Granada 1, Barça 4, aka “of course.”

Supporters are funny. There was no way in hell that Granada, even at its house and before its frenzied supporters, was going to beat Barça. They knew it, the coaches knew it, the players knew it, the folks watching at home knew. The match for them was a hit-and-hope, a potential golazo against the run of reality.

There is a certain tyranny in football as the rich get richer as the poor hunt for scraps. Barça get Luis Suarez to add to Neymar and Messi. Granada get Barça loanees and castoffs. The odd upset notwithstanding, in which a superior team doesn’t do what it is supposed to do, football is about form and talent.

Rolling into the match against Granada, Barça was a team in form, that blip against Deportivo nothing more than the aftershock of you trying to work the day after you went on an epic bender. Good luck with that.

Luis Enrique rotated, not only of necessity but because it made sense. Even at that, the XI was Ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto, Mascherano, Mathieu, Alba, Busquets, Rafinha, Gomes, Suarez, Neymar, Rakitic. That group doesn’t exactly suck, and was such that even the best possible XI available to Granada didn’t have a shot, couldn’t have a shot.

No Messi, no Pique, no Umtiti, and still. It was Neymar unleashed, Paco Alxacer showing a bit of why he was acquired, Luis Suarez playing like a titan. The better team won because that is what was supposed to happen, supporter fretting and drama aside.

The final score could have been worse. Barça also could have put out a deeper effort. But why? That is part of the cruelty of football — Granada kicked, ran, fought, did all that it could. Barça just fluffed its feathers a bit and knocked in enough goals to win, based on superior talent.

The pace, spacing and movement for the first goal, the absurd quality on display for the second, the football evisceration of the third, was all so inevitable. Supporters need to worry, need to create situations such as the Twitter consternation after that excellent Granada goal, which leveled the score at 1-1 but also strained logic to create a crisis. If they needed an error and then a perfect goal just to notch one, what would be the odds of them getting another?

Barça, on the toher hand was creating chances galore, almost for fun, then spurning them the way game hunters photograph their prey rather than shooting it, the photo from the range of the kill shot serving as evidence. More goals were only a matter of time.

Why do we watch, then, if we know that form and talent are absolutes, that our team is going to win? Because it’s fun. Football is a game, and it’s fun. Even amid all of the knowlwdge that tries to suck the fun out of the game, that dismisses a key goal as ugly or unworthy, it is a delight to watch our team win. Assessing the quality of a win is the refuge of the haves.

“We won, but the match should have been over earlier. We were in trouble for a while.”

But imagine being Granada, of confronting a Sisyphean task of facing off against Barça. During one second-half run, Neymar danced, pranced, stopped and started, hopped and shimmied, as Granada defenders, one after the other, lined up for their turn at a swivel-hipped game of Whack-A-Mole. “Missed. You try.” Finally, as even more superior opponents do, they had to foul Neymar.

How must it feel, not to have a player such as that on your team, a talent that too many supporters rake for granted every week, but to watch that talent rip your beloved team apart? That is tyranny, of money, talent, circumstance, opportunity. All you can do is watch, and hope.

Perhaps we reduce football to theory and notions because we want some measure of control, some predictability from an endeavor that is basically marbles in a bowl, kids chasing after a football in the park writ large, backed by enough money to make teams worth more than the GNP of a small nation.

When that ball is first kicked, the game becomes precisely that — and is the province of those who have the physical and mental capability to play it best. Alaves played very well against Real Madrid, but were let down by the second most prevalent thing lesser teams are let down by: decisions on ball. The final third is the key zone because the concentration of bodies is highest, where the keeper is waiting, where the margins are finest. If a pass is an inch off or held a fraction too long, it becomes an almost instead of a celebration.

Look at the winning Barça goal. Suarez took a pass, physically held off a defender and had the presence of mind to lace a perfect ball for Paco Alcacer to run onto, and slot home with sufficient speed and quickness to outdo a keeper who was having a brilliant match.

