Arsenal 2, Barcelona 1, aka “Maybe now people will take things seriously”

Well, there aren’t going to be any pictures because of the ongoing server complexities, which is just as well. I am absolutely disgusted with our club right now. Did we deserve this loss? It depends on who you ask. Barca fans will say that it could easily have been 4-0 going into the half, and the tie would have effectively been over. They will also say that Messi’s goal was unjustly disallowed. Whatever. Fact of the matter is that we had chance after chance to win this tie today, to make it all effectively academic.

But that didn’t happen for so many reasons, most notably because not everyone came to play tonight — three of the club’s most rock-solid, reliable players, let the side down. Then Guardiola made wrong-headed substitutions, underestimating an Arsenal side that some might have thought was punching against its weight, but they have been playing like that all season. And we didn’t just lose, we got whipped by and at our own game.

I know, I know, possession, passing, stats, whatever. Fact of the matter is that once again, the other club wanted it more than we did, and that disgusts me. As Guardiola has said time and again, we’re terrible without the ball. And almost every time we gave it to Arsenal, they did something with it. We faced a mirror image in a club that likes to press the ball, wants possession, plays a high line and is deadly off the break. And in the first part of the first half, they were all over us. Walcott was marauding up the left side, owning Maxwell in a way that many predicted, they were passing into space, pressing the ball, regaining possession and steaming off on the attack. You’d almost think they played like us, or something, but that can’t be, because all of the world’s press say that we have a patent on that kind of football. Perhaps we can sue Arsenal, to have the match results overturned for patent infringement.

Or perhaps not. Now, you’d think their assault would have sharpened our wits, and made us more ready to play. But you knew what kind of day it was going to be when Villa threaded a perfect through ball for Messi, who took, controlled, and flat-out missed a scoring chance that he usually turns in his sleep, a shot that drifted wide of the far post. The keeper did it all right, but Messi had him dead to rights. The best player in the world is supposed to turn those chances into goals. He just is.

On the up side, we got control of the match in a way that, if our attack wasn’t on vacation, would have had this match sewn up by the half. It was a beautiful display of possession, passing and movement as we pressed Arsenal into possession mistake after mistake. Maxwell put on his big boy bloomers and regained control of his side of the pitch, and we sprang into life. You could see that the machine was hitching and sputtering, but all it took was one pass, one shot, and Villa did the trick. If big players show up for big matches, Villa was Gulliver today, exploding into being right as I jotted in my notes, “Where the hell is Villa?” Oh. Never mind.

This was war in the midfield and on the flanks, a war that tilted back and forth in pitched battle. Maxwell got the better, then the worse of Walcott. Alves had acres of space, creating danger that only lacked willing players charging the Arsenal box. Think of the time and time again that Xavi, or Busquets, or Iniesta had to hold the ball because of a lack of attacking movement, then ask yourself how much this club wanted this tie. Then ask yourself how much Arsenal wanted it.

A great team isn’t great until it is defined by silver. Guardiola rolled out with his best available lineup, Valdes, Alves, Pique, Abidal, Maxwell, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Pedro (who loses his exclamation points) and Villa. It was a lineup that is usually good enough to beat most clubs in the world, and we were creating chances with abandon, chances that were left begging, mostly by an uncharacteristically dull Pedro.

Thankfully, Villa came to life with aggression and movement, tracking back on defense, anticipating free kicks to win back a header, and a goal that is typically Villa. Messi made a run at the defense, and six Arsenal players gave him their undivided attention, allowing Villa to break into space with a perfectly timed run and clinical finish. It was 0-1, and then we started squandering chances, acting as if Arsenal were Almeria or Racing, batting the ball around and playing like Barca.

But this was Arsenal, a team that, as I noted the other day, has so much to prove: that last year was a fluke, that Fabregas made the right decision by staying, that they are every bit as good a footballing side as we are. And on this day, they were absolutely right, finishing with the clinical quality that this stage and this tournament demanded. Hats off to them. And you know what else Arsenal did? Played like us in that they let us run ourselves down. We’ve all seen it before because we’ve done it, as an opponent nicks a goal, then starts pressing like crazy for the second one, and we just absorb the pressure with strong defensive plays and last-ditch defending. And when they’re good and tired, we put the knife in with late goals.

Ah, their goals. Both came off the break, and both were evidence of my aforementioned Alves Complexity. If your attacking right back gets caught up the pitch against a fast team, you’re probably going to be screwed. It happened against Gijon, and it happened here. Even worse, they were goals that came because once our best offensive player went off the pitch, Arsenal looked at an attack of The Three Ineffectives, and decided “Hell, they sure aren’t going to score. Let’s press harder.”

The first conceded goal was a comedy of lackadaisicalness, as Alves didn’t shut down Arshavin, then Clichy was allowed an uncontested pass to Van Persie who left Pique stuck in concrete, then beat Valdes to the near side in a goal that should never have happened. The keeper is supposed to be the last line of defense, to make things as difficult as possible for the attacker. Valdes gave Van Persie a hole, and he stuck the ball through it. Simple. What the hell he was thinking, I leave to greater minds than mine. Because Goalkeeping 101 is cover the near post. If he can curl a ball around you into the far corner, rock on. Hell of a goal. Valdes’ blunder was a killer, because it gave Arsenal hope, and seemed to take some juice out of our legs.

Their second goal was an almost complete breakdown that all began when Messi gave the ball away, and Arsenal sprung into action with an attack that flowed through the midfield, unimpeded directly into our box, where Fabregas found Arshavin with a pass that he spanked past a flat-footed Valdes. It became a comedy of errors when precious few people did what they were supposed to:

–Messi stood there and let them pass the ball around him.
–Where was Alves?
–Iniesta stopped in the box, instead of running to press.
–Xavi did a half-hearted lunge at the ball.
–Maxwell was done for pace, leading to a wide-open pass for Arshavin.
–Keita went out for coffee.
–Abidal got screwed because Pique didn’t seem to know what to do, so he drifted over to cover Van Persie, while Pique screened Valdes.
–Abidal guessed right, moved to Arshavin, then turned his body to the side, instead of facing the shot to block it.
–Pique decides that he needs to screen his keeper.
–Valdes decides that “Hey, I know that Pique will be there to block a shot, but I don’t believe it, so I’m going to drift right along with him.” So he was caught flat-footed when Arshavin hit the curled ball into the space just vacated by Valdes.

Team goal. Worse, it was the kind of team goal that we aren’t supposed to concede, because we are supposed to make the hustle plays, no matter what point in the match it is.

Shameful. Yes, they played an excellent match, never-say-die in their house. And we kept being surprised that they kept springing back to life, until it finally bit us in our smug, exhausted asses. We missed Puyol today, for so many reasons, not least of which is that he would have made the right decisions on both goals, and maybe, just maybe, have buttressed a flagging team with his indomitable fire.

Team: 5. Solid display that all fell apart at the end, thanks to young legs. We were tired and looked it, but things shouldn’t have gotten to that point. This is why you finish your chances. We were sharp in that first half, when we had the chance to end the tie. Then the second was a disaster.

Guardiola: 2. Outcoached. Villa looked fit and fine. More importantly, he was our best offensive player. To pull him for Keita struck me as absurd. But I’m sitting on a sofa throwing things at the wall, instead of coaching the best football club in the world. So what do I know, except when do we ever play not to lose? By putting in Keita, that looked to be the decision. Would Afellay and Mascherano have been better subsitutions? The former would have kept the offensive pressure on, and the latter would have been a midfield lion. But usually, so is Keita, right?

Valdes: 2. You made the simple stops, but when the club needed you to step up, it was two significant failures. Bad distribution also, and an unusually high number of balls that were just hoofed up the pitch. Was Valdes feeling the Arsenal pressure?

Alves: 4. Strong on the attack, but a right back also needs to be a defender. Our right side was Highway 101 to Arsenal, as both of their goals flowed through the acres of vacated space there. I’m also not a big fan of his uncertainty in the box. At some point, he needs to shoot the damned ball.

Pique: 5. Some excellent last-ditch defending, strong play and he won almost every header that came near him. Is it his fault that he’s slow? No. Blame genetics. But Van Persie owned him on the first goal, and he just stood there on the second. Center backs can’t be indecisive. Do something. With Puyol, we probably win 1-0.

Abidal: 8. He came to play today, and is my Man of the Match, with intervention after intervention after intervention, on both sidelines and in the center. He even started yelling at his fellow defenders, trying to impress upon them the urgency of the situation. But if you’re going to block the shot, block the shot. Don’t turn your body sideways. Take notes from Arsenal’s defenders.

Maxwell: 5. Not as bad as some might be alleging right now. Yes, Walcott was putting the wood to him early, on both ends of the pitch, then Maxwell came into his own, battling Walcott to a draw and even taking advantage of his slack positioning to go on the attack.

Busquets: 7. Omnipresent, and worked like a dog in trying to be a DM and deputize for a slack Iniesta, who was on walkabout for this one. So smart on and off the ball, but victimized by too much space for him to cover all by his lonesome.

Xavi: 6. Was getting the better of things, but again as at Gijon, hampered by a lack of movement from too many of his attackers. Xavi will kill you when you give him time on the ball, unless the attackers just stand there. Then he can be pressured, and that leads to back passes.

Iniesta: 3. We still haven’t had Iniesta against Arsenal. After a very bright start, his influence on the match was nil. His runs free up space for the other attackers, and work with Xavi to retain possession. But he was completely invisible for too much of the time.

Messi: 1. My nadir in a litany of horrors today, as he constantly made runs at multiple Arsenal defenders, displayed terrible touch and played a match that was so far below par, I was thinking “Maybe he’s sick, or injured.” Yes, lovely pass to Villa for the goal. The end.

Pedro: 1. Too cute with two finishes, one a side footer that was smothered, the other right into the keeper’s belly because he was uncharacteristically slow on the draw. And he returned to Headless Chicken mode. Terrible performance.

Villa: 7. After a sleepy beginning, he stormed into life. Brilliant movement that made the goal easy, and what a finish. He tracked back on defense, pressed and made life generally difficult for Arsenal attackers and defenders. So when he shows up, nobody else does?

Substitutes

Keita (for Villa): 2. Usually, he’s in the right place at the right time. But like almost everyone else, he was way off today. And where’s the athleticism that holds down the fort in the midfield? That’s why Guardiola put you in, to be the Malian Menace. So what happened?

Adriano (for Iniesta): incomplete. Not enough time, though he certainly had a hand in the goal, as did the entire side.

And now that I have done my job as a reviewer of this match, it’s time for the fan to weigh in. We nabbed a crucial away goal. If we win 1-0 at home, or any combo platter that has us a goal ahead, we go through to the next round, and will be looking back at this match as a bump in the road to potential silver. Arsenal won’t park the bus, which will work in our favor. Messi can’t be as bad as he was today. Neither can Iniesta.

Now, we don’t get much of a break running into the return leg which is, thankfully, at home. We’re away to Mallorca on 26 Feb., then away to Valencia on 2 March. We’re home to Zaragoza on 6 March, then Arsenal on the 8th. This is a savage stretch that begins with Bilbao this weekend, a 5-match stretch that could see us falter in the Liga and get bounced from the Champions League.

The cule in me says that neither one will happen. We don’t need a remuntada against Arsenal as much as a return of even a semblance of our form. I am confident that this will happen. Visca Barca!

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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.

330 Comments

  1. February 16, 2011

    And no, Messi’s goal wasn’t offside. So what? There should have been 2 or 3 scored before that. That’s life.

    • Víctor
      February 17, 2011

      So what? OK, I agree that there were chances… but I can’t blame a player for having a legitimate goal disallowed.

    • ak
      February 17, 2011

      we always moan that teams park the bus against us…and we switched off against the only team that came out to play
      but i do hope that the linesman gets his fair share of criticism for missing an obvious goal

      • poipoi
        February 17, 2011

        word, keita for villa when p! and messi and iniesta are totally off. we deserve this loss

  2. thierryennui
    February 16, 2011

    It was a good match from you guys, and I couldn’t be prouder of Arsenal. But it could have been different had Messi’s goal not been flagged offside.

    Anyway, if nothing else we made the second leg very, very interesting. Still think you guys are prohibitive favorites to go through, but we’ve at least given ourselves an opportunity to do something special at Camp Nou to find a way through.

    • ooga aga
      February 16, 2011

      great match by arsenal, but i also want to point out the two hand balls in the box. that werent called. confident we will go through on march 8, though wish i didnt have to suffer for so long

      • cliu
        February 16, 2011

        gracious winners..while in the agony of the rare barca loss, I appreciate that!

    • jhargrid
      February 16, 2011

      I’d have to agree. Pedro hasn’t played up two his double-exclamation mark peak we saw just before the winter break recently, and today was fairly abysmal.

      I was unfortunate enough to only catch the second half. I mostly got to see Arsenal harry a Barcelona that looked shaken and exhausted.

  3. cliu
    February 16, 2011

    OK< I'm a barca girl and I don't usually post, but I had to read Kxevin's fairly levelheaded game summary before my rant. Did the team think the ball was about ballet? Were the wrong dance floor? Why all the smug but witless passes, followed by the barely there finishes? It's hard to be favorites, I get it. But you should be playing to win because you want to win, not because you're fulfilling stupid press expectations. Press were saying it was like a master class, yeah, in ass hattery. bat the ball around without connecting with players open in the box. Look pretty like Disney princesses when you're backheeling???? NO!! I was furious that little Russian imp got the best of us. We're beatable, oh yes and I guess that will make the season both harder to take and harder to watch at the same time, because for one stupid moment I thought this was a team that was going play to the last minute, fight for every pass not for its own sake but for slicing through the opponent's defense as if it were a dead fish. OK. If you think I'm crazy, I am. I have to come out as a growing spurs fan. They kill themselves for everyminute of every game. They don't play pretty , but the play until the whistle blows. Do we need to take a minute are remember its not the Bolshoi. If this were ballet and it was all about beauty, there wouldn't be a ball! I screamed with delight and clapped my hands and the ball was in the side netting off Messi's foot. OK Arsenal saw that too and the better, hungrier team won. The end of hyperbole, the beginning o humility. the beginning of hunger. I agree with all the rating K, except I think Villa was too high. He lost so many balls, Keita had to come. in. I can't watch a lot games with my schedule, so it is esp disappointing to watch them lose. sorry my friends, this list is one of my ony consolations. If you know any Adorno quotes off teh top of your head, let me know.

    • oeilleres
      February 17, 2011

      Trust me you don’t want to be a spurs fan. That’s like deciding to be a bubonic plague fan ….

  4. February 16, 2011

    Nice review. Completely Agree. We were far and away the better team and should have had the game tucked away by the first half. Shame on us for not playing today. Any other day we would have ended this tie already, but we gifted them the game on a silver platter by playing like amateurs. At least it was evident on the pitch how far superior we are as a team, we just have to actually come out to play next game and the road to the quarters will be easy. Arsenal played well for them, but the distance in talent is huge. Visca Barca.

  5. cliu
    February 16, 2011

    apologies for strange misspellings. I’ve been in denial about the depth of my fandom devotion, but there is no going back now. I can barely type, I’m so depressed tonight. I feel vulnerable to trolls, but not endangered. You guys are a great community.

  6. momo
    February 16, 2011

    Great review. It must be pretty painful to have to watch the match again and take notes.
    The Messi issue is perplexing to say the least. It’s been like this for a few weeks now too. I don’t know if it’s fatigue, injury, or just plain complacency but he has seemed slightly uninterested.
    I know it might sound insane but I believe starting him on the bench for the Bilbao game and bringing him on in half time would be better. I know Bilbao is no push over but at the end of the day rotations are essential if the club is to meet the tremendous expectations placed upon it. Players like Bojan, Affelay, and Adriano need to begin making their way into games much earlier regardless of their form. The fact of the matter is they aren’t in this side for nothing.
    Then again like you said “I’m sitting on a sofa throwing things at the wall, instead of coaching the best football club in the world”.

    • February 16, 2011

      I agree, he has to trust Afellay with more minutes, otherwise what did he bring him for? So he had a bad start vs Sporting, but Bojan’s had miserable games and still plays! Messi needs rest.

  7. ooga aga
    February 16, 2011

    remember the game last year when they came back from 2-0 down to tie it. we felt the same. but messi and co came good in the camp nou. this barca will show the world, no te preocupes

  8. February 16, 2011

    I will be the first to disagree with Alves’ rating, the man ran like dog also, he was attempting to do HIS job and Pedro’s, even at the end of the match he was still running. We know he can’t shoot this is obvious, but had there been someone who wanted to shoot he would’ve passed it to him, but there wasn’t, he gave Villa a beautiful pass he could’ve just SHOT but instead Villa decided to do the awful Villaesque thing and take the ball forward which, shockingly (sarcasm) he lost it ! To me Villa was the 4, and Alves the 7.

  9. Spencer
    February 16, 2011

    Yeah, this was a weird match. Couple things…

    First of all, I’ve been watching Arsenal this season a bit, and they have been VERY shaky on defense at times. Credit to them for showing up with amazing effectiveness. Arguably the best defense that has been played against us all season. Unfortunate that it happened though, because who was honestly expecting that?

    Villa was fantastic today, and that substitution was flat out dumb, because nobody else on offense was doing anything. You could almost see the turnaround coming after that.

    While we could have been up 3-1 (and I don’t think any more than that) at halftime, we also would have been murdered if Abidal wasn’t almost always there. The best defender in the world right now (yup, said it) came out to play.

  10. Pyro
    February 16, 2011

    Who the hell cares about the ratings? We lost. We lost. I saw the best player in the world give up. I have never been so pissed at Guardiola. He gave up. He did not follow our philosophy of attack, attack and more attack. Instead he pulled off Villa when the one that should have been pulled had to be pedro or iniesta

    • momo
      February 17, 2011

      I wouldn’t be so quick to say Messi gave up. Think about it, the man has practically played every single minute for club and country for the past few seasons. He is exhausted. Not to mention the fact that he receives “special treatment” from defenders in every game he plays.
      About the substitution, I agree, it was uncharacteristically poor reading of the game from Pep. Villa should have never come off for Keita. I think a smarter move would have been Keita for iniesta and Messi (who was visibly exhausted) for Affelay to expose the high back line with his pace.

