EE 0, Barca 2, a.k.a. “One for the ages”


Figure out where THIS ball is going, if you can.

Already, I am reading that this wasn’t that good of a match, that EE had excuses, that blahblahblahblah.

Nonsense. For me, this was a spectacular match. Tell my hoarse voice and sore body, evincing the effort of willing our beloved Blaugrana on, that this wasn’t that good of a match, then shut up. It was a great match, for so many reasons.

–We’re coming to the head of a run of 10 matches in a month, or roughly a match every three days. We’re tired, we’re injured, we just had a huge match against Arsenal to get us through to the Champions League final semis. And we won. With ease.

–We didn’t just win against anybody. We won against the Liga leaders if you believe that goal-differential voodoo, that was sitting at home, resting and plotting, while we were playing Champions League football. If we were going to go down, this was to be the time. Lots of people predicted that we would.

–Most importantly, we’re badasses. In all of the pretty football, people forget the mental toughness that this club has. A punk would have gotten in Sergio Ramos’ face after that silly foul. Messi said “Look, let’s get him back by putting the ball in the damned net.” So we did.

I don’t know if we will be champions of the Liga. There are still 7 matches left in this season. I know that this past week, beginning with Bilbao and ending with EE, we displayed the grit and swagger of a champion. We aren’t scoring 48 bazillion goals this season, but we aren’t giving up any, either. Our 2-0 wins this season are sometimes more convincing than our 5-2s of last season, because Guardiola has this team playing at an amazing level right now, as a collective. And it’s a joy to watch.

But man, did it start out with another match of “What the hell is he thinking,” as Guardiola rolled out with Valdes, Puyol, Pique, Milito, Maxwell, Busquets, Keita, Xavi, Alves, Pedro! and Messi. Yes, Alves was functioning as right wing, and some were wondering if we really meant to score goals this time out. But let’s think about this for a moment: We only needed a draw out of this match, so what better way to go about it than to flood the field with defenders, particularly a defender that can function just as well as an attacker. They don’t get breakaways or that much time to dwell on the ball, we don’t concede and the world is a beautiful place.

What made Guardiola’s lineup so daring, but so right, was the brilliant play from his fullbacks, even the one who was playing as an attacker instead of a fullback. Maxwell, Alves and Puyol are so comfortable with the ball at their feet, and so sure of their positioning on defense, that such an edgy scheme could work. And when they were caught out, midfielders were chasing back to force passes to be better than they needed to be.

Brilliant. The match started out a tough, foul-rich affair with yellow cards for everyone! Yay! The battle was for the midfield, as Pellegrini rolled out Gago to vex Xavi, and keep him from controlling the match and killing his team. As our Man of the Match might say, “Nice try.” Because for a while, the battle was pitched. But as Gago faded, Xavi became ascendant and transcendent, controlling the match and the tempo when we had the ball, and dishing out two highlight reel assists for both of our goals.

The difference in the two teams was very clear, in that our midfield was there to create, theirs to destroy. It wasn’t until they brought Guti on that they got some creativity, but by then it was too late because not only did we have a 0-2 lead, but we were on. If you want to have some fun, watch that match again and look at our touches as the ball pings around. We had to pass it hard because they were chasing hard, so we didn’t have time to dwell on the ball, and it had to move around fast. Then marvel at how everybody on the pitch had a rock-solid first touch, as if the collective said “We can’t be sloppy. If we have slop, we get in trouble.” It was, simply put, an extraordinary match to watch, and one that was surprisingly drama-free.

It was also a tale of two halves, as once we got the second goal, we switched from attack, to destruction. So everything they tried, every move they made, found one of us at its terminus, as if we were inside their heads. And the one time that didn’t happen, the one-on-one for Van der Vaart, Valdes stuffed him like a Christmas turkey.

And that was that.

This match, however, was also another bright, shining example of team play, in which everybody gave everything for everyone else. Milito falls down at the beginning of a Thong Boy attack, then gets back up to hustle his way back into the play, preventing any real danger. Messi runs all the way back from the other end of the pitch, to disrupt an attack. Keita just gives it up in the midfield, doing the donkey work time after time. Considerate passes flowed like water, and the only sullying of that delight was when Messi didn’t square the ball for Pedro!, deciding to shoot it himself. Casillas stopped him.

Perhaps he knew that we didn’t really need that third goal, so why not cover himself in even more glory. The GolTV announcing team discussed it. Phil Schoen wondered, and nibbled at what I am about to say, which is why the hell didn’t he pass the ball to Pedro!? Ray Hudson shouted him down, saying in effect that Messi is playing so well, blah, blah, blah. Nonsense. Pass the damned ball and take the goal. P! was there and wide open, as wide open as the net on his side.

There. I said it. People won’t like it, but it needs to be said. And in a way, I’m glad that he didn’t score the goal, because our two goals were team goals. That individual exploit would have been a fly in the ointment.

The first goal came as the result of a quickly-taken free kick. Messi rolls it to Xavi and keeps running. Xavi just one-times a little scoop for the onrushing Messi, who again amazed. He made it look easy, but you try chesting a ball perfectly, so that it bounces behind the defender who would have otherwise had you covered, and into the shooting space opened up by the keeper thinking that you’re going to do that other thing. It was 0-1 just like that, from a goal that came out of nowhere.


I’ll take you all on. Whatevs, beeyotches. Whatevs.

The second goal, like the first, pretty much came from nowhere as well, as Xavi took a pass, spotted the running Pedro!, and slotted a ball to him that was in the exact space it needed to be for Pedro! to take it without even breaking stride, and pop it past Casillas.

It was nice to have P! score that one, as I can only imagine what the feeling must be like to score in El Clasic, against the EE, for a player of the system, who fully understands what this match means. And boy, did it show.

The second half we pretty much decided to close up shop, playing defense with possession, and real defense when we didn’t have possession, closing out the match in a way that was as beautiful as it was emphatic. Iniesta came on, and Tika-Taka began in earnest, though it was on even before that. I know that detractors say that the style is a lot of negative passing, both back and laterally. But detractors are usually bitter, because their team has just been dismantled by Tika-Taka.

I, however, think that there is a difference between using a “negative” ball to sustain possession and reset the offense, and just banging it back to the keeper because that’s all that your little brain can deal with. Our back and lateral passes usually have a purpose, as they move defenders around and create space for our attackers to exploit. And they do. So for those keeping score, that’s 4-0 us in the last quartet of Clasics, and Guardiola has never lost to the EE as a coach.

Oh, and Thong Boy still hasn’t scored against us. And there isn’t a whole lot else to say, except “Like a zombie hunter looking for a Twinkie??!!” Ray-Ray, what in the hell are you talking about?

Team: 10. Another excellent, all-for-one and one-for-all match. The result of shutting it down against Arsenal once the match was secured was clear to see in the energy with which you all played today.

Guardiola: 10. You outcoached Pellegrini, and shifted your unconventional system to something more traditional when you had to. Yes, a moment of brilliance bailed you out, but let’s not quibble about that, shall we?

Valdes: 10. Every thing, every time, every place. You even started some breaks with your outlet passing, and you even knew when to just hoof it up the pitch. Brilliant stop on Van der Vaart. Yes, he helped by hitting it right at you, but some of that was the extreme rate of closure you laid down.

