The Highs and Lows

“I need a hug.”

It’s one of those moments and I couldn’t agree more with my friend’s statement last night. It’s not about self-righteous indignation concerning refs, it’s not about who dove and who didn’t, it’s not abut anything other than love and passion for Barça. We lost. Kudos to Inter for going through, for being the better team over 180 minutes. Yes, I think they were cowardly, that their unwillingness to play a real match in the second leg was an embarrassment, but they’re through and, on the whole, they probably deserved it because of the thrashing they gave us in the first leg.

It’s been a while since we felt like this, since we lost on such a big stage, but it happens to all but one team per year and this year it was our turn again. It will be our turn again in the future as well because that’s the nature of sports. So it goes. You can blame it on the reffing if you’d like, selecting particular plays as where it was “blown” but the fact of the matter is that we spent 60 minutes with a man advantage and scored one goal. We left it up to the ref to make (or not make) the calls rather than out-playing them and scoring goals that no one can dispute. We needed 2 goals. We got 1 (and I’m sure Inter fans are saying Pique was offside, which is not only ironic, of course, but also wrong) and that wasn’t good enough. I said before the match that we needed to take our chances and what we did during the match was blow them. So please, it wasn’t about the ref. It was about us. And we came up short. And that is how it goes sometimes. Don’t hate what happened, just love the club.

I’d like to take a second to congratulate Julio Cesar on being an outstanding keeper. His save on Messi’s shot in the first half won them the tie. I’m sad to say that, but it’s true. Sure, he wasted time (he got a yellow in the first half for it!), but overall he was solid in the back and never spilled any shots directly to us. His save on Xavi’s shot was also spectacular, though not as spectacular as the first one.

Now, there are some other things to address, chiefly the embarrassment to FC Barcelona that is Sergio Busquets. Some will accuse me of squirreling this away in the middle of a post or not putting in enough expletives, but whatever, I’m going to say it the way I should have said it about Fabregas before: Sergio Busquets is a diver and a cheat. He doesn’t deserve to be a Barça player. Many of us have said for a long time now that he’s got the talent to play for us, he’s got the footballing instincts, and he’s a La Masia product, but it is very simple: he is not going to learn not to dive, to exaggerate, and to be a dirty, filthy, horrendous cheat. So he should go. Last year I thought he was learning, I thought he was getting better (he was!) and was rolling less, exaggerating less, and being less of an embarrassment to us. Dani Alves has, in large part, learned to stop being such a whiny baby, but Busi has instead regressed to beyond where he was last year. What a turd. It’s easy enough to dump on him already because he’s going through a bad spell in terms of form, but instead of stepping it up, he grabs his face, rolls on the grounds, even reacts to Motta’s absurd aggression (for which Motta should be punished) by grabbing his neck and considering going down again on the sideline. Thankfully he didn’t do that. What a diver and a cheat and an embarrassment to our club. He should be sold. Now.

Good on you, Busi, good on you…

So that’s that. The CL is over for us, but I’m still going to have a party at my house and I’m still going to enjoy watching it (while rooting for Bayern because Mourinho is a classless douche, which sucks because I want to root for Samu). I’m going to go and listen to some upbeat music now and focus on my personal life for a few hours.

Visca el Barça y a por la liga!

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


  1. April 29, 2010

    London is a nice place to win it, we should know. See you next year, Mou?

    • Helge
      April 29, 2010

      Don’t tell me next year’s UCL final will be @ Wembley… they’ve got the worst lawn of all!!!
      And it won’t ever change because the new Wembley Stadium is an architectural fail that doesn’t allow the pitch to breathe.

  2. Abhinav
    April 29, 2010

    good attitude…. fans like u make the club great… hopefully everyone reads this…

  3. April 29, 2010

    I really should have said this in the post, but here it is now:


    We made the semifinals! How awesome is that!?

    • lovelymofo
      April 29, 2010

      This. Thoroughly bummed out about not being at the finals, but that’s okay. Love this team. We’ll get Liga and next year, who knows, we could get a doblete.

  4. Isaiah–

    As the author of the comment in question re: your previous post about Fabregas, I’ll just say: fair play to you for calling out Busquets. Even in the Cesc post in question that I and so many others found objectionable, you mentioned I believe Busquets and Alves as serial divers, and expressed your disapproval. I still think Cesc didn’t dive in the play in question, and certainly wasn’t trying to get Puyol sent off, and as someone who watches him play every week, I do firmly believe Cesc isn’t a guy who habitually dives to get the ref to award fouls.

