Deportivo 2, Barça 1, aka “Dependency syndromes”

What has happened in your life that was amazing? A graduation? A marriage? Some epic event that not only kept you up until all hours, but drained you emotionally and physically, made you a wreck.

How effective were you at work the next day? Maybe you called in sick, because you knew you would suck, so why bother?

Now imagine being Barça after the PSG match on Wednesday.

It’s a safe bet that Depor coach Pepe Mel watched that match and thought to himself, “We got this,” because was no way a team — even the players who didn’t play — were going to come out of that match ready to do anything at all for the next week. Sunday was too soon, even for professionals.

As a consequence, Barça was pancake flat against Deportivo, and lost a match that a few days later the team would probably stroll with ease. Emotion and psychology do that to teams, to players. Football wasn’t canceled. And while Barça was running its asses off against PSG and performing the impossible, Depor was training, and lying in wait.

What’s more, Depor deserved the win. The team sits in 17th place in the Liga table, but is a different group since Mel took over. They have taken points off Atleti, who didn’t even have a Roman orgy of a midweek match to blame.

So what happened? The team performed below par, from minute 1 to minute 93. It’s as simple as that. Passes that usually connect didn’t, plays that usually work didn’t. Luis Suarez had some excellent chances that he hit directly as the keeper. Sergi Roberto had a shot that he should have taken, that he didn’t. Paco Alcacer had a chance that he should have controlled and shot. Instead he tried hitting a header to a teammate.

What’s fascinating about the last two sequences is that both were players unaccustomed to being The One. Sergi Roberto, against PSG, was The One by accident. His usual role is the guy who makes the pass to the right guy. Paco Alcacer doesn’t have enough of a track record to know what to do, except try to screw up. Take the shot? He still isn’t quite sure where to stand, much less what to do when the team is flat and he’s substituted in to make a difference.

Luis Suarez, in roughly the same place and situation as Sergi Roberto, slammed his shot home, because that’s what players who are used to being That Guy do. Ter Stegen was another one who is fast becoming used to being That Guy. He saved yet another match for his team, with a trio of brilliant saves, including a 1v1 that would have made it 3-1 and done, just as he did against PSG. Only this time, his heroics were for naught as his teammates weren’t as up to the task as he was.

After the match, the usual culprits were the target of scorn on Barça Twitter, that unrelenting crucible. Mascherano was the one most people were looking at, because he didn’t make the clearance on the first goal, and was in the neighborhood when Jordi Alba got punked — straight-up ass punked — for the second goal. But the entire team, excepting Suarez, Ter Stegen and Busquets, was going through the motions, and Deportivo took advantage. Messi was out there, for all that was worth. Poor. Iniesta came on as a second-half sub. Poor. Gomes? Sleepwalking. Nothing was working because nobody was where they needed to be.

Look at the first Betis goal. Mascherano whiffed on the corner, which created a loose ball that Ter Stegen had to pounce on. It was wet, and the ball slipped from his grasp when he slammed to the turf. There was a moment, an agonizing moment, when the ball was rolling free. Sergi Roberto stood there, seemingly paralyzed by the moment. The Depor player wasn’t, and slammed home. It was a mess of a goal.

The second Depor goal was worse, and not because it was the result of a corner kick that shouldn’t have been. The pass went directly to the attacker, who just outmanned Jordi Alba, leaping over him like he wasn’t even there. Because he wasn’t. He didn’t try to body the attacker, didn’t really mark him, just hoped that by standing there, his towering 5-foot-7-inch height would carry the day. The header was easy, and Ter Stegen was screwed.

The XI was Ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto, Pique, Mascherano, Alba, Busquets, D. Suarez, Turan, L. Suarez, Gomes, Messi. It should have been enough to beat Depor, even with the rotation that saw Umtiti, Neymar and Rafinha left out of the squad. But the team was still an amotional wreck, so it wasn’t. That didn’t teach us anything new. Neymar was said to be injured after the PSG match, with pain in his left adductor. No doubt some will doubt that injury because even after he essentially saved the Champions League for Barça, he will still always and forever be suspect. Lightweight. Diver. Faker. Not fully committed to the team. It’s also a safe bet that none will question Rafinha’s gastroenteritis, which is the standard player sick day excuse. Nothing new.

What is new is that Barça is dependent upon Neymar and Umtiti in ways that might surprise many culers, given that so many want one sold and still don’t fully rate the other. Barça has won every Liga match that Umtiti has started. All sixteen of them. Without Umtiti? The eleven matches include two wins, three losses and six draws. Umtitidependencia is real.

What does he do as a player that no other CB for Barça does? For one, he is a facilitator and a circuit closer. For another, he lets Pique roam because his range means that there is a backstop. He receives passes from Ter Stegen when opponents are pressing, and ferries the ball to midfield. Rather than attempting a risky action, as Mascherano did with his scuffed clearance before the first Betis goal, he influences play, shielding the ball, walling off attackers, making a play by indirect action. He wins every header that comes near him and anticipates play in a way that makes him move to balls like a grizzled veteran.

He was the best defender against PSG, as well as the most influential. And then there’s Neymar.

