Barça 4, Levante 1, aka “Wake me when we’ve won”

Matches such as today’s walkabout against a Liga minnow are difficult to like, aside from the final score.

In many ways squaring off against Levante is like asking a math savant to balance your checkbook. “Okay, but don’t I have something better to do?”

Barça played like a team that knew it was going to win. It played like a team that knew it would have to play up to its considerable capabilities for a few minutes, just enough to nick a few goals once Levante tired and spaces began to open up in its interlocked defensive waves.

The team lacked focus, lacked intensity, lacked sharpness in a match that dared to ask the question, can a great team really turn it on at will? The long and short is that it depends on the quality of the opponent. It’s difficult to argue against a team, looking at a long season, that decides that today can be an active rest day.

We sit, wail, gnash our teeth and rend our garments as chances go begging, because this team, the team that we follow and adore, has a template. It must always play like the team that won the treble last season, or something is wrong. That demand forgets that even last season, Barça didn’t always play at its highest level. It did only rarely, usually playing well enough to win, or send the appropriate message. In one match, it didn’t even bother to win, since the team strode into the Allianz with a 3-0 aggregate lead.

Myth has a difficult time living up to reality, so when Enrique chose not only his 8th different XI in 8 matches, but one that featured heavy rotation, it was in many ways as if last season never happened. The starters were Ter Stegen, Alves, Bartra, Mascherano, Busquets, Rakitic, Messi, Munir, Neymar and Sandro. And in the first minutes of the match, this team got after it, and a drubbing looked to be in the offing. Then suddenly, it looked like the group lost interest. Movement slackened, passes went awry and things oozed toward a rather desultory halftime 0-0 that indicted Barça more than it flattered Levante.

But in the second half, after what were almost certainly some choice words from Enrique, the team looked a lot sharper, and it didn’t take long for a goal to be the result as MOTM Bartra, who knocked off a stonkin’ match, started an attack then ripped off a lovely control and slot home for the 1-0 lead that was as inevitable as a sunrise. Then he made lumps come to throats by running over to the bench and holding up a Rafinha shirt, devoting his goal to the injured midfielder, an action mimicked by Neymar after his goal.

Even after the 1-0, Levante stuck to its guns, as if 1-1 was a mere counterattack away, if they just stayed the course. But after a penalty, justly earned by Neymar saw Messi piledrive a high shot into the top of the Levante net, that was that and Barça knew it. Sandro and Munir were in many ways casualties of the laid-back Barça approach, one that eschewed team football and the properly executed system for comfort. Messi and Neymar played to each other as the recent Masia grads scurried about with industry, trying to be good enough. Munir found himself on a break and decided he could score instead of passing to a wide-open teammate for the tap in.

Sandro on the other hand looked like Pedro on a bad day, all industry and effort, tracking back like a boss, but lacking that movement and precision at the other end, though his work probably would have found more reward had his teammates not been in half-speed drubbing mode.

In many ways, the culerverse doesn’t know how to react to a match such as this one, and will take it very seriously. My reaction at the half was, “Enrique will have a talk, and the goals will come.” And so they did. Neymar pecked and scraped at a remarkable Alves pass to make it 3-0, and Messi broke and pounded in a high-quality daisycutter to yield the final tally for Barça.

But before that Messi misplayed passes, missed another penalty and was almost as off as Neymar, who doesn’t have the luxury of being thought of in the same way as Messi, so supporters are less forgiving of his frailties. He lacked a proper pre-season as did Messi, but seems to be suffering more from the lack of fitness. But even beyond that his concentration was off, leading to dodgy touches and a willingness to stop the ball for 1v1 instead of playing the game and the system.

And even with all that, Levante never really threatened.

messi

After the match the Levante players whose quotes found their way out, sounded almost resigned and relieved to have played their part in the day’s proceedings. They didn’t believe they were going to beat Barça any more than Barça believed it was going to lose. More than the Celta match midweek, this last notion explained the rotation-heavy XI from Enrique, though the lingering imprints from Roma boots on the backsides of key players made the rotation call even more of a no-brainer.

The Levante goal was interesting because it was one of the rare goals that was fully on a keeper … sort of. A Levante cross from a corner came in. Ter Stegen charged out to punch the ball away and missed, leaving one stunned Levante attacker looking at an open net. He slotted home, and Ter Stegen looked like a man filing something away in his memory banks. It was also the first legit goal, despite many supporters craving the comfort and security of a homebody like Bravo, that Ter Stegen could be said to be directly accountable for.

The Legendary Stegosaurus

The Myth of Marc Andre Ter Stegen is, for many, that he is a reckless keeper who concedes goals through silly mistakes. It’s a notion that is as incorrect as Messi being a penalty shot bottler. Ter Stegen is a sweeper keeper who will rely on his teammates to have his back at times, making sure that he can play his game in an unfettered manner. He will also make the kind of error that he made today, because that’s what young keepers do. One Internet headline described Ter Stegen as “under fire.” Enrique made certain to fix that notion in his post-match comments and that was that, even as there was a subset of supporters waiting to say, “A-HA!”

