Barça 1, Athletic Bilbao 1, aka “FOUR matches, same problems”

The beauty and complexity of Lionel Messi is this: He is the greatest player in the history of the game, but he is also the greatest psychological totem in the history of the game.

When he was subbed in against Athletic Bilbao with his team being down 0-1, it wasn’t that everything changed. It was that suddenly Barça looked like a team that believed it could equalize and then win. And it almost did. It was astonishing, but we have seen the effect of him coming off the bench time and again, in various states of fitness and yet another coach discovers this essential quality of the team’s captain and talisman.

The decision by Valverde not to start him against Athletic made perfect sense. Same with Busquets. With a big Champions League match coming up midweek, you can’t flog your veterans. He had to flog them last season, almost made it but fell apart during the stretch run. This season, transfers were made that brought depth, but the XI is still the XI, so rotation is necessary. That’s reality.

This means that, and there isn’t really a way to sugarcoat it, anyone asking why he rested Messi and Busquets doesn’t understand what is going on, what happened last season and what is happening this season. The move made perfect sense. But the same problems persist. Look at the Athletic goal:

— Dembele lost possession, farting around with the ball and coming to grips with Raul Garcia
— The Athletic player on the wing had an eternity to pick the perfect pass
— Because Pique was holding the last attacker on rather than springing the offside trap, that was that
— Nobody had the pace or physicality to deal with the Athletic runner, who scored the goal

After the match, Luis Suarez said that the team shouldn’t need Messi to bail it out, that the lineup should have been enough to beat Athletic. Yes, it should have been. It wasn’t. It was enough to play pretty football, and have some moments that on another day would have resulted in a goal. Today, Coutinho pranged off the crossbar and Suarez shot directly at the keeper for an easy save. That’s football.

Jordi Alba took a pass on the sideline and dribbled and dithered, with nobody coming to him for relief, giving him nowhere to put the football. You learn to do that in youth football. Nobody did. Whose fault is that? That the team doesn’t have a clear tactical sense and more importantly, seems mentally unprepared to battle in a match in the way necessary for a team that is allegedly competing for all the trophies? That is on Valverde.

There is a legitimately dysfunctional team in Manchester United, whose players are underperforming and whose manager is picking fights. If its coach, Jose Mourinho, survives until winter it will be remarkable. Barça isn’t that team, for all of the social media legions who wear their Barça agonies like stigmata. It’s sport. Understand that. It’s entertainment. As you have read here before, millionaires in short pants frolicking on a manicured lawn. And right now, too many of those millionaires aren’t doing their damn jobs. The coach gets stuff wrong. Even when stuff isn’t wrong, it will be wrong because Valverde, despite having won a domestic double last season, is already on fire in the crucible that is an insatiable, often insufferable fanbase.

So yeah. Valverde out. That will help. The bleatings of a panicked fanbase wholly unaccustomed to dealing with any sort of adversity, thankfully, won’t guide a board, even one looking to save its own asses. Valverde made errors today, in not subbing off Rakitic, or not subbing off Dembele sooner. His team has structural problems that result in players dribbling with nowhere to pass a ball, or a keeper having to hoof it long because his team still can’t effectively manage a high press.

But when Dembele makes a mazy, crazy dribble and deposits a cross to where an attacker should be but everyone is standing there watching, that isn’t on the coach. When people have poor control, don’t move to passes or perform basic functions that you learn in youth football, that isn’t on the coach. Having players that aren’t suited for the task at hand isn’t on the coach, even with the transfers he has made the past summer.

This run of points dropped in an awful week isn’t the fault of any one person, and if you believe that, then this post isn’t for you. It isn’t going to meet any of your affirmational needs. There are people you can follow on Twitter to tell you that everything is the worst. Here, know that things aren’t even that particularly bad. But there are problems that will have to be solved as a group. Team and coach. The coach will have to understand and create a structure that allows him team to perform well, and the team will have to do its job in not making silly errors.

Rakitic was desultory, just a mess. Why Arturo Vidal was instead subbed off made no sense. Munir subbed on, and many, including me, questioned it. Then he scored the tying goal. So what do we know? Except that goal was made, forged on the back of a player not interested in losing. The run, the shot, the hustle, the pass, the effort. All Messi, all the time.

There is, every season, talk of Messidependencia. There is, also talk of where would X or Y team be without Messi. But if you look back over the recent history of FC Barcelona, the last decade, where would ANY of those teams be without Messi? What makes this one different, except that it is being coached by a man supporters detest? Does Guardiola have the glory he has without Messi? No, and he will be the first to tell you that. Luis Enrique? Hell no.

We see on Twitter a lot that Barça would be a mid-table club without Messi, which is nonsense, but people want to believe it and who are any of us to argue with such a notion? The last time Barça had to play a period without Messi, he was injured. Neymar and Suarez stepped up. Why? Messi wasn’t an option. There was no looking to the bench at bad times or in moments of adversity, wondering if the coach had had enough of you, or if the talisman will come on to sate that lust for victory.

When Messi is gone, on that awful day, Barça will be different. It won’t be a mid-table club. There is too much talent for that. But even the best talent often doesn’t know what to do without a psychological crutch. The greatest player in the game is such a reality. He is a captain who leads not by getting in faces, but by example. “Do as I do. I’m running my ass off to chase this loose ball down. I won’t tell you what you should do, but look at me.” His teammates do, and the entire group is elevated.

Every team with a great player would be immeasurably altered without the presence of its best player. Why should Barça be one iota different? A way of playing? Phil Jackson’s Triangle offense was genius, many said. Other said that when you had Michael Jordan in your offense, you could have a Rhomboid attack and it would still be successful.

In the NBA Finals, the Chicago Bulls were losing a key game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Jackson pulled the starters for the subs, ciphers such as Bobby Hansen, who didn’t have talent, but they had desire. And they fought, and ran, and dove and scrapped. And suddenly, a double-digit lead was in single digits as the greatest of them all, Michael Jordan, led cheers from the bench for his hard-working teammates. When the subs did the work, the assassins, chastened, re-entered the fray and put the knife in. It was extraordinary.

Should Valverd have continued to go with his chosen XI? Did he do even more damage to a group that already seems to be damaged by inserting Messi to bail them out? It’s a question worth asking. If you want someone to learn to play without a player, if you want to rest a talisman, how should you manage that psychology?

Valverde doesn’t want to lose. He won’t be satisfied with a draw the way his team played. But he made the decisions to, short-term, get some points from a complex situation. In came Messi, and Messidependencia lives. But it never died. To expect a team to be able to subsist without the best player in history is foolhardy. Yet we complain about it all the time. That should stop. Messidependencia is real. Deal with it. Don’t complain about it. Enjoy him. He’s 31. Messi isn’t going to be with us forever. Understand that. It was fantastic the infusion of swagger and confidence that he brought to the match today. The draw is on him and his hard, hard work. Okay. I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Meanwhile, he is the talisman of a team that doesn’t have swagger, that opponents don’t fear any longer. Barça used to roll up, and some of the work of the win was already done. Today, Pique turns like an ocean liner, and he has lost a step that he never really had. It shows. He has gone from lion to target as Athletic sicced Inaki Williams on Pique time and again. The defensive flanks are still a welcome mat for opponents. Dembele is appalling in possession. If he is going to give up balls in dangerous positions as often as he does, he should be sat. Neymar lost balls like crazy, but delievered a host of other benefits. Dembele? Not as much.

Suarez is playing his best football in a great while these days, but he shot right at the keeper, didn’t even look at the goal as he dealt with the amazing pass from Vidal. Easy save rather than a goal that Messi assuredly scores. Munir made a case for more time. So did Semedo, who saved Pique’s ass and the points.

