Villarreal 1, Barca 4, aka “What have we learned today, boys and girls?”

Mighty Mites to the rescue!

It’s Lesson Time at Baby Kxevin’s Ecole de Barca.

In the aftermath of a most excellent, 1-4 pasting of Villarreal at their house, a match that was supposed to be a banana skin and could have been, were it not for some crapalicious finishing on their part, there are lessons to be had here.

Now, I know what many are already saying: “See? We are better without Ibrahimovic. Look at what happened.”

They’re wrong. But more about that, later. On to the more immediate lessons:

Say what you will about his defensive tactics, but Mourinho was right.

No club in the world can play straight-up, attacking football with us. For all of Ray Ray’s praise of Villarreal’s style, it was like rolling up to a knife fight with a stiletto, and your opponent has a machete. You already know how that’s going to end. The fundamental reason that teams don’t play us as Villarreal did, is because they get killed. Did you see how much space Xavi had to play with? It’s no coincidence, therefore, that he was a fundamental part of every goal that we scored.

We have the players for our system.

We looked really good out there when Valdes wasn’t trying to gift Villarreal a goal or two. Why? Because they attacked, and played typical Liga defense. If every team played us like that, we’d never lose a match. Which proves that if a side gives us space and lets us play our system, we already have the players to win. Now how many sides are going to do that when it really, really matters to them? Inter didn’t. Twice. Espanyol didn’t. Twice. Arsenal did. Look what happened to them. So Krkic started and fit into that system like a glove, because he’s been playing it his whole life. The question to ask yourself, is what happens when people aren’t stupid enough to play into our hands? What then? Now, this won’t stop anyone from thinking they’re smarter than Guardiola, and dancing on the grave of a certain Big Swede, but it should. Yes.

Busquets needs some quiet time.

He played a hell of a match, but what is with the shenanigans as he was coming off? Really? Just get off the pitch, dude. I would love to be a fly on the wall for this conversation. Or should I say lecture, since that’s what it looks like Guardiola is giving him.

The Yaya is back.

When Villarreal subbed in Marcos Senna (damn them!), did you see what happened to the midfield? Suddenly, they were in charge and looking constantly threatening. And the deficiencies of Busquets suddenly made themselves very evident, not to mention that it was man against boy. The Yaya came in and order was restored in the world. Things calmed down, and we regained possession. I don’t know what’s going to happen to him in the off season, but if we sell him, I hope it’s to a side that we will never, ever have to see in any competition.

This was supposed to be the match. We’ve lost 5 of the last 7 times we have visited El Madrigal, Villarreal’s tight little fortress. And have we ever gone there with our collective tails between our legs, having just gone out of Champions League in midweek, tired-looking and psychologically hammered? EE was looking at this one, cheering for Villarrreal. Some here were predicting dire things, as well. So Guardiola decided to roll the dice, and try some Mighty Mite power. Why? Because he watches matches, and knows that Villarreal needs points, and given their recent history against us, were probably thinking they could get some. This means attacking football, which means that Puppy Power might work.

Hence his starting lineup of Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Maxwell, Busquets, Keita, Xavi, Pedro!, Messi and Krkic. People reading anything about Ibrahimovic into the inclusion of Krkic are misguided in the extreme. We have a match on Tuesday as well, which Ibrahimovic will start.

We came right out and laid on the pressure, taking advantage of Villarreal’s tactical naivete, and right at the outset, it was clear that this was a match we were going to win. Even when Valdes made a mess of his clearance, gifting the ball right to a Villarreal attacker, whose pass to their striker really should have resulted in a goal, I didn’t doubt that this was going to be a win. Simply because if you play with us, we’re going to kill you. So the only question was how. And then something remarkable happened, at 13:48. Busquets was fouled. For real. He didn’t do a one-man portrayal of the Agonies. He took it, and kept playing football. You could see that he wanted to. You really could. He’s learning, which is commendable.

And then it happened. The first goal was one of those (continuing the Ray Charles theme) “genius+chance=excellence” moment, as Xavi spanked a pass to Messi, a pass that needed to have some spice on it to get through. Messi took the ball in the air, controlling it on the volley, and pirouetted past his defender in the same motion. That his hard shot took a deflection and went in was only the Footy Gods, apologizing for midweek. Ray Ray didn’t quite know how the hell it went in, I didn’t know how the hell it went in, until the replay. So it was a remarkable goal that had a little bit of luck involved, but all of the work was done right before the shot. We should thank our stars that we have probably the only player on the planet who could have controlled Xavi’s pass and did what Messi did.

It was 0-1, and Villarreal, who prior to that blew two excellent scoring chances, were probably wondering what next? The other problem was that now, they had to come out to play. One of their excellent scoring chances, by the by, came because the defense was again scrambling, chasing the ball instead of playing men. So Puyol, Keita, Busquets and Pique were all clustered around the attacker, who just slid the ball to Nilmar, who only had Valdes to beat. Sure he wet the bed, but Sneijder didn’t, which is why we’ll be watching the CL final on the telly instead of from the bench. Our defense has to work on that, on discipline and playing space. Luckily, we have recent match DVDs to peruse. πŸ˜€

It became 2-0 on a wonder of a Xavi free kick, one in which the keeper did almost everything right. The wall was right, and he was figuring that Xavi was going to try to beat him to the shallow side of the wall. But to get that ball up and over their wall in the way that Xavi did, was just absurd. The keeper was fairly beaten, one of the best keepers in the Liga, by the by, and from that moment really, the match was well and truly over.

Krkic was playing a lot of the early part of the match on left wing, and he quickly became another Barca tradition: a left winger who has to move toward the middle to become part of the play. And when he did so, something magical happened as Xavi slid a ball to him that asked a lot of questions of our Boy Wonder. He answered them, and how. Recall that Guardiola has said of Krkic, that he is one of a very few players who has that golden touch on the ball. Now watch the first touch of Pedro!. Then watch how Krkic, in one elegant motion, controlled and spun. Phil Schoen thought it was Messi, so brilliant was the movement.

