Sevilla 2, Barça 1, aka “Things just slipping away”

It’s remarkable how things just slip away. At the seventh match last season, Barça was still unbeaten, 20 out of 21 possible points, not losing until the ninth Liga outing against Real Madrid.

This season Barça has 15 points from 7 matches, with losses to Celta Vigo and Sevilla. Is it worth pointing out the comparative difficulty of the schedule, combined with injuries and a crazy pre-season? Those are certainly factors. A more interesting statistic for me is that so far this season, the team is 5/20 on converting big, non-penalty chances. As a collective, Barça is usually around 50 percent. Enrique said after the Sevilla match that the team will start taking its chances soon, something that is an absolute certainty. But do the missed chances point to something more significant about what’s going on this season so far?

The team left chances on the table against Celta, and left an astonishing number of them on the table against Sevilla. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is, but only the delusional can’t detect that something is very different with this year’s team, more than just a lack of sharpness in front of goal.

Sevilla was the latest opponent to look quicker and faster to the ball than Barça. A hesitancy has crept into the team’s play, a mental hitch that is often the sliver of difference between an intervention and a shot on goal, or a goal scored versus a blocked shot. It’s more complex than “They aren’t good this year,” more complex than taking out after this player or that player, because the collective isn’t doing what it needs to right now, at both ends of the pitch.

As Diana Kristinne pointed out on Twitter, “If our finishing was at last May’s level we would never have lost this.” True. But more than the finishing, Barça didn’t even let in a goal until the ninth match, the Classic. Everybody else was blanked, shots on goal as rare as actual goals. This season Las Palmas got six shots on target, an eye-opening statistic.

The whole team is a step slower, and the press is non-existent because the whole team is plodding. So rather than opponents running into a buzzsaw of feet last season, this year they are finding open spaces, and joy on the wings. The first Sevilla goal saw an attacker outrun Alba, then just stroll past Mathieu, who lost his form during the halftime break, it seemed. Sergi Roberto had a slight chance to clear, but had to guess at where the ball was going and guessed wrong.

Last season that break would never have happened. And it’s more than the personnel, more than saying “If so and so had been there,” because a team is a collective of interlocking pieces. There are players who were poor today, glitches in the matrix that bring the whole thing down for others. But more than that, there is something wrong with the collective. Barça Twitter had its shots at Ter Stegen, but now that Bravo has a loss and a couple of goals hung on him, some clarity is entering the picture. The team just isn’t doing work in the same way that it did last year.

We can all remember goals that the team has scored when a player didn’t let a ball go out for a throw, but ran it down, turned and attacked before the defense had a chance to catch its breath. This year, balls are being allowed to go out for throws. Possession is kept, while an opportunity is lost.

For someone who predicted that the team wouldn’t win Liga this season, the 15 points from 7 matches isn’t as worrisome as the overall trend, which is defensive frailty and poor finishing, two characteristics that spell danger when they are allowed to coexist. Even more than that, the edge that propelled the team to winning everything last season seems dulled. The movement isn’t as sharp, the passes not as clean, things that were true even before the spate of injuries began to eat at the collective.

Is it as simple as the unwitting complacency that comes with sustained success? Like it or not, that is probably part of the equation. And if Barça has the same run of matches this season as last, perhaps the scenario, results-wise, would be different even as I am not sure the big picture would be.

The first seven last year: Elche, Villarreal, Athletic, Levante, Malaga, Granada, Rayo. The most difficult match of that stretch, against Athletic, was at the Camp Nou.

The first seven this year: Athletic (A), Malaga, Atleti (A), Levante, Celta (A), Las Palmas, Sevilla (A).

On the up side, the nastiest Liga hurdles, with the exception of the trip to Anoeta and the Bernabeu, will have been hurdled. On the down side, the team isn’t the sparkling group that we so enjoyed (well, some of us …) last season. Was that edge left on an airport tarmac, or in the press clippings that rained down from the heavens? Maybe the team should have listened to its fanbase more to fix any delusions of grandeur.

The most remarkable thing about a sustained high level of success is the psychological aspect, how next to impossible it is. With success comes more opportunities for failure, more pressure. Super this and that, exhibitions that line the club coffers and accolades galore. A coach and his staff have to make players who have already reached the pinnacle want to reach it again. Logic would seem to dictate that because a player has been there, he would want to do the work to stay, that he would understand how much work is necessary and put in that extra effort. Reality rarely meshes with expectation.

In looking at the chances missed this season, something that stands out is hesitancy. Attackers are seeking perfection as they control the ball, wind up and then shoot. A number of excellent chances at Sevilla were left because of this hesitancy, which gives defenders a chance to cover. The amazing thing about Messi is how he shoots with so little backlift, so little hesitancy. But even he has been off song this season, from a scoring perspective. The team is hitting posts, keepers are making great saves. Is it bad luck, or is that weird gyroscopic micron of difference that converts a shot from goal to excellent save, and is that happening because something else in the team’s game is off?

