Analyzing the analysis, aka “When smart can be dumb”

For all of its data and analysis, football is kinda dumb in how it evaluates itself.

On Wednesday, for 77 minutes of an enthralling match of football, Bayern Munich had it right. Then things fell apart. The match is, therefore, judged by those 13 minutes rather than the previous 77, something akin to a man declaring his life a failure because he did everything right, then was struck by lightning.

“Bayern should have been down by at least 3 goals,” scream people, but not really. If every excellent chance was converted, Suarez and Neymar would have scored, as would have Lewandowski. The match would have been 2-1 and Guardiola would have been a genius instead of an exceptional coach whose whole everything is being called into question because of 13 minutes. And no, not the Alves “chance.” Neuer isn’t some Segunda keeper. That one didn’t have a chance of being converted.

Recall the ending of the Super Bowl in American football, and the Seattle Seahawks going for a pass at the goal line, needing less than a yard to seal the game. A defensive player jumped the route to make the interception and in less than a second, that team’s coach went from genius to idiot. “You have the best running back in the game, you dummy!”

But the reason that – and not only in both footballs – analysis fails is because of humans. Players make plays. Pete Carroll called a play that works 99 times out of 100. Hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch, and what if he fumbles? What if a defender puts his helmet right on the ball and forces it loose? A probability isn’t a certainty. So rolling into the 78th minute of a tight encounter in which it had found its sea legs as a team, Bayern had every expectation that the last 13 minutes would proceed as the previous 77 did. There was no indication of anything otherwise. Messi was being wonderful, but he had been wonderful the whole match so far and the score was still 0-0.

Humans destroy analysis because players make plays. That Patriots defensive back isn’t some all-Universe player. He just had a moment. What makes a successful play a “careless turnover” is quite often a human, performing at a suddenly higher (or lower) level. We see it in tennis, where one player raises his or her game to demand a response from an opponent. We see great goals, great saves, moments in which a player’s performance curve suddenly ascends to the stratosphere. Nobody knows why, but it’s that lack of knowledge that renders so much analysis pointless.

In the hindsight of 20/20, Guardiola was a fool, a doomed fool for trying a back 3 for the first 15 minutes of the match. But it worked. We know that it worked because of the result, right? Bayern didn’t concede. Less intelligent folks like me said that Bayern can play a back 3 because the keeper, Neuer, functions as a CB, complete with playing a high line. But he’s a CB who can use his hands. Does this mean that Bayern in function had 4 at the back, and those stupefying saves made by Neuer were in fact normal byproducts of a system working as it was meant? If you rely on a forward to score goals, why wouldn’t you rely on a keeper to do what he does, and make that part of your game plan? Good question.

The answer is of course “No” because of the result, and the fact that Guardiola switched to a more conventional 4-man back line. That is proof! People will debate forever whether it was a planned tactic or a concession to marauding Sprites, but it happened. Is it an example of data and analysis that react to a result rather than the reality of what happened? But what IS reality except a result? How to analyze what happened? Did Messi win the match, as the prevailing worldview goes, or did he take advantage of conditions to make a difference? The match had to be there to be won, which makes it more of a team effort than you might deduce from breathless commentary in the wake of the event.

Lionel Messi ran less than everybody on the pitch except for the two keepers, statistics show. Coaches, studio analysts and pundits point to how much a player ran as a measure of his goodness. More equals better, a higher work rate that puts someone in the pantheon of the gods. And yet, how to analyze the Messi distance covered stat in the face of a player whose actions helped to decide the match and possibly the tie, converting things from balanced on a knife edge to done and dusted.

We always discuss running Messi vs Taxicab Messi, as he decides to rest his legs during matches, to take breaks. But in the Bayern match Messi was tracking attackers, tackling and making defensive plays. Could he have been running less because of the pressing and high lines that both teams employed? You don’t have to track an attacker very far if your back line is playing at midfield, nor do you have very far to travel if you are part of a midfield press that makes every possession a gauntlet of kicking boots.

The statistic of distance covered stands by itself, even if it needs context to make sense. Where football gets dumb is when it applies data in an effort to quantify the unquantifiable.

The late, unlamented Castrol Index began life as The Answer, an objective way to punch in a bunch of data and determine which player was playing the best at any given time. It didn’t work, because players make plays. It couldn’t work, because a match could be 0-0 for 77 minutes, then suddenly a few players could decide to raise their game to a level that makes their actions decisive.

So much analysis is partisan nattering, or a conclusion in search of supporting data. Football making objective efforts to quantify it is like pumping laughing gas into a mathematicians conference. At the end of it all, a bunch of really smart people are laying on the floor, laughing and saying “Wheeee!” You can’t account for Messi doing what he did.

In his Friday presser, Luis Enrique said that the Anoeta loss was just part of the stuff that happens in a season. He might have added that Barça dropping points at Anoeta in the first match after an international break is as likely as a sunrise, but that should have gone without saying. But it was another moment in which analysis failed and is still failing as the Paul Bunyanesque qualities of that match continue to grow. It is the crisis that birthed a football team, the negative result that sparked a call for elections, etc, etc. It doesn’t matter what kind of logic anyone attempts to bring to the proceedings. It comes down to the result, which defines everything. Enrique was a dummy for not starting Messi, etc. To make him that way, you have to ignore their ineffectiveness in the second half against a defense that should have been more tired, and more vulnerable. You have to ignore that the defense made an error that resulted in the La Real goal. It is crucial that you ignore so much to make the analysis match the expectation and outcome.

Another example is the Sevilla draw that could have been a win. The result changed the reality, which was that Barça had that match in control. Two moments, just two, changed everything including subsequent analysis. If the match was in less control, Pique probably doesn’t even try that pass. A lesser team probably makes a bad decision that bails out Pique. Maybe a fresher Busquets gets to Reyes just in time. Maybe a lot of stuff. But what happened was players made plays and those plays changed the outcome, and thus the narrative.

The reason that I so enjoy reading Sid Lowe match reports and blog posts is because they are always, unfailingly, human. Even his match reports brim with humanity. He stays clear of tactics, analysis and the kind of stuff that is complex and fraught, easily skewed by the tyranny of results.

Predictably in the wake of the Bayern match, the debate that is always present in football these days, like a bass continuo of subjectivity, resumed: Messi vs Ronaldo, and who is better. The Messi camp is on one side, the Ronaldo camp is on the other. Each side has “proof” that their player is the “better” one, and lord knows why those idiots on the other side can’t see logic.

You might as well debate a sunrise vs a moonrise. If you were to put it down to a single word, Messi is magical while Ronaldo is effective. There is the Messi goal that reduced Jerome Boateng to an Internet meme, vs the Ronaldo header across the goal vs Sevilla. Both goals were physical feats. Messi was delicate and incisive. Ronaldo was physical and dominant. Yet you would swap the modifiers and still be correct. Which players is better? Depends on who you support, and it is impossible to resolve. Go outside and bang your head against a brick wall. It will be more effective.