Without Neymar, Barça was sluggish and seemingly bereft of ideas, having control of the ball but being like a bear with the car keys when they had it, even aside from the clunky, sleepwalking play. Jordi Alba had to be pressed into duty as a nominal LW when Turan wasn’t filling that role, or defending because Alba was attacking. Neither option worked because overlaps were the basic option, rather than the pace and creativity that come from Neymar. Neymardependencia is also real, particularly as Messi steps back into midfield more.

Without Neymar, teams are free to mark Messi because it essentially leaves him with one option, since the run is out, even when Messi is fresh, sprightly and focused: an inventive pass. Against Depor, those efforts were overhit, hit to the keeper or just off target. And because Messi isn’t That Messi any longer, Barça can be controlled by a hard-working opponent. Usually the team will still boast enough quality to squeak past, but not when their mental circuits are blown.

We as supporters forget that players are human. We forget that they feel the same kind of elation that we do, multiplied by a factor of ten. I was a mess at work on Thursday, just grinning and screwing stuff up. Imagine how they were, even on Sunday. As noted in the previous post, Depor took advantage of the opportunities presented them. Bad call? Okay, but they were still pressing, banging a shot off the post that presented the officials with a decision. And they converted the chance. That’s football.

Pique said after the match that had you asked any culer before Sunday if they’d rather have advanced against PSG in a historic comeback and lost against Depor, most would have taken that choice in a heartbeat. Luis Enrique was calm, the players were calm, because everyone knew what happened and how powerless the team was to prevent it.

The only things this match taught us is that after a massive win, even the best teams can be vulnerable, and two players that many culers don’t think a lot of, are in fact essential. Only one of those things is a surprise.

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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.

57 Comments

  1. Víctor
    March 12, 2017

    Yep, totally. Any culer would happily accept the trade-off of having the comeback against PSG while losing to Depor. No doubt around that.

    Suarez said that the PSG win didn’t affect at all… well, perhaps it didn’t affect that much to him, but for most of the team it did.

    Still, the bad thing is that RM got the lead once again by two points (potentially being five)… but Barca shouldn’t lose hope… there are still many games that have yet to be played… this week should be totally used to rest the entire team.

  2. Víctor
    March 12, 2017

    By the way Kxevin, you made a mistake in your article… you wrote “look at the first Betis goal”… RM played against Betis… =P

  3. omoh
    March 12, 2017

    Thank you Depor for reminding us that we still have our problem in the dugout.

    Thank you Depor for bringing us back to planet earth after the euphoria of the 6-1 comeback that made us to temporarily forget that we still have Luis Enrique as a coach.

    I knew some people will say it we lost because of the euphoria of the win but lets remember this. The euphoria didn’t select a team of young, inexperienced midfielders (who lack the basic experience to put the euphoria in the past and deal with the game at hand like a professional) to start the game when you have the likes of iniesta and rakitic who are used to being in this kind of situation on the bench.

    I know some will still say he is resting the but I can’t remember how many times rakitic has played a full 90min this season neither can I remember iniesta playing a full 90min since 2017 started. Infact this two apart from Arda are the least used of the midfielders all through this season.

    Also we have a whole week ahead of us for players to rest.

    There is a saying that says “Bullshit can take you to the top but it cannot keep you there”

    LEs BS took us to the top in 2015 but its gradually taking us back to the gutters where the BS belongs. He had the laliga top spot handed over to him on a platter of gold but couldn’t retain it for complete 2weeks. When we were leading, we had the psychological advantage that we can go to the bernabeu and win to still maintain a one point lead but now we risk going down 5points and potentially 8points if we loose at the Bernabeu.

    It has been a Russian roullete kind of performance since the start of the season and people still find it worthy to blame players for the results. Here’s my question.

    Is it possible for all the players of a team to be off form for the whole season?

    We survived the psg test not because of his great tactics, but because of the great determination and motivation of the players with great respect to one in particular NEYMAR but in a game where No determination is needed but a tactical and selection decision, LE was found wanting. I just hope and pray we survive the remaining tests of the CL.

    With this kind of Russian roulette performance from LEs team, we should be thanking our luck if we end up with any trophy at the end of the season. Even the Copa that we are already in the final has no guarantee. With this kind of flunctuating performance, nothing is sure again because we don’t know the “Barca” that LE will present for the final. Its all 50/50. We can only hope and pray.

    • Víctor
      March 12, 2017

      You think that LE had nothing to do with that courage and derermina

    • Víctor
      March 12, 2017

      Sorry, mistake in my post. My point is: LE had lots to do with the courage and determination the players showed against PSG. To say that the coach had nothing to do with it is nonsense. Remember Rijkaard, he as a coach failed to instill that desire to win on his team during the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Even as the team was already amazing back then.

      We can put some blame on LE because of today’s loss… but you know that he isn’t entirely responsible for that…

    • ooga aga
      March 12, 2017

      What kind of “supporter” is actually glad when their team loses, so as to offer evidence of a problem they claim to exist? So they can feel they are “right” — probably about things they know little to nothing about. Absurd.