Lost in the general focus on what someone or the team did wrong is the notice of good work, passes from Ter Stegen that directly led to scoring chances, interventions that turned passes into interceptions and Barça breaks rather than shots. It’s something deeper than “Well, we didn’t score from his passes, and he let in a goal.”

It’s a goal that is worth looking at a bit more closely, in the context of the Barça walkabout today.

On two occasions, a loose ball that should have been cleared or covered by a Barça player just sat there, waiting for a more alert, more fully committed Levante player to charge it down. The best shot is, of course, the shot that is never taken. In a more meaningful match against a more dangerous opponent, the mids are more alert, the defenders sharper. Those loose balls are anticipated and fought for rather than becoming opponent chances. But today, those two key loose balls became objets d’art, things to be stared at in “Hey, looka there,” mode. And Levante took advantage.

Ter Stegen wet the bed, for sure. But if Enrique is half the coach that we can believe he is, he has already told Ter Stegen, “If you’re going to go punch a ball, go in hard and make it happen.” He will also pause the film during the moments that those two loose balls lay there, and ask of Ter Stegen’s teammates, “Now what about this shit here?”

As a former player who has been part of excellent teams, Enrique will know all too well the “We got this” mentality, even as he will deplore and rail against its existence. His players will nod their heads in assent, go forth and sin no more, until the next time they sin. Because that’s just how it is.

Gumballs for everyone!

In the second half of today’s match, what will probably be the most controversial substitution that Enrique will make happened today when Gerard Gumbau entered the pitch for Busquets. What made this sub so controversial is not only my journalistic sense of hyperbolic humor, but the either/or reality that has been dealt with here before, so let’s not spend any time on it.

Instead, let’s consider something else, a way of looking at the world through a coach’s eyes.

We can’t.

What can we do instead? Well, there are a number of options, starting with railing about how Gumbau isn’t even fit to be a Camp Nou food vendor, never mind a midfielder for the best club team in history. And leaving aside how his display during the match didn’t do him any favors, another possibility to consider is this one: trying to understand what Enrique is after by watching what he does, and how it pans out. It’s the only way to deal with something that is difficult to understand.

gumbau

Last season, when Enrique had something like a zillion different lineups in 12 matches or something, people said “He doesn’t know what he’s doing,” “Should settle on the continuity of an XI,” etc. I didn’t know what to think, but figured rotation couldn’t be a bad thing over the course of a long season. Then in the business end of that season, as our daisy-fresh players cavorted, people said, “Oh! Rotation good!”

What of Gumbau, then? What does he bring to the table? What I see is a puppy dog chasing a ball, and getting in the way as you’re trying to make dinner. I don’t see much more than that. Does that make me stupid, or Enrique wrong? Neither. It makes me someone who needs to watch the situation develop, to understand what a treble-winning coach is after with the inclusion of a player whose presence, on the surface, doesn’t make a bit of sense.

Sergi Samper and La Masia are both a cause celebre. Gumbau is the one who is stealing from the mouth of a vastly more talented babe and for that, damn him and that stupid coach. That’s the easy approach, to have watched Gumbau play and deemed him inadequate. You’d have to be nuts to think that he was adequate, just as you would have to be nuts to not see the talent that oozes from almost every action Samper performs until a quick, tricky attacker goes running at him. There, you see an area of improvement but still, you wonder, but all you can do is watch, really.

And that’s the quandary. My late, great dog, C.D., always seemed to know when I was going to take him for a walk before hopping on my bicycle and rolling off. I could never figure out why, but he knew, every time. Then, one day I watched him watch me, and he would note the shoes that I put on. If I put on the noisy, funny-looking shoes, he wasn’t going, and would go lay on his bed. If I put on the quiet, not-as-silly shoes, “Yay! Walk time!” So simple, yet so effective as a brain the size of a walnut solved a problem in the most obvious way. Observation.

My brain is bigger than a walnut, but I look at Gumbau in the same way a puppy looks at a quandary, cocking its head from side to side, and all that I can do is try to understand, a task made easier by having nothing invested in the success or failure of Gumbau. I hope the experiment works, because the team lost a key midfielder in Rafinha, and won’t have a truly suitable replacement for him until January 5, a fact that would be true whether it was Gumbau or Samper running onto the pitch as a first-team sub for Busquets or Rakitic.

The ideal player would be both of them in one body, a Busquets mini-me who could caper about, make interceptions and get in the way, but also perform the actions of a CM. So what if Enrique had to choose. And what if he had to choose after a consultation with the Barça B coach whose ass is on the line, and who desperately wants to win promotion and needs his best player to do it. Dunno.

