Barça 3, Bayern Munich 0, aka “Team excellence”

messi

Of all the narratives leading into this extraordinary match of football, the one that only a few dared to utter was the simplest one: FC Barcelona is the best team in Europe on form right now, so they would be favored.

It was a weird thing to say, as most of the pre-match buzz was about the Bayern coach, Pep Guardiola, and his homecoming, his genius, his devising some sort of a way to make his Bayern team capable of snookering the best footballing side in Europe. Football writers who should know better said they believed Bayern were favorites, because of a belief in the coaching quality of Guardiola.

As a consequence, very little of the pre-match talk was about Luis Enrique and what he has done this season, for a number of very simple reasons, most having to do with tenure. Enrique bounced around leagues, from Roma to Celta to Barça, while his bench counterpart was a certified Barça legend who is working on becoming a certified Bayern legend. It’s easy to see, given what people persist in saying about Enrique and his charges — that it is the charges who are getting it done while a coach is along for the ride — where the focus would be.

When Enrique said that this wasn’t about Guardiola, or Thiago or any sort of homecoming but Barça vs Bayern, he exuded a pragmatism, the same stolid, verging on dull matter-of-factness that has permeated his team. And when it came time for that group of players to take the pitch, it was just football. No narratives, no genius coaches, no midfielders who spark contentious debates. It was just football, again of the sort that doesn’t really concern itself with the opponent.

Bayern could have been anyone, except for the fact that they tried to play toe-to-toe with Barça, even employing a three-man back line before Guardiola, sparked by chance after chance, decided it was time to return to tradition, to stop taking the risks that threatened to end the tie by halftime.

It was a frenetic match of football, end-to-end action as two teams contended for a shot at the ultimate prize. The odd thing was that Bayern was considered the strongest, most cohesive team, that Barça was this collection of dudes, fronted by three of the best attackers in the world, so yeah. But Barça, on a beautiful, electric night at the Camp Nou, showed that it was not only a group of talented individuals, but a team. They fought, they backstopped each other, they did everything right to ensure that the collective would, in its own pragmatic way, achieve success.

The 3-0 scoreline, even though the goals came late, was reflective of the quality that Barça displayed in this match. Bayern has injuries, missing the likes of Frank Ribery, Arjen Robben and Javi Martinez, to name a few. It says a lot of the quality of its coach that many still had them as favorites in this tie, one that isn’t over yet even as Barça have one foot in the final.

And as the teams squared off, two dynamic midfields anchored by a press and crazy-high back line, they at times seemed mirror imagoes of each other, until a curious thing happened: Barça used its individual skills to become even more effective as a team. A midfield runner was greeted by a pressing Rakitic and Busquets or Alves. If he managed to get through that, the frazzled player suddenly came face to face with Pique or Mascherano, and the ball was prised loose. It was relentless, and effective.

Barça is widely thought to be the drama and flair of its front three, but it is just as much Busquets sticking out a telescopic leg to disrupt a pass, or Mascherano coming in to dispossess an opponent in a way that makes that player think twice about taking on No. 14. It’s Pique backstopping his mates and Ter Stegen making the right pass with an uncanny flair. It was about Raktic being omnipresent, about showing exactly why he was the midfielder that Enrique wanted, amid all the “Kroos, Isco, stupid board,” stuff that flew about.

rakitic

Bayern didn’t have zero shots on goal because of individual brilliance. It was because it came up against a better team. Its coach might not be a genius but he is a pragmatist, who understands how to build a nasty collective in his own image. Simeone has a cult of personality in Atleti, and the perception of what Enrique has built at Barça is quite different, really, because so many people still don’t believe that he has built anything.

Until today. It took a glittering display such as today’s to make Enrique’s name rain from the Camp Nou rafters, to make culers who not that long ago were blasting #luchoout hashtagged indictments in social media are now believing that maybe, just maybe, he has something to do with that wonderful things that are going on at FC Barcelona’s football team. But the nastiest part of it is that he has built a team, the best group in Europe, who also have the best player in the game, possibly in history, as part of that team.

Messi scored a dazzling brace today, and they were wonderful goals. But for me, when Messi put Xabi Alonso on his butt with a tackle that was ajudged to be a foul, when he slid through the ankles of Phillip Lahm in an attempt to get the ball is when it was clear that Barça was not going to be beaten on this day.

Messi scores goals. But today he worked for and was part of the team. Not his team, but Enrique’s team. He did grunt work, played passes for teammates, tackled, tracked back and ran like a man possessed, like a man with memories of sitting on the bench and watching his friends and teammates get demolished by a rampant Bayern. And today, Messi was having none of it, on offense or defense. Messi is never, ever more dangerous than when he functions as a hard-working part of the Barça team collective. When he does that, Barça is devastating and impossible to stop.

