Barça 2, Real Soceidad 0, aka “It had to be you”


It had to be you / It had to be youuuuu …

It is hard to think of a more extraordinary short stretch of time in recent Barça history: beating Bayern, beating La Real and Valencia drawing RM. Revenge in the first two cases, psychic revenge in the last as our two wins over them compare to a loss and a draw for RM.

And today, of course, dispatching the team that was the catalyst for Armageddon.

What a week. And fittingly perhaps, in a way that feels so appropriate in this crazy quilt of a season, the man who scored a magnificent golazo to seal the deal today, Mr. Maligned himself, Pedro.

It’s difficult to consider sentiment when there are still titles to be fought for, but two magnificent players might have been applauded off by the home crowd for the last time in the Camp Nou. If we are to believe rumors, Xavi and Pedro are both moving on in the summer, one to a fat payday in Qatar, the other to goals and glory in the Premiership. Both picked an excellent way to say farewell if so, Xavi with a starting stint that found him turning back the hands of time against the exact team his skills dazzle against, and Pedro coming on late, to do what he does.

There is one play in the match that typifies Xavi’s performance today. He rolled up the sideline with the ball, fouled by one La Real player, shouldered by another, fouled by yet another as through it all he not only retained possession, but at the end of his battering did what he always does: make the next pass. He didn’t complain, didn’t whine or fall down, because there was work to be done.

It was no surprise when La Real came out today with 10 behind the ball. And if there is a player in world football who you would rather have pulling the strings for your team when facing a bus, it is Xavi. He unerringly picked out pass after pass, helping created chance after chance, opportunities done and undone by beautiful football concluded by slack finishing.

The team could be forgiven for lacking that last little bit of edge that makes it so clinical. The match after a huge European date is always the one that catches the top teams out. Barça was lucky enough to have La Real at home, a date against an opponent who would be coming in with the sole ambition of taking a point. It made the match easy, and meant that the team could find its way in, seeking that little bit of quality at the right time, chipping away at the lock via attack after attack that wore down the legs of the La Real defenders.

Through it all, until he was subbed off for Iniesta (and a subsequent loss of control), was Xavi. If this was to be his last home match at the Camp Nou, this was a fitting one.

That the comfort-giving goal was scored by Pedro, for the two fans of his sitting in the corner wearing party hats, was wonderful. All this season, Pedro has been that guy. Worthless this, incapable of that. Pointing out that his job had changed, that he was doing what the team and his coach needed mattered not. Pedro sucked for too many culers because he wasn’t doing what he used to do, in very different times for a very different team.

But Pedro doesn’t care, because he understands his role. When he came on, he immediately set about doing what he does. He ran, made the right pass, facilitated control and defended like a demon. Then he capped it off with an overhead kick for the ages, because it came at a time when La Real was having possession, winding the culer doom and gloom clock ever tighter as fevered minds began to construct scenarios in which they could, and would, equalize the match.

And then came Pedro, with a staggering goal off of a deflection in the La Real box. Most overheads come from chest control, so the player is in effect, setting himself up. Pedro’s came off a defender, a less predictable ball that he nonetheless crushed, beating a keeper who was having an excellent match. The Camp Nou screamed, my Twitter timeline filled with Pedro! and for a bit of time, all of the bleating about his inadequacy and being terrible was forgotten. The pressure relief was immediate and almost explosive.

The odd thing about the match is that the typical culer pessimism felt almost rote, like a reflex action, a ghost movement performed because that is how it has always been. Because there is a control about this team that hasn’t been present for some time. The team is very level. In this space, it was noted a while ago that Barça was taking on the personality of its coach. That it has done this in a single season is a remarkable thing. But in addition to the toughness, the mental and physical drive that makes this team flush with the stuff of champions, there is an even keel to this group. Just as its coach stands on the sidelines and does his thing, so does his team. There are highs and lows, but they aren’t stratospheric nor subterranean. They are ups and downs that seem almost planned.


Recall when Enrique said that the Anoeta result was just part of the stuff that goes on in a season. That it is, isn’t the point. That he understands, said and almost seemed to account for such an occurrence is the noteworthy thing. Last season, late into a match, Barça lost its way, began to panic and players tried individual stuff to prise open an opponent. This year, it’s the system. The players keep doing what they are supposed to do, in full confidence that if they do that, results will come. That confidence comes from the coach.

Enrique has repeatedly this season lauded his players’ professionalism, a word that means more than showing up and getting the job done. It’s a mental attitude, a confidence that if I give of my best, so will the man next to me, and the man next to him. If we all do this, even if one of us might not be on form, the collective will raise us up. The assists, the passes, the generosity stems from this, the confidence that professionals have in one another. Two plus two equals four. It’s just how it is. And a player thinks, “If I make this pass, I believe this will happen, because of the player I am passing the ball to.”

It’s easy to play well when you have full confidence in the professionals you are playing with. Combine that with a coach who is working out a way that everyone can more effectively give of their best, and it isn’t all that difficult to understand why the team’s attitude is great, why it is playing exceptional, selfless football. It isn’t that everything being right dissipates adversity. It’s that attitude leads to everything being right, and the rest will follow.

The strange irony is that in a season that people have carped about individual brilliance. this has been a team effort as everyone gives for everyone. In the 89th minute of a 2-0 match at home, Mascherano came flying up from the back line to dive bomb a defensive header. Why? Because that is what you do, and there isn’t even a question of doing anything else. That’s professionalism, and that’s what this team has. And from professionalism comes confidence. So they don’t panic. They just get stuff done.

This brings us back to Pedro and Xavi, avatars of exemplary professionalism. No “Play me or I am gone,” no rumors about buyout clauses being activated, just a full commitment to the team, a thing that is returned by their teammates. In today’s match, Neymar knew that possession was worth more than any dead ball, so he raced over to the right sideline to save a ball that was going out into touch. He somehow ran the ball down, stopped it dead by standing on it, whirled away and possession continued for Barça. It was a magnificent play that depicts hunger and professionalism.

Another example is the Neymar goal, the match winning tally. He made a speculative run based on nothing more than the necessity of doing the right thing. “What if the ball comes loose?” “What if a teammate can make a play to the back post?” So when the deflection came off a La Real player, Neymar was right there, already on the move, to head home.


