Hercules 0, Barca 3, aka “Talent never forgets, and always avenges.” (edit w/video)

"Grrrrrr!"

When someone asks you what a club has to do to excel, all you need to do is look at Iniesta’s face in this picture, and smile. It isn’t enough to have talent. Lots of players have talent. Nor is it enough to have talent and drive. You also need work rate, confidence and a coach that will allow you to get the best from all of this and even then, sometimes it isn’t enough.

In trying to quantify what this amazing club of ours is doing, all that we’re left with are numbers:

–Messi set a personal record by scoring two goals in 97 seconds.
–The club has won 15 straight, matching a record set in 1961 by a certain EE.
–Pedro!! has scored in 6 straight matches, the first player to do so in Liga this season.
–Messi’s first goal of the night, the team’s second, was the 400th of the Guardiola era. 400 goals!

Another day, another win, that the scoreline will make seem easy-peasy. 0-3. Yawn!

This match was intense. Crazy, seat-of-the-pants intense because Hercules played their hearts out for the match duration, an effort spoiled by one little (okay, big) thing: Talent. You either have it, or you don’t. And talent does remarkable things. It allows a midfield attacker to do a ball-stopping spin, completely hoodwinking two defenders and leaving them in the dust. It lets a human windmill find space for a shot that needed to be perfect to score, and it was. It doesn’t let a French striker get a clean shot on a ball that could have, and should have, been a goal. It’s a heavy touch that finds the ball running away from an attacker, versus a perfect touch that finds an attacker able to control and pass with one fluid motion.

Talent is brutal, and tyrannical. It’s also the reason that, despite the intensity of this game, we weren’t going to lose it. Because talent is also mean, and it never forgets. Hercules came into our house and won 2-0, a stunning result that had the newly promoted side flush with optimism this week, and why not? It was our house, and they beat us. And now they’re at home.

But it’s that talent thing again. And talent also needs luck. So the match result from that early-season failure doesn’t show the chances that we left begging, the match result doesn’t show that while we were shaking off vacation, World Cup fatigue and general clunkiness, they still had to play a perfect match to beat us. And once talent improves and becomes a cohesive force, even perfection isn’t enough, because it doesn’t take much for talent to kill you. They didn’t play any worse, but we played a lot better. It’s also important to note that their coach did us a favor by leaving Drenthe, the destabilizer, out of the side due to boneheadus excessivus.

Guardiola rolled out with the best available lineup, of Valdes, Alves, Pique, Abidal, Maxwell, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Pedro!! and Villa. Payback was on the menu, and in the players’ minds. Because unlike at home, the side is now on form and playing otherworldly football, which scares the mess out of teams. So even when a team is down 0-1 at home, it’s still playing tight, to prevent the annhilation. A tie, a win doesn’t even enter their minds because again, talent tells you that such things are impossible. Players know. You can sometimes catch talent sleeping, but you don’t want to annoy it too much.

Hercules were smart, intense and physical, playing pretty much a replica of the Camp Nou upset: stay narrow in front of the keeper, clog the passing lanes, get your body in front of any and all shots, and vex the life out of Xavi. And after a half, let’s see where we are. And for 42 minutes it worked like a charm, in part because we were afflicted with one-touch-too-manyitis, and a curious lack of form by some key players. But Windmill came to the rescue, arms flailing.

We should take a moment to admire the growth of Pedro!!. He even looks like a man these days. And when people were accusing me of hating him because I said that he lacked tactical awareness, so he just would run around like a headless chicken with an extra set of wings, now it makes sense. Because today, Pedro!! did exactly what he had to do, which was to maintain the width that would give him space to shoot — and believe that the ball would come to him, rather than him running to the ball.

If you watch, Messi is raising hell with a full-speed run directly at the Hercules defense, and those dudes are freaking out. One defender nicks the ball away from behind, and it falls to Iniesta. His pass is blocked and the ball falls to Xavi, who knocked it to Pedro!!, and that was that. Now the ball is pinging around everywhere, and P!! is just maintaining tactical discipline, posting up on the wing, watching the ball and keeping himself onside. When Xavi slid it to him, he had the narrowest of windows through which to shoot and did so, perfectly. And unlike the Out Of Formers, Pedro!! isn’t interested in making runs, or breaking defenders down off the dribble. He just wants to put the ball into the back of the net. So he did. Bang. And there was much rejoicing.


“Hey guys, let’s make a castell!”

At 0-1 it’s a completely different match for Hercules, who lost a bit of swagger because like most teams, when one goal comes from us, you start worrying about a lot more following hot on its heels. Not only that, but to have the goal come right before the half meant that they couldn’t try too hard to get it back, and would have all halftime to think about how they were broken down like a 1,000-year-old mule.

In the second half Hercules decided to straddle the fence, playing not to get spanked at home, with the hope that they could cadge one on a break or spell of loose possession. We were below 70% possession for this match, but don’t let that stat fool you. Hercules had possession, but it was the kind of panicked, “What do I do now, coach?” stuff that never, ever leads to goals. If you can find a moment during this match where a Hercules player had the ball and we didn’t have at least two men confronting him, you’re better than I. At one point, we had 5 players around the man with the ball. The ESPN Deportes announcer was even kind enough to count them all. It was crazy, and shows that we aren’t just about offense. If you want the ball, you have to want it all the time, and you have to work constantly to get it back.

This means that defense is everyone, all over the pitch. Pedro!! defended, Iniesta was intercepting balls in our box, Xavi was stealing, everybody except Messi and Villa (yes, you heard me) were harassing and challenging every shot and every pass, and it just wears you down. You have the ball, but you aren’t in control …. you’re only down a goal but it feels like more, because of the looming threat. So when you are subbed at the 68th minute, you’re walking off the pitch, because what’s the hurry? It’s not like we have momentum or anything. Then your sub comes in, picks up two silly yellows, and is gone. And that really is that.

Messi then scored two goals in 97 seconds, the first off a moment of individual brilliance that can come from a player who, while still having a match that doesn’t live up to his immense personal standard, is still capable of. So he takes the ball, makes a quick little lateral run to move the keeper and defense, then shoots across the grain. 2-0. Then, not two minutes later, he makes a run and takes what appears to be a sac shot when he runs into a giant defender. Though hunched over in pain, he’s still following the ball, which is popping around like a pinwheel before falling to Alves, who slid a perfect ball across the box for Messi to tap in. 3-0, and a much gaudier scoreline than the match indicated. 1-0 would have been fairer, but football, like life, isn’t always fair, is it?

Team: 8. Collectively strong and focused, determined to play 90 minutes of in-your-face football. The defense and pressing knocked me out more than the offense. There was always a man in front of the ball, always a man available for an outlet or holding pass. Remarkable.

Guardiola: 7. Instilled his team with the vision and desire necessary to face down a vibrant Hercules side. A little late with the subs, I thought.

Valdes: 6. Didn’t have a lot to do, and mostly did it well with the exception of a couple of moments of panic, one where he inexplicably cleared the ball long, another where he badly missed both Abidal and Maxwell on a clearing pass, lord knows how.

Alves: 6. A fond welcome back to our Energizer Bunny, who played to a 7, but lost a point for that silly, knee-clutching dive. Yes, there will be those who will note Alves’ brilliance and say that Adriano sucks. It ain’t that simple. Alves has had first-team reps since like, forever. Adriano is a Swiss Army knife. That said, Alves demonstrated why he is the starter, with solid defense, one very well-timed yellow card and some excellent passing. There were also the “Shoot Dani, shoot!” moments, but we’ve come to expect those.

Pique: 6. Rock-solid, but not as convincing as he was against Almeria, the difference being team quality. The Hercules pressure, particularly their physical pressure, made him make some complex choices that caused complexities. Heading the ball into the air is never a good thing. And he was out of position on that excellent Trezeguet chance.

