Valencia 0, Barca 1, aka “Taking it on the chin and coming out swinging”

What a match. At the time I didn’t think so, mostly because I was sweating and kneeling on the floor at my office, physically willing our players to develop the necessary sharpness in the final third to put away one of the 914 chances they developed during this match, one in which a worthy opponent said “We are not amused, or impressed. Take that.”

And gave as good as they got. Championships are won …. villarato …. better lucky thanblahblahblah. Fact of the matter is that Valencia played one hell of a match today in a rare set of circumstances that found us slightly off song, facing a determined team at home, a team with talent that could put on one of our shirts and hold their own, no problem. It was a track meet almost from beginning to end, a match that saw us squandering chances, sometimes through excellent defense, other times through knuckleheaded selfishness, or just bad decision making.

But at the end of it all, we won in the Mestalla, a bogey joint for our lumbagoed leader Pep Guardiola. We won because as when Valencia came to the Camp Nou and rolled into the half with a lead, they gave us their best as we alternated between hanging on for dear life, and strutting proudly. And it’s now a 10-point lead, pending the outcome of tomorrow’s EE outing against Maulaga.


To beat our club it takes luck, lucky bounces, talent galore, passing excellence and physical strength. Valencia displayed all of those traits in abudance, as they rolled out of their locker room and got right in our faces. Expecting this, Guardiola came out with what was ultimately a pretty smart lineup, of Pinto, Alves, Pique, Busquets, Abidal, Mascherano, Xavi, Iniesta, Adriano, Messi, Villa.

Valencia came out and said, in effect, “We don’t care who you have out there,” and proceeded to make our weaknesses (fondness for dwelling on the ball, passes over medium distance and running at the defense) their strengths, with constant pressure that left no space for anything at all. A man got the ball and was facing two or three Valencia defenders, runs were met by a flotilla of white shirts in a flooded midfield that left no room or time for tika-taka. As command and control go, we didn’t have any, and they had 4 corners in the first 6 minutes, an astonishing display that turned out to be unrelenting. Messi was giving balls away, Abidal was giving balls away as four attackers faced off against our (usually) three defenders, forcing long or uncertain plays from the back that led to trouble.

And then, just like that, just over 8 minutes in, a hyperactive Alves lunged at a ball that bounded off the leg of a Valencia defender, and found Messi racing in, alone, on the keeper. He was behind the defense with the ball at his feet on the keeper on his knees. Surely, this was to be the early goal that we were all craving, that would send us off to the races. But his first effort was weak and easily parried. By that time there were defenders on the scene, and the two subsequent shots were also blocked, and what should have been a 0-1 lead, gave Valencia new life and courage in the face of the juggernaut.

We had to make runs, because the passing lanes were all jammed up, and on attack, Valencia went over the top on us, bypassing our traditionally hungry midfield in favor of an opportunity to get right at our scrambling back line and second-choice keeper. Back and forth it went as our forays at their defense were turned away, and they would lob a long ball over the top and come running after it, like a hockey team playing dump-and-chase. They created chances. Not truly dangerous ones, though those would come later, but they were creating opportunities and courage, stiffening their spines with every forced intervention by a defender.

Then it happened again: Messi caught one of their mids with his bloomers down, took the ball from him and went charging in, again, alone with the ball at his feet. Villa, like a jackrabbit, knew what was going to happen and broke alongside Messi, keeping himself onside, waiting for the pass that would come, that would allow him to score a goal in the Mestalla as he had for so many years, only this time stunning the packed house into silence, as he would score while wearing the wrong color shirt.

But the pass never came, as Messi selfishly opted to attempt to chip the keeper, his shot plopping harmlessly onto the top of the net, rather than nestling into the back of it. What could have been a 0-2 lead and an invitation to cruise, was instead still 0-0 and balanced on a knife’s edge.

Villa got a run at goal, and chose the blast for the far post, ignoring a wide-open Alves. This choice earned him a stern lecture from Messi about the joys of unselfish football, a lecture that probably saw Villa responding with “Physician, heal thyself!” And we were squabbling on the pitch, a situation brought about by pressure, uncertainty and an opponent that spent about as much time kicking our butts as we spent kicking theirs.

