Lucho out. Okay. But now what?

At the press conference before the Champions League dead rubber against Borussia Monchengladbach, a journalist asked Luis Enrique about the Classic:

Journalist: What if this Clasico was at end of season, would you have started Iniesta?
Luis Enrique: What if my grandmother had 4 wheels? she’d be a bus.

The point of the exchange, one probably lost on many, is that you can’t make things be what they aren’t. This season, FC Barcelona football has not been at its best. There have been moments, stretches of minutes, most recently against Real Madrid in the Classic. But for most of the season, after a dazzling start that had many thinking this would be a steamroller year, international breaks came, and Barça went.

There was a point in the first season, before Barça won a treble and the long knives were placated. But among a coterie of people in the world of Barça social media, LuchoOut is trending again, for the familiar reasons:

— The Way is lost
— No midfield
— No evolution since the treble
— Not using Messi properly

If you consider the period of domination that Barça has enjoyed, with roughly the same personnel, it’s stunning. When you consider the expectation that each and every year that domination must continue, irrespective of what happens to bodies and legs, it’s even more stunning.

Andres Iniesta is 32, Lionel Messi is 29, Busquets is 28. Normally, those are prime years, but what also must be taken into consideration is that these players have been flogged. Essentially, Luis Enrique has to get the same tasty milk from an increasingly worn-out cow. But let’s do this.

Lucho Out

So who’s in? And what will they have to contend with? Let’s have a look at the roster, assuming Lucho Out kicks in for January, when there is (lawd, lawd!) some season still to be salvaged.

Ter Stegen, Cillessen
Pique, Umtiti, Mascherano, Mathieu
Alba, Digne, Aleix Vidal, Sergi Roberto
Iniesta, Busquets, Rafinha, Gomes, Rakitic, Suarez D.
Messi, Alcacer, Suarez L, Neymar

Now, let’s roll out a theoretical XI of the best available players, which will look a lot like the one that fired coach Luis Enrique would use:

Ter Stegen, S. Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba, Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta, Neymar, Suarez, Messi

Curiously, that XI looks a lot like the XI that won a treble and then a double in consecutive seasons. Lucho Out, so who’s in?

There are hipster faves such as Thomas Tuchel, now at Dortmund, the likes of Oscar Garcia, who it is said is wonderful but his players suck, or Klopp, now at Liverpool, of whom it is said his teams would be great if they just didn’t concede goals at the wrong time. Any of those managers would be steeets better than Luis Enrique, because the thing that you don’t have is always better than the thing you do have. It has to be, because you’re unhappy with the thing that you have, dammit.

Gegenpressing. Yup. With that current Barça XI. Let’s see you do it. “You. Number 10. Why are you walking? Get over there and press in the midfield! (To assistant coach) Who is this number 8. Can’t he run any faster? How can he help us press moving that slow? At least he isn’t as slow as that number 5 dude, though. Whew!”

“If my grandmother had 4 wheels, she’d be a bus.” It’s easy to watch another coach doing things and say “Boy, I sure wish our coach did that.” It’s also easy to look at videos of old matches from the “good times,” and say “I sure wish we did that still.” But if we’re going to do that, let’s presume that we also have a time machine through which we can put players so that they are their old selves.

In the two seasons since Barça won the treble under Luis Enrique, there have been international breaks, friendlies, pre-seasons, injuries known and unknown, and just time, measured in passes and kilometers. Someone on Twitter said on my timeline that Luis Enrique is the worst coach ever. How does this stuff start? It starts from influential Twitter accounts with large numbers of followers, who start a drumbeat that gets echoed by the masses. It starts with people trying to analyze something in a vacuum. It starts with that fondness for a time gone by, that unwillingness to realize that yes, seasons are years. Two seasons is two years. Players don’t live in Never Never Land, where they remain ageless and energetic.