And I don’t know even as what league Barça B plays in isn’t supposed to matter, as long as the players develop the skills necessary for them to slot into the first team. This is what many said after Barça B was relegated last season to Segunda B, where it won its first match on the same day its big brothers sleepwalked their way past Levante.

Stuff doesn’t make sense, on the surface. So like the dog trying to figure stuff out, I just have to watch, and try to understand.

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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.

59 Comments

  1. ooga aga
    September 20, 2015

    It’s the most honest approach, really, the one you are taking kxevin. As fans and outsiders we have to humble ourselves enough to simply be patient, observe and see what happens. Gumby didnt misplace a pass or give any balls away from what I could see. But he was caught out of position a couple (few?) times and isn’t quite pacy enough to make up the difference– though he mught actually be faster than busquets. But you can just imagine the nerves he mustve had. First game officially. I personally am not looking for him to be “barca quality ” nor am i looking to compare him to Samper. All i want is for him to be basically good enough when LE puts him on, which he was. He wont play vs madrid etc but thats not the point. Our squad is thin , we need to rotate and in the end i don’t know how we can say anything other than — LE got this one right. We won etc. im glad gumby was there to give busi some rest. End of story.

  2. Cyclops
    September 21, 2015

    Firstly, i cant believe yo guys are actually holding brief for gumbau, okay, this is just funny( i’m grinning with disbelief right now)
    The way ‘sympathizers’ seems to be mentally, spritually, physically willing him to succeed is quite interesting
    I know a thing or two, about reading beneath the line in peoples comments and anyway people i’ve come across also, they all just seems to have these vested aggressive interest that he does well. Giving explanations per seconds on his performances or misperformances
    The way they kind of willing him on is almost like they’ve got something against Samper. Like ‘ Gumbau, you must play very well and put these haters to shame, and put samper in his place’. Okay, just saying. But it kind of looks like that to me, so much for thinking we’re the ones who’ve got something against Gumbau, and again just saying….( wish i could insert a Smirk smiley here)

    Now, if a Barca are in a walkabout mode, what i take that to mean is, there’s no serious drubbing in store for the opponent rather than to mean that the opponent should take liberties with yo, take the game to yo. And the later was much pronounced from around the 70th minute some time after busi sub

    For a team as strong as barca, playing against levante, and being in a supposedly walkabout mode, shouldnt mean that levante should start running riot against yo, playing an end to end game with yo. that just contradicts yo point, cause even is barca were in a walkabout mode, they should be capable of holding levante in armlength, which they werent doing too badly in the 1st half, but as i said after lucho sub, things kind of took a detour

    Watching that match, its obvious that Levante were made to look better than they were. At a point they even attempt to man mark our players as far as our final third. and i’m like really, the match just had 8-0 written all over it. and if things worked out better, levante would’ve surely left with that scoreline

    These are the sort of matches in which Messi scores superhatrick, its all just seems too easy to score, right from the get go. When that 4th goal went in, you’re like how come they havnt scored a 4th goal since, 4-0, final score?

    Levante were poor, in that, yeah they was a bit of industry from, but little organization and quality, nd a barca on a good day whether on walkabout mode or not would’ve batter them, with Messi probably breaking some few more records
    But rather, we saw a levante who were made to look better than the quality they had better than their club name, better than what they actually put up on the day
    After that fourth goal you just feel the victory could and should’ve been a lot more easier and comfortable, the ones in which they get to put up maybe not a performance exhibition but a scoring one- not because they were all charged up, but largely because of the ineptness of the opponet. But barca just made a meal out of it. I’ve nothing against the win tho’, just my thoughts as regard the match

    • Davour
      September 21, 2015

      I don’t know why you turn this into a conflict of Samper vs Gumbau. People are not wishing for Samper-proponents to be put in their place, but rather to understand why LE chose to utilize Gumbau instead, based on the basic trust that the coach knows more than us about what he wants from his players, and what they can provide in different scenarios. Perhaps he considers Gumbau to be an effective destroyer or defensive influence to be used to kill a game off by chasing tired opponents and causing trouble? Samper is obviously a more creative force, but we have plenty of that. Perhaps LE’s premiss is to focus on defensive responsibility? Then Samper may not be right. Others would focus on raw talent and attacking qualities, then Gumbau may be wrong. What is right and wrong depends on what you want.

      Who knows? But I for one do not want Gumbau to to well to prove anyone wrong, but because it would be good for the team. I would love for Samper to get a run, if the time is right, and I hope he will get some playing time in copa games.

    • barca96
      September 21, 2015

      Are you by chance Agar25 under a different alias?

