Barça is going to lose — this is known

Think of the most wonderful thing that has happened to you.

Now think of the hours, days, weeks, months after that. Think of how that thing, the most wonderful thing ever, morphed into something else. Maybe it went away, maybe your view of it changed.

Think of wanting something, of thinking, “If only I could have this, it would be great,” and the struggle in giving yourself license to want that thing.

A coping mechanism for many is to say, “It will never happen.” By doing this, we think that we are preparing ourselves for disappointment.

Wrong. As Seneca said, “He who suffers before it is necessary suffers more than is necessary.” We even have science of a sort to back up our assertion. In 2008, a study was done to determine if, indeed, anticipating a negative result helped to ameliorate reality. For this test, the scientists used a group of students waiting for exam grades. They found that the negative anticipators felt worst a short time before getting the results, and just as bad as the folks who didn’t use negative anticipation.

“We’re gonna lose.” Telling yourself that doesn’t lessen the feelings of the loss in any way, despite the assertions of the negative anticipators. “I’m just doing this to steel myself against the inevitable.” The job interview where you tell yourself that you didn’t get it — working up the nerve to asking someone out, believing they will say no.

Our lives are lived in fear, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, we eke away an existence rooted in various fears but mostly fear of loss, of losing something good. We rarely understand what we have because once we get it, we’re terrified of losing it, a fear that often keeps us from fully enjoying it. And everybody has something to lose.

Composer Gavin Bryars has a track called “Jesus’ blood never failed me yet.” Its base is a song, being sung by a homeless man, a tune filled with such complete and utter belief that it stuns. It’s a composition that I can barely think about, much less listen to dry eyed, because of its beauty. When you have nothing, you have something. You have faith, you have belief.

Jesus’ blood never failed me yet
Never failed me yet
This one thing I know
That He loves me so

When Barça drew Malaga and Real Madrid won the Madrid derby, it began on Barça Twitter, the rumblings that the good stuff is about to end, all to come crashing down. People are preparing for it by embracing it, anticipating its arrival. “I’m just making myself feel better,” cloaking the fear in negativity and anticipation so that “See? Told you so,” is just an arm’s length away.

So here’s something: good things always end. It’s just what they do. When Barça won its first treble, it happened so quickly, so seemingly suddenly that few of us really got the chance to anticipate it, to savor it. But by God, we’d be ready for the next one even if … what if it doesn’t come? What if the team doesn’t win everything? What happens to the feelings I have, this wonderful sense of being the best by association?

It’s why supporter bases of teams swell. There are many times as many Chicago Cubs fans right now than there were at the end of last season, when things didn’t go as anticipated. We all want to be part of something good, because it’s something that makes us feel good. We can stave off fear by immersing ourselves in wonderful feelings. Sport is a weekly rollercoaster ride that is safe, because it’s ultimately meaningless. Unless you’ve bet your house, how will your life change because your team lost? Football is life. Or is it?

Death will come. We know this because this is nature. We are born, we live, and we die. We see the terminally ill change, now that there is a finite period, something workable. Sunrises are something more special, loved ones even more so. The rest of us live our lives from day to day, with a vague inclination that we’re inexorably moving toward our own demise. It isn’t something to think about, because well …

But it’s there. There are people who are said to be unafraid of dying, which is different from embracing death and different still from anticipating it. The beauty of a life well-lived is should the safe suddenly fall from the sky, should some capricious thing happen that brings life to an end, we can know that a good time was had by all. But living life in full is hard. And scary. We get good things, and worry about losing them, so we get ready for that day by saying that day is coming. When eating a sundae, do you savor each spoonful or worry about when this wonderful thing is all gone?

Sporting success is magnificent. When the team that you love wins it all and does so gloriously, as Barça did, you damn right you’re terrified of never feeling that way again. You’re supposed to be. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t. It’s okay to feel that way, okay to understand that the reason so many so aggressively rail against things is because of that fear. More trebles!

Everything isn’t wrong because a desired result didn’t happen. Sometimes, nothing is wrong and a negative result happens, because that’s what life does. Life lets an athlete play a perfect game, and be outdone by a fluke shot. Life lets some minnow team play the game of its life, costing your team a shot at glory even as the minnow has nothing to gain by its success.