Sandro has been snakebit this season, a player usually thought of as clinical. Suarez has verged on abominable, his brace against Las Palmas notwithstanding. Neymar has had his usual slow start and Munir looks the youth player that he is, brilliant one moment and a mess the next. The attackers aren’t putting the ball in the net but neither are the other players where last season, everyone was scoring. Set pieces worked and were defended well, the midfield locked down by the press. And even as aesthetes snarked about how the team looked compared to a now-academic reality, the defense was rock-solid until the attack got rolling.

This season the defense is being caught out too easily because the team isn’t pressing. Too tired to press? Maybe. The open spaces presented by unathletic Barça mids have returned as well. The question isn’t as much of match control in the attacking sense as what happens when an opponent gets the ball. Last season Rakitic closed in from midfield, Alba or Alves from a wing as Mascherano or Busquets mopped up. This season, opposition attackers are breaking through that midfield layer with ease to get directly at a back line with multiple attackers, defenders left with a dilemma that must be solved immediately, when last season they seemed to have all the time in the world. And there is hesitancy.

On attack, midfield control helps the defense via possession and intelligent passing, but that part of the team’s game is also absent. There is more space between attackers this season, a difficulty exacerbated by loose passes and overall sluggishness as too many times, players wait for a pass to come to them rather than moving to the ball.

In other words, something is wrong with Barça, something more exposed by Las Palmas than Celta and Sevilla. The team isn’t as bad as some might suggest, nor is it isn’t as good as it thinks. Magic doesn’t just happen, and teams try a little harder against a treble winner. In two sequences, that was made clear at Sevilla.

For the first Sevilla goal Mathieu had a chance to go in with a sliding tackle, his only real chance to stop the play. He kept running, hoping that something would happen. Last season, the team made things happen. Late in the match on the other end, Sandro was set up with a beautiful scoring chance that was affected by a last-ditch challenge from a Sevilla defender who didn’t care about anything except stopping or altering that shot. He had to be stretchered off as he was shaken up, but the important part of his job was done.

It all seemed lots of fun last year, but the reality was that the team gave everything it had for matches, backstopping each other and doing all the right things. Some of it was luck as injuries stayed away and the right bounces fell. But work puts you in the perfect spot to take advantage of luck. This season the edge is dull and something significant has slipped away, something as true when the team was fully fit as it is now.

The saying is that form is temporary, class is permanent. Another one says where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Something is wrong at Barça, and it ain’t just injuries. If the team plays well, works to its maximum and loses, that is one thing. This current malaise is something else altogether. How Luis Enrique manages and solves this difficulty that isn’t yet a crisis, will go a long way toward defining his tenure at FC Barcelona.

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

54 Comments

  1. TITO
    October 3, 2015

    The only good thing is that we are on top of our CL group and only couple of points away probably from the top spot in La.liga.
    And that with two defeats already in the season.
    So beside the bad luck that is accompanig us, things arent so bad.

    • Davour
      October 3, 2015

      The thing with luck, though… as a great athlete from my country once observed: “I don’t know anything about luck. All I know is the more I work, the luckier I get”.

      • TITO
        October 3, 2015

        I agree. But sometimes, a shot on the goal is not blocked but deflected and somehow just enters the net. That sort of luck. As Kxevin said, forwards and anybody who is taking a shot is just overthinking.
        And i have played this game, i know how much the luck is needed sometimes

  2. Davour
    October 3, 2015

    Wow, that new post appeared very quickly! Thanks for the read, helps one to process the loss. As I mentioned in the last thread, I suspect the lack of new blood (on the pitch) might be part of the problem – no renewal of ambition, hungry hearts yearning for trophies (like so many last year). In other words: we are paying the price for the ban. On this account, the injury to Rafinha hurts the most: he was a man with a point to prove. Had Arda and Vidal been able to play, perhaps they would have provided that spark (can’t imagine Arda being as despondent). The youngsters are not good enough to supply that ambition, as they are busy learning the trade. Roberto is left on his own to provide fire. Neymar and Suarez are not leading as they should, nor is Piqué, Raki too slow, Busi confused, etcetc. It will be interesting indeed to see how LE responds to this. For one thing, let Roberto keep going on RB when possible…

  3. luisthebeast
    October 3, 2015

    First congrats to the Basketball team for Super Cup trophy!Very exciting team!About the game we played well but not great!But happy for Roberto Munir Sandro!I hope LaMasia fans are also happy!But i am afraid that they are saying that we have no bench and we need more transfers to be like madrid:-POh and Samper played 90m and GumbauCamara 0!Would it better the opposite??;-)

    • Davour
      October 4, 2015

      It’s great that La Masia graduates get their opportunity, but the circumstances are not favourable as it is too much too soon. I would argue for a transfer,and perhaps let one of the two attackers go on loan, to balance the team. The issue here is rather MSN’s unwillingness to let up minutes, even the last 15 of a game. This is the window where a good attacker can change a game, or a young attacker can get valuable minutes without too much pressure. Neither Munir nor Sandro are good enough to be expected to change a game, even though it might happen from time to time.

