Defeat and Other Four-Lettered Words

Or, how I learned to keep calm and trust Pep.

keep calm and carry on (or don't)

“Messi looks to have lost the thread of his dynamite and Iniesta, the poor guy, looks like he is sleep-walking. I don’t want to sound too opportunistic but I was ridiculed when I said Barcelona are a worse side than last year and above all two years ago.

“In this country everything has to be black and white; Barcelona are in crisis, that’s the truth. Propaganda and fanaticism don’t play a part.”

Let’s talk about this perfect bit of ridiculousness [from a column in El Mundo, translated by the Telegraph]. Hilariously, the writer states that everything in Spain has to be absolute in what seems to be a disapproving manner, right before plunging knee-deep into the same quagmire himself. 98% of all European teams would dearly love to be in our kind of ‘crisis’. In fact, the very tendency to cry crisis at the first sign of trouble is an impediment to long-term success.

I’m not here to make any grand statements. Just to remind all and sundry of a few pertinent points in these uncertain times:

1. It might be only human to take a good thing for granted after it’s been around for long enough, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.

Two games ago, I watched a decent Barca performance of great significance. The victory against a listless Atletico Madrid meant that Guardiola’s team had surpassed the great Real Madrid of Di Stefano by winning 16 games in a row. Not an easy thing to do in a league that, whatever its weaknesses, still has a decent enough middle class to make life difficult for its aristocracy.

All teams, even the truly, epically bad ones, are capable of one good game a season. Great teams just make a habit of having good games. The difference is consistency, and consistent excellence is the most difficult thing to achieve in football. Make no mistake, we’re watching a fantastic Barca team. Do they have off days? Of course. Everybody does, it’s part of the sheer unpredictability of the game, a product of the number of variables involved, not all of which can be controlled. But they have less off days than most teams.

The problem posed by cup tournaments is that consistency matters less and chance matters more. Luckily for us, our off day (or days, if you want to count Sporting) haven’t dealt us a fatal blow. And it certainly doesn’t mean we’re suddenly a team in crisis.

“But let no one be fooled, this Barcelona is as strong as in years gone by. The proof was in their overpowering first half. For those who doubt this theory, I would refer them to last year’s quarter-finals” in which after a draw at the Emirates “a divine Leo Messi, a superlative Messi” had scored four at the Camp Nou. A February blip for Barcelona, he noted, had been the story of the last three years.

That’s Marca‘s editor, by the way, somehow emerging as the voice of sanity in this media circus. [I know, I’m surprised too.] That point about a February slump is particularly well made.

2. This was a well-balanced game against a good team.

I’ll let a few of our players speak for me here:

“We played good football. They were very effective in front of goal and we weren’t. You pay for that in Europe”. – Xavi

“We’re fine. There is no need for alarm bells. This is Europe and it’s hard to win games.” – Alves

If you thought Arsenal were going to roll over and let us tickle their soft underbelly, you haven’t seen the majority of their games this season. Sure, they still have some problems at the back, but their offensive powers are considerable, and more importantly varied. We paid for our failure to kill the game off when we had the upper hand by finishing our chances. A little more bloody-minded-ness next time would help put things right.

3. Blaming the referee is the easy way out.

It’s unworthy of a team with the resources we have. The only teams who should complain about refereeing bias are the comparative minnows who will almost always get shafted. For the ‘bigger’ clubs mistakes almost always even themselves out over the course of a season.

As Guardiola said when he was asked about the decisions of the referee: “You have to be able to surpass that.” I was glad to see Maxwell, Alves and Xavi saying basically the same thing when queried independently about the issue. Complaining and feeling sorry for ourselves would be a waste of energy. Their focus was rightly on what they could change for the second leg. And that gives me hope.

Finally, I leave you with Guardiola’s parting words:

“Allow me to have faith in my players. They have achieved too much in a short space of time for me not to have faith in them.”

This team have earned the benefit of the doubt. Bring on the weekend.

Sources not cited above: fcbarcelona.cat, guardian.co.uk, uefa.com, @barcastuff on twitter

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Written by:

20-something Chinese Kiwi Barrister. Enjoys short walks on the beach, Argentinian players and Pep Guardiola. @blackwhitengrey for hot takes on all three.

94 Comments

    • February 17, 2011

      Very welcome. 🙂

      Defeat is disappointing but it’s not the end of the world. We’ll see how the next 3 weeks go.

