UEFA Super Cup: Barça 5, Sevilla 4, aka “It had to be Pedro”

pedro

Everybody runs. We run for exercise, run for buses and trains, run because we forgot something. In many ways, running connects our adult selves with the children we once were, when we ran just to run, just to get the wind in our hair, just to feel the fleet-footed freedom that we had no idea we would miss until time and reality became shackles. Running lost something magical.

In the 115th minute of a UEFA SuperCup match, Pedro did it again, just like he did in 2009 … in the 115th minute of a UEFA SuperCup match … he scored a goal. And he didn’t just score a goal. He scored a goal by doing what he does, which is running, in that childlike way he runs, windmill arms flailing, torso trying to get ahead of his pumping legs, he ran onto a loose ball and knocked it past Sevilla’s keeper.

When Pep Guardiola introduced Pedro into the first team of FC Barcelona, he ran onto the pitch. Once on the pitch, he ran, and ran, and ran some more, sometimes in ways that made it unclear exactly why he was running or what he was running to, ways that made you wonder if after the match they just opened the gate to allow him to run straight from the pitch into the Barcelona night.

In one magical year, a year that became legend and defined a player in a way impossible for that very same player to ever again match, Pedro ran onto ball after ball and scored goal after goal in a player career defined by effort, defined by running. Player statistics measure distance covered, but it almost seemed like Pedro should have his own statistical measurement because he runs like nobody else.

He runs to stop a break. He runs to lead the Barça break. He runs for passes that never come. He runs for balls that he doesn’t have a chance in hell of reaching. He runs onto loose balls. He runs onto passes that become crosses that more celebrated teammates knock into the goal, boosting their individual tallies but acknowledging the man that made the goal possible with nothing more than a hug, an embrace that is, at the same time, everything.

Pedro runs because that is what he is: effort and energy, a being who is just about as completely selfless a player as most people have ever seen play football. Messi was voted player of the match, and well he should have been. But Pedro won it. In a month, people will still be talking about the two free kick goals that Messi scored, the free kick that became the rebound that Pedro alertly ran onto and slotted home. But they won’t be talking about Pedro, not that he will mind all that much, because that isn’t what he’s about.

In athletics, there are “hustle” plays and players, things done by people who aren’t stars and never will be but who have that something magical, that indefatigable quality that makes them capable of running, seemingly forever. If Pedro starts a match, he is running as fast and as far in the 90th minute as he is in the first. He is running long after his markers have run out of energy to kick him, running to help his team win.

An acquaintance is a runner. He’s a 2:30 marathon runner. When you see him running, you stop what you’re doing, because it’s beautiful, the fluid embodiment of what it should look like. Pedro doesn’t run like that. If you were to see him running in the park, you would think, “What the hell is wrong with that dude? Glad I don’t look like that when I run.”

But Pedro is running toward history. Pedro runs like he doesn’t care, because he doesn’t. Culers slag him, talk about how he only scores unimportant goals, or is only good when you need a 4-0 scoreline to be 5-0. They talk about him in terms related to his wonderful scoring exploits, reducing a bundle of selfless, pistoning bliss to mere goals. Lost in history is that Pedro had his best scoring year, statistically, under Tata Martino. They weren’t glory goals because the season didn’t turn out the way it could have, but he racked up goals nonetheless, running onto ball after ball and knocking it into the net.

And now Pedro is running away from Barça, after having run his way into a fairytale night.

At the end of last season a Barça legend, Xavi Hernandez, left the club on the back of a treble, captain of a team that won everything it could in that calendar year. It was a fairy tale ending to a great career, confetti, victory parades and roared adulation. It was perfect, a script that Hollywood would reject because it was too perfect. That stuff doesn’t happen in real life.

Yet another fairy tale ending came to Barça, to a player who has rarely gotten real respect from many culers. When he was scoring goals, it was said that he only scored tap-ins, benefiting from the exertions of more talented teammates. When he wasn’t scoring goals, it was said that he was crap because he wasn’t scoring goals any longer, that all he did was run, and anybody could do that.

And you watched Rafinha today on that same left wing that Pedro did his business on, the same Rafinha who already had the thousand-yard stare at halftime even though he didn’t run anywhere near as much, as far or as hard as Pedro and you wondered if the snarls were true, if anybody could really just run like Pedro just runs.

He was held out of the starting lineup for this UEFA Super Cup, rumor was at his request as he had already told the team that he wanted to leave. And so, at a key moment in the match, his coach, Luis Enrique, called upon him, and Pedro ran. He ran to glory, he ran to a goal that helped his beloved team continue its march toward underscoring its place in a history that it has already made.

He could have pouted, could even have refused to go in, could have dogged it, could have done any number of things, none of which are anything like what Pedro stands for. After the match, during the celebrations, every now and again a rueful, almost sad expression would cross his face at a time of unfettered joy, and you wonder if it was evincing the knowledge that this was it. That this group of players that had been through so much, was about to become lesser by one, that the stars he had logged countless, selfless meters for, scampering across grass patch after grass patch, would have to do without him.

It had to be Pedro, scoring in that way, at that time. It had to be, because fairy tales need to happen, sporting legend needs to be made. His teammates were mostly crap in the second half, playing like a tired team that seemed rather aware of its storied status, that let a lesser opponent back into a match that it had no business leveling. And you knew that if Pedro entered the match, that he would do what he does, and it would be enough.