    But I think you’re right that every team has players who do — at Arsenal, I know we have Eboue and Eduardo who have made a frustrating habit of it. As fans, it puts us in a tough position — they’re otherwise likeable and valuable players who help the teams we love win, but they occasionally do something we find detestable and against the spirit of fair play in the competition. The only thing we can do is what you’ve done here — draw attention to it and call them out for it.

    Anyway, I’m sad to see you guys go out — you’ve got a really classy, entertaining side, and it’s doubly frustrating that you went out to a club like Inter and Mourinho, who came in with the stated goal of playing anti-football. He’s even stated that Inter didn’t want the ball, because having the ball and moving forward would disrupt their defensive positioning. It’s boring as hell and bad for the game, but at this point what do we expect from him? But I’ve been impressed with how, by and large, everyone on this site has been really classy in defeat — it’s a credit to the club in the fanbase. Not that anyone cares what an Arsenal fan has to say, but if it wasn’t going to be Arsenal winning the trophy, I’d want it to be you guys, and there’s no other club I’d rather have been knocked out by. Keep your head up, and hope you get that hug.

    • April 29, 2010

      Thanks. I appreciate your response. Also, I appreciate your name. It is awesome.

      I don’t agree about Fabregas, but I think that it comes down to a matter of opinion at some point and I’ve taken it a bit personally with regards to Fabs, so that is what it is. I think he’s overrated by most Arsenal fans, but then again I don’t watch him week-in-week-out like you do so maybe I just don’t know. At least he’s no Stevie Gerrard, who is a Class A diver in my book. Like Crynaldo. And maybe Busi, who might be a Class B diver (an exaggerator and liar rather than an out-and-out diver, but he’s a midfielder so it’s perhaps just because of positioning that he doesn’t fall over grabbing his legs more often after no contact)

      I did get that hug. And several drinks.

  5. Soto
    April 29, 2010

    We lost this semi-final during the first leg. Yesterday we played well, but yesterday’s play was not enough to make up for our extremely poor showing last week. Amidst all of the talk about referees and playing styles (i.e. Inter’s parked bus) the primary reason that we are not in the Champions League final is that last week we defended poorly and Inter capitalized on that defense by scoring. We were outplayed last week and we are paying the consequences for that poor play.

    Although yesterday was not our most perfect game this season, the team played extremely well and I am proud that they kept fighting for goals all the way until the end. We put a lot of pressure on Inter and were shy of just one or two lucky breaks. (Of course, if we had played a better first leg, yesterday’s game would have been good enough to get us through. But I should stop beating this dead horse. . .)

    A word about Sergio Busquets: disgrace.

    Finally, a tip of the hat to Inter, who played extremely disciplined defensive football yesterday. That was not beautiful football, but it was a display of a team implementing a strategy as a team. In an age filled with prima donna superstars who care more about having the ball than playing with a team (yes, I am looking at you Cristiano Ronaldo) it’s nice to see a team of talented players playing like a team. (Although it was not lost on me that Eto’o learned to play defense so well while at Barcelona. Oh, the irony!)

  6. Bill
    April 29, 2010

    This is what I was worried about in the summer. I know it’s not a popular sentiment around here, but the worst piece of business we did in the summer was to get rid of Eto’o for Ibra and not someone like Villa.

    I was appaled that soo many people looked at the chelsea series and decided it was because of Eto’o that we lost. That we needed a different type of striker, someone taller, someone with amazing ball skills.

    It wasn’t the problem. Like I said last summer, when an opposing team doesn’t want to come out and play, then we have to introduce a different approach to our attacks. They have to be swifter, more direct and more plays behind the defensive wall(guys making diagonals across the defense. Basically, Pedro or Jeffren have to run to the endline and cross in from there. Possession football is devastatingly useful when both teams are actually trying to score. It doesn’t make sense to go through the motions of ball keeping, when the other team isn’t interested in keeping the ball or attacking.

    I began loving Eto’o, strangely, in the two year period he was injured. When we played Guddy, Saviola and Henry as the 9, is when I realized how difficult it was to be a 9 for Barcelona. We still had possession, we still attacked, but we lacked sharpness. Basically, you had to know what you were doing. Eto’o knew how to operate in that position…so does David Villa. Those seasons were eerily similar to this one, but we have better defense now, so less stupid goals leaking in.