  1. Nav
    February 17, 2011

    Linda, you are awesome. 🙂

    Just a thought: gunners are super duper excited that they got a 2-1 win in their home ground against Barca. If the situation was reversed, and Barca got a 2-1 win over Arsenal at the Camp Nou, would we be similarly excited?

    I think not.

    • Nav
      February 17, 2011

      Keep in mind the above means we’d still have to face Arsenal in an away leg at the Emirates.

    • February 17, 2011

      Aw, thank you.

      I live in North London and a lot of my good friends are Arsenal fans. They were pretty apprehensive going into this game and are very pleased with the performance and the result, which is pretty flattering for how Barca is viewed in the Best League in the World (TM).

      They’re a maturing team, and we’re the finished product. (Supposedly.) The second leg is our chance to prove that we still hold the upper hand in this dynamic.

      • February 17, 2011

        They’re a maturing team, and we’re the finished product.

        They’ve been maturing for the last 6 years. Just sayin’.

        • February 18, 2011

          Not helped by some of their better players leaving year after year. Still a very young team. Wilshere played like someone 5 years older against us.

        • oeilleres
          February 18, 2011

          Yeah what did Xavi and Puyol win before they were 26? The answer is NOTHING. They didn’t win jack for 5 years not even a cup final. Our 23 year old captain has a WC, Euro, FA Cup, and UCL final under his belt. BTW we have matured enough to kick your smug asses

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      February 17, 2011

      “If the situation was reversed, and Barca got a 2-1 win over Arsenal at the Camp Nou, would we be similarly excited?”

      exactly…

      I remember a commentator said during match agains Deportivo,
      he thinks scoreline 2-1 in Camp Nou against Levante felt like a defeat for FC Barcelona…

      and that’s the point,
      this team are too good to be true, they set the standard very high…
      the earth and the moon was shaking when they lost…

    • oeilleres
      February 18, 2011

      Do you realize the average ages of the team’s on the pitch?

      Szczesny 20 —- Valdes 29
      Eboue 27 —- Alves 27
      Djourou 24 —- Pique 24
      Koscielny 25 —- Adibal 31
      Clichy 25 —- Maxwell 29
      Wislhere 19 —- Xavi 31
      Song 23 —- Busquets 22
      Fabregas 23 —- Iniesta 26
      Nasri 23 —- Pedro 23
      Van Persie 27 —- Messi 23
      Walcott 21 —- Villa 29

      That’s 23.36 average age for Arsenal vs 26.72 for Barca ( and that’s without Captain Caveman in the lineup. Barca are vastly more experienced so yes we are very excited because our young team is growing up before our eyes. So while you have the experience, we have the young legs, speed and fitness. You guys were sucking wind in the 80th minute while we were just hitting our stride. Good luck in the return ( 48 hours after you play a match )

  2. blitzen
    February 17, 2011

    Boo, where’s my manita post?

    I mean, YAY! It’s a Linda post! 😀

    Excellent points. I hate how people push the Panic button after any little setback. And this is just a setback, not a disaster. Honestly, I am more worried about beating the Bilboners this weekend than than coming back against Arsenal at the Camp Nou.

    But I’m still Hlebbing everyone until our next victory.

    (I guess the pictures are working now.)

    • February 17, 2011

      Pictures from URLs are working, but ones from other non-Google Image sources don’t work (i.e. your own pictures from laptop/computer/etc.)

      We don’t people to miss this post going against the “OMG our season is f*cked. Qe need to revamp the whole team and think for next season” sentiments. It’ll be posted in all its glory tomorrow AM.

    • Nav
      February 17, 2011

      What does ‘Hlebbing everyone’ mean exactly blitz? 😀

      • blitzen
        February 17, 2011

        I did not originate the terms “to Hleb, Hlebbing, to be Hlebbed”, so perhaps Isaiah or someone else should explain? But you may notice a certain presence about my avatar….

        Futility, thy name is Hleb.

        • soccermomof4
          February 17, 2011

          for you Blitzen—

          Conjugation of the verb To Hleb
          I Hleb
          you Hleb
          he/ she/ it Hlebs
          we Hleb
          You (all) Hleb
          they Hleb

          Hlebo
          Hlebas
          Hlebla
          Hlebamos
          Hlebais can’t do accents
          Hleblan

          Oh, man, I better go to sleep!

