PSG 4, Barça 0, aka “Nothing. Nothing at all”

Ouch.

In the many years of FC Barcelona as a global avatar, an era that began with a curly-haired Brazilian genius, the mind strains to think of a worse display.

This ass whipping was pure. The Bayern 7-0 had a couple of goals that should have been disallowed, a wounded team buckled by injuries and mentally fried. No such succor today. Luis Enrique rolled out what he considered his best side and he was wrong. That team got played off the pitch. It offered nothing, did nothing.

For the third PSG goal, Angel Di Maria, a player so soft he should have toilet paper named after him, waltzed through the Barça midfield like it was a training match. Today, the “no midfield” crowd was right.

For the fourth goal the PSG right back strolled up the pitch, unmolested, unbothered, setting up Cavani for the coupe de grace. Nothing. Again, nothing. PSG didn’t even look that exultant at the end of the match, almost as if they felt a bit guilty about what happened.

There aren’t tactics for armchair quarterbacks to dissect, there aren’t near-misses or shots that should have gone in, runs that were almost there. This team offered nothing in the face of a better effort by a better team, and got played off the park. PSG was fast and physical, getting to every 50/50 ball, winning every challenge. On one goal, Messi was dispossessed easily in midfield, just stood there. Julian Draxler undressed Sergi Roberto, as the right side of the Barça defense again became a happy hunting ground for an opponemt.

The sole reason the final score wasn’t worse was Ter Stegen who, along with Neymar, came to play. The rest of the team was laconic, lackluster and lackadaisical, playing the match as if sleepwalking, a hopeful outcome. Because if they were really trying out there, then this result is even grimmer than it seems. This isn’t the first time sleepyhead Barça has happened, but it is the first time it has happened on such a stage as this. Great players understand the moment, they bring their best.

Barça, a team festooned with great players, brought nothing.

Andre Gomes over Rakitic was, in hindsight, a mess of a decision by Luis Enrique. Gomes’ deficiencies meant that everything got lopsided and Busquets and Iniesta had to do too much. Again. This time the opponent was too good, too aggressive, too lethal and Barça got the crap kicked out of it. Yes, it’s easy to see what Luis Enrique’s hope was with Gomes. But nothing about how Gomes has played this season supported that hope.

At the post-match presser, anticipating the blame game, Luis Enrique said, in essence, “Blame me.” We will and we should. But if you blame only him, that is a misguided view. If a chef gives you an egg and tells you how he would like you to make an omelette, and you screw it up, whose fault is it? Yes, the chef has some culpability. Maybe he didn’t tell you the exact temperature, or watch you measure out the oil, or warn you as the scorch marks grew. But what is your responsibility in that pile of eggs that sits in the bin?

Luis Enrique was naive in believing that his players, a group that has done so much, won so much, would be enough yet again. He was naive for believing that Gomes would be able to help Busquets and Iniesta exert the kind of match control that would have made the decision to start the spendy Portuguese midfielder pay off.

But PSG wasn’t interested in tactics, history or theory. It was a fist of a team ready to take advantage of the flaws of a theoretically superior opponent, But legacies don’t play matches. Players do. How much glee must Unai Emery have felt to finally, after so much torment over the years at the hands of Barça, to have had his team completely destroy his torturers.

Lusi Suarez swapped shirts with Cavani at the end of it. Only one of them can claim that the shirt was match worn. Suarez offered nothing. Messi offered nothing. Busquets and Iniesta were overwhelmed, Gomes offered nothing. The Barça team was a rumor.

Armchair tacticians will natter about how the midfield created nothing. If the run dictates the pass, then what does stagnancy demand? A glowering, stationary Suarez is easily isolated and easily controlled. Messi can run at a wall of defenders all that he likes. PSG walled off Neymar, removing any threat from the only other Barça player who showed up. And the goals came, goals the ease of which must have surprised the PSG players.

It was supposed to be harder than this.

Busquets said after the match that it wasn’t desire or effort but tactics. Tactics let Di Maria sashay through the Barça midfield like a copse of trees. Tactics made Rabiot look like a world-beater. “Tactics” is like when Xavi talked about superior possession stats in the wake of Bayern pounding in goals. “Tactics” is the paean for a dude who got his ass whipped.

“Out fight plan made sense. The opponent just punched harder.”

There is no absolution. Nor for your heroes, not for anyone. Ter Stegen will remember the goals that he let in, not the sparkling saves that he made. Neymar will be uninterested in his playing with effort and verve. Nor should he be. He was part of the team, part of the problem. At the end of the Rijkaard time, that team almost looked like it was trying to find ways to lose. It never looked as bad as Barça did today.

It will take something magnificent, something otherworldly for the team to come back from this, because it wasn’t a fighting loss, like Celta. It was an uncontested walkover. And it hurt.

It hurt because these are great athletes, great players, people who have brought us supporters so much joy. There was hope, because there is always hope. The team started slow, but it has before. It has never looked outclassed before. That is the bleak part, that the team looked like it had no answer to the questions that were being asked of them.

Tactics are one thing, but at some point, when everything is a mess, what happens? Barça has the players to improvise an answer to that query. Not at Parc des Princes.

If it hurts us, imagine what it does to them. As people sit, grinding knives on the petrified husk of a team they used to celebrate, that is worth thinking about. It sucks to see our team get beaten like that. What do the players see when they are allowed a moment of stillness with their thoughts, on the bus to the airport? We can snarl and castigate, but in reality we don’t know shit. Analyze, critizice, but it’s all just wanking. Including this piece.

Nothing made sense. Iniesta was as ineffective as I have ever seen him. Nothing made sense. Everyone held the ball too long because nobody was moving, nobody was creating soace and options for teammates to play into. There was no midfield. There was no nothing. Tactics?! Blaming this hosing on tactics is like blamimg an avalanche on a thrown rock. Okay, but that is only a fraction of the problem.

Luis Enrique will feel terrible about his selection and naivete, and he should. But if players don’t do a mirror check, then nothing will have come of this evisceration.

At present, people are lining up to say, “Told ya so,” to take pride in dire predictions being right. They should be ashamed. There isn’t any joy in this. You shouldn’t be happy about your grim soothsaying coming to pass. Not if you love and feel this football club. Being right isn’t as important or as pungent as the stench of what happened today.

Treble, double, this team has vrought pride and joy to a fanbase that isn’t all that worthy of its excellence. This is supposed to hurt. Football isn’t about just the good times, it isn’t about turning on a team you love because of some agenda. Criticize, scream, analyze. They were absolute shit today. Okay. Beginning of the end? Maybe. And maybe it should be. Maybe it’s time to consider a lot of things in the cleansing fire of this destruction.

But this team also deserves our respect for what it has done for us as supporters. When a great player retires and the supporters know that he has played his last match, he is sent off with a standing ovation, irrespective of his performance on the day. That’s respect. At that moment it doesn’t matter what he did for the team lately. It matters what he has done, and he is honored for that.

This doesn’t need to sound like a eulogy. But perhaps this beating will usher in a different era, just as the Bayern loss did. Perhaps. A new coach will come in the summer, and people will talk about demamding that new face return to tradition, whatever in the hell that means, squinting at the past through rose-tinted spectacles.

