Barca 3, Villarreal 1, aka “Completely, comprehensively satisfying”

The above picture is perfect for a match that was, for me, the most satisfying victory of the season to date. It was also the most convincing, and the most team-focused victory, over the last remaining Liga powerhouse in Villarreal, a club that has been banging in goals and making people say that “Hey, this might not be a two-horse race.”

And there was much pre-match pessimism, based on many things: Pique’s suspension, Abidal’s likely rollout at CB, sunspots, Pique’s suspension. The last two times Villarreal has rolled into the Camp Nou, they’ve come away with points. But both times we had something to celebrate, a trophy presentation that distracted us and motivated them. This time, it was just us, them and the burden of expectation.

So we banged out an exquisite team victory, and it’s appropriate enough that guy atop the pile, Eric Abidal, should be where he is. Because he’s my Man of the Match.

When there were all the concerns about who was going to play center back, and I was advocating Mascherano, I said “It doesn’t really matter, because if we play our game, they aren’t going to see enough of the ball to make it important.” Well I was right, AND wrong. They didn’t see much of the ball, but they sure did a lot with it when they did, to the tune of one goal (shut up and play, boys!) and some key, key interventions.

But most of this match was played in their end of pitch because once again, when we were challenged, we stuck our chests out and said “Bring it.”

Guardiola rolled out with our best available lineup, Valdes, Alves, Abidal, Puyol, Maxwell, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Pedro!, Villa. And Villarreal rolled out with the current thinking on How To Beat FC Barcelona: High, intense pressure backed by very physical play, flooding the midfield and clogging the passing lanes so that Xavi can’t work his magic, and make the field narrow, please. Thank you.

That worked for Copenhagen, because we didn’t play that match that we played, because it didn’t really matter as much to us. We were also a little surprised by their intensity in what was another group stage match for us. When Villarreal came at us that way, determined to play football instead of turning turtle, it was not only commendable, but doomed, even though their match plan was intelligent and very well executed. We just have too many horses, and more importantly, we rediscovered how wide the pitch actually is. Both goals from open play were generated from the wide position, one by Villa and the other by Pedro! (with a Messi finish). When we make the pitch wide, our club is unstoppable, particularly when we play a team match that is predicated on our one-touch passing attack.

The ball moves faster than any man. You could see this as Villarreal pressed, and we passed, flicking the ball around to players who ran around like jackrabbits, constantly making themselves available. It was a direct, pinging style that we didn’t see against Copenhagen, allowing their match plan to have more success. Against Villarreal, they couldn’t really foul a player, because the ball was gone. And the direction, deceptiveness and quality of the passes meant that it was almost impossible to anticipate where the pass was going.

Once again, during the LiveBlog, it struck me that there was some uncertainty about this outcome. Watching the match with no input, our level of play removed any uncertainty. We were just too good. It’s the difference between a club in which almost every player in the starting XI is capped for their respective countries, at which almost every position boasts a talent who is the best, or among the best in the world at that position, and an excellent Liga side. Because make no mistake, Villarreal are an excellent Liga side, who brought their A match.

But you need the ball to play, and win, and that just wasn’t something that we were going to allow with a frequency sufficient to defeat us.

People grouse about our playing style, calling it boring and aimless. But yesterday’s match showed that it isn’t. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Every pass has a purpose, sometimes moving a defender a little bit one way. Other times, setting up a run for an attacker. Still other times, planning ahead for a move three possessions down the road, when that direct pass morphs into a side foot, and somebody is off to the races. It’s an effective playing style that makes sense, because it forces the other team to chase the ball, which you can only do for so long.

What you need is incredible discipline to play areas of the pitch, rather than men and the ball. And you still need, as Copenhagen was gifted, a lack of width on our part. When the width is there, that strategy goes to hell in a handbasket. The first goal is a perfect example. Off the restart, Villa took off like a scalded cat, cutting in toward a perfect pass from Iniesta. He took, controlled and slotted past the keeper in a heartbeat. If that pass and play comes up the middle, defenders are there, and it’s covered. Width and a brilliant diagonal run made that play possible.

And then, after a very close but incorrectly judged offside goal, we were distracted, which allowed Nilmar to take a pass, waltz past Puyol and slot home past Valdes. We were distracted by the referee, which might have been the one thing that Guardiola said to his charges at halftime. You’re in control of this match. Just play like you can, and don’t worry about the officiating.

The second half we came out like a team possessed, pressing even harder, pinning Villarreal in their half by pressing everyone with the ball, from defenders, mids and attackers, to the keeper. The results were wayward passes to our players, and a resumption of the attack. Our second goal was inevitable, a reward for incessant work and brilliant passing. Off of a free kick, Xavi slots a pass to Messi, who feeds Pedro!, who one-times it back to Messi, who cuts toward the corner and lobs the keeper. Pretty simple stuff, right? But….

