Andre Gomes and ‘failure’

You suck. I suck. We all suck at something. We all fail, we all strive for somethng yet somehow can’t quite get it right. The one human quality that unites us all is failure.

It explains of lot of the heartbreaking read that surfaced on Monday, as Andre Gomes opened up in an interview about his time at Barça, a period that seems likely to end in summer. A few relevant quotes:

“I don’t feel good on the field … am not enjoying the thing I like to do. … It turned into a bit of a hell, because I started to feel more pressure. With pressure I feel fine, but with pressure on myself, I don’t. The feeling that I have during games is bad.

“I didn’t want to leave my house. Because people look at you, having the fear of going on the street out of shame. … I close myself off. I don’t take the frustration I have out. Then I don’t talk to anybody, I don’t bother anyone. It is like I feel ashamed. Thinking too much has hurt me. I think about the bad things and what I have to do. Although my teammates help me a lot, the things don’t work out the way they want them to work out.”

Andre Gomes is 24 years old, and sounds like a broken player. Football is filled with talents who haven’t quite made it. So many of us recall the brilliance of Adriano, whose career is a story of unfulfilled potential, even as it contains magic moments. For whatever reason, talent doesn’t always equate to success. At a club such as Barça, the talent that draws the club can also doom a player because of the legacy of greatness, and playing with living assassins.

Dembele looked a capering colt against Malaga. Yes, some of it was the opponent. But was some of it the liberation of playing without looking across the pitch at the greatest player to ever live? What kind of pressure must that create in a young player, sharing the pitch with an idol, a dude you watched as you were coming up and hoping to play the game professionally? Thierry Henry, one of the greatest attackers in the history of the game, talked about how hard it was learning to play at Barça. Eric Abidal, still the best LB this club has ever had, struggled his first season and opened up about it. It’s hard to play at Barça even when your head is screwed on straight and you know you have the talent.

It’s easy to point to Ter Stegen or Umtiti and say, “Hmph. They aren’t having any issues.” But if you think that Ter Stegen wasn’t, you’re kidding yourself. The shadow of Victor Valdes, Manuel Neuer, Claudio Bravo, a type of keeper quite different to Ter Stegen and one that, from his worldview, his coach seemed to prefer. It’s easy for a defender such as Umtiti, because you aren’t looking at Messi, aren’t looking at Iniesta and all that history. You aren’t preparing to pass the ball to them and wondering, “What if I hit it too hard? Not hard enough? What if I mishit the ball or don’t play it quickly or to the right spot or am off by a millisecond. What if they judge me, and I am found wanting?”

You start a new job. You might roll in like a badass, but you have doubt. Are you good enough, will this be the bridge too far, where ambition runs afoul of ability and execution. Is this it? There is relief when you realize that you can do it, whether it is playing pickup football with a new group, making your workout more difficult or a new job. A first date? Life is constant in that it flings humility alerts at us, which for most folks, will inspire empathy with Andre Gomes.

You are on the biggest stage in the world, and you can’t cut it. It isn’t that you don’t have the talent. You perform well enough in training where you make the squads, where the coach plays you because he wants to see some of that in action that counts. And every now and again, you do it, which makes the times that you don’t and seemingly can’t, that much more painful and glaring. And the spectators don’t know, don’t care. So they whistle, say you’re a waste of space and money in every possible forum they can. And you see it. You can’t help it.

When Suarez, Ter Stegen and Valverde reacted angrily to supporters whistling Gomes, there was a reason, and it isn’t because they know that if the team is to achieve its goals that it needs everyone, every player, to contribute. Maybe, just maybe, it’s that they know what Gomes is going through. Maybe they see it in training and want him to have that success in matches, and not only because it helps the club, because they are on a team.

The much-reviled Douglas was part of the squad. Players joked with him, he had the same fun in training and hung out with players. Supporters wondered about why, didn’t they hold him in the same scorn as they did? No. Because players understand how hard it is to get there, how hard someone works to fit in and work out. They get it because they have been there, because they have failed. We have all failed.

