Semantics and #Valverdeout

“It isn’t about results.”
“We just want the team to be able to compete.”
“The team didn’t have an identity.”
“We don’t want the treble all the time. We just want a better team.”

In the wake of Pep Guardiola, being a Barça manager is one of the worst jobs in football because no matter what you do, it will be wrong. Tito Vilanova battled cancer, while remote coaching his team to a record points total in La Liga. He’s the guy who didn’t play Thiago Alcantara enough, forcing him to leave for Bayern Munich.

Tata Martino is the coach who took a physical and psychological wreck of a team, did pretty well given the circumstances (Vilanova, Abidal, Iniestas miscarriage, various injuries), but he is the guy who had barbecues and won no trophies.

Luis Enrique is the coach who won a treble, followed that with a double then a Copa, but won the treble the wrong way, didn’t play Barça football and rotated too much, so the team didn’t have continuity when it needed it. And the midfield.

Ernesto Valverde is the coach who is going to win a double, but who didn’t rotate enough, whose team didn’t have a style, and he didn’t get past the Champions League quarters.

It isn’t just about results, yet the Roma match has people calling for the sack. So what is it? The way the team played against Roma? Should we fire all the players, as well?

We want the team to be able to compete, a team that was in the running for another treble until an awful night in Rome, and will win the domestic double. What about that team isn’t competitive?

The team didn’t have an identity, even as tactics nerds points to innovations that Valverde made, including liberating Alba to become a decisive player, and using Rakitic to augment and protect Busquets, one of the most important players on the pitch for Barça. The team had an identity. It just wasn’t the one that people wanted it to have.

We don’t want the treble all the time, yet we want to see a coach who is going to do the domestic double gone. What do we want, then, and how do we go about it?

The summer in Barça social media was fascinating. Real Madrid had a smart transfer summer, adding to a Liga and Champions League-winning side in ways that would ensure a dynasty, and the best team football had seen since Guardiola’s marauding sprites. Barça? Thank God for Messi, but come on. They signed a kid, an untested right back and a has-been from China, who failed miserably at Spurs. And Neymar left. Barça would be lucky to finish second in Liga, particularly given that Atleti was loaded for bear, and was rumored to be getting Diego Costa back.

Atleti is 13 points behind Barça in its second-place perch in La Liga. Real Madrid is ages behind as Barça looks to clinch the league title with a win against Depor (the team that beat them after the PSG remuntada, an expensive egg laid against a minnow), and continue its quest to go unbeaten in the league.

How times change.

In hiring Valverde, the board brought in a coach who was what the club needed. It had too many key players who were on the wrong side of 30. Suarez, Messi, Pique, Iniesta, Rakitic are all there, and Busquets and Alba are 29. Seven of the gala XI are nearing that football age when players aren’t what they once were, quite visibly so. Dembele broke, and Liverpool held the line on Coutinho, so it’s worth looking at what Valverde had to call upon from the bench.

Paulinho: Come on, now.
Denis Suarez: Tentative, defensively a joke
Andre Gomes: An acknowledged flop
Paco Alcacer: Not Suarez
Dembele: Broken, then far from full fitness, also a defensive joke
Semedo: Not ready yet, but talented. Not going to change a match
Aleix Vidal: Another failure
Vermaelen: A serviceable sub CB

Valverde is, therefore, to be pilloried for not using more of players that supporters have deemed surplus to requirements and best, and wastes of money at worst. Whenever Gomes or Paulinho would come on, subbing from someone much more lauded, the scorn was evident, along with derisive laughter. Coutinho arrived in January along with Yerry Mina. The former was almost an instant help in Liga, but was Cup-tied. Mina is a young player for the future.

The XI played a lot because the XI had to play a lot. What made Guardiola’s teams work was that they were savage. It wasn’t just positional play, but unmatched aggression as everyone pressed. In the treble year, Henry and Eto’o ran like demons, chasing everything down with pressure that started from the keeper, who wasn’t allowed to play the pass he wanted to CBs, who were pressed by Messi, Eto’o and Henry, to midfielders who ran into the buzzsaw of Xavi, Iniesta and a pushed-up Pique and Puyol. There was no surviving that. In a game when there was defense, midfield and offense, Barça was a maelstrom that defended and attacked with eleven.

That was ages ago, in football years.

Valverde inherited a team that had clear deficiencies. It also had two players in Messi and Suarez, who weren’t really going to defend. So the press that began at the keeper during the glory years, didn’t start until midfield now. And if they broke that line, it was a breakout, a direct run at CBs and at least one out-of-position FB. Look at how easily teams could play crosses in from the wings against the Barça FBs, who were usually chasing the play as they scramble to get into position.

Like any coach with a brain, Valverde figured that if his team gave up goals, the absence of Neymar meant a few things, in addition to the yeoman work that the Brazilian did in helping to defend. Low blocks were going to be a problem because Suarez wouldn’t have a capable playmate. Dembele breaking also damaged that, things that would all make Barça susceptible to low blocks. So first job was to stop leaking goals. To help with this, midfield muscle was needed in Paulinho, a player who would rumble around, play wall passes to help retain possession and help with the press. Because the basic reality was that Busquets, facing wide-open spaces, wasn’t going to be able to be as effective as he was in the past.

Another way Valverde chose to combat this was a modified double pivot, as Rakitic became Busquets’ tactical bodyguard, freeing up and protecting so that Busquets didn’t have as much ground to cover, and could be more effective. Rakitic had a brilliant, but under the radar season in this role, even as he was being pilloried by many for not being the player he was at Sevilla, and not even the player that he was under Luis Enrique.