Abidal: 9. I’m going to blaspheme here, and suggest that at this point in time, were it not for the fact that he is also our best left back, Abidal is the perfect center back for Alves, because of his sideline-to-sideline range. He’s also my Man of the Match, despite the strong candidacies of Pedro!! and Xavi. Because for a long time, this match was one play away from being a draw, and every time anything even remotely threatening happened, there was Abidal. And his calmness with the ball is a wonder, whether he’s holding for a Xavi reset, or pushing it forward into the attack.

Maxwell: 8. This was Maxwell’s best match for us in a long, long time. Reps seem to be key for him. His offense was as strong as his defense today, with sequences of 1-2s, runs into the box and passing skill. Villa’s awfulness kept the left side from being a lacerating threat today.

Busquets: 8. Omnipresent. If I had to choose one word to describe his play today, that would be it. He was everywhere, up and back, midfield and beyond, just making everything so hard for any Hercules attacker who came near him. And he’s so subtle in his excellence, as he reads the match, and is where the ball is. All the freakin’ time. And he never, ever tires. It’s his offense that gets him the starting nod over Mascherano.

Xavi: 9. Spectacular today. He responded to the Hercules pressure with constant movement. He was shooting, defending, passing, and would take over metronome duties when necessary. And in the 68th minute, he completely undressed two Hercules defenders with a move that is really, really worth watching for you DVR folks. It even left the bench stunned and amazed.


“Hey! Did anybody see what just happened? What did he do?”

Iniesta: 9. Matches are won and lost in the midfield, and when you have Xaviniesta in full effect, you aren’t going to lose. Iniesta’s control has to have reached legendary status by now. If a ball is near him, he will control it and try to kill you. And as a defender, he can intercept a ball in the box and then, with his dribbling and close control, take things out of the danger zone. And you can’t take the ball from him. Not without fouling him, then play stops and we get a free kick. What a “transfer!”

Messi: 5. Messi didn’t have as bad a match as many people, even me, thought. If you watch him closely, he isn’t as dominating and all-encompassing as he has been in the past, but he was able to still have a profound effect on the match with his runs, passing and mere presence. Yes, he lost ball after ball after ball. But unlike some, who lose balls because of poor control or simply bad decisions, most of Messi’s issues arose from ambition, like that jazz trumpeter who drops a note because he’s reaching for the stratosphere. Was he in conservation mode? Yes, but he always is against teams that are charging in like crazy.

Pedro!!: 9. Were it not for Abidal’s magnificence, P!! is probably MOTM. His energy was unflagging, his effort almost always directed toward the goal. He defended, harassed in the midfield and ran at defenders just to scare them. This might have been his best all-pitch match in some time, as he was stealing balls on one end, then taking the pass in or near their box on the other. And boy, is there no mistaking his running style.

Villa: 2. Static as could be, the place where attacks went to die. Unlike Messi, who would have problems with ambition, Villa had problems with a loose first touch that allowed defenders to steal the ball, misplaced passes or runs not made. On that sharp-angled Messi shot in the first half, I’m still wondering why Villa didn’t make the run into the box after passing the ball to Messi, rather than just standing there. Another time, Villa runs into the box, stops, and points exasperatedly at the ground as if to say “Put the ball here! Here!” This even though he had three defenders around him. Yeah. Right. He had one offside call today, which speaks volumes.

Substitutes

Nolito (for Villa): incomplete. Still trying too hard to impress, lacks that ultimate bit of skill, as witnessed by a perfect setup from Afellay that he needed to take one touch too many on. A fourth goal was beckoning.

Keita (for Xavi): incomplete. Didn’t really do much, didn’t really have to as by the time he entered, we were in full control, they were down to 10 and it was all over but the shirt exchanging.

Afellay (for Iniesta): incomplete. Such a direct player. Really had only one moment of note, his control and laser-quick run into the box to set up Nolito. Teams are used to us taking a moment to set, or going laterally. Afellay’s directness can be disarming.

Next Liga match is Atletico, at home. Win, and we set a new record for Liga excellence. As Iniesta notes, let’s just take it one match at a time.

Meanwhile ….


Hey! I’m not smiling. I’m serious. Get your renewal done. Now.

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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.

229 Comments

  1. Víctor
    January 29, 2011

    Remember how I say that you are being harsh on Villa. I think that you were generous. He deserved a 1 (or even a 0) on this one. No way to defend him on this one.

    Perhaps Pep told him to play that way (not tracking back; I have argued the same for Bojan, btw), but hey, if Pep tells you that then you’d better do a great job at attacking, and Villa failed miserably on that.

    Either way, I do think that we should be patient.

    • blitzen
      January 30, 2011

      I think the narrowness of the pitch really hurt Villa’s game. He couldn’t get as far wide on the left as he wanted, and didn’t seem to know how to deal with it.

      And Kxevin, now you’re complaining that Villa was only offside once? 😛

    • barca96
      January 29, 2011

      Didn’t expect Messi to do that to be honest. I was surprised.
      😆 when I saw that. Yo Leo!!

    • Jnice
      January 30, 2011

      Abidal and Pinto have special handshakes with several different players.

    • Helge
      January 30, 2011

      Before the handshake with Abidal, is Messi pointing at the Hercules fans, telling them somehting like “look, I told ya!!!!”
      And right after the handshake, he makes another ‘move’ with his hands resulting in pointing at the stands again. What’s that about?:D

      Oh, and does anybody know the name of the song that is played in the background of the vid? I know it from a Ronaldinho compilation on youtube, but have no clue about its name.

    • soccermomof4
      January 30, 2011

      Saw that between P!! and Abidal after P!!’s goal v Almeria.

  2. barca96
    January 29, 2011

    What a difference Alves made. Amazing!!

  3. mei
    January 30, 2011

    This review isnt right if busquets is not the man of the match. Thats all I have to say :p

  4. Good to see Messi rated 5. He had two great goals, but had a very below average night. Had he been half good as he is usual, we would have won by atleast three more goals.

    Xavi was brilliant and deserved the 9. Iniesta I would have rated 7. He was really good in controlling the match but still he was losing balls more than usual. So no way he can be rated at equal to Xavi in this match. And this comes from a hardcore Iniesta fan.

    Pedro’s finish was brilliant. But let not forget the work done by Iniesta and Messi to open up that much space for him. Xavi as usual saw the opening without any problem.

    I think Guardiola should give Nolito and Bojan a chance against Almeria. Nolito may be not heavily talented, but every time I see him he looks like a person full of sheer grit.

    • barca96
      January 30, 2011

      Nolito would definitely succeed if given enough chances. I see him as a new Pedro although a bit older. NOlito is determined. Something that I don’t see in Bojan. I’d rather have Nolito a a back-up striker next season. But I think it’s a done deal now that he’s moving on.

  5. January 30, 2011

    Alves is our starter, he’s the only one adapted enough that goes away for a few days and comes back as if nothing had happened, some will say that Dani needs to know what he needs to fight for a spot, but I say that he doesn’t, from today we can see the change, there is no fugly useless shots (which he used to take but I think he learned the lesson), there is no fugly crosses and unlike Adriano the man doesn’t easily lose possession of the ball. If he does leave, I dont think he’ll be as successful, he complements barça style and barça complements him.
    Terrible Villa, enough with the quick pass/heel pass thing.. if it didnt work, think of something else. Iniesta – Messi – Xavi although not successfully everytime, at least gave it a run in all directions and ways, this guy didn’t, he was lost in the plays the others were attempting to make. Maxwell read the runs better than Villa did today.
    Abidal is amazing !

  6. January 30, 2011

    i don’t think nolito was that bad. he was the catalyst for the third goal tonight. he switched play from the left flank to iniesta who laid it off to dani to cross. i wish him the best of luck, whether it be at another club or on the bench w/barca.