Puyol: 9. Brilliant, controlled and self-assured, particulary with the ball at your feet. You got caught up the pitch a few times, but let’s not natter about that, shall we? Once again, you played like a captain, in the biggest match of the season so far.

Pique: 10. Um, is it the shoes? Thong Boy is supposed to be super fast, but there you were, running along beside him. When he faced up with you, you won those battles, and pretty much owned that back line.

Milito: 9. Okay, I’m going to whisper this, because it might upset some people: I think you’re a better center combo with Pique than Puyol. Sssshhh! Don’t tell anyone. Your stay-at-home qualities, coupled with confidence on the ball and unrelenting tackling, work like a charm. You’re the foundation when Pique roams.

Maxwell: 8. Excellent match, sir. The notion that you just needed reps to play like a full-time starter seems to be coming to fruition. You had a few mental lapses out there but all in all, your veteran savvy and knowledge of where the ball was going to be, ruled the day.

Busquets: 8. You played to a 9, but lost a point for the diving. When you couple creativity with disruptive tendencies, it’s easy to see why Guardiola likes you so much. Just don’t dwell on the ball so much. You gifted an opponent another break, that your back line had to snuff out. And just once, finish a match with grass stains from tackles, not making turf angels of faux agony.

Keita: 9. People are going to say that you didn’t play that well, and that you disappeared for stretches. Laugh at them. Yeoman work in the midfield, and I’ve never seen you as graceful with the ball. You were flying solo a lot, and pulled it off with style.

Xavi: 10. Sorry, but that’s all I have to give. Command and control. It’s as simple as that. You are the best passer in the game, because you’re always facing forward with your shoulders square. This makes it hard to read where you are going to dish the ball to, and it also leaves you in perfect control. Always.

Alves: 8. I know it probably didn’t seem all that weird for you, playing right wing as you were. But not having to rush back on defense as hard must have been something of a relief, right? Even in the absence of much real danger, your pressure was constant, and your presence had the disruptive effect that Guardiola intended.

Pedro!: 8. You were a bit funky early, but quickly played your way into the match. I know, right? How many goals do you have to score before teams stop giving you all that space on the left to run around in? Dunno, but keep scoring ’em, okay? You were much more composed today, so there was less of that infernal overrunning of the play that you are so fond of.

Messi: 9. Make that pass to Pedro! for the sure-thing 3-0, and you get a perfect match score. As it is, you were almost there, with all-around brilliant play. I know that Puyol is the captain, but this is your team. You carry it well as you score goals, play defense, contest for possession in the midfield and draw fouls. More importantly, you don’t get mad, you get even, which is the attribute of a true assassin.

Substitutes

Iniesta (for Maxwell): 8. Guardiola brought you in to activate the Tika-Taka monster, and you did it with amazing style and precision. We kept the ball for so long that by the time they got it from us, they were so desperate that they did silly things. Then we got the ball back, and you and Xavi resumed the tormenting game.

Marquez (for Milito): 7. We were in command and control mode by the time you entered, but you immediately began to show that perhaps people shouldn’t be as down on you as they are. I should apologize, however, for my scream of horror when you came onto the pitch. Sorry, Kaiser.

So. We have a 3-point lead in the standings with 7 matches left. In effect, this means that EE needs to finish 4 points better than us, with 7 matches left. We have two tricky ties left, away to Villarreal and Sevilla. They have a couple as well. I wouldn’t be as quick as some are to anoint us as Liga champions, but it’s certainly ours to lose. But recall that we dumped a 5-point lead in the standings in less than 7 matches, so it could happen. No, we weren’t playing as well as a unit then. Yeah, yeah, I know.

I think this match also showed that the Big Two are really the Big One. I’ve said before that greatness is about taking the chances when situations arise. We didn’t have very many shots on target, but two of them went in. They had many more chances, and none of them went in. Either that last ball went begging, or the shot just wasn’t good enough. It’s one thing to dispatch Racing, or come back against Sevilla. Barca isn’t Sevilla. Yes, their rebuilding project will continue, probably with a new coach next season. And if it comes together the way they keep hoping, we might well be on the wrong end of those scorelines next season.

But for now, we’re the best team in the Liga, and to my eyes, it wasn’t all that close.

Official thanks to Vicsoc for running the LiveBlog. It’s a feature that the denizens of this space have come to expect, enjoy and rely upon. I had to do my part to help victory, by going to the exact same place, wearing the exact same outfit and standing in the same place as last year. I even sat down for much of the second half, as I did last year. And look what happened. Yay!


Muhahahahahahaaaaa! Yes, I am the devil!

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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.

144 Comments

  1. Jnice
    April 10, 2010

    Great review, Kxev. What a team victory. Thought everyone played well and my MOTM was Xavi. So proud of how our boys always rise to the occasion and never let us down in the big matches. Bravo.

    Oh and I screamed when Marquez came on as well. Sorry, Kaiser.

    I think Ray’s Zombie-twinkie reference had to do with Zombieland. Silly nonetheless.

    Time to rewatch the match… if anyone need links just ask.

    Visca el Barça!

    • vicsoc8
      April 10, 2010

      Add me as a screamed wen Kaiser came on. Sorry

    • lovelymofo
      April 10, 2010

      I didn’t scream when Marquez came on. I told my Dad that everyone was gonna freak out, but that he would be fine. And he was.

      Awesome match. Pep knows what he’s doing.

      • Ben Dover
        April 11, 2010

        Marquez played well. He didn’t let us down. Thank you Marquez, thank you Barcelona for winning.

  2. Museum
    April 10, 2010

    Man, life is good. This might be the best time in the history of the club to be a Cule. Glad it’s happening in my lifetime.

  3. Phil
    April 10, 2010

    EE were doomed the moment they gave Xavi too much space. I think the two goals were some of the few times he wasnt closed down immediately. Very pleased with how well we deal with physical play also. You can definitely see a marked difference from the beginning of the season to now, but I guess getting chopped down repeatedly every week will do that to you!

    You could definitely tell that we were tired – and that makes it all the more sweet that EE get so much rest and were still well and truly tired by the end of the game. Not just in their legs but in their hearts too.

    • Phil
      April 10, 2010

      Oh and a minor correction: “We’re tired, we’re injured, we just had a huge match against Arsenal to get us through to the Champions League final.”

      Semi finals.

  4. vicsoc8
    April 10, 2010

    While it would have been nice if Messi had passed to Pedro, I have a hard time faulting him for his decision this time. The defender was playing him to give him the shot instead of the pass, and he definitely had a clear chance.

    I get upset when Messi shoots when he has a man open and no clear shot. I just thought this time the shot was more available than Pedro. Might have to watch it again.

    • April 10, 2010

      Please do, and let me know what you think. Pedro! looked wide, wide open to me, and certainly easier than trying to beat Casillas at that which he does best: the reflex save.

      • Phil
        April 10, 2010

        I remember after the shot thinking similarly to vicsoc. I gave leo a pass on that one because the defender was playing the lane to pedro quite a bit which is why leo had such a good look at goal. Well and the fact that he was beaten like he stole something.

      • Jose
        April 10, 2010

        I’ll third that. I commented on the liveblog. Pedro! was wide open, yes, but the defender was intentionally blocking that lane (essentially offering Messi up to Casillas) because he knew that a pass to Pedro! is an easy goal. It was actually a good defensive gamble by Real.