  11. February 16, 2011

    “Our right side was Highway 101 to Arsenal, as both of their goals flowed through the acres of vacated space there.”

    -i live right next to the 101 & i’m not sure this is an apt comparison. maybe you should save that one for parked buses.

  12. Víctor
    February 17, 2011

    Pedro has a bad game… not that bad, IMO… and he loses the exclamation marks? A 1 is quite harsh, honestly. Sure, he was bad… but not that bad…

    Either way, is a 2-1… a bad result, yes, but not really that complicated. Arsenal doesn’t know to play defensivelly so they are gonna come to attack at Camp Nou… Barcelona should be able to successfully win this tie.

  13. jordi™
    February 17, 2011

    Im still in disbelief VV got beat at his near post like that.Yea it was a powerful shot by why on earth was he committing so early assuming van Persie wouldn’t shoot? Its like when juninho scored against us for lyon a couple seasons ago.” Oh, well he wont shoot from h…Doh!”

    The point about Arsenal wanting this much is too true.Their players ducked internationals to be rested for this game.Most of ours played up to 90 minutes.Sure it will cause debate if the majority of them pull out injured but screw it.We should put pressure on the national FA’s guarantee they play 45 minutes or less in friendlies.Its a disgrace.

  14. February 17, 2011

    so pique is out of the second leg, can we make do without his play from the back? with the way arsenal was pressing i’m thinking busi’s skillset will be that much more valuable at the center-half position come march 8th. & as well as maxwell played today i’d much rather have omniabi at leftback.

  15. jordi™
    February 17, 2011

    Also, weren’t these the types of matches we bought Masch for?If he cant sub in, during games like this, why have him.Its not like it would have been his 1st match against arsenal.Sometimes when wilshere was gliding around us i was screaming “someone put him on his arse! Do it now!” and we had jefecito on the bench.

  16. beeeef
    February 17, 2011

    Wow, its 12:10 ET and there’s 119 readers online? That’s a lot of people!

    Great review as always Kxevin, it pretty much sums up my own thoughts on the game as well.

    Was this the result needed to wake the team up from their recent slumber of complacency? I hope so, because the Barca on display today was not the team we’ve become accustomed to seeing week-in week-out. It’s crunch time now, and anymore collective team performances of the variety shown today will diminish hopes for silverware this season.

    • Nav
      February 17, 2011

      We’re all drowning in depression. Together.

      • cliu
        February 17, 2011

        yes. i actually can’t sleep because of the second goal.wtf. who should have been there on arshavin? wenger was a fox.

    • Ryan
      February 17, 2011

      But we said that about the last game! And in that one Villa scored our solitary goal as well.

  17. jordi™
    February 17, 2011

    Just looking at this image, it isnt any wonder we got overloaded at the end.

    *http://img191.imageshack.us/img191/5012/arsenalbarcelona4.jpg

    They might as well erase the 3 blue dots representing our attacking half.Djourou and Kolscieny were walking through us at that point with no pressure on them and essentially in defense we faced 7 or 8 in attack against 3 or 4.I hope pep never does that again.

  18. oeilleres
    February 17, 2011

    Gooner here, I’ll be trolling your blog thru March 8th …. Thanks for giving some credit to our performance, unlike total barca who thinks we just got dropped off in the park by our mommies …..

  19. jnelson
    February 17, 2011

    With the way this game unfolded in the second half, I’m thinking conspiracy theory. I guess a win would leave no interest for the second leg, so someone told Pep we had to go down and take one for the fans. It’s all about ratings! Right? That’s my only explanation…

  20. ak
    February 17, 2011

    fair review kxevin and completely agreed

    after the first half, i was feeling hollow inside..i’ve never seen such vanity from our side

    i dunno what the players were trying to accomplish out there but this was just a show off of retaining possession, there were absolutely zero pressure on arsenal to defend at times

    one point i feel that you missed was that once again our over-dependency on messi was cruelly exposed…his offball movement was pathetic and it was obvious that he had burnt out, yet he played the entire 90 minutes

    it’s good that arsenal went the whole way and got the second goal as well…hope this wakes up the team

    • oeilleres
      February 17, 2011

      I haven’t seen a ton of Barca matches this season but you guys looked spent. The energy was a far cry from Madrid in November. My gunners are a very young team, the fourth youngest squad age in Europe’s 5 major leagues ( behind 3 French teams ). We have a huge squad with 76 players on contract and a manager who likes to make 10 changes from match to match. Pep needs to rotate against some of these lower table teams and take the 2-0 win instead of crushing everybody 5-0 with his best 11.

  21. jaymin
    February 17, 2011

    good of messi and the ever-classy iniesta to trick xavi from his efforts in inseminating Jack Wilshere with Barcelona DNA during bathroom breaks at the pre-match dinner. Two Appolonians for every bacchanalian makes for well behaved catalonian, as they say in Libya.

  22. February 17, 2011

    Outcoached is the word I was looking for after finished watching the game. Arsense Wenger outcoached Guardiola this time as he had all of his players ready to play this tie and did all the correct substitutions.

    So I guess instinct is not reliable after all, huh?

    Villa was obviously on fire all day. So was Busquets. Abidal has been a beast at the back all season long, but today’s Busquets was simply outstanding, and is my Man of the Match. It’s really interesting how we looked like underestimating Arsenal in the 90mins as we took full control of everything except the scoreline. When Villa got subbed, I got really worried that we will pay for it, and of cos, we did.

    But really, Arsenal outplayed us in a very very tactical, patient, technical and disciplined way. The luck of having Messi’s goal disallowed only played a part of it, and I see it as easy as Villa’s shot hit one of Arsenal’s keeper’s legs on the way of going thru them to keep it 0-0 to the second half. They did much better when they have the ball than us. Yes, we had more of the ball, but we didn’t take full advantage of it. Maxwell is one of the core weak link in my opinion, and I am not talking about his defensive disabilities. When he can’t provide outlet on the left, we are very very predictable, because we play the ball to the right. and my belief is that when our so-called Total Football is played in a predictable way, that’s just not gonna work, and that’s not total at all.

    The rest of the forwards are just as Kxevin said. No comment on Messi, as he will just shut all mouths in Camp Nou by playing what he is capable of playing.

    Return to the outcoached point, I wonder if Pep’s decision of not practicing in Emirates show any arrogance in it, and that led us to underestimating opponents. Obviously, we the whole team played like Busquets or Abidal for 90mins, it’s really strange that we couldn’t score more than a goal or defend that one goal. Valdes also underestimated RvP by taking that silly guess of him not shooting from that angle. I guess this is the best example of our underestimation of Arsenal.

  23. Humphrey Bogart
    February 17, 2011

    Kxvin

    Wow, I agree with every word you say and every rating you give (think for the first time)

    Messi for me had an absolute stinker, like against Gijon he seems not to be able to play more than 20 minutes at the moment with 100%, but we also have to blame Pep for that as he did allow him ot play in meaningless friendlies and Copa matches.

    Iniesta, where were you?

    Pique did okay for me, but he is just not the same when Puyi is not playing, and like I said yesterday we must pray the Puyi is coming back soon. Regarding Maxwell I would even prefer Montoya or Muniesa to him at the moment.

    • February 17, 2011

      oh, maxwell wasn’t that bad–somewhat surprisingly.

      -good point about the friendly, although i think messi & batista are more to blame than pep. luckily we play zaragoza the weekend before the second leg, but we do play valencia the wednesday before that which should assure we’re fee of cobwebs for this test.

      lets see how we bounce back against an athletic punching bag on sunday.

  24. Chris M Arsenal Fan
    February 17, 2011

    Correction in one of the paragraphs, it was Nasri that assisted Arshavin’s goal.

    I kind of already gave my thoughts on the game earlier. I do think that fatigue played a big part in this game and was one of the reasons we won. Like i said in the live chat blog, Barca were great tonight but when fatigue kicks in, it is very difficult to play on. I understand that a lot of you are frustrated, you guys are in a golden generation, a team thats in the discussion with the Ajax of the 70s etc… But remember, second leg is at Nou and it will be a lot harder for us. I feel that Barca have the league won in my opinion, i dont care how close Madrid are, so maybe Pep should rest some key players for the second leg.

    Van persie’s goal was amazing. When he looked up to see who was with him but then saw the GK out of position, saw that little space, thought quickly and smashed it in, it was unreal. It had everything, it was smart, skill, world class. No Van persie in the squad and we are not as good, he means a lot to us and is world class when fit. If someone told me a week before the game that Jack Wilshere would be named man of the match i would of laughed at them, i think he caught Barca and the world by suprise tonight. Our defence was great and is very underrated.

    Overall i think that this match was a classic and was great for all fans to watch, im so thankful to be able to watch mouth watering fixtures like this and also be apart of Arsenal beating Barca for the first time. I appreciate you guys giving us the credit, it means a lot to us, this win was a big night for a lot of reasons. Hopefully we can see the same exciting game in the second leg. If we win then great, if we dont, then like i said last year on this site and earlier on, at least we can say that we lost to the best team in the world.

    I’ll be back for the second leg, maybe earlier i dont know, but until then, put this game behind you, keep the faith, and continue to get behind the team, they really need you now after this fixture. ‘Till we meet again, Be Safe guys.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      February 17, 2011

      “I understand that a lot of you are frustrated, you guys are in a golden generation, a team thats in the discussion with the Ajax of the 70s etc…”

      This…
      It devastate me if THIS Barça side get eliminated in the 16 round…

      this like our best moment to get trophies…
      look at the players and how much talent we have…
      the world have seen that when Barça hit their TOP FORM, they look like from another planet…

      unfortunately, we couldn’t delivered that ‘breath-taking and jaw-dropping performance’ like we did against Madrid last night…

      if we played Arsenal the way we played against Madrid,
      with all respect, I dont think the scoreline will be 2-1…

      and yes, fatigue played BIG part in this game…
      I just want to put Messi in his bed and let him sleep for 48 hours, a week if he needs it…
      It hurts me to see Leo running out of energy…

      anyway, glad to get a visit from an Arsenal fans like you… 🙂

      • barca96
        February 17, 2011

        Please do come back before that for the build-up to the game.

        I noticed that they were tired too. They are not used to these kind of high paced games. Villa would’ve been burned out too in the last 15mins but he was still the only fresh attacker of us. Pep, Pep, Pep.

        Indo_girl,
        we will deliver that performance in Camp Nou.
        Like Clivee said, Messi will shut us all up!

  25. Ryan
    February 17, 2011

    Well, we’ve yet again seen the team go ahead in an away CL game, only to fall later in the match. Can we just clone Abidal 2 or 3 times to solidify the back line?

    It’s especially frustrating to see how Barcelona can lose the lead considering that Spain hasn’t lost a game after going ahead in who knows how many years. (I can’t recall one since 2008 at least)

  26. The dfense held really well when the midfield was responding well. Iniesta and Messi simply switched off in the second half and that exposed our defense like anything. But the bloody thing was that the equaliser came from a nothing of a move. Had it not been gone in, we would have came out with a 1-0 win. Valdes has to be responsible for opening the gate when it was firmly shut.

    Guardiola screwed completely with the sub. I won’t mid bringing Keita in but he should have taken off Pedro, who was really pathetic.

    But in a positive not we have always been strong in Camp Nou in UCL. Arsenal fans are celebrating like they owned us, lets wait our guys will show them who the boss is .

    • Humphrey Bogart
      February 17, 2011

      That is really funny because when you read the comments on the guardian blog the PL fans always dismissing as calling as an overrated average team and now they are over the moon. It can only be one way: we are a big team and it is a phantastic performance to beat as or we are overrated that it is not that great to beat us. I just wish they would made up their minds.

  27. PhepheSa
    February 17, 2011

    My God this is depressing. Just shows how good this team is when a 2-1 away loss in a two legged is such big news. I remember a few season ago when Milan lost 3-2 at Old Trafford and I was very happy with the result(Milan are my second team) cos I just knew that they were going to win at home and they did. But this one is depressing and I don’t know why because Barca are much better than Milan were then and can do the job in the second leg. I’m just so scared and more so for the boys as I can’t imagine what will happen if… *slaps her forehead*. Well I’m gonna go shopping today and watch some Barca-EE matches, i’m sure that will cheer me up. Oh and my brother supports EE so you can imagine the torture. Atleast he’s gone to school now which gives me time to prepare my rebuttal for later.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      February 17, 2011

      that’s the problem there…

      people keep calling us the best team in the world, even some say the best team EVER…
      sometimes I wish they just stop calling us that…

      that’s why it becomes such a BIG SHOCK news that Barça lost in ONE leg by ONE goal difference…

      I totally understand what you’re saying, I’m a Milan fan too…

      when they lost 3-2 at Old Trafford, it seems normal and a good result to me…
      Milan wasn’t the favourite back then…
      and it’s certainly not the golden generation like the Dream Team Era (Milan under Sacchi)…

  28. HalfBarGun
    February 17, 2011

    Hello blogs, an Arsenal fan in peace. I have got myself a registration as we seem to be coming up against each other a lot recently and I occassionally find some of the stuff you and your loyal readers post, disrespectful and arrogant…although I can understand where it comes from.

    Last year we had a heap of players out, specifically for the second leg. It was in no way as representative of the respective class of the two clubs as last night was. We would no doubt still have lost but it would not have been by a margin. The Final’06 was also flawed due to the red card. Arsenal hold the UCL record for clean sheets, 2006…and have qualified from the the Gp stages a record number of times. We are not ‘average’. Why do you always buy our players for crying out loud?!

    Secoundly, seriously fed up with this ‘played us at our own game’ crap. This is our game…watch any season review DVD dating back to ’96…this, THAT – is how we play when Wenger has his world class players available – all done on a budget that dear Laporta wouldn’t sneeze at.

    Thirdly, please stop comparing performances of our clubs in their respective leagues. The EPL would hammer your players, your injuries would increase by a percentage, you would be kicked of the park twice a week by leg breaking thugs…not stood off and hero worshipped like ALL the clubs in La Liga do, even Real. This has evolved since Wenger instilled his brand of football at AFC.

    Your team make pretty triangles in the middle of the park, your wing backs drag midfields out of position very well, you have players of talent…but not a lot more than us. Would take Wilshere and Fabregas over Xavi and Ghostface McDivey any day of the week…and RVP can score his byeline shots. Your only true trump are your CBs…when fit or not suspended (and goalie…although our 19 year old debutant did look better last night). You have never played our best CB pairing…interesting fact.

    We won’t park the bus…and I hope we knock you out fair and square….fed up with all this ‘Me me me me me’

    • PhepheSa
      February 17, 2011

      Not even gonna bother, not worth it. Wonder why you so excited if we are just an average team. Bet you couldn’t sleep all night just wondering how special your team is for beating the mighty Barca and you gonna be bragging to all your EPL friends how you are the best team in the world now. That doesn’t usually happen when you beat a team like Wigan now does it. So come on we’ve shown you respect so how about you do the same. I’m sure you are better than that. With that enjoy your day cos I’m sure it’s gonna be a great one for you. And well played last night. See, it’s not really that hard being nice. And i said i wasn’t gonna bother, God the EPL fanboys really can get under my skin i need to work on that.

    • February 17, 2011

      Uhhh, just a couple of things. Laporta is no longer in charge, in case you didn’t notice that. It’s Rosell.

      And history dates back more than 96 my friend. The game has been played for decades.

      And taking Cesc and Wilshere over Xavi and Iniesta is a personal choice. For what its worth, its a stupid one. Its one thing to be loyal to your club, its another thing to give credit to players. They might not play in the EPL, but not a long time ago they won the world cup. They say its a pretty important tournament.

      For the reason behind why they want to buy your players. I shall ask you another question: Why are your players so interested in playing for them? It takes two to tango.

      This is also coming from a Madrid fan. But since when has the CL become a one legged encounter? Last i checked, a 2-1 loss away in the first leg was a great result. The times, they are changing.

      • PhepheSa
        February 17, 2011

        This

        That’s what ticks me off about the EPL fanboys, the disrespect they show towards great players who don’t play in their league is just beyond crazy. oh and the need to always compare la liga to the EPL. La liga fans don’t do it so it’s just shows their insecurities.

        @Bassam
        Why do you always have to say the right things, you’re an EE fan ffs and I’m not supposed to like you but I do.

        • BarcaGirl_Indo
          February 17, 2011

          LOL, PhepheSa… 😀
          yes, Bassam… I like you too, that’s not right.. haha…

          one lost and then we suddenly become so overrated, compare to EPL players…

          Xavi who? he ain’t Jack Whilshere…
          Iniesta who? he ain’t Cesc Fabregas…
          Abidal? he ain’t Ashley Cole…
          David Villa who? he ain’t Andy Carroll…
          Messi who??? he ain’t Joe Cole…

          • Benj
            February 17, 2011

            Sergio Busquets? He aint no Denilson…
            Carles Puyol? He aint no John Terry…
            Gerard Pique? He aint no Johnny Evans…
            Dani Alves? He aint no Gary Neville… Oh wait… John O’Shea…

        • Benj
          February 17, 2011

          I honestly thought we would get through this whole thread without an EPL fanboy coming along and trolling, but spank my Arsenal and call me a Wenger, here he is, he actually went through and registered just to troll.

          I had a whole rant typed out but no, all I’ll say is please leave, your opinion is actually not wanted here.

          Come back when you do a manita over your biggest rivals.

          And lets not be rude about Don Andres, I didn’t see either Fab or Jack score a world cup winning goal… In fact I hardly saw mr Cesc at all…

          Back to your bridge to pick on some billygoats 🙂

          • barca96
            February 17, 2011

            Cmon man…Cesc assisted Iniesta for the goal in the final.

          • BarcaGirl_Indo
            February 17, 2011

            “In fact I hardly saw mr Cesc at all…”

            Cesc gave that winning goal assist…

        • Sheena
          February 17, 2011

          Lol: “@Bassam, Why do you always have to say the right things, you’re an EE fan ffs and I’m not supposed to like you but I do.”
          EXACTLY.

    • complotGP
      February 17, 2011

      I agree that Wilshere was an absolute delight in this game, but I would take Xavi or Iniesta or even Thiago over him any day. But that’s just my opinion, and I don’t claim to be knowledgeable about the EPL. Anyway, best of luck in the next leg. I assure you that you will need it 🙂

  29. Humphrey Bogart
    February 17, 2011

    This smells so like the last days of Rijkaards regime, I hope they can stop this downspirale as soon as possible, if not we are screwed.