And when Krkic made that play, smoking one defender on the turn then leaving another for dead in his wake, remember that Villarreal’s captain was playing on a yellow, so he couldn’t take the professional foul in that instant when he had the chance. And Krkic rolled toward the goal, using that striker’s trick of dribbling across the goal mouth to open up space, then slingshotted the ball past the helpless keeper. It was 3-0 before the half, and I was thinking that there should be more rumors about Krkic being used as a makeweight in a Villa deal. The Kid was on fire today.

The second half was complex for a while, because of the aforementioned insertion of Senna, who is immense. But with a 0-3 lead to play with, the comfort levels were immense. Yes, they scored, on one hell of a play, really. A pass just eluded the outstretched leg of Puyol on a play that had a man from both sides on the pitch after a foul, and a ref that let play continue. Llorente took and one-timed it past Valdes, who didn’t have a chance.

But the messy phase ended when Busquets, who again was fouled and just. got. up, was subbed for The Yaya. But there were still a few bits of fun to be had, including watching Krkic wet the bed (again) when he was sent in on goal all alone against the keeper, and somehow conspired to miss. Neat trick, that one. Then Messi said “Here’s how it’s done, son,” for his brace and our fourth goal.

A lovely game of keep-away between Waste of Space and Alves had a number of lovely effects. It kept possession, but it also made the defense move, because Waste of Space is still the player that no defense wants to allow to do anything. It’s only natural, him being a big-money, high profile transfer and all. But the defense was creeping out …. way out as a consequence, so far out that suddenly there was space for Xavi to slide a ball to Alves, who made a run up that suddenly open side of the pitch. Messi sensed that, and also took advantage of the space to scamper into the box. Now, his initial touch on the pass from Alves was a little funky, so he just accelerated a bit, chipped and hurdled the keeper at the same moment, capping off about the quietest brace you’re ever going to see.

This match was a tonic, coming at the exact right time. I’m not sure we could have taken care of a defense-minded side in the same way, but we were itching to play football, to prove that we could still do it. Villarreal allowed us to do that very thing, and we walked ’em.

Team: 7. Strong overall match, but some collective midfield and defensive slop needs to be fixed. And when we have a left winger, play the ball to him more, even if it is a Cuddly Toy.

Guardiola: 9. You had them ready to play a match that could have been a screw job. And the substitutions were exactly right, as well, both on the Command & Control front. You still have some defensive positioning drills to work on, however, so get to it.

Valdes: 3. Holy crap, dude! I guess you were due for a stinker, but man! Even when you came out to slap a ball away, you did it wrong, and nice stop on the subsequent shot but then you spilled it, only to have Maxwell save your bacon. Hope you’ve gotten it out of your system.

Alves: 7. Nice playing a team that doesn’t put defensive pressure on you, isn’t it, one that gives you space to play your game? Nice passes and attacking flair. The signs that you’re playing out of that funk you’ve been in are good. Keep it up.

Pique: 7. Hey, if you and Txigrinski have a footrace, who would win? Just asking, because that Villarrreal attacker ran past you like you were parked. It put your keeper in some serious danger, but thankfully he was a shite finisher. Excellent match after than, with the Piquenbauer skills on full display. People marvel at how far forward you come, but when Puyol was playing as he was, you could have gone for xips and soda.

Puyol: 9. Clip that pass that led to their goal, and you get a 10. Just when people are thinking that this is your last season as an automatic starter, you go and have a match like this one, reading passing lanes perfectly, playing unbeatable one-on-one defense and being all over the pitch. Just be sure to replace that divot you made when you pounded the pitch in rage, after they scored. Thanks.

Maxwell: 6. You were giving the ball away like crazy at the beginning. Glad that you settled down, and thanks for saving Valdes. Oh, and tell Phil Schoen that despite all his talk of you earning a slot, if our French Greyhound weren’t hampered, you’d be riding the bench.

Busquets: 6. Very good match. I still think that you drift a little too deep to be truly effective in tandem with Xavi, and you still take possession of the ball with your back to the defense too often. To understand how not to do that, watch The Yaya. The dramatics were toned down a great deal, which worked in your favor, as well. Oh, and when you’re subbed, just get the hell off the pitch. You haven’t shaken the ref’s hand in the past. Why then? Stop it. Just stop it. You cost your club once in midweek. I worry that you will again.

Keita: 7. Invisible Man is back. Strong match in an environment that played to your strengths. I still don’t quite know what position you actually play, as you so tidily move from defense to possession assistance to offense, but I’m glad you’re in the side. You still don’t look 100 percent to me, though. So be careful.

Xavi: 9. You were a few funky touches away from perfection. What a golazo off that free kick, and way to revel in the space that Villarreal gifted you today. Again, your play showed why marking the hell out of you is going to be the wave of the future. So start feeding Iniesta steroids or something, because your pale shadow is going to be crucial next season.

Pedro!: 6. I liked your movement and effort today, but you still don’t quite seem to know what to do on the pitch. You’re in the wrong place a lot, which works when you’re scoring your wonder goals, because even the defense looks around like “What the hell is No. 17 doing,” but it also puts your teammates at a bit of a disadvantage, as they pass a ball to you when you’re already starting to dart about to somewhere else. And work on your first touch.

Messi: 7. You were in energy conservation mode, putting out major effort early, including end-to-end effort on defense and offense, then you put the motor on idle, thinking of midweek. Nice goals, and I’m happy that you broke your scoring drought. I do wonder why you’ve been looking a little sad lately, though. You’re the best player in the world. Buck up.

Krkic: 9. Pace, movement and attacking flair were your hallmarks today. First touches were almost universally excellent, and your facilitating passes were just what we needed. Astonishing goal as well, but you should have tallied that second one, as well. Just saying. Guardiola said you have a long career with us ahead of you, which must have been music to your ears, in light of recent rumors. Are you growing up before our very eyes?


The Yaya (for Busquets): 8. More time probably would have resulted in a higher rating. It’s been a while since the inclusion of a player has had such an effect for us. You calmed down everything, giving us more time in the midfield, making them less dangerous and the match a lot less messy. Senna probably said “I’m a man, but that’s a mountain!” Please stay. We need what you do for us.