Iniesta came in during the second half of the Classic, and Barça was wonderful again, playing the kind of football that everyone loves to see. Why can’t that happen all the time? Mostly because opponents adapt, which is what happened to Guardiola during his time at the club. So a coach will try to find a new way to skin a horse. Vilanova went vertical. Tata Martino also went vertical until mid-season, when change came and everybody was happy until the record-setting team suddenly became something significantly less. And then came Luis Enrique, who got the best No. 9 in the game and adopted an approach that for many can be boiled down to “get the ball to your best players.”

There are times when Barça has played off the counter, times when Barça has been vertical, times when Barça has played midfield-dominant football, all in this season. While it’s easy to ignore the things you don’t want to see in order to reach a desired conclusion, other things are worth considering. Unless a new coach comes in and brings in transfers, also deciding to do different things with storied veterans, he will face the same situation as Luis Enrique. It’s easy to watch Tuchel run out with a group of young players at Dortmund, easy to watch them and wonder why Barça can’t play like that and boy, wouldn’t Tuchel be lovely at Barça until you consider reality.

Busquets does what Busquets does. So does Iniesta. So does Messi. With this batch of transfers, is Luis Enrique trying to build for a future that he almost certainly won’t be part of? In an ideal world, as Iniesta declines, Messi moves into that role. But for that to happen, there has to be someone in attack to replace Messi. But when Luis Enrique moves Messi back to midfield, preparing him for the evolution into a 10, the coach is stupid because he has his most dangerous attacker playing away from the box, that idiot.

There are people who still think that Messi is the dynamo who set the goalscoring record, or the bundle of energy that ripped through Getafe for what would be the goal of a lifetime for most players, but just one of a glittering series of moments for Messi. Dude is almost 30. He has been kicked, and shoved, had chunks kicked out of his Achilles, ran, passed, been tackled and tumbled. He has flown countless thousands of miles for club and country, all of which have piled on, along with time, to make him a different player. He is no longer as explosive. There was a time if he got the ball and a sliver of space on a defender, he was gone. No more. A coach has to learn how to adapt to the players that he has. It’s easy as a supporter to dream of a new coach absent any other factors. But Barça is a team whose core is aging, and fast, because those players are on duty all the time. Copas, Federation and World Cups. They’re always playing. What can we honestly expect from these players, and what magic could a new coach work?

Valid questions. Lucho Out is easy. Saying he’s a bad coach because he doesn’t do what you think he should is easy. What is more difficult is to understand what he has to work with.

For what it’s worth, Luis Enrique will be gone this summer, and he should be. After three years at a top team, a coach starts to lose the power that he once had, starts to run dry in ways to reinvent an aging, changing wheel. Transfers can sometimes provide that spark, but the day of long-term coaches, the Fergusons and Wengers, are long gone. Pressure means that clubs will be changing coaches, or coaches just get tired, and move on. And you can’t defend Luis Enrique because he doesn’t need defending. A treble and a double say a lot more than even his most vociferous defender could. This is more about reality than Luis Enrique, just as it was about reality when there were those of us who said that Tata Martino didn’t do as badly as legend has it. Because reality.

Logically, Barça had a fantastic transfer summer. But there are the five stages of the Barça transfer:

— Wow! Holy crap! I’m here!
— Whoa! These guys are really, really good.
— Man, I can’t be that good. Will I ever be?
— I’m feeling better about life now.
— Hello, teammates.

It takes time for that cycle to happen. It took a player of the quality of Arda Turan a full season, and he still isn’t fully assimilated. It took a legit legend of the game, Thierry Henry, more than a season to adapt. The speed at which transfers become effective also have bearing on a coach’s plans. In the ideal world, Alcacer would be banging in goals and Gomes would be living up to his reputation as a tall Busquets/Iniesta hybrid. Neither of those things is happening yet, because Barça is the best team in the world, stocked with legends of the game. That’s reality. And it would be the same reality no matter who was coaching Barça right now.

