Barça 1, Atleti 0, aka “Atleti got Atleti’d”

It had to be this way. There was too much at stake for it to be any other way. People said this Liga match, a face off between first and second in the table, was for the Liga. It was an extraordinary match in every way, decided by the most extraordinary one of them all, in a moment of sheer excellence so virtuosic as to take your breath away.

And Atleti got Atleti’d.

1-0. If you look at the run of Atleti results this season, you see it: 1-0. They get a goal then play intelligent, controlling football to secure the victory, making smart attacks but never going all out because well … they don’t have to. They have the goal.

This wonderful match should go a very long way toward helping people understand how remarkable Barça is, even in its flawed state. Once again, a Messi free kick provided the goal for the team. The difference betweeen Las Palmas and Atleti is that the team never got stupid, never forgot where it was and what it was doing, had its big match head on in a way that from top to bottom of the roster of the people who played, is laudable.

It’s easy to snarl about this or that player, to grouse about passes not controlled, passes misplayed, runs not made, who or who else might or not be Barça quality. But this team is spectacular, as much for what it is as what it isn’t — complete. And on a day when so many had them tottering on the precipice, so many had them losing this match today, they played a brilliant game to take a crucial, crucial victory and extend the Liga lead to 8 points with 11 matches left.

Could they still bottle the lead? Absolutely. But this psychological step was immense even as the schedule doesn’t get any easier, with Malaga and then Athletic, sandwiching Chelsea.

Pragmatism has, for years, been considered an epithet in culerville. Playing sensibly, keeping defenders back, absorbing pressure and playing out of it intelligently and with composure has, heretofore, made people snarl. “We aren’t Stoke. What is this nine behind the ball nonsense?” But the team understood what it had to do, and put in work. Suarez was clearing Atleti set pieces, Coutinho tracking back like his life depended on it. Rakitic and Busquets are, from my seat, the best midfield duo in football, fronting the best CB tandem in Pique and Umtiti.

Busquets was life, while Rakitic is excelling in yet another role, after having come to Barça as a player who ran a dazzling Sevilla side. He is a worker bee in Catalunya, making his elegant brilliance subordinate to running after balls, making tackles and putting work. The team got it done today.

And all of this is true even as players such as Gomes entered and were erratic, and Suarez frustrated on the offensive end. The team played as a team rather than the collection of individuals that polluted the pitch at Las Palmas. Everyone played better including a magnificent Iniesta, who is facing a month on the sidelines after damaging his hamstring. My Twitter prediction before the match was that if Iniesta has a good match, Barça will win. And he sparkled.

Atleti wins matches, is in second place because it plays as a unit, where the team comes first. It is extraordinary, and lets them play above the aggregate level of their talent. But — and this is an admitted oversimplification — Diego Simeone is also Argentine Mourinho in that he draws his side up to not lose. They are more adventurous against smaller clubs, but even then, there are always at least nine players behind the ball when the opponent has it, whether it’s Leganes, Eibar or Barça.

Today, Thomas Partey, a player who has been a big part of the team’s winning run with his aggressive, pressing, forward-thinking football, was against Barça another defender. The best things that he does were suborned to the task of making sure Messi didn’t kill Atleti.

Then Messi killed Atleti. Griezmann was made to disappear, and the wonder is that Pique and Umtiti must share pants, since both had Costa in their pockets.

That devotion to team that fueled Atleti, defined Barça today. They knew this wasn’t a day for champagne football, that Atleti wasn’t going to allow it. They knew how Atleti play, knew that because of their conservative approach, they struggle to score from open play as long as you don’t make the kinds of errors that launch their counter. Iniesta danced and controlled, taking a series of hard fouls that eventually saw him off near the end of the first half, but the damage was already done.

Atleti continued to play tight, and in a match that felt old school in that it wws contested in midfield, it was here that the absence of Iniesta was most felt. Andre Gomes came on in the stead of the captain. He was whistled by the Camp Nou denizens with every hesitant, faltering touch, but if you watched him, he put in work. He ran, harassed, passed, controlled, gave it up for the team.

Atleti pressed a little harder, moving forward, but never with the kind of vigor that would leave them open to a move and a goal that would effectively kill the match. And Barça played smart, And calm. Atleti pressed, Barça absorbed and came back punching, using Messi as the spearhead to move the ball forward, or pinging the ball up the wings as Atleti focused on not letting Messi kill them.

