Copa Liveblog: Barcelona – Athletic Bilbao

VicSoc comes through with another unforgettable Liveblog. I know I won’t forget it, anyway. Off to the races with ye! Er, well, after the jump, anyway.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.

170 Comments

  1. Auld Super
    December 21, 2010

    Iniesta came out today saying he won’t be joining Man City as he wants to stay at Barca for as long as they will have him. This is of course totally normal but I was just thinking about how many times you hear players from other clubs categorically stating they never want to leave that club, it’s mighty rare so I hope y’all appreciate how lucky you are to not have to listen to garbage from players at your club, I sure am.

    • vicsoc8
      December 21, 2010

      It’s fantastic to have the players we have on this team. To be honest, their loyalty means that I don’t even worry about City being interested in all of our players. Aa long as our players don’t want to jump ship, it is kind of nice to have a club that is willing to pay top dollar for players when the club and the player decide it is time for them to move on.

  2. GREECE BARCA
    December 21, 2010

    Yes i wish alvez said the same thing…but now we have a game!!Bojan will rock tonight!!

  3. Auld Super
    December 21, 2010

    Lets hope so, looks like he’s going to be at the club forever.

    And yes it is handy having city there to take any players that might be getting a bit troublesome or tired of sitting on the bench.

  4. Eklavya
    December 21, 2010

    Wow, the LB closed before I could say *ends*!

  5. jordi(TM)
    December 21, 2010

    Last year of our shirts as they are :’-(

  6. y2k156
    December 21, 2010

    Well played by Bilbao and one of those matches where we could not find a way through. At the same time, I cannot say that any body played crap, maybe adriano did but not many others. We played well but were unable to do anything. Just like Chelsea or Man U. When 11 good players decide to defend, they can be quite formidable.

    Now the return leg will be tricky. At the same time, i feel sure that if we play with first 11, we will win. But if we decide to rest Villa and Messi as today, there are no guarantees.

    Good match though. I would have preferred a scored draw to scoreless one but wth.

      • Y2k156
        December 21, 2010

        Well man u dis the same in 2008.

    • beeeef
      December 21, 2010

      according to @barcastuff, it’s only our second such 0-0 draw at the nou camp under pep.

      hope we can get it done at bilbao.

  7. GREECE BARCA
    December 21, 2010

    I guess now we must play our best starting eleven in second leg!!

  8. Spiro
    December 21, 2010

    It was a good test though, what are the odds Mourinho will implement such tactic in the return classico?

    I’d agree with the performance, Eventhough it was frustrating, the way we played, especially the defence in the last half-hour, work very effeciently without putting a foot wrong, they turned over the ball so fast, and kept feeding our massive attaking machine of death.

    • Victor
      December 21, 2010

      If Madrid needs to win, in order to take the lead in La Liga, very little chances that Mourinho will try this tactic. If Madrid just needs to not lose… almost sure that Mourinho will do it.

      • Auld Super
        December 22, 2010

        You can be sure mourinho will use these tactics in the clasico because its against his nature to play any other way. He is anti-football like UEFA said, he’s brand of football is absolute rubbish but he mightn’t even be there then as he seems to be trying to engineer an exit already. Lets hope the bollix succeeds.

  9. Victor
    December 21, 2010

    Either way this is a bad result and a little disappointing. Of course, I do think that Barcelona will go through. However, we can’t take our chances and we’ll have to take the best to Bilbao: Xavi, Messi, Iniesta, Villa, Pedro, Busquets, Puyol.

    Unless Pep decides to take a risk and only take the “B team”.

    I didn’t watch the game, but from I read, we didn’t play as we should. Too many crosses apparently. Definitely not our style. Not that crosses are a bad option, it’s good to see variety in our style, but come on… Barcelona can’t rely too much on them.

    Or maybe Pep told them to try that… or maybe our players were on “vacation mode” already.

  10. vicsoc8
    December 21, 2010

    I wasn’t happy to see Adriano left on the bench at the start, it speaks of a lack of faith in him from Pep, especially in a Copa game. To make things worse he came in and was awful. That was the most worrying aspect of the game for me.

  11. GREECE BARCA
    December 21, 2010

    I totally respect bilbao but they don.t played football.Pedro was again the best along with abidal.I am a little dissapointed by bojan!We will win the second leg!

  12. PM
    December 21, 2010

    0-0 is not a bad result, Barca will win the return leg. No worries.

    On other news, balotelli wins an award and trashes everyone except Messi. How could you not love this guy 😀
    *http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/dec/21/mario-balotelli-wilshere-fabregas-rooney

    • Miguel
      December 21, 2010

      he does have great taste in hats, though!
      *http://www.whoateallthepies.tv/kits/59987/mario-balotellis-glove-hat-is-awesome.html

  13. Nav
    December 21, 2010

    So looks like they’re going the Chelsea route — defend like crazy away and try and win at home. I think Pep will send the first XI to the away leg.

  14. Kari
    December 21, 2010

    Does anyone know if there is a mediafire links for El Clasico (the manita)?

    (I really need to get premium accounts…)

    • Nav
      December 21, 2010

      did you try searching the comments from just after the el clasico? Jnice posted quite a few links — not sure if it was mediafire. I don’t bother with paid accounts. Just wait an hour or so for it to recharge.

      • Kari
        December 21, 2010

        Yeah, I’ve looked through some of Jnice’s links. It’s just with mediafire, you can download a whole half (parts 1-6) at once with FireFox. Saves a heck of a lot of time.

        Ah well.

        • Nav
          December 21, 2010

          Look for the mkv HD links he posted — just one big 1.5 GB file for each half. It was from fileserve as well so very fast

        • Jnice
          December 21, 2010

          Sky Sports Broadcast 720p HD

          *http://www.mediafire.com/?1o9hcmtffn62h

          Credit to J-Reyes at fbtz.com

    • Victor
      December 21, 2010

      Try looking at rojadirecta.org forums… they usually upload entire games…

  15. sheena
    December 21, 2010

    That was sad to see. I actually like Bilbao, but that kind of football (if you can call it that) was pathetic.