We want the game to be logical, want to talk of positional play, wrinkle our noses at individual brilliance and imperfect goals, but it is all marbles in a bowl, luck and talent. Iniesta makes those passes because he can. Isaac Cuenca misses those passes because he can. If he could make them, he wouldn’t be at Granada.

That is the cruelty of this game. PSG understands that, how their player stared into a potential reality and flinched. Neymar saw the possibility to make history, and grew larger.

Predicting that is impossible, even as we understand that the probability of Neymar doing something such as that is higher than Cavani or Di Maria because he is more talented, more tested at the limits of the game, physical and psychological. In that way, the game makes sense, even at its most illogical.

Football is beautiful, and illogical. That is why we watch. Sure, we talk tactics and formations, but we understand that they are one error, one amazing run, one moment of madness away from being reduced to what they are: another chance to be proved wrong by the whimsy of sport.

By Kxevin

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.


  1. What a nice article. If only Barca(LE) exploited half the talent at it’s(his) disposal, Granada wouldn’t even have a chance at equalising let alone causing a momentary scare amongst fans.

    Panicking at the sight of an equaliser from a lowly Granada is an unusual feeling the present coach and board has brought on Barcelona fans. This is the more reason even KXEVIN see it fit to write an article to allay the fears of his readers.

    I could remember the question my dad(not a fan of any club) asked the first time he knew I had become Barcelona fan. “I hope it’s not one of those teams that gives it’s fans high blood pressure?” and ever since 2002 that I fell in love with Barcelona, I had never had it this bad as a Barcelona fan. There is a sense of security that the Barcelona team used to transmit that gives it’s fans the confidence that an equaliser from the second to the last team on the league table is just a glitch and is nothing to panick about. Unfortunately, in the past 3years, that sense of security seem to be fading as the season went by and this season is first time in a very long time that I cannot confidently say Barca can win 5straight games. Even the Zamora trophy that was nearly customized by Victor Valdes has become a far cry because we can hardly keep a clean sheet.

    Panick amongst Barca fans is a sign of serious distress in the team. Because it is as a result of previous events/results that has become all too familiar under LE that “holy crap! are we going to fuck this up again? like we did against Alaves, against Deportivo, against a struggling Valencia, against Villarreal, against Real betis, against Celta etc”

    Well I see no difference between Deportivo, Alaves and Granada in terms of players available to them But two of them actually beat Barcelona.

    Also if we are to talk about quality of players, irrespective of some players having an off day, a team of Barcelona’s quality should never loose 4-nil to any team on the planet. 2-nil may be acceptable 3-1 maybe but 4-nil? Even the worst barcelona team in the past decade did not concede 4-nil to anyone(well except tata’s team) and how many times has LE been beating 4-nil? I can remember 3. Against Athletic, against Celta, and against PSG.

    1. Selective memory, I guess. LE has a higher win % than Pep or I think any other coach in club history, so I can’t explain your post in any other way.

    2. You just got my point wrong. It is not about winning. It is about the confidence and peace of mind that comes with it. I’m talking about the type of winning that the team wins but all through the match, the fans has their hearts in their mouth. Barca fans are not supposed to have any form of panick against a team of Granada’s calibre of we are to go by the quality of players available as decribed by KXEVIN. It might not be a walk in the park but it shouldn’t come with any form of fear.

    3. Well what you say apparently is more based on your personal feelings than any objective facts. You then extrapolate from your personal feelings and say no culer should feel “fear.” Where to start? I dont feel the way you do and i dont think this year is significantly different from any other. The only things different are the pet narratives constructed by fans.

      Look at our goals scored, goals against this year compared to past years. Look also at the results from past years and you will find that in every season we can have nailbiters against any of the smaller teams. I still think you are suffering from selective memory.

    4. My personal feelings you say?

      I think KXEVIN’s write up agrees with my feelings then.

      “Supporters are funny” first words of the article.

      “The better team won because that is what was supposed to happen, supporter fretting and drama aside.” Last sentence in the fifth paragraph.