Each side has analysis and statistics that say why their player is better. It’s goals, you see. No, it’s dribbles and passes. No, he helps his team win. No, HE helps his team win and makes his teammates better. More physical vs smarter, blablablabla, ad infinitum. And it gets worse when grownups in the form of some media outlets try to get involved. Because it is then that partisan bickering becomes … analysis. Incomplete and flawed to be certain, but analysis nonetheless.

Football has to raise its game when thinking of, and analyzing itself. The easy answer screams at us. Boateng had been having a really good match until Messi made him look foolish. The players made to look foolish by Messi would comprise a Who’s Who of world-class defenders. But what of Boateng’s match? More interestingly, who was MOTM for Barça, Messi or Alves?

Messi. Duh. He accounted for the goals. But it’s another way in which football fails, in accounting for things that did NOT happen. Neuer made the Ballon d’Or finalists list, but nobody in their right mind suggested that the keeper had a chance in hell, because it’s the goals that go IN, rather than the goals that don’t. You can’t really tally what a keeper does in the same way that you can tally what an attacker does. “Look. X number of goals.” History and analysis doesn’t care about tap-ins vs solo runs or brilliant golazos. And yet a keeper is mostly as good as his defense. Put Thibaut Courtois or Neuer at Granada and is anyone talking about them as the best keepers in the world?

When someone suggests that Dani Alves might warrant a consideration for MOTM, you might as well suggest that they put a roman candle up their butt and light it. But he was everywhere. Passes, interceptions, steals, play after play. He made the interception that led to the first goal, He almost scored himself. Time after time he was magnificent, and could subjectively said to have had a greater effect on the match than Messi. But it isn’t until you watch this video that you realize how phenomenal his match was.

Football fails in that it can’t quantify negative effect. Everything that Bayern tried around Alves, didn’t work. He outdueled Muller for headers, dispossessed Bernat and undressed Thiago. His key play on the goal took into account an opponent tendency. 99 out of 100 times, the player walks that ball out of the back and passes to a teammate to start an attack. That time Alves planned, and pounced. It was an astonishing play made all the more amazing by the fact that he didn’t foul. He just faced his man up and took the ball.

Analysis can be wonderful. Michael Cox, aka Zonal Marking, does a brilliant job of making the game make sense. When ex-players turn their eye to the game and just look at it, bereft of any preconceived notions or results-based tyranny, wonderful things happen. An ESPN studio analyst, Stuart Holden, said that Barça had a 75% chance of winning that first leg. His fellow analysts argued, but couldn’t really pin down why they weren’t as confident. Guardiola? That’s part of it. A statement made during the match broadcast as simple as “Barça is less perfect, but better” makes so much sense. Where things get messy is when analysis tries to be truly objective, or where analysis has its roots in the result rather than what actually happened. And like a great player, you hope that football can collectively raise its game in that regard.

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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.

86 Comments

  1. deerwithwings
    May 8, 2015

    Repost from the last thread (sorry!)

    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?

    Also, the last time that I was in Barcelona was 2011. I know you were all wondering why we haven’t been playing as well sense then, and there you have it.

    • May 8, 2015

      I would second your request deerwithwings.

      It is quite confusing. Am even confused between LFP and RFEF.. May be am so excited about the Bayern win, still cant think properly about whats happening.

      If this strike goes as it is planned, so there wont be no liga / copa trophy?

      Messi has the most goals, assists, dribbles, key passes and chances created in this CL. CR7 had his best run in CL last year. But apart from those goals, did he even… sorry we should not compare..:)
      Ronaldo is effective (when he scores). (I think his nack for goals is even better than Messi)
      Messi is effective and magical too, even if he doesn’t score. Thats a big difference right?

    • dl
      May 8, 2015

      You could have mentioned that a year or two earlier. I think the blog would have been happy to pass the hat and get you a ticket back there.

  2. lala10
    May 8, 2015

    Lenghty nice article that has made it hard for me to fully pin down and to come up with a congent comment. But i will nevertheless comment on two things. Alves’ contribution was really positive. MOTM? If Alves why not Raktic who was also everywhere affecting play? If Alves why not Neur who had been hitherto excellent keeping Bayern in the context. Goals decide matches and as much as i hate them as a barometer Messi’s were not simple. 99/100 times that pass to Messi by Alves is another routine pass to another player that goes to feed the cycle of stasis this match was heading into. Maybe because the ball was at Messi’s feet some danger lurked but that danger was minimal at best. All of a sudden it was KAPUT. Because its Messi and we have seen it before we are desensitized to his awesomeness we take the ridiculous for the ordinary. Look at his position, Neurs and the defenders’ in front of him before he unloads. He has the tiniest of windows. The second need no elaboration. In a nutshell here were two teams locked in combat in an even war that was going nowhere. Try as they may have Alves, Raktic, Neur and Messi’s efforts were going to nought before that pivotal moment.

    • May 8, 2015

      Compared to 2011CL final goal, the space through which that ball had to be hit, and the space through which it had to pass the goal line was so tiny. The space between Neur’s hands and the post is just right for the ball to go in!!! It was such a precision shot.

    • May 8, 2015

      Exactly right, lala10. For that matter, why even have MOTM, given the complexity of assessing the effect of what a player does on the match’s outcome. Goals are easy. Messi’s goals were difficult, but does that alone elevate them? The Alves pass to Messi was simple enough, but the destabilized Bayern defense caused by the Alves theft made everything else possible.

      So again, it’s complex.

      There is no arguing that Messi is brilliant, magical, etc. I’m more interested in the whole, the structure that attempts to assess and react to things.

    • lala10
      May 8, 2015

      You are right that things are somehow overblown. Its a symptom of our times.

      Results change narratives too often. Too often journalists change their tack according to results and a lot of times substance is missed for sensational angles.

    • May 8, 2015

      You only need to read what Barney Roney wrote 4 months back about Ronaldo, and what he writes now about Messi. 🙂

    • May 8, 2015

      But both can be correct, fotobirajesh. That’s important to note. One doesn’t exclude the other.

    • May 9, 2015

      It could be Kevin, but his Ronaldo article was a bit too much. He went on to call Ronaldo a genius and what not.. Ronaldo is a great goal scorer, but he is not a genius. I dont know if anyone is termed genius for sheer ambition and hard work. Ronaldinho/Zidane were genius, Xavi is. But not Batistuta or a Raul, at least for me.

      A lot of British people have gone to comment on that article about his topsyturvey nature.

  3. jsefutbol
    May 8, 2015

    RE: Messi vs Ronaldo… I think the debate is useless for many reasons, but most importantly, for one in particular: I’m a firm believer in history sorting itself out.

    To me, Messi is the greatest and it will take some doing for anyone to ever take that crown from him in my eyes. That’s it. I believe in it enough to not have to defend my opinion to everyone who might disagree. I’m in complete peace with it, I don’t have to prove why I’m right and someone else is wrong because frankly, there is no right and wrong when it comes to opinions. And in addition, I don’t consider myself important enough to think that me fighting to prove Messi’s superiority in a social media would make any difference whatsoever. So why bother.