Pep Guardiola was right, ultimately, when he said that Messi couldn’t be stopped, even as he almost certainly hoped that he was wrong, that there was a way to stop the greatest player in the game. And he came out with a high line, a defensive approach that people hailed as genius, and daring, but that he himself saw as something bonkers that needed to stop before Suarez started putting the ball in the net.

The first half ended 0-0 and there was anxiety about the missed chances. Before the match I was calm, and said as much, because of my belief that Barça is the best team in the world. When the goals didn’t come I said that they would, because the Bayern players would lose that half step that found them able to intercept passes and get in passing lanes, an edge that would be dulled. And so it happened. A brace for Messi and one more for Neymar.

Much will be made of Bayern’s injuries, of the missing players who made them, in the minds of many, this unstoppable European juggernaut. But I want to state, for the record, that this day was about the FC Barcelona football team. It’s about the coach who has forged them. People suggest that Dani Alves is playing better because of his contract being up, rather than because of the tactical adaptation that shrinks his sphere of influence, allowing him to be in better position to do his job, while allowing Rakitic to be a true box-to-box midfielder.

enrique

Alves harassed, dispossessed and made Thiago look ordinary, after Busquets took him on a midfield merry-go-round. And it isn’t that Thiago is ordinary. He is a wonderful player who had the great misfortune to come up against an unstoppable team today.

Was there something extra in the hearts and minds of the Barça players? They wouldn’t be human if they didn’t feel those kinds of things. The man who led many of those players to unparalleled glory was standing on the opponent sideline. A player who was a scourge at RM is now a scourge at Bayern. A friend and former teammate is in the Bayern midfield. The Barça players might be pragmatists, but they aren’t robots, even as they calmly dispatched what they knew to be an inferior opponent.

Manuel Neuer was spectacular in goal for Bayern, so it required special goals to beat him. And that team unleashed its genius, who rendered the world incapable of doing much of anything except muttering expletives, eyes agog. It took special goals to beat Neuer today, as all Ter Stegen had to do pretty much was stand around and cheer.

A great many culers wanted Barça to beat Bayern because it would exorcise the demons of Guardiola, to get the supporters thinking about the future rather than comparing everything to the past. And in the wake of the match there is some Guardiola revisionism going on, and people are saying things about a Barça legend. And that’s wrong. Guardiola said that he came to win, and you have to respect that. He trailed the teams and other personnel onto the pitch and quietly took his seat on the visitors’ bench, so as not to be a distraction on a day that should be about the teams.

And it was. Gloriously, it was, just as Enrique said in his pre-match presser, Barça vs Bayern. The two teams slugged it out in the first half but then only one of those teams could call upon a player who is capable of doing what Messi did against Bayern Munich. And he was, as his coach said, unstoppable. But Messi isn’t unstoppable because he scores goals. And I would bet my house that Guardiola meant, when he said — TWICE — before this match that Messi was unstoppable, that this performance was exactly what he meant. Because as a team player, Messi is pure. He just wants to win.

Messi doesn’t get mad because he didn’t score. He gets made because he didn’t win. He had words with his coach over a foul that should have been called in a practice scrimmage. Like Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan, who wanted to win everything — golf, cards, pickup matches, practice scrimmages — Messi wants to win, and he wants to win all the time. That means that he will do anything to make that happen.

What Guardiola meant, and feared, is that when you take a great player who is also at times a team player of unsurpassed quality and work rate, your team is doomed. The Messi goals were spectacular, but I will leave others to do them justice with verbiage. I can’t, really. It would just consist of me banging on my keyboard and uttering squealing noises. And even if I had the words to make a superhuman performance on a colossal stage make some sort of linguistic sense, those goals weren’t the most striking part of Messi’s game for me even as they were decisive in the match.

For me those goals were inevitable because Messi was a towering part of a titanic team. And it’s hard to imagine something more beautiful, more extraordinary than that.

team

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Recent Posts

Written by:

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

78 Comments

  1. PrinceYuvi
    May 6, 2015

    Thanks kx. When I see masche in lineup, my nerves calm down a bit. Haha..
    One more round, Let’s go..
    Also, Hii inamess. Missed you and all.
    And also, Die Bayern Die ! For once and all.
    Isn’t Die = The in German ?
    Take care, family.

  2. ChaoticReaper
    May 6, 2015

    I was brave enough to predict that there is no reason we couldn’t score at least 3 if Bayern conceded 3 to Aguero, 3 in the super dragon, and 4 in wolfburg

  3. agar2515
    May 6, 2015

    Still delirious, can’t even condense my thoughts. Just really want to tip my cap to Rakatic and Dani, the two other MOTM’s besides Leo.

