Barca 0, Hercules 2, aka “Shame enough to go around for everyone”

"Egg! Egg! It's all over my face! Get it off!"

Javier Mascherano can be forgiven for thinking “Hey, wait …. I signed up for this? Some freakin’ debut, dudes!”

Newly promoted Hercules, the club with the ambitious name, took on the Liga giants of Barcelona and kicked mud in their inept, ineffective eyes with two goals that could easily have been more. Watching this one twice was painful in the extreme. I really don’t want to see this match ever again, or this kind of effort from my beloved club.

Simply put, we were terrible, with a few notable exceptions.

–Some will blame the international break.
–Some will blame chickens coming home to roost.
–Cruijff will say “See, I told you so. Yell “Shit” for so long, and the club starts to play like it.
–Still others will blame the luck of the draw, and “On any given day.”

Personally, there is plenty of blame to go around for a shameful defeat to a club that we should have dusted off by the 10th minute, and put to bed. Guardiola rolled out with a lineup of Valdes, Adriano, Pique, Abidal, Maxwell, Mascherano, Keita, Iniesta, Messi, Villa and Krkic. For my money, this was the wrong lineup. Hercules tottered into our house with fear in their eyes. You could see it in the early tentative play. If I’m Guardiola, I resolve to play the real boys for 20 minutes from the start, then start pulling key players. As it was, Hercules saw our No. 4.5, and started laughing. “Hey, they expect a toy to lead the line! Bwahahahaha!”

Actually, we didn’t have anyone leading the line, since Messi was running around sleepwalking, Villa was flitting about on the wings somewhere (when he wasn’t getting called offside) and Krkic didn’t even bother showing up. In my estimation, the advantage was lost when Krkic didn’t turn that chance. It was a difficult chance, to be fair, but he tried to get cute with it, instead of just stopping and steering the ball home. The pass from Maxwell (an amazing effort) was coming right to him. He tries some fancy-pants flick sideheel nonsense, and missed.

Then Hercules got confident, and began exploiting the middle of our “attack.” Sloppy possession meant that Mascherano was facing a jailbreak, and took not one, but two fouls for the team. On the first, Valdez (theirs) was off to the races, being supported by Trezeguet and Drenthe. If Mascherano doesn’t give the pullback, the defense is dead in the water. So he did. Hats off to him. He took a yellow, but that’s what you’re supposed to do. Watch the sequence again, as Messi slaps an awful pass to Iniesta that the Hercules defender takes and slots directly into the attack.

On the second, a horrific Messi free is functionally a pass to their defense. Drenthe takes off on the break, and he does exactly what you’re supposed to, which is to run directly at the defender and make him do something. He sold the foul but again, Mascherano took one for the team. Should he have been off on that second foul? No way. What he should have been doing was getting on his attackers for being so wasteful and silly against a side whose only real shot at hurting us was off the counter. No DM alive can handle a jailbreak, kids. I know that we’re all into getting on the new guy, but I don’t care who’s playing DM …. The Yaya, His Mama, Busquets, whoever …. he’s taking a professional foul.

The first Hercules goal came about as a direct result of this sequence. Drenthe whipped in the free kick, and we were ball watching as they headed the ball toward our net. Valdes slaps the first effort away and as Maxwell falls down for some inexplicable reason, their Valdez spikes the return ball off the pitch into the open net. Meanwhile, all of our defenders, eveyone is standing around. Should someone, as soon as they saw how the play was busted have run to the goal mouth to kick or head away the leaking ball? Sure. Instead, Abidal is standing around as though he’s waiting for a bus, Pique is hailing a taxi …. no, wait …. he’s hoping for an offside call on the play that was clearly onside.

And by the by, we can learn something from Mascherano. Take the foul. When Abidal lunged for that steal and missed it, leading to the second Hercules goal? Position your body so that if you don’t get the ball, you get the man. Foul his ass. Yes, you take a foul. Better than taking a goal.

There was no fight in the club today, which was even more appalling than the loss. Some would say can we really expect such things, this early in the season? Rosell has been calling into question everything about the previous regime, regime that encompasses every goddamned player on the pitch, and their coach. There were three new signings and a passel of departures, not all of them pleasant. There was the World Cup, the attendant vacations/late arrivals, then straight into the season and an early International break.

And meanwhile Hercules sits, watching us rack up frequent flyer miles, thinking “You know, they’re going to be tired, and we can beat them.” And so they did, with a display that deserves full credit. They defended like lions, took their chances when they came, and were stonewalled by an extraordinary Valdes performance between the sticks. They could have had a few more goals today. 2-0 is bad enough, but think how 5-0 would have been, eh?

