Inter 1, Barça 1, aka “Justice denied”

There was a time when people who watch the game, and this team would have suggested that Tata Martino’s coaching job will go down in Barça history as the most underrated. But Ernesto Valverde is in with a shout. Consider what happened yesterday:

— Barça is walking a group that many thought spelled doom when it was drawn
— Dembele’s coach deemed him ready to start, and what a display
— Malcom’s coach deemed him ready for match time, and he almost scored the winner
— The team played the kind of football so many believe it can’t play and won’t play because it is coached by a donkey

You can say what you want about Valverde, but he got it right against Inter. Again. And had his team not been so wasteful in front of goal, the group would already be won.

When Messi went down with that arm injury, one that still angers me because it was so unnecessary, a byproduct of the kinds of thoughtless, chippy fouls that are part of football, people looked at the schedule and thought all was lost. Had they not been a mess in front of goal against Inter the team would have run the table in the absence of the greatest player in football. Messi was in the stands last night, as his coach correctly determined this would be the kind of physical, dyspeptic match that might test his icon’s arm in all the wrong ways. And he watched his team sparkle, controlling the match and coming away with a result that only Interistas will think was fair.

Their goal came out of nothing. The ball was bundled into the box, Busquets tried to clear it, stabbing at it with a lunge, and the deflection allowed it to fall to Icardi, the invisible man, who buried it. This rotten luck made even worse because of what, for me, is the best moment of the season so far.

Malcom making the bench should have indicated that Dembele was likely to start, in thinking about the like-for-like substitution potential, which is exactly what happened. Malcom came in and picked up where Dembele left off, keeping Inter pressed back with the threat provided by his pace and ball skills. Then he got the ball in the box, faked, dribbled, faked, left a pair of Inter players sprawling, and smoked it home. It was a fantastic goal. Even more fantastic was the way the entire team swarmed Malcom, who ran off by himself not to celebrate, but to have a good, quick cry before being enveloped by his teammates, who celebrated with him as though they had all scored.

There was something of a firestorm around Malcom, who was transfer-napped from Roma for 40m, and whose fate has suffered more turns than the life of the rake in a telenovela. He came, was deemed as silly because Dembele, and he is going to take playing time from Dembele and does that mean the club will sell Dembele, and who is this guy, anyhow? Then came the, “Hey, he’s pretty good, why isn’t he playing more,” to “Valverde just hates Malcom. What a ridiculous coach.”

Meanwhile, Malcom was working. Hard. A rumor came out that he was going to leave the club in January, and the player himself debunked it, going on Instagram to reiterate his desire to stay at Barça and work toward his dreams. In the Copa match, a messy, disjointed affair, he had moments, but did too much of the headless chicken thing. But you could see signs, enough signs that he made the bench against Inter. And then, because Dembele was working, Valverde figured that Malcom would work, and in he went. And he did work. And wow.

The kind of incremental progress that a coaching staff sees, we don’t see. After the match, Busquets talked about Malcom, and about how he deserved more playing time. And people filled in the blanks, making it retroactive instead of on current form because there is a peculiar kind of myopia attendant to being a supporter. We see what we want to see, rather than what is. As Coutinho whacked ball after ball off the shins of Inter players, his zeal for the shot was exceeded only by the unlikelihood of any of those shots getting past a defender’s shin pad. Many said that he had a great match. Others said he was crap. The difference, as always, was somewhere in the middle.

Barça with Messi is relentless. Barça without Messi has also been relentless, but in a different way, a more effortful way. With Messi, you give him the ball and the pressure builds. Just having him on the pitch builds pressure because at any moment, he can ruin an opponent’s day.

Without Messi, the press is relentless. In the Guardiola days, there was talk of a clock being put on opponent possession. Nobody talks about that now, but there is a determination to close down and convert possession that isn’t seen when Messi is in the lineup. It’s almost like having the cheat code makes things more relaxed. “Just wait ’til we get the ball back,” rather than “They have the ball. Let’s take it back.” The difference is noteworthy, because the press, and the active participation of Luis Suarez in that press, is a significant reason for the team’s gaudy record in the absence of its talisman.