Year of the Six Cups. A soci card commemorated that amazing year in which Barça won everything. Every last little thing, from youth systems to finances to team play, all came together and the team won, and kept on winning. My heavens, what a time! It will never, ever be like that again, and not only because something like that can be that special only once. Look at the reaction to the second Treble that Barça won, and how tainted it became, how compared to the first it was as people were found wanting. “Didn’t happen in the right way,” “Coach got bailed out by Messi.”

Meanwhile … a second Treble. There are people for whom every day is a great day. They’re always upbeat and happy, always with positive, kind words and deeds. The enlightened never have bad days because spiritually, the concept of a bad day isn’t possible for them. Missed the train? There will be another one. Missed the last train? My cab driver had the coolest life. We talked as he drove me home.

For me, Barça is like that. Does it help that the team was a mess when I found it? Maybe. Maybe had I come to the club during its Treble run, I would be as wracked with fear and negative anticipation as so many are, so much so that it becomes difficult to enjoy something for fear of fretting about the worst. “The team played great, but wait until the board kills the club.”

Don’t be afraid. Barça is going to lose. That isn’t negative anticipation. It’s life and sport. “You can’t win them all” isn’t just an adage, but an acceptance of reality. Your team is going to lose. No matter how much you love it, and want the best for it, it is going to lose. How will that make you feel? Accept the inevitability of loss, of nature doing what it does and the next time you ask that question of yourself, the answer might surprise you.

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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.

45 Comments

  1. Rami
    November 20, 2016

    Oh kevin, Let me just say that i’ve been a long fan of this blog, And especially of your pieces, But it saddens me to see you stuck in a narrative, And losing your objectivity, Which what made me a fan of your writing and thinking in the first place, And not to confuse anyone, This is a response to his previous article.

    I started to predict before hand what you’re going to say after a loss or a draw with a good accuracy, And that’s the first clue you’re stuck in a narrative, Your articles after a disappointing result boiled down to this:

    ” X and Y players weren’t at their best……..individual mistakes………individual mistakes….., You can blame Enrique but your shouldn’t…..Because of X and Y player and their little mistakes ”

    Almost every one on the team at one point was called out by you, Except luis enrique, Mr.Perfect i guess, The infallible one, And i challenge all the readers of this blog to go and check out your articles after every bad result this season and see if you ever, Even for a single time, Held LE any real responsibility for a bad result.

    My tipping point was yesterday’s article, When apparently paco turned out to be the biggest offender!!, Months in into the season, And you can say that with a straight face,……., Is he also responsible for the 3-1 against MC, 4-3 against Celta, The draw against AM, Or losing against alaves in your own stadium, Or the random and utterly unstable team performances since the start of the season, Looking at your articles it would appear that Enrique in charge of amateurs from a third world local team.

    LE has the best squad in the world, And that is a fact, It isn’t unreasonable for the fans to see performances and results that reflect the talent and diversity he has under his hand, But most importantly we want to see the team heading into a better direction, But here we are, Nearing December and the classico and we’re as shambolic as the start of the season and no clear end to this.

    It’s time to start hold him responsible for the team dynamics and lack luster results and performance, Just as easily you held our players responsible for bad results, Be objective, Stand back and open your eyes.

    • Anders
      November 20, 2016

      So who should be credited for games like 5-1 Sevilla, 3-0 Bayern, 3-1 Juve, 4-0 RM, 6-0 Bilbao, 7-0 Valencia, and so on. Assuming consistency in your argument, are all of these results also due to Lucho? Or, do the players deserve the credit for these wins? Assuming you’re done with Lucho and want him out, do you feel the same about Neymar or Suarez who have also been very below par this season?

      It’s a team game, and no one person deserves blame for poor results. With Lucho, the team has managed to win 5 of 6 major trophies, and in both previous seasons the team has gone through similar bad patches as this one. Is this the worst one? Perhaps, but with the record that the team has, does it not deserve the time and faith to see the Lucho era come to its natural end?

      We are 12 rounds into the season, 4 points behind RM who have almost been flawless so far this season, and on top of our CL group. Everything is still within reach and the chances of saving the ship are just as big as it sinking. All we can do is have faith in this group of players that have given us fans so much for almost a decade.

    • Rami
      November 20, 2016

      This response of yours is a prime example of the lack of objectivity and constant narrative, Specially your first paragraph, Where in my post exactly where i wanted or even hinted at my desire to see him gone??, Or in any way discredited his efforts and role in the success of the past two seasons?, You creating a straw-man, Plain and simple.