      If KXEVIN could thought it worthy to put up an article for it then it is either the article is about me personally or majority of Barca fans excluding you in the minority.

    5. “Supporters need to worry, need to create situations such as the Twitter consternation after that excellent Granada goal, which leveled the score at 1-1 but also strained logic to create a crisis.”

      7th paragraph. So you see I’m not alone.

  2. Yes we have some bad results against some teams but lets not forget that LE team had some big wins against top teams.
    We won so many games vs Atletiko and many of the away,we won 4-0 at Bernabeu,3-1 at PSG,3-0 Bayern,6-1 PSG e.t.c
    It s clear that from 2012 the lever at Europe and La liga increased and there are more good teams in both competitions.
    We will remember always Pep era but you cant compare oranges and apples.
    Lucho team is a different team in a differenta era of football.

  3. //

    If Suarez plays like this, like a man possessed, like a man who attempts the audacious at will and one that doesn’t miss sitters or get caught offside frequently, we will win the champions league. Of that, have no doubt.

    Rafinha, Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan are all out and injured.
    Let us hope that their absence doesn’t affect the team too adversely because they WILL be missed.

  4. \\

    And a shout out to Marc Andre Ter Stegen,
    How many people, can come to a massive club like barca, and replace an absolute legend and the best ever player in that position in history for the club and still not make fans miss that player? how many?

    No one!

    For such a young lad, this guy has immense character and personality to go nicely with his amazing skills. I think he is already better than the best ever valdes with the ball at his feet. What a find.

    Zubizaretta, Andoni – this is potentially the best ever contribution you have made to this club.


  5. A lead he shares with villareal Goalkeeper 6th on the table and the Villarreal team beats Barca team in terms of least goals conceded albeit the gulf in quality of defenders and goal keeper.

    My main point of the whole comment is not to take the shine away from the team but to show that we have a Ferrari(team) but also have a driver(coach) that drives it like a fiat. On the other hand, Villarreal has Buick but their coach drives It like a Benz. It is not always about the quality of the players at hand but how the coach choose to utilise the quality also matters.

    Anybody that owns a Ferrari and sees his driver driving it like a fiat will panick like Barca fans are doing this days.

    1. I can’t remember the last time Barca fans were not in chaos when the team form was not that good. Irrespective of Pep or LE, fans at big clubs which are supposed to win everything in style will ALWAYS cry foul when team doesn’t win or doesn’t play in that style, or both.

      I guess you are being driven by nostalgia of better days, but they are much more better in hindsight than then I am afraid. In that sense, don’t you think, your reaction may have nothing to do with how the team is playing!

    2. Well you are saying an entirely different thing from what the article is saying.

      Here you are saying Barca fans go into chaos when the form is not too good. Who doesn’t know that? every fan of every team goes through that when the form is not good enough….

      but here in the 3rd paragraph, KXEVIN’s article is saying a different thing….

      “Rolling into the match against Granada, Barça was a team in form,…”

      This is my main point I have been trying to say. At no point has Barca fans ever been so unsure of their teams form. some fans are saying the team is in form while some are saying no we are not. Barca fans as as confused as the coach himself which is the reason why people fret when opponents like Granada equalises.

      I’m very sure of we are to have a vote amongst Barca fans to know if the team is in form, we will have a lot of divergent views like we already did on this page.

    3. The problem with your arguments, is that they’re devoid of a clear objective point to argue with you about. And are filled to the teeth with subjective and vague terms, To quote you:
      “sense of security”
      “peace of mind”
      “Hearts in their mouth”
      “drives it like a fiat”

      It isn’t possible to have a constructive argument around subjective points, I always compare this, As getting into a fist fight with a phantom, As evidenced when ‘OOGA AGA’ pointed out that LE has a higher win percentage than pep and you countered it with “confidence and peace of mind”, An example of how futile it is.

      I honestly did try to find something resembling an objective view of yours that i can argue with, And the closest thing i could force myself to see, Is that ‘FCB performance should ALWAYS correlate directly with the “quality” of their opponent?, Weak teams should always be thrashed?
      That’s odd coming from someone who’s been a fan since 2002, Since that never has been the case with FCB or any other team in the world.

