Deportivo 0, Barca 4, aka “Might as well have come out to play”

Eduard Omedes/El Mundo Deportivo

Fat lot of good it did Deportivo La Coruna to play turtle, as they still got a four-spot dropped on ’em. Yes, better that than a manita, right? Maybe. I wouldn’t presume to speak for that club, but judging from the reactions of their fans as they were playing at 0-2 as if protecting a 1-0 lead, probably not.

But that’s what we’ve reduced sides to, the notion of “losing with honor,” as if such a contradiction in terms were possible. A loss should gall, stick in the craw like a barnacled artichoke. Instead, people see the Blaugrana shirts and think, even at 0-2 down, “Let’s not lose by any more.” It’s psychological, and brutally so. There are many, many matches that we win even before the first ball is kicked, as teams think about us and what we bring to the table, and say “Okay, play tight and let’s see what happens.”

Heck, we all know what happens.

If you sit back, you cede possession to us. When you do that, a number of things happen:

1. We will score, eventually, barring a superhuman effort for 90+ minutes
2. You won’t score, because we have the ball
3. The rare chance that you get you will probably choke, because you’ll be shocked and play too quickly
4. And we’ll redouble our efforts to never let you have the ball

As Deportivo went, so goeth many of our matches this season, a year that I can so far label The Terror. Because it isn’t just that we have some of the greatest offensive players in the game playing for us. Pep Guardiola has instilled an insatiability that has as its progeny a willingness to work. Hard. So Villa tracks back, Messi tracks back, Pedro!! tracks back, just as the fullbacks run at you on offense and mids create suffocating pressure that eases the job of our defenders, who just scoop up loose balls and feed them right back into the mixer.

This system isn’t impossible to play against, because we’ve seen sides have success against us. But now that we are taking every match seriously (can’t wait for that Hercules rematch!), our system is pretty close to impossible to play against, because it’s rooted in constant movement, on and off the ball. Do you play a zone, and mark spaces? Or do you try to choke off the midfield with aggressive man marking. With the former, a moment of brilliance kills you. With the latter, Messi drops back to become a playmaker, and everything shifts. Either way, you die.

Deportivo chose a defense in depth, hoping that they could do something Guardiola’s XI of Valdes, Adriano, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Mascherano, Keita, Iniesta, Messi, Pedro!! and Villa. After all, the Puppetmaster isn’t out there, right? Iniesta can’t be as good a playmaker as Xavi, can he? Close up those spaces and see what happens. For just over 20 minutes, it worked, but then something remarkable and inevitable happened. Mascherano made a defensive play, gangstering the ball from Deportivo, and played it to Pique, who was being rather lackadaisical about play. Mascherano called for the ball, because he saw that Deportivo had a numerical imbalance, and Messi was enjoying that rarest of things, a puddle of pitch all to himself. Pique played to Mascherano, who played a quick, hard pass to Messi, who found Villa sitting just on the shoulder of a just-reset defense, between two defenders. A subtle look was exchanged, Villa made the run just as Messi released the ball, leaving the two flat-footed defenders for dead. He played between the legs of the charging keeper, and it was 1-0.

It was yet another goal from us that had its roots in defense, and also a demonstration of why, when Maradona was asked about his ideal World Cup XI, said “Mascherano and 11 others.” El Jefe was spectacular today, in a way that I can’t ever remember us having. He takes balls from people. We have had The Yaya, a planet-sized defender who can win balls, and Busquets, who plays exceptional position defense, winning balls with anticipation of play patterns and being in the right spot. But the appropriately nicknamed sMasch just strolls over and takes it. Sometimes its a standing steal, other times a slide tackle. Still other times it’s just making life so difficult that you’re loose with possession, then he or someone else steals it.

It’s also a style that’s perfect for a Xavi-less midfield, because rather than the metronomic precision of our Maestro, Iniesta brings a bit more daring to the role. The results are roughly the same, but midfield play will be a bit looser. When that happens, you need someone to fix a problem. That someone is Mascherano.

That we got to the half only 0-1 up was surprising, after an Eric Abidal goal was correctly ruled offside, a goal that was yet another example of how amazing Messi was being when he wasn’t vexing the crap out of me. He spanked a pass into space for Abidal, who was playing like a forward at the edge of the defense, waiting to make the run. The pass took into account Abidal’s pace. It just didn’t take into account the speed of his takeoff, as our French Greyhound was off by a shoulder lean.

But 0-2 was inevitable, and beautiful. Messi worked the ball loose with a battling burst of one-man pressure, and was off to the races before having his shirt grabbed by a Deportivo defender to stop his breakaway. So Messi shook Villa off of the ensuing free kick, and unleashed this curlicue of a ball that had the poor Deportivo keeper throwing up his hands in frustration. It was an unstoppable shot that seemed to bend twice in the air, for a 0-2 lead that might as well have been 0-20, given how much Deportivo threatened our nets.

It was also a goal that removed all hope for Deportivo, which meant of course that more were to come, even as they switched to damage limitation mode. Our third goal was, like so many of our goals, rooted in the hard work of someone who is not the scorer. Pique battled Deportivo defenders for the ball, retaining possession like an attacking midfielder or forward with such grace and fluency, a newcomer could be forgiven for wondering why we had such a tall mid out there. He regained possession and smoked a pass to Iniesta, who drifted left and unleashed a savage snap shot that was in the back of the net before Arranzubia could even think about it.

The force field was still down, and the difference between Iniesta and Xavi, even as they play the same role, was clear. Its simple definition can be found in the adage “with risk comes reward.” Iniesta is always an attacking player, even when he’s the distributor. Xavi always has the steering wheel in his hand, and sometimes looks to distribute to a fault. Both are magical, but in very different ways. This match made it abundantly clear, at least for me, who the successor to Xavi is.

The fourth goal came shortly thereafter as a Messi-led fast break found him being absolutely cleared out by a Deportivo defender, only to have the loose change fall to Pedro!!, who chipped in a deft shot for number four.

Taking nothing from Deportivo, this was a routine victory from a side that has yet to lose on the road, a mark that is yet another sign of its steel core. It takes a lot to roll into another club’s lair and slap it in the face. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: This is an amazing, special club that we need to celebrate every time that it plays. Even when not at its best, as it was today, there will still be moments of beauty that take your breath away: a perfectly weighted Iniesta backheel to Messi; a one-touch midfield interplay at full speed; a spin that leaves a defender for dead. Our beloved club won’t always be this amazing, and I’m happy to be around to witness it all.

Team: 8. Exceptional group effort in a destruction of a defense-minded side. Breaking buses takes extra work and movement, all willingly provided by a group of players never content to rest on laurels. It’s defense and attack as a team, and all-out efforts to get the ball back.

Guardiola: 8. A good rotation that worked like a charm. The match was decided by the time he made and subs, but it was nice to see the future get some playing time.

Valdes: 7. What I liked so much about Valdes’ match today was his distribution, that was well thought-out and hit with accuracy and power. And what a save in extra time, to deny Deportivo its consolation goal.

Adriano: 5. Very solid. People who were finding much to dislike about his game today will also, upon futher review, find much to like. His pace and work rate are exceptional, and he had any number of first-rate, very intelligent passes. Also note how well he switches the pitch. It wouldn’t take a lot to imagine, in a world in which Dani Alves moves on in search of filthy lucre, more reps turning Adriano into a right back that wouldn’t lose us all that much from Alves, and gain us some pace. He would be a different player from Alves, so they couldn’t be compared. That said ….

Pique: 4. Still slumping for me, with those long diagonal balls that never work, uncertain play and movement on the defensive end and a laconic approach to his play that, when we turn possession, sees us losing the advantage of a defender playing the ball quickly up the pitch.

Puyol: 6. The defense was a little sloppy on a few occasions, and he has to get his mates’ tendency to head the ball aimlessly into the air to clear it, under control. That can lead to sure danger. Mostly good, but guessed wrong a number of times.

Abidal: 8. Another exceptional match, and the goal would have made it even better. But he and Mascherano just owned their patches of the terra today. He is, right now, in addition to being our best defender, the calmest defender with the ball.

Mascherano: 9. Held back from perfection only by a few loose passes, El Jefe is a player that needs to get more time in the side. His defense is exceptional, his passing world class and his transition from defense to offense can catch many a side off guard. A remarkable player, who is looking like a bargain at his price, given his quality.

Keita: 8. Keita is that guy, like that friend you have that is always there for you. He makes runs, steals, defends, harasses, passes, tracks back and does everything that club needs to win. You can see why Guardiola is so fond of him when he plays as he had these last two matches.

Iniesta: 9. He was extraordinary today in his holding creative role, keeping possession when necessary, attacking when necessary. A beautifully taken goal capped off a stunner of a performance. I still don’t know why some say that he isn’t the Xavi heir apparent, particularly after a match such as today.

Messi: 7. His work rate kept him from being rated lower for selfishness. He ignored teammates on too many occasions, even as he also accounted for three of our four goals today. Dribbling into 3 or 4 defenders is rarely a recipe for success, despite what the highlight reels tell him.

Pedro!!: 4. Despite the goal, his weakest match ever in the colors, as he just couldn’t do much right except for work his butt off. Even when you can’t score, you can still work to track back, be available on the runs and make movements that create space for teammates, all of which he did.

Villa: 5. Better today, but still making the wrong runs. You could see Messi correcting him on more than one occasion today. He’s still finding his way, learning when to make runs and when not to, what side of a player to be on and how to move. It will come. A very well-taken goal, that took into account the running keeper’s stride length. Crazy.

Subsitutes

Krkic (for Villa): 2. Nothing good, yet again. Made a few runs, got in the way effectively on the run leading up to the 4th goal.

Afellay (for Pedro!!): incomplete. Not enough time to rate, but more than enough time to anticipate this dude getting more time. He moved, passed and received as if one of us already. It’s easy to see what Guardiola means about his “flawless” assimilation.

Thiago (for Iniesta): incomplete. Watching Thiago and Afellay demonstrates that the former is still a work in progress, but the end result should be stunning. He has confidence, but not assurance. That will come, along with improvements at reading the match and learning when to take risk.

Next up is the first Copa leg against Betis. Not sure who will play for Guardiola, but as noted before, I want to see me some more Afellay. This dude, for 3m, could turn out to be the bargain of the century.

P.S. soccermomof4 asked me to translate this sign, as part of the review, that was shown when Krkic entered the match: Bojan, te cambio tu pantalon por un pimiento de Padron. And frankly, I can’t. I can do a literal translation, but my colloquialism needs work, particularly when I realize that Pimientos de Padron are little peppers that are served in bars and restaurants, sort of a fun delicacy in which you never know when one will be hot. Kinda like Krkic. Or there might be a jibe at his testicular capacity. Padron is also a small town in Galicia. So my willingness has been quashed by my lack of full knowledge. Anyone?

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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.