The Barça team was set up to allow Messi to be decisive rather than essential (even as he was). Alba’s attacks up the wing were buttressed by a solid defense from midfield back. The football was going to be less beautiful because it had to be. What coach in his right mind wouldn’t want his team to play like Barça did against Sevilla? But the season saw a steady diet of low blocks. On the rare occaison that an opponent was brave or crazy enough to play Barça open, we saw beautiful, flowing football of the type that people said that the team never played any more, and wouldn’t it be lovely if the team could play like that all the time, a perfect world where every opponent was compliant and willing to take a 2 or 3-goal hiding.

We wondered why Valverde didn’t rotate, even as we didn’t see the training sessions, where players earn their spots. Should the team have had better players and better options? Absolutely. Now let’s run out and find a viable sub for Iniesta, Messi, Pique or Busquets, position-defining players who come across once in a supporter’s lifetime. But Gomes should be good enough. He should be. He wasn’t. And that wasn’t Valverde’s fault. Denis Suarez should have been good enough, but wasn’t. Same with Alcacer. The only difference maker that Valverde had on the bench against Roma was Dembele, a player who was as defensively suspect as he was offensively capricious. Valverde’s sin was in having too much faith in some of the best players in the world, players who had brought the team to that moment, on the brink of a Champions League semi-final. That was his sin.

So let’s sack him. Who comes in, and what do they have to work with? They will have to manage the same summer fire sale that Valverde will have to manage, but the core of the team, the abovementioned septet, aren’t going anywhere — yet they will all be another year older. Valverde has committed to Carles Alena from the B team, who should be a dynamic, effective midfield addition. Arthur Melo will be coming in January (possibly in summer), but he will require some time before he becomes what people are anticipating that he will become. If the Griezmann rumor is true, that would be an exceptional addition, along with a fit, assimilated Dembele. That roster would be impressive, and would allow whoever the coach is a degree of flexibility in both attack and defense thanks to younger, more agile players. Rotation would become more viable.

How quickly would a new coach be able to hit the ground running, and what style would that new coach have. How would it work with an aged core? If that coach doesn’t get the results we demand and in the right way, do we sack him as well? Who next, and at what point does it stop?

This isn’t a defense of Valverde, but rather an attempt at understanding the peculiar set of circumstances with which he had to work from his seat in one of the worst jobs in top-level world football. Semantics are used to dance around the fact that people want him sacked on the basis of one match, this coach who figured out how to maximize the efforts and contributions of an aged core of veteran talent. Would the next coach be as effective? Would he want Messi or Suarez to run more, be a bigger part of a press? What if he, too, failed? And what about the sporting continuity that allows a team to develop into something?

Barça will, in a couple of years, have to rebuild. Valverde has done nothing to demonstrate that he is the coach for that rebuild. Valverde has also done nothing, given the strange alchemy of his season, to demonstrate that he deserves the sack for getting the most out of veterans and a cadre of bench players who are a massive step down from anyone in the XI. #valverdeout?

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

55 Comments

  1. Víctor
    April 24, 2018

    Many of the Barça twitter say that it isn’t about the result, but rather how the team played and got knocked out.

    Truth is, however, that it is mainly about the result; the way the team got knocked out just works as a complement for the criticism against Valverde.

    I insist: Barcelona got KO’d against Atletico two years ago in the same instance… Barcelona fought until the end in that game, we were denied a penalty at the end of the second half of the return leg… what was Barça’s twitter judgement: #LuchoOut, Luis Enrique should get sacked…

    And yes, maybe it’s true that they aren’t demanding a Treble all the time, but they are still demanding to win the UCL and La Liga… so, not a Treble but a continental double… so, yes, a continental double is easier than a treble… sure thing… but it is still quite a lot… people forget that the opposition there are also *gasp* quality teams as well that have the same desire to win it… and the anti-madridismo is also working as a fuel against the negative attitude towards Barcelona… Madrid having won 3 UCLs in recent years surely doesn’t help the current coaches’ journey at Barcelona…

    Had Madrid just won 1 UCL in recent years then the pressure might be a bit lower…

    The ironic thing? Madrid having that success at the UCL in recent years is partly thanks to Barcelona… that’s right, that “Madrid monster” at UCLs we are seeing now is partly a Barcelona’s creation… the constant humilliation given to them in the last decade, the mockery because they had a tendency to flop in UCL’s R16 made them work to prioritize the UCL and give less of a fuck to both La Liga and CdR… something that make culers feel like crap when they manage win it… even when their Barcelona team wins a double…

  2. PPos
    April 24, 2018

    Holy fuck! Liverpool are destroying Roma. That 4-3-3 is ravaging the 3 at the back for Roma. Liverpool is bypassing their press with balls over the top. If the rumors are true Messi wants Salah over Griezmann. And I have to agree with him but I don’t think Liverpool will sell. God I’m praying Liverpool win it.

  3. PPos
    April 24, 2018

    And I think the whole Valverde out thing is coming out of the Madrid papers to destabilize the team. I read that in marca and as and the opposite in sport and mundo deportivo. I think Valverde is a smart dude and will learn from his mistakes. Just give him a more able squad with an actual number 6 not Denis Suarez that is definitely sinking under the weighbt of that jersey. It was Xavito’s after all. Thiago needs to come back to take what is rightfully his. We need to get rid of the duds. The Gomes, Vidal, Digne, D.Suarez, I really hope Iniesta doesn’t leave. But the China money will sustain his winery so he will probably leave. If we bring in Thiago, actual competition at LB, maybe bring a fast striker like timo Werner or Mané. A treble winning squad needs to be deep and strong. Guardiola had an excellent second string. With Yaya, Keita, Pedro, gudjohnsen, sylvinho,

  4. ChaoticReaper
    April 24, 2018

    Valverde has to go. Klopp is showing exactly how Barca should play every damn game! Attack attack attack!