      Blaming and scapegoating isn’t my thing, But when the team as a whole looks disorganized, Lack consistency and stability, And with poor dynamics, For months now (Which are the responsibilities of the head coach by the way)…Then kevin comes like with every bad results this season, Turns the other way from LE, and starts rambling about certain players and individual mistakes, i’m sorry, But that just boggles my mind, And gets me pissed.

      I neither want protected figures or scapegoats, But it’s about time we have a serious chat about enrique, And where he is headed with the team, Let’s remember he isn’t a new coach on his first season, Nor he is with a lack luster squad, He is a manger on his 3rd season with the best squad in the world, The fans has a right to know what the hell is going on.

    • Anders
      November 20, 2016

      I apologize that my presumption was wrong, but you must at least be able to understand it given the Barcaverse’s reaction to the draw.

      And I don’t think Lucho should be excluded from all the criticism, and Kxevin is certainly a huge defender of him, but I just don’t believe he’s the issue right now, and even if it comes down to him I think he deserves some time until key players return from injury and so on.

      I don’t really disagree with you though. It would be nice to know where he’s going with the squad because right now it’s not very easy to see, but we probably only will know if the team fulfills his vision. Let’s hope it gets better when we see a bit more stability in the squad.

      And again, sorry for putting you in the same box as the Twitter/reddit culeverse.

  2. Davour
    November 20, 2016

    Being objective is hard (impossible, of course, in the absolute sense). I agree that Kxevin has been very stern in his defence of LE, dismissing critics as “hipsters” or being part of a “trend” – aka not analyzing for themselves (which I’m sure is often true on Twitter especially) – which is not an argument FOR LE, really. The last match review was uncharacteristically pessimistic, lacking the sort of philosophical approach that this piece has. And I agree with RAMI that LE must also be held accountable, or at least we must be open to the possibility that he is not able to instruct or inspire the players to do the things they are obviously supposed to. In all honesty, Barca should win the last game with or without inspiring tactics, but perhaps there are ‘trends’ amongst the players, too… what really bothered me about many, especially Paco, was a seeming lack of effort. Fear, inability or complacency? I don’t know.

    Obviously, some players are not yet fully adapted to Barca’s level, and it is unfortunate that key injuries rather early in the season have complicated things further. There is no way of replacing all of Iniesta, Messi and Suarez at once at this point. Gomes might come good, Denis has the profile but not yet the level, Rafinha goes missing too often, Turan does not manage to impose himself enough (and he is no longer new). Digne has been ok, Roberto even better, but the former has yet to find consistency and chemistry with Ney, and the latter has still to fully adapt to his position in tougher games. Umtiti, the only newcomer who actually has improved the team, is also plagued by injuries… Could things on the transfer market have been done differently? Sure. I for one would wish for one 60m player instead of both Gomes and Paco, but time will tell.

    The situation is not easy, and it is understandable that management is struggling at times to get things right, as the (new) players’ performances are still unpredictable. And how many times have we had our top 11? The was a comparison made to RM’s “fringe” mid – consisting of Modric, Kovacic and Isco – and how they were more successful. But that is a pretty strong fringe, and neither of them is new. RM has, at the moment, a more balanced squad in terms of quality and experience at the club. the managed a solid win against AM while missing several key players (through a hattrick that will surely bring CR his coveted golden ball) because, I think, they have a solidified squad, while we are re-depedent on Messi, and when he is missing, Neymar.

    And Ney? He should have been given another role in Messi’s absence, that is clear, to inspire him further. That is on LE. It is easy to say in hindsight, but a central, free role for him (perhaps at the cost of Paco), would show greater faith in his ability to carry the team.

    Finally, of course we will lose at times. There is no law of nature saying the liga belongs to Barca. This could be a year when we win nothing – or a year when key injuries will cease to come, Suarez will find his mojo, and we will come out stronger and clean the table. Nothing is decided yet and will not be for some time. Remember how we almost lost the liga last year despite a pretty solid lead…

    Sorry for the long post…

    • Anders
      November 20, 2016

      I’m still hopeful with Paco. I think we can all unanimously agree that he has been the worst performer of the newcomers so far, but the player he showed at Valencia was just so much better than what we see now. Right now he looks like a timid sheep hiding from the big bad wolf, whereas in Valencia he had the nerve and courage to chip the keeper from the halfway line.

      I hope he’s right when he says it’ll all be better when he gets his first goal.

    • Davour
      November 20, 2016

      Sure, all is certainly not lost due to one bad outing. It was the lack of engagement that was my main concern. We’ll see – hopefully he can come on as a sub an nick a goal or two, perhaps during a copa game or something.