      • cliveee
        April 11, 2010

        got to say that shot messi struck could easily beat most of the keepers, but it was casillas between their sticks today. maybe messi enjoyed too much against almunia who conceded up, down , left and right goals to him.

    • majatt
      April 11, 2010

      I’m with you as well with all that room to shoot though I thought he would do better.

      What struck me as odd was the P! goal…Messi was free to the left and onside. All credit for a great goal…but a pass to Messi was a tap in.

      • ooga aga
        April 11, 2010

        i actually thought that was maxwell over there on pedros left? they (messi and maxwell) look similar at a distance.

  5. stowe
    April 10, 2010

    Great Review! I’m pumped that I get to wear my Messi jersey with pride to play pick-up in an hour.
    First, the team was amazing, ESPECIALLY the DEFENSE. I know Xavi was marvelous and should have had at least 3 assists (how did Messi finish with his right foot but not his left on the two that Xavi lobbed to him?). But, I would love to give MOTM to the 3 defenders. Pique back from injury and matching a faster and quicker Ronaldo step for step, Milito being his rock-solid self and PUYOL for playing on both sides of the field!!! they were amazing and so was Valdes.

    As for the crazy line-up, WOW! but I don’t think it was a new formation as many in the live blog comments were suggesting. Alves was definitely playing where Messi usually does in the 4-3-3. and he was driving me crazy. He was Offside half the time we had the ball up there, AND he didn’t have anyone to cross it to since everyone was a midget in attack. It took our boys a little while to adjust and Xavi was having trouble with the pressure (Gago according to Kevin) at the very beginning of the game, but he adjusted and took over.

    Second half we played a 4-4-2 with Maxwell playing in midfield and Puyol on the left (has he ever played there before?!) When I first saw Pedro! playing on the right I was wondering who got replaced at half-time.

    Immediately our passing, possession and pressuring started working much better (it was good in the first half, but i thought it was much better in the second).

    Pedro! with a spectacular finish and then we just tika taka-ed the game away. Iniesta was playing with them (thought he should have looked for some passes more often instead of dribbling around but he’s smarter than me)

    • vicsoc8
      April 10, 2010

      Before the match I thought it might’ve been more like a 5-3-2 with Alves and Maxwell playing as wing backs. It was definitely a 4-3-3 though. Alves wasn’t as effective as a winger because a lot of the time when he bombs forward he has some time as he’s the extra man. As a winger he had a lot less space to work with than he’s used to and definitely got caught offside a lot.

      • April 11, 2010

        Man I missed the opening lineups so boy was I confused for the first10 minutes or so. Eventually I figured formation out:

        It was the heretofore never seen 5-4-3
        Backline 5 = 4 + the “other” Alves
        Midfield 4 = 3 + the “other” Pujol
        IPWT!!

        …good thing we had 13 men today, ’cause for a while it looked like they had 13 as well. Not exactly a bus, but a bunch of minivans. Good match from the EE…

        not good enough!

    • stowe
      April 11, 2010

      proud to say that I rocked in our pick-up game, too. I’m not that great of a player, I just chase the ball and pressure the defense (just like I see our boys doing). but I had the honor of scoring 4 goals. one of my friends said “now Messi has scored 4 goals against Arsenal and Chelsea (the team we played was wearing that ugly blue jersey) in the same week”

  6. Rohanv
    April 10, 2010

    CRonaldo could potentially be so much scarier if he involved himself fully in the team and didn’t demand the ball back so much. Knowing your (substantial) abilities is important, but learning to anticipate your teammates is almost as necessary, and is something Pep’s boys are so incredibly good at, that it’s breathtaking.

    Whether you’re from La Masia or not, everyone on this team has clearly bonded with each other so well that they just know what each other is going to do. I’d go so far as to say that’s why Ibra is not fully accepted yet, but will clearly be able to as long as he honestly allows Guardiola to coach him.

    The only player who doesn’t need that is Xavi, who can use the Force to send a teammate wherever he wants. Or as one emailer put it on the Guardian’s liveblog of the game:

    “There have always been great passers, but the extraordinary thing about Xavi is how his passes are so good they make the receiver’s next move for them,” says Robert Smithson. “Which, ironically, resembles Maradona in a way far more concrete than most comparisons between Diego and Messi. It’s like he’s making up for his own one-dimension-ness (but what a dimension!) by using other players as extensions of his own extraordinary mind.”

    • diegonel messidona
      April 11, 2010

      amazing quote.. ive never heard a quote describe xavi better.. he literally controls the team

  7. Kevo
    April 10, 2010

    I agree with Keita’s rating, i didn’t see him much in our attacking third or being accomplice to any dangerous play but he DID SHUT DOWN Xabi Alonso. That was his task. To an extend, Xabi also had to look out for Keita which meant that Gago was the only one covering Xavi and that’s a BIG plus for us.

    Xavi hands down took care of RM.

    Maxwell, is becoming a bargain. I know he isn’t the most solid LB but boy i fell comfortable having him playing LM or LW, he sort of works as both defense/attack. And playing against Athleti he was side by side with Abidal which made the left side EXTREMELY SOLID.

  8. Jose
    April 10, 2010

    Let me add to another streak that our boys finely crushed today… We are the first team to keep a clean sheet at the Bernabeu since February 2008. During the freakin’ Schuster era.

  9. Jose
    April 11, 2010

    I will close the night by mentioning what inspired me the most about this club today… It was realizing that the best canterano out on the field today was Pep Guardiola. If the Cruyff era produced a coach such as Pep, I can only imagine the football minds being molded today within in our very own squad. Among them, the men who will be leading Futbol Club Barcelona when I am old.

  10. ooga aga
    April 11, 2010

    LINKS TO DOWNLOAD THE MATCH? THANKS JNICE

    • Corrine
      April 11, 2010

      ahaha “thanks jnice”

      to the rescue!

      • Jnice
        April 11, 2010

        Corrrrrrrrinnnnnne. Are you back for good?!

        • Corrine
          April 11, 2010

          it’s exam time which means i’m desperate to find distractions from reading haha. hopefullyyy

    • Jnice
      April 11, 2010

      Sky Sports Broadcast

      1st half:

      *http://rapidshare.com/files/374410538/First_Half_-_La_Liga_-_Real_Madrid_v._Barcelona_-_10-04-10.part1.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/374410611/First_Half_-_La_Liga_-_Real_Madrid_v._Barcelona_-_10-04-10.part2.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/374411337/First_Half_-_La_Liga_-_Real_Madrid_v._Barcelona_-_10-04-10.part3.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/374413384/First_Half_-_La_Liga_-_Real_Madrid_v._Barcelona_-_10-04-10.part4.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/374414570/First_Half_-_La_Liga_-_Real_Madrid_v._Barcelona_-_10-04-10.part5.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/374415917/First_Half_-_La_Liga_-_Real_Madrid_v._Barcelona_-_10-04-10.part6.rar

      2nd half:

      *http://rapidshare.com/files/374427382/Second_Half_-_La_Liga_-_Real_Madrid_v._Barcelona_-_10-04-10.part1.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/374427427/Second_Half_-_La_Liga_-_Real_Madrid_v._Barcelona_-_10-04-10.part2.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/374428122/Second_Half_-_La_Liga_-_Real_Madrid_v._Barcelona_-_10-04-10.part3.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/374430194/Second_Half_-_La_Liga_-_Real_Madrid_v._Barcelona_-_10-04-10.part4.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/374431044/Second_Half_-_La_Liga_-_Real_Madrid_v._Barcelona_-_10-04-10.part5.rar
      *http://rapidshare.com/files/374431616/Second_Half_-_La_Liga_-_Real_Madrid_v._Barcelona_-_10-04-10.part6.rar

      or Mediafire: *http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=083f4a63779b1018ab1eab3e9fa335cac10013ee3a41f625

      Credit to Pakman @fbtz.com

  11. jordi™
    April 11, 2010

    One thing about this game was how we got yellows for 1st offences, while ramos, gago, and alonso got in quite a few fouls before getting theirs.Football won when Pedro scored the last goal.