      Your point on Samper is fair, though introduction to the first team is a gradual process which is not only about playing time. I still think that if he was not part of the first team-plan, he should be loaned out like Halilovic. Still, the B-team would perhaps sink further without him. Taking one for the team, is he?

  4. luisthebeast
    October 3, 2015

    How on earth can a twitter account that cover young barca teams say every time that Munir and Sandro are not good enough??And always praise Traore and Deuolefeu??Thats not logic,thats insulting against Lucho only.Thats their problem.Pep fanboys.Even if Adama dont play again this season they would create a vid of him on the bench.Pathetic.

  5. ChaoticReaper
    October 3, 2015

    I’d propose nothing is wrong. There’s a reason teams don’t win trebles back to back. Players are human. After grinding all season, winning a treble, and sleeping with 100 women, the last thing they want to do is grind another season.

    • Davour
      October 4, 2015

      I agree. Hence my suggestion that we are hurt by the ban on the account of not having new players who can bring motivation to the table, and challenge the current group. But yes, they are human and played an astonishing amount of games last season. Also, last year it seems Messi came out from the WC (and the entire season) with a point to prove, while the Copa left him more despondent. Things run in cycles, and this team has been quite frequent in reaching heights!

  6. georgjorge
    October 3, 2015

    This article is very much spot-on. Thanks for it. I won’t pretend to know what exactly is wrong either – tactics (two DM and a player who has been doing defensive duties all season in midfield?), man management, fatigue or motivation – but it’s not just bad luck and a temporary dip in form. The team has enough quality that it could still be in contention for La Liga in January but it would probably have to fight for every game as if it were the finals of the CL, and the players would be almost finished halfway through the season – unless something changes. Kxevin wrote about how those players didn’t doubt they would win, but maybe the doubt that will be there after this match could lead to something good as well.

    In another perspective, seeing players with such great abilities have a series of bad games as a collective makes me miss Xavi even more. Of course he has great skills, but above all you could just rely on him to step up to the occasion whenever the game was on. He was reliable. As many games as he played for Barca, I guess the number of games where he had an off day and just misplaced easy passes and positioned himself wrongly would surely be much less than those of other players.

  7. Jim
    October 4, 2015

    A good read, Kxevin, and I largely agree with your assessment of the situation. I couldn’t watch the game until Sky showed it at teatime last night so stayed away from hearing the score. As I watched I really wasn’t unhappy with the first half until I realised that my expectations had dropped considerably. Here was Barcelona scrapping it out end to end with another team and holding them but certainly not the dominant side ( maybe despite possession stats ? – don’t know) . Then I got to thinking what I would do if I were LE and it became even harder. I’ve pushed for a Pique / Mathieu pairing and tbh I thought they were great in the first half but it was constantly bailing water out of the boat. They were getting at our defence at will and then of course we shipped two bad goals later.

    So I began thinking about the midfield but again tbh I’m not sure there was much LE could do there either. I’ve pushed heavily for Samper to be given a chance. But that’s only to be given a chance, not to carry the midfield so yesterday wasn’t a day for him to lay his future on the line.

    So this isn’t a bashing of LE but just what I think I saw.

    When all’s said and done we could have won this game. The free kick was ridiculous. I was screaming at Pique to slide in but I hear what he says about thinking he was offside so didn’t touch it. Hell, I was convinced it had to go in. And that’s typical of luck just when you need it.

    The next thing I would say is that we are so slow all over the park. Kxevin has called it as a reason why the pressing is poor and that’s right to an extent but we just seem slow generally. Our midfield yesterday was so slow it was untrue and that wouldn’t improve even with Ini back.

    Next, no defence can cope with numbers running through at them for a whole game. We had Busi and Masche ( both of whom I thought had a decent match yesterday ) yet it looked like there was no gate keeping at all. Why ? I have no idea.

    With regard to the goals I feel they were bad but the more I look at them I can see reasons for everyone’s actions. On the first it started with Masche going for a tackle he didn’t have to and losing it, but it was in their half and we had numbers back so no great fault there, we had Busi and Alba closing the guy down immediately on the byeline so well done yet he tips it past Alba and we’re in trouble. Then the guy runs away from Alba. What? Nobody does that. My thoughts then turned to Mathieu who makes no sort of impediment at all. Until you look at it again and see that he is hedging his bets worried about the runner just behind him who is actually his man to mark . Because of that he hesitates and is lost. His one mistake here I reckon was that he should have clattered into the guy just to make sure. Next, Pique should surely have cut out the cutback. Except that if you freeze it you see he has to cover both the slide across goal and the cutback to the number 20..

