Barça, Bayern, and Time

“FC Barcelona”, someone tweeted on my timeline. I realized the Champions League draw had started and Barcelona’s name came up first. I started refreshing my timeline like a maniac.  The next tweet I saw read “Bayern Munich”.

For the next few seconds, I received notifications from almost every possible application and source of information available on my phone. The world was simply buzzing with the news.  To many, the biggest match of the year was finally here. As for myself, I just thought: “It’s time”.

How people deal with time differs. Some are deeply attached to the past, while others choose to let go of it, live for the moment and aim for a better future.

Speaking of time, let us go a few years back.

In 2008, FC Barcelona announced that their former player, Pep Guardiola, has been appointed the new coach of the first team.


We all know the details to that story. However, to sum it up, let us just say that the club witnessed its best period (from 2009 until 2013) in history with Pep and Tito in charge.

Pep left the club after a league failure and a Champions League heartbreak against Chelsea in 2012. Pep’s era came to an end.

Tito took charge of the first team the following season while Pep was taking a year off in New York. While Tito was helping the team accomplish a very successful league campaign, Bayern Munich announced that Pep Guardiola will be their coach in the 2013/2014 season.

Pep Guardiola watched as his former team faced his future team in April of 2013. Sadly for Barcelona, however, the tie turned out to be nightmare. The first match in Germany ended with a pure show of dominance from the German side. With Lionel Messi injured, Tito Vilanova battling cancer and a visible lack of structure in the club, the tie was over with yet another Bayern show of dominance but this time in Camp Nou in front of our home fans.

Barcelona v bayern 0-3

I heard the phrase “end of an era” a lot in that period. It came from a Robben quote after the two matches (4-0 and 3-0): “Barcelona have dominated Europe for the past five years. We can be very proud.”

Gerard Pique didn’t disagree either as he said: “When another side is so much better than you, there isn’t any option except to congratulate them”

Barcelona fans suddenly started waving their white flags and on those flags, written in bold letters, it said: “End of an era”.

After that period came a long period of sorrow and sadness. While Pep Guardiola was breaking Bundesliga records, Tata Martino had to deal with a relatively broken Barcelona. Barcelona fans truly realized, at that point, that their team is no longer the best in the world.

However, they found some happiness in cheering for their former savior and hero Pep Guardiola as he led Bayern through a fairly successful season. The peak of the support for Pep Guardiola came when Bayern Munich faced Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final in 2014. Barcelona fans witnessed a failure for their former coach and hero when Real Madrid stunned Bayern with a 4-0 win in Germany. Adding insult to injury, Barcelona’s biggest rival enjoyed their best year in ages in 2014 by winning the Champions League trophy.

The world came crashing down for Barcelona fans. From ruling the world and dominating their main rival continuously to witnessing this rival win a Champions League trophy as Barcelona came out empty-handed, the club, players, and supporters declared absolute failure.

In the summer of 2014, FC Barcelona announced that their former player, Luis Enrique, has been appointed the new coach of the first team.


Several players started coming in as Luis Enrique assembled his team. It was the start of something new.

With one defeat against PSG and one against Real Madrid, Luis Enrique was not exactly every fan’s favorite.

When 2015 started, however, things drastically changed. The team suddenly had its most successful winning streak in ages, started playing great football, and defeated literally all major rivals. The fans started to regain hope.


“It’s time”, I thought. It’s time to put our past and present in one ring and let them fight it out. It’s time to see if our ‘new’ style of play will defeat the style of play that put us on top of the world years earlier. It’s time for the present to prove its existence and send the past away forever.

Past events and failures aside, Pep’s team portrayed a certain style of play. It involved the evolution of players like Sergio Busquets. It depended on players like Xavi Hernandez to dictate play. While in Luis Enrique’s team, Xavi is a substitute. Lucho’s team tends to have a much more direct approach than Pep’s.

This, however, did not convince some of the fans.

“Wait! Pep didn’t do it that way”, one yelled.

“Yeah, well, Pep has been gone for years”, the other replied.

“It doesn’t matter, it’s our identity”

“This is how we are right now. This is how we were at least once before Pep. Are you saying that Pep’s football is our only identity?”

“The midfield doesn’t control matches anymore. They just push the ball to the attack”

And the discussion lasts for hours but one thing remains: the present.

The present involves a team led by Luis Enrique. It’s a team that depends on attacking brilliance for success. In this team, players can score and defend set-pieces. In this team, the ball is not circulated around midfield continuously. On the contrary, the players never hesitate to choose the riskier pass instead of the safer one. In this team, you witness the peak of attacking football with goals scored from all types of situations.

A lot of phrases could be used to describe Lucho’s team but my favorite has to be: It’s not Pep’s team.
It’s not the past. It shouldn’t be. It’s something different. It’s something new.

Lucho’s team can end this season with three trophies, no trophies, or somewhere in between. However, this team proved that a footballing success is possible even without the dictations of the past. After all, sticking to the past and its rules shows a lack of ambition and imagination regardless of how successful this past was simply because it shows that you’re afraid to open your eyes and see what the present has to offer.

Who knows? Maybe the present will provide something worth remembering in the future as well.

So, here we stand in May of 2015 ready to take on our former coach and style (with completely different players). We’re ready to face the club that forced us to pull out our white flags and surrender after 7 painful goals. In other words, we’re ready to face our hero and our nemesis. We’re ready to face our past.

As soon as Barcelona qualified against PSG one thought truly came to mind: the need for closure. This club, team, and fanbase need closure. We need to witness Lucho’s team lifting a league trophy, a Champions League trophy or maybe even both. There is something much more symbolic than a trophy in this situation and it is the true signaling of closure. The past is truly over and the present is beautiful and exciting.

There is no sweeter way to get closure than by defeating your past.

The world was simply buzzing with the news.  To many, the biggest match of the year was finally here. As for myself, I just thought: “It’s time”.