Running, like life, can be beautiful. Effort can be liberating, selflessness rewarding. Pedro was never a star at FC Barcelona. He was a great many things, but never a star in the way that Messis, Neymars, Suarezes and Xavis were. He won’t be that star at Manchester United, either. But what he will be is what he always is, a dynamo of selflessness who understands that running isn’t just something — it’s everything.

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Written by:

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

67 Comments

  1. Lord Eddard Stark, a.k.a. BrichimbrodvÖken, the Vulnerable One!
    August 11, 2015

    .

    Firstly, I want to say that this was an enjoyable piece. Not just because it was about a player that I love, but also because it was a nice portrait of P!

    I did a ctrl + F on this page and typed run.
    The word Run appears 43 times in this article.

    I then felt that for an uninformed reader, P! might be perceived as a guy who ONLY runs, and good things come mainly from his incessant running. While it is not far from the truth, it does grossly reduce the player and his numerous abilities. I am sorry, but you don’t bench folks like Henry, Ibrahimovic and Villa, just from running.

    We all know that as a person, P! is selfless, a team player and never complains. But I also just want to highlight his other sporting qualities and just leave them here (for the benefit of the reader who does not know or watch P! a whole lot).

    P! is a hugely ambidextrous player and I am still to figure out which is his favored foot. He has a blistering shot as well, something that goes unnoticed as the guy refrains from taking as many shots from outside the area, probably because he feels like more talented players in his team are better off doing that. His shots to goal conversion ratio is like Shaq’s FG%. Recall Pep’s comment on him being the best finisher in the team. His passing skills are also pretty good and I think it’s pretty accurate to say that for barca’s short passing game, he fits like a glove. Messi uses him for a wall pass / give and go so many times and he is so efficient at it. Think Leo’s goal in the all crucial Atleti league game towards the end of last season. I am sure there are many more, if I do some research on the same. I think I read somewhere in this article that P! is criticized for not scoring crucial goals. This could not be farther from the truth. He has scored soo many important goals. In champions league finals, and other international club competitions, not to mention his numerous goals against EE. P! is probably one of the most important squad players in all of football, and Barca will be a weaker team without him.

    He has however earned his right (as so many barca players have) to decide his own future. As for the crazy game tonight and that emphatic winner… yes. as the title reads..

    It had to be Pedro.

  2. kosby
    August 11, 2015

    Kxevin, dude – this piece was beautiful. Never mind whether I think Pedro should leave or stay, never mind whether I think he’s good enough to displace Neymar, this piece of writing was wonderful poetry. I’m sincerely glad you still write on this blog from time to time.

    If I were Pedro, I’d leave. I dont fault him for wanting to play regularly. Whether he gets that at ManUnited remains to be seen, but you dont get something if you dont try – one thing is for certain, he will still be running his ass off at his new club.

    Every team has its stars who get media attention and who help sell newspapers. But equally important are the players who work silently, who sacrifice themselves, be it a run to pull the defender away so someone else can score, or be aware of the marauding fullback and stay back to cover for him. Players like Pedro and lately Rakitic make it possible for others to shine. I hope atleast Rakitic gets the adulation he deserves.

  3. Kd
    August 12, 2015

    Forcaaa Barcaaaaa!!!
    Man, what a match phew. The one conclusion I can draw from all of this is that we have become like the erstwhile West Germany, a team that never ever gives up. We just keep going on and on. How good it is to wake up ‘another’ morning with a smile on your face and reliving all those moments of last night. I am going to be forever indebted to this team to have made so many of my nights epic. Thank you FC Barcelona, thank you!!
    And here’s an interesting conclusion drawn by Graham Hunter which I must say is quite contrary to what most people will say or believe.
    http://www.espnfcasia.com/blog/espn-fc-united-blog/68/post/2559715/barcelona-show-team-spirit-in-winning-uefa-super-cup

  4. Kd
    August 12, 2015

    Another thing Kevin, I doubt if any culers ever felt that Pedro scores only unimportant goals. I mean isn’t he the man, who scored in every single trophy victory during that mad 2008-09 season? He was fantastic. I really doubt someone thinks that. You know me and a friend of mine would recognise Pedro just the way he would run in a match. N we would both love it. It was a bit funny I accept but it was also heartening. It felt that the guy just gives his 110% every time he runs. So much so that, when I made the pilgrimage to the Maracana during the World Cup last year and was lucky to have Spain vs Chile tickets, I knew one thing for sure. And that was, I would be able to identify Pedro by just the way he runs!! 🙂

  5. August 12, 2015

    What a beginning to the season. I wish the easy fourth goal hadnt gone in. That made the team very complacent and there was Sevilla. Congratulations to Sevilla for the way they played and for giving us this beautiful game. A kind of lesson to our stars that the match is not over until the final whistle. Anyways, glad that this happened so early in the season. Missed Xavi coming on at 4-1 to control the game.

    About Pedro. Sorry Kevin, am afraid the article makes Pedro look like, just a selfless runner. If football is all about running, many athletes would have chosen football to become millionaires. Pedro simply is not that. He is a good striker, incredibly selfless. He is a good passer and has a brilliant understanding of tactics. And for me, after Alves and Busquets, he is the best player in the team who clearly understands the movements of Messi. His one two’s with Messi in tight spaces have earned us so many goals, lots of them important ones. That doesnt happen for just a selfless runner. He has a great football brain.
    Winning the match, I was very very happy for Pedro, but from the moment the team had the trophy, looking at him, I felt so sad. I find it hard to believe we may not see him anymore in our shirt. The whole team will miss him.

