Let Messi play. That is enough.

A fascinating thread on Twitter about happiness, Ronaldinho and Messi brought me here, to a keyboard to do what has happened so many times. The thead made us consider joy as something different from happiness, and how Messi exists as a being seeking happiness as related to how Ronaldinho ecists as a being seeking joy, or happiness, or something.

Shortly after taking part in that thread, I got to thinking about sporting passion, the nature of fandom, and what prevents us from just enjoying something for exactly what it is.

When Michael Jordan became a global advertising icon by saying nothing, it was remarkable. He looked at the camera, with that bald pate, goofy smirk and flappy ears, and people lapped it up. Why? Because you could project anything that you wanted onto him — hopes, dreams, insecurities, fears. He was the ultimate fan mirror.

When Jordan was discovered to be human, with gambling weaknesses, alleged extramarital affairs and the like, people didn’t quite know how to react to that, how to deal with the simple reality that we don’t know anything about the people that so many idolize. Messi has that same quality. He doesn’t talk much, doesn’t grant tons of interviews, doesn’t have quotes floating around out there.

When Messi plays, his face is usually a blank mask, that lights up only when he helps his team achieve success. In talking about Messi, it was easy for me to speculate that he would be happier scoring 20 goals and winning a treble, than scoring 60 goals and winning nothing. But who the hell knows? Maybe he is wracked by the drive for individual achievement. Maybe he pores over his stats after every match, and watched rivals for individual honors. Maybe not winning Ballon d’Ors, as many as he deserves, drives him nuts.

Or maybe the only thing he cares about is winning, for club and country, however he can — goals, assists, passes, whatever. Maybe football is a job, the thing that he is best at, and he approaches a day at the office like an accountant, and goal celebrations are like blowing off steam when a complicated tax return is finished. We have no idea.

None of the normal parameters apply to Messi. A few years ago, it seemed that he had lost a step, that he was struggling, that the meteor was coming to earth, and a great many people were talking about what next, including selling him. The tone of the times led to me posting a query on Twitter, asking if people would consider selling him for the money it would take to acquire a quintet of players who were, at the time, all the rage not only in football, but among culers: Ilkay Gundogan, Kun Aguero, Marco Reus, Oliver Torres, Jackson Martinez.

A few people took it in the vein of harmless speculation that it was. It wasn’t my decision, my views affected nothing. But in the here and now, in certain parts of Twitter, my handle is that of the person who would sell Messi for Jackson Martinez. My general reaction now is to block anyone who approaches me with that, because they aren’t interested in football and the people who play it as intellectual exercises. People have told me that they wish I would catch a bullet, or die in some way. They have hurled racial slurs my way, done all kinds of things in the name of fandom, the thing that relates to us trying to know the unknowable, painting pictures of how we think they are or how we want them to be as members of an adoring public.

A journalist noted that Cristiano Ronaldo was having a fantastic 2018, and people lost their minds, hurling insults, accusations and the like, saying that the writer didn’t rate Messi, was a Madridista, etc. It was unsettling. Idols should bring balance to our lives, make us strive for more in the vein of the things that their excellence embodies, rather than turning us into hyper-defensive balls of fury.

Meanwhile, Messi just wants to play football, just wants to be a footballer. It doesn’t matter how we see him, or want to see him. He is what he is. What is astonishing about him as an athlete is that he is defying physical logic. Players slow as they age. Thirty years old is the magic number. But as a player, Messi is more decisive, more effective, seemingly untouched by age. He makes fools out of people who suggested, myself included, that he might be seeing the reality of the years and years in his legs, the runs and tackles, the attempts to kick him off the pitch.

We can say that he doesn’t care what we think, but we don’t know what he thinks. Andre Gomes was affected by what supporters thought and said, he revealed. Victor Valdes as well. Does Messi care? We have no idea.

When natural phenomena occur, from something as rote yet amazing as a sunrise, to meteors and volcanoes, people try to explain them with science, try to know the unknowable, rather than just standing back and saying, “Holy shit. Looka that.”

What Messi has taught some of us is that the rules don’t apply, that we don’t need to know him, that all we need to do is sit back and enjoy him, while we have him. He recently alluded to a time when he would hang up his boots, a time nobody wants to see because Barça and football won’t be the same. A thread started on Twitter, asking people if they would continue to watch football when Messi left the game.

In many ways, that makes sense. There will never again be a player who receives the ball anywhere on the pitch and alters your breathing. Sometimes you hold it in anticipation, other times you breathe a little harder. Every time he touches the ball, something remarkable can happen. We don’t even hold him to the same standard as other players when he loses the ball, because of that history, like the exhalation and acceptance when a violin virtuoso misses a note while attempting an impossible cadenza. You applaud the effort.

Messi is, like all great athletes — not good ones, not exceptional ones elevated by hype and public relations machinery, but those once-in-a-lifetime beings — a natural phenomenon. Something happened to create him, to make his body, skills and every fiber of his being coalesce into something incredible. We are drawn to that, drawn to greatness. His implacable nature becomes, as with advertising world Jordan, this mirror onto which we can project anything that we like, can claim to know things about him, can know the unknowable. It’s hero worship.

Another Twitter thread, a long one, compiled video clips of Jordan facing off against lesser players, usually white ones. It ignored that compared to Jordan every player in the game was a lesser player. Its objective was to elevate LeBron James via denigration of the man that many still think is the best to ever play the game. That is what happens, sometimes, to hero worship. A myth becomes so outsized that people have to chop it down so that they can erect another one. Two statues can’t exist in the same sculpture garden. But why can’t both be amazing, and legendary? Why can’t we just enjoy what we have? This is what Messi taught me in the wake of my intellectual exercise of many years ago. I have no idea what he teaches others.

Based on what we now know about the careers of those five players, I would have been the dumbest technical director in the history of football. Or maybe I would have flinched at the time of the deal, or the club board would have said, “You jackass, people would skin us alive if we sold him.” Who knows? What I do know is that all of the people who still freak out over that tweet, all of the threads, the impassioned Twitter defenses when someone, anyone, says anything that might be construed as even remotely negative about Messi, when anything at all happens that someone, somewhere thinks might make that flame of greatness flicker just a bit, human reactions make you think.

But more than that, watching Messi makes you think. So many have written about so many things that might motivate him. The essential reality is that we don’t know. We can’t know. So what is wrong with just sitting back and letting something amazing happen. Just let Messi play football, and let’s marvel at his exploits. Those amazing endeavors are what we know. All the rest is us, making semantic and psychological conceptual art, things that exist in the mind of the creator.

The goals, the passes, the assists, the moments — those are reality. Just let the man play.