      • agar2515
        September 22, 2015

        hahahaha I dont even post here anymore. Reading this because someone at bblaugranas posted it and I was curious as to whether the tone here had changed. Clearly it hasn’t. Hilarious

        • barca96
          September 23, 2015

          Oops I thought it was you. I remember one of the mods said that one of the reader used 2 names (can’t remember the name) and you disappeared for quite some time and I thought it was you.

      • agar2515
        September 22, 2015

        And that is a real fansite, not a blog that tears down people that don’t agree with the views of the guy who writes for it all the time. Maybe you’d get more than 13 comments (LOL) in a match review if you were nicer to people. Just a thought.

    • ooga aga
      September 21, 2015

      Nope Barca96 cyclops was here badmouthing LE last year, independently of agar.

      Your “logic” is incredible cyclops. Maybe get another eye, for some perspective?

      I want gumbau to do well because he is a barca player. And i support my team and its players. End of story. Dont hurt yourself thinking about it.

      • ooga aga
        September 21, 2015

        Though i will note that Gumby picked his nose during all four questions asked in post-game locker room interview. Definitely needs to improve in this respect.

        • barca96
          September 22, 2015

          Good observation ooga re:Gumbau picking his nose 😆 Canal+?

  3. TITO
    September 21, 2015

    Thats a dreamland you are wishing for.
    They should have just stand there and concede 10 just because we are barca and our quality is beyond the universe?
    If you have ever played the game, you should know that it doesnt always work like that.
    See Chelsea this season, or City against WHU.

  4. luisthebeast
    September 21, 2015

    So we have 12 liga games until January.7 at home and 5 away.6 if we count Espanyol at January 3.Also 5 CL games and 2 CDR.And 2 for the CWC.Rotation is crucial and Lucho shaw that he dont afraid to risk.I am happy that Alves Ney and Suarez will stay home in the next international break.

  5. dl
    September 21, 2015

    Full props to Lucho for using every opportunity he has to 1) give youngsters a taste of the big time; 2) rest players; 3) try out various configurations. I’m sure he, his staff, and the team learn a lot from these games. There are lot’s of thoughtful and knowledgable people on this blog and elsewhere on the net, but I am pretty sure the staff at fcb know more than we do. Also, their jobs are on the line, not mine or ‘yours’ (you meaning everyone else here commenting), so I think they have a bit more skin in the game. As the byline on the Grauniad says “Comment is free”.

  6. Cyclops
    September 21, 2015

    *Sighs* dunno how come my comments gets to be taken out of context always, its kinda gotten exaperating, but i’d just take it in good faith

    I never said levante should concede 10 goals now, did i ? Granted, i talk about 8 goals, but the general point of my comments was those 8 goals- in qoute, is more of a representative of how ‘easy’ and comfortable that game could have panned out.
    We’ve scored 5 goals against oppositions better than levante previously, Right? so whats the big deal? Overall i wasnt even saying they should score 5 goals, we’ve seen this team steamroll especially lesser opponent, get into the pitch get the busy done and get out, without the opponent putting up much resistance- without even playing that great football

    And i’m simply alluding to that fact, that they could have maybe scored 1 goal in the first half- heck, that could be all, but yet the opponent would never looked like coming back into the game.
    Now we’ve seen barca do that time and time again, havnt we ? so whats the big deal here. i’m simply saying that game could have been one of such games; they dictate the flow of the game without breaking much sweat( courtesy of the poor quality of the opponent ofcourse) and get out. As kxevin said, at the earlier stage of the game they seemed to be primed up to just that, and all of a sudden they kinda lose interest. I dont think there’s anything wrong in acknowledging that

    I havnt got a thing against the win or how it came about, infact i’m super glad they won, like i’m ecstatic, those are just simply my thoughts on how the game could have panned out, and i’m sure you’ve also got one, jeez! I need a break here

    I dont know how constructively critiscising someone could be termed as ‘badmouthing’ them. last i checked, I never insulted him, or the clothes he wore, just what i thought he’d have done in my opinion, and there’s a thousand and one of us with such thinking, which to my knowledge is perfectly sane
    Anyway for the records, presently i wouldnt say LE is a bad coach, in fact from my earlier comments i did say he seems to know what he’s doing. And if i’d been critiscising him before and he prooved me somewhat wrong, thats fair enough for an apology, could pass off as one in my books. And i still think there are things he could do better, nothing wrong with that either. Moving on…

  7. Cyclops
    September 21, 2015

    And by the way, the Samper comments was just a fun comments in the spirit of joviality. hopefully its not taken wrongly,lol
    Isnt it kinda funny, how i always gets to explain my comments…

  8. luisthebeast
    September 21, 2015

    The ban is over.Fifa must stop the nonsense and Turan can take the place in the squad.Everything else will be injustice and if we loose La Liga in the end,the club must ask for the money we would lost.

