Juventus 3, Barça 0, aka “Pick your poison”

It’s everything.

As the Barçaverse runs to its various rooftops to shout about what is wrong with that result, there will be as many worldviews as there are rooftops, because everyone sees the game differently, one of the fascinating things about football.

The “Lucho out!” crowd will talk of tactics and preparation. The coteries aligned against this or that player will talk of that player. Everything is Mascherano’s fault. Or Mathieu’s fault. The formation crowd will talk about 3-4-3s and structure. The “midfield” crowd will say that until the midfield is strong again, nothing good will happen. And on it will go, just as it has for months and months, and season after season.

It will continue with no resolution, and not only because of the subjective nature of the game. It’s hard to take a wholistic view of what is happening with a team. So many things complicate it, including being a fan of players, having a set of beliefs rooted in one thing, and the like. The defense folks say that defense matters.

And everyone, all together is right, even as none of them are entirely.

Barça played a dogshit first half against Juventus. Luis Enrique, after the match, was excoriating in his comments, and he should have been. “It’s sad and it’s serious,” he said, labeling the Juve first half as the “third half from Paris.” He’s absolutely right. It was lethargic and disinterested, just as it was in Paris. But it’s also complicated.

A coach is supposed to prepare his players for the event and the situation. A coach is supposed to ensure that his team is mentally prepared for the coming situation, and that they have the tactical knowledge to deal with it. A coach is supposed to make adjustments to react to complexities that occur during the match. Luis Enrique and his staff came up short. Way short.

Yet the coach can’t make his players run, can’t make his players do what they are supposed to do because even if someone wants to claim tactics, these athletes have been playing a game since boyhood, and certain things are always true, such as you don’t allow an uncontested shot, in wide-open space, in or near your box. You don’t need tactical nous for that. If you don’t already know that, what in the hell can a coach tell you? Reacting and reactions are instinctive. Look at the first Dybala goal. Yes, Cuadrado undressed Mathieu, but there was only one place for that ball to go and three Barça players stood there watching as it went to Dybala, who calmly stroked a first-time ball past Ter Stegen.

Iniesta kinda sashayed over and stuck out a foot, but that was it. Carles Puyol would have had people drawn and quartered, like the torture scene at the end of “Braveheart.” Pique just walked away, like he’s seen it before. Because he has. Umtiti was pissed and screaming, but he’s a new guy who hasn’t seen it before, who is wondering why the team of his his dreams isn’t playing like a team.

Most of the time, distance covered stats aren’t really worth the paper they’re printed on. But Juventus ran 5.5km more than Barça in that first leg match, and it’s easy to see how it happened, because Juventus did indeed play like a team. They covered for each other in layers. When one got beat, there was another. Barça has played like that this season. Barça has also not played like that this season, an erratic bunch as likely to lose to Deportivo as they are to sparkle in destroying Sevilla. In every instance of dropped points, the team hasn’t done what it is supposed to do, what it knows how to do and has done before.

This group of players won a treble, then a double the following season. They haven’t suddenly forgotten how to play football, or become so tactically naive that without precise, flawless instructions they are a mess.

Everybody failed in that first half yesterday. Coaches, players, preparation, top to bottom. Singling out any one thing is impossible when everything was broken. After an amazing comeback against Paris St.-Germain to remain in Champions League, the tean — its entire structure, not just the XI — should have been most interested in doing whatever was possible to ensure that such a thing wouldn’t be required again. Instead they did the exact same thing as in Paris, in a lackluster display that was startling. Rio Ferdinand, after the match, said that some Barça players don’t deserve to wear the shirt. Here are his comments:

“There’s a lot of players there that you think to yourself they couldn’t have got in the Barcelona team three years ago — too many names to mention.

“There are five or six in this team who shouldn’t even be putting on the shirt. The way that they played — the intensity, the quality. They’re not on the same planet and these are the players who have really got to feed the front three and are not getting the ball to them quick enough.

“And defensively they don’t look like they’ve got any individuals in there who want to defend. Collectively they’re not doing it. This team don’t press like the Barcelona team did under Pep Guardiola. These guys look like they don’t have any idea or desire to want to press.”

That’s a pretty wholistic view, right? It’s also accurate, and spotlights another point of failure in player signing and recruitment. Sergi Roberto is wonderful, but does he make the best Barça team? Does Mathieu? Shouldn’t Mascherano be in “emeritus” status right now? The list can go on. At Iniesta’s level, Xavi was a super sub for Barça, not a starter in key matches. This is yet another aspect of what has been happening to this team, but more than player recruitment, it’s simple awful luck.

Arda Turan, Rafinha and Aleix Vidal are three players who would all have been perfect for this match. All are injured, which means that adjustments have to be made. Jordi Alba, the starting LB, can’t start because he’s fast, but he’s a punk. Cuadrado would have treated him as badly as he did Mathieu. Umtiti as LB? In a better world, but then who plays CB with Pique? Can’t be Mascherano because he has to DM for a suspended Busquets. Should Gomes have started in that role? Dunno. Hindsight.

Messi is more everything for Barça than he has ever been before, a tactical dilemma that finds the player, like the team, stuck between two states. Messi the Creator shouldn’t also need to be Messi the Attacker. Iniesta shouldn’t need to perform the tasks that he can no longer perform physically. But what to do, how to solve those dilemmas when we can’t make players into things that they aren’t.

Sergi Roberto was repeatedly drubbed for pace on the right. Vidal’s pace solves those complexities. Arda Turan would have been a useful sub on the left wing to slide Neymar over and create a different look against Juventus. Instead, players who are still assimilating or who lack the ultimate quality have to play because that is what is available. So yes, luck is part of the picture of seeming despair surrounding the club. More telling is that Barça is playing like a team that expects something bad to happen, looking over its shoulder instead of at the opponent. There is no longer outrage when something bad happens, and that is no way to be, particularly for a team used to being better, used to being a champion, time and again.

One of the more bizarre things about this season has been starting every match, not knowing which team was going to show up. Everybody was worried about Sevilla, and they strolled it. Then came the desultory Malaga display. It’s like the genius who forgets to put the cap on the bottle that he is about to shake up.

But success is also a question of mental fortitude. Recall the Iniesta chance. He and the team seemed surprised that Buffon stopped that shot. No idea why as it wasn’t that well placed, nor was it hit with any real committment, compounded by Buffon still being one of the best keepers in the game. They seemed stunned as about a minute later, Juventus waltzed up the pitch, Mandzukic found Dybala, all alone with the ball and his thoughts, and it was 2-0. The opponent scoring after a missed chance is one of those things that always happens, but it shouldn’t be happening to a champion, to a team that is the caliber of Barça.

Sport had some interesting comments in an analysis after the match as well, including:

“Barça did not have the necessary concentration or intensity this match required.
“The Argentine, despite the presence of Iniesta and Pique, had too much time and space.
“The trident once again failed to score in Turin, as they had done in Malaga. Neither Messi, Suarez nor Neymar were able to mark the difference in a game when they had to be at their best.
“The team needed depth to react. However, Luis Enrique didn’t even believe in his own bench.

Barça is lucky the final score wasn’t worse. A second half improvement assured that, even as Juventus scored again, again from defense best described as disinterested. On offense, Messi created chances that should have been taken, but weren’t. Finishing is part of concentration and focus. That match could have ended 3-3 instead of 3-0, but as usual Barça left chances begging. We can sit around and dissect tactics and individual players and errors all we like, but that match comes down to a very simple thing: not being prepared.