405 Comments

  1. yelèna
    January 9, 2011

    great performance by the team! so happy for Masche and Adriano being able to start…
    Masche was like “Thou shalt not covet Barca’s ball, for behold, I come to devour thee”…

  2. Helge
    January 9, 2011

    Another moment of beauty was Iniesta controlling the ball that felll behind him with his heel and almost perfectly lobbing it over himself. Almost… but it would have been the goal of the season (naturally, he still would have had to finish it with a similarly great strike as the 3-0).

    Did Maradona really say his team of the world cup is Mascherano and ELEVEN others? 😀
    That must be why Arrgentina was so lost during the WC, Maradona actually prepared each match to play with 12 players, but then the stupid FIFA came and ruined his brilliant plan 😀

    And Kxevin, I’d like to know how you would call the mode Depor was in before the 0-2. Afterwards, it was “damage limitation mode”, but wasn’t it already nearly the same before?

  3. Vj
    January 9, 2011

    I think age has a lot to do with how fast you assimilate into the team. Its pretty difficult to ‘unlearn’ your style of play when you’re say 29-30 years old and your body is not what it used to be.. Especially in the case of the mythical striker that has to fit in the system from Day 1.. Villa has to curb what were his natural instincts at Valencia which means were gonna see a lot many offsides, missed runs and hand wringing from the fans.. But he’s slowly getting there.. Patience people..

  4. mclarenslr500
    January 9, 2011

    goddamnit… missed the match… waiting for the links-post from jnice 🙂

    • Jnice
      January 9, 2011

      Several different options:

      La Liga – Deportivo La Coruna Vs Barcelona 720p HDTV x264 JSC Sport in English

      *http://www.mediafire.com/?4u8b8v32dpcdt

      or torrent if you like *http://www.mediafire.com/?ubjuntoubsgcxu4

      Credit to J-Reyes at fbtz.com

      GolTV HD Broadcast

      First half
      *http://www.fileserve.com/file/Z5tuDxW/twb22mg20110108depobarc1st.part1.rar
      *http://www.fileserve.com/file/Y5XxRAr/twb22mg20110108depobarc1st.part2.rar

      Second half
      *http://www.fileserve.com/file/UDKKK3N/twb22mg20110108depobarc2nd.part1.rar
      *http://www.fileserve.com/file/VkFbd9c/twb22mg20110108depobarc2nd.part2.rar

      or

      First half
      *http://hotfile.com/dl/95346293/4163ab3/twb22mg20110108depobarc1st.part1.rar.html
      *http://hotfile.com/dl/95345960/ffb4c5b/twb22mg20110108depobarc1st.part2.rar.html

      Second half
      *http://hotfile.com/dl/95365305/b276586/twb22mg20110108depobarc2nd.part1.rar.html
      *http://hotfile.com/dl/95365149/e9a4479/twb22mg20110108depobarc2nd.part2.rar.html

      or

      First half
      *http://bitshare.com/files/mt2vz4tq/twb22mg20110108depobarc1st.part1.rar.html
      *http://bitshare.com/files/w9tl8xrq/twb22mg20110108depobarc1st.part2.rar.html

      Second half
      *http://bitshare.com/files/26v0omna/twb22mg20110108depobarc2nd.part1.rar.html
      *http://bitshare.com/files/9ef14xz5/twb22mg20110108depobarc2nd.part2.rar.html

      All links are interchangeable, so if you don’t have premium, you can just mix and match the links and you’ll be fine.

      Credit to miamigunners at fbtz.com

      If y’all want a Sky Sports Broadcast just let me know.

      • Jnice
        January 9, 2011

        Actually, I might as well just post the Sky links:

        First Half
        *http://hotfile.com/dl/95345120/3920b49/First_Half_-_La_Liga_-_Deportivo_v._Barcelona_-_08-01-11.avi.part1.rar.html
        *http://hotfile.com/dl/95345454/2bdd68e/First_Half_-_La_Liga_-_Deportivo_v._Barcelona_-_08-01-11.avi.part2.rar.html

        Second Half
        *http://hotfile.com/dl/95358309/f4591ed/Second_Half_-_La_Liga_-_Deportivo_v._Barcelona_-_08-01-11.avi.part1.rar.html
        *http://hotfile.com/dl/95358320/54ec2cd/Second_Half_-_La_Liga_-_Deportivo_v._Barcelona_-_08-01-11.avi.part2.rar.html

        or

        First Half
        *http://www.fileserve.com/file/tSkhMfN/First Half – La Liga – Deportivo v. Barcelona – 08-01-11.avi.part1.rar
        *http://www.fileserve.com/file/BuG3RfC/First Half – La Liga – Deportivo v. Barcelona – 08-01-11.avi.part2.rar

        Second Half
        *http://www.fileserve.com/file/rtwDerT/Second Half – La Liga – Deportivo v. Barcelona – 08-01-11.avi.part1.rar
        *http://www.fileserve.com/file/NsWsaYZ/Second Half – La Liga – Deportivo v. Barcelona – 08-01-11.avi.part2.rar

        or

        First Half
        *http://bitshare.com/files/pd5evz2e/First-Half—La-Liga—Deportivo-v.-Barcelona—08-01-11.avi.part1.rar.html
        *http://bitshare.com/files/1g6xcvr3/First-Half—La-Liga—Deportivo-v.-Barcelona—08-01-11.avi.part2.rar.html

        Second Half
        *http://bitshare.com/files/x0kphz72/Second-Half—La-Liga—Deportivo-v.-Barcelona—08-01-11.avi.part1.rar.html
        *http://bitshare.com/files/egck5o8k/Second-Half—La-Liga—Deportivo-v.-Barcelona—08-01-11.avi.part2.rar.html

        All of these links are interchangeable as well, so mix and match so you don’t have to waitt and you’ll be fine.

        Credit to Pakman at fbtz.com

        • Helge
          January 9, 2011

          I think I love you, Jnice – and the guys at fbtz.com 😉

        • soccermomof4
          January 9, 2011

          Jnice, true cule hero, should be dubbed The Grand Puba of the links!

        • complotGP
          January 9, 2011

          Thank you for these, Jnice! <3 (My first time to actually thank you, and not just in my head. LOL. Ex-lurker here)

  5. merge
    January 9, 2011

    Lurker here for a longtime. I decided to post now because I don’t know much about football (though improving, thanks to you all!) but I definitely know what a “pimiento del Padrón” is, so I can tell you that there’s no hidden meaning in the sign, the author just picked something worthless -and funny- to rhyme with “pantalón”.

    In the end, it’s like asking Bojan to present them with his trousers.

    Keep the good job! I enjoy each and every one of the posts in this blog!

  6. Eklavya
    January 9, 2011

    barcastuff: Iniesta gave 100 passes in the game against Deportivo.
    He completed 99.

    Holy cow!

    • Jnice
      January 9, 2011

      I saw that, but I thought that wasn’t right and when I re-watched the match, he had at least 5 passes go astray.

      • Eklavya
        January 9, 2011

        Yeah, barcastuff was reporting it through another source we can’t be sure.

    • El Diez
      January 9, 2011

      How can we get the passes played and completed stats?

  7. January 9, 2011

    Yep I agree with Jnice…no way that stat is right i recall at least 4 passes..*puzzled*

  8. January 9, 2011

    As did Kxevin I must also do a standing ovation for the great MASCHERANO…! Some of the tackles he did today I didn’t even think were possible…
    Still the most amazing attribute of this GREAT defensive midfielder is that he plays as if he was a part of our starting line up while 95% of players need some games to get them going…I always wanted him on the team even before Liverpool bought him (while we were experimenting with Marquez as DM) but I never realize he would be that good for us…

  9. geevee
    January 9, 2011

    thank you for the links Jnice!

    😀

  10. RohanV
    January 9, 2011

    I know Pique is slumping, so this would be a bad time to give him other ideas, but am I the only one who wants to see him get a match (or some meaningless minutes, maybe) at DM or further up the pitch with fewer defensive responsibilities? (Just like Maxwell and occasionally Dani get to do?)

  11. Jim
    January 9, 2011

    Interesting review, Kxevin, and spot on with your incredulity at their approach. You would have thought that at home after watching Bilbao give us a hard time by generally having a bit of a go at us they might have tried to copy them. However, their mistake.

    As usual, we’ll have our own takes on individual players. The defense really didn’t have much to do – in some cases they went looking for action it was so under control – but I wasn’t as impressed as you were with Adriano. However, if he gets time on the side (which I can’t see unless Alves goes but I suppose that gets more likely the longer his renewal goes on) I could see him improving. He has the control and the passing ability.

    I think Pique is still a little below his best but that’ll come back for the business end of the season. Especially if he gets pelters like Valdes gave him at the end after his mistake. Puyol and Abidal both had very good matches given the lack of serious threat. To me I’d have given them both an 8. Good to see Abidal still looking to make that run behind the defense. Ok he got the starting position a little wrong but there was nothing on when he started his run so well done to him for believing. Messi’s pass was nothing short of phenomenal.

    I completely agree with you about Xavi’s heir. Iniesta is an absolute treasure although it will be a slightly different emphasis. He is more attack minded than Xavi – or maybe the right way to put it is that Xavi is more careful than him in terms of keeping possession. However, at the moment nobody can keep the ball against us anyway so nothing lost. Maybe we can afford to take a few more risks going forward. No question in my mind though that when the really big games come i’d have Xavi, Iniesta and Busi in the middle. Thought Mascherano played well and he had to step up as without Xavi our passing game went down a notch although there were some dodgy passes from Masch as well.

    For me, whatever Messi chooses to do at the moment he has my support. He was the difference yesterday so, although I agree with your assessment that he was a little greedy at times I forgive him 🙂 I saw him have a go at Villa once which was a little harsh as he was wanting Villa to stand in the middle of a crowd of defenders assuming Messi was going to shake of the two or three on his tail and play a one two just outside their six yard line ! It must take a lot of belief for Villa to assume that’s gonna work. He made the diagonal run for the reverse pass ( just as he did for the goal) which i thought was a decent call but I have to say Messi duly delivered the ball to where Villa would have been so more learning for David. To me, he’s only a fraction away from really feeling at home in the system and by the business end of the season I’m sure he’ll be there.

    If this is us slightly below our best I’ll take it any time. It is indeed a time to sit back and remember.

  12. Bafanalapagus
    January 9, 2011

    I’m happy whenever Messi decides to go one-on-one, or one-on-three or four!, against defenders, because I believe that’s who he is. That’s his natural attacking instinct and if one goes too many games without being able to do that, then you can get rusty in that attempt and ti succeed becomes tougher and tougher.
    I mention this because I remember a handful of games not long ago, where Messi essentially played midfielder for all 90 and served up everything to Villa, and never got the ball back to make his own shots. Messi can do it all – scorer and brilliant passer – but I was getting a little concerned during that stretch that Pep was using him too much as a set-up man. It’s fine every now and then to do that…but don’t we, and the world, and especially LEO!, want to see him playing as a legitimate attacker, threatening their defense with his tenacity and expertise?
    So let him make those “crazy dribbles” because eventually he’ll get back into the “I’m a forward, not a midfielder” mode…and we’ll be blessed with yet more brilliance in the future.
    And does anyone else also believe that on Iniesta’s goal…Messi, by running into the box, may have screened the goalkeeper thus helping Iniesta’s cause? This is not to knock Iniesta’s accuracy and power, but watch the replay and I think Messi may have helped.