But the team was poor again, from slow player and ball movement to not moving to passes to not making runs at all, never mind having runs dictate passes. We don’t have the players to play in the manner that people crave, but rather than realizing that we have the Agonies, and damn a coach. Coutinho was hailed when he arrived. But for a team that wants to play possession football, what the hell is he there for, with his dancing around and shooting at the whites of a goalpost? Why buy Dembele?

And yet there are vestiges of the way a team used to be, in players who are talismanic to that style. Both sets have to integrate. Supporters make it sound easy, like it’s as simple as a few position changes, and off they go to juego de posicion joy. The game has changed. If it was that easy, Guardiola would have just transplanted his Barça way to Bayern and then City, and raked in the trebles. Didn’t happen. He’s playing different. Faster, more vertical, from the wings, dynamic modern football in a way that is adapted to the demands of the modern game.

Barça has a series of coaches shackled to a legacy, a way of playing that is no longer possible, trying to do it with the wrong personnel. And they try to adapt in their various ways, and they all disappoint us, destroy our joy, ruin our weekends. Pfft. Valverde and his team will have to figure it out. No matter what happens in the Madrid derby, things won’t be a disaster. No trophies this season? Even that won’t be a disaster.

But if the team can’t play in a way that maximises its talents, with passion and full commitment, that is a shame. A disaster? No. Hurricanes and tsunamis are disasters. That a team used to winning doesn’t win would suck, and we would miss out on the affirmation of supporting a victorious team. But there isn’t even joy in that any longer, as Luis Enrique during his time found out, and Valverde is finding out now.

This team has the best player in history. Messi is fantastic to watch. This team has problems, and a coach that isn;’t going to be the motivational firebrand that gets everybody fired up. Okay. Valverde out. For who, and what would or could they do differently with this same group of players? What do we want from this team? Joy, victory, beauty, the kind of passion and exultation that comes with excellence. What do we have? Not that. How we deal with this here, this now, is up to each of us.

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Written by:

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

121 Comments

  1. khaddafi
    September 29, 2018

    VAR has just been suspended in Madrid derby. Casemiro clear penalty foul didn’t even got to VAR.

  2. Rivaldo
    September 29, 2018

    Ok. So I read all of that and I note that the players are also to shoulder that blame but there is alot to be asked of Valverde.

    I often question what has Valverde improved in this team. In my eyes he has been no different that Tata Martino thus far. I also can’t name a single player that have taken a step forward under his tutelage; if anything we’ve seen regression. You lot are free to correct me.

    Tactically I don’t see what he brings despite this notion of him bringing solidity. Lucho and Unzue fixed our corners issues and brought the transition game with a strong focus on fitness and intensity. Pep brought a unified team who attacked and defended with great discipline together and the “press”. I am still trying to find our system.

    He uses players in the wrong positions: sonce everybody likes examples here we go. Why has Malcom been used on the left nullifying his shooting threat to same extent and same with Rafinha; the game he started he and Roberto should switched flanks plus Rakitic should’ve actually been the LCM and let Roberto be the CDM- why was I annoyed? Because he saw hoe well this worked in the preseason. Rafinha cuts inside giving Semedo some space and support and doesn’t occupy the same channels but create a lane due to the attention he’ll draw with his creativity and dribbling.

    Again hasn’t developed a player and the youngsters – not a prayer. He has bow to the hierarchy of the team and has folks agreeing that he had no other options. Against Roma that was a lie and it is a lie this season. Plenty on the bench but they have to be groomed and a system needs to be in place for them to thrive under.
    If he is going to give Messi that much freedom then he has to adjust the team shape – the right side of unbalanced (this comment isn’t based on today but generally)

    Players need to step up: Yes . But they need to be put in a system to do so or ee run the risk of beimg like Messi’s Argentina (granted I like some of what i saw today from some players when he wasn’t there) Certain got some liberation and there was a move cohesive/balanced press.

    • Rivaldo
      September 29, 2018

      Apologies for the typos…
      Smh

    • Adekay
      October 1, 2018

      I so much agree with the Malcom part. He did the same thing when coutinho just arrived(keot playing him on the right).

  3. TITO
    September 29, 2018

    Nothing to do with our match today.
    Just want to point out double standards when VAR is used. A clear handball from Casemiro and the ref is not reacting at all to at least check with his colleagues the situation. And of course, not even someone from that VAR room thought that he might consider to watch at least the video once more.
    And then, Lengle’s dismissal comes to mind.

  4. khaddafi
    September 29, 2018

    If Barcelona don’t improve, then we might as well say goodbye to the league cos the Madrid cabal has a way of using officiating to there advantage any season they sense Barça having a poor team.

    One just need to see the monumental officiating blunders in favor of Madrid in 2012 and 2017 the only times Madrid has won the league in a decade.

    Coincidentally these are seasons Barça were poor but not too poor to not have won the league.

    If culers thinks the Lenglet red card was an isolated incident, The suspended VAR in the Madrid derby this evening is clear statement of intent.

  5. mvarfi
    September 29, 2018

    Thank you Kxevin.
    I hear you on almost everything except one blanket statement, that the team was poor today. I thought we played with more focus and purpose than we did against Leganes, although, that’s not saying much. Valverde’s experiment continued today, but it’s still nowhere near crystallization. And we payed for that.

    PS. Given that Messi has been a muse of yours time and again, are you sure you’re not a fan of his yet? He is the pinnacle. I, for one, would forgive you if you were. You can afford this exception.

  6. Khing_prince
    September 29, 2018

    I almost feel like EV is caught between two ends; his instintive mid-table mentality to be defensively solid and the desire of the board forcing him to stick with the 4-3-3 and play attractive football(correct me if I’m wrong). It causes a lack of committment on his part and it seems to trickle down to the players, I don’t see any motivation,hunger or drive in our players bar Messi and Suarez. Valverde is what he is, it just annoying that it’s affecting our beloved club.

  7. TITO
    September 29, 2018

    One thing though, it is coach’s fault if one of your players is dribbling in a dangerous area that can lead to a serious threat to your goal and you haven’t talk to him about not doing that, especially when knowing that he is prone to that.
    But, if he did talked to Dembele to not be so adventurous in that area, and he is still doing that, then bench him!
    Another thing. What do you expect of a midfield with Vidal, Rakitic and SR to create? And Vidal was best of them today.
    Someone already mentioned earlier, maybe Valverde should rotate one player at a time, and by now to know his best line-up.

  8. okutennn
    September 29, 2018

    Why rest players for these crap UCL group games? Maybe we’ve taken qualification to the round 16 for granted but d reality is Barca will qualify (1st or 2nd it doesn’t matter) for r16. it isn’t d knockout stages yet. Gather enough points in d Liga in these early stages such that you can afford to rest players when d knockout stages come around; knowing u have some room for error in d liga. Last season we had lead enough to give our key players some rest for d UCL knockout stages which was wasted. To rectify the error we need to first gather enough points in d first round of d liga (not resting messi n co against leganes n Bilbao for all I care). From my observation Messi needs to play more because he is already getting d needed rest from d international breaks. Hotspurs didn’t rest their key players in d league if though they have no point n d mighty Barca is next….

  9. okutennn
    September 29, 2018

    it would be a cold day in hell when inter or Hotspurs or PSV qualify ahead of Barca whether our key players are rested for d UCL group matches or not

  10. TITO
    September 30, 2018

    Our next four games are Totenham, Valencia, Sevilla, Inter! Let’s see how we manage this.

  11. Hristo
    September 30, 2018

    “His team has structural problems that result in players dribbling with nowhere to pass a ball, or a keeper having to hoof it long because his team still can’t effectively manage a high press.

    But when Dembele makes a mazy, crazy dribble and deposits a cross to where an attacker should be but everyone is standing there watching, that isn’t on the coach.”

