Barca 3, Atletico xxxxxx 0, aka “Defenders broken, goalkeeper ravaged”

Pere Punti/El Mundo Deportivo

Leave to the irrepressible Ray Hudson to sum up this match far better than I, when he said, simply enough, “Defenders broken, goalkeeper ravaged,” because that was the kind of day that it was, a record-breaking, magical day at the Camp Nou, in the house of an amazing, amazing team.

–Messi scored a hat trick and took over the undisputed pichichi lead
–Our beloved club broke the Liga record for consecutive victories, with 16

It was also a crazy, crazy day that gave Guardiola plenty of ammunition for his pre-match talk. Presumably, all that he had to do was post a quartet of scores: Newcastle 4/Arsenal 4; Wolverhampton 2/United 1; Levante 1/Villarreal 0; Almeria 3/Espanyol 2. This a crazy, upset-rich day in world football that was, fittingly, made right by the best club in the world. We didn’t just beat Atletico, we owned them as yet another club concedes an early goal, but continues to play not to get hammered, as if victory is completely out of the question. No, we can’t just show up and win. But once we get that first goal, the psychological weight wreaks havoc with game plans and psyches.

And then there’s Messi.

You people with a sense of history will remember Michael Jordan. For those of you who don’t, he was the best player on the six-time champion Chicago Bulls. He was also the hardest worker, in practice and in games, a man who set an unassailable example for competitive drive. He wanted to win everything, everytime, everywhere. He has an analog in Leo Messi. People wonder why Messi always has extraordinary matches against Atletico, but you need look no further than Kun Aguero. As with Michael Jordan and his torching the Portland Trail Blazers with a blizzard of three-pointers, to show that Clyde Drexler wasn’t in his league, Messi wants to show everyone that while Aguero might be an excellent player, Messi is in his own league.

So he not only scored a goal, he then ran Aguero down to gangster the ball from him, the best player on the team working the hardest to make sure that his team won, doing whatever it took. And his goals were scored in all ways: things of beauty, moment of anticipation and ugly, hard-working tallies as he tumbled into the goal with the ball and a defender. Whatever it took.

This is also a cruel game in that Eric Abidal had an astounding match, though his personal standard is such that it wasn’t astounding as much as typical these days. It was a match that on any other day, would earn him Man of the Match, but not today. But when you watch this match again, spare some time to marvel at his performance. He was everywhere, on a day when Maxwell was a lazy spectator and Busquets off song, Abidal was Puyol with sideline to sideline pace, putting out fires everywhere on the pitch, always the impossible-to-beat last man. And even when he wasn’t Pique was.

Pere Punti/El Mundo Deportivo

Guardiola rolled out with his best available lineup: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Abidal, Maxwell, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Villa, Pedro!!. It was also a lineup that had Atletico cowed, as they chose to turn turtle, keeping 10 behind the ball and daring us to find a way to beat them. When people ask how good we are, it’s worth noting that this is a team battling for a European spot, with a coach in serious danger of being axed like Lizzie Borden, who decided to batten down the hatches and play turtle, with Aguero as the head that would poke out from time to time.

And Guardiola seemed to sense that this was going to be something of a challenge as he was off the bench early, cajoling, guiding, exhorting and making his charges understand that this was no ordinary team, despite its position in the standings. This was a chameleon of a side that could be as brilliant as it could be dimwittedly wasteful, a side that would require our full attention.

Or at least Messi’s attention. That first goal was so many things. Yes, it was brilliant, spectacular, whatever superlative you want to throw at it. It was also a goal that we’ve seen before, Messi running with the ball across the face of goal, leaving defenders in his wake, only to blast a shot past the keeper off the dead run.

But what I love is that is was also a goal made possible by his recent passing displays. In the past, it was simple: When Messi got the ball, you played him for the run and blocked all his shooting angles. Now, with Villa running free, Pedro!! as a threat and Alves loose in the box, there is just as much danger of Messi making the pass that kills you, because he doesn’t care how the goals are scored, only that his club wins. It’s that moment of hesitation that allows him the space to get that shot off. And to continue with the Michael Jordan analogies, when Jordan developed a fadeaway jump shot, people said that was when he officially became unplayable. Play him for the drive, he drops in the jumper. Play him tight to prevent the shot, and he does the baseline drive. So it is with Messi, who has become unplayable by a defense.

Worse still, because of the shooting ability, the keeper doesn’t know what to do as Messi crosses his T like a man-o-war. Play him for the against-the-grain shot and he goes near post. Play him for that, and he slingshots you. Hampering the decision making process is the fact that he shoots off the dead run, with minimal backswing for maximum velocity.

Give Alves credit for kick-starting that goal when he saw there was a space for Messi to run into, and just played the ball into that space. When this happens, it requires incredible defensive discipline not to chase the ball, to have one of those “Holycraphehastheballrightfreakingherenowwhat” moments, that make you chase the ball. When that happens, it’s all over. There were six defenders in the frame, and he destroyed them all, causing two to run into each other as he went across the grain to beat an exceptional keeper in David De Gea.

At 1-0, the match was effectively over, because our possession game was working in a way that accounted for the off days of Xavi and Busquets. Guardiola was right in that play such as that turned in today will get us beaten by better sides in the league, such as EE. There were wayward passes, loose possession and defensive glitches that allowed Atletico opportunities. But as usual, there was Abidal.

But even without an omnipresent defender, there is the mental defense that teams play against themselves, the voice that says “We aren’t going to get this ball very much today, so we have to do something with it right now, like.” And they rush. Shots aren’t placed as they should be, finishing isn’t as clinical as it would be against a lesser side, because the psychological pressure is intense. So you get a half chance that is parried away, and we resume the possession game, passing the ball around in simple-but-intricate little triangles of elegance, shapes that slide the ball toward the opposing goal until suddenly, a wolf is baying at the door.

So Messi runs, slips a deft, safe pass to Pedro!! who understands exactly what to do when he pauses to allow the defense a bit of time to panic, then feeds Villa who, almost in the same breath gives the ball to Messi. Now it’s here that things get a little complicated because Villa’s pass wasn’t the best, and the Atleti defender knew exactly what was going on, and was able to get in the way of the pass. But Messi seemingly accounted for the fact that because nobody in the world has a touch like a Barca player except another Barca player, the ball was going to come off of the defender. So he kept working and running, and that’s exactly what happened as Messi pounced on the loose touch and banged in his second goal of the match.

Fun Fact (thanks Phil Schoen for the call-out): Only 3 teams in European football have scored more goals than Messi/P!!/Villa.

Pursuant to that fact, because we’re scoring 3 or more goals per match these days, you knew there would be more to come, and you were right. And the goals became increasingly gritty as the match progressed, this third goal coming off a slightly too-hard Messi feed for Villa, whose first touch was a bit akimbo, resulting in a sliding effort that not only took out De Gea, but set up a battle between Messi and a defender and his touch, that was again, won by Messi, who bundled the ball into the net for his hat trick.

Pere Punti/El Mundo Deportivo

And that was that. Curiously, in a dominant display I found myself thinking of Fran Merida and Filipe Luis, and what they must be thinking. The former left our Masia for Arsenal, a la Cesc Fabregas, and the latter was thisclose to signing with us, only to be undone by a greedy club president, who was stunned when we in fact moved on to another player. Merida’s decision to leave La Masia was a sound one. He has yet to evince the world-class talent that would have assured him a spot with the club. Then again, who knows what a nurturing in the system would have accomplished? Filipe Luis would have certainly been our backup left back behind Abidal.

As it is, both were on the receiving end of a shellacking from a team that has played better matches, yet was still able to win at a canter. After the second goal today, I threw up my hands, slammed my pen down on the table and walked away from the television. I just found that goal profoundly absurd, because while some would say that it was luck that found the ball in Messi’s path, I think it was luck, anticipation and effort. When you combine those three things with immense talent, sometimes you just have to say “Lordy!” and walk away, shaking your head.

Team: 7. Been better, been worse. More than good enough today, but you could see the incidents that had Guardiola hurling admonitions like Zeusian thunderbolts, post-match. The acres of space on the right side for Atletico to play into was particularly worrisome.

Guardiola: 8. Strong, motivated lineup that took care of business. It’s easy to say that it’s a no-brainer to pencil Messi’s name onto the starters sheet, right? But he does an exceptional job at having the side ready to play almost every match, as it continues its march into history.

Valdes: 6. Didn’t have a lot to do. A couple of saves, a few wayward clearances and a huge thank you for Abidal and Pique, who helped him take another step toward another Zamora for stingiest keeper.

Alves: 7. Exceptional and frustrating, as I marveled at his passing, work rate, aggression and interplay with Messi, even as I wondered at times if we had a right back playing defense at all. His comments about staying with the club were encouraging. So do the deal and let’s continue the magic.

Pique: 6. The play on the line was immense, amazing and heartbreaking for Atletico, who did everything right (or so they thought) in a play that would be a goal against any other team on the planet. More defensive than offensive today, as he understood the Aguero danger, even as he got skinned on more than one occasion.

Abidal: 9. A couple moments of uncertainty kept him from perfection, but what a match, from a man who still makes me wonder why anyone had doubts about him as a central defender. I dare say that if we had an Abidal clone for the left back slot rather than Maxwell, Puyol might have to look in the rear-view mirror.