A loss, no matter how many goals, still counts for three points. We weren’t top of table going into today’s match and we sure as hell won’t be tonight, no matter what EE does against Osasuna. Do early matches matter? Not really. If you’re going to cock one up, might as well do it early. We started the treble season with a loss and a draw, lest people start panicking.

I am much more concerned by the broader deficiencies that this match manifested in our club, which I will break down as simply as possible:

Villa can’t lead the line. People called me an ass when I said it the first time, and I stand by that statement. He just isn’t that kind of a striker, and he never will be. Without a grownup to create space for him, he’s ineffective.
Iniesta ain’t no Xavi. Will he ever be? Good question. I’d say yes, once he learns patience. He still thinks like an attacker, even when he’s playing creator.
Krkic ain’t no 9. Yes, he’s wearing the number, but you need a forward who can do something other than lose the ball every time he comes up against a defender.
Without Xavi, do we really have a midfield attack? We kept possession, but didn’t do anything with the ball.
We have no stylistic versatility. Against a club with only one real way to hurt us, why not play back a little bit more? What’s the harm? So the cules whistle derisively as our back line sits back more. Fugg ’em. We were caught up the pitch time and again by a club that counterattacked with increasing bravery.
We have no versatility in attack. Say what you will about Ibrahimovic, but you could knock the ball to his big ass, and have him do something with it. That option is gone. When Villa is the tallest man on your front line, you’re going to be facing some issues (and some ribcages of taller players).
Squad depth is going to be a problem. I mean real squad depth. You need somebody better than Krkic to bring in, and you need a Xavi surrogate, to keep the offense popping in the absence of our midfield maestro.
The psychology of this club is damaged. It seems that like many of its fans, it doesn’t know what to do in the face of adversity, so it panicks. Long balls, impossible passes and silly one-on-ones are not the way to break down a disciplined, energetic side.

Was this one of those matches in which the doors just came off? Sure, in part. But there are more International breaks coming up this season, as the interminable qualification process for Euros continues. Add friendlies to that, and the complexities aren’t going to be resolving themselves any time soon. We looked like a tired club out there, and there was nobody to bring us the energy or cutting incisiveness that creates goalscoring opportunities. And so, we lost. Further, brace yourselves, folks, as we’re going to lose some more this season, one that is going to be more competitive than a lot of pundits, fans or cules realize right now.

Why? Because the big teams are exhausted. Us and EE effectively sent every player that matters to the World Cup. Just back from that and it’s Euros already. This isn’t the case for the Atleticos and Sevillas (or Herculeses) of the world. This is where quality squad depth enters the picture. And we don’t have it.

Team: 1. Terrible, terrible display. No help for each other, no energy, no clue. You attack as a unit and defend as a unit. One-on-ones, such as Mascherano saw twice and others still even more, are signs of a tired club. Second match of the Liga is way too early to be showing that fatigue.

Guardiola: 1. You can’t play the match for them, but you can dictate how that match goes with the starting XI, which should have had more firepower. You took Hercules lightly. Shame on you. How do we know that, despite all your natterings, you took them lightly? Because you didn’t put our best squad out there. I’d rather see Dos Santos as playmaker than Iniesta. Yes. I said it.

Valdes: 7. Two got past you thanks to your defense, but every shot that you had a shot at, you stopped. Thanks for not allowing this to become truly shameful. Best keeper in the Liga? Good question. You keep making arguments in your favor.

Adriano: 6. You had a 7 going until that shameful dive. Just because you’re on the right side doesn’t mean you have to act like the incumbent. I loved your energy, effort and ability. The crosses were excellent, and you battle for loose balls like a champion, and it still surprises me how fast you are. You also played defense a lot better than the incumbent, who should perhaps be reconsidering his difficult negotiating posture. We have a viable replacement now, and are blooding another one in Dalmau.

Pique: 2. You had two great scoring chances that you screwed the pooch on. And you have to marshal your defense better than that. Yes, Valdes had the captain’s armband, but don’t kid yourself. You were too passive when your defense was falling apart, and positionally, you were struggling with that whole right place, right time business. Oh, and you can’t stand there and watch the guy take the shot that will kill you. Now do you understand how good Puyol is?