Did Enrique have to say “Run, you bastards, run!” as Pep Guardiola did? Probably not. We can only guess, but it’s easy to envision him saying “If we do what we are supposed to do, we will have success.” It’s pragmatic, and logical. It’s also something that is said by every coach to his team. The difference is that Enrique might have said it to Messi, Neymar, Suarez, Busquets, Iniesta, etc, etc. They have the talent to make that bit of pragmatism real.

Both Barça goals today were “ugly” goals, tallies that didn’t come from the run of play but rather from the detritus of a defensive effort. They tried, but they couldn’t do it. Clearance attempts became goals in a scythe-like, clinical fashion. “You were sloppy, I wasn’t.”

Belief is an extravagance rooted in execution. Players from lesser teams don’t continue a run too long or delay the pass solely because they aren’t as good as the players on the top teams. It’s the doubt. Messi believes. Neymar believes. Xavi believes. As a consequence, through all of the crises real or imagined, through everything that the entorno has done and tried to do, everything in the world of 23 players comes down to one thing: the team.

What made today’s match so special was not only what transpired later in the day, but that the team did what it had to. How easy would it have been to say, “it’s going to be one of those days,” and not keep running, keep making the effort. Barça did what it had to do. That’s what a professional does. As long as you do what you have to do, what anyone else doesn’t matter. Valencia taking points from RM was a luxury, but the accompanying sighs of relief were more from supporters who want breathing room. It’s easy to get the sense that the team doesn’t really need any breathing room, that it understands what it needs to do, just as it has all season, and sees no impediment to that successful task.

What will happen with the rest of this season is still uncertain. The true culer, a pessimist to his soul, sees a Bayern remuntada, a loss to Atleti and a draw to Deportivo at home, as RM win out and take the Liga on the head-to-head tiebreaker as a four-point lead dissipates. The team doesn’t see those possibilities, because supporters can’t know, don’t see what players see. We believe in our team, but it’s nothing like the belief that professionals of the highest quality have in each other. How far that belief takes them is, as and true pro would want it, up to them.


By Kxevin

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


  1. The league is won. Yay!..!
    Was beginning to have doubts.
    Neymar on 35 goals this season. Wooow.
    Hazard is better than Neymar arguments ( In your face) .
    I dont think any player in europe has out performed or out scored neymar this season bar THE GOAT and Christiano.

  2. I don’t consider it pessimism, but pragmatic realism.

    This is football, things can change in a single minute.
    I’m not expecting/demanding victories, each and every of those matches will be suffering until there is no doubt of victory.

    I have faith in the team, I know that as long as it depends solely on them, Barça might as well start the parade. But it doesn’t depend on the players alone. It depends also on chance, on the performance of the opponent, on rest…

    So the rituals will continue, the prayer and anxiety will continue, until they’re washed away in joy and screaming. 😀

  3. .

    Why do you keep saying that it might have been Xavi’s last game at the CN when there is a home game vs Deportivo to be played?

  4. .

    How about this eh?

    “Barcelona now for the first time in their 116 year history won 7 successive matches all with a clean sheet” via barcastuff

    1. I saw the clean sheet stat on the Guardian’s liveblog, and I thought “If someone had told me I will live to see that day” at some point in the late 90s/early 00s I would have considered him a lunatic.

      But it happened 🙂

    2. Funny, I was thinking today “when was the last time Barça gave up a damned *goal*??” Which as you say is a weird question to have to ask. But I should have remembered since I was lucky enough to be at Parc des Princes for the first leg of the QF. 🙂

  5. This is a legacy that started back in 2003 and will continue for years.This is a legacy who will create the new cules.The little kids of today.These kids when they grown up they will have the confidence that we,old cules,dont.They will not say:Oh shit madrid will not drop points,we are doomed and all that.They will say:We are the best and we will win everything.Proud of this amazing club.

  6. My mistake!I wanted to use the word domination.The domination who started in 2003 is the legacy for the next generation:-)

  7. – La Liga is almost ours, yessss! Visca Barca! Time to seal the Berlin ticket and get ready for the finals.

    – I think it would be better if we could retain pedro and xavi at least until the January transfer window when our transfer ban period end. We dont have enough depth for the first semester of the season if they both gone. Who would be the subs if one of our MSN injured? S.Roberto and Rafinha wouldn’t be enough to give Iniesta and Rakitic proper rotation??

  8. Correct me if I’m wrong but if we win at Atletico next week we would clinch La Liga in their house, a satisfying reversal of last year’s season ender at the Camp Nou. How sweet would that be?

    Also, interesting results from the other 3 UCL semi-finalists. Juve-draw; RM-draw; Bayern-loss. Sure, the Serie A and Budesliga are wrapped-up and Valencia is a quality side that pushed us all the way, but is hard to avoid the conclusion that we are finishing really strongly relative to other top teams.

  9. I don’t think many would deny Pedro has regressed since our last UCL, and no I am NOT talking about goal tallies nor am I ignoring that his role has changed. I am talking about how all his numerous qualities ( Football IQ/decision making , awareness, finishing,showing up in big games ,etc.) all took a backseat to progress and were replaced by his sole redeeming quality (imo) being ” work ethic”/ ” willingness to be a good soldier/do donkey work”.

    No shame in saying that, it’s not hating, it’s just observing. A tip of the cap to Pedro, he has served the club well and if he leaves in the summer then he is on the way to exiting FCB on top.

    Love the irony that Madrid might have lost the league today over a CR PK 😛

    1. More than that failed PK, probably CR obssesion throughout the season on individual glory (read:pichichi) have hurts the team’s mentally.

    2. I agree regarding Pedro. It is always hard to get into a rhythm when you’re not played much, but his finishing on very good chances as well as his creation of chances just has been off in too many games. I too respect him a lot for what he did for the team and his faithfulness to the team even when he had to take a backseat, and I think there are not many players we could get who would have his quality while also being willing to be benched a lot. But he just doesn’t have the abilities/self-confidence to start in this team anymore.