  1. time to come out of the shadows and start talking… have been a silent reader for so long. nice articles and reading at all times, especially between matches, when you are writing about fandom.

    returning to the topic at hand, i think we should step out of this well of self-criticism and needless nostalgia. while it is good to be aware of the past, there is a time, when the longing for the past, weighs heavily on our present.

    the number of times we begin with the identity and success we had during pep’s times is reminisced, we are not doing to the piece of art in front of us. we should not forget that it was pep who chose to leave, for whatever reason… he chose to walk away from his creation. today, when we talk of closure, it seems we went through a break-up and we need to prove a point to him about who we are and what he is missing out on. WE DON’T…

    this team, my friends, this team… this team will make its own mark on destiny and history. the core may be unchanged over the years, but who they are isn’t… we have gone through a cocoon of failure, ignominy, humiliation and doubt to emerge tougher. adding steel to our silk, we have found wings that we didn’t have before.

    perhaps i’m being harsh on pep, but my point is simply this. take him out to dinner, have all the jokes you want, reminisce if you really want… but on the pitch, there is only one reality, he is not our friend and he is here to do us no favors. let’s steam roll bayern into submission and be all the friends we want to after that.

    my apologies to anyone who might be offended.

  2. Good post. I think if Barca managed to beat Pep, a lot of people would be able to let go of the past and the Pep-syndrome they seem to have (no disrespect intended, everyone loves him).

    But I wouldn’t say that it’s the past and the present meeting in this tie. Obviously Pep is the past and LE is the present, but Bayern don’t play like Pep’s Barca in his last 2 years. Their best players are wide, they have a big striker, they defend deep every now and again, and so on. The style in general is the same, but the nuances are very different. So it’s not so much “Old Barca” vs “New Barca”, just two teams that have evolved and responded to the different requirements of today.

  3. The only – really the only – thing I don’t like about the Bayern matchup is that so many fans (from many different clubs) seem to think we’re going to beat them easily. The narrative is that a fit and hungry Barca which is scoring from everywhere is going against a Bayern with many players missing and others not hungry anymore.

    I’m not superstitious, but somehow I liked it better when everyone thought Barca was only good for toothless possession and the whole midfield was past its peak anyway…

  4. I’ve been wanting for Barca to play Bayern ever since they both moved to the semi-final (see my posts before the draw). Like you, chief, I wanted us to meet Bayern because I thought it’s time that we conclude the past (the Pep era) by meeting the team led by Pep and plays our past style, and I was confident that this team could beat it. Back then I didn’t know so many Bayern players would be injured in the German Cup. Although it certainly increases our chance of beating them, now the tide has turned from “the clash of the titans” to “the giant bullying a weak, injury-ridden team”. It’s no fun at all now. Somehow now if we don’t beat Bayern by a large margin, we’d be considered a failure; if they somehow beat us, they would be hailed for accomplishing a miracle and we’d be hammered and mocked all year. This is not how I wanted this tie to turn out, not to say as a football fan I wanted to enjoy the clash of the highest quality football.

    1. Anyone who believes the “giant beating an injury-riddled team” but doesn’t give Barça credit for the same hindrance during the 7-0 is to be discounted.

    2. This is precisely so. To me the Bayern loss never hurt nearly as much as the Chelsea one. Our team could not have been more batter and bruised than back then. The fact that no one brings up the swimming pool at the Allianz still irks me. Yes it was a big factor and sleazy move. The fact that Lahm and Xabi slipped on that still wet pitch made the BVB win even more sweet. Sorry, no sympathy for this Bayern team.

    3. Touché, the lost years were always down to many different unfortunate circumstances. This year we have much to be thankful for…so far

    4. Every time I mention the Alianz Community Swimming Pool, I have to delete it and put “Arena”. People don’t remember, because nobody mentioned it. Nobody wants to remember that the commentators, especially British ones, were rooting for Bayern and mentioned it as part of the “real motivation to win” and “Cheeky Germans”.

    5. Just because they have injuries doesn’t mean we can or we should beat them by a large margin, Football doesn’t work in such linear fashion.

      If the roles were reversed, They wouldn’t give a crap if they won on penalties, And they’ll be right to do so, A win is a win.

      If we started applying extra criteria for ‘winning’, Clubs will be throwing and discarding most of their historic trophies for one reason or another.

  5. In that first year of Pep, I can recall Ray Hudson using the phrase ” every pass is asking a question ” as in can you deal with it and create something out of it. I can’t say he used it as much as he uses “magisterial ” these days but it became a way that he identified the new age of soccer; Masterclass by Barca. To me Tiki Taka was secondary and it was only later that it flew up the flagpole with some negative consequences.
    Today Enriques team has absolutely gone back to that standard starting with Messi. They are back to asking questions from front to back and having a blast doing it!

  6. Fantastic post Chief. So much is riding on this match and by extension this season. Simply put: we should and must win this tie. If I have any fears it is that we will try to be too conservative and make this game into a chess match instead of an encounter between lion vs antelope. I don’t care about the subtleties of Champions League strategies, away goals rules, and protecting a slim lead. We go for knockout in the Camp Nou. Not only because of the some revenge factor but because it is probably our best way to progress through this tie and move on to our next challenge for dominance this season.

    1. I think Barca will come out the same way as against City and PSG; attacking, dynamic, confident and relentless on defense. No way they’re gonna make the mistake of respecting Bayern too much. First throttle them, then suffocate them, finally run them into the ground. Result Barca winners Europe scratching their head, gnashing their teeth!

  7. I think we are all sharing the same sentiments going to this match. We all love and respect Pep for what he did, but all want some semblance of vengeance against the Germans. It is funny how people just throw out that 7 to 0 score line without ever mentioning all the turmoil we were going to, people love to relish when a giant goes down.

    Although I wasn’t Luis enrique’s biggest fan earlier on, it’s impossible not to be happy with how the team is playing, I don’t see how anyone could want any other coach in the world at the moment considering how we are playing.