It’s easy to want the best, easy to want the team that you love to be exceptional, easy to think that someone else can do it better than the people that you have. Until you get those people, and things are kinda the same, because humans and stuff. So, yeah … Lucho Out. But remember, “If my grandmother had 4 wheels, she’d be a bus.”

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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.

32 Comments

  1. georgjorge
    December 6, 2016

    Sorry for the offtopic comment on tonight’s match…

    Cilessen
    Vidal – Umtiti – Mascherano – Digne
    Denis Suarez – Gomes – Iniesta
    Messi – Alcacer – Turan

    Good mixture of rookies and veterans, but I can’t understand how Messi isn’t rested tonight. We’ll have to hope he rests on the pitch and won’t get injured.

    • kneowell
      December 8, 2016

      Messi is after records and you can’t deny him that opportunity

  2. emae
    December 6, 2016

    I’m not saying Lucho should go but my concern is time and time again he always get his transfers wrong. What make Guardiola’s barca very interesting was the influx of youth team product gracing the first team. what if Guardiola had loan out Busquets instead of giving him game time? (Sampers), what if Guardiola had loan out Pedro instead of giving him game time? (Munir).
    I keep asking myself these questions:
    1. why loan out Sampers to a team that doesn’t play the barca way instead of making him Busquets understudy? I mean Busquets is very essential to how barca play, anybody else in that position will make the team less effective but you loan out the player that would at least cover for him.
    2. why buy a player 30million pounds and loan out the one that scored in 65% of the games he played.
    3. why sell Bartra and keep Mathieu?
    4. why buy Gomes when we had Suarez and Alena already?
    5. Why sell Grimaldo who now is valued at 45 million pounds and then buy Digne?

    • georgjorge
      December 6, 2016

      I agree with you on most of these points (though I’m not as convinced about Munir as you are). Samper probably hurts the most. Enrique’s transfers are certainly a mixed bag – you could also add Vidal to that list, who waited half a year to play and has hardly played ever since. On the plus side, you have his succesful request for Luis Suarez who has been incredible, the “discovery” of Sergi Roberto (who was there for years but hardly ever got to play) as right back, and Rakitic who was very good for the last two seasons.

      Two more points:

      First, I think at the moment it’s incredibly hard for any coach to get enough time to integrate youth players into a system at every big club. Fans and presidents demand not only the occasional league championship and going far in the Champions League, they demand the championship every year and a Champions League title every few years. Coaches don’t last longer than three or four years anywhere. In that respect, I fear we are not too far from RM regarding the amount of pressure for short-term success. So a coach could decide to keep a young Bartra and develop him while potentially losing points because of his inexperience, or he could decide to buy a veteran like Mathieu for short-term stability.

      Second, Guardiola had incredible successes like Pedro or Busquets, but he also had his share of transfer failures, the biggest of course being Ibrahimovic, but he also brought Sanchez who didn’t do too well at Barca and is now running rampant for another team. I’d say they are about on par regarding transfers from outside but Guardiola was better at integrating youth players.

      • kneowell
        December 8, 2016

        Is guardiola really better in integrating youth? Maybe he debutted plenty youth players, but how many of those do we have left? Lucho didn’t sell most of guardiola’s youth players (except pedro who left on his own terms) just to remind us, so what happened to them all if we consider them as “integrated”. Only busquet and pedro made it far and as we speak, only busquet stands tall as luis Enrique didn’t inherit many of those youth players who debutted under pep (cuenca, muniesa, fontas, nolito, giovani, jonathan, tello, bojan, thiago) maybe they all weren’t “integrated” afterall, they were just debuteted/promoted and sold