Messi is astonishing because nothing seems to ruffle him. A few seconds left of a massive match, and he is the exact same player that he is when there is nothing on the line. Iniesta doesn’t feel pressure, doesn’t seem human. Xavi laces a ball into space with a flawless perfection that was unaffected by time or moment. Study after study has looked at what makes those players different, and nobody really knows. It isn’t enough to say they are badasses. They are quite often very even emotionally, but not often enough to draw any inferences from that. They just perform like nothing else matters. Is it focus so complete that doubt doesn’t enter the picture, or so much practice that even at the most insane moments, that pass is just rote execution.

Masia training can do that. Now imagine being a 23-year-old talent coming from Valencia into a cauldron that ages coaches seemingly overnight, ringed by some of the most demanding supporters in the game. You have to relearn how to play, how to control the ball and think about the game, what to do when the ball comes. You have to already know what you are going to do next, even before the ball comes to you. You have to, in effect, relearn the game, but in the most public way. If you fail, how do you deal with what happens next?

Ter Stegen evinces an almost preternatural calm. Imagine being him after pranging that clearance off the attacker’s head for a goal, the goal that cost his team a victory, dropped points that cost the team the Liga championship. No, that specific moment didn’t, but had they won that match, the mind must think. He was affected by that for many, many outings after that. It was clear to see. He somehow got through it, but it had to have been difficult. Was it ever precarious? Were we ever close to losing an amazing keeper for mental reasons? We will never know. But if you don’t see the Gomes interview as a heartbreaking cry for help, a cri de coeur from a player who wants to succeed many, many times more than even the most devoted supporter wants him to …

Andre Gomes is in pain. That pain is affecting his game. His talent is immense, as is his skill set. The greater the effort, the worse the result, it must seem. And they whistle. And he feels like he has let everyone down. Himself, his coach, teammmates, supporters, the club that took a shot on him. Everyone. Teams have psychologists, and that players struggle with mental illness in the form of depression is known. Coming out publicly as Gomes did is rare.

Over the weekend, a few media outlets as well as the official club account, posted Dembele highlights and praise. An astute Twitter observer noted that Dembele’s official account was tagged, as if they wanted the player to see, to understand that he was supported, that he did well, that he was coming along. Dembele was also the subject of social media and media scrutiny. There were reports that he wasn’t going all out, that he was isolated from teammates, that he was struggling with loneliness and his parents’ divorce, and it was affecting him on the pitch. His Malaga performance, including some chatter during warmups with Jordi Alba and others, served to put the lie to that. He looked relaxed and easy, like a talent coming into his role on the team.

Psychology matters. Football likes to talk about “heart,” “testicular capacity” and other things that imply this game that we all love so much is for those who want it, those who have the spine and head to make it. And those who don’t, can get lost. That worldview leaves space for a lot of potential damage. Will Andre Gomes be a casualty? Can he overcome the barriers that he sees right now to achieving his best performance? No idea. But at times like this, football becomes more than a game, represented by the words of a young man whose life is lashed to a thing — something he loves — that he can’t be the best at because of his own demons.

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. That’s the thing about high level sports. Yeah mercurial talent will get you a long way but a strong mind can make or break a person, for example. Roger Federer is not only immensely talented, but he’s got a zen, almost impenetrable mental resilience that I have only seen in other major talents such as Messi. The champion doesn’t flinch under pressure. They thrive under it. They cherish it. The champions attempt the outrageous skill when the match is on the line, because they never flinch away from a challenge.

    Andre Gomes sadly looks like he’s going to be sold this summer. It’s his own fault for not performing up to standard, for not seeking the psychological counseling that he needs. It reminds me of the case of Jesus Navas who didn’t leave Sevilla for many years because he suffered from chronic homesickness. He eventually got help and travelled to South Africa to win the WC with Spain. I just recently saw some of Gomes’ highlights at Valencia. He’s like a completely different player. When he first arrived at Barca his FIFA rating was 85, he’s lost 3 points in three years and it speaks volume of how he’s been underperforming for us. It’s going to take a big goal in a big game for him to regain his confidence but that’s up to him.