    Cheers everyone!

    • Helge
      January 9, 2011

      Not only Messi, also some other players blocked the view of the ball for the keeper. The shot itself wasn’t particularly well placed, but the keeper simply didn’t see it until it passed Messi.

      The matches “not long ago” were one of the best matches from Leo in his career, at least stats-wise. He scored like 8 consecutive times and gave assist after assist, although he was playing more deep than usually. Anyway, for me it’s been a steady evolution that took Messi away from the right flank to the center, and at the same time moving the focal point of his actions further back towards midfield.
      That will stay his main role, but he can make your beloved dribblings on midfield mode as well, there’s no need for him to get back to a striker’s position. His current positional diversity is his biggest advantage, and when he assumes a central attacking midfielder position, he has plenty of options to choose between and “kill” the opponent 🙂
      Yesterday he chose the hardest, and thus sometimes wrong option of dribbling against 3 or more players too often. He shall not turn into a Crynaldo, right?

    • Camero
      January 9, 2011

      I get the impression Messi plays very intinctively in that the decisions he makes are done without much consideration. I think this is what makes him killer because he has the talent to execute whateer move his instinct tells him to do. I agree that the solo runs arent that effective but I wouldn’t want him to feel restricted in anyway and I think this is how pep thinks as well. I have have that over time his instinct will evolve so that he naturally uses his teammates more then move off of them. We are already starting to see this as compared to last season.

  13. soccermomof4
    January 9, 2011

    Nice review Kxevin. Thanks. And thanks for the try at translation (you too, Merge).
    The only disagreement I have with you is Messi. I would’ve given him an 8. Often when he dribbled into those packs of 3 defenders there were no outlets yesterday.

  14. K_legit
    January 9, 2011

    In Messi we are seeing the evolution of the most complete attacking footballer in history. If ever Guradiola decides that he has had enough of coaching Barça he has to ask himself whether he has had enough of coaching Leo Messi and then he will stay on.
    The prospect of continuing to coach and see Messi develop in front of his eyes has to be a major motivation for Pep.

    • jordi™
      January 9, 2011

      Reads like an Arsenal fan wrote that.In fact id hedge my bets there.Where’s the *yawn* emoticon when you need one.

    • Jnice
      January 9, 2011

      Far quieter is the criticism for Barcelona’s explicit tapping-up of Cesc Fabregas. This is possibly the first example of Chinese water torture being used as a template to secure a signature. The drip, drip, drip of Gerard Pique and Leo Messi in interviews, and the desperate spectacle of the World Cup celebrations, is even less edifying than Garry Cook retrospectively dismissing Kaka and his dad as bottlers.

      Bet dude thought he was so clever when he wrote this. What trash.

      • January 9, 2011

        I’m still waiting with teeming anticipation for all of the outraged columns about Man City blatantly “tapping up” Dani Alves again and again and again.

        I’m sure the Soccernet, Goal.com, Guardian and Independent will be flooded with outrage any minute now…

    • Vj
      January 9, 2011

      St Arsene

      Voyeur more like it, and its in line with the tone of the article..

  15. Barcathegreatestever
    January 9, 2011

    Goal by Iniesta was world class from his weak foot. Can’t remember Messi putting one like that from distance with his right. I’ve seen Ronaldo do it of course even Pedro, absolutely fantastic.

  16. Extreme barca fan
    January 9, 2011

    Good review Kevin, thank you
    A few things that stood up in this match to me were:
    This was a great game, i think barca was more solid than spectacular, and for a good reason, we missed xavi and Alvis and played against a bus.
    So without Alvis and with messi coming to play as a false 6 (yes you read it right its a 6 not a 9) we had to give up our right wing and find the alternative, and find we did, through the middle.
    The reaction from Aranzubia to Messi’s goal was priceless.
    Afellay looked tensioned to me, his movement was mechanical like, this does not mean i think he was bad or going to be bad, but it takes time to get to a new league and a new team and those were only 10 minutes.
    One thing i dont understand is since when do we field a better Squad for a cup game over a league game, i always thought the league is more important, and we rest xavi, busi and Alvis???

    • Helge
      January 9, 2011

      Oh, we haven’t seen the line-up for the Betis match yet, right?
      And believe me, Pep can do anything!

  17. Lev
    January 9, 2011

    been off the blog for a long while…just wanna say Happy New Year to the BfB team and comment regulars!
    peace

    • soccermomof4
      January 9, 2011

      Hey, Lev. A happy one back at ya.

    • Jnice
      January 9, 2011

      Nooooo, don’t watch it! It will only result in a 3-0 will for Hala Madrid.

        • Jnice
          January 9, 2011

          True 😀

          I’m gonna turn it on, but I’ll turn it off once Villarreal concede lol.

      • jordi™
        January 9, 2011

        Goal by Villarreal.Too bad for Villarreal.We know how this goes.

  18. Roz
    January 9, 2011

    RM are lucky that Nilmar is injured. He could have caused real problems for Albiol given the chance

  19. Roz
    January 9, 2011

    Gooooooooooooallllllllllllllllllllllllllllll!!!

  20. blitzen
    January 9, 2011

    GOLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!! Go go go!!!

  21. January 9, 2011

    For me, Andres Iniesta right now is the second best footballer in the world.

    He has the best touch in the world. His ball control is shocking in its proficiency. His vision and passing are elite. His work rate and defense are strong.

    And this season he’s finally added goal scoring. He’s found the back of the net 5 times. That is not bad at all for a midfielder. If he can score 10-15 goals this season it’ll add the last dimension needed to his game.

    C. Ronaldo is obviously the one who is always discussed in the conversation with Messi and that’s a false comparison. Messi is orders of magnitude better.

    C. Ronaldo is unquestionably a great goal scorer. But he adds very few other dimensions of value. He is an indifferent passer. And an poor defender. His defense is really a significant issue. One of Barca’s systematic advantages over RM is that they defend with 10 men and RM at best can only defend with 9 because C.Ronaldo doesn’t defend.

    Iniesta is the superior footballer. His all around game this season has been brilliant.

    There’s never going to be another Xavi. When he leaves Barca will play differently. But they will be in very good hands with Iniesta pulling the strings in his own way. He’s a joy to watch.

  22. Roz
    January 9, 2011

    If they manage win I will totally buy a Yellow Submarine. 🙂

    • jordi™
      January 9, 2011

      EE have made me a cynic im afraid

  23. Nav
    January 9, 2011

    Anyone have a stream for the Villareal RM game?

  24. Jnice
    January 9, 2011

    Sigh. I guess the far post shouldn’t be defended.

  25. January 9, 2011

    It’s really too bad Nilmar is hurt. He and Rossi are so difficult to defend together. They would have given the RM back 4 absolute fits.

  26. Roz
    January 9, 2011

    What do you think of the game so far Euler? If you are watching I mean.

    • January 9, 2011

      I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Villareal so far. Real Madrid just do not defend well as a team. On top of that their back four looks very shaky.

      That said – that goal Villareal conceded was horrible defense. That’s the real question for Villareal this match. They love to open up the game and do so quickly. But when they do can they defend?

      I really like Villareal and the way they play. Garrido has just done a wonderful job there.

      They are a dangerous team. I’ve been very impressed from what I’ve seen of them.

      And right on cue… classic Villareal!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • blitzen
        January 9, 2011

        Yeah, the CRonaldo goal was horrible on Villareal’s part, he was completely unmarked.

        So far this is a very exciting game!

  27. Eklavya
    January 9, 2011

    You guys moan about EE then go screaming then Villareal score…jeez…

    VAMOS!!!!!!!

  28. Roz
    January 9, 2011

    GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. Eklavya
    January 9, 2011

    LOL Jordi thats twice in 3(?) days that your joy has been curt short hahaha

  30. jordi™
    January 9, 2011

    Villarreal score

    Stop giving me hope 🙁

  31. soccermomof4
    January 9, 2011

    I am adopting Villareal as my team today ! Hooray!

  32. January 9, 2011

    Villareal must be defended as a team. Real Madrid does not defend well as a team.

    As I mentioned in my previews for the Clasico, RM is always at risk for becoming a “broken system” where almsot all of the responsibility to defend falls on the back line.

    Villareal’s challenge now is to stay composed.

    Real Madrid can’t defend them with the way they are playing now.

  33. January 9, 2011

    Just look at how poorly RM maintains space at the back. They fall out of shape so easily.

    I have no idea what Marcelo is doing.

  34. soccermomof4
    January 9, 2011

    I don’t know who is doing the color commentary for ESPN3, but he doesn’t seem to like EE. Think I’m developing some respect for him.

  35. soccermomof4
    January 9, 2011

    villareal look bright today…they might do this…at least until the diving starts

  36. blitzen
    January 9, 2011

    Casillas makes his “Iker face”. 😛

  37. January 9, 2011

    Real Madrid is playing a horrible defensive game from a tactical perspective. They make no sense.

    There is no defensive system. They just kind of make things up as they go along.

    One guy will decide to press but the rest of the team doesn’t. That’s not pressing. That’s playing out of position.

    • blitzen
      January 9, 2011

      Pepe is not playing, so maybe that’s making the difference.

    • January 9, 2011

      They don’t have enough poor defenders on the pitch!

      Benzema is being made a scape goat in a childish power struggle between Mourinho and Valdano.

      This match is not about Kaka or Benzema or the Real Madrid attack.

      It’s defense for RM.

  38. blitzen
    January 9, 2011

    Just don’t concede before the half, boys! Keep the psychological advantage!

  39. blitzen
    January 9, 2011

    I can’t hear the crowd much on my feed. Are the natives getting restless?

  40. jordi™
    January 9, 2011

    Ahh the Dimaria splash.Didnt feel right without one.

  41. January 9, 2011

    Dont watch the game guys. No matter how good Villareal may look or how poor Madrid may play, Madrid will win. Watching will just make you want to tear your hair out.

    • Eklavya
      January 9, 2011

      Common, we can watch also for just fun. We don’t need to say this every time EE’s playing…

      That does mean you’re not right though.

  42. yoyoma
    January 9, 2011

    I hope that Villarreal will score something in second half because they should win today. EE is weak but they are so lucky!

  43. January 9, 2011

    Very poor concession by Villareal. C. Ronaldo goes in unimpeded with no defender on him off a set piece just before half time.

    Villareal need to stay focused on the big picture. They’ve been by far the better side. The game is wide open and RM have not demonstrated that they can systematically defend them.

    • yoyoma
      January 9, 2011

      I don’t know why Villarreal is afraid to score more goals? As soon as they score one and they lead they’re not looking another occasions.

  44. Jnice
    January 9, 2011

    As soon as Di Maria won the free kick, I called the goal. Madrid getting outplayed but still level? Yup. This is why I hardly watch Madrid. I swear we couldn’t get away with this week after week.