Abidal: 2. Don’t know why in the hell you were tired. It wasn’t like you had to play any Internationals. Lunging for balls that you should have run for cost your team. No, you don’t suck as much at CB as I’m sure that some will say, but your positional sense needs some work. And if you’re going to go for the steal, make it or foul the man to stop the attack. Your being out of position created an imbalance that led to the second goal.

Maxwell: 5. Solid in a crappy overall team effort, with fine attacking prowess. Your effort on the pass that should have resulted in a goal for Krkic, was remarkable.

Mascherano: 5. You were playing to a higher rating before Guardiola pulled you to protect you from that second yellow. The hustle and tenacity were there, and who said you can’t pass? Our team definitely lost something when you went out, and Hercules exploited it. Your positional sense is already strong, and you will get the hang of where to be in this side. And the attack won’t usually hang you out to dry like that.

Keita: 3. Sometimes you’re quietly effective, sometimes you’re just quiet. The usual pace and energy of this season were absent, making you a liability on the pitch, particularly when Mascherano went out, making you the DM. That position needs boundless, constant energy.

Iniesta: 2. Run the offense when that’s your job, as it was today. A directionless mass of people is calling for some organization, someone to set the tempo, hold and distribute the ball. Don’t play as quickly when you’re occupying that Xavi role. Take the time, make the right pass that won’t cede possession.

Messi: 2. You showed a bit of hustle, a lot of mediocrity and more than a little selfishness. Again, for the record, if you have four men on you, odds are that a teammate or two will be open. So pass. Now. And when you aren’t passing, move without the ball. Your unpredictability makes you dangerous. Sluggish Messi is way too easy to control. Thsi is your team. Lead by example. Hustle, get in people’s faces and put the hell out. Don’t just sulk around and make runs at the defense.

Villa: 2. I don’t care if you ever again do another backheel. To hell with the folks in the stands. Play effective, offensive football and put the damned ball in the back of the net. Like Pedro! used to, you were running around like a headless chicken, which is not what our offense needs. If you don’t make yourself available for the passes, how can you expect them to come your way?

Krkic: 0. We were playing with 10 men today. I know that we’re supposed to give you time, and be patient, blah, blah, blah. But the display was horrific today, when your club needed you. You got the number, so play like a “9,” not a boy playing dress-up. Just because you’re half the size of your predecessor in that number, doesn’t mean you have to play like it. Get good, or get gone. There was, as with Villa, no direction to your play. And you lost the ball against a defender every time. I counted exactly one good run from you, which is ridiculous.

Substitutes

Pedro (for Krkic): 4. You struck an early spark, but stop trying to play above your ability level. You aren’t going to be beating defenders in 1-v-1 situations, nor are you an effective crosser of the ball. You score goals. Make the moves and do the things that enable that. Speed of play is a good thing, playing too fast is a bad thing.

Xavi (for Mascherano): 4. We gained a little solidity when you entered, but you missed a couple of very good chances, one with a horrid shot, the other with a woeful touch in the box.

Alves (for Adriano): 2. You’re the starter, and are supposed to play better than the substitute. This just wasn’t the case today, as you left fellow defenders stranded, were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and flat-out didn’t hustle as you usually do. Malaise is team-wide, it seems, but on man can also pull them out. You had the chance to be that man, and you blew it.

Well, we got this one out of our systems. Next up is Champions League play, against Panathanaikos. If you thought that Hercules were dangerous, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Let’s hope for a better display.


“I’m checking my e-mail, because you guys suck today!

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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.

170 Comments

  1. El Diez
    September 12, 2010

    Did Ibra made a such a impact in one season? No, never, if it wasn’t for Messi’s god mode performance in some matches, we would have been discussing same last season too.
    To be precise, we hasnt replaced Eto’o yet. Villa can be given time, but there should be somebody firing the cylinders until that. Can Bojan do that? His 2 displays – Super cup & this was pathetic.

    • Kxevin
      September 12, 2010

      Remember the Sid Lowe observation, that only Higuain grabbed more points for his club last season than Ibrahimovic. So be careful with those brickbats. He’s a Milan player now and that discussion is done, but as with Eto’o, credit where credit is due.

  2. JC
    September 12, 2010

    The starting line up was wrong. Although Pep keeps saying, we don’t under estimate the opponent, I think he clearly under-estimated Hercules last night.
    The most imp player for Barca is Xavi. When he’s there, everyone is a lil more secured. Busquets and Alves are also way too important.
    Starting with Masche with no Xavi around him, was going to be suicidal.

    A tough week ahead. Let’s hope the boys wake up….

