Three matches, mixed results, same problems

Culers could be forgiven for thinking that they were watching three different teams, as Barça dismantled PSV 4-0, then notched a fighting, down to ten, shoulda been a win draw against Girona, then a desultory dungheap of a display in losing to Leganes. But it’s the same team, with the same set of problems that have been alluded to here before. But take heart. There is good.

The team dropping points, quite naturally, sent the social media legions into a tizzy. That’s good. When dropped points don’t freak out the world, that will be bad. The good part(s), of course, are that Atleti’s drab start means they are chasing, and because Sevilla did the free world a solid in spanking Real Madrid, Barça end the round of matches exactly where they were atop the table on goal differential.

There is going to be a lot of stuff that people won’t like in this post, but forewarned is forewarmed. So let’s go, point by point.

Penny smart, Euro foolish?

The club got an offer for Yerry Mina that was too good to pass up. The talented young Colombian CB made a fourfold profit for FC Barcelona. You can wonder how he would have been with a full summer with the club, of training and assimilation, but that is another story. Why is this relevant?

Bench Pique

Gerard Pique is mining a poor vein of form right now. He whiffed on a clearance that led to a Girona goal on the weekend, played a Leganes attacker onside and made a stupid, inexplicable back pass that might as well have been an assist. In the quest for blame after the match, people fell back on old favorites: Valverde, the midfield, blablabla. But Pique started the season out of focus and has remained that way, and he is costing his team. He isn’t the sole defensive problem, but his wandering mind and lack of effort are contagious. They also have a domino effect in the spaces and crises created in the defense as a whole. CBs are Pique, Lenglet, Umtiti and Vermaelen. If you sit Pique, an LCB will need to play RCB.

Team Fragment

What made the Guardiola teams is no secret: the group was a group, that did everything with everyone. The problems of Suarez, Messi, Coutinho and Dembele in the side have been discussed before. And even as the three matches have yielded different results, the same issues have remained. PSV got at the defense just as easily as Girona and Leganes did, just as easily at Athletic will on the weekend. Ter Stegen is good, but he ain’t that good. Busquets said that the defensive problems were a concern, which is an understatement. Everyone knows how to fix them. But right now, the team has an attack, and a deffense. It doesn’t have a unit. By design and of necessity? No idea what the coaching staff is thinking in that regard. But the Barça defense isn’t good enough as a proper defense for the team to be playing as it is.

People talk of midfield control. Sorry, but unless Barça manages 100 percent possession (more than 70 percent against Leganes), the opponent will have the ball. And when tney do, the existing fragmented team, unclear assignments because of the persistent scramble and overall lack of pace means that the defense is going to leak goals. Whether those leaked goals result in dropped points will depend upon how well the offense plays, the other half of the fragmented team. This team, drawn up as it is with the gala XI, isn’t capable of winning a 1-0 match with regularity. And that is a problem.

Possession matters

Against Leganes particularly but also against Girona, attackers were treating possession like this thing that there was plenty of, so it’s fine if you lose it every now and again. So off went the opponent as a third of the team watched and waited. When you defense can’t really defend, possession is crucial. Last season, Barça was dour and effective. And people hated it. Valverde out, why can’t they play beautiful football, blablabla. You see why now. In the first half of the season there was no Coutinho or Dembele. With only Messi and Suarez not working on defense, problems were easier to solve.

The missing waste of space

Maybe a few people have whispered it, then looked around in a worry that someone might have heard them. But when Valverde said that the team would miss Paulinho, this is what he meant. While people were busy talking about his age, fee and origin story, what Paulinho was doing was running channels, helping stop breaks and moving the ball on for running attackers. All of those are useful skills. At present, there is nobody to do that and the results are clear. Busquets was off against Girona and crap, like the rest of the team, against Leganes. Part of why he looked so off in two matches is because so much is happening when an opponent has the ball, too much for a pokey, lanky Catalan DM to manage. The only reason the midfield hasn’t looked worse in defending is because the flanks are so open, and easy to play down that opponents aren’t even bothering going through the midfield.

A Barça team with Paulinho was more solid. It was also more physical. Both of those are detestable attributes for a fanbase that wants champagne for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That is their right. But this is the result. The team signed Arturo Vidal to make up that deficiency. So far, he hasn’t been as good a Paulinho as Paulinho. Whether he can become such a player will be huge for the club. But even if he does, who sits so that he can enter the XI?

