Barca 3, Deportivo La Coruna 0, aka “Like practice, only easier”

How good am I? No. Really. How good am I?

There just isn’t a whole lot to say about this one, so I won’t. But I should begin with this observation: There are 6 matches to go in the Liga season, and at least 2 Champions League matches. So we feel compelled to warn teams who have white as a home or away strip: change it. We don’t like it. Seeing white makes us want to kick the crap out of whatever or whomever is wearing it.

It’s just our nature. So when Pedro! spanks a one-timed 40-yarder into the far corner of the goal, it isn’t personal. It’s just those damnable white shirts.

This was as complete a destruction of a quality Liga side as we have seen since …. the destruction of Bilbao, and EE, and ….

Depor is in the top ten in the Liga, and we made them look like one of those teams who we visit for a kick around. The match really came down to two things:

–The team with the most talent also had the most hustle.
–The ball moves faster than people. Every time.

This was another brilliant team match, and Deportivo didn’t stand a chance. Even when Pedro! somehow missed that shot right on the doorstep, smaking it off the crossbar, you knew that it wasn’t going to be long before we scored, and scored again.

Guardiola came out with Valdes, Alves, Marquez, Pique, Maxwell, The Yaya, Xavi, Jeffren, Pedro!, Krkic and Messi. And Depor got a little sniff of the ball early, before the show began. Because in addition to talent, skill and wit, we now have audacity. This means that our passing game can go on right under the noses of the Depor players, but the one-touch moves so quickly and with such precision, that they can’t get the ball.

–Messi and Alves do a little series of one-twos along the sideline.
–Alves heads a ball to himself, then tries an overhead kick that just missed.
–Messi tries a first-touch chip that almost beat the keeper, forcing a great save from him.

It’s just like that for the team these days, and it’s a thing of beauty to watch. It would be very easy for them to say “We can beat Deportivo for sure,” and half-speed it through the match. But we came out and got our feet on their throats right away, so that all they could do was chase a ball that was moving faster than they were. So they chase and chase and chase and get a little tired, and suddenly defensive lines that were nice and snug suddenly have a little gap, and then Xavi corkscrews a pass in to Krkic, who sidefoots it past a brave, amazing Arranzubia, and suddenly it’s 1-0.

Look mom, I’m a plane!

When people muse about whether it is good to have such an imbalance of power in the Liga, this is what they mean. The 9th-placed side in La Liga didn’t have a chance. Even at 1-0, normally a fraught scoreline, they had about as much chance of scoring as I have of being named king of Monaco.

Because they didn’t have the ball. When they got it, we shut down the midfield and got it right back, which reduced them to long passes that played right into the hands of our ball-hawking defense, who would dish it to Xavi, and the curlicues would begin again. This was, simply put, a demolition. I’m sure the guys worked harder in the match that they play as part of practice, because the quality of opposition is a lot higher.

The first half ended 1-0, and usually there is a bit of worry, but not this time, so complete was our domination of that first half. So the second goal was simply a matter of time. Now, I will say that the circumstances were a surprise. As Depor was readying a substitute, they tried yet another long ball that was scooped up by us. Valdes spotted the indefatigable Alves making a lung-busting run all the way up the pitch to spearhead the attack, and he spanked a loooong pass right into his path. Arranzubia, sensing the danger, rushed out to spank the ball away.

Unfortunately for them, that pass fell directly to Pedro!, who smacked a one-time pass/shot into the upper far corner of Depor’s goal, a strike they were helpless to avert. It was 2-0 and from the looks on the faces of the Depor players, it might as well have been 9-0, a scoreline not outside the realm of possibility, had we been sharper with our finishing.

Then came the third goal, off a set piece that Keita kept in play, and the ball fell to the chest (yes, chest, AS. Not hand) of The Yaya, who hit the shot so hard that yes, Arranzubia was there, but the ball went past him as if it was saying “Sorry, but I have too much force behind me for a mere mortal to stop.”