    Someone else thinks that very same thing about Ronaldo, and there’s no problem. To some extent, arguments, stats, facts, or whatever we use to measure and compare these players, don’t even matter, because in the end, everyone is free to have their preference.
    I believe that once both of these two have hung up their boots, they will eventually get the exact place in history that they deserve. In some way, that’s up to future generations that allow us to look at this one with more perspective.

    I think a good example is the Di Stefano-Kubala debate that went on in the 50’s and 60’s. Many Barcelona fans were convinced that Kubala was the better player, Real Madrid fans rooted for Di Stefano. In the end, Di Stefano got the greater place in history and is still considered one of the all-time greats, but I’m sure many Barcelona fans who lived that era and idolized Kubala would still say that they preferred him. And that’s perfectly okay, because opinions have always varied.

    Today we see people argue about whether Messi or Ronaldo will get the greater place in history, but what exactly is the point? History will take its own course, and even when it does, it’s not like there will ever be one universal truth about anything. Even if Messi is one day ranked higher than Ronaldo, or vice versa, what stops you from still preferring one to the other?
    We’ll appreciate them both more when they’re gone from the game, and they’ll get the exact plaudits, praise and glory they deserve, hopefully nothing less and nothing more. Meanwhile, we should just enjoy the ride.

  4. Tata2
    May 8, 2015

    This is one of those matches were its hard to pick out the man of the match but surely any one of Alves, Rakitic, Messi and maybe Neuer will be worthy winners. But seriously Kxevin, are you just trying to be purposely neutral on the Messi vs Ronaldo debate or you seriously believe the two are actually on the same level? I know you hate Messi (easy! just joking) but Messi is a phenomenon that happens once in one’s lifetime. Am not going g to go into how he does this or that or yada, yada… or neither am I gonna summarize Rionaldo’s game as receive-a-pass-dance-around-a-bit-then-return-the-pass-and-run-into-the-18-yard-box-to-be-at-the-end-of-a-cross-or-cut-back but the defence should be clear to someone who actually understands the intricacies of footballing. I have never seen a player that defies logic and makes it look so simple(name me one player that would have been able to execute those moves to score that Messi’s second) and those are really the things that set players aside

    • May 8, 2015

      The point isn’t neutrality, choosing or leaning toward Messi or Ronaldo. The point is the pointlessness of the debate. To one person, they aren’t on the same level. To another person, the other one isn’t on the same level. Either way, it’s absurd.

  5. luisthebeast
    May 8, 2015

    I watched the game for second time and i have to say that i disagree a lot with the view of some people that it was equal in the second half.We were by far the best team in all the game.They made just 1 chance and we had 5 clear chances except the goals.The fact that we opened the score in 77m and scored 3 goals and we had a chance with Suarez,in just 16 minutes all that,it s not just to Leo magic.It was cler that when we opened the score more goals will come.Now with this second view i must say that they were lucky to escape with 3-0 and not with a humiliation.Neuer was crucial.And Levon was so lucky also;-)And i want to ask u what is fans opinion about Lucho in CampNou?

    • May 8, 2015

      They chanted his name during the second half, and for the first time this season.

    • luisthebeast
      May 8, 2015

      Thank u for the fast answer:-)

    • 42
      May 8, 2015

      That’s only because he payed people to do that 😉 And it’s not the first time this season, I remember at least two times before this game.

    • 42
      May 9, 2015

      *paid

  6. luisthebeast
    May 8, 2015

    Oh soru that was for Levon.s post.I hope he see the question:(

  7. Jim
    May 8, 2015

    I’m not sure I’d agree with the main thrust of the piece, Kxevin, as I find all analysis at least interesting whether it is wrapped up in data and notionally objective or just a writer’s gut feeling. I think both have their place. (To be honest I just like reading stuff about Barca).

    I have found the scathing reaction to Guardiola surprising though. I’m not sure there is a lot of room for debate on his three at the back for the first fifteen. That was as bad a decision as I think I’ve ever seen at this level and utterly reliant on us not having any time on the ball at the back or in midfield. However, as you correctly say, after that,for me, they were the better team until the last fifteen. No great data behind that statement – just how I was feeling as the game progressed ! I have to say I was worried up till then because we couldn’t get the ball second half and couldn’t hold it when we did. So credit to our defence for standing firm. Still think the tackle of the night was Pique’s yellow card when two threatened to burst through and he ploughed through both of them !

    Tbh, I thought Alves was great and wouldn’t argue with MOTM for him although I agree it’s a pointless discussion. His performance has improved a lot in the last month, for whatever reason. Honourable mentions too for Masche and Rakitic who I’ve criticised in the past. I thought both has great games. If you want to see why I still have concerns though, have a look at Lew’s sitter. Rather than shepherding him, he nibbles, takes himself out of it then doesn’t / can’t follow his run. On the plus side, one towering header against the same player. Great stuff !

    It keeps coming back to Messi though. Even if, and it’s a huge if, there has been a player as good as him in the past, they just can’t have been as decisive in terms of regularly altering games. Those two goals, in different ways, were as good as anything I’ve seen scored at this level. I’d just made a rather worried post about how we couldn’t get a platform in the second half, how I couldn’t see us scoring and our forwards were getting starved of the ball when the next thing I know I’m out of my seat shouting how unbelievable it was. The second one I remember actually laughing and shouting “No ! ” Even my good lady who deigned to watch the last twenty admitted she’d come with me to the Camp Nou if I could guarantee football like that every match. She must have wondered why I was sitting there drenched in sweat if the other seventy had been like that.

    Anyway, last thought on Pep. I loved the low key entrance, I loved how he tried to play football against us and he’s not lost any of his charisma standing on the line. Anyone seen any footage of his face at Messi’s second ?

    • luisthebeast
      May 8, 2015

      I cant disagree more that they were better than us.We were better all game in every aspect of the game.But ok.

    • May 8, 2015

      My only point about analysis is that it so often misses the point, Jim. The post-Bayern stuff is one of the more interesting examples of that. It’s most “silly Guardiola,” or “genius Messi.” It just seemed so much more than that to me.

      Sid Lowe wrote a really good questions piece, and one of the things he said is that Messi is in the best form of his life in part because of the people around him. When you have Neymar capering about, and Suarez glowering at defenders, it means that everybody doesn’t have the sole task of stopping you. And that’s good.

      I think that Barça is the best team in world football right now. I think that would have been true even if Bayern had their people back. It was a match that was only going to be influenced by the kind of titanic talent that only Messi possesses.

      But even at that, it wasn’t just Messi. I guess that ultimately it’s hard to make a game that doesn’t make sense, make sense.