Coutinho giveth, Coutinho taketh away

You can’t have midfield control and Coutinho in the midfield. Sorry. His game is brilliant, and his golazo, though insignificant except for the points spread crowd to the final result, was a delight. But he prnaces, dances, dribbles and shoots at the sight of a net. Those things aren’t going to get you the kind of stability culers crave. Couple that with Dembele, who is also a risk-rich player, and another set of difficulties present itself.

Part of the solution is easy

It has been said here before, but the players aren’t doing their jobs. Negative results will almost always be blamed on a manager, unless there is an unfavored player to draw ire. In the wake of the Leganes result, we heard everything from “small club manager” to “lack of innovation” and the like. My Twitter timeline even brought a should have sold Rakitic in the summer for X or Y midfielder. The search for easy answers that are also unattainable is a key part of a panic.

But the biggest part of this turnaround involves a mirror check. Everybody was porr and lost-looking yesterday, giving up balls, trotting when they should have been running. Check the damn mirror, swear at yourself, have a team meeting, do what the hell ever, but get it right. The team won’t always be able to crap the bed and somehow have the sheets still smell like roses. Success comes down to individuals making a committment to the group. Half-assing created a domino effect.

When I wrote a piece for the Athletic that warned about the seeming extreme focus on Champions League, many scoffed. But the signs of a distracted team are there. That PSV has been the team’s best display of the season (in Champions League) is interesting. Nobody at Real Madrid would ever say it, but they didn’t care all that much about La Liga. And with an aged core such as they have, you get one competition that matters. You need a young team to go for everything. They didn’t have it. Neither did Barça last season, and sure as hell not this season.

So the players will have to decide what matters to them, a process that begins with introspection. But this team isn’t bad, its coach isn’t bad, nothing is as bad as people are making it. But effort matters, and so does energy. If the gala XI is still the gala XI, those players are going to have to cut corners somewhere. People snarked about Valverde rotating, but he will need to do more if he is to keep his aging lions sharp for a full season.

Meanwhile, for Barça to have had a pair of Liga matches that it had and still be atop the table is a blessing, and should be treated as such. Because they sucked against Leganes. Hard. Girona also wanted it more than Barça and played like it, but not to the extent of Leganes, who didn’t play like a bottom of the table side, something that, as with Roma last season, seemed to take the team by surprise. Mental preparation is a significant part of football. A manager has to have his team ready to play. Say what you want about Luis Enrique, but intensity wasn’t one of his deficiencies. Valverde is calm, verging on dour. Is he preparing his team mentally in the right way? Can he? To an extent, yes. But it’s professional pride and a team once again realizing that it is, at least on paper these days, the best damn team in football. We don’t have long to see if they will decide tp play like it.

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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.

60 Comments

  1. Khing_prince
    September 27, 2018

    Didn’t get the aim of this post but good read either way

  2. mvarfi
    September 27, 2018

    At the end of the day, I trust this team and its coach. There’s too much quality, experience, and ambition in this Barca for me to throw my hands up in rage and dismay.

    • Khing_prince
      September 27, 2018

      Optimism can only get you so far

      • mvarfi
        September 27, 2018

        My eyes are open, no drowning in optimism here. I happened to write my response to the match just a few minutes before Kxevin posted his…
        “I watched the game knowing the final score, so I was calmer than I would have been otherwise. We were collectively poor. But, if we had to pick our day to lose the first match, yesterday would have been a good choice. That is, our reaction to going behind was uncharacteristic, we’re still in September and our perennial rival choked. Valverde may have a full plate, but both he and his team have time to figure it out. Contrary to what the general tenor of the agitated comments here suggests, nothing has hit the fan. So, let’s take it down a notch, so we don’t have a stroke. And let’s not throw in the towel either, there’s still 85% of the league to be played.”