    • say2
      November 21, 2016

      Totally agree with you here. i just wish that our players are healthy and the new players can up their game when the stars are present along with them. which will give them a huge confidence that they could also do it. What i see is that they have been brought in situations where it is too hard for them to impose themselves into the game with additional responsibilities.

  3. Jim
    November 20, 2016

    Disclaimer: none of this means that we won’t go on to gub Madrid and take the treble again and if it happens I’ll be partying as much as before. We have the players.

    Well, in the interests of . . . well something or other , but definitely not because the alternative was the weekly shopping, I’ve just rewatched the first hour. My first reaction is one of utter boredom. I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times one of our players did something I wasn’t expecting. The second is that we spent the whole of that time playing round about their defence without really committing any of them by going at them or playing quick one twos at the edge of the area.

    I have to say, although Alcacer was poor I’d struggle to put it all on him. He did make runs but he made them halfheartedly at no speed ( one exception around the 80th minute !) He also came short a few times but seldom received the ball. I suppose I’m still in the camp that says he deserves the season to adjust but there is a more general point about him and most of the rest of the acquisitions. There have been a ( very ) few exceptions ( Denis for twenty minutes against Sevilla, Rafinha for a game or so before his injury) but in general none have shown the ability to make me think they should be other than a fringe player at Barca. They look scared, lacking ideas and are passing up their chance to grab a permanent spot at this club. If we assume you need to be a top player to stay here ( you could argue world class) then you can’t just let things happen, you need to influence them . Show us the killer skill that screams you are a keeper. You won’t do it passing the ball safely and slowly every time it comes to you, especially not when Messi is out , we are in trouble, at home and running out of time. That’s when you say right this isn’t working we have to take it to them and carry the ball at the heart of their defence, draw players to you, give Alcacer the chance to step away from. the CBs and flick him the ball. Look at Rafinha’s shot first half. By taking forever to get it onto his left he actually had drawn players to him and Alcacerwas just a quick poke through away from clean on goal . To be a top player you have to back your own ability. Come on guys. If you have it, step up !

    Which brings me to LE. What did he say at half time ? Can you guess from the difference at the start of the half ? Did he tell our mob to hound them high up the pitch first twenty, did he tell them to speed up the ball movement and start looking for one twos around the edge of the box instead of the predictable work it wide in your own time , did he recognise that neither Suarez nor Rafinha had the skill or inclination to do that and move Neymar central to destabilise the heart of the defence rather than just the edges where he often got past one, or two but never three ?

    Did he even say this isn’t gonna be pretty but right from the restart I want Pique up front, looking for the back post ball which gives us alternatives, moving to a back three as they were zero threat ? Hell, I’d even have said to Masche to find Pique’s head and look for the flick on or head back down to the inrushing mids. But I just don’t know what he said because other than moving the team up ten yards I didn’t see anything. Not saying we would have won ( although we gave them precious little all game to think about ) but it would have at least started to move that pretty straight back line about. That exciting last fifteen or so should have been the first fifteen. of the match or at worst the second half. We are the best , at home to a second string of a pretty poor outfit and we show them the respect of probing gently for the first hour ?

    Sorry, LE, but don’t just hope, TRY SOMETHING !

    Finally, a confession. I know this makes me a fair weather fan etc etc but I don’t know if I could find the motivation to watch the sort of football we’re seeing all too often these days after the departure of Messi, Busi and Iniesta. When I watched Pep’s sides I loved the fact we were winning but for me it was about the patterns, it was the Neymar disrespecting the opposition syndrome, writ large in our passing game, when they couldn’t get the ball off us or when we tried to and often did walk the ball into the net. Yes, I know some will say but teams were finding us out and started packing their defences. Well, first of all, they did that almost from the get go but the only element needed to combat that ,imo, was the acquisition of a good number nine who could play back to goal ( ie. Suarez or even David Villa played there) . We spent a season with almost nobody in the opposition box when Messi went into his false nine phase.

    Before I continue and up the ante on this particular rant, can I re-emphasise that this has very little to do with the result although that almost inevitably comes with good football ?