    • PhepheSa
      February 17, 2011

      Now that’s some overreaction. Like Pep said we need to believe in the team. I dont’ have facebook but I think i’m gonna open an account so I can spam Iniesta with messages of encouragement, i hear he’s very fragile.

      • Humphrey Bogart
        February 17, 2011

        Maybe you are right but I just felt so let down by their performance, They put no effort in it. If we play to our potential with passion and will and get beaten by a better team than may it be, but to throw away this game and therefore maybe the CL title WITHOUT any need, just by complacency and laziness is not acceptable and that is what reminds me of the last days of Rijkaards team.

        • PhepheSa
          February 17, 2011

          I understand. I just don’t want to believe that this team can do that again. We are on our way to becoming the best club side ever so i’d like to believe this means a lot to the players. And I don’t think Xavi will let that happen(I love Xavi btw). If we don’t win anything this season it won’t for lack of effort. Hope you feel better soon and back on crazy cule mode by sunday cos God knows the boys are going to need us.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      February 17, 2011

      since the Hercules game I think, we didn’t play well…
      it’s amazing and weird actually, that they we’re able to get 3-0 scoreline against Hercules and Atl. Madrid…
      I guess we still have that luck…

      then we have *stupid and useless* international friendlies,
      the players were infected by so called FIFA virus… 😀
      we had a bad game against Sporting, luckily we still get a draw…

      last night against a great team like Arsenal, finally our bad form since Hercules game bite us back… no more luck this time…

      can we get our November – December form back in March?
      that’s the big question…

      if we dont WAKE UP soon, just forget about the league and UCL…
      we desperately need to wake up and have PUYOL back!!

  30. complotGP
    February 17, 2011

    As a new fan used to seeing all the wins, this was an experience that I’ll never forget. All the more since I watched the game with gooner friends at a predominantly Arsenal-supporting sports bar 😛

    Kudos to Arsenal. They weren’t the better team per se technically, but they wanted it much more than we appeared to. I am optimistic about the leg at Camp Nou and know our boys won’t disappoint us. Visca!

      • complotGP
        February 17, 2011

        Just start of the 10-11 season. Which means I am a complete and total n00b but my lack of knowledge does not hinder my enthusiasm 😀

        I used to play kickball and football (well, soccer over here) but back then, the big name was Beckham in Man Utd. Wasn’t really able to follow games and such, but my idol was Oliver Khan since I was also a GK 😀

        (And I realized I might have just given away my age. Oh well.)

        • Ian
          February 17, 2011

          why hello, i’m also a 10/11 n00b over here but nothing really altered by love for fcb since the first game i saw of them which was the 2-0 hercules loss lol! and yes, since timezones suck i wake up at aroud 3am on match days to watch even on schooldays! XD

          i’m not alone after all!

          • complotGP
            February 17, 2011

            I take it you’re from GMT + 8 too? Hello! 🙂

            I try to watch all the games but it’s hard with work and life and everything else getting in the way 😐 But I do download the ones I miss, haha.

          • outerspacedout
            February 17, 2011

            I was in +8 until six months ago and will be back there in a couple weeks, now in +5. You guys in Malaysia?

          • Ian
            February 17, 2011

            whoot! yep, at +8 and i only missed 2 fcb games live: getafe and bilbao. i watch lfc too sometimes at midnight, but not as often by a great deal.

            from the philippines aka basketball-crazy football-ignorant asian country, btw 😀

          • complotGP
            February 17, 2011

            @Nav: Glad to hear that, I thought I might be the newest fan around 😀

          • FCB Faixa Roxa
            February 17, 2011

            Nice to know I’m not the only Filipino lurking around these parts — which I have been for well over a year now. I fell in love with Barca when they won the Copa in 2009 against Bilbao. I knew absolutely NOTHING about football when I visited the city. I didn’t even know they had a big match scheduled that night and was surprised when fireworks went off and car horns started blaring. We turned on the telly and there it was, Xavi, Messi, Eto, Dani, Andres, et al producing masterclass performances that I’ll never forget.

  31. Benj
    February 17, 2011

    Dont lose hope cules, I think everyone is overreacting. How many teams have done the double on us with Pep in charge? Any?

    Also checking if my grav works…

    • poipoi
      February 17, 2011

      yes we can win but games like yesterday’s are games to enjoy and win, we lost and didn’t enjoy like we know this team can make us enjoy (did that make sense?). it’s good to loose or draw games you can actually loose we are in that position but there aren’t many more.

      luuuiiiis enrique! e! e!

  32. Extreme barca fan
    February 17, 2011

    Good review kevin, thank you
    We deserved to lose, because we didnt take our chances and because arsenal fought to the end, messi could have killed the game, but no, the goal should be just another pass, sometimes you just need to SHOOT THE DAMN BALL.
    Would someone tell guardiola that if you want to play for the treble you need a bigger squad, the teams health and durability are at stake, because we played the copa del rey games as if they were life or death, and this is not an excuse for yesterday’s loss
    Also pique get your head straight please and stop fooling around, what the h… happened to you??
    I have faith in this team and i think we will get through, but we sure made it much harder now.
    To all the great people on this great blog, please try and ignore the trolls, its just useless.
    Now ill just go and kick the wall

    • barca96
      February 17, 2011

      Pique was alright. He was good. He(Abidal too) kept v.Persie, Nasri quiet all night. He is so strong on one-on-one situations. Too bad he made that unnecessary challenge. Now he’s out. But that’s all good. Cause he will be back in the semi’s.

  33. PhepheSa
    February 17, 2011

    I blame the team. They’ve spoiled us with wonderful performances this season that a normal result, actually good result for most teams, can cause such panic. If arsenal or any other team had got that result in camp nou they’d be celebrating a good performance.

    • Ian
      February 17, 2011

      we sure are spoiled, that if on a bad day barca are playing like any other average team it frustrates me. what i hated above all, above the loss, is how my favorite players underplayed. even if it ended in a draw, it might’ve made me a sad cule to see iniesta less involved in a game more important than any other this month. well anyway, i have faith. so visca barca.

  34. barca96
    February 17, 2011

    -I really think that Pep should’ve put sMasch on if he really wanted to defend the lead. I kinda understand if he took Vilal off for another striker(Bojan) or (Affelay to control the ball and attack) because Villa couldn’t play full 90mins in the first half of the season. But nowadays he still can run for the full 90mins but Im not too sure if he could against Arsenal.
    Either way, it was a bad decision. sMasch would’ve definitely stopped most of the counters. Busi can’t do it all on his own in the middle. At Camp Nou, it would be wrong to play sMasch as we need to attack attack and ATTACK! Unless, Pep wants to pair Busi and Abidal at the back because of Pique’s suspension(silly tackle!).

    -For Messi’s disallowed goal, did the ball go to him via an Arsenal player? If Im not mistaken, if the ball came off an opposition player, then Messi shouldn’t be called for offside. COrrect me if Im wrong.

    -Messi’s one-on-one miss wasn’t that bad. The GK closed the angle. The only space where Messi could go was over the GK’s left shoulder which will ultimately go out. Good job 19 yo GK!

    -Maxwell wasn’t at fault for both the goals but he was poor all night. I don’t understand, he looks disinterested in playing for us. He doesn’t hustle. I mean, if I get a chance to play for the best team in the world, I would play like it’s my last day but Maxwell always seemed so casual. And I hardly see him chasing the ball back after losing it and it’s not just this match. It happens whenever he plays. He will either just jog back or just stand still for a few seconds and walk back.

    -Pique was good to me. But both him and Abidal messed up the 1st goal. Were they trying to man-mark or play v.Persie offside? One of them should lead the line. A CB no matter a captain or not, must know how to lead the back four.

    -I said it already, but sMasch would’ve been perfect for this game. I know he will collect a yellow card but he is really perfect for EPL teams. Pep, Pep oh Pep…sigh.

    -Once again when Messi doesn’t score in the first half, he looks desperate. The entire team actually looks out of sorts. We always look better when we have a more than 2 goal cushion by half-time. Otherwise they will play too fast.

    -Finish work. Time to play futsal. I am sure I wont be seeing any Barca shirt’s day. Usually there are tons of guys wearing Barca jerseys(latest ones).
    Somebodddy’s gonna get a hurt tonight. Somebodddy(Russell Peters 😆 )

    • barca96
      February 17, 2011

      Another problem is Pep’s refusal to rest Messi, Iniesta, and the rest when the game is won. I understand the need to keep the starting 11 in order to keep the chemistry going but when the match is done and dusted, take them out, protect them.

      If Messi doesn’t want to go out, show him who’s the boss! You are the boss! You make the decisions. Our team is more important than Messi’s WANTS(not needs cause he doesn’t need to play 90mins in every match).

  35. y2k156
    February 17, 2011

    I think it was a victory which Arsenal fought for and for us, it was not as good a result as we would have wished for, but it is not too bad.

    Arsenal: I think credit is due to Arsenal. They played well and kept up their spirits. Their substituions were attacking and they caught us on break. I think they have enough in them to score one or two in Barcelona.

    Barcelona: We played well and as happens sometimes, were slightly unlucky and bad in converting chances. In addition, it seems that in last 20 minutes, we lost lot of steam. Maybe its tiredness or effect of February but overall, it has made the return leg that much tougher. In any case, some how Pep does not seem to have got grips with away legs in CL knockout rounds. Even last year, we were lucky to come out of Stuttgart with a draw. Year before that, Lyon had enough chances to defeat us as well. I am actually happy that the return leg is three weeks hence which should help us.

    Abidal: For me, he was ok but definitely not MOTM. Busi,if anyone or Villa were MOTM. I like Abidal and think he is one of our key guys but i am getting a feeling that people are blowing it out of proportion.

    Pique: Again an average performance from him.

    Messi: For me, Messi was 7, at least. Its not just his setting up for Villa but overall, he was a major factor for our first half dominance. He might have missed chances but which striker does not. He had done the hard work to be there. He played well.

    Valdes: He did not have a steller match. His distribution was bad and it reminded me of few years back.

    Pep: I have to say that this was not Pep’s finest hour. In battle for coaches, credit goes to Arsene. Pep made wrong substitutions and Villa should not have been off.

    Return leg: I think it is set up very well. We will score and so will Arsenal. Arsenal might even be favorites to go through now though we might win. For me, i think we still have edge in the tie. Even yesterday, we outplayed them for long stretches. We do need to be at 100% and if we are not, bye bye wembley.

    • barca96
      February 17, 2011

      Busi is my MOtM. I was telling my brother during the match, if in football they have stats like in NBA, where they have “steals” stats, Busi would definitely have the highest number for every match in the whole of Europe. Dude’s a crazy mind reader..

    • With Valdes that’s bound to happen once in a while. Only problem was he chose the wrong match. When I saw Van Persie receiving the ball at that position, I knew he was in no position to cross. So it baffles me why Valdes decided he is going to, especially with defenders around.

  36. dlbags
    February 17, 2011

    Arsenal fan here. Great level headed write up.

    My view is that there was an air of arrogance to Barca. I’ve seen this before- when we lost a 4 goal lead to Newcastle United. I said then I hoped the team learned from it. FCB seemed to get into this mode of toying with AFC instead of putting them away. As if the one goal was enough. I kept wondering when the flurry of goals was to come but AFC held the line well enough and made the most of their opportunities. The momentum shifted and Arsenal surged.

    This happens though at this level of sport. I wouldn’t dwell on it. You have to have broad shoulders to play sport professionally. That and a short memory. I’m sure the next game will be something to watch.

    As far as my Gunners they have seemed a team than needed a victory like tonight, then maybe some silver like in the Carling Cup to get them over that hump and finally outrun the ghost of the invincibles and Highbury Road. I think last night that happened. Whether it results in a Champions League, FA or Carling cup or even the Premiership remains to be seen. Either way I think Arsenal came of age and you are in for a fight in March.

    I like Barca (when they aren’t playing us) and they in the big picture, like Arsenal, MUFC or Real Madrid make this game so beautiful us all winners in some way event hough it burns when we lose. So tonight is ours but tomorrow is a new challenge and both teams need to forget and focus on the next game so until then…

    • barca96
      February 17, 2011

      They were kinda in the showboating mode quite early. They must’ve forgotten that 1 goal lead is not enough against an English side who always has a never say die attitude.

  37. Helge
    February 17, 2011

    I somehow believe that the decisions going against us (Bojan’s goal disallowed last year, and yesterday Messi’s goal) are the payback for all the luck we’ve had @ Stamford Bridge 08/09.

    I’m completely disenchanted right now, I can easily see us getting knocked out of the CL by Arsenal (who then will have no chance at all against the likes of Chelsea, ManUtd or Inter), fail to win another match next Sunday against high-flying Bilbao and finish the season with ZERO titles 🙁

    • Humphrey Bogart
      February 17, 2011

      That is my thinking too. It that should happen it would rock the fondations of the Camp Nou and could spell an end to RoSELLs austerity measures.

      I could see us going for Cesc as well an other Top striker for whatever price and every budget restrictions go out of the window. After Laportas successful regime RoSELL would hardly survive a trophyless season without major investments afterwards (regardless if needed or not) to reconcile with the fans.

      • Jim
        February 17, 2011

        Oh my God. pass me the Valium . . . . . 🙂

    • ak
      February 17, 2011

      are you a closet chelsea fan? maybe they had one good appeal turned down but abidal was sent off for nothing

  38. PhepheSa
    February 17, 2011

    Congrats again, your team never gave up and showed that english grit we are always told about. Hopefully we bounce back with a gr8 performance.

    What i don’t get though is the arrogance you mention. This team plays like this all the time, it’s the only way we know. Sometimes it doesn’t work and that doesn’t mean we underestimate the opponet. Certainly not in a champs league knockout.

  39. Helge
    February 17, 2011

    btw, Piqué is suspended for the 2nd leg. So we will have to make do without our best defense against RvP, Walcott and Nasri again …
    Imagine if Puyol’s back injury comes back, or simply hasn’t gone until then (it was told that he’d be back for the Gijon match, but then it has been postponed, who knows when he’ll be completely fit again?) – we would be screwed!

    Kxevin, I don’t know what a combo platter is, but any win that has us a goal ahead will not make us qualify (only the 1-0 win), so you probably meant any win with 2 or more goals advantage, right?

  40. mei
    February 17, 2011

    Really pissed off at messi.
    I can watch him running for a full 90 minutes with the national side, only to come back and walk half of the time of the two next games for us.
    We pay your fat checks and made you into what you are kid , straighten up.

  41. I am quite surprised by the desperation in some Barca fans. Ok, we switched of in second half and paid for that. But if we prevent that from happening at Camp Noue, we will go through easily. For all Arsenal fans say, they never created a clear cut chance before Valdes screwed it up. And that also was because the likes of Iniesta, messi Pedro etc went into sleep.

    The first half performance was really superb. Was it not for an erroneous call from referee and some good goal keeping we would have taken a bigger lead. We did that in their back yard. so We can do it much better in ours. And also Messi, Pedro etc tend to play far better and score more goals while playing at Camp Nou.

  42. outerspacedout
    February 17, 2011

    I think we’re taking this a bit too hard. Every team has spells of being poor- remember the last times we screwed up two games in a row? The first two games under Pep and February that season with Atletico and Espanyol. We were back to demolishing-ball best after that. Comparisons to 07/08 or worries of falling apart are silly. In our first even-average spell for four months, playing amazingly below par, we only lost 2-1 with a disallowed goal for us and a horrible goalkeeping blunder, what are the honest odds that we’ll play anywhere near this bad at home? Very little. Us getting mad at the team or panicking YET, just shocked emotional response. Do any of us here really believe we won’t come out guns blazing, game-faces on in the Camp? Even Inter may I remind you with their frankly amazing defensive performance lost 1-0, a result which if repeated would see us go through. We f*ed up this match and awfully so, against an Arsenal side furious to prove a point against us for last season and motivated by the Spurs result and the hype and thunder it brought with the possibility of hated rivals being the talk of Europe while Arsenal were out. It happens.

    • complotGP
      February 17, 2011

      Agreed. I hope Pep gave them a good talking-to after this game, there’s no way fans will stand for that kind of performance at Camp Nou. This is the best team in the world and they will be hungry to prove themselves 🙂

      (Also @outerspacedout: I’m from the Philippines, where football doesn’t have much of a following, but things are changing. Welcome back to GMT+8 in a couple of weeks.)

      • Ian
        February 17, 2011

        oh wow we live in the same country. i’m guessing it’s the wc on tv that got you real hooked huh? XD nice ta meetya 😀

        • complotGP
          February 17, 2011

          I used to play actually 😀 I followed the ’98 WC (Zizou!) but football fell off the radar for me after that. I’m just happy that nowadays it’s a lot easier to watch thanks to the internet. Nice to meet you! Yoroshiku 🙂

    • BarcaOwl
      February 17, 2011

      Well said. Though I must admit that I just couldn’t sit through the last few minutes of the game. Spoilt as I am by the way the team usually plays, it became very much like watching a world class musician mess up his solo performance. Painful indeed.

      On an unrelated note, Jimmy Burns’ book was a really good read. For a history book. Now, if I can just find something else to read…

  43. Sheena
    February 17, 2011

    I’m not going to say that we’ll thrash them in the Camp Nou, because I honestly don’t know at this point. I figured that the team may feel like they had something to prove after the Gijon mess, but apparently not.

    And Kxevin, we’ll need to win by more than one goal if we concede 2 at the Camp Nou. They’ll have the away goal advantage, even if we win 3 – 2.

    If we play the way that we did in this game, there’s no way in hell we’ll be advancing. As many before me have mentioned, Arsenal simply played like they wanted it more, and that was the main reason we lost this match. We danced around in the centre of the pitch stringing together pass after intricate pass without any real attacking intent.

    Absolutely no one could be bothered to make a run after Villa was brought off. No.One. Sure we could consider ourselves a little hard done by the referee, but all in all, this was a match that we should have killed off way, way earlier.

    Arsenal fans have the bragging rights at the moment, and rightly so. It’d have been different if we’d given it our all and still been beaten, but every single one of us know that the team in green that took to the pitch last night was nowhere near it’s best. It really isn’t a bad result to take back home, it’s just that it could have been so much better.