Ibrahimovic (for Krkic): 7. Don’t listen to your critics. Just keep integrating into a side that needs what you do. I love how you are now celebrating goals with the club, and that huge smile that you were sharing with Krkic as he came off, was priceless and says a lot about our club and how you’re fitting in. Your presence was all about command, control and calming them down by inserting the howitzer. Nice work.

Jeffren (for Messi): incomplete. You just didn’t have enough time to do much of anything.

So, the Liga is all that we have to play for now, and it comes down to three matches, two home, one away to Sevilla, the next event that people are going to be saying “Look out!” at, for a very sound reason.

Scoffers are saying that we celebrated on the Bernabeu turf as though we had won the Liga. But no. To me, we were celebrating a season sweep of our most hated rival. Guardiola has this club too grounded for them to start thinking that the work is done, until the work is actually done. I also like playing first. It puts pressure on the EE to match us. Next up for us is Tenerife at home on Tuesday. They aren’t going to roll over for us, but we should be able to get three points from them a lot easier than EE will be able to get three points from Mallorca in their house.

And then comes Sevilla. No slip-ups, and the Liga is ours. It also means that we’ll have a chance at another piece of silver, when we play the SuperCopa next season. Not bad, if it happens. No, it isn’t the double that we would have liked, Champions League and Liga, but that’s life. I like where we are, now and for the future.

Phil Schoen is stupid, example 4,312,998: Your comment about how Mrs. Busquets should be kept out of the TV truck was dumb, because the host broadcasters were trying to track the Busquets situation, and did he or didn’t he have two yellows. You should have reacted to that and done your job, instead of being a dumbass.

Now to end on a positive note:

“As if I would let you go anywhere!”

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 think that Busquets had another VERY bad moment: Just before Villarreal scored, he got the ball and tried to run forward, one against all, and in the end loses the ball after galopping over half the pitch. First of all, he’s not Messi. But more importantly, there was already a Villarreal player down and he didn’t pass the ball out of play. If he had shown fair behaviour, that goal against us would never have been scored.

    And I wouldn’t even want to swap Krkic for Villa, simply because Krkic is 9 years younger (still just 19, wtf?!?) and he’s always been excellent in his behaviour towards to the club. Oh, and he also was the one who won the ball from Villarreal, stormed towards goal and then gave the ball to Xavi. That first goal was also down to Krkic, maybe as much as to Xavi and Messi. He draw the defender towards the sideline (thus opening up a passing lane) and then saw the completely free Xavi.

  2. Spicy, provocative review but a good read as always, Kxevin. I’m not going to get too drawn into the Ibra argument yet again other than to say if playing against a parked bus isn’t his type of game (Pep’s obvious thoughts by withdrawing him early ) and playing in an open game doesn’t suit him (Pep’s obvious thoughts by dropping him), what will? Don’t buy the starting against Tenerife point. He will, because we win that at home at a canter, hopefully. The harder game was last night. I did like Pep sending him on ( a 7 for 5 minutes work?) to give him a few touches which he did well.

    My view still is that Ibra deserves another season to adapt his game. However, that shouldn’t mean we can’t discuss him atm. Enough, too much on Ibra.

    For the rest, I thought that this was an excellent display although we could have been behind early. Movement was a joy to watch at times. Coming off a disappointing and tiring game midweek you have to admire the likes of Xavi and Messi who turn it on game after game. A surprise for me was Xavi staying on with his injury. Btw, what’s that about him having had it all season? I’d hate him to miss the WC. That would give England a chance πŸ™‚

    1. Agreed. As tiring as the Ibra discussion is, I just cant go with the line where everyone else is blamed but him. When Xavi and Iniesta are blamed for not passing to him in a timely manner, when Pedro and Messi are blamed for not playing well with him, when Pep is blamed for not being able to design plays for him, when the whole team is being blamed for not adjusting their play for him, and now I see the other teams defenders are blamed for not wanting to let him play because barcelona spent soo much money on him???!!??

      AT what point will people realize that he just isn’t the striker for our system? I say move him to a withdrawn leftwing position and see what he can do. There, he wont have to commit soo many offensive fouls and offsides, and he wont be man-marked soo tightly(he doesn’t know how to beat that consistently)

      Interesting read about the issue here:

    2. harsh but 100% true.
      we have given him too many excuses..
      what next? his dog died?
      look at bojan, came in against inter, boom! a goal.
      start against villareal, boom, goal!

    3. it’s inevitable that the ibra question takes up more space than any topic on this blog. nothing wrong with that; it’s perfectly natural, considering the context. those who defend his presence in the squad are the same ones who proclaimed him as The Answer before he even donned the kit. they are holding on to their prejudices. meanwhile, i dont know any that were neutral or cold on his Coming that have been truly won over. a few magic moments have caused us to keep our hearts open, but the general feeling is one of disappointment and head scratching.

    4. regarding the 20 goals ibra has scored in his first season. it’s like you hire a janitor to clean your building, and he’s supposed to be the best. everynight he polishes the porcelain, and you pay him well to do so, much more than even a very good janitor. so 300 nights a week you walk in and the porcelain looks great. but the other days of the year you notice little flecks of shit on the loo and the mirror. are you still happy? are you just gonna say: “but he cleaned so well those other 300 days, including the day of the big party (i.e. the clasico). give him more chances” No. you pay him to do that and much more.

      i say 10-15 games into the new season before he starts riding the pine…hard.

      anyway, it comes down to pep….and messi (and even iniesta, the other Future of the club). in Them I trust.

  3. I’m glad that Bojan is starting to blossom. His striking instincts are on par with the best of them. The question is only experience. So, do you loan him out or play him and let him make all the mistakes needed to gain experience at barca? I say keep him, he will save us a bunch of money. He should be the number 1 back-up for all three frontline positions next year, playing a minimum of 30mins a game.

    Ive been saying all season, you can clearly see how we have better command and control when the Yaya plays vs Busquets. I’m still as confused as anyone why Busquets gets the nod over the Yaya soo much. Don’t get me wrong, Busquets is good, but Yaya is just better at DM. And I prefer Busquets over Keita as an Iniesta sub.