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. Thank you, Kxevin. I’ve been lurking a while, enjoying this space, and especially the way you’ve gently encouraged the respectful exchange of views on this blog. I sometimes wonder as well what it feels like to be Messi. Not the constant media bubble and all that business, but the sheer fact of knowing that you can do things with a ball that no other human can do, and of having a football intelligence that none of your teammates are going consistently to be able to match. It’s astonishing to me to think about where that motivation comes from, to want to keep doing it, to keep winning over and over again.
    I strenuously avoid all the fanboy nonsense these days. I’ve often thought that football has a foot in two different worlds. On one hand, it’s a forum for tribal expression. It’s about us against them, our team, our colors, our traditions, belonging and identity passed down through generations. But on the other hand, it’s an aesthetic phenomenon. It’s about shape, patterns, movement, the defense-splitting pass and the swivel of the hips that sends the defender the wrong way. I’d like to think we all get into it the tribal way, and over time become more interested in the aesthetic aspects of it. At least, that’s been my experience, but it’s probably not universal. If you only see the tribal part (like those people you talk to on social media) you miss the beauty. But if you only see the beauty, you miss the passion and emotion. For me, it’s the way the competitive/tribal aspect intersects with art that makes the beautiful game truly unique and special.

    1. Great comment, and welcome (and great article, Kxevin)!

      Spot on for both the tribal and aesthetic part of football. I came for the aesthetic part though (the seemingly choreographed interchanges of passes under Guardiola) and now it’s about half and half.

    2. If it’s something akin to nirvana that he reaches when he is at his most breathtaking, then one could argue that Messi’s ‘motivation’ is of the obsessive-compulsive variety. However, his loyalty to Barcelona and Argentina suggests that it’s far more nuanced than that.

  2. The severe hangover and depression that will certainly set in, once this man *shudder* hangs up his boots is a thought I never want to consider.
    Pep guardiola’s 08-12 team may have spoilt the game for a lot of Culers, in the measured and considered way a pass was caressed and delivered, in the way teams moved as a collective whole in attack and the defensive press etc.

    But that hangover was relatively easy to get over.
    We still had / have / will have Lionel Messi.
    The greatest player ever to kick a ball. (for me, there is no doubt and I have watched all the greats and evaluated the eras and scenarios they operated in)

    Sport is dependent on Personalities and their talent.
    What Senna did for F1, what the MJ(s) did for basketball / Pop, what Schumi / Rossi did for racing, Tiger for Golf, Bolt / Phelps for athletics, Federer for Tennis is not to be underestimated. Their respective sport is infinitely poorer without these guys. Sometimes, even Nothing.

    I’d argue that in terms of Pure talent, and being tailor made for the sport, Messi eclipses all of the guys mentioned above, with only probably Senna and Bolt coming close via the lens of being put on this earth to show the sport how far behind the other competitors are in how they interpret and execute the game. Jordan could have kicked butt in anything he spent time in doing, such was the level of his competitive spirit and physical gifts. Messi, however, has been put on this planet to play football. Nothing else. He may be good at playstation, but I’d wager that is it. I’m guessing he might even look a bit clueless with a basketball or a table tennis racquet in his hands.

    For me, the Sheer number of “ALMOSTS”, “WHAT-IFs” have been as breathtaking as his goals, assists and other stats. His surgical precision, ability to boss the game and defenders without any ‘skills’ per se and overcome challenges without any trickery is what amazes me and shows that he is a pure footballer and totally peerless.

    If a Pele / Maradona had existed in this age, where countless tapes were available for opposition coaches and defenders to study their every movement and weaknesses and strategise to nullify their effect, they WOULD have been shut down or Nullified.

    Messi is Raw.
    Tactics and preparation get thrown out the window, if he is in the mood.
    That, for me, is his greatness. His ability to do things at will / whim in a Team sport where one man’s sphere of influence in a large field is limited, for me, is his greatness. I know people can’t not bring up one person when talking about Leo. But that is doing a major disservice to the maestro. Take CR away from the box and what do you have? Nothing.

    As you say,
    all we can do is enjoy the dude.
    Savour his every moment. Celebrate him.
    Watch him.

    If there was ever a case for commissioning a statue to be erected outside the Camp, We have a kubala one, and some may make a case for a xavi. A puyol in stone, would be aesthetically interesting as well.

    But nothing would offer more poetic justice than erecting a Friggin 30 Foot massive sculpture to immortalise the tiny flea in stone outside our hallowed ground. Such is the level of his significance and contribution to the CLUB, the GAME and SPORT in general.

    1. Your example of football severely limiting the influence of one player (compared to the whole team) really got me thinking. Messi may very well be the last player for some time to have such a large influence on any given game. Xavi could do some of that as well, as could Ronaldinho (I don’t know about examples from other clubs). But it’s an anomaly in such a team-based activity.

  3. I was not aware of Messi until about a year ago, when I came across a pre 2014 World Cup, NYTimes article titled: “The burden of being Messi”:
    It’s a great piece. Well, great enough to pique my curiosity to do further research on this compelling human being. Fast forward to now, the result of that initial, wholly unbiased inquiry, is a verdant cule, but a cule nonetheless.
    Last time I followed football feverishly, was during the 1986 World Cup, when I was a grade schooler. I remember the entire, five-storied apartment building shaking, when Maradona scored in the final. My dad and I were only two of many rooting for Argentina and completely enthralled by the mini man. I didn’t know back then that in three decades of football indifference on my part, I would discover that my favorite stranger is an Argentine footballer by the name of Messi.
    It doesn’t matter how many tributes and articles I read about him, I always look for the next one. It’s a hunger that never gets satiated. Simply watching him is not enough. His incomparable brilliance demands the activation of all our senses and faculties. We can’t help it. I can’t help it.

    1. That article was quite read then.
      Am afraid I must correct you. Maradona never scored in the 86WC final. He was mostly taken out of the game by an incredible display by Matheus. Still Deigo managed a great ball forward for the killer goal.
      Me too, became a die hard fan of Maradona. I became his fan even before in ’82 WC, without watching a single game of his on TV (got lucky to watching tv football only from 86) just by articles on his heroics ha ha, but 82 was a disaster for Deigo, so was ’90 when Penalty magician goalie carried Argentina to the finals (ok it was not a disaster but he was not even half influential).
      I became a fan again only with Messi and is even better than Deigo. But we never know what Deigo would have been without his drug issues and with proper guidance.

    2. Thanks for the correction. I should have done my homework before writing my comment. I guess I was thinking of his goals against England and the final combined. It’s funny how selective one’s memory can be, well, mine at least.

    1. Hmm. Good introduction to the “double pivote”-topic, but a bit too much hyperbole for me otherwise.

      Rakitic is having a great season, he’s playing better than last season, and I like him a lot as a player. He also seems to be channeling his inner Mascherano for his tackling skills. But he’s a foundation for future Barcelona teams just as much as nearly all the other players in the team. System and structure have become more important under Valverde (compared to under Enriqué), so except for Messi I would be hard pressed to name a single player who has been much more important than the other ones in the team.

  4. Is Valverde now putting more trust into Semedo at RB and Sergi Roberto in midfield? It’s the second time in three matches he has started them together. I really hope it works (it didn’t really the first time), Sergi Roberto seems like a natural midfielder, and a right flank of Semedi – Roberto – Dembélé (if we ever go back to 4-3-3) could be very strong with a bit of mutual understanding.

    No real surprises for the rest of the lineup, I hope the team can score one or two and some of the regulars can be taken off early.