    • kneowell
      December 8, 2016

      Influx of youth by guardiola I agree, how many of them was good enought to remain in the team today? Considering most left even before lucho happend, busquet was a ready made quality and their was vacuum for him to fill with yaya going for the nation’s cup, what vacuum is there for samper to fill? Are we helping him by keeping him on the bench to understudy busquet instead of giving him some playing time? Samper is what 20? 21? He’s developed a mould of the player he is and wants to be already at that age and playing elsewhere away from the system will even help him become a far more rounded player who would prove very useful when he returns. The good thing is he wasn’t sold, same as hallilovic, these are gems that can’t serve our immediate needs but are being moulded elsewhere for future sake and the coach recognises them. They are far better getting playing time elsewhere than sitting on the bench understudying busquet and iniesta, they could do that from their tv screens. Munir? Is 2 seasons not ample time enough for him to prove his worth? Sandro? How many goals did he manage in 2 seasons? Barta? Give me a break, mattieu at CB is a far stable defender than barta is. Alena? Is he ready for the tough games? Grimaldo? Who wants to work with an arrogant nigga who’s spilling his crap before he got noticed?

  3. ardnen
    December 6, 2016

    Thanks for the great article Kxevin. Fully agree on everything you say. As the saying goes; The grass is always greener on the other side. I absolutely cringe at the “LuchoOut” bandwagon. It’s absolutely ridiculous that the fans of this club have so little respect for a coach who has won 5/6 trophies in two seasons. Sure, I don’t like how the team is doing at the moment, and since Enrique is the one being paid to make sure team plays well and wins, I don’t mind criticizing him when necessary. However, “LuchoOut” for me is just lack of respect. More so, as pointed in the article, who are we really expecting to bring as our coach who understands so many intricacies of the team and the club. You can always throw names like Koeman, Tuchel or whoever you like, but I seriously do not think there is any coach out there who is best suited to this team than Enrique at this point in time. Sure, we don’t play those silky triangles like in those Guardiola days but hey, weren’t we the ones who were complaining that we don’t have a plan B during Guardiola’s 4th year.

    Fandom is a fickle business and like everyone else, we lose our minds and fancy over things that are well in the past or dream about things that future MAY behold. However, considering Barcelona’s history, if as fans we are not able to enjoy this golden generation then I don’t think we will enjoy anything ever. Anyways, coming back from my tangent, and as the article points out, I think what we all need is “Perspective”; maybe then, folks will realize how ridiculous “LuchoOut” sounds.

  4. Jim
    December 6, 2016

    Just before game starts a few thoughts. Possibly controversial but I’m guessing the article is intended as a conversation starter.

    Like the lineup. Yes, I’d rather Neymar had played if fit but as he’s not Messi probably had to play to ensure the result for LE.

    We can improve our results in one easy move by adopting Kxevin’s suggested first eleven and dropping Masche to the bench. Well past time. ( I’m gonna repeat I’ve got no problems with his effort or attitude,, or indeed his ability, just his judgement. Not excusing Pep here either. He was silly enough to play Masche at the centre of a three man back line. !

    If that’s the team of the future I don’t like the look of it. Time may change things but I’m not seeing much great football there. It’d have been nice to see Samper get the first team time that some of these have had with the firsts but that won’t happen under LE

    Can we stop writing people off when they get to thirty ? Players like Xavi, Iniesta and Messi could play till they are 35 and you still wouldn’t get the ball off them. Was it just a year and a half ago that this happened ?

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bOX2QpfMkq4

    Messi will never drop back to midfield. He’s not a midfield player and never will be. He’ll continue to drop off the front line – and he’ll do it very well until he decides to stop. He’ll know.

    I said when Sergio Roberto was anointed the greatest FB ever that he’d be good going forward at FB as he’s a midfielder ( they’re always the best ball players and could play any position going forward ) but that I’d reserve judgement until I could see he could defend. Well, . . . . Not his fault though. He’s just not suited to it.

    There. Game has started but enough to get your teeth into. 🙂

  5. Jim
    December 6, 2016

    Enjoying this so far. Ball pinging about. Opposition not great but you can only beat what’s there.

  6. georgjorge
    December 6, 2016

    Who is this tall guy in the middle of the pitch who kinda looks like Gomes but has amazing technical skills and distributes balls left and right?

