Getafe 1, Barca 3, aka “Boy, did that get messy!”

Sorry, but this little fella is out of his mind right now. Getafe must hate him so much, probably as much as we love him and what he does for our club. Because not only does he put ball after ball in the back of the net, he even provides Villa with a un-screwable pooch, then helps Pedro! break his Liga scoring duck, all while also garnering Man of the Match. He probably drove the bus to the airport, just because.

And given what this cluster of a match turned into, with a passel of yellows, two reds and a penalty, who knows what might have happened had the issue not been in doubt by the time Pique was booted for a second yellow.

Getafe rolled out with the Copenhagen variant from the “How to Play Barcelona” playbook, with a ton of pressure, physical play and a narrow shape that allowed space on the wings. “Hey, it worked for them,” probably went the thinking. And yet, today was different for two reasons: we played a better match, particularly in the first half, and at a few crucial moments, Getafe screwed up and chased the ball, something that Copenhagen didn’t do.

It took us a while to find our legs, as Guardiola rolled out with Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Maxwell, Mascherano, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro!, Villa and Messi. Getafe’s plan seemed to be working, but you could tell that it was only a matter of time, and so it was. Iniesta sprung Villa with a perfect pass, and Villa managed to put the ball over the goal. No. Not saved, not wide, but over the goal! I’m still trying to figure out how it happened, but happen it did. More importantly, the portents were building.

Pedro! just missed latching onto a long pass that would have put him in on goal, then he unleashed a “What the heck?” shot that the Getafe keeper almost spilled, proving once again the value of just having a go sometimes. We were having more and more possession, Iniesta and Xavi were pulling the strings and it was all looking good, even if you could be forgiven for wondering if this was going to be one of those matches.


Not long after this moment, a delightful series of passing and movement resulted in a goal that was ultimately a thing of beauty. The serious bit started when Xavi spanked a crazy, demanding pass to Messi, who was covered by two defenders. He controls, and slides an amazing ball to Alves in space, who popped it over for Villa, who proceeded to have the sort of foot control complexities that I have noted before. So he dribbles a bit, struggles with control, puts a hand down a la Meadowlark Lemon, retains control then flicks a ball to Messi for the near side finish.

Villa was surrounded by 5 Getafe players as he wrestled with that ball, and that was the mistake: you just can’t leave Messi alone, even for a moment. Getafe did, and that was that, as this match was effectively over. Yes, Getafe would get some possession that would be moderately troubling, but our defense just isn’t conceding goals right now. Losing the lead also forced Getafe to play differently, to open up shop in an effort to equalize. Can’t go belly up at home, after all.

Then the Xavi-Alves-Messi trident conspired to give Villa a chance he couldn’t screw up, and he didn’t as Messi provided a flawless assist to set up Villa for only his 5th goal in the Liga, a number that would probably be at least doubled with even remotely effective finishing, but that’s another story. He spanked it past the keeper, and things were over for real, as you could see the shoulder slump of inevitability from the Getafe players. A mind reader would pick up something like “Damn, we played our hearts out, did almost everything right, and we’re down 2-0 because of that garden gnome!”

Which was about the size of it, only he wasn’t finished. Pressure on the keeper and outlet passer by Messi, and a little ground-gobbling burst of pace resulted in a deflected clearance that fell directly to Pedro!, who rounded the keeper and finished with a giggle. It was one of those goals that you don’t often see scored at this level, in part because there’s only one Messi, but also because defenses don’t run away, stranding their mates with two hungry Blaugrana demons. It was 3-0, and done.

Then Pique decided to make the match interesting as a goal mouth scramble and a falling Piquenbauer resulted in a second yellow and a penalty for his handball. I leave to you all to judge intent, I just know that it happened. The subsequent penalty put away made it 3-1, and Getafe had life, and the match turned frustrating, mostly because we were on a downward trend even with 11 men. Whether it’s a function of a short squad and energy conservation, complacency or sheer lack of interest, we let teams play their way back into matches sometimes, rather than simply destroying them. Getafe was surfing a wave even before Pique’s expulsion, and went hog-wild after it. But even then, the match was more chaotic than dangerous as even with 10 men we were closer to scoring a fourth than they were to a second. Then the preternaturally vexing Boateng (another one, but a different one, if you know what I mean) got a second (and overdue) yellow for a hammer job on Mascherano, who it must be said is a card magnet alright, but for the opponents.