    The moment we decided it was all about getting the ball as quickly to the front three all the time the writing was on the wall, pleasure wise , for me. Now that is a slow Sunday exaggeration ( possibly designed to provoke ! ) but there is a grain of truth. I remember saying when Suarez arrived that the front three would be unplayable and that the temptation would be to cut out the mids to our detriment. LE has now been in charge of the team for what? Third season ? And I’m not seeing the shape and football that I want to see. Yes, I’m sitting down every week and seeing us win most of the time, appreciating the skills of Messi and Iniesta ( largely) with support from Neymar and Suarez but there is not so often now the swashbuckling speed of passing and movement from the team that gets me off my seat at a passing move despite the fact it goes nowhere, there’s not the vision and technical ability on the ball that saw Rooney in his prime throw his hands up in despair at not being able to get near our midfield ( there was a pass and return between Denis and Rafinha at one point which almost reminded me of Scottish football ) . What is going to keep me watching La Liga rather than the EPL and just visit the city on a semi regular basis ?

    “But we don’t have Xavi any more . . . ” Believe me, I’m aware of that. And I know nobody can replace him . But you send a message and create a certain structure by the players you buy. He went and we bought Rakitic. I know I’ve been on his back a lot almost from the start and yes, a lot of that is unfair because he’s not Xavi and didn’t claim to be but what were we looking for there ? Work rate . There’s certainly not much more. The summer acquisitions . What is the skill set of Suarez, Rafinha, Gomes and even if they blossom, as I hope they will , what kind of team will that make us? Once Busi goes would they be your ideal midfield three ? Or would you maybe prefer Samper, Thiago and Neymar ?

    Does any of this nonsense mean anything other than that the old man is losing it at a faster rate and longing for his “youth” ? That’s a fair enough accusation, especially if you think that the game has moved on blah, blah, blah . . . It hasn’t. Or maybe just as accurately it HAD until the sprites arrived. The one thing that never changes is that the ball still moves quicker than the man. Yes, we could sit back and accept that the poetry has gone and that all good things come to an end or maybe those who care can rage just a little bit against the dying of the light before resigning ourselves to bulking up for a world where Pogba is king.

    • Jim
      November 20, 2016

      You’ve got to love our guys. Rooney gate crashes wedding , Lallana and Henderson hit the lap dancing joint and Pique is sitting quietly watching Andy Murray at the O2 play Djokovic.

      On that point we really ought to beware of overusing the fatigue argument . Murray has just played four or five games the last week, one of them almost four hours – without a team around him to help !

    • say2
      November 21, 2016

      Hopefully we could still enjoy while Messi, Iniesta are still here and wait for Xavi to coach and bring in some of old school way of play. I feel that our game will again move back to high ball circulation as it was a few years back as team are starting to press high up the pitch and best way to counter that is quick passing and retention in midfield making them tired

  4. dl
    November 20, 2016

    I thought we tied.

  5. Nick
    November 20, 2016

    Our performance has been poor since Celta with the exception of Deportivo. Matches against Sevilla and Malaga were pretty much the same. Messi just dropped deep and also became Xavi to save us. I hate to say this but we do suffer from Messidependencia. Now Pep wants to take him from us as well.

    I agree that LE’s role must not be overlooked here. Young blood is good but it is a special gift to be able to integrate it. It’s true that injuries don’t help but you cannot blame individual players for what is essentially a serious structural problem.

  6. ooga aga
    November 20, 2016

    It’s deja vu all over again. Same comments and debates around this time of year, third year in a row. Let’s see what happens this year. If the last two are any indication, people are wasting a lot of breath.

    I agree we don’t have the same passing game as in recent years. I really see where Jim et al are coming from. But i also think that ways of playing do depend on personnel, and when a xavi retires and an iniesta ages and gets injured, what can you do. The Barca-type midfielder that we all fetishize is not something we can just manifest out of thin air. I expect the club sees what it needs to do, and will do it in due time. It wont be for lack of trying.

    • Davour
      November 21, 2016

      Yes, of course this is true to some extent. It is also true that it won’t end happily every time (and on this very date last year, we had the 4-0 clasico…). For me, it’s the enjoyment of discussing the game, right or wrong, trying to distinguish problems, still hoping for solutions, and meanwhile ventilating worries to ease them. No breath wasted!

      And ways of playing depends on personnel, I agree. But someone asks for those transfers to suit the intended style, I suppose. But there is still plenty of time, and Iniesta’s injury was very untimely in light of adaptation for the others.