  9. luisthebeast
    September 21, 2015

    It s obvious now that there are other clubs in the world that broke the rules.That s why the parents of the kids that they are going to take FIFA in the court are not only from Barca.So the ban was fair but also not fair as long as it was only for us.FIFA is corrupted to the bone.I am 100% with the club now to take them in the court.

  10. ciaran
    September 22, 2015

    Robert Lewandowski just scored 5 goals in 9 minutes as Bayern came back from 1-0 down to beat Wolfsburg. The finishing was incredible, including one scissor kick from the edge of the box.
    You can’t give him a sniff at goal yet Wolfsburg have him plenty of chances. He is a top notch player though.
    You have to think Bayern will be in our around the business end of the Champions League again this year.

    • Davour
      September 23, 2015

      Yes, amazing, and against Wolfsburg, too. No push-overs, normally (heard they were better in the first half!). Thiago, who stepped off for Lewa, must’ve thought: hey, I must admit that was a good switch…

    • barca96
      September 23, 2015

      Quality goals. All kinds of forms. No multiple tap ins.

  11. luisthebeast
    September 23, 2015

    Because of one game?I saw him live against Olympiacos and i was not impressed.Maybe if he faces again Gibraltar with Poland he can win Ballon D Or.So no Turan for us.It s time for war with the corrupted Bastards.

    • barca96
      September 23, 2015

      Maybe he had an off day. Every player has their off days. Messi included. Lewa is to me the 2nd best striker. Just because we support Barca doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate other players you know. Or compliment them.

  12. luisthebeast
    September 23, 2015

    After i saw the highlights i believe Granada have a better team than Wolfsburg.What a joke Bundesliga is.

  13. mr.undercover
    September 23, 2015

    It beats me how Those FIFA Mafia’s are treating us as if we are the only villains who breaches laws, notwithstanding the corruption there in. they tries to look holly after all the scandals and fiasco’s that happened past couple of months, I won’t buy that registering a player in emergency cases is not in FIFA’s book(only permissible In Spanish laliga) and ignoring the fact that FIFA extended the voting period for cristiano to win his Ballon d’or, which we all acknowledges that it never happens in the history and its not in fifa’s book too, “what is good for the sauce is good for the gander as well”

  14. Rivaldo
    September 23, 2015

    Well well
    I was now about to type the if Messi and Neymar are not going to run .ie. press and defend- then we are going to lose.
    The goals weren’t their fault… I’m looking at a couple of guys… Pique, Busi, Dani, Ter Stegen
    Fun game if I was a neutral… I’m not so it’s about we showed up. We need to play more as a team now… the collective

    • Rivaldo
      September 23, 2015

      *it’s about time we showed up

  15. Tommy11
    September 23, 2015

    In a yet to be concluded first half, We are down 2 goals with our gala XI on the pitch, who does that?

  16. Davour
    September 23, 2015

    No sign of rested players bursting of energy after being rested. Rarely seen them so unfocused. Iniesta, what’s going on? Roberto is better as a right back, once again very clear. Neymar has just not been good enough this season, yet, despite some glimpses, and Messi is not at his sharpest either. Not looking promising, this. Celta are magnificent, one must concede. We struggle to contain them, and I think Rakitic must come on for Roberto to add some weight to the midfield. Torture, this.

    • Rivaldo
      September 23, 2015

      Wow. Totally forgot Ini was playing. Hasn’t had time on the ball. Their pressure is something else. I wonder where they got that from. Maybe we should try that… i mean our frontline rather.
      Iniesta is busy trying to break up plays and attacker need to move more to give options. i am looking at you Messi. Ney needs to play a bit quicker this match (ala Pedro) without losing himself

  17. Rivaldo
    September 23, 2015

    This going to be interesting. We will to show what we’re made of.

    Our goals will have to be clinical today. You can see they aren’t getting much; the trio upfront tends to move around but in our best matches there is move stability between them. Busi is being dragged to the side too often and when he does there is no Rakitic (that’s what he does). Messi and Neymar have to be more effective at pressing. Unless we put their back line under pressure we aren’t winning this game.
    Celta is a good team though; great for La Liga. That Nolito boy is something else 😉

  18. TITO
    September 23, 2015

    A lot of things not going our way. Messi got friends in walk a round mode in Ney and Suarez.
    Our midfield leaves acres of freespace for them, so, who needs Rakitic, wright? And people still wondering what he brings into our midfield.

    • Rivaldo
      September 23, 2015

      Actually it’s only those who prefer the midfield play “a certain way” that wonder what Rakitic brings to our midfield. It’s why along with the famous MSN and improved backline, that we one the treble.

  19. Rivaldo
    September 23, 2015

    Record Barcelona in 93 Liga away games after 2 goals behind at half-time: 1W – 6D – 86L #fcblive W: 2-3 v Betis in 1962 [via mrchip]

    Who likes stats?