They scored but didn’t, thanks to a (correct) offside decision that found their attacker off by the lean of his body. Interpreters of the offside rule will make their allegiances known as they dissect the play, one that for a few seconds had Valencia up 1-0, just as at the Camp Nou. We will say he was leaning. Villarato! accusers will say that his feet and legs were level, and that’s what counts. Either way, the goal didn’t count, and the track meet continued as two keepers, both sporting the “unlucky” No. 13, were pretty decidedly lucky as shots were blasted directly at them, or finished poorly. And so it went into a second half that finally, finally saw us rocking some the passing and movement that make us the best team anyone has ever seen.

Still, Valencia didn’t back down, and what it finally took was Guardiola’s bold move, paying off in Adriano. All season, I have been noting that what we lack was an attacker to get up the pitch quickly, with the ball at his feet. And all the time, we had a Brazilian winger with pace, sitting on the bench, waiting to be the answer to that question. And Villa suddenly had a partner in crime, Abidal had someone running alongside him to lay the ball off to, during one of his charges up the pitch. And we had an Alves on the left side, a player who could create danger by bursting the seams of a defense designed to not die from being stabbed in the center.

So Xavi slid a ball to Iniesta who batted it to Adriano, who slashed into the box in a way that Maxwell never can. It’s the difference between a full back and a wing back who can play full back, but is ultimately an attacker. He paused, lined up his sights and spanked a ball to Messi that he thwacked near post. Their wonderful keeper got a hand to it, but not one that was strong enough to keep it from rolling it. It was 0-1, and our celebration was one of relief as much as joy, a massive “Whew!” at the fact that we didn’t have to chase a match against a side that was driving us nuts.

Then it was time for our Random Chaos Generator to enter the match, and Pedro! didn’t disappoint, being the fresh legs that unsettled Valencia’s back line enough to keep them honest, and ultimately to keep them from being too dangerous. Yes, they had some excellent chances, all of which found their life in quick breaks off of turnovers. Two shots were wide, and one directly at Pinto. We finished off the match by regaining some (but not all) of our passing grace and style, a game of keepaway that forced Valencia into fouls, rushed efforts and aggression, all things that play right into our hands.

And after the longest 3 minutes of extra time anyone has ever witnessed, we had an amazing win, made even more so by the fact that we weren’t on form, had an excellent opponent get right in our faces, threw away chances and still won. Team of destiny? Perhaps. Championship side? Maybe. But we certainly paved the way toward being able to lift that trophy in our house, with a brave, fruitful effort. Well done!

Team: 5. Yes, some of the mistakes were from Valencia’s excellence, but not nearly all of them. We were a mess at crucial times, and they got at our back line way, way too easily, even as we pulled it together enough to make the difference. All it takes is one play, and we usually have it. The breaks that we gave up today were absurd, and will kill us against a higher level of competitition like, say, Arsenal?

Guardiola: 8. The starting XI was right, including the use of Mascherano and Adriano, and his substitutions were well-timed. And hats off for taking one for the team. For those who have never had back pain, let’s just say that the pale, hunched-over coach we saw was bull-strong. He had the right personnel, they just didn’t do the right things.

Pinto: 7. Good match with a few moments of bad distribution. He seems to talk more than Valdes does, leading to clearer paths to contested balls, and no uncertainty from defenders. The few saves that he had to make weren’t that stressful.

Alves: 9. Our Brazilian Hummingbird was brilliant today, full of energy and omnipresence. He was stealing balls in midfield, making defensive plays on our end and attacking like a demon on their end. Yes, I would still say “Shoot Dani, shoot!” But what a match, even with the few positional issues that found him in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Pique: 6. A very good match that saw his focus back and in full effect. Any header that came near him, he won. But he needs to do a better job of marshalling the back line, and when a player has you dead to rights, play to the whistle. Don’t just stand there and throw up your arm, begging for the offside call.

Busquets: 8. Excellent today, with style, ball control and aggression that found him doing everything from playing midfield to defending set pieces to being a target man on our set pieces. Sometimes you don’t even realize it’s him, you just know that some player came out of nowhere to make a great play.

Abidal: 4. Charity isn’t a good thing for a center back to have, as he spanked away ball after ball after ball, either via too-soft passes or efforts that went directly to Valencia defenders. He calmed down some and made some of his usual brilliant interventions, but he potentially could have killed us today.