      • Víctor
        September 27, 2018

        Yes, optimism can only get you so far… but it’s not like we have a big influence on Barcelona’s results and games…

  3. Dar_vincy
    September 27, 2018

    Quite an Incisively level-headed piece, Kxevin. Pretty much fleshed out most of my thoughts.
    I must add though, starting with the defence, that someone who should be exemplary in his duties often seems to lack the requisite discipline to lead the line when desperately needed. For all his experience, my gripe with Pique wasn’t so much is mindbending and amateurish mistakes, but that he thinks the best way to remedy it every time hee screws up is to (ludicrously and consistently) vacate his defensive position and get a goal (not even during a set-piece play) so all will be forgiven. While the intention might come across as noble, the consequence is an exposure to further dangers to an already errabund backline. At one point during yesterday’s game, during one of his adventures in the opponent’s box, he was footslogging back when possession was overturned, with no desperate desire to regroup and prevent danger. It was horrifying! There’s a reason Puyol is held a legend, and seeing such defensive attitude from him and in our backline as a whole would sure make his eyeballs pop out without invitation. For all of Sergi’s attacking contributions, his defensive deficiencies will continue to hurt us. Why the coach continues to overlook it is beyond me. I see Semedo as a right-sided Abidal that should be in the first 11 for defensive solidity and stability (which would only get better with more playing time), his offensive shortcomings (for now) notwithstanding. Despite being the best defender we currently have, it goes without saying that Umtiti will likewise benefit a great deal from a defensive presence of someone of Puyol’s nature.

    While our worrying defensive issues is beyond personnel, what is more nightmarish is the lack of attention given to the systemic deficiencies in our defending as highlighted in the article ablove. I also worry that a team that’s mostly leaden-footed, especially at the back, will keep a ridiculously suicidal high line up to the half way line. Bonkers! I hope to see less (or none) of that in the future. Speaking of our attacking players that offer precious little defensively, barring Messi, I can’t seem to determine if it’s the coach’s inability to enforce his instruction that they must press the opponents when out of possession or that he seems ignorant of a strategem to achieve this. I don’t want to believe Suarez, Coutinho, Dembele are so incompetent, indolent or talented to assist in the defensive phase of the game that they should be excused. That’s a luxury we can not afford, as has been evinced by our recent struggles. Heck, I believe these same players (Messi included) would turn out to be defensive monsters under the tutelage of a coach like Simeone.
    By the way of nostalgic comparison, it must also be said that Valverde needs to have a solid, comprehensive, consistent and effective defensive philosophy to spare us from the horror show that we are having to endure this season. Guardiola’s was possession and press, his is an unrecognizable blueprint. Whether he can and whether he will, will be a pointer, for me, as to his suitability for us going forward.

  4. Víctor
    September 27, 2018

    You know what’s very toxic in the twitter world of football… that people like to make predictions of a team’s entire season with just 3 or 4 previous matches… sometimes even the last 2 or the last 1 game that team played.

    And it’s idiotic. Barcelona may thrash Athletic Bilbao this weekend while playing great… that doesn’t mean that there aren’t issues to solve or that suddenly the team is ready to compete for a treble… but they also might get a draw (or even lose) against them, that won’t mean that the team (or Valverde) is trash and we’ll definitely get a trophyless season… people need to cool down before drawing conclusions that easily.

    Valverde has issues to solve and one of them is to restore the control and creativity Iniesta gave us last season… he also needs to make Coutinho and Dembele track back when the team loses the ball… needs to find a way to make the strikers more effective (Suarez, let’s be honest, is no longer fit to be starter in every Barcelona game; playing Munir yesterday was a great decision, IMO)… and overall the team needs to play a little bit of different football…

    The way I see it, we don’t have the squad to keep playing Juego de Posicion anymore… at least not in the way many fans want to, Xavi and Iniesta were important pieces for that, they aren’t longer here and no player in the Barcelona squad (besides Messi) has the skill and talent to replace them… call me crazy, but I think that Barcelona should try a more direct approach for attacks… do not rely that much on possession…

    • Grindelwald
      September 27, 2018

      Your last point made me realise how badly we’re missing LE’s balls of steel and direct approach, in comparison to EV.

  5. Grindelwald
    September 27, 2018

    Another level-headed article as usual. Great piece, but still lacking the final point everybody knows and some doesn’t wanna admit.
    My major gripe is how EV (not totally his fault) has made barca matches seems like a chore, instead of a genuine source of entertainment. I enjoyed the first half of Martino’s trophyless season far more than last season’s snoozefest.
    Unfortunately, i can’t see myself watching any barca Liga & Copa games until there’s a marked improvement. I’ll have to settle for the UCL games from now on.

  6. September 28, 2018

    I was able to sleep, even after that loss. Am just glad that this is all happening so early so, we will rise back.
    Of course, in second half, the whole team was poor, and EV did the right subs too – but still nothing worked. I think EV too has to take some blame. If game after game there is a lack of attitude from the players, then its the duty of the coach to see to it.