That new coach will have the same problems of an aging spine, opponents who have adapted to the style of play. He will have to solve those issues, have to create a new way of approaching things. Drawing Xs and Os on a board won’t gin up a fountain of youth or bring back a lost step. Guardiola’s system worked because everyone ran like dogs. That isn’t possible any longer. Luis Enrique’s system worked because it fed the ball to a trio of geniuses. That doesn’t work any longer. What will the successor do, and how quickly will it not be good enough for an impatient fan base?

Against PSG, Barça didn’t lose. Barça got beat. In every facet of the game. You can have your idols, but if you exempt them from criticism or examination, then you weren’t paying attention. If you think it was one person’s fault, coach or player, then you weren’t paying attention. Everybody failed. Miserably.

Luis Enrique is going to leave this summer, and if today is what his players have to offer him, then he should. Being a team is not letting your teammates down. It’s doing the job that you know you can do. If a tactical wrinkle doesn’t work, you improvise. You fight. If a team stops fighting — and it’s the seeming lack of fight that hurt more than the scoreline — whoever the coach is, he should leave.

But if the players don’t understand the role they had in a debacle, they are as blind as the supporters who think that a new coach will fix everything. Players who have done so much, won so much, understand the game so clearly, aren’t that blinkered. They get it, even if supporters don’t. The players have earned the right to be shit. Not even the most wizened supporter has earned the right to shit on them. That just isn’t how it works. You don’t get to pick and choose what part to pardon of a team that has failed as completely as Barça did against PSG.

Support isn’t blind. But support and respect are different, part of the same family. You can say the team was horrible today and its coach messed up completely. But you can also respect and support the team. We don’t get to run out on them when things go badly. Thick and thin. We owe them that in recompense for all that they have given us, even if they give us nothing else.

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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.

65 Comments

  1. barca96
    February 14, 2017

    Slight positive ? Hadn’t seen much of Verratti but he has good vision, pace and can hold the ball well.

    You didn’t notice this little general after all these years playing against PSG? I liked him from the very first moment I saw him bossing Xavi and Iniesta. He was so calm under pressure even back then in 2013 as a youngster.

    A lot of fans has been saying this for at least 2 seasons now that he is a heir to Xavi and an ex manager said it too;
    http://www.goal.com/en/news/1716/champions-league/2017/02/13/32638762/marco-verratti-is-xavis-natural-successor-at-barcelona

    As I feared in the beginning of the season, we are buying mediocre players with not a high ceiling just like when we went on a spending spree in the Gaspart era. It was buying for the sake of buying, not buying to fit the puzzle or for the future.

    Instead of buying a proper RB they went and bought unnecessary players like Paco and Gomes. Gomes never looked to have a Barca DNA with his heavy first touch and poor ball retention skills. He lacks pace, fine, but he doesn’t have a great first touch nor has the ability to withold pressure.

    Paco was an expensive bench piece. We might as well held onto Munir and promote another youngster to be the back up. If Lucho really wanted a back up, at least buy someone who fits the profile not another lame duck in Paco who is another Gomes, expensive players who doesn’t have a Barca DNA.

    Instead of selling deadweights like Arda, Matthieu, they sold or let go Munir, Samper, and soon Palencia.

    I don’t mind buying players over promoting but at least buy proven players or buy talents with a high ceiling and/or possess the Barca DNA.

    And as I have been saying this since forever, what is the point of keeping the key players on in a 6-0 dead rubber match when there is a more important match coming up. I had this exact same fear last Saturday when all of MSN were on till the end. When will these managers ever learn? Once the game is settled, rest your key players when they are needed in a big match just a few days later.

    • barca96
      February 14, 2017

      By the way, we need a hard man like Sampaoli next season to light a fire under their asses although I think next season is too early for him to leave Sevilla. Unzue and Valverde are the more likely candidates. They are fine too but I think we really need a master tactician and a boss for the last hurrah of Messi’s era.

  2. omoh
    February 15, 2017

    What do I say. We had it coming all season no. We had it coming all through the years.

    First it took the sacking of the then football director, Andoni Zubizareta, for the coaching crew come up with a solution and eventually win the treble albeit with a certain Xavi Hernandez still present in the barca midfield.

    It was clearly reported back then that the super defence barca had at the time was the hand work of Juan Carlos Unzue. The midfield need no introduction with Xavi comanding while the attack had the usual suspect of MSN.

    Ever since Xavi left the midfield it has been first quater final and now a second round exit.

    I have never been a fan of Luis Enrique, not even in the first season cos I saw through his masked success. A coach with Messi, Suarez and Neymar but can only watch his team humbled 4-nil in a second round tie of champions league. Liverpool had only Suarez but nearly conquered the whole of premiership. Santos had only a 19year old Neymar and nearly conquered the world at the club world cup only loosing out to who else but the almighty barca machine with the little magician leading the attack, Messi.

    KXEVIN analysis is once again skewed to put the blame on the players but one thing he always for get is that players don’t see themselves on the pitch. The don’t really know if their positioning on the field is good or bad, until they are told or it is drilled into them. Questioning the effort of the players is like questioning the professionalism of players like Suarez, Messi, Busquets, Iniesta, Pique, Neymar. This are players that has won it all mixed with others that are still very hungry for more.

    Busquet said after the match that they met a team that is tactically superior and HAD A PLAN. The barca team that played yesterday was the direct opposite. A team that was tactically inferior WITHOUT A PLAN.

    Finally I have to say it again. Luis Enrique is NOT a good coach and the earlier we realise it, while we still have the MSN at their peak, the better. Last season it was quarter final(the first time in almost 8years). This season it is the second round(the first time in over 10years). Next season may be in the group stage and the upper season we might not even qualify for the champion’s league (observe the league results and performance. Gradually declining like in champions league).

  3. lala10
    February 15, 2017

    What is truly galling is that we have lost to a team who has been struggling lately. and we contrived to make them look very world class thereby emboldening them for the return leg.

    Win the midfield battle and you are halfway to salvation. We were so lethargic that PSG kept up their running for the whole match.

    That a team with a coach in his third season plays so poorly and so inconsistent speaks poorly of LE management. The third season should mean more cohesion and more automatism. Alas only the January- May period of the Treble season can be pointed as a utopia of LE’s reign.

    The players did not react, the coach did not react and all we have left are the broken pieces.

    • Anders
      February 15, 2017

      Would hardly call 10W and 1D in the last 11 games that of a struggling team. They had a slow start to the season, but PSG are firing on all cylinders right now.

      • Anders
        February 15, 2017

        Well, make that 11W and 1D in the last 12 games now.