    The second was Sod’s law. And really hard luck on Matthieu. He has his man under perfect control. When he sees the cross ball about to come in he quite correctly steps out to play the guy offside. Unfortunately the guy’s mate has made a great run through our lines and timed it to perfection so he arrives only the moment the ball does and Matthieu looks daft. There are two Sevilla players offside when the ball is played but it is the third who scores. You can see how unexpected that was as the guy Matthieu was marking actually attempts the bicycle kick, sure that the ball is coming his way.

    So we could have scored more and their goals weren’t brilliant from our point of view. However, as Kxevin says, when that much goes wrong there is something bigger at play. Not gonna throw brickbats today because I actually on rewatching found us a little sad. I loved the last ten minutes attempted comeback but wondered why it wasn’t possible before we were two down , then I realised we’d thrown large numbers forward and it was as much down to the fact that they’d done enough and were content to defend it.

    Don’t know what we do now but for me it won’t go away until we can get some midfield control back and then we need to hope Messi comes back firing on all cylinders.

    • Jim
      October 4, 2015

      Btw, Deulofeu keeps his place for the Merseyside derby? Hmm, maybe that story’s not over yet. If a player of his ability who has had nothing but knock backs for the last couple of seasons feels he has a manager’s confidence it could be interesting.

    • Davour
      October 4, 2015

      It is perplexing. Perhaps it comes down to forwards not pressing, leaving midfield with too much and it accumulates, or perhaps the players are not working together on the press (which LE & co should spot). But really, from what was created during the first half, we should have scored more. Suarez are at fault here. I was especially bothered that he didn’t make something better out of the rebound from the free kick – Busi was all open for a cut back – but instead decided to shot from a dead angle. Lack of vision, frustration?

      • georgjorge
        October 4, 2015

        Actually, the forwards did a good deal of pressing for most of the game. Perhaps the pressing itself was a mistake (20/20 hindsight), because except for the last twenty minutes Sevilla was incredibly good at passing the ball out of defense when pressed, kinda like Barca was able to a few years ago. Time and time again, the offensive half of our team was in their half trying to take the ball from them, and when the Sevilla players elegantly slid the ball past them (as they did rather often) we had only four or five players back defending. They created some good chances out of that in the first half, and while we could and should have scored one or two more, they could have done that as well. So at least for me, it doesn’t come down to luck or bad finishing this time.

        • Davour
          October 4, 2015

          I see, well, maybe not the effort but the coordination, working together? I don’t know, except that the team looks sluggish at times and is not defending as a unit. We’ll see if anything changes.

  8. Cyclops
    October 4, 2015

    Yeah, obviously, this whole dismal performances of the team are a result of the malfuntioning of the group, of the team as a collective. But i think you should not underemphasize the role individual brain farts has played in it all. The team as a group might not be performing at the highest level, they might not be playing the best of football, but i think its all good enough for the team to scrape and grind out result. At this point we should be talking about how the team’s not playing well but still grinding out result. But individuall gaffes has prevented that.
    For instance, ever since Pique came back from his- in my opinoin, deserved ban., he’s been stinking. If he’s not making the wrong decisions defensively its offensively. I mean for chrissake, how did he get to skie the rebound of Neymars FK, Like who misses such a goal, who does that? The talk about his thinking its was offside, give me a break. So we ended up losing, and i’m supposed to be impressed that a clear goalscoring opportunity we had was fluffed by pique cause he was supposedly being Mr fair? Now, these are at the bottom of it all, the difference between barca winning or losing a games this season; Individual gaffes.
    If pique had scored that goal, things could have panned out differently.

    In the Roma match, tho as a group the team werent playing that well- Roma were even worst, hence the team was cruising even with their 1 nil lead, Thats until MAtS Had his own brain farts. Granted that the guy covering the Roma player who scored tha golazo could have done better, but if that sort of goal is scored against my team, i’d place a greater blame on the GK than the player.

    And how the game eventually turned out is now history; LE in his quest to reestablish his team lead , subbed in an innocent Rafinha who got his legs hacked off in probably his first touch, and his Ending was with a season Ending injury( funny). And yeah, we eventually drew the game. All courtsey of MAtS; depite the performance, i can bet that we’d have ended that game with a 1 nil win or maybe even added another goal.

    At the celtavigo match, its telling that celta scored when we actually had the momentum.

    In their best minute of the game they couldnt score, just when the team was repelling them back – tho again as a group they werent doing that in fanciest way, but they certainly were curtailing their attacks and pushing them back and the then BAM, Alves had his own brain fart; inexplicably conceded occeans of space to Nolito, and boy did the guy nailed his hide.
    That was arguably the most important moment of that match. I can argue, that had that goal not gotten in, maybe barca might not have won the game, they might not even have gotten a draw, but they certainly wouldnt have loss with that huge scoreline. All in all, i think the difference between individual gaffes and Team misperformances should be acknowledged.