Reasons why are potentially as many as the stars but those players know what they are supposed to do, coaches know what they are supposed to do and everyone knew the situation. Yet, collectively, they failed. No supporter can expect to win them all, even as Barça has come as close as any team has to this mythic state of grace. Barça has problems that are deeper than changing a coach or any one player, or changing a formation, problems that are everywhere. People will attribute those problems to their favorite thing, because that’s part of the game but it’s everything all at once.

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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.

60 Comments

  1. Half and Half
    April 12, 2017

    Hi everyone, and thanks for the blog Kxevin as always. Reader for a while, first time commenter… Be gentle!

    Do I have to mention the match? What can you say, another bad game. A very bad game. The article is right, it is many things wrong currently and people will just pick their favourite topics and away we go.

    I am very pessimistic about things and the future. I’ve always been pretty non-plussed about Lucho – whether we win trebles, doubles, singles, or nothing – but his departure is but a small piece in the jigsaw. If I had my way, those above him would be out on their ear too. In fact, it would be preferable to changing the Coach.

    For me the tragedy is we have become just another club, obsessing over money (and signings) and that which we do have gets pissed up the wall wasting 99.9% of it. Rio Ferdinand, Rio bloody Ferdinand, mentioned above is right, Money splurged and nothing to show for it as we are left with a squad which I don’t even like to dwell and think about. There are at least half a dozen extremely average (well, at this highest of level) players I actively dislike, and could cry that they are in the squad. Technically and stylistically they aren’t Barca players. I’m not going to name names, I don’t want to get bogged down discussing the merits of individuals, but you can all hazard guesses.

    I want us to go back to the place we had got to. Yes I admit I am a purist, I am an ideologue, I accept some things have to change but you refresh, rather than what has happened. I want a predominantly home grown team, immersed and at ease with the style of play,. I want La Masia cherished and restored rather than declining in quality and those who do get through often used as a cash cow. I want us to do things differently, rather than be like every other club splurging money on hit and miss signings constantly, often with little thought as to how they fit the team.

    But this is where my pessimism comes in. Firstly you have to want to do it – which rules out this board and President. Then who can rebuild, restore and have the vision for the job – there is no longer a Cruyff ( 🙁 ), Guardiola is long gone. Those thinkers are not there, and where do they come from. In the future maybe Puyol, maybe Xavi – two leaders steeped in the club their whole lives who have lived it and between them provide heart and brains, but I really don’t know, would they want to?

    I know what change I want, I don’t know how you get there though.

    Sorry for the very negative post, and not much on the actual match… Had things to get off my chest though!

    • omoh
      April 12, 2017

      This is a summation of everything wrong with Barca. In football, you don’t put too much blame on the foot soldiers(the players) until you’ve ensured that the higher ups (starting from the coach to the top) are Well grounded.

      The present problem of Barca can be traced to the day Sandro rosell win the Barca presidency. The moment he decided to do away with the strong footballing institution put in place by a great team of Laporta, Cryuff, txiki bergiristan, guardiola, ferran Soriano etc. Since then, it has been a slow but gradual decline in the machine called Barcelona.

      If care is not taken and a strong team put in place by the Barca socios, I’m afraid this debacle could drag on. We might be lucky to sign a coach that will build a great team for the present and the future(academy) independent of the board members but such luck is not the type that comes around easily.

      The only coach I see with a great CV to bring back those days is Eusebio of R.Sociedad. Played under Cryuff, assistant to Riykard and academy coach under guardiola and Enrique’s 1st season. He was present through out the glorious years of Barca. He should know a thing or two about putting together a great team of home grown. All that remains in known is his technical ability and intelligence in the dugout.

      Any Barca addict should have seen LE’s failure coming. He got Barca B promoted to la liga in a roller coaster season but failed to produce any Barca standard tallent for the first team. His only product is Rafinha. Immediately he left, it was downward spiral for the team from then. If this shows nothing, it shows a coach that prioritise winning above building a strong team. This is the mentality he brought to Barca in his first season and got the result but it was all downward spiral from there. No strong team to build on the successes, only individual talents. That is why I refer to him as a temporary solution to a permanent problem.

      Going forward we need a strong coach that can build a team for the future especially of we consider we have only 4young and quality players. A great football director like monchi was at sevilla and a great director of academy football. Possibly an entire board of management that knows something about football rather than business men who can’t seal a meaningful sponsorship deal.

      • Davour
        April 12, 2017

        As I remember it, Eusebio did not do too well for Barca B in terms of promoting talent… He seems to have done some good work at La Real, though, so who knows. In the end, it depends on what kind of coach the board wants – safe continuity with Unzue (more control for them, in theory), a general safe choice in Valverde, a slight gamble with Eusebio, or an even greater gamble with someone outside the rumour mill. From what I’ve seen of the board, they don’t like risks…

        Also, we do not seem to be as attractive an option as before. Perhaps coaches see the work at hand and think, “nah, not right now, thank you very much.” It is precarious to take over a team where winning is still expected, but the stars are ageing but still club legends and renovation is needed. Not for the faint-hearted, I’d say.

      • Half and Half
        April 12, 2017

        Agree about Rosell and his proxy currently in the post. Cant wait for the day their regime is shown the door. 2021 needs to come around quickly……………

        As for Eusebio, I don’t know. He’s come through the system, but his work with the B team doesn’t get good press. But the main job is of course different and who knows how that would turn out.

  2. Rami
    April 12, 2017

    Something i remember reading long ago, That when a plane is crashing down, The pilot should initially never try to pull it up, Because it’ll make things worse, Instead he initially should push it down, Despite what our initial instinct tell us, And the researchers found, That even veteran pilots, Under stress, Completely forgot their past experience and training, And tried to push it up, Eventually causing a crash, A phenomenon the researchers attributed it to the shutting down of parts of our brain in charge of reasoning and past experience, Under severe stress.

    Watching juventus’s 1st and 2nd goal, Reminded me of those pilots behavior, How does a fully decorated player and a veteran at both club and NT level like iniesta, Decided, That no, I should not rush toward dybala and stop him from shooting, I’ll just stand 1.5 meter away and watch, And you actually can see him in the footage deliberately stopping more than a meter away, It wasn’t a case of him not making it in time.
    Mascherano, Again a veteran player, For some reason, Decided, No, I should not try and mark dybala and cover the huge gap in front of him, Surely nothing of consequence will occur soon.

    Ahhh………………

    That Pique vs Umtiti reaction, Made me giggle.

  3. Davour
    April 12, 2017

    Thanks for a sober overview, Kxevin. Sorry about re-post, but wrote it just before this was posted.

    This was disappointing but not surprising. Juve were not great, but they were better when it mattered, and were on point. Many keep blaming LE and I agree that it is hard to look away from his part in this – the team was obviously confused: Piqué was yelling at Roberto to find his position, Mathieu was stranded out left, Mascherano was completely lost as DM and screwed up for two of the goals, where the first was to the point that it might be called sheer negligence, bordering on professional misconduct. Gomes came on and made nobody happy, Iniesta looked slow and easily dispossessed, Ney was stuck, Suarez tried and failed… apart from Messi – who was running around trying and trying, setting up 2 or 3 beauties that were squandered – few did much good. SR was trying, Umtiti and Piqué were alright. Overall, there was no cohesion to the team, and it affects everyone.

