Espanyol 1, Barça 1, aka “Everything awful, all at once”

Barça went to Espanyol, to Cornella, and got a draw. Conditions were abysmal, errors were made that directly led to the Espanyol goal, which drove their supporters into a frenzy. To say this edition of the Catalan derby was packed with morbo would be an understatement.

A great many things happened during the match, from red card fouls that weren’t treated as such, to a deliberate, cynical attempt to injure Gerard Pique, the scorer of the equalizer, who put a finger to his lips to silence the home supporters. There was rain. So much rain that you could be forgiven for thinking Messi was indeed divine, as he walked on water time and again.

And at the end, Samuel Umtiti and Sergio Garcia, the same player who attempted on-pitch ankle surgery on the Barça defender, came together. And Umtiti went berserk. Pique had to restrain him, and the speculation began.

Umtiti is a calm, cool defender, as unruffled as the day is long. And he had a moment. A serious one. Racism was the predominant notion, because what else could it have been to turn a cool player into a frothing pit of rage?

After the match, there were reports, allegations. Sergio Garcia denied them for a while and then, on Monday morning, issued one of the crappiest mea culpas you will ever witness, saying essentially that he did racially abuse Umtiti, but he wasn’t racist. He even lives in a mixed-race area, his wife has gypsy roots and — the tried and true — he even has an “African-American” friend.

Well, there ya go.

There is nuance in a lot of situations that can be perceived as “racist.” Luis Suarez, in the dispute with Patrice Evra, used the word “negro.” Evra took offense, suggesting that as it was the heat of the moment with people in a rage, the word was meant to hurt. The FA agreed, but debate roiled.

For South American folks, “negro” is used in a number of ways. Note that when Carles Alena wished Wilfried Kaptoum well, he used “negrito” in the congratulatory paragraph on social media. A South American or Spaniard can use “negro” and not necessarily have racist intention.

But by accounts, Sergio Garcia didn’t use “negro” in any context. His alleged words were “you black shit.” Hard to find a lot of nuance there. Mundo Deportivo reports that the incident might (key words here) have been in the official’s report, which would be remarkable, and complex for both Barça and La Liga.

Sergio Garcia, in his non apology, added that he talked to Umtiti after the match, and what happens on the pitch stays on the pitch. Um. No.

He talked to Umtiti after the match, and for him, that makes it okay. Of course, he can talk to Umtiti, but what could he honestly do, compared to what he wanted to do? Racism is a clear attempt to take someone’s humanity. And a lot of folks who face that situation respond with rage, anger and violence. Once, a white man slurred a black man at an event I was attending. It didn’t go well for the man who flung the slur. Sergio Garcia talked to Umtiti. What did he say, and what did Umtiti want to do? What could he do? Stand there and deal with his rage, is what. Suppress it, because society doesn’t need another angry black man, just as his team doesn’t need for him to be suspended for putting his foot through Sergio Garcia’s ass like a wayward goal attempt.

What if? We talked, and it’s okay. Is it okay for Umtiti? As the best center back in the game on form, he has a great many run-ins with opposing players. Physical, verbal, some anger? Probably. Racist insults? We have heard no reports of such things prior to this. And the player himself said nothing, because what is there to say? What is the value for him of reliving the attempt to take his humanity?

Some say, “Well, it’s an attempt to put him off his game, that is why he said it.” The match was essentially over when Garcia had his “moment.” So, no. What does Umtiti do, from that moment forward, besides carry around baggage that he surely wasn’t planning to leave Cornella with, even as in the back of his mind, as it is in the back of the minds of all black folks, he was probably wondering, “What if today is the day?”

Sergio Garcia’s statement means that something happened. The league will now have to react — maybe. If it was in the official’s report, it is now in their face. Football does a lot of things to pretend to care about eradicating racism from the game, from t-shirts to armbands that read “Respect.” But they won’t really do anything significant, nor can they. Racism is learned behavior. People bring it to football matches in the stands, on the pitch, in the locker room. Football can’t fix that, nor is that the job of football.

What IS the job of football is to make racism expensive. Prohibitively expensive. Punishments should be exaggerated, for good reason. Sergio Garcia probably feels better after his admission. How does Samuel Umtiti feel? People take sides, offer theories about what Sergio Garcia might have meant, and whether or not he meant it. Okay.

How does Samuel Umtiti feel? After the match. Right now. In training. Squaring up for a hard challenge in his next match. How does Samuel Umtiti feel? None of us know. We can’t. But if we don’t at least try to imagine it, instead of retreating to corners that make us feel better and less uncomfortable, then what?