  9. Cyclops
    October 4, 2015

    …And maybe sometimes, the line differentiating individual gaffes and Team misperformances might get blurred, but when you’re dominating your opponent, having all the attack, having all the dribbles, passes, everything, and leaving none for your opponent. Then suddenly your opponent gets a rare attack, and one of your player wondrously scores an own Goal, thats an individual gaffes, totally independent of the group performance.
    Your team might not even be playing that well, but just well enough to get something outta the game, then suddenly your player gets a rare chance to score a goal and he dosnt, moments later the opponent goes on an attack and scores a goal, that’s individual mistake.
    Or maybe rather, your player made a defensive mistake and gifted the opponent a goal, a la MAts giving an exquisite nodded pass to a bilboa player in the super copa, which resulted in the goal that was arguably the catalyst for that monumental disaster.

    Just as individuality rears up its head when Messi takes a ball from an unseemingly safe area, dribble past a couple players and takes a wicked shot, scoring a goal- INDIVIDUAL BRILLIANCE,, its can also take the form of players commiting individual errors.
    In barca case, sometimes the whole players just join in the fun, and take turns in commiting their own individual errors.
    When we were 1 goal down against celta, trying to mount a comeback, the aforementioned Pique, did what he’s been doing a lot this season; dropped a clanger, inexplicably coughing up the ball in Midfield, gifting Aspas a one on one with MAtS, thats hardly had anything to with the team.

    So the team as a group cant improved unless this issue of players commiting mistakes upon mistakes is addressed. Indeed its even one of the major reasons why the team is underperforming. The team just cant improve with the individual errors happening game after games. The team might be worn out, fatigue and whatnots, but we can still grind out result even without playing that well- that is ofcourse without stuffs like pique escorting a ball to the post.

    Meanwhile, there’s nothing good about this loss, Absolutely Nada.
    What with all the talk about Luck, i think its being overflogged. Here we are reduced to banterings about being unlucky, like really? i dont subscribe to that. The match episodes of being unlucky, is simply a consequence of the fact that things has gone awry, things are simply not working well, and they should be addressed rather than crying blue murder about being unlucky

    As jim- tho sadly but truthfully, said, we’ve been reduced to expecting little from the team this season. I mean, when somebody thinks we were playing well in the first half and doing just fine, and all that was needed was juat a goal ? I reserved my comments..

    Watching the match, i soon suprisingly found out that for the first time i wasnt cursing and complaining about the match, rather i was agitating for a win, sadly we got neither..

  10. Jim
    October 4, 2015

    Sorry, Cyclops, we must be talking about different FKs. The one I meant was the one that hit the post, came back hit the goalie on the back and instead of crossing the line rolled along the goal line. If we’re talking about this one Pique didn’t sky anything because he didn’t touch it. The reason he didn’t touch it, as he said, is nothing to do with fairness but that he’d be whistled for offside if he did. He, like the rest of us, thought it was bound to go in. If you freeze the picture just as the kick is taken you can clearly see Pique peeling off and moving offside. If he then touches it in that move he’s adjudged offside.

    I also can’t agree that he was poor yesterday. I thought he was one of the rocks in defence and made a few vital tackles in a defence which was essentially overrun at times. He has, made one or two errors this season but care to name any of the defence who haven’t ? The only real one I’ve seen was his miscontrol which did lead to Aspas’ goal. He should have hoofed it away first time because it was a poor slow ball from Busi.

    • Rivaldo
      October 4, 2015

      I sometimes try to think you are a fair man by your comments but often times i am undone by your bias especially towards Pique, Xavi and Matthieu. In your eyes those two can do no wrong or maybe not enough to warrant serious analytical critique and criticism from bloggers here or yourself.
      Pique is having a stinker-off form. Says a lot when Mascherano seems more trusted to bring the ball forward than you… and looks better – no slight on Masch’s ability but this is his role.
      And this Matthieu-Pique partnership that you so often request-I would like to see your stats and even direct me to games as to how this is Barca’s best partnership. One current form of each idividual I wouldn’t call this our best partnership. I actually wish our center backs presented a different selection headache.

      • Jim
        October 5, 2015

        Thanks for your comments, Rivaldo. It’s all just opinions so good to hear yours.

        As far as Xavi is concerned, I stand guilty as charged. To me, he is the greatest midfielder ever, the only one who could actually control a whole game by himself and I dearly wish he were still with us.

        With regard to Pique and Mathieu I would certainly put up a defence. Pique has been vastly underrated by Barca fans on a constant basis, either because they prefer the impulsive dashes of Masche out of defence to make a tackle and they see Pique staying on his feet ( almost always the correct stance) or because they see him as slow and not caring. I’ve even had to defend him against charges that he can’t jump ! As far as stats are concerned I don’t have any at my fingertips but I’m confident enough to say let’s have a look at the next few games. I usually put in my tuppenceworth about the goals that we concede. If you disagree by all means jump in. We can always do with hearing different voices in this space. So I’m giving no ground on Pique.