  7. PPos
    November 21, 2016

    OKAY. First of all. EVERYONE CHILL!
    Yeah we tied, We just came back the international break. Kameni sometimes happens, he has ruined plenty of things for us before while playing for Espanyol. Nothing out of the ordinary here. Failure and how you rebound from it makes you a champion. We have a team of champions, LE is human. He’s allowed to err, and if he errs too much; he’ll be gone. That’s how life and football work.
    Alcacer doesn’t have an excuse. A striker needs to score. That’s literally his job. He’s had plenty of chances that he’s missed due to being unsure of himself. I’m gonna admit and say that we are probably the underdogs in this upcoming Clasico. RM is in better more consistent form, but class is eternal, form is temporary. We have to ruin their party like they ruined ours last season. I firmly believe that if we didn’t lose to them last season at the Camp Nou, we would have been confident and smashed our way past Atletico in the CL. We have to repay them the favor this year and give Zidane his first L of the year. Madrid have basically copied us. Appoint the ex-midfield star, lynchpin, as your manager and bear fruit from your cantera. La Fabrica has been outperforming La Masia lately and it pisses me off. and Messi’s lack of renovation and stalled contract talks scare me A LOT.

  8. Tata2
    November 21, 2016

    Seriously Turan isn’t new anymore and so is Rakitic and Rafinha. Dennis atleast tries to make something happen instead of making the occasional safe simple pass. Gomes has shown prospect in the Busi role and as CM (the ManCity game). If I am expecting anyone to come good with time is Dennis Suarez and maybe Gomes. Why can’t we buy mids that have atleast the core skill sets a barca mid should have: ability to retain possession under pressure and make those through passes to our forwards and also be able to control the midfield. LE isn’t a saint either, he requested for these signings (I think) and you know barca is a club where there’s no luxury of time to come good. I hope I eat my words season end. And I hope we don’t get spanked by EE in the classico

    • Rami
      November 22, 2016

      Denis looks wishy washy in my view, Doesn’t provide the attacking prowess and those sharp passes that turan and rafinha provide, And in defensive transition he’s nowhere to be find found, same downside rafinha has, Gomez is someone who i have high hopes for, But it’s up to him to deliver the goods, But we also have to be patient, And hope enrique settles on a position for him, He already rotated him in three midfield positions.

      Classico will always be hard to predict, But RM are in a more consistent form and a great moral after squashing AM, If we don’t manage to grab the 3 points in Anoeta our moral will be at a new low before the classic.
      By the way, we haven’t managed to win in Anoeta for the past 6 years or more.

  9. Problem
    November 21, 2016

    Mono no Aware

    • dl
      November 21, 2016

      True. Oh, so true.

  10. deerwithwings
    November 21, 2016

    Great gavin bryars reference.

  11. luisthebeast
    November 22, 2016

    Hey people.Barca will exist and after Leo!Suprising eh?And we will win again.Maybe not so much like now?Maybe.Who knows?Football is nothing certain.Team sport.What make me optimist is that this board despite all the bad things,have made FCB a financial superpower.We can sign any player we want.Thats not a small thing.It s huge now that many teams have rich oligarchs and countries behind them.

  12. Jim
    November 22, 2016

    Just watched LE’s presser and I’m reassured that he gets it. Reiterated several times that this won’t be a re run of the home game and will be completely different. Slightly concerned by what he said about Pique picking up an injury but should be able to play. The defence need to be alert but disciplined.

    Tried but didn’t get near a ticket for this one. I know three or four season ticket holders but nobody was offering to do favours for this game.

    No way Celtic will defend at home. Their fans won’t allow it. They’ll come at us with everything. Yes, they have a rotten defence and are no great team but that doesn’t matter tomorrow. We will score but they may score more than one as well. I’ve said it before but while being no fan of Celtic and having been there five or six times their ground is unlike any other in terms of atmosphere. I fear for our younger players playing their first game there. They need to hit the ground running. From the moment you hear ” Walk on” sung by the whole crowd at incredible volume and the wall of scarves you need to be switched on. Man city took them on at an open game and we saw what happened. Suffer the first twenty without conceding then get control would be my advice. Because if we don’t have a lot of the ball and make them run Celtic will hurt us.

    However, if we play the game properly and fairly ( looking at you here Neymar) and win , the Celtic fans will also be the most generous at the end. They love attacking football and appreciate it more than most. Personally I would adopt Iniesta and Puyol’s response years ago when they applauded the crowd after the singing at the start.

    Can’t wait. !

    • georgjorge
      November 23, 2016

      Can’t wait either. Hopefully it will be two teams both looking to score loads of goals rather than a game turning into a nasty kicking and grabbing contest.