  3. Alexinho
    September 12, 2010

    Boy, if Barca loses more, maybe Kxevin will start ending his posts with more pictures of Spanish girls!

    • poipoi
      September 12, 2010

      as a spanish guy and as an extremely horny man lately, I don’t think that girl is spanish at all 🙂

      in fact she looks like hamilton’s girlfriend or an american acress or something

      she’s more like it, the essence!!!

      http://foversta.free.fr/misc22.jpg

  4. Jnice
    September 12, 2010

    I would try to guess Pep’s lineup for Tuesday, but I know I’ll be wrong.

    But, I know for sure Bojan won’t be starting. With Pep, it’s the midfield that gets me more than anything else. I would say Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, but then I know Keita will probably figure in there somewhere, and even Mascherano might play somehow. You never know with him.

    • Jim
      September 12, 2010

      Agreed. It depends on whether you believe, that better defense for us means stacking up the defensive players in the side or, as I do, by getting back to our possession game.

  5. Josep
    September 12, 2010

    Barca lost, Notre Dame lost, Chicago Fire lost, Federer lost, and my Trivia team lost. i had a really bad night. As a Zlatan-hater from his Juve days, his missed penalty was the only good part of my day.

    • Josep
      September 12, 2010

      Oh, and Lithuania lost as well :\

    • blitzen
      September 12, 2010

      I feel your pain, Josep. Toronto FC lost as well, at home, which they rarely do.

  6. Eklavya
    September 12, 2010

    No one is talking about how ManU conceded 2 goals in the last 2 minutes?

  7. aULD sUPER
    September 12, 2010

    Fuk Man u, i went out yesterday thinking I’ll start the drinking off with a nice

  8. aULD sUPER
    September 12, 2010

    Barca win, what an unmitigated disaster. Who the hell was that ? Diabolical was how I’d describe it, my whole night was soured because of it, we were bad with a capital B.

  9. aULD sUPER
    September 12, 2010

    When a fat girl falls in the forest, do the trees laugh ?

  10. Varun
    September 12, 2010

    “The psychology of this club is damaged”

    Baloney.
    Try going half way around the world then coming back to play, don’t give me that professional crap. Spanish FA at fault, whole of Europe played qualifiers Spain playing useless friendly.

    • Kxevin
      September 12, 2010

      Not permanently, but definitely temporarily. Panic was clear and abundant in the play and behavior of our players. It’s something we aren’t used to seeing. Read into that what you will.

  11. aULD sUPER
    September 12, 2010

    Varum is correct.

  12. Bundy
    September 12, 2010

    well guys, for some reason, there always has been terrible performances after international breaks, I don’t know if it is fatigue or luck.

    I understand that maybe the line-up was not right, but I doubt we would have started any better with different midfielders. I can tell you now the players had a dreamers mentality, they let Hercules play their game, and we never woke up in the first half.

    I am not really that upset that we lost, it is a shock no doubt, but I know we were going to lose eventually. I guess we are lucky that it is still early and well the positive thing is that it gives the team a wake up call, that maybe our level of performance dropped a bit after winning our last two games and we need to pick up again.

    Hercules were a bit fortunate with their first goal and well that was when they got the upper hand and they put Barca in the vice, they had the game in their hands which was smart.

  13. barca96
    September 12, 2010

    What’s wrong with Villa doing a back heel pass? It was superb!
    If Ibra had done that, I’m sure the blog would’ve gone bananas 😆

    I seriously don’t understand why Keita is still in the starting 11 week in week out. He is to me, a weak link. The guys keeps giving possession away.

    • Kxevin
      September 12, 2010

      Nope. I don’t like mustard. It’s one thing when Ibrahimovic does a back heel when that is the only option to get the ball to someone. But don’t do it just because it’s cute. Villa has too much cute in his game for my liking. But he’ll get down to business.

      • SoccerMom
        September 12, 2010

        Has been tired of the Taconazo since Guti.

  14. Guy
    September 12, 2010

    I’m not an Arsenal fan, so don’t actually give a shit about fabregas…but can you Barca fans honestly say that forcing him to wear a Barca shirt, as funny as it was, wasn’t incredibly arrogant and worse than anything they allegedly said about fab or masch anyway?

    • Eklavya
      September 12, 2010

      Dude, at least do a rant on topic.

      This loss has nothing to do with Cesc or the made up quotes.

  15. rowan
    September 12, 2010

    Ha! this humiliating loss is karma for your players disgraceful behaviour in the transfer window. who the f*ck do they think they are. tapping up Fabregas, mascharano, torres, etc etc. they need to learn when to shut up! i used to love Barca but much like many other fans i now love it when they lose.

