Barca 1, Mallorca 1, aka “Pretty colors used to paint an ugly picture”

This picture of Messi sums it up far more eloquently than I ever could. So no point in writing the review, right? Or perhaps, in the interest of rocking like our beloved club, I should write 98% of the review, then stop.

Because that’s our football these days. We do everything to build up to a goal and then something happens, somethiing that’s usually our fault. Then the other side has success because they do what we don’t, which is just shoot. Sometimes, you just have to say “What the hell,” and let fly. Everybody wants to be in the highlight reel for passing. Why doesn’t anyone want to be in the reel for scoring a goal?

Mallorca are giggling all the way home, as they grabbed their first away goal and point, with a bold, resolute display that had them playing their hearts out and us squandering chance after chance after glorious chance to destroy them.

On the up side, we’re 98% of a team that can win the Liga. Should we take heart in that?

Guardiola rolls out with a lineup that I liked a lot, with a notable exceptions: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Milito, Abidal, Mascherano, Keita, Iniesta, Messi, Krkic, Pedro!. Valdes was the captain, and we started out excellently, running Mallorca all over the pitch, ripping gaping holes in their defense with our passing and movement, and creating chances galore. There were three glorious chances in the first 5 minutes of the match from Pique and Pedro!, that should have been finished.

And everybody was feeding Krkic, trying to get him going because they understand the value of a properly functioning 9. And he was playing great for a while, as was the side, which has clearly been working on set pieces in practice. Two setups produced two excellent chances, the last a roller to Pedro! that he blasted over the net. Abidal was throwing in cross after cross, usually on the ground most effectively as opposed to Alves, who still seems to be expecting Messi to suddenly be 6-foot-5.

That it took as long to score as it did was a wonder, some might even say a harbinger. But score we did, and it was a beauty.

The goal started waaay in back, when Mascherano defended two men, helped Iniesta win the ball then kick-started the break that found the ball pinging between Messi and Alves and then to Pedro!, who slid it back for Messi, who curled a shot around the outside and just inside the post. It was a spectacular goal that also spawned a particularly misguided Ray Ray-ism: “You can follow [Messi] into a revolving door, and he will come out first.” Well, yes. He will. Because you’re following him.


That we needed such a gem of a goal to score against Mallorca should have been a warning sign. But nobody heeded. And the beauty continued, useless beauty that led to no more goals.

And then it happened. A long Mallorca pass, flipped to an attacker, caught Pique flat-footed as the man burst out behind him. The ensuing fire drill led to a shot that Valdes expertly parried away. It seems easy to say in retrospect that the way we were playing makes you lazy as a defender, but it does. You could see Pique standing there, with this “What the hell is that” look on his face. It was a smart attack from them, that caught us with our knickers down. Then on the ensuing corner kick, somehow, as usual, nobody marked the man coming in from the back, who pounded a header past Valdes for the 1-1 draw at the half. Suddenly, Mallorca had something to play for, and play they did, diving, kicking, clawing, fouling, time wasting, doing everything that they could to salvage their precious point. And we lost the edge, because you just can’t play the way that we played for an entire 90 minutes.

Then their rope-a-dope came into full effect, and they suddenly started having more possession and more chances, playing with the ball in our end and testing our defense, which came up with the goods time and again.

That was that.

I could rave and rave about the passing and aggression that had Mallorca on the ropes, or I could rail about the wasteful finishing that let them off the canvas, the one touch too many from everyone, including Messi, as we seduced ourselves with beautifully ineffective football. Good and bad. We are an amazing football side to watch, switching the field, with dizzying passes coming in from all angles, passes that find our attackers in excellent positions to score goals. And yet, we don’t.

Nor does it take the other side long to figure out that Pedro! and Krkic are not going to score against them, so just stop the little dude and off we go with a point. Pedro! is playing better overall, but he isn’t as sharp a finisher as he was last season, not by damn sight. It should be noted once again, my warning that in World Cup years, the more internationals a club has, the clunkier it’s going to be. Essentially the Spain WC side was Barca and a few other dudes. So Valdes, Pedro!, Iniesta, Xavi, Messi (for Argentina), Alves (for Brazil), Puyol, Pique, Busquets and Villa all had long summers, which led to long vacations, which led to late arrivals, which robbed the club of the sharpness necessary to kick out the jams. It will come. We are so brilliant, and 98% of the way there, people. It’s easy to get down on your club when it snatches a draw from what should have been a rout. Don’t.

You were also warned that there would be matches like this, and seasons (potentially) like this. Every year isn’t a treble and six trophies. Not hardly. This game is amazing in that it can make you so happy that you want to cry one moment, then rip your heart out the next. We aren’t scoring goals because we aren’t finishing. That is an easy thing to fix, in theory. It’s a matter of concentration and body control, and treating each goal chance as though it is your last. Teams like Mallorca do. We don’t, because right now we aren’t hungry.

People bicker and squabble about Eto’o vs Ibrahimovic, who or whose mama is stupid or not, transfers good and bad, etc, etc. Fact of the matter is that in the year that we swept all before it, we’d done squat before. So we had a full offseason and training camp with which to hone our skills, gain fitness and get ready to crush everyone. Then we did. And it was parades, parties, long vacations, bonuses, which dulled the edge. And even still, one wide header. This season was the aforementioned World Cup and all of its attendant complexity.

And then there’s the hunger. We’re playing like a club with nothing to prove. Problem is that everyone who plays us has something to prove, and we often let them do it. Did Mallorca deserve that goal? No. But the Footy Gods don’t roll like that. And that’s life.

What is most important is that we support our beloved club. Sometimes, lack of success makes a bandwagon a little lighter. And that’s okay. People who came to this club during the salad days are probably wonder what the heck is going on. Where are the 5-0 thrashings?

