Four Zero

1-0: How bad was it?

Let me put it this way. It was not “bad meaning bad but bad meaning good.” We got our peppers picked which means bad meaning horrific. It was a ninety-minute nightmare during which we got fingered by Freddie, slashed by Jason and ripped by Jack. If my old school references are lost on you, this would be akin to I Know What You Did Last Preseason.

At least the last time Barça let a team get four on ’em they had the decency to score five themselves. No such thing here, although Pedro came close and blasted a shot on the crossbar that would have turned the game around. Never mind that the scoreline flattered the victors, who scored from all four attempts. Had Ter Stegen not given up the opener, or had Pedro or Messi conveyed their early second half chances for an equalizer, there is no way this game would have ended up four zero, but a slaughter it was.

Still, if we could choose a (non-friendly) game to get butchered in, who wouldn’t choose the first leg of a pre-season trophy that nobody gives two hoots about. If anything they should call it the minicup, not the supercup. A sextuple is music from the gods, but in case we don’t hand out a manita to our Basque visitors in the return leg, a quintuple doesn’t sound too shabby, either.

2-0: How bad were they?

They weren’t good. A lineup of defenders who had never played together behind three midfielders who had never started together was, let’s say, experimental. To Luis Enrique’s credit, he took responsibility for the loss and he said if he were to do it over he’d send out the exact same players.

Another summer tournament for three of the starters, an American tour during which the players flew at night because of commercial obligations during the day, a grueling 5-4 victory against Sevilla over 120 minutes in Tblisi, Georgia three days earlier and a midnight flight back… The technical staff prioritized our players’ fitness over bragging rights and I salute them for it. It would have been nice to have seen Messi rested as well, but we all know how that goes.

After a game in which nobody shined and multiple goals were conceded, the blame game is a popular but ultimately useless one. Enough to go around here, as mistakes were made by many, from Ter Stegen to Masche to Dani Alves. Bartra, who had spent the last two years bewildering culés because he didn’t get more minutes now bewilders culés because he is not an elite defender. I will always instantly forgive Sergi Roberto because it’s been obvious to all but a few for quite some time now that his talent is limited, yet I could and will mention that Messi sleepwalked for most of the game and shouldn’t have started. Even Suarez, who I had never thought would look sluggish on a football pitch ever, seemingly played with lead in his boots. Mascherano was accused by many of not being Busquets, but sometimes Busquets is not Busquets even with Iniesta and Rakitic in front of him. Regardless, the last two came on as subs and weren’t able to turn the tide, either.

In short, everybody is to blame and nobody is to blame. I will address one player specifically, with the caveat that he was not responsible for this dreadful score line. I’m going to go off on a tangent, so bear with me.

ter_stegen

3-0: How good is he?

I know Marc-André Ter Stegen has duffel bags of potential, but forgive me for mentioning that they are anything but waterproof. His first error, a pass which would have put its target, Adriano Correa, in trouble even if it hadn’t been intercepted, prompted me to remark that I wished our goalkeeper didn’t live under the permanent illusion that he was a midfielder. Minutes later, as if to prove my point, he headed the ball out to where three Basques were waiting, one of whom took grateful advantage of the open goal behind the keeper.

The point is not to blame Ter Stegen for the loss. Far from it. I am, however, starting to have serious reservations about the young man who guards the goal of one of the world’s biggest clubs in the world’s biggest competition. I’m not saying he won’t become a good goalkeeper. It’s just that it is far from certain that he’ll one day be an elite one. People tell me that he is 22 years old and that he will learn from his mistakes. The good thing is that he makes a lot of mistakes to learn from. The bad thing is that he keeps making the same mistakes.

And so I quipped on social media that we should offer Manchester United a trade of De Gea and Pedro plus some cash. The smart ones realized that 1) the likelihood that De Gea would agree to not playing until January is minimal and 2) Lol. Nevertheless, and sure enough, out came the lynch mob with tar, feathers and pitchforks.

You’re just bashing Ter Stegen. De Gea is awful for Manchester. He sucks butt. You can’t sell everybody that makes errors. Some so-called “culés” want to get rid of everyone after a loss. Ter Stegen is the perfect keeper for us.