    • barca_tx
      March 13, 2017

      100% agree with your post. LE has to take the bigger % of the blame. The players are not blameless either but LE just has to do better.

    • kneowell
      March 17, 2017

      You know, your comment lost all credibility the moment you questioned that line up, this current line up Should be able to do the job against a 17th placed Deportivo. If Iniesta and rakitic were the answers why didn’t we see the slightest change in the game the moment they came on, if you didn’t think Wednesday fatigue and euphoria can place physical and mental demands on player performance how else do you then explain those horrible passes from Messi and Co? Call luchos first year a fluke, what do you call the second season? And now the third that we are still very much on course to win the treble? Call it a Russian roulette transaction, but it is by no mistake or coincidence or luck that we are still up there fighting on all fours for every trophy? You said euphoria didn’t select the players against deportivo, accepted, but did euphoria also select the players against PSG with rafinha in the ranks and a service roberto for the finish? Or are those two suddenly super experienced in your books? Yes Neymar was huge, he is expected to be huge he earns close to Messi and c. Ronaldo, should I expect less from him? I didn’t know coaches single-handedly win matches by going to kick the ball on the pitch, I thought what they did was come up with match formation and line up? Like it or not lucho was spot on with the tactics, formation of 3-3-1-3 and also made the right picks.he could have chosen to Play a conventional 4-3-3 Against PSG and we’ll be history in the ucl, no matter the spirit or determination of the players. You think luchos motivation had nothing to do with the victory over PSG? OK wait for it, where do you think we would be if lucho in his presser said something like “we lost heavily in the first leg, a comeback is impossible and we simply can’t turn it around” Instead of ” if PSG could score 4 at home, we can score 6″. Do you realise the different psychological impact both statements would have on the team?
      Russian roulette performance? Maybe, but Look at Real Madrid for instance, do you think they are there by some superior team work, they have been riding on far more luck than we have (Ramos saving them often times plus the ref gifting them Atleast 9points this season). here you Predicting an 8points gap (hoping between the line that we lose to Real Madrid) and telling us how w ain’t even sure of a trophy this season when we realistically are still all in for all trophies. If you still don’t believe this team after PSG heroics and hold on to all possible negative outcomes, we don’t need that here. Take it to elsewhere please

  4. PPos
    March 12, 2017

    This game really exposed our problem with our bench. Arda was quite poor today in the Neymar position. He’s just too slow to spark an attack unlike Neymar. What we lack is quality in the bench. Andre Gomes is on his way to being the new Hleb. No drive. No balls. Nothing. Calling back Deulofeu might be our best bet to regain extreme pace on the wing as a suitable sub for Neymar which is what we lost with the loss of Aleix. Paco Alcacer, same thing. It’s just beyond me why none of the midfielders take shots at goal. They need to stop being vassals to MSN and start helping us win games. Rakitic is an excellent shot taker. Sergi Roberto should have shot when he skipped into the box. That’s LE’s job to find goals from his mids because like we saw today Messi was very poor today. I still don’t like his new position as a central 10 because he rarely presses in more low-key matches. I swear he lost 10/10 balls he received and just drops too deep to be effective in striking at goal. We need that Messi that cuts in from the wing and strokes into the far post. Not this trequartista Messi. Cc

    • Grindelwald
      March 13, 2017

      Seriously, I’ve been thinking bout getting back Deulofeu, dunno if we put a buy back clause in his contract – dude’s been killing it in Milan!

      • PPos
        March 13, 2017

        Yeah we actually do have a buy back clause. I think it’s like 10 million but given how deulofeu is playing. He’s worth way more than that. My only problem with him is that he can be a bit selfish sometimes but that pace is incredible. He’s broken many physical records at Milanello since he moved there. I think it would be a smart move. Let’s cash in Arda and ship him to China for a pretty fee.

  5. Mishti
    March 12, 2017

    Thank you Depor for bringing us all back to the normal world of Barcelona fandom, as so beautifully reflected in the comments above. Was waiting for this to happen. The euphoria and ensuing silence from some quarters just felt so unreal. . Now everything is back to normal. What a relief!

    • ooga aga
      March 12, 2017

      Exactly. Well said. In fact one wonders if some “supporters” were in fact disappointed by the PSG victory because it didn’t provide evidence for their claims.

    • Grindelwald
      March 13, 2017

      I’m sure you lots will be glad of barca losses the league just to prove their points that Enrique is a clueless coach! No coach is perfect, even guardiola has his imperfections.

  6. omoh
    March 12, 2017

    Saying Lucho had a hand in motivating the players to against psg is like saying a coach needs to motivate the players to play an el classico or champion’s league final. Someone facing humiliation and bad record in history books don’t need motivation to react. It is natural instinct. BTW where was his motivation when the scoreline was 3-1 until NEYMAR came up with that free-kick? His motivation was to remove the most experience member of the squad and replace him with Arda in a wrong position. Not until he saw that it was back firing that he moved Arda to rafinha’s position and he replaced rafinha with S.Roberto who eventually did a decent job in iniesta’s position. He even went has far as to replace Rakitic with Andre Gomes who had no meaningful contribution as always.