    Okay. First u say there are structural issues, later in in the article u say there an issue with the system, yet Kevin u argue that the players aren’t where they are supposed to and that’s their fault?
    With no clear system and no structure isn’t not apparent thete will back lack of organization in place.

    The issues we had last season we still do, ehich leads me to another senseless paragraph in the article:

    This means that, and there isn’t really a way to sugarcoat it, anyone asking why he rested Messi and Busquets doesn’t understand what is going on, what happened last season and what is happening this season. The move made perfect sense. But the same problems persist”
    So last season we didn’t rotate when he had to, right. This season, we rotate the wrong players.
    Busi was rested two weeks ago. He does not need rest. But Rakitic does need rest. It shows he is tired mentally and physically. Suarez needs rest. Pique needs rest.
    You are blatantly assuming u know why Busi and Messi were on thr bench. U don’t know. I don’t know.
    What do know however is that Rakitic is exhausted, and Pique needs to be on the bench too.
    The hypocrisy in this article is freaking out there.

    I wrote extensively here and on BB as to why Sergi must not fulfil defensive capacity in any role. And i did say here we will lack creativity. I could see it, why can’t the coach or you?
    By the time we transition the ball to the final third Coutinho and Dembele were surrounded. A prime example was Semedo needing to dribble between four players. Arthur will do way better in transition the ball fast enough. He has proven to have this quality innate. Instead we play Rakitic who every game takes for ever to pass the ball forward.

  12. September 30, 2018

    Vidal really surprised me with that pass. He also saved us a goal. He was clearly the best in mf, which itself was strange. Subbing him instead of Rakitic was really terrible unless our physios want to save his knee. But his reaction for the sub says otherwise. How poor should Rakitic play to be subbed by EV?
    Semedo – excellent. Very happy for him.
    Also was gladly surprised by some of the passes by Lenglet.
    Messi is getting really frustrated with ref’s. I hope he dont earn their ire with actions on the pitch.

    • Hristo
      September 30, 2018

      Favoritism. Notice the players who played the most are those who obay Valverde the most, even if tremendously hurt the team.
      Roberto and Rakitic are those. But he wont drop influential senior players either.

  13. September 30, 2018

    I really don’t know why so many people are freaking out this much. The season has just started. Calm down and trust your team. There are problems, to be sure, but it’s not fair to put all of the blame on Valverde. Give it a bit of time. He has a lot of new players that he is trying to incorporate into his team and he is trying to find a way to play a style that the fans can enjoy AND can produce results. Not an easy feat, especially when the team is not really equipped to play the way it used too.

    You guys complaining now can’t have it both ways. You can’t spend the whole of last season whining about 4-4-2 and what a coward Valverde is and how he never rotates and then also complain when he does exactly what was asked for and the team starts leaking goals. Who knows, maybe he actually knew what he was doing trying to instill more defensive solidity when half the team can’t (won’t?) press.

    We will have to see how the season progresses but for now he seems to want to stick to 4-3-3. Personally I am not worried yet, our best seasons have been the ones where we start off slow and start to really hit our peak post Feb.

    Our team is stacked with quality and we have Messi. Valverde has to find a system that gets the best out of them and that will take some time. For now I am just going to try and enjoy the ride.

    Remember guys, at the end, this is just a game. It is meant to be fun and entertaining. If all you see is bile and hate and anger then why bother? Life is too short, go do something you find fun!

    Another thing I wanted to say, a few comments in the last post that attacked Kevin were completely out of line. Everyone has a right to his/her opinion and Kevin is doing us all a service with his consistently brilliant writing. Nobody has any right to insult him just because they don’t agree with his views. If you feel that strongly about it then why even come and read his posts? There are plenty of less level headed barca bloggers out there who you can read and share your similar views with. I have been following and reading Kevin’s writing since I started supporting barca back when Ronaldinho joined the club and have yet to come across a writer who is more balanced and fair in his approach to writing and discourse, and normally the vast majority of commentators fit with that vibe too. Let’s keep it that way please!

  14. Jim
    September 30, 2018

    Nipping in just before the singles really get going in the Ryder Cup as its ( yet!) another day spent entirely in front of the tele.

    First of all, I’m with Kxevin on the rotation. I looked at the lineup, reckoned we wouldn’t have a whole lot of invention in the middle but should be able to cope with Coutinho up front offering something. A pretty defensive set of mids so shouldn’t have too much trouble defensively, although I did wonder what Arthur has done to avoid a regular start. So I can’t shout at EV for the lineup. Messi and Busi will need rest for the games coming up. This should have been the least problematic.

    And there were some good points. Semedo will have done his prospects no harm with his display and offered more dribbling skills than I had credited him with. Suarez was everywhere. Not sure where the shooting without even looking at the goal comes from. Great run from Suarez, great vision from Vidal but the ball came to the left of Suarez who had to turn back to get to it. Had to be hit first time and without having 360 degree turn in his neck no way he can also be looking at the goal. Great effort.

    Pique ! Lost a step he never had. Well, we agree on the last bit ( almost as he’s much quicker than anyone gives him credit for. What he can’t do is turn as quickly as I’d like. I can’t help but be reminded of the Suarez discussion here. Old, past it, overweight, blah blah etc. We all know the injuries and defensive setup last year but it can’t possibly be a reason. Well, it’s the same with Pique. He hasn’t played badly at all over the last few games. He is saving us tons by his positioning alone. He has made a couple of errors but only one to my mind that can be attributed to him. This game was the same.

    No, he can’t Spring an offside trap inside his penalty area because :

    1. That’s lunacy for a start. You don’t suddenly dash out when you’re at your own penalty spot. Quick way to lose lots of goals. You defend. ( I know, an ugly word)

    2. You can’t dash out when ( as Kxevin correctly points out) you have no pressure on the ball . I’m not kidding at all here when I say I could have played that ball for their goal. Two players stood with no intention of moving out. He could wait till he saw a run he liked.

    3. Their wide man could easily have run onto the ball at our byeline when Pique would have had to be at the front of the 6 yd box to defend it. You can see this as he sees the possibility and takes a step back.

    4. Elementary offside playing. You take your position from the last man back ( in this case Pique). Pique has to take his from those he can see in front and SR has to take his from Pique’s line. Doesn’t matter if he thinks Pique should be up further. Lastly he should know where his man is ( he’s behind you ! ) and cover the run regardless.

    So no, Pique was not in the slightest to blame. In fact, I would argue he was possibly the only one, along with Lenglet who was doing his job.

    Again, this nonsense about Inaki Williams running away from him in a foot race. I thought we’d agreed long ago that the one thing Williams does better than anyone in La Liga is run. No, Pique is not gonna overtake him ( although the guy never pulls away either). But look at a highlights vid of the incident with Iniaki’s chip. Pique is ( correctly here) trying to keep a high line up towards the halfway. However, he is done by Lenglet on this occasion standing four or five yards back which gives Williams room to accelerate into.

    My main point here is not just to exonerate Pique from something. It’s that our defensive line is a mess and has been for some time. It needs sorting. For me, and this is just a judgement call, I’d rather we defended more and played offside less. I like us pushing up to prevent space between the lines but not at the cost of proper defending. No, SR isn’t great in defence but a huge part of the problem is a midfield ( think largely Rakitic for me) unable to close much down in front of them.

    And a defensive shambles is largely down to the manager and coaches. And with that the singles are underway . . .

  15. Jim
    September 30, 2018

    Ole, ole ,ole ,ole. . . .

    After more than a few glasses of a rather nice French classic. Bouchard, from Beaune ( Kxevin, as someone who loves all things French I can recommend this one ) it’s probably better that I don’t attempt any analysis.