    I honestly think that we missed our captain out there. Do you honestly see Puyol letting a single one of his teammates slack off? Because I sure as hell don’t.

    I can only pray that he’ll be in fighting form for the return leg, which also happens to be on my birthday. So pretty please Barca, with a cherry on top, wake up.

    Till then, we should all remember one thing: WE SUPPORT OUR BELOVED CLUB. Granted, their performance was abysmal, but they need us now more than ever, and after all the joy they’ve given us this season, we owe it to them.

    • complotGP
      February 17, 2011

      Well said. Let’s keep the faith, fellow culés!

    • Humphrey Bogart
      February 17, 2011

      Absolutly agree with regards to Puyol, never was he missed like in that game. He would be constantly in Piques ear not to slepp, Abi would have been at LB, so no Maxwell. He would eat Busi alive for just one bad Busi moment, scream and kick, even Messi, to go forward and fight.

  44. Ian
    February 17, 2011

    i accidentally passed by allas14’s page and checked these 20-sec or less vids that exhibit barca individual skills in spain, and it shook me back into that sure our club may suck once but look at everything else we can do! we cules should never lose hope after one loss, we’re just spoiled 😛 and I BELIEVE IN MARCH

  45. Once again we didn’t do badly yesterday. I thought after the first ten minutes of pressure from Arsenal we were bossing them in the first half. That may have led to many of the players to take it easy and be relaxed. We did the exact same last year, and we all know what happened in the return leg.

    • poipoi
      February 17, 2011

      that play is not that hard to see live for the ref and/or lineman IMO. just.behind.the.ball.

    • February 17, 2011

      What an awful call to make. I cannot fathom how poor decisions like this keep getting made at the highest level. This was offside yet somehow Maicons goal last year stood. Yeah. Ok.

      It seems like lady luck has abandoned us in the CL. Maybe we used it all up vs Chelsea

      • Helge
        February 17, 2011

        That’s exactly how I feel.
        But tbh, we’ve had so much luck in 08/09, I cannot really blame the refs or the football gods YET. Nonetheless, I think the decisions for and against us have evened out now. It’s time for the refs to make the right calls in the upcoming matches, they shall neither give us an advantage nor a disadvantage. Simply blow your whistles according to the rules, and everything’ll be fine!

      • ak
        February 17, 2011

        and you know referees have it easy when they mess up for barcelona, cuz there’s a general feeling that barca are the best in the world, they don’t need any help
        if this had been united instead of us, you could bet there would have been a storm in england

  46. poipoi
    February 17, 2011

    messi is the best ok (to me second to iniesta) , but someone has to shout to him a little “luis aragones” style… it’s been some games like this already we all can see. That person would have to be pep. While xavi and iniesta still are not playing their best level football they don’t miss a ball messi lost like 20 yesterday. he can miss goals ok but behaving like a black hole like yesterday is too much. Besides he looked like romario when he lost the ball he just stood there or walked back… also someone, some strong bad FCB player like I dunno samuel etoo 🙂 would have shouted to him in the pitch, we have no one that can do that now. busquets? I feel like we need some authority some hierarchy and not let messi do anything he feels like, his intentions are good but yesterday he took many wrong decisions. he’s the best, he still gave the pass to villa and scored a goal that non-offside goal. It was by the moment the most important game of the season and that’s how messi performed… xavi and iniesta bad also, p! very bad but still fighting. iniesta xavi and specially messi look like they don’t fight they just practice with crowd. busi MOTM IMO and maxwell anti-MOTM.

    We should have could have won by at least two goals but we didn’t perform full-gear like we used to do in CL (apart from my love busi) you could see it from min 1. like how we played vs EE. We played like we ussually do in la liga, thinking the goal will come sometime but Arsenal is a great european team much respect to them. They are no Almeria or whatever midclass spanish team. When they get the ball they know what to do with it. They don’t just give it out to you. I even felt good when arshavin scored the second one. They had us totally ko and could have even been worse. Was adriano already in? wtf with the crazy subs pep. You could have even started keita but pulling back during the game is not what you preach in the press conferences. I’m mad, you have to add this game to the one in gijon. this was a partidazo but we can do better don’t you think? 🙁

  47. Camero
    February 17, 2011

    No body has yet mentioned the suicidal high Arsenal line . Basically they took the game to us with the high line AND, not pressing our defenders, but making a solid block of 5/6players smack in the middle of where our midfielders play. They were thus forcing us to play snappy and get the ball behind their backline which normally would have led to us scoring about 10 goals from 15 chances. We created a few chances but it seemed we were more interested in keeping the ball than attacking the goal.

    I am so frustrated. Arsenal were smart knowing we prefer to keep the ball than attack the backline. We should have just gone for it and tried to attack everytime we had the opportunity. There was just so much space. Who cares if the defender intercepts one through ball- keep doing it because that is the only way to play against this setup.

    Iniesta is my favourite player bar none, but he has lost is aggressiveness and speed of play these past weeks. I don’t understand why everyone is saying, now, he is one of the worlds best. Just because hes scored a few goals. This season he has been less dynamic and hence less effective and people are only seeing this now. Perhaps afffelay for iniesta would have change dynamics in the second half.

    Did anyone else notice our back line was flexible. They kept moving back leaving too much space in front of them. I understand they were scared of Arsenals pace, but I felt this completely nullified our press leading us to chase for a longer duration. I have never seen busquets cover so much ground, and to no avail. I know Puyol wouldn’t have run such a weak backline.

    I am so saddened by the way in which we lost this game not the result(I think we will overcome this). I think Arsenal beat us because they were more aggressive and took more risks than us, and this is something I am not used to as a barca fan

    • poipoi
      February 17, 2011

      I’ve said he’s the best for a long long time, since when deco stopped his development. but you’re right about his agressiveness. as I’m a fan I’ll tell you that maybe it is to avoid injuries, since he had so many in the last years. but he can be more agressive with his passes his way to look upward if you are talking bout that. he is less agressive yes I think the same way, and affelay maybe could have done something he runs a hell lot more.

    • outerspacedout
      February 17, 2011

      Emotions are clouding view of the whole season here. Iniesta was a beast this season except the past three or so games, best player in the league behind Messi and completely bossing games. He’s had a poor spell, like much of the team, but he was mesmerizing for most of the season. As was the team. This is just an off patch, like the consecutive losses to Espanyol and Atletico around this same time of the the treble-winning season. We got to chill. So we played a shitty game, when the cloud passes and that very soon we’re still the team with record number of wins, plus 59 goal dif, 5-0 over Madrid, the same forwards with 40, 18 and 19 goals respectively, the same midfield that were the 2nd and 3rd best players in the world, that has always risen to the occasion, so many times made us feel silly for questioning them- Chelsea, Estudiantes, 4-1 Arsenal, United after the first ten minutes of the CL final. The best defensive side in years played the game of their lives against a Barca with no Iniesta or PokeVilla and an unfit Angry Ninja, and still lost 1-0 which is a result we can get against Arsenal and still qualify. It’s in the Nou Camp where every side we played that didn’t park the bus lost 5-2, 4-0, 4-0 and 4-1 in European knockouts. We should know by now to trust in this team and even be fully cocky-confident of the win.

      Villa’s head though, it looks like a pokemon, did Pique do his hair like that as a prank or something? Honestly though I love that guy, with his awful shoes and questionable dress sense and badass soul-patch and horrible hair and ‘Pedro is my role model’ humility and cheerfulness, he seems like a bit dorky-fun-nice-guy though he is a superstar footballer. And not insane like Pique who I swear read his twitter and try not to go ‘WTF?’. Now THAT is something worth worrying about.

  48. complotGP
    February 17, 2011

    And just to ease my pain I’m going to watch last year’s return leg at Camp Nou. Let’s not forget that glorious 4 – 1 😀

  49. Roz
    February 17, 2011

    Bleh! After the game I was pissed, but im a glass half full kinda guy. Look at the positives:
    1. Puyol will be back for the second leg.
    2.Like Jose said yesterday Arsenal are coming to the Camp Nou. How will they deal with 100,00 screaming Catalans?
    3. We have never won in a 2 legged tie in Europe under Pep.In the second leg we usaully slaugher the oppositon.
    4. Away goal.
    5. Arsenal are not better then us. Know that for a fact.
    Visca Barca!!!

    • Whatever
      February 17, 2011

      You are right.

      However, what hurts the most is that we didn’t fight. We didn’t die on that field last night. And Guardiola made mistakes. And that sucks.

  50. PhepheSa
    February 17, 2011

    Well it’s 3pm here in SA and i’m already starting to feel better. Give it some time and you’ll see it’s not as bad as it looks. I think we are just sad because of how the team played not so much the result. If we’d lost playing well it would have been easy to accept, but we all know what this team is capable of and we wanted to showcase our talent to the world.

    Didn’t wanna get out of bed this morning, that’s how sad I was. What hurt even more is that we lost to an EPL team and they are gonna be telling us how much better their league is for the next three weeks.

    Hope we can forget about this soon and move on cos this site is the only thing keeping me sane right now.

    Sempre Barca!

  51. soccermomof4
    February 17, 2011

    It’s the end of the world. I told you all that TB coming back to defend against Espanyol last week was a sign of the Apocalypse. But a prophetess is never accepted on her own blog….

    Seriously, people! It’s not the beginning of the end like the last days of Rijkaard. Hopefully, it’s the beginning of some serious squad rotation and B team inclusions.

    We played 60 minutes of really good football, 20 minutes of so-so football, and 10 minutes of…er…synchronized swimming? We are (remember I watch Arsenal and cheer for them every week) the better team but they are very very good and this result was never out of the realm of possibilities. The winners yesterday were Arsenal,the neutrals, and our (FCB and Arsenal’s) style of play.

    Good review Kxevin but if Iniesta was a 3 then Messi was a 3 because half the reason he was so tired was because he had to come WAY back into the midfield and do Iniesta’s job for major portions of the game. If Pep is a 2, then P and Messi are 2s because the poorest performer out there was Pep. Really, Keita for Villa. Villa was one of the few people having a good game. Protect the lead with sMache if you’re gonna resort to protecting a 0-1 lead!

    Now for the hard part: putting up with gooners wanting to rub our noses in our own hubris. Thankfully, we have BASSAM, a true cule hero (JK Bassam) a true Madridista hero to defend us! Love you Bassam!

    So where should we go from here:
    1. Pep, send the kids to Disney World, Vegas, I don’t care where just give them some kind of rest because they are tired!
    2. Pep, rotation and B team. start training with Bartra and fontas now because our CB situation just went from bad to dire.
    3. Pep, learn from Wenger. When key internationals are called up, maybe they can contract dubious stomach bugs as well!

    I need chocolate and coffee, now!

    • PhepheSa
      February 17, 2011

      Wow you really are a supermom. I feel better already.

      • soccermomof4
        February 17, 2011

        Hey PhepheSa,
        Welcome to BFB!
        Wanna be added to our Barca Girls list? It’s just a list (nothing happens with it), just a way to keep track of when to use he/she/her/and him in a post. Notice you said “her” earlier.

        • soccermomof4
          February 17, 2011

          so stupid- I already posted this- I really need my coffee- ignore me all-

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      February 17, 2011

      That’s it!
      Let Messi sleep for 48 hours,
      and take him to the Disneyland or Sea World and let him have some fun.

      Not just Messi, take the whole team to Disneyland, including Pep.
      My God Pep, what a horrible decision.

      I only had 4 hours sleep the whole day, but cant even sleep now, my heart still aching.
      I’m so gonna sue Rosell if I get sick.

    • blitzen
      February 17, 2011

      You said everything I wanted to say!

      And I love your new avatar!

      • soccermomof4
        February 17, 2011

        I couldn’t handle Shakira. Besides, after the tone of all of the post-game posts, I thought Mt. Doom was more appropriate 😀

  52. soccermomof4
    February 17, 2011

    PhepheSa,
    I noticed you said *slaps HER forehead*. Did you want to be added to the Barca Girls list of this blog?

    • PhepheSa
      February 17, 2011

      Yes please, i’d be honoured to be in company of greatness.

    • blitzen
      February 17, 2011

      Is cliu on there? She said she was a girl too…

  53. BarcaGirl_Indo
    February 17, 2011

    So we just need 1-0 to get through….

    But the thing is, how we can keep a clean sheet against Arsenal? It’s really really tough.. We certainly will attack, attack, attack, and attack.. and becomes very vulnerable in defense..

    1. Will we have Puyol for 2nd leg? We dont know for sure.
    2. Even if Puyol is healthy, we wont have Pique. Say what you want about Pique, but losing him is not a good thing, coz it means likely we will se Abidal as a CB again, who’s gonna be the LB?
    3. And not just Puyol, we don’t even know for sure if we will be injury-free in the 2nd leg.

    I really want to have some optimism, but damn it’s hard.
    and hey, no matter what, I will always love this team… 😀

    • Helge
      February 17, 2011

      You know, the hardest part for me is HOW TO SURVIVE the next THREE WEEKS!
      I cannot think about anything else but the rematch, and it kills me that I’ll have to wait so long. Last year, we only had to wait 6 (or 8) days, this time it’s 20 days. Right now, I’m sitting in front of my laptop and my knees are shaking because I’m already so excited. The hardest part will be to free my mind from this tie, and to concentrate on my bachelor thesis :/

      • Helge
        February 17, 2011

        *that was not supposed to be a cool smiley with sun-glasses, but an ‘eight’ with a bracket afterwards ^^

      • February 17, 2011

        Yeah well at least you dont live in London surrounded by smug EPL fans. I have to sit and listen to everyone go on about how much better the EPL is now for the next 3 weeks.

        • Helge
          February 17, 2011

          Maybe even for the next 12 months or so…
          I’m pretty sure that Spurs, ManUtd and Chelsea will go through, Arsenal is 40-60.

  54. BarcaGirl_Indo
    February 17, 2011

    yes, I hate that we must live in this agony for 3 weeks…

    3 weeks!!

  55. 3 weeks is good, as it will take the dreadful February out of picture. Sometimes these small things could affect the players attitude.

  56. PhepheSa
    February 17, 2011

    I’m worried about Jnice, hope he’s ok. He sounded really sad in his post yesterday. Can’t believe how much we love this team.

    • Eklavya
      February 17, 2011

      Oh come on, he’s not going to suicide or something! 😛

      • PhepheSa
        February 17, 2011

        I know i know, he just sounded so depressed yesterday.

  57. BarcaGirl_Indo
    February 17, 2011

    Sometimes this team is beyond my expectation…
    But other times, when you thought they will give us a class performance and play their hearts out after a wake up call, they didnt.

    I’m scared to death before El Clasico, I thought it will be very tight game…
    I was wrong, Barca went crazy…

    This time, I thought Barca will certainly wake up and hungry after that ugly performance vs Sporting, I was wrong…

    So dont know what to expect now…

  58. Josep
    February 17, 2011

    I’ve calmed down a lot from last night. one of the comments from an arsenal fan made me chuckle when he was talking about RVP seeing VV off his line and placing that shot perfectly. VV moved out as he was shooting and RVP was looking straight down..

    The concern is gone with me. Pique is out, so we’ll probably so Alves-Puyol-Abidal-Maxwell.

    I think the percentage of teams who advance is 51.8% if they lose the first leg away 2-1. Thats a good percentage, and to all the fans that think we’re such a good team, the percentage must surely be higher?

    To Barca’s credit, we outplayed them for 80 minutes. Not to take anything away from Arsenal, but the Villa sub must’ve killed the team. We looked flat afterwards. I wasn’t overly impressed with the way Arsenal attacked, and we looked to quell most threats but those two goals were ugh, completely avoidable.

    Anyways, I’m cautiously optimistic. It remains to be said that last year we “only” scored 2 and a lot of the reason was Almunia playing OUT OF HIS MIND. Well thats what Koschelecsny and Djorou (to his credit hes been great all year) did along with their young GK. I’ve been saying yeah Wilshere was great, it’ll be interesting how they play away from home though.

    We were cruising in a tough away stadium. if we finish it off even 1-0 we’re completely confident. There’s no way Arsenal will win at the Camp, but will we win by enough?

  59. beeeef
    February 17, 2011

    Does anybody know what the deal is with Puyol’s injury? Is he supposed to be declared fit soon? Seems like ages since we’ve seen Captain Cavemen in our starting XI.

  60. Bafanalapagus
    February 17, 2011

    I’m sorry but I don’t have the faith in Pep’s abilities as tactician or motivator as many of you.

    Whenever there’s an important game to be played, I pray we somehow get a couple of quick goals – and I do mean a couple – because I don’t have any faith in Pep being able to outcoach or motivate our time to a necessary victory.

    It’s disgraceful that we lost a game that we were winning 1 – 0. But if I’m honest with myself, because of my lack of confidence in PEP, it doesn’t surprise me.

    Just my opinion but I have as much faith in Pep these days as i do Bojan…and that’s very scary.

    • vicsoc
      February 17, 2011

      Pep has a 73% win percentage, the love of many of his players, and 7 trophies to his name.

      Does he need a 99% win percentage before you will trust him?

      • Bafanalapagus
        February 17, 2011

        I think anyone would prefer a 99% winning percentage over a 73%! So yes! Thanks for asking. Ha ha

  61. Bafanalapagus
    February 17, 2011

    Meant to say “team”not time…probably figured that out by now.

  62. soccermomof4
    February 17, 2011

    Congratulations BFB, it’s a girl!
    PhepheSa being added here- see, something good can come out of yesterday!

    Barca Girls version 5.0.3!
    soccermom
    Kari
    Blitzen
    Merge
    Linda
    Corrine
    justsayin
    Barcapanda
    Sheena
    Huckleberry
    Humphrey Bogart
    Barcagirl_Indo
    Lauryn206
    Goo
    Para
    lea_terzi
    Mila
    barcaowl
    nzm
    PhepheSa
    me (soccermomof4, AKA SoMa4, AKA somomo, AKA any and all combos of so+mo+4)
    BARCA GIRLS RULE!