  4. Bojan won’t leave (for better or worse) for these reasons:

    1. He’s Catalan – that says it all.
    2. He’s 19 and plays a good amount for someone that age.
    3. He’s repeatedly said he is happy to stay and fight for his position in the club. His great attitude will see him stay.
    4. He is the youngest player to play for Barcelona’s first team, and the youngest player to score for the first team – He was tipped early to be a legend at the club, people won’t be willing to give up on that idea yet.

  5. Good game. though I think we won it easily because of villarreal weak offense and unstable defense. I was shocked for the way they missed thier chances. If they had a better goal scorer, no doubt their game plan would have caused us more problems.

    Remember the game at home? Why did they changed their offense set up for this one? they played offense at Camp Nou, and caused us troubles. This time it was just a bad performance when it come to finishing their chances. Once again, we made the exact same mistakes we did in the game against Inter (first leg), though they didnt have quality strikers to get advantage of it.

    Good result. I am glad, because I was extremely worried about this one after the CL. But the win failed to cover the fragile performance for me.

    1. I take your point about the defense all rushing to the one man, Ramzi, but it’s pretty harsh to talk about their unstable defense when all four goals were beauties. Xavi’s passes make defenses look weak.

      Beforehand everyone was saying how difficult this would be. Let’s not run the team down afterwards by saying how poor Villareal were. Or at least let’s be consistent and say that Inter only won because of Bojan’s weak header (which i don’t believe btw). Let’s enjoy the fact that for once a hurdle was overcome without depleting our reserves further.

    2. I think consistancy means sticking to the same evaluation standards whether the team lose or win. I didnt say any systematic or tactical changes compared to the game against Inter-first leg(with some more effort).

      Its not only about defense issue (defenders). offense didnt put the pressure right (though the effort was there), and midfielders were in a chaos from the positioning sense as well.

      I always enjoy the team performance. I do so by recognizing that its always a joy to watch, even when it is not reliable enough.

      But I am aware I need to wait the preseason to see how Pep will tune the system, now that we are no more under the pressure of last season success. Not the right time at the moment as we need to finish the season based on how we played since the start. so I will accept it, as I’ve been doing since day one (after pointing out the weak sides of the style).

    3. I agree with you to an extent. We started the beginning of both halves extremely slowly, and especially in the first half we looked uninterested and generally poor until Messi’s goal. However after that we looked calm and in control in the first half, and most of the second half was just a play out.

      This is something we’ve seen a lot this season. Whereas last season we came out of the gates charging, this season we’ve been slow and put ourselves in trouble at the beginning of many games.

  6. you failed to mention the move which bojan created for messi..that was superb as well. too bad messi took too long to think about it. he had a clear view on goal but decided to dribble on. messi did it at least twice in the match..

    i disagree with keita’s rating.
    keita started strong but faded very quickly and was once again just walking around making simple passes that created nothing.
    id prefer to play yaya and busi than keita.
    busi and yaya have a better understanding with each other!

    busi had a great game. his best game in months!!
    lost the ball only once i think. which lead to the goal conceded. stupid of him to dribble in to 5 defenders. why not hold the ball and wait for back-up. bojan maded the same mistakes as well earlier in the season. trying to dribble the whole defense.

    1. I was more upset with that play because the rest of the team stopped playing, expecting Busquets to do the sporting thing and kick the ball out. That’s why Busquets had no help, and ultimately why we conceded in my opinion.

      I just want Busquets to play the ball out there. When you’re winning 3-0 and an opposing player goes to ground there is no reason to try to continue the play, especially in a game like yesterdays.

    2. There are a lot of things I failed to mention. People can only read so much, just as I can only write so much.

    3. haha ok ok..
      but you know, we all love to read your stuff. so just put everything out there.
      but yeah..another reason for fans to hate busquets. i wonder when he’s going to change. maybe he just doesn’t have fair play in him.

  7. Kxevin when it come to Ibra and Busquets, I am in the “Whatever” mood in a way that I don’t get myself in more debates about them. I suggest that you do the same regarding Ibra. You can keep sparking arguments about it, but it will make no difference.

    I learned since defending many players in previous years that time can do miracles that commonsense cant.

    1. yikes…i guess common sense isnt so common? you sparked it!

      love me some ramzi and kxevin either way.

    2. Just came across this one, luckily it match the case:

      “10 Things That Stood Out from the Game

      1. Spanish defenses are bad, Messi was virtually invisible in the game apart from the run he had after beating Song and forcing Almunia to save. Yet this is Messi who scored eight goals in one week. He couldn’t even get on the ball in a makeshift defense and midfield. If this repeats itself in the next leg, it might speak volumes about his capabilities in Europe.”


      That was the global common, common sense after Barcelona game against Arsenal-first leg (check everything written after that game).

      We all know how the second leg ended (and the new common sense rised afterward in every game preview across the gloge).

      You could have argued about it for ever after the first leg, or you could have kept it for time to tell.


  8. OH GOD NO, Busi is suspended for Tuesday’s match against Tenerife. Oh what shaaaaalllll we do???

    I actually thought he was craptacular in this match. Controlled nothing, wanted nothing, took on the entire team and indirectly created their goal, kept letting them through the middle without so much as hindering them (unless he handballed it), and just never cared enough to get stuck in. Great, he didn’t dive. Let’s all commend him for not diving.

    I also didn’t dive yesterday. Neither did Crynaldo. Congratulations!!!!!


  9. the point is that no matter who you play, whether Ibra, Bojan, Van Basten, or Eto’o, you will have problems scoring against a very defensive team that parks the bus. Mourinho knows this as well because he failed to score with his Chelsea against Liverpool who parked the bus, just that they had Biscan in defense and Inter had Samuel.
    So it’s kind of funny listening to douchebags like Honigstein on the Podcast who say that Barca should have doubled up on the wing and all this talk about lack of plan B, while the simple point is that you get lucky if you score 1 goal against a defensive team and 2 goals are just too much.
    Bojan did his job well. whether his defender was on a yellow or not or whatever else, he just hustled hard and did his thing. You can only beat the teams you face and he could only score against players he played against.
    Regards to Ibra, he might stay but if we sell him, maybe Fernando Llorente would be a good option. He is mobile and his aerial presence is just criminal.