Maxwell: 4. Some good, mostly mediocre today. He seemed either tired or lazy at various points, trotting rather than running, or not busting his hump to cover for an error of his. He should be worshiping the ground that Abidal walks on. His side of the pitch was marked “Open for business,” and Atletico took full advantage of him getting caught up the pitch, time and again.

Busquets: 6. Too many Bad Busi moments for me to be entirely comfortable with. Yes, he either bailed himself out or was bailed out. Still can’t figure out why he doesn’t realize that he’s best as a one-touch player. Just keep the ball moving, please.

Xavi: 6. Off song today, for whatever reason. You could see him berating himself as he missed passes that are usually automatic with him. One characteristic of his off days is a tendency to play with the ball too much, as if touching it would bring back his touch. Interesting.

Iniesta: 7. Not at his absolute best, in part thanks to the Atletico defense and a hearty round of Iniestabuse, but a more than solid match with moments of great beauty and control. He really is a sensational player, who I still say gets fouled because defenders just say “That’s enough of that!”

Messi: 8. Not at his absolute best, but the most influential player on the pitch by a wide margin. A true game-changer with goals, passing and defense.

Pedro!!: 6. A stat-stuffer day. His sixth sense for where the ball is going to end up was off today, and his consecutive match scoring streak is broken, but just barely. Even when his offense isn’t on, P!! is a constant thorn in the side of opposing clubs with his incessant motion and harassing play at both ends.

Villa: 4. The off-song patch continues, even as he involves himself in the offense in ways that are sufficient to make it better, usually by being a threat. Defenses never say “Yeah, but Villa’s playing like crap. Watch the little guy.” You can’t, or he will convert some of those passes. Today, he looked like a player still learning to fit into our intricate attack.

Substitutes

Keita (for Iniesta): 6. Headed toward a higher score for sure as increasingly, he is the first sub because of his work rate, willingness to absorb contact to keep the offense moving and sheer physicality. Nothing like he and Busquets to shut a midfield down.

Afellay (for Xavi): incomplete. Not enough time, but note two moments of sheer delight: he poked the ball up the wing, and left an Atletico defender for dead, before laying in a cross that deserved better; he made a run at the defense, didn’t see anything and fed the ball backward, to reset. How many young players will go ahead and just blast a shot at goal?

Krkic: (for Pedro!!): incomplete. Entered the match, and vanished without a trace.

Hats off to new voice Linda Hui, who was at today’s match. We’ll be expecting a full match report, upon her return. Meanwhile,


“My ball my world.”

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

219 Comments

  1. blaunero
    February 6, 2011

    I might be the only person to say this, and I expect nothing less than crucifixion for it, but I actually didn’t like the way we played–not at all. Too chaotic in midfield, not sharp in attack, and sloppy on the wings. Maybe our customary February crisis has begun? Thankfully Atletico is not the team they were last year, for they would have probably beaten us today. Anyway, Abidal was man of the match, no doubt about it. The guy was a beast.
    I can’t help but wonder why on Earth Quique S.F. chose to play without Forlan for the entire first half. I guess he tried to strengthen his flanks but as seen on the second half Forlan is essential to their type of game.
    Records mean nothing if we don’t win anything, and nobody has won anything in February in any case. All the pretty football we’ve played thus far won’t be remembered if we become arrogant and lose it all.

    • They were not sharp in this match, absolutely agreed. But then that could be due to opponents attitude. From the begining it was clear that Atletico wasn’t going to trouble us that much. That’s the reason we barely got into thrid gear, forget fifth.

    • Barcathegreatestever
      February 6, 2011

      I can’t agree only because the match was conceded from the off, no intensity at all. Iniesta Alves Messi and Villa killed them in the first 5 minutes, goals were only a matter of time. 80% possession is ridiculous. you can’t get that in an attacking drill 6 on 4. That said, Pedro did little and actually hurt Barca’s width and Maxwell offers little going forward also.

  2. Bman
    February 6, 2011

    Your analysis was great, but the ratings were odd. Villa was good; he set up the second and third goals, with the latter requiring a great effort from him to slide tackle the ball towards goal. Pedro was invisible, with his first weak performance in over a month. I’d have thought their ratings would be reversed. Xavi’s passing was fine, with some great long passes. While he was too reluctant to play through balls, his possession was good.

    • Barcathegreatestever
      February 6, 2011

      Fully agree. Pedro is a poacher and had little to do with the attack while Villa was involved throughout and directly involved with 2 goals.

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        February 6, 2011

        I agree, for me, Villa played better than P!!
        He set up goals, his long shot was close too…
        I didnt see much from P!! last night…

        and if Abi gets a 9, then Messi is 9 too, even 10…
        His run to steal the ball from Kun is the moment of the match… ๐Ÿ˜€

        and Piquรฉ is 7 or 8, I think…
        He done his job, and made a crucial save with his head…

      • Jose
        February 6, 2011

        I disagree with BarcaTGE simply because gross misuse of the term “sour grapes” is one of my pet peeves.

        ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Barcathegreatestever
    February 6, 2011

    Abidal can’t score higher than Messi when he scores 3 goals and Barca has the ball a full 80% of the game.

    • BTTFCule
      February 6, 2011

      You can respectfully disagree with the ratings.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      February 6, 2011

      Just explain why you disagree and open a discussion, in a respectful way…

    • Vj
      February 6, 2011

      Ever wonder why we had 80% possession even when the attack was spraying balls left, right and center?

      Abidal was outstanding yesterday, fully deserved a 9, Messi was sleepwalking a full 20% of the game.. I could go on and on..

  4. Jnice
    February 6, 2011

    In the end we were comfortable, but there was a 15-20 minute stretch in the 2nd half, in which I thought we looked poor. I was nervous they would make it 2-1 and they almost did were it not for Pique. We kept gifting away possession and it took us awhile to adapt to Atleti’s change in approach. I’m sure Euler has more on that.

    Besides that passage of play, I don’t really have any complaints.

    And Abidal is a monster at center back, but I still hope Puyol will be fit to play against Arsenal because after what I’ve seen today from Maxwell, I find it difficult to see how he will deal with Arsenal’s pace. Defensively, he always looks like he is a step behind and I don’t like that. I don’t want to see a repeat of what Walcott did to him in the 1st leg last year.

    • Jnice
      February 6, 2011

      And that whole attacking aspect Maxwell supposedly brings to the table, I don’t see it. Haven’t for awhile now. Rather have Abidal’s flat hard crosses, than Maxwell’s wishful floaters.

      • Jim
        February 6, 2011

        I agree with you on the lack of proper offence, Jnice. It’s my biggest gripe with Maxwell but because I think he could be very good at doing that. Haven’t noticed the floaters as you call them. I think he is quite thoughtful about the sort of ball he puts in, as last night when he put the cross onto Messi’s head and only a real world class save stopped a goal. Let’s face it you have to be pretty good to pick him out in a box – and what a leap by the wee man ๐Ÿ™‚

      • poipoi
        February 6, 2011

        Maxwell is soft ๐Ÿ˜‰ seriously, titi style lol

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      February 6, 2011

      yes, the midfield was messy…
      that’s why Pep said if they play like that in the Cup final, we’ll lose…

      this team is just absurd, unreal…
      they win 3-0 in their “off” day…

  5. jnelson
    February 6, 2011

    I am so tired of reading comments about how Kxevin hates Villa/Bojan/Ibra/Somebody’s Momma. When is enough, ENOUGH? please…if you disagree with a rating just state your case, but stop claiming it is a personal dislike with the reviewer. Why don’t you post your own review in the comments.

    Great match today!
    Abidal is a FULL-ON BEAST!!!! I am stunned every week by his positioning, defense, short passes, ball control, and (today!) long passes and switches. Those passes were quick! I am dumbfounded how people don’t even consider him among the best defenders in the world, let alone LB (now CB). As a HUGE doubter of his playing at CB since the WC and preseason, I have now gained so much respect for this player completely proving me wrong. (Hope that’s not a jinx).

    • Barcathegreatestever
      February 6, 2011

      The entire article is about Messi causing headshaking and mutterings as he blah, blah blahs everybody into submission, then the ratings make no sense.

      • Jose
        February 6, 2011

        The ratings are unique for each player. An Alves 6 is not the same as a Pedro 6. They are useful, really, to compare individual player’s performances across matches, not to compare players to each other.

        You need to understand the subtle distinction. It might save Kxevin some grief!

        • Barcathegreatestever
          February 6, 2011

          Well if the logic supporting these ratings is clear and consistent then there would be no controversy or room for confusion.

          I’m choosing to support in this case Villa who is making a huge impact this season and this game and who is consistently underrated.

          • Jose
            February 6, 2011

            “Get your head examined mate” @00:23

            “Iโ€™m not being malicious at all” @01:49

      • Barcathegreatestever
        February 6, 2011

        The problem with Abidal at centerback is that he is irreplaceable at leftback; especially the EPL teams do much of their attacking through that flank. Insert Jnices comment about Walcott. Who better at the point of attack. Remember Puyol Pique Ya ya and Abidal?

    • mei
      February 6, 2011

      Hey, just forget about it.
      Ignore this kind of comments thats the best option.