  16. mvarfi
    September 30, 2018

    @ KHING_PRINCE
    I don’t see a lack of commitment on Valverde’s part. No sign that he’s in a dilemma either. Instead, I see a lack of respect and patience with him. Whatever the rationale behind people’s antipathy towards him, it doesn’t justify their lack of appreciation for the process. The process of building something different, which, like it or not, requires time. How much time? Only time will tell. There’s no way around that fact. Instead of focusing on what incremental improvements can be seen, the focus is on how Valverde screwed up the line-up, the substitutions, and on, and on, and on. He will make mistakes. It’s called trial and error. What matters is steady improvement and that people bother to look at this Barca with less prejudice.

    • Víctor
      September 30, 2018

      The rationale is easy: people hate Valverde because he is not Guardiola. Hell, even Luis Enrique got lots of hate, despite winning a Treble.

      Yes, I can get that Barcelona is not playing as great as they did with Pep, but I think that fans are suffering from some kind of “nostalgia” and therefore “remember” the Guardiola’s era as an always “amazing football games” one, when in reality… even with Guardiola Barça had its share of dull games, and even luck played in favor of Barça (as well as against the team) during some crucial moments.

      And the last year with Guardiola was one were the team just hogged to possession for possession’s sake…

      Valverde is not perfect? alright. He makes mistakes? of course. Has had his fair share of luck? Certainly. However, he is no idiot, he knows that playing just like Pep’s era is kinda delusonal, we don’t longer have Xavi and Iniesta which were a main component for that football… he knows he has to adjust to whatever personel he has at his disposal.

    • Khing_prince
      September 30, 2018

      Actually thinking of it holistically, There is no time. In football it’s what happens in the here and now, the past and/or future usually takes a backseat.

      • mvarfi
        September 30, 2018

        I was under the impression that the recent past of Barca and the anxiety for the club’s future are what fuel the current responses of fans who are not keen on Valverde. That’s logical. The ‘here and now’ is not everlasting. It’s in flux. But Valverde is perceived as an agent of the boring stasis. That’s illogical.

    • Khing_prince
      October 1, 2018

      I stand corrected @Mvarfi but all I’m trying to say is that Messi only has few years at his peak and we are wasting it with such mediocracy

      • mvarfi
        October 1, 2018

        If you’re talking about the aesthetics of the football, played under Valverde, as mediocre, then I can understand. You’re entitled to your taste. If your talking about winning a double and almost pulling off an unbeaten run as mediocre displays, then your definition of mediocrity is very strange.

    • Khing_prince
      October 1, 2018

      That was what underlined our mediocracy, I can’t count the number of times we rode our lucks or the number of times kxevin said we won a match that we deserved to lose. Come on Mvarfi, you’re a tough one but even you know that last season was riddled with incompetence.

  17. Osas
    September 30, 2018

    After following you guys for years, I have decided to join in the discussions. . I mostly rush to check if kxevin has posted anything after a bad game. It usually calms me down . Now I can prepare for the next game with renewed enthusiasm.. though I don’t like valvede not giving more opportunities to the new signings. Why sub off Vidal when rakitic annoys with his every touch on the ball… May be should have someone watching from the TV for. How he didn’t see what we almost all saw is funny. . Well , I’ ll take a bilboa draw if it means we beat Spurs. Thanks again kxevin.

  18. Osas
    September 30, 2018

    And oooh , forgive my English. Not my first language.

    • mvarfi
      September 30, 2018

      I have no seniority here, but welcome.
      PS. I wouldn’t be surprised if Valverde starts Vidal instead of Rakitic on Wednesday. Could be why he took him off at the hour mark, to keep him fresher for Wembley.

  19. Khing_prince
    September 30, 2018

    I saw something yesterday, the lack of belief in our players without Messi,they continously looked at the bench praying for him to come on and Valverde didn’t help either putting him on to save the game, it was like serving cocaine to someone trying to rehab himself, if we were going down so be it afterall the plan was to rest him, lets not decieve ourselves, as fun as Messidependicia is, it gets annoying sometimes even the man himself seems to dislike it. Secondly, I hate when people say we don’t have the right players to play one way and blah blah blah, We have world class players it’s just a matter of the manager finding the right balance. I mean see Rakitic in the world cup he was on another level, I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t unlock those potentials for barca. It’s just a matter of motivation and committment.

    • Víctor
      September 30, 2018

      “I hate when people say we don’t have the right players to play one way and blah blah blah, We have world class players it’s just a matter of the manager finding the right balance”

      Yes, we have world class players, but not the world class players fit to play like Guardiola’s Barça did. And if you don’t believe me, just look at Guardiola’s Bayern and Guardiola’s Manchester City, they play/played somewhat like Guardiola’s Barça, but not exactly the same and, also, has yet to win a UCL. Guardiola in 5 seasons outside Barça has yet to win the UCL, and he won 2 UCLs with Barça in the span of 4 years.

      Why is that despite the fact that Bayern and Man City have also lots of world class players? Well, the answer is easy: they have great midfielders, good forwards, and good defenders but not the same talent and skills needed to perform like Barça 2009-2012 did.

  20. Víctor
    September 30, 2018

    And man, is the fanbase spoiled? It just takes one draw or one defeat to have lots of complaints and bitching towards the team, dire predictions, tons of “told you so” and “sack the coach” demands.

    It was just logical that with a string of three adverse results that same fanbase would be almost imploding…

    • October 1, 2018

      It is ludicrous Victor! Don’t think there is a more spoiled or entitled fanbase in world football. As if winning for so long gives us the right to continue winning. As if it’s easy to win consistently playing beautiful football.

      I for one consider myself incredibly lucky to have been able to watch and support one of the best clubs in history and the best player ever deliver over and over for more than a decade. As far as I am concerned they don’t owe us anything. They have given me more joy than I ever could have imagined coming from watching a sport.

      There will come a time when Messi will retire and Barca will probably not be able to dominate all before them so consistently, and that is OK. I will still support and enjoy watching Barca no matter what. I may stop reading twitter though!! Haha

  21. Khing_prince
    October 1, 2018

    You’re correct but come to think of it. Do you think Xavi and Iniesta would be what they are without proper management? NO. Let’s not kid ourselves

    • mvarfi
      October 1, 2018

      No kidding here. No body knows how Xavi and Iniesta would have developed under a different manager. Whether or not they would have bloomed with the same speed as they did under Guardiola (I assume you’re talking about him). There is no way to prove that one way or the other.
      I never got to watch that Barca, but by all accounts that team sounds like the perfect storm for the world of football. In other words, it happened not solely because Guardiola was there. It happened because of many things, including a wise board who saw Guardiola’s potential, Guardiola’s genius, the frightening quality he had at his disposal to implement his ideas and the state of football at the time. All of which has already been discussed and agreed upon by many folk, including Kxevin.

    • Khing_prince
      October 1, 2018

      We agree on something. So you’re pinning all these on our current board not being as wise. hehe!!!

      • mvarfi
        October 1, 2018

        Yeah… no.
        Missed it completely, or grabbing at straws.

  22. October 1, 2018

    As a general comment, if you don’t enjoy or think the writing here has anything to say, don’t come. It’s as simple as that. I write for two, soon to be three places. And two of them pay me for the work, which is cool. This is where I started, and is my home. Here is where I think about the game, free of agendas and the other panic and, to be, nonsense that permeates this fanbase after the slightest bit of adversity. That effort at level-headedness will continue, as will my oft-stated complete lack of interest in what anyone thinks about what I write. Take it, or leave it.

    Hristo, I get that you write for Barca Blaugranes, but I will thank you NOT to use this comments space to pitch your stuff over there. I don’t go over to BB and pimp my stuff, so I and the other mods expect the same courtesy here.

    • Khing_prince
      October 1, 2018

      And Kxevin’s hand is forced

    • Dar_vincy
      October 1, 2018

      . Good one. Btw, your invaluable insights In this space are well appreciated, Kxevin.