Mascherano: 7. You can see why he was in there, for defensive purposes. Note how Valencia started playing the ball on the ground once he went out of the match. Coincidence? I think not. Far and away the best tackler of the ball on the team, a player who can change the way we are attacked during matches.

Xavi: 4. Partly not his fault, as his usual working area was swarming with bats. But between errant passes and too-long periods of being marked out of the match, our maestro played like someone just back from an injury. He missed Iniesta today …. oh, wait …. he was playing.

Iniesta: 4. Very low-key today, with a lot of poor and lost balls. His risky passing doesn’t work that well against ball-hawking sides such as Valencia. Had some stretches of marvelous play, just not enough of them in an off outing for him.

Messi: 3. Yes, he scored the winning goal. He was also unspeakably selfish and/or poor by his standards. That first “finishing” attempt was awful, and you simply have to make that pass to Villa, instead of going for the much more difficult chip. He had two chances to do it, and ignored both of them. Made some strong efforts on defense, particularly in midfield, and some first-rate passes. He also spent too much time playing into Valencia’s hands by making run after run, and disappeared for stretches.

Adriano: 7. I really, really liked his match today. It’s been a while since we had an attacker who could bomb up the flank like that, and still have the pace to get back and help on defense. His crosses are rapidly improving, as he set Villa up right on the doorstep, only for Villa to screw the pooch. I expect we’ll see him on the wing in more matches.

Villa: 3. Played defense, ran around and did some good things, but his match was marred by passes that are consistently too soft. He’s also thoughtless with the ball. Why try a backheel, when the other team is just waiting to break on us? Didn’t make his usual runs, and just seemed kinda flummoxed by playing in the Mestalla.


Pedro! (for Mascherano): 6. Certainly would have played to a higher rating with more time. His effort and energy, as well as the committment to the cause is admirable. He just runs, and runs, and runs, and runs. His nose for where the ball is going to be, is back.

Maxwell (for Adriano): 6. Again, the right substitution, as a position-minded defender. We didn’t need attacking, we just needed people to see out the match, and not give up any real chances to them.

Keita (for Iniesta): incomplete. Not enough time to get rated, but was a physical demon out there.

We will know tomorrow afternoon, what the prospects of another Liga victory are. If Malaga does its thing, EE could come out of that match with a 10-point deficit in the standings, and only Champions League to look forward to. So now, we wait.

Dude …. I’m begging you …. stop doing that with the ball!

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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.


  1. BA
    March 3, 2011

    hey Kxevin this is totally off-topic but i sent the site a message under “Contact” a couple of weeks ago about a comment you made regarding a cheap airfare deal to Barcelona and never heard back from anyone. maybe the site gremlins ate it or that’s not the right target for such requests, but i’m still interested in any info you might have. thanks.

    the game was thoroughly enjoyable now that the 3 points are in the bag, but more about that later…

    • March 3, 2011

      Oh, crap. I responded, not sure why it never got to you. Those amazing Delta deals were a one-day-only shot that went like popsicles in the summertime. I’m still kicking myself for not having grabbed one.

  2. culeZim
    March 3, 2011

    What I like about this game and the previous one is that the team is not exactly in top form, our passing game not really clicking and all that, but we are still good enough to beat the opposition.

  3. BarcaGirl_Indo
    March 3, 2011

    Tactical point of view from Zonal Marking…

    I agree with the conclusion :

    “By the very nature of the result, it must be said that Guardiola’s tactical shift worked better. The real debate is whether it was a great move to start off with the 3-5-2 and move to the 4-3-3, or whether he simply should have gone with the 4-3-3 from the outset?”

  4. hammeronmessi
    March 3, 2011

    can you imagine waking up 3 am to watch the match only to be marred by signal disturbance of the hosting channel.waited for 30 long minutes.but alas they cant fix there went my chance of watching the batman sequel 3.0.and no internet speed is not good enough for stream.shy.

    @kxevin and isaiah,can u persuade ramzi and euler to post on this bat match?their views are so opposing.cant comment who is r8 cause i hadnt c the match.

    In a previous post,i suggested to play adi instead of max.pep obliged(though not in the same position).

    Oh welcome jaymin.u r a troll.but u have to step up ur game if u wanna reach the level of the legendary TIAGOSNG and GURUFOOTBALL.keep up the good work.