  5. Just back from the land of the free ( not that I found any of the above ! Wine prices in the USA! Jeez ! How can a good but not great restaurant in Vegas or San Fran have a wine list where the cheapest red is almost 100 dollars ? Strangely by the glass it’s much more reasonable. )

    Anyway, looking forward to tonight and no real surprises in the side. I see in the fortnight I’ve been away Suarez is once more crap, Gomes is worth keeping as is Denis and Rakitic is in the running for player of the year ??? Each to his own but count me out . . . well, on all counts really. Only saw the full Roma game when I was away so can’t really comment on the other games as I only saw highlights. It’ll be interesting to see how much pressure they can put us under. If it’s not much, I could be tempted to switch over to the Man City match and watch later.

    Read the Hunter article and I have to say I’ve gone off him a little in the last couple of years. In the original Revista I found him thoughtful and considered ( not just because he’s a fellow Scot). but, for me, he has increasingly turned to exaggeration and provocative ideas just to attract our attention . Not blaming him. It must be hard to earn a living as a freelance where the headline/ sound bite are vital and his longer works are better.

    However, Rakitic as the future of Barca’s midfield ? A 30 year old who seems a great lad, is a decent player and pretty good passer but who can’t keep the ball under pressure, fires off passes to teammates to save himself but putting them into trouble, is far too slow to get to trouble quickly, often loses his man and I can’t remember the last time he, as a six footer, won a decent header in or around our box ? I’m being harsh here but you get my point about the future of our midfield. I’d fancy my own chances of looking half decent with a defence behind me that pushes up so high, Busquets ( the best I’ve ever seen in that position ) beside me doing the same job, three more midfielders in there plus Messi continually dropping back into there.

    Reading the above, I realise I’ve come back a little crabby but hey, lack of enough wine will do that to you.

    PS. Small titbit from a Bayern supporter I got chatting to at our San Fran hotel. He reckons Thiago is gone at the end of the season. Whispers about not happy with the medics and his various injuries plus there is still a section of the Bayern support not convinced by his style of play. Don’t shoot me, I’m just passing on what the guy said. He might have been deranged so make of it what you will.

  6. Cant take off the feeling that this is exactly how EV wanted us to play the first half, except for the goal of course.
    I just hope we dont lose at all, i dont want to have a defeat by Roma, the weakest team in this stage, even when we go through.

  7. What a terrible half. This is a match where I can totally understand the crowd that are frustrated with our approach to football this season. I can’t for the life of me see how this lineup is supposed to win a game outside of Messi doing it all on his own. There isn’t a single player on our team today who can beat a man and make something happen outside of Messi. Don’t see us scoring unless we bring on Dembele or something

  8. I dont remember the last time i was so furious with our display like tonight.
    Outrageous. Angry.
    And this all goes to EV and hos whatever plans were for this game.
    I still dnt get it and probably never will why we played the whole game like that.

  9. Really, really, this is ev plan, terrible, God! How on earth. Seriously, this is messed up, iniesta was overwhelmed, messi didn’t see a decent short. The players looked tired, my GOD! Honestly i can’t express my astonishment in words.

  10. Dembele did more in 8 minutes in that right wing than Sergi a Roberto did the entire game and first game. This was the plan by Valverde? Absorb pressure for 90 minutes? I’m so angry and frustrated I can’t even type. We go down 2 – 0 and there’s no subs. That should have been the moment to galvanize and push the team forward instead we retreated into our shell and kept absorbing more pressure. This is bullshit. This just tells me that Valverde isn’t a coach made for the big time. I know it’s a just a football match but going out 3 years in a row in quarterfinals hurts because we used to make the semis every single year.

    1. I’ve been trying to let u know how toothless and “mid table” coach Valverde is.
      I’m a bit less upset than most but, those had seen Valverde for what he is were expecting this to come. Like the seasons, it comes.

      He set a team that does not have any speed going forward. All Roma need to do is press Busi and Iniesta. That’s all. We can’t expect Suarez and Messi to run 50m away from goal and score. It’s unrealistic. This was the case. I saw this before the game started. No width in the team. Which means Roma can crowd the center.

  11. As i said, you can’t keep playing the same 11 over and over again, it just doesn’t work that way anymore in modern football. We are almost closing this season which had a lot of injuries and a lot of situations where players couldn’t play or were in the worst form of their career, still we presented the same line-up, over and over again, to each Girona and to each Levante and this price was payed today. Will this finally encourage VV to try other players and other strategies? Does he not see that Umtiti is not worth his actual pay in the recent matches, not to mention an improved deal? Is Iniesta not tired enough, why did we play Roberto again this weekend, why Suarez? What the hell is wrong with this coach who has 27 of the best players in the world in his squad and he always does this, the eternal line-up? How do you explain this mess to Alcacer? “Man, we didn’t choose you cause we wanted to always win, now there, we didn’t even win… Sorry that you were a fantastic sub who always scored, the Girona match was too important not to use Suaresito”?!
    I was so, so impressed with Semedo when he arrived, he seemed so agile and determined, and he doesn’t play for a whole season except for one important match. Poor guy, now we can trash him, cause after 10 months he still hasn’t exchanged 10 passes with Leo. So he is awful, right?
    As for Kevin, stop finding excuses for this coward, if i liked a team which defends great and has a lethal guy who the whole team depends on, does this mean i still like my blaugranas? cause to me sure sounds like we’re the evils by now and we gave up football a long time ago.
    Can’t believe this guy VV, we were down 0-2 which literally meant it was 0-0, any goal was sending us packing, and all we were doing was trying to pass the time. I am so sad and disheartened, is this my team, are we really the guys who don’t like the ball anymore? am i supposed to even like this? Cause i sure don’t.

  12. And when we need to change something, who do we bring??? Gomes from them all. What was he supposed to change????
    So many wrongs in this game, that my limited english doesnt allow me to express all of my thoughts.
    Really, out by Roma?!?!?!?!
    And yes, the blame game should take place, because a lot of involved individuals in this game should be blamed for this pathetic and lifeless performance.

  13. As much as it pains me to say it, Roma won fair and square. They wanted it more. Valverde’s tactics in the second half helped Roma too. He choked.

  14. Reading this I realised and had gone through this heartbreak months ago when I saw Valverde far what he is. I’m still somewhat sad but it’s okay.

    To Kevin:

    U lured people with eloquent words in your own deluded fantasy. Painted a picture that is not in a tune with reality, With the observable. Part of this heartache u see here is because u too contribute to a false illusion drawn away by irrevocable force reality is. This was not avoidable. But as a man who take responsibility u failed to prepare your readers.

    Congratulations. You have taken yourself too seriously.

    1. Why do you bring Kevin and his thoughts to this discussion? Im not playing his advocate, but this has nothing to do with someone thoughts or opinions. You agree or disagree. Thats it.
      We end up with a double in Spain by the end of the season. Is that a failure?

    2. This double is more due to RM and Atletico playing awful first half of the season. And we were motivated more simply of the bitter loss in the super copa.
      We won against RM when we should have trailed 2 or 3 new BT half time. Same with Sevilla, Atletico and so on.