    Regarding the pressing from Pep era, the major difference is, then our 3 lines were so close. Its not like Messi, Eto and Henri presses and X, I and Toure or Busi was 30 meters behind. Now too the front line do press, but the gap between the first and second line is more than 20-30 meters and it wont help. At least the middle line has to be really close to the first line, Just my opinion.

    Also its time to give regular start to Semedo, and to use Coutinho mostly as a forward. His natural instincts are clearly that of a forward.
    I was glad with EV’s rotations. I thought the problem was starting 2 new mf’s all on a sudden. Well against Leganes the only difference was Alba. If rotation is not possible, even with a single change on the gala 11, then yes we do have problem.

    But I still hope, this group wil get back.
    The Sevilla attack – oh dear…:)

    • Hristo
      September 28, 2018

      U do realise that with Varmaelen as LB/LCB we preventing ourselves from attacking fluidity on the left. I said before the game that Verma has not got the stamina to push wide and forward. This isolated Dembele who was 15m deeper than he usually is, and alone.
      Valverde neutralise our dangerous on the left and nullified our right wing.
      I have never seen something like this before.

      • September 28, 2018

        Now Umtiti seems to be injured, and we are going to see lot of Lenglet. and VErmaeleen..
        The problem is Alba’s rest. .
        What I do see as a negative on the part of EV is, he (Miranda himself) dont think the kid is ready to rest Alba. Knowing our squad, why sell Digne? or why not buy a replacement after selling him. By any means, Digne was a better left back than make shifts like Vermaeleen, even if he was no Alba.
        Right now, there are very very few people who can replace Alba across Europe..

    • Jim
      September 28, 2018

      Yeah, Fotobiajesh, a lot of sense in what you say.

      First of all, I’m not gonna shout at EV over this one. Last year I said I wasn’t happy with him or the football he produced but that he inherited a bad situation and a team a little short of quality especially from the bench. This year he has tried to stick with a more attacking 4-3-3 which is good and has generally resulted in more bodies in the box. He has also, as we all asked for, tried some rotation against a poor side with a view to two big matches coming up in short succession. He had little choice with TV – who else is giving Alba rest, a backup who says he isn’t ready ? He had little or no choice with Munir ( maybe as Fotobirajesh says Coutinho at LW? After all Ini was decent there as well. ) he was undone in the end, for me, by our defensive shape which isn’t right. Once he settles on his best eleven then I’ll be on his tail if the football isn’t better. However, we are all wanting better and tighter, not necessarily easy to achieve.

      To get the goals out of way first. Yes, TV didn’t spot danger and was caught way out of position. If it were Alba 50 yes up the park you could forgive it but his only job was to stay strong defensively. For the second Pique’s error was as awful as it was inexplicable. What was he thinking ? Having looked at it about a dozen times my best bet is that the ball bounced more lively than he expected and it was all he could do to get a leg to it. Still, bad error.

      More worrying for me is the shape of the defence and our transition into defence. I take someone’s point from earlier about Piique roving up field. I had no problem in the last game where we were chasing a goal. He actually causes a lot of worry in their defence and is pretty good up there but at the moment we can’t afford that. I’m more worried about Umtiti though. He began with us like a train and Im on record as saying I thought our CB partnership could become the best in the world. However, every time I look back on a game and in particular chances against us I find myself wondering about his nose for trouble and positioning. Pique’s not blameless here. He’s the senior player and should be running that backline. They are needing to be much closer together on all occasions we aren’t on the ball. We are being undone by long balls over the top time and again. And a lot of of them are coming in Umtiti’s position. Have a look at the highlights below. Yes, Pique was to blame for a crazy pass but why was he having to chase that ball at all. Have a look from 6:29 onwards. What is Umtiti doing because he’s not thinking about defence. Pique has to dash over from his side to cover.

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=V0b3kRUP8yc#fauxfullscreen

      Not trying to excuse Pique’s pass here. He could have hoofed it out for a corner if in doubt. It’s like Lenglet’s red card. Think more about what you’re doing to the rest of a defence caught in transition and get us time to recover. Umtiti needs to start thinking more defensively. There are other examples of him causing bother by not being aware of his surroundings. I’ve heard folks having a go at SR for the first half back post unmarked header. I’m not his biggest fan defensively but have another look and see why he followed the man going inside. There was also the amazing sight of Busi having a verbal go at him as well for another incident.