  20. Rivaldo
    September 23, 2015

    Clinical performance from Celta Vigo. Great team; hope we can continue our partnership with them.
    Good Night folks.

    The team should watch this match before next training session TWICE. Learn a few things about what not to do and what to actually do. Maybe our defense should’ve remained more the same to previous weeks. Less errors???
    SMH

  21. TITO
    September 23, 2015

    Well, everything that was about to go wrong tonight…it did.

  22. ian_percival
    September 23, 2015

    Mathieu is useless,our defence is just a professional disgrace.

  23. Davour
    September 23, 2015

    Can’t remember a worse outing in La Liga for ages. We can’t defend, and we can’t score. Simple as that.

  24. ian_percival
    September 23, 2015

    Neymar lighting up pretty good,great performance from him regardless of the score

  25. ian_percival
    September 23, 2015

    Nolito is kicking our ass pretty bad.

  26. Rivaldo
    September 23, 2015

    Before I leave…
    Only Mascherano leaves with any credit.
    Roberto didn’t play badly.
    We are getting outworked and outplayed. Usually the boys from Barca look the more talented but not tonight. We are looking rather average.
    We have to get back to it being a team game. Since that game without Messi every game since then have looked like we are back to Messi-feeding play; except for when Ney wants his own… then he passes back to Messi. LOL
    It’s a team game. We fix all this by becoming a team again… and taking serious notes from this match because Celta were damned good; defensively too. They had the shape we laked albeit we had to chase from half time.

  27. Davour
    September 23, 2015

    Many things are in play, transfer ban, injuries, etc. But no excuses for a display like this. Suarez is crap, like is the defence (not meaning only the defenders), Alves is rusty, Messi is off, Ini too, etc, etc. And all we have to throw at Celta is Munir, and he is not that player (yet?).

    We simply need to absorb this and learn from it, hoping it will be one of those few games a season where things simply are not working out. Be man, we really suck on all accounts.

  28. TITO
    September 23, 2015

    It’s getting frustrating already, our scoring.
    We are creating a lot of chances, not just this game…but we are not sharp enough.

  29. Cyclops
    September 23, 2015

    Rivaldo, i’m totally with you, its been really annoying the way the guys just sometimes Stand and mope, while opponent just pass the ball around them.

    I didnt watch the match from its starting, but when i came, i was appalled at the way the guys were just ‘standing’ while celta pass the ball around. Painfull thing here is, on the build up to that first goal, you( atleast i knew)knew it was going to be a goal. Once i saw that player(nolito) at the far end of the Right side of the pitch- alone on acres of space, it just confirmed my feeling- that , that move would probably result in a goal. And before i could even complain of the non’existent marking on him, the guy had pulled off a ridiculous strike.
    I’d being meaning to talk about this before

    You said Messi and Neymar aint to blamed, i disagree , yeah, they aint designated to press opponent, but there some passes that for christ sake takes place under your nose, and you wont lose a pound if you attempt to to cut it out. And virtually all the players are guilty of that; just stand around and stare at the opposition, for what ? conserving energy? or do they think the opponent is so poor that given those sort of chances on the ball they wont do anything with it? its just so annoying
    Till that cross was sent to Nolito, nobody made any determined effort to cut out the passes or close down spaces. Rewatching that goal again just gets me really angry

    Not forgetting to add, that they were all just busy making the wrong decisions when they had their chances on goal

  30. Cyclops
    September 23, 2015

    And whats in the world’s wrong with Suarez ????

    • Rivaldo
      September 23, 2015

      He had a stinker… Actually for weeks (Atleico pass to Messi aside) I thought he wasn’t particularly effective. Kinda like how Neymar looked like the Brazilian version compared the moulded Barca Man for a couple weeks (best way i could explain).

  31. Rivaldo
    September 23, 2015

    LOL…
    And here we go. People are taking swings at Lucho again. Why?

    Because he screwed up 2 clearances (Pique), was badly positioned(Ter stegen & Alves) and made a school boy attempt at defending while being the last man (Alves again. He also did not press or even care to (Messi and Neymar) and lacked intensity until going a coule goals down (the entire team). It is so obvious it is Lucho’s fault.
    WOW.
    It is also said he should’ve played Messi at RW and prevent Messi from coming inside and deep so often.

  32. TITO
    September 23, 2015

    It’s only the fifth game of the season, a lot of wonderings and similarities with the last season.
    But, if last season some players needed time to gel, LE time to settle the team, that is not needed this season.
    Simply, we are yet to click, but im sure that will come sooner rather than later.
    BUT, some players do need some reality check.

  33. ciaran
    September 23, 2015

    I was very disappointed with Suarez, he had no Copa America, a full preseason and he got rested at the weekend but he looks so slow and out of sorts. He didn’t even really give the central defenders of Celta much of a hard time.

