An open letter to my beloved club, aka “Shut up and play futbol”

Thanks to my good friends at Comcast, TV …. erm …. complexities spared me the joy of watching your meltdown on fancy-dancy high-definition. But even on a downloaded Web video feed, watching the Champions League match against Inter Milan leaves me with a number of thoughts, but one burning question:

Why do you need to say anything other than, “Well played, Inter”?

Whine, whine, ref, whine, whine, penalty, whine, whine, whine. Shut up, strap on a pair and play football because simply put, we got our butts kicked yesterday. The end. For the second match in a row, the other team wanted it more, and they took it.

–In El Clasic, Ramos put Messi on his backside with a man-sized foul. Messi leapt to his feet, started play and popped in a man-sized goal. Compare that with yesterday, when everybody is standing around, whining because Messi got whacked, instead of playing to the match. So Maicon waltzed in and scored a goal. Whine, whine, whine.

The referee was the same nationality as the opposing coach? I don’t care if you saw the ref tongue-kissing the opposing coach in the tunnel before the match. Man up and play above it.

Last season, we were the best club in the world, and we have the 6 trophies to prove it. Accolades rained from the heavens, and we became pretty sure that our dung was unscented. We had refereeing issues, and we played through them. The other team howled about some perceived injustices and we reminded them that referees are only human, and usually make errors in both directions. When we advanced through Chelsea to the Champions League final, that club and their fans screamed bloody murder about the match officials. We were above it all.

My, how times change.

This season, every club circled the match with us on the calendar, saying “We’ll show them.” And mostly, we’ve played above that. But there have been matches where we haven’t, and it is nobody’s fault but our own. Their third goal was offside? So what. They had an attack called offside that wasn’t. So what.

Did the referees make you cede midfield control? Did the referees make our gazillion dollar striker play like a cipher? Did the referee allow the club who wanted it more to control the Best Player in the World? No. You brought a scalpel to a sword fight, and you got stabbed. So bandage the wound and be thankful that you can live to fight another day.

Just shut up.

I want my club to have class, and pride, to show how the game is played, win or lose. What is the other side supposed to do, stand aside and let us score goals because we play the Beautiful Game, and any time we don’t win it’s a crime against mankind? Champions overcome adversity, even of their own making. You were loose, sloppy and looked tired. None of that is the referee’s fault. The three goals that we allowed weren’t the referee’s fault. Offside? So what. Play defense until you hear the whistle. Throwing up your arms as the other club knocks the ball into the net is what teams used to do against us.

And we would celebrate our goal as they surrounded the referee, crying about the injustice of it all. Have we become those teams? Really?

Being the Best Club in the World doesn’t just mean winning on the pitch. It means having class, style and dignity off the pitch. If you lose, it doesn’t really matter how you lost. You lost. Congratulate the other team and move on to the next match. Like men.

I hate to say it, but I think that players and fans have become spoiled. One small part of me hates to admit this, but in some ways I hope that Inter does knock us out next week. I think we need some humility, some understanding of how extraordinary last season was. Right now, I don’t think that we — club and cules as a collective — understand that. What we have is an expectation that it should continue, and it’s someone else’s fault if it doesn’t.

And when it doesn’t, we want answers. It’s X player’s fault, it’s Y player’s fault, we shouldn’t have sold Z player, we’re better without that Big Swede on the pitch, etc, etc. The Espanyol players each ran almost 2km more in the effort required to grab a draw against us. We as a team ran 10km less than we did while putting Arsenal to the sword. Yep, that’s the official’s fault. You bet.

Goals are a collective effort, just as losses or draws are.

But comportment is also a collective effort. Next week is the home leg. I strongly suggest that instead of whining about various things, none of which had anything to do with our inability to put the ball in the net more than once, that talk on the pitch and play the game that we know how to play, the way that we know how to play it. And if it isn’t good enough we say “Congratulations, good luck,” and move on.

Look to your coach, who offered no excuses, for guidance:

“Today was not our best game and Inter are not a team who let you play easily. I congratulate our opponents and hope we can do better in the second leg.”

I leave it to Jose Mourinho to ask the same question that I have:

“Why can Barcelona not act like champions and accept they lost on the night to a team that played better?”

Why not, indeed? Be proud, be Barca, and live up to the standard embodied in our motto, “More than a club.”

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. red card for Ribery’s tackle is a bit harsh, but not undeservedly. still, Bayern played thru that adversity like men and they got a result they deserved.

  2. The red was totally deserved. Most refs would have been half-assed about it and given him a yellow, especially fearing the crowd’s reaction. But it was technically the correct decision. If anything, the second yellow on Toulalan was a touch harsh, but even then I think it was technically correct.

    I like it when refs are tough but fair for both sides. He didn’t fall prey to all the jeers and whistles from the crowd, so good job ref. Still think Lyon take it though.

    As for us, don’t know what to say. I don’t think we’re capable of going through at this stage because there’s few managers out there better when they have to not concede and do nothing else. Of course I’m hoping I’m wrong, but without Don Andres, and a host of a other ailments/losses of form (Henry, Ibra etc), I don’t think it’s our year in the CL.

    This post was spot on though. I’m really annoyed that our players always blame the ref when we lose. We lost to a better team, end of. Applaud them and move on, and try to do better next time.

  3. Reactions from Bayern about the red card(s) (no quotes, just summary):
    Louis van Gaal: Too harsh decision, it was only a yellow for him but the 2nd yellow from Toulalan would have been a straight red (lol!)
    Steffan Effenberg: At first glance, a hard decision. But after taking a closer look, an understandable decision.
    Bastian Schweinsteiger: It was a dirty tackle, so you can give it. But other refs had only given yellow. Then, he said that Toulalan’s sending off was also very harsh, because both fouls were within 120 seconds and he got a touch of the ball on his 2nd foul.
    Arjen Robben: Let me quote here “I can live with that” 😀
    Haha, interesting how Ribéry thinks about this statement. Robben also said he knows such fouls from other players on his own and if he had been in Lisandro’s place, he would have expected a red.

  4. Oh boy oh boy. The Ibra purchase enabled Inter to get Eto’o, Milito, Lucio and Schneider(putting back $$$ in EE’s kitty). Is there any more ways that piece of business can hurt us? 🙂

    But I’m not too worried about the loss. Instead, I look at it as an opportunity to show what we are made of. Will we just lie down and take it in the second leg or will we come back more motivated to kick some ass? Inter played very well. They pressured and they attacked. They didnt panic when a goal down and weren’t intimidated. But I’m hoping that long bus drive had something to do with the strange game we played. If it did, the real Barca will show up in the camp nou.