    Results from the Valentine’s Day Activity:
    Question: If you weren’t a respectable, knowledgeable, true FCB fan, who would you go all “fangirl” over?
    Answers:
    Yours truly- Xavi
    Blitzen- Xavi
    Kari- Leo
    linda – Pep
    Merge- Sergio Roberto- but in honor of Regal barca’s victory- Gianluca Basile
    Sheena- Pique
    Barcagirl_Indo-Pique

    • blitzen
      February 17, 2011

      You missed cliu. And lovelymofo again. You have something against her? 😛

      • soccermomof4
        February 17, 2011

        lovelymofo’s a dude, right? Don’t tease me?
        and see below, Ive “writed” my wrongs!

        • soccermomof4
          February 17, 2011

          I don’t add people on heresay- THEY have to tell me they want in!

    • complotGP
      February 17, 2011

      Is it too late to participate? XD Add me to the Pique list.

      • soccermomof4
        February 17, 2011

        Do I add you to the Barca Girls list?

        • soccermomof4
          February 17, 2011

          You need to be on the Barca Girls list to participate in the Barca Girls activity. I’ve learned not to assume genders by avatars, screen names, OR other poster’s reccomendations.

        • soccermomof4
          February 17, 2011

          Oh dear, don’t know what to do, always trying not to offend—
          I don’t have a Pique list, only a Barca Girls list and a couple of girls on the list that picked Pique as they “fangirl” guy. I can’t go against my own rules. You have to be specific. I’m dumb that way. You gotta say, “put me on the Barca Girls list.

          • cliu
            February 17, 2011

            I am girl soccermom of 4. I’m a soccer mom of 1.

          • complotGP
            February 18, 2011

            No worries SoMa 😀 Yes please put me on the Barca Girls list.

      • soccermomof4
        February 17, 2011

        I never add without authorization.

  63. soccermomof4
    February 17, 2011

    EPIC FAIL!
    Just noticed clui wants to be added.
    So help me Vj, if you so much as mention me adding one of the guys to this list, your name goes to the top of it.
    Barca Girls version 5.0.4!
    soccermom
    Kari
    Blitzen
    Merge
    Linda
    Corrine
    justsayin
    Barcapanda
    Sheena
    Huckleberry
    Humphrey Bogart
    Barcagirl_Indo
    Lauryn206
    Goo
    Para
    lea_terzi
    Mila
    barcaowl
    nzm
    PhepheSa
    clui
    me (soccermomof4, AKA SoMa4, AKA somomo, AKA any and all combos of so+mo+4)
    BARCA GIRLS RULE!

    • Vj
      February 17, 2011

      I have no problem having so many girls/women behind(:P) me but the truth is the truth. Lovelymofo is a lady, don’t go by her nick..

      Jury is still out on Luke/Isaiah 😀

  64. vicsoc
    February 17, 2011

    Once again we see a match between Barcelona and Arsenal come down to the substitutions made, and once again the coach who was braver with his subs won the match. In 2006 Rijkaard was very bold with his subs – replacing the defensive midfielder Edmilsen with Iniesta, replacing Van Bommel with a forward in Larsson, and putting on Belleti who was more attacking that Olegeur. The result was a win.

    Last year Wenger really went after the game and outclassed Pep with his subs and subsequently salvaged the first leg.

    This year Pep made a meek sub. Keita has his place in the team, but this certainly isn’t it. Arsenal is not the type of team that we can just try to retain possession against in the dying minutes of the match – last year proved that. Not to mention that Villa enjoys playing against high lines and he was having a good game and he would have been very dangerous as Arsenal looked for the equalizer.

    It’s not often we can say Pep got it wrong, but he certainly did yesterday. Even more worrying is that our European record away from home has been quite dismal the last couple of years. Teams like Shakhtar are able to go out and get away wins, we should be able to as well.

    Finally – rest the players. They are tired. Some of these players have been playing virtually nonstop for 3 years. Arsenal was obviously much better rested than we were. If Pep doesn’t do some very effective rotating in the next 3 weeks we could be in trouble in the return leg.

    • Bafanalapagus
      February 17, 2011

      Agreed.

      If Pep can’t figure out what he needs his team to do, who to rest, who to sub in, then we’re sunk. And if you don’t have a vocal captain on the pitch motivating the players – Soft-spoken Xavi is not Puyol – then you need to see the urgency and fighting spirit in your coach. Too often I look at Pep on the sidelines in these important matches and I truly believe he’s lost as to what to do.

      I’ve been harping on Pep for a few weeks now and by my account, he needs to get his “Sh%tT’ together. Our two losses and one tie in the last few weeks should absolutely not have happened.
      Barca plays like silk and it’s beautiful to watch, but they need to start playing like arrogant Inglorious Bastards as well and MAKE someone beat them…not beat themselves.

      • vicsoc
        February 17, 2011

        I absolutely don’t agree with your assessment of Pep. I also think it’s a bit ridiculous to expect this team to win every game – there never has and never will be a team that is able to do that.

        It’s easy to forget that this team is mortal. Still it’s necessary to guard yourself from expecting the team to win every game – that just isn’t reasonable.

    • PhepheSa
      February 17, 2011

      I know i’m clutching at straws now, but could it be that Pep was happy with the 0-1 or a draw as he was maybe also thinking about the game this weekend which is also going to be a difficult one. I know it backfired but… it’s lame but we can’t let EE close the gap on us as it will be a disaster. Like someone said(?) we don’t look like a mentally strong team so the wheels could come off if we go from a 7 point lead to just 2. I know i know maybe i’m just trying to make myself feel better.

  65. soccermomof4
    February 17, 2011

    Oh, in case you’re wondering if having Arsenal as my second team takes any of the sting out of this. The answer is NO! I think it makes it 10X worse. When I watch them in their FA cup game on Sunday I’m bound to hear about how they dismantled the legendary Barca…

    • PhepheSa
      February 17, 2011

      I’m staying away from everything that is EPL related for a few days. I don’t think I can take it. It’s not wrong you know to miss a few games here and there, it’s not like they are Barca which would make it a huge sin. Just pretend to be busy with something.

      • soccermomof4
        February 17, 2011

        lol–ofcourse you don’t know that I live with a ManU fan (son) and a Chelsea fan (hubby, but Barca is his “main” team) so staying away from the EPL is almost impossible.

        • PhepheSa
          February 17, 2011

          And i thought my situation was bad. Brother supports EE. My other brother is a Barca fan but i think he supports Messi more than the team so i don’t really count on him for support. They have a bet on who’s gonna score more goals between Messi and TB by the end of the season.

          • soccermomof4
            February 17, 2011

            Ah family! You can’t live with them and you can’t shoot them….

  66. gowtham
    February 17, 2011

    wow, lots of depression…
    why???
    if one can look back at past statistics, we can clearly see that feb. has not been our strongest month…
    we dropped points back to back vs espanyol and betis in 08-09 and lost to ath madrid and stuttgart last year…but we came out blazing after the poor stretch…and I have confidence in this team.. I`m pretty sure well go through:D

  67. Barcathegreatestever
    February 17, 2011

    Another take on Abidal; on the first goal, Pique shifted as he should have to cover Alves. Abidal let Van Persie go into space when he should have shifted while man marking Van Persie. Complete mental mistake.

    Second goal again Abidal is completely out of position to support the left flank as Maxwel was up in the attack which is his decision. Again he is responsible for leaving the defense exposed. These have been the complaints in the past nothing new. Certainly opposite of man of the match evaluation

  68. blitzen
    February 17, 2011

    Well, Kxevin, you may be “disgusted” with the team, but I’m not. I love this team no matter what. Understand that they are human, not machines, and sometimes they will falter and sometimes they will fail. We always knew this was going to be an extremely difficult match. Pep must shoulder most of the blame here. For overplaying Messi. For terrible substitutions. For letting his team sit back and try to defend a 1-0 lead in Arsenal’s house.

    I am actually pretty disgusted with all the vitriol displayed in here by so-called cules towards our team. Sure, they disappointed us, but they’re not criminals! I am sure they feel a hell of a lot worse than we do, and I am triply sure that the return leg will be a LOT different. I hate how it suddenly turns all DOOM and WE R SO SCREWED in here when our team turns in a less-than-perfect performance.

    Visca Barca!

    • February 17, 2011

      Agreed 100%. The 2nd leg will be very different and these players are full of heart and determination. 90% of the time they play like they are from another planet. We really take for granted how difficult it is to play like that consistently which is why as a team we have drops in form and peaks. The team is designed to peak in November and in April. The Feb drop in form is expected and it happens every year. When March 8th comes back around we will be up for it, we will be hungry and we will be building towards our peak. We will prevail.

    • Roz
      February 17, 2011

      DOOOOOOMMM! Pessism stinks lets get rid of it.

      • blaugranaDOOM
        February 17, 2011

        agreed, life is too short.

  69. Eklavya
    February 17, 2011

    Sigh, don’t know where to start. Saying this before: I also have to add my opinions and interpretations of the match and let it off me. My comment isn’t a “Oh my god it’s the end of the world comment even though it contains sort of a rant”.

    Great review Kxevin, I agree with everything except Messi’s (and Alves’) ratings.

    Messi: Personally, I would have given him a 6. Come on, this wasn’t the first time he switched off. He helped out with possession during the 1st 15 mins of the first half, made an assist, made some good runs and kept it going. Like Maxwell, he wasn’t as bad as people are making out him to be. I know your rating go individually, but was he really worse than Iniesta? Iniesta was just plain out invisible. He wasn’t as good as Villa but he still did something, unlike Pedro who was Worst Man of the Match by a long shot.

    If there’s someone who people should blame is Pedro, who was just horrifying in this match.
    Tell me ONE good thing he did today. One. The thing is, once you noticed – as I did – that he was losing pretty much every ball he got it almost became comical.

    Also, Villa though he scored the goal was also invisible for a while. But it was more of a Arsenal type of “invisible and then BAM we hit you” kind. I think he could have been our best player had he stayed on.

    I also don’t think Abidal was as great as you say. He was 7 to me. Our defense collapsed collectively, and even though he was our best defender he also slowed down.

    Alves: Disagree just a little. I would have given him a 6. He was always an outlet on the offense but his work never bore any fruits because of Pedro’s terrible performance. He was our only player on the right yesterday. You’re right about his defense though, a right back has to attack AND defend but still the goals we conceded were a collective failure even though it came through his side, he doesn’t bear all the responsibility.

    And Pep. I agree with one of the comment above – he needs to be more bold in his replacements. We know he always waits too long to sub off someone, and his substitutions were erratic. A good substitution would have been to bring on Afellay for Pedro and Mascherano for Iniesta. Last year vs Arsenal during the first leg he had also failed in his substitutions.

    Pique was also very average. 2 years ago, he stopped everything that came towards him without have to go backwards. Now, he’s running backwards and always putting out a leg. What happened to his positioning? Remember how he stopped Robben during the 6-2? And Drogba when we played Chelsea? We hardly see those interventions anymore. We see him running back more and more often. I can’t be too disappointed that he’s out for the next leg, because PUYOL should be back by then.

    • Nik
      February 17, 2011

      Pray that his injury doesn’t reignite before then. But yes, I will feel so much better with our Captain Caveman back. Not saying we don’t give up stupid goals with him in the back (it’s happened before, after all), but I just feel more secure with him there marshaling the troops.

      • Eklavya
        February 17, 2011

        If there’s one man we’re dependent on … it’s Carles Puyol.

        • Nik
          February 17, 2011

          I cannot wait until our first choice back line is up and running. It feels like it’s been forever since we’ve seen it.

    • PhepheSa
      February 17, 2011

      I blame you Eklavya for wanting Messi to play against Portugal last week. Clearly he didn’t want to disappoint you and look where that got us. How selfish of you.

  70. Barcathegreatestever
    February 17, 2011

    Villa Iniesta and Messi created the attack largely by themselves as usual, Alves and Maxwell fairly predictable; Xavi has been very quiet and predictable for an attacking mid a lot lately and it showed late last year also; he has not been dangerous at all and allows the defense to pressure Villa Messi and Iniesta, stuffing the left. Messi can’t even play up because Xavi is forced to play the ball wide or backwards. Messi is in fact playing two positions at once something no one else would even consider. Affelay has real potential to help Barca there.

    Keita sub was not wrong with a one goal lead which was plenty before Abidal had his brain farts.

    Arsenal played as expected in front of their fans. They got a great win and although Barca has reason to be disappointed there is certainly no reason for shame and every reason to feel confident to take the tie. Who needs enemies with fans such as Barcas?

  71. jordi™
    February 17, 2011

    My mind is much more at peace today.If we cant be confident of our team winning 1-0 minimum at home then we shouldnt even harbor thoughts of being european champions.With all due respect to Arsenal, its one thing to claw your way back into a game with your home supporters roaring you on, doing it at a Camp Nou that will be an inferno is a different kettle of fish.We’ll see how the cope with that.If we score at least 2 times early in the 1st half we should have it.But if we get bounced the board should take the message and stop preaching about austerity and engaging in pissing match with the previous board and instead concentrate on retaining the players we have (that means Dani) while actually adressing the glaring deficiencies we are afflicted with, namely defensive and attacking depth.Forget Cesc.

    • Nik
      February 17, 2011

      Agreed. Priorities:

      1. RB – resign Dani, or get a replacement. End of story.

      2. CB – time to find out if our kids are ready for the big leagues, or if we need to invest in one. I’d rather not throw in our hands down best LB into CB. It weakens our attack.

      I’ve never been that impressed by Maxwell, so I’d also throw in LB on that list, but what do I know.

      • Nik
        February 17, 2011

        Whoops forgot

        3. ST – we’ve talked about it to death, but we could use a veteran striker willing to come off the bench (a Larsson type, as vicsoc has said).

        • blitzen
          February 17, 2011

          I bet Raul would love to come back to Spain. 😉

          • Nik
            February 17, 2011

            LOL the black hole that would open in Madrid would be hilarious if that ever happened.

            That being said, I wouldn’t want him even if he wanted to come play for free.

      • Jim
        February 17, 2011

        It gives me great pleasure to repeat my request from last summer – a pacy CB. We will also need a replacement soon for LB in that neither Maxwell not Abidal will go on for more than another couple of seasons.

  72. Helge
    February 17, 2011

    Does anybody know the maximum attendance allowed for CL matches?

    I guess its below the 98,xxx (usually, there are more strict regulations for the CL matches, leading to a lower number of attendace)?

    I’m thinking about flying to Barcelona for the 2nd leg, but there are no tickets available online. I noticed though that last year, the Arsenal match was only visited by 93,xxx people, whereas the Inter match saw an attendace of 96,xxx. So maybe there’s a chance of getting a ticket one day before the match at the official Barca Store in the Camp Nou ???

  73. Whatever
    February 17, 2011

    I am somehow confident today that we’re going to crush them in Barcelona and forget about this lousy performance in London.

  74. Jim
    February 17, 2011

    Agreed. Pique is twice the defender with Puyol beside him. But then, to be fait, Abidal would be as well. I really liked to see Abidal snarling yesterday but he’s no Puyol.

    I’m getting a bit uneasy at the criticism coming Pep’s way. I do think that was an obvious mistake to bring Villa off – if we can all see it it must be. However, it isn’t that Pep hasn’t tried to rotate.In a sense that it what has hurt us recently. Nobody seems to step up on the big stage and play a blinder unless its one of our top players. In recent weeks we have had a lot of hype around Thiago, Masch, Affelay, Milito, Nolito, Adriano. all have been given a chance and all have underwhelmed. That’s not a criticism of their potential but it would have been nice if one had come on and made it hard to drop them. Then we could have rested some of the others.

    It just isn’t fair to blame Messi for this either. Is anyone suggesting that he wasn’t trying? A 1 is way too harsh for his contribution. With half an hour to go if you’d given the Arsenal fans the chance to see the back of any one of our team no prizes for guessing who they’d have chosen. I also worry that he is starting to feel the weight of expectation for the team. We need to let him see we can be free scoring without him. I would seriously consider leaving him out ( first half) and letting Bojan loose at the weekend. Pep also needs to take Iniesta out for dinner for the Talk ! He strikes me as being the sort who would beat himself up for letting others down and we need to keep him upbeat.

    Still not worried about the return. Arsenal didn’t put a foot wrong last night and they were still not in the game until the last ten minutes and even then only after a goalkeeping howler. Perspective is a wonderful thing. . . . .

    • Nik
      February 17, 2011

      I think at some point, we’re going to have to decide our priorities for the trophies we’re chasing. For me, it’s Champs > Liga >>>Copa (even if it’s Madrid we’re competing against). You’re right, the instances where our subs have started have been disappointing, but I personally wouldn’t mind dropping a game here and there in the Liga because of the subs to keep our top players fit and fresh for the Champions League. Rotation isn’t pretty, but it’s a necessity.

      Also, maybe we can knock the team out and hide them before internationals from now on.

    • PhepheSa
      February 17, 2011

      Agree on the Talk with Iniesta. I also mentioned this earlier. I saw on the spanish world cup documentary where someone from the coaching staff said Iniesta is a confidence player, and when he’s low on confidence he really struggles. We as fans need to support him through this.

  75. no me jodes
    February 17, 2011

    New to the site. Seems to a good amount of well informed, level headed, passionate Barsa supporters here versus the vitriol and chest thumping found on some other forums mainly by fair weather ‘fan’s’/bandwagoners.

    So please allow to chime in with my own two cents….

    I place the blame on this loss squarely on Guardiola’s shoulders. For the simple premise that if you are going to formulate an attacking/pressure gameplan then follow through with it! And if you are going to defend, then defend for God’s sake!

    Guardiola seemed lost not only in his substitutions but in the overall gameplan from the beginning. Knowing that Arsenal had the younger, fresher legs and were playing at home you should, in theory go for the tie. Even if ‘they’ happen to nick a goal on us at worse we come away 1-1 still holding the advantage on the second leg.

    I know that hindsight is 20/20 but I wouldn’t have had Alves pressing forward so much throughout the game,leaving acres of space behind him. Yes, I know it’s in his nature to play this way and this is the way Guardiola prefers but you can’t leave Maxwell exposed like that in the back. I don’t fault Guardiola for choosing him over Adriano to start, because Adriano is more of a positional defender and lacks Maxwell’s pace.

    And why take of Villa? he was our greatest threat throughout the night. At least Pep didn’t compound the error by inserting Bojan Thank God! but is it me or did Keita look absolutely lost on the pitch as if he didn’t know who he was supposed to mark or position himself?