I know I am crapping on everybody’s favorite golden boy, but it’s that last counter argument I find most interesting. I think we can all agree that Ter Stegen’s best attribute is his passing range, which, in the grand scheme of keeping the ball out of the net, is a rather overrated skill to have for a goalkeeper, even one at Barcelona. Besides, it’s precisely his passes that have gotten him in trouble against Athletic Bilbao (twice), Sevilla (three days earlier) and Athletic Bilbao in the Copa Del Rey final. Not a very solid indicator that this is someone who learns from his mistakes. His bungled corner in the Champions League final brings the count to five (or six*) errors in his last four competitive club matches, all of which were finals to boot.

So, back to his passing range. Of far more importance for a goalkeeper than being good with his feet is to avoid errors and to make saves. At an elite level the errors become fewer and the saves become more difficult. Looking at his saves in these last four, error-ridden finals, none were noteworthy, and going further back, even when reviewing his highlights for Borussia Mönchengladbach, he hardly makes any saves you wouldn’t expect a goalkeeper to make – and yes, that includes the semifinal in Munich in which he made good saves on shots he was supposed to save.

Either way, in the not yet third keeper of his national selection we trust, and let’s hope that one day he lives up to, well, no, at this point let’s hope he exceeds his potential. He is young and might yet grow up to be a great goalkeeper. Besides, he sure makes pretty passes sometimes, right?

4-0: How bad is it?

Losing 4-0 is never a good thing. The same team that set a European record for consecutive victories suffered an identical defeat at the hands, or feet, of Atletico last season and there are those who say that that humiliation spelled the end for them. Over and out, go and get drunk with your Colombian rapper. But a gritty Juventus needed a minor miracle to survive the Bernabeú and Barça needed an incredible ten-game run to deny their rivals the league title. Although their season ended up in shambles, the rivals that turned out to be everybody’s favorite joke came a lot closer than anybody on both sides care to remember and were it not for some key moments in later matches, that 4-0 defeat in the Calderón would have been just that. A defeat.

In order for it to be just a defeat, the team must pick itself up, and fast. The return is on Monday and la Liga has us away against Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, Celta de Vigo and Sevilla in the first seven rounds, which also includes a home game against the only team we did not managed to beat last season, Málaga. Weary legs and minds be damned, drop too many points in those first two months and we might end up with a never-ending game of catch-up. November and December will see visits to the Mestalla and the Bernabeú before the team travels to Tokyo for the Club World Cup. It was soon after their champions of the world crown that the wheels came off for M*drid last year and it will be no surprise to anyone if Barça is plagued by a similar injury crisis this season.

Luis Enrique, however, requested and received two reinforcements in the form of Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan that should in theory be ready to contribute by then. Like Luis Suarez before them, they’ll need some competitive games to fully acclimatize. We will see. Either way, the season is long and whether this four zero loss will turn out to be a wake-up call or a harbinger of more bad games to come will be told by time only. If this sounds negative, I am not. On the contrary, I’m quite looking forward to this season. We have, after all, the best team in the world and I personally can’t wait. Let’s start with a remontada on Monday.

I believe.

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Written by:

Culé since way before football boots were of the neon yellow and lizard green variety, Levon is a deep thinker with increasingly shallow thoughts. He lives in Barcelona with his gorgeous wife and daughter. The lucky bastard...

49 Comments

  1. luisthebeast
    August 16, 2015

    According to some fans we will fight for the 4th place in La Liga and we will finish 4th in the CL group stage.Maybe we will win the Cup but if we face the fantastic power force of madrid,not.God may help us all.La masia is destroyed.Juvenil A and B have no talent at all and Barca B are the only b team of all the clubs in the world,that dont play at Second division.We lost kovacic from madrid,and the people who did not wanted Gerson because we have La Masia,are mad that we dont have kovacic who is……erm……good for La Masia.Oh and our U25 team is not good like madrid U25 team…em yeah thinks like that i read all day.And i pray to god not face City or Chelsea in CL.We will be dead if that happens.And dont believe what they say,that we are Champions of Europe and Spain.And the treble is nothing.Only the 2009 treble was good.Yeah that with that night in England.With another ref the game could easily ended 4 or 5-0 but Pep is god.Lucho sucks.