    They were both amazing, Rakatic did all the work Cesc never did, don’t miss him one bit.

    • georgjorge
      May 7, 2015

      You’re right, they were both great. Alves somehow managed to attack his flank all the time while still being back to defend whenever he was needed. And Rakitic worked and worked…and then assisted Messi for the second. It wasn’t a difficult pass, the kind that Xavi and Iniesta did, that went through all the defenders at once, but it was the right pass as it left Messi with just one defender to face between him and goal.

  4. agar2515
    May 6, 2015

    And all hats of to Luis Enrique, this team never stopped running, its fitness level has been insanely important and improved over the Tata BBQ squad of last year.

    • May 6, 2015

      Injuries. Abidal cancer. Vilanova cancer. More injuries. Iniestas miscarriage. Still more injuries. The omnipresent entorno.

      The weight of collective heartbreak and trauma on a squad, the core of which grew up together, is not to be underestimated. Tata Martino came in, took a mentally and physically fried squad to within 5 goals of competing for a treble. He deserves respect for that.

      It was no “Tata BBQ squad.” It was a team of broken, mentally and physically hammered players trying to get through a season. And they almost pulled it off. It’s trendy to crap on Martino and what he did, but to my view it’s also misguided. He gave that squad what it needed, and it almost got it done. Yes, some will say that “almost” is for horseshoe games and hand grenades, but I disagree.

      Further, it is possible to say that the Enrique squad is fitter, mentally and physically, without ripping on a man who did one hell of a job.

      • felandath
        May 7, 2015

        Finally some love for Tata. Courtois was almost singularly responsible for our lack of success last year.

      • Kd
        May 7, 2015

        Agree hundred percent Kexvin. Tata had some wonderful things going on til december. The verticalidad he introduced had brought a zip to our game. For some rason he just abondoned building on it in the 2nd half of the season. I always liked him. A great man and just maybe, he’ll win the WC with Argentina and Messi in 2018!!

      • Chiu
        May 7, 2015

        and probably some of our pillars (read: Messi and Neymar) were “unconciously” saving themself for World Cup (avoid injury). Just try to put that factor into equation too

      • agar2515
        May 7, 2015

        Tata is nothing in the annals of Barca history, so you are welcome to your views that he doesn’t get a fair shake, just as Im entitled to thinking he was in way over his head. Look where we are now, what’s great is, last year’s mess doesnt matter at all.

      • agar2515
        May 7, 2015

        As if you’ve never ” ripped on” anyone before? To the ire of people with differeing opinions? Come on now, spare me that finger wag at least

      • IamXavi6
        May 7, 2015

        Your opinion.

        Mine is…very much different. I don’t want to rain on our glorious day right now, but Tata wasn’t up to the job and wasn’t the right man to appoint as manager. The club got that one well and truly wrong; and in my opinion a lot of his appointment was due to his Argentinian connection with Messi. Club got it well and truely wrong.

        Tata didn’t do anything of any note to enhance our club nor bring anything new to our club. But, lets move on and enjoy today…and not talk about last year.

      • Kd
        May 7, 2015

        Tata appointed Barca’s coach cos of Messi!! That was always BS.

      • IamXavi6
        May 7, 2015

        I said a lot of it was to due with that. Not ALL of it.

      • May 7, 2015

        It isn’t “love” for Martino, but acceptance of the job that he did, and some respect for that job.

        That team needed the coach that it got. Would a disciplinarian have lost the plot and turned already-fried players into completely useless masses of resentment? It’s a valid question.

        But a larger one is the simple lack of acceptance of a job well done. Not every season results in a treble, or trophies. Sometimes a team needs to hit the mental reset button. That was last season, even as culers are, and never will be willing to accept that.

        Barça isn’t going to win championships every year. Embrace it.

        — As for anyone being scolded, get off that crap. You have an opinion, somebody else has a differing one. We aren’t children here, and should be able to disagree and debate without going to snits about being “scolded.” Stop it. That kind of stuff adds nothing to the debate except ire. I’ve said it before and will say it again: we are better than that.

      • Jim
        May 7, 2015

        Tata’s main problem was that he had no Suarez and to a lesser extent, Mathieu. Neymar was just first season and full of tricks but without valuing possession and losing it a lot.

        He also had more to cope with than any other manager Ive ever known in Tito, Messi’s need to save himself for the WC ( and he wasn’t the only one ), many more injuries than this year although tbf LE’s rotation has something to do with that, Neymar knowing his country depended on him being fit to lead them, Iniesta’s tragedy, Neymargate plus two rather good Madrid sides. It was just the season from Hell. Kxevin is right. We’ve seen how LE aggravated the current squad given none of the above. If he had arrived last year all hell might have broken loose.