    I am tired of seeing people make excuses for the lucho and he keeps making the same mistakes. LE is the only coach that prioritizes experimentation over winning. Today, as with many matches we’ve seen under his watch, he wasted the first 45 with an experimental team only to introduce the senior members when things have started going south.

    A regular coach will first secure the point with his senior players before throwing the fringe players on to experiment but no, not LE.

    KXEVIN please we need an EDIT button to correct mistakes.

    • kneowell
      March 18, 2017

      You know, your comment lost all credibility the moment you questioned that line up, this current line up Should be able to do the job against a 17th placed Deportivo. If Iniesta and rakitic were the answers why didn’t we see the slightest change in the game the moment they came on, if you didn’t think Wednesday fatigue and euphoria can place physical and mental demands on player performance how else do you then explain those horrible passes from Messi and Co? Call luchos first year a fluke, what do you call the second season? And now the third that we are still very much on course to win the treble? Call it a Russian roulette transaction, but it is by no mistake or coincidence or luck that we are still up there fighting on all fours for every trophy? You said euphoria didn’t select the players against deportivo, accepted, but did euphoria also select the players against PSG with rafinha in the ranks and a service roberto for the finish? Or are those two suddenly super experienced in your books? Yes Neymar was huge, he is expected to be huge he earns close to Messi and c. Ronaldo, should I expect less from him? I didn’t know coaches single-handedly win matches by going to kick the ball on the pitch, I thought what they did was come up with match formation and line up? Like it or not lucho was spot on with the tactics, formation of 3-3-1-3 and also made the right picks.he could have chosen to Play a conventional 4-3-3 Against PSG and we’ll be history in the ucl, no matter the spirit or determination of the players. You think luchos motivation had nothing to do with the victory over PSG? OK wait for it, where do you think we would be if lucho in his presser said something like “we lost heavily in the first leg, a comeback is impossible and we simply can’t turn it around” Instead of ” if PSG could score 4 at home, we can score 6″. Do you realise the different psychological impact both statements would have on the team?
      Russian roulette performance? Maybe, but Look at Real Madrid for instance, do you think they are there by some superior team work, they have been riding on far more luck than we have (Ramos saving them often times plus the ref gifting them Atleast 9points this season). here you Predicting an 8points gap (hoping between the line that we lose to Real Madrid) and telling us how w ain’t even sure of a trophy this season when we realistically are still all in for all trophies. If you still don’t believe this team after PSG heroics and hold on to all possible negative outcomes, we don’t need that here. Take it to elsewhere please

    • kneowell
      March 18, 2017

      So why Didn’t They motivate themselves after losing 4-0 at the alianz arena?
      Whatever changes lucho made on the pitch worked, no matter how you seek to explain them, Arda was influential and so was roberto, gomes job was simply to break down possible counters which was much of what rakitic did. another world class coach could have chosen to call up a 30m striker on the bench since he needed goals, but lucho chose to ‘experiment’ in your terms and it worked, so much for prioritizing experimentation over winning. It’s actually very easy to coach with the benefit of hindsight as I am very certain you would have questioned Roberto’s selection in place of a Paco alcacer.
      I have not seen a single objectivity in your argument, in all your cry about midfield you failed to see that our problem against deportivo wasn’t particularly the midfield as we didn’t experience any marginal change even when the midfield was rejigged with more experienced players. No matter how good your team is the opponent is always gonna create scoring chances, and if they score from them then the culprits should be named, the defenders should be questioned especially when the goals come from set pieces. You should be able to point fingers at Alba for standing and watching deportivo score a header on his watch, you should question Mascherano poor clearance of the ball, you should point to Messi for all those misplaced passes and lost possession, is that luchos fault too? You should rue the missed chances too as we did create a good number to see off the game.
      Calling the fielded team an experiment is rather absurd cos it was filled with people accustomed to doing these jobs, Arda is proven to play best at Neymars position, I don’t see how that’s an experiment, Dennis Suarez has played same Iniesta role any times and we won from them, gomes partnering busquet isn’t particularly strange either, neither is the line up at the back alien to cules. Of course the coach is called up first when his team fails we see that all the time, but it will be stupid not to look past the coach to identify lapses Like players performance which he couldn’t have prevented no matter who was selected to play.

  7. TITO
    March 13, 2017

    I can’t believe it.. Really?
    Again with that nonsense LE out?
    You want us to win every single game throughout the season?
    You guys should watch some other sport for that.

  8. Neel
    March 13, 2017

    I completely agree with OMOH. Its not computer games, that you replace 5 outfield players between two matches. Especially, towards the business end of the season. So, what were you rotating your players for all this while, if you have to still rotate dangerously? I mean, Raki has seen less play time than Gomes. He could have started for sure.
    And for some of the posters – I dont think any one wants to rejoice in proving their point right at the cost of any kind of loss to Barca. People on both sides of the debate want Barca to prevail. Don’t try to enforce only one holy grail opinion in the forum that LE is right, and any opinion against it are the fans who have flipped out of their minds.
    Both parties have a right to their opinion. Based on their knowledge of the game, of news sources, expectation etc.
    Its always easy to retrospect, but the moment I saw the team line, I was very very scared. And exactly, because of the exertion of PSG game, we should have ensured to have enough balance in MF, expecting Messi and Suarez to not fire again. Raki has seen fewer minutes. He shiould have been put for 55 minutes or so. Not saying that would have definitely ensured a different result. But, I would think most coaches across world and leagues would have taken that bet.
    I have personally thought LE has been given more credit than he ever deserves – but that is another discussion.