It was 3-0, and that was that. Even at half-speed, with the weekend and Champions League in mind, Depor didn’t really trouble us, because we kept the ball.

In many ways, I feel bad for teams. If you were going to get us, the time was earlier in the season, when we weren’t firing on all cylinders. The way the entire club is playing now, I just don’t see anyone, short of something crazy or an unforeseen injury, beating us, up to and including Inter. You have to have the ball to beat us, and there are really only two ways to get the ball from us: foul us, but then we get it right back, or a bad pass, which happens about as often as the beer vendors on La Rambla say “It’s late, this one’s on me.”

Team: 8. Another amazing display. The help, effort and movement that we are displaying right now is absolutely glorious. Midfield defense is tenacious, and we are defending in layers. Offense is just scintillating, and almost every player is on form. These are amazing times.

Guardiola: 8. Nice alchemy. You didn’t get the lineup quite right, as Jeffren wasn’t all that you probably intended. But your charges are so ready to play, and playing so brilliantly that you look a genius right now. Whatever lineup you roll out, just works.

Valdes: 8. Didn’t have a lot to do, but dispatched his tasks with effortless excellence, and big points for making the pass that led to the second goal.

Alves: 9. Wow, what a match. He has so much energy right now, on defense and offense, that you wonder if his injury wasn’t the best thing in the world for us. That shot attempt where he headed the ball to himself then tried a bicycle that hit the crossbar …. are you kidding me?

Marquez: 8. Another fine match. Must be the haircut. People have been down on him, for good reason, frankly. But it’s time to give him credit for rediscovering his form. No, Depor didn’t trouble us all that much, but he also had two excellent attempts on goal. Is The Kaiser back?

Pique: 7. Who ever thought there would be a match in which Pique would get a lower rating than Marquez, right? But there it is. A few stray balls, but exceptional defense. The beauty of our defense when it’s working properly is that Pique can push up and, buttressing the mids, compress the field.

Maxwell: 7. Wait. How much did we spend for this dude? He is looking like the transfer bargain of the century, in light of Abidal’s recent fragility. Strong, stalwart defense and fine wing play. Now that he understands our system, which happened in rapid time, he is kicking out the jams. No, he isn’t Abidal. But he’s so solid that you don’t miss Abidal all that much when he isn’t there. It’s a luxury for Guardiola.

The Yaya: 8. Unleash the thundering hordes! Excellent midfield play, simple passes and few on the side hit the cross-pitch pass better than our man-mountain. Hell of a goal, too. “It’s time for a rocket,” saith The Yaya. And so it goes. He was a very important part of our midfield shutdown efforts, whether actually intercepting balls, or putting his body in a position that shuts out the attacker, thus letting someone else intercept the ball. And he’s conducting press conferences in Catalan now? Whoa.

Xavi: 10. Yes, another 10. He was astounding. There isn’t a player playing in world football who controls a match better. This is also yet another match in which he has been in our box, making defensive plays and just plain raising hell in general. “Best in the world” is so hard, because it’s a position-dependent thing. But I would say that you’d be hard pressed to find a thinking team manager, who would pick any player on the planet ahead of Xavi.

Jeffren: 6. Solid but unspectacular. His lack of playing time and minor injuries is evincing itself in not quite knowing where to be in relation to that darned pesky ball. I still wouldn’t mind loaning him out, so that he can get some regular playing time and we can see what he has.

Krkic: 7. Another fine outing by CT, who was all energy, effort and pace. His confidence is back. While I still await to see what he can do against legitimately world-class sides, he is mining a vein of form right now that makes him a legitimate scoring threat whenever he’s on the pitch. This wasn’t true earlier in the season. He seems to be relaxing and playing football right now, enjoying the game again. It’s a pleasure to see.

Pedro!: 9. I thought he was absolutely brilliant. He is constant motion, harassing defenders, making runs and crosses, making himself available for balls and just plain raising hell. His moments of tactical ineptitude are diminishing, and he is improving by leaps and bounds from match to match. I went from not being sure if P! was ready for full prime-time, to wondering if we really need to splash for a spendy winger type. (Yes we do, to replace an outta-here Henry.)