  10. Mmm, interesting article but I am not sure I agree with some of its premises.

    – Most culers I’ve come across are already celebrating the league. I, myself, culer since the lost Cup Winners Cup final (care to figure out how long ago that was?) pulled out an FC Barcelona flag after RM’s draw last night and waved it over my head.
    – Pedro’s bad finishing over the last couple of years was not due to changing circumstances. It’s not because of more or less space that when he arrived at the goal with space he started shooting at instead of past the goalkeeper. I would say it’s a shame if he leaves though, because he’s a more reliable backup than either of Munir or Adama, although I guess that Rafinha can play on either wing in a pinch.
    – I think Xavi will stay. I read last week that he would give a press conference after the Atletico game in which he would announce his future. He loves Barça too much to cause any waves by announcing his departure one week before a potential title winning league match. More importantly, he enjoys being part of this team.

    1. Levon, I don’t see Rafinha as an alternative in attack… Hasn’t excelled there when he’s played there.
      Still hoping he works more on his creativity as the burden has majorly been ferried by Messi this season.

  11. Thank you for this article. I really like the notion of professionalism you have sketched out here. It does indeed seem as if players not only have more trust in themselves but also more trust in the other players. Of course, everything off the pitch is always a very distorted reality created by the media, but on the pitch the new vibes are definitely showing.

    M*drid had another starter injured with Kroos vs Valencia, so maybe they really might not make the Champions League finals this time. Of course, it would be all the sweeter to deny them both the league title and the Champions League title in one season.

  12. The unselfishness, And the hard work pedro puts is invaluable, Two qualities that are very rare to find these days.
    But as much as the following may sound unfair and cruel, Having these two qualities may not be enough to give you a starting spot, Specially in our current system, It’s only because of the pure talent that he has to compete against, Our current system demands much from our forwards in terms of dribbling (1vs1) situations, And play making, Which pedro doesn’t provide unfortunately.

    I would be extremely happy if he decided to stay, Any club is lucky to have a player like him in the squad, At the same time i don’t think he’s been treated unfairly, He fought for a starting spot for years and showed great commitment and love for barca, In my book he earned his right to leave.

    Pedro has been held up to a standards that he can’t replicate, His 2010/2011 season was treated as the rule instead of what it truly was, The exception, Pedro hasn’t regressed, He’s always been like this, It’s just that he produced an exceptional season at one time in his career.
    A few days ago i watched a video on youtube called ‘The top 5 one season wonders’ And you’ll be amazed how high some players get only to have a free fall in the following season or two.

  13. If Pedro leaves, it won’t be because he is unhappy or feels he has been treated unfairly. It will be because he understands his role in this team, and wants to play a larger one before he gets too old to do so.

    Pedro isn’t a starter for Barça, and never HAS been. He hasn’t regressed. If anything he has become a more complete player. But the game is reduced to goals, which points to a Pedro “regression.” Watching him yesterday, or pretty much in any match he enters, demonstrates exceptional levels of work and professionalism. In a team of superstars, somebody has to do the work. Running after people, tracking back, making wall passes and never making bad decisions with the ball.

    Messi can try some crazy run and lose the ball because Pedro will be the one tracking back with the opposition attacker on the counter.

    Pedro will be a loss. He can go because he isn’t starter quality isn’t a sound contention for me, because teams need backups. What’s more, they need quality backups. The illusion that every player on a roster should be able to start a Champions League final is romantic, but unsupportable in terms of money or psyche. That’s why Alexis Sanchez is at Arsenal, to name just one example. It’s why Toure Yaya is at Manchester City, to name another.

    On a team with the best players in the world in its first team and in its academy, not everybody will be good enough to start. Bellerin knew he wasn’t going to cut it, and now starts at Arsenal. Pedro can start for most teams in world football. But at Barça, with Messi, Neymar and Suarez, he rides the bench. He isn’t riding the bench because he isn’t the Pedro of old. He’s a sub because those are transcendent players.

    Pedro has always been very lucky in finding himself in space, as he was yesterday. When he played more, he had more of those moments created by his running everywhere. Now that he is playing less, there are fewer of those moments, and so it seems that Pedro isn’t doing what he used to. I was ripped a new one for suggesting this in a previous post, but there it is.

    When Pedro leaves this summer, Enrique will be bummed, and he should be. It’s a loss.

    1. “Pedro isn’t a starter for Barca, never has been”

      -errr…except he has.

      He has become a more complete player, yes, probably, but sadly being professional is all well and good, and no one can question his attitude – but the fact is he hasn’t gotten it done when he has had his opportunities this season.

      I’m not saying it’s easy in his situatioin, and make no mistake he adds tremendous depth to our team, but Pedro knows himself (and has said as much) to make the Spanish side he has to play regular minutes.

      A shame that he has to leave to get it but we have players in our list that can take that role he will leave behind.

      I’ll remember Pedro!! as the random chaos generator that he WAS…not the bit part player that he is NOW.

      BTW, he IS riding the pine because the player he is now; emotional thoughts aside, because his productivity declined last season and yes, his role got usurped and got transcended by elite of the elite, best of the best. Don’t get the two mixed up, his output numbers have declined, BEFORE he was a mandatory bench warmer…NOT after. The fact 2x world class players came in just drove the nail home.

      Lucho will be sad, yup, but, again, we have players who are ready to step up and do the same team role on the same level. At Barca, this is just the way it is, 16 world class players doesn’t go into 11. Such is life.

      Cheers Pedro and good luck in the EPL.

    2. I couldn’t possibly disagree more with the notion that Pedro is somehow ” Better” now than he was years ago. The thought that I ( and many) are so wrong because we are simply attempting to reduce his game to purely goals is a bit disingenuous. I specifically said I am NOT only talking about his goal
      Return. I find the difference in opinion on him staggering to be honest. It’s clear I won’t agree with some on him and that’s fine, he’s served his time well and has had many highs, Godspeed to him if he leaves.

    3. agar2515, if you take everything personally, how can you debate anything at all? The Pedro statements are NOT about you. So the statement The thought that I ( and many) are so wrong because we are simply attempting to reduce his game to purely goals is a bit disingenuous.