    • Rami
      March 13, 2017

      I detected two types of biases in your comment, The first one is called:

      -Outcome bias” which is defined as the tendency to judge a decision by its eventual outcome instead of based on the quality of the decision at the time it was made.
      In the context of your argument, You most certainly wouldn’t have made the same comment if the players actually did their job right and won the game, Hence it’s called outcome bias.

      -The other is called “Confirmation bias” which is defined as The tendency to search for, interpret, focus on and remember information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.
      The context of this in your argument, Is you failed to mention and ignored the numerous times LE does rotate away from home, And the fielded players do their job correctly, And we win!, Cherry picking instances when it doesn’t work as intended and ignoring when they do is by definition, conformation bias.

      None of the remaining matches have a clear neon sign that says “Rotate here!, Guaranteed win!”, All of them can be become complicated, Even those that are in camp nou, Since we can’t field our best XI in every single match, That means a compromise has to begin somewhere, But when??, What’s the guarantee it’ll work?…, It’s simple, There is none, The fact it didn’t work as intended this time, Doesn’t make the decision wrong and invalid, I would’ve made the same decision as LE.

      Look i’ve had no problem calling out luis enrique in this season when i thought he was a culprit, I even called out kevin when i thought he was bias toward him, But at the same i make sure that every argument i make is not compromised emotionally, And without any fallacies, I want my arguments to be as logically sound as possible.
      In my opinion LE has stepped up to his tasks as a coach in the past weeks, And i currently don’t have a single negative thing to say about him,
      Credit where credit is due.

  9. mr.undercover
    March 13, 2017

    that’s really funny. the lucho out bandwagon has surfaced again. if you can’t stand with the team when things get south don’t bother to jubilate when things got better. where were you when the team made a historical comeback against PSG?? yes I can tell,some were fully disappointed because all their claims was proving wrong not even daring to voice out their claims. someone even mentioned that L.E had no influence in the comeback, seriously??? I guess some were napping when the players were giving credit to the coach for instilling the belief into their minds, then shortly after yesterday’s loss they found the strength to bash again. its kinda disheartening to see some folks want to see the team losses or end trophy less to prove their claims and theories right.

  10. Rami
    March 13, 2017

    I had many things to comment about concerning this match, Only to find out that kevin had already talked about pretty much all of them and left me with hardly anything to add, Kudos to kevin.

    And you know what, Kudos to deportivo for putting up such a great fight, With all the rants and screams i had to read online;, I hardly saw anyone giving them the credit they deserved.

    But i’d like say, That when our team who statistically doesn’t concede many goals from corner kicks, Only to ship two in the same match, Just points to a clear lack of concentration from the players.

    • Mishti
      March 13, 2017

      Depor indeed played a great match, with great discipline and attention to detail. I hope they stay up.

    • Rami
      March 13, 2017

      This is something i mentioned before when i was arguing with Jim about lucho.
      Whoever our next coach will be, He’ll still recognize and see the same thing lucho did three years ago, That the main strength of our squad is the MSN, And whatever the template he’ll choose to create will involve centralizing the team around them and make sure they are utilized to the fullest.
      In essence our next coach will build over the foundation lucho had already built.
      No coach will bring us back to our previous midfield dominant and centered template that pep had built, Because the pillars that made that version possible are either gone or aged.

  11. Mishti
    March 13, 2017

    My observations were regarding how our 3-4-3 is doing/progressing against various kinds of oppnents. While the overall performance of the team very obviously was a function of the extraordinary circumstances of the previous week, and I totally expected that, it did give me a few clues to some of the questions I had in mind before the PSG game. My main curiosity was to see a) how we do against a team that really vigorously attack down our flanks (I had expected PSG to do so, but their game plan made it moot), and b) how well we execute our transition to 4-at-the-back when teams press high and/or transition quickly to attack, because that is usually the Achilles’ heel of a fluid back-3-to-back-4 system. I thought we didn’t do very well on either, and that was partly a function of personnel, apart from the fatigue factor. What I got out of it is that some of our key bench players have miles to go before being effective in a 3-4-3. Alba and Arda being prime examples. LE needed to see how these players fared and no doubt he took notes. Messi too seem to be still adapting to this ‘systematically central’ position. In the last two games, he got squeezed out of space in the middle of the park. Sporting and Celta had given him a lot of space. Don’t expect that to happen going forward. I will be curious to see how LE goes about solving these issues..