    • Jnice
      April 11, 2010

      Yeah, it was ridiculous. Alonso, Gago, and Ramos all should have been sent off.

    • Helge
      April 11, 2010

      The referee was horrific. Real Madrid hadn’t lost a match under Mejuto Gonzales since 1999! They’ve only lost 7% of the matches refereed by him, whereas Barça lost almost 30%. At one time during the match, it was like 14-7 fouls but 2-3 yellow cards and the fouls of the EE were certainly worse than ours. And he confused me 2 times when he was giving a yellow card to the team that has just suffered a foul 🙂 In one situation, I already thought “Damn it, Dani Alves got a red card now” but then, I think it was CR or Sergio Ramos who got the yellow. He was giving cards for complaining, but not for fouling. Sergio Ramos should never have been allowed to end this match, the foul in minute 12 on Messi was “an undebatable penalty”, according to SkySports (so according to English norms)…
      so yeah, Mejuto tried his best to make Real Madrid not lose, but it was simply inevitable yesterday. Amazing performance from the complete team, brilliant tactics from Pep. If we stay focussed for the rest of the season, we’ll go for a quintuple by the end of this year.

  12. Reagan
    April 11, 2010

    Spectacular game!! Not necessarily in a Messi spectacular kind of way but boy!! after the first 5-10 mins I had this calming feeling that said “there’s no reason to be nervous and edgy you handsome, handsome man. EE is nowhere close to our level of play you stunning, stunning man. Did I say handsome? WORD!”. t’was all good after that 🙂

    Another positive note, Kerrison scored for fiorentina last night against our next rivals in the champions league!

  13. Lev
    April 11, 2010

    Agree with Kxevin, Leo should have passed. yeah the defender was playing the passing lane but the pulga could have cut back and passed. But then again I also think he could have stuck the ball between both feet, jump over the defender doing a salto and releasing the ball while mid-air anf face down, aiming it for the bottom right corner.

    • majatt
      April 11, 2010

      If he cut back P! may have ran offside and then he would have to try to beat the defender again.

  14. Aeneas
    April 11, 2010

    The Busi-Xavi-Messi-Keita triangles in the midfield made me cry. The only weak link i can find is in the buildup phase from defense to midfield. Visca el Barça! Visca Catalunya!

  15. Tim
    April 11, 2010

    The Messi/Pedro pass thing is at 71:15 in the match if anyone wants to look at it.

    It looks like Albiol has the passing lane cut off pretty well to me. Messi would have to stop, let Albiol run past, hope the trailing defender dones’t slide in and slip it over to Pedro.

    All this in what? 1 second to decide. He ends up forcing a pretty good save from the Spanish #1

  16. jnelson
    April 11, 2010

    Now, a look ahead:

    7 remaining games for EE:
    @Almeria, Valencia, @Zaragoza, Osasuna, @Mallorca, Athletic, @Malaga

    7 remaining games for Barca:
    Depor, @Espanyol, Xerez, @Villareal, Tenerife, @Sevilla, Valladolid

    I see all away games possibly giving EE trouble. Almeria will actually play under Lillo. Zaragoza gave us a difficult time there. Mallorca has been dominant at home. Malaga (boo Weligton) likes to kick. They should breeze through their home games though (including Valencia).

    I see our away games being just as difficult. Espanyol somehow (interestingly) is always trouble, especially away. Villareal is a tricky team I was really surprised to see us draw at home. Finally, eratic Sevilla can be dangerous, but after the thumping we delivered at the Nou Camp, they are lucky Chiggy was wimpy back then (and maybe still is).

    • diegonel messidona
      April 11, 2010

      i think athtelic might actually give them some trouble.. the basque like to give it all against madrid as much as the catalans

  17. April 11, 2010

    For me, the most amazing aspect of this game was how we never really got out of third gear. It was a very composed, deliberate, professional dismantling. The gulf between the two sides is so huge, really.

  18. ashu
    April 11, 2010

    so i missed the game :(. where can i watch it again ???

  19. April 11, 2010

    “Some were wondering if we really meant to score goals this time out. But let’s think about this for a moment: We only needed a draw out of this match, so what better way to go about it than to flood the field with defenders, particularly a defender that can function just as well as an attacker.”
    That was an accurate description, Kxevin (though Alves was there to flood the midfield rather than defense). Pep-as any coach- is the hostage of matches’ results. I hope we keep remembering this same tactic when things go wrong (and it does every once and while A.K.A Kazan) so we keep the understanding of the initial idea. Pep tried the same concept in many games (with Iniesta instead of Alves) and he was criticized heavily (Who will score goals? Iniesta must not start unless he plays beside Xavi, etc…etc…). The difference today was that Iniesta was not match fit (It was obvious even when he entered) and that’s where Pep gets most of the credit for staying loyal to the initial idea by installing Alves there –the closest fit player for the role. Even with Ibra being unavailable we still played this tactic. Ibra was missed more than people may think as this tactic requires a player who can hold on the ball while the team shuffles the lines forward. We didn’t have that and I think Pellegini was so Naïve on this one. Our only option was playing the ball BEHIND the defense to create a threat and that was pretty much all what we did – beside some Solo Messi-c attempts. If Real Madrid played with a deeper defense they would have a better possibility to contain our offense (Even if that led to stretching their lines a bit).
    On Real page on “The offside”, the review analyzes things as following:

    “In the end, and with all due respect to Valdes who had a good game, the teams finishing was bad. It was like they were just trying to hit Valdes.”
    “Barcelona relied on counter attacks in the second half, and they got two golden chances for Messi that Casillas dealt with well.”
    That’s Valdes life story. In fact he blocked Real Madrid because he is a quality: well positioned, timed reflexes, and with no room to slot the ball between his legs while one-on-one.

    • stowe
      April 11, 2010

      i think Valdes is great, but i would agree that most of their shots were right at him

      • stowe
        April 11, 2010

        but if you look at the one on ones, then VV did better than Casillas

    • cliveee
      April 11, 2010

      will valdes be underrated forever?

      • diegonel messidona
        April 12, 2010

        i fear that will be the case… wouldnt be too surpsrised if he ended his career without a single international cap to his name… a real shame

  20. Tutomate
    April 11, 2010

    SPOOOOON!!!!!

    I’m so happy right now. A newborn could not bring me this much joy.

  21. Ivax
    April 11, 2010

    What means EE?
    I know EE = Real Madrid, should be short for RM?!?

    • Rohanv
      April 11, 2010

      Barca players scoring goals against Inter already? Nice head start.