At 10-v-10, things were dramatically less silly, and that was that.

Even in the glory of the win, and a dominating away record, there are vexing trends:

–We aren’t finishing with efficiency. This match could easily have been 7 or 8-1.
–Alves and Iniesta need to shoot, particularly Iniesta.
–Some casual possession finds our defense caught with bloomers down. There isn’t enough pace for that nonsense.
–The aforementioned sudden lack of interest in a match

All are easily fixed, and I have no doubt that Guardiola has noted these things and is puzzling over how to fix them, particularly the first one. Sometimes, you only get one or two chances in a match. Squander them, and a win becomes a draw …. or a loss.

Anyway. I loved the debut of the “freedom” midfield of Iniesta/Xavi/Mascherano, as in “You two are free to raise hell, because sMasch will destroy anything that comes near him.” And so he did, particularly with the addition of Maxwell to assist in midfield control and act as that roaming DM type, when sMasch wasn’t smashing. I really liked the results, with only a couple of flaws that came when Mascherano got caught in possession, and Getafe were off to the races. He can learn from Busquets in that regard, to just keep the ball moving. But it’s getting harder and harder, with each Mascherano appearance, to explain why he isn’t playing with more regularity. Nice to have such a glut of riches at one position.

Team: 7. A brilliant first half, followed by a funky, clunky second half. The passing and movement were exquisite, and the pressure was well-timed. Once the sea legs were found, we were opening up Getafe at will.

Guardiola: 8. The right lineup, and the right substitutions to consolidate the win.

Valdes: 8. We went from not needing him to being thankful he was so good. His long distribution also improved dramatically. He still needs to communicate better. Pique gave up a corner on a ball that Valdes should have called him off of, is one example.

Alves: 5. Much good, and much bad. Never take a free kick, please. Ever again. Thank you. And shoot when you’re in the box. It’s okay then. He took great advantage of the space that he was being offered by Getafe, and was part of 2 of our three goals.

Pique: 4. The funk continues, and you now will have some time to think about it, since your red means that you will STILL have 4 yellows after your suspension. Long passes were off, and how could one so young have already lost a step?

Puyol: 8. Captain Caveman to the rescue, time and again. He is, for me, as essential as Messi to our continued excellence.

Maxwell: 7. Fine match, and a key goal line intervention, when Valdes was beaten. Strong contributions to midfield control, as well. This was his kind of a match.

Mascherano: 7. Would have received a much higher score, were it not for the ceded possessions in dangerous areas, that led to dangerous Getafe attacks. He just wins balls, sometimes with tackles, sometimes with excellent positioning. And he’s always where the ball is, or is going to be.

Xavi: 8. Okay, who didn’t feel sorry for the Getafe player who Xavi ran around in circles in the second half? This is as good as our Maestro has looked in a while, with an assured, commanding performance. His timing is almost back, as well.

Iniesta: 7. I like that he isn’t taking nonsense from opponents. He has to be our most-fouled player, even more than Messi. He belongs next to Xavi. His movement and passing are brilliant. I only wish that his shooting was. Shoot, Ghostface! Shoot!

Pedro!: 7. Our Random Chaos Generator was in full effect today, with constant running, harassing, pressing and attacking. His goal came from just being in the right place at the right time, as he plays the wild card position so well.

Villa: 6. Scored a goal, and is showing much more affinity for tracking back on defense. He was also offside, threw up a panicked clearance way too close to our box, and blew more chances. When he comes good, he’s going to have about 100 goals. The chances are there, and how. So is the work rate and runs.

Messi: 9. Man of the Match performance in every facet of the game, from offense to defense to ball control. Had a hand in all three goals, and could have had at least two more. As Villa gets better, so does he because of the space created by Villa’s movement and danger.


Milito (for Villa): 6. Had the match gotten messier, he almost certainly would have played to a higher rating. If he were younger, he would be the heir apparent to Puyol. Eschew the barber, and he’d even have the same hair. Key interventions late, and a calm, assured back line presence.

Busquets (for Xavi): 6. Ditto for the Milito score comment. He isn’t Xavi, but brings ball control and midfield defense at a time when we needed to calm things down, and get fresh legs on the pitch.

Keita (for Pedro!): incomplete. Just a time-conscious subsitution, though it would have been fun to see the “none shall pass” midfield for an extended period.