      On another note, congrats on finally writing a comment actually longer than the article you’re commenting on with your longer post above ; ). And it’s a good one as well.

  13. Jim
    November 23, 2016

    Thanks but I’m under no illusion that it’s down to my lack of desire to edit rather than a pursuit of quality. !

    Yup, it’s a sellout and there will be NOISE ! Also, Celtic will attack, probably to their detriment. There will be chances aplenty for the front three. Don’t miss the build up before the match. It’s also actually well below freezing here so a night for mistakes. Need to quieten the crowd and we could win well. Worst scenario is no scoring with fifteen to go and the crowd get involved. Must avoid that.

  14. Jim
    November 23, 2016

    Well, don’t know about anyone else but I enjoyed that half. Celtic full of thunder and. us a level above in quality. Messi again everywhere. It just changes the team. Says a lot as well that Scott Brown was the top midfielder on show. Just hope he doesn’t catch Messi. He could do damage.

    Defence is playing well. Hope they keep it up. Look out for Forrest second half. A much better carrier of the ball and dribbler. He should have been on from the start.

    • Davour
      November 23, 2016

      Yes, that was entertaining. Good energy all around. Some sloppy episodes, but some brilliant, too. Celtic are stepping up. Also, this game works to LE’s defence in the discussion on the mids. Gomes does not have a clue (check min 37 for failure of a simple 1-2 with Busi, and the latter’s disappointment) and Rakitic is slipping around, playing safe or wrong. Perhaps they are not better, what can LE do then?

      But lovely pass & goal and Messi is a omnipresent.

  15. Davour
    November 23, 2016

    “Undeserved”, but 2-0. Two things: look at when Messi presses during chaotic situations – always knows exactly where the ball will be; uncanny. And I know times are different, but notice how extremely seldom the two CMs have any connection. Interesting.

  16. Davour
    November 23, 2016

    Neymar silly silly, Messi silly good, all the little things he does are just superior. Suarez is trying to make Paco feel better.

    • georgjorge
      November 23, 2016

      I’m not sure Neymar didn’t pick up his yellow on purpose. Though if he did he’d be an amazing actor because he certainly looked wound up.

      Except for the start of the second half, the team had a comfortable game tonight. Not brilliant but definitely good enough. Nice game for the most part!

      I’m still not sure I get the midfield strategy of “always pass the ball back until you reach Ter Stegen” against opponents pressing high (thankfully Celtic could only do it for a limited amount of time). It’s true that if you play a wide pass the ball MAY be received by the opponent and return to your area. However, the important thing is that if that happens, the ball isn’t already in a very threatening position, as is the case when our defense and midfield time and time again gets caught with the ball close to our goal. Maybe in time I’ll eat my words, but I just think it’s folly to persist with this strategy against opponents having five or six men pressing the defense (as we all saw in the second game against ManCity). And with midfielders at times not even making an obvious forward pass but instinctively going for the backpass, I’m not sure what is going on there strategy-wise.

    • raj
      November 24, 2016

      That is just down to personnel more than strategy. I think they don’t have the confidence to persist under pressure and then take the ball forward or hold onto it. Not just confidence either, I think the new guys actually don’t have the skillsets to do consistently what a Ini or a Xavi used to do in sleep, even if someone taught them the mental attitude about it.

      Which is why, as things stand, the Legendary Midfield Game of FCB is doomed.

    • Davour
      November 24, 2016

      Yes – as I indicated above: might be lack of skill rather than LE’s strategy (though sooner or later, strategy must be according to skill-set). You can see the stress in both CMs as they receive the ball in a tight situation. Instead of holding on, creating space through a few shorter passes, they drop it back and go hiding amongst the enemy. Instead, we up the wings, which in itself is fine, though SR is often caught in really difficult moments since he does not have a winger to help him (as Messi is often elsewhere, and Suarez does not go that deep), which leaves only Rakitic or Piqué, or an individual effort driving forward. A minor ray of hope was that the CMs picked up their game slightly after 2-0, as the whole team relaxed. But Raki has been here for several years, and I feel that he is rather losing pace than evolving. Perhaps I’m missing something? Gomes is still new and has not adapted or gotten used to the pressure of playing at Barca; he is dispossessed with embarrassing ease at times, and is not solid in defence. Much work to be done – it seems he is not at all used to playing so deep, as I believe he was rather AM at Valencia. It was a nice win, but Messi seeing the need for pitch-wide dominance is perhaps not a very good sign, after all, for the team as a whole.