    • Víctor
      April 24, 2018

      On the other hand: Liverpool is clearly outplaying Roma now… Barcelona didn’t do that in the 1st leg… dunno what happened to Roma, they were the better team in the first 20 minutes, the crossbar saved Liverpool from a Roma goal…

    • georgjorge
      April 24, 2018

      If you take this single game as the standard, then 100% of all non-Klopp managers should be sacked immediately. I mean, high expectations, ok, but this is ridiculous.

      Liverpool also didn’t manage to even get close to challenging Manchester City for the league title this season. I like them a lot, I want them to win the Champions League, but they have been worse in their league than Barcelona have been in theirs by some margin.

      • georgjorge
        April 24, 2018

        Ok, I probably should have waited out the game (and the two Roma goals) before typing this…

        For what it’s worth, 5-2 is exactly the same result as the one Barcelona got at home against Roma.

  5. Víctor
    April 24, 2018

    LOL, Liverpool scored from a corner kick… before people start bitching again against Valverde, we should keep in mind that Corner kicks and headers aren’t one of Barça’s strengths…

  6. Víctor
    April 24, 2018

    Roma scored… 5-1… seems like they are already done for… but, that goal… despite going 5 goals down… shows that they aren’t a “pub team” or a useless one, they have mentality and will to advance…

    It is just a small glimmer of hope for them… but so it was two weeks ago… I don’t see Roma making a comeback, though, but I do see them making Liverpool suffer…

    and lol, they just got a PK…

  7. Jim
    April 24, 2018

    This isn’t really helping is it ? Roma being destroyed at the moment ( as we all knew they would be) by a Liverpool side prepared to attack them and leave three up front instead of ONE !

    With regard to style of play vs results for me it has never been an either or. Attacking play and pressing will lead to results. Sit back and you make a rotten team like this look good. Number 5 goes in as I type this. Are we really saying that Liverpool’s front line is better than Messi, Suarez and Dembele ? Their mids are no more than ordinary and they have a poor defence but Roma are too knackered at the moment to get at them. Don’t see Liverpool’s forwards doing much defending. doing much defending.

    Ok, in fairness, to me Roma are playing a bit higher up and getting caught than against us but that doesn’t account for this. Depressing.

    It’s crucial we get this summer’s buys right or we’re toast in Europe next season. Defence for me is fine. Pique and Umtiti can be a great partnership and Alba is fine. I’m hopeful Semedo will settle. He has the skills. Thiago would do it in midfield for me and he may be available especially if Bayern don’t win the CL but he might rather go to a more attacking side ( am I even writing this? ) than us. We desperately need another ( good) creative mid with pace. Up front we need a better sub than Paco and that would do it.

    I’m taking too long to type this. Liverpool becoming too stretched and Roma have a couple back so let’s see. It’s set up exactly the same as us so what will Liverpool do in the return ? Think they’ll sit back ?

    • Grindelwald
      April 24, 2018

      Liverpool will never sit back, even against city they pressed from the onset. Apart from Firmino, Liverpool Frontline hardly defend, but asking 10 players to defend without the ball in a team of Barça caliber is ludicrous. EV has done great but he needs to let go a lil bit and loosen the defensive rein.

  8. Grindelwald
    April 24, 2018

    So so sad seeing a team attacking another team till the end, something Barcelona were renown for. What makes the Roma humiliation more painful is the fact that they’re no better than Sevilla on their day, yet we chose to play like a Pacific coward in their home when we coulda gone for the jugular like any Sane team woulda done. I’ll probably never forget that Roma humiliation, but then happy days will drown the pain.

  9. Víctor
    April 24, 2018

    Did you people see the entire game? Roma scored 2 and they were in their way to score a 3rd one… on hindsight: Barcelona mistake was also to stop attacking after the 3rd goal at Camp Nou, that’s when Roma scored their away goal… which turned out to be highly important.

    Liverpool made this exact same mistake… they took Salah off, thinking that Roma already gave up fighting after their 5th goal… Roma got up and scored 2 goals…

    Yes, a 5-2 is not a bad result by any standards, but considering that Roma is a team that never surrenders and that Juventus almost made a comeback against Madrid you know that Liverpool aren’t through yet…

    I still think they will be, though… Roma will probably win 3-2 at the return leg and that’ll be it… Roma is gonna go out like fighters and warriors… but Liverpool is not gonna have it easy at Rome either…

  10. Jim
    April 24, 2018

    Yup, watched the whole game and for me Roma were murdered and lucky only to lose five. Pundits were calling it the most one sided CL final ever and it wasn’t far off it. When did Italian teams start shipping four and then five goals away from home ?

    As you say at the end Liverpool made the mistake of taking Salah off and forgetting how they got ahead. We’ve done that a few times. Roma’s first goal was a reminder that Liverpool’s CBs aren’t great and if they sit back they could just be in bother but they won’t.

    Klopp: “Now we’ll go there and play to win again”.

    None of this makes me feel any better sadly.