  10. No, it just looks like I will have to disband the HFC and begin the IFC. πŸ˜€

    As I’ve said in the past, Ibrahimovic is easy to blame. He’s new, big and expensive. No matter what he does, he will always be one bad match away from “He doesn’t fit, we should sell him.” When he does something good (as he did yesterday in the time he was in) it’s “Yeah, but he sucked here.” Whatever. I’m trusting Guardiola as a better evaluator of talent and what his team needs than I am. If you put together a highlight reel of Ibrahimovic’s work with us this season and put it up on YouTube, people would say “Whoa!” I don’t think anyone will argue with the contention that he isn’t the striker for our system. I’m saying the system needs to adapt.

    –It’s true that our best midfield combo in the absence of Iniesta is Xavi/Busquets/The Yaya, but Guardiola doesn’t see it that way, so I reckon it ain’t so. But watch Keita again. Many of the things that he does are very easy to miss.

    –In a case (not the first) of BFB management disagreeing, I think that Busquets is going to be getting stick for a long time because of his CL display. Should he? Probably. I still think he did so much damage in getting Motta sent off. His deficiencies manifested themselves when Senna came in. That’s why Guardiola countered with The Yaya. I’m still not sure how good he’s going to be. He’s still learning the game, and has a lot of things to overcome. Some Krkic-like apprenticeship probably would be more of a help to him than having been handed the starting DM role.

    But again, what do I know?

    –Finally, enough about Krkic. He, for me, sits in the Ibrahimovic category for many, as in “Oh, Lord, here we go again.” He had a very good match. As I noted, Villarreal was complicit in that. As for Inter, note that the legal goal, a wide-open header, he pushed wide of an essentially open net. The goal that he “scored” came about because everybody except him essentially stopped playing. Yes, the handball call was bogus. But he didn’t score against Inter. Pique did. If Krkic had scored against Inter, we’d be preparing for the Final right now.

    He has talent, and is playing his way into the beginnings of something. I wouldn’t trade him for Villa, even straight up. Nor would I deify him because he scores goals against soft Liga defenses. He moves well without the ball, and works very well in our system. But as noted above, he should. He’s played it his whole life.

    But the canteranos I’m not completely convinced about yet (who have gotten significant playing time) are he, Busquets and Pedro!. I know what Jeffren is, a super sub. Pedro! is the same, I’ve pretty much come to realize, a Giuly type. Busquets, if he learns to play the game with heart and strength, could be good. Very good. Krkic is the most perplexing one for me. He has gobs of talent. It remains to be seen how it develops fully.

    1. Agreed on all the canteranos. I may have to eat humble pie on Bojan eventually but I’m not convinced yet. I don’t see what his killer quality is as a CF at our level. However, you can’t take anything away from his Inter strike. The only people who stopped were those with no chance of stopping him. Those nearest played on. Also, even on a yellow for the defender, ask yourself if you think Ibra would have had the pace to go round him. Credit to the young one where its due and he isnt 20 yet.

  11. Why the hell did Osasuna score? Now i know EE will come back and win, again! They have done it for so many matches that it is not even exciting.

    1. It doesn’t matter what they do. It only matters what we do. Win out, and we are Liga champions and deservedly so.

      P.S. I watched that “handball” goal again this morning. Man, what a hose job. Ray Ray’s mention of it made me want to see it again.

    2. Yeah, it wasn’t a handball. Yeah, it was a goal.
      But we still didn’t deserve to go through, with the shocking display we put on in the San Siro

  12. It’s way too early to start bandying names about for next season, but all thought has to start with a reliable threat from left wing. That addition will make everything better. Don’t forget that in Henry’s first season, he was finding his way, and didn’t really play in that CL semi against United that sent us out. With Eto’o, and no reliable left wing threat, we went out 1-0. The value of wing play to our attack is incalculable.

    1. He had some good insights there. I sort of get a kick out of Mourinho, as long as it’s all happening from a distance, but after a while it becomes very tiresome. Without Busi’s performance, the charge that we sank to their level isn’t as strong, but the whole thing was just sorta gross. I didn’t enjoy the semifinal, for reasons way beyond the fact that we lost.

  13. “Phil Schoen is stupid, example 4,312,998:”

    I assume you were only counting yesterday’s examples? πŸ™‚

  14. If I remember correctly, the 3 main criticisms leveled against Bojan (and rightfully so) were:

    1) He’s not fast enough.
    2) He gets pushed off the ball too easily.
    3) His mental state is fragile (so he hesitates too much).

    I think the goal yesterday put #1 to rest. And in the last few games his decision making has been very good. He could have very easily let the missed chance against Inter affect his confidence, but he didn’t. Instead he rebounded with one of his best performances in ages. That the defense he was facing wasn’t the best is irrelevant, last year he would never have scored a goal like that.

    So to me the one and ONLY question about Bojan is if he can become physical enough. The touch is there, the shot is there, the only thing stopping him now is his strength.

    1. There are two or three little things that for me are more promising now than they were with regard to Bojan. Can he lead a line against bigger teams and still be effective? Don’t know yet. He has been anonymous often this year. I’d also like to see him outrun someone in a straight race for a ball but I don’t want to get pushed into listing small deficiences as I see it. He is improving.

  15. Hey, guys, great blog. I read here all the time, you guys make such excellent points and arguments, and more often than not, I agree with them. But I’m a little too shy to post comments, so forgive me for that πŸ™‚

    And BTW, does anyone else know what today is? It’s May 2nd, 2010. The 1 year anniversary of el 2-6 πŸ˜€

    1. welcome…
      dont be shy..the guys and gals here are the friendliest barca bloggers compared to the rest out there!

    2. Thanks man, it feels great to talk with other fans who have the same passion as I do for Barca.


  16. I love Ibrahimovic.

    I agree with Kxevin in that if people occasionally used some common sense in judging him, they’d think more highly of him.