  6. BarcaGirl_Indo
    February 6, 2011

    if we somehow can clone King Abidal, one for CB, one for LB…
    then either Puyol or Pique will sit on the bench…

    I hope our Captain Caveman will recover soon for clash against Arsenal…

    btw, Piquรฉ’s goal line save reminds me on Luis Suarez’ save, only this time, Geri used his head, not his hand…

  7. beeeef
    February 6, 2011

    i don’t know why some people get so worked up over player ratings at all. i hardly even look/notice them. the written analysis is what’s worth paying attention too. 7, 8, or 9, whatever man.

    • Ryan
      February 6, 2011

      I wonder if Pique is confused by the “Be a Pro” option in the Fifa games, hehe.

    • mei
      February 6, 2011

      messi comes sneaking behind him. He really wants to play all the time , even virtual soccer!

      • BA
        February 6, 2011

        am i alone, or is Marta super cute?

        what’s goin on there.

  8. barca96
    February 6, 2011

    I actually thought that Felipe Luis gifted us the 1st goal. Really!
    He is clearly still in love with us. He purposely bumped into one of his own team mates to give Messi some space to shoot.

    I’m really sick of Maxwell! Such a lazy player. He keeps on making mistakes and the worst part is, he doesn’t even try to chase the ball back!! These kind of mistakes are only done in primary school! How, how lucky is he to be still in the line-up match after match. Either Adriano is really poor or he really is good but only in practice.

    IF Messi didn’t score a hattrick, Abidal would be my Man of the Match!

    I don’t know how Pedro got a higher rating than Villa who was a threat through out the match. Pedro was really quiet today. So unlike him.

    Kxev, last time you argued that an attacker’s job is to score goals. You said that after I criticized you for giving Villa a low rating even after he worked his socks off, defending, hustling. But you argued that you will give not give points for those things.
    But now, you give Pedro quite a high rating for the exact same reason that I asked you to credit Villa for.

    I really think we will suffer after the international break. For the past 3 matches, we didn’t look that sharp. Some of the key players look tired.
    And now, international break to break up their rythmm.

    WHy on earth didn’t Pep take Messi out after the 3rd goal???!!!
    He still doesn’t want to learn from the past mistakes! And it was against the same team! Im so mad at Pep for not protecting Messi enough. And Messi would’ve gotten a standing ovation.

    Messi is really one of the best human being on earth. Before the match started, he shook hands and smiled at Ujfalufsi! And the same in the end. Pure CLASS! I love him to death!! God, please take a good care of Messi. Please….

    • February 6, 2011

      A 6 isn’t high. And Pedro!! isn’t a striker. Villa is. And I never said that I wouldn’t allow for player effort in ratings. That would leave out a great many players. Each player’s rating is an aggregate of his whole match performance. Watch the match again, and how Villa is standing around, or walking while Pedro!! is harassing defenders, chasing the ball and helping with possession. It’s quite a difference. Yes, Villa does run, hustle and make a serious, all-pitch effort. This wasn’t one of those matches.

  9. barca96
    February 6, 2011

    Oh, and someone really got his prediction almost right and for the exact same reason. Oh it was Olefestus.

    “I fear DAVID DE GEA,that boy is wonderful,if we dont score more than 2,he is the reason”.

    How close was he? ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Barcathegreatestever
    February 6, 2011

    Please accept my apology to those offended for my lack of sensitivities; I realize the rating issue is very delicate and we must tiptoe around the subject though the logic allows for spontaneous generation. Maybe I’m the one who should have their head examined. Goodnight,

    • Jose
      February 6, 2011

      You shouldn’t apologize for criticizing Kxevin’s ratings.

      You should apologize for being an ass.

    • Nav
      February 6, 2011

      Jeez man, you don’t agree with the ratings, we get it. Settle down. No one’s offended, it’s just a pain in the arse to read you harping on about how you don’t agree. Write your own review and we’ll have a discussion, but please stop this whinging.

    • vicsoc
      February 6, 2011

      The ratings should cause discussion, people will have differing opinions about what a player deserved, and discussions about why a player deserved a different rating can be informative and interesting.

      However, you have made no attempt to discuss, only to attack Kxevin. You have also made no true argument about why Villa deserves a better score.

      We believe in respecting the other people that use this blog. Verbally attacking any other the posters or commentators is immature and not appreciated. Form a coherent argument and come back, and then we can discuss the issue like civilized people.

  11. February 6, 2011

    Its fun/interesting to see the similarities that happen in each blog. I thought it was only the Real Madrid offside blog that had people going around nagging about why Ronaldo didn’t get half a point more or why Higuain got half a point more than Ronaldo. Clearly Ronaldos looks should have given him the advantage. Right? RIGHT?.

    I used to write reviews, not as good as Kxevins obviously, but rather in the same format. I got a couple of hate emails for my ratings, specifically from email addressed called: Ronaldo_gel_supplier@blahblah.com and ronaldo_is_cooler_than_your_mom@blahblah.com. So I stopped them. I kept the player description but stopped the player ratings. Have you thought of doing that Kxevin? Its not about surrendering to the aimless people that rant on and on, but rather because more people will bother to read the description under the player rating, which essentially, is what matters most. I would much rather see people commenting on how the players played rather than just giving them a random number.

    Congrats are in order of course, its not everyday that a record is broken. I myself am a skeptic when it comes to records and titles. All this, best team in the world, best football ever played, best player in the world, best team in history. I find it really meaningless. Mind you i say that not because my team isn’t winning titles or breaking records, as when they were, i was saying that as well. But i just find it a bit vague when you compare a team playing right now to one that played 50 years from now. This is further exemplified by the fact that this sport evolved soo much in that time. Did you ever imagine coming midway through the season and you have two players with 20+ goals? Never!

    Nonetheless, i dont want to sound like im bitter, i really am not. I am a fan of football after all and i like being part of historic moments. It makes me look forward to the future and think how i would tell my kids about the old days. Im still 21 though so by that time i’m hoping i have more of Real Madrid to talk about ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I also have a question about Villa and his position on the field right now. If I’m not mistaken, Messi is playing as a false 9 with Villa playing as that inside forward that plays on the left wing. Am i correct in this or am i off by a land slide?

    Anyways, once again I’ve managed to ramble on for long. Nice write up at usual Kxev, and once again, congrats.

    oh ya, Hala Madrid ๐Ÿ˜€

  12. Olufestus
    February 6, 2011

    Yes,barca96, remembered that point blank save from MESSI’s header?

    • Ryan
      February 6, 2011

      Perhaps you had included two links in your post? I think only one link can be posted without moderation, unless you add a special character to the front of the links.

  13. February 6, 2011

    Its fun/interesting to see the similarities that happen in each blog. I thought it was only the Real Madrid offside blog that had people going around nagging about why Ronaldo didnโ€™t get half a point more or why Higuain got half a point more than Ronaldo. Clearly Ronaldos looks should have given him the advantage. Right? RIGHT?.

    I used to write reviews, not as good as Kxevins obviously, but rather in the same format. I got a couple of hate emails for my ratings, specifically from email addressed called: Ronaldo_gel_supplierLat}blahblah{dot}com and ronaldo_is_cooler_than_your_momLat}blahblah{dot}com. So I stopped them. I kept the player description but stopped the player ratings. Have you thought of doing that Kxevin? Its not about surrendering to the aimless people that rant on and on, but rather because more people will bother to read the description under the player rating, which essentially, is what matters most. I would much rather see people commenting on how the players played rather than just giving them a random number.

    Congrats are in order of course, its not everyday that a record is broken. I myself am a skeptic when it comes to records and titles. All this, best team in the world, best football ever played, best player in the world, best team in history. I find it really meaningless. Mind you i say that not because my team isnโ€™t winning titles or breaking records, as when they were, i was saying that as well. But i just find it a bit vague when you compare a team playing right now to one that played 50 years from now. This is further exemplified by the fact that this sport evolved soo much in that time. Did you ever imagine coming midway through the season and you have two players with 20+ goals? Never!

    Nonetheless, i dont want to sound like im bitter, i really am not. I am a fan of football after all and i like being part of historic moments. It makes me look forward to the future and think how i would tell my kids about the old days. Im still 21 though so by that time iโ€™m hoping i have more of Real Madrid to talk about

    I also have a question about Villa and his position on the field right now. If Iโ€™m not mistaken, Messi is playing as a false 9 with Villa playing as that inside forward that plays on the left wing. Am i correct in this or am i off by a land slide?

    Anyways, once again Iโ€™ve managed to ramble on for long. Nice write up at usual Kxev, and once again, congrats.

    oh ya, Hala Madrid

    thanks Rayan for the tip!

    • outerspacedout
      February 6, 2011

      I thought you’d be much older, like 26 or so. You’re only a couple years older than me, and around the same age as a lot of people in here like I think Kari etc.

      It’s always nice to see your visits over here. As for Villa’s position yes he plays on the left, with Messi as a false 9.

      I sincerely doubt that you can be serious about getting an e-mail from the likes of Ronaldos_gel_supplier@something.com. LOL hahahahahaha.

      Madrid will have their moments. Sooner or later they’re going to plump for stability, inevitably- ten coaches in the past seven years, building every season from scratch, and so on is gonna piss the people there off sooner or later (hopefully later). Someone will eventually draw the link between stability and success, and get irritated enough to call out the current way of doing things and go all ‘back to our roots’, ‘history’ etc etc, and implement a stable way of building up success. Then we’ll go back to cycles of Barca dominance, Real dominance, and other clubs peaking, unlike now where a cycle of super Barca peak has been closely followed and matched by a cycle of Real excellence-but-just-not-enough-for-titles high.