    • Víctor
      April 24, 2018

      If we are gonna feel bad or sad every time another team wins against a club we failed to defeat then we are condemning ourselves for a sorrowful life…

      Yes, Liverpool destroyed Roma tonight… still, we should take into account that:

      1) Roma’s strategy played into their hands… Roma came to “park the bus” against Barcelona on Camp Nou… while they had a more balanced approach against Liverpool tonight
      2) Liverpool’s squad is suited more for quick attacks and faster pace… but someone can just wonder if they can open up packed defenses…

      Still, Liverpool made the same mistake Barcelona did at the first game, which was to assume that Roma was already dead… of course, I don’t see them doing the same mistake Barça did at the return leg because, well, it just happened two weeks; so surely they know that playing to keep the advantage is just risky and even more for them considering their defense kinda sucks…

  11. ugo nze
    April 24, 2018

    Jurgen Klopp: “Roma scoring 2 goals doesn’t mean it’s
    a warning for us – we’re not FC Barcelona. They have
    won a lot of things, we don’t. So, we’ll fight till the
    end.” Congrats to the people who brought Barça to the
    level of ‘it is not a warning – we’re not FC Barcelona’.

  12. ugo nze
    April 24, 2018

    Valverde has brought us down to this level, even
    Liver ‘fucking’ pool can say thrash about us.

    Valverde should hang himself out of shame

  13. ugo nze
    April 24, 2018

    after watching the Liverpool roma game. i will happily say EV should be sacked with immediate effect..

    and barca should get sala by all means be it £300 million, or more than. he wort it… he’s game is very identical with messi. i would gladly say i’ve seen mess like…
    he is just wow..sala is becoming messi imitation.. both in passings, dribbling ability, scoring, etc. he doesn’t just sit in the box and wait for his time like Ronaldo..
    pls barca this am begging.. go get sala by all means..
    he is the second messi on earth better than neymar, hazard, benzemar, bail, grizeman, Suarez, ronaldo, etc.
    very close to messi level… pls go full out on him…this we are asking and begging..pls

  14. luisthebeast
    April 24, 2018

    LFC have pace,Barca is a slow team.
    It was a great game but what is the point to compare oranges and aples?
    In 2016 and 2017 teams that knocked out Barca lost the final vs a team that Barca had won 4-0 and 3-2 away.
    There is no logic in all that talk.
    In the end Valverde will have 2 trophies and Klopp 0.

  15. PPos
    April 24, 2018

    Yeah Liverpool is a mad fast team and Roma’s tactics with a high pressing slow back line killed them. They literally played the same pass over and over again. Over the top, out wide to Salah on the open space. Salah’s pace reminds me Messi at his prime at 25. Just unstoppable destruction. He could take 4 or 5 and still score. It would be interesting if in the summer we add more pace to the squad. I’ve been saying it for a while. We were a fast team during the Guardiola era. Eto’o, Abidal, Alves, Messi, and Henry were properly quick and Iniesta and Xavi were not slow at all. Busi well, he’s always been slow lol but he plays with his brain not his brawn so it’s ok. I remember he used to be such a liability defensively with his heading. In his first season I swear he passed the ball to the other team a lot and we gave up goals, Puyol and Pique weren’t the fastest but Puyol used to keep that line tight and together. I read somewhere that he used to never stop talking during the games. He’d always be talking. Man I miss that guy.

  16. Zerodymegx
    April 25, 2018

    First of all this is a great read. I actually registered to leave a comment. This is a great analysis of what Valverde achieved in this season and what he didn’t. Fans or most of us, easily figure out what’s wrong. Well as fans, that’s our job. But most of us, do it superficially, and don’t realise why it’s going wrong. ‘cuz we are no coaches. Fans want thousands things, and perhaps most important of them are results. Whether or not , you agree to this, you know it deep down. Otherwise the results won’t hide the obvious problems in the team. Flashback, 2015 Treble season. Fans got the results, no big fuss. 9 months forward, knocked out in UCL, #LuchoOut.
    Of Course Enrique had lot to blame for how the team got worse in his 3 years, but what sparks the argument is a bad result. While a series of it, justifies it. I question the timing, why did it not happened in between the golden win streak, but as soon as happened. The clues were all there , for the eventual demise.
    I laugh at people, wanting Liverpool’s constant attack philosophy at Barca. It is reminiscent of Enrique’s 2015 season, but is in noway traditional Barca’s playstyle. And wanting it to be like Liverpool instead of City is more upsetting? Because if you wanted Barca to play like City , I would have understood. But you don’t want that, because City lost to Liverpool and out of Semis ? Is that it ? If Liverpool loses in final to either of Bayern or Real, then you want to emulate their style instead ? Who is suffering from loss of identity here , exactly ? Buying Salah for 300 million ?
    Well Fans are no coaches, and its easier to see a black mark in white. You could happily ignore all the good someone has done, and point out all bads. Valverde has definitely responsible for lot of bad decisions. Its a little too harsh for someone to judge it that way, after all there is no way to judge the aftermath of so called “good decisions”. But they were bad decisions alright. But for a team to crawl out of crisis, and land up with a domestic double on its way to transition is not at all bad. Teams transitioning have ended up relegating in the past or atleast out of the competition for trophies. #ValverdeOut will solve nothing except waste a year. Barca will still be in crisis, and the next coach will be called for sack before even starting to build on a team that is only growing older.

    • georgjorge
      April 25, 2018

      Welcome here, and thanks for the great comment!

  17. Old_Messi
    April 25, 2018

    If Barca got to the semi-final against Liverpool, it would have been another 2013 semi-final embarrassment. Had Barca eliminated Roma, they would have played the same crappy way in the semi-final and there is no way the naive defenders could handle SMF and the non-stop pressure from Liverpool’s midfield. Barca and Valverde needed a wake-up call and they got that with the 3-0 defeat in Rome. Before the Sevilla game, Barca were too slow, too boring, too arrogant, too confident in their luck, too dependent on Messi to bail them out. Valverde should stay if if thinks he fkd up by playing Semedo and Roberto on the right side, 4-4-2, not playing Dembele more often. If Valverde plans to play the pre-Sevilla football next season, he should go.