I say if you look at what we have done and where we are, they’re but a little bit of sharpness away. And even as my evaluative keyboard is sharp and unscathing, my heart beats Blaugrana, and will support this club, no matter what.

Now we have some ratings to bicker about:

Team: 6. For a while, a long while, it was a 10. Then Mallorca was let into the match by sloppy play. And as they started to get tired, the sharpness deserted them, as did the control and effort that turned the first half into a shooting gallery. And the set piece defending was inexcusable. The good was the passing and movement, and one-touch football that constantly gutted a team playing with 10 behind the ball. The bad was the sloppy finishing and bypassed shots.

Guardiola: 6. It was the right starting lineup, but he has to do something to put the fire back into his side. Throw a chair, get ejected, get in somebody’s face, something. You just can’t stand there, watching the train wreck. Nolito was a good (though only available) substitution. That Krkic was still on the pitch, however, wasn’t something that this evaluator can not support.

Valdes: 7. Could do nothing about the goal, but made many key plays and interventions, including saving the shot that was going in, and later roaring off his line to beat Webo to the ball on a break.

Alves: 6. Shoot, Dani, shoot! And stop crossing for the sake of crossing. Yes, they are accurate, but no, they don’t fit our offensive scheme. Krkic isn’t going to head the ball in. Neither is Messi, if there’s a normal-sized defender around. I loved his offense, though. Cutting ball after cutting ball, run after run, he was like an extra midfielder. His defense wasn’t called on much, but when it was, he was usually adequate, which is usually enough.

Pique: 3. Was off to a spectacular match, then he started to cost us, by being caught flat on the attack that led to the corner that led to the Mallorca goal, then off an atrocious giveaway that could have cost us the match. Thankfully, Valdes was on the case to parry away the long shot attempt from Webo. As the tallest man on the defense, to stand there looking lost on set pieces is unforgivable. And man, does his finishing need work. He’s a defender. I know. But if you’re going to be in the box as an attacker, finish.

Milito: 8. The only problem really is that he wasn’t Puyol. If Puyol is in there, we probably don’t concede on that set piece. But Milito made a match-saving intervention very late, and a number of other key defensive plays. He isn’t the fastest defender out there, but his positional sense is extraordinary. Very strong match.

Abidal: 9. Man, good to have the Greyhound back. From defensive plays and crosses, to making offense on one end then sprinting down to the other to be last man that kills a Mallorca break, Abidal was spectacular. His offense was superb, and as usual, his passes into the box deserved a better fate. He opens up space with that dive to the end line and always has a passing lane.

Mascherano: 9. A Man of the Match performance from a player that people said was a waste of money, wasn’t going to fit in, would be a card machine, etc, etc. He won ball after ball, stopped attack after attack, roaming from midfield to deep into our box. And what passes! He looked to the manor born this match, a spectacular effort that must have shut up a lot of doubters. There was nothing bad to say about his play today. Ramzi must be grinning like crazy. The way that he has (already) learned to win balls without destruction is impressive, and what a passer.

Keita: 7. Excellent match, a danger on offense and defense. I know what Guardiola was trying to do in bringing on Thiago for Keita, but it backfired in that it opened up the middle of the field in our end. You don’t realize how many of those counters Keita snuffs out until he isn’t there, snuffing them out.

Iniesta: 8. He made a liar out of me, as he showed the vision, patience and controlled aggression that made him an excellent Xavi today. I thought that he should have gone on more runs at the Mallorca defense. Those destabilized their bus, and made up for the runs that Pedro! and Krkic often weren’t making. I thought that he was magical today, and at the root of many an attack that should have resulted in a ball going into the back of the net.

Messi: 6. The effort, energy and quality were there until he started trying to think too much. Take and shoot is what Messi is best at. When he starts thinking, as he was when Aouate stopped him on the doorstep, it gives defenders a chance to react and keepers a chance to get set up. The goal was the perfect example of this, as he basically controlled a shot in one motion. When he started getting tired, he began to fade in and out of the match.

Pedro!: 5. The chances missed. Oh, the glorious chances missed. I love how much higher his football IQ is this season. I don’t love how he sometimes (still) just runs around like a man without a plan, like the guy on the American football team whose job it is to just hit people. Somebody. Anybody. And like a ghost, he drifts in and out of matches. Brilliant assist for the Messi goal, it must be said. And his movement on and off the ball is a thing of beauty. But he isn’t sharp right now, and it’s costing the side.

Krkic: 2. He started out like a house afire, raising hopes that this was going to be the match in which Krkic shut all his doubters the hell up. Then he began regressing. Twice, he passed up open attackers to take shots that would have been speculative even for an on-form striker. He stopped attacks by thinking too much, lost balls and began, once he didn’t score, to play like the ball of lack of confidence that he is right now. To be sure, his movement was excellent at times, as was his passing and control. There were a few jaw-dropping moments, including that snap shot from distance. But Krkic isn’t playing well enough right now, and it’s killing us.


Thiago (for Keita): 6. Damn, I like this kid. He became the Iniesta to Iniesta’s Xavi. I wouldn’t have minded seeing him start, frankly. What he brings to a match is that cutting edge, and fearlessness. I think that as the match wore on, we started playing scared. Not Thiago. He’s very quickly gone from being loose and scary at times to flat-out solid. Has he leapfrogged Dos Santos in the “next big thing” pecking order?

Nolito (for Pedro!): 5. Uh oh, Krkic. Those hoofsteps you hear on the horizon are those of a kid moving about a million miles an hour, shark-like, toward goal. Like early Pedro!, he is guilty of that almost panicked ohmygodiminnowwhataggggh kind of football, in which he is so desperate to make something, anything happen. And yet, he almost did.