The league’s anti-violence commission investigated Pique saying that Espanyol is from Cornella. Which is where their club is located. What will the league do with this?

What does Barça do, as a football club? Issue a statement? Keep in mind this is the same club that decided to go ahead with a match, while truncheons were clanging off the skulls of folks trying to vote. So who knows? Does the club have an obligation to do anything at all? Valid question.

After the match, Pique came out with both barrels. “If you won’t do something about it, I won’t shut up.” Who was that aimed at? The club? The league?

Assuredly, everyone wants this to go away. Far, far, away. Because racism makes people uncomfortable. When a Villarreal supporter threw a banana at Dani Alves, who picked it up and ate it, it became a moment. Social media picked up on it, with Twitter and Instagram posts showing solidarity with Alves. And nothing else happened, really. What next?

Clarence Seedorf has been named as the new coach of Depor. He is the only black coach in La Liga. What do we think will happen on the sidelines? What will be said to him? As coaches are usually in the proximity of the fourth official, it would presumably make slurs and insults more difficult to ignore. Maybe.

Many are saying, “It was a derby. Things get heated in a derby.” Okay. How heated do things get, and what is okay in the context of heat?

Barça dropped points. The team could afford to. It is still nine points up on its second-place rival. Samuel Umtiti lost a bit of humanity. He could NOT afford to. None of us could.

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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.

50 Comments

  1. Davour
    February 5, 2018

    Well said. I followed the discussion on Twitter, too, and it seems to mix up different perspectives, to me. Explaining and excusing racism. Culture and context are important to explain, but to excuse? Nah.

  2. Víctor
    February 5, 2018

    Is there a bug or something? I tried to post a comment and didn’t show up. LOL.

    Either way: Pique was mainly talking about Espanyol fans’ targeting him and his family. And, at least for me, he clearly demands Espanyol to do something about it or he won’t remain silent. I don’t think he is asking Barcelona to do anything about that. However, like I said in the last article, Pique is not innocent by any means either. It’s true that he is a culer at heart and doesn’t hesitate to speak his mind. However, sometimes he just comes out as provocative and kinda looking to stir controversy. He saying “Espanyol is from Cornella” is a provocation against them, no doubt around it. Is true that Espanyol plays there, but, him stating that and in the way he did is just asking for trouble.

    New York Giants, for example, do not play in NY, their stadium is in New Jersey, however when opposing fans say that to the giants’ supporters do not do it to just “state the truth”, they do it in order to make fun of them or berate them.

    The racist slurs are the biggest issue here, I think. However, I do not agree at all with your questions on “how does Samuel Umtiti feel?”. While it’s true that the feeling of the offended person matter, it shouldn’t be the only factor in this. What if Samuel Umtiti decides to shrug it off and go on with his career/life? Does that make Sergio Garcia’s actions/words less horrid and vile? On that, La Liga should definitely do something, not just against Espanyol, but in general. Not sure that’s gonna happen, though. They still haven’t done anything to make the reffing better, doubt they are gonna take actions against players that commit racist behavior.

    Also, “the heat of the moment”? I’m gonna sound harsh, but just because you did or said a bad thing at the “heat of the moment” exonerates you from anything. In fact, one could argue that it’s exactly at “the heat of the moment” when your true feelings and thoughts come to arise. Either way, LOL at his apology. The typical “I’m not racist because I have black friends” statement.

  3. They-said-thered-be-jetpacks
    February 5, 2018

    the underlying issue here seems to be that people want to pretend like cultural beliefs or practices cannot be racist. That’s the sad part, because as long as that persists the Umtiti’s, Eto’s and Keita will always be punching bags for a culture’s ignorance. I hope Pique stays true to his word because this is a conversation worth having.

  4. Jim
    February 5, 2018

    They really are a horrible shower just now, aren’t they ? Were they always like this or is it our success ? I wonder how Iniesta, who carries their respect feels about all this ?

    I was gonna leave the racist comment alone. It was obviously said deliberately to try to degrade Umtiti and deserves our contempt and a hefty punishment, probably from club as well as league. However, I remembered we’ve had a ( I thought very good) discussion here before, along the lines of would you rather have your leg broken, have a racist comment thrown at you or your family be the subject of vile chants from the crowd and from my rather safe vantage point I was clear that, for me, you could do anything other than break my leg but I was struck and enlightened by the various different cultural views at that time and something Kxevin said here caught my attention again.