    Otherways, our first half was excellent. There were so many jaw dropping movements, especially a one two between Alves and Messi just on the right wing close to Sevilla box. Alves looks like an improved version to me. So glad for him.

  6. ian_percival
    August 12, 2015

    Nice post kxvien, just like dani alves said it, he should follow his heart,if he feels united is he can go then am behind any decision he makes. Again,i know people whine about Douglas a lot but Marc Bartra is worse,the guy is clueless and whack,he just plays like some brainless guy like that. He’s let himself down against good players time and time again, Bale,hazard…etc I mean,look at varane,they started off the same time but it feels like you can’t even mention his name in the same line as varane. Bartra is not just barca quality,muniesa was way better.

    • Dar_vincy
      August 12, 2015

      Agree with you, Percival.
      He inspires zero confidence in that backline. From the preseason matches to the match yesterday, he has justified why he hasn’t been played much.
      Meanwhile, reading Pedro’s comment, you get the feeling he wants to stay but can’t because the coach doesn’t trust him, even as a back up. Playing Rafinha ahead of him even when Neymar was absent is enough to make him want out. I really wish him all the best cos he deserves it. Would never, ever, ever, ever forget his last gasp header against Estudiantes at the Club World Cup.

  7. ciaran
    August 12, 2015

    I appreciate what Pedro has given to us and what he can give to us if he performs a u-turn but there’s a reason that he is not picked to start over any of MSN, he’s not good enough. There have been plenty of times where he has won us games and trophies but those times are mostly past.

    His situation is very difficult. He’s clearly better than Munir and Sandro but is drastically behind the front three. How to keep someone happy that is never going to break into the starting XI?
    Maybe Arda is the answer. Munir is technically more gifted than Pedro and works very hard but not very clever. If he could be taught how to use his energy efficiently then he could fill Pedro’s spot. If not then Arda is the answer.

    Arda is a very good footballer and a very hard worker. If he could add goals to his game then we have a solution.
    If not then we’ll really miss Pedro

    • Davour
      August 12, 2015

      Agree with most of this. Also, I must say I do not think Pedro played very well before the goal – but all credit to him being there, right place, right time. I absolutely think it is the right time for him to move on and try his wings elsewhere, though I would always agree he is a fabulous team player, who had a few seasons of high quality, and a few of enough and useful quality. Despite the fact that the team will miss him, now is the time to try new solutions – Arda, Munir, Rafinha, Vidal, Sandro (Nolito?) – considering long-term.

      All the best to Pedro, and thanks for everything! (and a nice feature, Kevin)

  8. luisthebeast
    August 12, 2015

    What a game!People in Georgia must be very lucky that the first time a final of Super Cup played in their country it was an amazing game of attacking football.Kudos to both teams.The team looks ready for big thinks again and it is so great so wonderful to watch players who have won everything again and again,celebrate with the same passion.We are also the luckiest generation of barca fans.What i dont like is that again i read thinks from people and i cant understand why so much whining.They dont care that Sandro and Munir are part of the squad.They dont care about Rafhinia and Roberto.Bartra.Their problem is not La Masia.But their favourite players.Also i read that we play the hardball with Pedro and that is not fair.Bartomeu will be their target all season and they will not stop the whining.And truly i believe that they are not very happy if we win everything again.Shame.

  9. IamXavi6
    August 12, 2015

    Dont let the door his your backside on the way out Pedro.

  10. stefan2k
    August 13, 2015

    A joy to read! Loved the article about one of my all time favorites. I remember watching Pedrito starting his runs behind the lines, thinking damn he is fast!

    What an odd occurrence that a player decides the same event twice in the same minute. Nevertheless Pedro has changed, things don’t come easy to him anymore. Before his epic goal there were several situations where I thought: this is why you are not starting anymore :-/
    I always hoped Pedrito would be back and I still hope that he reinvents himself in Manchester.

  11. Jim
    August 13, 2015

    First of all, great appreciation of Pedro, Kxevin. He played a full part in our best years and deserves nothing but praise for that. The only thing that changed for me was that teams started to play us in a different way and became much better at denying us space which caused the goals to dry up. No shame there. There are only a few players in the world could cope with that and the current stars at RM aren’t among them. He never caused us an ounce of bother and his smile will stay with me and will be what I remember. So best wishes go with him and I hope it’s settled soon for his sake.

    Just re watching the game now. Absolutely thrilling and great to have the serious stuff back but I’m not sure yet what happened to us.

  12. Jim
    August 13, 2015

    Ok, nothing really to be taken as final from a game this early but maybe some good things and a few to keep our eye on.

    First of all the good. Boy, did we ping that ball about well in the first half. That made for really enjoyable viewing. Messi ? Well, nothing I can say will add to what has already been said but just remember, one day he won’t be here ( like Xavi) and we’ll only be able to say I once watched Messi. I’m gonna say I was hugely impressed again by Suarez and he thoroughly deserves his Balon D’Or nomination. He is SO clever and his first touch is never as good as when it matters. I also thought Pique was outstanding, again. He has always been world class as a footballer but he has also now matured to a point where I’ve changed my mind and reckon he should be one of the captains. His reading of the game is phenomenal. My final good thought is that amathieu wasn’t as bad as I thought he was on first watch. Wouldn’t say that’s his position but others made his life difficult.

    Things to keep our eye on- I’d put it no more strongly than that.