  2. luisthebeast
    August 16, 2015

    Only one solution i can see.The January we must buy De Gea,Laporte,Verratti,Pogba,Reus and promote Samper Grimaldo And bring back Traope Suarez.We need a 35 men squad with 20 world class players and 15 La Masia.Everybody will be happy:-)

  3. agar2515
    August 16, 2015

    Come on Luis with the hyperbole. Calling our mistakes and being worried over certain elements of our squad ( mediocre depth, especially if Pedro leaves), doesn’t make anyone less of a fan. There is a middle ground to be had and Kevin and and Levon have written fair articles treading within that realm. I’ll say it from now to January, I pray that no one key gets injured, we would suffer dearly for it

  4. luisthebeast
    August 16, 2015

    I will not spend my entire cule life worried,whining,crying.The team make me so happy last season.Why to start from August to whine?Because Bartomeu won the election and certain people want the team to fail?No i will not play in this game.

    • agar2515
      August 16, 2015

      Whatever you say man, I don’t see this voicea here ” whining ” at all.

  5. luisthebeast
    August 16, 2015

    Ok tell me where i am wrong.Do u want me to accept that Bartomeu made a lot of mistakes?Transfer ban.Neymar case?Qatar?Membership?Yes he did that and more.But i demand from the people who hate him,to accept the fact that he created a v strong squad with a lot of good transfers and also a lot La Masia players.Lucho promoted from b team Sandro and Munir.Tell me another big club that promoted 2 players from academy to first team….But i am tired,it s late and i rest here my case..if we win 5-0,everyone will celebrate again until the next draw or loss…

  6. Tarek Arslan
    August 17, 2015

    I remember the day we had to play Milan in the second leg of the cl, friends wanted to come over, but I preferred to deal with the game by watching it alone. Wether had we lost again by the weakest Milan side in 10 years, I had to accept that we had a drop in form and that we werent the same. If we were to loose it would have been the first time we get out of the round of 16 in the champions league since ages. The game started, the ambiance in the camp nou was electrifying… the banners… the fans, everything was amazing. It was meant to be la remuntada wether it was possible or not. And it came, the moment Messi spoke we saw it. My favorite Barcelona game in the recent years. The pure joy of watching such a convincing game by Barcelona was huge to say the least but I just knew, I felt that whole day that I was in for some magic.

    Now back to tonight’s game, I think that it’s impossible to make a comeback, the stats say so, history says so. Even the players conditions and current form say so, we saw flashes of Barcelona’s last season team in the first half against Sevilla then fatigue and bad form caught up. I think either ways the club will restore some pride by winning the game but we always manage to concede goals to Bilbao. Anyhow if Messi speaks, we could be in for a miracle. Here’s to hoping for the best.

    • August 17, 2015

      Let’s hope so, Tarek. I’ll be in the Camp Nou to cheer them on.

  7. Tarek Arslan
    August 17, 2015

    Btw guys @tarekarslan on twitter, in case you like interchanging thoughts and opinion about more Barca related stuff.

  8. dl
    August 17, 2015

    Hi Beast: I understand the temptation to just say how you feel, etc. But I think you are carrying over from last season’s blog the tendency some posters had of referencing conversations elsewhere (the local bar, twitter, other blogs, fill-in-the-blank-here).

    There haven’t been any comments on BFB, as far as I can see, that even approximate what you quote.

    Take it easy. The season is just beginning. Use the space here to talk to the people actually here. Please.

    • August 17, 2015

      ^^THIS^^ Thank you!

  9. jsefutbol
    August 17, 2015

    About Ter Stegen…. Levon, I think you might be a bit harsh on him but I can’t help but agree with what you’re saying. I like that he’s a confident keeper who clearly seems to know he’s good with his feet, but too many times that leads to being over-confident, making the hard pass when there’s an easier one available. Of course a player his age is gonna make mistakes, the worrying part is that he keeps making the same ones.

    And when it comes to making saves (I’m not an expert on goalkeeping, mind), I sometimes feel like he anticipates a lot, tries to read the attacker and too often gets it wrong. He’ll take a step to one direction too early and just freeze when the ball goes the other way. At this moment in his career, he doesn’t feel like the keeper who makes game-changing saves, whereas Bravo does. Maybe it’s about experience, but the Chilean seems more reliable at the moment. Not that I don’t like Ter Stegen, but he’ll have to start showing signs of growth.