    That being said, our boys were largely to blame for this as well, what with Bojan failing to make the right runs, Pique & Xavi missing from 6 yards out, and the Brazilians firing crosses towards the third tier.
    We could have won this, despite Athletic’s tactics, had it not been for poor finishing.

    In an odd way, I am SORT of glad (no really, I am) that the team has been brought back down to Earth slightly. Some excellent, excellent performances have indeed been produced over the past couple of months, yes. But we also needed a big fat wake up call, that we aren’t invincible.

    As for the return leg: We didn’t score, true. But neither did they. This means that when they come out to play at home (because lets face it, there’s no way in hell the home supporters would condone that type of play) we should be able to score against them. And then they’d have to score 2, which I just don’t see them doing.

    Keep calm and Visca Barca! 🙂

    • Nav
      December 21, 2010

      I don’t blame them for parking the bus. It’s a viable strategy for playing against us and clearly is the only one that produces results.

      • sheena
        December 21, 2010

        They didn’t park a bus, they parked a train.
        But as I said, we should have been able to find a way around it. Our boys just had an off night.

        • Nav
          December 21, 2010

          I didn’t watch the game so I’m going by what I read in the comments — looks like we found a way around the bus but we couldn’t finish. Similar to the problems we were having earlier in the season.

          • sheena
            December 21, 2010

            True. Very reminiscent of the matches against Mallorca and Sporting.

          • Nav
            December 21, 2010

            I agree with you re: the wake up call. Glad it came in a CDR game and not in CL or Liga game.

    • I'm A Sailor, And I Lost My Leg
      December 21, 2010

      “That was sad to see. I actually like Bilbao, but that kind of football (if you can call it that) was pathetic.”

      you know, this blog does an excellent job at disproving the theory that all barca fans are arrogant.

      why is it sad/pathetic? Because bilbao refused to lay down for us and lose by 5 goals like everyone else?

      athletic is a team of inferior players. granted, they are good, but not barca good. When teams like inter and chelsea park the bus, it’s cause for complaints because they are good enough to come out and play us. athletic, in all honesty, aren’t. we beat them 3-1 in their place, and if not for some fine defense, we would have beaten them today.

      the theory that all teams must come out and attack Barca, or they are “pathetic” is highly arrogant and, let’s face it, a bit whiny. we’re not gonna win every game, and not every team is gonna just lay down for us to win.

      go support sme other club. we don’t need arrogant ones like you.

      • Jose
        December 21, 2010

        Man, I thought we outlawed assholery months ago.

      • GREECE BARCA
        December 21, 2010

        Sailor nobody wants easy wins and all that.Bilbao is a good team and i understand why they played like this.It s our problem to find solution against them.We will loose and we will draw games again,that.s normal.Faith is something,arrogance something else.

      • Vj
        December 22, 2010

        Yeah, go support another club, cause Sailor is the absolute authority on who gets to support the club.. kinda like Rosell..

        According to the Authority, no fan of Barca should be arrogant or be perceived as so by the Authority.. Only He is required to be arrogant enough to call out others.. He can also label other teams as ‘inferior’.. Yes, the Authority is allowed to be a Hypocrite..

        Yes, no one is supposed to “whine” about a team who were content on playing with 10 men in their own half and had a tally of 1 shot on our goal, that would be very arrogant would it not?

  16. Victor
    December 21, 2010

    Well, next on Barca’s schedule… the arriving of Ibrahim Afellay. Which will give our midfield a little more time to rest between weekly matches.

    Hopefully he’ll adapt quickly…

  17. Humphrey Bogart
    December 21, 2010

    Does anybody have a link for Revista de la liga?

  18. cliveee
    December 21, 2010

    boy, we almost made it.

    we had the chances but not the finishing. Just like early in the season. We rotated the ball beautifully and lacked the urge to shoot more and make direct plays.

    a draw at camp nou is definitely a positive result for any other team. you will be stupid to play fair and square against us. but we were unable to break this bus not because we didn’t create the chances, but we didn’t finish them. so, we only have ourselves to blame.

    however, i like how we ended the year with a draw, because this will keep our feet on a solid ground. we have not won titles yet (except supercopa). so, i think its a positive thing for our team to taste a scoreless draw outside of the liga / champions league. this way our players will be even more hungry to go for titles.

    need to download the match to watch again. the stream was so choppy.

  19. Jnice
    December 21, 2010

    Revista De La Liga – 12-21-10 – HTTP – *READ NOTES*

    Note from Pakman:

    THERE IS NO FULL REVISTA SHOW WHEN SKY SHOW MIDWEEK GAMES FROM SPAIN (COPA DEL REY TODAY), THIS IS THE ‘PRE MATCH’ PORTION OF THE LIVE BARCELONA V BILBAO GAME ON SKY TONIGHT. THEY DID SPEND 20 ODD MINUTES GOING OVER THE LEAGUE GAMES FROM THE WEEKEND SO I’LL POST IT AS A REVISTA EPISODE.

    *http://hotfile.com/dl/91064347/f8df868/Revista_De_La_Liga_-_21-12-10.avi.html

    or

    *http://www.fileserve.com/file/Bm2Y7ss/Revista De La Liga – 21-12-10.avi

    or

    *http://bitshare.com/files/3rtkhv3z/Revista-De-La-Liga—21-12-10.avi.html

    Courtesy of Pakman at fbtz.com

    • Humphrey Bogart
      December 21, 2010

      Thanks you are a download hero.

      Regarding the game, I hope that nobody is pushing the panic button yet. It is a draw, so nothing won and nothing loose yet. But I think at home they can hardly play for a 0-0 draw. Maybe it would have been better to start with our best line up, try to score and then give minutes to the other guys

  20. Miguel
    December 21, 2010

    despot boss walked in early so i couldn’t get my liveblog on or really catch the first half, but i did take an early lonche & suffered through the second. first half w/iniesta playing as an enganche was what i really wanted to see.

    seems like most games today were borefests.

    this is where all those games on the dvr come in handy. stupid holiday season. ba humbug!

