Barca 5, Evil Empire 0, aka “Thong Boy was right. We DIDN’T score 8. See?”

Pep Morata/El Mundo Deportivo

While watching this match, I was speechless. While trying to find verbiage to adequately characterize what I watched twice, I couldn’t really do it. I still can’t. And in thinking about what I, what we all witnessed today, the tears flow.

It’s times like this when doing a match review is kind of absurd. I hope that we all realize how special, how amazing this club that we are seeing is. Week after week we get to witness it all. We got to see the buildup, from an egg-faced loss to Hercules to the dismantling of Sevilla, of a team rounding into form. And after the last round of matches, they were ready for this. How ready, nobody really knew.

Now we do, in what was one hell of a way for the club to fete its 111th birthday.

Rolling into this El Clasic was a monstrous mass of complexities: Mourinho, Thong Boy with willing accomplices, Puyol and Pique in a little bit of a purple patch, tendinitis, mind games and anticipation. Nobody knew what was going to happen. As someone noted in one of the comments posts in the zillion El Clasic buildup posts that rained down, things could be 4-0 either way.

But who in their right mind predicted 5-0? Perhaps someone who had a lot more faith in this club, this team, than the typical querrulous cule could have seen what happened every time this club faced a test this season, every time we matched up against a club that was going to have the stuff to do us in. Spines stiffened, contentration focussed and they played like lions. Perhaps that same faith-drenched soul, knowing that this would be the sternest test of them all against a club and a coach, a Svengali-like 12th man, could have predicted that our best football would be on display.

I sure wasn’t that person. I was worried as hell.

Guardiola rolled out with his best lineup of Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Pedro! and Villa. He also made a liar out of fools like me who had the temerity to suggest that Mascherano might be a better fit for the battle that was to come than Busquets who, like the rest of his teammates, stunned and amazed.

I noted over at the EE Offside that the differences in this match might be that Abidal and Iniesta were fit and healthy, something that hasn’t been the case the past two seasons. But it was more than that.

–The constant attack was devastating. We treated the ball, when they got it, as if their possession was a sin.
–This was one of Messi’s best matches in the colors, despite his not scoring a goal.
–Pedro! was a difference maker, with his constant motion.
–The ball still moves faster than any man. It takes a disciplined defense not to chase.
–An attacking Xavi was exceptionally destabilizing.
–We had too many points of attack to successfully deal with.

It was almost as if the club read Euler’s dissection of what we had to do to dismantle EE, then went out and did it.

They were showing faces before the match, and Messi had the killer eyes that he often has before bit matches. And when he thugged the ball off of DiMaria in the box, he was sending a clear message that he was ready, and everybody else had better be, as well. He underscored that message with a crazy, audacious curling chip that just hit the woodwork, that had Casillas beaten. We were blasting shots from every angle, all over them as we clearly wanted to demonstrate that this was an exorcism, that Mourinho’s demons would be cast out like rancid cava. And the first goal wasn’t long in coming.

Recall the post I put up about our players and the demands that they place upon each other. So when Iniesta took a pass and spanked it exactly as hard as he needed to into a gap for an attacking(!) Xavi, Marcelo tried the sliding tackle off a ball that was a stunner, a pass that couldn’t be made into that space with that much pace, that sure as hell couldn’t be controlled by any player on the pitch. And his tackle just missed, deflecting the ball neatly for Xavi, who one-time chipped it over a lunging Casillas. It was 1-0, we had the early goal and first blood.

Some will claim that EE sat back and watched us pass the ball, that they should have pressed us like so many teams have tried to do, with aggressive, physical play that pushed us back up the pitch. The reason that wasn’t going to work today, was width. Note how many times Villa or Pedro! got the ball on the wing with acres of space, as the defense and midfield compressed to control the likes of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. You have to pick your poison with us now. So when Xavi popped an inch-perfect pass across the midfield to Villa, Sergio Ramos was caught out of position. Villa dive-bombed toward the end line and spanked another rock-hard cross into the box. It deflected off Casillas’ hands right to P!, who volleyed home.

Just like that it was 2-0, and EE got the bit between their teeth, to play their best spell of football of the match so far, pressing and pressuring with dynamic, possession football, forcing some key interventions from Puyol and Abidal, who were monsters today. Then we got the ball back, and returned to work. Messi justmissed Iniesta with a long pass, that should have alerted the EE defenders that maybe, just maybe, they shouldn’t be playing him for the run. Abidal worked the beginnings of an enticing 1-2 with Villa, bombing up the pitch like a greyhound unbound, shortly after that outrunning an EE defender for a pass up the wing. The attack was about width, about making the field too wide to be played, attacking from as many different points as possible. It was pressure, tempo, passing, pressure, repeat, as we could play very differently with a 2-0 lead, with defense through possession.

It’s also worth noting that as with a lot of lopsided results, there was some luck involved. If Marcelo moves a bit more quickly to intercept Iniesta’s pass, if Casillas doesn’t deflect the ball directly to P!, it’s a very different match, one balanced on the typical Clasic knife edge. Yes, quality created the openings for our players to exploit, but make no mistake, some of the reason for this result was also that it was a team against a collection of high-priced talent. You could see it in the passes that they were missing, or that players had to reach for versus the way we just pinged the ball around, with every player having multiple options and always making the right decision with the ball. It was that quickness of thought that the Champions League commentators were talking about as we destroyed Panathinaikos.

And the passes needed to be perfect, because as we saw, they were a dangerous team with the ball, on a rainy, crazed night that followed Catalan elections, in which the fervor of the fans was at a frenetic pitch. They screamed, they whistled, they made the cavernous Camp Nou feel like a clasustrophobic Tercera home pitch, and the players responded.