  4. Tata2
    February 15, 2017

    this lose was more on system than personnel. Iniesta and busqet, Messi, Ney and Suarez didn’t just decide to suck or did they? you think they don’t want the UCL even more than LE does? players can do little without a system. look at PSG players, each time they got the ball they knew exactly what to do. kxevin another coach will come and use this same set of players (excluding Gomes) to beat same PSG team. players don’t have confidence in him anymore as reflected in busqet’s comment except you feel you know football more than busqet

  5. TITO
    February 15, 2017

    As i suspected, now comes the game of I told you so, and i i really dislike it.
    A lot of things went wrong last night, and everything that could have gone wrong, it did.
    Our MSN in 90 minutes had only one shot, and it was around 80th minute. Messi and Iniesta combined i think had a dribble or two the whole match. This isn’t LE’s fault.
    Something was utterly wrong last night, i can’t understand it. The only thing that bothered me in the line-up was Gomes over Rakitic, when we clearly need the croat on that poor right side. Everything else pointed in our gala eleven that in our worst nightmares can’t have a beating like that.
    Did LE got it tactically wrong? Maybe. Our midfield was overrun over and over again, like they we running and our players just stood there and watched them have fun of playing football. Strange.
    What i don’t like is the attitude. In numerous times our player had a chance to stop a play, to play harder, to make a foul, to show guts. It felt like kids are playing against men. In moments it was a shame.
    Anyway, the season is still not over. if we somehow manage to come back in La Liga, then the double is in our reach, and 99% of the teams in Europe would kill for that opportunity.
    And the summer will come fast, and some serious decisions have to be made.

  6. untoxgsd
    February 15, 2017

    Four?? Four goals??
    The team has been performing badly since the start of the season, it was clear. I feel like Lucho woke up one day in the summer of 2016 and said : “ok, i dont care about the way we’re playing anymore, im changing my tactics, oh and let me buy players or agree with the board on buying players, and you know what? I’ll use those players in crucial games rather than allowing them some time to adapt in dead rubber games!!! Brilliant”
    Before you guys start saying that im blaming it all on Enrique, let me just make my self clear that im not (completely) and im going to get to the players part soon but…….
    Why on earth start Gomes? Why on earth dont you rest the players after the 3rd goal in Ossasuna? Why not get it that you have to make substitutions on the start of the second half when you see veratti, di maria, draxler and rabiot run rampant in a huge space left between our defence and midfield. Why change our decade long tactic of pressing like rabid dogs when not in possesion and rather be comfortable on leaving the opponent holdin the ball in acres of space thus giving him time to think and give the right pass.
    Im not one for conspiracy theories but Messi last night looked lethargic, so much that it was like he was doing it on purpose. Gomes? I’ve tried sooo much, i swear, to like him but he’s no good, everytime he receives the ball he slows us down immensely. Last but not least, sergi roberto: Draxler must have cut in like 200 times, he was going past roberto like he does in training with those mannequins!!
    Sorry for the long post, but after last night i feel like s**t!!

  7. Old_Messi
    February 15, 2017

    Sorry for my English.
    Let’s talk about Barca playing style since the Cryuff era.
    Since 1991-92 when they lifted their first C1 to today, Barca’s style was always based on a possession football. The basic was keep possession first and confiscate the ball. Added to the possession basics were various tactics and formations, but these tactics almost never were altered according to the opponents strengths. Only Pep Guardiola (and to a lesser extent Rijkaard) added something great and unique to this possession based style that made the team unbeatable at their best.
    In 1993-94, all people and the media were overrating the Dream Team because of Stoichkov and Romario and they gave no chance to AC Milan (without VanBasten-Gullit-Rijkaard) in the final. But before the 1994 AC Milan debacle in Athen, you could see the weaknesses in the team and could conclude that the team would suffer against a well-organised and high pressing team with world-class defenders. That’s what happened when the likes of Maldini, Costacurta, Panucci, Dessailly, Donadoni had no problems neutralising the predictable threats of Barca and do the damage against defenders with no protection from midfield (Guardiola and Bakero) and leaving too much space (Nadal, Sergi, Amor). The conclusion from this humiliation was that Barca were too keen to play their own (attacking) style and neglecting many basic defending aspects of the game.
    This playing style continued with different coach and in 1997 they suffered another humiliation in Europe (3-0 and 4-0 defeats) against Dynamo Kiev of Chevchenko.
    In 1999-00, Van Gaal’s Barca were terrific (Cocu-Guardiola-Enrique-Rivaldo-Figo-Kluivert) and should have gone to the C1 Final, but again they concentrated too much on attacking possession style and neglected defensive duties. As a result Valencia punished an injury ravaged Barca in the semi-final, but I believe if key players like Enrique, Cocu, Guardiola were not missing, they would have been in the final.
    The evolution of the Barca style started when Rijkaard took the reign in 2003 together with world-class players emerging (Xavi, Iniesta, Messi) and Ronaldinho and a few top and reliable players bought in. Rijkaard added a much needed defensive touch and it paid off in 2006. The team could greatly vary their style of football and deal with high pressing team.
    This Rijkaard evolution was perfected by Pep Guardiola, and the legendary Pep’s Barca team reached their peak in Nov 2010 when they annihilated Real. That Pep’s Barca team with Puyol, Abidal, Pique, Alves in defense were simply unbeatable and unplayable at their best. Guardiola’s style was characterized by high non-stop pressing, quick and stylish tiki takka that made it impossible for opponents to play proper football and resort to park the bus tactics.
    But from 2012 when Pep left, it was all downward. Barca began to play good but predictable football like Cruyff’s team, neglecting the physical aspects of the game, and they got what they deserved against Bayern.
    2013-14 was a season to forget.
    Luis Enrique won the CL in 2015, but his Barca team were never as good as Pep’s dazzling team. A lot factors helped them: against PSG major injuries to Thiago Silva, Zlatan, Verrati, Motta; against Bayern major injuries to Robben, Ribery, Alaba (all Jordi Alba nightmare), Schweinsteinger, Martinez; against Juventus a penalty not given to Pogba; an in-form Messi, Neymar and Suarez. That team still had the same defensive weaknesses as before, but they were never exposed.
    Now what we saw on the 14th February 2017 is a reminiscent of Barca 0-4 Milan, Barca 0-4 Kiev, Bayern 4-0 Barca. Barca came to Paris overconfident but had no clue how to deal with opponent’s high pressing game and the pace from Draxler and Di Maria. But it was much worse than before. There was no preparation at all for this game. They did not play the basic Barca football style. They completely underestimated PSG. Luis Enrique still trust the pathetic Gomez. In fact, what I observe is that Luis Enrique is slowly killing the Barca football style with a boring style of play seen from mid-table teams. Only Messi, Neymar and Messi is saving his skin.
    There is no coming back from this humiliation. But in any case, I believe that Luis Enrique should drop Suarez and bring one midfielder to avoid conceding goals and try controlling midfield.
    Barca must try to win the return leg cleanly. They will NOT win 4-0, but they can win 1-0 or 2-0 and not concede goals. For that, they must have Rakitic and Masch alongside Busquets and Iniesta in midfield. Messi and Neymar can do the job up front. But if they keep the same tactics, PSG will easily score at the Camp Nou. That joke of a defense that is Alba-Pique-Umtiti-Roberto will be a treat for CDD (Cavani-Draxler-Di Maria).
    That great Barca era (started in 2006) is finished. Messi is clearly on the decline and and he will only be able to help Barca one more season. We need to accept the sad reality. It will take time to rebuild and reach the very top level again. Football is evolving, tactics are evolving, more teams are becoming stronger, more teams want to achieve what Barca, Real and Bayern achieved, i.e. reach the top and win the CL. Therefore, Barca need to be aware of this and adapt accordingly.
    For now, let’s congratulate PSG and hope they win the CL. That is their main ambition and they can do it.

