Betis 3, Barca 1 (3-6 agg.), aka “Winning by losing”

Fernando Vega, Associated Press

So what have we learned today, children?


Psychology is a difficult thing in sport. It’s very difficult to motivate players sometimes, particularly during times when they know that they can be complacent. Like when they roll into an away match of a two-legged tie with a 5-0 lead. This means that just to send the match into extra time, Betis would need to score 5 unanswered goals.

And you wane. You can’t help it, but you wane.

This means that the effort isn’t as high and the sharpness just isn’t there, because there’s functionally no way in hell that Betis was going to score enough goals to win that tie. Even their coach admitted that. They wanted to win the match, even if they lost the tie. We didn’t care because we knew they couldn’t score that many goals against us, and we played like that. Team win, team loss.

Guardiola rolled out with pretty much the expected lineup of Pinto, Adriano, Pique, Milito, Maxwell, Mascherano, Keita, Xavi, Afellay, Messi and Krkic. What wasn’t expected was the desultory way that they rolled into the match, during a first half that saw Betis with 45% possession, 3 goals and a lot of ire on behalf of cules everywhere. But it’s pretty simple, really.

Our high line needs pressure to work. With the right pressure, teams get stupid with the ball, and mistakes are forced, which means that our defenders are all really sweepers, picking up loose balls and feeding them back into the attack. Against a pressing, hyperactive, energetic Betis, goals were going to be conceded. And it’s easy to hang those goals on Milito, but you know my “garbage in, garbage out” theory. By the time the ball gets as deep as the defense, a significant breakdown has occurred. So Milito will be blamed because he screwed up, but everybody screwed up. Let’s have a look at the goals:

1. Milito makes the initial defensive play, overruns the ball then gets whistled for a foul on the comeback. What should be a routine set play instead finds Pique and Xavi watching the man run between the two of them, for a wide-open boot at the ball. Easy, and silly.

2. Mascherano lunges for a ball and gets caught out of position. At that point, Betis are breaking at speed and it’s a fire drill. The attacker is allowed to just get the ball and run with it, something that (it must be said here) would never happen in the Premiership. Easier to take your chances on a free kick. The dude runs past Keita, past Pique and Milito, and Pinto sits on his line for way too long even though he should have come out to close the angles and make him at least think about the shot. He came out, but way too late, and that was that.

3. Silly, silly goal as the Betis free kick comes in, and Pinto comes off his line to take it but Milito heads it away, directly to the foot of a Betis player, who takes the shot. Pique turns away, perhaps not wanting to risk mussing his face for Shakira, and Keita just misses getting there to clear the ball off the line.

The excoriation for Milito during the LiveBlog was savage, and incessant. And watching a crappy Web feed, you could be forgiven for thinking that everything was his fault. T’ain’t so. Here’s another bit of delight for you all ….

We didn’t really play that badly. There were a few loose moments that Betis took full advantage of, and the side is certainly guilty of underestimating the venom with which Betis was going to come out. Why, I couldn’t begin to tell you, since a team with nothing to lose is very, very dangerous. But that’s what happened. Yes, we played like a club missing key parts from the machine, which didn’t do all the things that it was supposed to. But we quickly regained control of the match, grabbed possession and that was that, as Betis began to worry about conceding more, after Messi scored on a brilliant piece of individual work in fighting off a passel of defenders, retaining possession and smacking it past the keeper.

That goal scared the crap out of Betis, and they began to play a bit more tentatively, after being caught on the break. And our “defense” began to work even better.
I don’t have to explain how our defense works, but I will, briefly: We keep the ball, the other team runs around chasing it, we break a man loose and he knocks the ball into the other team’s net. The end. Defenders don’t really enter into the picture, except as overlapping runners on the wing, or fielders who scoop up the increasingly desperate long balls pumped at the lone forward being played by the other team. Possession statistics are something around 70 percent for us, because we play best with the ball.

Once that begain to happen again, things stabilized. As Guardiola says, we’re crap without the ball. And so we are. Even worse, we’re crap without the ball, and a half-step behind the other side. The lack of real pressure from our forwards didn’t help, as Messi and Krkic weren’t helping the cause. Yes, Messi scored a goal, in a 5-second burst of brilliance. And then he went back to sleep, secure in the knowledge that even at 3-1 down, Betis needed 4 goals just to force extra time. And we hung out the “closed” sign.