      When people in this space have a comment that is directed at someone, they will mention that commenter by name. Until them, it’s probably a bit hasty to take it as personally as you often do.

    4. I need to be more specific. When I mean being told, I mean in the Twitterverse and in a way much less tactful than your responses

    5. I agree with Kxevin. Pedro is better than he used to be. But how can anyone say for sure, we rarely get to see him play. Kxevin , myself and others have been down this road many times before and right now I can’t be bothered to recite all the arguments for the millionth time. We need Pedro to stay or next years gonna be mighty rough when someone gets injured. But I can see why pedro would leave with all the “love” he gets.

    6. For me Pedro is not a sub level player, he’s more on the level of David Villa; limited ability to penetrate and create but able to be beautifully effective with his chances. If Villa was here he would also be sitting, on an attacking team of the century. That said if we lose one of the trident for 6 weeks or more nursing an injury back to full fitness, avoiding the pitfalls of coming back too early like Robben we absolutely need a Pedro or a Laarson or the whole season is put at risk. That is down to management and it should be adressed with the utmost seriousness if Pedro leaves.

    7. This is what baffles me. If there is such an acknowledged tepidity towards Pedro, does this mean everyone but the few who hold him up to this mystical God level sub standard are wrong?

      This sentiment ” against” him as brewed since 10’11. He was adored after that season and, when given a greater role due to Villas injury, just wasn’t up to snuff. I saw a player bereft of the confidence and instinct that once made him great.

      If you want to argue that he’s a valuable sub because he knows his role, shuts his mouth , and gives 100% then ok, I will buy that all day.

      The only way I could convine anyone not already in line with my point is to go back post 11′ UCL win, watch every game, and bring those notes here.

      I was a BIG fan of his after that game and Season.
      I no longer am because of YEARS of play that , imo, has been
      Underwhelming. I am not alone in that, and I do not relish feeling that way towards him.
      I will have to agree to disagree on Pedro.

    8. IamXavi6, Pedro was a starter in the absence of more qualified candidates. As soon as those candidates arrived, Pedro assumed the position that I and many others suggested was his natural one, as that of a super-sub.

      Lots of players have started for Barça, which doesn’t make them starter quality in a team that is at the ideal level of this one. In that world, Pedro isn’t a starter.

    9. There are great similarities between pedro and our old friend seydou keita, Here we have a hard working, Unselfish midfielder that is loved by his coach and fans, But is unable to compete against our holy trio for minutes, And his role consisted of starting in the few matches where he was needed for tactical reasons, And as a sub to rest one of the trio, Yet there wasn’t anything pep can do, His system relied heavily on busi-xavi-ineista, That any considerable minutes to another player was not possible.
      Guardiola loved seydou for the work and depth he brought to the squad, But it’s not surprising why that wasn’t enough for him.
      I remember him scoring a golazo against sporting (i think) in camp nou after we were reduced to 10, Pep hailed him the press conference like he always does, But seydou said ‘If he likes me this much, Why doesn’t he play me more?.

      The bad news in all of this, Is that in my opinion we sorely missed seydou with tito and even tata, And i’m afraid it’ll be the same with pedro, Losing him will be a heavy loss, But there isn’t much that can be done about it, It’s like one of those marriages that are currently working but you sense it won’t last for very long, And eventually they end terms, Not in bad feelings, But just due to ‘irreconcilable differences’, Cruel life.

      At this point it’s worth pointing out those who constantly criticize pedro and see him as unworthy of our bench and demand someone ‘better’, Ultimately and hilariously to face a dielmma.
      If someone ‘average’ like pedro can’t accept being a bench warmer any longer, How can someone ‘better’ can?

    10. I loved Keita, Keita performed his Role admirably. I am constantly being told that I’m ”
      Missing” something or unfairly “criticizing” when it comes to Pedto and I find it absurd. Not even pointing to “stats” because those have been deemed unfair in regards to him. Ok, fine lets throw them out the window for whatever reason. I STILL believe my own two eyes are telling me that he hasn’t vastly improved over these years.
      He wouldn’t be so constantly and ardently defended in some circles if I was the only one who thought this….
      Again, I am NOT ” hating” or trying to just heave unwarranted criticism because I am ”
      Missing the point” when it comes to him. I think I’ll have to agree to disagree because
      I’m just tired of being constantly told ” no, actually” whenever his name
      Comes up.

    11. Ok . I think Pedro should stay and you think he should leave. Agree to disagree. Done.

    12. Funny, I never said he should leave. I simply don’t rate him
      Nearly as high as some
      Here so.

    13. Again. agar2525, it isn’t about you. You, personally, aren’t being “told” anything. It’s about the player and the perception of him. We can debate that without taking it personally.

      To my view, Pedro is a better defender. He is also more sensible with the ball, and reads a match better so there is less of the headless chicken thing that his running was often reduced to. His positioning is better, so he doesn’t have to run as much to achieve the same result. He also fouls less while defending, which means fewer opponent set pieces.

      He has grown from a young player with bundles of energy to a quality veteran sub who knows how to use his energy for the good of the team.

      For me, that is an improved player. It’s easy to see if you look at Pedro then, and Pedro now, even given the context of his very different roles for the team.

      The Liverpool rumors are predominant, but it would be fun to see him with Sanchez at Arsenal.

    14. Personally I would love to see him at Liverpool, considering we can’t seem to buy a goal these days. Would offer a nice alternative to what we have and may actually give us some kind of goal-threat!
      Great results btw, it has been an absolute pleasure to watch this incarnation of Barca, that front three is truly terrifying.
      Best of luck for the treble!