58:41–Xavi looks up, sees that the Villarreal defense is unbalanced, and that Messi has clear space in front of him. He starts play.
58:43–After a couple of strides forward, Messi slides a pass to Pedro!.
58:44–Pedro’s one-touch is popped directly back to Messi.
58:47–The ball is in the back of the net.

That’s six seconds, six seconds of impossible football, in which we played with a round, unpredictable object while moving at full speed in a manner that was inch-perfect. It was a pretty crazy goal when you watch it, which was why both the English-language and Spanish-language announcers went crazy. It was absolutely sublime.

I’ll offer up a YouTube comment by a user named willbjmadrid: “That second goal for barca ( the first for Messi ) was amazing just unstopable you just have to hold up your hands and say that Barca are class and i’m a XXXX XXXXXX fan.”


From that moment on the match was done. Villarreal didn’t look all that likely to score from open play, barring any errors, because our back line was on form, particularly Abidal. For the third goal, That our third goal came from an offside position was, saith many, justice. Pedro! roared in from wide (again, the width), and smoked a shot toward net that deflected off a Villarreal attacker directly to Messi, who bundled it home.

But here again, it was a goal of the highest quality, as Messi had to deal with a deflected ball coming at high speed and toe poke it past the keeper off the volley. It was the one chance that he had before the defense closed down and the keeper had a chance to compose himself. It looked easy, but it wasn’t. And this match was done and dusted, an astounding display against a first-class Villarreal side who played their hearts out, played attacking football whenever possible, and didn’t park the bus. Hats off to them. We move into undisputed possession of second place, barring events on Sunday, which remain to be played out.

Team: 9. Great match, aside from a few lapses in concentration. The covering and support of each other was amazing to watch, and indefatigable. Those were some tired guys at the end of that match, deservedly so.

Guardiola: 10. Right lineup, right substitutions (particularly Keita) at the right time, and what must have been a killer halftime speech.

Valdes: 8. The one goal he couldn’t do anything about, excellent play after that, including stopping a Rossi free kick that came smoking from behind the wall, and catching it cold. Our sweeper keeper kicked out the jams, and notice his much improved long distribution.

Alves: 6. This was a vexing match for our Energizer Bunny, because for every good thing that he did, a bad one seemed to follow almost directly after. A great pass would be followed by sloppy possession. An excellent would then find him getting caught up the pitch on the counter. And he has to shoot. If you’re an attacker, you have to shoot.

Abidal: 9. He wasn’t perfect, but everybody on that pitch who was playing defense had their butt saved by Abidal yesterday, even Maxwell, who was saved from being last man who stopped a goal scoring chance by Abidal’s pace. He even intercepted a pass just outside the Villarreal box and morphed into attacker. Our French Greyhound will never, ever quell the “He sucks at CB” talk, but playing next to Puyol is a very different proposition.

Puyol: 7. Speaking of Puyol, key interventions and his usual lion-hearted performance mostly cancelled out Villarreal attackers waltzing past him, including Nilmar for their goal. And what a rocket header that just missed.

Maxwell: 6. What he is supposed to be bringing to the side in his left back role is a bit more offense and midfield control than he’s been providing. But his lack of pace coupled with Alves’ roaming, means that such a thing will happen only rarely. He was solid, and a lion in the air.

Busquets: 6. Not his best match, as we are seeing that he tends to be less effective in pressing, physical matches with a lot of midfield action. He often dwells on the ball too long, messing up attacks or giving up possession. Mostly good, but a lot of Bad Busi, as well.

Xavi: 6. Caught in possession a few times, and some uncharacteristically wayward passes, he seemed just a bit off, thanks in part to the intense marking and pressure from Villarreal. Had another “shall we dance” moment, which was ruined when the referee didn’t play the advantage.

Iniesta: 8. We needed him, and he came through with a brilliance that makes me love me some Ghostface. Passes, runs, steals, defense, taking fouls, that moon-like pate was omnipresent, and it needed to be.

Messi: 8. When your best player is also one of your hardest workers, it’s really, really hard to argue with the assertion that he is the best player in the world right now. And his brace was a delight to watch, for all the aforementioned reasons.

Pedro!: 7. Still had too many moments where he wasn’t in the match, but our Random Chaos Generator was verging on amazing. His energy is boundless, and he understands that when not scoring goals, you can still help the side by pressuring everyone you can run to, passing and being a general nuisiance. Dude’s gotta shoot more, though. There were two runs into their box in which he was caught thinking too much.

Villa: 7. You can tell, as with Henry his first year with us, that he isn’t used to the game that we play. He still tires into the second halves of matches and becomes completely ineffective. Beautiful goal, and some excellent passing as well as defending made his delightful effort symbolic of team strength. Everybody was doing everything.


Keita (for Villa): 7. And that number was rising like a rocket. This was an inspired substitution, as the midfield needed his pace, athleticism and physicality, as Xavi was beginning to wane. He closed down everything that came near him.