      Ter Stegen being the best goal keeper in the world, and Umtiti being the best CB for a time made things look better.

      Combine this with having the best player of all time, unbelievably bad starts by RM and AM. What is due to the coach. Some yes…some credit.
      We, the fan base for Barca have stopped enjoying football a while ago.

      Even in the league with players like Coutinho and Dembele our coach cannot come forward with a proper scheme.

      P. S. Kevin knows why a being this back.
      And there are many more who saw this but chose not to voice it. The bill is due.

  15. One thing is to play as we know how to, and not.be lucky or having a bad day, or the other team outsmarts you, outplay you… But, we didnt played at all, that was not football from us. I still cant understand it.
    Like i said in the previous thread, it seems to me that the guys are more interested in having an ubeaten season in la liga than having another CL crown.

    1. But tito. Our system cannot provide Messi and Suarez with adequate supply.

      I explained few comments earlier.

      We are playing 4-4-2.
      Effectively we play with only two midfielders. Roberto is supposed to a hybrid between RCM and RW. He only cuts inside, cannot stretch the play or hold the ball too well. Iniesta does not provide width just like Roberto. So we congest the middle(which benefits Roma) and effectively neutralise Messi who wants the ball, so he drops deep, far away from goal, leaving Suarez alone 50m away from goal. They can defend easily the left because we have no width on the right.

      This is why we could not produce anything. Messi in dangerous close to the box, with our players in good positions. Not the case.

      I Said before that this coach is interested in his job only. Risking players health, mistreating others when there is no reason. Behind it all is fear.

    2. I agree with that assesment that the whole season we are wondering why some players continually get the chance to play and some others are overlooked.
      Me too have some issues with the previous games and the lineups, this game as well. SR for some games now is piss poor, so is Iniesta, Busi is injured, Semedo hasnt played in months for whatever reason beside the injury, Suarez and Messi dont get rest at all, Gomes keeps playing, Denis is forgotten …and so on and so on.
      Some games EV looked like a genius with a game plan or the substitutes, but some…like tonight he got it all wrong, absolutely all and he should take the blame.
      We will see how the season ends, but nevertheless, this was very painful.

    3. Look at this; in the league each time we were in trouble Valverde threw the same subs. It did not matter what played is needed. He had chosen his players and regardless of circumstances he would play the same subs.

      In this game were are trailing 2 new and we have no response. We still play the same way. He takes Iniesta off for Gomes. The same system, only poorer players than Iniesta, who too isn’t q quick player. And we need speed.
      He takes Busquest who is the quickest passer on the middle than any other we have.

      Finally when things are at their worst he reacts, like, a day later.

  16. Ask yourselves. Would this have happened under Enrique?
    But Valverde… I always suspected he was terrible in away games & this proves it.
    I feel sorry for Iniesta. His last season…

    1. Enrique would set up an attacking team and pegg them back. The only difference is that Enrique will have proper RB(Semedo). So no, it would not have happened.

    2. Yes. Courtesy to rate strikers from Dybala. The kid of goals u rarely score.
      We had no RB. So our only attack came form the middle and Left.
      This means teams that are organised can easily defend against us.

      Valverde has Dembele who plays well and can stretch and Semedo plays well with Dembele. We can be balanced.

      Against Juventus Iniesta and Messi missed great chances.

      Dybala scored fro much, much more Difficult position. And they were miles away the better team than Roma is now. Let’s not say that PSG are a better team than Roma. ROMA ARE FORTH. They leak goals left, right and center.

    3. Still, Barça was way poor on those gamea under LE. We were lucky that PSG didn’t score more than 4 back then and, let’s face it, luck also played a factor on that 6-1 comeback

    4. Lile Victor noted, it did happen under Enrique, but i dare to say against tougher opponent than Roma.
      We should have imposed our game and thats it. You just dont allow the freaking Roma to take you out of competition and gives you the biggest defeat of the season. Abnormal.

  17. Pathetic. Guess I was right to be pissed at conceding that sloppy goal in the first leg. We got the favourable draw, realistically settled it in the first leg and bottled it. And the problem is not as much getting knocked out as much as it is the way we set up to do nothing but defend our lead. Never deal in those extremities. Some offense and some defense or we end up in a situation like this. I never want to see a lineup with Iniesta and Roberto as the wide midfielders. They add absolutely no speed offensively and the opposition wide men know they can recover any lost ground against them so they can push far up pretty freely.

    The big question is whether this is all Valverde can show for or if he’s playing scared because he doesn’t have the right personel. Either way, bottling it today is unacceptable, and the lack of action from Valverde must trigger some board meetings to decide what direction the club wants to move in and whether Valverde is the man for that. We definitely can’t move forward playing this way in the crucial games in the Champions League. Those games require a philosophy and a gameplan that is deeply embedded in every single of the 25 players in the squad, as is the case for Roma, Sevilla, and Liverpool who all beat the better side in their ties. Meanwhile, we seem to have relied too much on Valverde’s changes during the match in recent months.

    I don’t know much about squad planning, but I don’t think we’re that bad off. We need some younger legs and have some deadwood to get rid of, but with the addition of Coutinho, I think we have a solid, albeit aging, fundament to continue building the squad on. The plan has to be clear though and it starts with the coach, and Valverde is sadly doing nothing to better his position in this post match press conference. He really does seem to have a mid-table mentality right now and that can’t go at Barcelona. If he ends up getting the sack, which he would at some other clubs of our stature, at least he can still go out with the domestic double which would be great for an interim coach, but if we don’t show up with something truer to our ways, whatever Valverde thinks that is, we won’t beat Sevilla in the Copa final.

  18. The initial shock is wearing off. Now I’m part angry, part confused. Valverde warned that Roma could come back. Yes, very wise of him. How on earth then do you not prepare for that scenario? What the hell!
    The only silver lining is that this team is still a work in progress and that Valverde hopefully learned a very important lesson in his first CL experience.

  19. Okay, was angry before, but it’s over now, i have been laughing all over the place, because it’s just a game. I don’t gamble and i’ve got nothing too loose. Except i didn’t go to work today because of this game but it will pass. I mean juventus best us 3~0 and here we are, still chilling even though it’s another Italian team dealing with us, and i think real Madrid would likely have this one.
    Remember that period when l.e was also running the unbeaten and all of a sudden everything fell and started crashing, was crazy. We hated him, loathed him, but his gone now and we kinda miss him.
    Okay to the matters at hand now am calmer. Firstly kevin is a great guy and we have him too thank for the orderly platform. I mean it’s world war 3 out there, and we still have cool heads, calmly exchanging thoughts, we gats be grateful for that. No matter what you think today nobody cares about your opinion just how angry they feel, but here despite the feeling, everyone is still cool and wants to hear what you have to say. That’s cool mehn. Thanks kevin.
    Secondly and more importantly. EV…EV shouldn’t be blaming anyone since its just a game but mehhnnn what the heck. How do you loose a 3 goal lead and you have messi in your team. Say 2-0 you didn’t make any changes, better yet brought on gomes, that was who you could trust.