    • Jim
      May 8, 2015

      I was trying to say that for me, it’s all good, though, Kxevin. I love it that folks who probably don’t write anywhere else can come here and put digital pen to paper. Yes, I’m vain enough to think that some of it is off the mark but it’s great folk feel confident Enough to do it. I spent my life trying to get kids to feel that there was something good about organising your thoughts and putting them down on paper and the wealth of acceptance of other viewpoints especially for new writers here I think is great and to your credit – even if it doesn’t always seem that I recognise that 🙂 ( and I know you don’t like smilies).

      I agree we have the best team in world football. The only place I think we differ is that I expected it to be that way as soon as we signed Suarez so in a sense I suppose I’ve been reluctant to give LE complete credit for it. Teams can’t cope with three threats at once.

      I’m also curious as to the input of the assistant coach on set plays. We are exponentially better at them than last season. Not just in the obvious things but it’s worth re-running the set pieces against us and just watching Pique’s positioning. The rest are now scared of holding any other line and you get some really interesting jumping about as they have been well schooled. He could go far unless it’s LE’s doing in which case he goes up in my estimation.

      I also agree with what you say about Messi but what if he doesn’t produce one time. Hand on heart were we doing anything if Messi had been injured in the 70th minute ? That’s what doesn’t sit easily with me but how can you argue when every player gave his all. Would our defence have coped with Robben and Ribery playing and that amount of midfield control? Don’t know.

      OT. Btw, don’t know if anyone else is having problems with ads spontaneously appearing as you scroll down a post but it’s starting to plague my iPad and doesn’t happen on any other sites ? (It’s IOS ads so maybe just affects Macs?)

    • May 8, 2015

      I am as well, Jim, and have reached out to our IT dude about that. I am on Android, and the ads are quite annoying.

      — I’m not against analysis at all. I think I just want it to be more reasoned and nuanced. I love that this space, in effect, lets EVERYONE be an analyst. But, and I should have been clearer, my point is out in the world, as a peruse the Barçaverse and see things that are ill-considered.

      It’s probably the old journalist in me that resists snap judgments until all of the data is in, I admit.

      Unzue has been a huge part of the team’s defensive and set piece improvement.

  8. 86ed
    May 8, 2015

    Something really bothers me about how football fans of all colours spin the narrative of a match.

    Having three chances to score a goal does not mean that you could have been 3-0 up. It only means that you missed three chances to make it 1-0, that’s all. I see no need to exaggerate and say we could have been 3-0 in the first 15-20 mins; indeed I find it counterproductive.

    Each goal changes the momentum of a game. You could well score once and go on to score 2 or 3 more, but that isn’t a guarantee: maybe the other team can tie it too. So saying we could have been 3-0 up really means nothing at all, but I guess it does make us feel good.

    • May 8, 2015

      Yes. And it’s only the supporters’ team that has the chances. So we could have been up 3-0 rather than 3-1, even though Lewandowski’s was really the most clear-cut of the chances in that there wasn’t a keeper in the way.

  9. Rami
    May 8, 2015

    This ‘bayern and guardiola lost because of messi’ and crediting our victory solely to his brilliance is absolute nonsense, And nothing short of injustice.
    Messi’s brilliance can not and will not exist in a vacuum, His stamp on this victory is huge, But if the requirement of winning was only for him to be brilliant, Well it hard to think of a day where he has not been brilliant ever since he debuted 10 years ago, Yet we still lost countless of matches and trophies along this period.

    His magisterial first goal wouldn’t have been possible if suarez wasn’t keeping the benatia at bay, He wouldn’t even had received the ball if it wasn’t for alves, Who not only intercepted the ball, But dribbled and passed the ball between two bayern players to messi.
    The second goal wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for a calm ivan holding on to the ball after messi lost it and then giving it back to him, In fact none of that would’be happened if it wasn’t for a great intercept, Run and cross by alba.
    None of those goals would’ve mattered much if it weren’t for the defensive effort the whole team put to keep a clean sheet, Starting from neymar and suarez, Our midfielders, Our entire back line, And the great ball distribution of marc.
    All of the above offensive and defensive power we have wouldn’t have existed if weren’t for the new template and tactics enrique introduced when he took charge, Which we wouldn’t have been able to keep up this far into the season if it weren’t the rotation and fitness planning by the coaching staff.

    Yes, Messi makes up the biggest part of our team, But he is still only one part of many others.
    Bayern didn’t lose because of him, They lost because FCB is simply a better team.

    • luisthebeast
      May 8, 2015

      Perfect comment.

    • lala10
      May 8, 2015

      Whilst broadly true your assertion makes analysing the fine points of the game pointless. We will have to shut shop and not commend on these things, will we?

  10. luisthebeast
    May 8, 2015

    We won.3-0.WE GOT IT RIGHT.

  11. georgjorge
    May 8, 2015

    I also really liked the “Barca is playing less perfect but better” comment, I think it was Gary Neville who made it. Though at this point in the season it can be argued that perfection – not in the literal sense of course – has moved from midfield to the forwards.

    I also agree a lot with what Rami says above, though I’m not sure Kxevin really meant what Rami argued against. But it’s another popular narrative to narrow a game down to a few players (Messi against Neuer! Touré against Busquets!). It was not only the plays before the goals that came from the team, it also was the huge effort of keeping Bayern honest all the 77 minutes before that. The ball was taken from them again and again, their press bypassed, and when they dominated the midfield for ten minutes at the beginning of the second half the defense held firm. Without that, all Messi’s magic could do was to make it 2-1 or 2-2 because Bayern with all the possession in the world in dangerous areas might very well have scored. That’s not even taking the mental and physical fatigue our play caused them into account.

  12. Tata2
    May 8, 2015

    Does having more possession=dominance? Before someone answers that, the last time I checked bayern had more possession but zero (0) shots on target. Bayern weren’t better than us before the 77min, they were trying to keep the ball away from us to limit any threat from us which resulted in a stalemate as we couldn’t threaten them and they couldn’t do any thing threatening with it either, and the one time they couldn’t keep it away from us, they got roasted

  13. luisthebeast
    May 8, 2015

    I an not a coach to analyze every detail.I am a fan.And it s just my opinion.And i never be objective about my team.I dont try to convince anyone.Soru if i said something wrong:-)

  14. luisthebeast
    May 8, 2015

    I am soru,i used reply but did not work.That was for lala10:-)

  15. kosby
    May 8, 2015

    I think we’ve gone over this before, statistics and analysis can be very helpful provided you want to do something meaningful with them. It’s a tool. If you use it right, it can paint a beautiful picture. If you use a scalpel to create a sculpture, its not the scalpel that’s to be blamed.