For much if the match, Inter wasn’t allowed to play. Ter Stegen had to make no saves, and the goal they got was against the run of play, created from a late-match scramble. Control of the match, even when Arthur exited for Vidal, was impressive, even as that loss of control was the genesis of the Inter goal. That’s life in the big city. But Valverde adapted the way the team plays in the absence of Messi to grand effect, whether we like or admit that or not.

Suarez is due for very special mention. He has always come off as a classic player, a battler from another era who should be wearing black boots and a retro kit. His assuming the role of classic 9, with all that role entails, has been transformative for him and the team. But part of the space he is stomping the terra on is Messi’s World. How everything changes when the Argentine genius returns to the lineup will be interesting to note, as well as the fallout. One player will return to life before the injury, but who?

Dembele started, and was the best Dembele we have seen this season. He sprinted, tracked back, was fully involved, made space in attack, helped control possession and almost beat the keeper. It was remarkable, even if the talk of the match in the wake of his appearance was that he still lost balls, showed a marked decrease in stamina and “Well, he was better, but still not good enough.” Again, because it’s impossible to dislodge a narrative once it takes hold. So many supporters will only see the worst of Dembele, no matter how he performs. MD had an appreciation piece that, while noting that he lost 10 of 18 balls against Rayo, was nonetheless decisive as he scored a goal and delivered a key pass. As with everything about this club, the truth about Dembele is somewhere in the middle.

But if Dembele had cost what, say, Malcom cost, there wouldn’t be the same dissatisfaction with his performances (unless he cost what Malcom cost, but was 29 years old and from China). The Frenchman’s price tag is a burden, one that supporters are hanging around his neck. But this is a burdensome club. Valverde is carrying the burden of Roma. Sergi Roberto is carrying a light burden that absolves his defensive frailties, which have been taken advantage of by consecutive opponents. Raktic is presently, now that he is playing like a midfielder liberated, carrying the burden of silence, as people choose not to say anything rather than commenting on the high quality of his play. The team is carrying the burden of Messi, and people who assert it would be a mid-table Liga side were it not for the presence of the greatest player to play the game. Burdens everywhere, and for the team, a unit, none of it matters. The cohesion and sense of the whole is pure and wonderful, and there has been no clearer manifestation of that unity in recent memory than how everyone, from subs to starters, reacted to Malcom’s goal.

We sit in judgment, with opinions on players. To the team, the players scoffed at and spurned by supporters are teammates. Douglas was a teammate. So was Paulinho, so too, Malcom. It’s all in. So when someone who has been working and getting better notches a huge Champions league goal, there is unbridled joy from the team. The match was excellent, the play lustrous. But there was no more beautiful thing than the team, showing its togetherness as part of a celebration for a goal by a player who needed something good to happen for him. The Barça Way doesn’t just involve the football.

By Kxevin

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


  1. I’d say that it’s more like Karma… Barcelona didn’t deserve a win against Rayo and surely deserved a victory against Inter… neither happened…

    Great read, good to see that people can appreciate the efforts done by the team. It’s no easy thing to make teams like Inter look so inoffensive and play like a relegation side IN THEIR OWN STADIUM!

    And yes, I also predicted that this was going to be a difficult group, I didn’t have doubt that Barcelona would advance to KO stage, but I wasn’t so sure that it was going to be in first place… and the team is just a victory away from securing top of the group…

  2. I noticed that Hristo does not make comments When the team is playing good this season, it’s not meant to be so. I wish to hear your opinion, to see if you are ready to change your thoughts on valverde (at least for now)

    1. I used to appreciate his unagreeableness to others commenting on here even though I did not agree with most of his opinions. It seems He prefers to say ” I told you so” rather than being happy about the good form of the team he supports. Drop the ego man !

    2. yeah, sometimes I don’t agree as well but I enjoy the fact that he gives us an alternate way of reasoning, now that we are doing fine, I expect him at least to commend valverede’s effort.

  3. While i agree on most of the written piece, i disagree on Dembele’s performance. He was slightly better than in the last several games with tracking back and few good moves, especially in the beginning of the match. Everything else was a mess by him for me.