    • cliveee
      April 11, 2010

      pedro, jeffren, bojan, jds, even fontas can score that sitter.

  22. April 11, 2010

    And the Messi passing thing isn’t that big of a deal. I watched again, and still think he should have passed it. Pedro’s goal, in which Messi was flanking him and open, was different because he had the clear shooting angle on a shot any good attacker should be able to put away.

    But yes, I did wonder whether he, too, should have passed the ball. 😀

    I can see where a player thinks that a pass introduces another layer of complexity to an attack, right?

    –What if a defender comes in late?
    –What if the attacker overruns the ball?
    –What if the keeper just slides to that side?
    –What if I screw up the pass?

    Part of my view on why Messi should have made that pass has to do with setting the table for future events. If he makes that pass, in a match that every player and coach in the Liga is watching, then every time he gets in the box, defenders will have to shade just a bit for the pass. As it is, in the box, everyone plays Messi to shoot. Casillas did, and I don’t think Albiol was at all worried about him making the pass.

    Yes, Casillas nabbed one hell of a save, but that’s Casillas.

    Now, one part of me agrees with Hudson, in that a player riding that kind of form is never, EVER going to make that pass. So it’s ultimately forgivable, particularly as they weren’t going to score against us. Not the way we were defending.

  23. Henke
    April 11, 2010

    Hi all!

    What EE stands for? What EE means? 😛

    Thanx! Henke

    • amal
      April 11, 2010

      EE = Evil Empire

      I Love When People ask 😀

      • Henke
        April 11, 2010

        Thanx! I know it was asked earlier. sorry

  24. DontPanic
    April 11, 2010

    *http://i41.tinypic.com/33b0ho2.gif

    Well, it’s a mans game. LUDICROUS

  25. y2k156
    April 11, 2010

    Brilliant match from us, tactically and on the pitch. The great thing is that everyone can play the ball so well.

    I am of view that Messi taking that shot instead of passing to Pedro was something any striker would have done. So for me, he is 10. At one point, he was even defending on EE’s fast break.

    That said, this was team victory and Xavi was undoubted man of the match. Way in which Xavi controls the match is simply out of this world. Only player i have seen that i can mention in same breath is Riquelme but Xavi as allround player is even better.

    We got our noses in front now though long road ahead.

  26. Perra
    April 11, 2010

    Just wanna give som credit to Puyol who played at the right in first half, then to the left in the second. Anybody who has played fotball themselves know ho difficult that is as a defender. Its amazing that he plays so good at both ends.

  27. poipoi
    April 11, 2010

    for one more year we trashed them in bernabeu. el madrid no existe la la la … to me they are the definition of fake, they were not able to make three passes in a row. cr9 fake, 5 games vs barça 0 goals

    it was so good to see guti and raul coming in during the second half, next year they will gone and all the cantera madrid will have will be iker and arbeloa… while in our side seven or I dont know how many canteranos started. two of them scored (pedro and messi) while some other two more canteranos conducted the midfield (xavi and busi) also theres puyi and pique AND OF COURSE PEP. it was all about barça yesterday. visca el barça!

  28. Lev
    April 11, 2010

    Does anyone know what the longest streak of wins of the clasico is for either teams?

    • Corrine
      April 11, 2010

      well apparently pep is the first barca coach to win 4 consecutive clasicos?

      • Tajh
        April 11, 2010

        I believe the commenter said EE has the record of winning 6 consecutive El Clasicos I think.

  29. Tajh
    April 11, 2010

    Completely off topic but i can’t believe the comeback tale Claudio Ranieri has pulled of with Roma. From being around 21 points back of Inter in the Christmas Break to leading the table by 2 points now truly remarkable…

    This goes to show that no title race is won yet here in Spain.

    • Mario
      April 11, 2010

      Correction 1 Point but still what a miracle.

      • April 11, 2010

        The problem with Claudio Ranieri is that he was always toooo close to win titles, but most of the time the last meters disappoint him. I hope it works for him this time as he did huge effort and he is a nice man. Besides, that will teach Juventus another lesson.

        • Tajh
          April 11, 2010

          Completely Madrid should be taking notes also.

          • jose011
            April 11, 2010

            it would be really nice to see someone else win the scudetto this year.

            but as a barca fan, as long as Roma simply keep pressure on the domestic front and give mourinho and inter something else to worry about besides the semi-clash, i’m happy.

  30. Jim
    April 11, 2010

    Only just surfaced after a bout of heavier drinking than I should have !

    What an engrossing game of football. A lot of you must have nerves of steel as I didn’t feel at any point before the second goal went in that we were comfortable. We saw two teams put absolutely everything into it and imo we were only just holding them off. They tried to close us down all night and only tired towards the end. That they did, as has been said, was largely down to Xavi who was the difference. Souness always refers to him as having “wing mirrors” and being able to see in all directions. That was never more obvious than last night but what got me was the weight of passes when under pressure. Every ball was weighted to allow the recipient to do something with it. Awesome doesn’t cover it – I was (possibly due to the drink) becoming quite emotional at some of the beautiful passages of passing under the severest pressure.

    I was dubious about Pep’s lineup before the game but after seeing Iniesta ( who I thought played v well in tight situations) I think he was right to leave him out of the starting 11. He didn’t look 100% and we are going to have to give Xavi a rest soon when he will have to take over.

    Couldn’t point a finger at anyone – they were all magnificent. I’m thinking I would have awarded another 3 10s – Messi undoubtedly, Milito and possibly even Maxwell who has been a star for us recently.

  31. Abhinav
    April 11, 2010

    Hi i am real madrid supporter not exactly fan… no la liga matches here in india. Sometimes watched them over internet. I have been following this blog for a year now and i like many of the posts but i have one thing to say about a few barca supporters… i have been reading theoffside blogs of real and barca and i like the rivalry going on because it makes things interesting. I think that there is a sense of arrogance starting to arise in barca fans… and the hatred for RM seems to be only increasing … i am afraid this is not a good thing…

    There is no doubt barca is a great team and rm is not even in top5 of europe so a defeat yesterday was only likely. But i have watched the match and i think if RM was a little bit clinical or had some one even close to Xavi things could have been different…

    Messi is great but Cristiano is good too… insults of thong boy dont matter but only shows the mindset of ppl speaking….

    Congratulations to u guys on winning both legs without conceeding a goal…. But hopefully next year RM is gonna be a much better… u guys need competition to display ur ever increasing talents….

    Last year i supported Barca coz i hated chelsea in CL….
    I would like to know from u guys what is RM missing … no jokes plz… what positions esp midfield we need new players for and who could those new players be fitting RM style of play.. I like ur total football concept..i play like that on my Play station….

    Hard times for RM supporter…..
    Do give ur insights because u wud also like more competition… u already have complete dominance….

    Isaih and kevin ur thots wud be very enlightening…

    • April 11, 2010

      I’m not the sharpest tool in the BFB shed, but I think maybe more than specific players RM justs needs time to jell. If they keep sacking coaches, spending 100’s of millions on signings and shuffling players, they could be in for a long spell of second class citizenship. A cantera would also come in handy.

      ..that said throw some Ribery and Mourinho in the mix and see what happens…

  32. Alexinho
    April 11, 2010

    I hope Milito isn’t too badly hurt.