In the second half we played better, in part because Betis ran out of energy, and switched to “Let’s just say that we beat Barca” mode, but also because we began moving better, passing better and taking control of the match. And so it ended.

And if any loss can be characterized as “good,” this one was it, for many reasons:

–It told the side that it can’t just show up.
–It knocked some complacency out of the gang, I guarantee you
–It ended the 28-match unbeaten streak, the pressure of which kept building
–It gives Guardiola the opportunity to say “See? See? Told you you all could be beaten!”

And we lost, but won. Even better, we got to see a starting role for our newest acquisition, Ibrahim Afellay, who was a standout performer. For the reasons, see the ratings below. Meanwhile, we are through to the semis against Almeria. Only a crazy person would bet against our making the finals.

There was lot of doom and naysaying during the LiveBlog, and there shouldn’t be. This signifies nothing except an example of a disjointed side, playing a match that was functionally impossible to lose, thanks to hard work at home. So in many ways, the aka part of this title, “winning by losing,” is so true.


Team: 5. There’s pride at stake. Betis is a Segunda side, people. Our team stepped up nicely, shook off the cobwebs and made sure that things didn’t get out of hand.

Guardiola: 5. Coaches can get their teams motivated for matches like that, he didn’t. And I would have flanked Messi with Afellay and Pedro!!, for the latter’s work rate and energy. The look on his face seemed to know that Betis were going to go crazy, and probably win.

Pinto: 3. Pinto had a clunker today. Two of the goals could have been stopped by him, one with more alert play and the other by calling off Milito since he had the play on the ball for the catch. Instead it became a mess, and a goal. No, he doesn’t play enough to fix those things, but that’s Keeping 101.

Adriano: 2. He needs reps. He wasn’t as horrific as everyone thinks, but it’s clear that he’s out of his element. We sent a Swiss Army Knife to do the job of a scimitar, with the expected results. He plays too quickly, and isn’t sufficiently decisive with his movement or his passing. Let’s hope that changes.

Pique: 5. A series of excellent defensive plays, and seemed to sense that the best thing to do whenever he could, was just boot it out. But he was on the scene with a chance to stop two of the goals, and failed to do so.

Milito: 3. Again, not as horrible as everyone thinks, but his sloppy foul led to the first Betis goal, and his inept header led to the second. Don’t head a ball away on your goal line, unless you are heading it out for a corner. Simple. Yes, he’s guilty of being slow, but so is Pique.

Maxwell: 4. Um, how about some offense from the left side? Just a little. Thanks much.

Mascherano: 5. A solid match, with a number of excellent steals and interventions, but the lunge to lead to the Betis jailbreak for the second, then the foul for the free kick for the third were both plays that a sharp El Jefe doesn’t make.

Keita: 7. A highlight, with his tireless work rate. A number of times he was stranded with the ball and got into trouble. Not his fault. You just can’t leave him by himself like that, with nobody coming back for the ball. Just one sign of the disjointed side today.

Xavi: 5. His command and control were way off today, and he was giving balls away, which is uncharacteristic. Again, a sharp Xavi doesn’t do those things. He’s also used to having help against a pressing, physical attack. But Mascherano was playing deep and Keita wasn’t going to be a cohort.

Messi: 2. He scored the goal, but took most of the match off, and that penalty miss was ridiculous.

Afellay: 7. Another first half highlight, as he took the ball and got forward whenever he could, attacking, passing, moving and even playing defense. Also had an excellent blast from distance that surprised their keeper. I’d love to see him with the A side in a match in which everyone is sharp.

Krkic: 2. Chance after chance he gets, and doesn’t make anything of them. He said after the match that he was satisfied with his game. Don’t see how. He wasn’t making runs, wasn’t doing any of the work that an attacker is supposed to do. He gave balls away, couldn’t hold his position and didn’t help press. Ow.


Busquets (for Xavi): 6. He was playing to a higher rating. His pace, nimbleness and agility with the ball really stabilized the midfield.

Abidal (for Afellay): 6. He came in, and the drama pretty much ended. Pace fixes a lot of woes, people. And calmness on the ball.

Jeffren (for Krkic): incomplete. He didn’t really get enough time for a rating, and didn’t do much when in the match.

And that’s that. Yes, we lost. Get over it. We aren’t going to win every match, and if we have to lose, a match such as this one is perfect. Betis were playing for pride in front of their fans. That keeps a side going for a while, then the better side will usually take control, which is what happened. Next up is Almeria, for a trip to the Copa finals. Visca Barca!