Jeffren (for Milito): incomplete. A last-ditch roll of the dice that came late, very late.

Some takeaways:

–With two goals in two home matches, that equals our worst start EVAH!
–Pedro! has a torn calf muscle, out for at least two weeks.
–The pitch is crap. Everybody knows it, and are finally commenting on it.
–“They seemed tired at the end,” says Laudrup. Ya don’t say.

We’re fourth place in the Liga, looking up at Valencia, Villarreal and EE. Ouch. But there are a great many more points to play for, as the Liga sorts itself out. Keep the faith, and be patient. It will all come good. Meanwhile, here’s some Messi love to leave you smiling.

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. The Goal was a beauty. The match was like any other this season, We’re not sharp upfront and Guilty of wasting too many chances.

    1. hi, I think selling Etoo for no reason (given that Ibra was sold a season later) shortly before losing Henry is an issue. I think Pep didn’t really think it through all too well. Why didn’t he talk to Ibra like Wenger did with Fabregas. Bojan and Pedro just aren’t up to the job. If Villa had been in town maybe we’d have done better yesterday, but like Ibra last year, he missed a game due to arrogance.

      All the same its not too bad because they are still a strong team, but currently on forced rotation. If Barca A at full fitness were to play even Chelsea tonight, it’d be a game for the record books. Last night’s team had the kind of line-up one sees at the CdR and they really performed well.

  2. Couldn’t agree with Pique rating more. I think there are games when yes we need his attacking, but if you aren’t doing a masterful performance in attack, stay the hell back, by running up and doing nothing he’s hurting both the offense and the defense. Alves crossing to hobbits in the front, not going to work. I loved Abidal always with the low ones, it works if you find a man, Alves’ stuff would find nobody.
    Bojan… as someone who has been singing the “Bojan sucks” song for a while now, I felt he came in well, making good runs, good passes, great shots.. and then he outdid the good with awful. So you don’t score goals, how about controlling a ball? too much to ask? too soon for little baby bojan? Not good enough. Nolito’s should take his bench spot.
    I will always support my club, but disappointment is disappointment

  3. i agree with everything..except pep rating..i give him a 4 cause the change in 89minute..too let.s move on,the season is too long.but i like the fresh blood in the team.tiago and nolito must have more time.also jeffren.

  4. fair review. two points though:

    “That Krkic was still on the pitch, however, wasn’t something that this evaluator can not support.” – That says you were ok with ct remaining on the pitch. Really?

    “The way that he has (already) learned to win balls without destruction is impressive, and what a passer.” – not entirely fair comment. think you’ve got that the wrong way round. he’s always known how to do that, what he learned (in the epl) and is shedding is the “destruction” part of it. actually, you can see it in his game.

  5. I’ll start with where I agree:

    Mascherano was excellent today. Milito was very solid, he is a great backup at the moment. Thiago looked solid, and still looks confident (although I would have liked to see him a bit more involved).

    Iniesta looked great today, but I still don’t think he can play Xavi’s role. Xavi likes to sit deeper and pull the strings with his passing, moving his teammates and the opponents around the field like a puppeteer. Iniesta is more direct, and he is much better at destabilizing a defense with his runs – drawing players to himself to create space or beating a defender and getting into space. No doubt that his passing is very good, but I just don’t think he has the mentality to play like Xavi. I don’t know if we need a person like Xavi after he retires or if we will compensate in other ways, but if I had to choose one person I think could play Xavi’s position in the future it is Busquets. I really would have liked to see him on the field today.

    I thought Keita had a bit of a clunker today. I commented that his passing seemed to be a bit heavy – he lost the ball a fair number of times. He put in his usual workman like performance, but I just don’t think he was effecting the game enough to make it worthwhile to leave him in.

    And Bojan. I’m going to just ignore the number attached to his name. “To be sure, his movement was excellent at times, as was his passing and control. There were a few jaw-dropping moments, including that snap shot from distance.” I agree with this. Bojan played a much better game today than he did in the past two or three games, there can be no doubt. Whether it was making intelligent runs, showing a bit of hold up play and holding off two defenders, or sparking a counter attack we should have scored on (that Thiago wasted) with a great run and pass – Bojan looked solid today. I shouldn’t be surprised that people are still ragging on him here. He easily made more good plays than bad ones today, and I thought he was a more effective attacker than Pedro today.

    1. Agree about Bojan not being the reason Barca is not winning. I understand people’s frustrations, as I too am frustrated, but I think the #9 on his shirt was too much pressure for this kid. He played better than he has in the last two games but people can’t seem to give him credit because he’s #9 and supposed to score goals. Meantime, Pedro isn’t scoring and Villa is having his own set of difficulties. Barca needs a real striker, Bojan is not it and perhaps it’s time for Pep to face this fact.
      Pique looked and played tired. Obviously, with his height it’s his job to head out balls in the box. He was right next to Nsue yet he seemed to tired to jump for the ball or claim his space in the box.
      I’d like to see Nolito given more time. He appeared hungry. I like to see that and I think Barca needs hungry, young players who still have something to prove.

  6. Iniesta made a liar out of me too. But i wud argue that it was the combined distribution of both him and mash that helped nullify xavis absence.

  7. so, can we start a ‘bring back kierisson from loan’ petition?

    I’m sincerely hoping Villa & Pedro remember how to finish chances soon otherwise this is going to be a LOOOOOONG season.

  8. oh man I am so angry!

    not about the fact that we ended the match taking just one point.

    But the fact is that, with the way we began this match, it is down right criminal for our team not to take the win and run!!!!!!!!!!!

    the way we started off, we were dead set winners, but then I have to say, the team didn’t put in the effort necessary, and we paid the price.