  12. Nguyen Toan
    March 13, 2017

    What happened? It’s simple. Gomez happened. Luis Enrique started him in Paris, we lost 4-0. He learned nothing, started him again. We lost again. We play like 10 men every time the guy started the match. He cannot hold the ball, string a useful pass or win a challenge. While we are facing fitness problem for playing too many game, Messi is not fit, Pique is not fit. Having him on the field is an extra burden for defence, as he lost the ball too often, for midfield, as he cannot hold the ball and string the pass and attack, be cause no good ball come from him. Gomez and D.Suarez is just not good enough to start together in a AWAY GAME. I lost count on how many times Enrique’s decisions have cost us this season. If Gomez cost 35 mil, S.Roberto’s price should be 40 mil.

    • barca_tx
      March 13, 2017

      It could be me but I just dont like Gomez and they his attitude + play. I almost fell out of my chair when he was subbed in the PSG game. I dont blame his fully for the loss but he a major contributing factor and I have no idea why lucho still insists on playing him ahead of the others subs.

    • kneowell
      March 18, 2017

      Messi is more a culprit than gomes was, if you say that you won’t be arrested by some cops, besides we have no way of knowing Messi isn’t fit until we actually watched the match

  13. mr.undercover
    March 13, 2017

    where is Jim?? its weird I can’t find his comments here in.

    • dl
      March 13, 2017

      Yes — bit concerned as well. If psg was his last match, well, he went out on a high!

      • Mishti
        March 13, 2017

        Been wondering the same myself. May be out golfing somewhere? Do hope nothing worse than that.

  14. mr.undercover
    March 13, 2017

    gomes is not to be Blame every time a misfortune happens. I would not rate him until he had a full year with the team, it happens that he is always unlucky to be on the pitch whenever the team plays badly, if the whole team was a mess yesterday, then how do you want him perform well?? even messi couldn’t make a difference despite doing it several times this season

  15. PPos
    March 13, 2017

    http://www.sport.es/es/noticias/barca/escandalosa-estadistica-que-persigue-gomes-5893537

    Andre Gomes is awful. He has played 20 games. 0 goals 0 assists. He’s played 13 out of the 14 games we’ve lost this season. He’s been the 4th most used midfielder this season. He needs to step up or go train with the reserves because he’s derailing our season and it’s obvious. The numbers don’t lie. He’s got 0 commitment to the club or so it seems. If he had squared the ball against depor instead of trying to curl it with 0 angle it would have probably been 2-2. Hell we might have even won.

    • Dar_vincy
      March 14, 2017

      That’s a mind-boggling stat! Then again, I’m not gobsmacked. Early indications suggested to me he wasn’t going to contribute much to this team. That he still plays despite his glaring lack of quality is really beyond me. That we even bought him in the first place gravely defies logic.

  16. Davour
    March 13, 2017

    Wow. Couldn’t watch the game, and it seems I missed out on a frustrating display. From the extended highlights its obvious that the team was not sharp, though seemed to do enough to win with a little more luck and focus. Alba completely screwed up for the second; why not jump? (and did ter Stegen let that first one slip? Still seemed to have a fantastic game apart from that).

    I noted a comment above about Messi’s role, being crammed. This was obvious against PSG, too, where I still think he had a pretty good game in pressing and retaining possession, as well as a few creative plays. A part of his role becomes, however, to be a decoy, allowing Neymar (and Rafinha) more space. If Messi had not commanded such attention, do you think Neymar would have been left alone with his RB as often? Rafinha had acres of space. And all the while Messi did a few Messi things, and remained a potent threat in the centre, as well as a ball recycler (“Xavi”) together with Busi and Iniesta. But what happens when Neymar is out? This, it seems. Then his role does not work, because there is no one to make use of the space he creates by simply being Messi.

    For all the selection, the score was still 1-1 when Iniesta and Rakitic entered, no? I’m sure LE picked the freshest legs, though it seems strange none of the above started, I must say. He knows more than us, though his preference for Gomes remains a bit puzzling.

    Overall, this is no surprise. Crazy comebacks come with a prize (and we don’t have a Ramos for these games…). Next week will show where we are.

    • Mishti
      March 13, 2017

      I agree with you on most points. In particular about Messi’r role in creating space out wide. Earlier in the season the roles were reversed and Neymar was drawing defenders out to the wings that gave Messi more space to run through the center. My point though was more about Messi’s still ongoing adaptation to the role. What I know from observing him over the years is that he does get frustrated if starved of the ball and space. I don’t expect it to be an easy adaptation for him. Yesterday was the first time, as you pointed out, his new role didn’t quite work. Since there was no like for like substitution for Neymar, his role might needed to be altered a little bit to get him on the ball more. So there are definitely more options/alternatives yet to be worked out for different scenarios. I am simply observing this evolution with curiosity.

      • Davour
        March 14, 2017

        Oh, absolutely, With the “you” I did not refer to you, or any other contributor here, but more generally. He, like the rest of the team, is still exploring.