Adriano (for Maxwell): incomplete. Not that impressive in the time that he had out there, but not long enough to really score.

Mascherano (for Xavi): incomplete. Again, the right substitution, but not enough time to do anything except help us run out the string.

Finally, we should all recognize how amazing this time is. I have watched a lot of Barca sides over the years and this one for me, is so special. The Ronaldinho years contained delights, silverware and amazing moments, but that side didn’t, match in and match out, from front to back, play football with the beauty of this side. It’s Masia graduates and choice purchases, coupled with a coach that understands the game and how to, most matches, get the most from his players. Everyone is playing at or close to their peak, and even when they aren’t, there’s someone who is able to elevate his game to make up the difference, and keep the engine purring along at a high level. Every one of the starting XI is undisputably world class, and we are so fortunate, whatever happens this season, to be able to watch this amazing, amazing group of players.

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Written by:

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. November 14, 2010

    I won’t call it the perfect lineup, but obviously -especially when the players are fresh after a whole week break- the quality of individuals relatively cover any flaws in the selection.

    Even Kxevin, rated 9 outfield players in his preview. Thats a sign that the selection was one player away from perfection.

    Great show never the less.

    • November 14, 2010

      Perfection is always temporary and situational, never eternal.

      • November 14, 2010

        Still its unfair that you dont rate Maxwell in your review just to avoid making it perfect 😀

        • Kxevin
          November 14, 2010

          Oh, crap! Coming right up. I KNEW I was forgetting something….

  2. poipoi
    November 14, 2010

    last images from crynaldo in “el molinon” … that guy is the most hated ever, he doesn’t deserve that!! Worthless piece of… sorry

    • November 14, 2010

      Messi is played more a false 9 while Villa was basically doing a Henry job. And thats where I believe he can work best. Though, Both Villa and Pedro positioning was completely dependent on Messi’s movement.

      • Nik
        November 14, 2010

        Agreed. I never bought the argument that Villa could lead the line for us. He’s better starting off wide and cutting back in to the space opened up by his teammates (Torres on the NT, Messi for us).

  3. blitzen
    November 14, 2010

    Guardiola said in his press conference (in English!): “As long as I am coach, this is the kind of football we will play. We will make adjustments based on the opponents we are facing, but the football remains the same.”

    This is indeed a very special time!

  4. Vj
    November 14, 2010

    Guess who earned and scored a PK in the Inter-Milan match..

    EE won it late? Any surprises? I’ve said this once, and gonna say it again, they are like Boris the Blade, and to beat them, you got to be Bullet Tooth Tony..

  5. Patrick
    November 14, 2010

    Messi twas not offside on the final goal. There is some good photo proof of this I posted in liveblog post.

    • Kxevin
      November 14, 2010

      Find and repost please, Patrick. I did a frame-by-frame, and Messi sure looked off to me, but perhaps a different angle shows something else.

      • y2k156
        November 14, 2010

        I also think that the ball came off Villareal defender and in that case, Messi is not offside. In fact, i saw the reply thrice and it is pretty clear that ball came off Villareal player.

          • poipoi
            November 14, 2010

            came from vilareal’s player but before from p!’s foot. it’s the moment of p!’s pass that matters and in that moment messi is also onside, besides it was already 2-1 not that important IMO

          • poipoi
            November 14, 2010

            pass or shot, looks like p! shot

        • November 14, 2010

          The pics are convincing. Record corrected above. Thanks, Jnice and MoSSi.

          • November 14, 2010

            Bah to late to back up my own point. Note the rule is interpreted as the part of your body in the offsides position must be a part of your body which can legally play the ball, so arms dont count.

        • November 14, 2010

          He is definitely On, as by the laws of football arm is not considered for offside call. You can check FIFA site for that.

  6. y2k156
    November 14, 2010

    Yesterday’s was a great match for us. The team was just at top and it was nice to see Villareal play us, which they did very effectively.

    For me, Messi was MOTM yesterday. Abidal was quite good but for me, his best position remains LB.

    • November 14, 2010

      You’re looking at two goals. If you look at the effect that both players had on the match, the Abidal argument is easy. His work prevented a draw or a loss, made our possession game easier and made the entire back line look better. Messi took advantage of two Pedro! efforts to score. They were lovely goals, and Messi has had MOTM efforts. This just wasn’t one of them.

  7. Euler
    November 14, 2010

    Villareal played a brilliant match. Both sides played football of the highest quality.

    This was the best match Barca has played so far this season. In matches like Sevilla and Panathiakos Barca simply overwhelmed the other side. Here the other side’s quality required Barca to raise their game even higher.

    Barca was required to defend, maintain possession and finish at very high levels. And they did so wonderfully.

    Abidal was just fantastic. As cule’s we often make it a point of pride to say that football is about more than pace and physicality. That there are other ways to play the game. This is true but it’s not the entire story.

    When you watch Abidal play as he did yesterday you see how dominant a player can be who combines technique and athleticism. Messi combines different dimensions of the game in a similar fashion.