  21. Tom_Johnson
    December 21, 2010

    Few things:

    I’m very impressed with the defensive part of the game. The pressing was fantastic. Mascherano and Abidal stuck out.

    Offense? Not so much. It is worrisome that we are experiencing the same kind of problems we did past couple of years against teams that “park the bus”. Few (if any) clear cut scoring opportunities. Midfield players are shooting little bit more now but they are way off target or not powerful enough. Poor crossing too. I’ll cut some slack to Alves for his work rate and minutes played but there is no reason for Adriano and Maxwell (that one time in the second half he was in the box) to cross poorly.

    We need to evolve to be able to better face situations like thees. Long distance shots, set pieces, more athleticism up front.

    Generally, I think Pep made a mistake (again, last year vs sevilla) of not playing the strongest lineup. This because it is so vital for our game plan to score early. This makes the opposing team open up more which, in return, gives us more room to work with. Once the game is developed to fit our rhythm, sub Messi and the likes. Not only we have a better grip on the game, the bench-players get to play with less pressure once they are given the opportunity.

    A mistake like this plays directly into the hands of a team like Bilbao. A team that came to defend and is saving its best shot for the home ground and its rowdy fans where we would have to “chase” the score (assuming more risk by playing a high line in the process). I blame Pep for this. We fell into the same trap last year and it had cost us. Then again, “we” might not care enough about the Cup which would render my argument pointless.

    Has the team switched to 3-4-3 when Adriano was introduced? With fullbacks alternating going forward and Pique sliding at DM (or acting as a striker).

    • Kari
      December 21, 2010

      I don’t think this will bite us back against Athletic. At least, not as badly as Sevilla.

      While it’s true we should have score to take the advantage into the second leg, A.Bilbao didn’t score. That’s pretty huge. What killed us against Sevilla was the fact that we lost the first leg and had 2 away goals to add salt to the wound. (Palop was also like a man possessed against us, but then again, when isn’t he?)

      Not saying this draw didn’t suck, but putting it into perspective, as long as we don’t lose, we go through.

      • Jose
        December 21, 2010

        Good point. Though this match felt like a wet fart, we should take away the positive that we have the away goal advantage for the San Mames leg. Even if they score one goal, they’ll be on shaky ground. If we score first, then it’s open season.

        *making it a point to copy all my posts before submission to ward off the CAPTCHA demon.

        • vicsoc8
          December 22, 2010

          If you hit the back button on your browser you don’t lose the post (it just moves down to the bottom of the page), but you can hit reply to the post you want to reply to and it will be a reply again. At least that how it works in safari.

          • Eklavya
            December 22, 2010

            If you use IE or Chrome it works, but it doesn’t with FF.

      • Tom_Johnson
        December 21, 2010

        I didn’t say that it will bite us back. Point is, we are putting ourselves at a disadvantage when we don’t have to.

        Truthfully, we should have scored more at Sevilla last year. But GK “having a day” is nothing too abstract or unusual. It happens with some regularity (look at the first few games of this season) and is something to take into account for the return leg.

        A goalless draw is certainly better than a loss (or a scoring draw at the home turf). However, Bilbao will hardly be the one to shy away from a penalty shoot-out.

    • Alexinho
      December 22, 2010

      I forgot to mention that in my comment below. Some might say that Athletic didn’t attack enough to warrant calling our defense excellent today–I disagree. I thought Mascherano looked so, so freaking alert, to start with. Collectively, it was a fine example of Barcelona defense. Neither Bojan (particularly) nor Pedro had great games offensively, but both tracked back very well. The same could be said for Alves and Maxwell. The individual skill in single defensive moves really struck me today–the way several players won fifty-fifty balls was almost artful. Count how many defensive headers you see that are either perfectly-placed passes or cut in between Athletic attackers, for example. For another thing, how many times could Barcelona have scored when the ball was won just outside the box? Those moments were the only truly wasteful ones, attacking-wise, for me.

  22. Kari
    December 21, 2010

    Watching El Clasico for the nth time.

    I still get goosebumps when the match starts. Even though I know exactly what happens.

    Just nothing like it.

    (Although I just downloaded the post-match of the game. Maybe I should download HT as well. Pre-Match is probably a Mourinho love-in, which would make me laugh if it were any other game. Now it makes sneer in disgust/piss me off. I’ll enjoy the post match though.)

  23. Miguel
    December 21, 2010

    banquillo-ish mall santa thingy starring mou mou & rafa:

    *http://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/blog/dirty-tackle/post/DT-Exclusive-Rafa-Benitez-tells-Santa-what-he-w?urn=sow-298917

  24. Nav
    December 21, 2010

    So if Messi is returning on the 1st or 2nd of Jan, that means he’ll miss the game against Levante?

  25. soccermomof4
    December 21, 2010

    Hey y’all,

    That was a pretty forgetable game. I think I’ll go watch some DVR’d good stuff. At least Athletic have to try to win in the return fixture so they can’t park the bus.

    To all who celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

    To all who celebrate something else, Happy Holidays amd a Happy New Year

  26. blitzen
    December 21, 2010

    Fabulous sports blog Who Ate All The Pies has voted Xavi the top footballer of 2010. Messi is #2, Iniesta #4, and Puyol is #9 (I think):

    *http://www.whoateallthepies.tv/lists/59888/the-10-best-footballers-in-2010.html?pid=11500

  27. Euler
    December 21, 2010

    I thought Bilbao played very well. Too many people underestimate how difficult it is to control space through shape and Bilbao did that very effectively today.

    Just look at what happened when RM tried to defend deep in numbers against barca. They just couldn’t do it effectively.

    Just my opinion, but I don’t think how Bilbao played can be dismissed as being “not football.” But obviously fans have always disagreed on such things regarding style of play. Just my take on it. I appreciated how they played as I don’t think it’s easy and it requires real skill.