    1. Ter Stegen. I’m sorry but for me, he may be the future but he’s not the now. Bravo for me for this season. He doesn’t fill me with confidence. Now the same could be said of their keeper for the first FK he lost but what was he thinking about his position for the FK he let in ? First of all, no blame on amass he for the concession of the kick. It was just a series of events which he couldn’t control. Ok, we can also make some allowance for TS for the fact that Rakitic in the wall didn’t even bother to leave the ground but even so his position was so far off he at no point got within three yards of the ball ! There is NO point in standing so close to one post you can reach out and touch it. The guide ( as the great Arsenal goalie Bob Wilson once said) is that you defend at least one full step and a jump from the post you think is in danger because you always have time for one step before throwing yourself. That places you in a position to at least have a chance if it comes over the wall. It was also not hit that hard.

    2. My comment in an earlier post about being one Iniesta injury away from a problem in midfield hasn’t been alleviated by events after he left the field. A shambles, tbh. LE needs to realise that Busi and Masche cannot play the same position at the same time.

    3. Their second goal (Reyes) didn’t cover us in glory. Busi dragged wide and outstripped down the wing could put no pressure on the cross. In the Middle amathieu correctly follows his man to the near post. In a top defence Masche would have had a look and stayed deeper but the point is more probably that we were caught on the break which is crazy when you’re 4-1 up!

    4. Their penalty I thought was just down to Mathieu getting caught wrong side – and he was but it again came down our right ( far too often) and Rakitic’s effort to close down the cross was also woeful. Btw, in both these goals I’m still looking to find Alves. Anyone found him ?

    After that, momentum took over and they were the better side and probably should have won. Barta certainly didn’t help his case but it’s hard to come on as sub when momentum is running against your side and they are close to over run.

    So, plenty to keep our eye on. When Messi took his foot off the gas, as he has to, we look the poorer for it. Without Iniesta we seem unable to oil the machine ( Samper anyone?) and the defence hasn’t been right so far this preseason but that might come. Bring on tomorrow.

    • August 13, 2015

      Jim, agree with you on Messi, Pique, Iniesta and Ter Stegen.
      Even Mathieu wasnt that terrible except for a couple of occassions.
      But honestly, we shouldnt read too much into the last 3 Sevilla goals. Our 4th goal – which came quite easily, made the whole team to relax and as G.Hunter had pointed out, we are much much more tired team than Sevilla. Bilbao must have seen that second half and would be hoping some good.
      I am not worried about our defense at this point. After a couple of liga matches, if we repeat this, I will be definitely.

      But really, we have a squad issue with midfield and forwards. Iniesta will have more injury issues . Samper (not to replace Iniesta, but) would have been a good member and I too cant understand him playing in the 3rd division.

    • Jim
      August 13, 2015

      Sorry, meant no blame on Masche for the concession of the FK.

  13. Davour
    August 13, 2015

    Jim, your point on Iniesta is quite right. There will be little control without him, unless Rafinha improves, or Raktic steps up as a playmaker, as well as a two-way player, which is a lot to ask, I think.

    Just saw a list of won trophies by Barca-players. Xavi, Iniesta and Messi all have 25. Mind-boggling that Xavi only won one single trophy before Messi (and Ronaldinho!) entered the picture (1998-2004). We are so spoiled!

  14. Dar_vincy
    August 14, 2015

    Adama gone to Aston Villa for up to €12 million.

    Seeing that we reserve the right to buy Adama back for an agreed price at any point in the first three years of his deal and retain first option on him for any future transfer from Villa, i can only say the deal is a good one.

    There, he’d get a germane element his development needs- playing time.

    • barca96
      August 14, 2015

      Good deal indeed. Just not happy with his choice of club. I would’ve preferred a possession based club. But I guess he is running out of time after spending so much time in England looking for a club and even firing his agent last week.

      I hope that all deals for our bright youngsters will include a buy back and first option from now on. Good on the board.

  15. barca96
    August 14, 2015

    Pedro should start, transfer or no transfer, winning goal or no winning goal vs Sevilla. Rafinha was good but I feel it’s better with Pedro.

    It’s a shame that they let in 3 goals and went into over time. Otherwise some players could’ve been rested but now we need the full team.

    This is going to be even tougher than Sevilla. Not hat they’re a Lesser side butwe simply are not at a stage where we can play 2 matches in 4 days Especially not after 120mins match.

    • Dar_vincy
      August 14, 2015

      Indeed he starts, Barca96.
      For an away game where you don’t want to concede goals, the pairing of Verm and Bartra hardly seem the ideal choice to achieve that goal.
      No prizes for guessing Lucho would be overly upbraided should the outcome end up being untoward.

  16. Tommy11
    August 14, 2015

    Though d back line and midfield doesn’t inspire confidence in me, I want to trust LE’s instincts. In his defence, seeing we still have the second leg to play at d Camp Nov and with the kinda match we played against Seville, this first leg can be gambled with a little. I think the outcome, if positive will help the team if/when our number 3, 14 & 24 are not available. In any case, the cule in me hopes for an away win+clean sheet or at worst a score draw! Vista Barca!!!!!

  17. Jim
    August 14, 2015

    Just arrived home ten minutes ago to find the game relegated to the red button. Then looked at the lineup. Just seen us lose our worst goal yet. Away for the wine . . .