    I know it’s only a ultimately meaningless game against a midtable Bundesliga side, but I have a feeling that last-minute header in the Clásico has changed something about this side.

  7. Davour
    December 6, 2016

    Fun to watch! Some Messi-Iniesta magic – first half, it is ridiculous the level they are on, barely trying. It is interesting watching Iniesta nurse the ball despite pressure – compare to Gomes and Denis (or most other mids). The only upside to Andrés’ injury is that he looks hungry to play now.

    A good outing for the players – Gomes looked pretty good and showed some skills, and Denis has an admirable approach, always trying to turn and start something. Rafinha on the other hand gave us a clue as to why he has not figured of late…

    Paco is living a night-mare; he looks despondent, at times tearful. He moved better, and provided an assist, but he also killed several attacks when not being quick enough to feed it back to Leo (not that Suarez has been that effective lately) and simply not providing fluidity. Still, better effort. As with Vidal – has his moments, in attack mostly, but for me he won’t cut it. There is a nonchalance in his game that is not helpful. Should be good enough to give SR a rest at times, though, if he kisses and makes up with LE.

    Overall, a good class in controlling the game for the new guns!

  8. December 6, 2016

    I’m still unable to dedicate the 40 minutes needed to compare seasons past, and I’ve been sitting on a post ever since the day after Anoeta. Still, let me just share something:
    In terms of schedule, this is the most grueling season I have witnessed in quite a bit of time. It seems almost everybody has forgotten that when back in July Tebas designed the Liga schedule, people were flinching, because Barça were going to play away against all major opponents except for Atletico and Real, and would do so after midweek Champions League matches. And then around came September and Barça got the group of death. And it has won this group with a game to spare. How ’bout that, huh?

    Look at the current Liga standings. Barça has played and will play away Athletic, Sevilla, Villarreal, Eibar, Valencia, Real Sociedad, Celta, with CL matches often in between. Now consider this – Barça played them in the first half of the season, when theyse teams are still fresh, before injuries, exhaustion has set in, before the rest of the teams have figured them out. Consider the fact that Barça has been playing all these matches on the double. Tonight against Borussia Monchengladbach Barça looked fresh. Part was Iniesta, but part was fresh legs and mostly minds running and passing. I will continue tomorrow, but before that I have one more thing to say:

    Keep the faith, culers! Keep the faith and keep on believing!!

  9. ooga aga
    December 6, 2016

    Our possible opponents in first knockout round

    PSG
    Benfica
    Bayern Munich
    Bayer Leverkusen
    Porto or Copenhagen
    And possibly others TBD

  10. emae
    December 6, 2016

    First off I’d like to say that this is not me comparing Guardiola to Lucho because I think they’re both extraordinary in their own ways. managing a club like barca is not an easy task. some of Guardiola’s failed transfers you’d always see the reason for that. ibra was bought to give the attack a focus point, a player defenders would worry bout thus taking their focus off Messi to do the magic. that aside I think it’s not that hard to integrate youth in the first team. sure the pressure is high but thus Busquets really need to play 90 mins in a match that barca is winning let’s say 5 – 0. for me tho, I’d choose Bartra over Mathieu any time any where. Sure he makes mistakes but it’s part of growing up. Pique used to make the same mistakes and was corrected/shouted on by Puyol.
    Like today’s game which was in some way worthless, Guardiola used to play with mostly youth players.
    in my opinion, I think Lucho isn’t the type of coach that believe in youths kinda like Mourinho

    • kneowell
      December 8, 2016

      Barta is growing up at 25? Do you remember how old pique and busquet was when they joined the first team? How old is Newmar today? How old is sergi roberto? See how excellently well they’ve performed. Why make excuse for a player at 25? That beats me.
      Lucho doesn’t believe in youth? Yet most of his signings this summer are below 23. How about that for not believing in youths? Munir was given 2 seasons and ample playing time and so was sandro. This season alone lucho has debuted alena, cardona…What’s the name of that young, tall, black defender? You don’t expect him to flood everywhere with la masia players when we have a couple of new signings undergoing an integration process do you. Roberto, Masip, rafinha and suarez minor are all youth products of la masia, that is a pretty decent amount to have in the first team, especially with the cray demands for trophy every season