    • August 17, 2015

      Yup, I like my keepers to make jaw-dropping, game-saving, rabbit-out-of-the-hat-pulling, oh-my-god-how-did-he-do-that types of saves. I also like the intimidating you motherflippers shall not cross this line ever so you better shoot the ball wide or face the wrath of the football gods types of goalkeepers. If they win my team games, I can live with the occasional error and at this point Ter Stegen shows very little signs of being a game winner. Regular saves and errors galore do not make me a happy culé. But that’s just me.

    • ciaran
      August 17, 2015

      For me, ter Stegen is much better than Victor Valdes was at his age in both ball skills and standard goalkeeping whilst making a similar amount of errors. If he can improve to the same degree as Valdes did then we’ll have quite a keeper.
      It is still an if he progresses though. It is too easy to stunt the growth of a player and I believe it to be imperative that Lucho keeps faith with him. Yes, Bravo is currently a better keeper but he’s not getting any better so in a similar way to his rotation last season I hope Lucho continues down that path.

  10. mr.undercover
    August 17, 2015

    Yes that true! Your whinings are sometimes exaggerated, and its isn’t related to BFB if you don’t mind my saying ! Those twitter’s negative thoughts should remain there
    And that’s that

  11. Jim
    August 17, 2015

    Barcelona line-up (official): Bravo – Alves Pique Mascherano Mathieu – Rakitic Busquets Iniesta – Messi Suarez Pedro #fcblive

    It’s the top boys tonight. Bravo back which I can’t argue with. Not so interested in the result but. I want to see two things – a functional midfield and a strong CB partnership. I’d prefer Mathieu in there but if we get the Masche of the last half dozen games of last season ( who resisted urges to chase the ball ) I’ll be happy.

  12. Jamal103
    August 17, 2015

    This referee is straight is straight outta Madrid. 1 minute added time and a yellow for Pedro after the goalkeeper was timewasting? Ridiculous.

  13. TITO
    August 17, 2015

    Why the f.ck was that a straight red card???????

  14. ciaran
    August 17, 2015

    It won’t be a popular opinion but I’m delighted for Athletic. First of all they definitely deserved it over the two matches, they created better chances and took them and worked harder over the two legs. Secondly, for a club of their size to go over 30 years without a trophy is a crying shame and has been brought about by the transfer rules changing to allow clubs have ever more foreign players which led to their ultimate disadvantage.

    If there was any club that I’d be happy to lose a meaningless cup to out would be them.

    Saying that, I was disappointed, not with the end result as much as the referee. I didn’t expect us to win the cup but we were well on our way to winning the match and restoring our pride until he ended the contest. I see that kind of thing in most matches and to pick a cup final as the day you are no longer going to tolerate it is unjust.
    If Pique got his yellow and we went on to win even 3-0 then I’d have been happy.

    Tonight’s match taught me more than the last two matches. It really highlighted how important Neymar is to our front three. It showed just how much further along Sandro is than Munir. It showed how much we need Alba for the big matches and also how much we could do with a world class centre back to partner Pique rather than a raft of good players like Vermaelen, Mathieu, Bartra and Masch.

    • August 17, 2015

      I’m happy for Athletic, too and I actually think we played well and we created a lot of chances.

      Not the first time I’m in the Camp Nou and the referee’s attitude towards the game borders on the ridiculous, but to be honest this time it was not as bad as others. What I don’t understand is why he doesn’t talk to the athletic goalkeeper in the first five minutes to make sure he doesn’t pass the next 85 minutes wasting time.

      Pique’s red card came as no surprise. I wonder what he yelled specifically that got him expelled. Sitting in front of me was a family of culés in an ocean of tourists and the father came back after the game was back on after the expulsion.

      “Where did you go?” asked his wife.
      “I went for a piss… Why, what did I miss?” he replied.
      “You missed nothing at all!” I exclaimed.