    • Roz
      September 12, 2010

      Cool so your one of those fans. Bet your gonna love Barca again after the Champions League final.

    • tikitakitoes
      September 12, 2010

      No, karma will come if and when Barcelona ever decide to sue those responsible for fabricating the quotes to which you refer, and the many others for responsible failing to fact-check before printing them.

      ‘i used to love Barca but much like many other fans i now love it when they lose.’

      This phenomenon could potentially cost Barcelona money in terms of merchandise and to some extent ticket sales. So I hope they eventually take the opportunity to sue the red top lie factories, preferably out of existence. They’re on their last legs anyway because people are slowly realising that being lied to is both a bad thing and a common thing and not something you need to pay for.

      Kxevin, good read, always entertaining but could you or anyone else explain the ‘No. 4.5’ bit? What and whom does that mean please?

      • blitzen
        September 12, 2010

        He means Bojan, our new number 9. Except he has been playing so poorly, he is more like a 4.5.

      • tikitakitoes
        September 12, 2010

        Oh, thank you, I get it. 4.5, half of nine. Sorry for killing the joke. 😛

    • Eklavya
      September 12, 2010

      What does you losing your respect for us has anything to do with our loss?

      If you don’t watch us anymore, its your loss. Watch L’pool lose then ..

  16. Flyzowee
    September 12, 2010

    Believe wat u want rohan, we got a champ lg game coming up.

    Wat wud u be watching come Tue-Wed?

  17. blitzen
    September 12, 2010

    In other other news, Crackovia starts again tomorrow! And I hear they have a new Ozil character. So there is that to look forward to.

    And I will be cheering for Liverpool to win their game today, because they are my favourite EPL team, even if some of their fans are classless boobs.

  18. Diego S.
    September 12, 2010

    I’m so glad I didn’t see the match .. It doesn’t matter that we lost, Guardiola just needs to know the mistakes and learn from it .. The Transfer Season is over so we can’t buy new players .. We have to go through the season with the ones we have .. Pep should know how to play them since he is “satisfied” with the current squad

  19. maiko
    September 12, 2010

    We should have gone all out for Cesc this summer. Hopefully, next summer our club will make an better offer that Arsenal will accept. If we’d offered market value for him, he’d be with us now.

  20. September 12, 2010

    I for one are kinda happy we lost so early this year and to one of the newly promoted teams.

    As with our Treble winning season we lost to newly promoted Numanca away, then drew against Racing at the Nou Camp, and then if remember correctly trashed Atl.Madrid(our next league opponents) 6-1 so i wouldn’t be to worried. This lose only gives Pep early needed reflection time on what his players combinations can and can’t do.

    Now he can measure the pros and cons of playing a midfield of Mash-Keita-Iniesta instead of maybe a Mash-Busquets-Iniesta mid, which IMO he should have went with.

    When using the Bojan #9 forward line this season we need a dominant midfield to achieve great results….so I wouldn’t be to concern as we did had few slim chances against Hercules.

    Its our defense that needs sorting out and we can’t blame Abidal for that. IMO he has did a decent job considering the pressure and situations our system puts Center Backs in. I glaring saw our 2 fullbacks hardly helping out in defense last game(more Adriano than Maxwell). I guess this comes with having 2 Brazilian fullbacks on @ the same time pushing forward, leaving just Pique,Abidal and a debuting Defensive mid to cover. This was all evident in the free kick we gave them to score the 1st goal.

    • Kxevin
      September 12, 2010

      So true, Tajh. There was a lot of Abidal scapegoating. It fits, in that we tend to want to lambast the new guy, rather than looking at real culpability. No way Puyol or Milito stand there and let the guy take the shot for that second goal, or leave a free runner for that first goal.

      But what’s past is past. There’s a season to carry on with, and ass-whippings to dole out.

  21. john
    September 12, 2010

    Well, if it makes you all feel better, Real won today but looked pretty garbage doing so.

    I think the acquisition of Mascherano will prove to be a real challenge for Barcelona. I’m not going to give that Simon guy much credence, but his focus on Javi’s reliance on a partner are worth a pause. Might the most effective way of utilizing him be a more traditional 4-4-2? If so, would Pep be willing to employ one?

    I think Guardiola is a brilliant coach, but I have questions about his sometimes singular approach to football. Maximizing the output of Barcelona’s current squad might require a bit more tactical versatility – we’ll see how Pep responds.