    The idea that Umtiti would be carrying this comment in his head with him from now on as some kind of baggage surprised and worried me a little. If someone made that comment to me and I didn’t rate the person, despised him for it and saw him punished while all those whose opinions I did value reacted aggressively to it on my behalf surely the comment demeans him and not me ? Why would I not just hate/ pity / ignore him in future and go about my business as before ? As I said, from my “safe” position of it being unlikely that such a comment would be made about my colour, I’m genuinely still struggling to see why I would allow a comment from a low life to affect me. Forgive me, I know I’m probably missing something cultural here and it may be as simple as you have to experience it to know the full effect on your psyche or that you know that at some point you will have to endure another comment so you are kind of waiting for it but I’m genuinely interested in the different viewpoint.

    Anyway, onto Pique. I’m gonna defend him some and suggest he cools it as well. Most of what he says or has said I see nothing wrong with. In the Spanish team he is vilified for just asking that Catalans be given the right to vote on their future. Nothing wrong there and yet he gets abuse. The chants about Shakira and his family who have to live in the same city as this vile mob have been going on for some time and as far as I know a blind eye has been turned to it. I would find it hard to have my wife and kids subjected to that sort of stuff in a football ground and I don’t think Pique attempting to bring them down with his comment about their situation particularly bad at all. He was clear beforehand to say there are good Espanyol fans and his beef is with the silence from that club and the league over the issue. No complaints from me. I slightly winced at the go at the Chinese owners though. Not sure that was called for unless he knows they’ve been ignoring it.

    The ( daft ? ) thought occurred to me as I thought about the above. With our extensive lead why don’t the team just agree to all walk off if there is a recurrence of this ? I know you might feel we could do this anyway, but we are in the unique position of being able to afford the loss of points / financial penalty , being the top team in Europe so it can’t be ignored and playing in a league which isn’t facing up to its responsibilities. Btw, my Sunday football writers programme discussed this topic and were fairly definite that if it was heard in the crowd at an EPL match the perpetrators would be called out or reported. I think they would in Scotland but I’m not sure about England.

    Finally, a question for the saddoes here who rewatch things over and over, like me. Their goal. My first thought was that Digne should have done better earlier in the move in the tackle ( but on that pitch hard tackles can end badly) and that Pique should have gone with his head. After rewatching about a dozen times I just can’t tell. If you look from behind our goal it’s pretty clear the ball dips just after it gets to Pique. He obviously thought he couldn’t get there with his head or that if you dive forwards to head a difficult ball in these conditions back towards your goal, only bad things happen. What I know is that his positioning was spot on, it was a perfect delivery and he wouldn’t have gone for it with his leg if he felt there was a chance of getting it with the head. Just a strange situation. He looked very awkward.

    Apart from that I’ll just say again that to appreciate genius you only need to watch Iniesta’s control of the ball on that pitch. Little half chips to take the ball over a puddle . . . . as he was running with it ! Rolling it back and forwards through water with someone right on his tail. Dropping the shoulder to go past someone and still keeping his balance. I was genuinely transfixed watching him.

    Finally, Deulofeu wins a penalty with a great bit of movement and scores a goal from his own half in his debut for Watford as they dump Chelsea. And praised by the commentators for his work rate all night !!! Probably THE most frustrating player I’ve come across. Chelsea are, btw, a mess. Why does that worry me more than if they were playing well ?

    • February 6, 2018

      JIm, I have long felt that the best thing to do when a player faces racial abuse is indeed to have the whole team walk off. If enough teams do it, the game will get serious about policing this crap.

      Naysayers will say that opposing fans would just hurl insults to make the opposition walk off. And that if one team is docked points, what is to keep opposing supporters from acting out to harm the opposition? It would be up to the game to sort that crap out.

      As it stands, Pique is the biggest news coming out of the derby, and that is wrong. Tebas talked about Pique, essentialy saying that he brought it on himself. Nothing about Umtiti. Zero.

  5. Femflexi
    February 6, 2018

    And why is no one talking about the almost violent play of the espayol player or I’m I the only one that saw the rough tackles and in particular that season ending tackle that Umtiti was almost the recipient of?

    • georgjorge
      February 6, 2018

      My stream lagged, and I only saw that tackle the day after. But that was an assault, and the player not being sent off immediately puzzles me. Studs up, going for the legs at great speed? Of course, the watery surface makes those challenges more dangerous by itself – which is exactly why every professional out there knows not to make them under such circumstances, so no excuse there.