    Although, some good things from the match was Mascherano’s performance. Definitely MOTM worked hard, he put in the effort and he showed commitment to the team and towards his teammates to as if he was saying to them “I’ve got your backs covered, do what you do best”.

    I also have to say, Valdez also had a very good match. He didnt deserve to concede that stupid header. But in the second half he stopped everything Mallorca threw at him, but not only that Valdez straight away taking possession after possession he got up and distributed it back to the outfield players serving it onto a platter from a 5 star restaurant. But the sad part was, the team didn’t pay back Valdez the effort by taking those chances that could have sealed the win in the second half.

    Sometimes we leave our foot off the pedal and try and conserve our energy or we just naturally become lazy, but in the end we ended up working TOO HARD to score the winner in the second half, so why did the team have to slow down in the first place? it just made things worse.

  9. I’ve let it all sink in and have come to the conclusion that we’re tired and we’ve lost the “eye of the tiger” and I don’t know what Pep can do about that. On top of that, I think our opponents come prepared to play their best game which includes parking the bus which then greatly impairs our forwards from scoring. It’s 4 drawbacks converging each and every game but I think Pep can do something about having Barca tweak their game by mixing things up a little to keep their opponents confused. Barca needs to take more shots outside of the box, which would surprise defenders and the keeper. Mix it up by trying to run the ball in but also strike it outside of the box and hope for a handball or a deflection that works our way. Defenders seem too prepared for our offensive plays, loading the box with opponents making it impossible for Barca to get a decent shot off. If they started taking shots from outside the box, it would draw defenders out and create some space in the box to maybe create something from a deflection.

  10. that worried me is that kxevin said:hungryless players.they won everything in 2 seasons.they are tired.about C.L i know that always there is motive..but for liga i don.t know..pep knows better what to do..i don.t think it s problem of a player like bojan,pedro e.t.c.i believe is a team problem.the same who faced the team after 05,06 ligas and 06 C.L.the 06-07 was a season who we were less motivated.

    1. I share the same feeling. This season and how they are playing reminds me SO MUCH of 06-07, there were lots of chances created each game and due so there were many undeserved or unexplainable ties or loses.

      I sincerely hope that this will be their wake up call and start stepping up.

      It is funny how, after watching the game, I just put this face ” 😐 ” in my FB status and three of my friends immediately commented and shared the same frustration.

  11. Great review. I always liked Bojan and used to feel like you were too harsh on him, but that was years ago. He’s no longer the cute someday kid and it’s starting to really hurt us. Spot on with the rating especially the team overall rating.


  12. On an individual by individual basis I thought the players performed generally well to very well (other than Pique – agreed that he had an off match).

    But this was a match where the whole was less than the sum of it’s part and therein lies the problem. It was a systems failure more than an individual failure.

    I don’t think it’s a lack of heart or desire or each player playing for himself. It’s the mix of skill sets and playing style – there is too much redundancy and not enough diversity right now.

    Bojan’s been having a poor season so far, but today I thought he was OK. Not great but not terrible. Pedro also had at least a decent match. Individually they each were around that level, IMO – decent. Not as good as you’d like. But not horrible.

    The problem comes with how having them both out there together impacts the attack. Their games, style of play and weaknesses are too similar right now. The sum of their games adds up to less than the parts in turn.

    And neither of them this year is going to be defended the way they were last season. They are going to be given less space and more attention. It will be more difficult for them to score goals out of the anarchy created by the other Barca players. They are both going to need to adjust and raise their play.

    The same has been true to some degree with Villa as well. Too much similarity. Messi is the only player on the front line bringing diversity to the attack. Too much is depending on him when things don’t break right.

    “Too much of the same” has been an issue in the past. But right now it’s a significantly more heightened issue than it has been even in the past.

    The limited depth up front only heightens this issue. With Pedro’s hamstring injury it only becomes more acute unless Bojan ups his game in new ways or a player like Nolito surprises.

    The team will start to play better – they will score. But until Villa becomes better integrated or a younger player steps up his game, there is a structural issue at play with the squad.

    1. Good observation. I will add that our defense seemed to be making some amateur mistakes. Is Pique having a difficult time w/o Puyol directing him, perhaps?
      Yes, the front line seems out of ideas. You can expect runs down the wing and then some crosses (both high and low) in to the box. That’s about it, unless Messi has the ball, and then you have a little more creativity. But, he can only do so much.

  13. i’d like to point out that Krkic got an assist with a sweet layoff to Messi at the top of the box, while if Pedro had been on holiday in the Canary Islands he could hardly have been more anonymous.

  14. How in gods name do we go from 90% possession with million shots on goal to a score of 1-1??? I honestly love bojan but man he needs to show us why he is wearing that number 9. All that beautiful play in the first half should have been converted to goals. we need to kill these games in the beginning. I dont want to point fingers but alot of players need to step it up. Mascherano & Pique were players of the game.

  15. the huge, looming, grating, desperately obvious and inescapable fact is that we’re not deep enough. yes, our starting 11 is (in this writer’s opinion) the best in the world; but beyond it lies only a handful of real professional players (Keita, Mascherano, Milito and Adriano, possibly Maxwell but bear in mind he hasn’t been a first-team player anywhere since he left Ajax 4 years ago), then a host of Youth team players.

    yes, i love our Youth team. i love that we bring our own up through the system, and i brag about it to my mates. but those Youth players have to be worked up slowly, coming into games that are already well in hand or are against opponents more their level. on the other side, if we want to win trophies, we can’t use players with relatively scant experience (because of their age) from a division down; we can no more do this than Levante can.