    • Davour
      April 25, 2018

      Not sure. Liverpool would come out to play, which might suit Barca as space would be available. If we could handle their pace is a different question. Otherwise, I agree. Valverde trusted the team to ride it out, instead of engaging himself in adjusting his tactics – “to confident in their luck”, as you point out. This, together with not resting players against Leganes and – seemingly – prioritizing the Copa over CL, as well as not trusting youth (but were they to be trusted?) are all points against him, which all carry more or less validity.

      For me, it is – as some of you have pointed out – a question whether we think EV will learn from this. On the other hand, it went against they way he acted previously during the season, using subs and tweaks well – so did he lose his nerve? All up in the air – but I would surely say that the loss is on him to a much higher degree than the players. It is his job to prepare them, body and mind, and adjust during the game. He did not.

      I still feel he should get another season, unless there is a Mr Right waiting in line (and who would that be?). He has done remarkably well and deserves a second season to show whether he can take the next step. Reports/rumours on more players with a physical profile is a depressing sign, but that is on the board, not him.

  18. lala10
    April 25, 2018

    I discovered Barca in 2001. It was a Champions League group match against some French team. Due to a number of factors i could not really follow the games religiously. Starting from 2009 i started watching almost all the games on television.

    Since i started viewing the games regularly the Roma debacle was the first time i had really really witnessed the team without its clothes on. Barca has lost many times as all teams do. but there was always a caveat. A wrong call there, a bounce here. Even the Bayern shellacking had explanations. One could point to something.

    As good as Roma are they are not in our league. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Roma did not knick a 1 – 0. They battered us and it was not just a smash and grab. Whats also traumatic is that the beat down was not just a haymaker and we were down. It was a slow inexorable pummeling that everyone who was saw it could not believe it but at same time knew what the outcome was. We were not a bully being shown up, it was a heavyweight being dismantled by a lightweight.

    Its traumatic. For the players. For the manager. For the fans. And it takes time to heal because however one searches for answers there are not any to be easily found. And like any trauma some events are likely to trigger it.

  19. mvarfi
    April 25, 2018

    Thanks Kxevin, appreciate your diligent patience.

  20. April 25, 2018

    Welcome, Zerodymegx, and thank you so much for registering and commenting. And welcome to the family.

    — Big news today is that Pimienta is taking over Barça B for the rest of the season and the next two years. His big job will be to keep B from the drop (now in the danger zone). But he also understands how to play football in the Barça way, and develop talent with systemic strengths in mind. He’s also fresh off silver, with the UEFA Youth League trophy.

    It is excellent news not only for B, but for the first team as well as the Juvenil divisions. Some of the complexity has been talent. But a big part has also been having a coach who treats B as A. He wants to win, and is less concerned with development. Iniesta had talent, but was also made from within the system. Same for Xavi and Messi. Would they have become the same players without that diligence? Valid question.

    Anyhow, fantastic news for the club, which is making the right move. He might not keep B from the drop, coming in with only six matches left. But it is still the correct decision for the sporting project.

    • Zerodymegx
      April 26, 2018

      I do hope, Valverde and Pimienta start alligning. Rebuilding, what he have to eventually do is a pretty slow process. Barca’s core could be dedicated to Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets who were Integrated into first team over 5 years. I don’t even hope to find someone like Messi, its a bonus. But yeah, we have realize you won’t be able to replace your core in a season or two. Instead , we have to keep looking, integrating, and assimilating and figure out new role players in a modern style. Just imagine how many pretty good players had left us because they were always second best.

  21. Víctor
    April 25, 2018

    People still arguing or talking about what should Barça/Valverde have done against Roma are just torturing themselves. Now that Liverpool scored 5 against them thanks to their speed and pace people are all up in arms taking the piss on Valverde because he subbed in Dembele too late/didn’t start him.

    Yes, we get it, the answer was to play Dembele… if not at the start, at least after half time… it didn’t happen, Valverde froze, the team didn’t know how to react either… shit happened and that’s that… the bickering about it won’t change a thing. Just accept it and hope that Valverde and the entire team learns from that experience…

    Also, don’t get too impressed either because Liverpool managed to score 5 goals “easily” against Roma… Roma’s plan was just plain wrong yesterday… it worked somewhat in the beggining and they almost took the lead but they hit the woodwork… that made Liverpool “wake up” and things became nasty to them… Roma should have seen that the strategy they employed against Liverpool (which was almost the same they used against Barcelona in the second leg) was taking an unnecessary risk… had Roma decided to roll out a more defensive strategy (kinda like the one they used in Camp Nou) I doubt Liverpool would have scored more than 2 goals… Roma should have seen that the 4 goals they received at Camp Nou were partly bad luck… and we should keep that in mind as well, it’s true that almost all Own Goals happen because there’s pressure or there’s an attack happening against the defensive team, but bad luck almost always plays a role as well…

  22. Hamid
    April 25, 2018

    Thank you Kxevin for another sobering look at the increasingly schizophrenic culer world. Instead of celebrating an incredible achievement by our players and management this season, we are gripped by hysteria and anger. While I understand the level of disappointment at our (deserved) elimination from the CL, I think we seem to forget that one of the rules of thumb in football is that 1) shit happens because this remains a human activity, 2) you can set all the plans you want, things are different once you step into the field, 3) you can’t apply mathematical logic and replicate results (you can lose against Malaga and trash Madrid the following week). Uncertainty is the essence of football. There are no guarantees. If we go back to our CL journey from the group stage, we will realize that our ride was neither brilliant nor convincing. We did not have and we still don’t have the personnel to fight on all fronts. It was clear that Valverde became aware of the limitations of the team and prioritized not conceding stupid goals over risk-fraught full attacking. I thought he was brought to build something, and if he can help us win a double while doing it, it’s all lovely! We can still watch the remaining games of the CL without regret or futile remorse. Even better, let’s watch our team crowned in what is rightly considered the toughest league around.