    But LE is already out – was is the used kicking on his figurative corpse? He might not be a great coach, but he got the team working for two seasons, after some tough times, and has delivered plenty of trophies and there might be another. Many mistakes have been made this year, and LE takes responsibility by leaving. Few transfers have worked out – only two, really, Umtiti and Cillessen. Denis cost nothing, Arda was adapting to be a rotation player, Digne did ok at first but stagnated – still ok squad player. But was Alcacer an improvement over Munir? What was the idea with Gomes? The heart of it seems to be these two players – it is hard to imagine Samper being much worse than Gomes, for instance. It is understandable that many fans feel the 70 million euros (give or take a few) spent on this players could have been used much more wisely. Gambling on Mathieu for another season was also doubtful, as well – it turned out – was relying on Iniesta for another season (physically). Ter Stegen has been ok, but – to me – not yet good enough, though he has potential. Still too seldom provides that crucial saves and make too many mistakes. And no RB?

    But what do we know? Perhaps they tried to buy better players but they would not come. It is tough market and players want to play. Verratti will not come; Thiago will not come; Isco will not come. Who is available and good enough to dominate from day 1? Not Pogba…

    I hope the new coach, whoever he is, will have clear idea how to rebuild this cohesion, and that he will be given support and room to make changes. In this regard, Zidane is – partly – a good example. I would prefer it not to be Unzue, simply because I think the team needs to be shook up a little bit, and doubt he has magnificent ideas that he has kept well hidden from LE. But if it is him, he will have my full support.

    Anyway, sorry about the long post. Let’s enjoy the rest of the season, be pleased with the joy we are so often given – it is not only about trophies for a lover of the game. Hopefully the team will give RM a run for their money, and make Juve work hard next week. Who knows, there might be a third coming before the Messi-era is over and we, most likely, will be up for a few years of drought.

    For more reading, with I agree 100 % with: https://jenfcb.com/2017/04/12/the-clarity-we-once-had/

  4. omoh
    April 12, 2017

    Like you rightly pointed that pilots forget their training under intence stress and pressure but unlike pilots, fooballers have the previledge of constant practicing. No matter you years of training, without constant practicing, reminder and drilling, you forget everything under pressure. It is this constant practicing, reminder and drilling that builds what is called instinct where you don’t need to think mush before acting.

    The practicing, reminder and drilling is where people like me has constantly been faulting LE. What has he been drilling to the players in training. Why has he refused to see the lack of concentration and dedication the players put up in games and make necessary adjustments.

    I could remember some of Guardiolas ground rules at barca

    1. When you loose the ball, recover it in less than a minute (we suffer without the ball)

    2. don’t concede corners and set pieces around the box (we are not good at defending set piece). I could remember Barca played loads of games under guardiola without conceding corner kicks.

    3. Pass corner kicks on the ground (we don’t know how to attack corner kicks).

    4. Pass balls out from the back (we are not good with arial balls and it leaves is vulnerable to counter attacks).

    These details though small are what made Guardiolas Barca strong and make them concede less goals. Can we remember or know of any unmistakeable ground rules under LE. None. Therefore, S.Roberto doesn’t know he shouldn’t have allowed Mandsukic to make the cross so easily to dybala. Pique, Iniesta and Umtiti doesn’t know instinctively that they should’ve put dybala under pressure for the first goal.

    Very few players develop this instincts naturally. They are drilled into most of them. The ability to retain and carry out those drills under intence pressure is what distinguish good players from poor ones.

    Again what has LE been drilling into them?

    • Anders
      April 12, 2017

      Please. If you can point out those errors that led to the 1st and 2nd goals then surely the players can too. The coach has to formulate a plan and do all the preparation, but if a Barca coach has to teach his players those very simple principles of footballing then he’s dealing with players that have absolutely no place near this team. Most of the players you mentioned were also here under Pep’s tenure, so that development you speak of should already have taken place anyways.

      I don’t understand the need to trot the issues the club is experiencing down to just a couple of simple things. Following the aviation analogies of this comment section, an airplane can fly perfectly well on just one engine. Only when experiencing a complete engine failure is the situation critical. I believe that carries over to the current situation at Barca. LE certainly has failed the team this season, but so have all other parties involved. The administation has carried out a transfer strategy with seemingly no clear goal, the players look lethargic and complacent, and the list goes on.

      I hope the club ends up appointing a coaching team with a clear plan, and I hope that coaching team is ready to grab the administration by the balls and force them to do their job. An overhaul is necessary, but hopefully someone with an outside perspective doesn’t assess the current situation to be as dire as the barcaverse does. After all, we do still have a pretty amazing core of players, it’s just all the other pieces that are needed to make the whole machine run that are missing.

  5. omoh
    April 12, 2017

    I can point it out because I was not under pressure. I have played football and coached both at amateur level. I know what it means to prepare and anticipate. That is what preparations are for. There are over a million ways an opponent player can move on the pitch it is the coaches job to still players into routine that will force opponents into few predictable ones. Mascherano and co has been a professional for a long time and questioning is professionalism should be done carefully. Those players has been winning trophies before LE got his coaching badge so if anyone is to be questioned, it should be the coach that failed to promote any talent while in Barca b, and failed at his first job at Roma due to the same traits being displayed by this current Barca team.

    Yes players might be complacent but it doesn’t just happen out of the blue. If the whole barca team with the likes of Masche, Iniesta, Pique, messi, Suarez suddenly become complacent, then the coach should be questioned what he has done or refuse to do that made them become complacent after all their years of experience in top flight football.

    “If a Barca coach has to teach his players those very simple principles of footballing then he’s dealing with players that have absolutely no place near this team.”…you said?

    Guardiola taught his players those “simple” things and were obvious for everyone to see. Does that make the players lesser in quality than this bunch? No. This are the little details that differentiate big teams from small teams. Anybody can come up with a great tactical game plan but what happens when you meet equally great teams, tactically equal or superior. Those are the small details that decides big games.

    People believe players should know all those. Yes they do and they know a lot more but are they well drilled enough to instictively decide and react under pressure and in less than a second because they don’t have the luxury of time to think of the best approach.

  6. Jim
    April 12, 2017

    Just back from Italy and in the middle of a marathon Barca watching session to make up for it. Couldn’t get a bar in Rome to watch last night – too exIp naive for them apparently. Anyway breaking off to watch Thiago take on RM. this’ll be a big test for him.

  7. Jim
    April 12, 2017

    *Expensive.

    See the iPad has been working on its predictive text while I was away . . .

  8. lala10
    April 12, 2017

    Thiago has been calm and assured. He does not panick with the ball at his feet. He is also almost always picking the right pass too.
    Not exactly Xavi like but in a team with Busquests he had be alright.

    • Jim
      April 12, 2017

      I’m not sure it was one of his best actually. He took a while at the start to get into it then after the sending off he ended up doing too much defending to really affect the game in the way he has been. You can see Bayern have already come to rely on him, though. When he plays they play. His control and passing are superb. I’m fed up seeing balls bounce off our mids. You can’t ping the ball about if you can’t kill it first touch.

      Btw, RM are depressingly good at the moment.

      I wonder if he is a lost cause to us, though ? Bayern look like going out, again, disappointingly. They will surely lose Robben, Ribbery and Lahm next season and the pace of their game isn’t really his thing. If he thought we were likely winners of the CL I reckon he’d be tempted . . . but there’s the rub.

      Anyway, on to viewing last night’s effort. I’m already dreading it. Even from watching the last two games, though, one thing is obvious. The defenders don’t know what they are meant to be doing or how to react ( and how quickly ! ) when we lose the ball. Tonight, even when RM took a really quick FK you could see Bayern players sprinting to regain their defensive shape and they’re far from the best. We never keep the same CB pairing two games in a row ! You can’t do that. I’ll be interested to see how we compared .

      Just in reply to the ageism that’s been flying about with regard to the ages of our players, do Juve not have about six players the wrong side of thirty ? Was Pirlo not named in the CL squad of the season two years ago at 35 ? What about Robben tonight at 33 ? He ran all night and could’ve been motm. It might be about mobility or general pace in the side , tactics, quality of player but the sort of ages we’re talking about in itself isn’t the problem.