So. The insane run of matches continues, with Ceuta on the 10th (Copa), Villarreal (thankfully at home, with no trophy presentations) on the 13th, a week-long gap then away to Almeria, then away to Panathinaikos on the 24th, before El Clasic on the 28th. Whew! Odds are that Pique will sit out Villarreal and Almeria, to make sure he doesn’t miss El Clasic, which will be HUGE. It isn’t looking like either big Liga side will drop many points, so the Clasics look to decide the Liga. We will get an early look at how good we are in a couple of weeks. Until then, the key will be to remain healthy, and stress-free. Look for a defensive lineup against Ceuta and no key players, who will be needed against a resurgent Villarreal.


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. Shoot! Second time in a row I can’t call you a biased fool because I agree with you 😀

    Can’t Pique serve his suspension vs Ceuta and then get a yellow vs Villareal to make El Clasico? I’m pretty sure Copa games count when you get a red.

    1. You know, I feel like we here have this same question (whether Copa counts for suspensions) every season, but I can never remember what conclusion we come to…

    2. Its confirmed ! Pique will miss the game against Ceuta and be back for the game vs. Villareal albeit with his four yellow cards standing. So all he has to do is get a yellow in that game and miss the Almeria match. Its all good !

      ( For people who are confused about the rules, remember how during the treble season Abidal missed the Copa final because he was sent off against Villareal in Liga the match before. Although that lead to Toure playing as a CB and scoring THAT Golazo ! )

    3. um, everything on the official FCB site has said Pique will miss the game against villareal. so do you have a source that officially “confirms” that he can serve his suspension against ceuta? please cite. thanks

  2. Really sharp first half today. As to why teams aren’t finished off, I think the image of Messi panting right at the end can explain it it: the squad is light(ish), and we’re pressing VERY hard, especially in first halves (sort of the Arsenal at Emirates tactic from last year). That really wears the team down, and it’s when passes get a touch lazy. Still a great performance overall though.

  3. About Alves: “Never take a free kick, please. Ever again.”
    Yes, completely with you here.
    Mascherano – Busquets in the middle.. did it seem when Busquets appeared, Mascherano disappeared? First half I felt Mascherano was on every ball, then Busquets came in, so I almost felt a cancelling of each other happening. Either way, I love Mascherano, I was neutral about his coming to us, but he’s worth every penny.

    1. I remember when Alves had just arrived at Barca, he seemed to be the cure for the woes we had in the free-kick department, and in his time here he’s put away a few good ones. And also, was it a month ago (no more than two surely?) that he put away a most excellent one for Brazil?

  4. Missed the match, will watch the re-run tonight.
    Why didn’t Abidal play?
    I’m glad that sMasch started but sad at the same time that Busi didn’t start.
    And I’m glad that Milito got to play. And I’m glad that he will get to start now for a few matches.

    From the review, it looked as if Alves had a hand in at least 2 goals but how did he get such a low rating once again?

    So far we have played a lot of tough away matches and won. Great!

  5. not to deviate so soon from the topic, but Benfica just got annihilated by Porto 5-0, with (according to Zonal Marking) ALL 5 goals coming down Benfica’s left side…. Fabio Coentrão’s left side.

    sucks for those advocating that particular signing.

    1. Ha Ha. And Bale didn’t have a good weekend too according to Kxevin 😆
      Last week it was those two, I bet this week, Torres is the hot topic.

  6. I just finished reading the Getafe vs Barca match comments post. So long!
    Anyways, there was an interesting converstation going on about Barca B.
    In Holland, the B or reserve team was allowed to play in the Dutch Cup matches. Once, I remember, the reserve team went further then the senior Ajax team. That was funny.
    Btw Josep, last year, FC Twente won the Dutch league by 1 point over Ajax.

    Did any of you guys who are non-UK residents bought shoes or shirts from prodirectsoccer. I heard that non-UK residents don’t need to pay the VAT so the prices are actually cheaper than shown.

  7. I didn’t get to see the game and I’m curious how our Random Chaos Generator did with keeping width on the left. Any opinions or insight? thanks

  8. How a striker is evaluated is often a source of disagreement in football. Some argue that strikers should be assessed on how many goals they score and that’s primarily the bottom line.

    Today Messi’s lone goal did not reflect the overall impact that he had on this match and his enormous influence on it (and messi was clearly playing as barca’s central striker today though they were of course position switching, etc.).