      We need to be tight before we get better. If we’re not sure about scoring three or four we need not to lose silly goals. We need bodies back.

      Ryder cup is getting exciting ( from our POV) so I’ll stop there but on the to do list:

      Get Puyol in to give the backline a severe talking to and work out on the need to get into defensive formation much quicker and realise they need to be thinking about cover for each other

      Get a bit of pace into the midfield to press a bit better as Fotobirajesh suggests. You have to wonder what the mids are doing if they’re not providing any defensive cover and not able to get up into the box or help the forwards press.

      Solve the riddle of where Coutinho plays. We need a place for Arthur. Yes, he does need to think more offensively but he has the skills for that. Give him time.

      Find some way of covering adequately for Suarez and Alba. Both are irreplaceable at the moment. I’m gonna suggest we won’t be seeing Munir again any time soon and TV didn’t exactly cover himself in glory at either end. ( I would suggest Messi also needs rest but he’s gonna get the international breaks which might just do him. Pique, meanwhile should maybe refrain from wasting them travelling the world , at least for this season.)

      You’ll be glad to hear that Europe is doing well so I’m gonna leave it there !

      • September 29, 2018

        I was also thinking about Puyi giving talks with our defenders..
        Over the top balls were always an issue for us, even during Pep’s time when we were so good at positional play. But Puyi lead the line then. we really miss him.
        Alternate between Coutinho and Dembele in forward line, this might reduce Dembus minutes but .. I dont know how else… , and use Arthur and even Vidal more in the midfield.
        i hope we prove ourselves today, in one of the oldest fixtures in liga and Atletico wins against Madrid..

  7. TITO
    September 28, 2018

    What do you guys think about our new crest?
    Since they decided to make a change.

    • mvarfi
      September 28, 2018

      Less is more.
      From a formalistic point of view, it’s more streamlined. Removing “FBC”, switching to a darker red and blue, using the same tweaked primary colors for both the top and bottom halves of the crest, expanding the bottom half, removing one of the red stripes, making the ball more pronounced and the yellow outline echo the black outline, makes it more elegant.

      • Jim
        September 28, 2018

        The new crest looks as good to me as that last putt sunk to complete a foursomes whitewash this afternoon ! ( That’s about as technical as I can get with crests ! )

      • mvarfi
        September 28, 2018

        Couldn’t be helped, my background is in fine arts. I, on the other hand, had to google “foursomes whitewash”…

      • Doug
        September 28, 2018

        Well Jim, here’s hoping the US can somehow stem the tide for Saturday’s matches. If not, this could get ugly for the US side.

      • Jim
        September 29, 2018

        Well, I’m expecting that Doug. They’ll be hurting but I’m not sure they’ve learned the lesson yet that this isn’t like their typical American course where you boom your driver then wedge it to the green. They’re also suffering from a colder ball this morning which won’t go as far.

        However, I fear they will learn quickly this morning. We need a lead to take into the singles tomorrow which you usually excel at.

        Mind you, I don’t like the way Tiger is walking. I reckon his back isn’t right and Phil is so far out of form it’s not funny.

  8. Hristo
    September 28, 2018

    From Valverde:

    We will see if we make some adjustments. That doesn’t mean that we will change the whole approach, when we look at the team we know we are a side with quality players and I don’t think the system is so important.

    “I don’t think the system is very important”. What do guys think about it. “

    • mvarfi
      September 28, 2018

      Let the speculating commence…
      I read that too. I paused for a second before moving on to the other things he said. Didn’t panic, as I took it to mean that, given the talent he has at his disposal, he doesn’t need to be a slave of one system. He may potentially see the team oscillating between different systems. I see that as a strength that Valverde perceives in his team, and not as a nonchalant attitude on Valverde’s part. And no, he is not an imbecile either.

      • Hristo
        September 28, 2018

        You took it? We have been tactical mess without identity. Our system plays systematically players out of position. Now this is event, it is the fact.
        We don’t press, we dont zonal marking either.
        Despite this u seem to believe Valverde refers specifically to 4-3-3? And to me it seems as if he is generalising. Because within the context of the press he decided to share the blame with press. He took no actual responsibility. Instead he has “no idea”. Even though before the game it was apparent the line up is a disaster.