  18. ciaran
    August 14, 2015

    Just a very poor start from everyone. Our midfield is being overrun really. Masch isn’t a midfielder for us really, he closes the wrong spaces and doesn’t have the required patience. Sergi Roberto is lacking quality and Rafinha lacking control.
    A disjointed match has to be expected when we start only 3 players from our ideal XI in their positions.

    • Jim
      August 14, 2015

      Yeah, I’ve no problem with resting players who need it. However, do it with a bit of care. If Pique is rested you think who is my next go to CB. You don’t put out MB and TV who have probably never played together. If you’re gonna put Masche at DM you think I need to put one of my experienced players with him – Ini or Rakitic. To me it’s not really fair as he’ll be making decisions based on this and our fringe players will have a dunk to their confidence.

      As I write this their player rises about a foot and a half above Masche for their second and LE is forced to bring ain’t on. Not enjoying this.

      I’m also gonna say to all the tired players comments, exactly who has had a tournament this summer ? Why would the rest be tired ? Do other teams not have tough pre seasons ?

      Anyway, not so concerned with the result as with what’s going on in LE’s mind. Samper nowhere, Mathieu left at home against a team known for throwing crosses in . . .

    • Jim
      August 14, 2015

      Iniesta *

  19. ciaran
    August 14, 2015

    Our fullbacks covered themselves in glory for that third goal. If Mathieu was blamed for two goals last match then Dani should have prevented two this one.

  20. Tata2
    August 14, 2015

    Take away Alba and Pique and we don’t have a defence. Rafinha and roberto inspire zero confidence in me. We have to come to terms with the fact that if anything happens to any of our gala xi players, we are done and dusted. Pedro for all his running cannot offer what neymar gives to make our attack click. Rakitic for all his defensive work can’t Marshall a midfield. He gets anonymous in the storm. Can’t wait for January for Turan to start playing already. I hope LE fixes things fast.

  21. ciaran
    August 14, 2015

    We have the strongest first XI in world football but after that the talent dries up fairly
    quickly. Well talent is the wrong word as asking them to fill in for one or two of our star players is doable but playing half a team is another.

    The drop in quality from Neymar to Pedro is incredible and certainly shows why he doesn’t get the minutes when Ney is fit.

    Our defense looks a joke without Pique and one of Iniesta and Rakitic has to play. I don’t like any midfield without Busquets but I get the feeling that someone who can pass the ball would be a better fit than Masch a la Samper

    • stefan2k
      August 14, 2015

      That was awful, painful to watch

      A defensive joke is exactly what came to my mind. LE gambled and it backfired. Now he has to decide if the return game is worth the risk.

    • Jim
      August 14, 2015

      Yup. Let’s just be grateful this happened now. It has been coming all pre season. This cup doesn’t matter although it would have been nice. I just feel sorry for the fringe players whose confidence will have suffered tonight.

      However, there are a lot of little pointers we should be taking note of.

    • agar2515
      August 14, 2015

      Chiefly ( to echo ciaran) that after our first XI there is a huge drop off in quality. Assuming Pedro leaves, we only have Arda off the bench to make a real impact during big matches.We were remarkably lucky with injuries last year. If someone in our “gala” XI goes down… TV, Bartra, and Adriano was an absolute horror show, and this team simply cannot function to its potential. wiithout Busquets in the middle of the park. Please get well soon Neymar.

  22. Tata2
    August 14, 2015

    You don’t expect Bilbao to see that line up with the Sergio Robertos and Rafinha’s and start quaking. I repeat, Pedro for all his running isnt good enough for this team anymore. Forget the Sevilla game, any decent striker (Morrata!) would have scored that goal. I think we should take the City offer and let him go. When is the return leg?

  23. Davour
    August 14, 2015

    Time to panic? Perhaps not. But it is still troubling to see this, less for the sextuplet slipping away, and more because the lack of balance. LE took too much of a risk, fielding a team like this. Roberto and Rafinha are not ready (or good enough) to run a midfield together, especially without a Busquets dictating the passing game. I wish Masch would have been played as CB, with Roberto as DM, and Ini and Raki having one half each. But I’m sure LE hoped to rest them both as much as possible.
    Messi is not 100 % yet, and certainly not ready to shoulder such a burden; Suarez is doing alright, but did not have too much support. Pedro had a few nice moments, but not enough. And just as the midfield lacked composure, so did the CBs. Insanity, I think, to field such a pair against and aggressive Athletic. V did not distinguish himself much, and while Bartra has many good moments, he does not inspire confidence and calm.

    My oh my, this stung. No panic, but a brutal reality check. Though shalt not field too many squad players at once…

  24. Huckleberry
    August 14, 2015

    A pain to watch. The players look really exhausted.
    But now you know, why Bartra, Sergi and all the rest don’t get enough minutes…
    Bad luck and questionable refereeing, but hats of to Bilbao.
    Two goals to much for a revival. But imagine a comeback at home…

  25. horlahlehk
    August 14, 2015

    Hmmn….FCB; wah da heck…..didn’t inspire 1 iota of confidence
    Sergi-Roberto; nd sm1 sed hez beta dan mata: El-O-L
    He isn’t even upto samper’s level
    Bad nyt barca; dere z alwaiz camp-nou, tho

  26. TITO
    August 14, 2015

    It wasnt everything so bad. The goals all came from some childish mistakes which will not happen again, at least not in one game.
    Though the line up was strange enough, it reminded me to Sociedad game.
    And some players need a reality check where they will find out that they are not as good as they think they are.