        • Nav
          February 17, 2011

          So it’s like being trolled? Awesome

          • blitzen
            February 17, 2011

            It’s worse than being trolled, because instead of getting angry or being amused, you just get overwhelmed by a vast wave of despair and ennui.

        • BarcaGirl_Indo
          February 17, 2011

          your gravatar Hlebbed me, somo4…
          *and I dont even know what that means*

          someone please ban Shakira from Europe until May 2011!

          I want to see my Piquenbauer back on the field!

          • soccermomof4
            February 18, 2011

            Nope, I only Hlebbed people for aa very brief period last week during Blitzen and my Gravatar War. Blitzen has bee Hlebbing y’all with her avatar.

            Yes, Gerard needs a lot less waka waka, moc moc, and ooooooh and a lot more football in his life right now!

        • February 18, 2011

          Ahaha, I try but as we all know, football doesn’t go well with reason.

    • February 18, 2011

      I need a BFB dictionary! Hlebbing? 😀

      When even Marca and AS refuse to run the ‘Barca in crisis’ headlines, you know things are okay.

  3. barca96
    February 17, 2011

    Hi Linda.
    I hardly see you comment.
    Do you only drop by during the LB’s?
    Cause I don’t and maybe that’s the time that you come here.

    I just had to search for this pic that I posted here a few weeks back.
    Took me some time but to ease my pain and start my day on a bright side.
    http://img195.imageshack.us/img195/6136/beztytuuprv.png

    • February 18, 2011

      That’s because I hardly comment. 😀

      I blame grad school. I know Isaiah and co from their Barca Offside days, back when I was a lot more active with my own blog.

      That image is priceless.

  4. barca96
    February 17, 2011

    I wonder what Ramzi has to say about all this.
    Just checked his blog but still nothing up.

    Btw, did any of you hear the Arsenal fans singing the “hands off Cesc” song? I sure didn’t. It would be funny to hear though.

    • barca96
      February 17, 2011

      And in the return leg the fans could sing something back too.
      “Hands off our kids, raise your own”

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        February 17, 2011

        that’s awesome… 😀

    • Para
      February 18, 2011

      They didn’t sing “hands off cesc fabregas,” but after (I think) the first goal was scored, they were singing “We’ve got cesc fabregas.”

  5. Víctor
    February 17, 2011

    Who does truly think that there’s a crisis at Barcelona? My god, had Madrid lost 2-1 to Arsenal no one would say that they are in crisis. Milan lost 1-0 to Tottenham and no one is taking about a Milan crisis.

    The only thing that this game showed is that Barcelona is human and that playing against bigger sides is gonna be difficult, specially in this competition.

    And, seriously, if anyone thinks that Arsenal has it all solved they are just kidding themselves. They have a 1 goal lead. Sure, it’s a good result for them… but no sane person thinks that they have it all solved. Barcelona hasn’t it solved either… the tie is still in the air…

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      February 17, 2011

      “Milan lost 1-0 to Tottenham and no one is taking about a Milan crisis.”

      hahaha… it’s crazy, huh…

      Milan lost to Tottenham in their home ground,
      and I’m not freaked out and depressed…

      I love Milan, but I predicted they not ready for UCL stage…
      so a defeat against Spurs didnt shock me…

    • February 18, 2011

      Exactly. If anyone thought this was going to be easy – and by this I include the fans and the players – they now know better.

  6. momo
    February 17, 2011

    Y’all don’t wanna know how many times I obliterated (the way they were meant to be obliterated) on Fifa 11 since yesterday.

    • February 18, 2011

      That’s a fantastic form of therapy. Let’s hope Pep’s boys do the same in real life in March.

  7. outerspacedout
    February 17, 2011

    Andrei ‘I look into all sorts of mirrors, rectangular, oval. I scrutinize myself. And I think, at least there isn’t a crown on my head!’ Arshavin is such a headcase. I just read and realized that when he scored he lifted up his jersey to show us an undershirt- which had not a message but a picture of him celebrating. Wtf? I laughed so hard.

    Ps. Not one bit worried. Hating the smugness of English press and the Arsenal fans I know but not one bit worried.

    • February 18, 2011

      I love Arshavin despite his many outdated views. (Or maybe I excuse them as a product of his craziness.) Did not realize that shirt had a picture of himself on it! WTF.

      • blitzen
        February 18, 2011

        I can’t stand Arshavin, or as I refer to him, HLH (Horrible Little Hobgoblin). But YMMV.