      What better example of this than in our beloved 2010-2011 season, What most of us consider our pinnacle of football greatness, We lost 18 points in la liga, 5 of which we lost against two teams that eventually were relegated later on (Hercules beat us 2-0 at camp nou having just been promoted to la liga), another 7 points against, teams in the bottom seven,
      So is that an example of panicking, And driving a Ferrari like a fiat?

    4. “Weak teams should always be thrashed?”

      If KXEVIN can say this in the article,….

      “There was no way in hell that Granada, even at its house and before its frenzied supporters, was going to beat Barça. They knew it, the coaches knew it, the players knew it, the folks watching at home knew.”

      “There is a certain tyranny in football as the rich get richer as the poor hunt for scraps. Barça get Luis Suarez to add to Neymar and Messi. Granada get Barça loanees and castoffs.”

      ….then why am I the only one getting sticks for insinuating such too.

      Also if He can say that, then we can as well replace Granada in this statements with everyother team in the bottom half of the table because we obviously have a more superior team than they do.

      While losing to any of those teams can be termed as the “odd situation” KXEVIN wrote in the article, the way Barca has lost to those teams under LE is the main point of confusion, sense of insecurity, lack of confidence, panick that Barca fans display on different online platforms, one of which is Twitter that inspired KXEVIN to write this article. You see Barca loose to those teams like we did against PSG in the first leg which is quite disturbing especially when you know it has become a re-ocurring senario.

      BTW am I the only one that read the article well enough to know what drove KXEVIN to write this article cos it seems people quoting me don’t even know that everything I’m saying is deduced from the article.

    5. You’re all over the place, Why are you talking about kevin?,
      My response to you, Was directly toward YOUR words and arguments, I explicitly pointed that they’re subjective and why that’s a problem, And i then went further down to try find an objective argument of yours, And provided an example to counter it.

      Then you quote a single sentence of mine, To go on a rant about kevin??
      I’m sorry, But you seem unable to properly engage in debates, And ironically, Your response reeks of panic, Because it’s poorly thought out and rushed .

  6. I could not help noticing that the Barça players looked unshackled, creative and willing to try things. Just look at the incredible number of chances created and the variety of play. I did not sense any tension or panic even after Granada scored. They looked “FREE”. Is it because Messi was not around?

    1. I noticed that too. The feeling of being ‘unshackled’ was palpable. It could be that Messi’s absence obligated players to take more responsibility in creating plays. I also think Barca are finally getting comfortable with fluid in-game switches between possession play and more direct vertical passing as and when it seems appropriate. Verticality has come back into football with a vengeance, and the ability to handle it and deploy it smoothly will be crucial in the next step in Barca’s footballing evolution, if we are to continue our dominance.

  7. did you really said that cules weren’t panicked in Pep’s era?? well I guess you really have selective memories and still being nostalgic about that time. even in guardiola’s era we used to have tough small teams that made it quite difficult for us to beat. osasuna was the alaves of this time. the likes of atletico Madrid, espanyol, real sociedad, Villarreal always gave us a run for our money at that time. fear is instilled in cules mind since we became the team to beat, the best team in the world, we set a standard which made us get panicked from losing that standard, we panicked when we loss, we panicked when we did not play gaudy. we even panicked when we play ugly but still wins. Pep’s era was perfect undoubtedly, but that won’t hinder us from reminiscing the hard and tough days, when inter and Chelsea knocked us out of the CL or the time when we use to have like 80% possession but without a clear cut chance created, or the time when we needed a miracle of the iniestazo at Stamford bridge, or one moment of messi’s individual brilliance to turn the game /tie around many times. so don’t throw every negative thing to the coach as if he is the only one responsible for evey doom and gloom

  8. My personal feelings you say?

    I think KXEVIN’s write up agrees with my feelings then.

    “Supporters are funny” first words of the article.