  11. PPos
    December 6, 2016

    Arda is so much better when he plays as a left forward rather than a CM. I was on the LuchoOut bandwagon when things weren’t flowing that treble season. I’m not going to call for LE’s head this time around. I just hope he reinvigorates the team and uses his subs better. I wouldn’t opposed to dropping Messi into the midfield as a AM and buying Dybala to take over the right forward position since messi looooves dropping into the midfield so much lately. I think it has its plusses and minuses but i personally don’t like it but again he isn’t the man that could dribble 5 Athletic Bilbao players and make them look like ragdolls anymore. I was very impressed with Vidal today. If he could tackle better, we could finally return Sergi Roberto back to midfield where he is much needed. Denis Suarez was very impressive today. All he needs to add more goals to his game and he’s golden.

  12. G6O
    December 7, 2016

    I couldn’t watch the match today because I was travelling, but I see reports that we broke the record for a number of passes in a game. If that is true, how fluid did the midfield look?

    • georgjorge
      December 7, 2016

      Especially during the first half, when the game wasn’t already decided, there seemed to be a lot of movement in midfield. Iniesta and Messi were strong as always at maybe 50% of their effort – as they should – but Arda, Denis Suarez, Gomes, Vidal all did very well in distribution and positional play. The game was very much one-way-traffic, they didn’t even try to come out and get the ball in midfield.

      • G6O
        December 8, 2016

        Thanks.

        Looks like it looked good but it wasn’t a real test

  13. *~ Dumangõli - Oüdyaar, Aisalangådi ~*
    December 7, 2016

    .
    Lucho out is the worst bloody thing that can happen to Barcelona. Now especially.
    Don’t ever think otherwise.
    Let me say first off, I am a huge admirer of Guardiola and count myself as one of his fans. But even I can recognize that Lucho is the best person to lead us currently. And this recent trend of immediate gratification and glory thing and this hashtag deeply disturbs me.

    The author correctly asks “who else?” and by the way, Kevin W, I really love your writing and have been on this blog quite a few times the past few years, but only decided to start commenting recently. People remember the guardiola days with some nostalgic warm glow and i too, bask in that warmth, but I pride myself on being able to see all angles objectively without letting this ‘love’ / ‘glow’ blind me.

    While I remember the way we used to boss every game with so much beauty, art and precision, I also remember other things – Like the way we couldn’t evolve to other (more ‘impure’) strategies, our dependence on messi, our discomfort with defending and being able to be comfortable without the ball, our inability to defend corners with calm, our inability to score from corners, our lack of smart rotation, and the list goes on…

    Lucho has come in and addressed every single thing us fans have been crying for and done so with an ease of being able to execute common sense. And the man is a real hard worker.

    Where I disagree with the writer here is his suggestion that “rightly gone are the days when a club keeps a manager long term like wenger & ferga”. While the points are well taken that “manager loses authority”, “intensity and hunger go away”, and “nothing like a change to reset and reinvigorate troops”, I actually feel that a club like barcelona especially, needs a long termish manager. I really believed pep could be that guy.

    It is really incredible the kind of sustained success we have enjoyed. It is even more remarkable how accustomed to domination we’ve become. Things like that don’t happen. Shouldn’t happen even. But above all qualities, I really believe lucho’s flexibility, adaptability and pragmatism is really what is needed to keep the barca machine winning. Guardiola came at a time when anyone and i mean ANYONE managing a team with THAT messi, xavi, iniesta, puyol, alves etc would have won consistently. Lucho is clutch in a way pep’s barca never was.