    Like Manchester city and Paris, I’m not afraid of By like Manchester city and Paris, I’m not afraid of Bayern. I only pause when I think of who their coach is and if anyone can find a way to slow us down over two legs it is him. Still think we get to the final though.

    1. Don’t forget the manita Messi Eto and Henry but on a dominant Bayern a few years earlier

  8. Lets leave the Pep masturbation to one side, and focus on what we need to do.
    The reality is that Pep left us (as is his right) and joined a European rival.
    Which makes him the enemy. Now.

    I am a self confessed fan of Pep guardiola – the man, and love him to shreds for what he gave to my club. But now, he returns, to hurt us. And I haven’t the slightest doubt as to what my preferences are for this game.

    When an Ex (who you have the fondest memories with) comes in to your home, sure that ex lover deserves a welcome. But all the mushiness, love and nostalgia must stop there. When the EX gesticulates and argues with the ref, etc then the camp must unite in their efforts to voice their disdain. And He must hear it. He must feel ashamed to step on to the turf and direct his adopted disciples to hurt US.

    Things often dont turn out as dramatic as we would like, But I would certainly like to see a Rafinha or a Bartra make a bone crushing tackle on Thiago. Not because I hate him or am sore because he left. No. Just because. Like barcachief said, Its time people started to fear us again. Its time that we return to the pinnacle again. Football needs it.

    Vamos, fake FCBs, Iam pumped.

    1. Fantastic and perspicacious post! Hits all the right points and shows tremendous understanding of our mission.

      New Rule Proposal for European Football Competitions Effective Immediately:

      Any coach who attempts to strangle the fourth official and then five minutes later tries to embrace him or her as if in a reunion with long lost relative should immediately receive a 6 month ban from football. Second offense a lifetime ban. That kind of manipulative histrionics might go over during Octoberfest in Bavaria but the rest of the European Union should be spared such theatrics.

    2. Haha well said inamess

    3. I agree with almost everything you wrote, but I definitely wouldn’t want anyone on the pitch to make a “bone crushing tackle” on another player, whether that player’s name was Thiago or not.

      For some reason, I’m just now imagining a former boss of mine meeting me on the street and repeatedly hitting me over the head with a big club without any comment because I left…

  9. If Bayern were coming to town with Messi Eto and Henry up top, Andres, Xavi and Busquets in the middle and Alves Puyi Pique and Abidal, then I would be really scared and have mixed feelings. Pep is a great coach but he had the best players of that time. He doesn’t anymore, we do and our coach is doing a mighty fine job. I didn’t like Pep’s micromanagement style. I’m sure it got old. If Enrique continues on his path, let’s the players play around his organization everyone is going to be happier for a long time. Enrique is beniftting from some great management decisions “finally ” and Pep was fully involved in some of the really bad ones. So thanks for the greatest memories Pep although I thought you got a bit too much credit and here’s hoping Enrique negotiates his ego, the pressure, the management and his players for a long time. I think he’s got what it takes.

  10. As a fan who i am always looking to the future and not in the past,i must say that your comment is a little harsh to Pep.He offered a lot as a player and coach to our team.People talk about the manita but i will remember for ever the humiliation of madrid in bernabeu in 2009.It was a year after the pasillo we made for them.Pep before the semi against chelsea,he did not choose to play a safe game for a draw and save energy.He send the team like hungry warriors for blood.He wanted to humilate them and take revenge for the pasillo.

    1. I mean no disrespect and don’t want to offend. Pep started out like Enrique undiscovered as a coach with a lot of questions. He emerged as one of the elite albeit with one of the greatest squads seen. That team changed almost overnight and so did the style. Enrique has the same opportunity and I don’t see them making the same mistakes in fact I think in some ways Enrique has settled in and doing things better than Pep.

  11. Pep is legend…he deserves respect period. No two ways about that. And we will give him that when he comes to camp nou. Bucket loads of respect. But(and I mean Big But) when the whistle is blown and the game starts…respect ends. This is about Barcelona facing Bayern. Same team who took us down 7-0. I cant and I wont forget that. Its time to pay back with all due interest. They rejoiced when they thrashed us 7-0 and now we will rejoice when we thrash them. That’s how I see it. As much as I respect and love pep, its not about Pep. Its about Bayern. Once we have taken them down and thorn them apart and I see pep sad, I will give him a hug and cheer him up. But its all about Bayern and its just unfortunate that Pep is the one who is sitting there managing that team. Thats how I see it.

    About the team, I am confident we will come out strong. What we have done this season is remarkable. With so much going around…management issue, director of football sacked, puyol leaving, court cases, transfer ban…we truly have done remarkable to be in this position. Team believes in each others abilities. There is harmony. Team is playing like a team. And that’s all to do with Lucho’s management skills. We can see that in the press conferences. If I was Bayern I would be afraid, even though out in open I will pretend I am not. But deep inside I will be afraid. Afraid because I am not sure what should be the game plan against this team. Should I treat them as direct playing football team and look for long balls? Should I look for 1-2-3 counter attacks? Should I take care of the flanks? Should I be worried about the set pieces? Should I treat this team as a possession based team and look for the attack through the midfield? Well that’s what Bayern’s position is right now…and as a Barca we are doing all these effortlessly. We counter attack when there is space, we play long balls when team is defending high, we play tiki taka to stretch the defence and create space. That’s the reason why I am confident but I not crazy. I have to respect the opponent and understand their strength and weakness, trust our abilities and play the game. That’s when we will come out strong.