  15. Kd
    August 18, 2015

    Ok, lets be honest here guys. Do you really care bout a Supercup trophy? did we care when Atleti won it or do we care about the community shield. Unless the opponents are Real, I dont think anyone takes it so seriously. So no love lost and no need for a knee jerk reaction. And as some of you have very succintly described above, and I definitely agree with it; is that I would any day lose this trophy to our Brothers from Basque than to the whites Of Castilla!!
    Coming to the game itself, I thought the team played really well. There was a zip in passing and lots of one touch football. Messi was marked like crazy and unfortunately we had no Neymar to take advantage of the spaces being left on the other flank.. Interestingly I thought Athletic defended deep in the 1st half, almost like a 5-3-2 and in the 2nd half they pressed us another 20 yards further. Now whether that was their plan all along or the goal in the first half changed that, I am not sure. But all in all I felt we gave a good account of ourselves. The referee was a freaking joke!! How the hell was that a straight Red? ridiculous.
    Now for the season, the proper season. I hope we start well. Pique, Mathieu and Alba are out. So its going to be interesting to see what lineup Enrique fields.
    Can’t wait. Its gonna be another ride!!

  16. Kd
    August 18, 2015

    Also Levon and all of you living in Barcelona, I’m planning a big Spain trip. Definitely goin to be there for Atletico Barca at Madrid and hopefully Barcelona Levante and if there’s a Champions League game midweek arounf 15-16 August. So if any of you wanna catch up, plz let me kno. It would be fun to put a face on the “login names”. Also is it beter to buy the tickets now from websites for Barca home games or should I wait till I reach Spain? Any ideas would be welcome.
    Cheers..

  17. Jamal103
    August 18, 2015

    Turan throws his boot at linesman, unprovoked- Yellow Card
    Pique yells at linesman for clear offside failure- Red Card

    Seems legit.

    • August 18, 2015

      According to the match report Pique yelled to the linesman that he shat on his whore of a mother.

      Now I don’t know if the linesman’s mother really is a lady of the night nor whether Shakira let’s her husband use the mother in question as a toilet bowl, but I can certainly understand thar the referee gave him a red card for divulging this confidential information.

    • Kd
      August 18, 2015

      Hahaha…
      I’m sure Shakira will now order her own copy of “Fifty Shades…” Step by step to deviant!!

  18. Tata2
    August 18, 2015

    This lose should be blamed on nothing other than the schedule. The schedule gave Athleti an undue advantage over us. You don’t expect a team having just a couple of days rest after a 120 minutes match to match up a team who had two weeks rest even if that team is fc barcelona. Athleti winning the title serves poetic justice but to be fair to us, the result wouldnt have been the same if we had enough time to recuperate. Then again, this cup tie goes to show how indispensable some players in our XI is. We cannot afford to lose any through injury this term at crucial times. Pedro for all his running isn’t Neymar, he can’t offer what Neymar brings to our attack. Am still skeptical about Rakitic, he doesn’t seem capable of marshaling a midfield in these event of an injury to iniesta. Mathieu isn’t just good enough and we miss Alba. I just can’t wait for this ban to be over cos we need decent back ups. Rafinha, Roberto are all players that will struggle to make the gala XI even in a team like Sevilla. We just have to wrapped our gala XI in cotton wool all season.

    • G6O
      August 18, 2015

      It need not have been 120 minutes though.

      It was just a lot of factors converging — no proper pre-season so everyone is tired to begin with, then Neymar and Alba get sick/injured, then we allow an absurd comeback from 4-1 and are forced to play 120 minutes, then we are just dead and lose 4-0, and then it’s very difficult to come back from that with a tired and depleted squad,. And then we get a red card….

      Just one of those things could have shifted the fine margin between win and loss in our favor – so if Neymar doesn’t get mumps, maybe we’re up 4-1 but he is there and we just kill them for good on the counter. Or if we have him and Alba in Bilbao, it’s not a 4-0 loss, etc.

      Instead everything that could have gone wrong went wrong.

  19. Gekko64
    August 18, 2015

    Am I the only one who is sick of seeing mr. Gerard “Overrated” Piquè on a football pitch? He is a sore winner, a sore loser, a big talker, but a mediocre athlete.

    • Jim
      August 18, 2015

      Yup. I’ve slagged him below for his action yesterday but I’m in no doubt that he is by a mile our best defender. Don’t know why you say he is a sore winner, I want sore losers on my side, I wish he talked more on the pitch and football is still about talent rather than just athleticism in my book.