The third goal was one of those Messi Moments again, as Alves hesitated to hit a streaking Villa with the pass but Messi didn’t, showing Alves how it’s done. His beautiful, defense splitting ball found Villa in perfect stride, and he spanked a shot that he barely needed to control into the far corner of the goal. 3-0, and that crucial third goal went the wrong way for the visitors.

This might be our Villa World, as he is offside four times, then onside once, but that once finds the back of the net. And again, the pass asked a question of Villa: “Can you handle this?”

Then the same duo did it again, this time more dynamically as Messi made one of those crazy-quilt runs of his, riding a trip attempt to continue across the pitch, moving the defense with him before slapping another ball to a just onside Villa, who finished with a slow roller for the 4-0 lead to effectively end a match, but begin a show of passing possession football. The flicks, backheels, close control and overlapping, integrated runs was amazing to see as we monopolized possession for what seemed like an eternity, periods interrupted by Arbeloa hard fouls. Then Diarra joined in, and we seemed to suddenly pass the ball with a bit more purpose, scoring a fifth goal that I like to think someone said afterward, “That was for you, Arbeloa!”

Bojan Krkic made a pace-y, slashing run up the pitch, snookering his defender and smoking a cross that missed a hard-charging Iniesta but fell right to Jeffren, who did a tidy flip finish to make it 5-0, and then it got messy. Sergio Ramos, trying to one up Arbeloa, came in hard, and viciously on Messi. When Puyol charged up to defend Messi, Ramos shoved him to the pitch, completely losing his cool in a display that he will be ashamed of tomorrow. Phil Schoen said that he could understand it, after the humiliation that EE had suffered, one of the more idiotic statements studding a broadcast history filled with them.

There was, and will never be an excuse for Ramos’ behavior. The red card was deserved, and I would expect an extension to the automatic one-match ban. But even that brouhaha couldn’t detract in any way from what was an amazing display, that showed that this football club is fully capable of. It was awe-inspiring and joyous. People will say that EE played poorly. I say that like any side that faces us, they really weren’t allowed to play. We have the ball, and the rare times that we cede possession means that you have a very few chances with which to threaten our goal. And those odds are in our favor.

Team: 10. A collective that was stronger than any individual, we demonstrated the effectiveness of a team playing a system at its highest level. Great players+a great system+form=destruction.

Guardiola: 10. Right lineup, right modifications of the roles. A more aggressive Xavi and a more selfish Iniesta meant that suddenly, we had, in effect 5 direct attackers, not counting the two wing backs who were constantly coming up.

Valdes: 8. Strong when he needed to be, but a major communication problem with Puyol almost cost us dearly.

Alves: 8. We can’t sell him. Again, I know that it makes sense right now, but we just can’t. His defense was as effective as his offense today. He does need to be quicker with the passes, however.

Pique: 7. Our weakest defender today. Puyol bailed him out a couple of times, and full-on Piquenbauer still isn’t back. But a strong match.

Puyol: 9. An absolute lion, from whistle to whistle. He won balls in the air, defended corners stoutly and raised hell in general.

Abidal: 10. He was a difference maker today, as Di Maria must have been thinking “This game isn’t so easy now. I sure wish this dude would leave me alone so I could do my thing.” He headed away, cut balls off, stole, intercepted, attacked and did everything his club required and more. Brilliant match.

Busquets: 9. Had a couple of ineffective periods, but came into his own when we started to tika-taka the match away. In his own way, he makes life almost as difficult as Mascherano does, gumming up the works and frustrating opponents.

Xavi: 10. Pass after unerring pass, and even a goal. He’s getting rather fond of leading defenders in that dancing game, He did it again today, in between running his offense with metronomic perfection.

Iniesta: 8. Except for a period of invisibility, he was massive today, and another key to the match. A fit, aggressive Ghostface is devastating. And what a pass for that first goal.

Messi: 9. He, like everyone else who does it, loses a point for that dive. He deseved the yellow. Yes, Carvalho’s arm came up, but still. It shouldn’t have happened. Now. He worked harder, ran harder, played defense like a defender and possession like a midfielder. He even attacked like a striker, stole balls and was an absolute dynamo today. He did everything except score a goal, the absence of which doesn’t keep him from being Man of the Match.

Pedro!: 8. The Random Chaos Generator isn’t so random any longer. He plays a very focussed game of almost unrelenting aggression that brings real danger to the wing. And it’s nice to have his scoring touch back.

Villa: 7. Two goals and an assist and excellent movement brought him back from the ratings damage done by the offsides, lost balls and misdirected passes. He’s still feeling his way, and will have matches that are up and down. Both his goals were beauties, as was the assist. He’s still learning the system, and next season he should be the player that people were expecting this season.

Substitutes

Krkic (for Villa): 8. Massive, and another strong performance. He played like the confident, aggressive attacker that everyone has been expecting, and actually looked better in the overall system than Villa did. And what an assist for the final goal.

Keita (for Xavi): incomplete. Insufficient time to evaluate him fully.

Jeffren (for Pedro!): incomplete. Again, despite his scoring a goal, insufficient time. I can say that this was the first time that I saw the skills that got him promoted. He wasn’t a driverless Ferrari toay, and what a well-taken goal.

Finally, the league isn’t over. We have only a two-point lead, a gap that could evaporate instantly with a poor display by us and a strong one by them. Remember Hercules, and keep those heads on straight.


Hee, hee! Under your skin, am I, Thong Boy?”

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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.

280 Comments

  1. Auld Super
    November 30, 2010

    So happy.

  2. poipoi
    November 30, 2010

    h–p://yfrog.com/ba88a0j

    always!