  23. Grindelwald
    April 25, 2018

    Madrid playing trash as expected and still winning. If only bayern could get a draw in this game then I believe they’ll beat Madrid at the Bernabeu!

  24. G6O
    April 25, 2018

    3 CLs in a row and 6 Balon d’Ors for Cristiano, and right after our best-ever era, will be difficult to live with

  25. ugo nze
    April 25, 2018

    he’llo..pls..
    i don’t really understand what transition we are doing..
    for 7 stinky year’s still on counting… what are we transiting to.. and when Are we transiting…..
    why all this..defending someone who just single handedly took us off the ucl…wow that’s nice let us keep claiming holy and we will keep getting our ass wooped.. transiting from a classic team to a causal team. wow. transiting from a well 2nd eleven to pako gomez and co.. wow..transiting from a well improve barca b team to where well i guess Deep down the pit somewhere…transiting from a well popular barca academy lamasia to notting to show..transiting from beautiful football to boring football…wow..transiting from tikitaka to Malaga playing style..not even Chelsea because they outplayed us.. now Chelsea well known as a defensive team i now playing beautiful football than us who owns it..wow logic.. lol…
    transiting from iniesta to Gomez, from messi to pako.. etc wow class… transiting from guadiola to bounce of goat’s who only like their job…transition from a classic team to those who just run and play like headless chickens…wow interesting…..transition from laporte to batomeo.. wow..nice..

    transition from well organized organisation to fraud and corruption…etc…keep transiting and keep dreaming an endless Dream….
    from guadiola the only person who cruft will never forget… and we as a Barcelona and also the world. to tito, to tata matino, to Enrique to Ev.
    look at man city..took them only two season to do the undoable that’s call transition….there are many others to mention but Let me save my text…where is this team now going… because right now they have no future at all…they are now a bunch of headless chicken who only move like the zombies……..all wake up and stop dreaming and hopping because you just can’t see it here until there is a change on every side of the club….

    My Barcelona Has Been Destroyed…..

  26. Víctor
    April 25, 2018

    Hey, what have we got here? Another Barça twitter meltdown, now because RM won 2-1 against Bayern… surprisingly, this one isn’t as bad as yesterday’s…

    Yesterday’s game was very fun… today’s was kinda meh… Bayern deserved better, though… but I guess that they are already done for… several important players injured, perhaps fate doesn’t want them to advance…

  27. Jim
    April 25, 2018

    What I found interesting was that Thiago wasn’t in the starting lineup with James ( who was awful ) preferred. That kinda confirms for me what the Bayern fan I met on holiday was saying about not everyone at Bayern being happy with Thiago’s style of play. The guy also mentioned that Thiago is meant to be less than impressed by the medical team there and when you look at the spate of injuries they have you can see there could be something in it.

    I would have concluded this with a hopeful thought that maybe we could get Thiago back in the summer but then he came onto the pItch and was just as awful at passing as everyone else wearing a red jersey. Well, maybe not quite but it wasn’t the Thiago I remember. I reckon we need to save his talent which is being wasted there. He now knows Bayern will never win the CL so he may be ripe for an approach.

  28. luisthebeast
    April 25, 2018

    Tactics my ass.Zidane did nt do a masterclass but his team have the quality and intensity to do that.
    Their LB and two bench players made goals and every one worked hard all game.
    To win CL you dont need tactical genius,you need quality and fresh legs and not an aging squad and average bench warmers.

  29. luisthebeast
    April 25, 2018

    3 times in a row out of CL thanks to shit away games with lazy and soft perfomances it s not only coaches fault.
    It seems players did nt learn anything.

  30. luisthebeast
    April 25, 2018

    You see everyone run,fight,jump,make tacles and then how can i am not mad out our soft players.
    Roberto when play RB is alone with no help and today Ribery marked by two when Carvajal subbed off.
    It seems our players believe that with walking you can win CL.
    And by surpise they were great vs Sevilla.
    They dont learn.

  31. luisthebeast
    April 25, 2018

    Big achievement of Valverde to win la liga vs this madrid team,they have so much quality.
    How many of our starters will be starters in this madrid team?
    Not many.
    And lets not talk about our bench and theirs.

  32. PPos
    April 25, 2018

    Yeah our bench does suck. At Madrid the second string bust their ass to pressure the starters and push and take their opportunities that’s why Benzema and Bale are benched that would be like us benching Suarez and Coutinho because Paco and Denis would be on fire. Hahahaha if only.

    The thing is we are responsible for the resurgent Madrid side. Our success hurt them like mad and forced them to change their policy. They basically copied us. Promoted club legend to coach, invested into youth from the youth team and actually used it and created a culture of competition within the team. While we have regressed into what they were buying expensive outside stars, shitting on our youth team and sacking coaches often.

    I agree with all of your upset feelings about our club now. I wish I was a soci to help Bartomeu out. He’s a weak leader with no vision. Laporte would have never let Thiago go. He would have never bought Arda, Gomes, D. Suarez, Paco. Aleix Vidal. It’s just pathethic. Quarterfinals of the CL every year is not FC Barcelona.

  33. mvarfi
    April 25, 2018

    I’m curious to see how the tenor of the discourse will change when Real Madrid does not win the Champions League this year.