  2. Thank you, Kxevin.

    And the even sadder thing is – André Gomes has actually made it farther than the huge majority of professional football players in Europe already. There are so many youths out there, from Europe, South America or Africa, who are brought to big clubs such as ours, and get one, maybe two seasons at the youth teams of those clubs, maybe even a start with the “real” team, before they are shipped off again. A season, or even only a match, full of pressure to prove yourself before you see your dream slip away again.

    That’s not meant to belittle the pains André Gomes is going through (I previously thought his unchanging facial expression during games expressed a lack of interest, but it’s probably a protective shield). But sometimes I really wonder whether the game professional football has become doesn’t have too high a cost.

  3. Kxevin. You paint a very poignant picture. I, for one, had taken to heart how rotten it is to boo (translates as whistle in Spain) one of your own players. Something the Madrid fans seem to revel in, but previously not a Cule practice—nor should it become one. Almost all of the negativity towards players and coaches should be held in-check by fans. It’s ugly. I feel for Gomes, and had resolved to keep my reservations about him as a player to myself until the end of the season, especially since it seems his deficiencies had moved into the realm of common knowledge, and harping on them seems cruel. But…

    I fear the pendulum might swing too far in the other direction now. When I traveled through Spain this summer with my family on tour. We heard from multiple sources that they have a two-prong problem. Very high unemployment with the youth—and a massive labor shortage in manual labor (on the farms for example). The current generation contains many unemployed doctors and lawyers who are unwilling to lower themselves to menial jobs. They all want a comfy office job with high paid—or nothing. We even heard the story (from the employer) of a master sword-maker in Toledo who is carrying on a centuries long tradition of handcrafting swords and knives that will die with him because he can’t find an apprentice —the work is too hard. The hours too long.

    Let me go out on a limb (because I really don’t know the player or his back-story) and guess that Gomes has led a pretty charmed life. He is physically gifted (tall and handsome), and a capable distance passer. He has had a string of coaches I’m guessing (from youth on) that have put Gomes in games because he is tall and relatively coordinated, and bundles through defenders like a tank.. Like (I imagine) Valverde, they think—“Put Gomes in: he’ll help defend set-pieces and can’t be physically intimidated”. His run of good luck in life includes winning a World Cup and getting to play for Barca—a dream job for millions, if not billions of people.

    And he’s not particularly good at it.

    Still a better player than 95% of the planet, but: Mentally slow. Not particularly good in tight spaces with the ball. Head down when under pressure, with no clear vision of the other players on the field. Not a good fit for Barca. Sorry.

    So what now? It seems like we are getting a stereotypical millennial response to adversity: The “special snowflake” that hasn’t had to struggle for much of their lives—who live in a post-industrial society where “everyone’s a winner” and gets a medal for showing up—discovers that he doesn’t quite have what it takes to make it at the absolute best football club on the planet…and we’re suppose to feel sorry for him? He’s already been paid millions of dollars—no matter what comes next, he’s far richer than most of us will ever be.

    He doesn’t suck—that’s hyperbole. He’s just not quite good enough for Barca. Deal with it dude and move on! Either figure out what your not doing and fix it, or accept you can’t have everything you want in life and find something you can do well (and be happy). Here’s an example: in the Malaga game after he was subbed for Roberto; was Gomes racing back to help with defense?—no! He was plodding along as his usual lumbering pace—neither marking someone or applying pressure. That’s something he has complete control over. If you are out of condition and don’t have legs left after 15 minutes on the field—train harder! When he was given a forward pass on the wing, did he apply a burst of speed or a clever feint to beat the defender on him? No! He just killed the attack and sent a pass back. That’s on him! Realize you are about to get kicked off the Barcelona team if you don’t do something to turn it around—and DO something about it. Let’s at least see some hustle for goodness sake! Are we seeing Gomes true grit as he rises to the occasion—or is he starting to whine like a caricature of his generation? Remember Sergi Roberto had a lot of detractors, but he stuck it out for YEARS and improved his game (BTW, a fan would have to be blind to not notice his improvement in RB defensive positioning this season).