  16. I think we can all agree that we lack depth right now – particularly in the striker department. My biggest issue with this is that this is the second summer in a row we have replaced a striker. Etoo out, Ibra in. Ibra out, Villa in. And we still have a problem with depth in the frog line, which means we will most likely be on the market for another striker next summer. It’s so frustrating. Euler is correct about lack of diversity up front, that is the reason Pep wanted Ibra in the first place. It’s even more worrying to be in this game and look a the bench and see Jeffren and Nolito. I like our youth policy, but it isn’t necessary to hamstring the team in the process (and I don’t think Jeffren or Nolito are Barca quality, but that’s just me).

    With our lack of depth at forward, why is Kierrison in Brazil? He would be better suited learning with the team, and I would be more comfortable with him on the bench than both Jeffren and Nolito.

  17. Great write up as always, Kxev.

    You say Barca is not hungry any longer–I believe you are right. I know because I’M not hungry. I felt a twinge of disappointment that Barca only drew. The twinge was only felt acutely because 1) Philly Union drew yesterday at home, 2) Arsenal lost against Chelsea…again earlier in the day, and 3) the Colts lost an epic against the Jags, making it a totally-shit weekend vis a vis sports for me.

    Frankly, Barca’s draw was the highlight of the weekend. I don’t care that they drew, because DAAYUMM! The way they play makes me sweat, tense up, and then feel like I can’t even think…just the chances (and Masch’s proving the haters wrong) made me smile, laugh, yell, and applaud.

    For the first time this season, I think you’re being harsh on Li’l Bo. This was his best match all season…though, admittedly, it’s not saying much. He was, indeed, not setting the world on fire. Still, a 2 feels low, if you’re measuring by the player’s own standard. He must improve.

  18. Still don’t see how you gave bojan a 2 and pedro a 5 besides his assist and a few passes here and there he was invisable for most of the game. Bojan might of miss some chances but at least he took them and even created some. Yes, sometimes he looked a bit week but the only reason he looked bad compared to pedro is because you could actually notice him. Once he gets in a goal an regains his confidence he’ll be back to challenging for starts and winning.

  19. Does anyone see (twisted) parallels with Barca 06 onwards and Barca 09 onwards? Won the Champions League and La Liga, easily best club in the world, mindblowingly beautiful football. Then next season, it was a lot harder and we lost by a whisker (except we made it this year.) Week by week, the little things add up – the team looks tired and slightly complacent, the finishing sucks, there’s lots of frustration, and our old friend the vicious circle features.

    This scenario is probably an exaggeration. But there are bits and pieces of those elements in here, and Guardiola’s man-management skills (admittedly not the best in the world) will have to come to the fore to lift this team. The photo at the top says it all – the team just needs a few lucky breaks, a slightly more direct approach, and some more belief.

  20. As for thiago being “fearless” he should of been more fearless when bojan make that break for the counter and he got the ball and instead of taking a shot he passed it back to Messi who was marked.
    I liked Nolito think once he gains some confidence and doesn’t look as scared to be playing with the big boy’s he’ll be a great impact sub.
    We also need to develop a different plan for when xavi doesn’t play one with more attacking from the mid, rather then sitting on their side trying to poke and prong through some defense. we should look at teams like Chelsea, who also plays a beautiful attacking game, and learn to become more fast paced take shots then let them push up a bit steal the ball again and attack again while they have people up.
    we need to accept that once xavi is gone we will have to adapt to a new style and it’s time to start developing it now. that is not to say that our midfield did a bad job today, if any thing they where the one bight spot in our game today.

  21. Pique was only an inch away from heading that ball away. lack of focus or fatigue or caught between minds, anyway, he SHOULD have that ball headed away or deflated to cause a bad header. was so sad that we couldn’t get any goal after that equalizer. totally don’t think we would draw like this at home, especially with all that movements and passings that went so spectacular in that majority of the match.

    I don’t exactly know what you mean by system failure. Maybe your explanation will help me understand it. I thought it was one of the games we played the best football we are capable of playing today EXCEPT the finishing part. The system worked almost perfect. We controlled the match and dominated for the majority of the time and the defense was ALMOST Perfect were Pique wasn’t caught being indecisive or lack of focus. VV did what he did to keep us in the game and our midfield is like a jungle with all lions and tigers hushing to get the ball. I mean, our system functioned perfectly today and almost got the result we deserved.
    I really think it is a matter of time until we get back to our scoring habit. It is a psychological problem that Pedro, Bojan & Villa are facing. I don’t think we are looking too badly at the moment, we are just having a very bad luck right now.

  22. agree with all of your ratings. masch and abidal saved us from possible defeat. pique (as usual, in my opinion) was lost with puyol barking orders behind him. the defense wasn’t alert enough, i think. midfielders were ok, iniesta was quite impressive. messi looked tired and sometimes bored after he scored his goal.

    and bojan — i really hope he gets his groove back soon, because lord knows he’s trying and it’s painful to watch him get frustrated. especially now that villa seems to have gotten rid of his scoring jinx, the pressure on him must be unbelievable. i’m developing a bit of a soft spot for him because people have been blaming him for everything.

    lastly, what’s it going to take for mr rosell to do something about the pitch?! it’s a little ironic because pep complained about the pitch breaking up in beijing and possibly causing injuries, and now camp nou is worse!

  23. “Pretty colors used to paint an ugly picture”

    Love the title. Just love it. My second favorite after “Stunned Silence aka Ghostface to the rescue”

  24. It was a sucky draw to be sure, but it’s not like the team is playing badly or anything. It’s literally just a matter of inches. And thankfully everyone at the top is within touching distance — the top four is separated by 3 points. We could be worse off, and given we’ve already negotiated two potential banana slips (Atleti away, Bilbao away) on the schedule, I’m still pretty satisfied with the position of the team. The chances are there, and soon people will finish them.