    Yes, Busquets and Keita just aren’t as good as the Yaya and super Iniesta, but we have kept better ball possession on average this year and we have conceded less than last year. Messi has pretty much replicated last years goal output and Pedro has more than made up for Henry’s goal production. The only significantly less output has been from Ibra as the 9. He has never dominated even a single game, never looked to ‘invent’ a goal, and completely disappeared in those three games vs Inter. Not to mention the number of unnecessary turnovers he cause by either being offside or getting offensive fouls.

    We refused to pay Eto’o an extra mil or two to extend his contract, and we refused to get Villa for 50, and now our offense is just blunt. We are out of the coppa, out of champions league, and 1 point ahead of Real in the league. Wasn’t the whole point of getting rid of the best striker for our team to not replicate 2007?

    • shingai
      April 29, 2010

      I think the Eto’o business was a combination of personality clash b/w Pep and Eto’o, the greater marketability of Ibra, and a classic case of wandering eyes/grass is greener syndrome.

      All in all, I don’t think it was that bad. I don’t know about the numbers from jersey sales or TV revenue, but I’m sure Ibra did his part for Barca from a financial standpoint. And honestly, you guys were one goal away from the final. Think of it like this – last year, you got to the final via a miraculous, last second goal from a “hail mary” type of shot. Last year, it went in, this year it didn’t. The margin b/w in and out was the same, things just didn’t fall on your side of the line this time.

      Give Ibra some time.

      On a side note, speaking of Ibra, if there are any hockey fans out there, does Marian Hossa ring a bell?

      • Bill
        April 29, 2010

        Ibra shirt sales might have been better than Eto’o’s, but thats real madrid way of operating. What about winnings? What about all the revenue missed out from collecting medals? You don’t buy a striker to sell shirts, you buy one to score goals and win. Bottom line is…Ibra will never be the striker barcelona needs. All this stuff about ‘they need to learn how to play with Ibra’ is hogwash. You cant get a donkey to compete in the kentucky derby then complain about his lane position.

      • Bill
        April 29, 2010

        Ibra shirt sales might have been better than Eto’o’s, but thats real madrid way of operating. What about winnings? What about all the revenue missed out from collecting medals? You don’t buy a striker to sell shirts, you buy one to score goals and win. Bottom line is…Ibra will never be the striker barcelona needs. All this stuff about ‘they need to learn how to play with Ibra’ is hogwash. You cant get a donkey to compete in the kentucky derby then complain about his lane position.

        By the way, I think Ibra is a decent player, just not a striker. Never was, never will be. He played better with trezeguet at juve and Adriano at Inter. If you play CR9 as striker, you will get the same result we are getting with Ibra.

  7. Nick
    April 29, 2010

    Isaiah, what chances did we blow exactly? What I saw was a few great saves by Julio Cesar and a couple of decent defensive Inter walls.

    • Nick
      April 29, 2010

      Just remembered the Bojan’s header. Any more?

    • April 29, 2010

      Well there was that Bojan chance, there was a Pedro miss, there were some moments when our touch failed us (not really chances, per se, but certainly would have been chances–like the Ibra handball) and there was the overall lack of creativity throughout. It’s hard to really blame them for “lack of creativity” against a 10- and then 9-man wall, but there were far too many balls over the top.

      And I hate to second guess Guardiola here because he was spot on with his tactics, but why did Ibra come off and not Keita? That’s what I’m not sure about. Keita was pretty much a non-factor throughout simply because as a box-to-box midfielder he had nothing to do since there was no box-to-boxing going on.

      • Nick
        April 29, 2010

        I’m with you on that Ibra sub. I also think that Pep erred in choosing a position for Toure.

  8. Bebop
    April 29, 2010

    Yeah.. So proud for this team!
    and btw, I am surely going to watch the finals. I was rooting for Inter before, if we didn’t get through, because I think their players deserve it. But yeah.. the Mou factor.
    So I’m going to cheer on my new man crush. That hardworking bulldozer of a player. OliCC!!! Even though he’s not the striker, but I love his work rate ever since that goal against MU. 😀

  9. aapo
    April 29, 2010

    I’m proud of Barca and I had a feeling they weren’t going to advance to the final after the first leg, but I think what is bugging me is how many people are praising Mourinho. Maybe I’m missing something but I agree with what Isaiah said about being cowardly and unwilling to play. People on the internets have been like “Mourinho is a genius!!!1 Inter has the best defense ever!” really? REALLY?