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Haven’t watched the match yet but watched the highlights.
    1st goal- Why didn’t Xavi block the ball? Was Pinto calling for it?

    3rd goal- It was both Pinto’s and Milito’s fault really. Either Pinto was whistling instead of shouting for it or Milito’s hair was covering his ears.

    “Don’t head a ball away on your goal line, unless you are heading it out for a corner.”
    That is not really a good statement Kxev. If you really are on the goal line, if you try to head or whack the ball out for a corner, the ball will most probably end up in your own net.
    If you are where Milito was, it is to hit it as far as possible.

  2. Oh and my only problem with this match is that we lost with a lot of 1st teamers and bench players. No youth player at all!!
    If it included two B-teamers, then it would’ve been more understandable.
    This shows that our bench players can’t really handle Segunda teams even with the help of Messi, Xavi, Pique & sMasch etc.
    I’ve said the same thing a few weeks ago that our bench is not strong enough.

    1. well, honestly, I do think last night wasn’t a “quality problem”, it’s more like “attitude problem”.
      what can you expect from a group of sleepwalking man, against -a side with spirit and passion to win- Real Betis?

      I do really think our bench is (supposedly) strong enough to win against a Segunda team (note : Betis is great, but still….. Segunda team)
      who do we have? Mascherano, Keita, Maxwell, Adriano, Milito, Afellay, Bojan.
      those ‘bench players’ names, theoretically is better than Real Betis’ line up.

      Barça = no pressure, no ball = broken system = doomed.

    2. I agree, the mentality wasn’t there, “its just Betis, we are up 5-0 lets take it easy.. oh wait they’re actually playing us.” It took them time to adjust to each other and to Messi and Xavi, also the “glue” of first teamers with the bench wasn’t working, Xavi completely wasn’t there, Busquets comes in and instantly we have some control because he was playing.

  3. dani left his wallet in el segundo:

    “And I would have flanked Messi with Afellay and Pedro!!, for the latter’s work rate and energy.”

    -uh, yeeaah. but i’m not mad at pep for that. i’m glad pedrito is getting some rest, unlike messi-our other workhorse up front. we need more players like p, which is why i’m a fan of dirk kuyt. would have been a nice match for jeffren, maybe.

    1. Nice video. The assist against Basel was just pure Brazilian class. He even looks away, just like Ronnie used to.

      We do need another forward, preferably with a high workrate. Pedro is bound to get injured someday. However, Kuyt would never make it in Barcelona. He works hard, but that’s about it. He has the technique, passing and agility of a Dutch windmill. He is a very limited player. Someone like Gourcuff would be nice: versatile, excellent passer, good dribbler and high workrate.

    2. He has the technique, passing and agility of a Dutch windmill.

      Now I love me some Kuyt, but this is perfect! 😛

  4. Our two best defenders are Puyol and Abidal. We NEED at least one of them to start in every game, or our defensive unit as a whole will be significantly weaker. It showed today.

  5. While watching the match, as much as I knew that Betis couldn’t possibly amass enough goals to knock us out, I did start to get a little bit nervy after the second goal went in. (Blame Getafe!)

    Messi’s goal came at a very good time. If he hadn’t, we would have probably gone into halftime 3 – 0 down, and with the way our team was playing last night, that wasn’t a prospect that I think any of us would have been comfortable with.

    I agree that the unbeaten streak had to come to an end. Better for us to lose here, that in a relevant match. Also glad that our team has gotten rid of some of the complacency that had been piling up.

    And finally: AFELLAYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!

  6. Two glaring deficiencies today:
    Lack of width
    -So often I would see no one but Keita on the left in the attacking HALF of the field. Bojan would be pinched all the way dead center and Maxwell would be sleeping in our own half.

    Lack of movement
    As good as Afellay was, there were times in the first half where he would not provide an outlet on the right. He would leave Adriano or Xavi surrounded, ditto for Keita. Keita would not make himself available like we needed, but that’s already been covered.

    I really hope we don’t see Adriano and Maxwell on the field at the same time again for a long time. AWFUL. Adriano’s favorite position is posting up diagonal, facing our own left corner, right before he receives a pass. Push it forward for once! Many times I will also see Keita receive the ball and it just seems wasted. He will be too slow or too conservative and we have to start the maneuver all over again, but I guess that’s not a problem with all of his defense in mind. Bojan’s satisfaction is ultra-puzzling, by the way.