    • March 14, 2017

      Messi has reached a stage where if he is not in his alien form, he is considered poor by most fans and journalists. Against PSG people forget that Messi would have ended with 2 or 3 assists if Suarez and Neymar were more interested in shooting than falling over, all from some excellent short balls into the box. Other than the penalty and ticking the midfield role, he also made that beautiful pass for Suarez penalty. Again it was his run from the middle which earned the freekick and brought TS forwards without which we dont get that 94th minute free kick. But all this is not enough for Messi, stopping whom was the only thing Emery got right in that match. Almost every time, there were 4 players on him, which gave lot of space for Neymar.. But Messi is measured with different yard sticks.

      I really dont think Messi is still learning the role of trequartrista Mishti. He has already proved it there. I think even in that hole, he is starved of balls and he is getting frustrated, which is normal. Inspite of playing much deeper than he is used to he is still leading our goal tally. If a lesser player has that numbers, the world would be discussing about that aloud.

      However, am kind of disappointed by the use of Gomez by LE. If we are all excited by the winning percentage of Umtiti starting matches, rightly so, we should equally be worried by the lossing percentage of Gomez starting matches. He is really not doing well, may be he will get better next season, but till then it would be nice of him to come in only in the second half when we have already done the job.

    • Rami
      March 14, 2017

      Messi had to deal with cramped spaces for most of his career, Neymar & suarez might have given him a bit more space to breath, But i still see many teams still choose to suffocate messi.

      The reality is, It isn’t that the teams are depriving him of more space, But his ability to handle those situations isn’t as good as before.
      His dribbles are less successful, He loses the ball more often, His reaction time has worsened, The timing and accuracy of his passes is less reliable….etc, Yet when i say “worse” or “less”, It’s in respect to messi himself, And not as comparison to someone else.

      This isn’t surprising, Messi in 3 months will be 30 years old (Oh yeah, Time flies!), So we shouldn’t expect the same performance he delivered when he was 24.

      • Davour
        March 14, 2017

        I agree Messi is not as invincible on the ball as when he was 24; of course, physically, he was on a different level then. But I don’t think his passes are less reliable/accurate, rather the opposite – and he tries much more difficult passes now, from a deeper position. He was never a playmaker back then, rather the difference maker in a well-functioning system. Now he must be both, though Neymar is starting to seriously relieve him of some responsibility. He lost the ball before, too, but in less dangerous positions.

        But sure, overall he is a less commanding player – compared to himself. He does not bag two goals a game for 20 games in a row. For me, I still feel that 2015 was in many ways his peak as complete player: still enough of that old force, but with added playmaking skills.

        Despite this, still being the world’s no.1 is not bad… Neymar is the only one even close, if you ask me.

      • March 14, 2017

        I would like to agree with you that he is less invincible force now but.. I also would like to argue on
        -presence of Neymar means, he feels a little less responsible and he is not even trying as many dribbles or shots as before.
        – passing wise, he is still the best passer in the world, much superior to any one, absolutely no doubt it.
        – we need to look at that stat which someone prepared few weeks before which clearly said, 16/17 is the worst season for conversion of chances created by Messi. (2010/11 was the best. ). So its not that Messi is not creating chances, he still does, but when they are not converted – thanks mostly to Suarez and Neymar – people look at his assist numbers and complain , oh he is not like before.
        He still tries for those one two’s in tight spaces in the final third. Just look at how Suarez returns those one twos, even against the Deportivo game. Suarez gets it right only once in a dozen attempts, and Neymar little more better, but not exactly where a Pedro or Iniesta would have placed the ball back in 2010 – 13
        And above all, he is still our leading goal scorer, this inspite of not showing any intention to steal the lime light – letting Neymar take the 90th minute penalty or passing to Suarez when he is on a hatrick etc.
        Again, he alone has been the reason why we are still in contention for the liga. In most of those important liga matches,its his creativity which helped the team come out well.
        Yes, he is not in that alien form every game (I sill believe it that he tries it when he really wants it), but for a player nearing 30, still being the leading goal scorer, playing in a deeper role, and be the lynch pin creator of chances and through balls when most needed, is more than impressive. We should never write him off.

        When you say he loses the ball more often, we need to look at how much others lose too. The team as a whole loses ball more often than before, In the 4-0 PSG match Neymar lost around 35 balls or so, Messi around 18. I dont blame Neymar, its normal to lose ball in the final third for an attacking player.

        Am not going to write Messi off. Because its not just simple physical talent what Messi is all about. Its his intelligence and that should only get even better.

  17. Hamid
    March 13, 2017

    At the risk of contradicting many of you here, I am not so certain I would have picked up a loss against Depor and a win against PSG, supposing that such a “dilemma” makes any sense from a footbalistic point of view at all. The team is in tatters this season and with our current form, there is no way in hell we will win the Champions’ League. No way. The remaining teams are better, stronger and more consistent. Until yesterday we could entertain the possibility of a double. Now it looks like we will have to content with the Copa. Not that tragic given our poor performance at the three fronts.
    The team seems to be at the mercy of individual brilliance (sporadic by definition), of the unannounced war between Messi and Lucho (Messi won), of the distrust that the old guard shows towards the new recruits (just watch who Messi, Neymar and Suarez look for to make the pass), of the sudden disappearance of Iniesta and of ill-timed rotation.