    • Jnice
      January 30, 2011

      I was just going to say that. He only had about 3 instances where he got the ball. He played a great ball to Iniesta that led to the 3rd goal, the other was a foul on a defender, and the other was that bad touch after the Afellay pass.

      Props to Nolito, I say.

    • barca96
      January 30, 2011

      Ibi started a nice move and tried to square the ball to Messi. But Nolito was in the way and took the ball and got stuck. I don’t know who’s fault it was but Messi had a better chance to score. Messi should’ve called for it. Maybe he did. But he sure looked disappointed.
      NOlito was just to eager to play I guess.

  7. barca96
    January 30, 2011

    I really really hope that Pep doesn’t play a lot of key players against Almeria. THere is no way on earth Almeria could make a comeback.
    Messi, Abidal, Iniesta & Pedro really really need a rest.

    I would really be disappointed if Pep came out and says that Almeria is a dangerous team or something like that.
    REST REST REST!!

    • January 30, 2011

      dont hold your breath, I can see him putting in Bojan instead of Villa.. Keita instead of Iniesta.. and thats prob it.

      • barca96
        January 30, 2011

        Haha yeah. I wouldn’t be surprised too.
        Pep never likes to rotate that much.

        —–Pinto—-
        Adriano–Fontas–Milito–Maxwell
        Keita-sMasch–Thiago–
        Boja–Nolioto-Ibi

        That’s sufficient enough.
        I wouldn’t mind a single bit even if they lost 2-0 unlike
        last week. Full of 1st teamers but de-motivated.

  8. Jim
    January 30, 2011

    This is exactly the sort of game where you can see why we have the sort of records we have. Despite the pressure the players stuck to their task. We’ve come to expect early goals and when they don’t come we start to get nervous but for me a good sign is that the team no longer gets that spell when without an early goal they start looking aimless.

    In individual performances, for me Xavi and Iniesta were way above the rest. Their workrate as well as talent is incredible and the confidence surges through the team when they see one of their signature moves such as Kxevin mentioned with Xavi.

    I have to agree that neither Villa nor Messi had a great game but I thought both stuck to it – maybe Messi more than Villa. I wasn’t particularly impressed by Alves. His shooting was awful and his crossing every bit as bad until the assist for the goal. However, you can see in this game why he is important to us. Nobody does the late arrival into position as well as him. Just wish his decision making was more consistent. Abidal, I thought had a good game but for me no better than Pique. In the first half in quick succession he failed to close down a cross and actually turned his back on the ball ( a habit of his ) which allowed it to come across. Minutes later he left Pique in a poor position where he ended up having to try to deal with the two attackers on his own. Abidal’s positioning was wrong to start with allowing the ball to go over his head and he didn’t then readjust to cover Pique’s man when Pique had to come across. I just don’t understand the god-like comments regarding him when most of what he does is the simple thing ( which is what he should do). Our defense don’t have a lot of difficult situations to deal with at all. We’d find out more about them all if they were playing for the opposition against us. I suspect we’d find weaknesses in all their games were that the case. Again, he played well – and he’s much better at CB than I thought he’d be.

    I’m not understanding the negative comments expressed in the last few threads about Pep. I thought he understood the game last night perfectly. It was finely balanced and no way were any of those on the bench an improvement on what we had on the park. He didn’t want Xavi or Iniesta playing as long as they did I’m sure but had he taken either off we risked losing the midfield and letting them create genuine momentum. How could he have been wrong when you see how little they threatened ?

    • mei
      January 30, 2011

      Im really curious to why noone refers to busquets godlike performance.
      He brought everything to us yesterday from the midfield , defence, and even could have 1-2 assists.
      Abidal was solid bud did mistakes , both in positioning and judgement calls.

    • January 30, 2011

      And yet on aggregate, Abidal had an excellent match. Every player had moments such as you mention for Abidal, Pique quite a few more than Abidal. Iniesta had them, Xavi had them …. everybody.

      But in fairness, it’s worth citing the innumerable moments of excellence during the Hercules match. Those two incidents don’t damn him, I’d have to say.

      As far as “the simple thing,” what Xavi does 99% of the time is the simple thing. So why doesn’t any other player do it? Puyol is an even more simple, direct player than Abidal. Our entire attack/defense is based on doing the simple thing, because the simple thing is effective, and almost impossible to screw up. Why try a 20-yard pass, when 2 10-yard passes are more effective, right? It’s all about simplicity. In saying that all Abidal does is the simple thing, it strikes me as a lot like people saying all that Xavi does is simple, short passes.

      It’s ability that elevates simplicity to excellence, and Abidal is an excellent defender. No player is godlike, even Messi. But full credit where credit is due, I say.

      –And to mei, check above for the laudatory prose on Busquets. But like Keita when he’s in, Busquets is hard to see. You have to look for him. You almost don’t believe that that No. 16 can be there, when he was just here.

      • blitzen
        January 30, 2011

        It’s true, I’m often left wondering where the heck Biscuits was in a match, only to realize while watching the replay that he was literally everywhere and in complete control. It’s weird.

      • Jim
        January 30, 2011

        Not looking to damn him at all, Kxevin. He had a pretty good match. I suppose its just different ways of looking at it. I don’t think what Xavi ( or Iniesta) does is simple at all – or else we’d have every team with one. The whole point is that nobody can do that job as well as them. On the other hand we could find other defenders with the same skill set as Abidal or Pique.

        A lot of defense is about positioning and mopping up. Your passing is easier as you don’t have to thread balls through defences and you aren’t under pressure with opponents likely to come from any angle. You know the whole game is in front of you. Abidal used his pace very well on a couple of occasions but most of what i saw was fairly ordinary good defending. He has played well at CB but when Puyol is back there’ll be no doubt who our two CBs will be.

  9. Cesc Pistol
    January 30, 2011

    I think Pep as both a strategist and tactician is fantastic. What is perhaps being pointed out is that he may not be so great as a reactive tactician. Sometimes he has reacted brilliantly while others not so much. What I don’t get is his not playing the young/bench players and resting the first teamers even when the game is well and over.

  10. Fabian4Barca
    January 30, 2011

    Kxevin, thank you so much for this. I would actually pay for reading your absolutely brilliant articles, really. There’s no sports magazine available in my area that does what you have been doing for quite some time now. You’re to sports blogs what Ray Hudson is to sports broadcasting.

    I remember how you even brightened up my days back in the time when we would sometimes lose matches. I wonder how long you can keep finding words to describe what this team of our beloved club is doing.

    • January 30, 2011

      Pay? Hey, wait …. did I hear the P-word? Brilliant idea! 😀

      Just kidding. Thanks for the praise, Fabian4Barca. We have quite the team here, and we all push and elevate each other in our efforts to bring you all the best Barca blog around, kind of like our players do during matches, yes? Only (I think) none of us are midgets.

      Thanks again for the kind words.

      • outerspacedout
        January 30, 2011

        Hey! In much of Asia 5’7 is considered average or even tall in some places! Most Malay guys I met in my time there were shorter than me and over in most of South Asia (except for Pakistan, which has tall people) 5’7 is considered average or a bit above average depending on the region.

        Which is why I always snicker when I see comments on Goal.com by Indians or Malaysians or the like derisively calling Messi a midget, or our players tiny and weak… its like seeing them on a football pitch surrounded by tall people (or just hearing people refer to them as midgets) somehow their brains think the likes of Messi are half a foot shorter than them themselves at 5-feet or something.

        I do wish I would get taller though. I still have a couple years more in theory…

  11. soccermomof4
    January 30, 2011

    Great review Kxevin, there’s that talent thing again, and it works for writing as well as football. I guess that’s why you’re the professional.