  33. Jnice
    April 11, 2010

    According to Sport, apparently after the match ended, Milito saw Valdano near the chanigng rooms and they had a heated discussion.

    Presumably, Milito said “FUCK YOU.” LOL.

  34. Nick
    April 11, 2010

    That tracking back by Messi was the epitome of total football.

    Now will Leo beat CR’s record?

    P.S. Kxevin, watch “Zombieland” to get Ray-Ray’s reference.

    • Kari
      April 11, 2010

      He only needs to score 3 to beat Thong Boy and 8 to beat Ronaldo Phenomeno’s record of 47 goals in 49 starts when he played for us.

      With 8 games left in the Liga, and a minimum of 2 in the CL, I have hopes he can beat both 😀 .

      • Nick
        April 11, 2010

        Hope so too. I obviously meant the Ronaldo, not TB.

  35. Jnice
    April 11, 2010

    720p HD Sky Sports Cap Credit to J-reyes @fbtz.com

    Rapidshare links: *http://rs470.rapidshare.com/files/374669298/rma-barca-full-fix.txt

    Megaupload: *http://www.megaupload.com/?f=HAKN0BVR

    Multiupload: *http://www.mirrorcreator.com/files/5BSUOFDX/rma-barca-full-multi.txt_links

  36. ooga aga
    April 11, 2010

    for jnice — i am right now downloading my first ever file from RapidShare. a question while I am waiting — how do you view .rar files?

    • ooga aga
      April 11, 2010

      i downloaded the first parts from both rapidshare and mediafire as well as an .RAR extractor, but when i try to decompress them i am told that the procedure failed; they are both corrupted. i am probably just being an ignoramus.

      • April 11, 2010

        Ooga aga, try using 7 zip to get the files out from rar format. Free program easily available online.

      • Kari
        April 11, 2010

        ooga aga,

        I had the same problem. Firt thing first, get VLC player if you don’t have it.

        Next, what you do is you download ALL the parts and put them in one file. For the corrupted files, use WINRAR to repair them. Then you extract the files using WINRAR.

        1. Right click the 1st RAR file.
        2. Click Extract Files…
        3. Tick Keep Broken Files.
        4. Click OK

  37. Kari
    April 11, 2010

    My dream is to one day see Xavi on the bench for us–not as a sub, but as a manager.

    Then I’ll turn to whoever is beside me at the time and proudly say:

    “Yeah, he was that kickass as a player too.”

  38. Kari
    April 11, 2010

    This is just cruel 😀

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBXO-loQ1Sg

    Honestly, it was the music that got me. LMAO!

  39. memorylane
    April 11, 2010

    Pique really is an exceptional player he shutout Cristiano many times both him and Puyol are world class.

    Keita was pretty terrible in the first half I doubt anyone will admit to this but he misplaced many passes and when he gets the ball he doesn’t really know what to do with it.

    I guess it would be wrong to call him a headless chicken but lets just say his Physical strength/aggression/pressing game is excellent.

    Busquets is not the player everybody says he is, it’s funny people are giving him credit for not messing up that should tell you everything right there.

    In my humble opinion he is made to look good because he plays next to Keita, Xavi, Pique etc.

    He simply can’t dominate the midfield the way Toure did last season and all by himself without needing the help of the tireless Keita.

    Game was very scrappy in the beginning, Madrid could of scored a few times on the counter but lacked the final touch and calm infront of goal.

    It was quite worrying when watching how Madrid so easily could invade our box without much trouble.

    Also a little off topic this might sound harsh but lets Thank God for Marques getting injured in the first leg in the camp nou against Chelsea.

    I say that because it looks like the coach still relies on him so had he not been injured he would of started against Chelsea at Stamford bridge 😯

    • Vj
      April 11, 2010

      If you take a trip down memorylane, you’d find that once Marquez was our best defender, just before the semi-final first leg AND THAT’S WHY HE STARTED AHEAD OF PUYOL.. I’d say he was even better than Puyol.. I believe that just prior to that game against Valencia, Pablo Hernandes just waltzed past both Pique and Puyol to give them the lead..

      Remember you could hear murmurs from Puyol’s agent protesting his lack of playing time in the CL semi as his contract was up for renewal.. The Pique-Marquez combination in Central midfield was working wonders..

      Till he got injured that is, in that semi where he almost gifted a goal to Drogba.. When players are about to get injured they tend to do that.. See Xavi’s performance at Atleti..

      Marquez is returning back to his old self.. He needs more faith and time.. IMO he wasn’t bad at all against Arsenal but I don’t know whether he remains for next season..

    • Bill
      April 11, 2010

      I agree about Keita. I’m just not impressed by him that much. I think Busi plays better than him in an advanced role. Yaya plays better as a DM

    • cliveee
      April 11, 2010

      the tricky thing about keita is that he does a lot of things OFF the ball. The way he create space for other players or simply occupying space to prevent potential threat is truly exceptional. it is also very easy to neglect because most of the time, u look at where the ball is or is going. we all love his work rate and the work he does is usually to provide defensive stability just about everywhere. when our team has so many midgets, keita can act as a counter force to strengthen the defense. be it professional foul, rough tackles, and one thing i love about him is his heading ability. he won lots of balls for us with his head in the midfield. u don’t notice that, right? it happens just in a blink.

      • Luna
        April 11, 2010

        That’s a huge pet peeve of mine, when folks don’t understand the game off the ball. Keita is absolutely a work horse. B

        • ooga aga
          April 11, 2010

          earlier in the season, in Pep’s press conferences, you could tell he was being won over by Keita just due to his work rate. “he eats up the field.” Keita hasnt scored recently but he has more goals than Busi and Yaya combined because he has the “pulmones” to crash the box, and defenses just dont pick up on him.

  40. Tim
    April 11, 2010

    \\http://www.runofplay.com/2010/04/11/el-clasico/

    The fantastic Run of Play’s take on the match.

    • April 11, 2010

      yeah…a nice desert after a BFB meal!
      ..or a fine port to wash the Hudsonisms from your brain.

  41. poipoi
    April 11, 2010

    anyone got links to the milito sub please? it was soooo great 😉

  42. April 11, 2010

    3-0 to Espanyol against Atleti. Bad weekend for Madrid teams playing Barcelona teams, I guess.

    • Kari
      April 11, 2010

      Our basketball team also beat EE’s b-ball team. Muhahahaha!

      • Vj
        April 11, 2010

        We did the double on them yesterday..

        We did a double on them this season..

        We did a double-double since Pep took over (or is that a Quadruple?) :D..

  43. Kxevin
    April 11, 2010

    Abhinav, what your team needs is heart. It’s as simple as that. It’s one thing to whomp on the Racings and Getafes of the world. It’s quite another to face a real team that comes at you with world-class players. At that point, it’s heart that they lack. Higuain had a chance, and fluffed it. Thong Boy had a couple of chances, and fluffed them. Van der Vaart had a glorious chance, and fluffed it.

    We had half as many chances, and made the most of them.

    “Heart” is a difficult thing to define. For me, it’s a quality of playing as a team, of not letting anything get you down. When it got to the 70th minute and they hadn’t scored, yet, I knew the match would then get chippy, and they would get their heads down. Which is precisely what happened. “Heart” is belief. We believe in tika-taka, possession and making the extra pass.