      Phil Ball talks a lot about how Spanish football has always worked in cycles, with a Barca up coinciding with a Real down and vice versa, and how this is the first time where both are on an up. Does that mean that as our ‘up’ winds down Real will have a period of success, or that both of our ups, though different in magnitude, will wind down and a club like Villareal or Valencia will be taking advantage of the lull to win titles? I don’t know. But this Barca success won’t last forever- hopefully it will last as long as possible, with Messi Pique Valdes Busquets Iniesta Afellay Pedro and Fontas Thiago etc all still young enough to be at top level for another six or seven years at least, its possible- and Madrid’s instability will not last forever either, people will inevitably get pissed eventually- hopefully that will take time too.

      • February 6, 2011

        shushhhhhhh! Kari doesn’t want to reveal her true age.

        I think Villa on the left reduces his effectiveness as a goal scorer while it increases Messi’s effectiveness.

        As for the cycles, i do understand. And i have witnessed those cycles go around. Even to a time were it was Super depor and Valencia leading the race (my friend had all the seasons from 1998 till 2004 taped). Plus i wouldn’t say Real Madrid are on a low. Maybe in comparison to Barca they are, but thats probably because Barca are on a non precedented high.

        • outerspacedout
          February 6, 2011

          Yeah that’s what I said. Usually when one side is on a high the other is on a low, but this time both sides are on an up phase with Barca’s up being bigger.

          I said

          ‘Unlike now where a cycle of super Barca peak has been closely followed and matched by a cycle of Real excellence-but-just-not-enough-for-titles high.’

          and

          ‘Phil Ball talks a lot about how Spanish football has always worked in cycles, with a Barca up coinciding with a Real down and vice versa, and how this is the first time where both are on an up. Does that mean that as our โ€˜upโ€™ winds down Real will have a period of success, or that both of our ups, though different in magnitude, will wind down and a club like Villareal or Valencia will be taking advantage of the lull to win titles? I donโ€™t know.’

          That’s the question, of course. The next phase in our cycle will be ‘winding down’, hopefully after a long period of dominance. What’s the next phase in the Madrid cycle? Winding down along with us or a year or two after us, creating a lull in the two superpowers which other La Liga clubs will exploit, or getting higher coinciding with our down-cycle?

    • Jim
      February 6, 2011

      You may have a point about the ratings, Bassam. I seldom disagree with Kxevin’s analysis of the game or even a player’s general performance but I feel the blood pressure rising when I get to the ratings which is silly as they are subjective. ๐Ÿ™‚

      With regard to “best team ever” it is difficult to compare but it wouldn’t be fair to this amazing team we are privileged to have just now to accept that the great RM team or AC Milan were the best ever without at least putting this one forward. When you do that you only have stats as evidence and even that is tainted as there is no doubt that teams are fitter than they were, are technically better (when you consider all the positions rather than three or four ) than they were etc. The real test will be as I’m sure you agree, where they are when this era finishes, as it must. That’s also why I can’t see Pep leaving anytime soon. You can’t give up this chance to become a legend in football.

    • mei
      February 6, 2011

      Well I think you were wrong to stop the ratings.
      If you werent receiving hate mail , then you would be certain that you were doing something terribly wrong ; Hate comments are inevitable when you are adressing a wide audience ๐Ÿ˜‰ .
      And numbers cant eliminate the discussion , or attract all of it to them ; Even if someone skips the review and just takes a glance at the numbers, since the discussion will be based on what happened in the match, and whether the description slotted in the review is representative of what happened , he will be forced to read it(if he wants to participate in the conversation).
      Villa usually occupies the left side but its not really written in stone. Messi moves around much , like last night , and forces players to switch positions if they havent done so anyway.(there have been occasions that villa was stationed in the centre and in the right -seldomly. )

  14. February 6, 2011

    That’s it. “my ball my world” Abidal owns it all, if not Messi.
    ๐Ÿ˜›

    Cheers, thanks for the review, Kxevin.

  15. merge
    February 6, 2011

    I enjoy each and every one of your reviews, Kxevin (ratings or not), thanks!

    I’m under the impression that this team is weaving its own legend, day by day, and that the opposition have to fight against a 12th player: BARร‡A’s name. Even in a not-so-good a match they deliver a 3-0 hammering. WOAH!

    Alves is receiving a lot of help from Pedro defending the right flank; both of them can appear everywhere along the line. Do you think this could be one of the reasons (apart from Maxwell’s weaknesses and king Eric moved to central positions) why our left flank looks more vulnerable?

    • February 6, 2011

      Definitely, IMO. Pedro!! works so hard for the whole of the 90 minutes, tracking back, doing all the hard work… Villa does it too, but he doesn’t have the same work-rate as Pedro!!.

  16. Extreme barca fan
    February 6, 2011

    Good review kevin, thank you
    I’m a very very happy person, we won, with a clean sheet, we broke a 50 year old record, and after such an amzing run,in any other league we might have a 20 point lead over our nearest rival, but sadly its only 10 and might be 7 after tonight’s round of games.
    Also all the evil teams lost yesterday, Espanyol, bayern munich and man united. wow what a day what a day.

  17. stowe
    February 6, 2011

    Great Review Kev. Thanks for the hardwork. Do you take notes during your first review (you said you threw down your pen)? If so, that’s commitment to the blog.
    I was sad to see that Pedro didn’t score. I really wanted him to set/tie a record. That kid needs to be recognized.

  18. Diego
    February 6, 2011

    I’m going to give a brief account on the recent events in Egypt. I don’t want to bore you, so I’ll keep this as short as possible. Anyone who has been following the situation or wants to understand certain things, I’m willing to answer your questions.

    Mubarak has been our president for the last 30 years, He’s a war hero. In his most recent term as president (Starting at 2005), The government was terribly bad, People were suffering from Corruption, Police Brutality, Unemployment, and Public Money Theft.

    After the Tunisian Revolution, People in Egypt started sending invitations on Facebook that we’ll go out and protest on Jan the 25th. Numbers on that day weren’t that much but people agreed to go out again on Friday the 28th (Our weekend), More People went out and started protesting, The Minister of Interior withdrawed the Police force from the streets, Ordered them to open the Prisons, That’s when the Looting and Vandalism started.

    Cars were going both ways in One way streets, Theft was everywhere. People took matters into their own hands, All the men went out in their Neighborhood, Forming Road Blocks, searching cars, carrying various weapons (Tasers, Swords, 2 by 4s, and Guns), Arresting who we can and tie him. The Army got out in the streets to apply Curfew. We gave the criminals to the Army. We stayed from 8pm till 8am protecting the streets. Nothing Major happened in my Neighborhood, Some of my friends were injured during a shooting. We continued that way till yesterday.

    Mubarak stated that he removed the government and he’ll hire new ministers in whom people trust. And so he did, Protests continued demanding him to leave, Protests continued from Friday till Monday. Monday evening, He came out saying a very emotional speech on how he fought for this country and he’ll die on Egyptian Soil, He’ll not enter the next elections (In August this year).

    Thursday, Supporters (they say he deserves to stay the 6 months and go out with dignity) had a clash with protesters (they want him gone now).

    From Thursday till now, Everyday we read Official News of Arresting former corrupt ministers and freezing their accounts, changing the constitution, appointing a vice president. All Opposing forces went to negotiate to gain as much ground as they can. People who started the revolution (The Youth) are still in El Tahrir Square since they have no leader and don’t want to negotiate and he refuses to leave now. Normal life is going back on track slowly.

    I donated blood, My dad’s phone was stolen during the Chaos, National TV channels were living in Denial while Al Jazeera was greatly exaggerating.

      • Diego
        February 6, 2011

        Yes, Thank God.

        Are you really going to witness the Epic Battle between TB and La Pulga ? ๐Ÿ˜€

        • outerspacedout
          February 6, 2011

          You mean the Epic Ownage right?

          • Eklavya
            February 6, 2011

            Yeah, Diego I’m so excited! Messi and Thong Boy in my first match ever! ๐Ÿ˜€

            I got the tickets only this Saturday and the match is on Wednesday so the seats aren’t that great but It doesn’t matter much as long as I see Messi.

            I’ll also hopefully see them at the airport (or at a training center) with some luck, although I’m pretty skeptic.

    • mei
      February 6, 2011

      You asked for it!Since its usually the first news broadcasted over here i got some questions:
      1) Is mubarak a dictator?
      2) Worldwide media were clearly stating that supporters were in fact , in their majority police without the uniforms , that intended to create a danger situation to kill off the protest. Is that so?

      • Diego
        February 6, 2011

        1) People who opposed him in Public or questioned his integrity in the Media got arrested, People who focused on their lives and avoided the previous are not arrested or hassled. Judge by Yourself.

        2) Supporters were mostly kind poor people who want their normal lives back, Some Supporters were people used by Parliament Members (People are demanding releasing the current Parliament and voting for a new one), These Parliament Members are only 2 months old in the Parliament so they’re afraid they’ll lose their places so they tried to end the protests.

        *I don’t think it’s Police, The President at Night would be talking all sweet and next day attack people in Public in front of the world media. Then Again, It could be. No one knows for sure.