    1. What I wanted to see was him being fully engaged, tracking back, sprinting and hustling. He did all of that. He also pushed Inter back with his runs, and had a couple of excellent shots on goal. From my view, a much better match.

      But I think that as with Valverde, Dembele is doomed with many. But if he keeps playing as he did yesterday, he will be starting a lot more matches.

    2. Same here. Maybe my expectations were too high, but it seemed to me that in the first half he started out bright, but soon was reduced to killing off attacks with bad decisions and losing confidence fast. I didn’t see the second half, so maybe he was better there before being subbed off?

    3. Oh, and I don’t have a personal issue with Démbéle at all, I really want him to succeed at Barca because he could be spectacular to watch and has some incredible skills. It’s just that I don’t see it right now.

  4. Nice one. Dembele to me continued being inconsistent throughout. One minute he makes you smile and the next does something so annoying. He plays at his own pace and rarely at the teams.

  5. I like Kxevin’s narrative on Dembele beteer than the one I had written in my own head after the match—so I’m subscribing to it! I’ll look at him as a work-in-progress that’s showing signs of improvement.

    There! I’m feeling less grumpy already.

  6. Real Madrid won 5 – 0… but Ramos got spared of a red card for that elbow at the beginning of the first half… would have been a very different game…

  7. Am not into social media, but have many fans around fanatic, passive and normal. But no one thinks EV is to be compared with TM. It sounds very perplexing. Anyways people are different and there would be different perspectives. so let it be.
    I also have to say I liked how he took whole squad to Milan, including Messi and Umtiti. I guess some kind of strengthening the team cohesion is going on.

    1. I’d say it’s working. Look at how they responded to Malcom’s goal, how hard they work for each. Messi put in individual work on a day off, so that he could be ready to make the Betis match squad. Messi. Of all players, the captain and talisman shows how it’s done.

      That kind of devotion comes from not only individual motivation, but a dedication to the whole. And many people won’t like to hear this, but Valverde has built a hell of a team. Notice that you don’t hear players who are already a part of the team grousing about playing time. Vidal did, but he’s new, and Valverde straightened him out. You almost wonder if teammates did even before their coach.

      When you do hear a player talk about his own playing time, it’s “I work hard, and work for my chance.” The only things Dembele has said about his playing time is that he understands that he has to be better with possession, and will keep working hard. Malcom said, after the Inter match, that Valverde told him that he has to be better on defense, and he is working on that, working hard and working for his chance.

      When a player talks about another player’s playing time, it’s always in the context of, “He has stuff that can help us.” It’s always the team. For me, that is just fantastic.

    2. Yes, if the team spirit is still building up, it will work wonders. of course 🙂

      If Dembele also has fast twitch muscles, then its 2 players right? including Messi, who cant do full out running that they should rest periodically?

  8. People will see what they want to see with Dembele. As with “beer goggles:” that improve the looks of someone at a bar or nightclub, people see Dembele through price tag goggles. He cost 140m, and should be playing like it.

    But when Dembele was transferred in, it was always with the idea that he was one for the future, that the club was buying him now, while the price was “reasonable,” rather than when he really took off and would become unaffordable.

    Two years ago, Dembele was just transferring from Rennes to Dortmund. Now he’s at one of the biggest clubs in the world, playing with the best player in the history of the game. He’s a 21-year-old young man, who is probably STILL freaked the hell out. People talk about the assimilation of Mbappe, but PSG isn’t Barça, and Neymar isn’t Messi. It’s different here. The pressure, the expectation. It takes time for a young player to develop, and Dembele is a young player. It’s something that we would all do well to remember.

    There is a rush with him, and so many say, “Well, I just want him to succeed.” Naaah. People want the payoff for that transfer fee, and they want it now. There is a great rush with Dembele, but he is still raw, on an accelerated program from a Ligue 1 minnow to the best club in the world.

    His game against Inter was immense, given where he is in his progression. Neymar is atypical, because he was forged by a hard life in Brazil, and he was already a fixture on the national team. He was tempered by experience. Dembele was, essentially, just a kid when he came to the club. It’s easy to forget that.