    • Hristo
      October 1, 2018

      One cannot do “escaping” and be level-headed at the same time. This should be obvious.
      You told me quite a bit about yourself. What i learned is that you act as a professional in your other endeavours while here you loosen up that professionalism so the nature of your writing here is more an “escapism” than a professional approach to writing. One has to be diligent even in play.
      If you want to escape then do it during the game not after, or before. Be serious.
      Adversity is part of nature and nature isn’t stupid. What our coach is doing is sheer Stupidity and that has nothing to do with adversity. Lost Iniesta, and Xavi and those are huge holes, no ones fault. Coming back from that is adversity. But making week in week out stupid, repetitive decisions is an act of arrogance and stupidity. Valverde said he does not pay attention to criticism. In my work the most I’ve leaned is when someone told something i didn’t like. And because i didn’t liked it i listen even more intently. The truth is often in what we don’t like than in what we already know.
      You say u don’t care, yet here u are writing. Observe the fact.

      And by the way, i don’t write for BB. Never have.

      “as will my oft-stated complete lack of interest in what anyone thinks about what I write. Take it, or leave it.”. This a naive statement. If it were true u would not read or write at all. Your profession is based on – what others think. It thrives on that.

  23. TITO
    October 1, 2018

    What’s the “problem” with Malcom? Is he injured?
    I see he is not included in the team for CL.
    You can say whatever you want, but Valverde do make some strange decisions. Last season, and he continues this season as well.

    • Dar_vincy
      October 1, 2018

      Yeah. Mind-boggling decisions that verges on outlandish. Did the same to Mina and the kid wind up with desultory form after a promising start. Dembele seems lately to need a kick up his backside, and the one person that could be used to refocus him is out in the cold. I fear for Malcolm’s form if he eventually gets to play, as any disappointing performance from him would be misconstrued as a justification for his omission when it is, in fact, the other way round.

    • Rami
      October 1, 2018

      In the current 4-3-3 system, with Messi occupying the right side, Malcom can only realistically play in dembele’s position on the left (Not his natural position) Specifically as a sub for dembele, Nothing more, Not to mention that even if valverde wanted to play someone other than dembele on the left, The best choice will be playing coutinho instead of playing a player like malcom outside of his position, This alone puts him low on the priority list.

      But When you combine this, With the current huge problems in the defense and midfield, Which Malcom provides absolutely no solutions or even improvements on these two aspects, And when you have other versatile like rafinha and denis who can play as both kids and winger, It puts Malcom on the very very bottom of the call-up sheet, This doesn’t mean he’s not a good player, It’s just unfortunate outcome for him due to the current system and tactics, I am not even including he was injured for two weeks.

      To summarize, The only way for Malcom to play in our current 4-3-3 formation is on his unnatural position on the left, In which a better player such as coutinho can occupy instead of dembele.

      • mvarfi
        October 1, 2018

        Agreed.
        I would add that no matter how tempting it is to feel aghast at Valverde’s choices, you can be more sure than not that his decisions are generally far better informed than our ‘would-be’ decisions. Why? Because he sees first hand how his players train and behave away from our scrutiny.

        • TITO
          October 2, 2018

          Than why bother buying him? Or we have money to spend just for the sake of it?
          I’m sure that his information are far better than ours, but decisions based on those information are strange, don’t you think so?
          Would not like to see a second Yery Mina case with Malcom, because i truly believe that he can be very useful for us.
          Dembele was crap the last two games, make a change, bench him, tell him that he needs more discipline in his game. Few good games will not guarantee you a starting place until the end of the season. Him and Coutinho must work much more on their defensive duties, otherwise we are screwed.

          • mvarfi
            October 2, 2018

            Firstly, I was pointing out that Valverde may have good reasons not to include him in the squad. Reasons that he is unlikely to share with us. Consequently, all we can do is speculate.

            Secondly, we don’t know if Valverde even asked for Malcom. His last minute purchase seems un-Valverde like. The decision to bring him on board may not have been an afterthought, as someone suggested, but we don’t know who had the last word on it. What their priorities were. They may have deemed more important adding depth to the squad than worrying about how many minutes Malcom will get his first season. They may even have explained this to Malcom, but he decided to join Barca anyways. We can’t know.

            What we do know is that Malcom is very talented, very young and was recently injured. He will likely get more minutes when the Copa matches start, if Dembele’s poor defending does not improve or he needs resting, and whether, God forbid, we have injuries.

      • Dar_vincy
        October 1, 2018

        Good points made, Rami, except that his purchase wasn’t an afterthought. All the highlighted factors should have been taken cognizance of, with an informed decision made on his suitability for us. Continued omission would certainly not do his form or confidence any good.

      • Hristo
        October 1, 2018

        Either Suarez or Messi must be bench. So it’s Suarez. Regardless of how good he is at the moment. Messi as RW spoils our game, and his game.
        Coutinho – Messi-Dembele
        Arthur-Busi-Vidal
        Alba-Pititi-Semedo

        This line can do and play any type of football.

        It has almost no weakness.

        Alba provides Width and can handle thr wing on his own. Semedo can do the same.

        Busi as DM and Arthur as the orchestrator. Vidal provides both protection and penetration. He also has tendency to sniff out turnovers. He is truly complete package.
        Arthur plays well on the left of midfield nearly as good as in the very center. Having both Busi and Vidal is very important when integrating Arthur.
        Vidal plays well with Semedo and Semedo well with Dembele. This stretches the field, hence creates space for Messi in the middle

        P.S. Like Alves Semedo was also coverted midfielder. Like in the last game, when playing with confidence, he can drift inside. He often used to do in Portugal. He was very attacking, very confident too.

        • squeen
          October 1, 2018

          That’s a pretty formidable line-up.

          Still, I don’t think I’d go with just 10 men unless I absolutely had to.

        • Osas
          October 2, 2018

          Nice line up , but I still prefer Suarez over dembele they both lose the ball easily , but Suarez presses the centerbacks more than anybody in our Frontline . That is an advantage i think.

          • Hristo
            October 2, 2018

            Suarez does not score in away matches. It was 2 years ago the last time he did.
            When the away matches are troublesome for us in scoring i would trust Dembele more than Suarez.
            When u have Vidal and Busi and Arthur, would be less worried. Dembele also defends morw tham before, while Suarez will stay on top, with Messi and Coutinho. Those three womt defend. While Coutinho can, he runs out of air to quick

            • TITO
              October 3, 2018

              The last time Suarez scored or gave an assist in an away CL game was 3 years ago.

      • October 2, 2018

        Good points, but if thats the truth then why buy him at all?

        But what is told by locals is that Malcolm was a board’s purchase without much back up from Valverde!
        I feel sorry for the kid as he seems to have potential. And whenever he is on, his defensive work is much better than Dembele’s. If we didnt buy him, he would have developed in Roma. a pity.

    • Hristo
      October 1, 2018

      You think that is strange. He didn’t take Malcom, instead he took 3 goal keepers. Yep. True story

    • Osas
      October 2, 2018

      It annoying really. He doesn’t seem to trust the new signings , he needs at least to give them the chance to play.

    • Khing_prince
      October 1, 2018

      No respect for El Presidente

      • Dar_vincy
        October 2, 2018

        Unfortunately, that is the reality, Khing_Prince. The wrong approach to take in correcting our current predicament is allow sentiments to becloud our judgement. If dropping some players, experienced as they may be, will rescue us from this unsightly clusterfuck, so be it.

    • Khing_prince
      October 2, 2018

      I’ve got such a soft spot for him, you know he’s not all at fault for the De Marcos goal,the backline fell asleep because of the Dembele incident probably hoping for a foul.

  24. Víctor
    October 1, 2018

    Off-Topic: it is kinda sad to see people arguing on the Cristiano Ronaldo alleged rape case. This is a serious thing and it has nothing to do with him being better player than Messi or not. Messi’s fans are taking this and shoving it on CR’s fans saying things like “my GOAT is not a rapist” and so on…

    Of course, same shit happened when the tax evasion cases appeared, from both players. Dudes, we are talking about legal shit… stop your fanatism a little… while you discuss the cases.