    When teams are playing as narrowly as Bilbao did, Barca has to be able to use the flanks better. And that does not mean repeatedly crossing the ball. It means using the space on the flanks to create combination play and circulate the ball quickly to force the opposition to lose shape.

    • blitzen
      December 21, 2010

      No, what Bilbao did is not easy. It’s just boring and depressing. No one likes a purely defensive game. Kudos to them for achieving their goal, but I have a lot more respect for Espanyol, who actually tried to DO something.

      • Euler
        December 21, 2010

        It’s just boring and depressing.

        Perhaps to some Barca fans. Probably not to Bilbao supporters. I’m sure they were on the edge of their seats hoping to see if their squad could hold out and not concede.

        I personally didn’t find it boring or depressing. It’s one strategy through which football can be played. I don’t find it nearly as interesting as attacking football but I don’t find it boring either. Football is a great game and there are nearly always interesting things to watch in any match.

        As I said, these issues related to style have been with football since its inception. There’s no one right or wrong answer as there’s no single optimal style of play that is uniformly validated.

        • Jim
          December 22, 2010

          As long as they aren’t valued as the same, imo. As Ruud Gullit is fond of saying – It’s easier to destroy than to build.

          • Tom_Johnson
            December 22, 2010

            Or in Mourinho’s case, it’s easier to react than to act.

    • Tom_Johnson
      December 22, 2010

      “It means using the space on the flanks to create combination play and circulate the ball quickly to force the opposition to lose shape.”

      What exactly do you have in mind? The defenders are not retarded. They have seen plenty of tape. They’ll just sit back and not commit. All they care about is to crowd the space and passing lanes in the middle.

      They can live with us hitting crosses due to the small stature of our players.

  28. blitzen
    December 21, 2010

    Regarding the game–Caparros pretty much admitted that they played for a draw, or at least, not to lose, which is almost the same thing. They are banking on having the home advantage in the next leg, plus Llorente will be back. They won’t be able to park the bus against Barca at home, their fans wouldn’t stand for it, plus they really want to win, so they have to be more aggressive. That will suit us very well, plus as you all know, Barca usually steps up for a big game.

    I think this was just too soon after the incredibly exhausting game against Espanyol (seriously, watch that game again and see how FAST and physical the pace was compared to most La Liga games). I look forward to the next leg.

  29. blitzen
    December 21, 2010

    What I want for Xmas:

    1. Dani to sign his damn contract!

    2. Xavi to win the FIFA Balon d’Or.

    3. Ooooooooooohhhh!

    • Eklavya
      December 22, 2010

      I’m going to make a new Peanuts joke since they don’t seem to work anymore! Ooooooooh!

  30. jeifAR
    December 21, 2010

    The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) Report On Qatar Foundation – The Basis For Wave Of Criticism Of Barcelona Soccer Club Decision To Advertise Foundation

    *http://www.thememriblog.org/blog_personal/en/33001.htm

    for those who are interested in a fairly lengthy piece. at the very least, you’ll probably learn a little more about what Qatar Foundation does in Qatar.

    • Vj
      December 22, 2010

      Given the Sheikh’s anti-semitic stance, I believe the Qatar Foundation will get even more support from some people here..

      • Hilal
        December 22, 2010

        So what are you implying? That some people here are anti-sematic? What a ludicrous thing to say. I have never read a single comment that comes even close to being anti-sematic on this blog.

        • Jose
          December 22, 2010

          I think he meant some posters here showing support for a group whose charter expresses profoundly anti-Jew ideals and rhetoric, support which might be interpreted as anti-semitic. But in all seriousness, let’s drop this line of argument right here and now. The series of tubes has plenty of more appropriate forums. 🙂

          • Hilal
            December 22, 2010

            “a group whose charter expresses profoundly anti-Jew ideals and rhetoric”

            Not sure where you got that idea. Can you provide any proof of this or are you just speculating/making baseless accusations? Qatar foundation is a charitable organisation that helps support and build the arab community. Would love to see some evidence of this anit-sematism you are claiming is expressed so profoundly by the Qatar foundation.

            It seems that supporting a group that is arab is being seen as anti-sematic. Can you see how offensive that is?

          • Jose
            December 22, 2010

            I am part Arab, so save me the BS, hilal. I was referring to Hamas, not the Qatar Foundation, whom I have fairly positive views on (check my posts from a few weeks back).

          • Hilal
            December 22, 2010

            @Jose
            Sorry, it wasnt clear you were talking about Hamas, your post made it seem like you were referring to the Qatar foundation.

            @VJ
            Supporting a group that is fighting against illegal occupation and oppression is not anti-semitism. If its ok for the US to pump billions of dollars into Israel to support its daily war crimes then why shouldnt organisations like the Qatar foundation (if it is even true) not be allowed to do the same with Hamas? Who happen to be the DEMOCRATICALLY elected Palestinian governing body.

            I know this is a football blog and politics doesnt really have a place here, but if somebody posts something that is blatantly false I am going to point it out. I have no interest in starting a political debate though.

          • Vj
            December 22, 2010

            Hilal, you are saying that the Qatar Foundation has links with Hamas.. As far as FC Barcelona is concerned, this is not good news..

            The atrocities Hamas have conducted is also well documented, and so is their anti-semitism – just take a look at wikipedia!

            Only fact that is debatable is the “illegal occupation”, which is your point of view and your side of the argument which you state all too frequently, and then say that you don’t want to start a political debate..

    • Hilal
      December 22, 2010

      Lol. Please dont take this garbage seriously. MEMRI is a known US/Israel mouthpiece that spouts crap and misinoformation.

      Here is a nice article from the Guardian about MEMRI and its so called journalism – *http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/aug/12/worlddispatch.brianwhitaker

      If you are going to post something that is supposed to be informative at least check that the source is reasonably credible. MEMRI was founded by a former Israeli intelligence officer, it is hardly going to be ovjective or balanced.

      • Roz
        December 22, 2010

        I HATE HATE talking politics, especially on this site, but Hilal is right. MEMRI is and always has been Pro Israeli. Go Hilal.