And when Coutinho finally had run his legs off in a fine, fine performance, it was as if Valverde was trolling Barça supporters by bringing on Paulinho, right as the match was beginning to tilt Atleti’s way. Once again, Paulinho, for whatever reason anyone wants to choose or refuse to acknowledge, the match tilted Barça’s way, and they were able to successfully see out the result, an effort once again defined by the ethereal majesty of Lionel Messi.

Simeone said that if Messi wore an Atelti shirt, it would have been 1-0 the other way. He’s right. The free kick that Messi struck, beating the man many consider the best keeper in La Liga and one of the best in the world, was amazing. It had swerve, curve and enough pace to get past an outstretched Oblak, who guessed right, but it was too much shot. As with the Las Palmas goal, when Messi strode up to take it, you knew it was going in.

For all the talk of Messidependencia last season, this season it is true, but in an odd way. The team is a support system that is capable of taking the reins, playing football and making the system work until such time as Messi decides to take over. It reminds you of the triangle offense that the Chicago Bulls ran, until Michael Jordan decided it was deviation time. This Barça team doesn’t think, “Save us, Messi,” but they do ask the question, “Are you ready to take this?” If he isn’t, they roll on. If he is, off he goes.

As one of the fools who doubted him, who expected his legs and bones to evince some signs of mortality, it’s easy to look in the mirror and think, “Fool, fool!” Messi might be at the peak of his powers, at a time when most players are beginning a precipitous decline toward the gold watch years. Teams play him differently around the box, because of the understanding of what his free kicks can do. They can’t bite on his runs, because he is also a visionary passer. And when they sit back for the pass, he can kill with the run.

His mastery of the game is also psychological. After his free kick goal he ran straight to Paulinho for a gleeful embrace, smiling in the arms of the man people think kicked their puppy, and owes them money. He gave Gomes a long hug after the match. Messi understands that this team isn’t good enough not to need everyone to see this through.

Valverde said after the match that he has run out of ways in which to describe how remarkable Messi is. We all have. He ran, dribbled, tracked back, pressed, harried, helped out. He was part of the team that knew how it had to play, that knew it had to out Atleti Atleti, who were the masters at being Atleti.

Ter Stegen made no saves today, because he didn’t need to. This is a match that could easily have ended in zeroes, except for one moment so stuffed with genius the mind boggles, like a glitter bomb amid a mud-slaked battlefield. Both teams knew what was at stake, both teams worked as hard as they could. But at the end of it all, genius did what it does, which is to define the day, and the moment.

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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.

43 Comments

  1. Víctor
    March 4, 2018

    Exactly. The game was not just about the lead against Atleti (8, 5 or 2) but also it was about mentality. Had Barcelona lost, even when it meant that Barcelona is still the leader by 2 points diff, you’d knew that it was gonna get way more complicated than it seems now. Every game after this would feel like a final, while Atleti would be extra motivated in their remaining games.

    Had Barcelona tied then things would remain the same but still unsure… lots of pressure on knowing that even a 5 point lead does not give you too much margin of error and Atleti still with motivation in hopes of us dropping points.

    With this victory, the team can relax a bit and take things with a wider perspective… focusing also on the UCL and CdR final… while Atleti will feel almost hopeless… it also means that Barcelona can take a couple of draws without fretting that much… I said it on the last article: Barcelona should go play against Malaga, the worst La Liga team, and rest Messi, Suarez, Rakitic, even Pique and give chance to Denis, Alcacer, Mina and maybe Vidal… if you can’t play them against the worst side then when?

  2. ooga aga
    March 4, 2018

    Maybe some, but not all of them. La Rosaleda has been a bogey venue for us for years now. The last time we lost in league was away to Malaga. They still have Beef Weligton, who i dislike very much.

    Great article Kxevin. Man we were good today. Ter Stegens lack of involvement says it all.

  3. socrates
    March 4, 2018

    [Messi] … like a glitter bomb amid a mud-slaked battlefield.
    Brilliant

  4. luisthebeast
    March 4, 2018

    A great tactical game by Valverde.
    Atletiko was on form last weeks and came well rested but Barca even if they played away at Thursday night,was solid and calm,they did nt allow anything to Atletiko to hope.
    Only negative is Iniesta injury but if the team have same focus,calm and energy vs Chelsea we will be fine.