      Come to think of it, can anyone honestly say they wouldn’t have sneakily liked Xavi in our side this season ahead of most ( for me, all) of the mids ? 🙂

  9. Rivaldo
    April 12, 2017

    Fun Fact #

    Barca has run less than any team in the knockouts.

    Run Bastards, run.

  10. Davour
    April 12, 2017

    My god what a penalty miss can do to you! All momentum lost and the rest is history. People are saying RM are lucky, and they are, but they hang in there. They don’t play wonderful football by any means, but they are a team and, most importantly, have very good players. If they maintain this against BM, I can’t see anyone stopping them; by far the strongest squad in the world right now. And Ramos is having a hell of a season. But I guess CR gets that golden ball anyway, if anyone cares anymore (Irrelevant comparisons to Messi incoming: 3, 2, 1…). Two goals today, well done, but Ramos was immense again.

    And why didn’t we pick up Asensio again?

    Shoot.

  11. Rami
    April 12, 2017

    Did the club sacrifice a baby deep inside a chamber in camp nou, For us to be punished like this by some deity, So to recap this week:
    -Lost against malaga, With 3 matches ban to neymar, vaporising our la liga hopes
    -Thrashed by juventus, Vaporizing, This time our CL hopes
    -Our eternal rival, Just beaten the CL top contender in their own stadium.

    Why, Just why, What did we do wrong, Please stop this.
    It’s a nightmare, I have to wake up, Wake me up!

  12. Víctor
    April 12, 2017

    To be fair, that shouldn’t have been a penalty. Funny how a referee mistake in Bayern’s favor ended up working against them. However, this game was, yet again, another proof that RM has that killer instinct that turn the tide of the match in mere minutes.

    Back on topic: I see a lot of posters claiming that they want Barca to start training, developing and promoting Masia players again. However, I also see a lot of wishful thinking. Why do I say “wishful thinking”? Easy, some of you are implying that developing another Xavi/Puyol/Messi/Pique is something that can be achieved under most circumstances and quite normally. Reality is, however, that developing that kind of world class players is quite hard and, it seems, that you need plenty of luck as well. It is very rare to develop a player that has the quality of Xavi or Puyol (or whatever star you want to)… now imagine what it would be required to have several players that turn out to be all world class players at the same time.

    And that’s just one thing, the other one is… are you people willing to have the patience with the team while the next “stars” are being developed. Barça’s fans nowadays are very impatient and very demanding. They want the team to win the treble every f*cking year, while forgetting the fact that players age, get tired, injured, etc… and yet you wonder why the board has to retort to the market and buy expensive-as-sh*t star players to keep the team competitive enough?

    We can rant about how the club is slowly becoming another RM/Manchester Utd/Chelsea/etc because of those purchases… and you’d be right… but if we want the team to turn back to its roots and, once again, turn its head to see Masia’s players then we also gotta give this team lots of patience and give it a break from time to time… because during those development processes the trophies are, most likely, going to be scarce.

    Just look at the Barca’s fans right now… the team is at a heavy risk of being knocked out of the CL and La Liga is slipping away and they are acting like it’s a total catastrophe.

    • Rami
      April 12, 2017

      Spot on, On all points.

      We’ve been privileged with a golden generation, Emphasis on the word, Privilege, It’s not something you can plan to have ahead to time.
      And even the golden generation took 10 years to assemble to the fullest and dominate Europe, From Xavi’s debut at 1998, To busquets debut at 2008.

      Welcome to the barca culture, Where the limitations of reality take a side step, To a long buffet of demands that are certainly over the edge of plausibility.

      “We want uninterrupted stream of trophies, With beautiful football of course, That’s no brainier, And we want them done with done with a minimum number we’re comfortable with,of la masia players, And the players we do have to buy to continue our dominance over the world, Should be cheap under the radar, Soon to be world class, Because we’re not a spending club obviously, And please don’t insult us with any underwhelming transfers, And remove that filthy shirt sponsor, We’re not corporate and money wh**rs, We’re ‘mes que un club'”

      The thing that always amazed me, When witnessing and arguing with many cules, Is the unwavering lack of self-observation and introspection, And a good illustration is as you mentioned, Their demand of la masia players yet at the same time refusing to accept the consequences and the penalties of giving times to inexperienced players to develop.
      Another funny example, Is they love pointing at the likes of dortmund, And porto, About how they’re much better at scouting and developing world class players, When they ignore the reality that those teams have go through dozens and dozens of failed transfers until they find something worthy, And failed transfers is something that cules unequivocally despise and intolerant toward, I mean just look at this season.

      Ughh………………..

    • Mishti
      April 12, 2017

      It seems there is also a degree of wishful thinking in terms of the kind of players La Masia seems to be geared toward producing, and the kinds that it really hasn’t. Who were the forwards for Cruijff’s ‘dream team’, that was supposedly built around the first successful crop since La Masia was established? Hristo Stoichkov and Romario. Who were the forwards for Rijkaard? Eto, Deco and, yes, that iconic Brazilian. In between? Rivaldo. Who is the first and till now last, really world class forward that can be claimed to be a homegrown product? Messi? The 15 year old South American prodigy who was destined to become who he is no matter what? Who are the world class defenders coming out of La Masia in the last 25 years? Puoyl, Pique, and? Apart from the very plain truth that you point out, that no academy will produce generations after generations of Xavis and Iniestas on a rolling basis, because these player are statistical rarities, we also side-step another fact, which is that La Masia has so far been mostly successful in producing midfielders, not so much attackers and defenders. Carles Puyol started as a DM in his youth days. Yes, I know Pep is on record in claiming that if he could, he would fill his team with midfielders. But he didn’t, he went and signed a 30-year old Henry. And Zlatan. And Alexis Sanchez. Neither did Cruijff himself. He played Stoichkov and Romario. Someone then had to go get Rivaldo. And Ronaldinho., Eto’o, Deco. Abidal, Dani Alves. On and on and on. Neymar and Suarez are only carrying on that tradition.

      The reality is, Barcelona have been Barcelona for so many years, because they have been playing some of the most tactically sophisticated football at a given time, and always managing to get some of the best players on the planet to play for them, Masia product or not. What you need to become a Barca player primarily is quality, pedigree by itself has never bought anybody a place on the teamsheet. There are always hits and misses, with both outside signing or homegrown players, but overall that’s what has been true, whoever the coach. So, I am really curious to see that era when we won’t be competing for talent in the global market.

    • Davour
      April 13, 2017

      Paradoxically, I think the urgency to win comes from fear that we will waste the final years of the (remnants) of that golden generation, and the best player in history – but then combined with a wish to repeat the feat of basing a world class team on home grown talent… well history does tend to repeat itself, but rather as a pattern that exact repetition in the very same circumstances as last time. In other words, the best we should hope for is the La Masia can be restored in the sense that it provides a player every now and then, who will predominantly be squad players (Roberto, Bartra, Rafinha, etc.) backing up (often) foreign superstars.

      But of course we could wish for a return also to a clearer idea of play, which made transition easier a few years back, where players knew the system so well that they could do the job and at times seem better than they really were (Cuenca, Tello, Bojan, etc.). This would of course clash against an experimental, non-traditionalist new coach… hard to please everyone, as the article points out!

      We must, however, resign to the fact that if history repeats itself, and provides another golden generation, it will most likely be somewhere else than at Barca.