Messi: 7. Erratic match, with a couple of displays of shameful selfishness. But what passing, effort and movement. He clearly shut it down for much of the second half, as he seems to know how much his team needs him. He has the fastest first 10 steps in the game, as well as the fastest first 5 steps with the ball. He goes from receiving a pass to attack faster than any player in the game right now. And he’s only 22. He’s going to get better.


Keita (for Jeffren): 7. What a difference he makes to our midfield command and control. Some said that Sevilla was more bummed about losing Keita than Alves. His work rate, level of effort and willingness to perform thankless task after thankless task, deserves a medal. You come in, knowing that you will almost certainly not get on the score card, and you work and work and work and work. He’s amazing.

Henry (for Krkic): 6. Some nice movement and effort, as he continues to find a role that appears to be centrally-placed playmaker, rather than all-out striker.

Busquets (for Xavi): incomplete. This substitution was mostly to give Xavi the opportunity to receive a well-earned standing ovation.

What next? The derby with Espanyol on the weekend, then Inter in Champions League. Another two-match run that has the potential to define our season. Both are must-wins, but I’d take a draw at Inter. It doesn’t look as though fatigue is a problem, despite the insane match schedule that we’ve been facing the past month. But we’re playing extraordinary football right now. There are 6 matches left, 5 wins to the Liga, assuming that EE keeps on winning. I’m confident, but not overconfident, because that would be wrong.

Finally ….

Everybody, gimme an X! Gimme an A! ….

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 actually don’t have a MOTM for this match. I thought it was such an extraordinary team display that for the first time this season, such a designation has been rendered moot. I reckon it would be Xavi if you held my feet to the fire.

  2. I was afraid that we were going to have a preview before a REVIEW. *phew* time/space continuum still intact! that pedro goal is ridiculous. everyone saying: oh a professional player should make that shot blah blah blah

    there are so many reasons why that shot shouldn’t go in regardless of your skill level, but it did. maybe not goal of the season, but helluva highlight for the season!

    1. I call bullshit on that “any pro should be able to make that shot” business. First touch one-timer from 40 yards out? Yes, it’s an open net but hell, guys can’t hit open nets from 10 meters out, much less 40, and certainly not on first touch directly into a strike, off the half-volley.

    2. Kevin, I think its time we have an entire post dedicated to Pedro, an in depth look at him this season, what he has contributed and what we see for the future, because he is blowing my mind this season. With him breaking out this year in the first, it has been a saving grace for us, as henry is worthless now. I hope we get him locked down to a great long contract bc hes awesome.

  3. “You come in, knowing that you will almost certainly not get on the score card, and you work and work and work and work. He’s amazing.”

    Very well said. The saddest thing is that most fans dont appreciate the effort he puts in. The amount of times I have read “runs around like a headless chicken” or “completely invisible” in reference to Ketia is shocking! I would love nothing more than to see him score against a big team. Inter perhaps…

  4. Just a random thought that I’ve seen expressed on here and that I agree with – I think it’d be great if there was a regular feature on the site where someone compiled a bunch of links from around the internet of news on FCB. I’m a fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves (“The NBA: Where numbness and resignation to fate happens”) and there’s a lady who does a great job of this on one of the blogs. I imagine it’d be even better with Barça. Seeing as they’re just a bit more important internationally than the Wolves. I’d volunteer myself, but I’m not sure I have the time. And if people wanted Spanish language articles included, my skills are probably a step below good enough.

  5. The Good: Ibra is back in training

    The Bad: Marc Muniesa, our 17 year old wonder defender is injured for 8 weeks

    The Ugly: Wenger’s shameful attack on la Liga, and frankly the whole Arsenal organization lately.

    1. Add to the bad list, apparently Kameni has had his red card rescinded and will be able to play tomorrow.

    2. And personally, my response to Wenger would be “Does any Prem club outside the top 4 have any better of a shot than a Liga club in the same situation? And perhaps they want to come to Barcelona because they would like a trophy or two for their cabinets at home.”