    If we win and advance, it will be another excellent story for this cinderella team, if not, well, good luck to inter!

  5. Messi and Xavi should be rested against Xerez. If other players can’t win a home match against Xerez we don’t deserve the liga.

    1. What’s wrong with the footy gods? They had to keep Iniesta injured now! Well screw them, in Pep We Trust.

    2. Iniesta would have been huge. His real value is that if a side marks Xavi, he swings into action. You can’t mark him, Xavi AND Messi. Something’s gotta give. Without a reliable Iniesta replacement, we’re too easy to control by a determined, hard-working team.

      Question is, what to do about the absence of Ghostface? I say unleash the World’s Largest Attacking Mid, who would also be able to help Busquets with DM duties. Keita becomes the super sub if needed.

      We are going to need the hell out of Ibrahimovic, because I just don’t see Mourinho not parking the bus if they get to halftime with a 0-0. We’re going to have to score early, to bring doubt and bring them out.

      We did beat them 2-0 at home in December, but we played a rare match that night, as Inter did yesterday. If they play that well and work that hard again, well, good luck in the finals.

      As I view it, we gave up three goals that when on form, we don’t concede. Naturally I would say that, but usually the defense is a lot more alert and together than they were yesterday. I would say that we would also score more goals, but without the midfield, nothing is going to happen for us.

      Both clubs are playing for their respective league championships, both have relatively easy opponents on the weekend. I like, I like.

    3. Not sure I agree with you re: Iniesta. Maybe the scoreline would’ve been less daunting, but I still think Barca would have lost, playing the way they were. And Iniesta has been a little off all season, so I doubt his presence would have been a real game-changer.

    4. I’m with Kxevin on this. Even not 100% you can’t get the ball off him, the ball sticks to him, even on a bad pass and you can’t leave him unmarked. He’s one of our creative players. We didn’t have enough different ideas against Inter.

  6. From the official website: “A pesar de dominar con claridad el juego, el Barça recibió cinco amarillas, tres más que el Inter.” Clearly dominating?! WTF are they talking about?!

  7. My response to Kxevin is a little late… but I’ll include it anyway!

    I stayed away from all footy news after the defeat, mostly to calm down and get perspective. When it’s a win, it’s fun to revel in it, but when it’s a loss, then dwelling on it becomes unproductive. I need a little time to lose the immediate emotions, otherwise I can’t look back (somewhat more) objectively. It’s disappointing to see some of the reactions, but I’m not about to get all sanctimonious and say that I expect all our players to respond to a loss like saints. No matter how well Pep tried to prepare them, the team bought into the hype, and it affected how they played and the manner in which they lost. It’s more disappointing that they couldn’t bounce back during the game, when it became obvious this wasn’t last year’s Inter, but I guess that’s why there are two legs!

    In many ways, a loss is good. It’s humbling for them and for us. This current team has always responded well to adversity, so I think they can turn it around in the next leg. Whether or not it will be enough to go through is something else, but it could happen.

    Last comment: If we don’t go through, I will be disappointed. If we don’t win la Liga, I will be CRUSHED. I hope the players don’t let the CL distract them from the league, whether we make it to the final or not.

    Err…. and thank you, Kxevin, for this post. Maybe we can’t put our team on that pedestal, but we can put you there! 🙂

  8. This is incredibly Harsh. It is not that the team that needs to SHUTUP, it is us who NEED TO SHUT UP. To this date we are hearing about the Chelsea game, so we might as well talk about the ref. I don’t care what anyone says, The ref made bad calls overall some are bigger than others. The bus trip no way was a good thing especially that we played 2 bigs games in 4 days, and pep has some real problems on the team, Henry and Ibra are useless, Ineasta is hurt, Abidal has been hurt, and to top it all Dani does not how to cross the ball anymore… Give these guys a break… they are only human. We are way blowing their behavior out proportion. I just don’t think they were that bad. FUCK Mourinho… he is an ego maniac.

  9. In case you care to read more about the loss yesterday–


    1. And as for my view on the loss, call me an anti-fan or what have you, but whatever. Wax on, wax off, I say. There will be more games and more competitions, so if Barca doesn’t make it through, they’re still going to be favorites next season. Still the best team in the world.

    2. Why would declaring Barca the best team in the world make you an anti-fan? 🙂

      I agree with you. No team will win everything, all the time.

  10. After reading Zonal Marking’s view, I completely agree. Pep got his tactics wrong. When he went to the formation he had been practicing with the last several games at the end of the second half we looked much better. However, for some reason Pep started Ibra who obviously wasn’t fit and whose presence forced us to adopt the wrong tactics in the game.

    I think the loss to Espanyol forced Pep to question himself, and so he decided to try the Ibra approach instead of trusting the formation he had been so carefully crafting for the situation.

  11. Here’s Ramzi’s take:


    Btw, he also talks about the zonalmarking view,but in a different point of view.

  12. All said.
    I expect Camp Nou to be like the deepest circle of hell to Inter Milan.
    I don’t know if we will win, or if we will win with enough goals, but

    I sure do hope Inter don’t get out of the Camp with a smile, cause it ain’t going to be nice son, it ain’t gonna be nice…

  13. Touché, Monsieur MouMou!
    See you next week at the Camp Nou …
    And– oh, dare I hope– next year at the Bernaboo!

    It’s so lovely to love a win.
    But can we love a loss?
    Not to love a losing team (who doesn’t?)
    Or to love a team in spite of losing (who doesn’t? or try to?)

    I came to fútbol by way of a Hunky Spanish Soccer Junkie and an old-school schooling in ice hockey. The first match I peppered him with questions as all women watching sports with their men do. I got the general idea (projectile to net) and even some of the more specialized rules (off side). But my patience was taxed and my partner I vexed: ‘What is TAKING so long? … Oh my god now they have to start ALL OVER … How hard is it to get the ball in a net THAT big?’ The kind of chatter that you tavern-hoppers put up with from other cuties in the local because they are a) local and b) cute. (To be fair, Hunky Soccer Husband irritates me by suggesting that any Stanley Cup contender simply hire a sumo wrestler for goalie, thereby ensuring the perfect defense. But I digress. Let us regress to topic)

    ‘The entire point of soccer,’ he replied, ‘is to suffer.’

    Every season weekend everyone around the world except the self-excepting US gathers in pubs, patios, plazas and porticoes … to suffer. Who will win? Who will lose? Who will score a golazo and who will commit the sin of auto-goal? Who will lead the league? Who will go to Champions? to UEFA? win the derby? escape demotion? Who will stay and who will go?