        • Jose
          December 22, 2010

          I hate talking politics here as well. I wish people would stop taking that angle on the sponsorship, but everyone is entitled to express their POV.

        • Extreme barca fan
          December 22, 2010

          Roz you are palestenian i’m guessing, right?
          i’m from jordan, it would be nice to have fellow middle-easteners here, if not nice to know you any way

          • Roz
            December 22, 2010

            Yes your right. Im currently living here too. Been to Amman a couple of times. Didnt like it much. 😛

          • Extreme barca fan
            December 22, 2010

            Cool, i already know about Diego, now there are more of us here great
            Diego where exactly in Egypt are you from/living, i went there a few times and I’m certainly going back in the future

      • Vj
        December 22, 2010

        To summarize that article, MEMRI is an organization that translates some of the most outrageous articles from the Arabic media and presents it to the Western world.. Not many Hebrew articles spewing similar vitriol are translated by them, sparking calls of partisanship, which are reinforced by the fact that they were once a part of the Israeli governments establishments..

        But that shouldn’t mean what they say is not true.. Even the Guardian had to print a clarification that what the MEMRI were saying or translating was essentially true.. They may be biased, but there is no evidence to suggest that they are spouting crap or spreading misinformation..

      • velay21
        December 22, 2010

        “credible” source? “objective” and “balanced”? my friend, please realize that using such vocabulary either shows your naivety or your double-standards. EVERYTHING has bias. it’s inherent.

        and your view that israel is performing an “illegal occupation,” or is guilty of “war crimes?” Hamas a group that is fighting against “oppression”?? haha and you’re lambasting a source for not being “objective” or “balanced”?

        please, let’s refrain from political discussion on these boards if possible. as someone else pointed out, there are other forums for this kind of discourse.

        • Hilal
          December 22, 2010

          Actually it is not a view or an opinion that Israel is carrying out an illegal occupation or that it is guilty of war crimes. Those are facts and using parenthesis to describe them doesnt make them any less true.

          The current occupation of Palestinian land as well as the continued building of settlements is illegal under international law.

          Same with Israel’s very well documented war crimes spanning well over 50 years. Including several massacres and using illegal weapons in highly populated areas.

          You can check the UN website to see the rather long list of illegal Israeli activites.

          Of course there is inherent bias in everything, its human nature. MEMRI is not just biased though. They mistranslate Arabic text/media to portray it in a negative light. Again, this is not my opionion or view, but fact. I wont get into it here cos you are right, this is not the place for it, but there is plenty of evidence about MEMRI and how they mistranslate Arabic text. So no, they are not a credible source of information when it comes to the Qatar foundation.

          • ethan_barca
            December 22, 2010

            haha yeah i hate politics too, especially on a Barca blog of all places!

            i must say though that the whole pro-palestenian, anti-israel thing is a very hot topic in and around certain campuses in the US (especially liberal arts schools, like where I go). i was quite surprised when i first came to america and witnessed this.

            i can think of a legal occupation though; US occupation of Japan in the immediate postwar.

        • Roz
          December 22, 2010

          As noted I hate politcs, but in your Opinion, is there such thing as a legal occupation?

      • velay21
        December 22, 2010

        lol using the guardian to refute what MEMRI says/does. it’s a well documented FACT (actually more of a generalization, but see i can use this word too!) but the british media sources tend to be a lot more sympathetic to the palestenians than the israelis. does that make them more credible??

        • Hilal
          December 22, 2010

          Hahaha. On what planet do you live on mate. The UK media are more sypathetic to the Palestinians than the Israelis? Now I’ve heard it all. They might not be as blatantly one sided and misguided as the American media but they certainly arent pro-palestinan. They still very much lean towards Israel. Just because they actually get to the truth every once in a while doesnt make them sympathetic to the Palestinians. Lol. Good one though

          • velay21
            December 22, 2010

            haha yaa i know i’m just joking. just wanted to see if u would take the bait. my point is that dismissing one media source as complete BS [read the reports, check out what VJ already mentioned (guardian published a reprint saying essentially what MEMRI translates is true)] and than using another media source to refute it… all the while speaking with an authoritarian voice on all the true, objective “facts” on the situation in the ME. brooo i would say too that i’ve seen it all except in this case i have.

            OK, for the sake of the whole BFB community, lets stop lurking on this thread lolol. i’m going out.

            Visca Barca!!!

  31. Alexinho
    December 22, 2010

    What a game!

    1) Hats off to Athletic. They are always tough to beat, and a shining example of Spanish competitiveness for all those who think England is the only serious league in the world. Yes, they played for a draw, but who wouldn’t against Barca right now? They did so with defense so disciplined, a kind that I haven’t seen since Chelsea-Barca, and damned if we still didn’t get the same (effective) result in this one.

    2) Do we need an early goal, or at least take the lead by the half, in order to play our style? By scoring early, Barca can switch to tiki-taka mode sooner, and win the game in the midfield rather than up front. I think it is unquestionable that Barca is the best side in the world, but even if that is granted, are we overrated up front?

    3) It’s unfortunate that Messi and Villa had to come on. When Messi was out injured after the Atletico game, it was a great relief to me that Barca could still win games without him (ditto that for when Xavi was out). Games like these are a step backward–two steps backwards, even, because bringing Messi on didn’t win us the game.

    4) Merry Christmas, Barca! You’re gift is: rest for tired legs. I don’t think the team was bad overall by any stretch of the imagination, and the fatigue only showed when the team ventured into territory they rarely venture into: having to chase a win later and later into the game. But our two most important players aside from Messi–Xavi and Iniesta–both looked precipitously less sharp as the game went on.

    5) How to evaluate the subs? Did Villa flop? Did Messi flop? Or did these (especially Messi) only seem to flop because of the awkward width-emphasizing substitute of Mascherano (who was freaking EXCELLENT) for Adriano?