      As I’ve noted before, EVERY league has the same problem in that it is 2-4 big clubs, then an assemblage of regional clubs that fill out the league roster. Every sport has it, really. Formula One has its Lotus or Virgin, by way of another example.

      Are Liga teams struggling with debt? Yep. So are Prem clubs. The Bundesliga is the only league right now that has its shit together. I think that it’s sour grapes from Wenger, who is still smarting after his team got its ass handed to it. Explains how he can say that Van Persie is in the same league as Messi, Rooney and Ronaldo.

    3. *

      Some quotes:

      “I can’t see anybody with a competitive edge wanting to go to Spain,” said Wenger. “They have two good teams and the number three is 27 points behind.
      “Next weekend the players threatened to strike because they are not paid. It is a league in complete disarray.”

      Speaking about selling his player:

      “I can’t understand the persistent campaign to get English players to Spain.”

      Didn’t know Fabregas was English

    4. “Next weekend the players threatened to strike because they are not paid. It is a league in complete disarray.”



      Relevant portion here (after the bitching about Fabregas):

      “There are no secret meetings because we don’t want to sell our players,” Wenger said Friday. “I can’t see anyone with a competitive edge (wanting) to go to Spain. They have two good teams, I confess that. The No. 3 is 27 points behind.”

      “This weekend the players (wanted to) go on strike because they are not paid,” Wenger said. “It is a league that is in complete disarray.”

    6. TBH, I lost a lotta respect for Arsenal over the last few weeks. It’s sad because they’re still my fav English team, but I was really disappointed with them. In light of the Fergie ‘Typical Germans’ rant, the respect lost was beginning to be earned back.

      Now, well, he isn’t making it easy, is he?

    7. I just don’t understand it. If I’m Fabregas, having a chairperson fabricate secret agreements made about me, and having my manager question why anyone would want to go to la liga (in another light – he could move to the best team in the world, sounds much better that way eh?) would piss me off.

    8. and if i recall correctly, ManU couldnt beat Pathetico de Madrid in two matches in last years CL group stage.

  6. One thing that has been overlooked is the role Keita played in this match. Many times he was playing the 9 role as the most advanced player and would have had a highlight reel assist if Pedro would have reacted quickly enough and finished.

    This development will give Mourinho another wrinkle to consider, if Keita covers that ground and occupies Lucio/Samuel, now the DM’s will have to search even harder for Messi.

    I’d like to see the ground covered in the 2nd half, I’m sure it was the most of all players, and I’ve been saying for 2 years now that he is exactly the type of player top sides require (think Javier Zanetti, Darren Fletcher).

  7. Guess who scored a brace and kicked major Athletic arse yesterday…?

    HE WILL NOT BE GOING TO EE OR THE PREMIER LEAGUE. I can’t understand the persistant campaign to get quality players to England or Madrid.

    Laughable, really. 😀

  8. Nice review Kxevin.

    I was thinking the same thing, white shirts!

    Spain u19: Spain 3 2 Turkey. Our Thiago and Oriol Romeu scored. And all 7 Barca players called up started the match 😀

  9. Wenger says that the Liga would be a “step down” for Fabregas. Well yeah, because he wouldn’t be starting for us, and wouldn’t be team captain, either. So this is true.

    He also says that the Prem is so hard, that it leaves the clubs worn out for Champions League, and had things been “normal,” United and Chelsea would have progressed through.

    And had things been “normal,” I’d be rich and married to a supermodel. Curse you, lack of normalcy!

    How dare he awaken the Prem vs rest of the world business at a time when there are NO Prem sides in the Champions League final four. If the Prem has been just as difficult over lo, these many season, what makes this season different? Perhaps the REST of the world is getting better, and maybe the alleged supremacy of the Prem just isn’t true any longer?

    Just asking.