  3. November 30, 2010

    Kxev… amazing.

    And not a word for Sid Lowe :)))

    Guys, i guess this is what you call Megaupload (in case im wrong, forgive me) πŸ™‚

    http://rapidshare.com/files/434099357/the_match.torrent

    It’s from demonoid, it is the Sky Sports broadcast with pre-match b-shit about some bright light coming over the Barcelona Sky… πŸ™‚

  4. stowe
    November 30, 2010

    Maybe it was missed. Does anyone thing we might have peaked too early?

    • Jnice
      November 30, 2010

      Nope. This was Pep’s plan at least physically anyway like when we had that “Tourmalet” against all of the better teams in La Liga in the first half of the 08/09 culminating with a win over Madrid.

    • K(legit)
      November 30, 2010

      LMAO!!!!

  5. blitzen
    November 30, 2010

    From goal.com, Puyol speaking to AS:

    “I went to defend a team-mate because I thought it was a very tough tackle [by Sergio Ramos].

    “We have many friends in the Real Madrid dressing room, and there is no problem with that. Whatever happens on the field stays on the field.

    “I have a very good relationship with Sergio Ramos, and the incident has already been forgotten. I have other things to think about that are more important.”

    You might forget about it Puyi, you classy man, but I sure won’t. Oh, how I hate Ramos!

  6. K(legit)
    November 30, 2010

    Pique for 6 mill..we got him for 6 mill..*shakes head in disbelief*

    Oh and Ramzi totally pwned a dude over at the EE offside regarding the Guard of Honour “they” did for us in “their” house πŸ˜€

    • Jnice
      November 30, 2010

      “La Liga is rubbish” or something to that effect.

      Imagine if comments weren’t closed on that article. The abuse he would receive would be off the charts.

      • K(legit)
        November 30, 2010

        Imagine the egg on that idiot’s face if..no..when Xavi wins it now

  7. Josep
    November 30, 2010

    Imagine if Messi would’ve passed to an unmarked Villa I think when the score was 1-0. He wanted the goal himself. It would’ve been spectacular.

    A complete match. IMO, Bojan played well but certainly not that high. I mean he should’ve scored he was thru on goal and tripped himself. If its a 0-0 game does he get a high rating or just because of what he contributed to an already defeated team?

    I love Bojan though. God, I can’t wait to see more of this. The passes completed numbers, the 17-2 Pep-Madrid aggregate. Xavi completing I think 114/117 passes. MY GOD.

    One month till Ibrahim Afellay. πŸ™‚

    • Josep
      November 30, 2010

      I admit, that pass for the fourth goal.. was omg. The run, gets fouled, stays on his feet,then plays a perfect thru ball.

      Lets not get complacent folks.

  8. Kari
    November 30, 2010

    “If Barca win, its the players. If RM win, its Mou. Am I the only one who is sick of people hyping Mou and underestimating Pep?”

    I agree about a million percent, Ramzi! I’ve always felt “Mou” was overhyped to ridiculous proportions. “No way Mourinho could possibly lose by such a scoreline. This 5-0 must be part of his masterplan for the match in April.” What bullsh*t.

    –poipoi, the lucky guy!, got to see this match live in the Camp Nou. He took some lovely pictures as well (he posted it on the other thread). Did you girlfriend finally let you use her camera? πŸ˜€

    —I slept in and missed watching the match from the third (or fourth, lost count) time, but I’m preparing to download the Sky Sports version. I freakin’ love this team.

    • Josep
      November 30, 2010

      Good thing Pep doesn’t care about the praise. He’s stepped in and becoming a top 3-5 coach in his first year and people claim its all in the team he was handed. He was handed arguably a BETTER team, and sold some stars then won 6 trophies.

      There will always be doubters and idiots. No doubt Mourinho is a good coach, but tactician I always thought overrated.

      He was praised for only losing 1-0 at the Camp Nou (really 2-0), but an offside goal allowed him to defend. He did nothing special. No attacker, 9 defenders. Thats it. He dropped 9 men back, and Barca kept trying to pass it into the net.

  9. Jnice
    November 30, 2010

    Ramos only got a 1 game suspension for his antics last night. Incredible. Oh well….

    • Josep
      November 30, 2010

      A joke. Ramos should’ve seen at least 2. How Carvalho didn’t see red, and how Arbeloa didn’t see any cards last night baffles me.

    • soccermomof4
      November 30, 2010

      NO WAY!

    • IS
      November 30, 2010

      Is that final? Doesn’t a committee typically meet to discuss the weekly happenings in La Liga?

  10. Josep
    November 30, 2010

    Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos each fined €20,000, Iker Casillas €10,000, Jerzy Dudek €5,000 and Real Madrid in general €120,000

  11. Josep
    November 30, 2010

    NEW NEWS: Jose Mourinho handed one-match touchline ban in Champions League and fined €40,000 over Real Madrid’s red cards at Ajax #fb

    Not that it matters. This one is stupid and bizarre. THey’re doing it to crackdown, but know the game means nothing to madrid.

    • IS
      November 30, 2010

      I think Mou got a 2-match ban where the first ban is enforced immediately as of their next CL game and he will be given probation for 3-years instead of being served the second ban straight away.

  12. Eklavya
    November 30, 2010

    Does anyone has a good picture of the Camp Nou mosaic?

    • Jnice
      November 30, 2010

      This one isn’t bad: *http://static.ow.ly/photos/original/5W3G.jpg

      • Eklavya
        November 30, 2010

        HOLY SH*T ITS GREAT! 😯
        You will go straight to Heaven Jnice!!!

      • Jnice
        November 30, 2010

        Haha. All I did was find the picture.