    Dembele is also, I suspect without knowing his physical composition, a sprinter. That is, he is endowed with a preponderance of fast-twitch muscle fibers. It would explain why his warm-up period is as long and gradual as it is. It would also explain why his effort seemed to tail off as he tired. As a sprinter myself, on a 50-mile ride, for the first 5 or 10 miles my pace will break hearts. By the 40th mile, it’s a death march. Fast-twitch muscles essentially, under stimulus, say, “Here’s EVERYTHING.” Slow-twitch fibers (think Sergi Roberto) use energy in a different way. More endurance.

    Dembele probably looked gassed because he was. It’s in his physical type, if he is the typical sprinter. That is something else that we should recognize.

    Ultimately, I don’t know if Dembele is going to make it at Barça. But it won’t be because of lack of talent. That goal he scored against Rayo was an absurd strike. He just hit it like he was strolling to get a cup of coffee. But mentality matters. Look at how Gomes is playing at Everton. He’s killing it, and supporters are thinking Barça was crazy to let him go. But he just wasn’t mentally equipped to play in that superheated cauldron. Is Dembele? No idea. For the team’s sake, let’s home that he is, because the mind strains to think of a more talented young player in world football. For me, Dembele has a higher up side than Mbappe, if brought along properly.

    1. Well, I was going to my make my own case for Dembele, but you beat me to it rather thoroughly. I’ll just say this, I’d pick Dembele over Mbappe all day, every day.
      Also, while many fans were distracted by the look of Barca last year, they either missed or didn’t deem important the “unit” that was being forged by Valverde. With a handful of lucky, talented signings, we’re starting to see the team raise its performance up a notch this season. There is still work to be done and you can be sure that none of us is more aware of that than the coach and the players themselves. As it stands though, Valverde’s experiment has reached a different stage. Happy sigh…

    2. I seem to differ on the last sentence, no doubt that Dembele has a high ceiling but what distinguishes them is that desire to be more and want more…I love that Dembele’s receiving less banter but I don’t think the quality he showed in the first half would have been possible if Suarez wasn’t coaching him through it, telling him runs to make and better positions to take up(so maybe, some plaudits for suarez)….Sorry Kev but I don’t think Dembele would have done better if he was in Mbappe’s shoes, same could also apply vice versa.

    3. You say “desire”, I say “greed”, but let’s not get tangled up in semantics. Recently, Valverde said: “We expect a lot from Dembele, but we have to help him.” That means both in training and on the pitch against a proper opponent. At this point, it’s crucial that he follows instruction to a tee, be it from the coach or a senior player. His performance against Inter, while not terribly sparkly, was the most balanced he’s offered this season. He defended, pressed, attacked, and had an overall improved situational awareness. As with any young player, Dembele has to start somewhere, and the start at San Siro bodes very well indeed. Loved how he sat the tone for the whole match, less than two minutes into the game, with a fantastic run and shot as if to say “I mean business today.”

  9. Seems like we always see things differently Mvarfi… I love Dembele but once Mbappe is thrown in the mix, forget it…

    1. In other news, Coutinho is out for 3 weeks…fingers crossed, we get to see a malcom-dembele lineup against an open real betis side, my mouth is watering at that prospect… I also hope Couter has a steady and fast recovery.

  10. Greed is good…You said “proper opponent”, what’s your definition of a proper opponent…an opponent that would sit pretty and let Dembele run them ragged, no such thing…sometimes you just have to force the issue… As we all saw through out the match he didn’t fully mean business, sure it was a balanced performance but that’s Rafinha’s job, he needs to add a little dazzle to his game and stop looking like he’s being held back.

    1. Proper opponents are all Copa del Rey, La Liga and Champions League opponents. In other words, all opposing players who are not his teammates.

      I associate greed with selfishness. Barcelona’s collective spirit wouldn’t benefit from the addition of a spoiled rotten 19-year old. I couldn’t care less how talented and seemingly “mature” Mbappe is for many folks. There are other important characteristics a player brings to the table, besides his speed and skill level, that can either enhance or diminish a team.