    • luisthebeast
      February 15, 2017

      What a comment!Penalty not given to Pogba and injuries??If we must be honest in 2009 we deserved to loose 4 or 5 -0 to Chelsea in that away game that Iniesta had our only semichance in that game.And YES that day we played SHIT like yesterday.And in 2011 in Bernabeu we played a boring possesion game until Pepe red card and Leo magics.So no for me our 2nd treble is more special,it was by far more difficult.And lets stop nonsense.THERE WAS NOT PENALTY ON POGBA.THERE WAS IN A NEYMAR CROSS A PK FOR US.

  8. February 15, 2017

    Our defense was terrible under Tata. And it got excellent under LE and we all appreciated that as a big change by LE and Unzue. (Argentina under Sabella had a terrific defence which again went bad under Tata, and it got even terrible under Bauza. We cant blame that all that was down to players efforts. Every coach has his own ideas and that reflects). So it is easy to blame players for lack of effort (and am the first to say that yday all our players were in sleep mode.; am afraid there was something else), but in Football at least coaches play a big part. It is not for any other reason there are so many support staff who spend so much time with videos (Sampaoli is said to have watched Messi videos all the time for 6 days between the Semis and final of the Copa America ’15, for what, to devise a clear plan and make it clear to the players). So like wise when we saw LE and team doing good job we did appreciate it. But then when we do see a lack of plan, we should criticize that too. For sometime we also say there is something wrong with midfield and we dont seem to have a clear cut idea to better the midfield or our defense. Coach do have a blame for that. not just player efforts. I doubt if players would look so clue less if they knew what was the strategy. May be it was this lack of clarity which made them look dis interested, may be its something else, we dont konw.
    But what we know for sure is that there is a pattern clearly in the lack of midfield quality, which keeps getting worse. That pattern cant be blamed on the players. Iniesta, one of the best attacking mid fielder ever, is seen playing behind Andre Gomez mostly, is really painful. For some time now we have sugar coated this issues by Messi and MSN.
    Am absolutely confused how come Unzue, who took the credit for the defensive solidity in 14/15 is doing now?
    Yesterday within 15 or 20 minutes, for me at least, it looked clear that players were least interested and they looked like day dreamers. When some one like Busi says that there was kind of lack of plan, it deserves attention.
    And like all here said, I was not happy to not see Rakitic in the starting eleven.
    It was no coincidence that we looked a bit better after Rakitic came in. Ball was played more in their half, at least..

    Jim, Yes some of us have said many times here about the quality of Verratti, as pointed by Barca96.

    I dont know, we shouldn’t lose hope in this team. Even if we dont go through, at least defeat them in the return leg. Please dont make a repeat of Bayern.

    If we are going for a new coach, my vote is for Sampaoli.

  9. Jim
    February 15, 2017

    Ok, day after. Just want to put my twopence worth on some of the comments. I’m not sure where anyone could get the idea that this match wasn’t about tactics or that PSG weren’t interested in them or, indeed, that they don’t matter much. They knew precisely how they were going to attack us by breaking the midfield line with their ball carriers and getting at our defence in numbers. They knew precisely how they were going to defend because whenever they lost the ball they retreated into their shape very quickly. They knew who was detailed to double and triple team Neymar, who was assigned to Messi, they knew how they were going to press. That was no fluke. We, on the other hand, well anyone want to tell me what our plan was ?

    Was it, as we’ve been told, to get the ball asap to the front three and they would do the rest ? Well, that went well.

    Was it to use the keeper as our extra man to break the press ? Well, no, that only lasted one week didn’t it before the opposition put a lot of thought into it and decided to do the obvious by leaving our keeper alone unless they had spare.

    Was it to keep it tight until their press weakened? Well, you see, as has been said here over and over if you hoof it to the front three you tire out nobody, if you play it slowly in front of them all the time it tires nobody. So, unsurprisingly they were still prancing about at the end with five or six supporting every attack.

    Was it to get an early goal and take the wind out of their sails? Well, difficult to tell but it’s a fair bet that if you can only muster Suarez in the box for an attack that ain’t working anytime soon. Did Messi really not have a single touch in their box all night ? And I’m not buying the glowering idle Suarez. He’s the one who gets upset when nobody else presses. Not saying he was perfect in that respect, especially as the game went on but he busts a gut for us and if others are pressing he’ll be right there.b

    No, the bottom line for me is that, as in most games we’ve seen this season, we have no plans. We go out and try to be us. And we’re trying to be us without the tools. We used to rely on stretching the pitch by keeping players wide, by making them chase the ball through a combination of quick short passing with great technique and vision and carrying the ball through their mids. We used to camp on the 18 yard line of opponents every game ! Did we even get there last night?

    So, no. The players didn’t play well and can cover to some extent for lack of plan but not when you have Messi not chasing plus a weak link in midfield.

    The business of taking delight in a loss is a strange one. Nobody would have said that if they’d been sat with me in front of the TV last night. I went from worry when I saw no Rakitic. (All he does is defend. If you don’t use him for last night you don’t use him at all. ) to fear to anger to, yes, sadness when I see what LE has reduced us to. My wife will testify to the language when we came out for the second half with no idea how we were going to change things.

    So I can’t speak for others but nobody has the right to tell me I’m happy we’re struggling like this. This is a big part of my life, sad though that sounds. That is to confuse justified criticism with a need for affirmation. Those of us who have been saying you can’t neglect the midfield, well ever since LE blamed Xavi for the debacle and used him less second half of the season, were right. We weren’t building the next big thing, we were slowly losing what we had and weren’t looking in the right places to fit what we needed. If I can see that none of the arrivals has what it takes in a few weeks what did LE see ? They all have a bit of what a midfielder here needs but none have more than that. Even Guillem Balague saw that !!!

    Iniesta and Busquets aren’t too old, they don’t suddenly become poorer than their opponents. You need to build a system that works around the midfield, not around Messi. And you persuade Messi , who wants to win desperately, to play where you want him and to take some rest. If he won’t, choose a game where we’re winning easily, eh, let’s go with last week and haul him off, making sure to give him a pat on the back as he does.

    The final word has to go to Busi. Nobody can regard him as a troublemaker or someone to speak out of turn. For him to say that you can bet that’s the player view in spades. If it were me, I’d give the players the day off tomorrow, take the captains out for lunch and ask them for their thoughts. Especially, Iniesta. That guy has one of the best football brains we’ve seen. He knows what’s going wrong and LE can only gain by being seen to listen to them. Get Messi to tell you that if you want a harder press he needs to rest more. Let him think it’s his idea.

    Worth a go because we still have a long season to go and games to win and, as has been said, the team deserves our backing. It’ll be interesting to see how the Camp Nou reacts. In fact I’d be interested to know from some of the folks here who live there how all this is playing out. It’s easy for us to pontificate but it’s their home team. Are they supportive of LE, the team, Messi ?