  13. tyler
    November 30, 2010

    the most amazing thing in the world is I know have at&t uverse internet which allows me to stream epsn3.com in HD via my xbox to my tv. no more sh*tty webstreams! I can now watch all the games on ESPNdeportes that GOLTV doesn’t seem to want to broadcast. Oh and they have an archived HD version of yesterday’s clasico that I can watch as many times as I like πŸ˜€

  14. ooga aga
    November 30, 2010

    phil ball
    *http://soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story?id=847482&sec=europe&root=europe&cc=5901

    • ooga aga
      November 30, 2010

      phil: “Whatever, the least one expected was a manita (little hand), the phrase reserved for games that end in a 5-0 scoreline. In some ways, they’re worse than a 6-0 result, because the latter has no nickname, no bruising synonym created to humiliate.”

      • Jnice
        November 30, 2010

        ” …. and Khedira seemed to undergo some sort of paralysis, like a startled rabbit in the headlights of a speeding car”

        Made me chuckle because that’s exactly what he looked like to me.

  15. sab
    November 30, 2010

    funny

    -http://www.goal.com/en/news/1717/editorial/2010/11/30/2238655/michael-yokhins-top-11-the-great-achievements-of-real

  16. Kari
    November 30, 2010

    You know what I’m sick of: people giving Xavi and Iniesta the recognition they deserve but only doing it to spite Messi. Stuff like:

    “I do really think that Messi wouldn’t be getting half these plaudits without Xavi and Iniesta behind him. He was easily marked out of the World Cup, you just can’t do that at Barca because Xavi and Iniesta will just produce something between themselves as they did for the first goal.”

    “If he still looks as good in 4-5 years time when neither Iniesta or Xavi are around then you can start making the Pele and Marradonna comparrisons.”

    I have one thing to say to you people: have you ever seen Messi play? I don’t mean watching the highlights of matches and reading online blogs about games and looking at stats, which is obviously what you’re doing. Watch him play and then we’ll talk.

    • Jnice
      November 30, 2010

      Fully agree.

    • Hilal
      November 30, 2010

      Dont let stuff like this bother you. No matter how good we are, no matter who we beat and how many times we prove ourselves, no matter how ridiculous Messi is, people who dont support Barca will always say things like this out of spite. First, Barca was dependent on Messi, now all of a sudden Messi isnt the same without Xavi/Iniesta, it will never end. Just enjoy the fact that we are witnessing the best player in history play for the best team in history.

    • Dave
      November 30, 2010

      Great comment. Bitterness and begrudgery is the order of the day. We can all expect nothing less

  17. jnelson
    November 30, 2010

    watched the game over again and felt the need to count consecutive passes completed in the second half. here it is:
    4-1-6-2-3-9-4-2-1-1-2-2-9-1-1-9-5(Goal)-1-5(Goal)-10-10-3-8-2-12-15-4-1-21-3-8-20-23-11-5-10-1-3-5-3-2-6-5-2-5-1-5-17-6-3-5-1-4-2-11(Goal)
    A few things that stood out to me from both halves:
    -Puyol starting attacks
    -Dani Alves seeing a pass was way off and dropping off, adjusting to intercept the following header from an EE player (it is crazy how so many opposing players will have plenty of space and yet head the ball instead of chesting it into possession like Pique)
    -Iniesta and Messi popping up to receive passes, losing a tackle the instant of reception,and immediately dishing the ball out into space. Brilliant.
    -SEVERAL overlooked runs and opportunities for EASY through or lobbed through balls towards the end of the second half. you can easily see someone like villa, bojan, p!, or messi with the entire left or right side open, being kept way onside by xabi alonso or someone and one of our guys declining to make that pass. it REALLY could have been more. there is no other explanation other than we took our foot off the gas after 4, as evidenced by our long passing chains, until the hard fouls compelled us to drop another.

    • Jim
      December 1, 2010

      Thanks for that breakdown. I guess I was as happy with the contempt with which we passed the ball around them in the last twenty minutes. you could see them literally running round in circles. πŸ™‚

  18. cliu
    November 30, 2010

    In heaven…at our viewing session, some one said after 60 min mark, it’s like watching a cat play with a mouse and then some one else said, no, it’s like watching a killer whale play with a baby seal!

    • stowe
      December 1, 2010

      hahahaha! that’s awesome, and disgusting

  19. Clue(less)
    November 30, 2010

    Im so happy I am going to go get on my LADYYYYY PYRAMIDDDDDD!!!!!

  20. Eklavya
    November 30, 2010

    BTW, great review Kxevin! Although the one you did after the 6-2 is still the best and my favorite one! πŸ˜€

  21. gow
    November 30, 2010

    hey guys… does anyone have highlights from sky sports in ebglish, from those two commentators…???
    please it would really help:D

    • Jnice
      November 30, 2010

      Nov 29 2010 – La Liga – Barcelona v. Real Madrid – HIGHLIGHTS – 26 Mins -SKY SPORTS

      *http://hotfile.com/dl/85863413/0b24b1d/La_Liga_-_Barca_v._Real_Madrid_-_HIGHLIGHTS_-_29-11-10.avi.html

      or *http://www.fileserve.com/file/TeXbh8X/La Liga – Barca v. Real Madrid – HIGHLIGHTS – 29-11-10.avi

      or *http://bitshare.com/files/oz7anaa8/La-Liga—Barca-v.-Real-Madrid—HIGHLIGHTS—29-11-10.avi.html

      Credit to Pakman at fbtz.com

      • gow
        November 30, 2010

        thanks jnice…really apreciate it…sucks big when you miss a game like this

  22. gow
    November 30, 2010

    english*

  23. blitzen
    November 30, 2010

    Just finished watching it for the third time, it just gets better every time. A few more observations:

    –I am shocked by how poorly Xabi Alonso played. I usually rate him as RM’s best player who isn’t Casillas, but he was practically invisible out there. Even the few times we allowed him to have the ball he was surprisingly ineffective.