    It is a myth, I think, that fans of the joga bonito follow their teams just for the bonito-ness of their joga (hence the anguish, the wailing, the gnashing of teeth) but also untrue that other fans follow their teams only to win. Otherwise the blaugrana would smother their Xavi with hugs for a single, glorious pass and fans of the EE wouldn’t watch a match until the very end, like people with no team on the pitch and hence no dog in the fight.

    So we suffer and relish the suffering. We like to think it makes us better fans of football (it’s not how you win it’s how you blah blah blah) or of our team (win or lose, mes que un club blah blah blah) or even better people (we must rise above our crappy performance to be, if not deportísticamente better, somehow morally so blah blah blah).

    Blah blah blah blah!

    But wasn’t that GREAT? Really? The suffering? The anguish? The sheer DRAMA of it all? After skating lightly over Arsenal, and pocketing Clasico (thank you, sir, and keep yer changes!) and a glorious week of Messi the Marvellous and Bojan the Bracer and Iniesta returns! and … and … and … down the coaster we go! … to the Derby of Danger! Through the Great Volcanic Belch — by Bus! … to the Belly of the Beast itself, San Sirio, home to the Great and Evil and Plotting Professor Mourhiarty, ex-Barça bosom buddy and translator when Pep was still in short blue and red pants on the pitch! The Technician vs. the Conspirator! Who will emerge as Champion? It’s unfair! It’s bloody! It’s a bloody plot worthy of Ridley Scott!

    This is the end of Act I. The hero, by the way, ALWAYS loses at the end of Act I. Beowulf gets smacked upside by Grendel’s mom. Oedipus succumbs to Circe. Luke loses his hand. Ouch, papá!

    Now it’s time for a retreat. Retreat to Barcelona. Retreat to self. This is Act II, with Xerez. And to emerge for Act III. Do you not LOVE it?

    If I were Pep I would not train. I would not even speak. I would sit everybody down right on the ground (which from what I can see on TVE makes up a lot of outdoor training anyway) and do nothing. We’re between acts. As the proverb says:

    “Before enlightenment: Chop wood, carry water. After enlightment: Chop wood, carry water.” – Zen saying

    It worked for Phil Jackson.

    1. the lakers winning yesterday was the only thing rescuing me from a total meltdown (^:

    2. lol me too..
      was shitting in my pants when both kobe and gasol missing their first free throw shots.
      btw, did u guys watch any katt williams stand up? that shorty made fun of shaw like hell, even shaq’s baby got

    3. Hopefully Xerez is the intermission, because aren’t you supposed to “Lose All Hope” at the end of Act II? Either ways, we win out in the end. It makes for a more fun narrative than smashing the opponent, I agree. (but it’s more fun to have that suffering in the past, so we can refer to it as a part of the tradition without ever having lived through it. Like the Civil War or the 11-1 Clasico loss)

      And I’ll bet Pep is the kind of person who would use Phil’s Zen techniques.

    4. Love it: ‘The entire point of soccer,’ he replied, ‘is to suffer.’

      I was wondering why for years, I sit and anguish over potential scorelines, injuries, signings, match-ups, copas, goals, penalties. Why the entire clasico match I wasn’t as much enjoying it as I was enduring it with knives in my stomach. But there it is, that’s the whole point. It’s beautiful, but it’s gonna make you pay for it.

      btw, Luke actually loses his hand at the end of the second act. but I wont count that against you ; )

  14. we can make through to the final. i believe in cules.. in pep, we trust.:)rest few of our key players this weekend especially messi. we still have a good chance to win the tie. i still rate 50 – 50 chance for both team. camp nou never disappointing us in champion league since last year especially when the 2nd leg played at our stadium. we are going to play like hell… i’m expecting 11 men in their penalty box and don’t be surprise if pique will start up front together with ibra. we’ll cross continuously from left right by alves and maxwell…3 at the backline to standy for any quick counter which i want milito, abidal and toure.xavi and keita / busi control and distribute the ball from outside of their box. they will play deep inside their box.

    i believe, if they stick and think to maintain their formation as per previous game (before they scored 3rd goal), i think we still have a good chance. it will still have gap between their defend.

    but knowing mourinho a.k.a tactical genius, they will only bring their bus and park it in front of their goal…

    1. I will never understand why keeping all the players behind the ball and looking for counters is hailed as a genius tactic. I think the most effective way to breakup this tactic is to use a combination of swift agile players and physical ones. Luckily we have both sets of players. Messi has to get the ball near their defense and run straight towards the defenders a lot. Alves has to practice crossing 20 hours for next 7 days.

    2. i meant, during 1st leg until they scored the 3rd goal, they were all awesome.. but maybe also our player were not up to their normal level. anyway, i’m predicting they will put their man behind the ball in the 2nd leg.

      ur rite..alves need to pratice crossing. sometimes, he was not up to school boy level when he crossed the ball.. toooo stroongggg.. at one time (in the st leg), he over kicked the ball and almost drop it to the other flag side.

  15. does anyone knows the injury status for iniesta?? will he be fit to play for the 2nd leg……….???

  16. He is injured until the end off the season. hopefully he can play in the CL final if we get thru.

  17. I think Johan Cruyff captures my sentiments exactly:

    if you’re interested in reading.

    I don’t think the players are whining, they are entitled to an opinion. If it became something that happened week after week there’s an issue. Sure we don’t have to be happy with it, but I am trying to understand the deeper dynamics going on, reading tidbits here and there, trying to sleuth may way around as deep as I can.


    “Yo sí confío. Se puede llegar a la final del Bernabéu, pero no hay que correr y jugar con cabeza.

    El Barça es mejor y, con paciencia y otro árbitro, habrán oportunidades”

    I do believe, I do believe, hell bout to get cheesy here, Si se puede, si es pot, yes we can

    By the way is it me or am I the only one noticing the very interesting yet cohesive takes on Barca coming from distinct regions by pundits, commentators, bloggers and fans (ok yeah the English commentators well you can almost word for word say what they are about to state when it comes to non-EPL football)? You see in Texas, specifically West Texas football country, the shut up and play attitude is ubiquitous and it’s probably my own reading that imputes this to the narrative(s) above, but I also lived in places (oh bits here and there in Latin America) where it was/is more interesting to dig through the whys, the sufferings, the cries of our beloved heroes, and find the meaning in the defeat (and this really was/is about identity and futbol). Certainly generalizations, but nevertheless intriguing to me as I try to make sense of my own reactions versus those of others. It’s tempting to seek those spaces out filled with like minded people but not always interesting, eh? While we are like minded in our love of a club, I hope, our approaches differ, our understanding of the game, of the player, of our relationship is different, and that’s a good thing.