  10. luisthebeast
    February 15, 2017

    You know what?Today i am calm and i am proud that my team went to an away game to play their game.I am sure LE knew that we will suffer.But thats Barca.A team going anywhere to win.Do i prefer teams like Juventus or Chelsea or any other big team that in the past used defending tacktits like Capelo in madrid e.t.c just to win a trophy?Well if we want a to justify the More Than A Club in the field,that it is.We always going to win,to play our game.Sometimes it s idiotic and stupid.But it s Barca.

  11. February 15, 2017

    Everyone will cling to the life raft they choose, but this was a complete breakdown. As Iniesta said, they couldn’t even perform the basic functions. When a group of the best footballers in the game can’t even — in the words of the best footballer of them all — perform essential functions, everything else is up for grabs.

    People will clutch at what they want to make it all somehow better, to make the sting worse. The fact is that Barça was destroyed, and barely waved a hand at PSG to try to stop it.

    Has the team stopped playing for its coach? Certainly the Busquets quote raises eyebrows. The Busquets quote will also rouse the people who don’t want to see what happened yesterday. But it’s why I wrote above about ends of cycles. This group is coming to one, as clearly spelled out as Bayern spelled out the previous cycle.

    Lean on the “tactics” comment about Busquets all anyone likes, but that team yesterday walked when it should have jogged, jogged when it should have run. And not for the first time this season. Attributing that disaster to tactics doesn’t wash. Not for me, not for anyone who watched the match.

    Mundo Deportivo’s player scores were 1 for everyone except Ter Stegen and Neymar, who got a 2. That’s fair, even if 1s are a bit high.

    There was only one moment that could have been a goal, when Umtiti headed off the near post. Aside from that, there was just meek surrender. That is the most worrisome part of this, and the part that doesn’t make even someone as optimistic as me that hopeful for the return leg. The team didn’t put out. And that is indicative of something significant.

    As noted above, these guys will always have my affection and respect. They have been exceptional, and have brought profound sporting joy. Which doesn’t erase what happened yesterday. This team is not fine. And it won’t be fine by changing the coach, even if that coach is someone like Pep Guardiola. Changes have to happen.

    • Davour
      February 15, 2017

      I don’t know. To my mind, you can’t simply separate tactics from motivation – does the coach instill belief? Does he make you feel you don’t want to disappoint him? Does he explain what to do in a way that feels intelligent, possible to apply? Not from what we could see – though we actually had two possible chances of goal, including Gomes one one one with Trapp after Ney’s through-ball.

      This is not exempting player’s from responsibility. Tactics doesn’t make Messi lose possession or not track back to make up for it; but tactics can be responsible for him being in that position, having a lack of options, and motivation can affect his (and others) eagerness to run. To me, if he is not prepared to do that, he should not drop deep and dribble in such precarious situations. Tactics isolate Neymar, tactics attack down our right side, etc. (as you and everyone else here will know).

      Team was destroyed, but that is a fact, not an explanation. We cannot know what is amiss, but we can compare with other situations of similar nature – cycles, I agree, but those generally demand a new coach with new ideas, as well as one or two key players. What seems pretty clear is that we won’t be fine with this coach and the changes he has attempted. One of few positive tweaks died when Vidal went down (his role on the wing). I have a lot of respect for LE, but his trajectory does not inspire faith.

      Under Guardiola’s last year we only won the Copa, and that is the likely scenario this season, too. Still, hope the team can find it in themselves to fight for the liga, take what they can and move on. And for a new coach to have a clear idea about how to deal with Messi and Neymar, and enough balls and ingenuity to carry it through.

      • February 15, 2017

        But it’s still scapegoating Luis Enrique — who we all agree has some culpability, as he himself said — without looking deeper. And when the new guy comes in and the same stuff happens, what then?

        — Guardiola came in and cleared house in significant positions, and they were hard decisions. People forget that cutting loose Ronaldinho and Deco didn’t sit well with culers, until the results came.

        If you are going to bring in a new coach and give him the same tools to work with, the same thing is going to happen. Motivation? It comes from wanting to go to war with the coach. But that only gets you so far. Motivation is also personal.

        My point is that there is too much, entirely too much, focus on tactics. If nobody looks deeper, there’s no point. Fire the coach and hope for the best, right? But if that doesn’t work, then what? Unless Sampaoli or whoever the current favorite is arrives with vampire blood, key players are still 30 or on the wrong side of 30. Mentally, supporters of this team have to stop functioning like its players haven’t aged and aren’t aging.

        People will scream “why you defending Lucho,” which isn’t the point. The point is that a comprehensive breakdown such as we saw yesterday ain’t just tactics. That’s the easy way out. Blame one person, exempt the sacred cows, move on.

        • Davour
          February 15, 2017

          Oh, wouldn’t dream of criticizing anyone for defending Lucho (let alone scream), we all stumble in the dark. I agree with the notion of “same tools”, which is why I mentioned clear ideas and courage (though apparently Pep didn’t jettison Ronaldinho, after all). I understand you problem with the very abstract concept of “tactics” – I just stressed that this term, for me, is about understanding the opponent while building your group well according to its reality, and it seems there is something that hasn’t worked out. I for one don’t think Lucho is the coach to lead a renewal, though I certainly don’t think he is clueless. Simply has run out of steam and made some dubious decisions.

          Wouldn’t hire anyone new who didn’t present a feasible plan. Including transfers and dealing with the present crop.

  12. hong
    February 15, 2017

    Having watched the game again it really seems to me that something fishy is going on.. i won’t even suggest it here but the players were not themselves. It’s obvious. Zero effort. As an amateur athlete with nothing to prove or play for I cannot even stand losing a match with friends I have played with for years, much less these guys in an actual competition. Think about it.

    • February 15, 2017

      Precisely. And that is unusual. It’s why I said above that nobody knows anything, so everybody comes at it with their preferred narrative. But I have never, ever seen a Barça side play like that yesterday. Ever. And that means that something isn’t right.

  13. flyzowee
    February 15, 2017

    Man I would pay a lot of money just to hear what L.Enrique told them at half time. A lot of good points have been made already but what I’ll add is that a return to certain basics is surely needed. We used to be the best in the world at pressing. You guys remember those days when we would lose the ball and be required to win it back in like 5 -6 sec? Hunting for the ball in organized packs? Winning the ball back early with gusto so that we could ‘rest’ whilst in possession. In fact the only reason why our ridiculously high backline has been a legitimate tactic all these years is exactly because of this pressing.
    This thing we have going on where 9 or so players press whilst the other 1 -2 walk around (sorry messi) is just not gonna cut it. Either we all agree to sit back and counter or we all agree to press. Whatever approach is decided on needs to be done in complete unity and belief.
    One last thing im asking myself is when games like these happen, who is the guy who rallys the rest of the team, and gives some underperforming players an earful??
    I hope we can somehow put on a good show in the 2nd leg for the fans at least.

  14. Jim
    February 15, 2017

    I’m sure we can all agree that the day Iniesta comes out and says anything even mildly negative is one none of us will live to see. He’s just about the most humble man around or he would have had a hatful of Balon D’ors. I find it hard to believe he isn’t on the same wavelength as Busi and of course he looks at himself first which is a bit unfair as if any of the others in the midfield had been up to it he shouldn’t have been thrown into such a match with so little preparation after lengthy injury.