  12. Yeah, really i hope the team dosnt come out with any cnservative rubbish against bayern..I expect an all out, all gun blazing attack, same mentality with the city game
    , and i betcha they’ll collapse like a badly arranged pack of cards

    Meanwhile, was in a bayern forum- and oh boy, its was freaking hillarious..Apparently they’re real scared of us, sometimes masking that fear in junk remarks…And the level of babaric antagonism toward barca fans is just ludicrous…Couple of barca fans that posted there, almost had their thumbs ripped off- literally..its fine for them to spew childish comments against barca fans, but if a barca fan try giving out a logical view on the game, there’s a weird unanimous descision by all ’em bayernistas, thats probably the most stupid comment the’ve ever heard..Hence, they go for the poor guy’s neck…While its really hillarious and fun watching their uneaziness in respect to that tie, its really sickening the kind of garbage thats spilled per sconds over there..Really, going to forums like that, makes me appreciate being a barca fan- as i think we’re probably the most sane and logical fans around…Such forums, makes me appreciate the decorum we’ve got here…Didnt even bother wasting time posting…Cant say i plan on going back- probably not untill FCB whitewash their pathetic team on wednesday..

  13. Chief and everybody, here’s a song I think it’s quite relevant:

    So this is what you meant
    When you said that you were spent
    And now it’s time to build from the bottom of the pit
    Right to the top
    Don’t hold back
    Packing my bags and giving the academy a rain check

    I don’t ever want to let you down
    I don’t ever want to leave this town
    ‘Cause after all
    This city never sleeps at night

    It’s time to begin, isn’t it?
    I get a little bit bigger, but then I’ll admit
    I’m just the same as I was
    Now don’t you understand
    That I’m never changing who I am

    So this is where you fell
    And I am left to sell
    The path to heaven runs through miles of clouded hell
    Right to the top
    Don’t look back
    Turning to rags and giving the commodities a rain check

    I don’t ever want to let you down
    I don’t ever want to leave this town
    ‘Cause after all
    This city never sleeps at night

    It’s time to begin, isn’t it?
    I get a little bit bigger but then I’ll admit
    I’m just the same as I was
    Now don’t you understand
    That I’m never changing who I am

    It’s time to begin, isn’t it?
    I get a little bit bigger, but then I’ll admit
    I’m just the same as I was
    Now don’t you understand
    That I’m never changing who I am

    This road never looked so lonely
    This house doesn’t burn down slowly
    To ashes, to ashes

    It’s time to begin, isn’t it?
    I get a little bit bigger, but then I’ll admit
    I’m just the same as I was
    Now don’t you understand
    That I’m never changing who I am

    It’s time to begin, isn’t it?
    I get a little bit bigger, but then I’ll admit
    I’m just the same as I was
    Now don’t you understand
    That I’m never changing who I am.

  14. I agree with a lot of the posts above. I love Pep. I’m grateful for all the good times, all that he gave the club.

    But I refuse to let that love and gratitude for him destroy our future.

    Before the whistle, handshakes, hugs and reunions. Once that whistle blows, he is no longer welcome, like any other manager of an opposing team. While he is in the opponent’s dugouts, he is not that special to us anymore. And I want him to know it.

    I also hope that the whole crowd really gets behind Lucho during the match, because while Pep may be part of a glorious past, Lucho is our present (and possibly our future).

    Pep left us and moved on (as all managers do eventually). Cules also need to move on and embrace this amazing team we have now. And I really feel like I need to see, hear and feel that on Wednesday. And I hope that Pep and Lucho feel that too.

    1. Because winning is enjoyable, despite the fact that the Barça fanbase doesn’t seem to enjoy such base things. Winning is insufficient. It has to be the right way. It’s a special kind of misery that makes us look like assholes to neutrals.

    1. It is a very good read. If its premises are true, it would be a monumental waste of talent.

      The last point about youth coming in from all over the world surprised me. I had assumed that it had been like that – big clubs snatching talent from all over the world – at least for the last fifteen years. And it is a dilemma – do you introduce something like a quota for players grown up in Catalunya to foster a sense of loyalty (and miss out on some promising young players), or do you get greedy like almost every other big club and look for talents everywhere?

    2. A fabulous analysis providing overview of the situation. Funny how (missing) pieces seem to fall into place as soon as you actually assume a critical/historical perspective. The notion of a company seems to accompany the current board since Rosell, and as always it is damaging to focus only on results. I think the idea of the “backbone”also goes for the Catalonian youngsters; you need to be grounded from the outset, I think, to really maintain a sense of belonging. It does not rise from nowhere. Hopefully the club has realized this and will be able to make amends, at least if we remain in Segunda A…

    3. an excellent article; i’ve been shocked at the rapid disintegration of the prospects in Barça B this season, with neither coach seemingly up to the task and development stalled. Jordi Roura appears out of his depth, once again, and i’m not sure there should be a place for him at the club at all. Rosell’s removal of the standing youth directors in 2010 to deleterious effect was unsurprising, however, as was the insistence on immediate results rather than long-term polishing for a place in the first team. as i’ve said before (and this author seems to agree): every decision made by this board is based around money (often equated with “success”) first and people or principles second.

      Halilovic (bought with great fanfare), Traore, Sergi Samper and Munir all deserve a chance to prove themselves; hopefully we can hang on to them long enough for them to do so under a real manager and a clear youth development policy.

  15. Am sensing Bayern going all conservative and parking a bus. This is one of the games where chances will be few and our front three must be clinical (Am looking at you Neymar). If we can also stop them from scoring and get at least 2 goals, I fancy our chances considering that they will have to come all out at their house and our front trio thrive on that kind of chaos

    1. No they won’t park a bus, Or play conservative, Pep is not that kind of coach, Add to that it’ll be against the away they’ve been playing for the last 2 seasons, It wouldn’t make sense on all frontiers.

      Pep will rely on fielding 4 midfielders and high pressing to congest the midfield and cut the supply to our front 3, Of course high pressing will rely on a high defensive line which will result in acres of space behind for out trio can theoretically exploit heavily.
      It’ll be a gamble, And i doubt it’ll work for 90 minutes.

    2. I think you are right. I think Guardiola would love for the whole match to be played in the midfield for 90 minutes and go home with a 0-0 draw. I am certainly not a wiz when it comes to tactics but a game that Pep might have in mind is his most embarrassing defeat as a player: 4-0 to Milan. Barca had Stoichkov and Romario up top and himself in midfield and they were able to do nothing with a clogged midfield even though Milan were missing several key players. Maybe Pep wants to play as Capello’s Milan.