    In summary: Seems like a nice kid. Folks should feel bad picking on him (I won’t). Does he get to stay? No (were it up to me). I have not seen even a momentary glimmer that he’s got “it”. Not once in two years. Sorry Gomes, but you had more of a chance than so many countless others who would love to fill your shoes. If you could have seized the day, but didn’t—shame on you. Grow from the experience during the rest of your life, and good luck. You luck has run it’s course and you are probably in store for a serious bout of depression as you realize what you took for granted. You are going to have to work your way through the lowest point of an otherwise charmed life (he’s a hint: don’t isolate yourself, you’ll need friends and family more than you ever have before!). If on the other hand, if you truly did everything humanly possible to succeed, but just weren’t wired by your creator in such a way to have what it takes—then no shame. Rest assured you’ve got plenty of company among the other 7 billion on this planet. Hey! Look on the bright side, at least you’re a millionaire, probably have an amazing beautiful girl friend, and got to be pals with Messi! Not too shabby.

    1. This comment right here! My sympathies exactly.

      I support Barca players but I also acknowledge when Barca need to move on .e.g Chygrynskiy. If i don’t perform at work to the expected level, then my job is up for grabs and rightfully so. Life owes us nothing.

      Must be how we were raised.

    2. I don’t agree with much of that comment, except for the “don’t whistle your own players” part.

      The reason is that there’s so much assumptions in it which might or might not be completely false. What does high youth employment in Spain, a Swordmaker who can’t find an apprentice, and millenials in general have to do with André Gomes? André Gomes might be that “entitled special snowflake”, or maybe he had to fight for his career every inch of the way, all the while suffering from clinical depression. We just don’t know. All we know is that at the moment he’s not cutting it at Barca, and is suffering very much about it.

      This is not about whether he should move to another club in the summer – no supporter of Barcelona will actually think we should keep players sitting on the bench indefinitely just to give them a cosy feeling – but about whether football at the highest professional level is actually pretty inhuman right now.

    3. A fair comment and truly a whole lot of supposition on my part.

      …and as my kids like to tease me: Messi is a millennial.

    4. A very fair reply from you as well – now I wish I had framed mine less harshly.

      Well, Messi is just an alien, nothing to do with millenials ; )

  4. Both him and Denis Suarez are quite the talented players, but sadly, the pressure of “replacing Xavi and Iniesta” is killing them… not an easy task to take the place of the one of the best (if not the best) midfield duos of Barcelona.

    Imagine the pressure and the expectation for the player that has to replace Messi in the team. That would be even more brutal.

    As for the players that eventually have to take the place of Barcelona’s defenders (Pique, Puyol), obviously the pressure will be huge… but not as huge as replacing the attacking trio that made lots of magic at Barça.

    Another example of the fans’ demands on the midfielders and how they judge them is Rakitic. Man, he is an awesome midfielder, he is quite smart on the field as well… but alas, he is not Xavi therefore he gets lots of criticism and some consider him crap… when reality is: he is quite helpful at the team, has done lots of good things on the pitch and he does deserves a starting spot on the current XI…

  5. Yeah but Rakitic is loved. Who scored in the champions league final against juventus? Rakitic! Who destroyed Navas with a 27 yard stunner at the Bernabeu? Rakitic!

    Gomes has literally done nothing for the positive this team but an assist against a tercera side in La Copa del Rey. All Gomes does is kill attacks by becoming a dead end in attack. He slows down the play by being scared and passing back. And to top it all, he’s so lazy when off the ball. Barely presses the opponent. Gives the ball away in dangerous situations. I don’t care if he’s “suffering.” I’m a millenial but I certainly don’t have that terrible attitude that the world owes us something. My generation is starting to learn that all the participation trophies are bullshit and that you gotta grind to be the best. It’s not going to be given to you.

  6. I have a slightly different view than others on this.
    I have been a vociferous supporter of a lot of players who were the victims of constant scorn and hatred. Maybe it was something I saw or a feeling I got when I watched them play in our colours. These players include the much maligned Sanchez, Song, Mascherano AND ANDRE GOMES.