    In Guardiola’s defense, I can understand the logic behind using 3 at the back. He had already mentioned that once the ball gets to Messi, there is not much one can do – so his idea was to choke the supply by pressuring the midfield. As and when he realized it was not working, he did change the formation. He wasn’t afraid to try something new. And thats a lesson some of us need to learn as well. LE (and to some extent Tata and Tito) had been introducing new facets to our game, but we as humans are resistant to change. We don’t like it. Because it feels different. But sometimes that is how you end up making progress.
    I wonder if there is any statistic that compares the passes from our back four straight to the front three. I have a feeling there would be a marked rise in those passes yesterday, compared to the average over the season. To me it seemed like LE and team anticipated Bayern’s pressing and prepared accordingly, I dare say by bypassing the midfield 😛

    Also, while football matches are decided by the scoreline, and it was 0-0 till 77th minute, the class and technique on display in our performance was astonishing. There are a couple of reasons why I thought we were the better team during those 75 minutes. We’ve already discussed the number of chances created in Kxevin’s article. The other aspect is the “creative” passes we make.

    I didn’t see ONE pass from Bayern that made me go “whoa !”. Compare that to our game play. Messi and Alves did a combination on the right wing that had me hopping out of my seat. A couple of Messi’s dribbles had me clutching at my hair –> mind blown. Alves’ passing, Suarez’s turns, Iniesta’s understated assurance on the ball. Ofcourse my bias may have played some role here. What I am trying to say is that we played at a higher level throughout the game and thats why I think we dominated. Except for a few minutes in the 2nd half.

    Considering Levon was actually in the stadium, I wonder if he has any inputs on Neymar and Suarez’s performance in the 20 -25 mins of the 2nd half when the tie was locked and a goal seemed unlikely to come. How does Messi’s desire to win and ability to raise his game in such moments compare with the other South American superstars in the front three ? Also, I wonder if it was a case of our front three getting tired with doing so much in the first half. And when I say so much let me explain –
    Traditionally, we split responsibilities as :
    – defenders, defend (duh)
    – midfielders, create
    – strikers, finish
    However this season we are seeing the strikers take on some of the midfielders’ responsibility of creating goals. Doesn’t this increase the burden on the strikers ? Doesn’t this mean they get tired more easily ? And then, we see less ability to create goals – is this what happened in the 2nd half ?

    • May 8, 2015

      Spot on, kosby. Guardiola was both brave and crazy, and almost pulled it off. And he did keep Messi mostly in check. Suarez was the danger in that scenario.

      I was honestly expecting the same kind of attack that we saw in the first Atleti match at the Camp Nou, the one that started the “We have no midfield” talk as Barça just chose to bypass the area where everybody was.

    • May 8, 2015

      Luisito busted his butt during the first half, but I told the 50-year old culer next to me that it looked like Neymar was saving himself for the second half, 20 minutes into which he told me I was right.

      Read some stats this morning and Neymar was the 4th player on the pitch with regards to kilometers run.

  16. Inamess
    May 8, 2015

    Great Article Kxevin once again on the sin of retrospective analysis of football games. The problem with football is that it that unlike most other sports in that it is a free flowing game that also has a significant factor of luck involved: the ball can bounce the right way off the post, an official can make a game changing bad call or a team with 11% possession can win at Celtic park.

    But here are some further points:

    1) Coaches whether rightly or wrongly will always be judged based on results and whether they meet or exceed expectations.

    2) The team with better players will almost always be favored to win and elite teams will always have a huge edge over teams that don’t have such players.

    3) Results in big matches almost always define a season for elite teams.

    Which, of course, brings us back to our two protagonists Pep and Enrique who met in a season defining match last Wednesday which was won 3-0 but could also have less likely ended 0-0 or 5-0. So without the retrospective analysis all we can ask is whether the result is a fair one. The answer in this case is overwhelmingly yes based on chances created and overall team performance. Our players were superior in almost every way and looked the better team throughout the first half and from the 75th minute on.

    This game was about our complete team playing a great game and their diminished side playing an average one. Narratives will always follow from results and match defining moments, superstars, and personalities will dictate those narratives but it doesn’t change the fact that in this case the overall scoreline was about the right result for this match.

    • May 8, 2015

      Your last paragraph is spot on. Barça is the most complete team I have seen in some time, and that is the reason for the success I think it is seeing. I have said before that this board, and the kicked-to-death husk of what used to be ZubiZa’s reputation deserve some credit here.

      To be sure, some of it is that the team hit the psychic reset button last season. But that ain’t all of it.

    • Jim
      May 8, 2015

      Steady…. Celtic were luring Barca onto them in order to hit them on the counter thereby proving they have more than one way to win a game. It was a deliberate ploy as I recall to bypass the midfield giving the impression of no midfield at all just so they can hit a long one occasionally and score a winner. It is a well established Scottish tactic against Barca first employed by Dundee United more than twenty years ago. Anyone remember them ?

      ( this post is so dripping with sarcasm I honestly can’t work out if I’m arguing against myself or not ).

      Happy days !

  17. Gogah
    May 8, 2015

    This was my first match live, and boy was it amazing.
    There were a few things that struck me, watching our players live in the flesh, that you overlook or can’t see when watching on the tele.

    I took Lev along and went to the game. In the beginning, I just wanted to soak it all in. My first glimpse of the pitch literally gave me goosebumps. This was what I saw

    https://goo.gl/xjL1vp

    Guys were warming up and I was acting like a child recognizing them.
    The buildup was amazing. Here’s a short video (for those of you who asked from some sights & sounds from the game in the previous post)

    https://goo.gl/ghcsMN

    During the game, I was so absorbed in the way each one of our players moved that it took me 75 minutes to remember that this was a semi friggin final. It really came as a bit of a jolt when you zoom out and you see that its just a game 11 guys play vs another 11. On the tele, with all the sports cinematography and hype, it really appears as something else, like a video game. I was really struck by how it seemed so ‘normal’. How people like messi, iniesta, alba, alves move. how they see a play prior to executing it.

    Then after a while I zoomed out, looked at the clock. It said 30. &% minutes had passed and I suddenly came to realization of the gravity of the occasion. Then a thought passed through my mind, reflecting on the scoreboard, that Guardiola has so far won these 75 off minutes. (again, as the writer touches on this article). I remember reassuring myself, that I would still take the 0-0 (so long as we dont concede) and with this team, and still fancy our chances to go through at Munich.

    Then something happened.
    I lept out and screamed so loud that when it all settled, my voice had broken a little. The remaining 15 minutes are history now. I am privileged to be a part of it and be a direct witness. By the time I left the stadium, my mind kept racing back to that perspective I had on the seats, watching the game unfold in an aerial view. It is a lot like when you listen to a band play live and then you go home or whatever and listen to the same song (or performance even) recorded and ITS JUST NOT the same. You live the match in a different way. I didn’t want to focus on tactics. I just wanted to see, these guys closely, the way they touched the ball. In the end, it is actually what it is. Guys kicking a ball and trying to get it into the net. Analysis really kills it.
    Great article!

    • Gogah
      May 8, 2015

      ugh.
      too many typos and mistakes.
      please ignore (or) correct.