        He did enough for me to justify a second season but I suspect that right from the start he was on a one season leash as LE had already been approached to take over for this. Doesn’t mean we need to rubbish him.

        With much less of a team he got us pretty close to three trophies ( my own opinion here is that we were just a couple of errors short of two).

        He just doesn’t deserve the criticism he has always got. LE inherited the best squad in the world in my opinion. I have no doubt that Tata would have gone at least one trophy better as well.

      • ooga aga
        May 7, 2015

        Love me some Tata. You don’t need to say negative things about tata to enjoy the present situation. Tata did great but no silver. Tata is a great manager. This year is better though. That’s all you need to say.

  5. PrinceYuvi
    May 6, 2015

    Lahm told ZDF: “The result is not a fair reflection. We
    did okay over the majority of the match. That we then
    allowed Barca three counterattack goals is very bitter.
    We had chances, they had chances, of course. But we
    made it way too easy for them.

    Didn’t they laugh when Xavi said similar thing back then ?
    Hypocrisy..

    • georgjorge
      May 7, 2015

      He must have been playing a different game. They got their share of possession (even a bit more than us) but I didn’t see much of their chances (zero shots at goal), and apart from the third these definitely weren’t counterattack goals. Maybe any attack involving Messi which doesn’t face at least seven defenders is now considered a counterattack…

      • PrinceYuvi
        May 7, 2015

        With Walking Black Hole Cesc in team & Broken Messi out, they had all the luck in world.
        Not this time….
        Let them talk, We’ll play 😀

      • agar2515
        May 7, 2015

        At least Cesc is someone we can universally take shots at without being scolded *rolls eyes*

      • Kd
        May 7, 2015

        Hahaha… No scolding man. Just differing opinions.

      • May 7, 2015

        Exactly right, Kd. The pouting and “scolding” stuff needs to stop. Put an opinion out there, and be prepared to support it via debate.

        PrinceYuvi, it wasn’t only Fabregas or Messi. The whole team was damaged by a series of injuries and psychological body blows. I know that we think our warriors aren’t human, and should be able to shrug off stuff that would have mere mortals at home under a blanket, weeping for a week. But they are human, and deserve our forbearance and compassion for that.

        The most devastating picture I have seen in recent Barça history is the one of Mascherano, brought to his knees by grief after playing the match just after the news that Vilanova had died. Busquets is consoling him, and Adriano just looks confused and destroyed.

        They’re humans. Life can kick them in the balls, as well.

      • agar2515
        May 7, 2015

        I’ll give you Tata, but there’s nothing I have to ” back up” via debate regarding mr. Goes missing every second half of the season. All hail Ivan.

      • Kd
        May 7, 2015

        Tata taken, Cesc given!! 🙂

  6. kosby
    May 7, 2015

    Trust in Lucho is paying off ! If some are to be believed he came within one match of being sacked ! Arent we glad that didnt happen..

    It irritates me when Messi is reduced to just his goals. Mindblowing as they were, his overall game is beyond belief ! Those interceptions he made, the tackles he lunged into were evidence that Bayern were in for a tough night. When we were missing those relatively straightforward chances I was getting scared, but I think that is what makes this result so sweet – it wasn’t an easy win at all. We required patience, skill, graft, sacrifice and a few moments of genius, against a class opponent – and the players nailed it !

  7. georgjorge
    May 7, 2015

    Great review. Spot on about Messi – I really cheered when he recovered the ball deep in our part of the pitch in the first half.

    I think Bayern played very well yesterday. Apart from the first fifteen minutes, they managed to get a fair share of possession without opening up their defense too much, and that’s a great accomplishment against us. It also was a relatively fair game. But the team showed that they don’t only have three great forwards but also a midfield that can press and combine through the press as well as a defense that can stand against a very threatening attack. So team win all around.

    I like to imagine that while Neymar was running at goal he was rather angry (while still happy that they were winning). He had tried to create chances all night long without much success, had not managed to pass his defenders much, had been pushed around and even yellow-carded. That he stayed so wonderfully calm when it mattered deserves admiration.

    Bayern could be capable of scoring three against us at home, but the moment we score one – and we will if they try to – the tie is over. Which would give some players much-needed rest before the Atleti game.

  8. felandath
    May 7, 2015

    Kxevin. Even by your high standards, this article is astounding. I feel this may be the best report I have ever read about Barca. Always a pleasure to read your stuff.