    2. Now your just judging… a player that fights for what he wants, works hard, pushes himself further to be better…a player that doesn’t whine or complain, doesn’t play for the spotlight, just knockles down and gets the job done… What per say makes him a spoilt 19 year old brat…. Deschamps treatment of both players is clear evidence to debunk such theory.

  11. Deschamps is one of the most pragmatic coaches around. That he hasn’t used Dembele to the extent that he has used Mbappe, means that he likely thinks that Dembele is more of a work-in-progress than Mbappe is at the moment. Yet, he keeps wanting Dembele on his team. Why? Because he sees the potential and is willing to wait patiently until it blooms.

    All players fight for what they want. It’s called ambition. None of the current Barca players would be anywhere near where they are if they didn’t have copious amounts of healthy ambition to go along with some grade A mental resilience and ridiculous skills.

    How a player comports himself on the pitch informs my impression of them. I’ve seen enough antics from Mbappe to stand by my ‘spoiled rotten’ epithet for him. One particular incident comes to mind. It happened at the World Cup when France was playing Uruguay. It was a particularly nasty simulation from a 19-year old, who should have been focused solely on how well he could play on the greatest football stage, rather than on how well he could cheat. He was right outside of Uruguay’s box and in proximity to the centebacks. All of a sudden, from walking leisurely, he drops to the ground as if hit by an anvil. Nobody touched him. Made Godin’s blood boil. Have you ever seen Godin loose his temper?

    Finally, I would bring up the nauseating stuff on Mbappe that Football Leaks has published these last few days, but all of that is unproven, so I won’t. My current view of Mbappe is based on observation and may well change overtime, for better or worst.

  12. Sure, but Suarez’s theatrics can be justified… Yes, I saw such incidents and even the throw-in incident when he conceded a throw-in, rather than leaving the ball, he embarked on multiple dribbles into the box….Everything is done for the team, same could also be said about Suarez…. You say Dembele is a “work in progress”, how long do you think he can carry that tag maybe 1 or 2 years… he needs to stop being a promising player and start showing that promise or he’s in danger of being tagged an expensive flop…. The difference in Mbappe is that he’s brain and feet are well sychronized while Dembele’s not so much.

    1. “Everything is done for the team…” is a tad too convenient of an explanation for Mbappe’s cynical antics. The ‘what about Suarez?’ rebuttal doesn’t change how I view shenanigans on the pitch. I never have and nor do I plan to justify Suarez’s theatrics.
      As far as I’m concerned, Dembele can carry the ‘work-in-progress’ tag for as long as it’s deemed appropriate by the club. Barcelona waited two seasons for Gomez to come into his own. I see no reason why Dembele can’t be given at least the same amount of time. In the meantime, he is in no danger of my calling him an “expensive flop”.

    2. I’m tired of this argument Mvarfi… Neither of us is going to be disillusioned from our perspectives…let’s just hope he realises his potential… One Last Question tho; You’re always saying “work in progress”, is there anything like a finished work in your dictionary.

    3. No, there isn’t.
      Even Messi is a work-in-progress. He thinks that his penalty kicks can be improved. He still works on them.
      Everyone and everything is a work-in-progress, constantly changing and evolving. Too bleak to recognize?

    4. :)) Now, if only you could give up on your impatience towards Dembele, you’d be so much happier…

  13. Well, that “work in progress” kid did not attend the thursday training due to illness. However, his absence was still controversial. You can read that on Sport or MD..
    Unless something drastically changes in his behavior and the way he treats the game and everything that surrounds it, i wont change my impression that he is just a spoiled brat with immense talent. And there’s only one way to go with that attitude.

  14. Ehmmm… I think that Dembele is already delivering, last season he played 17 Liga games, scored 3 goals and gave 6 assists, he has now played 11 Liga games, scored 4 goals and has 1 assist, he already has a goal in UCL and he is indeed a threat to opposition.

    I don’t think he’s faking illness… he even has less reason to do it, now that he’s getting more playing time…

    Of course, doesn’t mean that he can’t improve, he can and should… but right now he is already doing his job…

    1. As i read, it’s not reported that he is faking illness.
      The fact the did not informed the staff, coach…whoever that he will not show up, and they couldn’t reach for hour and a half is at least unprofessional. Something that he should have done in the first place.