    • ciaran
      March 14, 2017

      The Champions League is the perfect example of being able to win without consistency, Madrid x2, Chelsea are recent winners without having any semblance of form or settled tactics.
      I’m not saying that it’s a good thing but on any given match Neymar, Messi or Suarez are capable of winning a match so cup competition is the most likely success while league victories require much more consistency.

      I find it incredible how rotation gets the blame for terrible individual performance. Every single Barca player who played Depor is better than his Depor counterpart but Lucho gets the total blame because Messi was invisible, Iniesta and Rakitic made no difference and Masch and Alba were once again exposed defensively.
      Players win and coaches lose

      • Mishti
        March 14, 2017

        Great point on Cup vs Liga. A lot depends on the luck of the draw, moments of brilliance within a 90 minutes period and myriad such random factors.

        That victory over PSG surely was not simply about winning the UCL this season? It was a gift of a lifetime my team gave me, that will far outlive memories of any trophy they or may not win. I love football for moments like this. I have no idea what I did in life to deserve this miraclulous team who obliges me so often.

  18. Dar_vincy
    March 14, 2017

    I wouldn’t say LE exhibited indiscretion in his rotation. Truth is, it was needed. Still and all, the obvious problem was the quality of rotations made. Hard as it is to admit, the crop of back-ups in the team grossly are of limited quality. Like PPOS pointed out, we have an Andre Gomes who has played 20 games with 0 goals and 0 assists. Like Jorge Valdano said recently, “he even seems to be hiding (in games).”
    Others don’t just provide sufficient contributions and quality when played, thus the negative results. Compared to a Bayern Munich team that had Muller, Costa, Renato Sanches, Coman on the bench against Arsenal, we don’t boast of a similar quality to surrogate our top stars in matches they need rest.

  19. ciaran
    March 14, 2017

    You can’t believe everything that you read, Gomes does have an assist this season but it doesn’t make as good a headline. He’s also the only midfielder that hasn’t any experience with the Barca system, Arda, Rafinha, Denis, Iniesta and Rakitic all have multiple years experience with us.
    He also has played as pivot and both interior positions unlike most of the others.

    Has he performed well? No but he’s not responsible for us losing loads of points, merely struggling to adapt to a midfield that itself is struggling to adapt to the changing requirements for our midfield.

  20. Víctor
    March 14, 2017

    HAMID, Barcelona is the top contender for winning this Champions League. Followed by Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and, to a lesser extent, Juventus.

    Sure, I agree that there won’t be another miracle comeback, but surely there won’t be another 4-0 thrasing against Barcelona either…

  21. Rami
    March 14, 2017

    My predictions for QF:
    FC Barcelona VS Manchester City
    Bayern VS Leicester city
    Dortmund VS Juventus
    Atletico VS Real madrid

    • Mishti
      March 14, 2017

      You mean we ARE going to the semifinals? 😉 😀

  22. luisthebeast
    March 14, 2017

    Leicester in next round,madrid in SF and Bayern in final.

  23. PPos
    March 14, 2017

    Apparently the club has made a priority to regain Thiago from Bayern. I always thought it was a grave mistake to let him go because the man now is a total beast. He’s an amazing dribbler, excellent distance shooter, quick in the first 10 yards, excellent composure and vision, basically everything Gomes wishes he could be. Also the club is getting serious about buying Bellerin from Arsenal I think is what we need. He’s incredibly fast, faster than Alba for sure and also better defensively. Knowing the stupid CL draw we are gonna get Juventus, then Bayern and Madrid or something incredibly difficult in whatever order but oh well, if you wanna win the CL, you gotta beat the best.

  24. Víctor
    March 14, 2017

    I have the feeling that Barca is gonna get Leicester City in QF…

  25. Kd
    March 15, 2017

    After such an amazing game against PSG fanbase is back in full force criticizing. I couldn’t believe some of the comments here. After such a mammoth performance I guess an improving Depor under Pepe Mel was always going to give us a run for our money. Add to that, the downpour making running even more difficult. I would just like to say that we should hold our horses till the end of the season at least. Its a long way to week 38 and Madrid aren’t really on fire. Even Sevilla is going through a rough patch. Patience (for once) my fellow Culers!!
    Mishti after such a dazzling performance I honestly wouldn’t want Barca to go out in the next round like 2013. This fightback deserves a CL. I don’t wanna be “Mishti eyed” ( 😉 hehe) looking back 5 years from now and thinking we should have won the CL this season. This seems like our year. WE haven’t played the slick football we can and the performances have been choppy but we r still there fighting for all the titles. On a side note, been a while we have heard from Jim. I hope he is ok. I’m guessing for once he would have been happy with Mascherano in that PSG game!!

    • Mishti
      March 15, 2017

      Believe me KD, no one is rooting for us to win the CL more than I. And I actually think we have a good chance. April is going to be the killer month, 9 games I believe. I don’t know how well the squad will hold up. But after the remuntada I have stopped anticipating results. Even during the Depor game, till the last minute I kept thinking we can still score two goals and win 😀 :D. So I am rather relaxed and ready to enjoy the journey.

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