    • Gogah
      May 9, 2015

      This was my first match live, and boy was it amazing.
      There were a few things that struck me, watching our players live in the flesh, that you overlook or can’t see when watching on the tele.
      I took Lev along and went to the game. In the beginning, I just wanted to soak it all in. My first glimpse of the pitch literally gave me goosebumps. This was what I saw

      **https://goo.gl/xjL1vp

      Guys were warming up and I was acting like a child recognizing them.
      The buildup was amazing. Here’s a short video (for those of you who asked from some sights & sounds from the game in the previous post)

      **https://goo.gl/ghcsMN

      During the game, I was so absorbed in the way each one of our players moved that it took me 75 minutes to remember that this was a semi friggin final. It really came as a bit of a jolt when you zoom out and you see that its just a game 11 guys play vs another 11. On the tele, with all the sports cinematography and hype, it really appears as something else, like a video game. I was really struck by how it seemed so ‘normal’. How people like messi, iniesta, alba, alves move. how they see a play prior to executing it.
      Then after a while I zoomed out, looked at the clock. It said 30. 75 minutes had passed and I suddenly came to realization of the gravity of the occasion. Then a thought passed through my mind, reflecting on the scoreboard, that Guardiola has so far won these 75 off minutes. (again, as the writer touches on this article). I remember reassuring myself, that I would still take the 0-0 (so long as we dont concede) and with this team, and still fancy our chances to go through at Munich.
      Then something happened.
      I lept out and screamed so loud that when it all settled, my voice had broken a little. The remaining 15 minutes are history now. I am privileged to be a part of it and be a direct witness. By the time I left the stadium, my mind kept racing back to that perspective I had on the seats, watching the game unfold in an aerial view. It is a lot like when you listen to a band play live and then you go home or whatever and listen to the same song (or performance even) recorded and ITS JUST NOT the same. You live the match in a different way. I didn’t want to focus on tactics. I just wanted to see, these guys closely, the way they touched the ball. In the end, it is actually what it is. Guys kicking a ball and trying to get it into the net. Analysis really kills it.
      Great article

    • stefan2k
      May 9, 2015

      Thanks for the report, must have been amazing and a really classy act to take Levon with you! 🙂

      Great game today, we can’t be grateful enough for our two keepers… also solid in the backline again with Pique being a rock.

      Tune in at Madrid vs. Valencia, could be a league deciding game.

  18. May 8, 2015

    I’ll talk about the first 15 minutes because the last 15 was the greatest player showing his greatness against a great opponent on a great stage and everything in between was evenly matched. We may not have had the possession but we never lost control or gave away more chances than we had.

    The first fifteen minutes however. It was not Guardiola being stupid, he did what worked against every Barcelona team after his own first year here but specially his last year and the two after that: The midblock.

    A high line compressing the space, intense pressing of the defense, overcrowding the midfield to choke Barca from building from the back.

    If you’ve been reading this blog and following some of it’s older contributors you know that language. There’s good reason for it, just like there is good reason for Pep to try it. Even more so because he has a keeper so good he can sweep even outside the box.

    It’s just that Lucho has spent the entire season preparing this team to counter it. It’s just that he was insistent on the two goalkeepers he wanted and what he wanted from them. Just like Pep was when Valdes kept building from the back after that screw up goal in the clasico.

    It’s just that Pique has suddenly found himself making far more diagonal balls this season that all of the last four. Or was it that he was encouraged to?

    It’s just that we have a mobile 9 who came here on the insistence of this coach whose mobility allows Messi to contribute his very best by offering him more mobility with all the gaps covered by Rakitic. Another signing forced by the coach and a system of positional exchange formed.

    It’s just that we now have a coach whose cured us of a weakness we didn’t have an answer for the three seasons before his.

    And you know what? I do have something to say about the last fifteen minutes as well. After playing a full match at the weekend with the same squad while Bayern didn’t, we were still fitter for those last fifteen minutes.

    • Inamess
      May 8, 2015

      Agree with your analysis of the first 15 minutes. Given this Barca team, as you point out, it seems a poor strategy. All the more so given last year’s debacle against Real Madrid. If Pep took full responsibility for recklessly attacking in the second leg against Real then why would he repeat this similar strategy with a much weaker team. Is the fact that we didn’t score also some sort of retrospective analysis. Maybe Pep didn’t really think that his tactics against Real were wrong but merely unlucky and maybe wanted to a throw of the dice again. With big gambles come big rewards and failures but many Bayern fans may want take exception to a “foreigner” coming in and taking a huge gamble with their season for two years in a row.

      The only way I can make sense of it is to use a boxing analogy. Pep was convinced that he was up against a superior opponent that would outclass his weakened and somewhat fragile team over the 180 minute 2 legged tie. The only way he thought he could win was to try to get that early knockout blow in the first or second round. If his team scored first on that Lewondowski play, the Camp Nou and Barca would have been stunned and perhaps even panicked into conceding again or he could have tried to close up shop at that point and try to take a 1-0 2-0 or 1-1 back to the Allianz. To me the strategy only makes sense if he felt that his team was unlikely to win any other way which, of course, we will never know and hopefully won’t find out on Tuesday.

  19. luisthebeast
    May 8, 2015

    We have play 54 games until now.How many games Bayern?I believe 46 but i am not sure.How many of them was really difficult for us and for them?Also they had all the January holidays and a mini preseason.We?All the January played difficult games.Also they have a coach for a second season and very little new faces in the squad.We have a new coach and many new players.So yes they missed some players but no excuses.

  20. simple_barcafan
    May 8, 2015

    The hugely impressive hard working Rakitic trying to cling desperately to the towering Boaeting before the cross to stop him vs the way in which The Flea in one smooth Zen like motion made Boaeting fall backward on his arse with out even touching him (taking Neur and Rafinha along as well) was quite striking…

    • Inamess
      May 8, 2015

      It’s always hard to judge but depending on the rest of our season that goal will be one of the two or three top iconic moments of Messi’s career and this game one of his most remembered ones. It is only this week that we will celebrate the other fantastic efforts by so many in the team but only that goal will be remembered by football fans fifty years from now and used to show younger generations why our #10 was the greatest player of all time. Messi imitated Maradonna’s greatest moment in Getafe but his mature masterpieces have come this year.

      So Messi’s career will have at least three major chapters:

      The Ronaldinho-Eto years
      The Xavi-Iniesta Years
      The Neymar-Suarez Years

  21. Barcathegreatestever
    May 8, 2015

    My first OMG moment in the off season was when we signed Suarez. Like Jim it was only a matter of time that Barca were back on top. Even more exciting is that Neymar hasn’t come close to his potential to leading the attack from the left.
    My second OMG moment was the picture of Enrique finishing the Subsaharan 250. ? 250 miles in 7 days. His knowledge and intuition about the bodies ability for endurance, avoiding injury, need for rest, when to push strength training, nutrition, mentality, is deeply personal. You should expect that at this level maybe, but there’s a reason trophy winning players make up a large proportion of trophy winning coaches. There’s also no doubt in my mind that there isn’t a fitter team in soccer in the 80th minute nor a team with less injuries.