        Mathieu is a different kettle of fish. I thought, and still think, that he is the best defensive partner we have for Pique at the moment. He thinks and moves like a CB for me ( unlike his performances at LB where I feel he will always struggle). I have defended him a little above for the last game but don’t absolve him completely from blame. However, I would argue he had a great first half. I’ve never liked Masche there for reasons which folks will be fed up hearing so won’t go into them again, I’d like to see more of Bartra before I commit to him ( I’ve a feeling he’ll fall just a little short) and it’d be crazy to say that just now TV should be the regular partner for Pique as he needs to get himself fit first. Btw, is anyone else worried that we don’t really know the extent of his current injury? Not ruling him out. He used to be a great defender and I was one of those who thought he was worth taking a chance on.

        Hope this answers your queries but tbh we all have our own views of what happens on the pitch and thats great.

  11. georgjorge
    October 4, 2015

    Well at least the team can produce more than ONE chance per game against AM, unlike some other team in white I could mention…

  12. Tata2
    October 5, 2015

    Good thing is that if we can hold on and not fall down further the table till January then I would fancy our liga chances. We aren’t the only top team in europe struggling, infact the only top team in europe not struggling at the moment is Bayern Munich. I believe that just like last season, the team will come good when it matters. Let’s not get all gloomy about the results now, just like I expect any result when we are playing these days and accept it in good faith. We need to have faith in LE after what he did in his first season. Look at Mou with all his billion euros stars fit and available, his is still struggling to avoid the relegation zone. Patience and faith is what we need now. Bayern maybe fearsome now but this is just the beginning of the season, we should be familiar with what happens to teams that hit top form, and peak too early at the start of the season, only to get hit by injury or experience dip in form when it actually matters most at the business end of the season. Cheer up, its Villa real (I think) topping the table not Athletico or EE.

    • Davour
      October 5, 2015

      Good point, but still interesting to discuss the reasons behind the team’s poor stretch – less the results than the lack of geist. But hopefully we will grow into the season, injuries healing, signings allowed to play, Nothing is lost yet.

      We can hope BM will recede, but they have Ribery & Robben returning from injuries and ready to fight for their spots. Pretty well set up for Pep to keep them hungry…

  13. October 5, 2015

    It was after long, that Sevilla showed us so much space in their defence, probably due to lack of our no.10, but it was such a pity that the ball didnt want to go in during the first half, when I thought we did good, even if it was very un Barca like end to end match. We didnt seem to know what was CONTROL. What happened to this ‘unleasing’ of Neymar and Suarez, though. I was really screaming at couple of things Suarez did, when the worlds best or second best no.9 should have done better. Neymar was much much better, though his issue is about decision making.
    Few posts before, I did mention our same players who were letting in tons of goals during Martino’s time, became an iron wall with LE and the coaching staff deserved credit. But the same defence is regressing and I would like the coaching staff to help them.

    Whatever, I think we are still competing for the liga. Unlike other seasons, liga is looking very strange this season, if we can hang around within the 4/5 ranks till Jan, I think we will get better for the second half. I also feel, being tired, LE is deliberately asking the players to not do their 100% as far as the pressing is concerned, to save themselves for the second season. We are already tired and if we also go for the full on Barca press, he knows that we wont see through the second half. Hopefully.

    Anyone who saw the Madrid derby yesterday, care to tell me what was Simeone thinking when he took out Correa. A typical case of a screw up by an Argentine coach, if not for which I thought Atletico might have won, may be.
    Correa was easily carving through the EE, half of the time he attempted. I never thought he would be so effective, so early, against a team like RM.

  14. October 5, 2015

    If it is true that the team have asked the club to register Turan at the earliest, it shows two things. Turan has impressed them in the training ground a lot and they already trust him, which will be very good when he starts to play. Also, they themselves are not confident about their present state, which is worrying.

    • Davour
      October 5, 2015

      On the other hand, not realising their current issues would be hubris… they might be confident, but still insightful regarding what the team needs as a whole. March, with all his confidence, is never going to control the pace of a game or become a creative mid (Raki, formerly known as an AM, might want to reconsider his role, however, but that is in the end up to LE). Enter: Arda.

    • Jim
      October 5, 2015

      I reckon the players themselves are starting to see that a lot of our problems at both ends have their roots in the lack of control in midfield. Whether we can do anything about it – or even in some cases see it as an issue – is more worrying for me.

  15. Tata2
    October 5, 2015

    Meanwhile, will Mou ever run out of excuses? His man management is pretty poor. The last thing you wanna do is make certain players in your squad scapegoats any time things go wrong, something LE knows too well.

    • georgjorge
      October 5, 2015

      He’s probably an excellent coach with regard to tactics, but outside of that just a clown. I don’t watch their matches but even Chelsea supporters told me their opponent had been denied two clear penalties last game, and when after that game he started blathering about how Chelseas was denied penalties by the ref…that’s just too absurd.

      You’re right, that’s something to admire about LE so far: he manages to protect his players from media without resorting to finding all kind of other scapegoats.