  8. February 17, 2011

    Just a quick question, blitzen:

    For the non-alcoholic version, what would you replace tequila and blue curacao with? It says blue colored soda/pop, but do you also need red colored pop? Or just use the pomegranate juice? #confused

      • barca96
        February 17, 2011

        Which Kool-Aid is the best?
        I’ve tried the red cherry. I love it.
        I want to try the others but they are pricey here.
        Around usd10. So I gotta choose wisely.

        • outerspacedout
          February 17, 2011

          hey don’t actually use formaldehyde!!

        • outerspacedout
          February 18, 2011

          And I wish I could go to the US sometime just to actually taste some of the food I hear about in shows and movies. Tacos, doritos, twinkies, kool-aid, burritos, buffalo wings, Dr Pepper, Thanksgiving turkey, etc. In both Malaysia and Maldives all our snacks and drinks and stuff are from Southeast Asia or Europe, we never get the ‘American’ snacks.

          • jhargrid
            February 18, 2011

            Tacos, burritos, and buffalo wings are okay. I’m not a huge fan of turkey (bland, tends to be dry). Doritos, twinkies, and kool-aid aren’t really food so much as cheap facsimiles thereof. But a life without Dr. Pepper… truly a despondent existence.

          • soccermomof4
            February 18, 2011

            WHY would you want to eat our junk? Oh, but I agree about the Dr. P!

          • blitzen
            February 18, 2011

            Geez, spaced. Your comment makes me indescribably sad. American marketing really has taken over the world. I suspect you would be disappointed by most of the things on your list. They call it junk food for a reason. Twinkies, seriously? Are so nasty. They don’t even resemble real food. Buffalo wings are great, but you could very easily make those yourself. Turkey is way overrated, chicken is better. I can’t stand Dr. Pepper, but then I rarely drink pop anyway. Pizza, now. Pizza is good.

            If the shipping cost wasn’t so high I would mail you a box of snacks!

        • outerspacedout
          February 18, 2011

          And yeah the occasional and very rare time you find one its super expensive. I saw doritos in a high-end supermarket and its like 5.50 USD which over here is about as much as a rather high-end dinner for one at a good restaurant. Its not that we’re particularly poor or anything but geographically I think importing from Europe and SE Asia is just much easier, we get tons of fancy German or Swiss biscuits and snacks here too after all.

          • outerspacedout
            February 18, 2011

            Or two movie tickets and a coke in Malaysia. Yeah jhagrid they may not be that great even for all I know, but I hear about them so much in shows and movies and stuff I can’t help but be curious as to what they are like.

          • February 18, 2011

            I’ve tried swiss chocolate. If you get that, then you dont have to care about all the other stuff. Plus, buffalo wings, burritos and Tacos can all be made home made. Places like Taco bell here in the US dont even use real chicken.

          • jhargrid
            February 18, 2011

            I’m just saying you should prioritize. Dr Pepper should be at the top of your list. It purports to have 23 flavors, but tastes mostly like cherry. In any case it’s delicious. Thanksgiving turkey should be somewhere at the bottom probably. Also your list lacked crunchy Cheetos. I don’t know if they have those in Maldives or Malaysia but Cheetos outrank Doritos in my book.

          • jhargrid
            February 18, 2011

            Taco Bells have a device known as a “meat pump” apparently.

          • complotGP
            February 18, 2011

            Hey it’s not like we’re lacking in American food! 😛 Though the SEAsian version of Pringles doesn’t compare to the original, ours isn’t as potato-ey.

            I want to try Twinkies though, if only to find out why it’s been so enduring.

            I like the jalapeno Cheetos myself.

    • blitzen
      February 18, 2011

      grenadine does not contain alcohol, so you can still use the grenadine-pomegranate juice mix.

  9. jaymin
    February 17, 2011

    Further evidence that I am unduly obsessed with european football. This:

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6Xf1BdWbik

    made me think first of the difficulties Cesc could have encountered at Arsenal had a cadre of English reserves and youths decided to make difficult for him.

    • Vj
      February 18, 2011

      When I read Cracks I really thought it was a film on football..

      Atleast he escaped the regular pantsing Bojan has to endure 😛

    • February 18, 2011

      You can post one link without putting an * or / in front of it. Any more though, and you’ll to be something in front.

  10. February 17, 2011

    Last year we played Lyon. We lost the first leg 1-0. Compared to a 2-1, its much worse. In the return leg, we tied 1-1. But even a 2-1 win would not have put us through. That damn away goal, it does wonders.