    Hong, knowing how competitive Messi seems to be even in training I would rule out not caring straight away. He knows he only has a few years left at the top and wouldn’t waste it. Yet he does, to me, have an inbuilt sense of when it is worth him expending energy and when it isn’t. When you think that our results almost always come down to him I don’t think he’s prepared to waste effort needlessly. Now I Would argue that him leading from the front would’ve helped last night but that may be the reason. We were so far off being able to counter their approach even he couldn’t make a difference although it was a beautiful ball to Alba whose cutback to Neymar could have ended in a goal.

    The picture at the top of this article speaks volumes. In rewatching the game today ( the things I do for affirmation ! ) I actually think it was an unlucky bounce of the ball that caused him to lose it for their goal. Can’t quite make it out but I think it was a double hit on his foot and they made the most of it.

    If anyone has the match recorded you can see all you need to from the first four minutes. Talk about writing on the wall.

    You can see us struggling to play out from the back big time, yet we are trying to press them at walking pace. Watch Suarez do his part in the pressing and twice in the first two minutes have to gesture to his team mates to come up and put real pressure on them to no avail.

    You can see on Neymar’s first run Suarez comes short to offer himself but Messi doesn’t even follow the move.

    The FK which followed is a masterpiece of defensive frailty. For some reason SR is up the field on the LEFT side so when they break on his side he is nowhere. Umtiti and Pique lumber back even after we lose it and Umtiti then , not for the last time on the evening ( think one of the goals ) doesn’t even check the runners behind him before getting drawn needlessly to the ball. At this point Alba and Busi are the only players in our half as four PSG players advance over the halfway line. – two players clean through on goal in the first five minutes of an away CL tie against a quick countering team and stemming from our FK ? That’s amateur night.

    From four minutes to 4:30 watch their triangles and quick passing, how Di Maria and Verratti take the ball in and turn at the same time moving the ball on before we even get there. Hey, we used to do that !

    Watch them target our right side and how Gomes gets everywhere late. I saw him dribbled, leave his man on a one two, allow a man right in front of him to chest the ball down bring it under control and pass it without doing anything. His night only got worse from there but it’s harsh to blame him. He played as he’s played in just about every other game and LE should have seen it. He was never gonna be able to help SR who played as he’s always played: quite well going forward and a liability in defence. Neither of them know how to tackle.

    It really is all you need to watch to see what was unfolding. So no, Luis, I wasn’t proud that we played that way at all, I’m afraid. I don’t want us to pack our defence but I’d rather we showed a little respect for the opponent in the first twenty, worked as hard as they did to press and had players able to take in hospital balls, turn the right way and move it on without getting caught. You’re right that this way of playing away from home isn’t new. Pep did it with only a little more success and was saved often by the quality of the mids getting their game going and the opposition then worried about us rather than what happened last night.

    • February 15, 2017

      Yeah, I don’t think anyone who loves this club — truly loves this club — is happy about what happened. There are some in the “Lucho out, club is a disaster” camp who are exulting on social media about having been right. And the “I never liked him anyway” crowd now has the opportunity to come out, guns blazing.

      The selection was a mess. But I keep coming to the laconic quality while being overrun. That’s why I believe there is something deeper at play, something more than tactics and personnel.

      Luis Enrique had to be restrained from going after a journalist yesterday. Word is also that he had a screamo incident in the locker room. AS (as much as anyone would trust them) said that the players don’t believe he has what it takes to turn the tie around, and that “key players” are considering leaving. Luis Enrique said, that “we could have done handstands” and it would have been the same result, which is also interesting. He saw what I saw, I reckon.

      It’s a viper’s nest, and I think it’s all disgusting. Stick together, fight together, live and die together. And at the end of the season, everyone sees what’s what.

    • Jim
      February 15, 2017

      Wow! Has he been reading BFB ? Can’t argue with much of that.

  15. Víctor
    February 15, 2017

    Ok, so, what’s the answer? Or, to put it in better terms: what’s the solution? I see blames everywhere: blame Lucho for starting Gomez, blame Suarez for not jumping on that first goal, blame Messi for losing that ball, blame almost the entire squad (exception being Neymar and Ter Stegen) for such an awful display… ok, we get it, the team was crap yesterday and this time the opponent did capitalize on it properly… yes, there were lots of warning signs (especially the return leg against AM in the CDR semi-final)…

    However, what’s the solution for this? What should be done? By seeing the general aspect of things and the team: the obvious priority is the midfield… Iniesta will be 33 and Messi will turn 30 this year… we need to act ASAP on that, it seems unlikely that Barça will have one player to be able to replace either Xavi, Iniesta or Messi, never mind having three players to replace them altogether… but that doesn’t mean that the team can make adjustments to it: sure, keep it possession and positional play-minded, but different, adapting to the skills of the newer players…

    • Jim
      February 15, 2017

      Yeah, spot on analysis. Thanks for that. After my rewatching earlier today and looking at that video Iniesta is starting to escape censure for me. I didn’t mention it in my last comment but on two occasions in the first twenty minutes he had to dash twenty yards forward to make up for Messi not pressing. Same as in the video.

      Now to settle down and watch Thiago do it right. I’m looking for the sort of silky performance that says come get me 🙂 Interesting comment from him the other day that it was very hard to leave Barcelona and he only did it because of Pep ( who is no longer there . . .)

      • Jim
        February 15, 2017

        Iniesta’s passing was also spot on.

  16. Jim
    February 15, 2017

    Ok, this is just like watching Barcelona playing in red. 1-0 up after 11 minutes and Thiago is everywhere. Short quick passes, crashing into the box, I could weep . . .

  17. Tata2
    February 15, 2017

    there’s one thing kxevin needs to know, the problems we have had over some period now only became glaring yesterday cos they opponent had better quality to hurt us. stop making it look like lucho is a tactical genius who was let down by his players. same issues we were complaining about in lucho’s first season are still there and opponents are taking advantage of it. is this the first time Messi didnt press or lost possession in a match this season? kxevin what actually would you say is lucho’s game plan? we kept on wandering off the basics of what makes us barca and MSN were covering up the cracks in the system until they could no more. I don’t blame any of MSN for the lose. it was agonizing to see Barca not able to string 3 passes together in midfield without losing it. that’s the barca that had 36 passes in the build up to our 2nd el classico goal in the manita. teams no longer fear us. they know and we also that our midfield is feeble. I was depressed all night not cos of the 4-0 but cos it was agonizing to see the team I have followed for up to 12 years playing like a 3rd division side. you don’t know how it hurts, yes it just a game but this team use to give me joy, pure joy, we could lose and still clap for our players back then. now watching us play is painful. might just take a break from following football if we get knocked out. sorry for the long post..