  16. Cyclops
    October 5, 2015

    Jim, that is exactly the one i’m reffering to, forgive my wrong choice of word tho’.
    But now, we cant be sure the Ref would have call that as an offside if he had just condescend to stretch his limbs a bit and poke that ball into the net would we? That was so close, that its not beyond the Ref not to call that as an offside. We’ve seen obvious offside plays get to be so fiercely taken by players that you wonder if they truly belive there were onside.

    The station i watched the match, at halftime kept replaying that scene, obviously they werent really sure of Pique’s action themselves. The funny thing is he kept running after the ball, but didnt do anything else. I can assure you, if that was a sevilla chance, the sevilla player would blast that ball into the net then ask if its was offside later.

    Over all as kxevin said, its the sort of laid back attitude- kinda off, thats partly responsible for the recent debacle. The players are hardly charged up, their opponent keeps on running Faster than them, better at the 50/50 balls, and look to be one step ahead of them in evrything.
    Pique just poke the ball into the net, then let the Ref decide if its stands or not, or better still dont even run after the ball- its looks funny…

    • Davour
      October 5, 2015

      If he knew he was offside and thought ball would go in, why touch it? That is intelligent, not weak. Refs don’t care about your go-getter attitude. I can’t believe we’re not instead talking about Suarez failure to cut back to Busi, which was a clear example of that aggressive attitude rather than being aware of one’s surroundings and the better option.

  17. lovell
    October 5, 2015

    Leadership!
    What makes Titans fall to demigods?
    There are two types of leaders, those who lead from behind and those who lead from infront.
    Iniesta ; great guy, best midfielder ever . Lets not kid ourselves, hes no leader.
    Messi ; best mid, striker, defender if he feels like it . No leader.
    That’s what Xavi brought to the table. The guy to call you out for making Rainbow flcks, why ? Because he can! !
    If anyone has the opportunity to rewatch our games this season you will notice this, there is no Order .
    This has nothing to do with LE.
    Every great barca team has one.
    The one player who wont take shit from his teammates.
    A good leader need not be the best player on the field.
    Puyol wasn’t.
    An alpha dog is not the fastest, biggest, fiercest, Hes the alpha dog!

    • georgjorge
      October 5, 2015

      That’s an interesting perspective, and you may be on to something. However, I think there’s no denying that Mascherano is a leader even though I’m not too fond of him at centreback. Neymar also has leadership qualities when he plays for Brasil but it’s hard to be a leader when playing in attack at Messi’s side.

      • lovell
        October 5, 2015

        That’s the point.
        Mascherano is the closest thing we have to real leader.
        Due to some reasons I cant quite comprehend, there seems to be an unfortunate consensus that Mascherano, somehow, isn’t “barca ” enough.
        kinda ‘he hasn’t been here long enough ‘

    • October 6, 2015

      There are many different types of leaders, not just the ones who lead from front and back, if you recognise the subject Organisational Behaviour. .
      The ones who lead by example, instead of shouting and motivating by words, too are considered leaders. This is why the whole team look upto Messi, be it be Barca or Argentina. In Messi’s absence, no other player commands that sort of respect than Iniesta, for simply what he can do with the ball.
      The other team members are not nursery students, but professionals, who know what their job is. They do not need somebody to shout at them always on the pitch. If they think they do, then they are not simply good enough to play in the elite level. Am not saying, this doesnt mean there is no need of someone like that, but that alone is not going to work. Our present situation is out of lot of things – tiredness, tactics, injuries, things off the pitch in which the club has done poorly. etc.

  18. Barcathegreatestever
    October 5, 2015

    La Liga has never had more parity. Top to bottom teams are mettled against the firepower of Madrid and ball movement of Barca. I said the La Liga crown would have the fewest points that this generation has seen and so far, very true. Right now Benitez’s defensive strategy looks better positioned to win the crown. When teams run at our backline over and over we concede. I don’t see a need to attack players here, Iniesta and Messi are genius’s at not only retaining possession but putting teams in defensive positions. Someday we won’t have them and Barca soccer will be more wide open like we are seeing. Messi had his toughest time while Madrid dragged him through the courts, I don’t see why it wouldn’t affect Neymar. All said Barca are solving tons of problems and battling at the top. They’re not going to crack, they’ll get stronger and when they get healthy watch out!

  19. Barcathegreatestever
    October 5, 2015

    ESPN wrote a BS article about LE getting too big for his britches and adopting a Mourinhoesque mentality with the press. Personally I applaud him trying to protect Neymar and Masch from another crap headline

    • Jim
      October 5, 2015

      I’ll be honest. I don’t like LE’s abrasive attitude at times. It caused problems last year but he had the sense to listen to wiser heads. But he’s not like Mourinho at all. He caused chaos at RM, with players as well as press and fans. His actions at times were a disgrace so it’s not fair to compare them. I’d see LE as being more like SAF in his dislike of the press but he only got away with it because he kept putting great teams on the park and winning leagues. It’s a dangerous path to go down at a time when your team is misfiring.

      I’m also not a great fan of building up the everybody’s against us mentality. There have been some of the players going along with this in their comments this week and it makes me uneasy. It may be partially true and it works for a short time but also carries dangers. We should be better than that.