    Now am getting angry again, it’s clear ev isn’t tactically sound it’s obvious, his man management SKILLs are poor.
    You have a player who could get in those spaces and has been impressing and you bring in gomes for iniesta and he was supposed to do what. Umtiti looked too tired, was not in the game. Suarez running around hoplessly. Messi was also defending. I mean, he has had several opportunities to rest his players but no. The most play. Now it’s coming on them. Am sure the world is in shock. And ev has himself to blame. Roma kept the pressure up, what we normally do. A team we should normally beat well Am not sure where am going to with this gist. Might as will hang up my pen, and even if dembele got it right or alacee got the goal, he would probably get benched for gomes again.

  20. Cooling off a little… but something happens with this Barça on away games at UCL’s knockout stages… Chelsea was better in the 1st leg of the R16… they weren’t that better but deserved a 1-0 win… the games against Juve and PSG (amazing how people consider PSG a crap team when they play against RM yet consider them a quality team when playing against Barça) and the 2016 game against Atletico… granted, Atletico played great back then…

    Yes, this bottled game is Valverde’s fault… but there’s no blame on the players? Pique and that PK, Umtiti and Ter Stegen looked quite bad at that 1st Roma’s goal… Suarez was crap… AGAIN!!!

    Catalan media should learn a lesson too, since the draw they wrote that Roma was an “easy” team…

    1. There was no need to play Pique. He played with pain for a long time. This means u mentally becomes further and farther burdened by fatigue.
      Vermaelen has been out of this world. He should have rested Pique. Suarez needs break. He plays all the time. Went to China and so on. He is tired. Exhausted. U have to not have a heart and not see that.
      Our defense were all over the plays because they understood we had no plan. Defend and then what? We had no plan.
      Comebacks happen. Take a look at Klops masterclass vs Peps Man City. Or Zidane, who copied Tottenhams game plan and executed it with better players.

    2. My main point is that this defeat has blame on all the team… not just Valverde… and that there’s something that happens at Barça that makes them play poor away games in the UCL’s knockout stages… im the last 4 away games at UCL’s KO phase Barcelona has just scored 1 goal and it was thanks to a Chelsea mistake.

      Meanwhile, Barça has conceded 11 goals at those games.

    3. Victor! Dude!

      Valverde was know at Atletic for being opposite away from home. Home games Atletic would press. Away they would not. Just didn’t. This is no surprise. We discused this point at barcablaugranes.com

      It was one of the main concerns.

    4. I do understand that Valverde’s tactics didn’t help and he was a coward? perhaps… but we shouldn’t miss the fact that the team (for whatever reason) has been doing bad away performances since the last UCL KO stage… Luis Enrique is an attack-minded coach, yet Barcelona also had shameful performaces at away games in UCL’s KO stages as well… so, I think that placing the blame entirely on Valverde is wrong.

      The obvious truth I can find is that winning both league and UCL is quite exhausting, even more if we add the CdR.

      Look at Man City, PSG and Juve… the three of them are the current leaders at their domestic league and most probably they will win it… yet 2 of those teams are already out and the other one needs a miracle to overturn their tie.

      The only one team that is currently leader at their league and with some chances of winning the UCL is Bayern Munich, but even then, I do not see them winning it.

    5. Btw, Liverpool were on their way to bottling the tie as well… Man City got a goal unjustly disallowed… or so they say…

    6. About a week ago, I saw a tweet by the Secret Footballer saying he had talked a bit with a former teammate about Suarez having lost something and that they both feel his time at Barca is coming to an end. Maybe they’re right, or should be right.

  21. … That was awful. But either it hasn’t really sunk in yet or I have gotten over it already.

    I am not going to put all the blame on Valverde though (… just MAJORITY). The team was in shambles; so much for strong mentality. Periods in this game reminded me of the tragic Bayern hammering: we were outplayed and ineffective. Hopefully we don’t do like Xavi et al. and just blame the grass length or state that we were the better team and they have better athletes etc but we look and see what really went wrong.

    First up; the Starting Line Up.
    Remember when i said that Valverde’s coaching mentality seems reminiscent to Mourinho’s – Mourinho lite but people rejected they idea. (He will prove this statement true or false in his 2nd season) Reason being, is that I feel he has had to go for results to keep his job and he has had to play the old guard to gain the trust of the team in order to keep his job. However to the detriment of our goals this season, not including La Liga (oh yea… and Copa) it has been counter intuitive. Players who would’ve been needed in this stretch aren’t confident and aren’t being developed. In fact name one player who is being developed other than the old guard… ala Mourinho. He failed to utilize these other players when we should and refused to be tactically flexible enough. I like pragmatism but each game is different. Many games Pique should’ve been rested, and Suarez and Rakitic, etc.

    Okay back to the starting eleven: I love Iniesta but Alba had no help on his side today. I must’ve missed what advantage we were gaining. Not saying he shouldn’t have started but if you knew were going to play so conservatively and suffer so much pressure why not have Iniesta closer to Messi and have him floating and tuck Roberto inside making Alba a wingback instead of a “Runback” because that’s all he did today. That way, the team, using the same players who started would have two wingbacks in Alba and Semedo with Roberto and Rakitic flankin Busi with the Centerbacks in-between… Messi inside left and Iniesta inside right. floating around and dropping deep sometimes; especially since were WEREN’T going for it! Also WHY didn’t we have Dembele pinning back the fullback instead having to send Semedo or kill attacks with Roberto. Their wings were trouble.

    And why no substitutes to change the course of the match?… or correct ones I should say. Dembele sooner; Denis Suarez in (what more can the “kid” do… sheesh). We were never going to defend that 2-0 based on the performance we were having. Those guys were having MANY close chances; we were taking free kicks.

    Anyhow; expect a “solid” response from Valverde in the press conference stating that these things happen and Roma are a good side. See he told us it only takes 10 mins. We had about 75 bad mins. I prefer someone who wears the heart on the sleeve. Enrique would said we were shit… I would like Valverde to do the same. I don’t want him gone BUT I want to see that he has learnt just like the beginning of the season.

    Maybe he spared us from another SuperCopa smashing versus Madrid in the next round. My heart couldn’t take that. Let’s hope we beat Sevilla in the Copa (whew… are the eyes going to be on that Valverde guy and his team)

    Eat, drink, be merry. Roma did!… Life goes on…

  22. Am waiting on jim. He has a way of seeing things, can’t wait too hear his opinion.

  23. Welp.
    As I’ve said back in September last year, if he keep playing Messi every game we would eventually have to pay dearly for it. But the Valverde fandom was in full blown back then, and knowing I am a distinct minority I learned to shut up.
    So yeah. Crunch time, and injury hit.
    Who could have thought, eh?