  25. Overall disappointing, but I feel there are a few positives to take away from this match.

    Mascherano was great at moments. His tackle to win the ball in the first half should have been a goal. He made quite a few important tackles as well. But, not sure about a 9. He gave a few balls away that could have killed us against better teams (Chelsea in CL?).

    Milito too…

    On the positive side, I saw some runs from Bojan and passes from Messi that let me know that we have an unbelievable combination…next year or the year after. The kid still has some kinks to work out, but really, he will be the next Eto’o. The confidence is coming back, and he will be a top 5 forward in the next 3 years. Messi and Bojan are just starting. Can Barca afford to wait…well depends on how we do this season and if Pep is still the coach.

    Overall, we were complacent in attack. After the first half, the team felt like the should score 4. That is football. Not worried at all…yet.

  26. Agree with most of what Kxevin said. It really is a challenge for Pep to infuse that sense of urgency and that desire which somehow gets dampened a bit when you’ve already won everything you possibly can at such a young age. Also, the catenaccio approach that most teams adopt against Barca makes it even more difficult for us to win without the hunger and destabilising surprise packages of last year (Pedro! and Ibra).

    Reminds me of a Cruyffism – “The Italians cannot beat you, but you can lose to them.”

    I was wondering at the start of the match… wouldn’t a midfield of Masch – Iniesta – Busi have been better than Masch – Iniesta – Keita. I think, with the former midfield, Andres could play neo-Xavi and Busi could play neo-Iniesta. The presence of both Busi and Masch would’ve given a better combo of defensive solidarity and attacking creativity IMO. Keita could’ve been brought as a sub to run the legs off the tired Mallorca midfield later in the game.

  27. I really think that he wanted to sub Bojan out for Nolito but then Pedro’s injury happened.

    anyway, Jonathan Soriano will probably have a Liga comeback.

    Most stupid game I have seen them play in a while. Mallorca was dead after 40 minutes, but we thought….”let’s just give them a lifeline”

  28. I always support your reviews Kevin, as it is an impossible job to appease everyone, but I cannot agree wit you rating on Bojan. EVERYONE finished poorly, but Bojan stayed within himself and played the game asked of him. The move he made late on hitting the post was more impressive then those terrible 1v1 runs that Nolito tried to make from the left. He was also way busier than Pedro, and more effective in my opinion. Most importantly, he made the RIGHT RUNS, while staying ON SIDES. I hate to say it Kevin, but if Villa had the same game, I would say you would give him a five saying that he is starting to gel, make better runs, and staying on sides. But alas, CT is ‘that guy’ this year. I also have no clue how Nolito got a five if you start at a 0 and move up, the man lost at least two balls on the byline trying to get to cute. Abidals crosses were on the ground, but were consistantly blocked and I did not see any of his second half crosses reach their target. Finally, I love thiago, but he was also just ok in my eyes in his short time. When you asked why we need Douglas Costa, this is why I believe, he will never start, except for cup matches, injuries and the occasional resting of some players, but he is an offensive option off the bench that would cost 35 million euros less than Cesc. He can play either wing, or either of our 2 attacking positions, an absolute first or second of the bench for us. As much as I hate the team, EE made a great €15 million investment in Ozil and I fully believe that Costa can be our Ozil, with more flair. I also liken him to Adam Johnson, who is solid, if not spectacular. It is super early, and I am not panicking, but we need to think about January, and what we need. Finally, Masch was a beast, he is gonna get some serious min this season, especially when “if” we play bigh EPL teams (chelsea) late in the CL.

    1. Agree with you entirely on bojan.

      But every person needs ‘that guy’, as if the review wouldnt be complete without rating a crap performance from him. Kevin was spot on with all the other ratings though, as he usually is.

  29. When we win, We win with style. We need to learn how to force a win. Grab the 3 points when we’re not at our best.

  30. My shortest match review ever, here:

    When you need to win. And nothing is working. Don’t sub Keita. plant him in the box.

    It happened twice already (Hercules and Mallorca). I do believe we could have rescued at least two out of the for point lost.

    Or else, Bring Puyol/Milito to play beside Milito/Puyol and release Pique from his defense duties.

    If I will put one reason for losing 4 points (asode of what we know since before the season starts), its that.

  31. So much for the benefits of having a small squad..

    Why the heck did Thiago cut back when he could’ve easily shot at goal? He could’ve even passed to Bojan – who, manned up and started that beautiful counter..

    And to top it all off, OUR PITCH IS RUBBISH! It claimed P! now, who knows what other damage it might do.. No wonder we play better away..

  32. Hey.. great review pal(i hope not 98%)….but i still think nolito could have come earlier for Bojan…..The young kid was making runs inside the Mallorca defense….

    But whose gonna blast the ball into the net is the question??

    1. Nolito came for Pedro because Pedro was injured just about when Pep wanted to take Bojan off…

  33. I don’t want us to go to far ahead of reality just yet, it is easy to stop and reflect after our last game and draw conclusions of “parallels with 06”.

    But really, the team wasn’t struggling to break down Mallorca, they weren’t struggling to contain possession, infact we clearly out-played Mallorca. But the sole fact we didn’t win was the fact that we didn’t take our chances early, we could have just invested a little more effort in the latter stages of the first half to convert those inch close chances. our goal was amazing, but we were calm and collected, we put our focus on what we wanted and put in the effort. We then dropped off.

    That was the difference, there may be a “lack of depth” BUT! that is not the problem right now.

  34. I once again had to watch the match on a rather low-quality internet stream, and I really thought “Who the hell plays these crazy passes, Xavi is injured, isn’t he?”.
    Mascherano played brilliantly, showing skills that he has never had in Liverpool. His performance is the most positive aspect of yesterday’s match, by far distance!