  14. Football has a unique way of presenting its pros and cons in differing measure. Against Valencia at the Mestalla…after huffing and puffing, we got that much treasured goal at the death (I had already quit watching a minute before Busquests’s goal)…things worked in our favour. Against Sevilla, things didn’t end up as we all wanted…this time, we had to rue our misfortune due to careless execution of play. Against Valencia at the Camp Nou, the match was poised for a draw. Again, we escaped; the implication of which is that rather than 2 points in both fixtures against Valencia, we got 6. Madrid on the other hand gained 2 points from the same opponent. So…while I was tempted to keep dwelling on those two crucial plays that cost us points against Sevilla (Suarez’s miss and Pique’s gift), i’m quickly reminded of how fortunate we got against Valencia. Which made it pointless for me to give the sevilla implosion a thought.
    Meanwhile, I have often admired Diego Alves (yesterday’s performance aside) and I really rate him high. Was hoping we would get him after Valdes’s exit. Glad his saves proved to be a key decider in the title race.
    With Atletico’s draw, we might have faced a highly motivated team with something to play for had we needed to win. Not that I don’t fancy our chances against them; circumstances like injury, sending off, fatigue, low morale, etc., could possibly have played against us.

    1. Wait … You quit watching a minute before the Busquets goal??!! Damn, I wish I believed in the use of emoticons!

      Good perspective on Valencia vs Sevilla. I think the complexity with Diego Alves is that he isn’t that sweeper keeper type that Enrique craved, but more of a traditional keeper.

      For Atleti, I think we will have to win at home vs Deportivo. Between coming off the Bayern return leg and how ramped up Simeone will have his troops to keep from losing to us 4 times in the same season, full points will be complex at the Calderon.

      RM are away to Espanyol. They could well drop points there, as the Parakeets are nobody’s patsy this season.

    2. lol…yeah. Had to. Wanted to minimize the degree of the disappointment I was already feeling by leaving before the sound of the final whistle. After walking a short distance, my buddies with whom I was watching the match let out a deafening squawk that sugessted something miraculous had taken place. Ran back to discover we had scored. My celebration was as wild as anything imagination could conceive. The significance of Madrid’s slip up affords us the allowance to slip up too. Which made yesterday’s events in the title race all the more euphoric.

  15. Isnt amazing the way karma sometimes works….Taking into consideration the way its has played out generally these season; with RM, with bayern- and talking about bayern, last season the liga game preceding the secong leg tie with bayern- against malaga, i think we lost, 1 : 0( i stand to be corrected tho’)..Isnt just kinda funny how bayern, just coudnt help but also loss 1 : 0 yersterday?…Maybe the only difference is , we werent spewing crap like they’re doing now…Now, like icing on the cake, we’ve got the opportunity to win the liga right in the calderon, truly what goes around comes around- when you consider that couple of weeks back we never really envisioned this, and due to RM drawing against valencia, BAM, we’re capable of replicating a different version of how the league ended last season

    Talking about paying back, the “revenge” against Bayern was always always gonna come, i just knew it…No matter how long it takes, it was always gonna come, there’s no espcaping, thats just how life works….After the bayern debacle two seasons ago, i just simply braced up, and waited for our turn, cause i knew we’d get it..Only the delusional would have deny that possibility…Thats the complexity of “thrashing” teams- or in everyday life, “thrashing” like life is cyclical, you might be having the upper hand today, but someday no matter how long it takes, you’d always get yo dessert…

    Thats why when you’re at the top, you’d better enjoy it, cause it often dont always last…And basically, the fact that we’re a big team, not one limp bundesliga team, increased the possibilty of getting that payback against bayern…
    I dont even necassarily view the 3 : 0 thrashing as pay back- just not as cruel as i ‘d like…Probably its will be fully dished out on tuesday

  16. And talking about Pedro, yeah he runs, he workes hard, he’s a team player- all nice and sweet..But these are basically individual qualities, that can endear some one to anybody…But we’re talking football here, and those are not necassarily footballing qualities…yeah, that could make yo to be his fan, but i think yo should understand, if other people dont…Those people would probably come out with footballing reasons to back up their claims, and yo what do yo have ? that he runs ?…
    Basically i think those are just enough to like him personally, but to use that as a basis for arguing thats he’s top quality, you’d have a tough time there….Not saying he’s not top quality, i even like him, seriously…But then the reasons, that made yo to like him, are more of personal reasons not footballing reasons- as regard to being top quality….So if these argument is made, when stats and logic are reeled out, the pro-pedro’s would almost always lose out….So hey, yo like him, but if other people dont and want him out, you should understand, and let it be, cause they’ probably have a better reason to back up their claims, as compared to yo,

    Funny thing is, this argument could also have been made three, four years ago, and with another manager then, anybody calling into question the rate of his qualities, could still have a point… It just simply who you comparing him with, and the strenght of yo points…Sure you’d prefer pedro over a , say tello….But when the comaparisons is with guy’s like Cuadrado, and yo come up with the argument that pedro runs, he’s a hardworker, he’s humble, dont complains, come on now, dont be suprise if yo lose out badly…
    Basically the reasons you’d give to support pedro are all good and fine, but are those good enough to go toe-to-toe against those who dont want him ?

    1. I think the Pedro discussion is discounting the necessity of having an “alternate ” starter that has the unique ability to score goals on a big stage. Pedro has that rare quality and Barca has benefited from that over and over. We do not have a substitute for him and we surely will need one. His form like anyone else goes up and down, it doesn’t change his quality, just look at how hard it’s been for Iniesta and his world class talent to adjust to the new tactics and he plays every game. I have no doubt Pedro’s influence on games would rise to the occasion if he was needed for a big stretch of the season especially if needed for Neymar. If Pedro goes we need a Laarson post haste

    2. Exactly right, Barcathegreatestever. A very complex player to replace.

      Cyclops, the question isn’t supporting, liking or disliking Pedro. The question is, simply enough, replacing what he does for the team. It’s also that to my view what he does is significantly more than “running.” I suggest that anyone who attempts to reduce his game to just energy, hasn’t really watched him.

      Just yesterday, three excellent defensive plays and THEN the overhead volley to remove doubt from the match. Most players will get you one or the other. So yes, replacing that is going to be a challenge.

      Adama Traore could be useful in that regard, but Enrique will have to undo the damage done to him at B. Deulofeu is a lost cause in that regard, because if he tracked back and defended, he would be playing more at Sevilla.

      So we’ll have to see next season.