  7. what has happened to Pique this year? Isn’t he supposed to be the next great defender? Don’t remember that last time he had a good game. He doesn’t have stinkers all the time, but nothing better than average

    1. Pique had a good game.
      Excellent interventions and marking when he should.
      Cant really blame him when particularly adriano and milito were all over the place today.
      Mascherano had an off game as well.In this team if you are more of a bull than a creator , you should show it and he simply didnt.
      I would rate him a 4.
      If pique has been nothing but average this year, the stats while both he and puyol are on the pitch and pep’s persistence in choosing him seems a little bit odd.
      Keita had an off game as well.It doesnt matter if it was or wasnt his fault actually, he lost balls and the work rate shouldnt be rated for much unless it actually produces results on the pitch(otherwise pedro would start with a 6 every much at least) , which his today never did.

  8. Can’t believe the number of comments on the report about Real Madrid going bonkers on the RFEF saying that Barca are favored by refs and that Real get a lot of decisions against them. Especially the ones claiming to be neutrals who do not support either club but often notice that Barca get a lot of favorable decisions and that Real get a lot against them.

    I will be the first to objectively say if we get a lot more help or Real get a lot less help. And completely honestly no, Real Madrid do NOT get damaged by referees overall. Even leaving everything aside the sheer amount of fouls won from Di Maria dives over games is hardly damage by referees and are often called. (Not to mention the likes of Albelda’s non red card being a longer ban than Ramos pushing Xavi and Puyol, and other such decisions by the authority itself). And over the course of the season Real do not lose more points by referee decisions than they gain, and in my opinion recently refereeing decisions has not been responsible for either Barca being further ahead/Real being this close behind over the course of months. The difference between first and second this season or the last is not and was not due to refs.

    Also, their report just did a Google Translate style translation of the words on the RFEF site. Their translation was ‘under the attentive look of Mourinho who is considered damaged by many of the referees’ or something like that, which people are foaming at the mouth over as a clear sign of the anti-Madrid attitude by the refs and authorities. The actual thing said was more ‘under the watchful eye of Mourinho, who has felt wronged by refs in recent months’ which is quite harmless (and I say this objectively- if it had been the other way around I would still have found it harmless) and sounds nowhere near as bad as ‘considered damaged by many referees’.

    1. You shouldnt really be reading comments on ,outerspacedout.
      Its like reading your horoscope and then compaining for the stupid things it mentions and the forecasts that were never proven.

  9. “However, Kuyt would never make it in Barcelona. He works hard, but that’s about it. He has the technique, passing and agility of a Dutch windmill.”


  10. Good review Kevin, thank you
    I agree that milito was over criticized, i think even captain would have looked bad yesterday (and he almost never looks bad to me), because we were playing without any pressure in the midfield, OK ill even say that yesterday even if we had valdes, alves,abidal, puyol, busi. iniesta, Pedro and villa all starting we still would have stinked, why? my argument would be over confidence and the knowledge that we will not concede six goals no matter what betis throw on us.
    And afellay, wow, in his first game as a starter he was our best player, imagine what would he do with all the big guns around him in shooting mode.
    Also glad to lose a cup game and get through than lose even half a point in any league game, so yes this was a good loss if there is ever such a thing

    1. Afellay has real potential on our wings. He perhaps is that special a player(hence the price tag) but has that combination Pace and directness that we didn’t possess before. Just wait till he learns to link up with Messi and Alves.

  11. Not saying Keita was terrible, but the last few games in which hes started we have had trouble the opposition pressing. Also what is up with Maxwell- he needs to be more of an effective outlet for the defense if Keita is going to push up so high

  12. Just learnt that Our players arent machines (i thought they were) yesterday simply happenned to be a day they chose to dose on the pitch. Lets be grateful it wasnt a relevant match and hope it doesnt happen in one. Face it even messi wasnt motivated. Bojan was satisfied with field napping and afellay seemed the only one alive. Looking forward to racing and i hope pep would have woken them up by then. Again Alves rocks. I personally wont allow him go away.

  13. Drawing from the positive, I wasnt upset we lost, just we didn’t try to win. Not taking from Betis, but we were ‘off’
    Afellay !! kids shows promise, sorry Bojan won’t be seeing much of the pitch, and if he does Guardiola must really really really see something no one else does. Really.