  27. luisthebeast
    August 14, 2015

    Even if this team fails to win the cup this season(and win everything else)the twitter will get pregnant and we will have 99999999 managers.This from @footballmood.Thank god that Ramzi and Kxevin have twitter accounts.Fc Barcelona fans keep dissapoint me.Long and sad season ahead.The foxes are waiting for blood.

  28. luisthebeast
    August 14, 2015

    Offcourse u will ask me,why do i care about internet managers?Because i can accept the critics but not people who say OscarGarcia wait dont go to a job,maybe we need u soon.Pep fanboys,La Masia lovers(but not Bartra Munir Sandro Roberto Rafhinia lovers),Bartomeu haters,Lucho haters e.t.c.The masks are down and ur ugly faces are here,and make me sick.

  29. luisthebeast
    August 14, 2015

    I am not mad or sad by the loss.I am watching 30 years barca.I watched Getafe-Barca 4-0,Malaga-Barca 5-1,The pasillo e.t.c.I am sad by the fanbase,a fanbase that dont deserve this Big Club.Whiners.Hypocrites.They celebrate the treble and deep inside they hate it.

  30. Tarek Arslan
    August 14, 2015

    While I will discuss some of the individual problems that we went through in this game, I have found that the main reason we lost tonight against Bilbao is that we were tactically outplayed, teams has started to find us out and counter our system. Ever since the Celta game last season in which we hardly came out winners(1-0), and a template was used against us. Our weakness has been found out as the lack of control, and it’s ever become obvious with Xavi gone and an inconsistent Iniesta tbh.

    Celta played us with 5 wide midfielders and suffocated our middle in which when one of our midfielders gets the ball he is already pressed by 2 or 3 players and becomes ineffective, when the ball reaches the forwards the midfielders were far apart and the line between midfield and attack was overcrowded. Against Madrid, it was obvious to see with the quality of their midfield that they didnt need to press hard in the midfield to come out on top(they eventually lost because they were mentally off in the second half). Against Bayern Pep knew this and he tried to field as much midfielders as he could, it was working until Messi made the difference. Against Sevilla in the 2-2 draw, Unai fielded an extra midfielder in the second half and they made a comeback from 2-0 to 2-2. Against Sevilla again last game, Emery played with 4 wide midfielders and then introduced another one when they were down 4-1, it cost us big time especially when we had to sub Iniesta off for precaution, we almost lost the game. Now against Bilbao, their manager fielded as many midfielders to press the middle as he could while we came out with a rather mediocre midfield and the whole team was exposed, the system was dissected by this plan and Enrique should know this.

    I have reason to believe that Enrique is aware of what’s happening because of his move of fielding Rafinha in our Super cup game against Sevilla, a midfielder, as a third forward with Suarez and Messi, it kept our midfield in good shape and the system was safe(till Iniesta was subbed out and Unai Emery subbed in another misfielder). I also believe that Turan is to be played in Neymar’s spot in the future if someone tries to counter our system like Celta, Sevilla and most recently Bilbao did so.

  31. Cyclops
    August 14, 2015

    I’m just pissed,,, like incredibly pissed… Enough to tell LE and the bunch of jokers who prosecuted that game to Go To H**l,, honestly

    Lotta people are saying this or that dosnt inspire confidence, but i say LE dosnt inspire confidence, yes, i’m laying the blame squarely and securely on his shoulders
    I’d say it again and again, the gaffer dosnt inspire confidence in me at all
    He’s had this coming for weeks now…
    To put it nicely, tactically, LE is not the ‘IT’ for me…his manner of operations falls short of my expectations

    In order not to start spewing obscenities, i’d just try to leave it here

  32. luisthebeast
    August 14, 2015

    Yeah Lucho must go.What an idiot.Lets bring Oscar Garcia,a genius that all the top teams want.Or FDB.Or better PEP!!WHO wins every year CL with a weak squad.BTW in 2010 after the defeat against Inter it was the volcano excuse for Pep Fans.Now that we played in Georgia in Tuesday and had the trips,no excuse.All the goals was Lucho fault.What a stupid header.What a stupid penalty.What a stupid pass.Lucho out.

    • barca96
      August 14, 2015

      I saw the team boarding a plane to Georgia or did the team take a bus to Georgia?

  33. luisthebeast
    August 14, 2015

    Oh and you can be critical fan.All the time.For 24h a day.every day.For every game.But because i am bored of u,go support the wining teams.Like Bayern or madrid or arsenal.Leave poor Barca for me the cheerleader(Thats for the criticals experts of the net,behind a desktop somewhere in the world,finding new ways to show us how good they are)

    • barca96
      August 14, 2015

      Do you have friends who support any club of any kind of sport? If you do you would know that it’s perfectly normal for a fan to be upset when their beloved team lost especially when there are a lot of mistakes made.

      Instead of bashing other fans why don’t you give your take on why Lucho doesn’t deserve to be criticized?

  34. luisthebeast
    August 14, 2015

    But Lucho did not won the treble.MSN won it.That s all the experts said.So now why to blame him?I blame MSP!

  35. luisthebeast
    August 14, 2015

    And the team traveled with plane!!!Oh i forgot it!!!Yes u r right!!So no excuse!!!I wonder why Pique Busi Iniesta Rakitic did nt played after those relaxing days!!!

  36. luisthebeast
    August 14, 2015

    I have a friend who support Liverpool all his life,he is crazy about them and believe me he is not whining so much.Because when u support a team,you enjoy good times and bad times.With so many good times i refuse to whine.