      Anyway, I could be completely wrong but it seems like a Guardiolaish idea: “In a stroke of genius, I will use my most embarrassing defeat as the blueprint of my greatest victory (insert menacing laugh).

    1. From the article: “It is his preparation before all big games. Guardiola locks himself in an office, puts on some quiet music, watches a series of matches and takes a lot of notes. From that swirl of information, he hopes to eventually arrive at the crucial insight.

      “That’s when it comes,” Guardiola said when awarded the Generalitat de Catalunya’s gold medal in September 2011. “The instant I know, for sure, that I’ve got it. I know how to win the match. It only lasts for about a minute, maybe 80 seconds, but it’s the moment my job becomes truly meaningful to me.”

      This has always made me giggle. I imagine Pep locked in a room watching hours and hours and hours of game tape until his eureka moment of knowing how Messi, Xavi and Iniesta will defeat Granada.

    2. The point I settle on: EVERY coach does this. Guardiola isn’t the magic one who does this while the other coaches have bon-bons and watch puppy videos.

      Guardiola is an excellent coach, and one of the best in the game. He did wonderful things at Barça, and is doing excellently at Bayern. But the game has an issue with overblowing things.

      The 7-0 Bayern loss was the “end of an era.” Something as automatic as dropping points at Anoeta became “CRISIS!” Neymar threw a strop coming off and he and Enrique are on the outs. The game overblows everything because the immediacy of the web and social media demands that answers be produced NOW. This often leads to easy answers to complicated questions.

      Deification is an adjunct of that overblowing process. Messi is a being from on high. Ronaldo is the best aerial player in sports. Coaches are divine beings who can see things, or master motivators who create superhuman warriors. Nothing is just good any longer, or even really good. It’s stupendous, or it’s crap.

      Mourinho is just as flexible in his tactics as any other coach. He has won wherever he has gone. Nobody writes pieces about him in a dark room, watching video. He is reviled, and called negative, etc.

      I understand that the game needs heroes. And I guess the reason I always seem like such a pain in the ass is that for me there is a need for balance, for a step back to then look at the situation. It’s all narratives and perspective.

      When this Barça was somehow a rootless, midfieldless mess that was winning matches and keeping clean sheets, people were screaming about everything being wrong and why is that fool Enrique rotating so much. Those who chose to take the long view were castigated, and called “defenders” of Enrique.

      Now everybody is doing semantic backflips to try and intimate that they knew it all along. Just because the game moves fast doesn’t mean that analysis has to.

    3. Love the stupendous or crap remark. I’ve got to give a shout out to Tito as well. He was a huge part of Peps team; it seemed that Pep never made a move without conferring with Tito first. What he did winning La Liga setting a points record was really good lol.
      I think that Enriques early problems stemmed from the premium the club placed on playing/developing the Cantera kids more than anything, something that Tata was never strong enough to overcome. The results were a lot more in doubt and everybody working so much harder to produce them. Once he became resolute with 15 or 16 starters to rotate the team has really gelled. Rafinha, Roberto, and Bartra are getting a lot less playing time but when they do it’s seamless somehow and not at the expense of a go for the throat mentality.

    4. 1) Agree 100% on Mourinho. I always root for him to lose but to deny his place as one of the best coaches in the modern era is foolish. It is interesting how someone becomes to be considered an elite coach but it has to start with exceeding expectations and wining decisive matches. So while all eyes will be on Pep these two weeks the more interesting story is really our own Lucho. Should we win the treble Lucho and Unzué will become the hottest new coaching team since Pep and Tito. Fair or not that is the way things work: if Sergio Ramos misses his header then Ancelloti would have been out of a job and Simeone would have been the unanimous winner of coach of the year. If Iniesta doesn’t score that goal at Stamford Bridge then Pep’s career might have been somewhat different as well.

      2) Football seasons as in all historical analysis are about narratives. Like all narratives they are imprecise but it is how most supporters choose to understand their season. I, for one, largely accept the idea that the circumstances following our Anoeta loss changed our season but am skeptical about this new meme that somehow Enrique’s constant tinkering with the lineup was part of some master plan to have the team be 100% fit at the end of the season. What journalists and fans believe are the causes of their success or failure pretty much become irrelevant once the season is over anyway, but it is interesting to debate them while they are going on. To suggest that we should hold our judgment and watch patiently as things unfold would be sound advise if we were witnessing the fall leaves change color but this is football we are talking about.

      3) “Stupendous or Crap”: Each year we go into the season with the mission of beating the most expensive team ever assembled on the planet in all three competitions. In order to have any chance of being successful in this endeavor the team must play to an extraordinary standard. That is why very good and even world class players are will be criticized by the fans. If we draw at Getafe and Malaga or lose at home against Celta, then fans know that our chances of winning the league become much slimmer. Same goes for players: the difference between any one of our players having a less than stellar season and an excellent one makes a huge difference for our potential success. If we were somehow kicked out of La Liga and had to play in Ligue 1 no one would care nearly as much.

    5. A rush to judgment is never advisable, be it in football or anything else.

      As for the Enrique “meme” that so many distrust, his rotation being part of the reason the squad is fresh and fit right now, that is expected. People still don’t like or trust him as a coach. So no reason to believe that he had a plan. Hell, people still think Barça doesn’t have a midfield or defense that is worth trusting, in part because admitting to those things would be admitting that the man in charge did something worth a damn.

      The goals can be explained as “Well, Messi has taken over, and Suarez and Neymar work with him,” thus leaving Enrique out. The other things? Best to ignore those.

      The narrative and its necessity is the problem. It skews judgment and eschews calmness. That last is an essential quality when evaluating anything.