    No other game than soccer can the players battle for 90 minutes have a result of 0-0 or 1-0. Any commentary or analysis is de facto subjective and based on more minor stats. Therefore 77 minutes of 0-0 is completely different for individuals; part of why it’s the number one sport in the world.

    Messi’s first goal could have been scored by any number of people once in their lifetime, but only a few on that stage with any anticipation. Our reaction was exactly the build up of that anticipation. I don’t know anyone who could have scored the second, not even Messi himself until last night, and that is why it’s a complete no brainer for me who MOTM, let alone worlds best. And for some reason after long ago excusing myself from the annoying, frustrating and ultimately exhausting argument of who the worlds best is I’m really happy to hear some obstinate commentators drop the need to win a word cup argument.

    • Inamess
      May 8, 2015

      The win the World Cup criteria is one of the most arbitrary criteria in sports. I would imagine it is a holdover from Pele’s era when most fans only had a chance to watch all the best players in the World when they performed at a World Cup.

      These days the Champions League features much better quality football and players are at least hypothetically free to join any team they want so it is at least as good a measure. For those that care about these things the good news is that Messi’s accomplishments should we win the CL will be so overwhelming that to continue to argue the World Cup point just seems like an out of date prejudice.

    • Barcathegreatestever
      May 9, 2015

      I know, such a lame argument and Messi’s performances on the CL stage thus far are making it even more weak and moot

  22. May 8, 2015

    I need to correct my answer to luisthebeast earlier in this comment thread.

    I meant to write that the Camp Nou chanted Luis Enrique’s name, and NOT for the first time this season.

    • May 9, 2015

      Thanks for the link. Especially this – “So, when people analyse teams, you have to remember that this boy makes everything different. He makes everything different. – coming from Mourinho it is special. But he had also praised Messi about his WC.

  23. 42
    May 8, 2015

    Remember at the beginning of the season, when journalists asked about how Rakitic felt about taking over Xavi’s role in Barca midfield, he replid “I’m not thinking about becoming the next Xavi, I’m here to be Rakitic”?

    Well, I’m glad he did. Rakitic has been an impeccable part of the success of this Barca team, yet he is rarely brought up with special attention or praise. Rakitic is a blue-collar worker. He might not have glamorous stats, but he makes other players look good: his tireless running and defending largely liberated Alves, who is able to move up higher to interact with Messi. Alves is enjoying the best form he’s had in years, and this is not a coincidence. Lucho regularly rotates Rakitic to conserve his energy so he can run box to box tirelessly in every game he plays.

    (Here’s a great piece by Jen Evelyn analyzing Rakitic’s contribution in the Barca-Bayern match: http://www.insidespanishfootball.com/156031/ivan-rakitic-heart-barca-trident/)

    Suarez is another blue-collar worker in this Barca team, although he also has many glamorous moments of his own. Suarez works tirelessly for 90 minutes, putting constant pressure into the opponents’ defenders, making runs to create space for Neymar and Messi in the box, acting as a strong reference point to link up play in our front…

    (Here’s a great article analyzing how Suarez has liberated Messi, making him better than ever before) https://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/pitchside-europe/how-luis-suarez-liberated-lionel-messi-103829257.html?soc_src=mediacontentstory&soc_trk=tw

    Our team right now is a perfect mix including players with incredible talent and players who works hard to make others look good. Every successful team needs that. Look at Real Madrid’s 2003-04 team, they had all the stars in the front, but one simple absence of Makelele made the galaticos lose balance and tipped over. Cesc may be more talented and a bigger star than Rakitic, but he needs others to cover for him so he can do his work, and this Barca didn’t need more talent, it needed defensive work.

    Right now this Barca is like a perfectly assembled machine: each part contributes unique qualities to the whole, and some parts enhance the effect of other parts. Suarez enhanced Messi and Neymar and they combined together into a 1+1+1>3 effect which seems like an explosive nuclear reaction.

    I’m glad Lucho didn’t try to re-create another Grardiola team, but tried to improve the weaknesses of that team and do something new. On the other hand, Bayern tried to make their team into a carbon copy of that Pep team, and gave up what they were good at in the 2013 team. Lucho tried to build a team that maximizes each player’s best qualities, while Pep always devise a plan first and try to fit his players into each position. It works when he has the perfect players to suit his system like the Barca players, but with the fast, aggressive, physical Bayern players, they lose their strong suits, and although they looked good enough on Wednesday, they were never a threat to Barca’s goal.

    Bottom line: I don’t think anything can/should be perfectly recreated, no matter how good it once was. As time change, players are different, circumstances are different, and opponents’ tactics are different. To constantly evolve depending on the environment is the only way.

  24. 42
    May 8, 2015

    Remember at the beginning of the season, when journalists asked about how Rakitic felt about taking over Xavi’s role in Barca midfield, he replid “I’m not thinking about becoming the next Xavi, I’m here to be Rakitic”?

    Well, I’m glad he did. Rakitic has been an impeccable part of the success of this Barca team, yet he is rarely brought up with special attention or praise. Rakitic is a blue-collar worker. He might not have glamorous stats, but he makes other players look good: his tireless running and defending largely liberated Alves, who is able to move up higher to interact with Messi. Alves is enjoying the best form he’s had in years, and this is not a coincidence. Lucho regularly rotates Rakitic to conserve his energy so he can run box to box tirelessly in every game he plays.

    Suarez is another blue-collar worker in this Barca team, although he also has many glamorous moments of his own. Suarez works tirelessly for 90 minutes, putting constant pressure into the opponents’ defenders, making runs to create space for Neymar and Messi in the box, acting as a strong reference point to link up play in our front…

    (Here’s a great article analyzing how Suarez has liberated Messi, making him better than ever before) https://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/pitchside-europe/how-luis-suarez-liberated-lionel-messi-103829257.html?soc_src=mediacontentstory&soc_trk=tw

    Our team right now is a perfect mix including players with incredible talent and players who works hard to make others look good. Every successful team needs that. Look at Real Madrid’s 2003-04 team, they had all the stars in the front, but one simple absence of Makelele made the galaticos lose balance and tipped over. Cesc may be more talented and a bigger star than Rakitic, but he needs others to cover for him so he can do his work, and this Barca didn’t need more talent, it needed defensive work.

    Right now this Barca is like a perfectly assembled machine: each part contributes unique qualities to the whole, and some parts enhance the effect of other parts. Suarez enhanced Messi and Neymar and they combined together into a 1+1+1>3 effect which seems like an explosive nuclear reaction.

    I’m glad Lucho didn’t try to re-create another Grardiola team, but tried to improve the weaknesses of that team and do something new. On the other hand, Bayern tried to make their team into a carbon copy of that Pep team, and gave up what they were good at in the 2013 team. Lucho tried to build a team that maximizes each player’s best qualities, while Pep always devise a plan first and try to fit his players into each position. It works when he has the perfect players to suit his system like the Barca players, but with the fast, aggressive, physical Bayern players, they lose their strong suits, and although they looked good enough on Wednesday, they were never a threat to Barca’s goal.