      Sid Lowe wrote about Espanyol (players and fans) being pissed about not getting recognition as a Barcelona club. I understand that, but again no excuse for the behavior of some supporters, or for not caring at all whether you send an opposing player to the hospital.

  6. February 6, 2018

    Jim, from my experience things like this would stay in your mind, however ready you are to shrug off and move on. I was, in my first big trip abroad – my photo exhibtion in Sydney in 2003- held by the immigration officials for around 90 minutes, micro searching through all my belongings and what not. Finally when I was let go, an officer was kind enough to give me a one sentence answer to my repeated’ why’ questions- you looked like a muslim. (a brown skinned Indian with a beard)
    We laugh about it now, but I can never forget those 90 minutes.
    Now though, am able to fully understand the fears of my Muslim friends, their wives and parents in India when their man or son is even a little late to come home at the end of the evening..

  7. Jim
    February 6, 2018

    Thanks, Fotobirajesh. I can fully understand that situation and why it would stick in the mind because they had power over you and all the authority behind them. That’s as if it is government sanctioned. I also get the fear you describe your friends go through. My daughter who like me is ( was in my case ! ) a teacher had two of her senior pupils and their family given a hard time recently on entering the US for the same reason. I also get why such an unpleasant incident sticks in the mind and Its good you can laugh about it now although that in no way excuses the experience you were put through. I suppose I’m just trying to get my head round why you would care afterwards in Umtiti’s case as the guy is a nobody, much less successful than he and now held in contempt by most of football.

  8. Jim
    February 6, 2018

    Wow! This is worth a watch.

    https://tribuna.com/fcbarcelona/en/news/2592347/

    Not sure how the league can say either that they didn’t hear the chants about Shakira or that it wasn’t a large percentage of the stadium. In return Pique makes a gesture to silence that you see almost every football match and mentions where Espanyol are based. Designed to annoy them but mild and inactionable as I’m sure the league’s lawyers will have told them.

    The tackle on Umtiti was outrageous, especially in conditions where you have little control. Straight red. The one on Pique was also a terrible tackle because it was done deliberately from the side where he can’t see it coming, when he was concentrating on kicking the ball and when he was standing on one leg. Those are the most dangerous for me.

    Thankfully he looks like he won’t miss the Chelsea game.

  9. PPos
    February 6, 2018

    Man was that match a shit show from the pitch, to the rivals and their supporters to the weather. I’m glad we were able to get out of there with a point in a game where the pitch and the weather drowned the game the talent gap.

    Sadly I don’t expect anything to be done about the racial abuse Umtiti ensured. Spain is a really racist country. I was there one summer and could feel it. They call us South Americans “Sudacas” and the funny thing is to see broke Spanish men and women migrating to Peru and other South American countries because we have a better economy than Spain nowadays. The irony makes me smile.

    The word negro in South America isn’t racist. It translates directly to black man but negro de mie da is a racist term. La Liga should suspend Garcia for 5 games or more to show a strong stance against racism but they won’t because they don’t care. They didn’t do anything about the Alves incident or the Eto’o incidents and never will.

    • Víctor
      February 7, 2018

      The word negro isn’t racist at all. Like you said, it means black in spanish. Just like blanco translates to white. You need to consider other factors in order to determine if it’s meant in a racist way or not. Let’s not go to the extreme of implying that just a word is a racist term in itself.

  10. VodkaStani
    February 7, 2018

    Show strength!
    Dani Alve’s former reaction to picking up and eating the banana was the most ingenious possible reaction! Do not feel like a victim, but go on the offensive yourself!
    If a black man called me “white shit or white son of a bitch,” would I be offended? Maybe! Would I feel racially insulted? Definitely not.
    When someone wants to offend someone, he makes a difference to himself in his attack. For people of different skin color is the same time obvious.
    Once a Bilbao (?) Player wanted to annoy Messi and called him a dwarf. Should Messi have complained tearfully that one should not call small people “dwarfs”? Ridiculous! Messi had the gift of the gab and missed him instead a suitable answer. Do not feel like a victim!
    Does Umtiti necessarily feel racially offended by Garcia’s “black shit”? He may feel insulted – of course – but racism does not have anything to do with it.
    Be proud of who and what you are! Forget this shit about “racism”. That´s for sissies!