    “The better team won because that is what was supposed to happen, supporter fretting and drama aside.” Last sentence in the fifth paragraph.

    If KXEVIN could thought it worthy to put up an article for it then it is either the article is about me personally or majority of Barca fans excluding you in the minority.

  9. You share an affliction with many Barca fans, which Kxevin comments on in many of his writings, including this one. I’m not the one missing the point here. But not to belabor things… I am sure excited about tomorrow’s match. We should win, but it will be a difficult match…as most matches are, even against small teams. Thats how I remember things at least. And frankly if we were driving all over everyone with our Ferrari (which we never have done, consistently, in any given season), it would be boring.

    1. Obviously you still don’t get the Ferrari-fiat logic.

      When you drive a Ferrari like a Ferrari, cars overtaking you will know they overtook a Ferrari but when you drive a Ferrari like a Fiat, cars overtaking you will be forced to ask themselves a question that goes like “was that a Ferrari we just overtook or a Fiat?”

      Just like people asked after PSG, after Celta, after Alaves. “Was that really Barca that we just saw beaten by Alaves?”

      It is not about driving over everyone 28th you Ferrari but people knowing that they actually ran over a Ferrari.

      About tomorrow’s game, I’m very confident of overcoming Sevilla but game play would still be annoying at some point. A top coach Capello has already diagnosed our problem for the whole world to take advantage of. We have a poor central midfield and we can’t defend only an insane and fearful attack.

  10. It seems the point of the article has been lost. It is about how misguided consternation is, as our heads get crammed with knowledge, and we convince ourselves that thiings are as they, in reality, are not.

    And the more we know, it seems, the more we convince ourselves that there are reasons tomworry about things that aren’t really worth worrying about. I never worry about Barça winning, or freak out when an opponent scores. Why? Because Barça is the best team in the world. Any dropped points are an aberration. Can’t fret about that.

    Guardiola? There was worry galore. And don’t forget that in his last season, the team could only manage to win the Copa. Many do. Many comvince themselves that those years were an oasis of calm, and piles of trophies. No. Far from it.

    1. Actually that was what it was exactly.
      An oasis of calm and piles of trophies.

      we may have won the copa the last season, but if i remember correctly, barca played the best football that year. And the way we went out to chelsea? c’mon. culers were proud that night.

  11. “It seems the point of the article has been lost.” – Not to everyone. What more, this was a good exercise in understanding slippery arguments : D

    1. Statements of feelings are not really arguments though, one can either sympathize or not 😉

    2. Well, in these Trumpian times, who really cares about the difference? Feelings are facts, lies are truth, opinions are arguments, CR is better than Neymar, etc, etc.

      Or as I tell my students: To what degree is X influencing Y? Provide arguments for and against.

      Pour me a drink and leave the bottle!

  12. Now, this is the Barcelona we need for the end of the season. The players are showing their determination for winning and their desire for more trophies. Messi doing an amazing job after those two games suspended (one for Argentina and one for Barcelona), Neymar being the great player the team wanted him to be, Suarez showing his real “killer” talent, Iniesta giving the best of himself…

    I don’t know about you guys, but I think that Barcelona is the most serious candidate for winning the CL. Only Bayern may be able to defeat this team. Real Madrid might have a chance as well, but I don’t see it happening.

    1. We did! I really enjoyed the game. First half a lot better of course, pretty much took care of the game right then. With the upcoming schedule they shouldn’t give 100 percent all game anyway.

      That run from Neymar where they kept fouling him and he kept running towards goal, then feeding Messi on the right, was absolutely amazing. Same for the finishing of Messi and the speed of thought from Suarez which got him the first goal. Great touches and combinations all around, wasteful in front of goal yet again, but better this way than not creating anything and conceding cheap goals.

      Another chance for us to catch up next round – Atléti in good form coming to the Bernabeu, though Malaga away could be tough for us as well, especially since some players will have to be rested.

  13. Bad news for Rafinha. Surgery Friday, after which they will estimate how long he will be out of action.

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