    I know this may sound like blasphemy but I would have taken Messi off instead. Yes, you heard me right, Leo himself. He was off his game – I can’t recall the last time I saw him hesitate like that on a 1v1 with the keeper like that. He was clearly exhausted as the match progressed and again I blame Pep for this for stubbornly refusing to sub him out of ANY match. While I understand that Leo is an integral part of our gameplan he is not a machine and the heavy minutes are starting to take a grind on him. Of course it didn’t help that our Ghostface Assasin decided to pull a Casper in this match either.

    If I were Pep I would rest Leo for the first half of the upcoming match with Bilbao even knowing how critical of a match it is. Because if he continues at this pace he is going to just burn out and then the worst case scenario will happen that he will be shelved for an indefinite period of time. And I might add that if ‘we’ are supposedly the greatest team currently on the planet we SHOULD be able to win despite Messi’s absence. In other words if we can’t beat Bilbao at home with our without Messi we don’t deserve the title in the first place!

    As for Valdes that first goal allowed was completely inexcusable! He was frozen like a deer in headlights, a complete statue! And I agree with Kxevin that has distribution was horrible. I mean you have a critical save to make when for the most part you’ve had nothing else to do all night and you blew it. I know this may draw the ire of some of you but Casillas makes that save.

    Seeing that Arsenal were taking the game to us from around the 60min. on I would have subbed out Messi for Mascherano, so we can have two DM’s because Busquets for all his attributes is not the physical, rugged, ball winning type of defender that Masch is. While Masch lacks pace he could have provided that steel door at the back that was sorely lacking.

    Last but not least we have no answer for Wilshire. He absolutely shredded our midfield. His young legs and pace were just too much to deal with. I know that Busquets had his hands full at the back but he’s got to do a better job than that. If Iniesta is going to decide to take the day off then either help cover at the back or get off the pitch!

    I wonder how much Pep misses Chinginsky now.

    Peace out

    • barca96
      February 17, 2011

      Hi and welcome.

      I said this a few times already, Messi didn’t hesitate. The GK made the goal smaller by coming out. The only option for Messi was to chip over his( the GK ) left shoulder. The GK angled his body very well. Kudos to him!

      Villa look the freshest. With him on the field, Iniesta, Xavi & Messi had someone who could make a run behind the defender but after he went off, our threat in that department is gone.

      Why would Pep miss Chiggy? I think Pep would miss Yaya more.
      His replacement, sMasch would’ve been perfect for this match. I don’t know what’s up with Pep. Sometimes he is just too stubborn.
      But I don’t agree with most of the criticism towards him though.

  76. psqd
    February 17, 2011

    so a few observations…
    first arsenal…most dangerous when wilshere was involved in the attack. he was great but also an indication of a few other things that seemed to be happening. early and late they were cohesive in the midfield, but in the middle of the game they seemed to stratify with a gap developing between song-wilshere and cesc-vP. so when wilshere was involved it meant more numbers attacking along with his good play. also they exploited the gap behind barca’s backs, especially alves. but they also found a gap attacking across the center of the pitch behind xavi and iniesta after receiving out wider.
    when arsenal was cohesiv in the middle they were in charge. i think you would find that cesc dropped back some and wilshere came forward more in the second half. then after the substitutions a few things happened. nasri came in and iniesta went out of the middle. this was only ever going to exacerbate the problem. if keita was going to be brought on for an attacker to consolidate the middle it seems to make little sense to relegate iniesta to the left. i believe this season he has proven far more effective in the middle and with only max to work with on left it basically pushed iniesta into the black hole that had been forming there all game. if you look i think max had like 5 successful forward passes all game and only two crosses out of 50 or so total passes, more roundabout play.

    when barca were attacking effectively villa was in the middle and pedro was tending to float all the way to the middle left. looking to play through the middle from the shoulders of the cb’s.

    the subs were in stark contrast…keita vs arshavin and bender…while not a surprise that keita would be trusted above others, it calls to light what was on the bench. there was no arshavin on the barca bench and certainly no bender. bringing on adriano was curious at best. would henry have come on if he were around? marquez? is afellay to fill that role? all of this further suggests that barca have the best starting 11 in the world, which is to restate that puyol was sorely sorely missed. he not only improves pique and solidifying the middle, and is fire fighter extraordinaire. he likely would have been sahding towards vP and cutting out some of the passes that were getting around and over pique. he solidifies the entire left side which has atrophied without abidal.

    there is a lot more and more talk about individual performances, but…down one on goal difference with an away goal is not the worst way to go back home.

  77. Humphrey Bogart
    February 17, 2011

    It may come the point where we have to decide if we give it a try in the return leg and hope to progress and therefore rest some of our key players but also riksing to loose the league title or if we forget about the CL and try to focus to defend our title.

  78. Humphrey Bogart
    February 17, 2011

    And austerity or not we have to adress our main issues in the summer: if we are going to integrate some of the guys from La Masia and take next season as transition than it would be fine with me, if not than we must go out and spend as Puyi (and we have seen how important he is) and Xavi will decline we have to decide how to replace them

    And we need an other striker for godness sake. Yesterday we could do with a Larsson, maybe a Trezeguet as our MVP were clearly misfiring.

  79. Lev
    February 17, 2011

    I am Upset. Distraught. Sad. Depressed.

    However I did not expect to type http://www.barcelonafootballblog.com in my search bar this morning and find myself on the busiest intersection of Main Street, Knee Jerk City!

    Somebody wrote that he was not upset with the result, but with the play. Well I am not really upset with the play, but with the result.

    We are really spoiled rotten. A team, not even ours, will need hand down manitas to each and every comer. We will not always play perfect games and sometimes a little bit of luck can go for or against you even if you do play a perfect game, and even more so when you don’t.

    Messi should have scored. Then should have at least made a better shot than his right-footed lob, or whatever it was. Then gave a perfect assist. Then did score. And then in the second half should have scored again.

    Pedro should have scored off of a hard, low, (I think) Villa cross. And then should have scored again instead of hitting the keeper, who rebounded the safe back to Pedro after which the ball ricocheted to Messi, which btw is what made the offside call a lot closer than it originally seemed.

    Most of all we have to give credit to Arsenal, who despite of a 1st half we at times appeared to dominate still created a lot of opportunites.

    Van Persie could have scored 5 minutes into the game after an excellent Walcott dribble and a sublime Farbregas pass. Cesc himself should have made more of a clear opportunity instead of crossing it to RvP. RvP then had one other good chance to score in the 1st half and at least one or two other shooting opportunites. Ironic that he waited until what was not a chance at all to maicon the ball in the inside corner.

    So give credit where credit is due. Had Messi or Pedro converted their opportunities (which, yes, were easier chances than Arsenal’s), the game would have been very different. However Arsenal could have scored against us also.

    And give credit to Arsenal for running as ragged, something which didn’t cost us until the last 15 minutes. I firmly disagree with the notion that they beat us at our own game – there was no tiki-taka football on display from the Brits…uhhh the Fren….uhhh the “We are the world” team. But fast, direct and good passing, taking advantage of the space behind our backs like we knew they would try.

    Now the knee-jerk reaction I don’t agree with is the blaming of our players, whether Messi, Alves, Pedro, Maxwell, Iniesta or Piqué. You guys do know that they are human, right?

    Can we really blame anyone (other than Valdes) for Van Persie’s equaliser? Now, because normally that situation would not have resulted in a goal.

    The second goal in point we have to first credit Arsenal. If Barça had scored it we would not have blamed the opponents’ defense but praised the beautiful counter attack. Alves’ walking instead of running back would have been dismissed as having run him ragged over the course of the game.

    We dare to blame Messi for not giving his all? Had his goal not been disallowed we would have applauded him for his persistence. Had Pedro scored either of his chances or had he been awarded the penalty in the 2nd half we would have applauded his being in the right spot at the right time. Our biggest fear before the game was Walcott repeatedly burning Maxwell, but he held up quite well.

    Yes, we did look tired. Which is the biggest reason for my not wanting Spain to advance far in the WC (in hindsight the other being the fact that Holland had to face them in the final – I’m starting to really hate RvP btw because he killed us then and he killed us now). Going to the Far East during the summer was a bad idea also – remember how tired Messi was then? Of course next summer we are going to the USA and Qatar, right? Just great.

    So, no, I don’t blame the players who have hardly had a break the last 18 months and are now facing a very in form and relatively fresh Arsenal. I’ve been saying all along that Pep does not rotate enough – this season he has used his first 11 (a lot) more than any of the previous seasons, while those same players have had less rest before the season started.

    I am disappointed (Upset. Distraught. Sad. Depressed.) just like you guys, but to blame the players for effort is not fair to them.

    And yeah…..the substitutions really sucked ass. Taking of Villa was a huuuuge mistake and possibly cost us the game.

    • Humphrey Bogart
      February 17, 2011

      I think the problem is that this was a match where we could not allow ourselves to loos, in the Liga we have a cushion so the draw against Gijon may not have any consequences but this loss could very well end our CL campaign and therefore we would miss out one / the main season goal.

      So of course everybody is on a scale between depressed, angry or upbeat.

      I know that our players are human but yesterday they just did not play to the pride of our club, in the CL there is alway your reputation at stake and with this horrible performance we damaged ours, you have just to look at the english newspapers to see that they painting us as some kind of overrated, average laughingstock.

      • Lev
        February 17, 2011

        yeah…that is true as well.

        (back to Upset. Distraught. Sad. Depressed.)
        (thanks for that)

      • Nik
        February 17, 2011

        ? Apologies for those who read English newspapers, but who cares what they think of us? They can think we’re crap for all I care, as long as we’re the ones lifting the trophy at Wembley come May.

        Being disappointed with the result because you felt we could win: understandable.

        Being disappointed because now others will publicly say bad things about us : puzzling (to me at least.)

        • Humphrey Bogart
          February 17, 2011

          I am surely more disappointed because of the result, the other thing just added insult to hurt. As for Wemlbey, I think we should prepare ourselves that we may not even be there.

          • blitzen
            February 17, 2011

            I think, as Pep says, we just think about the next game and not get ahead of ourselves. We have a lot to do before the next CL game. Let’s concentrate on that.

          • Nik
            February 17, 2011

            @blitzen agreed. Rotations & “the Talk” with Iniesta first please.

        • February 17, 2011

          I agree Nik. The English press are deluded at best. We could have won 4-0 yesterday and they would have come up with some way to belittle us, its just in their nature. Best thing is to just ignore the English press, win or lose, it doesnt really matter what they think. This Barca team is making history, regardless of what The Sun or The Daily Mail write to sell their papers. English people dont want to read about how amazing Barca are, they want to read about how overrated we are, or how weak La Liga is compared to the EPL. Dont let it frustrate you Bogart because it will never end..

          I also dont agree that we could not allow ourselves to lose at Emirates. 2-1 away from home is not a bad result. It stings a little because we could have won the game had it not been for poor finishing and poor refereeing but thats the CL for you. It has as much to do with luck than it has with skill. If Messi finishes his chances (which is a matter of inches btw) then we are all singing a completely different tune.

          I had lunch with a very good friend today who is an Arsenal fan and who was at the game yesterday and instead of gloating like I expected him to do, he was pretty modest. He thought we were the better team over the 90 mins and that a loss was very unjust. He also told me something that puts into perspective how much a home crowd can came a difference; normally they replay the goals on the big screen, unless it is clearly offside or something (to avoid insighting the crowd), but after we scored they didnt show the replay so all the fans thought the goal was offside. As a result they abused the linesman all night and this led to him favouring Arsenal in his decision making from that point onwards. My friend has pretty good seats (he’s taken me a few times) and he said he could clearly see Messi’s goal was on so he was a bit bemused how the linesman called it off.

          • Humphrey Bogart
            February 17, 2011

            I suppose that I am just so depressed because of and for our players. For me they are the best and they deserve to have written their names in the history books, but history mostly remembers only the winners, so if we go out in the CL it could also mean that when Xavi, Puyi, Leo, Don Andres will have retired they will only be remembered and cherished in the cule world, but not in the whole world like they deserve to be because they are so special. We had the chance to build a dynasty but now it seems to be out of reach, who would have thought that we all go so bad afther that monday in november.

  80. Lev
    February 17, 2011

    por cierto @no me jodes chyggy es mas lento que maxwell en una sola pierna no jooooooodas!!! jajaja 😉

    • barca96
      February 17, 2011

      Que? What? Wat?
      Good post up there.

      Kxev, you know like I know that Abidal didn’t really commit to Ashavin’s shot. So he is partly to blame so why did he still get a high rating?

  81. no me jodes
    February 17, 2011

    The summer shopping list should read as follows…

    – Centre back: for me the choice would be Vidic from Man U. I would rather dole out the cash on him than on Cesc because he is of a more immediate need. As we’ve witnessed this year Puyol can’t go on forever.

    – Striker: prefer Alexis Sanchez put perhaps Pato would do – despite the lackluster season – if Milan is willing to include him as part of Ibra’s permanent move. Perhaps we send Bojan their way in return though I doubt they would want him. Mata could be another possibility if we can get him on the cheap.

    – Goalkeeper: Preferably somebody young to challenge Valdes as Pinto is a little long in the tooth. I really like De Gea but he will be heavily in demand. Perhaps a familiar name, Akinfeev?

    NO on spending Monopoly money on Cesc.
    NO on Neymar.
    YES on Van der Wiel but only if Alves doesn’t re-sign.

    • barca96
      February 17, 2011

      Vidic isn’t young either. We need a fast CB. A ball playing CB.
      Kinda hard to find players that fit that criteria. How was Botia last Saturday?

      VV will be here till he retires. He is our #1!!

    • Humphrey Bogart
      February 17, 2011

      I think Vidic is out of our reach he has just got a new contract and was made captain. I was watchin gChelsea on Monday and I think it is a pity that we did not go for David Luiz, he looked really good and composed.

      The striker issue: I still think that Llorente would be a good option, we could surely have needed somebody like him yesterday.

      • soccermomof4
        February 17, 2011

        Llorente is too good and too expensive to sit on the bench and wait until we need plan B.

        • Humphrey Bogart
          February 17, 2011

          Yeah it is really quite a paradoxum: we need a good striker that can replace one of MVP if necessary but on the other hand he should be content to spend some time on the bench.

      • Jim
        February 17, 2011

        you mean apart from giving away a needless penalty?

        • Humphrey Bogart
          February 17, 2011

          Yeah, but as far as I am concerned that was his only mistake, you have to remember that was his first start for Chelsea and I found him more convincing than Terry.

    • oeilleres
      February 17, 2011

      LOVE IT !!!! Now I know for certain my gunners did some damage because the transfer speculation is already starting. LOL! PS You don’t have the money for Cesc. Where was Mr. world beater Thiago while Young Jack Wilshere was running roughshod last night?

  82. Josep
    February 17, 2011

    Some of these comments are just borderline ridiculous.
    VV makes one bad mistake and you want to buy a new GK? How many zamoras will it take. Vidic? spend like 50m on someone we’ll have to replace again in 3 years?

    and is this whole barca girls list really necessary, I personally find it pretty annoying and it seems theres more girls than boys anyways.

    • soccermomof4
      February 17, 2011

      The list was started because of repeated embarrassing gaffs (i.e when someone thought Merge was a guy and Helge was a girl). It was also started for some good clean fun and comic relief. Get over it! Let us have our fun!

      No, we don’t need to replace people, we don’t need to restructure, and we certainly shouldn’t panic. I’ve nosed around some other blogs and if there is any good that is coming out of this it’s that the fair-weather fans are going away. We wouldn’t know what to do with your average true #9 so if we get one he better be cheap and willing to twiddle his thumbs in boredom. We have Fontas almost ready to move up so there’s no need for a Vidic. We also already own some guys that we may want to give a chance to over the summer. But not Hleb!

      • Humphrey Bogart
        February 17, 2011

        I am a big fan of Fontas but to integrate him alongside Pique is not without risk. As some have pointet out Pique profits so much from Puyol, his energy but even more from his advice and experience. To play Fontas/Pique could mean we take into account to “waste” one season to integrate him and some other youngster. This would be no problem for me, if the club and Pep are clear about it at the beginning of next season and tone down the expectations by saying that we will have a transition period to rebuild our team and integrate some youngsters.

        • blitzen
          February 17, 2011

          Puyol is going to be around for at least another couple of seasons, and Fontas played extremely well alongside him against Almeria. That is exactly what he needs, games with an experienced hand like Puyol at his side.

          • oeilleres
            February 17, 2011

            Almeria isn’t quite THE ARSENAL

        • soccermomof4
          February 17, 2011

          That’s why I said “almost ready”. I just don’t want a knee-jerk gotta buy we world ’cause we suck rxn.

    • Jim
      February 17, 2011

      Grumpt or what, Josep 🙂

      Agreed on VV.

    • soccermomof4
      February 17, 2011

      Josep,
      Paragraph 2 was agreeing with you. If it came off a harsh it was because my laptop was losing battery and I had to wait to get home to explain more. VV has made less errors this year than Iker!

      And your avatar still scares the crap outta me 😀

  83. no me jodes
    February 17, 2011

    As I said before I place the majority of the blame on this one on Pep. If some of the key players decide not to show up that’s squarely on the manager. Why did it take him so long to substitute Iniesta who was ineffective all night? For once Villa shows up and is taken off at the most critical juncture of the match??

    With the goal advantage and seeing that Arsenal were about to embark on an onslaught I would have pulled back Alves, subbed in Adriano for Maxwell and subbed in Masch for Iniesta to keep things more compact at the back, and changed the formation so that Villa is the lone striker on top because as ‘psqd’ so astutely pointed out Villa was doing most of his damage playing through the middle. If you are not going to take Messi off I would have played him behind Villa more for ‘ball control’ than going forward in attack. Call it a tamer version of parking the bus but sometimes you have to adapt to time, score and place. There’s no shame in pulling in the reigns and settling for a 1-1 draw in my opinion.

    • Jim
      February 17, 2011

      Iniesta wasn’t ineffective all night. He had a poorer second half. Arsenal also weren’t embarking on any kind of onslaught. They were merely upping their pretty woeful amount of possession. Chances they created before the goal in this onslaught?