    • Víctor
      February 7, 2018

      Man, I agree you about that the offended ones should rise above the insults and shrug it off. However, the racism issue goes beyond offenses and slurs, those are manifestations of racism or racist attitudes… and institutions/governments and whatnot should work and make it clear that those kind of thoughts and attitudes are just plain wrong.

  11. Jim
    February 8, 2018

    Bummer today. Going on a long arranged lads’ curry night to Glasgow with a fair bit of drink thrown in. What a bad choice of date ! Of course, because it’s CDR there’s no coverage at all on Sky and I’m not clever enough to record stream so no game for me. It’s also a small group of (ex) head teachers so peering at my phone for updates will be severely frowned on ( and rightly so ).

    So, I’ll be relying on YouTube tomorrow for highlights ( do they ever put up whole games ? ) and the comments here for a flavour of it.

    I’m kinda confident about this since I heard Pique looks likely to make it ( if he’s only 80% he should be nowhere near even the bench ) but to be honest we only need to score once to give them a mountain to climb so we should be fine. Key is not losing a quick goal to set the crowd going.

    Now off to Sky to record my protest at their only picking up the CDR final – again !

  12. Jim
    February 8, 2018

    Must be in a legal sort of mood today.

    See Pique has escaped action. Lawyers are sometimes useful !

    In other legal action I see a Spanish court has called for a 2 year prison sentence for Neymar. Is that the amount you need to actually serve the time ? Along with Rosell while Barto case recommended to be dropped.

    Also Sanchez the latest to accept 16 month sentence . Still no word on CR7 though . . .

    • georgjorge
      February 8, 2018

      Sanchez’ lawyer railed against the Spanish authorities targeting high-profile taxpayers (like footballers) as well as taking advantage of unclear and changing laws. At least some of the media seem sympathetic. I would be very interested in knowing more about the situation in general, with more and more players from different clubs being charged. But somehow I can’t imagine all those millionaires doing everything in a perfectly legal way and still being fined – after all, you don’t HAVE to do business through a bogus company on some Caribbean island if you don’t want to.

  13. Víctor
    February 8, 2018

    Two assists from Suarez today, man do I look silly for saying that maybe he should be benched back then?

    Mina finally gets his debut with Barcelona. Pique injured… man, I now understand Pique’s reactions better against Espanyol. Either way, hope that Valverde gives the main starters a break during this weekend… it’s gonna be needed…

  14. PPos
    February 8, 2018

    Andre Gomes was so bad today. Crossing to nowhere, passing to the rival outside the box, slowing down the play, not taking risks. Just pathetic.
    Buttt on the other hand Couthigol!!!! What a run from coutinho extremely hard finish. Very proud of the boys today. Mina finally got his debut. Good day to be a culé

    • Víctor
      February 8, 2018

      To be fair, Gomes was played in a position he isn’t used to…

      • Dar_vincy
        February 9, 2018

        Even when deployed in his favored position, he doesn’t look like he would even impress himself let alone others. His continued underwhelming performance for us, after almost two seasons, is excruciatingly insufferable. That he continues to get minutes – in place of other deserving players and to the detriment of the team – acutely defies logic.

        • PPos
          February 9, 2018

          Yes, It is incredible. Gomes has 21 something appearances this season and 0 goals scored and one assist. He’s been here for almost two years! Valverde said that he kept us keep the lines together at front and in the back with his strength, except it sounded like coaching jargon because he was rightly subbed at half time. Coutinho has something like 3 appearances and 1 goal that’s the difference. I think he should be sold this summer. He’s just not good enough. He’s not Barcelona material. I rather have that money to bring in Arthur or even better. Thiago Alcantara. The return of the long lost son. Thiago knows that Bayern is on the decline with Robben and Ribery on the way out and they’re not very keen on renewing their squad. This could be our chance.

          • georgjorge
            February 9, 2018

            I actually think that Gomes was/could be a very good player, just not at Barcelona. He could be strong in a role a bit similar to that of Yaya Touré before Guardiola arrived, and would probably fit into two or three of the top PL sides which are not as keen as Barcelona to play a lot of short passes and dominate possession. I hope the club makes it possible before everyone becomes bitter and sad, yesterday was cruel as after about 25 minutes his teammates just decided he wasn’t on the pitch and never gave him the ball again if there were any other outs. Can’t blame them.

            • PPos
              February 9, 2018

              Well after that horrendous cross Messi pretty much stopped passing to him. It’s just bad for the team to have a player that no one trusts. I’ve seen his highlights at Valencia. The guy can rip it from outside the box. I think he’s just suffering from big stage anxiety or something. I just don’t know how many chances he has left to burn.