    • February 15, 2017

      What are you on about? Here, since you clearly didn’t read the piece and just popped in to accuse me of “making lucho look like a tactical genius.” (All cut and pasted from above)

      –Luis Enrique rolled out what he considered his best side and he was wrong.
      –Andre Gomes over Rakitic was, in hindsight, a mess of a decision by Luis Enrique.
      –it’s easy to see what Luis Enrique’s hope was with Gomes. But nothing about how Gomes has played this season supported that hope.
      –Luis Enrique said, in essence, “Blame me.” We will and we should.
      –Luis Enrique was naive in believing that his players, a group that has done so much, won so much, would be enough yet again. He was naive for believing that Gomes would be able to help Busquets and Iniesta exert the kind of match control that would have made the decision to start the spendy Portuguese midfielder pay off.
      –Luis Enrique will feel terrible about his selection and naivete, and he should.

      Now what part of ANY of that is me, trying to make Luis Enrique “look like a tactical genius?”

      I have said it here before, and will say it again: I have zero tolerance for this crap. I used to take it in the name of being conciliatory, but no more. Done. If you want to come at me, or want to take issue with something that I have written, read it first. Then do so. But don’t grind axes just because you don’t like me. You don’t even know me. You know what I write. If you don’t like, go somewhere else and find work that will meet your needs and biases. Becasue your attack on me is bullshit, pure and simple.

      • Tata2
        February 15, 2017

        this isn’t about the piece, it’s about one of your comments where you opined that the problem is with the team so changing coach won’t make any difference even if it’s guadiola we bring on, implying that lucho is fine, it’s just the team that sucks. how are you so confident about that? stop making it look like I hate you and I am on a personal mission to attack you each time. because someone doesn’t agree with your point, it doesn’t make them your hater or whatever, how often do you see me comment here? you need to calm.

  18. February 15, 2017

    Watching Bayern vs Arsenal. God I miss watching us play like this.

    • Jim
      February 15, 2017

      Yup. How can they afford to give Thiago a free role ? That’s what Xavi used to do. Makes even clearer the static position given to Iniesta rather than using him to float where he wants. He’s running the game in exactly the Xavi style at the moment .

      • February 15, 2017

        I am not sure what is more depressing, watching the way Bayern/Thiago play or the fact that Arsenal are showing so much more fight than we did last night!

  19. Hamid
    February 15, 2017

    In the mind of LE:
    – Coaching Barça is the most stressful job there is. I am going on a 5-year sabbatical after this.
    – I am sick and tired of being compared to Guardiola. Sick & Tired.
    – There are too many egos in the team – hard to manage.
    – The “big shots” don’t like to be benched even when we are winning by a large margin.
    – The board insists on keeping Messi (too much $$$ and an impediment to starting any new project because of his brilliance and omnipresence).
    – Speaking of project, despite a treble and a double (for which I received little credit for), the board and fans refuse to allow me the time and latitude to start the new cycle (couple of years with no trophies)
    – Messi, Suarez and Neymar look down on my new recruits and don’t trust them.
    – I am hurt when I hear/read that my commitment to this team is not strong enough.
    – Players have decided to throw me under the bus but it is fine as I love them all..

  20. Hamid
    February 15, 2017

    Not trying to defend LE. Just saying that this is a big-time collective screw-up. I stopped watching the game after the first 12 minutes when the score was still 0-0. Because what I was watching was PSG against a lower division French team in the first round of Coupe de France. If I had watched the entire game, I would be angry and sad. Today, I am just sad and depressed…
    The fact that Kxevin, a levelheaded culer and a balanced analyst, finds no defenses for the team is indicative of how bad things are right now. Insufferable!

    • February 15, 2017

      Indeed. Even though I just had someone above say that they were tired of me trying to make Luis Enrique look like a tactical genius. Nice to see that someone read the piece.

  21. Víctor
    February 15, 2017

    Yep, Thiago is asking to be called back into Barcelona… 2 goals tonight… Bayern trashing Arsenal now…

  22. Jim
    February 15, 2017

    And now Thiago scores ! Constantly on the move. Constantly switching positions. They have at least four in the box for every attack.

    Clutching at straws, is it maybe a good thing that this will bring matters to a head rather than stumble on with our current setup ? There’ll be blood letting but if Barto is switched on we could come out of it better.

    And as I type this Thiago scores his second. Pass me the Barolo !

  23. February 15, 2017

    Thiago is exceptional. He has come on leaps and bounds since he was at Barca. Not sure there is any hope of getting him back, but he would have to be top of the list right now.

  24. G6O
    February 15, 2017

    Remind me how much we paid for Paco and Gomez combined and how much it would have cost to get Thiago back?

    • Davour
      February 15, 2017

      Yes… even if he would have been unavailable, it seems increasingly foolish to splash on those two, instead of one star player. Munir, Rafinha or Arda would be able to fill in for the rare minutes when MSN are not playing. But perhaps there was no one willing to come? Who, beside Verratti (injury prone) and Thiago (injury prone) would be good enough, and even a possibility?

      • G6O
        February 15, 2017

        Well, now we have one world-class non-DM midfielder (Iniesta), who has also been injury prone this season, and is deep into the wrong side of 30

        I would have done everything possible to get Thiago back

        • Davour
          February 15, 2017

          No, I understand. I just doubt his availability.

  25. TITO
    February 15, 2017

    Are we back.in business if we score 7 past Leganes this weekend?
    On a more serious note, we can only guess for whats, ifs and whys until someone from the players or the coaching ataff comes out and explain just what a hell happened last night and what is happening the whole season.

  26. Jim
    February 15, 2017

    Yeah, I suspect the time for that was when Pep left but LE was looking in another direction. To be honest I would have left Suarezminor, Rafinha, Gomes and Paco where they were, kept Samper, bust the bank for Thiago and used from a midfield of Busi, Masche, Samper, Thiago, Iniesta, Rakitic and SR. Tbh, given the energy Neymar is showing I’d probably add him to that mix at times.

    Just on the age thing, can we leave that alone given the way Robben is playing at 33 ? This mob have just become my favourites to win the CL.

    • G6O
      February 15, 2017

      Well, we have little choice but to root for Bayern — the alternative is Madrid winning it again….

  27. Jim
    February 15, 2017

    Just seen this. Was he having a laugh with the press ? Did he really think we were playing with two defensive mids ? Really, did anyone notice this during the game ? If so, who was the second defensive mid? No, scratch that. Just tell me who the first was . . . Epic fail if true although I did notice Neymar was playing a little deeper.

    Luis Enrique: “The press doesn’t watch matches very closely. We switched from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 so Messi could get on the ball more.”

    • Davour
      February 15, 2017

      Hey, why don’t we switch to that permanently, if it brings the ball to Messi more often!

  28. luisthebeast
    February 15, 2017

    We finished 1st to draw the most in form team in Eurote,one team with huge quality great manager and european experience.And others finished 2nd to draw shit teams like Arsenal and Napoli,teams with no mentality and average squads.Bayern was good but nothing special.Arsenal made them look like giants.But this Arsenal is worse than Sociedad.And Napoli?Really?Why oh why we cant have an easy road to the final for just 1 season??