      What you suggest would have pulled Arsenal onto what is never the tightest of defences. I’d suggest the opposite – keep Villa on, make an attacking sub and keep them worried about us.

  84. February 17, 2011

    GREAT match overall but FC Barcelona were the better team. Period. It came down to wastefulness and being a bit unlucky. Case in point: 1. Messi’s goal should have stood. 2. Messi’s chip could easily have rolled in on the other side of the post. Wasteful & unlucky. It pretty much summed up our night.

    Again, I seem to have a different view to many Barca fans. And again, I think fans’ perception of the game and the level of play is influenced by the final score – harshly so. The team played VERY WELL, but so did Arsenal. It was a high quality match. In any case, we were stronger (regardless of how tired we may have been). Barcelona’s performance wasn’t unlike last season’s. We created enough clear cut chances to score & to win. We worked hard. We didn’t give the ball away cheaply. The passing & moving at times were absolutely brilliant. People forget this because we lost. Yes, the most important thing is goals but everything has to be put into context. It is possible to play well and still lose. If you think about it the Arsenal two goal comeback wasn’t very different from last season. That time, in spite of our wastefulness, had a two goal cushion which meant a draw was the outcome. This time Arsenal had more desire & this time, undeservedly so, we don’t have more goals to show for our play.

    People also seem to be attacking Guardiola because FCB didn’t attack all out for 90 minutes. That’s just insane. Barca don’t ever attack all out for 90 minutes. They always try to control the game for the entire match and pick the best moments to attack. Those moments will depend on the team you play. If we play Almeria we will clealy have more of those occasions to go forward. With Arsenal being extremely dangerous on the counter attack we had to be more disciplined. We didn’t abandon any football philosophy. David Villa is OFTEN taken off late in games because of his supposed lack of energy late on. I thought it was a good change bringing in Keita to press the ball more. It wasn’t about sitting back to defend. The Adriano change? I guess he was looking for last minute directness. He WAS NOT brought on to defend as many have suggested to me.

    Anyways, the ratings on here just boggle me but I’m not even going to get into that. I’m disappointed with the result but I just find it hard to be “disgusted” with the team or the performance. It’s not as if we didn’t show up. There was no lack of effort or concentration. People please watch the match again. I see no reason why we won’t turn this result around. And if our fans would get behind the team the way gunner’s fans did last night.. then we could really hand it to them at the Camp Nou.

    Lastly, Busquets is WORLD CLASS. He really is VITAL to Barca. I hope people see that now.

    • February 17, 2011

      What a sensible comment. So refreshing after all the knee jerk doom and gloom that most people are posting.

  85. February 17, 2011

    Just a few things:

    First of all, great review, Kxevin. I was mad Song wasn’t sent off and Messi’s goal was disallowed, but what really pissed me off was the “performance”. It’d hurt less if we were outplayed, but we scored a goal and then thought “oh, this is enough. Time to go to bed.”. Did they send their shadows out after HT? It’s one thing to play badly, it’s another thing when the other team is more hungry than you. Inexcusable IMO.

    I just find it funny that Pep made the same mistake twice. Last year he took of Ibra (our best attacker then) and then he took off Villa yesterday (our best attacker now) for a player that wasn’t really needed (Titi then (what the flip was he going to add other than wave around to the fans) and Keita (to defend a 0-1 lead? WTF Pep, when have we ever defended a lead?).

    Normally, Keita coming on wouldn’t be a bad move–actually, I’d usually welcome it– my peeve was that if was for Villa. True, Villa could have run himself into the ground (I had considered that to be a possible reason admittedly), but it just seemed to me that by subbing in Keita, Pep was sending out a message like “We’re batting down the hatches, pibes!”. At least put in another attack minded player to even things out. Iniesta at LW is a fail–we’ve talked about this to death. He’s not horrible at LW, but we miss what he does at LM (although Andresito was doing his best ghost impression anyway. You’re supposed to be ghostly pale, NOT a ghost!). I’d have liked to see Afellay or even Bojan at some point, but it didn’t happen.

    Last year we had a 0-2 lead and were comfortable, so I could understand Pep wanting to close the game, but at 0-1 against a team with something to prove? No me digas!, as my Spanish teacher used to say.

    That being said, I do think a lot of fans are going way too far though. They really need to chill. I get we went unbeaten for 16 straight games and the draw against Sporting was like loss, so this is like O.O, but it’s not like our team is suddenly sh*t. In the end this was a cumulation of things that wouldn’t normally happen (Pep sub mistakes, off-form players that would normally not be, etc.) as well as it being Hlebruary and our normal away woes in the CL (remember Stuttgart last year when we should have been hammered? True it was a draw thanks to Ibra, but we should have been spanked in that match), so I’m not very worried re: Second Leg.

    We lost, yes, but what better motivation for it? If we show up, we’ll win. We can’t play much worse than we did yesterday. And even then, we created a multitude of chances and should have put Arsenal, who played the best they could, away at HT. That makes me smile 🙂

    This may actually be bad for Arsenal, with their fans and the BritPress thinking their absolutely amazing—not realizing we were out of form, and that was far from our best. With Arsenal out of the Emirates and into the cauldron that is 98,000 screaming fans and a team ready to deixem some pells… let’s finish this sh*t!

    Last thing: Who the flip cares what the BritPress think? “The Best Players in the World (And Xavi)” BritPress? I don’t give a flying chopstick about what they say. We have the best team in the world and one loss doesn’t change that. Stand by your team.

    Visca Barca as always.

    • beeeef
      February 17, 2011

      When was the last time we went two games without a W? Seems like ages ago if I’m not mistaken.

      But I think ultimately all the pessimism surrounding our last two fixtures, and everybody going bonkers over Arsenal’s win, is actually a testament to how amazing this team has performed over the last several years.

      I mean, this loss was really only the second game this entire season thus far that actually has any consequence in our quest for silverware. Think about that for a second. There has been the odd draw and loss in meaningless cup games, but the last time the world seemed like it was going to end, A.K.A the Hercules los,s was in early September of last year! Amazing.

      How can we not give our total support and confidence in this squad?

      Visca Barca indeed.

    • oeilleres
      February 17, 2011

      You clearly don’t follow the british press. The british press and TV HATE Arsenal and love everything Man United. It’s because we have a foreign coach and the majority of our squad is foreign. Sir Redface is British and the core of United is British so they are the media darlings. BTW If you think you saw OUR best game then you are sorely mistaken. Cesc was very poor last night. Nasri first game back from injury. Sagna was suspended and light years better than Eboue. Song had a bit of a clanger and RVP was way off until the goal. So GAME ON !!!!!!!

      • February 17, 2011

        Yep. Game is on right.

        With all due respect, oeilleres, our entire team was almost literally a shadow of themselves. They haven’t been that poor in a long time. I credit Arsenal, because obviously they forced a lot of errors, but it’s hard not to think “what if…”.

        The British press may hate Arsenal, but since it’s a European competition, they will always jump on the back of you. “English team wins again!”. If there’s one thing the BriPress is good at, it’s talking up their teams in Europe. It’s killing them that the best team in the world isn’t English. Wouldn’t want to pass up the opportunity of English team beating us, even if it’s a team they’d normally hate on.

    • oeilleres
      February 17, 2011

      Mad Song wasn’t sent off? For what? Breathing on one of your players? Welcome to Football, it’s a man’s game. Arsenal are the least physical team in England. We routinely get butchered week after week by hacks who can’t handle our skill level. I know you are used to playing against players who dive and roll around like they’ve been shot ( Ronaldo I’m talking to you ) but man up for christ’s sake

      • February 17, 2011

        Song has been booked early in the game. Many fouls were called against him in the first half, so IMO, he should have been booked for a cumulation of fouls, but the referee, like in the WC final, didn’t want to ruin the spectacle with an early red.

        You won’t agree, but I stand by that claim.

        In any case, it’s all academic because we shouldn’t need a team to go down to 10 men to win. You won and I don’t mean to take that away from you. Hats off for the performance.

        • Josep
          February 17, 2011

          Agree with Kari, and I think I read somewhere that Arsenal were one of the most foul committing teams in the EPL.
          and no, RVP wasn’t having a bad night. you’re just trying to match the “well we played badly too!” with us.

  86. no me jodes
    February 17, 2011

    @ Josep

    I’m not saying that Valdes isn’t a good keeper, and probably it’s the frustation in me that causing me to overreact, but he’s got to make that save. The only excuse I can come up with – and it’s really not a valid one – is that he gauged the angle to be so acute as to not even have a chance to sneak in the near post. But again there’s no excuse, not when you are playing at the highest level and when the stakes are at their highest. I can forgive him for the mistake but I can’t forgive him for being so lackassical and slow to react on the shot.

    • Lev
      February 17, 2011

      VV did not react slow. It was at the exact moment that RvP let go of a motherbleeping ROCKET that Valdes positioned himself for the pass, moving to his left while the ball passed him on the right. Being that his momentum carried him in the opposite direction there is no way he could have reacted to that shot – your muscles can only move in one diretion at the time. Positional mistake, there was no lackadaisicality.

    • Josep
      February 17, 2011

      I know it was a mistake a huge one. So, we’re going to sell off a soon to be 3 time Zamora winner, or relegate him to the bench for allowing one goal?

  87. no me jodes
    February 17, 2011

    While I agree that only with the passage of time will cooler head’s prevail and we will be able to take a more objective view of this match there’s no discounting that accountability still needs to be there regardless of the insanely high expectations. I hope this will serve as a learning experience for Pep. I still regard him as a fine manager and I have no doubt that we can, and WILL win on the second leg back home. But again,sometimes time and score dictate a different approach. Wether through tired legs or mental fatigue the team didn’t perform as good as it could/should have but we were far from abysmal. I’m trying to be as optimistic as possible while at the same time giving Arsenal full credit, they played their ‘arses’ off – no pun intended.

  88. Jim
    February 17, 2011

    He’s entitled to make a mistake now and then. However, I’d be happier if he’d come out and held his hands up about it ( metaphorically speaking, as if he’d stayed where he was with his hands up they’d never have scored anyway).

    Deafening silence so far.

    • blitzen
      February 17, 2011

      Who, VV? He said he didn’t expect RVP to shoot from that position. What more do you want him to say?

      • soccermomof4
        February 17, 2011

        VV has been better in goal than Iker this year (and last). nuff said.

      • Jim
        February 17, 2011

        Doesn’t matter what he expected. You don’t leave that post. I expect him to say it was a big mistake ( which it was as they were beaten till that point).

  89. blaugranaDOOM
    February 17, 2011

    My god. People need to get their happy pills out.

    I thought it was a great game. We faded in the last 20 minutes, but credit to Arsenal for taking it to us. They were out of the game after the first 10 minutes, but came alive after 65 or so. We didn’t take our chances.

    Not sure where this Wilshire hype is coming from. He was good, but apparently he is Viera and Zidane wrapped up into one player the size of Messi.

    Iniesta will be back. Messi will be more rested. Puyol returns from injury.

    The tie is not over. We will score at home. Should be another great match. So sad this is the round of 16. I would love this to be a semifinal.

    • oeilleres
      February 17, 2011

      Maybe it came from the same place as all the Thiago hype, who is apparently better than Cesc Fabregas already ( yet can’t even see the field )

      • Vj
        February 17, 2011

        Better for us – Yes! I’d take him over a hamstrung traitor any day..

        • Eklavya
          February 17, 2011

          I was thinking of way to say it as well Blitz, but yours is much better! “Sweetie” 😀

        • soccermomof4
          February 17, 2011

          Gosh, I loved that SoMa piece. Classic!

      • soccermomof4
        February 17, 2011

        Honey, Cesc himself wouldn’t see the field on our team. Why do you think The Yaya moved away?

      • Josep
        February 17, 2011

        Yeah, Thiago can’t even see the field, atleast not starting.
        Funny thing is neither would Cesc for this team.

      • PhepheSa
        February 17, 2011

        Oh come on, we get it. Arsenal are better than Barca though i don’t know what you excited about if you’ve always known this. Why are you guys so defensive about your league. Geez

        And trust me you really don’t wanna get into Thiago discussions cos you wouldn’t understand.

        Now enjoy your day and be happy.

  90. Humphrey Bogart
    February 17, 2011

    From Barcastuff:

    Barcelona captain Carles Puyol will be recovered from his tendon problem for the return game against Arsenal on 8 March

    Ah, and just like that my optimism barometer is from I think we are going out to maybe, just maybe we can turn this around.

    Visca Barca.

    • Helge
      February 17, 2011

      Wow, so I’m obvisouly one of the more optimistic guys, although I’m usually rather pessimistic. For me, it’s 60-40 in our favour.

      The news about Puyi is great, but I wonder if that means he’ll not be fit BEFORE the Arsenal match?

      • Humphrey Bogart
        February 17, 2011

        Good question. It surely would be better if he had the chance to get some match practice before.

  91. justsayin
    February 17, 2011

    It happens. We can’t win every match. Arsenal had talent, heart, their fans behind them, a disallowed goal and a few handballs and that was enough to win the game. I’m not taking anything away from them, unlike Xavi, I think Arsenal deserved to win because they never stopped trying. However, if the disallowed goal goes in, I think it’s a completely different match going 0-2 into the half. Normally, we can overcome some of these advantages and this is where not having as much as stake as Arsenal comes int. They wanted it more.
    I don’t fault VV for the first goal, he had the near post covered but once VP was in the corner, VV expected a cross and started to take a step forward.

    • February 17, 2011

      You didn’t Hleb me, did you?

      /warily goes to check email

      • February 17, 2011

        Ah, right.

        There is a problem with the server apparently, so images aren’t working, but I’ll try to see if the problem has been fixed.

  92. Vj
    February 17, 2011

    People! It’s a two-legged affair!! WE HAVEN’T LOST ANYTHING YET!! We still have to play at our home and we’ll be wary of Arsenal this time.. WE HAVE TO!!!

    I hope we welcome Arsenal with a single emotion now – Venganza!

  93. MemoryLane
    February 17, 2011

    I’m sorry guys Pep like last year in the same tie made the crucial mistake of subbing our CF it was Ibra than and now Villa and replacing him with Keita I love Keita he’s an honest player but why?

    Why not Mascherano they paid all that money for him to warm the bench.
    The biggest mistake was subbing Villa, I don’t understand it and Messi was very selfish in the final third we should have won by 3 or more.

    I’m disgusted.

    It always worries me Pep always makes the wrong decisions on the subs, players get fatigued it was obvious to me Pedro had to go and maybe Iniesta for Mascherano why Villa he was our most threatening player.

    Not to mention Barcelona stay getting screwed by the officials last year it was Inter in both legs, before that it was Chelsea in the first leg and even Abidal getting sent off for making no contact on Anelka.

    The handballs, legitimate goal disallowed, Song should have been sent off.

  94. February 17, 2011

    Post was taken down due to server issues. It’ll be back up later tonight. It’s going to edited by The Overlord of BFB, and put back up.

    • February 17, 2011

      there was a phantom post?

      why you gotta play w/my emotions like that?

        • February 17, 2011

          i’m not your plaything, kari.

          what was it about? who wrote it? i need to know now. 🙁

          • February 17, 2011

            Just a little something about saving the world and maybe a drink. #mustkeepsuspense

          • February 17, 2011

            oh! i know what it is now.

            thanks for ruining it for me, kari. geez.

  95. Humphrey Bogart
    February 17, 2011

    Anyway we must put this match behind now and focus on Bilbao. I fwe play like in the 2nd halft they will walk all over us. So wie need to improve drasticly to stay in for the league title.

  96. February 17, 2011

    here’s an interview w/former arsenal player ghanaian quincy owusu-abeyie who’s plying his trade @malaga, currently.

    http://www.football365.com/spanish_thing/0,17033,9405,00.html

    “What about your tip for the Champions League? Anyone other than Barça?
    You’ve got to go for Barça. The football they play is just unbelievable. What’s so funny is that when you are standing in the tunnel and you look at the Barça players, it doesn’t look like a team that’s going to tear you apart. Xavi, Iniesta are not big players, although they’re not exactly skinny. But when you go out onto the pitch you think ‘what’s happening?’, they’re moving the ball around like you’re not there. The only big players are Piqué and Abidal. The rest of them are five foot something. It’s unbelievable the way they move the ball around, unbelievable.”

  97. PhepheSa
    February 17, 2011

    One thing that made me happy was how gracious the team was in defeat. Didn’t blame the ref or anything else but themselves. The press tried to bring up the disallowed goal, handballs and all that but the team responded well to the questions.

  98. tutomate
    February 17, 2011

    So I wanted to say a few things.

    First: I’m gutted! I don’t know why, it was loss to a strong team who played very well and though we could have won if not for some bad calls (Messi’s goal) and some sad performances (Iniesta,Messi,Pep) It still feels rather shameful. I know we were tired but Arsenal showed a lot more heart in the game. Like Kxevin said about the Gijon match “They just wanted it more”.

    Second: It is nice to see so many new additions to the BFB family after a disappointing loss. It really speaks to the quality of this here home of ours.

    Third: @Bassam-Eres un crack. Your comment truely almost made me cry in public ( like I said I’m gutted ). Also thankful for the gracious Arsenal fans that have spoken here.

    Fourth: I am confident that this tie is not over we HAVE to win at home and i expect Pep to prepare everyone including himself. By the way Pep’s decision to sub Villa for Keita was cowardly.

    • February 17, 2011

      Third: @Bassam-Eres un crack.

      But of course, tutomate! We only associate with cool villains 😉

      Seriously though, he’s always been —checks thesaurus– has mucho panache. Same with all the Arsenal fans that have come here.

      • February 17, 2011

        Must. Stop. Commenting. From. Phone.

        You get the gist of what I’m saying though. I AM PRAISING PEOPLE.

  99. cliu
    February 17, 2011

    OK, I’ve gotten over my disappointment. Thank you BFB. Although the team should have wrapped this up yesterday, it aint over til it’s over and who said CL was easy? We’ve gotten spoiled all of us look to the team for uplift. It IS great to see so muh support for such an amazing team.

    • February 17, 2011

      oh, i get it.

      “The worst part is that the tools the ‘Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act’ would give the Dept of Justice to fight the problem are fairly heavy handed. Now it’s always been able to lock and suspend domestic websites, but now it would be able to go after foreign websites in order to ‘prevent the importation into the United States of goods and services offered by an Internet site dedicated to infringing activities if…(it) harms intellectual property rights holders that are residents of the United States.’”