    A team hits the open man, backs each other up and runs like dogs to make sure that the team does well. So Ronaldo gets fouled, and lays there, glaring at the ref. Messi gets fouled, hops up, restarts play and pops the ball into the back of the net.

    You also need a coach that is going to make sensible decisions. For a match that EE had to win, Pelligrini rolled out with a midfield destroyer in Gago, instead of a midfielder who could legitimately disrupt and steal balls, such as Diarra No. 2. If Guti is the answer, I don’t want to know the question.

    You need a Kaka that isn’t playing like a overrated git, and a star player in Thong Boy that is ready to be part of a team, rather than “give me the ball, dammit!” That works against Malaga. Not against Barca. And explain to me what Higuain does besides score goals? Is that all that’s needed? Maybe. But our Pedro! scores goals, but he also plays midfield defense, pressures defenders, has a role in tika-taka and just plain raises hell.

    That team sense comes from a coach and a system. And as long as you keep firing coaches after a season, you will never have a team or a system, because it keeps changing. You don’t need superstars. Flo-Flo is, in my estimation, a dumbass for thinking that. You can’t sell enough shirts to overcome the damage if you get knocked out of Champions League in the round of 16. So then what? More big-money, high-profile purchases? To what end?

    Ultimately you have too many generals and not enough soldiers. Roll out with Benzema, Kaka, Thong Boy, Alonso and Higuain. Sure, why not? But who makes the sacrifice for the team? That’s where it all breaks down. You are going to keep losing Clasics until you get a team. You have players. You don’t have a team.

    Like we have.

    • Jose
      April 11, 2010

      “Ultimately you have too many generals and not enough soldiers.”

      You’re just asking to bring out an oldie but a goodie.

      *http://futfanatico.com/2010/03/17/barcelona-the-spanish-art-of-war-the-siege/

    • Vj
      April 11, 2010

      I think they need players who know what it means to put that shirt on.. Look what Pique and Pedro! did after scoring at the Bernabeu, pulling their shirt Lucho-style.. It gives you the impression that they know only too well the importance of such a Clash.. Look at Raul, Casillas and even Guti for that matter – for such a momentous occasion, you need to have exceptional individual play from many players or solid, cohesive team-play. The lack of either was obvious..

      This is where the promotion of young talent comes into picture.. There is no need to explain to them the after-effects of such games .. They know they have to give it their all, they know they have to sacrifice – the basic tenets of team play.. Until you get a bunch of players to understand (blech.. never thought I’d say this word) Madridismo (*goes to wash his mouth with soap, then the keyboard*), such results will reoccur..

      Its no wonder that both goals came straight from La Masia.. I’m not saying that everyone from the academy will develop into a Xavi or an Iniesta, but every once in a while, players like those WILL spring up from the farm.. One needs to have faith and patience with them.. Which is also something EE currently doesn’t have.. No wonder why they’ve buckled consistently..

  44. They need Robben and Snider….oh wait that’s right ; ) Their transfer policy is fucked, and like Kevin said…they are not a team, they are a group of good players.

  45. Tim
    April 11, 2010

    //http://www.zonalmarking.net/2010/04/11/real-madrid-0-2-barcelona-tactics-xavi-messi/

    Zonal Marking breaks down the match, with a great diagram showing the space Xavi had on the first goal.

    • kirsten
      April 12, 2010

      speaking of diagrams, which aliens abducted hector?i miss his tactical pieces.

  46. Helge
    April 11, 2010

    by the by, we are the best home team in la Liga now, right? Just one draw, compared to Real Madrid’s one loss against… how’s that incredible team called? I forgot because I’m still love-drunk 🙂
    Visca el Barça

  47. vicsoc8
    April 11, 2010

    While Madrid does need to focus on finding their “heart” or putting in place a system, this poses a couple of problems for them. Our system, our heart, the fact that we have so many canteros playing, all of this is the fruition of many years of working to this goal. It has gradually gotten better, and we are now seeing it in full bloom.

    The problem for Madrid is that to achieve this it takes time, and time is what they don’t have. We all saw Madrid fans leaving the stadium with 30 minutes left to play when they were only losing 2-0. The media, the fans, and even the president aren’t willing to accept that it will take time and patience to reach where they need to be. Look at Arsenal, they have been at it for five years, and while they are looking better they aren’t there yet.

    With that said, we need to stay true to our principles. Most importantly, we need to stick behind Pep when the bad times come. Some season we won’t win a trophy, but we need to believe in him, he has earned that.

    • Kxevin
      April 11, 2010

      Reports are that fans were booing TB toward the end of the match. That just doesn’t make sense to me, be it our fans, or theirs. Even when a player isn’t having the best match, he’s working his ass off out there.

      I can’t begin to understand the pressure that players at the highest level must be feeling. I know that when fans pays their bucks, they can react as they choose, but jeez.

  48. Bojan
    April 11, 2010

    wow, now after i got my voice back and my knees are ok from landing on them while the goals, i can just say…. WOW! it really brought tears to my eyes and to realise the beauty of the football game! Xavi, my idol again OWNED the game those fantastic bullet accurate passes just keeps you repeat yourself he really is the best. I got horrified when i saw the line-up at first but i must say In Pep we trust indeed!Proven sooo many times! I LOVE BARCA VISCA BARCA PARA SIEMPRE and nice win for us all too! i just dont know what else to say overwhelmed by satisfaction, joy and happiness!
    On to the next victory!!!!

  49. The only thing that would have made this win better would have been if Bojan had scored a goal. He would have burst into cuddlyness on the spot, and prolly would have gotten a ‘Ronny like’ standing ovation at the Bernabau from being so damn cute.

    • Bojan
      April 12, 2010

      I know but Pep told me to sit this one out in order to get as much experience as possible because i am the next attacking force for the upcoming season! :)))) hahahaa

  50. Bill
    April 11, 2010

    So, our swashbuckling juggernauts rolled into madrid for el classico. It was supposed to be a big match. And many wanted to see Real Madrid cut Barcelona down to size. Based on what Real had done to other teams at the Bernabeu, they way they had ‘rained’ on inferior teams, basically camping at their goal line, and the number of goals they had scored prior to this match, told us that they might be dangerous, like George Foreman.

    So, like Muhammad Ali, our line-up essentially adopted the rope-a-dope strategy. With only two short and speedy forwards, it was clear we expected them to try and re-create the first 30mins of our game against arsenal at the emirates. Only, this wasn’t Foreman who turned up, but sonny liston. It turned out, they were even more scared of us than we expected. Our recent performances must have left them a little bit intimidated. We waited for the assault, and waited…Nothing. Like Ali shouting at Liston to get up, we started kicking long balls directly to their defense to reset and attack, but still….Nothing. Then we started giving away cheap possession by kicking the ball out….Nothing!

    Another thing some of us expected, was that their speed, especially CR9, would give our defence problems. When CR9 begins to race Pique for a ball, you expected him to leave Pique embarrased 5 steps behind…again, Nothing!

    Once we realized they wouldn’t be that much of a problem, we set about putting them away. And put them away we did. With great passess, great teamwork and great tenacity. When Messi gets fouled, gets up and scores, all within a 20sec period, it symbolizes his rise-from his lowest point,literally eating grass because of his physical problems, to the top of the mountain before you could blink. All the while fighting, never giving up, never dwelling at his circumstances.