    • jordi™
      January 9, 2011

      Yea my stream died when Dimaria went down and i knew it was a goal.Refreshed it and lo and behold TB wheeling away.Though i admit i thought he would’ve scored directly from the fk so that was a “surprise”

  45. soccermomof4
    January 9, 2011

    Why does it always have to be TB. Why oh why o why…..

  46. Extreme barca fan
    January 9, 2011

    Agree with Hilal, instead of watching this I’m watching you tube, how to solve the rubik cube

  47. January 9, 2011

    From a football standpoint, this is a very entertaining match. Very wide open. Really interesting tactically.

    Sure I hope RM loses, but it’s just fun to watch. Villareal has been one of the most entertaining teams to watch in europe this season.

    • Extreme barca fan
      January 9, 2011

      Yes Villareal are the 2nd best team to watch this year they r that good

    • Miguel
      January 9, 2011

      word. y’all can go work on your rubik’s cubes. i’m having fun watching this.

  48. jordi™
    January 9, 2011

    I dont understand the defensive setup of that last freekick.Not one, but THREE nmarked EE players right there in front of Lopez.Its not enough to outplay them, to beat them but you have to want it more and you have to concentrate for the whole game.It looks like we are the only team that can combine all 3.

  49. Jim
    January 9, 2011

    Can’t resist it. I’m going to have to watch the second half now. VR have played too well. If I expect them to believe in themselves I’ve got to have faith as well 🙂

  50. January 9, 2011

    Lets all watch together to finally change madrid’s gargantuan luck around!!! *focused*

  51. Eklavya
    January 9, 2011

    Villarreal’s defense isn’t great either.

  52. blitzen
    January 9, 2011

    Villareal need a Mascherano to help them win the ball back.

      • Eklavya
        January 9, 2011

        Oh man, I’d totally forgotten Senna existed.

      • Miguel
        January 9, 2011

        el viejito senna wouldn’t be so bad.

        real madrid definitely look a lot better this half. mas llegada & better organization. say what you want about him, but mou mou fixes his boo boos.

  53. January 9, 2011

    Villareal are having some problems now in part due to their 2 man striker formation. It’s leaving them with a numerical disadvantage in midfield unless Rossi drops very deep.

    Usually they try to compensate by having their holding midfielder move up the pitch but given how shaky their defense has been it seems like they are trying to keep those players deeper. That’s costing them possession though.

  54. soccermomof4
    January 9, 2011

    Villareal has lost all shape in the back.

  55. January 9, 2011

    Villareal have now really made a big concession. They’ve taken off a striker in Ruben and replaced him with a defender in Mussachio. Losing Angel is a major problem at the back so I understand the need for more defenders.

    But the entire Villareal attack is based on a two man striker interplay.

    Just there Villareal could have scored on the Rossi run but he had no support from a strike partner to center the ball to.

    Not sure if Villareal can absorb this much pressure even with another defender at the back. They need to score.

    And they are losing the battle in the midfield now. That’s the issue even more than at the back. They can’t keep the ball anymore.

    • blitzen
      January 9, 2011

      They will hold on until the 89th minute and then break my heart by conceding one. 🙁

  56. soccermomof4
    January 9, 2011

    Villareal looked much better when they are attacking—why the change to more defensive play.

    • January 9, 2011

      They’re now losing the battle of possession. That’s what is forcing them to have to defend more.

      Their best defense would have been to make adjustments to keep possession more as they did in the first half. But that’s not easy to do.

  57. January 9, 2011

    Villareal are also tiring. That’s making their own press less effective and they aren’t winning the ball back.

    It just really speaks to how amazing it is that Barca can press so intensely for 90 minutes and never break down physically. What Pep has done for this club is just remarkable.

    • blitzen
      January 9, 2011

      Yup. They are giving up some silly balls purely out of fatigue. And not making runs when they should.

  58. January 9, 2011

    That break was another example of where Villareal could have scored if they were playing their usual 2 man striker formation.

    • blitzen
      January 9, 2011

      It would have been such a lovely goal, too…if someone had been there to catch the cross. Argh.

  59. jordi™
    January 9, 2011

    All these dangerous ball but most of the attackers have been withdrawn >+{

    • Miguel
      January 9, 2011

      bring on jefferson montero. or is he out injured too?

  60. Miguel
    January 9, 2011

    ah fuck. i thought they had gotten away w/one. sad face.

    & garrido get’s thrown out, apparently.

  61. Eklavya
    January 9, 2011

    To be fair, that was good finishing…

  62. Miguel
    January 9, 2011

    lady gago? villarreal has a chance!

  63. Eklavya
    January 9, 2011

    LOL Villareal bench wants to punch Mourinho

  64. soccermomof4
    January 9, 2011

    Where is that Ruboks cube video again 🙁

  65. January 9, 2011

    I like Garrido a lot as a manager. But he misread this match. He went against his own philosophy and tried to get his team to play in a style they just aren’t accustomed to.

    Villareal started losing the battle in midfield and possession. Rather than trying to address that problem he tried to bolster the defense.

    But Villareal’s only chance to win was to score again. No matter how many defenders they brought on they weren’t going to not concede.

    • blitzen
      January 9, 2011

      I agree. They played much better in the first half when they were concentrating on possession rather than defending. In the second half they were just trying to hang onto a point and let RM bring the game to them instead of the other way around. That was never going to work at the Bernabeu. It’s a shame, because they really gave RM a run for their money until the last 20 minutes or so.

  66. Eklavya
    January 9, 2011

    OK Hilal you were right.

    Now let’s watch the world proclaim Mourinho as a genius!

    • Miguel
      January 9, 2011

      it was di maria that intended to play it, not ronaldo. still should’ve been ruled offside, not that it would”ve mattered.

      pig: played it, intended to play it, or gained an advantage.

  67. jordi™
    January 9, 2011

    Oh look Mourinho scored a goal.Wait you mean that was Kaka? The celebration of Mou convinced me he was playing.*Waits for presser where he talks about Barca later*

  68. Jnice
    January 9, 2011

    Despite the offside goal and whatever else, Villarreal should be disappointed with the way they came out in the 2nd half. They played like they were scared and it burned them.

  69. Jim
    January 9, 2011

    Big mistake on my part, huh?

    Can’t believe what I watch week after week. At least VR have shown that the way to tackle them is to play the football against them. They’re genuinely not great when they play a passing side.

  70. soccermomof4
    January 9, 2011

    If they want to be an attacking teaam, then they can’t do it conditionally. Villareal doesn’t have the defense to absorb that much pressure for a full half. What were they thinking?

  71. soccermomof4
    January 9, 2011

    Why didn’t I listen to those wiser than myself? Why did I watch? Why did I hope? Why did IT have to get a hat trick and go 4 goals ahead of my Messi?

    • mega_tajh
      January 9, 2011

      Messi can easily score 4 goals anytime remember that!! Once Messi is in goal scoring form no1 can touch him!!!

    • Jnice
      January 9, 2011

      I’m guilty of not adhering to my own advice, SoMom, so don’t beat yourself up too much.

      If we won penaltys every match, Messi would be leading goalscorer as well. Shame he has a billion assists to go with the goals.

      • Helge
        January 9, 2011

        Yeah! I couldn’t watch it because I was invited to a birthday party. Thank God 😀

        But I have to admit, if I had not been invited, this match would have been the only one of EE that I planned to watch (besides CL and April 16).

  72. January 9, 2011

    At least VR have shown that the way to tackle them is to play the football against them. They’re genuinely not great when they play a passing side.

    They cannot play without the ball. And that’s when they get very exposed. Defensively they are poor tactically and in terms of defensive execution. For most of the first half Villareal passed around them at will.

    The match changed when Madrid started pressing more intensely higher up the pitch and then using their numerical advantage in midfield.

    Once Villareal got on their backheels they entered a kind of death spiral. Defend more, play deeper, bring on more defenders, etc. That just prevented them from retaining the ball and scoring that third goal needed.

    But without the ball you really see how porous RM is. Marcelo, Ramos, and Alonso in particular. With the ball those are three good to very good players. But once RM loses possession all of those deep players become huge liabilities.

    The same goes with their front 4 attacking players. They just don’t defend well.

    When Villareal had possession Real Madrid couldn’t stop them.

    • Jnice
      January 9, 2011

      When Villareal had possession Real Madrid couldn’t stop them.

      Exactly. Thought Garrido of all people would know that.

  73. jordi™
    January 9, 2011

    This only makes me appreciate our ability to keep a lead even more.We’ve kept a 1-0 lead over EE with 10 men.Once we get in front we can keep it all day, while still looking for goals.In my opinion if Villarreal had slowed down their tempo a little once their had their leads, and kept the ball instead of running at goal every time, they would’ve capitalized on EE’s frustration and most likely had a 3-1 lead at half time.Second half they went to the other extreme and abandoned most attacking intention.Anyone think Kaka for Albiol would have resulted in anything but a pasting had they tried that against us? I really cant wait till we go there in April.

    • soccermomof4
      January 9, 2011

      Key phrase:
      “while still looking for goals”

    • January 9, 2011

      Agree on the issue of tempo. They didn’t adjust as the game went on and started playing helter skelter.

      They never used the lead as a weapon. They never used the lead to force Madrid to get more frustrated and crack open.

      • January 9, 2011

        Also, I think the issue of tempo points out how invaluable Xavi and Iniesta are.

        Villareal had no one who “read the game” on the pitch. They had no one who took charge of how the team needed to change play as the game evolved.

        Put Xavi on that team and they win this game.

    • Jnice
      January 9, 2011

      I really cant wait till we go there in April.

      Same here.

  74. soccermomof4
    January 9, 2011

    Oh well….Ravens up 16-7 in the 3rd. Go Ravens!

  75. outerspacedout
    January 9, 2011

    The Real – Villareal game began at 11pm on the 9th in my time, and the 10th was my 18th birthday so I was really hoping for Villareal to give me an amazing birthday, and around the time the first half was almost ending I’m thinking ‘wow, Villareal are giving me an amazing birthday present by leading 2-1 as the half finishes’ (12am would have been right before the beginning of the second half). But then TB scores. I was so furious. My cousins who were there (three female cousins) were freaking out at my delight at every Villareal goal and despair over the Madrid goals like I was a total headcase.

    Ps. Haven’t been on BFB for a long time now, too lazy to register until now.

    • soccermomof4
      January 9, 2011

      Hiya, ‘Spaced’! Happy Birthday!

    • Jnice
      January 9, 2011

      Happy birthday, bud. Forget Madrid and enjoy your day.

    • Kari
      January 9, 2011

      Happy Day of Birth! Just rewatch the manita; that should cheer you up!

    • Vj
      January 9, 2011

      Forget about Real man, enjoy the wonderful performances by this great Barça side..

      Be grateful that you are supporting the greatest team to play in your(our) generation..

  76. Diego
    January 9, 2011

    I don’t know why I watch EE match, I gain nothing but frustration.