  9. Tata2
    May 7, 2015

    Now I don’t wanna ever get into a Messi vs Cr7 debate anymore, if people are not convinced by those few points about Messi yesterday then no need arguing with delusional people. Some anti-barca fan got me irritated when I was telling him that immediately Messi scored that goal, first thing that came to my mind was, ‘which player in the modern game right now can execute that kind of move and make it seem like a piece of cake?’ then he started going on and on about how Ronaldo still remains the best player in the world. Well, I shut him up by telling him that I was aware that he doesn’t like my team so not expecting him to say or see any thing good about it. As for me, even if Messi doesn’t win another balon d’or or the world cup, he remains my Greatest of all time. And seriously, where has this Rakitic been all season? Jeez! for a moment, I thought we signed another midfielder over the weekend only to realise nope we didn’t! it was Rakitic choosing to be a beast. Did the 7-0 mauling really ginger up or guys? everyone of them took this match personal, Alves, Rakitic, Alba, Smache, Iniesta, Messi I mean everyone of them. Yesterday I had a headache after screaming 3 times for the goals. And I want to use this medium to admit that I was wrong about L.E, it’s amazing what he has done with this group. When was the last time we saw Messi tracking back and defending since around 2011? We played as a group and not as collection of superstars. That bit of action at the Neymar celebration with Messi at the corner flag made me blush. That was genuine happiness and friendship,these guys are friends man! Unlike one certain guy who sulks at team mates for scoring when be hasn’t notched a hat trick. I expect us to run riot I’m Munich and put in a 5-0 performance. This is possible cos Pep needs to score and he might wanna outsmart himself by playing 3 or 2 at the back and Bayern won’t be that resolute in defence anymore which is what exactly what our three musketeers need. If we notch a goal in first half, the flood gates might as well be opened. Wait! How come Smache is our first choice CB? I thought people said he sucked at CB? And Kxevin personally, two things, first, thanks for compounding to my glee with such a write up and second, I noe believe you when you say Messi is unplayable when he decides to be unplayable. Doesn’t matter if the whole team is marking him. And for those whining about Bayern injuries giving us an edge, look I don’t care even if Pep himself too might
    have been injured too

    • Kd
      May 7, 2015

      Hey Tata2, I believe I also went wild with that first goal. Dont think I have gone so mad since that Iniestazo against Chelsea. Just screamed and ran and pumped my fist at 3:00 in the morning. That goal did bring a release I must say.
      And it’s true, everyone seemed to take this match a bit personal. Its right that whatever “calm and no revenge” storylines you brandish about, these things never take place in vaccuum. It had affected our team in 2013 and the celebrations on esp the first and then the 2nd and 3rd goal vindicated the possibility. What a game, what happiness, what effort!! phew…

    • May 7, 2015

      It was always going to be more personal, on oh so many levels.

      Ney and Dani were facing not only Bayern, they were facing Germany. There was a Brazilian journalist who was saying that 200 million Brazilians will be watching the game and will be after Neymar because of the World cup semi-final.
      Messi and Masche were not facing only Bayern(which was enough motivation in itself), but were also facing Germany.
      Alba, Pique, Busquets, Iniesta, they all were in that semi-final and even though you bottle those emotions, they surface at some opportune moment.

  10. Kd
    May 7, 2015

    Btw did anyone else also notice how our team became even stronger after that goal. We hunted them down in packs with even more vigour and the intensity just kept increasing reaching a crescendo until that pass from messi for our 3rd!! Fantastic.. simply fabulous.
    Whether it was the goal which brought renewed vigour in our closing down spaces or the fitness level of our team, or a combination of both, its something we were lacking from 2012 onwards. Hats off to “Capitan Enrique.”

  11. Chiu
    May 7, 2015

    Some pundits have said that if by June 6 we lift the big ears, this campaign would be remembered as one of the most complete journey to the title. A reflection of the essence of the CL competition. We beat (would beat) all the champ of big leagues in the continent. EPL Champion i.e.Man City. Liegue 1 Champion i.e. PSG. Bundesliga Champion i.e. Bayern Munich. If in the final we beat Juve (Serie A Champion) or Real Madrid (the reigning European Champion), then we simply are Champions of champions. What a quest and crazy challenge that would be.

    • Kd
      May 7, 2015

      Wow!! Now thats something.
      Better than doing Roma, Porto, Shakhtar any day!! I think we have got the toughest draw this season in the cup.

      • xris
        May 7, 2015

        I have to disagree. city got the toughest draw 🙂

  12. Tata2
    May 7, 2015

    Anyone noticed that uefa didn’t display the possession stats throughout the first half when we were outplaying Bayern? People fail to understand that dominance isn’t necessarily possession, Bayern had all the possession but we were dominant mustering 8 shots on target against ‘dorminant’ Bayern’s 0 shots. Does anyone have the stats of our total number of goals for the season against conceded and also our UCL goals stats? add the top counter attacking team to the mix too

  13. raj
    May 7, 2015

    Is there a highlights video with Ray Hudson commentary? That would be awesome to watch.