  14. For me, i would find it hard to blame any single player. Most of the players were below par. On other hand, i give most of the credit to Betis, who came out to play. I would say that our team played to maybe a 5 which is not that bad. Its just that the other team played really well.

    Also do not agree that Messi was 2. I saw him trying quite well, though not at full throttle. For me, he was a 5.

    I am not as blown over by Afellay. I do think he is good and his long range shot is something which will be really useful for us. I would like to see how he progresses. Bojan on other hand simply does not offer enough. He is only 20 though and mostly will be behind Afellay in pecking order, which is fair. He just has to roll up his socks.

    As for Keita, i think he is usually as good as team. So he is great to have when things go well but not that useful when things are not that well. I know more than a few people will not agree but hey, its an opinion.

    Pique indeed has had indifferent year. Maybe its the emotional turmoil and Shakira demanding all his attention:).

    As for Milito, i felt that he was trying too hard and so was Adriano. Milito trying to take the ball upfield and so on. I feel for the guy. I think if he was bit more calmer, he would have been better.

  15. i think the guy who got it most wrong yesterday was Pep. as i said in the liveblog, a team filled with youngsters from Barca B would have tried harder, pushed back against Betis (who they have experience playing against), and been more cohesive; as Kxevin rightly notes the 3 things we were lacking most. in addition to blooding more talent in a serious game against tough opposition that they really couldn’t screw up, there was no downside to playing Thiago, Fontas, Bartra, Romeu, little J-Dos (is he fit?) or whoever looked promising interspersed with a handful of our bench players with wiser heads. i find it very hard hard to believe that such an integrated team could have played *worse* than we did yesterday, and the cost-benefit analysis alone should have compelled Pep to do it.

    i know Pep doesn’t want to hurt the chances of the B side staying in the Segunda this season, but let’s face it A. they’re going to do that anyway and B. Barca B exists to serve the first team, not as it’s own independent side. he just needs to utilize the assets at his disposal.

    the only new positive to take away from yesterday’s performance was Afellay, who i think we’ll be seeing a lot more of as the season goes on.

  16. Medical: Jeffren will be out for 5 weeks after suffering a thigh injury on training this morning.

    Oh, Jeff. Maybe football just isn’t your thing?

    1. Dude seems to be made of jelly. We really would have to sign a strike. For me we only have 3.

  17. The fact that afellay seemed the only one “alive” yesterday does mean much – since it was his first game as a starter we should expect nothing less.

    The way he seemingly fits in so rapidly does say a lot about Bojan though. I have always supported Bojan’s inclusion in our squad, but I remember Afellay playing against Milan in the CL when he was 18, 19 or 20 at most and he was one of the best players on the pitch.

    Bojan really needs to step up his game, and soon. If he really feels good about his performance yesterday in a game that we lost against a 2nd division side, I worry about his future with us.

    By the by, “winning by losing” sums up my feelings as well. This loss couldn’t have come at a better time and game, and should help us keep our focus for the 2nd half of the season. It also shows us how much dedication our style of play requires – it is not just that we have a hugely talented squad, but the fact they work their socks off which makes them one of the greatest ever.

  18. –Jeffren has the worst luck of any player alive, outside of Cisse. I won’t presume to know what the root cause is, since I assume that as a first-team player, he gets the same care and feeding as the rest. But that is just crazy.

    –Speaking of crazy, quotes from Dani Alves’ agent say that we will have difficulty meeting his charge’s demands, as (are you sitting down?) he wants to be second-highest paid on the team, behind Messi.

    I won’t presume to speculate as to whether the quotes are made up. I hope they are, because if they aren’t, we have a problem.

    He is correct in that he is more than a right back. But more essential than Xavi? Wow. If the quotes are true, Citeh must have offered him some serious money.

    1. If hes asking for that kind of dough, farewell alves.
      Have fun at city , getting frustrated along with toure.

    2. Re. Jeffren: When I took judo as a teenager, the first thing they taught us was how to fall down without injuring ourselves. I think there must be something fundamentally wrong with the way Jeffren is moving, or holding himself, or something.

    3. i think it is karma for wanting to represent Spain instead of Venezuela, even though he is no way neeeeeeeeear being good enough for Spain.