    Something else to note is that Fouls in that match were EE committed 20 fouls and Villareal only 8.

  77. justsayin
    January 9, 2011

    My parents are from Galicia so I can clarify the sign. Padron, is in fact a town in Galicia (La Coruna, to be exact) where they are known for a small, spicy green pepper that is fried in olive oil and sprinkled with rock salt. Very tasty. So, the sign simply said that they would trade their pimientos de Padron for Bojan shorts. I think it’s common to see fans with signs asking for a players jersey, but because Padron rhymes with pantalon (shorts/pants) it was just a cute rhyme.

    • poipoi
      January 9, 2011

      those pimientos are great my brother grows them 😀

      • Diego
        January 9, 2011

        Your Keyboard is still working, Poipoi ?

        I thought it would get ruined by your tears after you read that Nolito is leaving us. 😀

    • January 9, 2011

      Thanks, justsayin. I figured it was that simple, but the journalist in me always wants to see more complex things. 😀

  78. soccermomof4
    January 9, 2011

    Ok, so I want Messi to get ahead of TB for the Pichichi. BUT, the man has 12 assists already(in league)! That’s inhuman! The Great Xavi, himself, only had something like 14 for all of last season. Those in second place have 6(P!! and Alves are in the second place group)! Nobody talks about assists when comparing Messi to TB this year.

    BTW Ravens 23- KC 7!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  79. Diego
    January 9, 2011

    Liverpool and Manchester played today.

    A penalty scored in the 1st Minute. The Ref blew his whistle on the 94th minutes.

  80. soccermomof4
    January 9, 2011

    Final score Ravens 30-KC 7! Some good had to come out of today!

  81. Kari
    January 9, 2011

    2 dates I can’t wait for:

    February 16 and April 16.

    • soccermomof4
      January 9, 2011

      When we put on a football clinic for Europe to see(2/16) and when we open up a can of it upon the evil ones in their own house(4/16).

  82. soccermomof4
    January 9, 2011

    Xavi quote taken from TotalBarca:

    For me, Barca is unconditional. Let’s just say that I’m playing at Arsenal, at Manchester, at Bayern Munich. I’d constantly be asking myself, ‘What’s happening at Barca?’ I’d be paying attention to what’s going on, who’s playing, what they are doing, how they are doing … I feel Barca. That’s the great difference from the people who don’t feel it. I love this club, I love it. I always say that I will never leave Barca until my career ends. I won’t go. I won’t go. I’m happy at Barca. Barca, I love it, I feel like it’s mine. For me it’s unconditional. No loans, no offers.”

    Read more: http://www.totalbarca.com/#ixzz1AZpzndIT

    LOVE HIM!

    • January 9, 2011

      I wouldn’t read anything into the nonsense that posters on that video are saying. He did exactly what our mids are supposed to do: receive, pass and move, receive, pass and move, then repeat. Dribbling just gives the other team time to get set, or steal the ball.

  83. soccermomof4
    January 9, 2011

    Xavi quote taken from TotalBarca:

    For me, Barca is unconditional. Let’s just say that I’m playing at Arsenal, at Manchester, at Bayern Munich. I’d constantly be asking myself, ‘What’s happening at Barca?’ I’d be paying attention to what’s going on, who’s playing, what they are doing, how they are doing … I feel Barca. That’s the great difference from the people who don’t feel it. I love this club, I love it. I always say that I will never leave Barca until my career ends. I won’t go. I won’t go. I’m happy at Barca. Barca, I love it, I feel like it’s mine. For me it’s unconditional. No loans, no offers.”

    http://www.totalbarca.com/#ixzz1AZpzndIT

    LOVE HIM!

    • soccermomof4
      January 9, 2011

      Sorry about the duplicate.- My computer is taking so long today. I didn’t know I had already posted before deleting two words (because there really isn’t anything more to read of this at TotalBarca)

      • Kari
        January 9, 2011

        That’s why I have his jersey. He is my no questions asked second favourite player of all time. Contrary to popular belief, Messi, not Bojangles, is the undisputed number 1 in my heart.

        • soccermomof4
          January 9, 2011

          Got his jersey too! It arrived just a few days before Christmas (Merry Christmas to me!). Seriously coveting the real one that Kxevin got but can’t afford it with kids in college. Thought about Messi then realized I have many more years to buy his jersey( as long as it doesn’t have that awful tree on it). But you keep up working on the Cuddly Toy Fairness and Affirmation Committee; someone has too.

        • blitzen
          January 9, 2011

          I have Xavi’s jersey too! Shall we form a gang? 😀

    • January 9, 2011

      Actually, this is from a documentary that ran (and streamed) on TV3, “Xavi550,” in honor of our maestro and his accomplishments. They’re acting as if he’s already won the Ballon d’Or. Only caught bits of it, sorry to say, but looked aces.

      • blitzen
        January 9, 2011

        It’s on YouTube already, but no subtitles. Still worth watching.

  84. Lev
    January 9, 2011

    did anyone notice that affelay was about to come in, Pedro scored the 4th goal. Ibi was gonna aplaud, but Pep was like “Nooo, pay attention to my instructions” lol

    @soccermom ooooh it’s on! Steelers gonna pound y’all nxt week!

    • Kari
      January 9, 2011

      I LMAO’d at that. RayRay was too.

      allas14 has that Afellay scene AND the Xavi one too.

    • soccermomof4
      January 9, 2011

      Bring it!

      Actually I’m a bit nervous about facing you guys. We’ve been so erratic this year. At least the game on Saturday won’t conflict with the Barca game on Sunday. Now do I wear my Ray Rice or my Ray Lewis jersey?

      I’m having computer problems- forgive any double postings!

  85. blitzen
    January 9, 2011

    From TotalBarca:

    Laser pointers

    At various moments of the match, you could see green lasers pointed from the stands at the players. A public announcement was made asking the fans to stop.

    I didn’t see any of that in my feed, but I have to say this seriously pisses me off. Players can sustain permanent eye damage from lasers. If I was anywhere near someone who was pulling that kind of shit, they would have a serious problem. ;(

      • blitzen
        January 9, 2011

        I’m serious, I would physically tackle someone doing that. They wouldn’t see me coming. 😛

    • Víctor
      January 9, 2011

      It pisses me off as well. Something should be done, it has become quite frequent as of lately.

    • justsayin
      January 9, 2011

      Hey Kari,
      Is it being televised?

      • Kari
        January 9, 2011

        On North American TV? Not that I’m aware of. In Europe, it’ll probably be live.

        You can probably stream it though.

  86. outerspacedout
    January 9, 2011

    Thanks VJ, Kari, SoMa04, Jnice and Diego!

    Yeah I woke up today morning and realized a Barcelona player (Xavi I hope this time) will be winning the Ballon d’Or today. On the 10th. Also, I got presents. So Real Madrid being their evil selves (he he he) over the course of midnight last night is forgotten.

  87. January 9, 2011

    EMD is reporting that Alves rejected the club’s latest creative renewal offer. It seems that for Alves, it is the salary and his place in the team. He wants the club, with what it pays him, to say “You are worth as much to us as Xavi, Messi or Iniesta.” For me that is an absurd notion, because he isn’t. We won 4-0 without him yesterday, against a defense-minded side that parked the bus.

    I’m sure that his not playing yesterday was just Guardiola’s rotation, but if we have to start getting used to him not being here, we might as well start now, rather than abruptly over the summer. I’d start nosing around Van der Wiel or his ilk, too.

    • Víctor
      January 9, 2011

      To be fair, when won 4-0 without Xavi as well. 😉

      Just kidding.

      Seriously, I understand your point, but on the other side: who could effectively replace Alves in case there’s no renewal? Van der Wiel is an option, but does he have the potential to do the job Alves does?

      • January 9, 2011

        I see your point, Victor. No doubt. But Xavi isn’t negotiating with the club, because Xavi would never leave the club.

        I think that “doing the job Alves does” will have to change to fit the player who comes into the system. I think that Van der Wiel can be an excellent right back in our system. For sure.

  88. January 9, 2011

    Can’t say I blame Alves for rejecting the salary offers from Barca. The offers from Rosell do not appear even remotely close to what he’s being offered by Man City in terms of guaranteed money.

    He’s got five more years of earning power that will dwarf the rest of the money that he’s likely to make in his life combined.

    The gap in guaranteed money was reported earlier to be 25% more from Man City. That’s a huge gulf.

    Almost no athlete in professional baseketball, baseball, hockey, american football, etc. would turn down that much money.

    Man City offered Alves more than Xavi makes. I don’t think Alves is demanding Barca matches Man City. But given the market conditions and the absolute dearth of right full backs in the world, it’s reasonable for him to want to be paid at the Xavi level.

    Now it might not make sense for Barca to pay him that much. But that’s a separate issue.

    I remain very skeptical about this working out. The difference in guaranteed money appears to be just so large.

    • January 9, 2011

      Exactly, Euler. I don’t blame him either. But I think that the club needs to protect itself and think about an exit strategy, so to speak, and that’s one without Alves. If he wants to chase the bucks and have a reunion with The Yaya, he certainly can. It’s his right. Player careers are short, and they have every right to seek as much money as they can for their services.

      I would also contend, however, that there is value in where you play. The homegrowns understand that. It’s absurd to expect the imports to understand that. So like The Yaya did, they move on when their notion of their value outstrips the club’s.

      As I noted during an exchange on Twitter, if you were to ask me which one I would rather be without going into a big match, Messi, Xavi or Alves, the answer is a no-brainer for me.

      I don’t begrudge Alves wanting to seek greener pastures, so to speak. I just disagree with the notion that the club and its attack will be significantly damaged without Alves. Just as the club learned to play with Alves, it can learn to play without him. Guardiola is a smart coach, and I have no doubt that he can adapt his system.

      After all, who was our right back when we won the Liga and Champions League in 2006. Anyone remember?

      • jnelson
        January 9, 2011

        Oleguer? *shivers*
        I for one am not sympathetic to Alves. What Kevin says is right: he can join Yaya at Citeh if it’s about the money. Some people think Adriano is a suitable replacement/starter for him, though. I disagree. Adriano may work very hard, but I don’t see him as a starter. During the match, every time he received the ball, he was at an angle facing our own far corner flag. He was always turned toward our own deep left flank. There was little forward movement at all from him. Sure, he kept possession and switches brilliantly, but Alves can push the ball forward. Adriano? If he wasn’t passing backwards, he was moving sideways, slightly backward. I don’t know. Looking at this last game, I don’t see enough confidence or movement forward from him. Also, I thought he struggled to get back in time when losing possession…near midfield. Van der Wiel would not be bad. What about Dalmau and Montoya? I guess ideally Dani would be perfect if he could stay 2 or 3 more years so they could mature, but everyone knows imports like to roam.

        • January 9, 2011

          True that. Also keep in mind that Alves came to us as a RB. Adriano is a Swiss army knife who plays everywhere. What happens if the jack of all trades decides to specialize? Good question. Puyol is a better example of a defender subbing for Alves. Now imagine the likes of Van der Wiel, a dedicated right back good enough to start for the World Cup runners-up. We also have very good candidates in La Masia, as you mention, who already know the system. Alves’ departure doesn’t worry me very much.