    Messi of course not only scored that first goal. His pass to Villa was wonderful and put Villa in tremendous position to score. It was a simple but brilliant ball.

    But just as impressive was Messi’s effort defensively and on the press. How many strikers in the world have that kind of defensive effort and presence?

    Messi plays enormous minutes. But even then in the second half of a game he’s already worked very hard in messi harasses a defender on the press into making a horrible decision and a pass that results in an easy goal opportunity for Pedro – who really needed to find the back of the net. The vast majority of strikers don’t bother running at the defender or if they do so, they just do so as a non-threatening jog.

    Another moment that really stood out for me was on a free kick that Getafe had just outside of the Barca box (think it was in the first half). Messi is on the wall and he aggressively jumps out on the play and sacrifices his body to block the ball.

    This is arguably one of the 5 greatest strikers of all time. And he’s defending and working to create opportunities for other like a late game substitute might. It’s just remarkable.

    It’s impossible to think of a player like the real Ronaldo contribute to a team winning in all of the phases of the game in the Messi willingly does.

    And this is the most misguided aspect of the constant comparison between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi is a superior goals scorer and offensive force but the goal tally alone doesn’t reflect how much better Messi is as a player and how much more he impacts his teams ability to win matches.

    Messi is one of the greatest goal scorer’s in history. But as an attacking player his all around game and influence on a match come out of the tradition of Marco Van Basten more than they do out of the tradition of a the pure goal scoring striker like an R9.

    And that just makes Messi all the more an amazing player.

    1. That is why he is my idol. I wanna hug him. Throw him in the air. Massage his feet. I’let him piggyback me in order to protect his feet.
      Just hoping that he won’t charge me for child molesting in the end 😆

    2. good viewpoint and i really agree with this. Messi has the hardwork of Rooney or Tevez but has the skill and scoring ability of real Ronaldo. Rooney and Tevez have skill, but not outstanding. They are successful because they take the skill they have and add tons of effort, pressing and running, and working. Ronaldo had the skill, strength and composure to score at will. Messi combines these attributes to make a killer striker/winger

  9. Oh, I don’t know Kxevin & Euler, I agree that Messi had a hell of a match tonight. But something is just not too right about him to me, particularly when he make his decisions in front of goal. Let’s not talk about his dazzling all pitch effort. As noted, he should have at least scored 3 goals for us, but it didn’t happen. I understand that goals are not everything and a player’s performance should be judged base on the overall effect he brought on the pitch. But we should also take the complexity of this match into account.

    The chaotic period after Pique was sent off was not exactly downhill for them and uphill for us, but it was reverse, i.e. extremely dangerous. As they played their best football for that stretch of time, controlling the ball and move it around nicely and ended those possessions with headers, good crosses or a shot on target. We could have conceded 2-3 goals there, one of them was cleared by Maxwell who had a horrid game except that header or one good defense. The other came from a massively catastrophic back pass from Mascherano, who I think was bombarded by those physical Burger King boys all night and therefore went out of steam, which sent Manu one on one to tonight’s Víctor Valdés Show. How I am glad that that show was on tonight.

    Pep was cautious and said it could go to 2-3 and you don’t know what will happen. That’s when Messi comes in to the summon.

    – 73rd minute: short corner from Messi followed by a series of nice tiki-taka attack fluidly send Messi inside the box with a ball on his left side, defender stretched and came sliding to block Messi shot only to see the shot hit the LED boards. and you know Messi was angry as he kick the ball high up in the air.

    – 83rd: Alves fluke of a dribble that saw him seep thru 3 Burger King boys, as he approached the 4th right outside the box, he passed it to Messi who was on his left. Pedro, unmarked, stood on Messi’s left and saw him tried to dribble to the right which has 3 other blue shirts stationing and returning, and his shot was blocked at the end.

    -86th minute: It’s a glorious one (if the ball went in). Busquets, who was on fire, saw Messi got the ball and moved forward. Messi made a diagonal pass thru 2 Burger boys to him, he one-twoed with Pedro and then one-touched a square ball/thru ball/wunderbar ball to the oncoming Messi and that sent him one-on-one with the keeper. Messi controlled it with his left foot, and then touched the ball again with his left foot, the angle becomes narrow and at the end his chose to use his left to side-foot a weak ball to the keeper’s right and blocked.