    I really am not old. Just 21 years old. But i remember in the olden days (2 years ago?), when a team is winning the home leg in the CL 2-1, they throw on the attack. A 2-1 used to be considered a bad result for the home team as a simple 1-0 victory would make the other team win at their home. Why has this become different?

    The answer is its not different. EPL teams look at La Liga and they see a brand of football and mentality that is really not familiar to them. They see this go out and attack attitude even when going against a tough opponent, even when it is away. What!? Attack away? No. no. no.

    They also see 2 teams that are breaking records in goals scored and points accumulated and wonder why they cant do the same. Their explanation is because the league is not as tough as theirs. To some extent that is true, but hey, 2 years ago 70+ points was enough to win you the league. So what happened? Yes, Barca and Madrid rose to power. The two best players play in this league. The most talented midfield play in this league. One of the best forwards in the world and one of the most promising forwards play here. And they all play oh so well. Different styles but still great play.

    What i’m trying to get at here is this: EPL teams were desperate to beat barca or Madrid. Even if the result was not a good one, all they cared about was the result. They wanted that just as a comfort that maybe that magic thats happening down in spain isn’t so perfect.

    In the end, a 2-1 away loss is not the worse result. That away goal is going to be drilled in Arsenals head and one goal that you score at your home will go a loong way.

    I also wanted to add. Thanks for the compliments. It was just annoying seeing someone go with the trouble of registering to just throw garbage out. Claiming a brand of football because a coach installed it in 96 and branding it his own? Doesn’t sounds fair to thrown 50+ years down the trash to fit an argument now does it? Also i didn’t mean to make anyone cry or tear up. Although i think that was meant as a compliment lol.

    And thank you Shierely Kari. Just the other day some respectable man called me a racist because i thought Adebayor missed a lot of chances against Espanyol (the extent people will go to so they can defend an argument). So i will take a French derived complimentary word 🙂

    Hala Madrid

    • February 17, 2011

      But Adebayor DID miss a bunch of chances (didn’t he hit the top of the cross bar when he was clean through on goal at one point?), so it’s hardly thinking–more like fact stating, but I guess the truth hurts. *shrug*

      English mentality and football is really summed up in one picture (they really are worth a thousand words y’know)

      http://www.epltalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/english-footballs-map-of-europe.jpg

      We’re in Hlebruary right now (meaning it’s the month where our form drops and we screw ourselves over (like vs. Arsenal)), and we’ve never played well away in the CL anyway. I’m not really sure where all the doom and gloom is coming from. It’s one thing to call out your team when they play badly, but it’s another thing when you want to sell players. Last time I checked, didn’t we just break a 5-0 year record with this team?

      It’s madness, really. But so is fandom, I guess.

      • February 17, 2011

        Whoops, I meant 50 year record. Slip of the fingers. 😀

    • outerspacedout
      February 17, 2011

      Haha Bassam you’re too awesome dude and also I hope Madrid reaches the semis hammering a couple English teams on the way. And that Valencia go through, meet a smaller team in the quarters, and make the semis. In terms of ill-wishing my energies are much further towards the English sides than Real. Also I hope Arshavin makes a Twitter and talks with @ooohmocmoc3 a lot.

    • jaymin
      February 18, 2011

      I am confused but am not implying obfuscation was your intent. Just not sure what you were trying to say. Arsenal is as continental as EPL teams get. Our approach to everything, from players’ phenotypes, diets, and attitudes toward the tackle set us apart from every other team in England. We are regularly brutalized, and then mocked in the press for being unable to put up with a “good honest kicking.” Your lumping us in with a typical EPL side is, i don’t doubt, not disingenuous(this is a grammatical test to divine your native language), as you have highlighted your youth. We (Arsenal) are viewed as aliens in this country, foreign transplants. If we lose to you guys, we will root for you, or Real, or Roma, or Shakhtar, or whomever, to rip the faces off these racist fucking Chelsea, United, or Tottenham bitches.

      • jaymin
        February 18, 2011

        By the way this is for the poster who has “Bassam” as his login name.

      • Vj
        February 18, 2011

        First off, a lot of Gunners WANT to not be classified as another EPL team. But in reality, they are. Look a little closely, they are worse..

        They scream bloody murder in the face of brutal tackles, yet their manager claims himself to look the other way when their own players tackle in the same manner. Yeah I’m looking at you, Wilshere..