  14. Tata2
    May 7, 2015

    WTF! Uefa blocked match highlight videos of yesterday’s game on YouTube. Anyone with another link where I can download highlights of the game?

  15. May 7, 2015

    Normally after a Barca match I manage to sleep for 4-5 -6 hours.
    I didnt know the sheer joy of witnessing a piece of art would take away my sleep, until yesterday. I hardly slept 2 hours yesterday. That second goal kept replaying in front of my eyes, it was impossible to sleep.

    Am I right in saying that, this was the best European match in a long long time, when two teams looked so equal and at their best fighting for everything. The difference was only 1 team had a certain no.10

    If Neymar and Suarez had scored, within 15 minutes Pep would have been blamed as a big failure. He made changes and after managed to get very close to his typical away result, and then Messi decided its enough..

    Give Alves everything he wants, he was brilliant.

    And our defence, LE definitely deserves credit for that.

    • Kd
      May 7, 2015

      Agree with you wholeheartedly Foto…
      Immediately after the game got over I closed my eyes but apart from the 2nd goal which kept playing in my head, I could also see the celebration of the first goal over and over again. What a feeling that goal gave!!
      And after a while since I couldn’t sleep, I just turned on the tv again and they were showing the repeat of the match on TEN. So watched that till half time and then just drifted off to sleep.
      And you are absolutely correct that it was a big European match after a long long time. And after this I’m quite sure that if we Do Not win the champions, the onus will be only on us. I dont think there’s a better team in World football right now. So only we can defeat ourselves!!

  16. Inamess
    May 7, 2015

    Fantastic Review Kxevin. For those looking for the Greek Tragedy narrative for Pep’s return to the Camp Nou this is an excellent article: https://www.football.com/en-us/guardiola-the-biggest-loser-after-going-toe-to-toe-with-messi/

    The difference between Guardiola and Enrique is that Pep always thinks he is the major protagonist in a football match. He wanted a showdown that his battered squad was just not up for. Had he pulled an unexpected upset then all the applause would have been his, but now he must face some just criticism.

    • PrinceYuvi
      May 7, 2015

      That’s a bit harsh lol.
      Putting 3 on messi doesn’t work as Luisito, Ney get crazy in that case…

    • May 7, 2015

      Instead of parking the bus, Pellegrini opted to play football against Barca at Ethihad. Media was like : Pellegrini is naive.

      Arsenal went for goal at home instead of going for damage control against Monaco: Arsene Wenger is naive.

      Guardiola plays 3 at the back in an away game and doesn’t shut the shop at 2-0 or 1-0 downn : Guardiola is Brave.

  17. Rami
    May 7, 2015

    It’s almost like a clichéd horror film, Ghosts from the past are haunting a group of people, And by the end of the film, The only way to put these ghosts to rest, Is to find their bodies and give them a proper burial,
    The ghosts of guardiola, Thiago and the 7-0, And only then the heroes can stop looking behind their backs, And start looking ahead.

    Messi is making all the headlines, But since he’s a football god, That’s to be expected, Even including him in a man of the match contest is absurd, So for me the real unsung hero of yesterday was Ivan Rakitić.

    Ivan showed composure, Discipline, Positional awareness, He was everywhere, Always at the right spot and the right moment, Specially in the defensive transition, An absolutely mesmerizing performance.
    And the most beautiful thing is that’s he isn’t what many call a world class midfielder, He can’t dribble like pogba, He can’t thread through balls like fabregas, He doesn’t have an eye for the goal like james, He’s not what you can even call a fantastic passer. Yet he provides something that the others can’t, And that is Balance.
    The balance he’s been providing has been a key throughout this season, Would the likes of fabregas, Pogba, James or Isco constantly run to the sidelines and sacrifice their offensive game for the team?.
    I always said that if making a great team was about stacking a world class player in every position, Then the galacticos would have won a sextuple every single year, But that’s not what happened, Football doesn’t work that way.
    So the next time we hear in the news papers about some world class MF in the market, The first thing we should ask is, Does he fit in the coach’s future plans for the team?.
    For now, I wouldn’t swapp Ivan for anyone, Why would i, When he’s been a critical part of one of the best barca teams in history.

    • xris
      May 7, 2015

      very nicely put!

    • PrinceYuvi
      May 7, 2015

      excellent comment

    • Rahul
      May 7, 2015

      You hit the nail right on the head.