  5. mvarfi
    March 4, 2018

    Firstly, I’m proud of this team. Secondly, I’m happy the pressure in many culers’ minds and hearts has been released.
    This lesser Barca moves me. Its lack of flamboyant dominance leaves too many people too often with the feeling that its demise is just around the corner. But I love it. It has given the team an aura of an almost underdog, which has frequently led to a slight underestimation or a mild overconfidence from the opposition sides. It’s made Barca’s victories that much sweeter in my eyes.
    Kxevin, you’ve noted in the past that to you Rijkaard’s Barca was “classical”, Pep’s “syncopated jazz” and Lucho’s “metal”. Have you formed a similar association this season yet?
    Thank you for the lovely article.

  6. Femflexi
    March 5, 2018

    Now I can finally comment: I’ve waited for the athletico match so that I can talk if really people the Las palmas match u will know that it isn’t that Barça is out of form but the team is resting by playing in the 2nd gear because they know they can afford to. Just look at the congestion of matches played by Barça since the turn of the new year this team has played at least a match every two to three days.
    If that isn’t tiring then what is? Busquet’s comment after the atleti match summed up the reason for the supposedly dip in form, they’ve been playing too many games lately without been given enough time to rest and recover
    Just take note; how many of Barça’s remaining opponents are playing and actively contesting in three competitions? How many of them are even fighting for the liga? Let these boys get their rest which ever way they can get it they definitely can afford to
    On the issue of the coach not rotating as he should be doing @ this time of the season that is totally his call.
    The only beef I have with the man is that by now he should be integrating some of the youngsters into the 1st team there are @ least some talented lads in the B team (palencia, cucurella, Alena, vitinho, Abel Ruiz to mention a few )
    And then someone should please tell the coach to start creating/giving game time to fringe players like Mina, Denis Suarez, Alcacer because contrary to the opinions of others these are good just lacking in confidence and believe that they are good enough for Barça

  7. Femflexi
    March 5, 2018

    Sorry to deviate but I’m of the opinion that the board totally wasted money on deulofeu who had chances over chances to prove himself when we could have gone back and bought Adama Traore ; guy is also talented even more so than deulofeu has a blazing pace proven ability to get past players also can impose physically. Hell I’m practically dying to see this boy back in a barca shirt don’t know why he was sold in the first place.
    I mean the guys still young
    *Would like to know your views on this please!!

    • March 5, 2018

      Adama Traore has the same problem Deulofeu has: low football IQ. There is talent, pace galore and ball skills, just as there is with Deulofeu. But so much of playing at Barça is knowing what to do with the ball at the end of that run or dribble. Traore, like Deulofeu, has no idea. And that is why he is knocking around in the Prem mid table, rather than playing for Barça.

  8. Femflexi
    March 5, 2018

    Coach got his tactics spot on tho!! And our defence did it’s job superbly I’m so proud of this boy’s

  9. Hristo
    March 5, 2018

    We played not lose. Got extremely fortunate not to concede. We let Atletico back in the game. We were their mercy. And they aren’t even the better team. We sat back and defended. With so much space to counter, we played the wrong substitutes. Three players are bailing Valverde’s inept tactics.

    For the first time, ever since I’m watching Barca, the first ever football shirt I ever noticed, the first team I ever saw, my stomach aches. Call it what ever u wish but this team does not stand for an attacking Prowess we have been known. I have not sentimena here. We have the best offensive team in the whole world bar none. No one can match us. Yet we grind down results, we protect results. Attack is no longer the best defense.
    Since the start of the season I’ve had an empty heart derived of joy. Let me leave with some words of two great.

    “winning isn’t everything. Doing your best is. Because when u do your best u can lose but u won’t lose sleep.”

    ” If you have the ball you must make the field as big as possible, and if you don’t have the ball you must make it as small as possible.”

    “Quality without results is pointless. Results without quality is boring.”

    In his autobiography Sir Alex said: in the semifinal we sat deep and defended against their splendid team. We won. But I put myself through torture and the fans through Hell. That day I decided to never do this again.”

    • March 5, 2018

      You should probably stop watching the team, for the sake of your own health.

      Football isn’t idealism. Football is reality. A coach comes in, sees what he has and goes about playing in a way that gets the results. Coaches don’t get fired for not being beautiful. Coaches get fired because their teams don’t win.