    –no one, and I mean NO ONE, has a first touch like Iniesta. Not even Xavi.

    –don’t care what anyone says, Abidal had a monster of a match. He was everywhere, attacking, defending, covering for Puyol or Pique on occasion. Yes, he made a few bad passes, but Iniesta did too, and Xavi.

    –I originally thought Alves didn’t have such a great match, but after watching it a couple more times I can see just how hard RM was pressuring him. They obviously had him pegged as a huge threat and did their best to shut him down completely. They couldn’t do it, though, and the added attention on Alves actually helped leave Abidal free to roam on the left side.

    –watch that amazing run Pedro! made for his goal. He had just been knocked down way back on the right and still managed to jump up, know magically exactly where he was going to need to be, and get there at the exact second he was needed. I love me some Pedro!

    –CRonaldo actually played quite well considering he was carrying his entire team on his back. He is definitely a great player, but he just doesn’t have the same capability that Messi has to create brilliant plays out of nothing at all.

    • Kari
      November 30, 2010

      re Alonso: I wasn’t surprised. I don’t really like Xabi Alonso–I find him to be a tad overrated (although it’s not his fault he played in a league that constantly overrates players). It’s no secret that during the WC I frequently expressed my misgivings on him always being in the starting XI (thus becoming a liability), and the fact that he thought he was Xavi during some games. That’s just my opinion though.

      His skill set is long range passing, right? Forgive my ignorance, but what else does he do? (Honest question.)

      • blitzen
        November 30, 2010

        Well, theoretically he controls his midfield the same way Xavi does, but he tends to play deeper, less attacking. His long-ranges are usually very accurate, but he can work the short triangles too. At Liverpool his job was to link up with Gerrard, and they have missed him terribly since he left. He has been crucial in Mourinho’s formations so far this season and provides a lot of on-field leadership.

        I forgot to mention in my post that this game has also really highlighted for me the difference in what Barcelona expects from its goalkeeper. Valdes is directly involved in plays in a way that Casillas is not. His job isn’t just to protect his net, but to be an extra defender, starting plays, working the triangles, controlling what is happening on his end of the pitch. This really is Total Football, Barca style.

    • cliveee
      November 30, 2010

      I am not a fan I guess, because Xabi Alonso has always been awful in my opinion. He has good long pass which requires space and time to watch and think. So, I fully predicted a non-function midfield of Real Madrid yesterday as I predicted Xabi Alonso to pass like crap and lose balls all night. He and Khedira are two of the biggest culprit of their team’s horrid performance.

      If you watch the world cup again, you will realize Alonso lost the most balls and made the most bad passes on the Spanish NT. Sometimes I feel funny to see Xavi & Busquets ignoring him for even a short pass, maybe they don’t want him to lose the ball again.

      • cliveee
        November 30, 2010

        Did I just get Hectored by Kari? is that what Hectored means?

      • Eklavya
        November 30, 2010

        Not really.
        Comment =\= post.

      • Kari
        November 30, 2010

        No, you didn’t get Hectored, cliveee.

        Hectored (v.) – when one posts a long comment on one thread only for another post to come up, thereby making the comment useless (as most people will now go to the new post’s thread and not read the comment on the other thread). The term originally come from Hector who used to post long, insightful comments only for Kxevin or Isaish to post something.

      • Eklavya
        November 30, 2010

        I remember when the won the CL, he posted a looong comment only for Isaiah to put up a new post with only a pic and no words. LOL

      • Jnice
        November 30, 2010

        LOL, I love the (v.).

      • cliveee
        November 30, 2010

        Amen. I finally understand this word.

  24. Cam
    November 30, 2010

    Two tactical notes I hadn’t seen discussed which intrigued me.

    The increasing propensity for Alves to slide into a right-central midfield role, reminiscent of the role he played for Brasil at the World Cup. This makes Alves’ offensive position on the pitch less predictable as he seems to switch between tucking in next to Xavi and bombing forward down the right. It also lessens pressure on Xavi as Alves is a second pivot to form triangles with Messi in the center and P! on the right. This action is predicated on and a result of P!’s location at RW as his wide play and defensive awareness give Alves even more license to roam that he had when Messi was out right. One aspect of the Messi in false nine or attacking mid role is that it has moved the devastating Alves-Xavi-Messi triangle away from the right touchline and towards the center of the pitch where it is even more devastating.

    Second, I really enjoyed Pep’s plan to switch Pique and Puyol so that the latter was always on the side of Ronaldo. One weakness of Pique’s game is his propensity to dive into tackles when isolated against faster players. Puyol is very good when aggressively doubling against wingers trying to cut into the box. This move cut down on the room afforded to Ronaldo and cut down on the likelihood of free kicks for EE in a threatening position. The latter was paramount because against Barca free kicks are about the only way Ronaldo can make an impact. You could see that limiting free kick opportunities was an important part of the game plan by the reaction on Villa’s face after he gave away that free kick in the center with his late tackle from the side. His face said “oh man I just did something bad that Pep said we must never, never do.”

    Neither of these items are not as dramatic as playing Chivu on the wing or effective using Samuel Etoo as a right back (I enjoyed seeing Di Maria stuck defending in the box yesterday as well), so commentators will continue to dismiss Guardiola as a tactician in comparison to Mourinho. But I think they evidence the little ways Guardiola has influenced our approach. He is the best in the world.

    • momo
      November 30, 2010

      Well said.