    • outerspacedout
      February 6, 2011

      I have a feeling that getting news from any media stations is invariably inaccurate. Like here in Maldives, all the BS goes on and all the crap the government does never makes it onto the news, the only thing that makes it onto the news ie. which people hear, are how the current government is so committed to democracy and the current president is so much for human rights and justice and the environment and crap.

      So we see our president talked about as some great leader and getting awards and people talking all that about my country now, cos who can blame them, that’s all that they’d know isn’t it. The Newsweek people and the awards-givers don’t live here, from what they see as in the news and media they are sure that it is a hero and all that. I am rambling a little, but my point is that as much as we could watch Al Jazeera and the like over here, like you said it might as well be hugely exaggerating, or other news stations could be telling it wrong or whatever, and the only way people outside can really know what a place is like is from people who live there. (Note to other people on the blog: you can’t really judge situations in places through the media, from revolutions or events to how good a certain government is or how oppressive another government is, even when they show live footage or eyewitnesses or whatever cos media often pick and choose the people who talk, and even international media that tries to be objective will usually only be able to reach a certain places or certain peoples ie. people with opinions that are not always representative- this goes to South America or the Middle East- yes- or Asia or wherever). And it’s great to hear what actually happens and what actually went on.

      So I’m assuming (of course lol) that you guys finally got your internet back. Were you in Cairo? I have some friends I used to go to school with in Malaysia, who go to university in Alexandria now. Haven’t been able to contact them. Was Alexandria going through the mass protests too, or was it mostly Cairo?

      • Diego
        February 6, 2011

        Our Internet was disconnected from Friday 28th Jan till Tuesday. I don’t live in Cairo, Alexandria was going through the mass protests too, Same here, but They weren’t under the spotlight. It’s probably the same fraction of the population of each city that went out (Here only 5 or 6 thousand went out). Try to connect them now.

      • Diego
        February 6, 2011

        I have a friend studying at Universiti Teknologi Petronas, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

        • outerspacedout
          February 6, 2011

          My friends were studying in the International Islamic University or it’s school there. The family went to Egypt a year or so ago if I remember correctly, maybe two years. I’ll leave em a Facebook wall post.

          • BA
            February 6, 2011

            we wish you well Diego, stay safe and best of luck. you young Egyptians should know you’ve got millions of people with you right now in spirit.

    • Eklavya
      February 6, 2011

      Random, but I find the tune of the protestors’ protests rather catchy.

    • blitzen
      February 6, 2011

      Thanks for the update, Diego. It’s good to hear from someone on the spot who doesn’t have an agenda to pursue.

      Stay safe.

    • February 7, 2011

      thanks for sharing this, really.
      i think you gave a really clear description of facts so that people like me who couldn’t follow the matter so closely would see the picture clearly.

  19. outerspacedout
    February 6, 2011

    I just heard the first part of Justin Timberlake’s ‘Cry Me A River’ for the first time in a while. It goes ‘EEEE EEEEEE EEE EEEEEE… EEEEE EEE EEEEE EEEE… EEE EEE’. I found it really funny.

    Yeah I think I’m just weird.

  20. Jim
    February 6, 2011

    Ok, just finished rewatching – my little treat to myself every Sunday morning.

    First of all, I can’t understand the criticism of the team. Think about how you felt going into this game. There were more than a few round here proclaiming nerves about this one because Atleti usually raise their game against us. They were never in it – like so many sides we have played this season. The reason this week may have been slightly less brilliance and slightly more hard work but hey that’s fine too, isn’t it? Or have we become so spoiled that if any of our eleven turn up and put in less than a perfect performance that’s immediately unsatisfactory. This team work like dogs for each other, without exception. If that weren’t the case they’d be on the bench in a blink as there are great players there like Keita, Masch etc who are sitting week after week.

    I posted above that I usually agree with the thoughts but not always the numbers in the reviews. I understand the way you compile the ratings, Kxevin, and that’s as good as any other way of doing it. It’s certainly very difficult comparing different jobs on the pitch to each other. What I would say is that I think we are in danger of underestimating what Pique brings week after week to the side. Maxwell had a very careless game, losing a few balls and really offering nothing on offense. I’m not going to defend him this week. This is becoming an issue for me as he often gets the ball early, controls it superbly then stands rather than occasionally running at the defence to commit them. It’s too easy just to play it back every time. He was also skinned a couple of times by Aguero and I do worry about Walcott getting him in a straight run. However, now that you all have downloads of that match thanks to sterling efforts on this blog, why not go back to the Emirates match and actually watch what happened rather than perpetuating a myth that somehow Walcott had Maxwell on toast? Come back and tell me how often he beat Maxwell one on one or how often Maxwell cost us. The only incident i can see is the goal where we lost the ball unexpectedly and needlessly in midfield and Maxwell was caught with the quick ball inside him which Puyol could have been alive to. Think back to the last time Maxwell even cost us the chance of losing a goal. When was that? Imo, his positioning at LB is excellent. He is one clever player on the pitch.

    Can I point out here that Abidal, who had a great match, was also skinned by Aguero at least twice in the first half but unlike Pique that wasn’t mentioned? first on the touchline where aguero put the ball past him and he blocked him for a foul and then In the incident where Aguero slalommed through us (41:30) he waltzed past Abidal only to be halted by Maxwell’s tackle as he came across to cover for Abidal allowing him to finally clear it. Be careful what you wish for in terms of how Abidal will cope with Walcott. I’ll say it now. I’d rather have Abidal than Maxwell at LB for the Arsenal match because of pace but Abidal is not good when wingers run at him.

    In midfield, not Xavi’s best game but without him yesterday we would have struggled. Up front, I thought Villa played well – some lovely touches and a lot of determination in his runs. I’d like to see him relaxing a bit more though. i get the feeling that every goal Messi gets he still regards as a comment on his own performance and it shouldn’t be. He is a vital part of this team going forward. And if anyone is going to be allowed a poorish match it should be Pedro. He’s performing way above my expectations for this season.

    Sorry, long post but the rest of my day will be miserable. I’ve to watch the Celtic Vs Rangers bloodbath in a while where its “spot the amount of times the ball is actually allowed to land on the pitch” and then I’ll have to sneak a look at RM this evening and they surely can’t drop more points?

    • February 6, 2011

      Not every negative moment by every player was mentioned, Jim. Would it make you feel better if I pointed out something negative about Abidal every match? I could do that with every player, but then it becomes a litany of faults. Pique’s getting smoked by Aguero was far more dangerous than Abidal’s was, which made it worthy of note. Further, Pique was lazy and sloppy in clearing the ball, which made it even worse.

      Hope that helps.

      • Jim
        February 6, 2011

        Thanks, Kxevin. I understand that. Just don’t think it’s fair to single out Pique when every one of our defence was skinned by the same player who actually had a great game. Not sure I would agree that Pique’s was worse than when Aguero went past Abidal in the box and Maxwell saved him but I suppose its a close call. Abidal was also sloppy when he took a bad touch coming out of defence in the first half and was fortunate to get a free kick imo. The atletico attacker was through on goal.

        I don’t mean to sound as if I’m always on Abidal’s case. It’s just that sometimes we tend to adopt a hero or zero stance on players, especially in the Liveblog but also in the comments. Abidal’s having a great run in that CB position, playing some of the best football I’ve seen from him, and is doing much better than I thought. I’m happy to acknowledge that. However, he’s not the best LB in the world as you’d think from just reading our blog at times. He wasn’t even mentioned in the FIFA team of the year yet came top of our ratings ahead of 5 or 6 who did get into it. From memory they even squeezed Puyol in at LB ahead of him. That doesn’t mean I don’t rate him. I do. I’ll be more impressed, though, if he comes through a whole game against Arsenal at LB without being caught out of position or skinned by Walcott than I am against a series of defensive sides where most of the defensive work for our CBs is mopping up relatively simple situations.

        Talking of zeroes, you’d think from some of the comments Maxwell was losing us goals every week when nobody has pointed out to me a situation where he even came close to costing us defensively. If you follow a few defensive plays watch his positioning. He is constantly re-assessing and adjusting his position in relation to the CB.

  21. poipoi
    February 6, 2011

    Gotta say sorry for my drunk ass comment sent from my tiny phone in the last post… what that hell did I type?
    game was boring I’d rather see barรงa practicing than playing pathetico. assunรงao can’t play in primera division. atleti is such a pity. this Scottish league is a pity we are too good for this championship, I wanna play arsenal so badly!

      • poipoi
        February 6, 2011

        Same goes for sevilla vs ee in la copa, sevilla HAS to be better than that!

  22. Helge
    February 6, 2011

    I love the last paragraph before the teasm rating.
    My moment of disbelief came when Messi tracked back Aguero, but my reaction was pretty much the same (the pen was missing here).

    Just wanna say that Messi is beyond words. Once again, he could/should have scored one more goal, as it was the case in many of his recent matches.
    And still, he’s got 40 goals and 21 assists to his name in effectively 30 complete matches!!!

    I like the comparison with Michael Jordan, and I agree that Messi deserves an 8, although you heaped so much praise on him. He could have done better, maybe even far better given his potential (that’s gotta sound crazy…).
    Abidal was solid at the back (he got skinned by Kun twice, that’s why I call it solid and not superb), I wonder how come he kind a sucked for France as a CB but rises to new heights in Barcelona?
    Someone said we should clone Abidal, I’d rather transfer his pace to Puyol and Piquรฉ!
    Speaking of Piquรฉ, he’s the only one where my personal rating differs from yours. I think that his block on the line from David Luis’ thunderstrike was crucial, because it came during the best phase of the game from Atleti. After watching the match just once, that header is in my mind, but I don’t remember any bad errors from him. I’d give him a 7. But I’ll watch the match again when my Ray Hudson broadcast download has finished. Maybe I’ll see enough errors to justify a 6, maybe not.