    Gomes must be given time. He was a long term investment and his upside is tremendous. Yes he has come out in the open and potentially spilt out beans that might have reduced his market value drastically. He should be played more often and given therapy and if need be, some ass kicking by the senior guys in the team.
    Sell him, we must not. Not yet.

    Denis suarez, Aleix Vidal, Digne etc are the guys who need to be sold and replaced with real quality and depth. I’d have kept Rafinha too, but that is spilt milk under the bridge now. Looks like we can’t get anything right with the Alcantaras.

  7. So.. time to start anticipating the Chelsea tie.
    As is clear, we will need to score goals even if a 0-0 draw sends us through. This is unlikely. Any scoring draw won’t be enough so Messi, Suarez et al will need to be at their collective and individual best.

    Semedo is injured and we are left to sweat the fitness of Don Andres. Even though I’d be tempted to attack all out and include Domba after his best performance in our colours, he offers ZERO defensively. So it is either Gomes or Paulinho given that Cooter is cup tied. Necessity is the mother of invention and given the able personnel at hand, I’d lineup like this..

    Formation : 3-5-2 / 3-3-3-1
    Pep would’ve played something like this. EV is more likely to go 4 at the back.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Marc Ter Stegen ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ~~~~~~~ Pique ~~~~~ Vermaelen ~~~~~ Umtiti ~~~~~~~
    ~~~~ S. Roberto ~~~~ Busquets ~~~~~~ Jordi Alba ~~~
    ~~~~~~~~~ Rakitic ~~~~ Messi ~~~~~~ Iniesta ~~~~~~~~
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Suarez ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Keep calm & Visca!

  8. A good omen: the other English bus-parking team in the competition was kicked out by the other Spanish team dominating possession through short passes ; ) An interesting match, Sevilla playing very well in defense and midfield but seemingly unable to ever put together a convincing effort on goal – until Ben Yedder comes on and clinically scores two in five minutes, and that’s the game. Very glad to see Sevilla up and Mourinho down.

  9. Absolutely, I loved to see Sevilla passing against them. Impressive that Manchester United, having talented players at their disposal decide to park the bus against Sevilla.

    Not that Sevilla is a bad team, they aren’t… but Manchester United could have won that tie if they decided to actually come out and play. It is also a very fair result, Sevilla deserved a way better result in the 1st leg.

    Right now Mourinho getting lots of hate from ManUtd fans and deservedly so. It was a very poor display.

    Also, Roma passed to QF as well. Someone mentioned that it has been a while since 2 italian teams have passed to QF in UCL. Let’s see if Serie A is actually improving or if this is just a fluke…

  10. TOTAL SCHADENFREUDE at the elimination of the world’s richest and most hated club managed by the world’s most overrated and hated manager. Special one, my ass.

  11. Firstly, sorry Andre, but this is top soccer, you can’t come out screaming like a baby you need help, every top athlete deals with this challenges, it made some, and broke some. There is paulinho at a time, our famous luis suarez, coaches etc he just has to buckle up our quit, and quitting is for losers

  12. Expecting a great game tonight!

    If this were Guardiola’s Barca, I would be a little more relaxed about us passing the ball around for 90 minutes with Chelsea chasing after. On the other hand, with the infamous performances in CL away games during those years, maybe we would actually be chasing a goal then? Doesn’t matter, the past was glorious but the present could be as well, just differently.

    Here’s to a focused and rock solid centreback pairing in defense, Sergi Roberto playing his part as clever as a fox, Suarez chasing defenders all night long, Jordi Alba breaking the sound barrier, and all the other players on our team tonight. Visca!

  13. A bit jittery tonight, I don’t mind admitting.

    With regard to Gomes he either needs to improve his mental approach or admit it’s too much and go. I don’t have any dislike of him but I am irritated that we have a sporting team who thought he was ever going to make it at Barca. A first look at him tells you he is too slow thinking and moving ( a bad combination – you can have one but not both) to succeed here. They are the ones we should concentrate our ire on as they were responsible for five or six failures in one go. Just in passing I liked the fact that Barto went down after the game to give him some positivity. That’s good. Anyway, . . .