    I was a little surprised by the negative comments about the game for the past two threads particularly about Messi and Pep. Messi gave away a lot of balls but he was being tripled teamed most of the game, his game improved in the second half, and he was not selfish at all as some had said (so may balls laid back and some pass attempts that made it through to teammates). Not his best game by far but not too bad. Too many people, even here expect that every time Messi touches the ball birds are gonna sing, rainbows are gonna appear,and a miracle will undoubtably ensue. Sometimes the defense is going to win, sometimes he is going to play like a good player instead of a great one, sometimes he is going to play like he’s a little tired from playing so many games and being hacked at in the last game but he will still offer you more at that point than most others.

    As for Pep, maybe the substitutions were a little late, but the 3 points were not safe yet and the best 11 were already out there. He doesn’t play to protect a 1 point lead (or Masche and Kieta would have been in there earlier), he plays to score (remember guys, the reason why we love to watch this team is because they are constantly attacking, don’t complain when we don’t park a bus to preserve a narrow lead). The boys out there were doing pretty well against a team that was playing their hearts out. Nothing was going particularly wrong that needed to be changed. If we had scored an insurence goal and were still playing just the same as we did last night no-one would have complained that Pep didn’t introduce subs (for tactical reasons- up 0-2 I would’ve complained about the lack of sibs for resting reasons).

    My only complaint about your review would be that I would have given Busi a 9.

    • outerspacedout
      January 30, 2011

      Very well said, agree with all

  12. January 30, 2011

    U know what makes Messi the best player in the world, its that when he is having a bad game like last night, and he knew as well as we all did that he was having a stinker (by his lofty standards). He doesnt put his head down and mope, he doesnt stop making his runs or become static and he never, ever seems to give up. He reminds me of Eto’o in that way, no matter how bad of a day he might be having he just keeps going, keeps believing that he will score. For a player to have a poor game and still score two goals is staggering. What is more staggering is that he is now on 38 goals for the season, just past the halfway mark. We could quite easily see a 60+ goal season from this remarkable little player.

    I also want to give Busquets a shout out. Fantastic game from him and one of the reasons why Xavi/Iniesta always seem to have an outlet. Like Kxevin said, he seems to be able to be everywhere, all the time. Its funny because whenever I see Mascherano play I think to myself he should play more and then I see a performance like this from Sergio and I think damn, thats why he doesnt play more. I almost feel bad for Mascherano because what he does he probably does better than any other DM in the world, but the same can be said about Busquets.

    Villa was baad today, its still one step forward two steps back for him, but he’ll get there eventually. Unlike Messi he does have a tendency to mope a bit and maybe drop his effort levels when its not his day. I have also noticed that he tends to be a big game player, in that he seems to put in better performaces against the top teams and drops his level against the lower sides. That again I think is a natural tendency for most world class players who dont play for Barca. With time he will learn that playing for Barca there are no easy games.

  13. yoyoma
    January 30, 2011

    Arsenal.com: “Samir Nasri is expected to be out for three weeks after suffering a hamstring injury on Sunday.”

    wow! that’s a good news for us and very bad form Arsenal.

    • outerspacedout
      January 30, 2011

      Nooo! I want to beat a full-strength Arsenal! Imagine the responses if they lose again ‘oh its just cos we didn’t have our best player fit’. Hope he recovers soon, and not just cos of that but cos he’s also a good player and I hope he plays more often in the other games as well.

      • barca96
        January 30, 2011

        Erm… I don’t really care as long as we beat them 🙂
        That is all that matters. Nobody’s going to ask you whether you beat a full strength team or not after winning the big ear trophy.

    • Roz
      January 30, 2011

      Arsenal were just awful today. An own goal and a penalty to see off a 3rd division team albeit with 10 men. Chamakh touched the ball all of two times. With or without Nasri im convinced we can win the tie.

  14. barca96
    January 30, 2011

    I agree with Fabian4Barca.
    I wouldn’t mind paying membership fee for this site. It is that good!
    The writers and posters.

    I don’t know who complained but I sure didn’t.
    The match wasn’t safe at all until the 2nd goal came.
    Even after Farinos got sent off, I still felt that we could’ve conceded.

  15. gowtham
    January 30, 2011

    guys anyone have links to the whole game yesterday…my father wants to watch it

    • barca96
      January 30, 2011

      Subscribe yourself to fbtz.com or rojadirecta.org.
      They have all the matches there.

  16. justsayin
    January 30, 2011

    Great review. Thanks for posting, Kxevin, so we can all continue to enjoy the game. Abidal, like Xavi, Iniesta and Puyol are consistently great and talented players. If any of those 4 have an off game, I would wager to say that it’s due to extenuating circumstances (injury, illness, etc). Otherwise, their sheer talent is enough. The rest of the team has some combination of talent and skills. Messi falls in some undefinable category. He is sheer talent and then some kind of magical, superhuman touch. Messi playes a quiet game where he is working consistently in the midfield taking on opponents to make precise, unexpected passes that leads to assists. It might look as if he is “sleepwalking” but it’s part of Messi’s unassuming way. If he gives balls away it’s because he’s trying to make something happen from nothing with 3 defenders trying to stop him. He is then able to burst into the front line and make improbable goals happen (like his first one) or be in the right spot (for his second).
    Villa, has skills and I’ll leave it at that. What we are seeing on Villa’s good days is a skill set that they are trying to teach him that works well in the Barca system. On some days, you can see the difference. But, I think there isn’t going to be as big a change as I was hoping for, because I don’t think he has that kind of talent. He is a good player but I don’t think we’ll see much from him that is great or unexpected. I’ve learned to keep my expectations low for him because I think he will never have superior ball skills and that most of his goals will be of the “easier to score” variety. Frustrating, yes, … but, he is doing his job.

    • barca96
      January 30, 2011

      Haha I noticed a trend, you only pop in when Villa is having a bad day :p
      Not every player has the ball skills and touch of Messi, Iniesta or Xavi.
      And it’s not something you can acquire all of sudden when you join this club at the age of 28.
      One of my fav non-Barca player, Ibra, he always had a magical skill and touch but when he came here, it looked as if it disappeared. I found it really hard to understand. I’ve been watching him from his Ajax days and all of a sudden he looked so different. But I think it’s because I see him with the likes of Messi and co. he really looks average.

      • justsayin
        January 30, 2011

        I usually post after every game, so I think the trend you notice is that I’m not usually overly impressed with Villa’s play.

    • outerspacedout
      January 30, 2011

      We are really getting quite spoiled. Villa is one of the world’s best strikers. Even here he remains one of the world’s top strikers. He has 16 goals already. He is one of Spain’s all time greats, the best goalscorer in La Liga over the past five years (Eto’o scored slightly more, but Villa did so with a team that scores much less goals total over those years and has much less talent over the pitch than Barcelona did). He was pretty much a one-man show for Valencia at times, scoring, creating, assisting. He is a fantastic player and saying he isn’t talented a player is quite unfair since his talent is being put in sharp contrast to some of the best players ever in their positions or just some of the best players ever, period, in Messi, Iniesta and Xavi. Looking at just skill, talent and goalscoring, very very few if almost any strikers in the world are more talented.