    And I think some people should admit some things…

    1. He is not Eto’o. Eto’o can do things Ibra can’t, and Ibra can do things that Eto’o cant. They have different styles. Once Xavi and Messi figure it out, we will be better off for it. Once th fans figure it out, they’d be more happy about it.

    2. Points matter, not goals.
    You can compare him the man he replaced, Eto’o, and say that Ibra doesn’t score as much, and you can comparehim to our rival’s Marquee signing, and say the Crynaldo scores more goals.
    What one fails to realize is that Ibra’s smaller quantity of goals are more important than the boatloads that some people score.
    Take away Ibra’s 16 league goals this season and I GUARANTEE you it loses us more points than if you took away Ronaldo’s 20.
    because Ibra scores when we need him to. How many games gave been decided by an Ibra goal. ahem EL CLASSICO ahem…
    Ronaldo scores a lot of bullshit goals when the game is decided.
    3. You can blame Ibra for our CL elimination, but shit happens. If you ask where Ibra was against Inter, you HAVE TO ask where was Ronaldo against Lyon, Drogba against Inter, or all of ManU against Munich?
    Or better yet, where the hell were Xavi, Busi, and Keita in San Siro.
    Because it is true that we lost that game in defense, but that doesn’t mean it was exclusively our backline’s fault. Our biggest defensive faux-pas was non-existent midfield pressure that we are famous for. If you invite Sneijder to play, HE. WILL. PLAY.
    In the Camp Nou, Ibra had nothing to work with. how come people weren’t asking why 41 mil Euros couldn’t buy one decent cross from our attacking right fullback?
    Like Kxevin said, with such a big pice tag, he is an easy target.
    Finally, We are just spoiled if we expect to be in the final of the UCL every season. just because you have the best squad in the world, which we do, it doesn’t entitle you to it. It still takes a lot of things, including luck.
    And more spoiled still if we sit in 1st place in the table with a record 90 POINTS! why we talking about big flops that are ruining our team?

    1. we can also say, messi scored the 4 goals in camp nou and the hattrick aagainst stuttgart. thats some hater feedback lol.
      but but seriously, someone could counter those claims cos it wouldnt even matter what ibra did in the 1st leg did but of course that is not 100% true.

  17. “With all conspiracy theory and bottom-feeder analysis aside, the Ibra = European flop equation appears to have been solved. As much as this writer sought to find ways to wriggle Ibra out of the bars within the jail of European infamy, the issue has come up so many times that it deserves credence. Barcelona are the biggest European side at the moment. When it comes to the Champions league, this is a club that has dominated modern European football. Ibra could never hide at this stage, and unfortunately one of the world’s most talented footballers appears to have been found out.”


    1. Well if they play like this at Mallorca, there’s no way they don’t drop points. I can’t even remember how many games Madrid has had this year against a lesser team like Osasuna where they just barely escape. Or they score like 3 goals in the last 10 minutes to make it seem like it wasn’t close.

    2. They held Real to a 0-0 in the first leg. And compared to the next two matches @ Mallorca and against Atletic Bilbao, this one seemed to be the easiest one.
      And last but not least, we just have to win our remaining matches!

  18. the end of this league is going to be painful for the runner up
    i hope it will be EE!

  19. Seriously, I don’t even watch EE games any more because they don’t matter. It wouldn’t bother me if they beat every team they faced 5-0, because we just have to win in these next three games.

    Just win win win. And now that we’re out of the Champions League, I have no doubt that we can. It’s the first time that this team can fully focus on one competition… and when that happens, when the collective focus of Pep and co. are focused on beating Tenerife, Sevilla and Valladolid, we will prevail.

    Us getting dumped out of the CL was the worst thing that ever happened to EE πŸ˜›

    1. I normally don’t watch them either, but I happened to see the score at the beginning of the 2nd half, and I had some free time, so I found it at You should have seen this breakaway that Osasuna had towards the end of the game when it was still tied. 2-on-Casillas, just a HUGE chance. And they blew it in spectacular fashion. I don’t think they even got a shot off. Man that would have been exciting if it had gone in. Oh well.

    2. Jajaja, true that.

      But imagine what Madridistas (who nowadays watch us play as much if not more than their own team) were feeling after those Villareal chances yesterday.

    3. good point!

      We just have to go on, beat Tenerife and thus build up some more pressure on the EE before their trip to ONO Estadi. Only worry left is Sevilla, BUT we’ll also have to be focused against the two other teams since they are battling relegation (and do you remember the first part of Tenerife-BaΓ§a?… that was NOT nice)

    4. And to add, i think we have to play against Valladolid. With thier new coach, they are a very physical side. But then, EE have Maulega so its going to go down the wire.

  20. HAHA I love the Phil Schoen is stupid example. Those should be included in every review, but I’m guessing by those numbers they are too numerous and would take up the whole review. Great Review!

  21. You might want to sit down before you read this, because I’m about to serve some cold perspective.

    So far this season we’ve won the European Supercup, the Spanish Supercup, the Club World Cup, and we’re in pole position to win the league. You can say these trophies are holdovers from last season, but we won them with this season’s squad. This is the first time we’ve won the CWC, a huge accomplishment in itself.

    In the league we’re currently leading with a record points haul. We’ve only lost one game in the league. We beat Real Madrid twice (that right there is a successful season bar anything else!).

    We reached the semifinals in the Champions League for the fourth time in five years, which is a massive accomplishment. We went out to a strong Inter side, but when you look at the tie it hinged on very small details, and honestly in the end it could have gone either way. Last year’s semifinal with Chelsea was the same way – and that is just the nature of semifinals in the Champions League.

    Pundits are labeling our loss to Inter as a “failure”, and opponent fans are crowing about how we weren’t good enough, but these things are just indications of how good the team is. The fact is the expectations on the team from last season were humongous. We are only being labeled this way, and we are all only disappointed, because we are expected to win every game. The fact is that just can’t happen.