    And I will wax a little poetic…
    My passion for this club runs damn deep as I am sure for others. Barca growing up for me were HEROES, heroes that I looked to when faced with an insane inability to speak to power. Gathering around the radio to hear the commentators with their thick, yet unrecognizable accents narrate the game, crying, yelling, and all the while I listened wide eyed. Listening to the exiles from here there and everywhere that found unquestioned acceptance in my tiny paradise of home, get that look in their eyes, “Més que un club” And have these little moments affirm that beliefs, justice, in the face of incredible adversity is survivable, indeed that beauty flourishes.

    I think of the football club that is struggling to survive in my little corner of the world, where so much violence threatens to do away with it and those around it. And despite this, they play on and the fans come, because it is for those 90 minutes, a respite from the world that implodes just outside the stadium walls.

    As world cup approaches, I think of little kids every where gathering around tv’s, radios to hear the impassioned poetry that is great football commentary. I think of my own national team, the David, the poor, the disposable (for some) going up against the Goliaths, the first world, the powerful, and dreaming of my heroes defeating the Empire! Oh but for a Latin American nation to win the cup on European soil and to defend the cup when in the Americas!

    This is my love affair with football, with Barca. And it makes me strange to a lot of Americans where I live in work, but that’s ok. I’ve brought a lot of non-soccer fans into the fold 🙂
    I’d love to hear about other people’s stories of this club that brings us day in day out to share in these spaces, the beautiful game of futbol, and all things football. And that’s the thing about football, there are so many stories, so many “moments” when the game took over our hearts. I know you all can remember that. We Culés share in this devotion 🙂

    1. I was mostly a casual supporter a few seasons back. Then some terrible thing happened in my life. I started passing through depression, sleep deprivation, and all sorts of bad things for months. To compound my miseries I had very few friends at that time with whom I could share all these (sometimes that’s life for a new foreign student in US 🙁 ). The only thing that was giving me some joy in life was football and specially Barca. I used to eagerly wait whole week for the next match and read anything about Barca all over the web. Eventually I got past the bad time but Barca stayed like a true friend. Week in week out they keep giving me sheer joy through their heavenly football. Next time I feel bad about anything I know I’ve Barca to look forward to.

    2. haha I’m mostly a passionate fan without much tactical knowledge or understanding of the game. I come here mostly to educate myself and read sensible views of fans (which is rare in other sites).

    3. fc:
      Your story is similar to mine. I was going through some life changing things and made some decission. Then new country, new language, far from home, depression, then I found Barca and got stuck. I’ve never followed football closely wc aside and being a girl always thought my bros were silly for spending money buying jerseys. and of course those anoying boyfriends who can’t call you/go out on certain days or get moody for days just because of some team called Man U/Liverpool or whatever. But I found Barca when I needed something to hold on to most and now it’s life. For the first time I started following a team. and I read more, on the players, the club, history, then started learning spanish because info in english was not enough for me. That first time going home, my bros were surprised that I am a fan but disgusted I support a non EPL team lol. That Brazil 1982 and other great teams in the past may have introduced me to football, but it is Barca that made me love the beautiful game. To read historical accounts watch video highlights, is nothing, nothing compared to actually living in it and watch and experience the making of history, to share its joy and sufferings, even if sometimes it gives you stress/uncertainties/sleepless nights … wouldn’t have it any other way.

  18. We have to make it to the final for Iniesta!

    I probably gonna have “2-0 to qualify” in my dreams the next 6 days.

  19. I watched the game with a highly pessimistic friend who also is a Barca fan and I couldn’t help but figure out how most believe we’re out of this one.

    For starters, Alves, Pique, Milito and Abidal as our back 4! That’s a stronger back four compared to Puyol being in there instead of Milito solely for the reason that Pique and Milito are both supreme with the ball distribution at the back. Most would have noticed how Inter rushed towards Pique when he tried to bring the ball out but Puyol had oodles of time. Chasing down the both of them with tire out the likes of D. Milito and his partners in attack.

    In midfield, it just HAS to be YAYA, Busi and Xavi! Keita will have to take one for the team. He’s awesome in his own way but we need power and panache for this trip.

    and Ibra just has to step it up!!! DUDE, if you’re reading this, MAN UP! Pedro! It’s nice that you’re doing the best you can everytime. whether that’s good enough to play for us is something else but we need you for a full 90 for now. And Messi, Just be yourself mate!!

    We can win this!! We can and we will!

    PS. It would help if Maicon isn’t fit in time for the game 🙂

  20. Why we will get the desired result in Camp Nou:
    – Alves crosses are better at home, especially after a week rest.
    – Abidal’s back
    – Messi will score. I’m pretty sure Pep will rest him for Xerez and he’ll want to score after none in several games now. and when he starts, he’ll just go on scoring.
    – Valdes will keep a clean sheet. 3 is the most he will concede in this tie.
    – Camp Nou! over 90,000 Cules cheering our team on and booing Inter will be too much for Inter. They won’t be able to hear each other let alone Mourinho’s instruction from the sideline or see anything blinded by the brilliance of Iniesta. Any other force conspiring against us will be handily dealt with by The Yaya regardless if he is on or off the field.
    – if Inter’s planning to wear white…

    1. yeah he’s injured. what I meant him and Yaya have special powers so they can help without being on the field.
      just trying to cheer up ppl.

  21. I’ve been reading this blog for quite a while now and I generally find it engaging, insightful, and funny. Here comes the criticism. Comments like “strap on a pair” or “man-sized” or “man the hell up” drive me crazy. The fact is if Barca played like a bunch of girls on Tuesday we’d be the ones up 3-1. Those girls being Marta, Abby Wambach, Kelly Smith and Birgit Prinz.

    BFB does a much better job than most men sports blogs at keeping the sexism out which is the reason I can make this comment without feeling it will be ignored. I’d just like one sports blog I frequent to be genitalia free. Is that a blog too far?

    1. I’m going to disagree with you on that one, Steve. And assuredly if you’ve read this blog a long time, you’ve witnessed my vehement stance against any comments and the like that can be construed as derogatory of anyone, no matter their race, nationality, gender or sexual orientation. Sometimes you never see the offending comments, other times you’ll see me don the admonitory moderator’s hat and speak out in no uncertain terms about the comment or behavior.

      You can reference qualities of manliness without being sexist or implying that lack of said qualities automatically construes womanliness (as if that’s a bad thing). Sorry, but you can. To tell someone to “man up” does not in any way imply that he is “playing like a girl.”