    And as for Villa leading the front line, what about his time at Valencia?

    • Kxevin
      September 12, 2010

      He didn’t really lead the line at Valencia. He tended to always play off someone rather that functioning as the traditional target man.

      I think that Keita is the one who has to worry most about the presence of Mascherano. Busquets seems to be anointed, though I think that Mascherano, based on what I saw yesterday, is going to challenge him, as well. He has pace, boundless energy and was winning balls from people by rolling up and taking it, rather than doing the EPL sliding tackle thing that everbody was so worried about.

      I’m starting to see two ideal midfields, Xavi/Busquets/Iniesta for offense, Xavi/Busquets/Mascherano for defense and a tighter match.

      But we definitely lost something when he left the match.

  22. john
    September 12, 2010

    I meant “yesterday” not today. Sorry.

    • September 12, 2010

      Well actually i do believe Pep will try a 4-4-2 sometime in the season since our midfield offers so many different combination scenarios than our forward line.

      I to believe that Mash works better with a skill playmaker next to him. That’s why I’m confident a Iniesta-Mash-Xavi midfield will over throw the usual Iniesta/Keita-Busq-Xavi.

  23. Vj
    September 12, 2010

    *Sighs*

    IMO, Pool trolls > Arsenal trolls..

    IMHO, I’d rather we lose against Hercules and wake up, and then lay the smack down on both Pana and Atleti..

  24. Philo Barca
    September 12, 2010

    I think Guardiola is a brilliant coach, but I have questions about his sometimes singular approach to football. Maximizing the output of Barcelona’s current squad might require a bit more tactical versatility – we’ll see how Pep responds.

    This is the big question for me. The strength of Barcelona under Pep has been a single-minded devotion to the system, even when it doesn’t seem to be working. Rather than panic, we stick with it until we get a breakthrough or go home empty handed.

    The problem is that teams now have two years of looking at Pep’s system. We really need some tactical diversity. I would start with:

    1) Not pressuring high up the pitch against teams looking to bunker. Fall back, invite them forward, and then attack quickly when we get the ball back, utilizing the extra space.

    2) Using the width of the pitch for more than just crosses. We always have space on the wings against bunkered teams, but we usually leave the wide attackers or FBs really isolated, giving them no options other than blind crosses into the box.

  25. Lou
    September 12, 2010

    Botia just scored for Sporting!

  26. Kxevin
    September 12, 2010

    You know what’s missing most from our attack that I can see these days? For years, Eto’o, then Henry, then Ibrahimovic, we’ve had a guy who can play with his back to a defender, who can take a pass and hold possession until the cavalry arrives, then dish to someone to resume the attack.

    We’re missing that now. Everyone plays with facing the defense, so the offense never has a chance to dig in, so to speak. So with Henry, Eto’o or Ibrahimovic, they would take the pass, keep the defender on their back, then slide the ball over to Xavi or Iniesta, and cut toward the net. Who has that job now? Dunno. And I think it’s a valuable commodity.

    • September 12, 2010

      Oh wow yes!!! That’s something i completely forgot about. All of our forwards now are quick passers of the ball and usually runs of each others movement.

    • Jim
      September 12, 2010

      I think that’s a fair point, Kxevin. Bojan is constantly looking for runs when at times he needs to just face the passer, move a yard towards him to take the pass and look to lay it off to a runner. I think Villa would be capable of this as well. Problem with ibra was he never really showed for this sort of thing.

      We do look as if we’re going to be able to hit the byeline with more regularity this season so I’d like to see us working on what happens when it is clear a cross is coming over. It can’t be hit softly with our height so hard and low or cut back are our options but we never seem ready when it happens.

  27. Kxevin
    September 12, 2010

    Iniesta:

    “What we have won in the past will not help us in matches now. Hopefully, we will realise this and be well prepared for our next match.

    “It is too easy to get nervous, nobody likes to lose but we tried, and we had no success in front of goal.”

  28. Lev
    September 12, 2010

    I know I’m a broken record at times but what we should have done is give Eto’o his payraise 2 summers ago and extend his contract. Sporting wise it would have been the correct move and in hindsight it would have been smart financially too. Villa – Eto’o – Messi would have been deadly!

    As for 4-4-2, no way. First of all Guardiola does not believe in this system (no triangles). And don’t forget that our canteranos play 4-3-3 since birth. There is a reason for making all our youth teams play the same way, you know 😉

    • September 12, 2010

      Knowing Pep he would never use a pure casual 4-4-2 like what the EPL teams use but more a hybrid 4-4-2 since most of our forwards not only score goals but crosses and brings others into play.