  23. mei
    February 6, 2011

    About the ratings:

    People have to understand that the players set their own standards and are expected by the fans to live up to them.

    Thats why xavi will have an off night when he doenst complete more than 90% of his passes , thats why pedro will seem off if he constantly doesnt track back/pressing forwards during the whole game , thats why pique is perceived as having an “off” season , and thats why abidal will get the stick if he drops his performance levels.
    Be sure of it.
    Messi , last year was labelled as walking the field when he was not pressing much , not working in the false 9 role when he didnt score for a couple of matches.
    Now messi has added to his standard performances tracking back(additionally to the already checked box of pressing when in a forward position), playmaking and assisting.
    If one of these is missing people notice.
    Thats why david villa cant be judged the same as pedro. Villa is an established world class striker above all , when hes getting the chances hes expected to score them.
    The ratings are spot on.

    • Eklavya
      February 6, 2011

      Wow! I hadn’t seen the match! Thanks!

    • Goo
      February 6, 2011

      Really, that video should put an end to that long-winded debate on Messi vs TB.

      In other news, I’m also a girl.

      • soccermomof4
        February 6, 2011

        Do you know what this means, Goo? I now have to do a Barca girls version 4.0. Thank goodness for cut and paste!

      • Extreme barca fan
        February 6, 2011

        Ok i have a confession to make, i’m also a guy, lol

    • soccermomof4
      February 6, 2011

      I could watch that all day and it would never get old!

      • Para
        February 6, 2011

        If we’re all just going to keep updating the Barca girls version, I may as well let you know now that I, too, am female. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Helge
        February 6, 2011

        lol, I slowly start to believe there are more Barca girls than Barca boys on BFB.com ๐Ÿ™‚

        But why is there no Barca girl in my neighbourhood? ๐Ÿ™

        • outerspacedout
          February 6, 2011

          My perfect girl would be Diane Court in a Barcelona jersey.

          (Anyone else here seen Say Anything?)

        • Nav
          February 6, 2011

          There’s actually a Barca girl in my Gym, she tends to wear the 2008/9 away Messi jersey a lot ๐Ÿ˜€

    • outerspacedout
      February 6, 2011

      I hadn’t seen it as well when I first saw the game, but Messi so owned Filipe right after making Aguero his bitch. It was a lovely little trick.

      Don’t get me wrong, I like Aguero a lot and think the guy is world-class. He’d rip it up with any good club that is not as insane as Atletico. He’s the second most gifted Argentine player in the national team set-up after Messi for me, and kinda reminds me of Messi back when Messi was still a human (ie. in his teens, and just playing in an advanced wide-forward position. Messi became some alien being when he hit his twenties).

  24. Jim
    February 6, 2011

    I take it all back. Celtic are actually trying to play football in the Old Firm cuptie. Down to ten men and coming back to tie 2-2 atm.

  25. Jim
    February 6, 2011

    Heh, Naismith sent off for Rangers for diving. Second yellow. Great decision. Are you watching ref for the EE game tonight?

  26. Jim
    February 6, 2011

    FT 2-2. I actually enjoyed that game. Some decent football from Celtic and the usual dollop of drama – 8 yellows, 2 reds. Also, a horrendous offside decision late on against Samoras who was clear through with a chance to win it.

  27. soccermomof4
    February 6, 2011

    Life is good. Woke up, saw there was a review, got the old coffee press going with some lovely Dunkin Donuts beans, and was able to enjoy the review along with my java fix.

    I agree our midfield was a little off kilter. Messi seemed to be playing very far back in the midfield in the second half and I wonder if it was to cover for said off-kilteredness( that can’t really be a word). Messi wasn’t his best, then again, Messi playing at a 5 is better than most players playing the game of their lives at a 10. Still, just for that run back on El Kun + 3 goals, I would’ve given him a 9. Xavi seems to desparately need some rest. I hope Del Bosque doesn’t play him too much in the upcoming friendly!

    BTW, I like it whem Bassam vists. He seems like a decent guy (misguided in his selection of a football club (just as Lev is in his choice of an NFL team ๐Ÿ˜€ (seriously though, good luck today))yet a decent guy). He is an example of how different points of view can be aired respectfully.

    • Eklavya
      February 6, 2011

      What the hell is up with people’s brackets these days? They are extra long and contain another pair in them ๐Ÿ˜€

      • outerspacedout
        February 6, 2011

        And another pair in that pair (though sometimes (and I mean only(!) sometimes) brackets inside brackets (or brackets inside brackets inside brackets) aren’t too hard to follow (sometimes they ARE a pain though))

      • soccermomof4
        February 6, 2011

        I am always guilty of over parathesizing (is that a word( maybe I should go to dictionary.com to check) of course I wouldn’t have to check is we had spellcheck on this thing)). It is:
        a a symptom of a disorganized mind
        b. a symptom of bad grammar/usage and a way to get around run-on sentences
        c. just to annoy the heck outta Ek
        d. a and c
        e. b and c
        f. all of the above

        • soccermomof4
          February 6, 2011

          By the way, it is a word if you spell it right:
          to put between marks of parenthesis: to parenthesize the pronunciation of a word.
          Thank you, Dictionary.com!

  28. soccermomof4
    February 6, 2011

    Barca Girls version 4.0 (hopefully the last)
    soccermom
    Kari
    Blitzen
    Merge
    Linda
    Corrine
    justsayin
    Barcapanda
    Sheena
    Huckleberry
    Humphrey Bogart
    Barcagirl_Indo
    Lauryn206
    Goo
    Para
    me (soccermomof4)
    HOW did I get this job anyway?????

    That’s a lot of us for this male dominated sport. And I bet that each of us understands offsides!
    Barca Girls Rule!

        • outerspacedout
          February 6, 2011

          Yeah I was thinking so, but then I was like ‘just in case Luke is offended’.

      • Roz
        February 6, 2011

        You forgot extreme barca fan… oh nvm ๐Ÿ™‚
        Btw im a guy.

        • Extreme barca fan
          February 6, 2011

          Really, a guy, sorry i you feel offended, i really thought u r a girl

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      February 6, 2011

      I see my name!

      yeaaayyy… ๐Ÿ˜€

  29. K_legit
    February 6, 2011

    very geared up for the Chelsea-Pool game later on..should be fun

  30. outerspacedout
    February 6, 2011

    @Helge: Yeah, I’m also beginning to think that there may be more girls in this blog than guys. And yeah I’m not sure I even know a single Barca fan here in my whole area. I’m also beginning to think that ‘Diane Court in a Barca jersey’ is probably aiming too high.

    @Eklavya: Do you mean the ‘down down with Mubarak!’ tune? Cos that’s been stuck in my head for ages. It is really catchy.

    @Extreme barca fan: HAHAHA your confession is truly a shock! ๐Ÿ˜€

  31. Para
    February 6, 2011

    From optajosea:

    “On the last 3 occasions that Real Madrid have won their opening 11 home league games, they have failed to win their 12th. Hoodoo.”

    I share this simply because they used the word ‘hoodoo.’ Is that not one of the best words ever?

    • outerspacedout
      February 6, 2011

      I checked out their twitter and had to post more stats.

      117 – Xavi has made at least 29 passes more per 90 minutes than any player in any of Europeยดs top five leagues this season. Puppeteer
      Wow

      1585 – Despite playing 1585 minutes, David Trezeguet is yet to be fouled in Liga BBVA this season. Respect
      HOW?

      8 – Fernando Llorente has scored eight headed goals in the league this season, no TEAM has scored more than this. Giant
      WOW.

  32. blitzen
    February 6, 2011

    Is atdhenet.tv working for any of you today? When I load it I only see yesterday’s listings.

  33. Eklavya
    February 6, 2011

    So Chelsea are starting with Drogba, Anelka AND Torres while Suarez is on the bench for l’pool? What?

    • outerspacedout
      February 6, 2011

      Yeah I have no idea WHY Suarez is on the bench he looked class in his first appearance.

  34. justsayin
    February 6, 2011

    Thanks for taking the time to post Kxevin.
    We played a good game, good enough to beat Atletico who didn’t really come out to win this one. They played pretty conservatively hoping for a counter. I thought they were a bit physically aggressive when they didn’t need to be, causing uncalled for fouls on our players throughout the game that they didn’t really want to capitalize on. Almost as if they are just out to hurt us if they can’t beat us. I think that’s why it might of seemed that we couldn’t get our midfield in control. They mugged and fouled us in the middle. I agree with your overall ratings: Pedro had an off day, Abidal was great as usual, Messi on cruise control can still score 3 goals, Maxwell is almost always a 4 or 5, I think that’s his baseline on this team, Villa had another off day – yes, he was more involved than Pedro but so many of his touches are poor, it’s frustrating to watch. But, mission completed and that’s what counts.

  35. culeZim
    February 6, 2011

    Watching Chelsea-Liverpool. Ddnt know football could be so boring.