    4. Dang, what’s up with Jeffren. One of the only high points of the game yesterday was that the dude didn’t get hurt.

      That Alves news is pretty scary, especially after a game where it was proven that we have no real substitue for him. No way he should make more than Xavi or Iniesta. Then again, he kinda plays like the equivalent of 2 players.

    5. Here’s the latest, after I checked in with Pep @barcastuff:

      The source (site has been updated) is AN agent, not Alves’ agent, aka former player agent José María Minguella, who said:

      “It will not be easy to renew Dani Alves. He wants to be paid more than Andres Iniesta and Xavi and become the second highest-paid on staff,” said Minguella.

      And Pep says (via Twitter):

      It’s not his agent. it’s “an” agent. well, former agent…. transfer adviser under Gaspart. It’s part of the board’s strategy to portray Alves as a “pesetero”, so fans blame him if there wouldn’t be a a deal.

      So there you go, with the latest.

  19. As an objective observer, I have to evaluate Krkic performance by performance. But it’s easy to see why people would be fed up. He has been anointed with first-team status for four seasons now, gets opportunity after opportunity and of late, keeps blowing every last one of them. And he just got a renewal, which I still assert is in part because fiscally, it’s easier to sell an under-contract player.

    Afellay fascinates me, because with the exception of a few clunks that are to expected, he looks like the youth player who has been blessed with first-team status, and is rewarding that confidence with high-quality performances.

    So the question is, what does that say/mean about Krkic, if anything? Speculatively, because Krkic is a forward, probably nothing. Then again, Afellay is also a wing attacker, so will be preferred second group become Afellay/Messi/Pedro, except for throwaway matches? Hmmm ….

    It’s really hard for me to get exasperated about Krkic’s performances, for a number of reasons: they have yet to cost us anything; Guardiola has to know better than I do, which is why he’s still get shot after shot; the talent that he has is evident.

    Is it “put up or shut up” time? No, and I don’t know that it ever will be with current management. He is a bright, shining example of what La Masia can produce, even when he isn’t. Bojan Krkic will not be allowed to fail, says this observer. Will he ever come good? Not unless he leaves a returns, I think. The pressure is huge, and becomes greater with every poor performance. The pressure to live up to the shirt is potentially paralyzing even for great players. I can’t imagine what he’s going through, but he looked like he was in pain as he came off the pitch yesterday.

    It’s hard not to feel sorry for the dude.

    1. kid needs to go on loan.

      although that would probably mean we’d be in the market for another striker, which is an area with few cheap options.

    2. I feel sorry for him too, and I would really love for him to succeed at Barça. Though I agree that it is not put up or shut up time, he needs to start contributing more than he has, because there are waaay too many matches in which he contributes exactly….nothing.

      Barça should loan him out to Ajax next season, who, under new coach Frank de Boer, are playing attacking, one-touch, football again. De eredivisie would be a good learning experience – weaker than La Liga but obviously stronger than the youth level at which he became a star. Plus hopefully he could get CL games as well, should they qualify. He could really grow there, as a player and as a person (confidence-wise). What do you think, Kxevin?

    3. That would be a good call, but Krkic is, repeat after me, never going to be loaned out. He will not be allowed to fail. He wouldn’t be the first La Masia failure, but he’s Catalan, and the hype was so immense.

      But that would be a perfect idea. Just perfect.

    4. Idk…if he continues like this eventually he will run out of chances, at which point loaning him out might exactly be that they can allow him not to fail (

      Then again I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re right.

  20. What? Did I just accidentally cursed Jeffren in the liveblog yesterday? He REALLY IS OUT for FIVE WEEKS?! What on earth is happening?? I better keep my mouth shut about him and his injury streak…

    Good loss. Yes, I called it (too). I agree with all the good points Kxevin mentioned in this post about the loss. But as everybody pretty much could see this loss coming, I think Pep kinda let it happen by his lineup because 1) Pique has been funky 2) Milito has been out of actions and not match fit. 3) Combining these two defenders means you are ready for something fun at the back. 4) Highline without pressure = suicidal. 5) Lack of Abidal and Pedro. Of course, Pep hopes for the best, but his lineup kinda tell me “ok, let the squad players play some minutes and our quality should see us thru to the Semi”, and he was right.