    2. Of course, the goals and assist stat comes to the rescue, right?… If that’s all that’s needed for an all round performance then EV and Suarez won’t be cutting frustrated faces when he makes wrong decisions.

    3. Ok, then look at him play… yes, he had a few off games… perhaps because of his attitude, or something else… but in the last games he did well…

      About Suarez and Ernesto Valverde. Suarez was indeed erratic last season… many off games and was frustrating several times… however, in this season he is doing fine… you can see him in a better shape and working to press the opposition and trying to generate goal scoring chances… hell, I’d say that even his tendency to be caught offside has declined a bit… not saying that he’s been perfect, he needs to be more clinical, but at least you can see him getting involved and whatnot… maybe it has to do with Valverde placing him in that #9 role that suits him best.

      Ernesto Valverde? So far he is doing fine… again, there’s room for improvement, but look at this:

      – Before the season started many predicted that Barcelona would struggle a lot to make it to the KO stage of the UCL… and now, with 2 group games remaining Barcelona is the only team that is mathematically qualified to the next round.
      – When Messi got injured and we knew that he was going to be out for 3 weeks… many predicted doom… especially because Barcelona was going to face Inter twice & Real Madrid… the #ValverdeOut crowd started to say that Valverde doesn’t know how to win without Messi and how we are going to see how crappy he is as a coach, because Messi won’t be there to “bail him out”… what happened? The team did great during these games… the performance was so good that even those Messi-dependencia criticisms seem a bit silly now…
      – Barcelona is currently leading La Liga and their UCL group…

      Of course, that won’t convince the anti-Valverde crowd, their explanation is that Inter is a crappy team and that Real Madrid is in shambles… so, Valverde has no merit, right? Even a donkey would have won that Clasico, defeat Inter at home and get a draw against them in their stadium (in a game that should have been a Barcelona victory)… *sigh*

    4. You really poured your heart out there buddy…but what does that have to do with Dembele not showing his potential.

    5. You were the one who mentioned Suarez and Valverde. Getting back to Dembele, I stand by my point… he has been good so far, yes, he has had bad performances, but overall he is helping… we should be more patient with him.

  15. “In the weeks before Malcom made his UCL debut, his lack of playing time and exclusions from the squad was strange to the team. So much so that Messi asked Valverde if there was a problem between the two.
    The coach said there was no problem. [cope]” from barcacentre.

    This if true substantiates how the whole team looked happy for Maalcolm. We are building synergy and my hopes are growing.. 🙂

  16. And Dembele is left out of the matchday squad as per Valverde’s decision…someone tell me the definition of a spoilt brat cause I seem to be confused here…where’s my Mbappe *sips coffee*

  17. Problem with Dembele is not if he is good or bad. Its his attitude.
    The thing is pre 2013 attitude was a key criteria for Barca scouts.

    I hope he will now realise Barca is not Rennes or Dortmund and he has to put effort.If he realise that is good for him good for us.

  18. I don’t have strong feelings about Dembele either way playing wise. However, he won’t last long if he annoys coaches and management by anything other than a great attitude – and they won’t let it go very long either.

    The training incident was a stupid one from his viewpoint. Anyone in a job will know they have to inform their employer straight away if they can’t make it in. It then becomes a nothing, whether he’s I’ll or not. It’s insult to injury however when he suggests it is because his phone was out of charge – to account for an hour and a half no show ??? Not sure what type of phone he uses but stick it on charge for a couple of minutes and it’s working., Not very bright.

    Don’t know that I’m happy with Messi starting. What’s the benefit against shoving him on the bench and bringing him on if needed? You have the team playing well recently so let them carry on, let Messi sit besidevEV and see if they can come up with a way of letting Suarez play the real CF role he has been and how Messi could benefit from it. The last thing we want is everyone to relax and think the GOAT is back so just get it to him. I’m also not convinced a bone heals properly in that time and we have the next International break coming up.