    3. Pedro has no footballing quality. I guess he just got lucky on that bicycle kick aka Chilena de la calidad mas alta. Pedro has been here for our best years, he arrived with guardiola. He has scored huge goals over the years because he is a good footballer. Also he knows our system. We are blessed to have him as a fourth striker. It’s not fair to judge him when he plays only once every 10 games. But to come on the pitch and put a hugely important game to bed with that goal …. Damn. How many 4th strikers can you expect that from? Name one. Pedro is not as good as MSN but who is? He is Barca quality for the role he plays and if one of MSN gets hurt I know he would do well. If you disagree tell me who is gonna come and ride the pine in our team? I hope p stays but you gotta see him going elsewhere. Our squad will be weaker as a result.

  17. Why is it that other big clubs in europe are able to get players of quality to essentially be back up players but its such an issue for barca.

    Look at Rmadrid and how they secured Chicarito as backup despite BBC already established as starters
    Same could be said of Bayern. Look at their bench when they play their gala 11. Chelsea, PSG, City etc. Look at those squads

    Whats the difference…. I dont get it.

    1. Interesting question, flyzowee. I would suggest that because our highs are stratospheric, it’s a more complex thing for us. Look at how Jonathan Dos Santos rolled over to Villarreal and became a starter. He was pretty much the punch line to a joke at Barça. The quality of our XI is insane.

      The difficulty that creates is when you’re subbing for one of them, there will, of necessity be a dropoff because players of that quality are stars for another club. Who do you sub for Suarez, Neymar or Iniesta, never mind Messi. And that’s the difficulty.

      The strength of a team such as Bayern of Chelsea is squad depth, but if you were to plot the quality of their players on a graph, it would be a flatter curve than Barça’s, which would look a lot like a drunk letter M or something.

      I’d take Pedro over Chicharito any day of the week, and twice on Sundays. Chicharito was about to take root on their bench until Benzema picked up a knock. He has done alright for them, but watch him play and then watch Pedro play. Different players in skill sets, of course, but in Barça’s total football aspirations, your forwards will find themselves functioning as fullbacks. The quality and type of player that can effectively do that is rare.

      That’s my shot at an explanation, anyhow.

    2. Agree with kexvin on pedro>>chicharito, and Pedro > pretty much any 4 th striker in Europe. Still waiting for someone in this forum to actually name a better choice 4 th striker. I.e., someone who would actually come here knowing they have MSN ahead of them. Be realistic. And I don’t see any b-teamers that can fill Pedro’s shoes either. Thats what this discussion boils down to, in practical terms.

    3. That’s the problem in essence.

      Nobody who would be an upgrade on Pedro would come.

      So we can’t afford to let him go, but even he isn’t happy with his current situation.

      And we are not going to have the luxury/misfortune (depending on how you look at it) of resting one of MSN for three months next season.

      Hopefully Munir and Sandro will develop next season, but while they started the season brightly, they could not sustain that level for more than a few games, and they have not been lighting the Segunda on fire since they were sent back to Barca B either.

      Bringing Deulofeu back is not the answer either because there are huge question marks regarding his work rate, and his quality compared to Pedro too.

    4. It’s a difficult one for me. Pedro is a very different player to the one that burst on to the scene half a decade ago. He certainly has quality but is he good enough for Barca?

      The Pedro of 2010-2011 was a dangerous forward who would take advantage of tiny openings and put the ball in the net. He worked harder than any forward and put everyone under pressure. He tried to beat players and made a nuisance of himself in and around the opposition penalty area. His movement off the ball also ensured that the defense had to watch him.

      The Pedro of 2014-2015 is a forward who is rarely dangerous, rarely takes shots, and one whose movement is very predictable. He pressurizes defenders and still makes a nuisance of himself but because he never ever takes on a player he can be left in acres of space without much threat. He is also more conservative in possession than even Martin Montoya. Now he also works like a machine and is the ultimate professional.

      I don’t believe that is nearly good enough of we are to only have 4 forwards. With a drastic fall in quality we have no match winners on the bench. He is a defensive substitution when needed but isn’t even good enough to rest one of our forwards.

      He was given plenty of time at the start of the season and was little more impressive than Munir and Sandro. Not good enough in my opinion.

      I will miss him for sure, but he is too good to waste his career at Barca on the bench but isn’t good enough to be part of a front four. If we were to sign another forward worth a place then I can’t see Pedro being happy.

    5. But ciaran, you just mention his attacking attributes. I think that his defensive contributions and work rate are what make him an important player for Enrique. It’s why he is often subbed in at around the same time as Xavi, to close out a match.

      Now, I don’t blame Pedro for wanting to try his hand elsewhere. But I think that almost all of the arguments that I see made against Pedro never mention the rest of his game. We have plenty of people to put the ball in the net. But when Messi and Suarez are standing there, watching an opponent counter go dashing up the pitch, Pedro is quite useful.

      I won’t suggest for a second that an attacker is of more value as a defender these days. I just think that his all-pitch game is often overlooked.

    6. That’s why it’s a difficult one. With only 4 forwards in the squad he just isn’t good enough any more. An injury to any of our starters and we would be in trouble. If the best thing about a striker is his defense isn’t that as bad as a defender who can’t defend?
      Pedro is a good footballer to have in the squad because he is solid and a good professional. The Pedro of 5 years ago was capable of being good defensively and still winning matches.
      To say he hasn’t regressed just because he is better at different things isn’t entirely accurate. If we were losing a match and had to bring someone off the bench would you rather Pedro from 2015 or Pedro from 2010?

    7. ciaran, both Pedros are the same.

      The reason he was able to score so many goals in the past is that he was playing with players who demanded much attention. Teams also played Barça differently. As buses parked, Pedro’s diminution (of a sort) began.

      In the here and now, Barça faces bus after bus, and no space. Pedro has never been able to beat anyone off the dribble. But back then, he didn’t have to.

      Same Pedro, less space.

      So 2010 Pedro vs 2015 Pedro isn’t as much the question as 2010 Barça world vs 2015 Barça world. If that makes sense.

  18. So Atletiko are in CL for next seasona.No big pressure for them and for us next Sunday.I hope we will see an open game and celebrate the Liga!!!!!