    • barca96
      August 15, 2015

      Perhaps he’s not whining so much because they don’t have world’s best players and one of the highest, if not the most paid players. Different expectations. But at the end of the game where Liverpool lost, he will still feel the same. Disappointment like what we feel. It’s natural.

      Another thing to consider is that this is a final Not a league match.

      Lucho once again Doing wild experimentS at a tough away ground. Not just that, it’s in a final!

  37. G6O
    August 15, 2015

    Here is what Graham Hunter had to say on Tuesday:

    http://www.espnfc.com/blog/espn-fc-united/68/post/2559715/barcelona-show-team-spirit-in-winning-uefa-super-cup

    …not the most rabid Barça fan, not Xavi sitting in Qatar and not Pep Guardiola in deepest, darkest Bavaria — will have taken more pleasure from how this herculean match unfolded than Athletic Bilbao, their coach Ernesto Valverde and the Basque players who lost the Copa del Rey final to the Spanish and European champions last May.

    This Friday in the Spanish Supercup first leg (yes, it’s that soon), Athletic will face a Barcelona side stripped of Neymar and Jordi Alba, unable to field Arda Turan or Aleix Vidal, and staffed by players whose body clocks don’t know whether it’s New Year or New York and whose legs and lungs must think their owners have suddenly joined the Marines or the SAS.

    [………]

    Unlike Sevilla, Athletic Club have played competitive football this summer and are sharp, toned, rested … and are waiting. They’ll expect to run Barcelona’s legs right off them, leaving their lungs ragged, raw and burning.

    Frankly, I suspect Athletic will now expect to win on Friday night. Perhaps they will, perhaps they won’t. But we have to conclude that this Barcelona bunch doesn’t just consist of superstar, multimillionaire dilettantes who won the treble last season and now fancy a gentler, “I’ve done it all” approach to this term.

    • stefan2k
      August 15, 2015

      Great assessment by Hunter. There is a positive to the loss though … at least MAtS is a little out of the line of fire. If the defense was not to be that horrible he would have gotten way more criticism for his mistake.

  38. Rami
    August 15, 2015

    I see a lot of names getting thrown around, Yet watching the game i hadn’t seen anyone particular to point my finger at.
    Losing with such a margin, Is simply a collective team failure, Spanning from the manager to the players, These types of hard bumps on the road always to creates a great opportunity for many to starting plucking up the certain individuals they never particularly liked, And we start getting sentences like these.
    “Oh i always knew he wasn’t good enough” Or “I knew he’ll screw up sooner or later”

    The bad news is that coming back from such a result is almost futile, Possible, But extremely unlikely, The good news, Is that these are the same players and the same manager that brought us the treble, And what ever the problems they currently face, Nothing leads me to believe they’re irreversible, On the contrary.

    I won’t pretend that i’m okay with what happened, Cause i just day dreamed way too much about another sextuple, That’s why this loss feels like somebody stabbed me in the heart.

    • G6O
      August 15, 2015

      If Neymar was going to be available for the return leg, I would actually not discount our chances of scoring 5. At full strength the team absolutely have it in them to do that, in fact it’s something I’ve almost wanted to happen one days during all those games in which we scored 4 or 5 by the 50th minute and then just strolled around.

      But given that he’s not, and the team is clearly not in a good physical condition, it’s quite unlikely it will happen.

      One factor behind the success of last season that people have almost never mentioned so far is that there was a proper pre-season geographically restricted to Europe. And Messi did not do his world tour either.

      But apparently it was too much to ask for that two seasons in a row, money has to be made…

  39. August 15, 2015

    Strange, it was not painful to watch for me. The moment I saw the lineup, I had a bad feeling, not about defence or attack, but about the midfield. And it turned out the same as I feared, we didnt had any control. But 4-0, no that was poor.
    If only LE has used at least one of Iniesta / Rakitic / Busquets together with those 2 youngsters, other than Masche.
    I think LE wanted to see how good Mache would be as DM, now that we have many CB’s in the squad.
    We didnt lose because of the defence or attack, but for a poor midfield playing against a quality , well pressing side like Athletic in San Mames.
    I have been quite worried about our lack of squad depth a la midfield and forward, and thats quite true.
    Anyways, LE and the team got a lesson, quite early in the season which is good. So nothing to panic.

    • Rami
      August 15, 2015

      I agree that the midfield was somewhat the sore thumb in this game, It severely lacked the control and most importantly the creativity to initiate attacks, And they certainly couldn’t keep up with the pressure and intensity that athletic placed on them, And the result was a lot of giveaways and poor supply to the front three, It’s more than possible that Enrique overestimated their abilities and potential cohesion when he chose the lineup, Yet that doesn’t resolve them from the lack luster display they put..

  40. mr.undercover
    August 15, 2015

    Huh! What a nightmare! I still can’t believe we lost with such big margin, am with rami on his thoughts that we shouldn’t point fingers because its a complete team failure, adding to the tired legs from the sevilla match which leads to the heavy rotation by lucho, and adding to the point, our American tour was a complete mismanagement from the board and now we are counting the cost. Many things needs improvements tbh.