      • mvarfi
        September 28, 2018

        It could be a cultural thing coupled with a language barrier. I’m not sure. You may even be perfectly calm when you write your comments. But, you generally come across as different degrees of irritated, exasperated, flabbergasted, annoyed and indignant. Although it has been pointed out to you by other people here, you may still not be aware of this, which is why I’m being blunt, one last time.
        When you ask someone’s opinion, and they give it to you, you might want to consider making an effort not to sound like any of the above epithets in your response. The reason being that if you do sound like a flummoxed crusader, you sabotage your own desire to exchange ideas with other folk. People get turned off and they no longer want to engage you. You clearly like this space well enough to come back to it repeatedly. If you care to enlighten people and be enlighten by them, watch the tone of your comments.

      • Hristo
        September 29, 2018

        I vent in here. And used to like it.
        When someone is telling me something my intentions are to see what is true in the false and to distinguish the false in the true. Likr and don’t like i treat the same.

        “It could be a cultural thing coupled with a language barrier. I’m not sure.”
        Then use what u are sure of. Look at the facts.

        I’m also a mirror- touch synesthetic as well as pain synesthetic. This gives me significant edge when observing people. It means the part of the brain responsible for reading future intentions is working way, way better. It also gives me and huge edge when reading people faces intuitively. This puts in less than 2% of the population.

      • Jim
        September 29, 2018

        I don’t think we’re talking any of the above, Hristo. In a place like this where we all have different opinions, and that’s all anybody’s view is , what can matter in discussions is quite simply tone. It’s good to hear everybody’s views but better if they’re put together politely.

  9. September 29, 2018

    If EV really meant it, then its a bit worrying. At Barca we always had a system. Even LE had it even if it fell off in the 3rd season.. I hope it was just an aberration.

    I remember reading Hristo here for really long long time. May be he is too sincere and hence too worried and hence his comments might be carrying a bit of that worry.. I would not take anything too seriously, unless its an absolute abuse, in an online discussion as we really dont see the expressions of the commenter..

    I prefer to have all kinds of varied opinions, otherwise it would look like in some of the so called great democracies. 🙂

  10. Hristo
    September 29, 2018

    The line up is out.

    We have in midfield
    Roberto-Rakitic-Vidal.

    This is what we are gonna see.

    Roberto ans Semedo must not play on the same wing. We will like speed and penetration from the middle for Rakitic is notoriously slow in distributing the ball. Again high pressure u don’t want Roberto and Rakitic holding onto the ball for defensively their are prone to mistakes under prrssure.

    WE ARE GONNA LACK CREATIVITY.

    I hope it’s Vidal as DM, i really do.
    The rest of the line up is fine.
    I would suggest Busi, Vidal and Arthur in midfield. This way we have shit load of more speed and significantly more control and creativity.
    This is gonna be one dull game

  11. TITO
    September 29, 2018

    Again, we are not so bad, bur many things are missing. And that midfield is definitely a wrong one. We keep repeating this every game, EV simply cannot find his preferred midfield.
    And not only that, many issues to resolve on his shoulders if he wants to keep his job until the end of the season.

  12. Hristo
    September 29, 2018

    We move the bal l too slow… One chance crested by Vidal(who i like tremendously). Roberto fell a sleep. Rakitic is doing okay but oftem slows down the play. We are not moving the ball fast enough from defense to midfield.

    Semedo has been great. Together they play great but often find themselves so deep and usually surrounded.

  13. Víctor
    September 29, 2018

    Pique has been quite bad lately, isn’t it? Let’s be honest.

    However, when I see lots of individual mistakes in the last games then you gotta wonder if there isn’t really a coaching issue or whatever… one or two consecutive games with mistakes is understandable, it can happen… but 3+ games like that?

  14. Hristo
    September 29, 2018

    Semedo + Dembele. We need to take out Roberto.

    I hope Valverde does not take out Semedo out.

    Roberto must be taken out permanently from the starting eleven.
    Roberto for Busi.
    Messi for Suarez and i guarantee we win this game.

    • Jassper
      September 29, 2018

      clearly not a big fan of Roberto but still its not easy to be in him… c’mon give him a break… its not his fault that the team plays this way.. he’s not had the best of starts to the season, neither has anyone in the team(bar messi and dembele).