    Not sure I’d start Iniesta. If it was any kind of hammy injury there’s no way it has gone. It may feel better but it’s there. Don’t want to lose him for the duration. Coming off the bench if needed he’s a game changer just when the opposition think they’ve got the game pattern sorted.

    Having said that I like the lineup. They will sit in and we need to have bodies in the box. Our defence should cope as long as both FBs don’t disappear at the same time.

    Did I mention I was jittery ?

    On a more positive note one of my pals sent me this from the Twitter account of Sam Wallace of the Telegraph, one of the football writers I watch on TV. On a Sunday morning. Brilliant !

    “Although Stephen Hawking proved in 1974 that black holes emit matter it took until Tuesday night for Jose Mourinho to demonstrate that man could create a similarly vast, mind-numbing void while omitting Mata. ”

    Having watched that awful match for an hour I went off to do the tea dishes. That tweet gave me more pleasure than the whole hour ( and previous 90 !) . Last 20 were decent though

    Nope, I really don’t like these all or nothing games . . .

  14. Ok, we’re two up and I’m still jittery. Things I don’t like – ball movement is way too slow, Dembele is a suicide waiting to happen in defence, SR will be lucky to finish the game given Willian and Hazard will be told to run at him and they have nothing to lose, especially with away goals. Other than that things are fine.

  15. Well that’s… easier than expected?

    Not that Chelsea has been bad, but Barcelona managed to get things under control. After Messi’s goal they became a real threat, after Dembele’s goal… things calmed down a little and they don’t seem to be that dangerous… still, better to stay focused ’til the end.

  16. Well yes, Dembele and SR on that flank defending…not so sure about that.
    Otherwise, great result so far, let’s just keep it going.

  17. It was a difficult start at the second half… but Umtiti and Pique appeared at the right time… Messi practically finishes this.

    1. No, that’s not fair. Messi, Pique, Umtiti and Alba were great. But that’s the worst Barca display I can remember.

    2. What?

      I can see your point about the first twenty minutes of the second half, I really do. But what about the first half, beating the bus twice in less than thirty, and not conceding afterwards to go into halftime two up?

      I can understand talking about a bit of luck there, but you simply don’t beat Chelsea (which has made Barca suffer as far back as I can remember) three to nil while playing an awful game. I don’t buy it.

  18. .
    Ok, I called it.
    Watched with friends. As the match started and we saw the aggregate (1-1) at the side of the score, I said it would finish 4-1. Also, had a strong conviction that Domba would get his first goal here. Against Chelsea.
    Maybe will put some money next time.

    Can I get some Roma please? Thank you.

  19. So… 3-0. 4-1 on aggregate… the overall result feels like revenge against the “park the bus” teams… Chelsea had more shots than Barcelona, yet, it was Barça the one who scored three.

    On the subject at hand: Gomes. He played 30 minutes and he played decently… granted, entering the field when the opposing team needs 3 goals with 30 minutes left helps, but still…

  20. Liked Domba’s defensive shift today.
    And Camp Nou’s love to Gomes and Pedro.

    As for the draw, are EE going to get an easy team again? For the umpteenth time? Hope not.

    Please Universe.

    AS Roma Vs FC Barcelona
    Liverpool Vs Bayern Munich
    Juventus Vs Sevilla
    Real Madrid Vs Manchester City

    1. PSG is an “easy team” for you? Surely, it can look like that after what happened last week, but when the R16 draw was done: RM vs PSG was considered one of the most tighest ties.

      And, to be fair, RM also drew Bayern and Atletico in the QF and SF last UCL season… both difficult teams.

      Just like the constant UEFAlona claims, saying that RM “always get the easiest opponents” is absurd.

    2. tighest ties?
      anyway, You may have pointed one or two ties that weren’t easy, but those were it. I mean’t over the last 6-7 years there has been an undeniable pattern of them drawing the easiest teams. Not crying conspiracy, merely pointing out that the pattern is there and hoping it doesn’t continue as I’d like to see that team tested and deserving European crowns.

    3. What I mean is that PSG is not an easy opponent. I remember people not wanting to draw PSG last UCL. And back in December, when the PSG-RM match was announced there wasn’t a favorite.