      Valverde has a less-than-ideal roster. He was hired in part because of his footballing legacy but also because he is a pragmatist who will do what needs to be done with the players that he has. And yes, that means defending. It’s why Guardiola spent big money on defenders and a keeper, because at some point you have to stop the other team scoring.

      As for the “fortunate not to concede” part of your comment, Ter Stegen had to make zero saves. The only legit Atleti chance on goal was the one ruled out for Costa being offside. They created nothing of note from open play, because of Valverde’s tactics and match plan.

      If Barça had flung caution to the winds and attacked without thinking of containing Atleti and lost, the same people ripping them for being conservative would rip them for not being able to defend, and bottling the league. It’s a team that can’t win, and won’t be able to win with so many of its own supporters, no matter what it does.

      We can either watch what is, or lament what isn’t. The choice we make is up to each of us.

      • squeen
        March 5, 2018

        Hear, hear!

        We can control the ball again in tight spaces. How long has it been since we could do that? We play as a team (most of the time). Did you see those beautiful string of passes that moves up zig-zag from our own third to the offensive box? Yes, our attack is sometimes stymied by it’s two-prong nature—but that will change with Courtinho and Dembele next season. Verily, I love the capering midfield sprites and attacking football, but I am satisfied. This Barca is the true Barca. If you want fast wingers and lightning counterattacks, you are looking in the wrong place. Try the EPL (or PSG).

        Only downside of the match (for my tastes) was when we lost the ability of possess the ball with Iniesta subbed off. At the very end, we just booted it upfield. Sure, Atleti were pressing like a rabid dogs, but still…I pine for making them chase shadows. As Kxevin says, “work in progress”.

        BTW, still loving Courtinho. Worth ever penny. Liked him on the right, too. There’s been a hole there since 2016. Also, Roberto: RB for life (sorry Semedo!).

      • squeen
        March 5, 2018

        One more jot about Dembele. During his last match, it was not the speed or maze-y dribbles that got me, it was the tiny chip to get the ball through to Roberto(?) when he was completely surrounded by 3 defenders. That kind of on-the-spot mental alacrity is what makes me think he has a bright future ahead of him at Barca. I’m rooting for the kid—but don’t scream bloody murder when he doesn’t start. That’s short-sighted thinking to me. Again, I think those cries are mostly from the EPL-minded crowd who want a quicker game (and probably are looking for a Neymar-substitute onto which they can transfer their affections).

      • Hristo
        March 5, 2018

        Society is reality. Should we adjust to its sick ways? It’s twisted morals. That’s what is. Why try to bring something beautiful I to this world. I’ve never, in my daily living, or else stood for Injustice.

        What did Kennedy say: “Athenians lawmakers considered a crime anyone who shied away from controversy”.
        You were very, very selective in you reply. U can’t use “what is” when it suits your purpose. You fight for what u love and stand ground. But its difficult, it cause u tormoil, lost sleep.
        You are now, through your writing, protecting your own image and view of things. And as long as it brings u good stuff u will defend.

        We must all do our best. In our team, the man in charge does what’s best.

      • Hristo
        March 5, 2018

        I’m sorry. This is all my error. I’ve created an image about this site and your writings that cannot u possibly match. In the process I’ve hurt myself, and it’s shows from my own writing. Please disregard every bit I wrote. It’s all total nonsense.

  10. PPos
    March 5, 2018

    Yeah what match were you watching? Atletico had 0 shots on goal, and got utterly dominated in the first half. Griezmann didn’t even have a sniff at goal. I really wish people would stop complaining about Valverde. I’m tired of it. What are you complaining about? that we have an 8 point gap in the league and an away goal in a 1-1 draw in the Champions League and a ticket to the final of La Copa Del Rey?

    Ohh I don’t like his pragmatic style,.. well I don’t like losing and we haven’t lost in the CL or La Liga this season and I’ll take that over losing to small teams like Malaga and whatever losses we had last season because LE was tactically inefficient.

    If we win the treble, (knocking on wood) I don’t wanna hear any complaints from any you culers, because after 2 years of not making the CL semis and losing the league last season on botched calls and losses to Celta de Vigo. I’ll take what I can get.