    -sub off attacking players for more defensive ones
    -jam the box with 8 players
    -boot ball away, let barca come back, boot ball away, waste time, repeat
    -still lose 1-0
    -mourinho is brilliant

    What if Barca DID score off Bojan’s shot and Inter were down 2-0. What would Inter have done? Who would they have fed the ball to to get up and score when they really needed the points? Mourinho would have looked like an idiot if that had happened because a comeback would have been impossible…but maybe that’s just how i see it. I’m not impressed with his style of play. Also, his antics/mindgames/soundbites are getting old. Yeah maybe a few years ago when he had outrageous and edgy quotes he was cool, but now it’s just getting tiresome and I’m sick of listening to him.

    Also, I agree with everything you’ve said about Busquets. Personally I’ve never been particularly impressed by him and this was the final nail in the coffin for me. As I have increasingly grown to dislike Busi, I have started to LOVE pique and this match really cemented that for me. I hope after Puyol and Xavi retire he gets the armband. love that dude.

    • Helge
      April 29, 2010

      Completely agree with you. I don’t get this Mourinho lovers, not for this match. Inter was a bit lucky, and they defended well (but not well enough, because they’ve lost) but they didn’t even try to play a counterattack. That was shameful and cannot seriously described as the work of a genius. Inter reminded me of Chelsea from last year’s semi-final first leg, but they were not as solid at the back as Chelsea has been and they were absolutely poor in attack. Hiddink performed a masterclass because he stopped us from scoring at the Camp Nou while we were running in 6th gear and if it wasn’t for poor finish of Drogba and brilliant saves from Valdes, Chelsea would have won the first leg with 1-0 or maybe even 2-0. I take my hat off to Hiddink, but not to Mourinho.

  10. Lou
    April 29, 2010

    I think to some degree it comes down to luck. No one’s ever won the Champion’s League two times in a row for good reason. It’s really freaking hard.

    To win you need a great team and luck. I really believe our team is just as good last year. Even last year we needed some luck last year against Chelsea. Inter had it against Chelsea this year, Bayern certainly needed it against Fiorentina. Calls, injuries, the most exhausting game of the season right before a 2 day bus trip to the first leg. It happens.

    Congrats to the team for playing their hearts out.

    Anyway, next year Ibra will be better integrated in to the team. (I think missing the pre-season is a big part of the reason why he still isn’t quite clicking in our system). Bojan, Jeffren and Pedro have all improved tremendously this year and will be ready for more time next year. The team is still young, doesn’t need a major overhaul, and there’s still lots of talent coming through from the cantera. Plus there will probably be a few reinforcements brought in over the summer.

    The future looks bright…

  11. Karo
    April 29, 2010

    I will also cheer for Bayern because of the asshole mourinho and Bayern have been a decent side this season.


  12. Abhinav
    April 29, 2010

    Isaih here is a hug from an friend.. we may be foes when we face off(i am madrid fan) but u are the few barca fans i love to read from…and agree many times…
    ur loss was great but think about the defeats we have sufferred this summmer and ur loss will be small in comparision to ours…

  13. catleo
    April 29, 2010

    Great post, great comments — and my two cents — it doesn’t take a genius to play pure defense, when you are up 3-1 on goals. Everyone on the internets seems to have a serious mancrush on Mourinho, which is fine, but call it what it is, puppy love at his Luciferian antics on the sidelines. I agree that Barca lost on the first leg, and the 3rd goal of the first leg to boot…luck had almost nothing to do with that — poor defending did it. Last night’s games was frustrating and heartbreaking…but Isaiah and others here have helped me see beyond the CL…Let’s hope Bayern continues to kick butt.

    • aapo
      April 29, 2010

      ^ this. Mourinho is being hailed as a tactical genius but all he had to do was basically not lose 2-0…yet that STILL ALMOST HAPPENED! Like catelo said, it doesn’t take a genius to play pure defense when you’re up 3-1. If it was 10 v. 11 and he did some creative subbing and beat Barca 2-1 at Camp Nou then you better believe I’d be first in line to be give him props, but there isn’t much to commend him for IMO.

      This puts me in a tough spot because I want Inter to win the CL but I hate the thought of listening to Mourinho gloat, trash talk, etc. afterward. I like to see dedicated players like Zanetti win stuff like this, and of course watching the legendary career of Samuel Eto’o is always fun…but I get SICK thinking about the ridiculous love affair people are going to have with Mourinho if he wins.

      I will, however, lol when people argue that we did him his biggest favor by taking Ibra off his hands. Oh well. Visca el barca i visca catalunya…som seguidors puixants! Let’s finish strong!

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