        They want respect from other clubs in case of transfers, yet greedily pillage training academies all over Europe and get young talent on the cheap, when they aren’t old enough to sign for their clubs..

        They want respect from players like Evra, claiming their players are respectful. They even want to crucify Pique, Puyol and Reina for a prank on Fabregas, yet look the other way when Fabregas and Cole throw Pizzas at Fergie..

        Lastly, they label other fans as racist even when they themselves shamelessly replicate the hissing noise of the gas chambers when they play Spurs. They ignore their chants of “We’ve got Cesc Fabregas, you yids are scared of gas” and “I never felt more like gassing the Jews when Tottenham win and Arsenal lose.”

        Oh yeah and they are hypocrites too..

    • soccermomof4
      February 18, 2011

      Hiya Bassam,
      Came to “the dark side” briefly to tell you are a class act. You are (even if you just want us to stay in the CL for fatigue’s sake ;-D.) I wasn’t aroound last summer for the Cesc “scandal” trolls so I didn’t understand how annoying trolls could be…until yesterday!

    • February 18, 2011

      Greetings! I completely agree with you that 2-1 at home is a dangerous result in the CL. It would certainly make me uneasy if we got such a result.

      To be fair, the Arsenal players and manager (as opposed to the English media) realize this. They know it’s far from over.

      I think you touched on something interesting re: how the EPL views Barca/Madrid. If we crash out early, it’s ‘proof’ that La Liga is substandard compared to the EPL.

  11. February 17, 2011

    “That’s Marca‘s editor, by the way, somehow emerging as the voice of sanity in this media circus. [I know, I’m surprised too.]”

    he’s gotta side w/barca. how bad is real compared to the epl teams if his team got flogged 5-0 by them?, is his thinking i’m thinking.

    • Ryan
      February 17, 2011

      I dunno about EE, but my cousins who are card-carrying Espanyol fans are jumping in joy at the Barcelona loss. :/

      • Nav
        February 17, 2011

        Remind them of the 5-1 thumping they got [i]in their own home[/i]. Then smile.

        • Nik
          February 18, 2011

          Sometimes I feel Espanyol would go happily to the Segunda Division if it meant us suffering a big loss (loss of Liga, Champions League, etc.).

          • jaymin
            February 18, 2011

            you doubtless weren’t a fan when it happened, but Barca was recently cost a liga championship by a then espanyol player whose name rhymes with a tasty mexican spice and tripe soup. He gave Beckham a good sending off.

          • Nik
            February 18, 2011

            @jaymin The 06-07 season was my first season following the team, so I remember them giving up to EE (they were ahead by 2 goals right?). However, I had just started following Barca, so my annoyance at our crosstown rivals wasn’t fully developed yet.

    • February 18, 2011

      Still, nice to see someone not jumping on us. Or as the old Chinese proverb says, throwing stones at someone who’s stuck in a well. Not that we’re stuck in a well. 😀

  12. February 18, 2011

    “A basic truth of the sort of hard pressing Barca favor is that it is impossible to maintain for 90 minutes. Barry Hulshoff said the Ajax of the seventies could press for around 70 minutes. Under Valeriy Lobanovskyi, Dynamo Kyiv used to ‘false press’ during games to give itself a rest from true pressing. Barca rarely presses from start to finish, and if it does hard press from the start, it often has such a commanding lead, or has so shattered the opposition, that a drop-off in intensity in the final quarter of the game barely matters. Both last season and this, Arsenal enjoyed its best spell in the final 20 minutes at the Emirates.
    Some have suggested that replacing David Villa with Seydou Keita after 68 minutes was a tactical error from Guardiola, handing the initiative to Arsenal; in fact, adding a holding player was a natural response to the knowledge that it would be impossible to maintain the hard press.”

    Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/jonathan_wilson/02/17/champions.league.observations/index.html#ixzz1EI3i0uDH

    • jaymin
      February 18, 2011

      A very intelligent and appreciated contribution, the likes of which are very common in this online space.

      • barca96
        February 18, 2011

        Can you please explain to me(and everyone else here) about the “false press”? It really interests me.
        Usually when I play I press hard too, hustle like mad ala Busi & P! but usually in the middle of the match Im tired and have to slow down for 10mins and then Im off again for the last 20mins. This has been my style for the last few years.
        I play futsal for an hour. And we play king of court(losers out, next team in) so it’s totally different from a 90mins match.