    Earlier in the first half
    -9th minute, Alves slid a ball, as good as the one Messi did to him to create the first goal, to Messi. Messi hesitant with his right foot, waited until the defended got closer, then chose to do another dribble with his left foot to dodge, only to see him too close to the baseline and lost balance.

    The 3 key plays could have given us a better cushion in that dangerous moment. He could have done much much better in those plays. I am not trying to underrate or belittle his performance. He was spectacular in almost every single way, but in front of goal? Not sure. I still hope the bad Messi show up less because we need Messi to win games for us very badly and to do that we need Messi to be great in the moment we need him most. He is the best player in the world, but the best player can make bad decisions sometimes. I think he made 90% good decision tonight, but 10% very important and quite bad ones. In a complicated game like this, I was happy Valdes and Puyol, who are my men of the match, performed excellently.

    1. Well, I’ve said this earlier, we still need to be sharper in front of goal. Both Messi and Villa were extremely guilty yesterday and we should have scored 6.

      Out of all those plays you mention, the one that annoyed me the most was the one in the 83rd minute. He so blatantly ignored Pedro, I actually got upset. The others, I was annoyed because of his finishing, but the Pedro one was crazy selfish.

      And sometimes, like in the 1st half when he held the ball too long then passed to Villa, he needs to give it up faster.

      But with all that said, he was still excellent as Kxevin and Euler have pointed out.

    2. Clivee you and I are watching different games. Messi was hard working, subtle, destabilising every time he got the ball, had two assists, should’ve had more, scored a great goal. What are you looking for? If you dribble you sometimes lose the ball and you sometimes overlook a seemingly good pass – but you also score sensational goals that keep your team near the top of the league at a time when nobody else is setting it alight goal wise. He has a huge weight on his shoulders atm. Cut him some slack, please. We’ll know all about it when he hits a bad patch.

      The other issue I have is with your description of Maxwell’s match. Although i watched the whole match, the first half was on the red button and I couldn’t record it but I did go back and watch the first 15 or so of the second. He didn’t put a foot wrong. Leave aside that he made the single most telling defensive play when he saved us losing a goal at a dangerous time by perfect positioning on the goal line. Some steals, no losses of possession and perfect positioning. I don’t remember the first being much different but can’t check.

      The one thing I would give you is that he was a non show in attack. Not sure why that was. If it wasn’t tactical then yup he should’ve done better . However, he does overlap usually so I’m guessing there were instructions in there somewhere. What I would say to you is look at how comfortable he is on the ball. His technique is super.

    3. No, it’s the same game we watched, and yes, Messi was spectacular last night, and I never disagreed on that part.

      I was talking about a situation here. A situation that could have gone bad for us. On one end you see Victor Valdes pulling saves after saves, Puyol hopping here and there heading and clearing balls, and we were a man down. Now, as a striker, what you should do is to kill this game off with another goal.

      We have learned about it, we saw it a lot in the past. We play extraterrestrial football that no one on earth can chase and beat us for 70 minutes, we took the lead and then slow down. Last night, we didn’t slow down, but we just couldn’t finish them off in that dangerous moment. This is not even about being too negative or what, it’s simple common-sense idea, i.e. we need to kill you before you get back into the game. Fortunately enough, our defense were great. Particularly after Busquets came on, gosh, how I was relieved to see him stabilized the game for us.

      Maxwell came back to live in the second half, this bit must be said. But overall, he had a terrible game. Go back and watch the first half. Nothing good came from the Brazilian, mostly neutral contribution or negative balls. But he wasn’t perfect in the second half either, so overall, a 2 or 3 is fair.

      From a spectator’s view Messi’s game was awwwwwwesome, but you know he was frustrated and angry at many points when he failed to score. Being harsh on him? Maybe, as I agree in a team sport, everyone is responsible for the team’s result. Valid? Hugely. Messi could try everything he can because he is capable, but in a complicated situation such as last night, we needed that goal.

    4. Messi is frustrated by Messi’s own standards. That’s natural. That doesn’t mean it’s human to do any more than he did. Anyway, we’ll agree to differ on both him and Maxwell – who it must be noted at least twice in the second half saved our bacon by being in the right place.

  10. Last but not least, thank you very much for the review, really appreciate the effort, Kxevin. Your review is the most exciting and is also what get most of our discussions going.