  20. Jim
    August 18, 2015

    The following is a personal viewpoint, not something I can necessarily back up – just a feeling that has been growing over the pre season. It has turned rant like because what should have been a pleasant round of golf on a seaside links yesterday turned into a five hour epic following some Americans who seemed to think you need a laser distance measuring machine when your last three shots have travelled a total of about a hundred and fifty yards: the result of the aforementioned time under a fierce Scottish sun ( onomatopoeia at its best ) being third degree burns this morning and a rather black mood. So, apologies at the start.

    There’s something just not right with us at the moment, imo. Nothing major is obvious as these results don’t really matter but if there’s not an improvement next Sunday, in performance if not result, it could quite easily build quickly into a real problem.

    First of all, unlike some, I’ve no real pleasure in seeing AB take the trophy. I thought they were pretty cynical throughout the two ties with various attempts to goad our players. However, no doubt they deserved to win.

    I’m looking at Pedro charging about waiting to get sent off ( btw, how can a professional footballer fresh air a shot?) , Pique needlessly mouthing off after a shocking decision, TS looking shaky, Alves back to ignoring his defensive duties, Mathieu looking knackered every time he takes to the park – when will LE see that he is twice the player when played at CB but isn’t built for relentless charges up the park – Messi falling back into midfield earlier and earlier, Rafinha, SR, Sandro, Munir, Adriano all looking like they are going backwards rather than improving . . . Samper, by common agreement one of those who did look like stepping up promptly disappears without trace – not buying any of the LE knows what he has already arguments. The guy vanished after playing well.

    Maybe slightly overstating the case in the above but fatigue isn’t the sole reason for our displays so far.

    We now face a lengthy absence from Pique at the heart of an already shaky defence where he is essential ( thought he was great last night until his stupidity – claims he didn’t say what has been charged but with cameras on it I’m thinking he’s coming it- ), a midfield which is patently not up to the task and we’re back to relying on the front three once Neymar comes back.

    There’s a bit of me wondering how much of all this is down to the departure of Xavi. I know he’s gone and there is no point in what ifs. Thats not why I’m saying it. I’m just trying to make sense of where we are. Different folks will look at it different ways but for me he intervened hugely in the crisis week last season, calming Messi down ( I wonder if Messi only backed down because Xavi said it was his last year and didn’t want it to end this way ? ) and now he’s gone some of the old issues are resurfacing ? We’re certainly missing his presence in the middle of the park and our passing, with the glorious exception of the first half against Sevilla, has looked clunky. I love Iniesta but he’s not a captain. Xavi would have been trying to get across to get Pique out of there whereas Ini tends to let folk get on with it. We got away with it at the end of last year with an underperforming midfield because of the great defence and amazing front three but it may be a different story this year with Messi overplayed during yet another busy summer.

    I didn’t like the way Mathieu could barely get off the ground for that header but I also didn’t like to see Masche blaming someone else after he stood at left back for the whole move without even trying to regain his position and compounding it by trying to claim offside while looking straight at Mathieu who was playing them on by about four yards. He was better than that in the closing weeks of last season and we need that discipline back. We need a little more from Iniesta who has been trying to step up but a lot more from Rakitic who makes Maxwell look like a great attacker with his desire to pass on responsibility as quickly as possible. I’m told he’s not that type of player. Well, he’s not quick either so I suspect we’ll find out this year whether he can step up. I hope he does because for me a lot will be riding on it. Cue for sceptics to say that the game has changed and you don’t need a midfield any more ?

    Like I say it’s entirely possible I’m reading too much into too little and I’m aware that this isn’t the real thing yet but make no mistake that we were trying our hardest against Sevilla and AB. and came up well short in several areas , not just in the result. Yes, it’s also a whinge so feel free to tell me I’m wrong and all will be sorted next Sunday. It may well be. I just feel I’d be more than a tad concerned if I were sitting in LE’s seat.

    • Davour
      August 18, 2015

      from what I’ve seen, I agree with the sentiments of your “rant”. Hopefully the team can gel without too much damage during the first games of the liga. I seem to remember pre-seasons which seemed promising but with a season ending up with naught. Though one becomes less optimistic if you compare Rafinha’s performance so far with his brother’s, a few years back (sorry to bring him up). There you saw clear promise just waiting to develop; with Rafinha, I can’t really see that, on the required level. He seems too flimsy, somehow.