  13. luisthebeast
    April 12, 2017

    Some people here said the reason behind the situation.
    From 2010 the board decided Barca to become a globalize brand name.
    That means we must found many sponsors,to find sponsors you need to win all the time trophies,to make big signings e.t.c
    Also means that your academy players will dont have the chances that they deserve.
    So we became like madrid but without madrid s money.
    They can spend 250m in a summer without problem.
    But we dont have the financial power for that.So when we can spend lets say 180w for Ney and Suarez that means for our other needs we will go to cheap players not the best.
    Many said now “oh look at madrid bench” “ours is a joke”.Yep they have a bench of 200-250m,they have happy benchwarmers like James who costed 80m like Suarez and he is happy to play some games there.
    Barca cant afford that.Barca is a special team with a unique philosophy.Players find it hard to adapt.The system we play is more easy for academy players because they know it from 7-8 y old.
    Thats the way for Barca.Building not buying.

  14. luisthebeast
    April 12, 2017

    And yes i am one of the people who i say here we must buy him or him.I admit that sometimes i forget what is the bigest picture.
    Buying trophies maybe it s more easy but winning trophies building a team is Barca way.
    Academy cant produce any day Xavi or Iniesta but are we sure that Thiago,Grimaldo,Jonathan DS,Munir,Oriol Romeu,Muniesa e.t.c if they stayed would nt be good 4 Barca?

  15. Grindelwald
    April 13, 2017

    After watching the Athletico vs Leicester game, I just can’t get the fact out of my head : why can’t we hang on even if our forwards aren’t having a great game. I’m quite sure Juve couldn’t have given Leicester a 3-0 drubbing even at their stadium, defensive stability is also an hallmark of champions, something which barca seems to be forgetting at the moment ; it ain’t acceptable for a team of barca’s quality to be conceding 10 goals in 3 away games! That’s downright ineptitude.

  16. Half and Half
    April 13, 2017

    On the La Masia argument, I agree it is not an overnight thing and you don’t produce superstars every year. However this is always how it goes, comparing to world class status. when you also need serviceable players who fit the system. Every team in the world needs them. The right player, especially one immersed in it his whole life, can look better in the right system. The team is more important than the individual.

    Lets look at some recent ones.

    Bartra is no worse than Mathieu (or Vermaelen), heck he’s not that far from Umtiti (don’t really get the uber love for him on here), definitely could be in the squad though instead of 10’s of millions of pounds wasted on the former two.

    Montoya – Yeah alright not great and didn’t really kick on. Bit messed about though and look at some of what we have signed recently (Douglas – LOL, Vidal another I don’t get the uber love for) or tried to ruin by sticking him there in the case of poor old Sergi Roberto. Could be squad member, going on recent standards, even if not first choice.

    Left back – Digne has talent but hasn’t had best of starts, but in any case why spend that much money on padding out the squad and not give a chance to Grimaldo?

    Midfield – Could and maybe should be something like Busquets, Samper, Sergi Roberto, Fabregas, Thiago, Rafinha and Iniesta. It would have a couple of legends, a couple of established players in their prime, and then others pushing them looking to establish themselves. Good balance.

    I would take the heart of Pedro every single time over Arda.

    Paco… He might have promise, but the price was crazy and I’d rather stick with Munir (and Sandro even!).

    There has been enough serviceable players coming through to put together a solid squad like I give examples above, one that in my opinion better than what we have right now. You then fill in the pieces around that with quality signings.

    Back to the reality of the situation, and I agree that it will take time to put in place the proper structures. It will almost certainly mean some sacrifice in terms of trophies (although the present lot seem to be doing just fine on that front – LOL, jokes). But I’d honestly rather do things the right way rather than sell out.

    Or we could just keep blowing money (question marks whether we actually have it in the first place) left right and centre and keep voting in Rosell and his proxies as they lead us into this brave new dawn……….

    I need to lighten up 🙁

  17. HorlahFCB
    April 13, 2017

    I would have subbed Alba in nd switch Neymar to the right and let him take on Alex Sandro as he was been double marked by Cuadrado and Alves, allow Alba whip in the crosses and move Messi closer to the Goal and Suarez………
    Never been a big fan of the Unzue rumors, so am just glad that apparently Valverde has jumped in front of the queue…… Still believe in another REMUNTADA, tho….. To Camp Nou we march!…. VIVA BARCELONA

  18. TITO
    April 13, 2017

    So, we lost.
    I didn’t watched the game, i couldn’t, but i’m surprised that they managed to score 3 against us. I’m watching Juve almost every week, and believe me, they are not a team that can score 3 against us.
    BUT, it seems now that everyone who wants to score a goal against Barca is welcomed to do it, quite easily. We forgot how to defend. The same team that defended so well in LE’s first season, almost the same players.
    Another issue that bothers me. You can’t play the same way against every opposition that comes against u. Sometimes you need to change something depending on the other team and the way they play.
    I wonder can we pull out another miracle?

    • Grindelwald
      April 13, 2017

      Seems about right, so happy we weren’t paired with Monaco or Dortmund, we’d have been dealt some serious whooping by those young and energized teams.

  19. Davour
    April 13, 2017

    SPORT has outlined the summer for us: “Mathieu, Arda Turan and Mascherano are among the players who could leave Barcelona this summer.”, “Barça will try to sign Liverpool’s Coutinho, PSG’s Verratti, Arsenal’s Bellerin & Juve’s Dybala as the summer transfer window unfolds”, “Deulofeu will be resigned from Everton, Samper could return from loan and Carles Alena will be promoted to the first team.”

    Unless we get about 80 million each for the players sold, this is but a beautiful (?) dream. Assuming the players would want to come (and that we would want them. Proper defenders, anyone? No more Arsenal, please).

    • Rami
      April 13, 2017

      Friendly advice, Anything from SPORT is straight down the garbage can, They have the same credibility credentials as ‘The Sun’ and “The Daily Mail’.

      The Mundo deportivo is more reliable, As it has closer ties with the club.

      • Davour
        April 13, 2017

        Yes, I know. Sorry, it was all just meant as some good fun, with the assumption that it was absurd!

    • April 13, 2017

      Dybala has already agreed to renewal at Juventus. Verratti won’t leave PSG this summer. PSG have no reason to sell, and he won’t demand a transfer.

      Deulofeu is a 12m move (his recall fee), that would likely be a sell-on for the 20m he would get after tearing it up for Milan. Fundraiser. Alena will be promoted, question is whether he will stick. Same with Samper.

      Coutinho a likely effort, but will be expensive. Can’t see Bellerin happening. That would be an 80m transfer summer. Even if the club can sell Turan to China for something like 50-60m, Mathieu not worth much, maybe 10 for Mascherano.

      As far as defenders, which the club will need if Marthieu and Mascherano go (a safe bet), the club has an option on Yerry Mina, a tower of a defender presently at Palmeiras. Marlon will also be promoted, but he won’t be ready for the first team. Rumor is that Mina deal is done, but he will stay at Palmeiras for another season on loan.

      Sport isn’t as credible as MD, but they have some good beat reporters who have good sources, so don’t count them out entirely as a potential information source. MD is often used as a trial balloon, but with this board, the closeness of one entity over the other has diminished.

      Most interesting is the Oscar Garcia coaching rumor that popped up today. Doesn’t seem like anything this board would do, though, for a great many reasons.

      • Davour
        April 13, 2017

        Heard anything about Lemos? Was he not in the rumour mill last summer? Seems like a good fit. Couthino seems like a good transfer, if we stick to 343 – where would he fit otherwise? Will be another exciting summer (but spring ain’t over just yet).