      The 4-4-2 system I had mind is when the 2 strikers are now expected to do more; to use their intelligence to drop off into space and play in team mates while also being able to make runs to stretch opposition.

  29. Diego S.
    September 12, 2010

    Are we becoming too “Messi/Xavi” dependant ?

    • September 12, 2010

      No. We are Bojan-Pedro-Keita dependent. Their performance this season will decide how far the club will go.

      Hope you feel better now 😀

      • Diego S.
        September 12, 2010

        LOL ! 😀

        We kept saying that Our squad is small last year and we were reaching for the double “CL/Liga” with Messi and Xavi alone ..We sold more than bought this year .. so ..

  30. September 12, 2010

    The lineup was ok. I cant fault Pep there. First half: Defense, good. Buildup, good. Offense, out of service. We had three starters in offense (yeap, counting Bojan in as one of four main options for 3 positions. In this case, You cant call that guy a sub whether you like it or not). We didnt need more possession and we reached the offense third properly, then dropped dead. So it wasnt the selection but the way we played. Pst: We lost the game in the second half, not the first.

    I cant see how will we play a 4-4-2 when we have no players who master playing on the flanks (unless if we bench either Xavi or Iniesta to use Maxwell and Adriano on the flanks) nor a target man in the box. Thats a must for such tactics. Besides, we base our game on triangles, not straight lines. Forget it.

    Mascherano needs a Xabi? is that a serious concern when he plays for Barcelona? Its like saying “You are doomed! You cant survive now without water” for someone who lives beside a river, just because his cup is broken.

    This season:

    Defense, no concerns. Midfield, no concerns. Offense, Phone call…I will be back!

    • Cesc Blanc
      September 12, 2010

      very good summary. I agree. the position we’re very very short in is offense.

  31. Diego S.
    September 12, 2010

    The way I see it .. We’ll probably use a 4-4-2 formation in Big matches .. Valdes-Alves-Pique-Puyol-Abidal-Busquet-(Masch/Keita)-Xavi-Iniesta-Villa-Messi with Bojan/Pedro/Adriano/Maxwell coming of the bench

    • Lev
      September 12, 2010

      again, 4-4-2 is impossible for Barça. Our game is based on triangles. No triangles, no tiki-taka. Our players are 4-3-3 educated motherf-ers. If Pep puts them in a 4-4-2 now it would be a disaster, they would not know where to pass to. Never mind the fact that in a 4-4-2 you automatically have less players that you can pass to (no triangles!!!)

      Oh and did I mention that in a 4-4-2 system there are no triangles?

    • September 12, 2010

      Are you suggesting that Xavi and Iniesta must play on the opposite flanks? If not, then you are suggesting that we play 4-2-2-2 with Xavi and Iniesta behind Messi and Villa. Not sure which scenario is worse than the other. Even 4-2-4 sounds perfection compared to that. Coming from me, you dont want to know what that means.

      Lets calm down. We just lost a match. No need for revolutionary changes. If we just tune things a bit more, things will be fine (relatively, considering resources available).

  32. Colby
    September 12, 2010

    “Iniesta ain’t no Xavi. Will he ever be? Good question. I’d say yes, once he learns patience. He still thinks like an attacker, even when he’s playing creator.

    –Without Xavi, do we really have a midfield attack? We kept possession, but didn’t do anything with the ball.”

    I hate to bring up Fabregas, because the whole thing is rather tiresome, but I feel like these comments are essentially wishing we had Fabregas. If Iniesta can’t replace Xavi, is there anyone in the world who can? No. But one of the few people who can come close to doing it better than Iniesta is Fabregas.

    “–We have no versatility in attack. Say what you will about Ibrahimovic, but you could knock the ball to his big ass, and have him do something with it. That option is gone. When Villa is the tallest man on your front line, you’re going to be facing some issues (and some ribcages of taller players).

    –Squad depth is going to be a problem. I mean real squad depth. You need somebody better than Krkic to bring in, and you need a Xavi surrogate, to keep the offense popping in the absence of our midfield maestro.

    There was no fight in the club today, which was even more appalling than the loss.”

    Again, if we had Fabregas, doesn’t he give us squad depth all the way around? All the sudden we have someone better than Krkic to bring in. It allows Iniesta to play more on the LW and lets us bring in Pedro as a sub. It also gives us a plan B (versatility in attack) and someone who will fight for the club. Fabregas would bring a different incisiveness and directness in attack that we don’t have. He is also the type who can carry a club on his back.