  19. Kxevin, ha! i’m definately not talking about “liking” say because he’s got a nice chin, definately not…Probably using that word didnt pass my point across…I’m talking “liking” as in yo being a fan of a player, because yo apparently thinks he’s quality, e.g A lionel messi fan…But we’d agree that not all of such opinoins are correct- i mean, Nicholas bendtner thinks he’s the best footballer around, and he’s got his fans…See, now you’ll probably say something’s gone loose in the brains of such “fans”….So, yo saying a player’s top quality dosnt necassarily means its true…If yo say Pedro is top quality, i’m not necassarily supposed to buy that, just your opinion- which could be wrong
    Now, i wasnt saying pedro’s qualities isnt “fotballing qualities”, Nope, i’m talking about the chances of John- who is a football pro, watching pedro play” to become a fan, base on his supposed qualities. Now the chances are really lean… Lets be realistics, if we are to rate pedro on a football barometer, chances are from 1 to 10, he’d be found somewhere around 5 or 4…

    Saying he “runs” isnt just to be taking literally here,…actually used that to denote what he’s generally “understand” to do on the pitch…Dosnt mean i’m saying thats just all what he does- running from our post to the opponents goalpost..look at this way, if you consider yourself as a fan of only players who are heavily dexterous, what are the chances that you’d be a Pedro fan ?…My points (God!), most- not all , but most of the reasons given by suppoters of pedro, are reasons that appeal more to your “personal sense” or should i say emotional sense, and less with “your footballing sense”…

    Pedro is a very good footballer no doubt, i’d be glad if he stays at barca, but the people who’d rather he left for a cuadrado, has got more footballing reasons than i have- i’m afraid…Its the people who suggest that he’s ‘crap’, that i’d got some problem with..But when the argument is if he’s worldclass- which is the argument, i really dont have much to say other than ” hey, i’m a pedro’s fan” case close..
    I sincerly hope, i’d managed to pass my point across this time( my attention is really divided as i post this) and this isnt just all rants….If i got yo twisted up, my bad! pretend like yo never read this

    1. I’m not a fan of any players, Cyclops. That’s the flaw here. I am a Barça supporter, and interested in what the team needs.

      “World class” is a malleable brickbat. Pedro has played in World Cups, he is a Spanish NT selection. So define “world class.” All the time, supporters say so-and-so “isn’t world class,” without being able to define the term.

      Barça has Messi, Neymar and Suarez. Who isn’t going to look pale by comparison? Pedro is what coaches from Guardiola to Vilanova to Enrique have needed Pedro. They have needed Pedro to be part of one of the best footballing clubs in the world. Is that “world class?”

      People want footballers frozen in amber. They should be as they always were. But that isn’t possible. Time moves on. Pedro isn’t Past Pedro because circumstances have changed.

  20. I cant understand why the fans dont go to support Barca B.The team need their help and when i watch their games,most times the loudest fans are from the away team.They say that the board destroyed the B team but i dont see the fans there care so much.

  21. Congratulations everyone on a super week for Barca! Some points that I have been following:

    1) While we fully deserve to win the league I think it is also important to point out as Dar_vincy does above the tremendous help we got from Valencia and Atletico. To me the Atletico 4-0 victory was the match of the season and Diego Alves’ super super save on Ronaldo’s PK was the co-moment of the season along with Suarez 2-1 goal against Real.

    2) Looking ahead to this week, we could see a full blown crisis in both the Bayern and Real camps with both looking to make some big changes for next year should they not progress. Both games will be fascinating to watch.

    3) For those who haven’t read it, the Johnathan Wilson piece on Ancelloti and Real was insightful and depressing in equal measures. By the looks of it we are no longer in a fight to the death struggle with the Evil Empire but competing against Disney and a coach who was hired as an accommodating director looking to make everyone happy and leave the Bernaubeu with a smile on their face.

    1. Great article. The great danger for us is that we will gradually become just as RM. The best/most expensive 5 players on the planet at the moment all play for one of these two clubs, the best of the them is homegrown and plays for us, but the other two we bought for huge $$ in the last two seasons. Which is working brilliantly at the moment, but you have to wonder where that will end. And it looks like we might need to splash the money on Pogba, because the midfield is in dire need of reinforcement, and the world-class player capable of immediately filling that hole is not obviously present in the youth system at the moment, but that would be another transfer in that neighborhood….

  22. Pedro 6 goals 5 assists in 13 starts for the Pedro haters out there. Those stats are as good as any forward outside the top 5 I’m guessing. He is way way more than just a workhorse and defender. He was top scorer for Spain last year if I’m not mistaken and a key figure in 2 European cups and a world cup, not to mention?3 La Liga’s and the sextuplet. The only thing that could affect his quality is age, injury or a psychological weakness of which he has none. Oh and a key goal in the title race just a couple of days ago. So just because his playing time is crap right now and he isn’t oohing and ahhing is more credit to him as a man true to his colors. Find that and maybe I can listen.

    1. Pedro wasn’t in the 2008 Euro squad, but he did play a role for the championship winning 2010 and 2012 squads. I haven’t really followed the 2014-15 squad, but Pedro scored 3 goals in 2014, the same as youngster Paco Alcacer that year. I don’t think any of the forwards have been clicking for Spain though; they could really do with a Villa or Raul in his prime!

    2. Thanks for the correction Ryan, It was 12/13 that I was referring when he led with 9 goals 13/14 he dropped behind villa and Torres

    3. That was a good year! I remember how much more dangerous Pedro looked on the national team, when he was given a more prominent role than at Barca. His confidence and decision making were much better, such that I thought he might break into the top 10 of Spain’s goal scorers. He might still make it, but it does feel like the Spanish team will need to go through some rebuilding the next few years, which will affect Pedro’s international career.

  23. Lolz inamess, Crisis, eh ?? said that some time ago, but was caution for saying the obvious a little too loud..But apparently now its super clear thats our devils are in Crisis, big time- dunno why today’s not christmas, the whole thing looks pretty much like christnas stuff to me… Bayern on the brink of recording a consecutive 4 Losses or 5, if you like..RM flirting with the possibility of ending the season trophyless( without considering the empty Wrold club cup) Uh- How long before the next thansgiving comes up ??

  24. .