  11. Snoopking
    March 5, 2018

    The quality of having the greatest player of all time won’t go without a notice, every coaches that played against Messi always praise the genius for the wonder he give to his team, that let opponent go struggle, Pep said it when he was in Munich, Morinho said when he was in Madrid, in fact Valverde said it when he was unveiled as Barcelona coach that the extra job he always work to stop messi is now stop and others coach will now face those problem he faced as opponent coach to messi; but not to forget that “togetherness we can dignify” this quote works in yesterday when our messiah help us with the wonder free kick that put us ahead of the team everyone in team yesterday played well to win with 1 to nil against atleti which is in the second place to the table, after the setback of las palmas during the week; we were bless from God by messi present in the pitch. Now That we are 8 points ahead of second place we have to face the league maybe we can win la liga with unbeaten this year, well nothing is impossible but we will see what the future will bring to us. Iniesta was injured during yesterday game 1 of the irreplaceable on our squad after messi nobody Can replace them because they are different to other players in terms quality and experience, but i wish if he can face Chelsea in the champions league, like the way Valverde is using pique because this players has Barcelona dna they can be just left out of the squad just like that.

  12. Snoopking
    March 5, 2018

    Gomes thanks Barcelona fans after boos during Atletico Madrid clash !

    The 24-year-old made little impact on an otherwise strong Barca performance and he was jeered by a small number of fans, with one such incident apparently prompting an angry reaction from head coach Ernesto Valverde.

    Gomes later took to Instagram to credit supporters for helping the LaLiga leaders to stretch their advantage at the top to eight points and extend their unbeaten run to 27 league matches.

    “Thank you cules. Your support makes us invincible! Step by step we get closer to what we want,” he wrote.

    According to me, apart from few poor finishes, Gomes was good in the midfield. He also dribble past 2-3 Atleti defenders but no one will talk about that skill. Cules, this is my sincere request, may be he is not a La Masia product, but he’s a barca player right now and we must support him. He needs our support. Believe in him. If Valverde is giving him chances, he better has identified his potential, and what he is capable of doing. He will definitely play against Chelsea if Iniesta is injured. And for him to perform better, we have to put faith in him.
    Do share ur opinions on him.

  13. ooga aga
    March 5, 2018

    Gomes must be supported and cheered. I just dont get the mentality that would lead someone to boo one of their own players. It just seems like shooting yourself in the foot. You want the player, the team to do well — put some positive energy out there. Gomes obviously could improve and i am sure he has more to show us. Let us help him get there.

    • ooga aga
      March 6, 2018

      And good for young Andre, showing his own positivity. How one doesnt wilt or at least cringe when receiving boos in an arena of thousands–wow.

      Andre might not make it at Barca, and I cant say I have any attachment to him. But i saw the videos when he signed, his dad is a huge cule and was sobbing with joy — I would love to see him succeed.

  14. March 6, 2018

    Wonderful game, I said on the previous post that Barca would lay the smackdown on Athleti and boy did we. It may have only been one goal, but we completely controlled and dominated the game. Even in the second half when they huffed and puffed we shut everything down. I used to panic whenever a team would attack us, well not anymore. EV has done an amazing job at building a solid foundation to this team built on teamwork and organisation, anyone who doubts him and how he has been able to elevate this team between last season and this one doesn’t know much about football from where I am sitting. When you put his achievements so far into context (losing Neymar, Dembele injury, Suarez form for first few months), it makes it even more impressive. Kudos.

    The one thing that made me really sad watching this game is the way Gomes was booed. That is just not on. I really do not understand the mindset of a fan who boos his own player. It just doesn’t make any sense. He plays for your team, you should want him to do well, booing him is never going to achieve that. If the fans really want him to improve they should cheer him every single time he touches the ball, imagine the lift in confidence that would give a player. I am not a big fan of Gomes, unfortunately I just do not think he has the right attributes for Barca and I expect he will be sold this summer, BUT right now he is a Barca player and as long as he wears that shirt I will support him every time he walks onto the pitch. Horrible behaviour from some fans,

  15. passandmove
    March 6, 2018

    I’m torn. I freely confess I miss the midfield sprites who created endless webs of passing and simply didn’t let the other guys near the ball. But. Barca doesn’t have a teamful of those kinds of once-in-a-lifetime players anymore. And I’ve grown so fond of the colours — I wasn’t born a Barca fan — that I don’t want to see them lose. So I think the approach for this match was right. If you’ve learnt to defend, defend. There’s no shame. The opponents are top professionals as well. You can’t steamroller every team. And there’s still a lot of beautiful football, not least thanks to That Guy.