      I don’t think there is any striker who could do better with us. Take any player. Could Rooney do better with us? Berbatov? Drogba? Fabiano? Forlan? Gomez? Barrios? Torres? Ibrahimovic (sorry guys, Kevin, I did rate Ibra and his contribution but I will say straight I do not think he did as good a job as Villa has been doing in his first half-season- as much as unfairly slamming Ibrahimovic is wrong, not saying so for things he didn’t bring- the kind of mobility, fluidity and width we have with Villa, change of system or not)? Nope. When we look at it, at the wider view, very simply put- for all his lesser first touch, control, etc, and yes it can be frustrating, what he has brought to the team should be commended. And I think he gets unfair scrutiny. Its easier to notice every mess-up. If we can’t take 16 goals in a half-season (when 30 a season is considered a fantastic return for any striker), humility and hard work, and a whole new dimension and brilliance to our offense, in terms of width, fluidity, an added dangerman, and the like, resulting in an almost unimaginably potent offense overall. Our goals scored and goal difference is absolutely insane. If someone asked me ‘how has Villa been as a summer signing’ I wouldn’t hesitate to say ‘an unmitigated success’. ‘Worth the money?’. ‘Heck yeah’ I would say.

      He has had some awful moments and even some awful entire games but for crying out loud, in the context of the entire season, and HOW FRICKIN AMAZING our front-line has been, how amazing we have become, and Villa’s contribution over the season- this is like Asian parents yelling at their kids cos ‘look at your cousin she got a 100! Why you get only 97?’. Honestly.

      • barca96
        January 30, 2011

        Wow. Didn’t expect that from you outerspace.
        I feel that you’re next to be called up to the first team.
        No, not (Barca you silly!) but to this amazing team of writers.

        • outerspacedout
          January 30, 2011

          Oh I didn’t see you had replied to this post until I submitted the comment and the page refreshed. Seems we have the same opinion about how playing next to the likes of Xaviestamessi puts the natural limits of others in relief.

          Thanks on the compliment btw. Ahh, someday…

      • outerspacedout
        January 30, 2011

        *or not, isn’t right either)
        for the bit in the brackets after Ibrahimovic. Mistake.

      • Jnice
        January 30, 2011

        Credit to Villa this season, but I don’t see the problem in criticizing based on the game. You can’t ignore when someone has a bad match because they’ve played relatively well all season.

        I think he still gets a lot of credit from Barça fans for his contributions on the whole this season. I think he’s been pretty good.

        • barca96
          January 30, 2011

          From justsayin

          “He is a good player but I don’t think we’ll see much from him that is great or unexpected.”

          • Jnice
            January 30, 2011

            I still see praise in that statement, no?

            Even so (if you don’t think so), that’s just one person, if you poll everyone here, you will see that Villa is getting enough credit for his season on the whole.

          • justsayin
            January 30, 2011

            Yes, there is praise in that comment. Villa is good. How many people could score that many goals in the best league?? Not many. So, I give him props. Like, I said, he is doing his job by scoring goals and assisting. But, I don’t think I’ve seen many plays where I shook my head in disbelief because of the things Villa was doing out on the field like I do with many other Barca players. I don’t remember being bowled over, that’s all I’m saying.

        • outerspacedout
          January 30, 2011

          I acknowledge him being sucky in the game, it’s that firstly, I feel that the criticism from all quarters (not any one person or any other, but across the board) seems a tad excessive, and secondly in response to comments along the lines of Villa not having talent or being just a good player, not a great one.

          When he has a bad game, saying so is what should be done (including this game, as well as certain other games, and yes he has had a few bad games). But all in all, this season? He has not been bad. He’s contributed a lot. And even in games where we are too quick to criticize his footwork or his touch or the like, even when he scores, its still important to remember that his job is to make the team awesome and to score, and with this unbelievable team currently and 16 goals overall, job well done. We can’t expect perfection. Hope he improves, but for now a bit more respect to Villa. And we need to remember he’s not just an okay player, he is world-class, one of the best in the world, just not as otherworldly as some of the insanely good players sharing the pitch.

          • Jnice
            January 30, 2011

            But all in all, this season? He has not been bad. He’s contributed a lot.

            There’s no disagreement there and I think most here would agree.

            As for the footwork and what not, I wouldn’t criticize him if he didn’t try and do things he isn’t capable of. Why continue to backheel the ball when it isn’t coming off? That and his loose touch will continue to vex me. And to be fair, I get annoyed with any player who tries a little too much at times.

            My qualms with him mostly had to do with his finishing, but that has seemed to improved since the last time I’ve voiced my displeasure on here.

          • Víctor
            January 30, 2011

            That’s kinda how I feel. Yes, Villa needs better ball control, not at the level of Iniesta, Xavi or Messi, but at least at the level of Pedro. I don’t think that’s asking for much for a player like him. I do, however, criticize his lack of effectiveness at 1vs1’s and goal/shots ratio… he has the skill for that. He should be clinical. Right now, he isn’t.

            However, even with that, he has contributed and I think that his addition to the team has been overall positive. And, once again, he needs time to adapt… the next season he should be better.

            I agree that expectations around him are high… mainly because he is Villa (one of the best strikers for Spain) and because his salary is comparable to that of Xavi and Iniesta. (Not so sure about this, though) From that viewpoint… yes, he isn’t living up to expectations.

            However, taking that aside… speaking merely in football terms and his inclusion to this Barcelona side… I think that it has been positive addition for the team. Of couse, he could and should do better… once again, he needs time to adapt to this system. So, I cut him some slack on that.

            Still, as for this game, he was awful.

        • justsayin
          January 30, 2011

          Just wanted to add that he really did a poor job of tracking back in yesterday’s. At least if he wasn’t making things happen in the front he could have run back and forth a bit more and defended. When you compare him with Pedro on the other side, it’s a glaring contrast. Pedro is freakin’ everywhere! Here’s a good question … who has had a better season, Pedro or Villa?

      • ooga aga
        January 30, 2011

        “this is like Asian parents yelling at their kids cos ‘look at your cousin she got a 100! Why you get only 97?’.”

        point taken, but not just asian parents can be that way. plenty of white people and people of all races can be unfairly demanding of their children.

      • justsayin
        January 30, 2011

        You’re correct in that we are spoiled. Maybe I don’t make that point strongly enough. Villa is a good player, a VERY good player and I can’t think of someone that I might want to try in his place. But, that doesn’t mean that I can’t point out that he is the weakest link of our front line. When he played with Valencia, he was their superstar so they passed him all the balls. That’s not the way Barca plays so he has to rely on other skills like controlling the ball, quick give and go’s and having a sense of where to place and ball and himself to better score or assist. He does not have those skills sets honed in as Messi and Pedro. Am I crazy to say that? Yes, the bar is very, very high and I guess Villa suffers because of that because he is a very good player who isn’t quite there yet.

      • Barcathegreatestever
        January 30, 2011

        right on outerspace. The guy is going to score 30 goals and be a huge part of any trophies this season and the highest rating he gets is a 7 while putting the hated Madrid down.

        Meanwhile the D is defending 30% of the time doing a job that is technically much easier. No way to reason with a brick wall. Take the good with the good. At best he’ll get rated after the fact.

        Messi doesn’t have the ratings of Abidal and he is going to blow away most goals again. Freaking out of this world.

  17. Extreme barca fan
    January 30, 2011

    Good review Kevin, thank you
    Now: wow, this team should be remembered as the one that makes the dream team look bad, in all honesty nothing even comes close to this Barcelona team nowadays, the combination of talent-hard work-selflessness-tactics-etc is just remarkable.
    by his standards messi was terrible, if he had a good night i cant imagine what could have been, and villa was even worse much worse than his rating would suggest, that’s why i think guardiola is still missing something, he was late with the subs and could have introduced them earlier.
    On this rate messi will have a 60+ goals and 30+ assists this season, yet some people still compare him to guy we all know by the name TB.
    MOTM for me is anyone of the midfield trio and abidal, they were all awesome.
    after the copa formality we have a chance to extend the record to 16 straight liga wins, against who, its atletico de Madrid, GO BARCA

    • barca96
      January 30, 2011

      One of the keys to continue this winning streak is to rest our key players who need a rest badly;
      Messi, Iniesta, Pedro, Abidal, Villa.
      Ibi, Keita, sMasch, Milito and Maxwell are good enough to at least draw the match.
      And what better time to introduce Thiago, Bartra and Fontas to first team action. No pressure at all. The only downside is that it’s not at Camp Nou.
      Muniesa and Montoya looked good too yesterday. So did JDS.