    I realize it’s too late for us to do anything now so bringing up this debate may just be obnoxious. Also, I understand that before selling Ibra we didn’t really have room for Fabregas in terms of salary or playing time. But now that we have one less superstar, there is definitely room for him and I think we will regret not signing him (whether or not we could have is up for debate. I think we tried, but Arsenal was unwilling). I don’t think that signing Fabregas for 45 million would have been a bad deal at all.

    • Lev
      September 12, 2010

      Idk Colby. While I also thought it was (is) a good thing to bring back Cesc, when it comes to squad depth the only area we are not lacking is MF – with Masch, Busi, Keite, Iniesta, Xavi and the canteranos we are well covered imo. Don’t forget Maxwell and Adriano can play in midfield as well.

      It is losing a star striker days before the season which is hurting us most. Following depth issues concern central defense, as Abidal fails to convince me at this position.

    • September 12, 2010

      Again, I didnt see any problem in the midfield. Really. And I cant see how Fabregas would have made any difference last night (beside long shots maybe).

      The problem was exclusively the front line. Last season I mentioned the offense dynamics and pointed out that Messi is playing too often behind the ball rather than demanding it in front while linking with the Center forward. Everyone thought it was just another way to defend Ibra. Villa will suffer the same if that doesnt change. It is the same whether we use Xavi or not, since last season (When pep publicly pointed out that Messi is roaming more in the midfield so he touches the ball more often) this problem occurred, and still it does.

      It seems I am repeating my last article in pieces, but let me point out that -again- we lost this game in the second half When we made a sub that withdrew Keita to the holding midfielder position.

      Defensively it was a catastrophic decision because we ALWAYS struggle when we use two offense oriented fullback with one holding midfielder. Always. Guess what! We didnt even have a holding midfielder in the second half, but a Keita.

      Offense wise, we pulled back the only player we have in the midfield who can run to the box and take advantage of crosses and kept the midgets in front. That was suicidal and squeezed the neck of our offense till we choked.

      Xavi and Pedro played the second half against a less-fresh team that played identically to the way they played in the first half. Barcelona were worse in the second half.

      Just because Xavi is our best player doesnt mean he can answer all questions. Obviously his clone cant do so either.

      We should have used Busquets and Xavi instead of Mascherano and Bojan in the second half. Played Busquets as a DM. Played Xavi and Iniesta behind Keita, not in front of him. Forced Messi and Villa to play on the opponent defense line. Gave Keita the instructions to run into the box. If it didnt work enough, bring a CB and use Pique in the box in the last 15 minutes. Full stop.

  33. Lou
    September 12, 2010

    One positive is that the Champion’s League match is on Tuesday and the Atleti game isn’t until Sunday. That means there is no reason not to put out our best eleven for the Tuesday match.

    Confidence is a tricky thing and the team needs to get it back pronto. A poor result on Tuesday wouldn’t destroy our chances of progressing in the CL, but it would put the team in a bad mental state before a very important away game.

  34. poipoi
    September 12, 2010

    I didn’t watch the game so I can’t really talk (I think I won’t ever watch it), but it’s been two liga games already against “minor” teams like racing and hercules and neither JDS or Thiago have played a single minute. too much keita IMO… I thought keita was for the hard games. If we’re gonna loose with a lame-ass line-up pep might as well put a new youngster in the team to get some minutes.

  35. tomstoned
    September 12, 2010

    easy…you should know..uts just the carma police who’s after you lot after such a truly shameful behaviour regarding the cesc saga….be warned !!!

    you are in for a downfall..even if you play in a bankrupt league with only two teams…

    best of luck to ya all..

    • Eklavya
      September 12, 2010

      Whatever dude. We are already warned thanks to Hercules, but thanks for the warning anyway. Goodbye!

      • poipoi
        September 12, 2010

        now that is what I call inferiority complex!

        the kid wants to play here get over it already arsenal fans, you’re so shameless 😀

  36. jaime
    September 13, 2010

    this loss was purely a management matter.this is exclusively Guardiola’s fault. he says after the game “we lacked pace,intensity and fluidity”

    really? with keita and just fresh-off-the-boat mascherano in midfield? and bojan and villa on the wings? and you say we lacked pace and fluidity???? NAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

    • poipoi
      September 13, 2010

      word!

  37. taxwell
    September 13, 2010

    My comment about biased player ratings has been censored. Says everything about this blog. This will probably get erased aswell.

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