    A look into the future: Valencia(h), Copenhagen(h), Zaragoza(a), Sevilla(h). EE has 3 rather easy opponents in la Liga and Milan in the CL (but who cares about CL right now, both Barca and EE will go through quite easily). So I strongly expect Real to get 9/9 in la Liga.
    If Pedro is really at least two weeks out, he will definitely miss the Valencia match. A huge blow, but also a chance for Nolito who was scored more goals this season (in Spanish league games) than Pedro. Imagine Villa had been banned for 2 matches… we’d be screwed!
    Anyway, I can’t wait for the next la Liga match, this will be one of the longest two weeks ever, because I’ve never been so furiuous and disappointed about a match before 🙁

    1. If we can’t beat Mallorca at home, I don’t expect us to beat Valencia. At this point, with our amateurish defending and continuos wasting of chances, I’m hoping for a draw. I know Valencia will get at least one on the counter. I wonder if we can score more than 2.

  35. imagine how do you was after the draws against betis and espanyol at home in 06-07 season helge!!don.t be so furious..that.s football..we are in a bad moon but the team will find the way again.those guys the last 2 seasons never let us down(except the damned volcano!)

    1. I just find it pointless to beat teams like Atleti and Bilbao away like we couldn’t do last year, only to lose points at home that we are supposed to grab to inferior teams.

  36. and don.t be so sure about madrid.s easy games.they lost points in mallorca,levante and were lucky against sociedad..what i want is 2 wins against copenhagen so we can focus in la liga and i don.t care about copa del rey.put the youngs in it.if we win valencia and madrid at home we will be first.

  37. come on jnice!valencia had an easy schedule until now!the more difficult game against atletico at home they draw!don.t be so afraid of them!we can score 3 or 4.we make chances and the defense will be solid again!

    1. They might have had an easy schedule, I don’t know, but either way they are a dangerous team. If we are giving up goals regularly because we get caught on counters, I don’t see how we keep out Valencia. We can score 3 or 4? I have yet to see much proof of that lately, and until I see that, I’m not giving them the benefit of the doubt. We have been saying for games now that the chances will be converted and instead, I see less chances being converted.

    2. i agree with you jnice. Valencia is every bit as dangerous as atletico or sevilla. Soldado is the player i think they bought really well to take the job of villa. also, vincente has rediscovered a lot of his form and can be a huge threat. Acosta, Joaquin, Mata and Banega are players who excel in their positions. They have a pretty complete team.

  38. Random thought: Rumours have been swirling that with Torres, Pedro and Navas out for Spain, the Valencia frontline MAY be called up to fill in during the euro cup qualifiers over the next few weeks. That’d be fantastic news for us since we’re playing them next eh? Would be interesting to see how things level out with both teams having players being called up instead of just us like it usually is.

  39. some thoughts:do you think we must the summer go for a player like gareth bale or coentrao?i believe we need a more attacking L.B who can play also as L.W.also what do you think about R.B?This is my summer shoping list:coentrao or bale,david luiz,glen jhonson,marin(werder bremen),neymar,douglas costa,pastore..i believe they all are quality players,youngs with motive and hungry for titles.any thoughts?

  40. I’ll read the review soon, but I just wanted to post this from Iniesta’s facebook:

    “We have created many occasions for so little prize. We have to continue working and to have confidence.”

  41. Pedro out for 3 weeks, he will miss the matches against Valencia, Copenhagen and at Zaragoza.

  42. I fully expected the “poor Krkic, Kxevin just hates him” repeats. I’m fine with that. As I’ve said, people want the ratngs to serve as affirmation. Ain’t gonna happen.

    Something interesting to note: When Henry made runs and didn’t get the pass, many said “That’s because he was just going to screw up.” I didn’t and don’t believe that, but if it’s true for Henry it could be true for Krkic, yes?

    Krkic supporters cite the positives, but never the negatives. “He made the run. He deserves a 10,” or “If Villa did that, you would love it.” But I thought that I hated Villa, too? 😀

    Listen. Krkic killed twice as many attacks as he created or made runs. He lost the ball, or couldn’t control it at crucial times. Sorry, but that’s what happened. Believe me, I would have loved to have given Krkic a better rating, because that would mean he would have played better, and it wouldn’t just have been “collapse on Messi.”

    But that didn’t happen. He got the rating that he played to. As noted above, he started out great. Then he went directly to crap. That ain’t my fault.

    1. Kevin you took that the wrong way, I clearly pointed out how difficult ratings are, and how you cant appease everyone. I prefaced it as clear as possible, and in my 2 years reading this blog i have never questioned a review so a ‘repeat’ i am not. And I am not saying you hate Bojan at all, maybe your mind is made up on him, but you dont hate him. I am just disagreeing with a single rating, no venom being spewed.

    2. Well, I’ve claimed yesterday that we should get rid off Krkic asap, but after seein the complete summary of the match (could only watch 2nd half yesterday) I’ve to say that he possibly played a bit better in the first half. So I agree with the rating on him!

      Crazy that the users didn’t even vote Mascherano in the Top5 !!!

  43. Great review, Kxevin! I have almost nothing to argue with, except for the obligatory “you were too hard on Bojan.” He did at least as well as Pedro, I thought, except Pedro had that beautiful assist. And I think a 6 is a little too high for Thiago. I love the kid, but he needs to learn how to shoot when he has the chance.

    I wasn’t initially in favour of the Mascherano transfer, but I am happily eating my words. He was terrific yesterday! It’s amazing how quickly he has picked up the rhythm of the way our team likes to play. His passing and skills on the ball looked great–I think he has always had that ability, but wasn’t called on much for it at Liverpool. Most of all, he just looked happy to be there, and it showed in the way he played. Keep it up, Masch!