      To extend your argument, the reason MSN is working well is not because they are individual superstars, but because they are playing as a team and for the team

  18. barca96
    May 7, 2015

    Last night after the match ended at 4.45am I felt like getting out to play football. That’s how happy and inspired I am from watching these warriors play.

    Now while reading this article, I felt the same way. Such a great article. I wish your articles can get more readership. Obviously it wouldn’t suit Guardian or ESPN since the article is written from Barca’s point of view but the writing is so good that people deserve to enjoy.

  19. barca96
    May 7, 2015

    Btw I knew the team will be up for it once Messi slides into challenges. Whenever he is like this the team plays hard. It all starts with Messi

    • PrinceYuvi
      May 7, 2015

      Haha, that’s brilliant

  20. luisthebeast
    May 7, 2015

    I must say it:Gerard Pique is the best CB in the world.How great is to watch corners and set pieces from the opponent without the fear we had in past seasons??I remember yesterday a corner and Rakitic was with Boateng pushing him away and the ball felt easy in Mark s hands.Yes Leo deserves all the praise but this was a team work.And if Luis opened the score in the big chance he had,i am sure the score would be bigger.And it was so awesome in the last 15 minus watching our players running and pressing like mad men!!!In our number 54 game of the season,after playing the last month every 3 days!!!

  21. 86ed
    May 7, 2015

    This is a great victory, and more importantly, a great performance. I will hold on the celebrations until after we have ensured a spot in Berlin. If any team can turn this around is Bayern. They’ve socred 13 goals in the last two home games in the CL.

    I am also weary because I still have nightmares about Milan’s collapse at Depor 11 years ago.

  22. Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one!
    May 7, 2015

    .

    Classic European tie. Felt just like the old days.
    It should have been 7-0 in this game itself. Only neuer made the difference.
    Is anyone else worried about the easy chances neymar misses? not complaining, love the kid, but he needs to put those easy ones away. Especially like the ones against ee, cordoba and bayern.
    messi made a statement. One that shouted that the 7-0 result in 2012 was a gross exaggeration. If a fit busi and messi played then, it would have been very tight, with barca still having the edge.

    I love this team.
    I also take some sick thrill in enjoying what pep should feel like.
    what he walked away from is something ill never understand. it takes guts, no doubt, but also.. some level of stupidity.
    Too bad.
    Iam barca for life.

  23. dl
    May 7, 2015

    Glad to hear I was not the only one to not be able to get to sleep last night. 🙂 What a game!

    AND, it isn’t over yet. Pep is a great coach, and bayern are a great team. We still have 90 minutes to win.

  24. Lord Eddard Stark a.k.a. Brichimbrodvoken, the vulnerable one!
    May 7, 2015

    .

    We played the Dutch and French champions in our groups.
    We first had to eliminate the English Champions.
    We then eliminated the French champions (who eliminated the current English champions)

    If we successfully navigate the German champions, it is only fitting that we face off against the Italian champions next.

    .

    • georgjorge
      May 7, 2015

      Pity we couldn’t fit the Spanish champions somewhere in there, but I think the team has already shown that they are able to beat them very well this season.

  25. realdox
    May 7, 2015

    there is more to this match than barca vs Bayern for me I see the prince ( ter stegen) battling with the king for crown ( neuer) for crown and also two friend in charge of different team fighting the battle of supremacy.and two European team fighting for dominance … also a midfield dynamo who want to show the world what he’s capable of… we all know the winner for this first class of the titans.furthermore am happy to be part of this generation of Barcelona because not so many team can be proud of beating champions from different nation barca don’t just beat these champion he demolished them .the champion of Europe,england, laliga, France, Netherland and Germany all get whipped by barca. you can see this team is champion before been proclaim champion I wish we could beat Italian champion also to cap it all.visca barca

  26. realdox
    May 7, 2015

    my voice still hoarse since yesterday .because my landlord is a Chelsea fan and Madrid supporter we placed a bet that if Bayern win I won’t sleep in the house and same goes for him also. I’m just more than happy to be barca fan

  27. Tata2
    May 7, 2015

    No need to be scared about the return leg, we are no Porto or shaktar donesk. No way we won’t score in Munich. if there’s anything, I fancy our chances of scoring up to 4 goals or more at Munich cos we don’t need to take the initiative, all we need do is to wait for Pep to come out out of desperation with 3 at the back and let Messi and co fry them alive. Recall Suarez’s away form has been devastating in UCL and this team has come to thrive on chaos the type we saw after we ran 2 goals up. I repeat! We are no Porto or shaktar donesk, no need to get all freaked out, nobody is gonna die in Munich okay? Alright! Now unto Moyes! I recall he owes us 3 points that we now need

    • agar2515
      May 7, 2015

      And no Robben, Ribery, Alaba to widen the play.. We know exactly how Pep is gonna play because he can’t play another way without that speed ( philosophy wise too maybe?).
      We’ve got them

      • Kd
        May 7, 2015

        Oh I dont think anyone is scared. We r gonna whoop Bayern at Munich and how crazy it was of Neuerto actually say “Ill show who’s the boss” before such a game. Betting against Messi eh…
        I reckon it’ll be a long time before he gives any pressers.