      • Yaredinho
        April 13, 2017

        I don’t think we need too many major changes! I would sign two players who can simply be starters. Lemos and a mid with controlling capability, a Pjanic or Veratti type. I can tell it is highly unlikely to get any of these two. For me no need for RB for different reasons; a combination of Vidal, Palencia, Roberto, a midfield control and 3-4-3 would work for most part of the season.

        Now I would sell Arda, Mathieu and Rafinha. I really don’t see the need of keeping the Brazilian as he can’t be a reliable starter. And the sum would be more than enough to bring Lemos, whose CC is 30m euro, and Deulofeu. Include Marlon in Lemos deal if the possibility arises to loan him for a couple of years. Another young CB, preferably Davinson Sanchez from Ajax, is needed especially if Masche is to leave.

        Then bring back Samper, and Munir. Give a hard look for Paco and Munir and keep one of the two. Most of these wouldn’t be that hard to deal with. However, the board need to find that midfielder and the money. And the new coach has to find a way to exploit Gomes’ and D. Suarez’s qualities. If we get confident with our midfield controlling ability, we can use 4-3-3 with Alba and Vidal as FBs. In matches controlling aren’t that easy, 3-4-3 with Umtiti, Pique and Lemos, and Vidal mirroring Neymay would work. But still not sure about that midfielder. See easy to talk than…

  20. Hamid
    April 13, 2017

    This team is broken. I think that individually they are way more dismayed than we are. I don’t feel sadness or anger anymore. I feel empathy for a group of players who can’t give more than what they have. And what they have does not match the club’s stature, standards and millions invested in them. They don’t seem to be enjoying the game anymore, even when they win. There is no chemistry in the absence of consistency, complicity and leadership. LE’s game plan seems to be “just get the ball to Messi or Neymar, they will know what to do”. Every other player seems to be evolving in the shadows of MSN. It worked for 2 seasons and run its course. Once opponents have figured out MSN, the team is paralyzed. Also rotation seems to apply only to the defensive and middle lines (different combination every other game) and strangely stops at the sanctity of MSN. The priority for the next coach should be the demolition of silos and the development of a coherent team of 11 with no egos or preferential treatment.
    Yes, we forgot to defend, but we also forgot to attack because this task was exclusively entrusted to three players. The others were made to believe that they are not good enough. So they should not even try.

  21. Jim
    April 13, 2017

    Just finished my marathon watching session of our last three games and am now officially fed up and needing to get out of the house. I’ll not bore everyone with stuff youve alreadydiscussed but would like to just pick out one or two things which haven’t been touched on ( which probably won’t win me many friends . . . 🙁 )

    1. Over the three matches Neymar’s use of the ball and decision making has been awful. Now lest I be labelled a Neymar hater I’d like to remind everyone that I was pushing for us to get him since he played against Scotland a full year or two before we moved. I also think he will be the best in the world when Messi finishes and I totally get that he destabilises defences and that is crucial for us. However, if I apply any sensible criteria such as how often do we still have possession after Neymar touches the ball I get an answer I don’t like. If he wants to be the BEST in the world his use of the ball must get ( much) better. There I’ve said it. Before you crush me with the weight of public opinion I warn you I’m prepared to go back and count them up 🙂

    2. What’s with the public flaying of Mathieu for his first half performance ? I started to watch thinking from what I’d read that he’d had a nightmare ( which is a possibility at LB I have to admit). The guy for me had a great first half. What I know is that his passing was excellent and he bore the brunt of it as SR was nowhere to be seen on the other side, Cuadrado didn’t go past him once and was actually dispossessed by him on more than one occasion, he put in a great cross for Suarez’ s diving header and he saved our bacon as the only defender present when TS spilled the ball right in front of goal.

    So the only possible reasons for the flaying are the two occasions when he faced up to Cuadrado. Their first goal. If you have it taped stop the tape at 6:24 and marvel at how one defender can have two men clean through to cover at once. Umtiti has shot off chasing something or other without a thought about his partner and Mathieu beautifully splits the difference between the two attackers although Dybala in the middle running in behind Umtiti is by far the bigger danger. When the ball is switched Mathieu immediately sets off to close down Cuadrado and stall him so the defence can get set. He succeeds in this and faces him at the edge of the box. For those looking for a full blooded crunching tackle at that point I’d only say that that is the fervent wish of any ball player. He rightly turns his body to show him the byeline. That is as much as he can do in this situation. What happened next is down to either Iniesta or, for me, Neymar who is in a much better position to close down the pass inside. You can’t blame Mathieu for stalling the guy, us having eight players inside our box and none of them bothering to pick up the only viable pass ! Second incident exactly the same. I’m still waiting for Cuadrado to go past him so I’m not buying the hate on this one. I actually thought he had as good a first half as anyone although I am still baffled why Alba isn’t playing unless it’s a height thing.

    3. Masche had a horrible game and knows it so we’ll let that be. Suffice to say I’ve advocated giving him a run there in the past and Last night it seems I was wrong.

    4. Just as I think reports of our greatness against Sevilla were, for me, a little exaggerated, we weren’t as bad against Juve as I thought we were going to be from some accounts. The strikes for their first two goals don’t happen very often. No denying we’ve lost our way, though – I think Hunter is pretty accurate in his assessment of why – but we need to do something soon. You can see Messi, Pique, Suarez are all starting to lose patience with our inability to string the ball about quickly ( Pique’s gesture at nobody showing for it was telling as was Suarez’s fruitless exhortation on more than one occasion for them to move up and press better). I can see cracks appearing in public soon if it doesn’t improve. I’m sure Iniesta also feels whatever he feels when normal folk get angry as he’s far too nice to display any negative waves.

    I genuinely don’t think this is over, though. Their defenders are good in packs but prone to going to ground very easily to cover a lack of pace. Pressure in the Camp Nou plus some slick passing and something could give. The worry as always, is in what we might gift them in return. The lack of work on defending must stop here. If we’re not scoring many we need to keep it tighter at the back. Pique and Umtiti should play every game from now on in, barring injury.

    I think Kxevin is pretty much spot on with his assessment of comings and goings although I have a feeling extra money might be forthcoming from an unexpected sale or two. My biggest fear is that Iniesta, being a pretty humble person, will feel that some of this is down to him and decide to hang up his boots. It’s not.

    • Mishti
      April 13, 2017

      I have been frustrated with Neymar in the last two matches myself. I am less bothered by the general fact of forwards losing possession in the attacking third, and the way he plays plus being double or triple teamed most of the time makes it more likely. I’d be more worried if he didn’t immediately press or the team as a whole didn’t (our team pressing or lack thereoff was another frustation, but that’s another story). What I found rather exasperating, paticularly against Juve, was that his old habit of always looking for Messi or Suarez for passes bacame even more pronounced, even when they were surrounded by 5 defenders, where the move inevitably died (Suarez’s absolutely horrendous first touches did not help), rather than using other passing options to keep the play alive. Tactically it was playing exactly into Juve’s hands, given that they seemed to have banked on suffocating the front three out of the game. We all know that’s his default impulse but I keep hoping he’ll grow out of it, but whenver things are not going well, he seems to revert back more and more to it, even if the situation demands the exact opposite. Also, given that there was really nobody to take advantage of the overlap he created, why he insisted on cutting in centrally everytime rather than going for the byline also was a mystery. Dani and Cuadrado did a good job in shepharding him, true, but he didn’t look his sharpest self either. He was not even tracking back as much as he usually does. Over the past month I’d been worrying that the workload in our 3-4-3 that he carries, plus the fact that he hasn’t been part of any rotation since the international break, will eventually come back to bite us in terms of him getting fatigued and losing concentration. It looks like it did at the worst possible time. But I agree with you that the next big step that he needs to take is in his tactical intelligence and reading of game situations. He is still rather predictable and easy to read by the very top defenders like a Chiellini or a Bonucci. A lot will depend on the luck of the draw of the next coach he works with. Tite seems to be getting the best out of him for Brazil. But there he has the advantage of having the team built around him. He thrives in that roaming role. One of the big puzzles to solve for the next coach will be to figure out what to do with Neymar.