  11. Nothing from Maxwell was positive in the first half. He played really poorly. He made 4+ bad/wrong passes in the first half and the rest of the passes were back passes. In a game he wasn’t really tested, he didn’t show up in attacks. But on one play when Getafe got the ball on his side, he didn’t show up, so where is he? Some leaks and bad positioning in his game tonight that could have hurt us more if we play against faster and better teams which do well in wing plays. He had one or two notable moments of going forward, one of them saw him dribbled too deep and didn’t cross earlier and resulted a goal kick. Disappointed.

    A 4 for him would be gracious, 3 at most.

    Pique wasn’t much better off, but I will wait until people talk about his cards.

    1. I still am not convinced by Maxwell, be it, attacking wise nor defending wise. He just doesn’t offer us anything that Abidal doesn’t.
      That is why I would rather see Adriano play if Abidal is out for some reason. A question I asked above, why didn’t Abidal play?

  12. Damn it. Who was it that gave a link to Affelay’s video?
    Wasted more than 9mins of my life. Most of the passes were to the back. And I didn’t expect them to even put his useless step-overs that were at least 2 metre’s away from his marker on the video.
    He isn’t calm on the ball. The passes were sub Alves standard. Sigh.
    I’d take Thiago any day..

    Now speaking of videos. This!!!! Xavi tutorial.

  13. has anyone noticed that when villa (or pedro) scores, messi jst walks over to them..or is it jst me??

  14. Dont agree with messi’s rating.
    He had a good match , a really good one in the sense of hunger , winnning back balls , playmaking etc, but a forward in our line should finish his chances, or most of his chances anyway.
    on the opposite side, he had some shocking misses especially for the usual messi finishing we are used to.
    If it were villa in his spot hed get max a 7 with the same reasoning.
    Mascherano man of the match by far for me.
    The guy dominated the position , and showed clearly that he can work brilliantly in our system.

    1. Messi’s ‘shocking’ misses could be find in my post above, just the same as Jnice, I thought the one he ignored a wide-open Pedro and selfishly drove the ball to defense was plain wrong, as we needed to finish them off so as to be more comfortable.

    2. Talking about ignoring Pedro, what will it take for Alves to pass to him. I were Pep I would think, whats the point of putting pedro on the right if his teammates ignore him. I think alves kills as many attacks as he creates with ignoring players apart from xavi and Messi and his no chance crosses

  15. Pretty sure messi’s new thing is to walk and point and smile when someone on his line scores. Whensomeone who rarely scores gets one, it’s pahhhtayyyy time. Plus now that he has a super hot gf, he has to act cool all the time, no running around like a little kid lol, we will leave that to Bojan with his Michale Jordan running jumping ackward fist pump and gurber baby smile.

    1. If you notice, Messi points to the sky, and now his new thing is to afterwards, point to Valdes.

  16. Well, we will probably get an early look at how good we are on next Saturday. Villarreal right now impresses me more than the EE. Winning against Atheltic Bilbao 4-1 after being 0-1 down is a great achievement, and Villarreal will surely pressure us way more than the EE. I expect Real to defend and go for the counter attacks, whereas Villarreal will really try to beat us with our own weapons. Considering that there is no Piqué available and the red-hot form of Rossi, Nilmar and Cazorla, the Villarreal match could actually be the tougher one of the two.

    Wasn’t there a situation where Messi played a brilliant pass with he outside of his foot to Villa and Villa missed another 1vs1 against the keeper? I just think Messi would have 5 more assists to his name if Villa simply finished the way he did at Valencia.

    1. Okay, watching the scene again it was a pass with the inside of Messi’s foot and the angle was pretty tight. This wasn’t a must-score opportunity, in contrast to the one after just 4 minutes 🙂

  17. Nice review, once again. I look forward to actually watching the match tonight, as my ESPN feed yesterday was so choppy that I could never really get a feel for the flow of play. That was incredibly frustrating.

    Does anyone know why we were wearing salmon yesterday instead of minty green? For some reason I suspect they might be finding it hard to pick each other out in that colour. Or maybe the TV sponsors don’t like it. Just musing.

    1. I think we wore salmon because Getafe’s home kits are blue, so green would’ve been a little weird. And we won there last season with those kits, so maybe there was some superstition to go along with it.

    2. It’s a silly thing, but it really bothers me that socks are one shade pinker than the shirt/shorts. Nike must have sourced them from different places. I’m not OCD, I swear, but I find it so distracting. 😀

  18. You guys need to take it easy on Messi. Sure, the last 30 minutes of the game were not his best and he made some mistakes.