    6) Finally, to end on a true positive, it is great to see a team that never accepts defeat. I mentioned the Chelsea game before. What made that game so special, and what this game should be remembered for, is the fighting spirit with which Barca ended the game. Even though Xavi’s achilles was clearly about to snap and everyone else was merely tired as hell, nobody stopped running, inexorably forward. They gave themselves enough chances to win, but unfortunately, Athletic never stopped running, either, and Barca came up just short, lacking a perfect pass, the last, good touch, a quality finish.

    At the end of the day, this was a very refreshing game, and perhaps just what Barca needs to think about going into the Christmas break.

    Happy holidays, BFB!

    • Tom_Johnson
      December 22, 2010

      1) I think people in general give too much credit to a defensive display like this one. 8-9 grown men of average intelligence in great physical shape speaking the same language sitting behind the ball with their backs at the edge of the box should be able to do protect the box more often than not. And if they are not serious about going forward, it makes it even easier.

      Especially against the opponent of smaller stature on a wet/sloppy surface. We helped them by crossing poorly, misplacing the passes and not timing the runs.

      Point is, in a situation like this the space is limited and everything needs to be done quick and close to perfection to penetrate it. Or one needs to get a lucky bounce. Otherwise it is very hard. The game plan Manutd, Chelsea, Inter, Bilbao and some others came in to Kamp Nou with and the outcome they left with just further proves this. It is no coincidence.

      That is why I said we need to evolve beyond tiki-taka. Better long-distance shooting, set-pieces, more athleticism up front (height and speed).

      2) This one ties into the one above. Players are getting faster and stronger but the pitch stays the same. This favors a defensive approach. The longer the game goes, the defenders are growing confidence and the attackers are getting more nervous and frustrated (tiki-taka or not).

      This is especially true in the knock-out rounds/system.

      5) I don’t think flop would be a good word. Have they scored? No. But they didn’t exactly hurt us either.

      The game visibly picked up the speed and we were closer to creating a goal scoring opportunity once Messi and Villa were introduced.

  32. December 22, 2010

    I think we are seeing the best of Abidal right now. I don’t know how to evaluate his past performance when we look at the current Abidal. He is just too damn good right now!

    His ball skills have improved to a level that sees him dribble thru 2 opponents and the make a pass, or use 2 headers to control the ball and then flick it to Mascherano, or run around in right wing Joga Bonito a little with Alves. I mean, what the hell is this all about? All amazing stuff! I’d said it before and will say that again, Abidal has a limited role at leftback, and when he plays at CB, his potential releases and we have seen it time and again. His passing and the overall understanding of the game has reached a new high.

    To say this French veteran only has a year of good football left is a total underestimation. His fitness, skills and speed are still top-notch even on a team such as ours, not to mention other second best clubs.

    I felt that I should not be making Abidal’s highlight, but… but… BUT!!!! he has impressed us match after match and totally deserves a shoutout! GOOD JOB ABIDAL! KEEP PLAYING BEAUTIFUL!

    • Diego
      December 22, 2010

      Indeed, Abidal was amazing last night. He impressed everytime he played at CB this season.

    • Spiro
      December 22, 2010

      talk about reading the game too, very bloody impressive

    • December 22, 2010

      “He impressed everytime he played at CB this season.”

      I told you so:P

      And cliveee is not allowed to doubt him as a CB the first time he makes a defensive mistake 😉

    • Tom_Johnson
      December 22, 2010

      “To say this French veteran only has a year of good football left is a total underestimation.”

      I agree. He is more athletic (faster in particular) than Puyol. The sole Espanyol goal being the most obvious example. The ball handling skills are about the same while Captain Caveman appears to be a bit more passionate.

      Just hope Pep is wise enough to pull them out before they turn into Rafa Marquez of last season.

  33. Diego
    December 22, 2010

    -Bilbao was very good last night. I’m not going to criticize them for being defensive. They were amazing at defence and earned the draw. If they try to attack us, They’ll get killed. Why Would they do that ?

    -Abidal was Amazing, and so was Pedro.

    -This game was a good wake-up call. Because if we draw, All the Manitas mean nothing. We can’t keep playing this great football for ever. It also shows that with this generation of players and with Pep in charge, We can still lose or draw. And sometimes we’ll play medicore. We should appreciate what we’re seeing right now. Pep will leave soon with Other players retiring or losing their touch.

  34. Eklavya
    December 22, 2010

    The EE offside is pretty funny today.

    • Jose
      December 22, 2010

      Lol, i recall reading one of the posters claiming that this Barca not only isnt the best ever, but that this Barca team *cant ever* be considered the BOAT because nowadays there arent any “great teams” that can compete with us. Since only Barca is great.

      Living in denial 😛 (though I agree we cant claim to be the BOAT yet)

      • Jnice
        December 22, 2010

        Easy to guess which person said that…

          • Vj
            December 22, 2010

            Blanco and Iniesta? AAAARGH!! Don’t disrespect Iniesta by saying that geez..

            And then, Corey puts an end to the discussion which ironically, they started in the classiest manner possible..

    • barca96
      December 22, 2010

      -I will never venture into there but can you please
      tell me why it is funny?

      -I’m really starting to like Rosell. He is doing a more than decent job IMO. He has an agreement with UEFA to take 70 people to the Ballon D’or award.
      That’s a whole lot entourage from Barcelona.
      I hope Laporta & Cruyff get to go as well as they totally deserve this. They were the ones who achieved this.

      -Why has it been so slow here for the past few days?
      Kxev has gone MIA, Isaiah hardly posts anything even before this, SOMA is busy writing some masterclass posts that I only understand 5% of and Luke & Euler only pop in once a week.
      Even Ramzi is quiet that makes me think that he is actually Kxevin in disguise :p
      And it’s not just them that’s been quiet. The regular posters has been quiet too. Jnice, Kari etc.(sorry to those that I didn’t mention)

      • barca96
        December 22, 2010

        @Jose
        I never heard of the term BOAT before but that’s way nicer than the GOAT term.
        I don’t know the slangs they use in US, but I figured it out after reading that NAS is the GOAT or Jordan is the GOAT. Do you guys say the word “goat” or “boat” or like this? G.O.A.T.? Word by word?