      Sure thing, RM does seem to be luckier in the draws. However, those matches I mentioned weren’t just the only difficult ones, I remember them getting Manchester United back in 2013 or 2014, I think. And them playing against Atletico and then Juve in 2015. Before that can’t remember, because they had this habit of getting knocked out in the round of 16. 🙂

      Gotta check the UCL’s records for the last ten or so, Champions’ League seasons.

      Either, my guess is that we tend to view our opponents as always difficult, while we view RM’s opponents as easier. Even when we are talking about the same team.

      For example, if tomorrow we draw Sevilla we will be saying that it is gonna be another tough opponent, that, once again, we are going to have another hard time to pass through. However, if RM draws Sevilla we will be saying: “of course they got Sevilla, it’s gonna be a cakewalk for them to the semifinals.”

  21. We beat our opponent 3-0 and that part of the fanbase still walks away thinking we were the weaker side. Our own team doesn’t get credit for all the almosts, but our opponents do, apparently. Dominating these games like under Pep, although he never beat Chelsea this convincingly, is nice and all, but to me it’s tactical suicide in a game like this because we simply don’t have the players for it in a couple of key positions. Additionally, I’m sure those Chelsea defenders would be much more comfortable defending deep than with space behind them.

    1. Speaking of Guardiola… here’s an interesting fact: Guardiola didn’t win a game against Chelsea during his tenure at Barça. Of course, considering that he played 4 matches against them is kinda unfair to point this out… however, it doesn’t make it less interesting… under Valverde Barcelona was able to defeat Chelsea again on an UCL match since… 2006! That’s right, last time Barcelona defeated Chelsea in an european competition was when Rijkaard was coach. 2-1 at the Stamford bridge in the R16.

  22. My own narrative…

    The first half was a true masterclass. Chelsea sat back from the beginning, and the team beat the bus not once but twice, in less than thirty minutes. When they started attacking, the team absorbed the pressure, and the half was over.

    Second half, well it was the most Chelsea half I ever saw – from Barcelona. Defending with everything, also a bit of luck (penalty was 50:50 for me), absorbing relentless pressure – then one occasion of taking advantage of all that space, the goal was scored, and that’s that.

    A tale of two halves, Barcelona doing everything well in the first, and defending well in the second (which really only lasted for twenty minutes). This was efficient and relentless play from the team – with both Iniesta and Busquets having to be taken off early, and still not conceding a single goal and scoring three. Great performance.

  23. Not for me. I’ll need to watch the first half again because until Ini went off it wasn’t disastrous but I’m struggling to see many positives. We played against a team who had horrendous luck with the woodwork over the two legs, EVERY goal we scored was the result of a bad and unnecessary mistake, we created very little else, they ran past our players at will, we couldn’t keep the ball other than across our back line under no pressure and we couldn’t get any service to , or anybody up beside, Suarez Not sure what our almosts were over the two legs. happy to hear about them.

    It was unfortunate we couldn’t have Iniesta or Busquets for the whole match ( Alba was also carrying an injury) but I can’t remember thinking we were playing well ( rather than keeping them at bay) at any point. Again, for me, playing at home and being happy about not conceding is setting a pretty low bar, although as I’ve said our two CBs were immense.

    1. Nobody is celebrating conceding we are celebrating winning. And as time goes on nobody would remember how many woodworks they hit or how unlucky they were (nobody gives you a trophy for that), it’s the score line.

      Believe every Chelsea Fan wouldn’t mind being the lucky team and qualifying.

      In 2012 when they won the champions league, i felt they were rather lucky through out their campaign. Messi missed a penalty, and i think so did robben in the finals, yet all that matters to history is that they were once champions.

      You might not agree with me but i see this barca humbling peps as time goes on

    2. Our “almosts”? I don’t remember from the first leg, but this game there was at least

      – a close-range shot from Suarez after an Iniesta backheel
      – Piqué almost getting on the end of a curling Messi freekick in front of goal
      – Suarez (I think) again with a close-range shot in the second half after interrupting a wayward Chelsea pass from the back
      – a Paulinho header just saved by Courtois towards the end of the game

      just off the top of my head.