    As they have been all season, Villareal was extremely dangerous on counters at speed. Barca has to play a very high backline and having a player who great pace at CB is extraordinarily valuable. It’s more valuable for Barca then it is for nearly any other team in the world. That’s not to say pace is everything – there’s not substitute for technique. But when you have both it allows the team to play with great aggression and freedom.

    • November 14, 2010

      Exactly, Euler. It’s funny, but some people are never going to be convinced by Abidal. And I understand. The Chicago Bears had a running back, Matt Suhey, whom I detested. It didn’t matter what he did. Four touchdowns? I still hate him. So I can see the Abidal stuff.

      For me, he is consistently our best defender, and his pace is always filling in gaps, and allowing Alves to be the player that he is, as we play our high-risk three man back line. We’re going to miss him when he’s gone.

      • Euler
        November 14, 2010

        Abidal is great. I had real doubts about whether he could adapt to the role of CB fast enough to make things work this season given the squad’s limited depth. There’s no doubt that Abidal has the skill set to excel at CB, it was really the question of him adapting to a new role.

        And yesterday he was brilliant. Rossi and Nilmar are just a fantastic front two. And they play in a very difficult, challenging fashion because they don’t play to link up together. They are a very odd two striker formation.

        But much of what Rossi and Nilmar try to do is to use their quickness and positional intelligence to split apart backlines by exploiting space. This is what I was very worried about coming into this match.

        Barca is extremely vulnerable to the way Rossi and Nilmar play tactically because there is so much space behind the full backs.

        And time and time again it was Abidal who closed down play. He was great against one of the most dangerous two man formations in Europe right now.

      • Jim
        November 14, 2010

        I thought Abidal had a great game and I’m usually one of his critics. However, I would take issue with your assessment of him saving Maxwell’s butt at the booking. First of all, Maxwell was quick to spot that Xavi hadn’t followed his man (Senna?) so he left his man to intercept. The forward was heading across the box which is what I think saved Maxwell but even had he received a red it wasn’t his fault. He took one for the team.

        For me, Alves’ raiding forays left huge gaps which Puyol had been switched to the right CB to fill in. That was the harder job of the two CBs and he did it well – apart from his lapse at the goal. As you rightly say this meant that Maxwell had to come in from the left as the defence shuffled across to the right. If he had shown as little concern for his defensive duties as Alves we would have lost the game no question.

  8. Humphrey Bogart
    November 14, 2010

    Did anybody read the new comments from Ibra on Barcastuff? Maybe we did him wrong in one way or another, but I wish he would just shut up and put everything to bed, really.

    Back to the match: Like I said yesterday with a quote from Sid Lowe: Villareal were great, Barca were greater. After today Messi also did catch up with Ronaldo on Pichichi with 2 games less and I think some 3 penaltys left.

    I agree with all grades, maybe would Xavi put a little higher, because I think he just brings out the best in Don Andres and the other way around. He that we will see XavIniesta combo in midfield more often from now on, it is just the best line up.

    • poipoi
      November 14, 2010

      ibra? let him come to camp nou, let him come 😉

  9. poipoi
    November 14, 2010

    argentino commentator says: “con la tonta la manda a volar” – “with his silly foot he puts the ball to fly”

    that finish when he has little angle is becoming a trademark of messi, like that touch only romario did with the outside of his foot to surprise the keeper.


  10. Louis
    November 14, 2010

    Great review and a great match. I thought Maxwell actually played a fine defensive match for his standards and it seemed like he was under strict orders to not push up as high up the pitch as he normally does.

    And boy, I really wish Rossi had chosen to play for the NT where he was born. It would be nice to have an actual striker.

    • Ryan
      November 14, 2010

      Those two goals he scored against us in the Confederations Cup were especially hard to take. At least we got 2nd in that tourney!

    November 14, 2010

    Great review.But again what.s the point to find the MOTM?We have a 23years old magician who solves all of our problems.Messidepencia?Yeah i have no problem.Argentina won the W.C 86 with maradonadepencia.

    • Ryan
      November 14, 2010

      I happy to see us finally open up the scoring with someone other than Messi for once!

    November 14, 2010

    As kxevin said this team is:7 W.C champions,the best player in the world,the best R.B,one of the best L.B,the best D.M captain of argentina and also keita,milito,adriano and some talented youths.Is any reason this squad to fear anyone?No.We are the best.Maybe a little tired.But the future is bright(Ramzi)..In previous comment about leo i mean his scoring ability.

  13. Euler
    November 14, 2010

    Serie A football can be amazing to behold.

    AC Milan just took a corner and there was not a single AC Milan player in the box to receive the kick. They were all in their own defensive half other than Ibra. Pirlo then came forward and just tapped the ball to Ibra. AC Milan is down to 10 men and up 1-0. There was literally no one in the box to even aim the corner to.