        • Jose
          December 22, 2010

          😛 i just made the term BOAT up because i dont like GOAT.

          Also think the holidays are to blame for the lower activity. Routines break apart for two weeks or so around these times, lol.

      • blitzen
        December 22, 2010

        I’m still here! 🙂

        It’s the holiday season. A lot of people are traveling or busy with their families

        • Eklavya
          December 22, 2010

          Yeah Barca69, Blitzen your ever available citizen is here! What else do you need when he’s around? 😉

      • Jojo
        December 22, 2010

        lol……Barca96 I have been on the EE space just putting my point of views across since ironically they are calling our masterclass Xavi a “Hypocritical Bastard” and calling his intelligence into question.

        Other than that its the basic Madrid fans trying to make themselves feel better by bashing our team for their off-field activities while blatantly pointing out their past glories to belittle ours….

        Some are even trying to rationalize that the competition nowadays is not strong enough for us to call ourselves a GREAT team…and that also our cycle will end since we supposedly had an “inferiority complex” to them in the past.

  35. blitzen
    December 22, 2010

    I don’t think this has been posted yet? Awesome moment from the game:

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg0xrlZswMU&feature=player_embedded

    • blitzen
      December 22, 2010

      I shouldn’t reply to my own comment, but I’ve watched this about a dozen times because it’s so funny. I wish we could see Dani and Pep’s faces, though. Anyone have a link showing a different angle?

  36. Clue(less)
    December 22, 2010

    nice class act by rosell saying Pep will be barca president one day on goal dot com….credit where it is due

  37. Clue(less)
    December 22, 2010

    Breaking News:

    Andy Gray is a C**T!!!!!

    *http://www.goal.com/en-us/news/85/england/2010/12/21/2271248/top-epl-journalist-andy-gray-lionel-messi-is-not-good-enough-for-

  38. blitzen
    December 22, 2010

    Lots of good stuff on Barcastuff today, but I particularly like these quotes:

    Rosell (Barcelona president): “Guardiola and Alves? We’re not in a hurry, there’s a time for everything, but they will renew.”

    Iniesta: “The tie would anywayhave been decided in the return game. It’s always a complicated away game but we’re very motivated.

  39. HY
    December 22, 2010

    I want these for Christmas…

    *http://img163.imageshack.us/img163/9131/fcblakers.jpg

  40. blitzen
    December 22, 2010

    Mourinho makes friends wherever he goes! Unai Emery weighs in:

    “I’ve met [Sir Alex] Ferguson and [Pep] Guardiola and both are guys that have won everything. These are gentlemen and are very respectful. Then comes another great coach, in Jose Mourinho. What would it cost him to be cordial and respectful? We already know he is good.”

    Sometimes I just feel like I’m talking to myself in here…:)

    • Jnice
      December 22, 2010

      Nah, don’t feel that way, I usually check all the links/read everything you post. 🙂

      Unai speaks the truth. Both him and Manzano shook their heads when Mourinho didn’t shake their hands after the match. I’m sure most managers feel that way regarding Mourinho. Oh well.

    • Vj
      December 22, 2010

      No you’re not.. Ask Eklavya..

      I think its all some strategy to shield his players.. Everywhere he goes, he takes all the attention to himself and tries to take it off the players.. Which is very hard when you got Thong Boy..

      Love the spat with Valdano though.. despite the pleasantries they exchanged when he took charge of EE, they were never on the same wavelength.. Remember the famous ‘shit-on-a-stick’ comment? Now EE are in a dilemma and I’m loving it!

  41. Roz
    December 22, 2010

    Lol. Dont you have anything better to do,,,:P

    • blitzen
      December 22, 2010

      Clearly not. I’m at work. Things are a little slow. 😀

      • HY
        December 22, 2010

        BFB is also my cure to boredom at work, so please keep the comments coming!

      • Jose
        December 22, 2010

        Im on a flight and surfing on my phone. Bored too, so by all means lets keep the comments rolling, blitzen. 😛

        • Vj
          December 22, 2010

          Nice flight, the ones I’ve used don’t have such luxuries like the internet or decent seats..

          • Eklavya
            December 22, 2010

            I thought you’re weren’t allowed to use Internet during flights…

          • Vj
            December 22, 2010

            ^^
            Exactly, during the cheap ones 😛

          • Jose
            December 22, 2010

            Delta usually has wireless on flights available for like 12 dollars an hour, but for the holiday season (from Thanksgiving until New Years), Google is sponsoring free internet for all Delta flyers.

            And I just gave them even more advertising for their buck, jaja.

  42. Auld Super
    December 22, 2010

    I saw that before the Man City game Monday night alright. Before you get all upset with andy you must realize he is a sky sports and premier league whore and since Messi never played there he will say, he might look good in la liga but not in the mighty premiership. Take a bow andy you gobshite.

    • Humphrey Bogart
      December 22, 2010

      From the Guardian

      THE GREAT DELUSION AWARD FOR UNSHAKABLE SELF-BELIEF

      “Nobody can stand here and tell me Germany were a lot better than us,” declared Frank Lampard with an admirably straight face, flying in the face of all available evidence to the contrary in the wake of England’s hideously embarrassing World Cup exit. Until yesterday, the Chelsea midfielder would have been a shoo-in for this award, but that was before Sky Sports analyst Andy Gray announced that Barcelona ain’t all that and said “Let’s see Lionel Messi do it at Stoke”

    • Vj
      December 22, 2010

      Worst Moment in his commentary career?

      Stamford Bridge, May 6, 2009:

      Minute 91: “Chelsea will feel hard done by if Barcelona score now”

      Minute 93: (Just as Iniesta scores) “Oh Boy”

  43. Humphrey Bogart
    December 22, 2010

    Hi Blitzen,

    nice to meet an other female football fan and cule. I always guessed that you are a girl too, because I think I’ve “seen” you on kickette, and I think that is a page concentrating on aspects in football in particular interesting for the female fan.