      Those qualities of manliness, in the context of a male-occupied sport, can be legitimately referenced as valid points of comparision and observation. They simply mean, “Be a man,” with all the strength, grace and qualities of sportsmanship that are implied by such a phrase. One of the most ardent feminists that I know uses the phrase “strap on a pair.” Her meaning is clear, and sexism-free.

      In sport, “man up” doesn’t imply “because women are wimpy.” As anyone with half a brain knows, strength and courage aren’t gender-specific. And again in the context of a male-occupied sport, “manliness” or “strapping on a pair” does not in any way make an allegation of femininity. It means stick your chest out and play like the man that you are, in the context of your male-occupied sport, with the aforementioned qualities. Period.

      And an astute user of language who is as conscious of, and worried about hidden implications as yourself can surely see the complexity in calling someone out for being sexist, and then referring to Marta, Wambach, Smith and Prinz as “girls” instead of the women that they are. Things such as that drive me crazy. My aformentioned friend would hit the ceiling at that one.

      So we should both say that we are temporarily insane, but now understand more clearly the contextual and linguistic matters at issue here.

      Word. 😀

    2. I was reusing a tired phrase “play like girls” I didn’t give you enough credit to put quotes around it, well played Sir.

      I’m still going to disagree, I think any of the positive things that have been attached to manliness have historically been attached to further subjugate women and more recently LGBT people.

      Anyway I’m not asking you to change history (that’s my job!) I was more interested in your defense which is coming from a non-sexist, actually anti-sexist, stance. Thanks.

  22. Lot of excellent comments above. Guess losing just brings the tender side of a fan:).

    To be honest, I have read few players commenting on games as fans would and have not found things too objectionable. They should maybe give more credit to Inter but no one is shouting that Inter did not deserve it or that we were cheated. So lets lay off on players.

    For next week, we just need to fight as if our lives depended on it and not expect to win just because we won everything last year. At this stage, luck will play a part. We might win or we might not but as long as i see the team going out to play their hearts out for the colors, i am a happy fan. As for team, i think whichever 11 we put out there has the ability to do the job.

  23. cleareyes from sevilla once again–

    i really appreciate this post. as i’ve said around these parts before, as a fan of another club who watches you guys play because, frankly, you guys on your day play beautifully and it’s incredible to watch, i always want this team and its fans to hold to higher ideal in ways that don’t involve flawlessly moving the ball around the pitch.

    i wanted you all to win this week, and i thought dani was fouled in the box on that play, but somehow i was mostly glad he got carded, because his bitching and moaning and simulating are often the single turd in the delicious punch bowl the team is serving up. and this is coming from a sevilla fan who was bursting with pride all last season bc one of my own was doing so well! and i guess i feel the same way about you all…it’s not really reasonable, i guess, but somehow i feel that as fans of a club that ANYONE could love right now, you guys, the jersey-buying, blaugrana-bleeding public, ought to somehow be a bit more, a bit better, even as fans.

    anyway, thanks kxevin for the article. good stuff. and good luck to you all next week–i’ll be pulling for you.

    1. It’s hard not to agree with you, cleareyesfullhearts. I usually (when doing reviews) subtract a point from Alves when he does that nonsense. Same with Busquets.

      I don’t know if it will ever stop, frankly. Some players are just that way. But when it hurts your team, it should make you look in the mirror and ask yourself some tough questions. And without question, it hurts the team. If Alves doesn’t cry “wolf” so often, legitimate fouls wouldn’t be ignored. I did, however, think that Sneijder pulled out of that challenge, and if he touched him at all, it wasn’t with sufficient force to warrant the agonized bleatings of Alves.

      Busquets is another matter. When you cede possession in the midfield, then curl up in an agonized ball as the other team runs away with the ball, again, you are hurting your side. I think that when that behavior at first got some yellow cards called on some folks, like that puppy who grows into a dog but doesn’t stop the cute puppy behavior, he doesn’t understand that his world has changed. Further, that officials are on to his act, which is why he is drawing a lot fewer cards on opposing players.

      And I guess that the outrage stems from the fact that we are increasingly, everyone’s favorite “other” club. We shouldn’t burn up that good paper by being classless. I will defend my club to the death, but I will also call them out when warranted. And when someone says “You played well, but the ref was really terrible” the implication, even outside of the gamesmanship that we see in comments about officiating, is “We would have won had the officiating not been so rotten.”

      Even more painfully, it gives Mourinho something to be sanctimonious about. 😀

    2. re: alves’ foul–i think it’s fair to say sneijder didn’t clearly foul him, but as we obviously agree, at least the no-call, and certainly the card, were earned on reputation. if that had been xavi for example, i have no trouble believing the ref, from his angle, would’ve pointed to the spot. (and i’d say even more broadly that a team coming from a league that doesn’t have la liga’s tendency/rep to ref-badgering and light calls would have even more likelihood of getting a penalty call there.

      and re: busi, i think this touches on a different issue. this season i feel like in european football in general i’ve seen an increasing use of faking injuries (not fouls–injuries) as a means of killing a counter-attack. and i think that probably in busi’s mind he’s valiantly trying to help his club as he’s writhing in fake agony at mid-field while the other team breaks toward goal. i really hate this, because rather than fooling the ref, this tactic is designed to exploit one of the unwritten rules of good sportsmanship that, in my opinion, help to make soccer such a wonderfully unique sport. so cut it out, busi (and everyone else…CR9, i’m looking DIRECTLY at you, you little twunt)!!!

  24. you should leave the game report business and write only stuff like that 😉

    well said…

    we were outplayed with and without the referee. guys really need to man-up.

  25. What do you guys think about using Pique and Marquez as centrebacks in the second leg? Milito is awesome but Marquez is a better playmaker, which might come in handy if Inter tightly mark Xavi. He’s also a pretty good free kick taker, which again could be useful against a parked bus.

    1. No way. Inter is too dangerous on the counter. Marquez has been playing rather well of late, but not well enough where I trust him in the back line of such a crucial match. I still think his pace is a liability, as is his one-on-one defending.

      I also think that our back line is more stable sometimes without Puyol, who tends to rush hither and yon, doing his stalwart firefighter thing. Milito’s tendency to stay put and deal with the known threat is more reassuring at such a crucial time.

  26. I have no probem Marquez alongside Pique but would feel safer with Yaya n mf at the same time. or how about Milito/Pique cb and Marquez dm and Xavi/Yaya am

  27. Off topic: more of LucasLeiva’s tweets
    “Pepe refusing to speak Spanish to the locals.Telling everyone he was born in Liverpool & has lived round the corner from Jamies all his life”

    “Jamie and Stevie backing him up. They seem to have redefined his past. ‘His da worked on the docks and his ma was a nurse in the Royal’.”