    In reply to Kxevin’s comment above, yes both Pedros are probably the same, but there is definitely more space now than there was in 2010-11. It is a fact that Barcelona’s strategy has been revised somewhat to not only evolve from the tiki-taka (god how i hate using this term), but also to give more space for our forwards to run into. So that analysis doesn’t fly with me.

    I, for one, would be extremely disappointed if P! left us. He is an invaluable squad player and the writer is right in noting that which forward better than P! would be happy to accept the same role? Probably none! I also don’t see how many people don’t rate Pedrito here. Pep ‘the saint’ Guardiola once famously said that P! was the best finisher on the team. The notion That he is not Barca quality is horsecrap for me.

    P! is ambidextrous, has a powerful shot and is pretty decent in tight spaces. For the supposed lack of sufficient attacking qualities (as has been mentioned above) don’t forget that this is the guy who benched Thierry Henry and Zlatan Ibrahimovic and whose game inspired David Villa to copy his movements.

    Then we move on to the other facets of his game which are his immense work rate, defensive contributions and above all his excellent Knowledge of the Barca system. For me, he is an invaluable asset. And his loss will be a significant one.

    P! has been a great servant and professional and has earned his right to decide his own future, and knowing barca and how well they treat their players in terms of adhering to their preferences, I am sure P! will find a home of his choice where he will excel, much like how Yaya, Alexis, Cesc and Ibra did.

    If he does decide to stay and I hope LE and the club will try their best to convince him, I will be delighted.

    1. All good points. The other one worth making for me is that I am not arguing for Pedro per se, as much as what Pedro represents. If there was a B teamer with those attributes chomping at the bit and ready to be promoted, I’d help Pedro pack his bags, for the right price.

      But there isn’t anyone on B, and the team is transfer banned, not that I can think of anyone who is like Pedro in that type of player.

    2. I guess the Pedro replacement would most probably be someone like Rooney or Llorente. It seems the trident are not as selfless as we’d like to think. Every time they sit or come off they look like a cat drenched in cold water. Not many are going to want to join that party.

  25. Every time I watch the Bayern match I find new things to marvel at. Mascherano was immense. Also nice to see Enrique congratulate Rakitic for a match well played as that sub was made.

    I also enjoyed the brief time that Thiago and Rafinha were on the pitch at the same time. Different types of players, both fun to watch.

  26. Kxevin, your reply above ‘The reason he was able to score so many goals in the past is that he was playing with players who demanded much attention.’

    I’m sorry but I can’t agree with the response. He’s now playing with 3 of the best forwards in the world who each time they receive the ball get double and triple marked and teams almost ignore Pedro and he still just controls the ball and recycles it backwards in the safest possible way.

    Look everyone can see what he used to be for us and see the difference between that and what he is now for us and they are not the same player in terms of performance and output and if we were to have an injury to one of our starting forwards we’d be in trouble because he has lost all confidence and doesn’t attempt anything risky any more. It was great to see him score and even attempt that bicycle kick the other day.

    If Pep is in any starting line up now it’s too rest one of our forwards. There’s no question that it’s tactical or anything he’s playing currently because there’s no one else.

    I love the guy and respect everyones opinions but I can’t see a point where I’ll be happy to have only Pedro on the bench and he definitely doesn’t deserve to be fifth choice. A move is the best option regardless of timing.

  27. So happy for Pedro. If it was upto me, I would always have him at Barca, Xavi too.

    Thanks a tonne for Valencia and Atletico too, for those 4-0 etc..
    We lost 2 points in an away match and Real lost it in the home match.. ha ha..

    Since there is so much discussion on Pedro – Next season, all of you think MSN is going to start every match like this season? Who else than Pedro to give S or Neymar a rest.
    Also, Pedro is the best there who understands Messi movements, especially for those one twos. He does it much better than S or N. We have seen very few of such one twos this season. Most of the time when S or N tried it, it simply didnt work.

  28. Actually hearing that FCB has dropped out of the Pogba’s race….Dunno why i’m feeling like thts a good thing …Seriously, i’ve never been convinced about Pogba playing at barca; the style of play expecially, dont just add to me… Sure, i rarely watch the serie A, but then the little i’ve seen of him over the years, what i’ve read up, i cant say i’ve been a fan of these getting pogba thingy….

    I’d rather go for Marco verrati or Gundogan…And IMHO, i think Marco Verrati is a better suit to our system, kind of player that’ll just gel in seamlessly, i likes the way he plays, sems like a prodigy to me…But then, sometime when there was the Verrati to barca rumours, i must say i was lost, admittedly i admire him, but where would he play if he’s bought, he looks more of a DM to me, and surely we wont be thinking of clouding the chances of Sergi Samper making it to the first thing, or probably h’d better be suited to playing at CM ??…

    Next up, for me is Gundogan, there’s been this talk about him coming to barca, but i’m wisfully wishing we got him sometime back, when there was the rumour of him moving to barca, think we needed him more back then…He’s a great player no doubt, i’m a fan, but he’s got same problem with verrati; i really don’t know where he would be played…I think he’s played more as a DM for BVB, except either he or Verrati- depending on which we ‘eventually’ get, will be played as a CM….As for Isco, i dont think we need him- heck, we’ve got Rafinha, Denis suarez, potentially Alen Halilovic, we’ve got enough quality on board, to bother ourselves with complicating things with a madridista…I’d been following him when he was at Malaga, but since making that sad move to RM, i activated my haters mode and started baring my fangs at him, just like i do all RM players- not my fault

    1. A lot depends on how much Iniesta has left in the tank. He’s 31.

      If it’s not much, then we’re down to Rakitic and Rafinha. Halilovic is not going to be read for another at least 2-3 seasons (I hope he proves me wrong, of course), and I am not yet convinced Dennis Suarez is the answer either.

      So we need another top class midfielder. Isco would have been ideal as he is basically a straight replacement for Iniesta, but that ship has sailed.

      What the last three seasons have shown conclusively is that the time of the two Xavi-Iniesta-type players in midfied is gone. They just can’t cope defensively so one needs some more steel combined with skill. Which Rakitic has provided, but nobody has that combination at such a level as Pogba at the moment.

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