    I love the internet, there you can find people with same interests and you do not have to feel like a freak all the time because you have a hobby nobody else has in your direct environment.

    • blitzen
      December 22, 2010

      Yup, that’s me over there too. Nicetameetcha, Humphrey. 😉 I also post sometimes on Con la Roja, which is a very nice blog as well.

      • Humphrey Bogart
        December 22, 2010

        Yeah, I love that blog too, in particular if una is translating books aout la roja,

      • Nav
        December 22, 2010

        Holy crap you’re a girl?! Only a man can drink that much beer during games! Haha nah all good. I don’t know many female footy fans here.

        • blitzen
          December 22, 2010

          LOL! (Sometimes I drink tequila instead.) 😛

    • Miguel
      December 22, 2010

      i’m a dude but i think kickette’s awesome. i’m all for the objectification of the sexes. ;^)

  44. blitzen
    December 22, 2010

    OK, here’s a topic we can all enjoy! We have scored lots of goals so far this season, in all competitions. Many of them have been golazos, either due to brilliant teamwork or a moment of individual inspiration. Which goal is your favourite so far? Link ’em if you got ’em!

    My personal favourite goes way back to our game against Racing Santander, when Iniesta slammed a doozy past a befuddled goalkeeper who had just (he thought) safely cleared the ball by punching it away. We have certainly scored prettier goals since then, and ones that are more representative of our teamwork and general skills, but I love this one because it was such a difficult thing to do, with only a split second decision on Andres’ part, and because it heralded the start of what is sure to be a record goal-scoring season for him.

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sejJCP30V00

    • Eklavya
      December 22, 2010

      That’s my favorite goal as well, so there. 😛

      • blitzen
        December 22, 2010

        Don’t copy me!!! 😛

        I am also excessively fond of Xavi’s goal in El Clasico. Again, not that pretty (although the pass from Iniesta was gorgeous), but it’s Xavi! Against Madrid! That goal probably meant as much to him as winning the World Cup.

      • blitzen
        December 22, 2010

        What I especially love is how just a microsecond before the goalkeeper punches the ball Iniesta seems to be just casually strolling around the midfield. But he is so focused he doesn’t miss his chance.

      • Humphrey Bogart
        December 22, 2010

        I like the one where Messi played like 3 one-twos with Dani, I think against Sociedad and the second one against Villareal, a one-two with Xavi and then Pedro and the goal, And all goals from Xavi because it does not happen this often, but more often this saison.

        But my all time favourite goal from Barca will always be the one from the Don at Stamford Bridge.

        • Vj
          December 22, 2010

          Please tell me your nick is a homage to the Doctor, Mr. Chameleon Eyes himself..

          Whilst I’ll always enjoy THAT goal by Iniesta.. This is may fav goal..

          .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWEVZA010iE

          Marking the end of their era, and the beginning of ours, and a fantastic goal to boot!

          • Humphrey Bogart
            December 22, 2010

            Of course it is because Xavi is just as cool as Bogart, he has ice in his blood during games

          • blitzen
            December 22, 2010

            I love how casual Ronaldinho is after he kicks the ball, walking away even before Xavi reaches it. It’s like “Yeah, I did my stuff, he’s good, he’ll put it in the net, no problem, let’s eat.” 😀

    • Jnice
      December 22, 2010

      Nice idea, blitzen.

      Hmm tough one, but my favorite is probably Messi’s 2nd against Panathinaikos. Probably. A lot of the goals I like a lot, so it’s hard to really pick one.

      *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sPv8wFHNc0

    • HY
      December 22, 2010

      For me, it’s a toss up between this one and Villa’s 2nd goal in El Clasico.

      Across all competitions and friendlies, my favorite so far this season is Messi’s against Brazil.

  45. Hilal
    December 22, 2010

    Uh WTF.. *http://www.goal.com/en/news/12/spain/2010/12/22/2273198/real-madrid-president-florentino-perez-becomes-new-board

  46. MoSSi
    December 22, 2010

    Man, this never gets old LOL..

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkhQZNHcxmE

    • Miguel
      December 22, 2010

      or this:
      *http://thensaturdaycomes.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/ballack-bee3.gif?w=400&h=245

    • blitzen
      December 22, 2010

      I just wish it was longer so I could dance to it! 😀

  47. Miguel
    December 22, 2010

    *http://fourfourtwo.com/blogs/laligaloca/archive/2010/12/22/what-has-made-mourinho-so-mad-at-madrid.aspx

    fav goal, going on the first youtube clip i found, is dani’s in the manita vs sevilla(3-0).
    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJOh04bvvGQ

    • blitzen
      December 22, 2010

      Yeah, his beautiful karate kick goal! Although I actually prefer Villa’s first goal from this game, a stunningly on-target shot from distance that left Messi (Messi!) with hands on hips in admiration. Yes!

  48. Roz
    December 22, 2010

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cO-MzoIDCrI&feature=related

    This^
    Even though the game gave me a headache. 🙂

  49. Diego
    December 22, 2010

    @ Extreme Barca Fan

    I live in Sharkia, North of Cairo.

    @Blitzen

    It’s hard to pick just one, But I’d say Messi against Panathinaikos, Not the two at the Camp Nou, but the One Away.

  50. Miguel
    December 22, 2010

    this one’s for all you football manager geeks:

    *http://deadspin.com/5707443/the-unreal-genius-of-football-manager-greatest-video-game-ever?skyline=true&s=i

    brian phillips at it again.

  51. tutomate
    December 22, 2010

    @ VJ
    I don’t think that Mouface actually tries to shield his players by being a huge douche and by drawing attention to himself. I think he is just a one of those jerks that draws attention to himself because he is a an egomaniac and he just uses that as an excuse.

    • Vj
      December 22, 2010

      That would be the more reasonable explanation.. 😀

      • Victor
        December 22, 2010

        Maybe he’s a douche, but I can see how it can be useful to draw the attention to the coach and not to the players.

        • tutomate
          December 22, 2010

          Not saying it is not useful just saying what I think his motives are.

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