  15. Femflexi
    February 8, 2018

    Now that’s what i call total dominance
    Great match there by Barcelona the guys controlled Valencia from start to finish everybody had a great game today with the exception of Andre Gomez; who looks out ideas. I totally get the tactics from EV using A gomes as a foil against Valencia guy looks unstable making passes and picking out his men

  16. Femflexi
    February 8, 2018

    Looks like Messi deliberately walked this match out. Maybe he is telling Valencia’s coach that this can operate without him much
    Kudos to busi and rakitic for controlling the midfield they simply rolled over Valencia.

  17. Jim
    February 9, 2018

    Had a chance to catch up with the match through extended highlights. Looked to be comfortable enough. Didn’t see it but apparently Pique was feeling his knee throughout before going off. That doesn’t sound good. Any word of the extent of the injury? Rule 1, never muck about when it’s a knee injury. I’ve never had or seen such an injury respond well to playing football . You can’t jump, you can’t turn and it doesn’t take much to turn into something serious. Don’t care if Pique said he was fit or not. Drop him. We were always gonna score and they were never getting three.

    Victor, you weren’t the only one. There is a real haste these days to write players off once they turn 30. Much different level of course but I reckon my peak was about 28 till about 33 – before I didn’t value the passing game as I should have and I was stupid with the ball and and after that it was always a foot out of my reach ! Trouble is even with him playing out of his skin it’ll only take a couple of poor games before the whole thing starts again. He probably only has another couple of seasons at our level but we should enjoy the fact he’s playing for us and contributing at vital times, not tap ins when we’re three up.

    I have to say I’m surprised that the side hasn’t really had a dip so far this season. There are a lot of players who have played a lot of minutes. We probably need to keep an eye especially on Alba, Busi, Pique, Messi and Suarez as there’ll be a dip to their replacements. I think Iniesta has shown over the last few games that LE and EV have both been overdoing the cotton wool a little with him although for the best of reasons. Really pleased with Coutinho getting off the mark. He’s such a clever player he’ll not need long to get used to us and Messi is already looking pleased with him.

    There has been some really good work done by the club in terms of bringing in the right sort of player to keep up the quality and give us different options. For the first time in a couple of years I’m optimistic about the CL.

  18. PPos
    February 9, 2018

    I’d agree with you Jim about the CL but I’m not trying to jinx it. After consecutive quarterfinal exits during the LE years I’m going to try and be conservative about it and just take it 90 minutes per 90 minutes and hope for the best. The years of Guardiola, Rijkard, Tata, Tito of being an ever presence in the CL semifinals spoiled me so now I’m going to be tactful and wish that we return to our rightful place as European champions hahaha.

  19. luisthebeast
    February 9, 2018

    Who would have thought that after Super Cup games the team would have 1 L in 36 games.
    And all that without the 2 expensive transfers for most games.
    But when you have a coach with so many qualities,everything is easier.

  20. squeen
    February 10, 2018

    I think EV has played (and lost) so many years in La Liga, that the idea of actually winning some trophies is irresistible to him. He plays like a coach who is hungry for the win, and doesn’t care too much about player development, hurt feelings, etc. It’s: “you aren’t performing…you’re subbed—we need the win. Your a bit injured but are willing to play….you are in—we need the win. You’re 33 and still great…you play ever game—we need to win) I am not saying this to be critical. I’m not sure a manager should be prioritizing anything above winning (well, backtracking a bit—beautiful play, fair play, an eye for the future) . Just making an observation. If he does win a few trophies with the club, then his attitude next year may be less pragmatic.

    Another thought on Coutinho’s cost—how many Cules wouldn’t pay $10 for that goal last week? Figure he just paid back $1M of his price tag right there.

  21. Jim
    February 11, 2018

    Just been reading reports which suggest Pique might well play today. That would be madness ! We have Chelsea coming up in ten days, he suffered a minor knee injury ( lucky it wasn’t worse tbh) , had pain and couldn’t train, was selected nevertheless against Valencia and had to come off as it was getting worse, hasn’t trained since and we’re thinking of playing him against Getafe at home ??? You don’t muck about with knees. One of the three or four players who we’d suffer without in the CL.