  28. Sighhhhh. Now Spanish media are all over how the ref is pals with Mourinho, made a number of favorable decisions in his favor back in the Portuguese League days, and even identified himself as being from Milan on some television show.

    I’d say that somebody should write an open letter to the Spanish media, but I sometimes wonder if those half-cocked, gibbering maniacs have a shard of circumspection in their reactionary bones.

  29. After almost 48 hours of being removed from my heightened rage after our visit to the San Siro, some daunting, and not-so-encouraging things crept into my mind.

    When we lost to Sevilla in the first leg of our CDR matchup, 1-2 at home, we knew that we were going to have to go out there and put on a show. We needed a scoreline of 2-0 to advance, and while we pressured like hell for most of the game, we simply couldn’t get the job done.


    I really, really don’t know how well we’re going to be able to break down their defense. Our goal was the product of a defensive atrocity by Maicon and a glorious finish. But an atrocity that likely won’t be made again with Mourinho reeming into his players before their visit to the Camp Nou.

    All I’m saying is, before we put on our “we are so mighty” pants, we need to realize that we faced a very similar situation at Sevilla, a lesser side than Inter, and couldn’t pull through.

    I’m not trying to diminish Sevilla by any means, but if we’re honest and realistic, Inter’s defense is well ahead of the Andalusians. I know in the tie against Sevilla, we had to play them at their place, and this match against Inter is at home, but I see a strong similarity to the difficulty in the two ties.

    Just want to make sure we’re level headed going into this match, but what do you think? Am I being overly cynical

    1. Dunno, JMo. What I do know is that I was sitting in the stands during our 2-0 masterclass against Inter in December. And that was with a bunch of “withouts.” No Messi or Ibrahimovic. Our attack was Henry and Pedro! We did have us some Iniesta, and Busquets was playing like The Future instead of A Dimwit, something that, as already has been noted, wasn’t the case the other day.

      The question of the day was did Inter just sleepwalk that one, or were we that good? I was sitting in the stands. We were that good. Yes, they were without Sneijder, but we were that good.

      We played well as a unit, even if not every individual player upheld the high standard of the unit (cough! Henry. Cough!). I think that Inter’s level of play on Tuesday was more uncharacteristic than ours in December.

      So there are a number of questions coming up for Wednesday:

      Will Mourinho just park the bus?

      Dunno. I suspect if they can get to the half with a 0-0 scoreline, he’ll park it in the second half, with the Final in mind as a salve for any journalistic brickbats.

      Can we score enough goals to win?

      Yes. Hell, Messi can score three all by himself. But our midfield has to not be crap, and certain inept players (pretty much everyone from Tuesday last) have to raise their games to the level they should be at.

      Will we concede?

      If we do, we’re kinda screwed, because Inter doesn’t give up big scorelines. Remember that 2-0 puts us through, 3-1 gets extra time, then penalties if necessary. Eto’o will be chomping at the bit in the Camp, which should take him out of his game. Controlling Sneijder is key, obviously. We didn’t concede then, and didn’t really come close to conceding. I think we can control this team. All three goals given up on Tuesday were goals that, on form, we don’t concede.

      Will we advance?

      I think that we will, by a 2-0 scoreline. One thing that concerns me is that we seem to be in a collective performance trough right now. Too many “match of the seasons” in a row. Xerez will be nice to work out some kinks and hopefully, not stress everyone too much. This team has, almost without question, won the big matches that it had to this season, some way, some how. The only exception was the Sevilla Copa return leg, and it took some amazing play from their defense and keeper to do it. There again, as well, we were in something of a trough.

      But I am confident, and will be until the whistle sounds, because I believe that we have the best football club in the world, full stop. Two-legged ties give the best club the best chance to get the right result, and that “best club” is us. But what else am I going to say, right?

    2. I appreciate the level-headedness, and I think you have a point Especially considering the fact that we had a healthy Iniesta for that game. The more I think about it, the more you have a point. Inter could mark Xavi tightly, and then double team Messi, and we would be in trouble.

      However, you could follow similar logic and say, “do you remember that time we beat Inter 2-0? That was a must win game for them and us because we weren’t sure if we were going to make it out of the group. AND we didn’t have Messi or Ibra. So if we have Messi and Ibra, we will win 4-0.” I think that logic would be false (mostly because this is a different situation and teams change.) But that is why I think there is no precedent for this game–it’s a completely different situation (semis at home in the CL) so I don’t think we should talk about precedent.

      That having been said, if the game goes well and we fight with everything we have, we will at least have a chance in the last ten minutes (just like the Sevilla game where luck didn’t go our way). If we can grab a goal somehow in the first 80 minutes, then the game will all come down to a lucky bounce or a referee’s decision (think of Stamford Bridge last year with the lucky bounce off of Eto’o that got by Essien right before Iniesta scored. That doesn’t happen 90% of the time. Or Pedro’s somewhat fluky goal in the Club World cup). If one of those things (lucky bounce, ref decision) goes in our favor we win, if it doesn’t, we lose. That’s the way it is. However, we have a lot of work left to do to be able to be in this situation.

  30. I am going to be extremely honest with this post, but I wanted to be clear first that I do not intend to offend or insult anyone here, especially the moderators who do an excellent job of making this one of the best Barca blogs online.

    However there are certain things that need to be said, first of which is that a lot of you need to get off your high horses!

    First of all its clear that the bus ride had an effect on the players… and not just ours, but Lyons players as well. Sitting on a bus for 10 hours prior to one of the most physically demanding games of the year is going to have a negative effect. Bayern Munich are doing the smart thing and geting helicopters next week if regular flights dont return. For some of you to imply that our players simply decided not to show up to one of the biggest games of the year is both shortsighted and simplistic. We ran 10k more against Arsenal, but decided that against Inter, a far more agressive and physical team, we are going to take it easy. Yeah. Ok. That makes sense. When we have turned up to every single big game before this one. The bus ride played a huge part, whether you like to believe it or not.

    Mourinho knew it and so did his players and they took advantage of it and fair play to them. We knew it too.

    Can you imagine how frustrating that must be for the players? Knowing that they are coming into a huge game with a very signicant disadvantage. That on its own would have been very frustrating. Now add to that a ref who is too scared to call a pen when it is as clear as day or a linesman that is too damn lazy to get in line with play (it was shocking how slow he reacted to the play that led to the 3rd goal).