    As for the woman accusing CR7 for rape 9 years ago… seems legit. I do remember that there was a scandal involving Cristiano Ronaldo way back then… but it never made the big headlines…

    • October 2, 2018

      Actually, its really interesting how European media is quite silent about the case. In fact, when the first allegation came out years back there was more coverage. May be Ronaldos PR team was as strong then. If its true, I hope he is punished, but I do pity him. On side he is accused as gay and other side this.
      I dont know what happens in twitter world between fan groups. But it is true media scales up things differently for both the players. When Leo tax case was out, it was a headline news, even in India!. The treatment for CR7 tax case much much subdued.
      I guess it is also because there is hardly any personal news of Messi out there, so they jump onto anything.
      However, it must be said why Goal.com chose Ronaldo’s agent as the most powerful person in football, some years before, even ahead of Blatter, Perez and Platini. 🙂

  25. surfwaxed
    October 1, 2018

    Kev – Excellent; you better captured the thoughts I have.
    Perfection: “In came Messi, and Messidependencia lives. But it never died. To expect a team to be able to subsist without the best player in history is foolhardy. Yet we complain about it all the time. That should stop. Messidependencia is real. Deal with it. Don’t complain about it. Enjoy him. He’s 31. Messi isn’t going to be with us forever. Understand that. It was fantastic the infusion of swagger and confidence that he brought to the match today.”

  26. mvarfi
    October 1, 2018

    @VICTOR
    I was made aware of this only the other day. I haven’t done any extensive reading on it, so I can’t commit to an opinion, yet. But if it’s true, then I hope he gets duly punished.
    PS. Relieved that I’m not on Twitter to see the puerile ugliness that you’re talking about…

  27. squeen
    October 2, 2018

    Rewatching the goal, Ray Hudson said.

    “Life beats down the soul, but Messi reminds you that you have one.”

    You cares if they tied. That moment was magic. Messi was relentless.
    Bravo!
    Barca!

    • mvarfi
      October 2, 2018

      He does utter little jewels, doesn’t he?

  28. Jim
    October 2, 2018

    Article by Graham Hunter on dilemma EV faces formation wise. For me, a pretty accurate account but nothing we haven’t been discussing for months. In essence we are struggling to find the right three in midfield who can protect the defence but still offer something going forward, the need for a 4-4-2 in Europe or the risky option of 3-4-3. For me, it’s probably more a case of the right personnel in key positions with the right instructions but still worth a read.

    http://global.espn.com/football/club/barcelona/83/blog/post/3653872/barcelona-coach-ernesto-valverde-caught-in-tactical-no-mans-land

    • squeen
      October 2, 2018

      Yes, It was pretty even-handed.

      I have to say, I am liking the football more this year than last (despite missing Iniesta!). Attacking. Taking risks. Entertaining the fans. Sometimes losing. It’s all part of the 4-3-3 package like the article said.

      Surprises for me last game:
      – liking Semedo—he just got moved to my 1st choice RB. Beautiful shot-stop in the box!
      – liking Vidal—always thought he was an a-hole, but its a sad testament to the human condition that you don’t mind so much when he’s YOUR a-hole. Throwing your body down to make a save on the goal-line!
      – disliking Rakatic—a mess on offense. The place attacks went to die.
      – loving Busquets—those crazy reaching legs! New appreciation on what he does for Barca both on attack AND defense.
      – loving Saurez—he came to the team to help break down parked buses and no one does it better
      – disliking Coutinho—I don’t think he’s a winger. Too easy forced off the ball. I think he see Messi doing things and thinks: “Oh! I could try doing that too.” Sadly, can’t/shouldn’t. I think I like him more as an attacking midfielder.

      In general, the starting 11 came on with fire in their belly. Aiming to show they could do it without Messi. Maybe they could have without er-Rakatic (ouch!). But they played as very, very talented individuals—not as a team, and certainly not as a collection of players you grew up playing together. Zero chemistry. Too many folks in weird positions.

      Still, should be an entertaining season, which is a relief. I started out feeling very disconnected from the team. Too many new faces.

      EV is doing what is asked out him: more attacking football, more rotation, focus on CL. What’s the problem? Quit worrying the silverware and enjoy the ride.

      Lastly, Messi as captain is certainly something to get excited about this year. Man alive, he wants it! Divine.

  29. Osas
    October 2, 2018

    The thought of pique on this form facing kane puts the fear of the Lord in me . I hope we get the assured pique back tomorrow . That will be key tomorrow. If we get him , then our only worry will getting the short Lucas away from him as much as possible. He doesn’t do too good with short player who runs like rats around him.

    • Jim
      October 2, 2018

      Thanks.

      Oasis, not sure why. Nothing wrong with Pique that a decent defence/ midfield around him wouldn’t cure and I’ve a feeling it’ll be a four man midfield tomorrow. Bigger worry will be getting support up to Suarez.

      Interesting that Man City have just lost a similar goal to us at the weekend because Kompany did what Pique refused to do, which was leap out looking for offside while his RB was playing them on. They’d never have lost a goal in that situation if they had just stayed goalside . When will teams learn to defend properly ?

      Not particularly worried about Kane. He’s not very quick. As you say the smaller nippier players are more likely to cause trouble.

        • October 3, 2018

          Jim, read an article about Tottenham and Pochettino in Guardian.. i was worried because of our recent loss of points. But the Spurs fan comments make me feel like we are much superior!!!
          And from Poch’s words (he also says Leo was so close to joining Espanyol on loan) also gives the impression that they might defend with a bus!
          I dont watch much of EPL, so I really dont know what to expect. What do you think Jim. Are we going to be looking very good, because they have 4 players injured?

          • Osas
            October 3, 2018

            They will still be better than leganes , injuries doesn’t really matter , not when the replacements are aware they will playing Barca and the world will be watching . If we don’t give our A game. It going to be a long night. Hopefully playing again at Wembley will be motivation enough.

          • Jim
            October 3, 2018

            For me, Fotobirajesh, it really all depends on how we play not them. They aren’t good enough, even with a full team, to beat us if we play well.

            I can see us responding to recent setbacks and thrashing them, I can see us playing with just Suarez up front and creating nothing and I can see us having a lot of the ball and losing a daft goal.

            What I would say is that Eriksen is a big loss for them but I still expect them to come out and try to play. That could be a problem for them if we’re in the mood. Biggest dangers for me are Kane ( obviously, – a clever player) and particularly Son who gets where you don’t want him to appear.

  30. Khing_prince
    October 3, 2018

    Loving our line up right now. What a way to give Arthur his full debut

    • Jim
      October 3, 2018

      Yeah, it’ll be good to see him get a run. I’m assuming it’s a 4-4-2 ? In which case it’s a question of can we get enough bodies into the box.

    • Hristo
      October 3, 2018

      It’s a stupid line up. How can you not See? Even though Spurs miss half their starters we are conservative. I’m not gonna be suprised if we lose. Valverde plays not to lose instead To Win.

      Any line up with Rakitic and Suarez is unbalanced, especially with Messi playing too.
      I predict 2-1 Tottenham. Rakitic to score for us

    • Khing_prince
      October 3, 2018

      Seems like Coutinho would play more advanced. Anyway I pip them to give me a lovely present ahead of my birthday. Goodluck to the lads

  31. Hristo
    October 3, 2018

    This midfield has no creativity. Only who will play too deep. Messi will drop deeper, Semedo will be isolated bar few passes from Arthur.
    It’s gonna be boring, boring

  32. ooga aga
    October 3, 2018

    Hristo, you are insufferable. Literally, I sometimes wonder if you (and some other perennially negative folks here, never actually saying anything positive about the team, only shitting on the coach and the players) are Madrid trolls.