    • georgjorge
      February 11, 2018

      Pique is on the bench, but the lineup is a bit strange. Something like

      Ter Stegen

      Digne – Yerry Mina – Sergi Roberto

      Alba – Busquets – Rakitic – Coutinho

      Luis Suarez – Alcacer – Messi

      if I read it correctly, I somehow have doubts about a completely new defender being the center of a back three, and Alba in midfield, but there you have it (or one of Alba and Digne on the right and Roberto in midfield?). The only centerback on the bench is Piqué himself, so I guess we are temporarily short in this department.

  22. TITO
    February 11, 2018

    Wasn’t Verm suposely be out for two weeks only?
    Bthw, i guess Busi will be the other CB. It wont be the first time that he is doing that.

  23. Jim
    February 11, 2018

    Pleased that he’s not playing. Not sure why he’d be on the bench. Presumably he’d only have to come on if he’s fit or we’re losing and the damage is done but sensible anyway.

    I’d see the lineup more traditionally as

    TS

    SR Mina Digne. Alba

    Raki Busi Coutinho

    Messi

    Suarez Paco

    Still, we’ll get a few hints at things to come despite the quality of the opposition. I missed Mina’s debut so I’ll be keen to see how he does. He won’t know our ways yet and he’s probably being asked to play with Digne who is untested there so allowances may have to be made but you can see basic things straight away. It’s Coutinho’s first real chance to show us what post Ini might look like and I’ll be interested to see how Rakitic does if indeed it is three in midfield. He’s still on my sell list but below most of the others due to better performances in a four man midfield recently.

    Also, the reappearance, hopefully for no more than 20 minutes, of Dembele. He’s kinda gone from probable saviour at the start of the season to having something to prove to get into the first team, having done nothing wrong. Perhaps the best thing about us for me at least this season is the lack of giving the ball away too easily from all bar Suarez and Messi which is as it should be. EV seems to value this given the disappearance of several hopefuls after a bad performance and may not be too keen to add another player who gives it away often. We’ll see. Hopefully he gets a little of the luck he deserves and gets off to a flying start to build confidence.

  24. TITO
    February 11, 2018

    Well, this first half sums up the overall confusion with our line up.
    Cant understand Paco’s role today, Coutinho’s absence, Alba’s role…i hope EV makes the right changes in the second half.

    • georgjorge
      February 11, 2018

      I agree. Paco is confused on the right side, Coutinho on the other hand seems like he wants to do too much in a game where patience is needed.

  25. georgjorge
    February 11, 2018

    A referee turning a blind eye and a team of physical players making harsh challenges is not the ideal combination. Messi is getting annoyed, something’s got to give. But it’s far more difficult than I expected so far!

  26. TITO
    February 11, 2018

    This result tonight is totally on Valverde.

  27. squeen
    February 11, 2018

    Everyone has gone back to playing Barca in total-fear parked-bus/counter-attack mode. Possession is close to 80%. Brings back memories.

    Messi looks tired. I think he had a cold last week.

  28. Jim
    February 11, 2018

    We were due one of these days, guys. The team didn’t play that badly against a packed defence, even as there were few if any who had a great game. Valverde is due a fair amount of slack for his efforts so far. Did any of us think we would still be unbeaten ? So, a bit of perspective is needed.

    I can’t figure out what was up with Paco. He’s not a keeper anyway for me but this was weird. At least if he gets up beside Suarez we can cause a bit of bother but it looked like he thought he was playing midfield half the time. Can’t afford that against nine men in their area. You need bodies in the box. EV did the right thing and got him off as soon as was practical and brought on Dembele and Iniesta which was the obvious, and right, move. Except it wasn’t as Dembele was out of his depth due to time off injured. Nobody’s fault but it meant that it left Suarez isolated again and trying to make things happen. Who would you rather have brought on than Dembele though ?
    It was always gonna be tough, since brilliance seemed to be absent, unless we got a break of the ball and we didn’t really. Didn’t deserve it in the first half but we had a few chances second which just didn’t go for us and some hairline offsides which maybe on another day we’d have got away with.

    Not a disaster for me. Just upset that their thuggery and time wasting went largely unpunished, again.

  29. TITO
    February 11, 2018

    The blame on Valverde is solely on this game and not his overall coaching throughout season.
    In games against smaller teams you should score as soon as possible you can, cause as the game continues the opponent grows in confidence, you get more nervous and it becomes tougher to score.
    Tonight’s game was just one in a row of games that we need to win.
    Not the worst thing in the world, but i dont want to see us already reached the peak in our form and from now on declining in it.
    Good that we have a week off now until the game with Eibar.