    • cliveee
      November 30, 2010

      Spot on about Dani Alves. One has to wonder the right flank alone is mere little space for this guy to run as he seems to be asking constantly for more exercise on the pitch. Therefore, moving closer to the midfield is the natural thing he would do.

      Also, I had noted it when we discussed about Abidal’s improved passing as a CB. Same goes for Alves, because if you play on the flanks, your passing angle is just so limited. Alves takes advantage of Messi’s constant movement from inside to outside and from midfield to final third. The way he forms triangles with teammates shows how well he understands our game.

      His impeccable athleticism always overwhelms me.

    • Jnice
      November 30, 2010

      His face said β€œoh man I just did something bad that Pep said we must never, never do.”

      Yup. I saw the look of horror on Puyol’s face as well. Silly Villa. And what a terrible job that wall (or Abidal) did, btw. Made an average “into the wall” free kick look somewhat threatening.

  25. Jnice
    November 30, 2010

    Nice piece in Marca with Santi Segurola where he answers questions of fans every week. I like him, he is always so reasonable and always praises Barça even though he is a Madridista.

    Someone asked him to define Busquets and his answer was: “The best kept secret in football.”

    *http://www.marca.com/charlas/santiagosegurola/30112010.html

  26. blitzen
    November 30, 2010

    “They could have played with two balls,” wrote Roberto Palomar, “and Barcelona would have controlled both.”

    πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    Stolen from Sid Lowe’s column:

    *http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2010/nov/30/barcelona-win-epoch-defining-clasico

  27. Kxevin
    November 30, 2010

    This comment on Phil Ball’s piece, from an H-Master77, sums up what we do with a ton of eloquence and simplicity:

    And all so simple. Don’t play a striker, have 6-7 players flood the midfield and so totally dominate that area. Always have 4-5 players within 10 yards of the ball, who are all superbly comfortable on the ball, always a perfect first touch, always giving and going, overrunning the defence with pace and movement. And, if the ball is lost, constantly pressure the opposition, totally surrounding the man in possession until it is won back. For 90 minutes.

    Teams just cannot deal with it.

  28. Jose
    November 30, 2010

    “Even Iker Casillas looked human. The last few games against Barcelona have left him looking desperate, as if his life were almost perfect (beautiful girlfriend, international acclaim, World Cup win, etc) but for the two occasions on which he has to be humiliated per season.”

    Glorious moment from Phil Ball… and I truly agree, Casillas being an EE player I don’t dislike.

    • Jnice
      November 30, 2010

      Sometimes, thoguh, he does that “Iker face” too much where he makes it look as if he was in no way responsible for the goals going in. Like for Pedro’s goal for example. Yes Ramos and Marcelo were poor, but damn son, you are partly to blame for letting that ball even reach Pedro.

      Then other times, he always looks at the linesman and complains and tells him off. But yeah, besides that, he’s cool.

      • k505
        November 30, 2010

        read a comment on another blog about iker being a “true” captain compared to puyol because of his attitude. in what universe? i know a lot of people were sympathetic because he looked so defeated halfway through the match, especially after villa scored. i think that’s one of the things that got madrid’s morale down, combined with mourinho not even bothering to stand up during the second half. when the two people who are supposed to be leading you get disheartened, and show it too, it has to be frustrating for those players who want to keep putting up a fight. just made me appreciate puyol more – “even with four goals down, he still thinks we can win” i’ve never seen a match where puyol looked like he just wanted it to end.

  29. Kari
    November 30, 2010

    I’m going to look up the Revista de la Liga video before the Clasico and laugh at the expense of that ***** Guillem Balague. I bet he “predicted” an EE win but stated it as if it was something factual.

    • Jnice
      November 30, 2010

      That’s the best part of the post match reading I do. Looking at statements of players, fans, pundits before the game and laugh at how ridiculously off they were.

      Extremely gratifying even if it’s almost 5 pm and I’ve done nothing all day but watch the match for a 4th time (4 different broadcasts) and read comment after comment.

      Can’t wait for the new Revista to be posted. As always, I’ll post it here first thing.

      • blitzen
        November 30, 2010

        Yeah, I’m watching for a 4th time as well, SkySports this time. But I’m on vacation, what’s your excuse? πŸ™‚

      • Kari
        November 30, 2010

        Who needs an excuse? πŸ˜€

      • Jnice
        November 30, 2010

        Ha, I’m on extended vacation, whereby I’m supposed to be preparing to take the LSAT in December. Safe to say that I haven’t touched a prep book in awhile.

      • outerspacedout
        November 30, 2010

        Is LSAT anything similar to the SAT SAT? Cos I took those in January and December about a year ago but I hadn’t heard of an LSAT before. If they are the same thing try the Sparknotes website, it helped a lot.

      • Jnice
        November 30, 2010

        It’s the exam you take if you want to go to law school. And I have plenty of books and things like that. Thanks, though.

      • jhargrid
        December 1, 2010

        The LSAT mostly tests verbal and logical reasoning skills, so there’s no math, and the scoring is done somewhat differently. I just took mine in October. Good luck with that Jnice!

    • IS
      November 30, 2010

      When does Revista de La Liga usually air? I’ve been waiting for it to pop up on youtube all day…

      .. nothin yet

      • Jnice
        November 30, 2010

        Think they had to shoot it late today because everyone had to fly back from Barcelona to London since they actually did yesterday’s game from the stadium.

  30. Auld Super
    November 30, 2010

    Revista’s on in 5 minutes. Ronaldo is a petulant prick, I can’t stand the sight of the gobshite.

  31. Auld Super
    November 30, 2010

    Terry, Graham and Guillem in studio. This should be good.