  34. Old_Messi
    April 26, 2018

    For me, the Champions League is losing its prestige. It’s no longer the best team that is winning it, but rather a good lucky team not bothering about their domestic league and cups and concentrate to have a fully fit squat in February-April that is more apt to win it. The more opportunist side is winning it.
    The only exception is when you have truly exceptional sides like Pep’s Barca, Heynckes Bayern in 2013 or Barca with the unplayable MSN.
    The format of the CL MUST be changed. To me, it does not make sense to have 4 teams from the elite league. UEFA should go back to the first two of the elite league, so that teams really put an effort to win their respective league and give it back its real value. I will also do away with the away goal rule, because it many cases one goal counts a 2.5 goals, completely corrupting a football match. I even will do away with 2 leg ties and choose to have the knock-out stages on neutral ground in one match.
    Bayern Munich are just repeating the same mistake since 2014/15 – too many important injured players during the crucial period. They were better than Real yesterday, but as usual Muller and Lewandowsky wasted too many chances. Bayern will again dominate the return leg, but again they will miss countless chances and as usual Real as opportunist will capitalize on those Bayern misses to book their third consecutive CL final, when SMF (Salah-Mané-Firminho) will be too much for them.

  35. TITO
    April 26, 2018

    It’s interesting to hear and read some, for me, funny comments.
    What i can conclude from it, is that some readers and majority of ‘fans” feel more hatred towards RM than actually love Barca. I know to what i lean to.
    As for RM and their games against PSG, Juve and last night against Bayern i can only say that they are clinical as hell. As many goals as chances they create. They weren’t playing pretty, they just know that you have to score when you get a chance. Especially in these kind of games. You can’t expect that you’ll go through when you need a shitload of chances to score a single goal.
    Although nothing is done yet, cause Bayern will surely create chances at Bernabeu, but they need to convert those chances.

  36. Grindelwald
    April 26, 2018

    Bayern will win at the Bernabeu, Mark my words!

  37. squeen
    April 26, 2018

    First off, I am seeing a few disturbing rumors floating around. In our modern era of “fake news” where people are able to effortlessly create what was once ideal gossip, but is now amplified by the information super-highway, I find myself wondering about the sudden appearance of these two “Barca board” rumors and to whose personal agenda it might be aligned. They are:

    1) Valverde is thinking of quitting because, before th Copa Final, some board members leaked he might be fired if the team lost.

    2) The “board” is reconsidering the Arthur deal because they want a more physical midfielder.

    The stupidity of latter in particular gets my goat (as I am sure it was intended to), but also got me wondering if this isn’t just a campaign aimed against the current board. What is significant about the current timing?
    —–
    On another note, here’s a few thoughts that has been rattling around in my head over the past few weeks about the Roma game. It starts with a quote from Microsoft founder Bill Gates:

    “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”

    I’ll add to that something I recently relearned—pride is the cardinal (foremost) of all the sins. It’s been said that all other sins come from self over-estimations.

    I think this was the reason for the Rome debacle, and also why it was so traumatic. The team had basically NOT LOST A GAME ALL SEASON (at least not any it cared about, or used the starting XI). That track record made the team WAY over confident thinking “after all this isn’t Madrid, Man City or Bayern—it’s just Roma…and they are NEVER going to win the Champions League. Besides, we beat them by 3 goals in the first leg.”

    Valverde even talked about a recent Liga game (I don’t recall which) in which the team has “switched off” for the second half, saying something to the effect of “the team seems to have felt they’d already won the match.” Wait a second! What!? Two startling things (for me) with that statement are: a) Barca have a “neutral mode” in which the players stop making much of an effort (e.g. kick the aimlessly ball up field?), and b) Valverde isn’t in control of when that happens. Hmm.

    Success (as a lousy teacher) wrongly taught the players they could win any match they bother to put an effort into winning, and it also taught the fans to expect a win—in that match in particular, against that particular opponent. When it didn’t happen (and had real lasting consequences), it was traumatic. Trama comes from something unexpected—as in “a traumatic blow to the head”.

    Also, Pride goes before the fall. Classic Greek tragedy: hubris followed by humiliation.

    It’s what humans do.

    Real Madrid’s success last season and (especially) the Super Copa loss hurt Barca’s pride (recall Pique’s statement of feeling inferior). Being rejected by Neymar also hurt Barca’s pride. Those two humiliation triggered the resolve to win the league this year. Slowly, as thoughts of a tremble started to seem tangible, this so-called “washed up Barca with over-the-hill players and Chinese League rejects”—that had pretty much shown the doubters wrong—began to lose the workman-like attitude and internal fire that wins games. They fell victim to their own arrogance/complacency.

    Apparently, it happened to Cryuff in his 2nd season at Barca too. It hit Real Madrid at the start of this season. It was a part of why Guardiola left after so much success. It’s DAMN HARD to maintain humility and focus.

    I saw a fan video that dissected “How Roma beat Barca” as if it was a tactical revelation. Basically it showed man-marking in our third. High pressure. Lots of hustle by the Roma players. Honestly, it isn’t something that hasn’t been tried a thousand times before. Normally Barca can overcome this approach because they can usually win 1-vs-1. They generally have better (more skilled—NOT more physical) players. What they didn’t have in that CL game loss were motivated players—one willing to expend the necessary energy to beat their man. Willing to get (as a team) out of first gear. That’s why Roma swarmed and fouled Iniesta. He’s the one that almost always eludes the press—unfortunately he had no support—the others where just not moving fast enough. They were resting on a 3 goal (oops! 2 goal…oops! 1 goal…) cushion.

    I think that’s why Valverde “rested” the whole team for the next Liga match. It was punishment. Basically, “If you pretty-boy superstars aren’t gonna run, then you can sit!”. Pride also beat the crap out of Sevilla. Isn’t there some cliche about Spanish pride?