    What an ugly game, even for the usual play in Italy. Two teams with no pace and limited technical skill just pawing and kicking at each other.

    Rafa is in a lot of trouble. Inter look horrible.

    • NeverEver
      November 15, 2010

      i agree, that match was just awful to watch.

      at one point milan had the ball in the left corner and the man had probably 4 or 5 defenders on him and Ibra was literally just standing in the middle of the pitch doing nothing. Not even trying to get anything open!

      And the fighting was awful. Abate getting himself kicked off when he was about to be subbed was plain stupid. I know the dude knocked you down and you’ve got your pride or whatever, but it’s about the team man!

      eck, I didn’t like what I saw at all but I guess since someone had to win, I’m glad it was Milan.

  14. Kari
    November 14, 2010

    This Zlatan fella (* ) really knows how to hold a grudge.

    Ibrahimovic: “Guardiola wants to be a philosopher when he talks his talk. It’s Mahatma Ghandhi talk when he’s preparing.” [tv10]

    Ibrahimovic: “I learned at Barcelona that football can change in 24 hours. I still haven’t got an answer as to what the problem was.” [tv10]

    Ibrahimovic: “Guardiola thinks he has created the football that exists in Barcelona.” [tv10]

    Can’t wait until Ibra comes and takes his place 😀

  15. Colby
    November 14, 2010

    I agree that Abidal played great, but wasn’t the Villareal goal partially his fault as well? Yes, Puyol got smoked. But because Puyol was on the wrong side of Nilmar it became Abidal’s responsibility to shut him down, which he failed to do. Instead, he got turned around a couple of times, thinking he should cover the other man, when in reality Maxwell had him covered and Abidal should have been stepping to Nilmar. Instead he just let him walk in on Valdes uncontested.


    • barca96
      November 14, 2010

      I was thinking of the same play when I read the review cause it wasn’t mentioned. That was really a big error but that was really his only fault in the match.

      • Kxevin
        November 14, 2010

        Sorry, but that play happened so fast that once Puyol was beaten, it was a fire drill. Abidal was trying to cover the man closest to him, and get between that man and the goal, which he successfully does, but that goal was open. So in looking to spread culpability, add Valdes to the list, who came off his line when he probably shouldn’t have.

        Teams usually concede as a unit, and the breakdown was comprehensive, like dominoes. Goals are garbage in, garbage out. None of our defenders are great one-on-one, and that weakness was exploited. They also tend to want to converge on the ball, which Maxwell and Abidal were also doing. Maxwell didn’t really have anyone covered, he was just running to the ball. Abidal was trying to put himself between the man and the goal, having no idea that Valdes was going to take matters into his own hands and charge Nilmar.

        So who is to blame depends on your worldview of a particular player. For me, goals are usually conceded as a team, but there is always that first domino. In this case, it was Puyol.

        • cliveee
          November 14, 2010

          Seeing Puyol got skipped pass and Abidal out of position, Valdes was right to come off the line. Otherwise, it will not be a chip from Nilmar, but a bomb.

          Abidal had about 0.5 second to make the decision after the brilliant Nilmar’s lightning fast dribble passed Puyol. He chose to prevent an easy goal for them, because he didn’t know where Maxwell was, and had he known Maxwell shut down the passing lane, he would have blocked it.

          Still, had Nilmar been a slightly bit uncertain and slow, he wouldn’t get that goal. So, hats off to him.

          • just sayin'
            November 15, 2010

            I’m with Colby and Barca96 on this one. I am a huge fan of Abidal, especially as LB. But, once Pyol was beaten by Nilmar, Abidal correctly followed him into the box, but then at the last second, he turned around and in the split second that he looked back at Maxwell, Nilmar pushed ahead and scored the goal. Abidal should have committed to Nilmar once he got past Puyol. Instead, he let Nilmar have his way and it cost us the goal.
            Other than that, he had a solid game. Although, I much prefer him as LB, he just appears more confident, decisive and sure footed in that position.
            I think Xavi deserved a higher rating. He was all over the field, making passes and keeping the control in midfield.

  16. MoSSi
    November 14, 2010

    Pastore scored a hattrick for Palermo today, he looks very promising..

    • poipoi
      November 14, 2010

      the porn star is gonna outshadow him aqnd take his place?

  17. barca96
    November 14, 2010

    We pressured them really good at the start of the match but after that offside incident, they looked demoralized, I thought they were gonna give up the match cause they kept on rushing. I was praying for the half-time whistle so that Pep can talk some senses into them.

    Iniesta started really poorly. At least 2 passes screwed up that could led Villa and another player onto a comfortable position for a goal.

    One- was in the middle on Villareal’s park in a break away, he could’ve passed to Villa who was free but mishit the ball.
    Two-after dribbling at the last line he failed to square to a free player and instead passed it to a Villareal player as he didn’t look up before passing.
    THose two were key moments as it could’ve killed off the match.