    • Jnice
      November 30, 2010

      *Rubs palms together in delight*

  32. Auld Super
    November 30, 2010

    It’s on sky sports 1 now.

  33. Auld Super
    November 30, 2010

    Hunter is loving it.

  34. Auld Super
    November 30, 2010

    Balague’s off saying Catalans prefer to see Madrid lose than to see Barca win.

  35. Auld Super
    November 30, 2010

    I love Graham Hunter.

    It’s all the players fault according to balague, not mourinhos. And he’s saying now mourinho meant them to lose badly to teach his players a lesson, christ !

    • Kari
      November 30, 2010

      ” And he’s saying now mourinho meant them to lose badly to teach his players a lesson”

      You’re joking. I can’t believe that people actually listen to this guy.

  36. Auld Super
    November 30, 2010

    I’m not he said it, I get the feeling he doesn’t exactly love Barca.

    • Kari
      November 30, 2010

      He’s an Espanyol fan and writes for AS, but still has the gall to comment on Barca as if he were a neutral. He also hides behind the fact the he’s half-Catalan and born in Barcelona, so people don’t accuse him of bias.

      This will turn into a rant if I keep going, so I’ll stop, but in short: the guy’s a d*ck.

      • Dave
        November 30, 2010

        Balague is a complete crony. Hes up his own arse, self publicist.Hell his website looks like Argos selling this shit and that. He writes for papers that have a subscription story ie the english Times and directs people to this. He acted as an mouth piece for Benitez his best friend saying this and that to the press mostly threats like Benitez wasn’t being funded by the board.
        Most galling is his predictions. Some gather round him like hes some Oracle reader- to me hes a joke. He’s like Nostradamus whose supporters go on and on about his great predictions forgetting of course that for every correct prediction theres probably ten wrong ones.
        The guys also a real sickener when it comes to licking ass. For instance getting an interview with Mourinho means he now loves him. Also he bangs on and on about Ronaldo defending his shitty attitude. I know the world of journalism is murky, back handers here and there to make connections and networks but he takes the piss.
        We must remember he works for the same paper as the demented Fred Hermel and Tomas Roncero.Says it all really.
        I despise him as an individual, a real grease ball. All hot air really. One can’t go past Graham Hunter. Then Sid Lowe and the iconoclast Tim Stannard. Top Journos

        DISCLAIMER- THE ABOVE IS THE VIEWPOINT OF ONE INDIVIDUAL WHO CAN’T STOMACH BS, AND DOES NOT REPRESENT THE VIEWS AND OPINIONS OF THE BLOG.

      • outerspacedout
        December 1, 2010

        The only La Liga journalists I read regularly are Phil Ball and less regularly Sid Lowe and Tim Stannard (is he La Liga Loca guy? If so then yeah him). Don’t know Guillem Balague but his name reminds me of Gollum. Love the Phil Ball Monday column. Oh and Ed Alvarez quinielas on Soccernet too. The only Graham Hunter piece I read was his Messi vs Ronaldo piece in the build-up to the Clasico.

        Oh and then the Goal.com guys like KS Leong, Carlo Garganese (bleh- one of the most biased writers I read), Subhankar Mondal who while he tends to go overboard with metaphors and ridiculously flowery language and seems to prefer Madrid seems to be nice enough and is commendably unbiased, admitting fairly when one team or the other sucks, Ewan Mcdonald, and so on. But then I don’t really count the Goal.com folks as ‘journalists’ looking at the standard of the stuff there, which is really awful. Most of the news are rumours and BS, the editorial columns are extremely wind-vane-ish (especially Garganese, the most bandwagoning journalist I know- one bad performance by someone and he will write an editorial saying they’re finished, a good performance by a team and he’ll write one saying they are unstoppable, and every month or so he writes something about how strong and deep the Serie A is, as well as slipping that fact into all his articles, along with going on about how global warming is a myth and adding other such political opinions or personal opinions into articles as if they were fact, hating on the La Liga and the EPL, and making regular joke columns which aren’t funny at all more often than not though I will admit he gets maybe one or two out of every ten jokes decent), their player ratings are a joke, their previews are clueless, their tactical analyses are horrible, and boy could I go on! Anyway yeah I respect Subhankar Mondal for keeping up some journalistic integrity by remaining unbiased and fair generally as far as I remember and not jumping onto the bandwagon after every one performance (digital spit at Carlo Garganese’s direction) and then getting off it the next, and Clark Whitney their Bundesliga journalist cos he writes some pretty decent stuff and seems an all-round cool guy and the most journalistic of the staff there. Dunno if I’m forgetting anyone.

        Btw, we should have an HTML tag for haha, something like making the text between them red and underlined and bold, or something, hahaha. Like we do for ‘strong’ tags and underline tags.

      • Dave
        December 1, 2010

        Mondal is the biggest madridista on the site. A bio I read, he describes getting teary eyed over Figo for Madrid.

        Garganese always supports Seria A in the face of English media nonsense yet laments its decline. IMO he has a soft spot for Juve and great Italian players of the past

      • outerspacedout
        December 1, 2010

        Yeah that’s why I respect the fact that Mondal gives Barcelona credit when they are superior and admits Madrid’s faults when they suck. His referee watch for example was quite fair, unlike whenever Garganese does anything about say Inter.

  37. just sayin'
    November 30, 2010

    Still trying to figure out what happened to RM? I understand we totally dominated, but RM looked like they either had a really off day or Mou had a pretty poor strategy. Surprised that RM didn’t come out attacking and pressing our players because we always play better when we have space. They didn’t exactly park the bus because we scored 5 goals, so I was hoping to hear something telling from Mou regarding what went wrong. It’s like the played right into our hand. Don’t get me wrong, we played a pretty perfect game in every aspect and I can’t imagine ever seeing better soccer in my lifetime and consider myself lucky to be around to see Barca play, but what the heck was RM doing out there??