    • ooga aga
      February 11, 2018

      Define “need to win” please? You are setting the bar for “need” at a different place than I am, it seems.

      This was NOT a game we needed to win. so Valverde had pique resting, busi not play the full 90, iniesta not start, messi in energy conservation mode, etc. we have a 7 point lead in the league and Chelsea next week. and we need a rest.

      we could have won this game, i would say we absolutely dominated it with just a few squeaky moments, to be expected esp when you have MINA + DIGNE in the center of defense!

      Guiata is agreat GK. TS great too.

      • TITO
        February 11, 2018

        Yes, i expect the team as ours to be able to beat a Getafe at home. How is that a high bar? AM won, so i expect us to at least win the games that on paper are really winnable with all due respect to Getafe.
        We did not dominated the game. Domination is not only having the ball in your posession but creating clear cut chances which we had absolutely none. At home, to Getafe. Regardless their game plan.
        And, our defense was more than ok, what i did not like was our strange line up, confused players and lost points.

    • Víctor
      February 11, 2018

      Score as soon as possible? Sure thing, because smaller teams just roll into the field and tell our players “Oh. You want an early lead? Go on, have at it. We’ll resume play and un-park the bus after that.”

      Sarcasm aside, that’s exactly what smaller teams and park-the-bus strategies want their opponent to do. Go forward like in desperate attempt to score and leave their defense vulnerable to counter-attacks. Valverde knows that and that’s why he knows that trying to go all offense against teams like that can be suicidal.

  30. ooga aga
    February 11, 2018

    Valverde: “No se puede ganar todo lo que juegas, así como tampoco ser 100% regular, por eso esta próxima semana sin partidos llega en el mejor momento para recuperarnos”

  31. PPos
    February 11, 2018

    I Think the team was tired for this match. The valencia game was draining for the squad as a whole. Getafe came here and played their game of kick-a-Messi and co. And park the bus. Getafe has i Only conceder 21 times this season and credit to them they looked solid at the back. I hate the points dropped but AM’s upcoming schedule is difficult. It’s somethjng like a Bilbao, Sevilla, a club i can’t remmeber and us. If they drop points and we beat them. Then the league is almost finished. The important thing is that we arrive at Stamford Bridge fit and ready to score quick and many because if we put the tie away early at their ground then we can relieve the pressure on ourselves.
    I thought Yerry Mina was good today except some hiccups but his heading is very impressive. It’s somethint we haven’t had in our defense since Puyol and Pique who could both score with their head at important moments. I wish that was something that Umtiti did more.
    Chelsea arent in good form besides Hazard and Morata probably won’t make the bench which is good because he somehow always scores against us like fernando Torres.
    I urge you all patience and calmness. Valverde has won my trust and we all should do is back him up in good and bad.

    • Víctor
      February 11, 2018

      That’s the impression I got as well. The team is tired, they looked kinda slow and off. Coutinho is doing well, but still needs time to adapt, Suarez went back to being offside almost all the time, Messi was OK, but got constantly fouled by the opposition. Note: the referee letting them play like that and not punishing them properly was also a factor, they deserved more yellow cards from the beginning.

      Dembele looked bad, but he is returning from injury, so we can’t be harsh on him. Mina played well.

      Either way, the lead is now 7 points. Still not a bad points lead. So, yeah, a hlebbed game, but result not that bad considering that amount of games during January and the games we have ahead against Chelsea.

      Chelsea is doing poorly as well, but surely Barcelona shouldn’t feel overconfident in that, they will give the match of their lives in that tie. Hopefully Valverde rests Suarez, Messi, Iniesta, Busquets and Rakitic during this week.

  32. Hamid
    February 11, 2018

    I have to agree with Tito here. Valverde screwed up the starting lineup and the game plan. From an 11-point lead, we now stand at only 7. Simeone has now reason to believe and to motivate his players. And we know how AM can snatch 1-nil victories while dominated. Hoping that that they drop points is no good stratagem. This is the kind of results that come back and haunt you at the end of the season. Because I don’t think that la Liga is a done deal. And not winning home games won’t help. The upcoming games against mid-table and struggling teams are extremely tricky, particularly by the end of the season when it’s all about survival. The question now is how Valverde will approach the Eibar game, which is only 2 days before the Chelsea clash. I still fancy our chances for la Liga and CDR. I just think that with this result Valverde has put himself and his players under unnecessary pressure.

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