

    Other comments: barcastuff states that Iniesta won’t be away for long, which would be very important. Montoya clearly not only isn’t respected by many commenters on here, but also by PSG, as he got an obscene amount of space to run into many times (and still didn’t get the ball many times from his teammates). And I always laugh in delight at the idea of actually being able to bring on a player of Xavi’s quality from the bench.

  44. I think we are definitely going to face Real Madrid this CL, unless Atletico beats them. I don’t think Bayern or the rest of the teams are on the same level as those two.

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