    Messi had one poor pass too in Vilalreal’s box. His back was against Villareal goal in the box, instead of passing to Pedro with his right he tried to pass with his left and mishit.
    Another golden opportunity missed.
    Overall, in the 1st half, they passed sloppiliy. A lot of lost balls.

    I do remember seeing Maxwell coming up helping Villa on the left a couple of times and it was great. Hope he would do it again when we play against a slower counter-attacking team.

    Alves was just great. Non-stop forcing a mistake from Villareal players! He pressured all the time until their players just gave away balls after balls.

    • Jim
      November 14, 2010

      I’m sure you also meant to mention his inch perfect assist for Villa’s opening goal?

      I agree Alves’ energy is amazing. However, it does come at a cost as more and more teams are finding the gaps behind him. Watch where Ronaldo gets his space in the Clasico. If Dani plays the same sort of game he did last night it’ll get interesting in defence during their counters.

      • barca96
        November 14, 2010

        Yes that was a brilliant assist. But the two mentioned by me were really simple passes but yeah, everyone makes a mistake once in a while.

        I think Pep instructed Alves not to venture forward so much during half-time. He was caught out a on a few ocassions earlier.

        Ronaldo and Di Maria can certainly punish Alves. But our attack is just different without him.

    November 14, 2010

    I saw afellay the friday and i have to say that he is an excellent player.And now we have a leo replacement if he miss a game.Ibrahim can play R.W.And guess what?ibra is gone,ibra(him)coming!

  19. Diego S.
    November 14, 2010

    Does anyone have a 09/10 Season Review containing all the goals from all the competitions or Highlights or something like that ?

  20. Kari
    November 14, 2010

    Inter lose the Milan derby, Chelski get spanked by Sunderland at home. All that was missing was Sporting Hee-hon holding EE. 🙁

    Meh, there’s still Atletic Bilbao to root for (although it’s not gonna be in the San Mames).

    Has anyone noticed that we’ve played the first leg of El Clasico at home for the last 4 (maybe more) seasons in a row? I want us to play El Clasico at home for the second part of the season for once…

  21. Kxevin
    November 14, 2010

    There were some weird matches this weekend. Serie A verges on unwatchable sometimes. I tried to deal with Roma/Juve and the Milan derby, and just couldn’t do it. The latter put me to sleep.

    Chelsea were all over Sunderland, keeping possession and moving the ball with ease, then Sunderland scored and the doors seemed to come off. Very strange. And United should have gone down, but Villa thought they were over and done with and gave up two silly, silly goals.

    Didn’t watch Hee-hon/EE because I just can’t watch that club, but it’s no surprise to me that they struggled to score. Gijon is a strong, proud club that is very difficult to break down. Don’t forget that we won 1-0 against them at home, in a difficult match.

    –Guardiola has given the players until Tuesday off. It’s well-earned.

    • blitzen
      November 14, 2010

      Surprised you can’t watch RM matches. Know thy enemy, yes? They were less than convincing today, and I was SO disappointed that HeeHaw couldn’t hold them for five. more. minutes. Agh! The Sporting fans are amazing, I must say.

      Happy Chelsea lost and Arsenal won. Watched Roma/Juventus by accident and wasn’t particularly entertained. I just don’t like Italian football.

  22. BA
    November 14, 2010

    oh and for all the Bale-doubters: he scored 2 and gave a brilliant assist for a 3rd on Saturday.

    • Kxevin
      November 14, 2010

      I don’t know if anyone is doubting Bale’s talent as much as his price. 50+m? Really? Don’t forget that Redknapp has said that Bale is “priceless.” Which means of course he’s for sale, any player is. But the number offered up had better be irrefreakinsistible.

  23. ooga aga
    November 14, 2010

    after 11 games, 2008-2009
    real mierda 28
    barca 27

    after 11 games, 2009-2010
    real madrid 29
    barca 28

    November 14, 2010

    Yeah kxevin!Good point!No big club in europe has a perfect record!That.s why i can.t understand the pessimism here some times!Imagine the blogs of inter fans,united,arsenal,liverpool,bayern,juventus!We are in a good way,we play better game after game!E.E are first but the don.t win easy away!They will lost points in away games and the start will be with us!

    • Kari
      November 14, 2010

      We’re in the same boat re: pessimism. I just let them rant 😀

      EE may be top, but we’ve played the hardest teams. They have yet to play Villareal, Sevilla, Athetic (away from home!) and Valencia. So when they lose to us on the 29th, we can look forward to them losing some more points 😉

    November 14, 2010

    And don.t forget!Last season E.E record at home was 18-0-1!But we are the champions!They afraid of us,that.s why they talk so much(marcelo,oezil e.t.c).And we will see how good is dimaria and the others against us.

  26. Spiro
    November 14, 2010

    lets not be too carried away though, Pep and the players do not take for granted that we have already beaten almost the top half of the table. Remember that Pep and the team take things one game at a time.

    let the other teams worry about points for now.

    remember that its only been 11 rounds, thats not even 1/3 of the season yet so much has happened over that time.