  36. February 6, 2011

    Okay. For the record. We can agree, we can disagree. But we will do so respectfully. If you do not adhere to that policy, you will be banned. Period. Full stop. The length of the ban will depend on the severity of the offense.

    This is usually a self-policing space, but every now and again, it isn’t. When it isn’t, I will step in. And I wear a 12EE shoe, so when I step in, it’s going to be heavy.

    If someone steps out of line, let us deal with it, and rest assured that we will. No need to name call, or get too heavy.

    The comments are for us to discuss things. We are, functionally, a family. Families will disagree. But they can do so with respect. Believe it.

    barcathegreatestever, you are THISCLOSE to earning a ban. Tread lightly.

    • barca96
      February 6, 2011

      You serious? But what if you ban the person before he get’s a time to apologize? Like what barcathegreatestever did.
      Hopefully you will only apply the ban after 3 offences or something.
      GreeceBarca disappeared. We don’t want to lose more soldiers(haha just finished watching Transformers).

      • outerspacedout
        February 6, 2011

        The things Megan Fox does to my brain in that movie…

        • barca96
          February 6, 2011

          I don’t know. I’m not really a fan of her but I will miss her though in the 3rd installment of Transformers. She is hot but just not my cup of tea(as if she cares lol )

        • outerspacedout
          February 6, 2011

          Yeah Megan Fox isn’t exactly my type either. (I’d take Milla Jovovich, or Ione Skye circa 1989 in Say Anything, or even some of the other teen stars from the 80s teen movies). But somehow she is somehow unbelievably hot in Transformers in particular. A friend of mine pointed out how Megan Fox is hotter when she’s covered in dirt and grime than when she is clean in movies LOL and it’s true, she’s all covered in dust and crap in Transformers and is much hotter than other times.

    • Cesc Pistol
      February 6, 2011

      You wear “EE” shoes? That’s the reason you hate Cuddly and Villa! ๐Ÿ˜€

      • outerspacedout
        February 6, 2011

        I was so wanting to make a joke about the EE shoes but couldn’t think of anything except ‘EE! He he he’

    • Barcathegreatestever
      February 6, 2011

      Wow!!! I feel like I’m at a pajama party. Could someone pass me some koolaid?

  37. February 6, 2011

    IT is shocking how much these two teams struggle to keep the ball. Even simple passes seem to elude them. How EPL fans think their league is th best in the world is beyond me.

    • culeZim
      February 6, 2011

      Says something when a team starts with a frontline of Kuyt and Morieles. My grandpa and 6 year old sister make a better patnership!

      • culeZim
        February 6, 2011

        OK. Meireles scored. Still dont get why Suarez z going to finish the game on the bench.

  38. outerspacedout
    February 6, 2011

    I hope Napoli wins Serie A. I like them. And they’re only two points behind.

  39. Helge
    February 6, 2011

    Damn it, and I even bet some euros on Chelsea. Actually, they are the worse of two bad teams ๐Ÿ˜€

  40. Ryan
    February 6, 2011

    I’m a bit conflicted, as I want Torres to do well (when his club form translates to the international stage fun times ensue) but I don’t exactly want to cheer on Chelsea either!

  41. barca96
    February 6, 2011

    Watched the last 5 minutes of the 1st half of Chelski-Liverfool.
    I really don’t get it how they became football players. And don’t they have tactics?
    One guy get’s the ball, he will either run into 5 defenders or make a lousy long ball into nowhere. Ridiculous!
    I turned off the tv immediately. Don’t want my little brother to be watching that kind of football. It will stunt his progress.

  42. February 6, 2011

    And ratings aren’t going anywhere. Yes, they will be a point of debate. But they are my evaluation of a player’s ENTIRE match.

    So Abidal got a 9 because he waan’t perfect. But he was very, very good. People quibble about Messi. Messi scored all the goals, tried to set up others, passed, possessed, defended and was a general fiend. Recall the one shot where Messi was bent over, panting. Amazing.

    Villa? He played to a 4, on aggregate. Simple as that.

    My ratings aren’t meant to be affirmation. They are done with no regard of how anyone feels about any player. I watch the match twice, as carefully as I can, taking copious notes (10 pages yesterday), then I write the review.

    I usually stay away from the LiveBlogs, because they often have a mood, one that is very frequently different than the reality of the match. Maakes sense. A sketchy, grainy Web feed is going to be different than on a big ol’ plasma.

    Reviews are fun to write. I try to make them fun to read. Ratings are a part of the review. That isn’t going to change. Neither should the respect and courtesy with which we discuss the recap.

    • barca96
      February 6, 2011

      And the reviews are fun to read too. Except for the ratings sometimes. It really does boil my blood ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’ve never stayed long enough during a LB to know the mood but I remember another LB from another blog, the bloggers were always very pessimistic.
      But from the comments that I read after the matches, everyone here always sounds positive.

      • culeZim
        February 6, 2011

        I would like to say i am totally behind the ratings. I dont always agree, but i respect the view of someone who watches the game twice. The ratings put everyone’s perfomance in context.

  43. outerspacedout
    February 6, 2011

    Liverpool are winning. 1-0. Gotta say I expected them to nick this one, they’ve been playing some (for an EPL side) nice stuff lately and doing well + the Torres thing means they would be insanely motivated and fired up.

  44. beeeef
    February 6, 2011

    i think all the pre-match previews and post-match reviews are excellent here, even if i don’t care for the numbers rating very much. i think as long as things remain relatively civil, this space will remain a good place for (english speaking) barca fans. keep up the good work writers.

  45. February 6, 2011

    I am very serious. First offenses will never result in a ban. But a repeated series of offenses will.

    Not sure what happened to Greece Barca. He was posting fine, then we went to registration and he went away. He wasn’t banned, or anything.

    • mega_tajh
      February 6, 2011

      ohh I always thought he was banned or something from his last confrontation.

  46. outerspacedout
    February 6, 2011

    Wow, Messi has 40 goals in 33 games, 29 of those starts and 4 sub appearances. Still have definitely 19 and potentially 24 games left in the season (16 league, 1 cup, 7 CL games if we reach the final).

    It is very very possible that he might get 70 goals for the season if he keeps this up. If he keeps up his current strike rate, the projection for the season is 71 goals.

    SEVENTY.

  47. Ryan
    February 6, 2011

    Well, you can now add Chelsea to one of the big teams to fall this weekend. Surely EE won’t follow the trend, right?

    • Eklavya
      February 6, 2011

      I’d say “LOL” but that wouldn’t cut it…

  48. blitzen
    February 6, 2011

    Don’t lose hope, if Newcastle can do it, so can Real Sociedad!

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  49. soccermomof4
    February 6, 2011

    Started watching EE. Why? Because I’m an idiot. How’d they score so early? And why TB? Why does it always have to be TB?

    • Ryan
      February 6, 2011

      He has 50% of their goals, of course it’s going to be him!

    • outerspacedout
      February 6, 2011

      3-0, Ronaldo scores another goal

  50. February 6, 2011

    Oh, and it’s really good news you’re alright, Diego! I was pretty worried…

    • Diego
      February 6, 2011

      Thanks, Kari. I always knew we had a thing ๐Ÿ˜€

      The Best Part about all this that I had a picture with the Soldiers, the Tank, and the Flag. ๐Ÿ˜€

  51. outerspacedout
    February 6, 2011

    We have… is it 108, or 111? goals in all competitions so far this season.

  52. soccermomof4
    February 6, 2011

    OG- Real Sociedad got one back 3-1— Do a Newcastle guys!

      • soccermomof4
        February 6, 2011

        2 for the game so he and Messi are tied (unless you go by Marca’s stats in which case TB is up by one)

        • outerspacedout
          February 6, 2011

          In La Liga yeah as SoMa04 said. In all competitions, Messi as 40 goals and 18 assists in 33 games (4 as sub) and DJ Pauly D has 34 goals and 8 assists in 35 gamers (2 as sub).

          For those of you who don’t know DJ Pauly D, his cast bio- not someone making fun of him, but what he okayed as his official cast bio- says this:

          “Pauly D is Rhode Island’s most well known DJ and keeps a tanning bed in his house. He orders gel by the case and does his hair twice a day–once in the morning and once before hitting the town.”

          (An introduction to the show here: http://www.cracked.com/blog/jersey-shore-is-the-worst-thing-to-happen-to-the-east-coast-since-911/)

  53. February 6, 2011

    What happened here? Was I away for that long? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Nothing valued to say, just passing by to post a “Hi”.

    • mei
      February 6, 2011

      heeeelllllllloooo ramzi!missed ya ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Eklavya
      February 6, 2011

      Yay, you’re alive! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Nobody’s saying it but everyone missed being schooled in tactics hehe

  54. Eklavya
    February 6, 2011

    Barcastuff: Messi, Milito and Mascherano travelled this morning to Switzerland for the ARG-POR friendly on Wednesday #fcblive [via @juanjobrau]ยจ

    Well, there goes my chance to catch them at the airport…

    • soccermomof4
      February 6, 2011

      US programming notes for upcoming friendlies (I only listed those friendlies in which our guys are involved):

      Wednesday, February 9
      Ned. v Aus (3M) ESPN2 2:30 EST
      France v Brazil (Abi v. Dani) ESPN2 and ESPN3 2:55pm EST
      Arg. v. Portugal (AKA Messi v TB)—GOLTV 3:00 pm EST (Eklavya will be there!)
      ESP v. Columbia (AKA most of our heroes v. haven’t got a clue) ESPN3 3:30 pm EST

      • outerspacedout
        February 6, 2011

        I didn’t even know Columbia has a national team… I take it you mean Colombia, the South American country. ๐Ÿ˜€

        • Eklavya
          February 6, 2011

          I think that 99% of countries have a team, just that some aren’t strong and not known.