    Another fact is that historically we have never been this good. This is a strange and wonderful time to be a Cule. It’s also difficult to know how to react. We’ve seen some fans reacting in the wrong way (turning on the sprinklers) and some react perfectly (the thousand fans cheering the team on when they arrived at Villareal). Honestly we should look to Pep for guidance, and express humility, patience, sportsmanship, and most importantly passion.

    So we can natter about it being Ibra’s fault, or it being Busquets fault, or Pep’s fault for not playing Yaya. But the fact remains that we’re a fantastic team, and have had a great season so far, and it’s important to remember we’re just nattering about the small details, the difference between great and unstoppable.

    1. Even better, we are set up for years to come. As I’ve said before, look at the nucleus of our club. Henry and Marquez will be out, but they haven’t really contributed much this season. Puyol has another good year in him, at which point we have a legion of fine young defenders ready. Milito might be sold this summer, but I’m betting that Txigrinski will be a LOT better next year.

      In attack, we have Messi, Ibrahimovic (the old man of that group) and Iniesta, being fed by Xavi, with Krkic and Pedro! coming off the bench (in my ideal world), and a LW to be determined.

      Defensively, we have Alves, Abidal, Txigrinski, Puyol, Pique and on loan, Botia and Adriano. So we’re fine there.

      The only complexity that I see is midfield depth. We have to address that, or the likes of Thiago and Dos Santos have to do some fast growing up between now and next season.

      So not only are we great, but we are poised to be great for some time.

    2. You think Marquez is out even though we just gave him a 3(I think) year extension earlier in the year?

  22. Just finishing watching Atleti / Mallorca. The EE might just have a struggle on their hands. Anyway, again in the studio they are talking about Xavi playing through pain for the rest of the season and how it won’t clear up before the end. Do we know what type of injury it is and whether he felt it yesterday? Also, is there any chance of Iniesta coming back for the last game?

    1. I’ll answer my own question πŸ™‚


  23. can i just ask, having finally watched the game, whether there’s a more composed, unshakable, competent player than Marcos Senna anywhere in Europe? the man is sheer class. the only guy to come into a game and really put Xavi and/or Iniesta to the test, both offensively and defensively. his reading of the game and the ease with which he regains and controls possession is marvelous; Barca-like, even. i simply cannot fathom any midfield of any team on Earth competing with Senna/Xavi/Iniesta in tandem.

    1. Has Senna been starting for Spain lately though? I was under the impression that Senna had somehow fallen out of the starting line-up after the World Cup. I could be wrong about this though.

    2. I think Alonso has been the go to guy recently, heck even Busquets got some time there.

      I my mind Senna should undoubtedly start there. For some reason I thought he was injured during some of the international breaks? Don’t quote me on that though.

    3. yes, he’s been out of the line up cuz of injuries lately. else he got to be the starting DM for spain. he’s simply amazing.

  24. Figured I’d post this here. Friend of mine has some connections to a reliable source. He gave me some rumored Barca info…take it all with a grain of salt.

    Villa to Barca is DONE…looks like it may be 20m+Bojan+1-2 year Pedro loan. The club doesn’t want Pedro to leave but the loan allows him consistent playing time. And Toure is OUT, likely to Arsenal, Lyon, or Bayern.

    1. You’re killing me, Brett. Three more matches, the fruition of the Liga season, then the silly season begins. Wonder who is going to want to deal with a lame-duck Laporta/Txiki B, though?

    2. Oh hell no. Like Kevin said, I wouldn’t trade Bojan for Villa straight up.

  25. Looks like no Fabiano against us when we travel to Sevilla. Grade 2 ankle sprain. Then again, who ever knows?

    1. I cringed when I heard about that injury. Hopefully Sevilla doesn’t rush him back for the league finish or the Copa final. Brasil needs him fit.

  26. question….are there any FC Barcelona blogs in spanish that even approach being as cool as ours here? wondering if people have suggestions…not that i am gonna jump ship, just that i want to read in spanish more…

    1. Good luck. To be quite honest, there’s not a lot of blogs which are as “witty” as this here, I read my first posts here and I havent looked back.

    2. hmmm at a very basic level…and i mean basic by non analytical, just full on funny, you can check the la liga loca blog on fourfourtwo[dot]com. The author – Tim Stannard has me in splits sometimes. Although this is not a barca blog, but a generally witty laliga blog, with weekend previews etc…

    3. im looking for a spanish-language blog, i think you missed that. thanks though.

  27. Loved the game. Truly, I think Ibrah will come back, he did fine in the beginning, we all praised him, and now we dont? So hes having a bad “beginning”, the man has more years with us, lets give him time. We’ve lost the bigger matches collectively sucking, so I dont think the big swede is our problem here. He plays beautiful football and I’d love to watch him at his best once hes completely adapted.

    Bojan, really proud. I’ve never had a lot of faith in him, but hes proving me wrong FAST.

    Also, extremely proud of Xavi, literally taking one for the team.

    finally, I really really really want Abidal back ! ASAP!

    1. Second that Stephen.
      I’m really happy for Bojan. I’ve never doubt his talent, but his growth is what I was worry about. With all the expectations for him, and the reality that we need him to grow up fast, maybe more than he could. Butafter watching his couple of last games, he has grown a lot. Esp, his confidence.
      The truth is that: he IS only 19!! Imagine if he grows up mentally and physically in the next 2-5years. That’s why about the Villa deal, as much as I love Villa, I don’t want us to waste Bojan’s talent, let’s see how he grows.

  28. Oh speaking about silly season in the next couple of months, just Brett comment bout the reliable source on Villa deal.
    Here is another one that has some information:
    It’s 30mil+hleb+bojan on a buy back clause in 2011.

    IMO, maybe there is some negotiations in the back, but the deal is steal not yet done, esp about the players. I just hope that we don’t lose Bojan.

    1. The entire deal does not make sense, it seems as we’d be getting the short stick in something like this. I mean we just spent how much on this giant swede, and now we’d get an expensive bench for him? When we have already a little Bojan who does just fine right now?

      I still think we are bringing either Cesc or Ribery, it’d do us some good esp. with Iniesta having injury complications as of late.