  24. Whew, what a game! Just came here for refuge form the incessant trolling from friends on social media and the twitterati @least, but met this, I wonder how the Culverse as a whole will be. Funny it takes a bad defeat before some fans come clean bout what’s always been on their mind and the obvious problem that everyone failed to see, at this point Hindsight is 20/20 (as kvexin says). This match proves various things – positive and negative, with the negatives far outweighing the almost negligible positives – one is our coach and the other is the players.
    Valverde is a very good coach, but he’s not a great coach and a barca standard at that, at best he’s worthy of teams like Bilbao and Sevilla. Maybe it’s cause he want raised in a barca environment, he failed to realise that attack has and will always be Barca’s best form of defence: I’ve never seen EV as an upgrade on LE or Tito (R.I.P), getting knocked out in a champs league game by a barely average team with inferior players after a 4-1 lead just isn’t the stuff of legend. EV is a coward and wíll do anything just to pass, despite having the best player ever and a very capable supporting casts he still chose to be too pragmatic. With a starting eleven cast in stones and clear favoritism of some players over others while maintaining a cowardly stance when facing a good to average sides. One common excuses brought up by the fans when we’re not playing well is the issue of fatigues, it’s almost like a panacea for all our ills, however, whenever Madrid lose or draw that means they’re plain bad and the reliable fatigue discussion doesn’t come up, this shows it has to something to do with the coach since he’s the one instructing the players to play at a walking pace while not even bothering to attack. While Our pass completion since the last five games or so have been awful, we’re only winning running away with this league because of both Madrid’s early awful form and the sheer capability of Messi and some brilliant performances from our defence line, the Coach just stumbled upon a time when the players were hungry and will do anything to avoid losing the league to Madrid especially after that humiliating supercopa loss: during Martino reign had both Madrid team had a terrible early showings we’d have won the league at a canter. This loss couldn’t have come at a better time, I just can’t imagine how many times Steen would have ó pick the ball outta his nets had we faced Bayern or Liverpool in the semis!

    1. Grindelwald! Here is a comment a wrote here 2 months ago here:


      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.” “

    2. Yeah, I remember this comment as I’ve been an active listener on this site for the past year or two. I remember feeling exactly this same way after that game, I’ve always known a day like this will come when our coaches pragmatism and tactical limitations wíll be laid bare. I’d have prefer getting beaten by Madrid even with a Ronald’s hattrick to this most humiliating loss I’ve ever witnessed on the grandest stage of all. @least we had few chances against Juve last season, bu this…

  25. Ps: looks like we’ll have to live with the fact that Ronaldo will retire a more successful player than Messi, if he wins the Champs league again, he’s winning the Ballon d’or for sure. The last few games proves Umtiti isn’t as he’s made out to be, he’s world class and all but he’s pretty slow and loss concentrations at the odd moments, Barça board would be insane to renew him @ a 9mil contract. Dunno what dembele and Denis has to do before they can enter EV’s good book. I wouldn’t be surprised if we lose the Copa to Sevilla and our league unbeaten run ends this weekend. Feel sad for Messi, he’s been plagued by bad coaches in the last years of his career. Wouldn’t be surprised if EV get the sack @ the end of the season so we can hire Wenger or Mourinho! .

    1. And I do like this thread a lot. Yes, today was a big dissapointment but let’s not lose focus… demaning a treble every season is nuts… hell, even demanding winning the UCL every year is crazy…


      Liverpool is back at UCL semifinals since 10 years… do you imagine how they feel about it (even when they are 3rd at the EPL)? They are celebrating a lot, despite the fact that they aren’t the favorites to win it and it’s their only chance for silverware this year.

      Had Barcelona gone through semifinals, (at the same time when the team is about to win La Liga and it’s the favorite to win CdR) the supporters would have taken that as a given and as an expected requirement… maybe it’s time to bring some sense back to the club supporters… winning a treble is quite the challenge and we should be grateful with the team because it has won two trebles and this season looked like one where are treble was a real possibility…

  26. Slow team,players that arent aggresive,no runs,no power.
    Aging squad,aging players.
    No big difference of last years in CL,sad but some players are nt anymore good for CL,Iniesta should be a bench player this season not a starter.
    Busquets oh well we must start find a new DM,more fast,more power who can challenge to be a starter.
    Roberto cant be a starter.
    Semedo fast but still he doesnt know what to do.
    Pique and Umtiti pair,heavy and slow as fuck.
    Ok a team cant compete in CL when 3 players run,5 want to run but they cant and 3 watch the 3 who run.

  27. And please Leo is 31 he is nt the player who was at 25 or 28.
    The best but not near his best times.
    Blame Valverde,he deserves it for tonight,but the big picture is mistakes that started at 2013 and keep coming from then.
    Not building but buying fast for success.

  28. On a calmer thought though.
    Maybe, just maybe, that the age of double/treble is over?
    EE got kicked out of the cup pretty early on, and pretty much gave up the Liga. They clearly prioritize the CL.
    On the other hand, league leaders other than Bayern are all knocked out of the CL. PSG, Man City, Barca, Juventus, all off. The Bundesliga is a joke though, Bayern won the last 6 years, and on track to win this one too.
    Same story last year, except that EE had Morata, a backup who went on to score 20 goals. They played a Juve team who looked like they have ran out of steam, and steamrolled them to oblivion.
    Pondering a bit, me think in this day and age, competing on all fronts at the same time is a recipe for disaster.
    Maybe it’s time for us to prioritize too?

  29. NO! It’s the time for us to fuckign rest our players when we play the Leganeses and Gironas of the world. This is all Valverde’s fault. I’ve been saying since December that we really needed to rotate this squad in the new year and we really havent. There’s been zero rotation. No wonder Messi and Suarez are fried by the time April rollls around. It’s like we dont fucking learn. This happens every year.

  30. At the end of the day: it’s a wager… you can rotate against lesser teams, but what if the team loses or ties those games? Potentially losing the 1st place in La Liga or putting that lead in jeopardy… guess what’s gonna happen then?

    That’s right, supporters would rant all over the team and the coach for losing points against those lesser teams because “how the fuck you tie the game against Leganes when you are Barça? We now have just a 2 point lead against Atletico/Real Madrid/Valencia/whoever| fuck this, the Liga is almost lost | the reserve players are crap|etc”

    And, even if you rotate so that have your best team always fresh against UCL games: IT DOESN’T GUARANTEE YOU ANYTHING!! We all know that a bad pass, a wrong tackle, a slight distraction that leads to an opponent’s goal, a missed sitter, a refs mistake, etc., might decide the tie… that’s the bitter truth of knockout games.

    Look, I’m not justifying Valverde, he really fucked up, but I also think that it’s quite easy to judge in hindsight. We are now enraged at the team and rightfully so, but supporters shouldn’t belittle what the team has accomplished so far. Even more considering that 10 months ago most supporters predicted a complete Barcelona disaster for this season… and it isn’t. Even if the teams wins “just La Liga” is gonna be a good season and more than what many people expected back in July/August.

    1. Indeed, last year we lost La Liga due in large part to rotations against the lesser teams (plus the refs)

  31. Yeah I get what you’re saying, Losing like that hurts a lot but compared to how the season started after the spanish supercup games, where we are is a pretty good place. Hopefully with some good cleaning of the house this summer we’ll finally be able to break our quarterfinal conundrum. I feel bad for Iniesta. He said that its probably going to be his last CL game as a barcelona player. Years of bad transfer policy has definitely cost us. I dont know how the game might have went if Coutinho had played, but are def in need of rest and to move beyond this because we still have the possibility of a double.