      • Hristo
        September 29, 2018

        Roberto is responsible for goal conceded on avarage per game.
        But this is not Valverde. There are better options

  15. Víctor
    September 29, 2018

    It’s easy to talk when things have already happened, but maybe the rotation should be one player at a time? I’m not against benching Messi against a UCL match, but Messi + Busquets? Either way, let’s hope the team turns the things around, of course, I suspect Messi will lead the remuntada in case it happens…

  16. Hristo
    September 29, 2018

    Valverde with another fart. Taking out his best midfielder in Vidal.

  17. Víctor
    September 29, 2018

    Something seems clear to me: this season the main objective is the Uefa Champions League. No other explanation to those rotations at the start of the La Liga…

    Also, people complaining about Valverde depending on Messi? Uh, yes, he does. This Barcelona team has been depending lots on Messi since more than 5 years ago… Luis Enrique also got lots of criticism for having a “Messi-dependent” team.

    Which highlights another issue, a future issue, what is the team doing to prepare for the times when Messi isn’t fit to play entire matches? What is the team going to do when Messi retires?

  18. mvarfi
    September 29, 2018

    Vidal did have a good game. His improvement bodes well. I even thought Messi would come on for the Mosquito. Then again, that would have been a message of impatience to the youngster. Vidal is a seasoned player, he can handle being taken off after playing well. Decisions, decisions, decisions.
    PS. Semedo looked like a reformed player. We played well, alas…

    • Hristo
      September 29, 2018

      U play on deserve not on seniority.

  19. Hristo
    September 29, 2018

    When Valverde took out Vidal he fucked us hard.
    We lost speed, vision and penetration. He kept Rakitic, why?
    He slowed the game again and again. Useless.

  20. Jamal103
    September 29, 2018

    Masterclass performance from Semedo. I don’t think this game was all doom and gloom but I find it troubling that we end up always having to sub in the players we wanted to rest, with a goal-deficit scenario. So much for rest i guess

  21. Víctor
    September 29, 2018

    Barcelona deserved to win this match, just like against Girona. Then again, Barcelona also deserved to draw against Real Sociedad.

  22. Hristo
    September 29, 2018

    How many times i have said that Semedo plays well with a winger.
    There was that run by Dembele, and Semedo dragged a defender with him to free up space from Dembele.
    Luckily for us, bad Roberto, he is injured and we will see Semedo start again.

  23. mvarfi
    September 29, 2018

    I just puked in my mouth.

  24. khaddafi
    September 29, 2018

    Sorry to say this but I don’t know other way to put it than TRASH TRASH TRASH.

    First you claimed people are wrongly blaming the coach. Condemning the valaverde out crew then you went ahead to list a host of problems which doesn’t end there.

    Here’s my question.

    Who’s job is it to find solution to those problems?

    Am I the one to stop the board from selling Paulinho when the coach feels he still needs him?

    Am I the one to ensure players stay focused at all times on the pitch? Leroy sane lost his starting spot in Man city team. Why? He has lost his concentration. Did Guardiola wait for the fans or results to tell him that Sane has lost his concentration? NO. So why absolve Valverde of all the problems of the team.

    Kevin brought up a lot of problems.

    My question again is which of the problems do you or I have a solution to?

    The only person employed to ensure we are not seeing all this problems is Valverde and he is doing a very shoddy job.

    If the coach cannot provide solution to all this problems then what is he still doing as the coach?

    People seem to lack the understanding of the jobs of the coaches and the players.

    Kxevin regrettably falls in this category of people.

    • Hristo
      September 29, 2018

      Yep. I hold Kevin responsible foe misleading people. He don’t want come clean.

      • Jamal103
        September 29, 2018

        If you want to understand how important the coach’s mentality is for good football, have a look at Chelsea under Sarri. Additionally, I have no doubt that Manchester United would be playing like City if Pep had joined them instead. Coaches make a difference and it’s sad we’ve chosen to squander Messi’s last year with mid-table coaches. Because that’s what Valverde is, a midtable coach. For his pedigree, he has actually outperformed his own expectations but this is Barcelona not Athletic.

      • TITO
        September 29, 2018

        You should sign up for a stand up comedian Hristo.

    • Rami
      September 29, 2018

      What is this obsession with trying to control what others should think and say?

      Kevin, Me or anyone else, Aren’t obligated to share your view of the world, The same way you’ aren’t obligated to share our same view.