    Ter Stegen conceded another four goals but it’s hard to lay the blame on him. You wonder if things would be different with anyone else between the sticks.

    Alves gave Nolito acres of space in the match and when he is 80% of the threat posed from Celta that is unacceptable. He also ignored Aspas for the third goal. Just take him out of it and accept your yellow card.
    Pique had a poor match, that’s all.
    Masch was very poor with his covering and is more like the Masch from Tata’s time, getting dragged out of position constantly and going on walkabout.
    Mathieu would have been better alongside Pique with some added pace to cover. Alba is vital to us presently.

    Messi was unlucky as his quality was nearly enough to produce a few goals but his workrate was low.
    Neymar was bright especially in the second half, unlucky not to get a couple of more goals. He took some of the creative responsibilities from Messi but worth everyone else underperforming it was all too little.
    Iniesta was also very disappointing.

    • G6O
      September 23, 2015

      Suarez had a full pre-season but given what the pre-season consisted of, I am not sure that was better than not having one.

      There was an away game against Deportivo three years ago, which we won 4-5. This one was very similar, only that Messi did not score a hat trick this time and we did not score 5. But we actually had the chances to do it.

      It looks like a combination of everyone not being in optimal fitness due to having a flying circus instead of a normal pre-season, the squad being depleted due to the transfer ban, and the natural decline after a treble season. We just have to hope we’ll be still in contention for the trophies by the time January comes…

    • Jim
      September 23, 2015

      Some fair points, Ciaran. It’s a toss up whether it’s worth analysing such a generally poor team performance. Rather than have a go at most of the players I’d just like to say that the little niggles I had about us in the predictions post are still there.

      Namely, Bravo at the moment is clearly a safer bet between the sticks even if you’re a TS fan and think he has been unlucky. Not saying TS isn’t the better long term bet. Depends on how quickly he learns. I just wish occasionally he would save some of the ones I don’t expect him to which is what great keepers do.

      Mathieu is not a LB, ever. Didnt think he was particularly bad there tonight but he should be alongside Pique at CB. As Ciaran says they cover well for each other.

      I may be alone in this ( not for the first time !) but having criticised Iniesta at times last season I thought he had a pretty good one in a bad situation tonight. Yes, he lost the ball a few times but he was also our main creative force. On four or five occasions he was denied assists by poor finishing. He was also the only one in our midfield who actually handed out some stick to the opponents. His problem to me was that first half Messi stayed in his right wing berth and we couldn’t get or keep the ball. In the second Messi came back but that just seemed to result in more cover needing done by the mids. Still my biggest area of concern. Ini is constantly looking a lonely figure there.

      Suarez is taking a lot of heat but to be fair we weren’t pinging the ball about at any kind of speed to let him get some space. However, these three can’t possibly go much longer without hitting form. They are too good.

      Finally, Celta were much more mobile than I expected and stuck to a simple game plan . When you get the chance hoof it into the gap behind our FBs and game on. One day we will realise that both bombing on at the same time away from home isn’t a great idea.

      I think the only thing that really annoyed me was the lazy closing down of the man doing the crossing. That needs attention. This wussy strolling casually out to meet him, arms behind back and major thought being if he hits this I’m turning my back, ain’t the stuff of which great defenders are made. Give decent players that amount of time on the ball, we will suffer.

      I’m now really curious to see what LE will make of this and who, if anyone, will pay the penalty !

  34. Jim
    September 23, 2015

    OT but just watching the most awful sequence of penalties I’ve ever seen in the Liverpool Carlisle cup match. Great reminder when we’re talking about Messi that it’s really more about what the keeper does. 9 out of 10 were down purely to whether the keeper guessed the right way or not. The other was so low percentage as to be not worth attempting. The 9 were all savable.

  35. Cyclops
    September 23, 2015

    As for Suarez, seriously some times he makes me doubt him. I just try to look back at games such as the CL knockout fixture against PSG not to get disillusioned with him, really. Even the games where he’s been at his supposed best for us, i still debate if its anyway comparable to what he did in Liverpool. Or i get to think, did he did that much in Liverpool? maybe thats extreme, maybe not. Like i said, sometimes his performances blurr my memory of how supossedly good he is.
    Couple of people i usually watch barca’s match with, thinks he dosnt have any skills- as in his dribbling skills is weak, trickery is next to zero, and generally his ball skills isnt that great. I’d been debating those for a while but its beginning to seems to me that that actually the case. He’s just that inteligent poacher, with smarts movement, and its probably just about that. Hence, when he has an off game he’s just so annoying.
    And offgames, he’s be having for weeks now, and not just this game. He’d better gets his acts together, cause i’ll scream if i watch the Suarez of recent weeks one more time

    And anybody knows while the coach kept Rakitic on the bench? Rotation? Well, if we’re gonna be getting this kind of result when Rakitic is rested, he’d better not rest him. January is still a long way off, couple more of this sort of results, by january we could find ourselves Miles off the top.