      But let’s not turn sour just yet! There is a lot of pressure on everyone, let’s hope it does not turn inwards (Messi & LE and whatnot).

      On a positive note, I think the collaboration between Messi and Suarez shows promise, and I think the team played well until Piqué lost it (though red seems harsh). Bravo looked good with a functioning defence in front of him, and… well Alba & Neymar will be back soon!

    • kosby
      August 18, 2015

      I’m with you on this Jim. Something looks off, plus they look oh so so tired, AND we have injuries. Almost everyone can see the drop in quality from the first team to the bench. I guess I can see now why the transfers we made were important, although they can only help us after half the season is gone – gulp.

      However I am clinging to the hope that we will somehow recover the same as we did from Anoeta last year. So hopefully we’ll see a lot of sensible rotation and stepping up from the bench players.

  21. August 18, 2015

    That was a sure result, isnt it.
    But my mind’s one side is tilting to Jim’s rant above. For a bit of time now, I was worried about our squad, and now even our first team is looking dead tired even before the start of the league, with some bloody schedule coming up, we need lots of luck. Would our squad be the same, if not for that FIFA ban?
    On the other side, I think, al l this is happening so early and it is allright that we peak towards the second half of the season, rather than now.
    Everyone here is worried about Mathieu or Pedro or others, but am a bit worried about Suarez. His extra terrestrial work rate and attitude is brilliant, but his first touch , when he is trying to receive or make a pass, is quite not on the positive side. It is only very rarely, he gets it right and it is good, but at times he makes me think about Ibra, when all our flowing passing movements would stop upon reaching Ibra. I am not saying that is what is happening with Suarez, but… This is just my opinion.

    And on the real bad side, watching Munir is painful. He seems to come on to the pitch with the aim to kiss the grass all over the pitch. He makes Bojan look strong.

    • August 18, 2015

      I wouldn’t worry about Suarez. His first touch is clunky in comparison to Messi or Iniesta, but one of his endearing character traits is that he somehow takes the ball past his markers anyway.

  22. dl
    August 18, 2015

    This is in response to Jim’s ‘rant’ and those who’ve chimed in…
    Sun addled, in a word (or two).
    Everyone is tired and cranky and having to play out of position and not finding the people on the ends of their passes like they usually do. At the same time, the absence of Xavi at the club is massive, and it will take more than a season for it to be fully digested. He’d been there since before every other player, and most of the staff as well, and when you combine that with the fact that he was the finest midfielder of his generation at least, well it is a big hole to fill.
    The team will settle down when all the injuries and cards clear, but it will still be a nervy first half of the season until Vidal and Turan can start to play.

    • Jim
      August 18, 2015

      A fair and much more balanced comment than I could muster, DL. Let’s hope you’re right !

  23. mr.undercover
    August 18, 2015

    Pique could face up to 12 match for insulting the lines man, that’s too harsh and excessive! Those referee’s from Madrid are simply a joke, now the madristas are declaring war on pique the moment when he trolled them when celebrating our victory! Just imagining a month without pique in our back line makes me cringe! But despite the slashing and snarling that matheu recieves I extermly prefers him to the clueless bartra,
    And for bartra’s fanboys you could understand now why our previous coaches and LE currently don’t trust him to marshal our back line, look at his peers in other clubs like varane , zouma, laporte, they are by far better than him(despite laporte is an automatic starter ) and am quite sure that bartra has been given more minutes then the formers, Madrid and chelsea could fill a back line with varane and zouma in a final CL without being worried, a senario that none of our Cules fan base want to experience,

    And I would like to add that the team lacks leadership figures in its disposal since the departure of puyol, iniesta isn’t a captain material as Jim mentioned earlier, and unfortunately we don’t have a puyol-like in our current team, the closest is masche but he is no where near that armband and messi would be definitely wearing it fir almost half of the season(if he stays healthy and the absence of iniesta in the line up sometimes) who he is not a captain material either. So let’s hope for the best.
    #fingers crossed,

  24. Jim
    August 18, 2015

    Mathieu is an interesting one for me. I rate him as a CB but not so much at LB. it doesn’t take a football expert to look at his frame and decide at 31 he shouldn’t be dragging himself up and down the touch line. He was knackered for a decent part of that game last night and it showed. He is also not good at finding his passes from the tight angle of the touch line.