          But it has to be about more than the money. The difference between 5m and 7m is psychological, particularly when you already make 4m.

          • jnelson
            January 9, 2011

            Ah, true. Seeing as he supposedly can play any position on either wing, I guess there is much potential if Pep could specialize him at RB. It already is only a matter of time before Phil Schoen starts saying Alves deputizes for him haha

  89. January 9, 2011

    The club will adjust if they lose Alves but they will have to evolve how they play.

    Look at the goal scoring form C. Ronaldo is in right now. He’s much more comfortable and better on the left wing rather than the right.

    Despite that Mourinho started C.Ronaldo on the Right in El Clasico. He moved him off the position where he has been deadly all season long. Why?

    Dani Alves and his impact on the right flank.

    Would Barca have won the Clasico without Alves? There’s little doubt they would have given how lopsided it was.

    But without Alves Pep doesn’t gain that significant tactical advantage over Mourinho before the first whistle even blows.

    No other right back in the world produces that kind of effect. No other right back makes Mourinho even consider moving C. Ronaldo to his weaker goal scoring side to try to sure up the RM defense against a RB.

    That’s just one example of the kind of things Barca will lose and need to adjust to.

    Alves has the third most touches in the opposition half of any player in La Liga. It’s a major adjustment to lose a player that is so involved with what you do – especially when that player is a full back.

    Barca is larger than Alves. But it will be an adjustment.

    • January 9, 2011

      Also, for a club that is built on a philosophy of total football, the notion that the payroll will be structured depending on what position one plays is on face nonsensical.

      You can make an argument based on individual quality that Alves isn’t as good as Xavi or Iniesta. But to argue as Rosell seems to be doing that we have a pay structure in which defenders are bracketed to make between X and Y is just silly. That’s completely at odds with how they play football as a team.

      • Jnice
        January 10, 2011

        Fantastic points, Euler. Agree 100%.

      • January 10, 2011

        But if we have always had that structure, and it seems that we have, why break it now?

        I also think that in citing statistics, it’s worth noting that the system has made Alves every bit as much as Alves has made the system. Would the system, with another right back have forced the same tactical alteration from Mourinho? Quite possibly.

        I just don’t like the notion that holds that the current player is the only player. I remember the palpitations attendant to the sale of Ronaldinho. The club improved without him.

        I also don’t think that a footballing philosophy has anything to do with a fiscal one. I look at the players in the Citeh locker room, comparing pay packets and grousing, and wonder if the club’s wage structure isn’t part of what’s keeping things sane. I don’t know that anyone would begrudge Alves getting his pay demands. In fact they would welcome it, because it would mean eventual raises for everyone.

        At some point a club has to look at its payroll in the present, and what any moves could mean for the future. It’s looking like now is the time.

        • Jnice
          January 10, 2011

          I don’t know, Kxevin, like I said before, when Alves was at Sevilla, he forced teams to make tactical changes to deal with him just like he’s doing now. He is just a different kind of right back to anyone else out there.

          We improved without Ronaldinho because Ronaldinho wasn’t the same player after the 05/06 season. In the 07/08 he was pretty dire. It’s not the same with Alves. He is still playing at the same high level he came in playing.

        • January 10, 2011

          At some point a club has to look at its payroll in the present, and what any moves could mean for the future. It’s looking like now is the time.

          That may be the case, but if the club is at the point where they have to look that hard at payroll, then they should be doing so in the context of their total fiscal situation.

          That includes transfers as well. And let’s see how much restraint Rosell will show come this summer and he has his chance to put his stamp on the team.

          • ooga aga
            January 10, 2011

            “And let’s see how much restraint Rosell will show come this summer and he has his chance to put his stamp on the team.”

            great point. if alves goes and we spend much more on transfers this summer than the extra we would have needed to keep dani, my hatred for rosell will reach new heights.

        • ooga aga
          January 10, 2011

          “it’s worth noting that the system has made Alves every bit as much as Alves has made the system.”

          pep brought in alves as one of the first orders of business, and the team has looked different ever since. as pep said, he is “fundamental” for us, and our current system depends on and is structured around the player that alves is, just as it is structured around other players. if the club is only set up to pay defenders xyz, that needs to be put aside, for it is a narrow definition of what alves is. the stat that euler cites is worth considering. it’s hard to know precisely what is happening in the negotiations, but the club needs to bend a bit more, if need be. i wonder what the players say amongst themselves at practice regarding these things. just as anyone else, they must discuss the future?

  90. pr17
    January 10, 2011

    We can occasionally manage / cope up without Alves as today but not always.
    On the defensive side we can easily manage, but we will struggle to match Dani’s contributions on the offensive front. Most of the so called great right backs offer defensive strength and in offence – an outlet for wingers to pass with the occasional cross and cut in and shoot aka glen johnson. Dani offers so much more.

    Alves is 2 players rolled into one. He is a playmaking rightback and one of the X factors in the team along with Iniesta, Xavi and Messi.
    This season he has evolved further and come inside to pass and help in one two’s. Also he has curbed his arbitrary crossing tendencies. His runs and intuitive understanding with xavi (remember the malaga pass last season which took out 6 defenders in one pass)is next to none. Also i have never seen anybody dribble past dani from a static position or outrun him for pace – Hence cristiano wasnt played on his flank.

    If it comes to money and setting a precedent, we shouldnt pennypinch. It shall come to around 20,000 USD / week more or around 1 -1.5m USD / year. Also through our contracted negotiations, rossell has proved that substantial wage increases are the exception rather than the rule. that should set the right precendent for any future dani like situations. I say, give the money he wants and sign him on a 3 or 4 year contract and not more.

  91. Barcathegreatestever
    January 10, 2011

    Mourinho celebrating in front of Villareals bench is just disgusting sportsmanship, I have no respect for that man. Villareal were eventually beaten into submission and Mourinho is winning his battle with how La Ligas refs call the game. Right at the start of the second half Xabi yanks a guy right off his feet by his jersey and no card. game on Madrid.

    Stats on Alves are amazing. He tore Barca up in Sevilla and took Barca to a new level when he joined. Last year when he strung some pretty stale games together Barca really struggled and now he is more important than ever. Alves is a vital member. There may not be another player out there that does what he does for Barca.

  92. BarcaGirl_Indo
    January 10, 2011

    okay, I’m watching Xavi 550 documentary from TV3 now…
    and I keep watching it eventhough I understand NOTHING… *sigh*

    if anyone have a link of video with translation, I will be so grateful… 🙁

  93. y2k156
    January 10, 2011

    I watched the EE Villareal match yesterday. Little bit hoping the yellow submarine had it in them. In the first 45, they were all over EE and it was just footballing luck that saw EE level. In second 45, it was much more even and in fact, EE were even better than Villareal for stretches. Some how Villareal got rattled and in the end, that did them in. What i found interesting was the amount of space Villareal conceded on their right side. To Ronaldo and then to Marcelo. It was scandelous. I do have to question their coach. I have to say that Mou scored a tactical victory there.

    Ronaldo scored a hattrick and seems to be in irrestitable form. He might be as good a goal scoring threat as any but he is not even in the top 5 in terms of ball playing ability. In fact, DiMaria was the best ball player on the pitch for EE yesterday. The space which villareal gave to Cronaldo was absurd though.

    Everybody is pointing fingers are Ref and they have a case. But i do not think that ref lost the match for Villareal. They lost it themselves and of course EE did some smart things to win it.

    So it will be a dog fight to death. On plus side, i do not think that this EE side is capable to sit back. They simply do not have the personnel. So i am looking forward to Classico in their house already.

    • Helge
      January 10, 2011

      Well, I think we have to concede the pichichi to Crynaldo, because he will at least score one goal per match and that’ll take him to 42 goals in la Liga this season.
      BUT it can still be a zero-trophy season for EE, and that would be sweet! It would also heavily reduce CRs chances to win the next Ballon D’Or.
      I don’t think that EE will drop many points in la Liga, so as Pep already said, it’s on us to set up a new points record and win the league. We do have the advantage.

      I am nonetheless more optimistic when it comes to the CL. Olypmpique Lyon will make it tougher for them than any side in la Liga did (except of us, naturally), that’s my feeling 🙂
      In a possible quarter-final, I’d love to see ManUtd – Real because I think the counter-attacking style of ManUtd has more chances than any other football. ManUtd can defend pretty well thsi season, they also seem to have the luck on their side, not only in one, but many matches. And I would love the ManUtds fans to jeer Crynaldo to death^^

      • Jnice
        January 10, 2011

        I’ve read some funny comments this morning about Cristiano being better and more complete than Messi. Made me smile.

        Also, it seems that Villarreal plays tiki-taka way better than we do and we’re still boring. 😀

  94. y2k156
    January 10, 2011

    As for Alves, it is strange situation. I think he is as important as any in the team. In terms of his place, i see him as vital to our way of playing as Messi, Iniesta or Xavi. With Messi in top band all by himself, i think Dani deserves to be in second band.

    But of course Barca is an company and bumping up Dani will have a waterfall effect so if the board is considering that, i can understand. Also there is no way Barca can match the money that Man City has to offer. So Dani has to choose if he wants truck load of money and place in difficult team or SUV load of money and place in possibly the greatest time of all time. I would chose to stay but this is personal and i do not begrudge him the choice.

    As for us, i do not think there is some one like Dani out there. So we will have to modify. I do have full trust in our ability that we can modify. Will we be as good? Who knows. In any case, i realize that this is maybe the zenith of our team and it is quite possible that we might never be as good in foreseeable future or at any time. So i shall sit back and enjoy and hope that we can continue to stay on top for as long as possible.

  95. Helge
    January 10, 2011

    Mourinho is not attending the press conference with Messi, Xaviniesta, Del Bosque and Pep.
    Does he feel uncomfortable amongst them? Or is he too special to appear on such an ordinary press conference? 🙂

    • Jnice
      January 10, 2011

      They say his plane was delayed, but seems too much of a coincidence….

      The question session that just finished certainly would have been more fun with him there. I know Andres would have been asked about his comments for sure.

    • Goo
      January 10, 2011

      I just watched the press conference. I was torn between wishing to see Mou in a presser surrounded by the Barca boys, and thanking that late plane for making the special one and his drivel conspicuously absent.

  96. January 10, 2011

    I still hold the view that no player is THE player. Iif that were the case, teams would never change or improve, right?

    Nobody is questioning the quality of Alves and his value in the system that he helps to facilitate. What I am saying is if he wants to stay, he will compromise. If he doesn’t, he can go hang with the millionaires at Citeh, and have Messi or Pedro run past him in Champion League. His choice.

    The club will move on, and adapt.

    As for Alves being this unique player, his position is RB. The club has a wage structure that it honors. Does anyone believe that Alves is more valuable to the club than Puyol? Puyol is paid as a defender. So is Alves. If he wants more, he should leave this summer, so that we can move on with adaptation. But for the club to just roll over is, for me, not a viable option.