      -what, i live in china now? this has got to be appealed sooner or later.

  100. February 17, 2011

    Whoa! Deep breath, everyone …. WHEW!

    Okay. Good.

    To clear up a couple of things, as noted above, I am and was disgusted with the team yesterday. It didn’t do what it needed to do. That in no way, shape or form indicates anything other than my stance as a reviewer. Those of you with tenure from The Offside days, and the silverless seasons, will remember that I was always the last one to admit defeat, until it was mathematically impossible. I love and believe in this club.

    Which isn’t to say that they can’t be called out.

    As someone noted above and I fully agree with, I would have pulled Messi instead of Villa. As a hustle and talent player, Messi needs both to be fully effective. My double sub would have been Afellay (for Iniesta) and Mascherano (for Messi), to load up the midfield with talent and pace.

    But neither one is fully trusted by Guardiola yet. Wenger knew that the first sub would be Keita, because it kinda usually is. But this wasn’t a match for Keita. This was a match for younger, more dynamic legs, as Arsenal showed.

    Now it’s done. We know that Puyol will be back for the return leg, which is good, because Pique will be suspended. This will give Guardiola another selection headache of whether to return Abidal to left back with the all-hair central pairing of Puyol/Milito, or try something bold with Mascherano at CB (something I like a lot).

    Our club hardly ever loses. But it’s madness to expect it to win all the time, just as it’s madness to think that the sky is falling whenever it doesn’t lay a manita on an opponent. Arsenal played an excellent match, and Arshavin coming off the bench is quite a luxury. We don’t have a similar luxury.

    Imagine what a Krkic who is playing up to his place in the side does for Guardiola. You can sub Villa or Messi with another viable offensive threat. But right now, he’s terrible, and would have wilted in the cauldron of that match. So until Mascherano and Afellay win the full confidence of Guardiola, Keita is it.

    And the reality is, as I note above, all we have to do is win at home. I’m not sure why members of the BritPress and many Arsenal supporters are acting as if the tie is already won. Last I checked, we nicked an away goal, and left four chances right on their doorstep, begging. I wouldn’t be willing to place any money on the odds that Iniesta, Pedro and Messi will all be bad at the same time again.

    I’m full of confidence for the return leg, but I’m always full of confidence in this club, and the fan in me always will be, even when the evaluator in me has to utter unflattering words.

    • Helge
      February 17, 2011

      No, a win at home is not all we have to do. We have to win with 2 or more goals advantage, unless we play 1-0 (which is VERY unlikely, because Arsenal will score). The danger is that any +1 goal win with Arsenal scoring does not qualify us for the quarterfinals…

      We better score within the first 15 min, and we better score before Arsenal does. Otherwise, it will get tricky.

      • February 17, 2011

        I don’t understand why you’re so confident that Arsenal will score. Even at home, it took a ridiculous Valdes error and a complete defensive breakdown for them to score against an exhausted team. Full credit to them for the goals but our defense and keeper, on form, don’t concede. Yesterday.

        Midfield control is the key to our keeping a clean sheet. We didn’t have that yesterday because of fatigue and smart substitutions by Wenger, which allowed the Arsenal attack to get at our back line. I don’t expect the same mistakes twice.

  101. Crimguy
    February 17, 2011

    Hi – first post and an admitted arsenal fan. I think you’re all being a bit too hard on your team and not hard enough on Guardiola. His substitution of Villa was about as bad a decision as one could make, unless he had picked up a knock or something. I think your player ratings are likewise unfair. Arsenal are not as good a side as Barca, but they’re not some 2nd league team either, and when they’ve brought their A game they will compete with anyone in the world. The only proven way to stifle Arsenal is to park 10 of your men in the box (sound familiar?) unless . . . you’re a gifted attacking team like Man U or Barcelona. I saw a side that, once they went up 1-0, played more to protect their lead than to take it to the opposition.

    Arsenal, on the other hand, made some adventurous (reckless?) changes in the 2nd half, including bringing off Song and Walcott, the one player who was in a position to exploit the only weakness in the squad, i.e. left back. They brought on two attacking players in Arshavin, who is getting his Euro 2008 form back, and Bendtner, who has a lot to prove to Wenger, who is shuffling van Persie and Chamakh around the striker position. And it worked. Arsenal did not stop trying and I think they have learned a couple things about their game since last year.

    Arsenal has had more than its’ share of meltdowns in the final minutes (Sp*rs last year, Newcastle last week), but one thing I’ll credit Wenger with is that he believes Arsenal’s best chances to win are to continue to press their opponent and get an insurance goal. From what I’ve seen of Barcelona, they pretty much do the same.

    OK, Messi missed one he normally gets with his shoes tied together, and a disallowed goal of his was clearly onside. But you can’t fault him for Arsenal clogging up his lanes with 4 players and, in my opinion, taking Barca off their game a bit. The only player I saw that had a truly off day was Iniesta, but it’s not like we had a string of 9’s on our performance scale. I thought Fabregas had an off day too, and Eboue was tragic in many respects. Song was sloppy and it’s a miracle he didn’t get sent off at one point.

    I can understand why Valdes thought v.Persie was going to cross, but there’s still no excuse for his shoulder not being pressed against the post when the shot came in. Arshavin’s goal was actually typical Arsenal and you can’t blame Valdes for that one. The rest of the defense went to sleep for a bit though. . .

    Guardiola should have adjusted his strategy a bit, and never should have let up the pressure in the final 30 minutes. I’m pretty certain you would have won this one handily if he let Villa stay the course and kept the tempo up. I’m also fairly certain your team’s blood is up and the first 10-20 minutes of the 2nd leg are going to be brutal on Arsenal’s back 4.

    You’re capable of another 4-1, but this is not the gutted side you faced 12 months ago, and they can surprise anyone at times.

    • February 17, 2011

      When I evaluate players, it’s taking into account the match, as well as their personal standard. And it’s clear that they were off. WAY off. Yes, Arsenal deserve credit for the effort and never say die attitude. But if our players weren’t as off as bloomers on a burlesque stage, Pedro has a brace by the half, Messi has a goal and Villa is just icing on the cake.

      But that didn’t happen, because they didn’t perform up to any acceptable standard. It happens. February is always a cruel month for us. Both sides had players with off matches, and I still don’t know why Song was still on the pitch, except that the ref didn’t want to affect the match in that way.

      High standards mean high expectations. The return leg is going to be amazing, and if I weren’t going to be on vacation, pedaling my bicycle up hill and dale in California, I’d be sitting on the Lateral side in the Camp Nou, on those rock-hard seats over there, basking in the cigar smoke of the know-it-all Catalan Man while screaming my fool head off. Instead, I’ll be at Kezar’s Pub in Haight-Ashbury, screaming my fool head off.

      But I’ll be there in spirit.

      • psqd
        February 17, 2011

        hit magnolia gastropub whilst you’re that close.

  102. February 17, 2011

    The other thing we should fix right now is the talk about handballs, bad calls, etc. Every match has them. Never forget that Chelsea fans say our most recent Champions League win was undeserved because of terrible refereeing. As we scoffed at those notions, we shouldn’t ignore the irony present in some cules saying the same thing.

    We lost because we got outplayed and outhustled. If a draw and a loss don’t return the hunger to this side, nothing will. Because it’s hunger that makes you keep going when your legs are tired. And for the last two matches, the players haven’t looked hungry to me. Here’s hoping that changes, starting this weekend.

    • mega_tajh
      February 17, 2011

      I believe a hungry team makes their own luck and thats what we got against Chelsea 2 years ago as even though being a goal down the team pushed on never letting their head drop. That spirit was with Arsenal yesterday as you could see the fire in them to prove a point even to the end.

    • February 17, 2011

      I am not sure how you can say that we were outplayed and outhustled. For long stretches of that game we completely dominated. The English commentators on Sky were even swooning over how amazing we were and how Arsenal couldnt get near us. Up untill Peps rather weird sub, they didnt look all that dangerous. We may not have been our usual supreme, superhuman selves, but these players are only human and Arsenal were working their asses off to make life difficult for us. In games like these its the small details that make the big differences. The few inches that would have meant one or two Messi goals, the wrong decision on a perfectly good goal, VV not covering his near post. Sometimes these things go your way, sometimes they dont. Had they gone our way and had we won this match would anybody be saying we were outplayed? The best team doesnt always win and despite the fact that we did not play at our best, we were better than Arsenal on the night. They just got the rub of the green. It happens.

      Sometimes I really do think that people expect too much from this team. They are not machines. They cannot give 110% for 90 mins every single match and blow every team out of the water. We went to one of the best teams in Europe and for almost 70 mins we controlled it, that is with them playing like they have probably never played before. A fluke of a goal got them back in the game and then the momentum was all theirs. Shit happens. Thats football. I think its completely unfair to question the players’ heart and commitment, or to say they didnt look hungry. They looked tired. As they did at the beginning of the season, when ppl started questioning them too. As they did last year at the same time, and the year before. They have had a tough run of games, mixed in with silly internationals leading up to this very difficult away game. Not sure what everybody was expecting but I for one am proud of every single one of em.

      I cannot wait for March 8th to come around because I have no doubt in my mind who will progress..

      • mega_tajh
        February 17, 2011

        One thing for sure is that at this level a loss like this will surly teach something to the team and Pep on how to deal against teams like ourselves and Arsenal.

        Since Pep took over, he has always learned something from the difficult matches he has faced.When faced against Chelsea he learnt from that, to move on to beat an Inter side with 10 players playing defense(even though we where still knocked out we did however still beat them at home). This side is miles better as a unit that last season so I’m positive we can turn this around at home. Just need a little more fine tuning to beat a side in Arsenal in which we don’t have that much experience playing against.

  103. no me jodes
    February 17, 2011

    I agree with Kxevin. Not only isn’t this the time to make excuses but we should also act classy and remain above the fray. I think the most frustrating part of it is the fact that we were outhustled not necessarily outplayed. We had our chances and blew them; simple as that. But I have faith in Pep and in the resolve of the squad, in particular our leaders, (Puyol, Xavi) who won’t let us go out without a fight. I anticipate its going to be a war out there and should Arsenal somehow prevail (here’s hoping they don’t) no one can say that they didn’t earn it. One thing’s for sure, they won’t show up like Inter last year parking the bus.

  104. Lev
    February 17, 2011

    1. you are being very, very, hard on Messi imo

    2. idk why we cannot discuss bad calls, since they are part of the game. Chelsea fans had every right to be disgusted after the last time we played them because they were royally screwed by the ref that day.

    Likewise it is frustrating that for the CL 3rd knock-out match-up in a row, huge decisions are called against us: Fabregas penalty, Milito offside goal, Bojan goal disallowed and yesterday alone we had Djourou handball / Messi offside (still believe it was due to bad breath), Pedrito penalty and the Arshavin handball.

    Granted, some of those calls were debatable, and some less so. And some, like the offside cals were blunders. This means that of the last 5 CL games, we have had 4 in which the outcome would have been better for us had the refs not made these mistakes.

    In a game of 90 minutes, only a couple of moments prove decisive. Those moments are always worth discussing.

    For the record I don’t believe it takes anything away from Arsenal’s victory, they were dangerous throughout the whole match (not just the 2nd half!) and converted their chances when it mattered.

    3. With the exception of one, all the Gunners commenting today have been pure class 🙂 Congratulations on your win, Arsenal were great. It must have been amazing to be in the stadium.

    4. Anybody who is online right now should go to rojadirecta and check out Cerro Porteño against Colo Colo – they are playing on the coolest football pitch ever, definitely worth the trouble of finding a link and checking it out!!

    • February 17, 2011

      i’m watching the colo colo game on tv now. that is cool! looks like a crop circle! 😉

      • Lev
        February 17, 2011

        Personally I keep comparing it to the Rising Sun like the old Japanese flag. Miguel where do you live for copa libertadores to be on tv?

        • February 17, 2011

          yeah i was gonna say japanese flag but that was too easy. 😉

          i live in los angeles. it’s on fox sports en español or whatever it is the kids are calling it these days. they show a lot of copa libertadores games.

          how did #7 just miss that?

          • Lev
            February 17, 2011

            i know, that would have been a golazo!

    • February 17, 2011

      Not saying bad calls can’t be discussed. Just saying they aren’t an excuse. We made the plays, Chelsea didn’t. Arsenal made the plays, we didn’t.

      As for me being too hard on Messi, we’ll agree to disagree. He didn’t live up to any personal standard of quality that he himself has maintained, in movement, passing, scoring or hustle. He looked an exhausted player. Not saying he didn’t want to make the plays and the efforts. But he didn’t. And the scorecard doesn’t take want into account, right?

      No, the best player in the world won’t play like it every match. But it doesn’t exempt him from being called on it when he doesn’t.

    • mega_tajh
      February 17, 2011

      To accept the miss calls you also have to acknowledge that those errors wouldn’t still be discussed if Messi converted his chance, if Pedro didn’t try to be fancy and actually score or even if Alves took that chance @ the death of the game.

      Football is a human sport after all, so humans are expected no matter what level of the game to make errors. One thing for sure,I certainly notice that Refs are more confident in making game-decision calls against us. Like offside calls for example, we tend to keep getting them on the narrowest margins, I always thought Refs where told to encourage attacking football so if you aren’t sure you don’t call it but this is surly not the case in UCL this season.

      • Lev
        February 17, 2011

        yeah, you are both right of course…

        Personally I would like a system similar to the NFL where a coach can challenge a call. Or when it comes to offside goals, how difficult would it be for a 4th ref to instantly check this on tv and pass on the right call to the 1st ref? I am saying this not just for yesterday, but for football in general.

        As for Messi I agree (to disagree 🙂

        Now check out the cerro porteño pitch already! lol

        • mega_tajh
          February 17, 2011

          lolz what a unique pitch pattern.. I LOVE IT!!!

  105. BarcaGirl_Indo
    February 17, 2011

    so I slept for 7 hours and wake up this morning, feeling *slightly* better than yesterday… 😀
    I got a brain fart yesterday, and so messed up…

    now I’m calmer… still having a heartache, but oh well…

    if this team can’t even get a 1-0 or 2-0 or 3-1 win in Camp Nou against a non-super defensive team like Arsenal,
    with 90.000+++ fans screaming and shouting to support them,
    just forget about UCL, then focus on the league and CdR final…

    hope for the best, prepare for the worst… wake up, Barça!! wake up!! 😀

    • mega_tajh
      February 17, 2011

      I certainly believe Pep is going back to that training method for the team to play 3 games a week.It seem to me that maybe the training routine changed without us knowing as to why the team looks so tired only playing 5 games so far this month while they played 9 games last month and got positive result in them all.

  106. no me jodes
    February 17, 2011

    I just hope that Pep realizes by now that not only is it not wise to ride Messi 90min. every match but it also isn’t necessary. How many matches this season were already decided and Messi was still out on the pitch. We were literally doing a ‘Conan the Destroyer’ on our opponents and there he was still out there. Why, for God’s sake?

    Players in general are not going to raise their arm and ask to be subbed for but if Pep is truly the man in charge he has to pull him for the long term sake of our season. As it stands I don’t see any way Leo’s going to last through the season at this pace. And as I said in a previous post if we are solely relying on one man to carry us to the title then we really must not be that good.

  107. PM
    February 17, 2011

    Ok, Pep made mistakes. Players seemed tired and not interested in winning. Valdes had his stupid moment. We can go on whole day… but, for me, everything is still fine.

    I understand that fans will be sad, they’ll try to disect every goddamn thing that happened yesterday. But how can they be so depressed and pessimistic? It’s not even close to last year’s Inter situation, we are still favorite to win for Christ’s sake. Any doubt about Barca’s chances is a disrespect to these wonderful players.

    If you’re a betting man, check it-

    http://sports.williamhill.com/bet/en-gb/betting/e/1151774/UEFA-Champions-League—Outright.html

  108. outerspacedout
    February 17, 2011

    As always in the time I’ve been on this blog, agree with Blitzen. Also agree with Lev. Don’t buy this doom and gloom of our CL and dynasty hopes seeming out of reach, I’d say us not winning at home is unlikely. This blaming and transfer speculation is ridiculous btw, only two games ago we had the best squad in the world and now we need change and a true CF and this and that? And this level of knee-jerk from ‘fans’ is more embarrassing for me than the match was, do you have no faith in the team and our ability to win even just 1-0 at home? If we’re blaming everyone and going ridiculous over this in a first leg with us still tied, its gonna be real hard for you guys to stand by the team when we eventually tail off and have another 06/07/08 kind of season. The atmosphere here seems practically funereal

    • outerspacedout
      February 17, 2011

      sorry, i typed in this comment about 8 hours ago but my connection had a problem. The mood already seems more upbeat than wen i wrote this, where i was agreeing with blitz and lev that the panicking about going out or not winning any titles or needing more players was ridiculous.

  109. psqd
    February 17, 2011

    been thinking some of the numbers are a little coincidental…players looking tired when barca has nominally 10-15% less possession than normal. that is 9-14 minutes more craziness trying to recover the ball, and about the amount of timing of the lapse. surely only coincidence and surely not the reason why pep said he prefers to play against a team who doesn’t want possession.
    just a thought.

    • Tom_Johnson
      February 17, 2011

      “when barca has nominally 10-15% less possession than normal. that is 9-14 minutes more craziness trying to recover the ball”

      I wish it’s that simple.

      The ball is not in play the same amount of time every game, the opponent is different so is the time ball spends in each third of the field.

      It wouldn’t take a lot of brains to spot this and make a proper adjustment (subs) based on the players’ fitness level if indeed makes that much difference.

      “surely not the reason why pep said he prefers to play against a team who doesn’t want possession. just a thought.”

      Espn.com has Arsenal’s possession at 34% while Uefa.com is generous with 39%. About the same as Kobenhaven and Bilbao had in CL Group stage and Copa del Rey return game at their respective home fields.

      Maybe you should do the research next time. Just a thought.

      • psqd
        February 18, 2011

        sorry last line was sarcastic…but weren’t those both draws…

  110. Nick
    February 20, 2011

    Kxevin, change Pep’s rating. Villa was indeed injured. I admit to have assumed the same during the match.

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