    Last time we faced United, we schooled ’em. Last time we faced Arsenal, we spanked ’em. Chelsea? In our rear-view mirror. Are we an extraordinary club? I’ll buy that. But don’t slag an entire league because your club got its ass whipped. We always hear the “Yeah, let’s see how Barcelona would fare, slogging along in Hull or Bolton.” It would be the same thing, because Hull or Bolton wouldn’t have the damned ball.

    Sorry, but this “Prem is the best” crap just pisses me off. Every year, every league separates itself into the traditional hierarchy. Just because the points gap is bigger, doesn’t mean that the 4th or 5th-placed side has any more of a shot at the title in the Prem.

    And ask me which I’d rather watch, two relegation sides face off in the Liga or Prem, and if death isn’t an option, I’m picking the Liga every time. At least the two sides will attack each other, and do something more entertaining than blast long balls up the pitch and foul each other.

    Every league now has 2-3 big clubs that are competitive on the world stage, be it Champions League or Europa League. We should be celebrating that, instead of having some manager lashing out because of sour grapes.

  10. I CAN NOT believe that they cancelled Kameni’s red card it’s unbelievable! He commited a very clear penalty when Munitis was one on one with the him…
    In the video you can see how clearly Kameni hits Munitis left leg with his knee…

    madrid is playing with our nerves and is testing our limits…I loathe them…
    I just jope they find out on Saturday we don’t have any

  11. The Prem is really competitive.

    Who’s team that won the league three years running and is still going for a four-peat?

    Ah yes, Manchester United; the team we spanked in the UCL final.

    1. another example, our B-team (mostly youngsters being coached by Luis Enrique) tied Tottenham 1-1 in an exhibition match IN LONDON at the beginning of the season. we had jorquera, montoya, caceres, fontas, gai, VicSan, guddy all start that match. Tottenham is battling ManCity for the last CL spot in England.


  12. You say that Henry is on his way and I don’t think he has the stuff to stay where he is, but I wonder if it would be worth it to re-negotiate his contract and keep him as a backup for Ibra. Wouldn’t be a bad guy to have around the locker room with all the youngins around. But we are definitely overpaying him for what he’s providing at the moment.

  13. – We had more troubles against the likes of Valencia, RM, Villarreal, Sevilla, etc…Than we had against any team we faced in Europe. Including Arsenal. (And for the record, I was upset that Bayern qualified instead of Man Utd, as they are a better team on the flanks and can hurt us more.)

    – When RM lost against Lyon, the arrogant pundits were delivering their advice for free: “Lack of competition in Spain makes the clubs results in Europe decline”. Now after the EPL teams exit:”Competition in the EPL makes the teams there unable to compete in Europe”. Just saying…

    – Check the UEFA Europa League results that demonstrate the “Outside the CL teams’ quality”. Go back in time as far as you want. English teams were in fact the worst. That reflect the overall quality of the league more than 2,3, or 4 teams.

    – The best league in the world is the league that produce the best national teams from youth to seniors, compete in various continental competitions and win it (not only CL), export quality players to the big teams everywhere else, and is independent of the corrupted Shinawatras and ibramovices.

    – And let’s not start talking about financial equity. We don’t want to bring the cases of Man city and Portsmouth on the table.

    1. Your point about what the “experts” were saying when RM was booted compared to what they’re saying now is probably the best one I’ve heard to quash this nonsense about EPL being so much better.

      There’s no bias in journalism, though, right? NONE WHATSOEVER.

    2. We had more troubles against the likes of Valencia, RM, Villarreal, Sevilla, etc…Than we had against any team we faced in Europe…? Are you sure? how about the extremely organsized and hardworking Russian/Ukrainian teams?

    3. lol ramzi..its abramovi not ibramo. lol
      for me it’s the south american league and spanish league being the strongest..

  14. Messi has scored 27 goals this season in the league.

    Espanyol has scored 26.


  15. We played great, good review Kev. Not much to say, I mean its Friday and the excitement for the derby has already kicked it !