          • outerspacedout
            February 6, 2011

            I was just pointing out that Colombia is the South American country, and Columbia is as in ‘District of Columbia’.

            The country that Shakira is from is Colombia, oft confused with Columbia.

            Ah I’m nitpicking

          • Eklavya
            February 6, 2011

            Oh, I hadn’t even noticed lol. Thanks for pointing it out.

        • Helge
          February 6, 2011

          It’s great to learn something new each day, thx a lot ๐Ÿ™‚

  55. outerspacedout
    February 6, 2011

    Just to test if I’m doing tags right:

    bold
    italics
    underline
    strikeout
    strikeout again

    • outerspacedout
      February 6, 2011

      Okay, so the tags that work are ‘b’ and ‘/b’, ‘i’ and ‘/i’, ‘strike’ and ‘/strike’ not ‘s’ and ‘/s’- all these between – and underline doesn’t work at all.

      • outerspacedout
        February 6, 2011

        All these between* shift+, and shift+. (when I type the actual character it’s not visible)

        The characters I mean, of course, are
        Barca>Real
        and Real<Barca
        (remove the words to see the characters)
        Hope they will be visible this time

      • Helge
        February 6, 2011

        Let’s see if I’m intelligent enough to do tags ๐Ÿ™‚

        Visca el Barรงa !!!

        • February 6, 2011

          Actually, never-mind…

          Canal Plus, why?! It’s from Sky Sports… ๐Ÿ™

          • February 6, 2011

            Yeah. I wanted to cut the uploading time, so I tried to upload it from Windows Movie Maker instead of saving it to my laptop and then uploading it to Youtube from there…

            It was going so well; I knew it was too good to be true. Sigh. I might have to re-upload it, unless you don’t mind missing the first 8 or so minutes…

  56. Jnice
    February 6, 2011

    LOL, Valdano responded to Quique’s comments and said “Messi isn’t the De Stefano of the century, Cristiano is.”

    Whatever you say, Jorge.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      February 6, 2011

      Valdano is not aloneโ€ฆ ๐Ÿ˜‰

      he has Perez, MouMou, and EE fans who share the same hallucinationโ€ฆ ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Helge
      February 7, 2011

      Well, to Valdano’s defense, he said that Cristiano is more like the new Di Stefano because he plays for Madrid. Not because he is better than Messi.

  57. February 6, 2011

    Interesting day. A French journalist at France 2 is reporting betting “irregularities” in the Arsenal/Newcastle match. He cites German justice dept. and Interpol sources. Weirdness.

    –Alves quotes from a BarcaTV interview (via @barcastuff):

    “The club knows I prefer to stay at Barรงa. I’ll fight for that, it’s my dream. I’ll do anything possible to stay. I carry this club in my heart and I know it’ll be very difficult to find another big club with this kind of players.”

    Some Alves quotes from back when he was strongly being tipped to go to Liverpool:

    “My aim is to earn as much money as possible to secure my family’s future. I’m happy here but if there’s something better elsewhere then there is no doubt I’d want to go. The idea of every player is to grow as a sportsman and financially. I’ll only leave if the offer is right for Sevilla as well as for me and my family. Then there’s no problem. I plan to work hard – and I have people to deal with these matters so I’m not worried.”

  58. Manish
    February 6, 2011

    Ratings seem to be something which pinches quite a lot of people.. it would be great if we had an article on how the ratings are arrived at.. i remember being told.. that a 6 for Messi would not be the same for Pedro.. why does a defender get a 9? If we could have a more technical approach.. instead of ..”he was all over the pitch”.. i am sure..it would take this blog to an entirely new level..All said and done..personally.. BFB is the best sports blog i have come across…

    • February 6, 2011

      Ratings pinch a lot of people because they don’t do what people want them to. They never do. Movie ratings are debated. “Three stars? What the hell movie was that critic watching?” Restaurant reviews: “Four stars? Not when after $400, I had to go to McDonald’s to get full!” Match reviews: “A 4? Clearly, Kxevin wishes Ibrahimovic was here, so he hates Villa.”

      In fact what any and all ratings are is an attempt to quantify. The New York Times doesn’t do star ratings for movies, ignoring the visual shorthand that many readers are fond of, because it enables them to make a quick decision. See or not? This one has 3.5 stars. Let’s go check it out.

      People have expectations of ratings, most importantly I think, that they should affirm their views on a player. “Villa has brought a lot to the club, so how can be get a 4? He’s so much better than x or y in the side.” All might be true, and all would have about zero bearing on the rating for how he played in a particular match. If someone says “You don’t like x,” I view that as “You views don’t mate with mine, and the only explanation that I can come up with is that you don’t like him.”

      Ratings are, and will always be contentious (even if they shouldn’t be) because they don’t meet different needs for everyone.

      Your point about descriptions is well-taken. I always assume that people who are reading the review have seen the match, and understand what I mean when I say that a player was “all over the pitch,” in either the good or bad context of the word. But that isn’t always true. Thanks for that.

      • Jose
        February 6, 2011

        To be honest, I don’t understand the obsession with arguing about ratings. It’s like you say, it’s an if-then statement: if the number you give to the player ~= the number I have in my head, then print(‘Outrage!’). It’s the recourse for the simple-minded.

        I barely even look at the numbers. If people instead bothered to read the review and just read the description beside each player, maybe we’d save a lot of ridiculous arguments over whether Villa’s performance merited a 4 or a 5.

  59. Para
    February 6, 2011

    I thought this was interesting because of a semi-discussion that happened in the comments of one of the last few posts (I think Kari’s about how she became a fan). I know it uses the superbowl as an analogy, but it talks about why people are fans of certain teams, and how ‘choosing’ a team is viewed in different places (namely the US versus Europe).

    http://www.runofplay.com/2011/02/04/soccer-fans-and-the-super-bowl/

  60. blitzen
    February 6, 2011

    Some sporting event was on my TV, some kind of “football” game, although they don’t use their feet very much, and the ball is shaped like an egg.

    Can anyone tell me why a game of four 15-minute (allegedly) quarters takes over 3 hours to watch? @@

    • Jose
      February 6, 2011

      I think it has to do with having to build that shiny stage in middle of it all so that the neon people can dance on it.

      That would be my guess.

    • February 7, 2011

      my friend said he was watching the puppy bowl on animal planet instead & going for the “cute one.” hilarious. what a nerd.

    • February 7, 2011

      Being from Greece I have never watched superbowl…so I have to ask…

      Is this sentence “a game of four 15-minute (allegedly) quarters takes over 3 hours to watch?”-actually true or is it an overstatement??
      …and if it is true(shocked!) how on earth do they manage that?!?! they have like a spot every two mins?

      • jnelson
        February 7, 2011

        It’s true. Officials stop the game clock every time the ball goes out of bounds or possession is changed. There also time-outs (3 per team) that last at least 30 seconds, and a two-minute warning each half, stopping play for at least another 30 seconds. In short, well there is nothing short about American football, especially when you add the advertising breaks at the end of each quarter. I think the average game is between 3.5 and 4 hours. Great stuff! haha

  61. Helge
    February 7, 2011

    According to AS, Messi has a strained muscle and didn’t train yesterday. Allegedly, it’s nothing bad though and he will be able to play the match against Portugal. I just hope that everything is fine, and more important, will still be fine after that friendly.

      • Helge
        February 7, 2011

        IF there is a severe risk of aggrevating the injury, say of a torn muscle that would keep him out for about 3 weeks – would you still think so?

        I’ve never seen Messi or Barca play live in a stadium, but if Messi’s health is endangered I’d rather see him on the bench!

    • Helge
      February 7, 2011

      Haha, that “thing” is a sort of thong, I guess ๐Ÿ˜€

      Great picture, he’s the only one NOT moving, and in his typical whiner pose.

      • Eklavya
        February 7, 2011

        LOL Haha, I didn’t notice it at first. ๐Ÿ™‚

  62. February 7, 2011

    If somebody is over YouTube way, please post the link to the Abidal v Atletico video from Allas. Just watched it on my phone, and oh, man….

    –Adidas has offered Dani Alves a 5-year deal to be the company’s face in Brazil, supplanting some dude named Kaka. Is this the last link in the renewal chain?

    –Thiago’s dad should just shur the hell up. The last time this club was bullied was by Team Krkic, and look how that is turning out. If Sevilla wants your son, good on them.. He can see how it feels to be on the other end of our ass whippings.

    We have Afellay, and will make an effort for Fabregas. Is your kid potentially better? Yes, but Gio Dos Santos was also supposed to be the next Ronaldinho. Potential+20 Euros buys you lunch.

    This Guardiola group doesn’t like pains in the butt. Si keeo up the talk and see what happens.

    • mei
      February 7, 2011

      oh and mazinho was talking possibly about a loan move to sevilla, in case he doesnt get promoted to the first team next year ,which we said that will happen definitely.
      He really should shut up , but his words werent that malicious this time .

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