    My $0.02 on the whole matter.

    • georgjorge
      April 26, 2018

      Thanks for your comment. I’m not entirely sold on Roma mainly coming down to complacency, but you make a very convincing argument.

      On the one hand, these are professionals who are really good at motivating themselves for all the games they play, otherwise they wouldn’t even be able remotely compete. On the other hand, while they certainly ran and hustled and bustled against Roma, complacency on a sub-conscious level can still lead to these players not making that last-ditch tackle in midfield, or not constantly surveying the pitch for passing options, or whatever. Add the sensation of shock due to actually not accomplishing anything on the pitch in Rome, and your version of events makes more sense.

    • Zerodymegx
      April 26, 2018

      Well if Barca did switch off against Roma, it was in the first leg after they were leading 3-0. Perhaps it was complacency, perhaps it was tired legs. I believed only a fitter Busquets would have been enough to overcome high press. Maybe its just the regard I have for him, but the Busquets who released Rakitic on a run in the El Classico keeps on replaying in my mind. I do remember Valverde saying, he would have liked a 3-0 better. It was Deja Vu, like when Enrique had said” we would score 6″. The first goal was entirely on the players. But that’s when Roma knew its working. While Roma got more and more confident, Barca panicked and the halftime was on Valverde. He should have noticed it. Maybe he did, but failed to make an impact.
      Either ways, it was an eye-opener. I do hope Valverde stays. I am really curious as to what is the team would be like next season. There was so much to work on at start of this season, and I hope he had started with a plan in his mind. He still lacks the cogs, for his ideal team. While he did a really good job, making the best out of what was available; I do hope, he gets a chance to get the players he wants and sell those he doesn’t instead of all the Board’s publicity gimmicks.

    • mvarfi
      April 26, 2018

      I was going to say: ‘solid speculation’, but it sounds like an oxymoron, so I’ll go with: ‘solid $0.02’. It made me think, but in the end I just can’t see it. That is, the pride/complacency being the sneaking culprit. In my eyes, here’s why:

      It’s true that an undefeated streak can breed over-confidence and complacency, but we have to take into account the quality of that undefeated streak. This winning season has been no picnic by any stretch of the imagination. Many victories or draws were quite labored, and at times very lucky. Not to mention the constant reminder by the fans and media that this kind of winning was unconvincing at best and offensive at worst. I’m not sure how that kind of relentless response feeds someone’s pride.

      The game you are referring to as a warning sign is the one against Athletic. Barca won 2-0. What you see as a “neutral mode”, I see as an “energy saving mode”. After all Valverde was not rotating much and that game was between Chelsea and the International break, if I’m not mistaken. As far as Valverde not being in control when the players switch to “neutral mode”/“energy saving mode” is concerned, I think you’re correct. However, that has to do with the variables on the pitch, as well as him, ultimately, being a spectator, an outsider, not part of the players’ amalgam. I’ve never played football, but I’ve rowed crew, so I have an idea of what it feels to be part of a team, to be in the same wavelength as your teammates.

      Finally, it’s hard to see the arrogance of this Barca, when its captain is Iniesta. That’s not to say that these players are without, but there’s really nothing pompous about this team, unless I’m blind with love. It’s a possibility.
      Finally finally, for me, The Super Copa display and Pique’s comments felt like the response of someone who had the blues over the departure of a loved one.
      Just another perception.

      • mvarfi
        April 26, 2018

        Missing word: “sin” in “That’s not to say that these players are without sin”

    • squeen
      April 27, 2018

      On re-read, perhaps a bit too neat and simple of an explanation, and yet I can offer no other. Nevertheless, the mind still churns looking for closure…

      I’ll predict the CL will be prioritized heavily next season by the club, especially if Real win it again.

      Thanks for some great comments.

      • squeen
        April 27, 2018

        Oh, and in response to Mvatfi’s comment, I do agree with you that the culture of Barca is a quiet sort of inner pride—not at all the flashy arrogance that irks me so much about RM. It’s a culture Ibra (and Neymar?) couldn’t stomach. Iniesta is the poster-boy (although what was with that with yelling at the refs for the a last two games?—stress about leaving the club?), and so is Messi..

        But a temporary hubris—an over-estimations of one’s ability—is still possible without any overt display. I don’t think Barca took for granted that they would win the CL all together, only that “oh, yeah we got this Roma thing in the bag”. After all, they had never given up 3 goals to any opponent all season. They ran (individually) but it was more reaction than taking control (until the last 10 minutes, when it dawned on them they were going to lose). Wasn’t there some talk about Bayern by Guardiola’s in his 1st or 2nd year about bombing out of the CL in part because they had wrapped up their league too early? I’m always looking for clues about the player’s psychology before a match. I recall a recent quote from an Argentinian national that he “knew” they would qualify for the World Cup when he saw the look on Messi’s face before the hat-trick match.

        Oh look! I’ve rambled on again. This team….this sport…leads me to excess.

        • mvarfi
          April 27, 2018

          Yes, quiet pride I can see, but it’s always in check. Belief in one’s ability is a prerequisite for winners. Judging by the way we played, I question whether we summoned enough, not too much, of that belief.
          Please don’t get me started on Real Madrid’s cockiness…

  38. Jim
    April 27, 2018

    Just watched the presser. Not much more to say actually.

    He handled it way better than I did . . .

    • georgjorge
      April 27, 2018

      Same here.

      Goodbye, and thanks for having brought so much elegance and control, yet also so much humility, to this club. I hope you can lift the World Cup one more time this year (sorry, Messi) and find satisfaction without professional football afterwards. Thanks for all the memories.

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