    Just as worried about Umtiti’s return. I’m still mystified by how he can have an injury to a cartilage and it not require surgery. We need him at the back end of the season although if Lenglet keeps improving it could become a difficult decision for EV.

    Anyway, time to take a sedative before attempting to watch yet another match on a twitchy Eleven Sports stream.

  19. Wow, just wow. Outplayed, completely outplayed.
    I cant single out anyone for awfulness in this half, but if i was a forward i would surely be happy to face SR as a defender.

  20. Yeah, well done to them, so far. They’ve some great quick football on the break but it’s not like we weren’t expecting that.

    You look at our attacks they have six or seven back in the box, they attack us and it seems the most we can muster is three. Difficult to single out SR as the backline has been left exposed time and time again. The space between our backline and mids is ridiculous and they’re playing all day long in it. And have a look at who makes it back and who doesn’t. As I look Arthur has been hooked and tbh he hasn’t had a great game but he’s getting up and back. Try spotting Rakitic offering SR some cover in that first half.

  21. Maybe next time we shouldn’t underestimate the opponent…? Valverde has fault on this, Rakitic has played too much… this match could have been where Vidal starts. Also, Malcom in the left? Sure thing, his team didn’t help him when they constantly ignored him…

    Poor display overall. Ter Stegen made an awful mistake, but eventually he had to make one… very bad defending…

  22. This is gonna sound silly, but… maybe Messi’s comeback did more harm than good to the team… perhaps that’s why they played more like this?? thinking that Messi was just going to do his magic??

  23. Everything that should have gone wrong it did go wrong.
    The opinion on SR is not based solely on this game but throughout the season and even earlier.
    So, a freaking red card was needed for Rakitic for him to get a rest and not play a game!!!
    Why not a midfield of Busi, Artur and Vidal???
    What’s the point of having Malcom on the field when he’s on the left and constantly ignored??
    And why can’t the players be motivated against “smaller” teams in la liga this season?
    Many questions for EV and his staff.
    Anyway, one thing is when this happens once in a while, but completely another when is obvious that is becoming a pattern (Rayo, Leganes, Betis…)

  24. Barca’s best performance all season…what a masterclass from Roberto,can’t wait for the cherry on top.

  25. “Great performance by the team today. Best of the season and return to the Barca of old except for the penalty give away by Tello. Since when did we switch to those awful green jerseys for home games???”

    Lol. Found this great comment over at barcablaugranes

  26. Barcelona was thoroughly outplayed by Betis. It’s tempting to say that it looked like the teams had swapped identities, but that would be disrespectful to a fantastic Real Betis.
    It seems there will be some growing pains playing with Messi again… Anyone still feel like complaining about Coutinho, because he was sorely missed today. I’m not sure how much better it would have been with Semedo’s pace at RB. Betis was toying with Barca all over the park.
    That having said, and while Barca was never quite allowed to get into a rhythm, the team didn’t throw in the towel, and that’s to be commended. Alas, this was a well deserved defeat. For the next two weeks, each player will stew in this result, and that’s a good thing.

  27. Of course, Barça twitter is going to hit the panic buttons again, if they haven’t already since HT.

    This game was one where you could give Rakitic a rest. Even considering that Coutinho is injured and Dembele is ill. Could have tried a MF of Busquets-Sergi Roberto-Vidal-Arthur… Messi and Suarez upfront… or a MF of Busquets-Arthur-Vidal, attack with Messi-Suarez-Malcom… Semedo at RB…

    The team surely drops their performance level against lesser opponents, why is that? They thought that Betis would just see Messi in a Barcelona shirt and then they would crap their pants or something? Seems to me that they just play complacently against those opponents, thinking that they’ll eventually just roll over or something and then we can get a win…

  28. for me, its time to drop Roberto from RB…. But teams performance was based on messi on the pitch… I could bet that if messi was on the bench the scores would have been different…. the team was more like “he’s back, lets just relax” and ppoooff they got blown away… Ter stegen was rumoured to be nursing a shoulder problem that’s why he’s missing from German squad, I expected to see cillessen in goal, so T.S could get enough rest before Atletico match and other players too but nah… well I just wish we get back up after the Intl break….

Comments are closed.