    • georgjorge
      March 6, 2018

      I hear you well. I also fell in love with that team because of those endless passing webs. It was the first team I watched which seemed to perform a consistent choreography instead of constantly improvising, it was mesmerizing. But I’ve come to stay for the club even if they never play that way again. At least we can be satisfied that Guardiola achieved pretty much everything it was possible to achieve with that very special combination of players.

      Those days are past, and it seems a lot smarter (from the coach) to use what is there instead of trying to recreate a thing of the past without the necessary players. And if we look at someone like Iniesta, who has been allowed to use his incredible skills very well this season, there’s also beauty in what this team brings now – just a different kind.

  16. georgjorge
    March 6, 2018

    Considering the sums spent over the last years, this PSG team surely is the biggest waste of money in modern football outside China. Not that the players are bad per se, but they are hardly ever on the same page – misplaced passes and runs to nowhere galore. That is, if they even try to combine and don’t try to take on the defense all on their own, like Mbappé.

    I don’t really care about the result here, because I would like for both teams to go out in this competition. But it’s just amazing how much money can be spent on a football team without achieving anything substantial.

    • georgjorge
      March 6, 2018

      …and Verratti seems to think the same, getting himself a silly yellow card to go off.

    • G6O
      March 6, 2018

      They score 8 against Dijon with ease though.

      Also, I very much did care about the result, because I don’t want to see another repeat of 2016, with Madrid having a cakewalk to another CL win.

  17. luisthebeast
    March 6, 2018

    When we beat madrid in December many said it was because Zidane is nt great at tactics and all that.
    The guy have 7 wins in 7 knock out in CL.
    So it seems,as we saw vs PSG that madrid have a coach who is nt brainless like many like to say.
    And that give much more credit to Valverde for his great work in all big games we had like vs Juve,Atletiko,madrid,Chelsea.
    Be sure if Barca played vs Chelsea with same tactics like vs PSG or Juve last season,we would see same scoreline.
    Thats why i am not afraid Chelsea at Camp Nou.
    Because our coach is nt stupid and know how to set up the team in big games.

  18. luisthebeast
    March 6, 2018

    Do i fucking care if we go through with a 0-0 draw?No!!
    In 2006 after a win at Milan we did manage to go to the final after a 0-0 at Camp Nou.
    We did played with fire but in the end we won CL.
    Who remember if we played great or not??Nobody!
    And dont tell me that we played great at Chelsea in 2009??
    So really i dont give a shit if we win CL with 1-0 wins!

  19. luisthebeast
    March 6, 2018

    The problem i see is many cules cares so much what others said and Barca must play the best football and all world praise them!Fuck why??
    In 50 years people will talk about madrid won 3 CL in 4 years and not about when Pep a
    was at Bayern and they played good football!

  20. PPos
    March 7, 2018

    Yeah Luis is right. People care about titles in the years to come not who played the prettiest football. We cannot let Real Madrid win 3 Champions Leagues in a row. I really don’t care if we win the CL with 1-0 wins like Atletico. I just want us to win to show all those assholes that said oh Madrid is going to steamroll everyone this year, Barcelona is finished, as far as I’m concerned those people can F!@#$ off.

    I hear what everyone says about Andre Gomes. I too wanted him to succeed, but he doesn’t do himself or the team any favors in the way that he has been playing. There’s visible nerves when he plays, he makes blatant errors that cost us possession that better team can and will capitalize on. He was a great shooter at Valencia. He hasn’t done anything like that here. It’s like the fear of failure is paralyzing him and that in of itself is making him fail at FC Barcelona. We are a club that demands results, not young players developing. I hope he is sold this summer and Thiago is brought back with that money. Thiago has Barca DNA, has goals from far, sublime technical skills, vision, balls, courage, grit, a footballing brain, he’s a Masia product for god’s sakes. I see him as Guardiola’s and Tito (may he rest in peace) worst mistake. He should have never left, He should have been introduced into the side little by little like Busquets was, and eventually given the reigns once Xavi started to fade.

    Well PSG did a PSG, and choked massively. Real Madrid is very suspect at the back, A stronger opponent will make them crack and not crack under pressure like PSG did. Unai Emery is a weak coach, with a cowardly attitude. What cost him the tie was that instead of going for the jugular in Madrid, he played it safe by pulling off Cavani and introducing Menuier. The way to defeat Real Madrid is to strike first, and keep striking until the beast is dead and can’t get up anymore. You cannot give them time to get back into a game.