  32. Continho might now start regretting Liverpool, just saying jokingly.
    The problem is not that we lossed, but we were one leg in the semis, the poorest tactical decision ever, bringing in gomes 2 goals down. Only to bring in dembele and alacer in the 87 min when it was clearv they should have been brought in earlier. The annoying part is we could have won, but we had a shocking loss, no one in the world would believe. Honestly do you see real Madrid losing to this kind of team, even juventus, No.
    And rotation under EV the reserve players weren’t as good or hadnt adapted.
    But you have vernelen, in great form, yet he graces the bench day and night, Dennis suarez is impressing, yet benched. Alacer a super sub should at least get some dying minute actions, but no
    So am like why bring on these guys to bail you out.
    For me EV has just been lucky.
    Bayern should have beaten us 5.o that would have been easier than losing a 3 goal lead.

    You know juventus are out, and yet they are better than Roma, who would be ousted by a real Madrid and a Ronaldo expected to be weaker than we are.

    You can’t cry over spilled milk, the intelligence of EV WOULD be observed here after. Its not about the loss but what happens after the loss.
    And Ronaldo isn’t assured anything just because he wins the champions league. We still are unbeaten in the league. I think that would be what valverde would hold on to.

  33. There are images of Piqué & Iniesta telling the coach to change his tactics. And he replied, ” I am the one responsible.” Stupid arrogance

  34. Wow. The Culeverse is in complete meltdown. Yes last night was horrific, BUT everyone needs a bit of perspective I think. These guys are not machines. This wasn’t even supposed to be a season where we won anything let alone a treble. This is a team majorly in transition. New coach, one of the best players leaving with barely any time to adapt. The young recruit brought into replace him injured for most of the season, the big January transfer Cup tied. Not to mention one of the teams talismans clearly showing his ageing legs. I for one am very happy and proud that THIS team, under these circumstances are going to win the league and probably the Cup too. The champions league will be there again next season, with hopefully a much more integrated team with a stronger bench if the club can have a good summer.

    As for Valverde, I will give him the benefit of the doubt for now because he has done wonders with what he was given this season. I can’t see many coaches doing better with the circumstances as they were. Liga was always going to be the priority, always. The cups are a bonus, so yes he rightly made sure we secured the league. His more pragmatic, defensive approach in general I believe is borne more out of necessity than desire but lets see how he plays next year.

    If the team ends the season with a league and Cup double and continues its unbeaten run in the league it will be an extremely successful season. Barca fans seem to have this very odd expectation that the team can and should win the treble every year, or every other year. The fact that the team has done it not once, but twice in its history (no other team has) is incredible. It is insane to expect it all the time or even that it will happen again in the near future. It is incredibly hard to do so the treble, which is why so few teams have achieved it. Everything has to go your way… Injuries, player form at the right moments, random calls in games going your way. All the stars have to align. Need I mention Iniestado. Of anything a lot of these things have gone against us this year not for us, especially player injury and form. A lot of barca fans once again acting a bit like spoiled brats. Calm down, look at things with a bit of perspective and be happy that you watch and support one of the best teams in the world. Enjoy it, otherwise whats the point.

    Now come on Liverpool!! I would love for them to win it now. Hope they draw madrid next and lay waste to them

  35. Can you please leave Ronaldo vs Messi comparison and who wins more Balllon d”OR’s aside.?
    Messi will be gone, Ronaldo will be gone…and the club will still remain.
    As for rotations: Nobody is trying to demand that the whole team is changed from a game to a game. Just few starters. In one game you rest Iniesta, Rakitic, Messi, in another you rest Suarez and Pique, in third one Busi, Alba…and so on.
    How the fuck did Gomes deserved more trust and playing time from the coach than Denis or Alcacer or Verm, or hell, even Mina was brought probably to lite Pique’s life.
    That stubbornness by EV i will not understand. Of course, he knows that he has to get the needed results and the trophies…but on the way to that we are losing something else. Other teams used to be afraid of us, backing of and defending almost all the time, even the strongest.
    How the fuck do you bring yourself to defend the whole game against this Roma side?!?!?!?! And try to change something in the 90th minute???? When you’re already 3-0 down. Hell, it’s not that they needed to score just a goal to go through, they needed 3 of them, and we gave them.
    Did EV had a post match conference? A link or something in English? I would like to know what he thought about the game. Also i want to read about the players reactions.
    Did they played like that because he instructed them so, or they just decided to screw around with the ball for 90 minutes without even trying to score or create a chance.
    Now for the blame game on players. SR needs rest, Suarez needs rest, Busi needs rest, Rakitic needs rest, Pique needs rest , Alba needs a rest, Iniesta needs a rest…hell, the whole team needs a rest. Most of these guys are playing poorly for a month already…probably is tiredness and fatigue. Last night was no different. Poor, poor display, confused players, awful tactics….many, many wrongdoings last night.

    1. Exactly, his approach to the game is the bone of contention here. I wouldn’t even have mind much if we’d lost to Chelsea in the R16 considering the early season’s expectations, one team I’ll never stand for is seeing barca play cowardly and in a way that doesn’t befit a team of our stature. Where’s the reward for the players that gave good performances only to be dropped to the bench in the next match, @least LE rewarded good performances. EV barely used the masia players at all, even in the dead rubber games, where are the likes of Alena, Arnaiz, and some of our highly rated teenagers? I’ll also give him the benefit of doubt.

  36. Congratulation to Roma for their great displays in both legs. They fully deserved their qualification against an overrated Barca team full of overrated players and over-reliant on Messi. The performance was unacceptable, especially from Pique, Umitti, Alba and Semedo with their school-boy defending, and also Suarez.

    When I analyze Barca in Europe after the Pep era, I conclude that Barca have been average at best in the Champions League since the 12-13 season. They’ve even been total crap in many games, and there’s something absolutely wrong with the team when you easily get thrashed 4-0 twice and 3-0 twice since 2013. For me, all thrashings were due to the absence of a warrior defender like Mascherano/Puyol and the defensively naive Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and Umtiti. And the inexperienced Bartra against Bayern 4-0.
    Barca have been the most feared team in Europe since the unplayable Pep’s 08-12 team. They wrongly remained the most feared team after Pep because the core of Pep’s team have still been there together with Messi.
    But after the 11-12 season, we have never seen the sublime never-seen-before football of 08-12. Yes, Barca won the CL in 2015, but they got past an injury ravaged PSG and Bayern sides and did not convincingly beat Juventus.

    In 12-13 season:
    1/8 final – well beaten 2-0 by Milan, but Messi bailed them out in the return leg.
    1/4 final – dominated by Ancelotti’s PSG in both legs, again Messi, injured, rescuing Barca’ass.
    1/2 final – completely destroyed by a terrific Bayern side. That was expected especially with no Mascherano and an abysmal Pique and Alba.