    No, always criticizing doesnt make you more of a fan. And my choice to be positive, support the team through tough times and tough results doesnt make me blind or less of a fan. And you know what, as a person, I feel sorry for you. Enjoy this! It’s a game! Enjoy Messi! If you can’t….it’s a shame.

    2-0 HT. Yes, we are sitting on our lead a bit. No problems with that from me. Visca Barca! (Tottenham oughta have more yellow cards by now. Not cool.)

    • Víctor
      October 3, 2018

      And Tottenham looking really desperate… an effect that Barcelona generates when playing well and not giving the opposition any time of the day…

      I do see the team a little bit off, though… a few times they missed possession easily… but other than that… great.

  33. okutennn
    October 3, 2018

    Hristo u talk too much. Football is a mirror of life. it isn’t simply black n white. There ar grey areas all over it. So have patience.

  34. Víctor
    October 3, 2018

    Well, so far the team has looked good. Pressing, trying to find spaces in the opponent’s half, trying long distance shots, better defending… sure, it’s not the best version of Tottenham, but still…

    Finally, a player other than Messi scored in an away UCL game…

    Let’s hope the team keeps this tempo and pressure on… and it will be a good win at UCL. And Valverde did the right thing by sitting Dembele and Sergi Roberto. Semedo has been doing great and Arthur doing quite well…

    Suarez, man, he’s trying, he really does… but right now it’s not enough, however, he should keep trying and giving his all… eventually he’ll score that goal… I do hope so, for sure…

  35. okutennn
    October 3, 2018

    and it isn’t extreme complex such that it will require some genius to solve its problems like Einstein n Co did with Quantum Physics. Its a conundrum and an enigma. this beautiful game. and this team. at the moment.

  36. Jim
    October 3, 2018

    Ball movement has been excellent so far. The Arthur we thought we saw has turned up in force tonight and one turn on the far side was nothing if not Xavi. Certainly not boring so far. Great goals and great build up play.

    However, we have put a lot of energy into that first half. Question is, given the minutes our guys have played recently do we have as much left in the tank as them.? And who do we sub on ? It wasn’t a game for Dembele that half but could be towards the end although the thought of losing the ball still worries me.

  37. Osas
    October 3, 2018

    Fight, fight , fight, I love this Barca . Author should share the man of the match with Messi. This kid is fantastic. Truly xaviesque

    • Khing_prince
      October 3, 2018

      Boy, Arthur is something else. When the team plays like this(cohesively), there would be no reason for complain.

  38. mvarfi
    October 3, 2018

    Disclaimer: Any self-proclaimed Barca fan who disrespects Messi’s team is an automatic asshole.

  39. Víctor
    October 3, 2018

    Well, Barça conceded an easy goal and Spurs made a great goal (although Lenglet deflected it) but also scored two more… and the last one, over the final minutes was the product of pressing in the opposition’s half…

    Result: 4-2 victory, a fun game…

    Suarez is still struggling to score in UCL games, but he was there pressing, trying and doing his best… hope he keeps with the desire… Messi was everywhere, strong and motivated, deserved his two goals… Coutinho was on fire, but eventually declined in the second half… Semedo had a great game, despite the blunder… Pique did well… Rakitic had a wonder goal and a good performance…

    Overall I think that Valverde took the right decisions in the line up, playing Dembele or Sergi Roberto would have been an unnecessary risk against them. Maybe the subs were taken too late, but seriously, even at the 80th minute the team looked quite great…

    • Osas
      October 3, 2018

      Just why it’s difficult to bench that guy. Suarez. He never stops fighting. The last goal was all his.

      • Jim
        October 3, 2018

        Just didn’t see that dummy coming. And when he did it you were looking around at an empty screen thinking where have Spurs all gone as Messi sauntered in. Great display again tonight. I’ve watched those two dummies back a few times. He doesn’t even give them away by looking beforehand. He just knows Messi will be there.

        Messi ? Hopefully there are a few FIFA voters sitting around Europe feeling sheepish tonight. . .

        Better defensive display as well.

      • Víctor
        October 3, 2018

        yup, and that’s the attitude I want to see in him… OK, you might not score or even give an assist, but be there fighting and working to make things happen…

        also, Semedo made my heart stop when he received that ball at Barcelona’s box and that Tottenham attacker was there ready to steal the ball… man, he had guts of steel to have played like he did in such situation… I was already getting mentally prepared for the 3-3 scoreline…

  40. TITO
    October 3, 2018

    Thats what you get when you actually play as you know and you dont underestimate your opponent.
    What to say, excellent performance, overall greatness. At times, it reminded me at our best years. The desire is there but the players lack phisique for such pressing and runing in 90 minutes.
    Arthur, Messi, Alba…just to mention some without taking anything from the others. Everything was great with just few blunders but i suspect it was because of tirednes.
    Anyway. We have our next Xavi!

    • Osas
      October 3, 2018

      We have him. We sure have him . He hasn’t even played a season. And he’s just 22!!!

      • Víctor
        October 3, 2018

        yup, and that’s the attitude I want to see in him… OK, you might not score or even give an assist, but be there fighting and working to make things happen…

        also, Semedo made my heart stop when he received that ball at Barcelona’s box and that Tottenham attacker was there ready to steal the ball… man, he had guts of steel to have played like he did in such situation… I was already getting mentally prepared for the 3-3 scoreline…

        • Víctor
          October 3, 2018

          **sorry, this was meant as a reply to your previous post about Suarez…**

  41. okutennn
    October 3, 2018

    Finally a team performance in quite a while.
    Suarez might frustrate with his bad touches in patches of his game but I love him bcos he never stops trying. He doesn’t relent. His dummies don’t come off most of d time but when they do they ar breathtaking n messi deserves that easy chance for the 4th goal for his drive n zeal. Fighting for everything.
    Loved it when Suarez n Vidal confronted d referee. Never pulling away from challenges. Love d bite without which both wouldn’t be that unique. I won’t give Suarez up for any striker in d world. What a player? A talent. No ego. if it is there it is very much under his control.
    Arthur very intelligent in shielding d ball n losing it on time. Hopefully he grows in this role n keep reminding us of the greatest centre midfielder (xavi) of them all.
    And who said we don’t have the players to play well? Its about zeal n commitment. They showed it today. Only if they can be that hungry on regular basis. Bcos I watch Madrid lose matches but envy d hunger they showed in those losses. We can’t play like d glorious days of Pep. However, when there is proper motivation n attitude we can do well. Like today.

  42. Osas
    October 3, 2018

    The way we played reminds me of Luis Enrique first season. It’s like boxing. Whatever you give to Barca , they give back. We didn’t spent time making unnecessary passess in the middle of the pitch. This probably what Pogba wanted. Attack attack attack. .. They kicked us ,we kicked back. I was even happy when author got his yellow card.. busquets – no fault of his – would have escorted the guy into the penalty box.

  43. Osas
    October 3, 2018

    The way we played reminds me of Luis Enrique first season. It’s like boxing. Whatever you give to Barca , they give back. We didn’t spent time making unnecessary passess in the middle of the pitch. This is probably what Pogba wanted. Attack attack attack. .. They kicked us ,we kicked back. I was even happy when author got his yellow card.. busquets – no fault of his – would have escorted the guy into the penalty box.

  44. mvarfi
    October 3, 2018

    This was an inspiring dogged performance, but we’re not there yet.

  45. Hristo
    October 3, 2018

    Rakitic did score, as I said he would. Better game. While I had been promoting Arthur all along, as it has been obvious already, I did not expect that Busi would benefit so much from it.

    Fun game. Still our right wing is dead. Rakitic scored but was again bang average.