    • Kxevin
      November 14, 2010

      Exactly. One wrong foot plant and the season looks very different, yes? One match at a time is all that we can do. I think that both bigs are going to drop points. We need only look to the Premiership this weekend to understand. Chelsea went down, Citeh continues to implode, United should have gone down and Liverpool (yes, still a big club) got smoked. Only Arsenal won of the title contenders.

      • Spiro
        November 14, 2010

        talking about one game at a time, I think we have a score to settle with Almeria next round. I can’t remember exactly, but we drew 2-2 away in the second half of last season where Zlatan was sent off, cannot remember why. But the result really hurt us at that time.

    November 14, 2010

    Anyone saw E.E game?In ratings botia is the top of the match!I don.t trust them,so if someone watched is nice to tell how he played!

  28. cliveee
    November 14, 2010

    Great review! Thank you, Kxevin!

    Abidal all day all night. He is our clear motm last night. Strong in his defense and more impressively, distribution. We laud Piquenbauer for the way he moves the ball forward and start our attack from behind, but when he was suspended, Abidal stepped the hell up and fill the void, and man, he didn’t just fill the hole, he was big enough to expand and kill Villareal.

    It was a very difficult game. They pressed us hard and well. Abidal was forced to clear the ball a lot of times and we had a stretch of time when we just had to go long from behind. Abidal made some surprisingly sharp and accurate passes to prevent losing the ball to the sideline or straight to Villareal’s players. It was totally unexpected to me. Because most of the time, he is our leftback, and because of that position, he has a narrow angle of passing. When he moved to CB last night, he had more options, and man, I was impressed how he made those passes and the decision whether to clear or go for a pass. Truly great plays.

    Among all the good players, I think Pedro caught my eyes the most. Of course, Iniesta had more flashy and obvious shining moments, but that impossible second goal of ours, showed a pure class and enormous improvement of Pedro. One-two one-two, and a goal. 6 second of breathtaking passes. He did it once in one of the 5 goals scored against Panathinaikos at home. Pedro’s football IQ and his goal-scoring threat has improved to a level that we can count on him to play in our first team. The first team action last season was more fruitful than goals. He has seen enough movement of Messi and that’s why he is able to predict where Messi wanna go and what Messi could, and wanna do. That’s why that goal happened. If you don’t understand Messi enough, you may not play that second pass back to Messi because you would think the angle is too narrow to score, but guess what, Messi is that good to score from there.

  29. cliveee
    November 14, 2010

    Same! I can’t watch EE either. Ugly football. I finished watching the HeeHon game with much disgust. The Thong boy, Di Maria dives are enough to kill me. Unsportsmanlike plays as a team is even worse. Refusing to kick the ball out while HeeHon players were down, then complain to ref when ref stopped the game for the injured player. Violent Pepe who can only foul to stop plays. Hard to imagine a normal referee would not give him double yellow cards. Ramos endless rope from ref keep him fouling HeeHon all night.

    Hats off to Gijon despite the loss though. They played like a bunch of lions that just got out of the cage. They played just like Copenhagen against us with ultra high intensity. EE players just couldn’t play under pressure. Atletico never applied this same pressure from HeeHon to them, and when they visit our house several weeks later, it is just gonna be a nightmare for them. Because we are better than HeeHon and will press the hell out of the inexperienced team (a team that has just been gelled for a few months). The likes of Alonso, Khedira and Ozil will only spill the ball to us every time they touch it, Di Maria’s footwork won’t work as he can’t play under that same pressure. Their defenders can do nothing but to clear balls after balls and foul us in every possession. Park the bus all you want, but you won’t play football, you will only have set pieces. Because Thong Boy who can only dive to win, will do what he does best to keep the pitch like a swimming pool.

    I won’t watch any of their match as it disgusts me very badly. I feel healthy tho, because our club is just too good when I look at those ghetto footballers.

    • Spiro
      November 15, 2010

      well we won’t be the only team madrid will struggle against, pretty sure Villareal will give them the same treatment.

    • Jose
      November 15, 2010

      Woah now.. I’ve been seeing this on a lot of Barca blogs and I can’t agree.

      They may not be playing as well as their table position would lead one to believe, but I don’t doubt that this will be the most difficult Clasico for us since Pep has become coach. You can bet they won’t come the Barcelona with the same attitude or plan that they had with Gijon.

      EE has all the tools necessary to come to the Camp Nou and take one–even three–points from us. Despite the fact that his mindgames are getting laughed at by the rest of La Liga, Mourinho is still a very good tactician, and he knows that even if he can leave Barcelona with a draw, it will be considered a major coup in Madrid. (At least it will stop the 4 Clasico losing streak.) Talentwise, they are even better than they were last year, with a more experienced core.

      Look, I believe we’re the better team and that we’ll prevail in a few weeks. But I don’t believe for a second that the outcome is in any way certain or that EE right now isn’t a damn good team playing highly efficient football.