    • outerspacedout
      January 30, 2011

      To be fair, if he goes at this rate, TB will also have 50-60 or more goals. The reasons not to compare the two are just skill, touch, passing, through-balls, whatever cos kudos to Ronaldo, he really has been bagging goals like a… (word needed) factory-toy-bagging-machine bagging toys in a factory (sorry, couldn’t think of anything) this season. Not as high a game-to-goal ratio as Messi but still an insane amount of goals.

      • Jnice
        January 30, 2011

        Like you said, kudos to Cristiano. His goal tally for Madrid is insane. But I, like Euler (and probably Jim and everyone else here lol), feel that Iniesta is the second best player in the world. Madrid fans will disagree, but if Iniesta was playing for their team, the Zidane comparisons would be nonstop. I mean the praise Özil gets is already over the top and he isn’t even close to Andres.

        • barca96
          January 30, 2011

          I too said on many other football forums or youtube comments that Iniesta is the 2nd best.ROnaldo is just a top 5 player.
          If his goals tally were just half than what they are now, Im sure people would agree with us more that Iniesta is the 2nd best.

        • outerspacedout
          January 30, 2011

          Iniesta is my favorite player to watch and I agree with you guys that Iniesta is better than Ronaldo. His first touch is just unbelievable, best I’ve ever seen, his close control, dribbling, footwork and passing is brilliant.

          I was just pointing out how saying how can people compare TB with Messi cos Messi will have 60+ goals and so on at this rate isn’t probably the best point for comparison, seeing as Ronaldo is scoring almost as many. Touch, control, accuracy, vision, dribbling, etc yes are all stuff where you can say ‘look how can you even compare’ but I mean, of all things, goals scored is probably not the best ‘evidence’ of how Messi is uncomparable. If you know what I mean. Simply pointing that out.

          • barca96
            January 30, 2011

            YEah. Sadly people will only look at the goal tally and ignore other important facts that makes a great player.
            Look at Ruud v. Nistelrooj, a poor player but scores bucketload of goals. Ronaldo is of course better than him but really, all he adds is goals. No team work or passing.

          • outerspacedout
            January 30, 2011

            I wouldn’t call van Nistelrooy a poor player. He was a fantastic goalscorer and football is largely about scoring goals. Not as technically gifted yes. Much as looking only at goals and neglecting other aspects isn’t a way to judge a player, not considering goals but only technical ability isn’t fair either, especially for forwards players whose job is to score goals or be the primary goalscorer for their teams, say Gerd Muller or Inzaghi.

        • Extreme barca fan
          January 30, 2011

          your so ignorant Jnice (sarcasm), before the classico and according to BS.com in their head to head comparison they rated oezil higher than iniesta, no wonder we refer to it as BS.com
          Also add me to that list who thinks that iniesta is the 2nd best player in the world, because he definitely is.
          Also one of the reasons we are so good this year is the great form and health of (injury free) iniesta (there are probably 10 other reasons, but i guess that discussion will come at the end of the season)

          • outerspacedout
            January 30, 2011

            Agreed, him being fit (only player to start every league game in the first half of the season in La Liga since Puyol in 2005) and being on this kind of ridiculous, dominating, domineering form is a huge reason we are playing so amazing at the moment.

          • Extreme barca fan
            January 30, 2011

            Outerspacedout is 100% correct and i was wrong to make the comparison, the number of goals scored is just one parameter in evaluating a player, adding the assists to the comparison helps but is not enough, messi is a better player for a whole lot of reasons other than scoring assisting, he defends, works better with his team-mates, more versatile, gives a 123% effort even against a third division team in a meaningless copa game, etc etc

          • outerspacedout
            January 30, 2011

            That wasn’t what I meant actually. What I meant was that how you said ‘now people can’t compare the two cos Messi is set to score 60+ goals’, as in I was saying ‘Ronaldo is also scoring almost as much, so that itself isn’t enough reason to say they are incomparable’. As in, the other factors yes but in terms of number of goals scored they are actually pretty close together.

            Sorry for not being clear there.

  18. outerspacedout
    January 30, 2011

    Wow what a debut for Pazzini.

    And Cavani is just brilliant- another hat-trick. Best player in Serie A now I would say. Napoli are second because of one man and that is Cavani. Ibra has been a one-man show at Milan for times and has been easily their best player, but Napoli are only four points behind with a team much less stacked throughout.

  19. barca96
    January 30, 2011

    I like the reports that we are interested in Bastos.
    Liked him since last season. However, we already have one flying wing back.
    Don’t really think it’s wise to have another one on the left. That would leave too much gap at the back.
    But in the event that Alves goes, we could shift the bombarding runs from the right to the left. Bastos-Iniesta-Villa instead of Alves-Xavi-Messi

    • Roz
      January 30, 2011

      I see Bastos more of a winger then a wing back. He played the wing/leftback position in the WC and he looked kind of lost. He also Probably doesent have the workrate that is needed in Peps’ system.

  20. outerspacedout
    January 30, 2011

    Atletico are being Pathetico again, and Spurs are losing FOUR NIL to Fulham at half-time in the FA Cup. At half-time.

  21. January 30, 2011

    EE are getting owned by Osasuna. That means they’ll win. Sigh.

    • barca96
      January 30, 2011

      😆
      But you gotta praise their spirit. They always find a way to win albeit ugly.

    • outerspacedout
      January 30, 2011

      Sad but almost invariably true. One thong though, no Xabi Alonso on the starting line-up or bench.

      • Extreme barca fan
        January 30, 2011

        one THONG though, r u sure???, looooooool

      • outerspacedout
        January 30, 2011

        LOL my bad I mean one thing… O and I are next to each other on the keyboard, or maybe its just my brain making the subconscious association to our nicknames for certain Real players.

    • blitzen
      January 30, 2011

      Yeah, they will squeeze out another 1-0 victory, no doubt.

  22. blitzen
    January 30, 2011

    With regards to David Villa, I am only going to say two things:

    1. He wasn’t good in this match, but he wasn’t absolutely terrible, either. I’m still glad he played rather than Bojan.

    2. The only person whose opinion of Villa’s play that really matters is Pep Guardiola. When he starts leaving Villa on the bench, then you will know there is a problem.

    • January 30, 2011

      Agreed.

      In any case, even when Villa has a crappy game, he still takes up at least one defender. That’s always positive.

      • Extreme barca fan
        January 30, 2011

        Kari, its not that i hate Villa,on the contrary i loved him as a Valencia man, now i love him more but he was really baaaaaaaaaaaaad last night

        • January 30, 2011

          Oh, no doubt he was, although I felt he was more invisible than horrible (but I guess if you’re invisible it’s because you’re horrible…). Just not as horrific as some are saying on the web.

  23. Louis
    January 30, 2011

    It is truly a blessing to be able to watch Messi week after week. While I wouldn’t call him totally out of form, he clearly hasn’t been at top form since the holiday break. Which, made it all the more suprising when I saw on barcastuff that he has 10 goals in 8 matches since the beginning of the new year. Just amazing and ridiculous.

    Especially when you compare him to another “world class” striker who has been out of form all season in the EPL and has only managed two goals.

    • outerspacedout
      January 30, 2011

      Louis, don’t you know that that’s just cos the EPL is so hard and that scoring against the likes of Stoke are challenges Messi didn’t have to face all this time?

      *sarcasm*

      Lol seriously though Messi is amazing. He seems almost inhuman.