  97. Barcathegreatestever
    January 10, 2011

    Agreed. Puyol is second only to Messi, everyone is replaceable haha

      • Extreme barca fan
        January 10, 2011

        I think this might actually happen, maybe these guys are plotting something to surprise everybody

  98. January 10, 2011

    Whoa! In a few years, we could have an all-Masia starting XI: Valdes, Dalmau, Pique, Fontas, Bartra, Busquets, Iniesta, Thiago, Messi, Pedro, Etock.

    How ’bout that?

    • Jnice
      January 10, 2011

      It would have to be one of either Dalmau or Bartra, seeing as Dalmau is a right back, so I would put Muniesa there instead. For me, Dalmau isn’t even close to being ready and I prefer Montoya to him.

      I have a feeling we won’t actually ever get to see Etock with the first team. Something with us and the promoting of strikers. I don’t think we do well in that department. Apart from that, the lineup isn’t too far-fetched.

      • Extreme barca fan
        January 10, 2011

        Agree with jnice, so we add muniesa and bojan (good enough or not is irrelevant he is here and it seems he is staying here for a long time)

      • January 10, 2011

        I’m just hoping for some adaptability. I like Dalmau’s pace better than Montoya. And the buzz is that when Etock practiced with the first team recently, Guardiola was knocked out. Didn’t realize Muniesa had FB capability, but that’s even better.

  99. Josep
    January 10, 2011

    A few thoughts:
    Re: 2014 as I tweeted to you baby Kxevy,
    where’s bojan? 😀 Muniesa can play LB, but I’d play him at CB over Fontas.

    As Jnice, and probably eklavya noticed, I hate Adam Bader. he’s just stupid. His tweets are completely inappropriate for someone commenting on a game for RMTV. Talking about shooting people, puta this, chinga this, ref this. Talking about the refs rightfully whistling the ref at the half… althought seconds before he gave a FK for a di maria dive that led to the goal. and his huge mancrush on Cristiano.

    re: laser pointers. yes this needs to stop, I noticed this in an EE match recently and they were all over. its terrifying, and I don’t know how they plan to stop it, it’d be near impossible. it’s embarrassing on the level of whistles and jeers.

    re: Alves. Ah, Dani. Is pep going to do what I’ve been asking? Sit Alves against the weaker teams, and try Adriano to see “what its like without Dani”? if thats the case we won’t see him next year. But whats the point of not paying him just for a replacement to sign for the same? also the citeh tapping him up is a funny but true comment. apparently, Englanders can do what they want. he’s a fantastic player, the best RB in the world hands down. pay him. I know I don’t want to break the wage structure, but he is worth a lot. and this whole “xavi level” thing is strange. in a few years xavi will be gone and that huge wage will be lifted on the bill. maybe a clause that he gets an increase when Xavi retires?

    what else is there.. hmm.. Negredo linked with Liverpool? lol.

    oh, kxevy, who would be the subs on that team? my 2014 team would be

    Valdes
    Montoya-Pique-Bartra-Muniesa
    biscuits
    iniesta-thiago
    messi-bojan-pedro

    Bench:
    Masip?
    Dalmau (RB)
    Fontas (CB/DM)
    Rafa ? I doubt he’ll be good enough but.. (CM)
    Afellay (RW/LW/9/CM)
    Gerard (LW/RW/9)
    Etock/Icardi (9)

    • blitzen
      January 10, 2011

      Xavi will still be playing in 2014.

      And you forgot Cesc. 😛

    • Josep
      January 10, 2011

      ooh I forgot to mention Mou’s celebration.

      If, indeed (which it kind of looked like it) Mou’s son was behind the villareal bench couldn’t you swap seats? I mean who has tickets to give to his son behind the opponent bench?? I mean maybe he even set that up.

      Okay your team scored a goal (offsides) that took the lead. you run to the opponents bench and celebrate in front of it with your son? sounds familiar to the camp nou when he celebrated with the “inter fans” in a certain section.

      I hate this man. tactically he is overrated, his mind games are spectacular. his diversions from his team works spectacularly.. but he’s just a complete and utter asshole. if he was the Barca coach I wonder what Marca would say. but since he’s not.. they’ll just blame Pelligrini for things.

  100. blitzen
    January 10, 2011

    Well that was cool! It must be so strange for them to watch themselves like that!

  101. January 10, 2011

    Marco Van Basten presenting the team of the season right now.

    When we talk about the recurring issue of who could possibly meet the requirements to ideally play striker for Barcelona, the answer is Marco Van Basten.

    What a great footballer. It would take that level of player to fulfill everything cule’s seem to want out of the barca striker.

    Glad to see him there. In many ways Messi fits in with the Van Basten tradition of striker more than any other.

    • Josep
      January 10, 2011

      I think Ramzi wrote a blog post about this very fact and its true. If we had a van basten.. wow.

    • Humphrey Bogart
      January 10, 2011

      I’ve just read LLL on fourfourtwo and stumbled on Real Sociedad-Sevilla and I actually think, that Kanoute could be a good choice for our plan B/striker situation.

  102. Kari
    January 10, 2011

    OMG. Did Vicent of the Forest just crack a smile?! O.O

  103. Kari
    January 10, 2011

    Must be so awkward having to watch themselves on screen.

  104. Kari
    January 10, 2011

    Ha! He pronounced David Villa wrong 😛

    • Josep
      January 10, 2011

      He said it extremely American-ly. haha. “dweam” is my favorite word now. oh sneijder

  105. jordi™
    January 10, 2011

    The sight of of Jose i always find vomit inducing

    On the plus side im so proud to see our players.Wonder how the likes of Thongboy , and Wesly must be feeling there 😀

  106. blitzen
    January 10, 2011

    Puyi looks so uncomfortable in a suit!

    • Josep
      January 10, 2011

      A treble is hardly bullshit. But the fact that if Bayern wins Van Gaal would be in there means it should’ve been Del Bosque, Jose, and Van Gaal, not Pep.

      • Kari
        January 10, 2011

        I’m a vindictive, MouMou hater. IMO, it should have been Del Bosque. He won the freakin’ WC.

    • Kari
      January 10, 2011

      You’re a much better person than me, Nav.

      It should have been Del Bosque IMO

    • Jnice
      January 10, 2011

      He’s corny when he gets like that.

      • jordi™
        January 10, 2011

        this will be him later. *tear in eye*

        “Im touched and honored but im still sad my players like Sneijder didnt get the recognition they too deserve”

        Cry me a river.

  107. Eklavya
    January 10, 2011

    Common, he won the treble afterall. Lets respect FIFA

    • Roz
      January 10, 2011

      Agree. If they had it last year Pep would have won for sure.

  108. January 10, 2011

    I saw Desmond Tutu close up in South Africa when I was there for the Cup. It was such a thrill. He is very cute.

  109. gowtham
    January 10, 2011

    congrats to mourinho,,,as much as we hate him, admittedly he is a very good coach:S
    and did guardiola win it last year????

      • gowtham
        January 10, 2011

        ahhh crapp…how gayy…
        he’ll win it this next year though:D

  110. Goo
    January 10, 2011

    Mou is the specialest bestest coach in the world.

  111. blitzen
    January 10, 2011

    I would have given it to Del Bosque, as well, but I can’t say that Mourinho is undeserving.

  112. Nav
    January 10, 2011

    “I should really have brought my Vuvuzela” LOL

  113. January 10, 2011

    Mourinho is a terrific manager and it’s more than reasonable for him to win.

    Hating him, etc. just makes him more than that. It just buys into this media narrative he so studiously tries to build around himself.

    He’s a manager who thirsts to be more than a manager. He wants to be a personality.

    He’s not worth the effort. Terrific manager. That’s it.

  114. gowtham
    January 10, 2011

    but the man’s speech is moving,,

  115. Eklavya
    January 10, 2011

    Wheres Messi’s goal vs Zaragoza?

    I vote for Nasri’s goal

  116. jordi™
    January 10, 2011

    Burrows had the best goal in my opinion.

  117. Nav
    January 10, 2011

    The Neymar goal was very nice as well.

  118. Kari
    January 10, 2011

    Messi’s vs Zaragoza should have been there. But I think they knew Messi would win, so they picked the Valencia one.

  119. Eklavya
    January 10, 2011

    Wow, internautes really voted for him!

  120. Eklavya
    January 10, 2011

    OMG the japan team’s reaction after he missed the penalty.

    And awww puyi and iker!!!

  121. Jnice
    January 10, 2011

    Why are y’all hatin’? You know your head is boppin. LOL, sike.

  122. jordi™
    January 10, 2011

    thanks jamie callum but we want to see our TRIO.Fifa know how to draw out an announcent.

  123. Nav
    January 10, 2011

    Haha video effects to make it more interesting

  124. Kari
    January 10, 2011

    He has skills though. Nice voice too.

  125. jordi™
    January 10, 2011

    jaja TB looking all bored.Must be killing him.

  126. Jnice
    January 10, 2011

    Marta for the 100th time? I like her and Cristiane.

  127. jordi™
    January 10, 2011

    God im gonna cry if all 3 of them go up there and lift it together

    • January 10, 2011

      I’m hoping they do that. I’d love to see them go up together.

  128. January 10, 2011

    It’s nice to see how much his still means to Marta even after winning so many times.

    This was the least uncertain outcome of any of the awards. She couldn’t have been very surprised.

    A legendary figure in the history of football.

  129. Kari
    January 10, 2011

    Pep presenting…Ohhhh this is so exciting!

  130. soccermomof4
    January 10, 2011

    Hey all
    At vet with sick dog

    Droid is useless so no feed

    What do we know so far

  131. blitzen
    January 10, 2011

    Ohhhhhhhhhh, I so wanted Xavi to win! 🙁

    But cheers to Messi!!!! 😀

  132. Kari
    January 10, 2011

    Well the best player in the world actually won. How about that?

  133. mega_tajh
    January 10, 2011

    Congrats Messi………….Best player in d world…..Fifa make it official now!!! Twice ina row to!!!!! Sad for Xavi 🙁

  134. jordi™
    January 10, 2011

    My heart ripped in two :/ Happy and sad, is it possible, cuz i am

  135. gowtham
    January 10, 2011

    MESSSSISISISIISISISISISISISIIII
    sad that xavi didnt get it though:S

  136. outerspacedout
    January 10, 2011

    Wow I wanted Xavi to win this one, but Messi already at only 23/24 having won this much… wow he could dominate this the way no player has ever done (Cruyff, Platini, van Basten, etc won thrice- Messi could win another four or five times!)

  137. mega_tajh
    January 10, 2011

    Guess they didn’t go up together…..but surely after they will take a pic together with it..

  138. Kari
    January 10, 2011

    It looked like Leo didn’t actually want to win. His reaction when his name was called was “What, it’s me? Ahhh.’

  139. Goo
    January 10, 2011

    I also wanted Xavi to win, but… here’s to Leo winning every single individual trophy until he hangs up his boots!