    Apparently LE is not ready to play Samper- a player that would offer you better in Midfield as compared to Roberto, and gumbau in that position, i wouldnt even go there. So LE would simply have to play Rakitic game in game out till january and hopes to dear luck he dosnt get injured- and thats discounting fatigue.
    With this result i dont think there’s any more room for another risky tactical dicision-like playing Masche in pivot and busquet upfront, another loss might just be in store. He’d have to go with the safe and trusted options till january, question is how many are those options? That left for him to answer

    As regard this game, the players- in the midfield expecially, were just yards apart, large spaces between players,for a moment i wondered if that pitch was bigger than the Camp Nou

    Mathieu is never a left back, i wonder how many more defeat are left for Enrique to realize that. Against good oppositon he’s usually battered there. I didnt expected him to go for an Adriano- who is left-back-mathieu-raise to power 10 Worst.
    I’d hoped- at least based on the quality of the opponent, he’d go for Utility man Roberto to play there. He couldnt be worst than mathieu.He’s played there before i think. Atleast play him at leftback, with instuctions to stay back. Things might have worked out better
    And isnt a shame that the game Neymar had a better performance as compared to recent weeks ended up in a loss. hopefully, he keeps it up and dosnt regressed, cause we desperately need those MSN to hit top form like since last month
    And ter stergen- this game aside, is a joke honestly.

    • September 24, 2015

      I agree with you on most things about Suarez. I like him a lot, but still I feel disappointed, when 8 out of 10 times, when the ball comes to him, he is not able to get his touch or pass or control or decision right. There was a moment, early in the first half yesterday, when a ball from the mids come straight to him. He has the Celta CB behind him, just one marker, and there is lot of space to both sides of him. He can also see our other players running forwards. Either he could have hold the ball, or could have passed it sidewards for the players rushing from both sides or even tried to get past his marker. But none, In a poor heavy first touch, or in a bad decision making, he passes the ball back all the way to the midfield, allowing Celta mids time to run back to their position. For a moment, I thought about Lewandowski, who would have played a pefect ‘pole’ there. With just one marker, Suarez considered the worlds best no.9 could have tried something else. When he gets his things right, its always very good for us, but most of the time, the ball is wasted.

  36. luisthebeast
    September 23, 2015

    We won the treble thanks to Suarez and you came here to talk crap?Grow up.Visca Barca.Always but much more after a loss.

  37. luisthebeast
    September 23, 2015

    Yes he is just an intelligent poacher.You find it great coach.Can u tell us in what team you are manager??Maybe we must sell Suarez what do u think??Tell us great manager.

  38. ian_percival
    September 24, 2015

    Let’s be clear, am not trying to Undermine Iniesta but i think we have to face it,he’s past his prime,he’s in decline. He’s a CAM(FIFA16),and its not a position that slows the impact of age on a player.
    With that i think we need to be Engineering for a long-term replacement. To me i think its Eden Hazard and not coutinho,Hazard is more iniesta than countinho,coutinho possess load of trickery but lacks impossive directness,Eden is more direct with his dribbling,he doesn’t score a lot like Andres but he creates and open spaces .
    I know he’s ain’t gonna come cheap but he’s the perfect heir. EE will try to buy and dump him at the bench but they have isco.

  39. raj
    September 24, 2015

    I know it is 401 but it isn’t the end of the world. This team won a treble and should be allowed some credibility I think – at least in this space. Once in a while a team is going to play out of its skin, an opposing player is going to have the game of his life and messi shots hit the woodwork before it becomes 3-0. This game is more about accidents – like Rakitic not playing! – than about regression of the team. A bump in the road.

  40. September 24, 2015

    Frankly, I enjoyed Celtas game. Especially in the second half, I could not help appreciating how they played. Every one knew Celta is in great form, and this is what they were going to do. But still it looked like the players were in disbelief. Were we not prepared enough for this, I wonder.

    All our defenders had bad moments. Pique looked good earlier, but then that error happened. Did Unzue change his defensive tactics this season. Last season, counter attacks didnt seem to worry us, yday, it was just the opposite. Two goals were thrilling counters.

    There were lots of spaces between our three lines. We created chances too, but then this was that day when our ball would not go in. Messi alone seem to have send in 5 or 7 balls into the box, from his classic no.10 position. The one wasted by Munir, was the most disappointing for me. Anybody else in his place would have passed it to the goal, I felt. Neymar had some good moments in the second half too. More than us losing, it was a life time match for Celta. Am happy for them. Disappointed for us, but its so early and there is lots of time to recover. Nice to bring our stars down from the peak to the base camp, sometimes..
    Still to watch Munir coming in, as a sub when we really need help, was terrible.

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