    1.stegen is honestly not ready yet,lacks positioning and quick decision making

    2. Alves was totaly below bar letting two crosses that leads to goals (including sevilla’s match)

    3.in the absence of Alba, both Mathieu and adriano are clueless, making choose one of them is like choosing between the devil and the deep blue sea,

    4.masche is not a DM who suits barca’s philosophy

    5. Bartra is day by day proving to us that he is nothing special but a decent back up

    6.varmaelin still Unproven and it was disastrous to start him with clueless bartra

    7. Messi really needs help, he s can’t bail us out every time we fell in trouble that’s isn’t fair at the end he is human

    8. Rafinha is still improving and lack control he needs someone beside him (iniesta,raki, )

    9. Suarez doing great but needs support from the non-existent medifield

    10. S.roberto nothing special alwys running like a headless chicken, with a decent passing and horse work rate
    .11. Pedrorunner, unfortunately not his day, great movement but to no avail maybe united was in his mind

    And lucho calculated the match wrong, I do blame him for the lineup, the back and mid. Was too fragile for a pressing team like athletics who had almost fortnight resting,

    I don’t believe in conspiracy but this supercopa schedule makes me start believing that their is a black hand in scheduling the fixture in between the eufa super cup and the time for the recovery is not adequate for the players to regain their energy and fitness back

    ViSCA BARCA !!

    • Davour
      August 15, 2015

      Maybe the planning does not take into consideration that ONE team might win it all and play ALL the supercups…

  41. mr.undercover
    August 15, 2015

    If my memory can serve me well, the Match schedule was fixed at early July and at that time we have already won the treble, so preconceptions is null if it was that the case

  42. mr.undercover
    August 15, 2015

    If my memory can serve me well, the Match schedule was fixed at early July and at that time we have already won the treble, so thier preconceptions is null if it was that the case

  43. Jim
    August 15, 2015

    Thank goodness the league starts soon and we’ll find out if the team is ready for it. I’m confused as to whether we got gubbed because we were tired having played too much or they were fitter having played too much or we hadn’t played enough or Tblisi is a lot further than Azerbaijan – or whatever.

    One thing’s for sure. If we thought our opening league game there was going to be tough it’s gonna be a lot tougher now. Anyone heard anything about Messi ? Didn’t like the way he was feeling his groin – well, you know what I mean. 🙂

    Also loved the moment that summed up Sky’s commentators’ grasp when they suggested Messi was being subbed !

    Ah, about time for the annual predictions post, mods/ mod / Lev ???

  44. ciaran
    August 15, 2015

    I find it amusing that people have been calling for Lucho’s head after a defeat like that one. That team should have been capable of playing a tight match and taking a score draw or slender loss back to the Camp Nou for the big guns to return to the starting lineup and kick ass.
    He could hardly account for all of the individual errors on show from players that are at least as good as the direct opponent from Athletic.
    Ter Stegen making a poor choice on his clearance for the first. Dani Alves letting a player get past him easily and Masch getting very easily beaten in the air without even putting off the forward for the second. Adriano having a brain fart and Alves not clearing for the third and Dani once again fouling someone for the penalty that was so far from the ball that he couldn’t have influenced play barring a miracle.

    People blame Sergi Roberto and Rafinha for lacking control in midfield but if we finished at a 1-0 loss and went on to win the second leg then there wouldn’t have been an issue.
    If those players are to be useful to the squad then they need to play big games.

    I would have done things differently in reality. I would have played Samper at DM and probably Iniesta for the first half and Rakitic for the second alongside Sergi Roberto. I would have played Bartra and Masch at centre back. Either way all that I’m doing now is hoping for a mini miracle.

  45. mr.undercover
    August 15, 2015

    Spot on ciaran’s thoughts on rafinha and roberto, to my mind rafinha offers more creativity than S.roberto, only his game needs little improvements in physical strength and control, but roberto’s case is a far cry from rafinha’s. He lacks creativity and his game inspires zero confidence in me , lacks the “wow” factor, a decent player indeed, he would be good for other league clubs but unfortunately he isn’t barcs’s material at the moment, maybe in the future but not now, which I even found it profoundly impossible, and am quite certain that LE would offload him to other liga clubs next season if he fails to deliver this season, I would take samper in his place any day any time

  46. horlahlehk
    August 15, 2015

    Dani alves was outstandingly poor

  47. luisthebeast
    August 15, 2015

    Samper.Yes.Great talent.I watched him and Grimaldo last season in 10 games.Put them against Bilbao in this line up and we will be destroyed like yesterday.That s not how u can make a b player to trust himself.For me there s no problem with the squad.Only the transfer ban can hurt us until January.If arda and vidal and maybe a new CB would had the free to play from now,we would be fine for La Liga.For CL we are clear favourites.Patience and dont live in ur fantasy world.Lucho did not won everything by luck.

    • Jim
      August 15, 2015

      With respect, Luis, you only have to watch Samper a couple of times to see his quality. The second team were a mess last year and it’s easy to sink in that. It was like watching Xavi against RS playing with six or seven second stringers. You can’t lift a whole team.

      The next step is to try his skill at a higher level to see if he can hack it. If he can’t, fine, but he’s looked good against quality opposition whenever I’ve seen him play with good players. I think the point being made is that you can’t fill your team with second stringers and expect them to perform against a good side. He would, imo, certainly be no worse than Roberto or Rafinha. He’s a ball player who plays with his head up and doesn’t lose it easily. Not sure who you would play if Iniesta was out injured but the possibilities don’t fill me with hope.

      Also not sure why you want yet another CB. By my reckoning ( and in my order of preference) we have Pique, Mathieu, Bartra, Masche and TV. If you bring in someone else one or two need to go. Last year proved we have a good defence. We just need to pick the right people and use them properly.

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