    Bottom line: I don’t think anything can/should be perfectly recreated, no matter how good it once was. As time change, players are different, circumstances are different, and opponents’ tactics are different. To constantly evolve depending on the environment is the only way.

    • Barcathegreatestever
      May 9, 2015

      Really interesting thoughts; In many respects the two teams reflect the personality of their coaches. The acceptance by the fans reflecting their own personalities. Pep is divisive in Germany, taking a team built on physicality and explosiveness rather than individual skill supporting positional moves. Enrique somewhat the reverse. I think Enrique has reached a perfect blend of control and explosiveness.

      I just read a Sid Lowe comment where he was impressed by how lean Messi looked in the prematch conference. The player reflecting the coaches personality. I also keep replaying in my head the start of Messi’s first goal. Alves was incredibly alert at that stage of the game and literally exploded forward easily deposessing ?Benatia and completing a great move to Messi. The team looked as fresh as in first 10 min, that’s all Enrique.

    • Barcathegreatestever
      May 9, 2015

      Thanks for the articles!

  25. Tata2
    May 9, 2015

    Has anyone taken a close look at the Neymar goal? it wasn’t as easy as it seemed really, cos this Neuer we talking about here and from the way he was standing, he would have saved any first time shot or any shot to either of his side. What Ney did was to destabilize him by feigning a shot and that was it, he put it right through his legs. Isn’t that too much to ask of a 22 year old lad?

  26. Tata2
    May 9, 2015

    If there’s anything I like about playing home first is that with a result like ours, if we score just one goal, Bayern have to score. Clearly we are no Porto, we aren’t going to cave-in and receive a mauling, all we need do is to score one and the tie is over. I see us scoring a dozen counter attacks in the return leg

  27. ciaran
    May 9, 2015

    No goals but two brilliant examples of the type of team we now are in the 5 minutes before half time. Firstly Neymar making an interception but not being satisfied with merely giving away a throw he chased down the ball and flicked it back into play and to a team mate. Incredible.
    Then a couple of minutes later Messi tackles a couple of players to keep possession in midfield.
    When our ‘lazy’ players are playing that hard it’s a great sign.

  28. Rami
    May 9, 2015

    We’re playing good, but like against bayern, Our players over complicate things by looking for crazy combos and a pass too many, Shooting the ball doesn’t hurt from time to time.

    One of the things we’re known for this season, Is that most of our goals come in the 2nd half, So there is no need to panic yet, But again, This could turn into another celta vigo.

  29. ooga aga
    May 9, 2015

    this sociedad always is difficult….1st half and weve had the better chances but we need a goal!

    0-0 HT

  30. georgjorge
    May 9, 2015

    Life must be hard for Pedrito…with everyone talking about MSN and nobody even thinking of mentioning him as well. But he still can hit a mean overhead bycicle kick for a decisive goal. I’m glad for him!

  31. Cyclops
    May 9, 2015

    …..especially after the second goal was scored, i don’t know, was is that the guy’s eased off ??… okay, say they wanted to conserve energy, woudnt it have been prefferable to keep possesion, deny them from having that much of the ball, and prevent them from having those plethora’s of chances to attack….Honestly, watching the the game from around minute 60′ to the end just left me very uncomfortable

  32. Cyclops
    May 9, 2015

    ….Especially after the second goal was scored, i don’t know, was is that the guy’s eased off ??…okay, say they wanted to conserve energy, right, wouldn’t it had been prefferable if they had kept possesion, deny la real the ball, and prevent them from having those plethora of chances to attack ??..Honestly, watching that game from the 60th minute to the end, was very uncomfortable for me..

  33. Cyclops
    May 9, 2015

    Ooops sorry for the double post..my gadget sucks, real bad

  34. ooga aga
    May 9, 2015

    Pedrote!!!!

  35. Tata2
    May 9, 2015

    Any one see what’s happening at Santiago bernabeu? I think Valencia just score 2 frigging goals and handed us the liga, its still first half but am routing strongly for los che

    • Ryan
      May 9, 2015

      The Bernabeu is no fortress today – Valencia are really taking the game to them! Hopefully Juve can do the same next week.

  36. Cyclops
    May 9, 2015

    Woa woa, madrid down 2: 0! Jeez, i’m dancing samba, right now! Valencia, you guys keep this result like this, and a bottle of tequilla for y’all is on me!

  37. Shaco
    May 9, 2015

    4 posts from Real Madrid and Ronaldo penalty saved! Not bad at all

  38. Cyclops
    May 9, 2015

    …I think Alves has been quite super for the past couple of games now, and not just this CL game…But looked like he wasnt really getting a lot of mentions in that regard..Thankfully, he put up the sort of performance he did against bayern, causing everybody to take notice
    Base on his recent performance, i’d say the boards should thrust that contract to him, like super fast..A five year, 300 pounds worth contract, is just fair in my honest opinoin…Even if he dosnt give out any good performance next season, probably plays crap, i’d say it wouldnt really matter, he’s already justify the contracts with these performance already!
    OT: it sorta occured to me that roberto could be a very sublime DM, provided he continues to improve…Really, if you analyse his strenght, you’d find out he’s just a pontential DM…Then, Samper, i’d say is more a Xavi or Pirlo clone…IMO playing him as a DM would just waste his incredible potentials…So i was thinking why not play Roberto at DM, and let Samper replace Xavi ??…Just like that this halfhearted search for a Xavi replacement would just be solved…If you start now, grooming these guys in those positions, couple with a Rafinha,
    or Denis Suarez taking up the iniesta role, i think maybe the future isn’t quite uncertain as some people has said…Basically, that’d be almost re-creating a Busquet-Xavi-Iniesta Midfield…Not a bad thing

  39. Doug
    May 9, 2015

    RM scores – still down 2-1 – 57 minutes gone.

    It’s so easy to dislike RM – Pepe knocking everyone down – everybody complaining to the ref.

    Valencia needs to hold on, but they’re looking really tired.

  40. Davour
    May 9, 2015

    RM-Valencia 2-2. Looking good.

  41. ooga aga
    May 9, 2015

    Hell yes! Back to a four point lead in la liga! We can lose to atletico and still win league if we beat depor!!!!

  42. 86ed
    May 9, 2015

    Three points vs Depor and the league is ours.

  43. raj
    May 9, 2015

    “Barcelona, a bottle of your finest to Diego Alves if you please” – Telegraph.

    A couple of them would be sent over, all right.

  44. ooga aga
    May 9, 2015

    4 or 5 matches to go. 3 titles up for grabs. Too exciting!!!!

  45. luisthebeast
    May 9, 2015

    Yeeeesssss let s go to Calderon and win Liga

  46. Dar_vincy
    May 9, 2015

    Yes!!!! Thank God.
    I have beeen this happy….

    Thanks…Valencia.
    Diego Alves…awesome

  47. Rami
    May 9, 2015

    YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES!!!!!!!!!

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