    And for anyone needing a laugh to brighten their day, from the Never. Going. To. Happen. department, check out the latest rumour on


    1. I thought Thiago deserved a 6. Yes, he didn’t shoot that one time, but every other play from him was positive. He did nothing else wrong.

      And yes, Mascherano was excellent. It’s a shame that he hasn’t gotten a win as a starter, because unfortunately, some idiots will try to reason that it’s because of Mascherano we haven’t won when he’s started. Even Sid Lowe mentioned it in his newest article as if that’s really a logical point of view to have.

    2. His late long shot failed to win us the 3 points but his general performance saved one. I do think we would have lost without him in the selection.

      Lets hope he keep that level, and get enough chances to keep him in the right form. He will be needed. Same as Busquets.

      At least there is a position where we dont need to worry about this season. Starter and depth.

    3. Which is sterange considering that was one of the HUGE concerns going in to the season (DM depth).

      I still feel the team just needs to settle in and play with some urgency. Away games at Bilbao and Atleti are Wins because of a sense of urgency. You take your foot of the gas against mediocre teams who are playing in the biggest game of their can easily drop points if you’re not on the pitch with some exigence.

    4. At least Mascherano tried shooting from long distance, and with a bit more luck, he could have scored!

  44. macherano is one of the five best D.M in the was a huge d we must keep that way on our more hlebs,chigrinskis e.t.c

  45. I think the underlying point here is that the team just seems so nonchalant in its buildup. We need to get hungrier in the opponents third. Maybe we are falling a bit to much in love with the “tiki taka” right now. Someone made a solid point the other day, lets push hard every once in a while in the attacking third to change up the pace, then if we loose the ball, lets pull the opposition out of the box and dare them to attack us. In the late stages we produced a brilliant counter that Thiago screwed up on, if we had 7 or 8 of those a game, we would put one away surly, but since we don’t allow the opposition to venture forward, we are begging them to park the bus. Finally, we are gonna see Pep’s tactical prowess in the next month, for the first time he is gonna have to make so real changes to our offensive flow to keep winning games, lets see what he does.

  46. I was in camp nou yesterday and yes we played well but with nobody as a 9, not even as a false 9 or anything me thinks. I kept looking to mallorca’s box and the one that was there for most of the time was keita… bojan messi and pedro! were switching positions, bojan doing little up and p!/messi going back more. WHY NOT BOJAN AS THE 9? let the kid run his ass off like he knows and look for some last passes… there is absolutely nobody left. (pep could have played busquets as the 9, he has played there some years IMO) 😀 😀

    I had never seen p! live before and I ended up really, I mean really impressed by him, he is everywhere and always for someting good. I will always remember I saw messi’s golden boot and more important nolito’s debut!!! 😉 Masche was good, iniesta also (I also missed his runs but I think he held back a little yesterday playing in that role without xavi) and I don’t know what to say anout keita anymore.

    just that thiago ridiculized keita as soon as he touched the ball, that boy has some future.

  47. Valencia striker Aritz Aduriz and winger Pablo Hernandez have been called up by Vincent del Bosque for international duty, along with Juan Mata (with the under-21 team). So we won’t be the only one with tired players.

  48. OK, here we go again. All personal issues between Pep and Ibra aside, selling the big swede is still a huge wrong move to me. More so when now Pedro is out for 3(?) weeks at least. Bojan continues to regress as a 4.5, Villa adapting and not in top form yet. To say a short squad is better actually has an assumption of “all other players perform well when they come on” behind it, which is very optimistic and is obviously not the case for us at the moment.

    We let go of Ibra, send Hleb away, leaving only 4 midgets strikers who aren’t really strikers except Villa in the house. We are putting too much pressure on ourselves in that set up. It is still a psychological matter for the bad finishing to me because of the pressure we allow us to have. All strikers can’t perform under too much pressure. Ibra showed exactly that at the end of last season. Bojan is showing it this season. Then we see the finishing problem we are having and wonder why. Bad luck? I believe so too, but pressure is the main thing and we need to get the confidence back ASAP.

    Not trying to push the panic button, but rather a buying button maybe. We made huge mistake in either buying Ibra or letting go of him because that costed us a lot of cash in any freaking way. We now have to spend money on striker(s) again in January. Considering how big an ass Rosell behaves, I expect we will get nobody at the end and will scrap by without a real striker who will lead the line up front and finish the season without trophy. Pessimism? Maybe. Valid? Very. Can we turn it around? I absolutely believe our team is capable of playing stunning football that win games, but whether we make it happen or not is up to the players. But if we could ever win anything with this same squad and can finish the season without more injuries, I’d say the system of total football is perfect and will sing that praise forever.

    We are not too far off from getting better results, the season is long and we still have time to work. Again, I still feel the bad luck is still hovering and if we keep doing what we do, and finish better, we are still in for all the glory we want. Still, the Ibrahimovic question is very valid in my opinion. Because it is clear that we are missing a link upfront, and Ibrahimovic was that link last season. I can’t see a better future of Bojan, sorry fans, but I don’t. He looked ok in some way, but awful in many ways. I don’t know what striker we can get, Trezeguet sounds okay, Torres would never happen imo, Rooney in fact sounds better to me, but would be problematic. So, I don’t really know.But what do I know anyway.

    1. i don’t think the problem was so much losing Ibrahimovic but losing Ibrahimovic without having a replacement lined up and ready to go. maybe Ibra wasn’t the answer, maybe he would have been excellent; the choice was left to Pep, Pep packed him off and that’s good enough for me. but what WAS stupid was letting him go just before the season begins when we had no other options readily available.

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