    Our squad depth requires a correct combination to work. Playing Milito Maxwell and Adriano certainly isn’t the right one. I continue to ask what’s wrong about Maxwell because he appeared to do his job ok, but the thing is he has one of the best Leftbacks Abidal, who recently became a new attacking threat, to compare with him. So, what else could we say here?

    Adriano needs reps, so are Milito, Afellay and *Surprise* Bojan and some other squad players. I remember Adriano did pretty good in the begining of the season by showing us the different things he could bring to the table. Better crossing, better shooting, more direct, less funky. He has lots of potentials, just like every other player on our team. Way to go, but he had a match to forget.

    Bojan needs a loan out, that’s all. Let him play for Gijon for a season and then return as a man. He could be a great striker with regular minutes.

  21. – This is how the Copa should be played. Our Starting 11 in the 1st Leg and then Rest them. (Not Like against Sevilla Last year.)

    – This is how we win the UCL. We should never complain about Teams parking the bus. They can’t defend for 180 minutes without conceding at least a goal which means that they’ll have to get out, so We score more.

    -Bojan’s deadline is next season. He’s talented but not so confident. I actually liked Jeffren for the 5 minutes he played. We need another Striker since we only have 4. Keirrison Anyone ? Pep gave chances to Hleb, V. Sanchez and Bojan. He doesn’t allow Keirrison to wear the Bluagrana shirt for a match. He was the Brazillian League top scorer at 21.

    Barca B potential players include Fontas, Bartra, Muniesa, Oriol Romeu, JDS, Sergi Gomez, Sergi Roberto and Others, All of which are not Strikers which means we’ll have to buy.

  22. Is there something about players making their first starts this season?

    sMasch v. Hercules 0-2. First loss of season.
    Ibi v. Betis 1-3. Second loss off season.

  23. Damn, just typed out a lengthy post ( long story short about last night , meh! ) Can’t get worked up about the defeat.

    Poor backline ( esp. keeping) not impressed by Mascherano and didn’t see Affelay’s performance as being as great as most here seem to think. I’m exonerating Xavi as it’s hard to impose our passing game with Keita and Masch with him in midfield.

    I would say about Messi that if he hadn’t been on the pitch we wouldn’t have scored our goal and it might have been a more scary experience so I’d go easy on the brickbats for him.

    However, just as I hit the button it threw me back to the login screen and i lost the lot. Has that happened to anyone else? Did I suffer the ire of the blogging Gods for being too negative?

    1. 😀

      Keita is good as the equivalent of a backboard. You give him the ball, lose your defender, then he gives it back. Anyone expecting him to be Iniesta or even Busquets is going to be sorely disappointed.

      Most of the danger stuff bypassed Mascherano. I wouldn’t say Afellay was “great.” I would, however, say that he was the match’s bright spot, and for a first start in a very difficult system, he looked to the manor born. And that first shot from distance of his was dangerous as heck.

      If Messi hadn’t been on the pitch, we would have lost 3-0. Or maybe having an active, participating, full-time attacker would have shaken a goal loose in some other way.

      I also wouldn’t be so quick to exonerate Xavi. He shares some culpability for that first goal, and gave away more than his share of balls.

  24. Just read in the Independent that Rossi’s contract will expire soon, As we (at least in this forum) are still looking for a (backup) striker, what about him?

  25. I watched the 2006 Champions League Final last night (I’ve taken to watching classic matches after we have a disappointing game, so not very often lately). Two things in particular stood out to me:

    Pedro reminds me of Giuly. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but a couple time Giuly would pop up where he wasn’t expected and I would think “where did Pedro come fr… oh wait.” Then I would see Giuly working hard and playing good defense, and I thought of Pedro as well.

    We could really use a modern-day Larsson. Dude wasn’t too upset to be an impact sub off the bench, and who can blame him in the twilight of his career. And yet he came off the bench in the Champions League Final and assisted both of our goals. Imagine if we had a modern day Larsson on the bench… awesome.

    1. I think John Carew would be a perfect signing for us. Get him some fitness and we have a player who can add another dimension to the team. He is great in the air, can hold up the ball, and has pretty good passing. Knows La liga. Our forwards don’t all have to be under 5’8”.

  26. In front of goal its Messi, Villa, Pedro then Bojan. Three are starting and Barca has a 4 point lead half way with the meat of the tournaments coming. Having him ready without him and his agent causing problems is a blessing. When the time comes he will step up and he has proved it twice already. End of last season and CL the season before. Glad I didn’t get to see the last game.

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