  140. Miguel
    January 10, 2011

    i called it. said that the votes would get split between iniesta & xavi making messi the winner.

    i really hoped xavi would get it, though.

    completely forgot this was on. i did get to catch messi’s speech, though.

  141. blitzen
    January 10, 2011

    Well, he’s got a pair of golden balls now. 🙂

    Pep looked like he was going to explode from pride when he was presenting it. Knowing that no matter which of them won, he is their coach.

  142. Eklavya
    January 10, 2011

    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

  143. Kari
    January 10, 2011

    So, that’s two awards where Spain got “robbed”. Del Bosque and Xavi. Damn, they must feel peeved. 😛

    And yes, jordi, it’s possible to feel sad and happy at the same time.

  144. January 10, 2011

    The notion that there’s some uncertainty regarding who the greatest footballer in the world is, is only a media creation.

    Inside of football, amongst the players and coaches, there is simply no question. I don’t think there’s even much of a serious debate.

    When you hear how other footballers talk about Messi, you can just hear the it in their voice – they know better than everyone else how special, how historic this player is.

    I wanted Xavi to win as recognition for his sustained brilliance in the parts of the game that get less attention than scoring goals.

    But at the same time the award is for who was the best player. And there’s just no way to say Messi is not the best.

    The whole criticism of him and his performance at the world cup seems to have had very little sway amongst people inside of football. He didn’t score but he did play very well at the Cup.

    Congrats to Leo!

    • Helge
      January 10, 2011

      Perfect summary 🙂

      I was torn apart between Xavi and Messi, but I don’t want to complain now although I would slightly have preferred Xavi to win it. Judging by pure skill, only Messi could win this. I mean, we saw the passes from him against EE… now Messi is almost as good and as deadly a passer as Xavi!

      I also love Iniesta, that’s for sure. But the Gazzetta Dello Sport reported that Iniesta wins, and I always felt there wouid be something wrong with it. And knowing that 2/3 of the judges are actually football professionals / coaches, I foundt it hard to believe la Gazzetta…

  145. mega_tajh
    January 10, 2011

    BTW I always wonder who Renaldo votes for since he is the captain of Portugal n all…ON that note don’t Fifa usually prints out who voted for whom afterward???

  146. Roz
    January 10, 2011

    No true left back in the FIFpro world 11. They stuck Puyol there. 😛

  147. January 10, 2011

    Definition of bittersweet. Xavi will retire without one. Quite tragic.

  148. jordi™
    January 10, 2011

    Im just sad for Xavi because hes not young like Leo and Andres so there goes his chance.On the other hand Leo is the best so he does deserve it .my poor cule heart is confused.

    • outerspacedout
      January 10, 2011

      Yeah I feel the same. Messi is a magical player, the best in the world, but it is a pity and a travesty that now Xavi isn’t gonna get one (like many other legends such as Maldini, admittedly). Xavi was a favorite this year cos of the Spain WC win- if Barcelona have a successful club year the thing is Messi will win individual prizes over Xavi, Spain was what could have given him precedence.

      Well I did NOT expect Messi to win it at all, cos of the Spain WC win, but on one hand it’s well deserved for amazing level of performances and magical ability, and on the other hand I’m just really sad for Xavi. And Iniesta to a lesser extent, but he’s still young.

  149. outerspacedout
    January 10, 2011

    Also damn, doesn’t Leo’s dad look just like him?

  150. Jnice
    January 10, 2011

    Congrats to Leo. You could see he genuinely didn’t think he would win. Feel for Xavi, but can’t say Messi isn’t deserving.

  151. mega_tajh
    January 10, 2011

    They could have at least gave Del Bosque Coach of the Year IMO. but as we all saw the World Cup didn’t have much of an impact in the voting.

  152. Kari
    January 10, 2011

    I think the greatest recognition for Xavi is that he was considered such a favourite. He used to be so, so, so underrated, even back in 2008 (The Best Players in the World (and Xavi)).

    At least he got the recognition he deserves. Go Xavi!

    • Jnice
      January 10, 2011

      I think the greatest recognition for Xavi is that he was considered such a favourite.

      Great point, Kari.

    • Miguel
      January 10, 2011

      word. everybody’ll remember this award as the one messi robbed from xaviniesta. ;^)

  153. Eklavya
    January 10, 2011

    Why are you all sad? I wanted Xavi to win but when Pep said Messi! I just ran out of joy in room jajajaj

  154. January 10, 2011

    Don’t know how i feel about the award, after all it is a team game that without xavi and iniesta, all would not be possible. But i do agree, the best player did win it, and i am very happy for him, just really wanted to see xavi win it, as did i think everyone. Even messi was shocked when he saw his name on the paper because pep opened it backwards, but still a great feat for Barca, and our system of youth players.

  155. Miguel
    January 10, 2011

    i thought pep looked disappointed giving it to messi, i don’t know.

    messi is such a little kid, sticking his tongue out & leaning on the podium :^)

  156. Kari
    January 10, 2011

    Well, I, for one, am pretty happy. Messi deserved it as the actual best player in the world. Funny how he was the most obvious choice but there was so much talk about this being Xavi’s last chance and should win it for sentimental reasons (as well as football merit).

  157. mei
    January 10, 2011

    Congrats to messi.
    I think this surprise spoiled your plans of the next post ?
    I know you all had a pic of xavi ready to post after it! 😛

  158. Helge
    January 10, 2011

    I think Xavi himself won’t be disappointed or sad, and that’s why we should simply feel happy for Barca, for Leo, and for Xaviniesta!

    And I would have loved to see Crynaldo’s face when Messi won it 😀
    After claiming to be the best, 2nd and 3rd best player of the world, and his agent confirming that he is the best footballer not only in history, but also of the next 500 years – damn, that look on his face must’ve been priceless!

    • blitzen
      January 10, 2011

      I’m pretty sure Xavi and Iniesta are both just relieved it’s all over!

    • Jnice
      January 10, 2011

      I think deep down you will always feel a bit disappointed if you don’t come first at something. That’s just how it is. But, I’m sure they are glad Messi has won it and at the same time, they are recognized more than ever before.

  159. ooga aga
    January 10, 2011

    is it me or did no EPL players make the best 11. 6 are from Barca, 3 from Inter and 2 from RM.

    • Nik
      January 10, 2011

      It’s a known fact that FIFA is biased against the greatest league in the world.

      • blitzen
        January 10, 2011

        LOL @Nik!

        Honestly, can you think of one EPL player right now that deserves to be in the best 11?

        • Nik
          January 10, 2011

          Anyone from Stoke City. As we all know, Messi couldn’t even hang with those cats.

          …just kidding. Of course no EPL player should be in the best 11. I was hoping my sarcasm would show through in the original comment. 🙂

  160. mega_tajh
    January 10, 2011

    Well apparently Xavi came third….

    Over the years Spanish players hasn’t got any much recognition really. As much as people hate to admit it Raul to deserved one.

    BTW Messi winning it this year means in Spain whole footballing history they only have one winner

  161. Josep
    January 10, 2011

    At the current rate, next year will be Messi-Ronaldo-???
    Messi could win three in a row. It depends on the rest of the Champions League but theres almost no doubt they’ll go one-two. who is third? Nasri????

    I’m also very surprised, but wow. Poor Xavi, adam bader is so pissed. atleast I have that to be cheery about.

    • Josep
      January 10, 2011

      I love the touch of Pep giving the award, and his comical incorrect way of opening it. 😀

    • Jnice
      January 10, 2011

      Nasri? Chill. You need trophies in order to be on that podium.

  162. Humphrey Bogart
    January 10, 2011

    Same feeling here like everybody else: on the one hand I am so disappointed that it was not meant to be for Xavi, for me he will be the greatest player who never one it, the same as 82 Brazil will always be the best team never to win the WC. On the other hand it is Leo and if I remember all the phantastic things he did: the 4 against Arsenal, the hattrick against Valencia and Zaragozza when we were on the brick, like someone said never felt so bittersweat

  163. Extreme barca fan
    January 10, 2011

    Messi for me is the right choice, i will be surprised if the voting count is even close, because actually no one comes close to messi.
    However i didn’t watch this, because as a barca fan there was no competition from other clubs, barca is the biggest winner.

    • Jnice
      January 10, 2011

      I think the dude speaking on my stream said it wasn’t even close.

  164. gowtham
    January 10, 2011

    at the end of the day, messi is the perfect canddidate to win it…this award ain’t for the person who had the best season…if it were like that then valdes could have got it …after all he did “win” the world cup….
    Messi completely deserves it because hands down, he is tTHE world’s best player…and let’s not forget it wasn’t fifa who voted, it was tons of national captains and coaches…
    I am sad that xavi didnt win it, but i think leo is the world’s best player…who the helll scores 47 goals in a season …sooo FUCK YOU ANDY GRAYYYY

  165. BD-80
    January 10, 2011

    Like everyone I was pulling for Xavi, but with Messi being announced my reaction was kinda like “well, obviously”. There should be no sadness in the best player in the world being rewarded as such. And Xavi doesn’t need any awards to validate his brilliant career. He will go down in history as one of the greatest midfielders ever regardless. But the best man won and we should be thankful to bear witness to a player who may go down as the greatest player ever to lace up the boots.

  166. blitzen
    January 10, 2011

    Messi obtained 22.65% of the votes, ahead of his club team-mates Andrés Iniesta (17.36%) and Xavi (16.48%).

    Mourinho, who led Inter Milan to the UEFA Champions League, the Italian Serie A and the Italian cup before moving to Real Madrid in the summer of 2010, won with 35.92% of the votes, ahead of Spanish national coach Vicente del Bosque, who received 33.08%, and Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola (8.45%).

    From FIFA.com.

  167. January 10, 2011

    Happy for Barca, not happy for Xavi, who was the best player in the world last year, because he didn’t just excel at club level. Sorry, but if the best player of the year includes the World Cup, then you can’t give it to a guy who, as leader of his national side, saw that side get bounced early from the tournament. Particularly over a guy who was integral to his national side winning the WC, while being equally integral to his club side winning that championship.

    It isn’t just goals, it isn’t just runs. I won’t argue that Messi is the best player in the world. I will argue that he didn’t have a better year, in footballing terms, than Xavi. And if the award is supposed to be for that, then they got it wrong. And the fact that Xavi was third just makes my ass hurt.

    • Josep
      January 10, 2011

      Do you think Messi won because Xaviniesta split votes? I mean it has to be. Xavi even finished last.. While Xavi captured the hearts of the world with his play, Iniesta captured the hearts of the world with one kick.

  168. Helge
    January 10, 2011

    btw, I hope there will be posted lots of videos, interviews etc. here on BFB.com 🙂

  169. Kari
    January 10, 2011

    Miguel called it–Messi would win because Xaviniesta split the votes 😀

    • Miguel
      January 10, 2011

      thanks for the recognition, kari ;^)

    • blitzen
      January 10, 2011

      Next year they should be nominated as one entity. 😛

      • Extreme barca fan
        January 10, 2011

        Next year winner is MESSI

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