    However, I think we all have to remember he is tired and playing a lot of matches and putting everything he’s got out on the pitch. And don’t forget that his shoulders are sore from having to carry the club through the first quarter of the season.

    1. I was really hoping that pep would bring Messi out, since it seemed clear that he was getting exhausted and frayed around the edges toward the end. I was afraid he would get frustrated and hurt himself…

      I would have left Pedro in and subbed out Messi.

    2. I agree. He’s been playing the full 90 on pretty much every single match and he never stops running.

  19. I really enjoyed yesterday’s match. It’s always a joy to watch Barça when they look sharp and dangerous as they did in the first half, always on the ball and always moving it aggressively. I think the front line becomes exponentially more dangerous as they gain in effectiveness. With Villa starting to become a more serious scoring threat, we can see that clearly. If the finishing improves, we’ll be seeing some wonderfully lethal games soon.

    Pep’s subs were absolutely the right response to Piqué’s second yellow. Were it not for that call, I think we would have seen Keita for Xavi a bit sooner (I recall seeing Keita warming up on the sidelines shortly before the penalty incident), and probably Bojan for Villa thereafter. As it stood it made sense to take off Villa immediately, since he seems to expire around 60 minutes anyway, to get on the extra defender. I always worry that Pep pushes it with Xavi too much, but I suppose he knows more about Xavi’s tendonitis than I do.

    As for Piqué’s yellow and pending suspension, I have to ask, what are we worried about? He’s seemed off for a few matches now, a distant second to the indomitable Puyol. Even if he picks up a yellow to get suspended from the clasico, would that be so bad? We’d just wind up with Milito and Puyol in the back line – a scenario I don’t mind at all. In fact, I think I prefer it.

    1. Milito + Puyol = two of the same kind. Our best CB pairings IMO are the ones that contain one destroyer (Milito, Puyol) and one passer (Pique, Marquez-Txignasty when they were here). Milito-Puyol is too much destruction 😀

      I do agree that Pique’s been off. Maybe the suspension will give him some time to rest.

  20. Messi is so great he just made a star go supernova in the constellation LEO. Its no coincidence!!


  21. here’s a fascinating thought on a candidate for our vacant left-sided attacking position:


    Mourinho doesn’t rate him, he can’t play with Cristiano, and his usual position has been taken by Özil (who is ambitious and isn’t going to want to share). Mourinho plays the double pivote 4-2-3-1 almost exclusively so there’s only room for 1 central creative player at a time, while Madrid are flush with similar left-sided players (Pedro Leon, Di Maria, Canales…). a player of Kaká’s stature wouldn’t and shouldn’t accept a rotation but i don’t see a place for him in Madrid’s first-choice lineup. on our left wing or through our midfield (playing Iniesta-like and drifting left), i see no reason why he wouldn’t slot in perfectly here, however. prying him out of Emperor Perez’s cold dead hands might not be as hard as we think either, as most in Madrid consider Kaká a failure. oh, and he’s not Cup-tied in Europe….

    1. Interesting thought. We might be able to get him for quite cheap, but then whether pep wants him or not is another question. I personally dont rate Kaka at all, even in his prime because his touch can sometimes let him down, and he relies alot on doing things at high pace with .alot of space on either side of him to dribble into. This is simply not the kind of offense that we play. His passing is good, but not compared to players in our system i.e thiago. Im not so sure

    2. He’s on a long-term injury, he is expensive, and he currently belongs to Real Madrid. Just…no. I’ve never been a fan anyway. And with respect to religious-types, his born-againism creeps me out. Sorry.

    3. Not. gonna. happen. But there is no reason not to speculate, I guess. I like Ricky as a player and person, but he wouldn’t fit in Barca any better in all honesty. His best position is just behind the strikers, ie. central, where Messi plays.

      If he comes, he’d probably compete with Iniesta and Keita, and that means he’d be a bench player because Andres is definately the one I’d start.

  22. Obviously as you can tell from my name I’m a bit biased but I think mei and clivee were WAY too hard on Messi. First of all you’ll notice that the incidents clivee mentioned were towards the end of the game when Messi was visibly exhausted.

    Messi’s decision-making and passing were superb this match, especially in the first half. If anything he was too unselfish.