    • Helge
      January 30, 2011

      And they still jeer him “ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNEYYYYY” 😀

      Even if he’s playing more as a defender than an attacker…

  24. Eklavya
    January 30, 2011

    West Ham signed Robbie Keane.

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

    Sorry ooga aga, looks like he won’t be coming. 😛

    • ooga aga
      January 30, 2011

      there is no more to hope or live for anymore…goodbye cruel world

  25. Ryan
    January 30, 2011

    The atmosphere at Osasuna is intense – they haven’t stopped whistling throughout the first half against the EE.

  26. Helge
    January 30, 2011

    EE will win 1-0. It’ll be the 5th consecutive game where they only score once. I think Olympique Lyon might actually have fun against them 😀

    • January 30, 2011

      Let me go further and say Di Maria will dive and get a pen. Then Thong Boy will do that annoying stutter-step thing he does when he takes penalties and score.

      Osasuna will hit the post.

  27. soccermomof4
    January 30, 2011

    Started watching the EE game—I’m so stupid.

  28. January 30, 2011

    I guess the EE back line still hasn’t learned their lesson. Even after the shellacking we gave them, they’re still playing a flat back-line.

    Damn. This ref isn’t giving Osasuna any FKs (in good positions)…

  29. January 30, 2011

    Y’know, if Osasuna can keep this up, they really could get a draw. And if their midfielders finally time a pass right…

    Sh*t. I’m getting my hopes up.

  30. MoSSi
    January 30, 2011

    I actually don’t care if they win or not (wish they probably will do), I just want that fake Ronaldo to not score so Messi can catch up with him..

  31. Jim
    January 30, 2011

    goal for Oss but not getting hopes up.

  32. January 30, 2011

    GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL OSASUUUUUUUNNNNNNNA!!!

    • jordi™
      January 30, 2011

      Crap im falling for the trap 🙁

      Must.Not.Watch.

  33. January 30, 2011

    Alonso, Kaka’ and Adebayor come on. That’s 3 less defenders + Dia Maria, Benzema and Thong Boy. OSASUNA, TAKE ADVANTAGE

  34. January 30, 2011

    Yes! Keep trying useless shots from distance, Thong Boy! And keep applauding his giving away possession, MouMou.

  35. blitzen
    January 30, 2011

    I thought that was a goal? Guess not. Not that I’m complaining.

  36. jordi™
    January 30, 2011

    We just need a draw. WHY IS TIME MOVING SO SLOWLY???

  37. Eklavya
    January 30, 2011

    Should have killed the match there…

  38. barca96
    January 30, 2011

    Holy crap. I almost creamed my pantns. Damn Arbeloa!!
    Haha Xabi Alonso. He still dreams of becoming Xavi

  39. January 30, 2011

    I don’t know if my heart can handle this. GORA OSASUNAAAAAAA!!

  40. blitzen
    January 30, 2011

    I can’t bear to watch. I’m just reloading this page to see your comments.

  41. January 30, 2011

    EE are getting away with thuggery. It’s not even funny. Carvalho is kicking the crap out of everyone. >:(

  42. January 30, 2011

    I can’t believe it. The ref actually book an EE player. Ramos yellow

    Aaaaaaaaaaaand Osasuna player gets yellow for a dive.

  43. blitzen
    January 30, 2011

    This crowd is insane!

    if Osasuna concede a goal now, I’ll, I’ll….well I don’t know what I’ll do, but it won’t be pretty!

  44. Eklavya
    January 30, 2011

    Vilarato!

    I think Im gonna pass out! X_@

  45. January 30, 2011

    Compare the fitness of RM right now – especially at the back and holding mid to Barca’s fitness.

    Pep is a genius.

    • jordi™
      January 30, 2011

      Well Mou will now see why EE failing in the cup has been a blessing in the last years.The last time they reached the final in 03 their season fell apart.Now Mou comes in and plays the same 11 in every competition despite EE having a deeper squad than us.

  46. jordi™
    January 30, 2011

    Aranda has been immense in this game

  47. barca96
    January 30, 2011

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

  48. blitzen
    January 30, 2011

    How’s that new striker working out, Mou? 😛

  49. Eklavya
    January 30, 2011

    I cant believe this. I must be dreaming or something

  50. Roz
    January 30, 2011

    7 point lead!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  51. January 30, 2011

    YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!

  52. barca96
    January 30, 2011

    Can’t believe I stayed up till 4 am to watch a EE match.
    I agree, Aranda is a beast. He holds the ball up so damn good.
    MoTM-Aranda

  53. January 30, 2011

    this isn’t a boring two-team league, it’s a boring one-team league!

    yeah!!!

  54. Eklavya
    January 30, 2011

    OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOIOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  55. blitzen
    January 30, 2011

    That ref gave them an extra 40 seconds of injury time! WTF?

    • January 30, 2011

      I was about to break something. Villarato my frakking arse!

  56. Helge
    January 30, 2011

    OSASUNA *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap*, OSASUNA *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap*, OSASUNA *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* !!!!

    Visca CA Osasuna Pamplona 😀

  57. mei
    January 30, 2011

    Are you feeling now the pressure , Mou?
    Is this defeat easy to digest too?
    Props to osasuna.They and their fans were MAD DOGS.

  58. K_legit
    January 30, 2011

    Its official..I am stopping watching the EE games..the last 3 games I have not seen they have lost two and drawn one

  59. soccermomof4
    January 30, 2011

    Today I became an Osasuna fan (at least until we play them). I couldn’t watch. I was literally pacing in the next room while hubby shouted out a play by play to me.

  60. January 30, 2011

    is marca or as gonna have a giant article on the number of sit-ups ronaldo does on a daily basis, monday?

    i think so.

    • January 30, 2011

      They should have the number of useless shots from distance he did today.

      People should really stop comparing TB and Messi. Him with a goat is a much better comparison.

  61. January 30, 2011

    And guess what guys? We’ve ALREADY played in Pamplona this season 😀

    We freaking rule!

  62. January 30, 2011

    AAMAZING!!!!!! I enjoyed that more than our victory last night. The look on Ronaldo’s face at the end of the 90 was priceless. HAHAHAHA.

    Its not over yet, but a 7 point lead at this stage of the season is very nice to have. Technically its actually an 8 point lead because we are 5 goals up on head to head and there is no way they ship 5 past us without reply.

  63. jordi™
    January 30, 2011

    Osasuna throwing 2 balls on the field was 😆

    Im so glad we’ve already won there, at Atleti and at san mames.

    • January 30, 2011

      that was awesome. they do it against us & i’ll give them a pass.

    • Para
      January 30, 2011

      Despite the fact that I am ecstatic with the result, i wish that hadn’t happened. You know that all the madridistas are going to be saying that’s why they lost…or just generally whinging about how much they are hated, rather than acknowledging the fact that osasuna played their butts off.

  64. January 30, 2011

    the villarreal v espanyol game on right now should be the bomb bomb rap song. or do i watch lakers v the celtics?

  65. c0rrine
    January 30, 2011

    bfb.com trip to barcelona in may anyone?

      • soccermomof4
        January 30, 2011

        Is that our #10 in his skivvies?

    • Vj
      January 30, 2011

      CORRRRRRRIIIINNNNNNEEEEEE!!

      We missed you!

      • c0rrine
        January 30, 2011

        hi 🙂
        i know… i am a big slacker but no worries i love barca just as much

  66. Roz
    January 30, 2011

    With this lead we could lose twice and still be leaders. Mega awsome!

  67. tntyau
    January 30, 2011

    The thing that amazed me were those substitutions. They go down a goal, and Mourinho *immediately* does a triple substitution with: Kaka, coming back from long-term injury so probably not at full fitness; Xabi, apparently recovering from flu; and Adebayor, brand new signing with no experience with the team not to mention is on loan from City because he was a sub so question of being match-fit. Panic, much?