    Try and picture it for a second; u want to run hard, you want to play hard, your mind wants it, your heart wants it but your legs wont do it, they cant do it. Now add to that call after call after call going against you. You get fouled and the ref plays on, they dive and a foul is called. Nothing falls for you, the plays dont work, and runs arent being made cos the players are tired and jaded. Now be honest. Tell me you or anybody else you know doesnt lose their cool at that point. Now put yourself in the position of these players. Players that work and work and work for the colours, they have proven it over and over. There is no doubting them. They are passionate and competitive and they want to win more than anything. Do any of you really expect them to just say “Yeah ok,it happens, whatever. I will rise above it.” ITs never gona happen. These are men with real emotions, real passion and real reactions. They are not machines. As much as Barca is “more than a club” the players are not “more than human”.

    Also we didnt play a single game last year that came even close to the amount of shit that went against us in this game so I am not quite sure how you can claim we would have “played through it” and not said anything. Do you not recall all the bitching and whining about anti football and parked buses? What makes you think a game under similar circumstances last year wouldnt have brought about a similar reaction. We def didnt have any 10 hour bus rides before huge games last year.

    Saying things like “Man up” is ludicrous. Who here has played professional football at the highest level to be in a position to say something like that?

    Oh and using a quote from Mourinho about losing with class!?!?! Wow. Really? Why dont you just throw in a quote from Ronaldo about not diving?

    There is an idealism that surrounds the club and the fans. One that makes us “Mas Que un Club”, but some of you really need to get over it. Idealism is just as it sounds….IDEAL. It doesnt represent real life, real players or real reactions to the circumstances that sometimes lead to a loss.

    YEs the players lost their cool. Damn freaking straight. I want them to lost it, I want them to show that passion, that devotion, that desire to win. Every competitive sportperson in every competitive sport would do the same! Why shouldnt ours? Atleast we didnt pull a Chelsea and practically assault the ref or swear at the cameras.

    You say to the players “Shut up and play” well I say to the some of you fans “Shut up and support your players”. Players that have shown over and over and over that they will do whatever it takes to win. That they will fight to the death, no matter the odds. This is how they are repaid? With an open letter that basically says shut it, after everything has conspired to work against them. Fuck that. I am proud of every last one of em and I love that they are so frustrated and they are willing to show it. Xavi could have kicked Mourinho in the balls for all i care, he has more class than Mourinho and all his diving players combined.

    Let them come to the Nou Camp and see what football is. How it should be played. I dont want them on a bus, I dont want Mourinho to have excuses. LEt them teleport to the stadium, we will still kill them at home. I am sure of it. That passion, that love for the club, that desire to win you all saw manifested in frustration a few days ago will be transformed into an attacking force the likes of which “the special one” has never seen… And when it does remember this:

    Without the passion that overflowed and made the players lose their cool a few days you would never see the football that you do. You cannot have one without the other.

    Barca till I die…

    1. sorry but, being a supporter doesn’t mean you can’t be critical of your team. constructive criticism can be the most positive advice one can ever receive. bottom line is whether their bodies couldn’t do it or not, they didn’t show the drive or energy to fight until the last 15 minutes of the game. I don’t think anyone is trying to deride our players, but they got to show up bigger than that last game.

    2. I see your point but I kind of also see his. We expect so much from these players we forget sometimes that they are human. Originally I wasnt convinced the bus ride would make a diff but after seeing how flat Lyon were yesterday and hearing a lot of pundits and commentators who have played football comment about the effect it would have i have to concede it may have had an effect. Even if it was a small effect, at this level, it must make a difference. So maybe, just maybe, they couldnt show up bigger than they did. I would like to believe that if they could have, they would have. They have stepped up to the plate every single time in the past, why wouldnt they this time? Unless they simply couldnt.

      Plus, im sorry but the level of refereeing in general has become quite silly. The way Bayern progressed past fiorentina was shocking. YEs players should play through it and not expect favours from the ref and all the rest of it, but that doesnt mean the ref can officiate the way he did. There is a limit though and sometimes players are going to reach that limit. IT is completely unacceptable to have a linesman who is not fit enough to keep up with the level of play. With the offside goal the linesman was a good few yards behind the play so he couldnt call the offside. It wasnt that it was a close or contentious call, he just wasnt fast or fit enough to get there. That to me is completely unacceptable at the highest levels of football.

    3. I haven’t played professional football. But I have competed in bicycle racing at very high levels, including two Olympic trials. So I am very aware of the body being willing, even when your coach tells you that the mind is more powerful than the body, sometimes it isn’t.

      It isn’t as if the players were jammed onto a Greyhound bus, being jostled over crappy European backroads. It’s contextual. For the first time last year during my visit to Barcelona, we linked by AVE high-speed rail instead of airplane. The train trip took almost 3x as long, but I was fresher when getting off. I honestly don’t believe that the bus ride affected the players. I just don’t.

      But even if it did, does that excuse some of the poor play that we saw? No. It wasn’t a bus ride that made everyone chase the ball instead of marking their men, so that Sneijder wouldn’t be left open. And the same fortitude that grabbed the goal after a hard foul on Messi in El Clasic, was “Hey, where’s ours” stagnance that greatly facilitated the Maicon goal.

      Call after call didn’t go against us. And even if it did, play through it. We aren’t supposed to get favors from referees. We’re supposed to show up, play our best match and let the chips fall where they may, withOUT howling about injustices after it is over. That was my point. Legitimate observations about the behavior of this club in no way indicate any lack of support. My heart, soul, back when I wear the colors and soci bucks, not to mention the level of effort required to run this site, visit and spend time to write the kinds of comments that elevate the discourse here, speak volumes about the passion and support that is present.

      But it doesn’t mean that we should stay silent when something comes up.

    4. I am not sure you can compare your experience as a cyclist to that of a full time, professional football player. These guys live and breathe football, it is all they know. All they do is train, train, train some more and then play match after match after match. Their bodies will all be accustomed to a very rigid, strict routine and breaking that, even slightly can have an effect. The bus ride itself may not have had a negative effect, but the 10 hours or so that were spent on the bus are 10 hours that might have been spent on training or fitness conditioning or even mental preparation. That could very possibly have had an effect dont you think? Before a game of this magnitude, against opposition of such high quality do you really think it had no effect whatsoever?

      I dont think it is a coincidence that both Barca and Lyon looked uncharacteristically flat this week and both had to travel by bus.

    5. At the top level of cycling, it’s the same thing. Living and breathing cycling. It’s what you do, what you talk about, and you train, train, eat, sleep, and train. The routine is the same, as well with the scheduling rigidity.

      Any athlete working at a high level relies upon routine and the incessant, almost numbing repetitiveness of effort. That way you can take your mind out of the equation, and just function as the machine that you work to become.