    • passandmove
      March 11, 2018

      Hear, hear re: Thiago. That was a big mistake, not giving him enough playing time. Then again, he had the midfield GOAT ahead of him. And maybe *he* should have been more patient, but players want to play. I would be happy to pay good money to get him back. I know Barca doesn’t do extreme tiki-taka (a style that was beginning to hit the brick wall — or buses — even in Guardiola’s time) anymore, but a player of quick wits will shine whatever the tactics.

  21. Old_Messi
    March 7, 2018

    PSG lost the tie in the first leg. They looked likely to score a second goal at 1-1 but Emery fkd it up by moving Alves in the middle and replacing Cavani with Meunier. Also Emery completely forgot how Draxler tortured Real Madrid 2 years ago when Wolfsburg beat them 2-0, and Draxler was injured in the return leg. Emery should have built PSG’s attack around the trio Neymar-Cavani-Draxler and dropped the overrated Mbappe.

    Let’s hope Real don’t get Shaktar/Roma in the 1/4 Finals.
    Real vs Man C/Liverpool/Man U/Tottenham/Barca/Bayern.

  22. Víctor
    March 7, 2018

    PSG is doing what RM did during the latter half of the last decade… just throwing money, buy the stars of the moment and hope that they manage to win it all. RM’s results back then? LOL, they even got knocked out by Lyon in the R16 of the 2009-10 UCL; knocked out by Roma in 2007-08… in fact they got knocked out at R16 for 6 straight UCLs… 2004-05 to 2009-10, after that they hired Mourinho, and, despite the fact that he is crazy as sh*t, at least he made them play more “team-like” and got better results…

    My guess is that Barça’s board (despite all the criticism it gets) have learnt, especially after the last 2 Rijkaard’s seasons, that is not just buying skillful players and just hope that they’ll achieve everything by just being there in the pitch… that football nowadays is also about discipline, team work, being mentally prepared, etc., in order to get way better results constantly… just look at it… Barcelona has reached at least QF in UCL in the last 9 years… that’s something that almost any team would like to achieve…

  23. Snoopking
    March 7, 2018

    i heard Barcelona is playing against espanol, it is friendly game or Catalunya copa well it end up in draw, nil-nil between the teams. Second team were given a chance to prove themselve. Denis got a knock in tonight game, but they end up with penalty 4-2. and some b-teams are in the squad

  24. Víctor
    March 7, 2018

    Espanyol de Cornella is happy to be subchampions at the SuperCopa Catalunya.

  25. Víctor
    March 7, 2018

    So much for EPL superiority, Juventus just turned around the game against Tottenham, 2-1 at 89’…

  26. Víctor
    March 7, 2018

    And Juventus went through… Tottenham bottled it… LOL…

    So Far: Real Madrid, Manchester City, Liverpool and Juventus…

    • G6O
      March 7, 2018

      Ideally City get to play Madrid and destroy them as they are perfectly capable of doing at the moment.

      Then we can breathe more easily.

      • TITO
        March 8, 2018

        They said the same about PSG…

      • Víctor
        March 9, 2018

        Yes, but I do see Man City being mentally stronger than PSG. Besides, Pep is an experienced coach in the latter stages of the UCL KO phase. So, while I do see RM being favs against ManCity (in case it happens), the latter knocking out RM isn’t that unlikely either.

        Still, Barça has a job to do before worrying about QFs and onward.

  27. TITO
    March 8, 2018

    If everything goes as it should…
    RM
    Liverpool
    Man. City
    Juventus
    Barca
    Bayern
    MU
    Roma

    It would be a hell of QF games to watch.

    • March 8, 2018

      Am getting worried about RM finding their CL momentum. And I dont think any of those teams, except us, can stop them.
      It would be horrible if they make a treble in CL.

  28. Old_Messi
    March 8, 2018

    Liverpool, ManC, Mourinho can knock them out.
    Also, Juventus have a habit of knocking out Real (2003, 2005, 2015) but lose in finals (1998, 2017). Allegri’s Juventus knows how to deal with a 2 legged tie and eliminate a superior opponent.
    Barca too at their best can knock out Real easily, but in the past few weeks Barca have not been in their best physical shape. They need to restore that before the important CL games.

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