    And Pedro finishes them off, with the help of Xavi. That both players scored with their ‘wrong foot’ was amazing. That both players vary their shots, shooting with the ‘in-sole’ when they need accuracy, and with the top of their foot when they need power, as opposed to CR9 and co. who always opt for the power shot, shows the difference about being great or just average.

    The look Ronaldo wears everytime he plays Barca is just Priceless. You have the feeling that he doesn’t understand whats going on, he is overwhelmed and completely confused. I sometimes feel he is a little intimidated too, especially the way he was looking at Messi

    • Helge
      April 11, 2010

      Haha, you can understand Ronaldo’s feeling, right? He’s never scored against Barca, it’ll be tough to find any other team that he’s already played 5 times but didn’t score against. I am pretty sure, it’s impossible 🙂
      I also think that CR is totally “over-pumped” once he faces off against Barca and Messi, because he is that type of guy who is reading all the newspapers, all the “Messi-vs-CR showdown” claims. He DOES care about it, whereas Messi doesn’t give a shit and prolly won’t ever read Marca, Sport, etc. The pressure gets too much for CR, although he seems to be such a strong, and self-confident guy. I have a picture of him in my head, reading the newspapers and the debates about who is the best player right now. Suddenly, there’s this little Messi dude who most people believe is better than him. “Better than me?!? Nooooo… my world just crashed” CR thinks to himself. So he does another 1000 sit-ups, push-ups and whatever else he does to become the new Mr. Universe. He trains his free-kicks, his step-overs, his shooting power… it doesn’t help. Once again, out-played by Barca and the magical midget Messi. And then, just before their 5th encounter, Messi does a little wink, implying “catch me if you can!”.
      And deep inside of him, CR knows that he simply cannot.

      But you also have to give credit to CR, who yesterday said that Barça was clearly the better side, who last season applauded us in Stadio Olimpico. He’s grown and matured, 2 years ago I couldn’t have imagined such a reaction from him. Guess you learn with your losses 😉

      • anand
        April 11, 2010

        I completely agree. Ronaldo has improved a lot in his character after he moved to Real. May be its the reality check, but we all know that on his day he is unbeatable. Him getting his natural game back(ofcource not against us) will be a treat for anybody. Him and Messi are polar opposites in every sense, and as footy loves we are blessed have both playing infront of us 🙂

  51. Jnice
    April 11, 2010

    Check this video out, shows the players celebrating on the pitch after the final whistle. You can see how much it means to them- even those who didn’t play like Txigi and Henry were ecstatic.

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImAP3iDuvas&playnext_from=TL&videos=fvUq0D2gajs&feature=sub

    • April 11, 2010

      Haha what an awesome series of clips. Man, Pep’s “encouraging” back-of-the-head slaps look like they could really hurt.

    • April 11, 2010

      Cool!
      The camara angles capture the Majesteriality of Xavi …wow.
      Nice to see the greatest player in the world under Peps bridle…I just can’t see Thong Boy getting rapped upside the head like that and doing anything positive with it! Those taps go directly to Messi’s feet, you can see it.

  52. Kxevin
    April 11, 2010

    Hate to look WAY ahead, but if we don’t give Keirrison a good, long look next season, we’re crazy. I haven’t seen evidence yet of his all-around skills (passing, work rate, etc), but he’s Brazilian, so I’m pretty sure he’s comfortable with the ball at his feet.

    But he’s been playing his way into that Fiorentina side, and looked really good yesterday. Makes you wonder about his time at Benfica. His movement and finishing were, dare I say it, Eto’o-like.

    • vicsoc8
      April 11, 2010

      I’m torn. I definitely think Keirrison should be a part of our team in the future. I just can’t decide whether it would be better for him and the team if he spent another season on loan or if he should spend the season training with us. I just think he might not find the playtime he needs to develop if he stays.

      On another note, I wouldn’t mind bringing Henrique back. Puyol is our only defender who can play across the backline, and Henrique is fairly versatile. I don’t think he’ll go down as a legend, but I think he could contribute to the team.

      On a different note, sometimes I think you could play Puyol at forward and he would impress.

      • Jnice
        April 11, 2010

        I’d rather bring back Botia. He has kicked major ass this season and has played way more minutes than Henrique.

        Didn’t Puyol start out as a forward, way, way back in the day?

        • Kxevin
          April 11, 2010

          I know that he was some sort of an attacking player. Hmmm….let’s look at who we have out:

          Hleb: Don’t laugh. He’s still ours, though we’re just trying to get something for our transfer fee. He might be a makeweight in a summer move.

          Botia: Excellent defensive depth, in case the likes of Fontas, Dalmau and Muniesa aren’t quite ready yet.

          Adriano: Can play across the entire back line. Man, are we deep in defenders!

          Caceres: He’s sold, the only question is to whom.

          Keirrison: Jury’s still out, but he’s suddenly looking the business. He earned his first start for Fiorentina.

          But, on the back line, we have right now: Puyol, Maxwell, Abidal, Milito, Marquez, Pique, Alves, Txigrinski. It’s a safe bet that the only one who might leave is Marquez, so it’s good that he’s playing well right now. Should only enhance his value. Txiggy is Guardiola’s choice, so he isn’t going anywhere. And he’s young, like Pique. Alves is staying put. Puyol will be facing a heavy challenge next season for his spot. Milito is the sentimental favorite, though I see him where he is now: talented, more than capable backup.

          Question is, are any of the folks that we have out sufficiently good for anything except squad depth, which I wouldn’t place too low a value on right now. Then there’s the Hleb question. He’s under contract with us, and is he good enough to be a squad player? Yes, he can tika-taka, which might be his principal value if we can’t get something more than a fire sale price for him.

  53. Bill
    April 11, 2010

    By the way, that wasn’t Messi riding shotgun to Pedro’s goal, it was Maxwell…not that it matters much! But it explains why he would attempt it himself…

  54. Corrine
    April 11, 2010

    what’s going to happen to yaya next season :S

    • April 11, 2010

      🙁 I wish I’d seen hime on the pitch yesurday. That and an Iniesta assist would have been perfecton

  55. stephen
    April 11, 2010

    not sure if someone already asked, but who did raul trade shirts with? Busquets?

  56. ooga aga
    April 11, 2010

    if yaya worked as hard as keita he would have no problem staying in this barcelona. i just dont see that, though. be interesting to see if he plays in the remaining CL matches.

    • Kxevin
      April 11, 2010

      I think it’s more than work rate. I think that Guardiola thinks that Busquets’ skill set is, in most league matches, better suited to the Liga style than The Yaya. I still can’t see us selling him. He’s too good, and too valuable, even in the limited use he’s been getting of late.

      Really, the only players who I can see leaving this summer who are currently on the roster are Henry and Marquez. But man, do we need depth. We also have to answer the Krkic question. That kid needs some serious reps. In many ways, I’d love for us to wrap up the Liga with a few matches to go (won’t happen), so that we could see Krkic in a starting, full-time role.

  57. ooga aga
    April 11, 2010

    i like that messi (in addition to being the goleador mas goleador de la liga) is also leading the league in assists (tied with Xavi)

  58. Aaron
    April 11, 2010

    excellent review by kxevin and i wanted to compliment the lyricism in the writing on busquets…”turf angels of faux agony.”

    love it.

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