      • Yaredinho
        April 13, 2017

        Your assessment of Neymar made me to feel that you are talking about a different game, simply unfair. Was there any space for him too run with the ball, was there any player making diagonal runs/in to space for him to release the ball, or anyone running in to the box? or did Juve allow our players to do that? Did we need Neymar to track back that much in that game in the first place? What else better options he had than trying to find Suarez, and specially Messi when the above issues nt addressed properly? Passing the ball back to Mathieu and the unusually quiet Iniesta?

        I’m not defending him or saying Neymar was good, far from it. But the game flow, the collective failure of the team made things difficult for all the attacking players. He rather disappointed me at some point in the second half when Iniesta looks for him to make the run, he just lazily(at least that was how saw it) ignored it.

        • Mishti
          April 14, 2017

          Believe me, Yaredinho, there is nobody more sympathetic to the issues that you point out about the collective play and overall situation that Neymar faced than I am. In fact in this very forum I have written long comments this season trying to put in context what many people term as his ‘overdribbling’, which often came from exactly the problem you point out, having little options, particularly in games when our midfield has been more than average dysfunctional, and barely providing any runs/options.

          I have followed this kid since he was literally a kid at Santos, I think the world of him. So it could be that I am a victim of my own inflated expectations. But there were repeated occasions during the game where I could predict his move before he made it, so of course Chiellini could, or Dani could, or Bonucci could. We had very little width for most parts of the game, which made Juve’s central block so much more effective. I couldn’t tell whether he realized this at a tactical level or not, because I saw similar plays being repeated over and over where he was trying to channel the ball centrally through Messi or Suarez. It could very well be that those were his tactical instructions from the bench, but I am just stating what I saw. Dani and Sandro were policing the flanks very well, true, but there were more than one occasion where Roberto got to the byline and tried to use it. I was surprised to see Ney rarely doing that. His decision making on the ball overall left me frustrated.

          I am on record here in an earlier comment congratulating Juve’s brilliance in executing their game plan, so I will be the first to aclnowledge that they forced a lot of this. We were pretty thoroughly outplayed. We had the ball when they let us have it. All this is true. But that’s the challenge of an UCL quarterfinal, right?

          About tracking back, yes I do think it could have been better, given how Mathieu was getting killed, almost always 1-v-2, (despite some glowing reviews here, poor guy had a torrid time ;)). I think Neymar and Mathieu probably played only once before on the left together. Boy, it showed. That’s on LE, but Ney’s sluggishness didn’t help.

          You can take most of my Neymar criticisms as coming from an overdemanding parent 😀 But I do think his tactical brain has lot more room to grow. He’ll need that if he’s to take charge of this team.

  22. PPos
    April 14, 2017

    Maybe putting Messi as a false forward could destabilize Juventus. We haven’t played as Messi leading the line in a long time. I just don’t understand why our defenders don’t tackle the opposition firmly and dominating as Puyol, Abidal, Marquez, used to do. Luis Enrique should have demanded that Dybala be man marked and rattled with strong challenges. That’s exactly what Allegri told Chiellini and Bonucci to do. Messi was chopped down several times by the opposition defense. They weren’t defending. They were playing the Italian way of brutal defense. Mathieu should have slid the life out of Cuadrado for the goal. He was coming straight at him vertically. It would have been clean. I think our problem as a team has been that over the years we have become a slower team in both midfield and defense. Andre Gomes wasn’t bad coming into the game. I thought he played better than he has been recently but his impact was just lateral passes and no shots. It’s a game where we really needed Arda Turan and that’s a reason why we are awful this year. We have a terrible bench. Players that could have made a true difference…injured…R.I.P Vidal, R.I.P Rafinha. We’ve lost pace in the midfield. Xavi in his mid years was no slouch, could shoot, an had a wonderful free kick tecnique. Messi’s free kick mojo has dried up, and it’s starting to affect us. This entire season we’ve relied on X-factors to win games. A free kick here, penalty there, not as in the performances of old where we won through midfield supremacy with ruthless finishing. The loss of Busquets showed our bad transfer decisions in the summer, instead of buying so many young midfielders we should have bough an experienced one like Nainnggolan or Paulinho. Coutinho would be a dream. He’s what we need. Smart, agile, great finisher, great free tick taker, disciplined, someone that can contribute goals from midfield. Xavi always did. Starting Mathieu was shooting ourselves in the foot. Luis Enrique is burnt out, and his beef with Alba has greatly dashed our chances of advancing, but there’s still 90 minutes. We gotta make them suffer in Barcelona. We’ve been down this road before, what’s another time! The Malaga game really killed our momentum. We have to show up against Real Sociedad this weekend, and with no Neymar its going to be tricky. We have a slow team. Rakitic has never been the paciest, same with Busquets, and Iniesta is only natural has lost a few yards of space over the years. Denis Suarez is quick, but too inconsistent yet, Gomes is molasses on the sprint, Arda is slow too. Alcacer is ok. Sergi Roberto would have done much better at pivote, but the lack of a functioning right back has been our Achilles heel, our team has no balance. Our right and left back attacks of old are dead. There’s no more Alves to run the ball up the wing to Messi like in the good old days, now Messi has to drop to midfield and instead of being in a position to finish, he’s gotta set up people that aren’t the best finisher in the modern game. Suarez is good, but Messi is the best. We used to be able to cross the ball from the flanks, that’s dead under Luis Enrique, when was the last time we scored from a cross coming from the right or left flank? Last year against Atletico it seems.

  23. Chiu
    April 14, 2017

    – I just want to enjoy the return leg and see how our team react to this challange. We have witnessed countless magical nights in Camp Nou if you have support Barca for years. Just keep hoping until the tie is over.

    – CL is a very cruel competition and its always like this every year and nothing new. Drama, surprises and dynamic. Its like a roller coaster, you go up and down in a matter of seconds. You lost focus in a second, those away goals will knock you out . We are so lucky to be winning this CL 4 times in the last decade, not counting numerous semifinals that we experienced like almost every season.

    -CL involves a lots of complicated aspects that we supporters sometimes couldn’t fathom. Hopefully next Wednesday we all could celebrate another semifinal berth. I don’t know what kind of tactics and strategy to make it happen. I just keep hoping as a hardcore cules that another historical game would happen. Don’t forget guys, less than two years ago in Berlin we score 3 goals against Juventus. What a magical night to cherish. I wish we could repeat those feat again.

    Visca Barca !

  24. April 14, 2017

    Want to offer up a proper welcome to Half and Half. Welcome to the speaking part of the family.

    — The whole team and its function. Period. Anyone can pick on anyone they like, but the whole team, staff to players, came up short against Juventus, as laid out above. Disappointed in Neymar or Mascherano or Mathieu or Umtiti or whomever? All of them, for me, from half-assing defensive coverage that allowed three very preventable goals to poor ball movement and linkup play. Top to bottom, everyone. The difference is that against Deportivo, they could be a crappy team and lose by a goal. Against better opposition, a crappy collective loses 3-0.

    As noted above (again) you don’t need tactics to know you shouldn’t let a forward take an open shot in your box. A schoolboy knows that. When the team wins, it does most of the stuff that it is supposed to. When it doesn’t win, it does very little of the stuff that it is supposed to. Is it as simple as that? In many ways, yes.