      Focus on making sound and logical arguments and points, And if they are better than kevin’s, Then others will start to adapt your views, It’s a free market of ideas, And the best one will eventually triumph.

      However, All I saw from your post, Is:
      “why Kevin thinks this and why Kevin thinks that, And why does he has a different view than I am”

      Stop trying to control what individuals should and should not think, And just concentrate on making better sounding arguments and analysis than Kevin’s.

      • Hristo
        September 29, 2018

        Look at my comments regarding the starting line up. They are accurate for a reason. Because i look at tje facts and i share them time and time again. I didn’t base those accurate observations before the game based on opinions. Get your head out of your ass Lily

      • Rami
        September 29, 2018

        What??

        Even though my reply was to ‘KHADAFFI’, You’re also one of the people in here, Who is routinely rude, And intolerable of any one having a different view than yours, To the point of being obnoxious, And spend much more time attacking others for not sharing your views than giving time to form some coherent points, And that last sentence of yours , “Get your head out of your ass”, Is the perfect example of uncivilized nature of your posts, Which are unwelcome do In here.

        Kudos to Kevin, For being patient and tolerant for these types of personalities in this blog, If It were for me, The ban hammer would’ve been used by now..

      • khaddafi
        September 29, 2018

        reading your post I could see hypocrisy written all over it and by extension I see ignorance.

        Hypocrisy in the sense that kevins condemnation of other people’s opinion is boldly written in the article. You saw it and chose to ignore it but you were quick to point that I didn’t respect his opinion.

        Ignorance aspect now come to play when you failed to realize that the whole article is written not only to condem people’s opinion but to also make excuse for the coach why those people’s opinion was wrong.

        Now back to the topic, the question of opinion does not even come into play. It is not only sacrosanct but in the game of football it is cast in stones. The coach is to bring out the best in its players, make his team work well and make demands for whatever else he needs to ensure his job is a success.

        That is why coaches are the ones who gets axed and not the players. If pique is not playing well due to lack of concentration it is the job of the coach to replace him with another player but then again he lacks options in that area. Who’s fault again. He had Yerry Mina(RCB) but allowed the board to sell him and instead bought a LCB as a replacement when you already had 2 LCBs. You now have 3players for the same position while having only one for the other position.

        Lastly, I asked some questions in my first post but instead of you to provide answers to them you decided to go for me.

        Please answer those questions. Is it our jobs to make the team work well?

        If it’s not, then whose job is it?

  25. Hristo
    September 29, 2018

    My points are coherent. And i asked u to address which u failed to do. The only thing u are being good at the moment is being offended. Bravo. U actually have no arguments.

  26. okutennn
    September 29, 2018

    Behave! men,Behave!! why can’t we agree to disagree civilly

  27. khaddafi
    September 29, 2018

    I just read an article on marca.com and the paragraph quoted below sums up everything about this coach.

    “The most serious concern is that if this Barcelona team didn’t have Lionel Messi, then under normal conditions they would be a team who struggle to get into the Champions League positions.”

    This is the link to the article
    http://www.marca.com/en/football/barcelona/opinion/2018/09/29/5bafb43de5fdeaa53d8b457d.html

    For anyone who cares to read.

  28. okutennn
    September 29, 2018

    To be frank I am not a fan of Valverde n will probably remain so forever.
    Bcos even if we have depended on messi for a long tym we used to play well, keep the ball effectively, good press, quick ball movement etc. Messi provides d cutting edge to that. But now whether he is starting or on d bench, watching our games is like “house chore” most of the tym. This team can play well n win with d right manager. Look at Chelsea… Georginho is all Sari needed to facilitate his ideas for d whole team to follow. Busquets does that on regular basis but d Valverde’s tactics isn’t geared towards that.

  29. okutennn
    September 29, 2018

    I never thought I will enjoy watching teams like Chelsea, Liverpool, real Madrid, mancity etc play far far than this beloved club.

  30. Jassper
    September 29, 2018

    Truth is, we all can’t have the same view /perspective of the same thing, some people didn’t like LE cos he wasn’t like pep… I liked a LE cos he was able to use what he had. EV is doing the same thing. End of story…. Anyone who thinks otherwise, can go and argue with his refrigerator at home..

    One more thing, enough of all these rants about Kevin misleading people and those craps.. Its irritating..EV this, EV that… I bet some of you can’t even handle an U13 team..

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