    Who else? Koeman? No way. Bielsa? sampaoli? they are all great, can turn on the style and do so brilliantly for short periods, but barca need continuity for someone to hand hold and transition to other ‘way’s SENSIBLY. The ability to churn out multiple generations while not straying far away from the pinnacle of football.

    If what you are saying so definitively, i.e. Lucho is leaving in the summer, is indeed true, then I just have to ….

    • georgjorge
      December 7, 2016

      Great comment, thanks for that. Very true.

      Minor nitpick: “Guardiola came at a time when anyone and i mean ANYONE managing a team with THAT messi, xavi, iniesta, puyol, alves etc would have won consistently.” I have always had problems with that point of view. First, it’s clear that Rikjaard actually didn’t win consistently with those same players, and he wasn’t such a bad coach at all. Second, Xavi of course was very good before Pep, and so was Iniesta, but prior to Pep they weren’t allowed to become as dominant as they became later within the new system. Third, when I look at the current squads of, say, Manchester City or Manchester United, I would be tempted to say “anyone can win the league with that quality in their team”. But the pieces don’t fit together well, so those teams full of great players draw against West Ham or Burnley with their much lesser quality even though they should win those games without needing a coach.

      • *~ Dumangõli - Oüdyaar, Aisalangådi ~*
        December 8, 2016

        Sorry buddy, but no! no team compares to THAT barca team.
        And the operative word in my comment that you are referring to is “THAT”.
        Rijkaard did not have THAT messi, alves, pique, puyol, busquets, villa et al.
        and that team is in my opinion the best football team ever assembled.
        your suggestions that city should be winning with as much ease does not hold water for me. City is far far far far far away from that barca team.

  14. dl
    December 7, 2016

    Was able to watch only the first half, but what I saw was quite enjoyable. All the players (with the exception of alcacer, perhaps) who people have been moaning and complaining about started to show a bit of what might happen when things gel. Vidal looked good, Gomes again and again and again broke up plays like a master, retrieved the ball and started things circulating again, Arda was consistently dangerous and laid off a beautiful assist on a plate for messi, etc etc.

    Every other blog post, and comment to it, reminds us all how long it takes for even the best players to adapt to playing in a team like Barca (think back to Luis when he started), and perhaps little by little we are starting to see everybody’s efforts pay off. I’m sure they’ll be ups and downs yet to come, but it looked good to me.

    • dl
      December 7, 2016

      apologies for the mistakes — rushed to get the comment off.

  15. Jim
    December 7, 2016

    Well, that’s a bit better. RM lose a two goal lead to finish second in their group to BD . Actually I thought Dortmund looked pretty clever on the ball and quick but RM had plenty chances. The thing that really annoyed me was that both goals came from poor play by Ramos and Marcello and we made them look good. Ramos didn’t even get booked in a Clasico ?

    • G6O
      December 8, 2016

      Ramos should have been booked — there was a blatant shirt pull in the first half that lasted 5 seconds or so, with multiple grabs, the ref played the advantage as he should have but then did not show him the yellow when play stopped.

  16. dl
    December 7, 2016

    Didn’t watch the game, but I think there might be a rat to be smelled there. I remember reading about some elaborate calcs showing how rm, if they were to finish 2nd, would in fact have a better likelihood of an easier path than if they finished first. I’ll wait to hear from the more conspiratorially inclined whether this was in fact the case.

  17. Jim
    December 7, 2016

    Hadn’t thought about that. I suppose it does look a little easier on paper, assuming they can’t pull either us or AM. That would leave Arsenal, Monaco, Leicester, Napoli and Juventus by my reckoning.

    Whereas we’ll get either PSG, Bayern, Man City, Benfica, Bayer L Or Porto. Some tough ones there, right enough.

    • *~ Dumangõli - Oüdyaar, Aisalangådi ~*
      December 8, 2016

      we cant draw city now right?

  18. December 8, 2016

    Not sure if y’all have seen the news but Barça has invited Chapecoense for a 2p17 friendly, and also offered to help club with reorganization. We culers should be proud.

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