    Post-match debate is long and loud and specific as regards the failings of various players, depending upon who someone likes or doesn’t. But it comes down to execution. Collective execution. You can’t say, “So and so did his job, so and so didn’t.” It doesn’t work like that. The rare goal is attributable directly to an individual player, such as when Ter Stegen pranged his clearance off the head of a Celta attacker for a conceded goal. Rare.

    When a team concedes, a bunch of people didn’t do their jobs. Blame a coach, blame a player, blame sunspots, blame the price of jamon Iberico — whatever anyone likes. These players have been champions under different coaches, for country and club, in different situations. They know what the hell they need to do. Macro vs micro. Macro is tactics, micro is leaving Dybala alone to shoot, standing there and watching him shoot.

    Against Juventus, Barça had macro and micro problems, hence the 3-0. A 0-0 would have been fine. Didn’t happen. Failings. Finish chances, and a 3-3 also possible. That didn’t happen, either. The end of this cycle feels and looks a lot like the end of the Rijkaard cycle, and the end of the Guardiola cycle. Lots of people sit around and wonder what happened, when the answer is simple. Folks who know how to do it, didn’t do it, because that is life and the cycle of a team, even a great one.

    All the rest is semantics.

    • Davour
      April 14, 2017

      Yes, but I guess we enjoy the semantics – cathartic, if nothing else. Why else talk? Even the best of comments here will not change even a tiny fraction of Barca’s reality, so…

    • Half and Half
      April 15, 2017

      Only just seen it, but thanks for the welcoming words, Kxevin 🙂

  25. Tata2
    April 14, 2017

    in the first leg I dreamt we lost 5-1 does that mean we will win return leg 5-1?

  26. Mishti
    April 14, 2017

    Since some of us (including me) had been talking about Neymar’s shortcomings vs Juve (as perceived by us), here are two news reports I read today:

    “Luis Enrique was upset with Neymar as he didn’t track back enough, leaving the left flank in disarray, on top of not being able to beat Alves” (Sport)

    “Luis Enrique was upset with Neymar for not staying higher up the pitch, instead coming deep to pick up the ball and thus nullifying his attacking threat”. (TV3)

    If both reports are to be believed, and the logical conclusion is made, then LE was angry at Neymar for not using his secret superpower of simultaneously staying up the pitch AND tracking back.

    Just thought I should share this for a good laugh.

  27. Davour
    April 15, 2017

    91 minutes. Isco 3-2. It’s their season, I guess.

  28. TITO
    April 15, 2017

    Of course this is their season in La Liga at least. I have lost count on games they won in the stoppage time this season alone.
    That’s a mentlity of a winner, something that we have shown from time to time lately and not on a constant level.

  29. Davour
    April 15, 2017

    Important, but not impressive, win. It becomes more and more obvious how broken the team is. Today we were saved by some Messi magic and Alcacer waking up – very nice goal from him, and he is showing signs of improvement. Sorry to say, Gomes still does not. I’m not out to cut him down further, but I’m almost fascinated by him by now. He is so out of place it is rare. Often in the wrong place (note how he had to get out of the way for the first goal), has a hard time recovering without drawing a foul, did not have one single pass remotely key or even slightly unexpected, etc etc. He looks scared and I’m starting to feel sorry for him (in context, of course). You can tell his teammates avoid passing to him if possible, and he does not believe he will get the pass – which perhaps adds to the bafflement when he does get one. Again, not solely his fault the team is not functioning well, many were below par today and I’m grateful for the points in this between-CL-game. Only… man, he looks all shot!

    Denis comes on a does not impress, but he manages to look like a youngster learning the trade, and he is making some runs and positioning himself. But he is no more than a deep squad player, though, I’m afraid.

    Now, some coffee to wake Piqué et al, and then on to beating Juventus 4-0!

    • Rami
      April 15, 2017

      Hoping i don’t have my tinted glasses on, But gomes looked average, The same as busquets, Yet rakitic was flat out bad, I don’t know what happened to him this season.

      Gomes is in a confidence crisis, And with each passing match he doesn’t pull himself up, He sinks even deeper into that hole, And it becomes even more difficult to get out off,
      Is his barca career already over?, No, But he really has to pull himself together in the coming pre-season and impress the next coach, Otherwise it’ll be truly over for him.

      And pique better pull himself together on Wednesday, Shocking lapses of concentration happened with him today, A single mistake against juve can be game over for us.

  30. lala10
    April 15, 2017

    Gomes looks really awful. Doesnt offer anything of note. Doesnt have spatial awareness. Doesnt cut passing angles. Plods.

    Aaaargh. It will take a massive turnaround for this guy to be at the minimum level required at Barca.

  31. TITO
    April 15, 2017

    A determine Messi makes all the difference as usual. Everyone looks at him in what kind of a mood he is and they react. That’s that dependence on Messi.
    We can definitely score 3 or 4 or more against Juve, let’s just see which Barca shows up that evening.
    Strangely, i think Gomes did fairly ok tonight.

    • Davour
      April 15, 2017

      Sure, in context. But it’s like he’s doing ok despite being weird. Of course, a lot is confidence; he was kind of better earlier in the season. Or perhaps we were all just more forgiving…

  32. Mishti
    April 15, 2017

    I have made a promise to myself not to delve into the negatives today, so here are the positives. Leo, Paco, three points. Hope Busi and Leo can recover a bit by Wednesday, they looked thoroughly exhausted at the end.

  33. lala10
    April 15, 2017

    Alcacer came in as a poacher. To see him recently is to see a player developing. You can see his technical skills. His overall game is at a different level to when he came in.

    Gomes offers almost nothing. If he lacks confidence it would be weird because his manager has shown a lot of confidence in him. He has played a lot of minutes as a starter.

    We will see how his second season is after a proper pre season. But woosh. There ought to be an inkling of the player he can be shining through sometimes. New players endure hard times almost always due to varied reasons. But beneath the struggles they tease you with their particular abilities. So far Gomes hasn’t shown what he could be.

  34. PPos
    April 15, 2017

    Gomes to me is just another Canales and Illaramendi. Just another hyped up talent that is mediocre at best. He’s shown it all season long. There was a moment in the game where Messi could have slipped him a great through ball but he didn’t because it’s Gomes. He was just gonna ruin it like he has been doing all season long.

    Alcacer on the other hand is proving everyone wrong. Great movement from him today, slick touches with nutmegs included and a great finish. If he plays like that against Real Madrid, we have a chance. I believe the difference this season between us and them is the bench. Real Madrid has the advantage that they can start the entire second line and still win the game. Our second string is very poor. Trying to invest so heavily on young players has been our crucifixion this season. With youth comes alacrity (except Gomes), energy and drive but you miss out on experience, tactfulness and discipline. Disicipline is imperative for our system to work.

    Messi was fantastic today. He has scored 498 goals for us in all competitions. Hopefully he gets 502 against Juventus and apparently Dybala is injured. If he starts, one hard challenge and he should be out of the game. Call it ugly and anti-football but that’s what the Italians did to us in Turin so sorry not sorry.

    I hope this Laurent Blanc rumors materialize because I can’t take one more season of Unzue and co. That would be a mistake.

  35. luisthebeast
    April 15, 2017

    Pique-Umtiti were bad.Really bad.I understand that this game was between the Juve games but it s a shame for a top club that kind of defending.We have many things to do the summer and i am not sure that people in the club realize the problems of our defense in all 4 positions.
    I dont want to say more,i am tired of that easy joke goals we gift to everyone.

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