  16. On another note, if Atletico beat Levante next this weekend, the Madrid Valencia game will be a lot less supercharged for us. If Valencia loses then Atletico can lose to us and still retain 3rd place and a Champions League spot. If thirds guaranteed then no way are they going to kill themselves against us to give Ronaldo and company the league. If Valencia ties or wins then we can afford the same against Atletico. Point is that without the”Referee” factor it’s a no brainer that Atletico beats a side tied for last in goals allowed. Still I’ll be watching that game closely.

  17. If there is one game in the world,except offcourse Barca games,i would love to be for one time in my life it would be River Plate-Boca Juniors.The atmosphere is just the most amazing i have see in any football game.They are crazy,they have so passion,they keep singing for almost all the game!!Oh i love Argentinians!!!!It s not just luck that they produced Di Stefano Maradona and Leo;-)

  18. So, I know everyone’s concerned about Bayern right not, but any predictions for tomorrow’s Juventus-Real Madrid game? I feel like Juve will predominately be defensive-minded tomorrow and focus on not letting RM score one in Juve’s home ground. If this game ends in 0-0, then in the next leg, as Pogba returns, Juve will strike out trying to get an away goal, as I have a feeling that we won’t see many goals between the two legs of this tie.

    Anyone who watched Sevilla-RM game will notice that RM’s midfield was weak – almost nonexistant without Modric and was bypassed by Sevilla easily when Sevilla launched their attack (and RM was lucky to somehow win it because there were too many dangerous moments in front of their goal). Juve, when healthy, has a strong midfield with Vidal, Pogba and Pirlo/Marchisio. Their defense is rather solid, Buffon has not lost his charm between the sticks, and their attack (a revitalized Carlos Tevez and an eagar-to-prove-himself-in-front-of-his-old-side Morata) is not bad. I don’t think this Juve has very obvious weaknesses, and defeating them can be harder than people might think.

    1. I’ve been sitting in the dark for hours now and I’ve had a 5 second revelation. Madrid had a full blown identity crisis and nervous breakdown the last time Barca was this good. The cracks are already showing and full credit to Ancelotti for keeping a lid on it thus far. They’re going to crack further at Juve against an organized resolute team, one with pride history and without the histrionics of Madrid. Once things go against them they will fall apart, Sergio or Pepe ends the tie with a red. Bale leaves after getting figuratively tarred and feathered and Ronaldo makes all the headlines with his I am Achilles antics.

  19. Just read an article on Marca which states that Pep might consider fielding 3 centre-backs. Article says that the likely lineup would be

    Boateng , Benatia , Dante/Martinez
    Rafinha, Lahm, Xabi Alonso, Thiago, Bernat
    Muller, Lewandowski(if fit)

    What do you guys think? Looks formidable even without robben/ribery/alaba.

    I like the idea of playing 3 centrebacks against us…I think MSN would love that.

    1. However they play, this line-up shows that any talk of an “easy” game is premature; they will have a very strong team regardless (though it would help if Lew would miss out…).

  20. Juve won’t beat madrid by merely sitting back and absorbing their pressure. That strategy rarely works against madrid. Juve has the personnel in midfield to come out and outplay Madrid however they cant leave their behind open for Cr and co to have a go at

  21. Well @ ams. That formation looks like a midfield clogging formation. Messi has been playing the number 10 role of recently and that formation looks to be one to clog his space. Plus without Xavi you know we struggle with controlling the midfield. This might be one of the days were Messi has to stay out wide to shift the defence focus and also one which we have to bring out our playing without a midfield tactic. Wait a minute, anyone noticed the 4-2-1-3 We have been playing these days mid games with the swapping of a midfielder for Pedro by Enrique? Could or would that be the formation for tomorrow?
    Alves. – Pique. – Masche. – Alba

    Busquets – Iniesta


    Pedro. – Suarez – Neymar?

  22. Dear Batman of Valencia and Old Lady of Turin,

    There is a vile scourge that threatens our great game that must finally be eradicated this week for the good of our collective futures. Please play your part to protect every man, woman, and child on the planet from a this great evil.

    P.S. Also be careful of one Sergio Ramos since he will try to reduce you to playing with 10 men by fracturing the faces of your players with a titanium plate that was surgically implanted in his skull by Florentino Perez.

    Thank you and Good Luck!

    1. I love it!

      In this darkest of hours, every noble man whose shirt is striped in black and white must confront this great evil.

  23. first time comenter, greetings to all people here am happy to be part of this family. have been following this blog for a while and I must confess this is one of the best blog site out there… concerning the match this is the match have been looking forward to since we were hammered by Bayern .m not after revenge ,I only want to see what Enrique is capable of against an elite coach such as guardiola who by no chance I don’t see him putting on defensive show .I want to see my belove player do what they does best .visca barca

  24. My prediction for today’s game is Juve 1-3 Madrid and for tomorrow its Barca 3-1 Bayern

  25. Dear BFbers,

    Better to score away goals first game, so Bayern plays to score not only to stop Barca from scoring. Although a scoring tie or win are best when away, a 3-2 is not a great handicap since a second game 1-0, 1-1, or 2-1 still win without pens. If home team scores 2 early goals, away team should shut game down instead of going for it and risking worse loss, especially against team like Barca this year that can score on the counter attack with ease.

    Even if they “go for it” Bayern will still be counter-attacking because they only have Muller and maybe Lewandovski. Without Robbin (Ribery barely contributed this season) they lose one of the weirder hold-up players in football, kinda Messi-like, allows other players to catch up to and run beyond the ball and overwhelm defense. Without that tool, Bayern becomes more counter attacking, and more patient. For Bayern to score, Thiago, Bernat, and Lahm will have to get forward. They won’t do this early in game without a defensive error by Barca.