    I don’t know which implosion will be worse, the locker room or the boardroom.

  68. jordi™
    January 30, 2011

    Mou will probably moan about *something* , but who cares, my ears are blocked by 7 points 😀

    • Helge
      January 30, 2011

      Actually, things aren’t going particularly well for me in my life, but yeah, this makes up for everything, at least temporarily!
      I’m a spring of happiness right now 😀

      • gowtham
        January 30, 2011

        hang in there buddy, you’ll get through your rough time:D
        life’s like that…but barca’s there so its all coolio

  69. K_legit
    January 30, 2011

    so what did Adebayor do?
    did he play?
    did Mou make one of his defender off attacking player on sub and for once get fuck-all?

    so many questions!

    • mardia
      January 30, 2011

      I believe he was subbed in in the second half, along with Alonso–I’m not positive on when or for who, as I didn’t start watching the match until after he was subbed in. But yeah, Adebayor played–for all the good it did them.

  70. mardia
    January 30, 2011

    What on EARTH. I idly checked the score on Soccernet just to see and promptly did the biggest double, no, TRIPLE-take ever. Cut to me frantically searching for a stream just so I could watch the last 15 minutes.

    7 point lead, oh man is that fantastic. I don’t know if this is the universe making amends for the mess in Liverpool right now, or if my crazy theory about Mourinho’s snoods bringing bad luck to RM–no lie, ever since he started wearing those, they’ve been playing noticeably worse–or if it’s just a case of their shaky defense/midfield finally coming back to bite them in the butts. Probably the latter, although I like to think it’s all of the above.

    • blitzen
      January 30, 2011

      Search for “Marca” in Google, there are some hilarious tweets about them being offline. 😀

    • January 30, 2011

      la liga loca’s twitter:

      “Marca website currently offline. Are RM trying to do a “Mubarak” with the internet post Osasuna defeat?”

  71. Víctor
    January 30, 2011

    Woa, didn’t expect that. If a 4 point lead seemed impossible to EE, a 7 point lead is quite deadly. Of course, we should keep doing our job to keep that advantage.

    Guess that Mourinho isn’t really working that well, eh? A year ago, EE still was racing for the championship, now they need a friggin miracle.

  72. January 30, 2011

    Striker was an issue for RM but Mou blew it completely out of proportion and turned it into a symbolic issue. His goal seemed to be to create and win a power struggle with Valdano (who is just Flo Flo’s spokesperson within their hierarchy).

    And now he’s got a striker.

    But their primary issues are defensively – they don’t defend effectively as a team. And in midfield – they don’t build play constructively particularly well, especially without Xabi Alonso. Very good on the counter but they aren’t great controlling the game through their midfield.

    But such a big deal was made about striker, it becomes difficult to try to deflect blame to other areas.

    The Madrid media is going to have a field day with this.

    • K_legit
      January 30, 2011

      The Madrid media is going to have a field day with this.
      And so is the media in Catalunya!

    • blitzen
      January 30, 2011

      Agree. They should be able to do without Xabi Alonso for one game without completely breaking down. Even when he came on he wasn’t great, I mean he’s been sick, FFS.

      I only watched the game sporadically, but it looked to me like they have the same defensive issues they have been having all season. Just plain ineffective and reliant on last-ditch dirty tackles. Sergio Ramos has been terrible all season.

    • Víctor
      January 30, 2011

      “But their primary issues are defensively – they don’t defend effectively as a team. ”

      Neither they play on the offensive as a team. At least it doesn’t seem that way to me.

  73. beeeef
    January 30, 2011

    Yikes. it’s only january, and madrid’s league aspirations already look dead in the water. I still anticipate that both teams will drop points here and there until the end of the year, but it’s going to take a lot for Madrid to climb back into that number 1 spot.

    now lets see what happens in the CdR and CL. imagine if Mou & co went completely trophy-less this season? ugh. i’d remember 2011 just for that.

  74. Víctor
    January 30, 2011

    Michel Bastos? Not really sure what to think of him. Then again, wouldn’t hurt to have another winger…

  75. January 30, 2011

    I’m holding back, but it’s getting harder and harder. So many good pictures available for schadenfreude use…

    • Nav
      January 30, 2011

      Do it Kari, for those of us that haven’t seen the pictures!

  76. January 30, 2011

    Pep always talks about the team staying humble.

    It’s good advice for cules’ as well.

    It’s january. Barca’s haven’t won anything right now other than the Supercopa.

    There is still a great deal of football to be played and it stands to reason that Barca are going to go through a dry spell of some kind.

    They are not going to win out the rest of the season.

    • mei
      January 30, 2011

      True words.
      Somebody here was describing pep as not such a good tactician.
      Well after the two last games ,and especially that last one, what can be said about jose mourinho?

      • Víctor
        January 30, 2011

        Not such a good tactician either. I haven’t followed Mourinho that much, but I have yet to see him make changes to turn a game around. Inter won the Treble without having to come back in the scoreline… not in the Coppa Italia (against Roma), not in the CL knockout phase (I think that Inter just trailed for a while in the away game against us… and then again, they tied after 10 minutes or so; and the CL final was already over when Milito scored against Bayern) and not in Serie A (against Chievo Verona? in the decisive game).

    • jordi™
      January 30, 2011

      True.Its just that Madrid a Madrid loss is so rare recently, its difficult not to be excited in the immediate aftermath.

      • January 30, 2011

        I’m very pleased the club is now up 7 points. It’s terrific to pick up points when things are so tight.

        We just can’t expect Barca to be this good for the entire season. Should they do it – that would make them a remarkable exception to history. But you can’t count on it.

        I’m happy Barca have extended their lead. But the league is far from over. It’s going to be very difficult until the last game.

    • Helge
      January 30, 2011

      Especially with Atleti coming up next… we all know HOW crazy those matches can be!

      It would be a shame to throw away the newly gained advantage after just a single week. We have to continue the humble way!

    • soccermomof4
      January 30, 2011

      Fair enough, but a little celebration won’t hurt. Especially after the tension of the game. I’m assuming, mind you, that none of us will be trolling over to the EE sites to gloat *gives best mom stare (you know the stare I’m talking about)*

  77. K_legit
    January 30, 2011

    The best thing for Barça to do now is keep on winning and try and stretch the lead to double digits before the next Clasico..That’d be epic!

  78. soccermomof4
    January 30, 2011

    Rossi just score a BEEEEAUTIFUL goal!

  79. Pyro
    January 30, 2011

    Yes! Too bad I didn’t get to watch the Madrid game and see them get abused. Mourinho instead of creating unity within the club; he destroyed it. Guys, we should be more humble. We haven’t won anything in January. Arsenal lost Nasri, the boy was making them tick all season long.

  80. Ryan
    January 30, 2011

    Wasn’t it during the 6 trophy season where we had a similar point advantage but then Madrid went on a 14 game winning streak? Granted, we then spanked them 2-6 in the Bernabeu, but we’ve still got quite a bit of Liga to play!

  81. Olufestus
    January 30, 2011

    I remembered DAVID MATEOS begging hercules to force us to drop points…their problem is that they are not focusing on themselves, but on who we play…

  82. Batman
    January 30, 2011

    If im boring with the links, tell me, ill cut it off… This is what Pep’s been doing tonight, while we were watching the rape in Pamplona:

    http://www.marca.com/2011/01/30/futbol/equipos/barcelona/1296421642.html

    And watching EE at the end of the game, i felt like Fat Sam took over Mourinho. I really do not get it why the hell did they buy Adebayor…besides that noone else agreed to come in the capital.

    • January 30, 2011

      I have new post up, Batman. Just repost your comments there.

  83. Barcathegreatestever
    January 30, 2011

    I feel so bad for Perez, Valdano, Ronaldo and Mourinho.

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