    • blitzen
      November 15, 2010

      Now be fair, the Gijon players dove just as much if not more than the RM ones. And I hate to say it, but Ronaldo was the best player out there on the night. He may be a whining diving crybaby, but he knows what he is doing with a ball. There was a lot of fouling going on, though. Sergio Ramos was particularly bad, and Pepe almost goes without saying.

    November 15, 2010

    So what?how much money that team cost?how much money their team cost last season?we are fighting against the most expencive team in football history.With 8 players from la masia.In EPL all the big clubs are fighting with the same guns.In serieA the same.Only ronaldo cost more than villa,alvez,abidal transfers.I am not afraid of them even the god was his coach.I am sure about our team,we are hungry,we are quality,we have the champions spirit.

  31. flyzowee
    November 15, 2010

    Look, look….. the EE are real good, reallly good.

    I watched their game yesterday and i was impressed by their sheer resilience, they may not look pretty at times, but they sure as hell know what their doing.
    One thing i also realized is that they are far more equipped to break buses then we are.

    It will be a massive game at camp nou, when i look at their strengths and weaknesses as against ours, i believe the game starts at a 50-50 chance for both teams.
    We will have to play even better than the game against Villarreal.

    But we will prevail.

    • Diego S.
      November 15, 2010

      “One thing i also realized is that they are far more equipped to break buses then we are.”

      Explain, please.

      • stowe
        November 15, 2010

        i’m guessing he means that they are good on set pieces. They are tall and ronaldo is really good a free kicks.

        • Flyzowee
          November 15, 2010

          Exactly, not to mention that they have alonso and khedira who are not half bad from range.

    November 15, 2010

    We will have to play better?No.They have to play better.Why are you so pathetic?We beat valencia,sevilla,villareal at home.Who they won away?Sociedad,malaga and sporting.Come on.

    November 15, 2010

    Some times i wonder what our team must do.It.s not a 50-50.We are better,we play home,we won them 4 times.Imagine if that facts did not existed what you would say.

    • Nik
      November 15, 2010

      Honestly, our home record this year hasn’t been that fantastic. Home field advantage is kinda meh for me (at least for this season). Also, the victories we’ve had over them in the previous seasons have no bearing whatsoever on this year. The past is the past.

      I’ll agree with Jose. EE is a really good team, with one of the most successful coaches in the business leading them. It’s going to be a tough match for us.

      That being said, I like our chances. 🙂

  34. blitzen
    November 15, 2010

    I just read that the coach of Panathinaikos has quit. I hate to take pleasure in others’ misfortune, but this can only be good news for us for the upcoming game.

    • y2k156
      November 15, 2010

      Or maybe not. New coaches always tend to fire up players for first few days.

    • Kari
      November 15, 2010

      Darnit, blitzen. If you had typed what I read at first (“I love taking pleasure in other’ misforture”) , I would have said, “SCHADENFREUDE!”

    November 15, 2010

    Don.t worry.Panathinaikos is not a danger.I watch them every week.

    November 15, 2010

    Tell me one big game that we lost at home with pep as a coach.One.And then i accept that our home advantage is not big.

    • Flyzowee
      November 15, 2010

      You are one highly optimistic guy.

      Is there not a team in europe that you believe poses some sort of danger to us?

        • Louis
          November 15, 2010

          Getting thrashed by Liverpool and Sunderland in successive weeks, isn’t my idea of a team to be scared of.

          • Ryan
            November 15, 2010

            Key phrase being “with their best 11.”

          • Jim
            November 15, 2010

            If I were a betting man my money would be on them making the final this year now they have Essen back. Unless they play us in the semis, of course.

    November 15, 2010

    No there is not a team in europe that i am afraid.If there was not volcano-bus trip last season we would be champions of europe again.I am not an arrogant one.I just have endless faith to pep and players and coaching stuff.

    • Vj
      November 15, 2010

      Gee I was thinking of the same thing while I was on a bus today.. That bus ride played its part in us dozing off after scorin..

  38. True Barca Fan
    November 15, 2010

    Great Football. Great Team. Great Blog.

  39. November 15, 2010


    Affelay, fichado! Great news… I imagine Kxev dancing in jubilation right now 🙂

  40. Cluless
    November 15, 2010

    We got us a Dutch National not named Van Der Wiel!!!!

  41. Alexinho
    November 15, 2010

    On Valdes’ distribution. In this game, for the first time EVER, I thought “excellent ball!” about one of his passes from open play. I capitalize EVER, not only because it was the first time I’ve attributed that exclamation to the play of Valdes, but it was also the first time I’ve done so to the play of any goalkeeper, anywhere, ever. The man clearly practices with Xavi, and is coached by Guardiola.

  42. Alexinho
    November 15, 2010

    On Abidal at CB. Does he not add pace to our backline, the kind of pace we always feel we miss with any one of our standard CBs?

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