      Not conceding at home is a low bar, but not conceding at home while putting three past one of our toughest opponents at home isn’t at all ; )

  24. Irrespective of what anybody thinks we were the better team, they had more shots but we had more on goal. Had more possession they did create chances, do did we. And believe me we would have played more aggressively if we were the ones looking for goals at home, while they would mind soaking the pressure

    In the end the score line is what matters. Nobody thinks of how the ref handled the psg match, the greatest comeback is all they think off.

    Saying we were lucky for me is rather mean. Only juve and atletico can boast of our defensive record, we are yet to loose a game in the league and only one loss so far in this campaign. Yet someone says we are lucky.

    I would say i like it though, because it hides the truth of how strong we have become, giving us the mask of underdogs while other teams boast confidently of bringing barca down shamelessly.

    I am more confident now than ever in EV. that guys a great coach. Now wonder he gets such amazing reception everywhere his coached.

  25. That was brilliant. I am liking Valverde more and more as the season progresses. He understood how to play this game, not to commit too much, stay organised and defend well. All of which we did, was it the “best” performance, well how do you define best? We didn’t control the entire game with possession football, but possession is not the only way to control a game. They tried to attack but ultimately they didn’t create much of any real danger, a few half chances and the rest was completely shut down by Pique and Umtiti. Yeah they hit the post, but by that time the game was over. We have to remember the complexion of this game given the first tie result, the onus was on them to come out and score. In all previous meetings with Chelsea we completely dominated the game and the possession and yet they came out on top, because when we lost the ball there was too much space on the counter. Tonight, every time we lost the ball or they advanced into our third we were well organised and robust, committing tactical fouls when necessary. There is no shame in being good defensively when you need to be. We didn’t really have to play at our best to beat them, and that is not a bad thing.

    I think some fans need to appreciate the reality of the team that Valverde has and that not every game, especially at this level, against top opposition is going to be complete domination of the opponent. I will take winning this way all day long vs losing having 70% of the ball.

  26. I love the way this Valverde team plays. It’s like a boa constrictor. We score one goal, then we test the waters, after the second ball. We were happy to let Chelsea play with the ball because our defense is so solid. Could LE’s team do this? No way. We would have to have won 4-3 or something crazy if he was still the coach. This team constricts you as time goes by crushing the will of he opponent after every attack ends in nothing. Pique and Umtiti were massive, in defense, Roberto and Alba couldn’t roam as far as they usually do but given the quality of the opposition it was understandable.

    I am very happy with Valverde’s work. I don’t care if the possession was only 54 percent to 46 percent. Possesion doesn’t mean anything. You can have 80 percent possession and be losing 3 to 0 on aggregate against Juventus. Dembele was very impressive today. He did something Neymar rarely did with commitment, track back, and defend against their fastest player (Willian.) I hope Friday’s draw is kind to us, but if it isn’t I know Valverde will have the boys ready to go. The treble is still on. Visca el Barca

  27. Very happy we beat Chelsea. Guess I’ve been harboring a grudge against them since 2012.

    I was a bit shocked at Jim’s take on the match: “…the worst Barca display I can remember.” That’s not how things struck me—the team seem well organized and in control—but such is my respect for Jim’s opinions that I will view the 1st half again through a more critical eye.

    I did however walk away feeling we were a bit lucky. That Chelsea free-kick at the end of the first half of the post, and their late header off the crossbar. Had they gone in….yikes! Also, not to blaspheme, but I think Messi was a bit lucky to nutmeg Courtois twice—I mean he can’t really be *aiming* for that, can he?
    (shrug) Who am I to say?

    Also, looking at the end of this match and also the last Atleti game, it seems clear that Barca defending a lead deep with all 11 men is just a thing now. They boot that ball up-field like its a stranger in their house. Don’t know what to think about that. I don’t love it, but I guess I can’t really complain when it works. However, its so non-traditional Barca that I imagine there are many ready to pounce if and when the winds of fortune shift.

    Oh well, let’s turn of our worrying brains for a bit and just enjoy the moment.
    Kiss our blaugrana arses Chelsea!

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