    SPURS MISSED HALF THEIR TEAM.
    I also didn’t expect Messi to run so much. Regardless we can’t have Semedo attack on his own all the time.
    Hopefully Valverde won’t punish Semedo and Arthur with another bench next weekend

  46. okutennn
    October 3, 2018

    I reckon your marginal propensity to consume is insatiable. Even after being fed this humble pie by the team.

    • Hristo
      October 4, 2018

      Are u lecturing me? The only “ability” you owe us hindsight. The only thing I could not anticipate is how much better Busi is with Arthur on the pitch.
      I’m the only one here who for months advocate to play Arthur right away with Semedo.

      You now see the results. I’ve got so much evidence of what I’ve been saying posted here it will overwhelm you. I was correct all along. And it shows. The next thing is benching Rakitic for Vidal.

      Them u will further discover what is already obvious. I want me to praise Valverde for finally doing the obvious thing?

      I also predicated Rakitic scoring. No body is wanting to see it. Luck? No. The system suggested Rakitic would have more time to get closer to the box during attacks. I saw it and commented.

      We also saw Barca protecting the lead the last 20min.

      What u are doing is practically saying: ” Ha! Hristo, you see!!! We played great with players u were impressing all along”. With Semedo, who made one mistake, all attack came from the our Left. Semedo covered the flank on his own and this also freed Rakitic of even more mopping.
      You have seen how good our wing is when he plays with Semedo. With Suarez we have a dead right wing. Is that what you won’t? Like or not, we need full functioning team. Both left and right. It’s a fact.

  47. Grindelwald
    October 3, 2018

    Wonderful performance from the team. Been yearning for a gutsy & controlled performance for so long that when it finally comes I was unprepared and left almost speechless.
    EV got his lineup spot-on, the late sub is also a good tactical choice. This shows he can set up a team to play the barca way.
    I still have misgivings about the defence and I hope this won’t be a recurring theme throughout the season, we can’t simply be outscoring our opponents every time.
    Bold display by Arthur and a very good performance from “Ferrari” Alba. I won’t talk bout messi (I’ll leave that to Kvexin). Suarez was like a human wrecking ball, I’m sure Lloris and the defenders will still be having nightmares about him; he surely never gives up.

  48. georgjorge
    October 4, 2018

    Only saw the second half. Barca got pressured quite a bit at times, but that’s what an opponent desperate for goals will do – and it allowed a lot of space on the counter. Pity for hitting the post twice from Messi on those occasions. Speaking of Mess, he really wants to win the Champions League this year, it seems. Great performance all around.

    One more thing – Paco Alcacer, playing for Dortmund, yesterday scored the second goal in their game with a move of a quality he never showed once during his years at Barcelona. He also scored twice in their last league game after coming on in the 65th minute. Happy for him, as he always seemed to give everything when he got the chance, but it makes me wonder if there wasn’t a way to make better use of his qualities at Barca.

  49. PPos
    October 4, 2018

    Loved the match. Arthur looked like the second coming of Xavito with some of his touches. It was that classic haha, you can’t get it off me even if you tried touches, the close to the foot and within a small center of gravity rotation into your own axis that can’t be beat.
    I think Semedo is out of his depth. He was terrible defending and just doesn’t link up well with players. It’s one thing to have young Dani Alves’ pace but if you don’t have his brains and clinical touch. It doesn’t matter. Semedo needs matches, and he needs to man up and be productive.
    Raki’s volley was immaculate, born out of the hard work of Coutinho.
    I think that if Coutinho keeps it up and becomes more clinical. We are going to win the CL this season.
    Messi is just magisterial. If he wasn’t for the stupid posts, he would have had 4.
    Pique almost crapped the bed again, thank god Ter Stegen is part cat.
    Lenglet wasn’t bad. I wish he had scored his header. Alba was just fantastic. Hopefully this benching lights a fire under Dembele.

    • Hristo
      October 4, 2018

      Semedo put Son in his picked. Absolutely destroyed him. He was alone. Rakitic continually passed to Semedo He should look for a better option. The only player on the pitch who was absolutely isolated on the right. Valverde instructed Arthur to switch sides to help Semedo.
      Semedo made one mistake. He held his flank

  50. October 4, 2018

    I wish some photographer has captured that still of Rakitic on air and present it to him. It will make a life time photo for him. Incredible technique, may be something I will compare with the Bergkamp goal in WC!

    Arthur – oh my.. it was like watching a miniature Xavi. Some of the turns he made me feel nostalgic. He is always placing him well to receive the ball, keep the ball close and has that attitude of Xavi – you wont get it from me – plus may be a bit for faster than Xavi. Our gala eleven has fixed its mf line up by 2/3rd. – Its Arthur partnering Busquets. I thought in the first half even Busquets looked relieved because of this boy. MY BIG THANKS FOR OUR SCOUTS AND THE BOARD!!!
    Xavi must be salivating dreaming of coaching him. .
    Am wondering if there is any extra millions involved to Grimio according to his starts. may be thats why EV is not playing him much..

    Coutinho, except for the goal – which considering his shot quality was an open net for him – was little meh for me. Especially in second half
    Semedo, thanks to Messi doing a De Stefano , he was kind of all alone in the right. I felt sorry for him. But this guy has quality and he just needs more and more playing time and some support.
    Lenglet, inspite of that mistake, I think will grow in this side.
    TS made a wonderful save in the first half, inspite of getting a deflection. Was so nice to see that.
    Alba, Suarez – ha ha!
    Suarez on this form is the best no.9 partner for Messi. Their understanding for each other is out of this world. Two dummies!. I also think – especially on the second one – Messi must have given him a shout.
    Am glad Coutinho also has understood that those balls from Alba are meant for Leo 🙂 and left it wisely. A double dummy. Over the Guardian comments people cant beleive it 🙂

    I dont remember the last time Messi ran so much in a Barca game. I hope he rests enough. He looked so tired after the last goal. And the man is living by his Joan Gamper words, it seems..

    I have 2 gripes though.
    Its high time to take Rakitic out at least by 60 – 70 minutes. EV is making him untouchable.
    Vidal definitely needs more time. He has surprised me with his passing and he can give rest to Rakitic
    The last 20 minutes would have been perfect for Dembele.

    I hope we carry this momentum forwards!!!

    • Hristo
      October 4, 2018

      Imagine a side in the middle with a midfield of Arthur-Busi-Vidal(linking with Semedo). Automatically all of your problems will be sorted. Even out defense will be better. With such line up we can been.
      I still think Dembele over Suarez. Another game and another one in which he didn’t score.
      Tottenham missed 5 of theirs starters. They are off from too.

      • Adekay
        October 4, 2018

        this is my dream midfield as well

        Busquet

        Vidal. Arthur

      • October 4, 2018

        Mid field will be fine, alternating between Vidal and Rakitic and SR helping to rest Busi.
        But Dembele can never do what Suarez is doing as the striker. It wont be popular, but for me, Dembele and Cutinho should alternate…

      • Rami
        October 4, 2018

        You can’t replace Suarez with dembele, or coutinho or Malcom, It makes no sense football wise.

        Suarez does many 9# type of duties, Including pinning the opponent’s CBs to give Messi more space, making central runs behind the defense, Pushing the opponents back line….etc, And he does these roles excellently (He is a world class 9 by nature), Taking the likes of dembele, malcom who are natural wingers and telling to do 9# type of duties isn’t possible, But also a waste, We might as well sell them.

        And yes, Someone in the front other than Messi must do these #9 stuff, Otherwise we’re back to Messi being a false 9, Which we abandoned years ago, And for good reasons, We moved on from this, In fact the entire world moved on.

        • Adekay
          October 4, 2018

          I want to know why Messi playing as a false 9 is a bad idea. I believe with proper wingers like dembele and Malcom on both flanks or even coutinho it’s not a bad idea

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