  16. Wow what a bitter man, so he takes out his rage at not winning anything for 6 years on our league? The same BS he says about us, we can say, why would cesc want to say at arsenal where he wont anything, its obvious Arsene is getting desperate now.If Cesc were cheaper Id wish we buy him just for this reason.

  17. wahhhhhhhh review finally came out! thank you kxevin!

    so why the team performance gets an 8 while you highly praise everybody? because jeffren didn’t finish the damn 1on1? or The Kaiser’s gel came off a little?

    The Yaya’s chest is so wide that made me think it really was a hand ball, coz normally a man don’t have that wide body, but for man-mountain, he does.

    Peledrito, I heard, has 2 right foots.

    I lost respect for Wenger after hearing that bullshit he said.

    1. I’m playing to the quality of the opposition, cliveee. And because they shut it down in the second half. Didn’t do that against EE.

  18. -How about those rocket long passes from Yaya? He had Alves dialed up wherever he was on the field. 60 yards? 70? No problem.

    -Not sure about Pedro being rated higher than Jeffren for once, I think the goal put him over the top. First impressions probably led me in the wrong direction there. That said, does Jeffren remind anyone, in flashes, of an Antonio Valencia-type player?

    1. Yes, he does remind me of Valencia in a way. My main concern with Jeffren is that he may prove to be too one-dimensional. He can certainly drive to the endline and make great crosses, and he is quite fast (hence the reason Pep tried him at right back). We haven’t seen enough of him to know if he can truly fit into the tiki taka required of our wingers.

      Then again, I thought Pedro wouldn’t be good enough to be a starter, so take that with a pinch of salt.

  19. Dudes, everyone knows that they have deluded themselves in England–fans, media and managers alike. ‘We’re out of the CL because the EPL is too strong?’

    Get your head out of arse, Wenger.

    Are they really expecting us to believe people go to England for competition? They’ve been enticing player for years with money. Torres famously said in his first season that the only quality defending he came up against were against Man Utd and Chelsea–Vidic and Carvalho specifically. He didn’t even score 20 in his best season for Atletico and in his first season in England, he scored 30.

    Have you wondered why Villa wants to stay in Spain (other than the language barrier)?

    In the history of the Prem, you don’t have to go very far to see Man Utd and Chelsea fighting for the league. In fact, what do you think is happening right now? When was the last time people who weren’t Arsenal fans legitimately believed that Arsenal would win the league? Three years ago? Yeah, but even then, they capulated quite spectacularly. Liverpool? You’re kidding, right?

    Even Manchester United of 07/08, one of the best team, who had a ’42 goal machine’ in Thong Boy faced us in the worst year under Rijkaard and need a gift from Zambrotta to Scholes to get them through. They parked the freakin’ bus in Camp Nou even though we were severely lacking confidence! What does that say about them?

    Do you see us cause a furore when the Daily Mail, who famously ran the headline ‘The Best Players in the World (and Xavi)”, constantly linked Yaya to Arsenal, and then Manchester Citeh, citing he’d like to be reunited with his brother?

    The gap between second and third is big, I agree, but this happens. We finished third three years ago, Villareal in second, and did people say we were a club in decline? No.

    For years Sky were launching the campaign trying to make the Prem look better than it was/is and trying to bash the Serie A (the league they have long since been jealous of) at every given opportunity. First it was that the Prem was ‘the most exciting league in the world’ then ‘the strongest league in the world, to finally ‘the best league in the world’.

    And the sad thing is people actually believe it.



  20. totally off the topic!! will this present flight scenario due to the volcanic ash, cause pblms for Barca to reach Milan?

    1. In word: no.

      The effect of the volcanic ash cover mostly Eastern and Northern Europe.

      Southern France, Spain, Italy, Greece and many other Mediterranean countries aren’t affected

  21. Moving on: THis is a video of Messi vs Deportivo.


    Around 3:14 is the run in the first half where he should have passed to Bojan.

    In my view, he get tackled right before the moment where he would normally would have passed to CT. By the time he regains his balance and looks up, the window is closed and CT is already in an offside position.

    Still, I have to agree; he’s got to pass that.

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