      • Kd
        May 7, 2015

        I meant “Neuer to actually say…”

  28. revv
    May 7, 2015

    Hello BFB family. Been following for many years and many thanks for your works. In a sense the reviews and posts are a continuation of the game we just saw until the next match. Thank you for the fix!

  29. icemel
    May 7, 2015

    “And it’s hard to imagine something more beautiful, more extraordinary than that.”

    We’ll THAT re-heated with a little of Kevin’s BFB sauce the next day comes a close second.
    MMM-MMM good.

    Tasty typing as always sir. I came in, in the Isaiahdinho era, but the Kevvi years are mighty sweet.
    Don’t stop!

    • ooga aga
      May 7, 2015

      Icemel in the house! What up!? I remember you from the offside!

      • May 7, 2015

        Holy shit! icemel! Somebody who remembers me from when I was a wee writer dude. So good to hear from you. And thanks for the kind words. We’re trying …

  30. luisthebeast
    May 7, 2015

    Sad night for football.Two clear penalties for Fiorentina and a clear offside in Dniepr s goal against Napoli.Yes i know refs make mistakes.But the two italian teams robbed.Lets hope next week refs do better in CL and EL.

  31. dl
    May 7, 2015

    Forgot to ask the group here, but I’ll be in downtown Chicago during gametime for the Munich game. Any recs on a good place to watch the game?

    • ooga aga
      May 7, 2015

      Check the “where to watch” tab at top of the page.

      • May 7, 2015

        Best spot downtown is Fado. Get there early. Not many spots to watch downtown, so Fado is it.

  32. deerwithwings
    May 7, 2015

    Particularly good article K. Thanks.

    What a game!

    Anyone (looking at you Peter) care to explain what’s going on about the strike. As much as I am a Marxist, I was just offered a ticket to the Copa Final from a friend there, but now it looks like I am going to miss the match because of the strike. I will be in Barcelona till the 18th of June, so what are my chances of catching it? Or, what are the chances that the strike won’t happen?

    • Chiu
      May 7, 2015

      You have a chance to see the championship bus parade too, if we win the titles. 🙂 Probably the treble parade, cheers….

      • deerwithwings
        May 8, 2015

        Last time i was in barcelona was 2011. I’m crossing my fingers!

  33. Chiu
    May 7, 2015

    – We are now so close to regain our status as the best team in the world. and this team is so close to become one of the best Barca team in the history of the club, alongside Crufyy dream team and Pep sextuple team. But now we still have no confirmed trophies yet, hope LE could keep the calm and focus within the players to finish off this masterpiece season with treble or double title, at least. No complacency, nothing is won yet.

    – Agree with Rami comment about the balance that Rakitic brought. For ordinary fans like me, sometimes we couldnt see that unseen contribution from some team players that sacrifice role to help the team, do that “dirty/unrecognized” works kind of thing. Second best purchase this season, after Suarez; in my opinion. And we dont need that big money like Cesc fee to recruit him.

    – Regarding some “jitters” about possible Bayern comeback, I personally not worry at all, as this team have shown the whole season how solid they could be in the big occasion. They always show up in big games (excepet that firts classico loss). With CL final ticket at stake, I think the focus and concentration will not recede. They will give their best performance to ensure no miraculous night happen in Munich next tuesday. Wont be too surprised if we could win the match if Bayern couldnt score any before half time, as their mental will be collapse.

    – I have a feeling once Neuer is declining, Bayern Munich will break the bank to get Ter Stegen from us. Bayern wont be hesitate to take him back home to German soil. I suggest in the next contract negotiation, the board should increase the buyout fee. If the club and the coach could manage Ter Stegen progress correctly, we have a bright future for the next 5-7 seasons in this position. This kid is going to be the next German NT goalkeepper and “potentially” competing neck and neck (with De Gea) to be the next best GK in the world replacing the old guards like Buffon, Iker and Neuer.

    – I think we muest start Ter Stegen on the last 3 liga games (starting tommorow againts Sociedad) to make sure he catch the playing rhytm more frequently, as preparation for CDR final and CL final. All credit to Bravo for his magnificent la liga season if we finally clinch the title. But now Ter Stegen really really need that minutes to ensure he came to both finals in optimum pace. I hope someone in the club talk to LE about this.

    Visca Barca!

Comments are closed.