  29. damn my heart broke when i read that yaya leaving us is a done deal. and bojan too.sigh sigh sigh.what a way to start a new day πŸ™

    btw did you guys read pep’s comments after the game.
    he called ibra “a good team member”.
    that’s kinda sad…

    1. nah, no way hleb maybe but bojan never maybe jeffren but bojan NEVER!!!! Trust me on this πŸ˜‰

  30. Great posts so far, but i must say that after xavi and messi and etc. bojan WILL become a barca hall of fame! very few reasons. As someone mentioned before he is Catalan which is not the crucial part, because the boy is just 19 for God sake and he plays like a genius! Many older players can envy him because the boy has the football sense which is the second most important thing after the talent! qoute: “He is physicly not strong” pfff… every person in the world with good fitness coach can become a physical monster, that’s not an issue at all, i find that very ridiculous. Bojan has the Barca Philosphy and he will emerge into an legendary player, like Xavi, Iniesta and many others. Please just please please please Laporta dont sell him or swap him or whatever he is the future of Spain’s National striking force!!
    On the Ibra phenomena i must say my point of view because i see it kinda different! Knowing that Ibra almost all of his life played in the Calcio the man just carved the italian football style in his brain. its just impossible to divert the man to play good football. Xavi and Messi can find ibra if he learns how to conquer the box, instead of waiting for crosses like in the Calcio. I can agree with Kevin that he needs some more time, but i think that his times is now measuring with minutes! i mean he is almost 31 and the man must consider of retiring instead of adopting a new kind of play. Ibra has max a half a season to prove expectations, or else finish like Henry and eventually be sold in the MLS or wherever!
    All we need for the upcoming season i think is a monster winger, having a help for messi and pedro, we will be unstoppable again!
    The new textbook for midfield play has been written, but Xavi is a player that you simply can’t defend he will find a way and make the pass “the dagger in the heart” what i must say is: “Do fear Barca the next season” because we will come even more prepared and show again that we are unstoppable brute force. La Liga is ours and we still can manage to repeat history!!!!

    1. Since when is Ibra almost 31? Or did I misunderstand something? πŸ™‚

  31. Pretty strong words from Arshavin here…


    1. Ugh. I’m not sure about that quote, I don’t recognize the source (the People?).

      But if it is true, it would be a pretty classless thing to say given that he is under contract to Arsenal for another three or so years. Then again he did force his transfer from Zenit, so maybe he’ll try again.

  32. Andrei Arshavin has said that he is going to Barca in the summer.
    He said that we didn’t want to take the chance on him when he was playing in Russia but since he has proven himself in England we are confident.
    Poor Arsenal.
    Why didn’t we just sign him when we first tried instead of Hleb?
    For the record, he was originally bought for €16million & I wouldn’t assume he would come any cheaper than that.
    I’d still get either David Silva or Marek Hamsik to add depth to midfield because when Iniesta is out we become a one trick pony.

  33. Arshavin already said he was misquoted by the Russian press. Something about how every time he gives an interview in Russian and it is translated to English, what he says comes out wrong. Those quotes seem too fake anyway.

    Don’t even want him anyway.

  34. hmm, I know this is pretty random, but I think in my opinion, Yaya has a good chance of staying with us next season. I understand that Busquets has obviuosly taken more minutes from this beast. But I don’t think Pep has somewhat been out of favor with Yaya, I think Yaya had a pretty poor start to the season and has been fairly inconsistant, I just feel Pep prefers to play an in form/motivated Yaya, and as bad as Bus

    1. stupid pc, something funky happend while I was typing…

      what Im trying to say is, Pep is sparingly using Yaya, rather then fielding him twice a week where he can play very good, but again he can be hit with inconsistancy and fatigue, I think also Busquets is a player that when he has an off day, the effect on the team isn’t significant.

      Pep plays with Busquest more to keep Yaya motivated aswell. Yaya is not the type of player that would want to leave a great team because he is not guaranteed minutes, I think Pep has that freedom to field Busquets more and not cause any friction b/w Yaya, but I beleive it works the other way, I think it motivates Yaya. A big example was around the time of the second leg against stuttgart, Yaya was riding an absolute monster of form in that period where we needed a player like Yaya to take some pressure off teh shoulders like Xavi and Messi, where Keita I beleive was abttling injuries and so forth.

      But what got me thinking about transfers and all, we all agree that Pep likes local plays, he likes cantera players, he prefers the locals of the foreigners, but who wouldn’t? especially at a team that is so unique like Barcelona. But what I’ve noticed over the past two seasons, Yaya is a converted catalan, with the way he talks to the media, and the way he works with team. I beleive Yaya will stay!!

      I see no reason for Yaya to leave, other than the fact that he wants to leave for more minutes, but I think he wants to stay because the challenge motivates him.

  35. my first time posting here, and im doing so now because of xavi. The sacrifice this man is making to ensure the liga title is both admirable and sad. I mean do u guys now that now he more or less plays without his left leg because of his calf injury.(he said so himself)

    I understand his essence to our game but this is his last world cup. hes treading a very delicate line here. just one miscalculated turn or an over weighted pass or an ill timed stretch for the ball and well i can assure u it wont be just two weeks out. He really shouldnt have to make such a risk. Hes not playing for hull city(respect to their fans)

    The man needs luck and prayers at the moment.

  36. I actually got to witness this game in person and it was a major treat! How great to see the boys dominate. The stadium atmosphere was incredible! I believe there were more Barca fans than Villarreal…perhaps because Villarreal is a TINY pueblo. People were going crazy though and there were constant chants and singing.

    Also, Bojan is smaller in person than I thought and Ibra is a giant for real. So happy that Xavi played although there had been worry and what a nice reward in a goal! Amazing experience and amazing game!

  37. Indeed his willingness to keep on playing is very commendable.

    I really hope Thiago and Dos Santos will be able to give xavi/iniesta more time to rest for certain fixtures next season.

  38. I just want to add that it was nice to see our midfield taking some shots from outside the area that were reasonably close. I would say this another tactic that needs to be worked on … especially Kieta, his shots are dreadfully off mark.

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