    13-14 season:
    1/8 final – undeservedly and unconvincingly beat a 10-men Man City in the first leg, and conceding many shots in the return leg, with Messi to the rescue again.
    1/4 final – a shocking performance in both legs against Athletico, and deservedly knocked out.

    14-15 season
    1/8 final – good overall display against Man City, with MSN on top and Mascherano providing safety in defence.
    1/4 final – first leg, beat PSG missing key players like Zlatan, Verrati, Motta. Injured T.Silva replaced by unfit D.Luiz. 3-1 win but far from flamboyant. Return leg a formality, but still conceded many dangerous shots from PSG.
    1/2 final – Messi to the rescue again late in the game against Bayern missing key players like Robben, Ribery, Bastian, Alaba. Barca were never going to get past Pep’s Bayern had these players played.
    Final – Good game in first half, but Juventus (without Chielini) were on top after Morata equalised before again Messi coming to the rescue, forcing Buffon to make a save that lead to Suarez goal.

    15-16 season
    1/8 final – 2-0 against Arsenal away, but MTS made a few great saves. It could have gone either way. Unconvincing in the 3-1 win return leg, with Arsenal dominating large part of the game.
    1/4 final – Struggled to beat a 10-men Athletico 2-1 at home, but well beaten 2-0 away

    16-17 season
    1/8 final – thrashed easily 4-0 by PSG. Could and should have been more. The 6-1 Barca have Neymar, the referee, Di Maria to thank for.
    1/4 final – well beaten by an average Juventus side that easily got thrashed by Real.

    17-18 season
    1/8 final – lucky to draw 1-1 at Chelsea. The 3-0 score in the return leg did not do justice to Chelsea.
    1/4 final – 4-1 at home but totally underserved. Well beaten in the return leg.

    This is the end of an era for Barca. Reconstruction is needed and the objective is to get back to the level of 05-06, 08-12. Pique, Alba, Iniesta, Suarez are finished.
    This 17-18 season will only be a success if Real Madrid does not win the CL again.

  37. Can only say ‘Pragmatism’ has been ‘found out’. We are not good without the ball and we can never be a 90 minute defending team, may be 45 or 55 mins, not more. At least when it was 2-0 we should have changed our pragmatism tried for a goal. Yes players were tired and all, but see how suddenly after 3-0 we saw lot of ball in the opposition box. If the coach wanted, we could have attacked (am saying this , with some news that there are images of senior players asking for tactical change and Valverde not confirming. am sorry if these are fake)
    And its unfair to call all the fans talking on hindsight. Am sure a lot of regular fans here was smelling a shock by the time it was 2-0 and we were still defending. I for sure felt, we were going out, against the poorest team in Qf..
    I just hope Roma or Liverpool wins the league..

    1. I would have to disagree with your comments on Messi saving our asses in every champion league knockout rounds since 2011/12. Sure we haven’t hit the giddy heights of Peps team, but saying Messi saved our asses henceforth is both Inadequate and a very poor judgment on the team. Neymar, Suarez, and Rakitic were of very great help during our 15′ champs league while this Messi has always played abysmal in our Qf exits, evidence in this season and last season.

    2. Sorry, it was a reply for old Messi assumptions. This has been happening quite often, guess the site needs to be optimized for mobiles.

  38. Why this defeat seems so painful,
    1. We had the upper hand
    2. This was the one of the weakest team in the champions league quarter final stage.
    3. We had better ooptions on the bench attack wise only to introduce them when the game was sealed
    4. There was enough time to read the game and make changes but nothing was done until too late.
    Like i said let’s see what happens next, since valverde is so crazy about the unbeaten, he should as well just do it, though it might not guarantee his job.
    I remember capello in Madrid, winning the league and still getting sacked.
    If i see changes in our game play, then maybe i would vote for a second term in office for valverde, but should we continue with our dismal,struggling, tactically clueless game plays, he should leave irrespective of his achievements.

    Because you need the players on your side to succeed, we must see changes

  39. Time for my annual call for revolution.

    First, Valverde – This guy just doesn’t cut the mustard. We might go 50 million league games unbeaten, but the process of getting there is crap. I do not enjoy watching us play. It’s ‘cheat’ football. Pragmatic and like Lucho the ‘team’ aspect is sub-standard whilst wholly reliant on certain individuals to bail us out every single week.

    I want the days back where our football was about collective and had become a high-brow art form. The strive for perfection based on total football, rather than winging it due to the sheer talent of individuals. Surely there must be a coach out there (ignoring Pep, his time is done and I don’t think you should go back) who can serve up something reminiscent of it?

    That has to be matched though by the removal of this useless f*****g board that are all about quick fixes and dollar signs. We have no squad depth because we splurge all the money on the next big name. We played the football I want when we had La Masia players, born in the style of play and educated over thousands of hours. Now it is dead, and the squad players we randomly pick up after putting all the money and effort on the star signings are so ill-fitting we rely on the same players each week until they run out of steam.

    Yes it is easy to write this after a bad loss, but its the right time because if you don’t win what is the excuse for doing things in this crappy way? I have had enough now.

    Mes que un club to just another club. Sad.

  40. Am back normal, even if I could not sleep even 2 hours after finishing the match at 0215 hours. What I cannot really come to terms with is this- even after the penalty goal why did we not try to attack hard. When De Rossi picked up the ball from the net, I was like ok at least now the team react.. but..
    The look on Iniesta’s face at 3-0, wanted to cry..
    Its not that we lost, even our best team from 08/12 lost. But there was this feeling then that we always tried to play. After Chelsea loss in 2012 semi, remember Camp Nou gave an ovation to the team.
    Yday, I wonder what Cnou would have done..
    Feels shame as if the whole world is looking down at us.
    I really hope next CL would be different.

  41. Still in shock. Seems like the world had a glitch and what was “suppose” to happen in-comprehensively didn’t. Barca and Man City gone. Incredible.

    Valverde error-ed on the side of defense. Not irrational considering a 3 goal advantage. The choice of subs (and lack therefore of) was odd and out-of-character. Weird.

    Gegenpress against the build-up. Man-marking and uber-phyical play in the midfield aided by a complacent ref (Messi and Saurez both end up with yellow cards?) We’ve seen that approach works against positional-play occasionally before. Honestly, I thought we’d weather the storm with the 3 goal lead and our defensive record. Sadly, brute physicality won another round yesterday. Even jerks with muscles (and a crowd of boisterous fans to intimidate the ref) sometimes are lucky and get away with it. Poor Iniesta, hacked down by giants every time he touched the ball (without a call). Ugly.

    Oh! Had Messi managed to get a few more inches above that bouncing ball when he ricocheted through the defense…

    Aaah! Had the ref noticed the Roma player grab Pique’s shirt and yank him to the ground before the penalty foul…

    A bitter pill to shallow, but s**t happens. I’m not going to turn on our own—looking for a scapegoat. And I am DEFINITELY not going to turn on our host, who has graciously given us his time and a place to gather. Only the rudest of guest would do something that ungrateful. Yeesh!

    Something was off with the world yesterday. Started with two dead car batteries for me and my office-mate.

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