      It actually exactly the same, except for the immense pay packets.

      I guarantee that all they did on the bus was get motivated, play music or video games, or watch movies. Same thing they’d do on the plane. But without the cabin pressurization that muscles don’t like, cramped seats (even on their fancy-pants planes), etc.

      No, I think that at that level, an athlete of that quality, unless you roll into town the day of the match, will be fine. You hit town, train a little bit to shake it out, get some food and a good night’s rest. Which is what they did.

  31. Why do I get a “save as” pop up when I open a post. Not sure if anyone is having that issue, but I thought its better to report it.

    If we defend well, we will advance. Simply put.

    1. Hmm, I don’t know about the Save As thing. That is strange. Is it asking you to save the page or what?

      I think Abidal’s return will help us defend well.

    2. I don’t get that prompt either, Ramzi. You’re right about defense, but man, do I wish that JDS were suddenly a couple of years older, with the attendant experience levels. We are best when we have our active, playmaking back line feeding a possession-based midfield. It’s why I’m not too bummed about Milito being in there instead of Puyol. I would totally dig:

      Alves Pique Milito Abidal
      The Yaya Busquets Xavi
      Messi Ibrahimovic Pedro!

      I think that Keita brings an advantage that we don’t need as much as need what Busquets can do when he isn’t making me want to fly to wherever he is, and jam a size 12 up his butt.

      This Xerez match comes at a perfect time for us. They have absolutely nothing to play for against us. They are last by two points, and in their battle against relegation, would be insane to look at us as a point gain possibility. So it should be something of a tonic for us.

    3. Regarding the message, it doesn’t come every time. Next time I get it I will copy the text I get before canceling it. If no one else is experiencing it, then it can be something with my pc.

      The Yaya-Busquets partnership if it will make Abidal move forward more than it will force one of them to play an advanced role (beside when they do the urgent runs to the box). When it come to offense contribution (and it even feels odd to think about it) Abidal contribution was less frequent but more accurate/efficient than Alves. And here I am not talking about contribution in the buildup, but in set offense. Alves really need to stop the fitness training he does with the rest of the squad (Does he need it?) and have a training to enhance his crosses instead. After his recent performance, If I get a permanent stomach pain for the rest of my life, I will sue him!

    4. Ha! Yes, I like how Abidal has been coming forward of late. His offense is improving. Probably one more benefit of the presence of Maxwell. And I’m thinking The Yaya up, and Busquets back, as the destroyer rather than the creator.

  32. CD Xerez is actually not such a bad team since about 2 months.

    If you had to choose between CL and la Liga, which one would you pick?
    I pick la Liga over the CL because Real Madrid winning zero titles is priceless 🙂

    So yeah, we might advance in the CL if we play our game, but Xerez, Villarreal, Tenerife, Sevilla and Valladolid is more important! I’ll take the CL final as a bonus, but la Liga is the duty.

    1. For me I’m in the CL camp. We’ve beaten Real Madrid twice, (four times in a row if you count last year), there is no doubt in my mind we are the best team in Spain. Now Europe, that’s what I like to show the world. In the continent where the highest form of futbol is played we beat the best of the best. Especially considering all the teams we had to play in this competition, if we can win this thing, this team will be even more legendary than ever before. Another la liga and we will just get to rub it in Madrid’s face and I believe if we win out, it’s the most points for us ever, but CL is on a global level. And the final gets more viewers than the SUPER BOWL normally!!!

    2. But the fact that we’ve beaten Real Madrid twice would make it particularly hard for me to see them winning la Liga. Because, as you’ve said, we ARE the better team and so we deserve this title.

  33. Seriously Kxevin you should send this post to the spanish media. Obviously what they write is beyond our control. I’m sure they will continue to highlight misrefereing and portray Barca as victims when we lose cause that’s how they roll, to oversensationalise everything etc etc but at least ppl get to read something different. They can have those “robbery” “Mourinho’s friends with the ref” etc, Barca is tired and players are human, so why not this one as well. Hell would freeze before you see anything like what you wrote on Sport EMD frontpage. or you could start something opposite.

  34. I’m with Helge, the league and a trophyless EE after a 250 mil shopping hehe. Anyway, we’ll know by wednesday. If we qualify, then I want both. If we don’t we don’t really have a choice but to win the league.

  35. i know why the players looked weak out there.
    it’s the movie selection from pep.
    the invictus…that movie brought some players to tears apparently.
    damn..before the wednesday, pep should play some rambo or rocky movies..
    me against the world kinda movies lol or 1 vs 1000 soldiers kinda thing.
    man them the hell up! :p

  36. Actually reading Ramzi’s take one thing I can agree on is the lack of technical session due to the bus trip and that one little detail could have an effect. I mean they could talk/discuss and shown diagrams but didn’t really have the chance for field practice and even if there was time they had to conserve energy for the real game. Little things like that.

    1. I just can’t see that. They arrived more than 24 hours ahead of the tie. They travelled in luxury. It was a CL semi-final for goodness’ sake. They did actually play quite well the last part of the game because the passion was there so they weren’t knackered. It wasn’t particularly pretty but it worried Inter.

      My worry for the second leg is where does the control come from? Xavi , Messi plus who? If we can get good control of the midfield we can do this. Goes without saying that we can’t concede.

      Last point we must play Henry first half at the weekend. We need his experience and movement and something for Inter to worry about apart from Messi. If he’s awful fair enough, that’s settled.

      I’m also totally torn about whether we play Ibra or not. That, for me, is Pep’s biggest dilemma. He is one of the most gifted players we have – no doubt, and neither bojan nor Pedro fill me with hope – but he’s not fitting in at the moment and we’re at crunch point.

      I think I’d go for Messi, Henry and Pedro – but not sure.

  37. When your married to Barça you support it in sickness and in health for richer or for poorer through the good and the bad through 2-6 and through 1-3.

    I agree they should stop complaining and just killing on the field but let’s not abandoned them morally when they need us most.

    1. Right there with you, Tutomate.

      And for me, if there’s a choice to be made, I prefer Champions League. Nothing like us hoisting the big ears on their pitch, in their house, while they watch on TV. I’d happily sacrifice the Liga for that.

  38. Cule for ever! I think it is in times like this that our club needs the Fan’s support. And they have mine. I will love this team for ever.

  39. Thanks to everyone, but esp. kxevin for giving me a rational frame in which to understand the game, the emotional fallout and the nature of suffering and the intense irrational love one can feel for this team! I was, like many of you, so upset I couldn’t even think about the game yesterday, much less read about it.

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