    If Bayern play 3 in defense, Bernat and Rafinha will still need to play deep because Alba and Alvez will be unmarked.
    Lam, Alonzo and Thiago A. are going to get in each others way or are otherwise not a natural group for Bayern who want one player standing in front of CB(s) to dictate play and everyone else swirling around in a great gyre. I guess the immobile Alonzo gets that job, but Lahm has spent much of his time in mid-field doing that job, so they have to be very disciplined and stay away from Alonzo on offense and close to Alonzo on defense. If they don’t, that space will be useful to SMN who can run rings around Alonzo. I see Suarez terrorizing Alonzo on offense and defense. One of the characteristics of Barca this season is finding far more space in front of CBs because of faster transitions from defense to offense. If this happens, game could be over quickly.

    1. really is the perfect player for us in that position. if he can reasonably command his area (he looks physically able to do it anyway) and maintain his current shot-shopping ability he’ll be a huge asset for the next decade. his confidence on and near the ball is the kind we need in our whole back line, and it’s gratifying to see it in such a young player.

      that said, after watching the game today i really wish we had put in a bid for Arturo Vidal. he adds so much elasticity and snap to Juve’s midfield, as he would for ours. Rakitic has been appreciably effective, but Vidal is an absolute monster midfielder.

  26. thanks Kxevin.. i don’t see Madrid winning easily tonight but I belief they should make it through to final just as much as how confident I am that barca will reach final no matter what.

  27. Off topic but I need the expertise of the BFB collective experience! What are the chances that the South American contingent will play in the summer friendlies in the U.S. in July, given that the Copa America ends July 4th and any of Argentina, Brazil or Uruguay could be expected to go deep in the tournament?

    It would be cool to see some fringe and B-team players too but I’d be making the pilgrimage from Oregon to the Bay Area for FCB – ManU and the decision kind of hinges on what kind of team barca are likely to field. I’m not expected the gala XI but am I even likely to see my man-crush Pique (my replica #3 jersey came just in time for Bayern) or the magic of my all-time favorite, Ghostface? Or will they be off having a break while Douglas, Vermaelen, and the kids get some playing time?

    1. If any of Barça’s players reach the final of Copa America, they will be expected to rejoin the team for pre-season on the 4th of August. The Spanish players will be available. Suarez could play for Uruguay if and only if Uruguay reach the semi-finals, and maybe not even then if he has to be in the initial squad in order to participate.

      I don’t think that Messi, Masche or Neymar will be present, because Argentina and Brazil are expected to reach the at least the quarterfinals, which means Argentina will be playing on 26th or 27th of June. A month from that date will be just after the United match.

      So, European contingent + Dani Alves if he has renewed and maybe Suarez.

    2. I expect you will see kids and the getting into shape European contingent. Not sure what kind of fiscal deals are tabbed to Messi appearances but I would bet the board is treading pretty lightly on whoring him out these days.

      If Barça go deep into the post-season with a CL final, Liga crown etc, the club will be looking at UEFA SuperCup, Club World Chps., SuperCopa, etc. Lots of travel and extra matches. Rest and vacay will be of huge value.

      Without new signings to integrate (though you will almost certainly get to see folks such as Adama Traore and Samper), that makes regulars even less likely to rear their heads, though some will show up, without a doubt.

    3. Very unlikely to see the South American contingent however you’ll probably see all of the Europeans, at least for the first half. Expect to see a lot of B teamers in the second half.

    4. Thanks for the answers, all! That helps a lot.

      Meanwhile, Juventus are pressuring RM defense high up the pitch to great effect. Is that how they typically play? RM do not seem to be coping well, so far. Atmosphere in Turin sounds amazing.

  28. Well that semi didn’t last long did it? Whatever happened to Italian defences. They’ve been ball watching almost every time RM attack. They’re getting numbers back but little shape to me.

    1. Madrid look far worse in defense. It is only the Madrid pressing that is winning the ball back early enough but leaving huge gaps for Juve.
      It would be a different match if Pogba was there instead of Sturaro. Juve aren’t keeping the ball well.

      Still, I reckon both coaches will be happy so far. Juve will want to keep it very tight to carry a result to Madrid, away goals may be very important here.

  29. For all the talk about him, Varane is a shocking defender. He has ability but no brain like David Luiz.

  30. Madrid is not the kind of team you adopt the sit back and absorbed pressure against

  31. Not saying Madrid have a great defence. I’ve been on about Ramos for a season at least. However, this is looking too easy for Madrid and it’s not even the Bernebeu yet. Another goal for Madrid and it’s over whereas Juve need to score.

    1. English refs seldom venture out with their cards for Euro ties. They like the Europeans to realise it’s a man’s game !

    2. If you call the penalty, you have to give the red card in that situation, he was clearly the last man

    3. Yes, clear red card there. This referee deserves a statue right next to the Bernabeu

  32. You have to laugh at the notion of Ramos as a mid. Composure? Nope. Passing ability? Nope. Going with his man ? Nope. Decision making ? …….

    1. Hi Jim,
      I can see play someone physically strong in the middle with Kroos, Isco, James against Sturari?, Vidal and Marcisio, but why is Kroos passing forward to Ramos? and why doesn’t Ramos just make the tackle/interception and two touch it to Kroos? He is the defensive midfielder who can score on set plays with his head, right? Down 2-1, only reason to take off Isco is if he is tired, since most goal chances come from Isco and James. Hernandez is great at making runs, but when he gets ball away from goal the move dies. Why not take off Varane who is extra and move Ramos back? Put Jese in the middle because he is a genius and it’s only 20 mins and go for it. Hernandez for Isco substitution ruined shape.

  33. 2-1. Real plays Valencia, Juventus rest 11 players and get Pogba back. It looks very good.

  34. For me, they probably needed another. A shame about Llorente’s miss. Can’t see Madrid not scoring at least a couple.

    1. Juve are very hard to score against. With Pogba back they will be very solid and have a real chance of nicking a goal at the other end

    2. If Pogba is fit Real M. is in trouble. Real M. will have to be much more dangerous for 90 mins. Cristiano R. plays like a striker all over the field. He is fast and technical but why isn’t he more involved in creative play 35 meters from goal; Cristiano R. with Isco around and Marcelo should attack the fullback much more than he does. Maybe he does this against worse teams? The step overs when he has no intention of taking on his defender make me cringe. What would (two years ago) Ribery do? make a statement, put on pressure. I give you something resembling data:

    3. Anybody’s game, but Juve have the edge to me. Honestly, the Bernabeu is not a fortress and being home sometimes means absolutely nothing. Last year for example, both Real and Atletico put in way better performances away than at home. Also an interesting statistic: The last 6 semifinals have been won by the team who played the home leg first.