    • ciaran
      October 5, 2015

      Lucho was an abrasive character as a player and we shouldn’t expect anything less as a manager. He is a true cule for an outsider and had made us a difficult team to beat. Once we get a settled team without the injury worries and get into January in a reasonable position we should be OK though. We just need to become a difficult team to play again.
      Arda will be a great signing, his mentality and hunger will do us the world of good. Vidal also comes with a point to prove.
      We need an injection of fight. I would actually think that we could do with adding maybe another 2 players, not just for their quality but to freshen up the dressing room.

      • Son
        October 7, 2015

        Let me guess those two players.
        One in midfield (Gundogan)& forward (Nolito)?

  20. luisthebeast
    October 5, 2015

    When ur team after a transfer ban,after they won everything,after some injuries and a bad preseason have the same points with madrid,yep i feel very optimist that we will win La Liga.And thank god that international break we will have a lot of players staying in BCN!

  21. Jim
    October 6, 2015

    Looks like Messi is gonna be cleared of the tax charges. There’s a surprise ! Now, the prosecutor is looking to jail his dad.

    All prosecutions are meant to be tested against the public interest. Given the amount in taxes Messi must pay annually to the Spanish government what public interest is served by chasing his dad and trying to hound Messi out of the country rather than accepting the rather large sum which has been offered in settlement, a lesson learned for all future footballers and avoiding a hugely costly proceedings which they might well lose. Wouldn’t happen in the UK so what’s the extra element in Spain ? Hmm, . . . . think I might know.

  22. Tata2
    October 6, 2015

    Saw the Southampton goals against chelsea and they were all good goals. It could have been worse if the pk’s were given an that guy decided to pass to the other open guy for a simple tap in than go or goal himself. It was also good seeing You have a taste of his own medicine. Running into a parked bus and been hit on the counter.

  23. Jim
    October 6, 2015

    Don’t know much about the guy myself but from what some here say this sounds like a surprise.

    From Barcastuff: Barcelona B left wing player Alejandro Grimaldo (20) can leave for free in 2016. Deal with Champions League team is close. [rac1]

    • ciaran
      October 6, 2015

      Grimaldo seems like a talented boy but he must see his path to the forest

      • ciaran
        October 6, 2015

        *path to the first team blocked by Alba.
        At present he could be no worse than Adriano and Mathieu, who are both massively underperforming in my opinion.

        I’d be tempted to offer him a promotion at the end of the season. I don’t believe that we need to invest in a substitute for Alba as someone good enough will know that Alba is first choice.

  24. luisthebeast
    October 6, 2015

    Do people really watched Barca B last season?Or they are use their imaginati
    on that Grimaldo is the next Messiah?I watched a lot games last season and against fast skillful wingers he had serious problems.But yeah lets blame Lucho,it s easy.I feel like Saint Pep promoted from 2008-12 all the youngsters and i forgot it.Pedro who came at 17 and Busquets.Or maybe Thiago played under Saint Pep so many games and i dont remember it?And now we have in the squad Sandro Munir Rafhinia Bartra Roberto.But what,it s not enough?I look at Barca B now and i see 18-19old players all from La Masia.And Juvenil A and B are full of talents.Please the people that are crying are just anti-Barto and anti-Lucho.

    • georgjorge
      October 7, 2015

      Calm down, Luis. You’re getting angry about questions that nobody here asked and things that nobody here implied. Even if you may have a point about the comparison of youth players under Lucho and Pep (I wouldn’t really know) you’re presenting them in a pretty insulting (to people with other opinions) manner.

  25. luisthebeast
    October 6, 2015

    And when we lost Icardi and Rochina,when Pep was our coach,did anyone cried??Two boys that played the number 9 position,a position that LaMasia always had problem to create for first team.No then the Saint Pep was the coach.I doubt there will be another team in the world that won the treble and the fans every day look for a reason to complain!!Oh Samper will go to Arsenal!!Oh our shirts are ugly!!Oh Espai is shit!!Oh Mathieu is shit!!Oh Lucho is an idiot!!Oh oh oh!!

  26. luisthebeast
    October 6, 2015

    And all that hate to Adriano??Really??That guy won us points with great goals,he is here from 2010,never complain be in the bench but people hate him.Why??Because some twitter accounts want to convince us that Grimaldo can defend.Well no he cant be the LB of Barca.

  27. luisthebeast
    October 6, 2015

    And a last thing:Twitter is for people with different opinions to talk.But when u talk maybe sometimes the other have right and u are wrong.But in the Barca fans twitter nobody listen to other.Everyone say his opinion and defend that until death.When ur ears are closed dont talk,it s a waste of time.

  28. luisthebeast
    October 6, 2015

    Oh and a question!In what division Bayern B play and how good is their u-19 team?With Saint Pep as head coach in first team they must be amazing!!They dont need to buy BVB players to win Bundesliga!!

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