      And Neymar might have been looking for a yellow, but that was a stupid, childish display. Is he frustrated from not scoring?

  17. Tata2
    November 24, 2016

    We finally stopped having a midfield since Ini got injured and LE shouldn’t be exempted from any blame. He requested for signings that don’t have the skill sets to thrive in a barca midfield.

    • georgjorge
      November 24, 2016

      Regarding the new midfielders (Gomes, Suarez Minor) it is still far too early. Remember how Sergi Roberto wasn’t good enough for years, until he was? Give them a season to break in.
      I still have hopes that Arda and/or Rafinha have what it takes to run the midfield together with Busquets. I see the abilities they have, and they seem to fit. But Rafinha didn’t get too much playing time last season due to injury and Arda apparently only gets playing time as a forward instead of in midfield. With more playing time and confidence they could have what it takes.
      Rakitic is a bit of a riddle to me. He ran the midfield at Sevilla admirably, then was in large parts reduced to a “workhorse” role at Barca, and it seems he can’t remember (or is not allowed) to be more decisive in midfield anymore.

      Of course, as I said above, maybe it is indeed LE’s plan to just not have such a midfield anymore and have largely defensive workhorses in midfield, leaving the creativity to the three forwards. But judging from this season’s games I don’t see that plan working against opponents at the highest levels.

    • raj
      November 24, 2016

      “Remember how Sergi Roberto wasn’t good enough for years, until he was? Give them a season to break in.” – SR came good really at the RB position, being able to run a Barca midfield is a totally different prospect I am afraid. Maybe SR should be given a try, he surely can dribble and he must’ve learnt a trick or two in escaping pressure over the past year. Free him up from that right side I say – He is the one with most potential.

      The other with a skill set that comes comes is Arda, but I don’t know man, it seems that his problem is the mind and soul.

      Bad thing is, no midfielder attracted my attention for what he did with the ball really. It was SR who did drive at their defense when he could escape the press from the right. But he doesn’t get from Messi what Alves got!

      Busi didn’t lose a ball playing if I remember correctly, that should count for a good oting?

    • georgjorge
      November 25, 2016

      I also would like Sergi Roberto in midfield, but with Vidal apparently nowhere close to even the bench we have no other right back in the team at all.

  18. Quaizar
    November 24, 2016

    Thanks guys for the wonderful comments. I have been a silent reader of this blog for more than a year. Life is very busy with 2 kids and I rarely ever get to see a full game. So this is where I come to get my soul food. The comments and analysis here fills me up on what I missed in not watching the game. Many a day, I am frustrated with our midfield and missing Xavi & Iniesta (sorry guys if I am living in the past, but what a beautiful past and a present which is not so bad), this is the place where I come to calm myself down.

    Kxevin, thank you for keeping the flame alive. And I have to say, I have become a fan of Jim, waiting for his comments which are very insightful, unique and well balanced. Not meaning to be partial , I also greatly appreciate comments from many of you. So I wish to say thanks very much to all of you for keeping such a wonderful space alive.

    • Jim
      November 25, 2016

      Thanks, Quaizar, and welcome. Good to see new contributors or even hear from lurkers. 🙂

  19. PPos
    November 24, 2016

    Hey Kxevin,
    I’m gonna be in Chicago next week doing a try out for the Chicago Fire team which coincides with El Clásico. What’s a good place to watch the game j. Chicago??

    • dl
      November 25, 2016

      PPOS! Good luck!

    • November 25, 2016

      If you want to hang with the Chicago Penya, come to Bar 64, at Broadway and Devon. It will be brilliant. Let me know if you are coming, and I will list you as my guest, so you can get into the main room, where the crazies are.

  20. raj
    November 25, 2016

    The El Clasico coincides exactly with once in lifetime Steven Wilson gig here – what the hell!

  21. luisthebeast
    November 25, 2016

    I saw somewhere an “undeserved” 2-0 and people said that we did nt playd good?Really?Wow nobody remember our last games away against Celtic?That was our best game there.Solid.Also with Lucho in 2 and a half CL seasons we have 8 away wins at CL.And at home we have 13-0-0!In 28 games the record is 22-2-4.For a manager with no clue,without midfield and not good midfielders this is a miracle.

  22. Tata2
    November 26, 2016

    Luisthebeast it isn’t a miracle, anything is possible if you have Messi.

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