  35. Ronaldo neutralized second half, way to go Juve. Better team offensively and in defense. But for a momentary lapse would have put it away. Sergi didn’t do anything and Varane was shaky to say the least. Ancelotti is going to get an earfull, and a very tired Madrid have to pick themselves up against a fresh Valencia, Love it.

  36. Juventus is one of the biggest european teams.Before the draw i was so suprised by people saying that Juve will be an easy draw for the other 3.And we must not forget our games against Milan the last years.I have big respect for Italian teams.Football teams have a past and sometimes i feel so old when in internet the new fans only know Barca,Madrid,United.Yes there are the huge money that help teams like madrid win some trophies but teams like Liverpool Milan are for me what really big team means.And offcourse we are the biggest;-)

    1. Well no red for Pepe or Ramos yet but they’re still in it. I’m really starting to not like Carvajal he had at least 3 yellow card fouls besides the one in the box. He’s lucky he finished the game IMO. Exciting game though, full credit to Juve for exposing Madrids weak midfield. I wonder if Ancelotti still thinks the CL is easier to win now. I’m hoping for a 1-0 win for Valencia in stoppage time lol

  37. OT: If anyone happens to know any information about getting champions league final tickets from a third party, please let me know. If we make it, I will go all out to try and get one right after. Unfortunately, Barca does not allow foreign members so it’s not possible to purchase directly from the club. I recently won $3600 in Vegas and will throw every bit of it to get one.

    Sorry for off topic, I just don’t know a lot about this. I’ve never been to a European football match.

  38. Since Pep is coming home, it is only fitting that I play this particular song as a tribute to him.

    Remember all the good times when Pep played this song in the dressing room before big battles in the CL?
    That was good times. We won everything and threw him up in the air, hailed him as a king.
    Now the king has returned…but everything has changed.
    Isn’t it ironic that Pep’s favorite song is about a former king who is about to be beheaded by his people?
    “I used to rule the world…”
    Sorry, Pep, we loved you, and will always do in our hearts, but time has changed and you are with the enemy’s side now, so we will have to Show No Mercy.

    “Viva La Vida”

    I used to rule the world
    Seas would rise when I gave the word
    Now in the morning I sleep alone
    Sweep the streets I used to own

    I used to roll the dice
    Feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes
    Listen as the crowd would sing
    “Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!”

    One minute I held the key
    Next the walls were closed on me
    And I discovered that my castles stand
    Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

    I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
    Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
    Be my mirror, my sword and shield
    My missionaries in a foreign field

    For some reason I can’t explain
    Once you go there was never
    Never an honest word
    And that was when I ruled the world

    It was the wicked and wild wind
    Blew down the doors to let me in
    Shattered windows and the sound of drums
    People couldn’t believe what I’d become

    Revolutionaries wait
    For my head on a silver plate
    Just a puppet on a lonely string
    Oh who would ever want to be king?

    I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
    Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
    Be my mirror, my sword and shield
    My missionaries in a foreign field

    For some reason I can’t explain
    I know Saint Peter won’t call my name
    Never an honest word
    But that was when I ruled the world

    I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
    Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
    Be my mirror, my sword and shield
    My missionaries in a foreign field

    For some reason I can’t explain
    I know Saint Peter won’t call my name
    Never an honest word
    But that was when I ruled the world

  39. Alright, here’s my preview of tomorrow’s game:

    I am going to approach this game from Bayern’s point of view, because we all know how Barca is going to approach this game: play like we have been playing since 2015, with the gala XI that Lucho uses every time when we face a strong opponent. After all, if it ain’t broken, why fix it?

    So how is Bayern going to stop a full-force in-form MSN? It won’t be easy. Bayern can’t park the bus, because simply sitting there absorbing pressure won’t stop Barca from scoring in 90 min; Barca has learned how to break a bus recently (e.g. against Getafe, Cordoba); Bayern can’t play their usual style with a high line trying to keep possession because Barca will kill them with counter-attacks.

    The only way for Bayern is to play like mad dogs like Sevilla did in the second half of the 2-2. Fight for every ball, make Barca uncomfortable in possession and break the attacking flow (use fouls if necessary), launch very quick one-touch attacks. Bayern needs to go full German this time, physically out-muscle us, no time for the pretty passing game.

    That said, I have major doubts on whether Bayern can actually accomplish this. This injury-striken Bayern team looks sick and exhausted in their clash against Dortmund last week, and I seriously doubt if they are physically able to outrun this healthy Barca for 90 minutes. I imagine the game would go like this: for the first 45 minutes Pep’s plan works and the Bayern team holds Barca’s attack fairly well, but cracks will begin to show in the second half, and finally the floodgate opens and MSN will score quite a few before the end.

    1. tomorrow’s game, for me, will be decided by who presses more effectively.

      if our front 3 are up for it and pressing Bayern’s back line and midfielders in possession, we’ll have the upper hand. but if we’re subjected to the kind of intense pressuring we faced in the notorious previous tie against this side, our midfield will struggle to maintain any semblance of control over the match. Pep, certainly, will know this. i see them playing a midfield diamond, looking to get amongst us when we have possession, and Iniesta in particular will be key. if he fades out of the game, we lose most of our guile through the middle; if he’s on song, he can slip past the press and hopefully launch attacks. no-one else in our midfield is anywhere near as adept at doing that.

      notwithstanding all the other factors, this is a game football fans across the world should be looking at for tactical consideration alone. it should be an outstanding match (read: cue a drab 0-0).

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