  29. luisthebeast
    February 15, 2017

    CL is becoming a joke.Why a team to spend energy to win group stage and then the 2nd teams have better draws?Now we could play against Monaco,good team but not with the mentality of CL.Yep we are not great this season but with better draws we could make it to SF.After 2007-08 season we always face in 16 a difficult team.The team was tired,dead,we run 8km less than PSG.The schedule took everything from our players.Next season i want the team to go out in the round of 32 from Girona.Or play the b team in CDR in all games.

  30. luisthebeast
    February 15, 2017

    It makes me mad that this players,that great squad cant be a team,a unit.My fears started at the 5-2 against Sociedad.We were so average and our midfield and overall play so slow and almost anarchistic.Yep that word comes to my mind.Anarchy.Players are out there without to know what to do.

  31. luisthebeast
    February 15, 2017

    And the worst?People see organized teams like Bayern Dortmund Sevilla e.t.c and they say:Oh look Thiago what a player,look Weigl what a player,look Nzonzi e.t.c.Sometimes i make the same mistake.We shit on Gomes on Roberto on Alba e.t.c but the truth is that i remember the past,i remember Oleguer,Edmilson,Fan Bomel e.t.c lifting Liga and CL.Were they top top class?Not all of them.But Barca of 2005-06 was a so well organized team,maybe better organized than Guardiola but with less talent.And i also remember 2007-08 team, a great squad,one of our best ever.Problems,tactics did nt worked,fail.

    • Jim
      February 16, 2017

      Sorry, Luis, but you only had to watch that match to see how good he was. Not Xavi standard but getting there. For me, he is still slightly indisciplined, wanting to get forward too early which may cause an issue against better sides but Bayern with him orchestrating outclassed Arsenal from the start. It just took the score a little bit to catch up.

      PSG the most inform team in Europe ? Last I looked they weren’t even top of a weak French league. I also remember the time it wouldn’t have bothered us to play the best in Europe because we were the best. I understand the emotion, though. It’s a difficult time and we certainly aren’t playing to the best of our ability, for whatever reason.

      • luisthebeast
        February 16, 2017

        Jim PSG are 2nd in France but that is nothing to do with form.In 2017 they are a team in form with a new player like Draxler.They have a manager who is a master at knock out games.3 europa league in a raw.They have CL experience and the reason that they did nt reach a final last years was the average coach they had.
        I watched Bayern,i always say Thiago is very good,they have a very organized team.But Arsenal was so poor and that helped them.Against a better team they will have big problems.

  32. luisthebeast
    February 15, 2017

    Ronaldinho,Eto,Henry,Messi,Puyol,Xavi,Iniesta,Toure,Abidal,Deco,Thuram,Marquez,Milito,Silvinio,Bojan,JDS,Zambrotta e.t.c.That squad finished 3d and reached CL SF thanks to easy draws.It seems that just like Rijkaard just like Pep now it s Enrique time.

  33. Miguel
    February 16, 2017

    How do I read Lev’s post? Now that it’s password protected I am intrigued.

    • Jim
      February 16, 2017

      Yeah, I assumed it was our password for this site but that doesn’t work. I’m not sure what Kxevin is trying to ensure because you’d need to be signed in using your password to comment anyway. I’m sure he’ll be along when the good ol’ USA wakes up to explain. Good to see someone’s writing isn’t wasted so thanks to Kxevin for that. I’m curious if, when we get in, comments will be disabled. That’s when things can nosedive although I have faith in this community 🙂

  34. Reaper
    February 16, 2017

    I don’t post here a lot and am as baffled as many of you here are about why the team just didn’t show up. It felt a lot like the ViIllareal game in 2014 where we won 3-2 thanks to a Messi winner but their game play was so disillusioned because of Tito’s passing a few days earlier. Going through the motions…

    The horrific Vidal injury earlier in the week is in no way comparable to what happened with Tito but one must wonder if it had a similar effect in Paris (except that PSG played at the peak of their powers and the scoreline was vastly different to the Villareal game). It’s clear that Vidal is a source of great delight in the dressing room and it must have jolted them negatively.

  35. luisthebeast
    February 16, 2017

    Lucho will leave.And it s logic.But maybe is time for some players to leave too and open the space for young players.I believe that the time of Pique Busquets Iniesta is coming to the end.They must stay but not like starters for the new season.
    People who want Sampaoli can be sure that slow players with not great physicality will have no future in Barca.
    There are 2 roads now.
    Build a team from Masia and have 2 seasons without great expectations.
    Or sell some players who still are valued like Suarez Busquets Rakitic and others who are dead horses like Mathieu Macherano and build a new team with the best talents we can buy.

  36. luisthebeast
    February 16, 2017

    Busquets is past.Xavi and Iniesta made him look like a world class player.
    He never was.The system helped him.He never became a better player,he stay the same like he was in 2009.
    Slow,he dont have a good shoot,he dont make assists,he cant jump,he cant run.
    I am crying watching Casemiro scoring goals like last night and then i try to remember the last time Busquets scored a goal.

  37. Jim
    February 16, 2017

    Yeah, I’ve been saying for some time there needs to be some pruning. However, it needs to be sensible and selling Pique, Busi or Iniesta isn’t on my list because of one game. Pique has been our best defender this year by a country mile and CBs can easily go on till 34/35 . Busi is still in his prime and Iniesta’s is only 32. Robben is 33, has been injured half his life and was skipping about last night. The problem isn’t age, the problem is as it has been since Xavi left that LE wanted a more physical presence and bought accordingly. He also set up his team to feed the front three which doesn’t work as we saw last night but all season really. It is short sighted and one of the reasons I’ve never taken to him.

    Tuesday night wasn’t about speed, it was about space. We gave them oceans of it between our lines and then on top of that gave them far too much time on the ball. In attack we gave the ball away far too often. You can’t win games like that, even against ordinary opponents.

    We were all sitting back thinking Messi will sort it soon and that’s a big issue for us. He does it most weeks for us, against top sides or not, but he has one poor game where we can’t even get him the ball and suddenly he’s too old and he’ll never be the same again. We can’t operate on that knee jerk reaction. Iniesta’s passing was great but I don’t remember him going past anyone. That comes once you’re back three or four games, same with Busi. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t build our new midfield around Ini, at least for the next couple of years. In fact I don’t really remember anyone going past anyone apart from Neymar and on a rewatch of the match he seemed to be the biggest culprit at giving it away. Not slagging him here, In fact I’m thought he was one of the few to show some spirit and our best player but it is what it is.

    For me, as I’ve said we give Ini a freer role than he has at present. LE has nailed Ini down to that position which isn’t using his skills to the fullest. If that means 4-4-2 , fine. We need to know who will run our midfield when he is gone and we need Samper back for a season at least to see how he plays in Busi’s position ( maybe with Busi pushed up occasionally? ) because like Xavi, Ini and Busi he is the oiler of your passing game. If he can’t hack it defensively, fine but you give him the chance with great players not second stringers or anybody at Granada, for goodness’ sake.

    Oh yes, I nearly forgot. We need to get back to the passing game and control . Get that and you won’t have to worry about the front three scoring. For anyone of the opinion that the game has past that approach by just have a look at PSG against us or Bayern last night. They have watched us and hurtled past us. . . But they still don’t have better players than us. That’s the sad bit about all this.

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