    However, over the last two or three games I reckon he’s been made to look worse than he is by team mates not doing as they should. Against Sevilla for Reyes’ goal he actually went with his man, jumped and shouldn’t take any of the blame. It was Masche who was ball watching and ended up doing nothing. For their penalty he was caught out badly but Rakitic was also criminally slow in getting out to block the cross in the first place. Too many crosses from the same position on our right.

    In the AB game, again you would have hoped he might have won that header but it was difficult given that their guy was in position and made a great jump. Leaning over him was a def FK on the edge of our area. But who was our central defender once Pique went off ? Watch his position and non movement as the play develops.

    So a bit of a bum rap for me and I’d play him at CB in Pique’s absence. However, I’m starting to think LE has a thing about him, maybe with his smoking ? Mathieu never looks particularly happy and hasn’t played badly at CB. Whatever, the thought of Bartra and Masche away to AB doesn’t inspire me.

    Although I’m a staunch Pique supporter, though, I have to say he let the team down badly last night. To me, if the ref had heard the abuse reported he was within his rights to send him off. As several have mentioned, however, the card was out before he had a chance to confirm with the linesman what had been said. Given his previous run in with Pique you’d have thought taking a few seconds to check if the man was sure wouldn’t have been amiss. No way should it be any more than two or three games at most and I do hope the club have hired lip readers to assess what was said. At first I was pretty sure Pique must have said something awful but if he did and knew it was on camera surely he’d have just accepted it by today rather than be found out lying ?

  25. agar2515
    August 18, 2015

    Well said above Jim. For as good as our first XI is , we have one of the most painfully thin squads of all the top squads in Europe…

  26. mr.undercover
    August 18, 2015

    Yes Jim that’s right! what’s baffled me the most is how the ref. Send pique out immediately when he didn’t even confirmed what pique uttered to the linesman.
    In normal circumstances if such incident happened the referee must have a quick chat with his linesman before making a formal decision, but the sending was a bit bizarre and controversial considering the way the card was given!

    • August 18, 2015

      Pique went to Twitter about two hours ago to say this:
      “I’d like to beg forgiveness, because the way I acted towards the linesman was not the correct one.
      It was a high-tension game in which we were playing for a lot.
      Nevertheless at no moment did I insult his person

      Barça announced that it has presented an appeal stating that the player did not say anything that the ref wrote in his match notes.

  27. TITO
    August 19, 2015

    A 4 games ban for Pique. Next time he better kick somebody’s ass for that punishment.

    • Davour
      August 19, 2015

      Yes, this seems excessive, to say the least. We’ll see what happens with the appeal. Kicking someone’s ass? Violence does not seem to get you suspended to that degree. Part of the game, they say… as an example, good ol’ CR got two games, if I don’t misremember, for violent conduct (and nothing for beating down Godin). Apparently, it’s worse to hurt somebody’s feeling than to hurt their body! (unless you sink your teeth into it, of course).

  28. TITO
    August 19, 2015

    The worst part is that the ref didn’t even hear the ‘insult’. Thats why the next time he better do something visible.

  29. Inamess
    August 19, 2015

    Surprised so many are defending Pique. Verbally abusing an official is 4-12 games. He got 4. The replay for the on-side call is very close too so Pique didn’t have much reason to complain about on that call. The one play that I am pissed about is their goalie’s smothering the ball after scoring. Not sure why that isn’t an automatic yellow card for time wasting. That’s the thing that may have got everyone pissed off in the first place.

    • TITO
      August 19, 2015

      Nobody is defending Pique.
      We are just saying that this was an excessive punishment considering some “other” given red cards to other players.

  30. chang
    August 19, 2015

    Just woke up to the guardian reporting that Chelsea has triggered Pedro’s buy out clause and Pedro to undergo a medical. Does anyone have an inclination how prior Barcelona players would feel about playing under Mourinho post-Madrid spell? I believe Mourinho sees things mostly in a sporting sense so at least from his side, I can’t imagine hard feelings.

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