        • barca96
          February 18, 2011

          A-ha. Found it!!!

          “In The Methodological Basis of the Development of Training Models, the book he co-wrote with Anatoliy Zelentsov, Lobanovskyi lays out three different kinds of pressing. There is full-pressing, when opponents are hounded deep in their own half; half-pressing, when opponents are closed down only as they cross halfway; and there is false pressing, when a team pretends to press, but doesn’t – that is, one player would close down the man in possession, while the others would sit off.”

          Got it from here;
          http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2010/apr/06/question-pressing-crucial-modern-game

    • February 18, 2011

      Jonathan Wilson brings it, as always. Thanks for the link!

  13. mardia
    February 18, 2011

    Seriously, thank you so much for this post, it’s exactly what I needed to read and hear. There’s a macro going around of those popular “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters, and it reads “Keep Calm and Trust Pep.” And that’s exactly what we need to do–keep calm, trust in our players, our coach. The sky is not in fact falling, despite what the media wants us to believe.

    (Also, I still don’t comment here all that much–a little shy, still–but I thought I’d add my name to the list of female commentators on this blog, lol.)

    • February 18, 2011

      You’re very welcome. (‘Keep Calm and Trust Pep’ is the screensaver on my iPod. :D)

      And welcome! Stick around, have a few drinks. We’re having a slight wobble due to some rough weather, but the good ship Barca will right itself soon enough.

  14. tutomate
    February 18, 2011

    I just hope there is not another “We can do it with a 2-0” campaign from last year.

    @ Bassam: Yes it absolutely was a compliment.

    • February 18, 2011

      Ah well, whatever they need to do to get the Camp Nou packed and an atmosphere at least as intimidating as Arsenal’s.

      I’ve been to the Emirates – the shape is as bad for atmosphere as the Camp Nou, and they pack 30,000 less into it. So we can definitely do better.

  15. K_legit
    February 18, 2011

    It pisses me off that this proper Mash and Grab victory by Arsenal is making ppl say that we are faltering..we should have obliterated Arsenal in that blitz at the fag end of the 1st half..
    Scheisse!!

    • February 18, 2011

      Yeah, if we’d taken a few more of those chances none of this would be a problem. But that’s how it is at this level.

  16. Whatever
    February 18, 2011

    We are way too spoiled. That’s all I can say.

    • February 18, 2011

      Every time I think things are getting difficult I start thinking about how much worse it could be (beginning of 03-04, end of 07-08, most of the early 00s) and instantly feel better. 😀

      • Humphrey Bogart
        February 18, 2011

        Yeah, the last days of Rijkaards regime were really depressing, in particular because we had such a good squad at that time (at least on paper). I remember that already in these days sometimes Leo had to carry the whole team, when he was not even 20. I will never forget his hattrick against EE in the classico at home, when we were one man down, he was so special, already in these times.

        • February 18, 2011

          The very mention of that hattrick makes me all misty. What a game, what a performance.

  17. Ian
    February 18, 2011

    wow
    no one is blameable enough i think… according to barcastuff, our team’s been in some strain. villa’s ankle, iniesta’s shoulders… who knows, maybe even gerard’s toes or xavi’s tendons, we went quite long enough without knowing these before. and now, while puyi is out, messi himself looks fatigued.
    we might need lady luck for a while now T_T
    thank you for this post + the comments in it, cheered me well after a bad day over here. trusting for a better, healthier march. 🙂

    • February 18, 2011

      I hope so! Not surprising that we’re having fitness problems given the rate of WC participation in our squad, but fingers crossed we’ll be able to deal with it.

  18. Humphrey Bogart
    February 18, 2011

    Yeah, it seemas that Barcelona is paying the price now for Spains WC win. I mean EE have just 3 players (one in goal) who were involved the whole time by actually playing so for them it is not so hard.

    Regarding the depressing / optimistic mood here I know that I have been one of the most negative posters here in the last days but does not mean that I do not support our team. Last year after supporting Barca already some years I became a soci (might be one of the last from outside Cataluna) and that for me is a “commitment” for life, but nevertheless I think we should call out the bad things when necessary so I was 100% in line with Kxvins review maybe because normaly if there is a bump in the road (like the draw against Gijon) we come back stronger after that, and that was what I was counting on for the CL. But we responded with an even worse performance and that was a blow I was not prepared for. I think in some days also my optimis will be back and even if we go out of the CL and loose out the league title I would never, ever turn my back to this club.

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