    • sheena
      December 1, 2010

      I wouldn’t worry too much about that. It’s just like when people said Sevilla rolled over and died for us, handing us the win. That wasn’t what happened at all. They were just demolished by our performance. Madrid could have played against any other side in the Liga that night, and probably won. We just didn’t give them the ball to do any significant damage.

  38. MoSSi
    November 30, 2010

    If we could just have a comfortable win against our games against Espanyol, I dislike them as I dislike EE.. If we then could win la liga it would be de best championship win ever!

  39. Auld Super
    November 30, 2010

    Balague just said we are the best team in history ! He nearly choked on the words.

  40. Kari
    November 30, 2010

    Revista de la Liga: November 23 (aka. Pre-Clasico)

    Laugh with me, people. There are two people the upload Revista, andruchk and blackyliu. I’ll post blackyliu because all their parts are still in tact (andruchk got Part 3 taken down)

    Their YouTube page: /http://www.youtube.com/user/blackyliu#g/u

    • Kari
      November 30, 2010

      Just saw Part 1 was taken down from blackyliu’s page. Here’s part 1 from andruchk /http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuyH_Ecnk2s

      They are both interchangeable, so if one part is missing from one, the other probably has it.

  41. soccermomof4
    November 30, 2010

    Hey, all,
    Someone refered to Jeffren as FF. Please explain FF to this newbie.

    • Jojo
      November 30, 2010

      I think if I recall correctly FF stands for Final Fantasy as his nickname…not entirely sure doh..can someone confirm??

      • Kari
        November 30, 2010

        Yup. Jeffren = Final Fantasy or FF for short.

        It’s because when he first debuted with the first team, he had a spiky hairstyle that reminded many of Cloud from Final Fantasy 7 (I LOVE that game by the way.)

      • outerspacedout
        November 30, 2010

        Never played 7 but I loved 10. When I was younger I had the most massive crush on the female main character from FF10 Yuna

      • Kari
        November 30, 2010

        Yuna, huh? Yeah, she was awesome. I hated what they did to her in the abomination that was X-2. Ugh.

        I didn’t have a “crush” on any other the characters per se, but Auron was such a badass.

      • outerspacedout
        December 1, 2010

        She set the bar for girls for me- ability to summon demon monster aeons aside- when I was like 11, 12 or so haha (until I watched Say Anything and Diane Court smashed the bar up a couple metres). But yes X2 was an absolute abomination. Yuck. Yuck.

        Auron WAS badass, he was so awesome too.

        Ah, good times. I don’t know where my PS2 went and I haven’t played any PS2 for maybe more than four years or so now, but even now when I hear the theme music with pianos the overall feeling of being that age comes back in a nostalgic way.

    • soccermomof4
      November 30, 2010

      thanks all!

      • Kari
        November 30, 2010

        No prob, SoMo. We always help out a new family member πŸ˜‰

  42. Joel
    November 30, 2010

    Thanks Camo, Ramzi, Jnice, blitzen and Kxevin. Ronaldo is pathetic and Xavi is awesome. Barca, while I live in the midwest U.S. my heart is in CataluΓ±a.

  43. Kxevin
    November 30, 2010

    Mourinho’s “It’s just three points” thing is right, and wrong. In the standings, it’s just three points. But psychologically, it’s significant. 5-0, 17-2 on aggregate. The longer you don’t beat a team, the harder it becomes to beat that team.

    But thay are a good football club, and a proud one. April will be intense.

    • Varughese
      December 1, 2010

      If we can keep a healthy lead till April, then Mourinho will be yet again in an unfamiliar territory. If we have lead over them in April, then they probably have to beat us in Bernabeu. In such a case we will murder them, as parking the bus option went out of window.

      I think Guardiola has found a kind of solution also for this Par Bus strategy. By Parking the bus, Mourinho will tempt to cut off supply to or Centre forward, so Guardiola solution is I won’t play a CF to cut supply for.

  44. Jnice
    November 30, 2010

    Revista De La Liga 11-30-10

    *http://hotfile.com/dl/86098974/2687c35/Revista_De_La_Liga_-_30-11-10.avi.html

    or *http://www.fileserve.com/file/fZXDQK8/Revista De La Liga – 30-11-10.avi

    or *http://bitshare.com/files/1za06tps/Revista-De-La-Liga—30-11-10.avi.html

    Credit to Pakman at fbtz.com

  45. jose89
    November 30, 2010

    great goal.com article.

    it’ll give you guys a chuckle.

    *http://www.goal.com/en-us/news/88/spain/2010/11/30/2238692/goalcom-top-11-the-great-achievements-of-real-madrids

    • Kevo
      November 30, 2010

      hehe I chuckled but I’d show more respect to the opponent, even tho it’s the bitter rival.

  46. simple_barcafan
    November 30, 2010

    And to that guy who put this headline “The best players of the world (and Xavi): Ronaldo crowned king of football” in Daily Mail in 2009…Only my respect this blog and refrain from using any profanity…but how I would love to punch him on his face…

  47. Clue(less)
    November 30, 2010

    Big props to andres at EE offsides, he found this and translates parts:

    some Madridistas were calling Benzema a mercenary and told khedira that he sucks and doesnt deserve to wear our ” fucking jersey ” , they also insulted Mourinho and Pepe

    here is a video
    **http://www.as.com/futbol/video/aficionados-madridistas-abroncaron-equipo-salida/dasftb/20101130dasdasftb_13/Ves

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