    1. Messi was absolutely incredible in this game– I quote Ramzi from the comments thread: “Keita for Pedro. Now we have our best offense line: Messi” — and I do agree that they are nitpicking a bit.

    2. i agree with messi_fan and kari. look at the efficiency rates of the top finishers. just like in baseball, a batting average of 0.350 is considered phenomenal. you dont go around whining that so-and-so cant get a hit 6 or 7 times out of 10. it is very very difficult to score goals. instead of saying the glass is 1/4 empty, be happy it’s 3/4 full.

    3. It is easier to remember the events at the end than the beginning.
      I think he started off fantastically, but the last 20 minutes or so really did leave a bad taste in my mouth.

      Like I said above, I really think Messi should have been subbed out instead of Pedro. It would have accomplished the defensive goal while taking out a player that was visibly exhausted and making decisions based on frustration… It was almost painful to watch at the very end.

  23. not to deviate so soon from the topic, but Benfica just got annihilated by Porto 5-0, with (according to Zonal Marking) ALL 5 goals coming down Benfica’s left side…. Fabio Coentrão’s left side.

    Not sure if you had a chance to watch the match but this is a very misleading description of what happened and who was responsible for the Benfica debacle.

    For whatever reason Benfica decided to start Coentrao as the left wing – not as the left full back. So while it’s true that the Porto goals came down that left flank, it wasn’t primarily Coentrao who was responsible. It was David Luiz.

    It was a complete tactical disaster – benfica decided to shift Luiz from CB to LB. And Luiz is just not a full back. He was roasted again and again and again. Hulk just destroyed him. Just watch Porto’s first goal to get a sense of the match and how bad Luiz was at LB.

    It wasn’t until the second half that Benfica finally adjusted tactics and moved Coentrao back to LB. Benfica looked more settled but then everything fell apart when Luisao got sent off on a red. Down 10 me to 11 to Porto while behind 3 goals, Benfica just folded.

    The match was over by halftime and then being down a man Benfica just collapsed and let in two more goals.

    Coentrao wasn’t good by any means yesterday – but no one was on their side. And the decision to start Luiz at LB was disastrous.

    Benfica was overwhelmed by Porto’s speed and strength. Hulk had a fantastic match and just ran over Benfica. Benfica’s desire to attack at the expense of defending as a team gave them no chance yesterday.

    Coentrao is a good defender individually but Benfica can be a very poor defending team overall and that leaves Coentrao often exposed as he was in that second half yesterday.

  24. Enough about Messi for now, I wanna talk about Mascherano. He played a really good game last night. Almost my MOTM, but one disastrous backpass with not enough weight ruined his night.

    He is not Busquets, but very close. His defense was superb, not as aggressive and forward pressing as Busi, but he was always where the ball is and going to be. Really nice positioning.

    One thing about sMasch that is very different from Busquets tho, is that his short pass needs more time to improve and blend into our system. But his long passes were brilliant! Take a look again if you have time, his long passes have a really high successful rate. This is very beneficial to our style because we love to switch from one side to another quickly to catch opponent’s back foot. Interestingly enough, 2 players arrived/returned from the English Pinball League have 1 thing in common, they both have really good long pass skills – Mascherano & Pique. I hated long pass in the past, but when I see their long passes, I began to love.

    The bad back pass from Mascherano was partly due to his short passes “deficiency”, this deficiency could be improved with reps, as he is still new to our club. Of course, being hardworking as he was, and that Burger King boys were to physical, he didn’t have an easy night, so I bet he was really tired. Nonetheless, it was a great sMASCH!

    1. sMasch has a sensor that pick Alves moves at any time. He played so many long passes to Alves that the Brazilian may include a clause in his contract: Always select Mascherano in the lineup.

      He is not a Busquets, and Busquets is not him. Thats a big plus and offer lot of options for Pep.

  25. With Liverpool finally winning games again, i think my hopes of bringing torres to us in the winter transfer are slowly fading away…oh well

    1. Torres, vintage striker!!! Big fan of his. Hoping he will come to Barca one day!!!! His two goals against Chelsea reminded me of Eto’o – his first goal, and Titi – his second goal. Wow!!! What goals.

      Messi is tired. Give him a mid week break, he will be much better.

      sMash has better passing range than I imagined. He has to learn to pass quicker though. Hopefully he improves in that respect with time.

    2. It doesn’t look like Pep is going to give Messi a big break, because it seems as if he is in the starting lineup for the game tomorrow.

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