    Finally i have a hypothetical question.messi,villa,puyi,dani,ini,pique can be successful anywhere without our system.but is this true for xavi,busi and p!?

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      March 3, 2011

      where do you live?

      in my place, it’s aired at 05.00 am, and I have to go to work at 07.00 am…

      so I went to my office during injury time (06.55 am)…
      a little late, but who cares, can’t miss that match… 😛

      • barca96
        March 3, 2011

        Hammer. My broadcast was disrupted too due to the heavy rain. But my time was the same as BarcaGirl_Indo which was at 5.00am.
        Judging from the time the match of your broadcast, it looks like you’re in India/Bangladesh area. Am I right?

        btw, jaymin is not a troll..
        he is just ….

        • hammeronmessi
          March 3, 2011

          yah u r right.from bangladesh.

          Dont feed the troll.they thrive on that.

          My guess there r only few of us in this site cause of the timezone.

        • BarcaGirl_Indo
          March 3, 2011

          our timezone is same?

          let me guess, are you Malaysian? 😀

      • hammeronmessi
        March 3, 2011

        in bangladesh.

        7am to work.ouch.what sort of work if you dont mind?

        I agree with u,its the match that imagine how i m when i m unable to watch the match cause of signal disturbance.

        • BarcaGirl_Indo
          March 3, 2011

          I work for Indonesian state-owned fertilizer company… 🙂

          we get used to it already…
          the school starts at 07.00 am too…

          I can imagine how you feel, sometimes when no local television broadcasting Barça’s match, I try to stream…

          most of the time it didn’t work, it droves me crazy to wake up in the middle of the night, for nothing… 🙁

        • barca96
          March 3, 2011

          Haha. I knew it from BD. One of my best friend is back home in BD now. Oh and we have another Bengali poster here by the name of outerspaceandout.

          Haha yeah. My cable tv is always like that too whenever it rains in the HQ. But when I was in Australia it was worse. Just a dark cloud will cause me to lose signal.

          Yes Girl. Malaysian. WHich part of Indonesia are you from?

    • ak
      March 3, 2011

      well you guys are still lucky
      my cable operator didn’t put on the channel which shows la liga yesterday…he’s a complete dork and he only puts it up on weekends(even in that he’s not regular), and his mobile’s always off
      i just spent my entire morning finding someplace to download the complete match

  5. barca96
    March 3, 2011

    -Messi was a beast in the first half! He did everything great. Creating chances, passing, tracking back, recover balls. Simply amazing. The only thing lacking was a goal.

    I do think that it was selfish Messi to turn a blind eye on Villa but he knows that he is capable of scoring those;

    -The first chance. He could’ve definitely given Villa after the 2nd attempt failed but as a striker, you just want to finish it off.

    -For the 2nd attempt as you all know, most of Messi’s goals are potential contenders for goal of the year and he wanted to make sure that Valencia would be a part of the UEFA goal of the year again.

    It would’ve been a beauty but the problem is that it was too close to the goal. Not only that, his only option was to lob it straight over the GK. There was hardly any space.

    If he was running diagonally towards the goal, he would’ve had space to let the ball dip down in time as he would chip it diagonally but since it was right in the middle and the GK was in the middle too, it was nearly impossible.
    If he wanted to be sure for the ball to dip in the goal then he would’ve had to chip the ball very high in order to let it dip very fast and steep but if he had taken that option, the ball

    Now, if he had given Villa the ball at least on once of those occasions, it would’ve definitely be a goal as they were easy tap ins into an empty net.

    -Iniesta was a ghost. I thought he was the worst player today. He kept on losing balls. How on earth did he manage to get a higher score Kxevin?

    -Finally I get to see Adriano performing well. He is a left side version of Alves. Did well on the offensive end and defensively.
    It is so obvious that he is better suited to us than Maxwell who wouldn’t even dare to dribble a defender.
    At least Adriano FIGHTS for the ball whereas Maxwell usually just stares and jogs back smelling the defenders hair or something. No pressure at all usually from Maxwell.

    -That chance that Villa missed wasn’t as easy as it looks guys. I don’t understand how some of the people here can criticize that.
    He didn’t screw up. He did all he can. The ball was fast and all he could do was to give it a slight touch to hit it on target which he did. With most of the balls coming in fast like that, its not easy to hit it on target.

    -Mascherano kept on stealing balls like its nobody’s business. The guy is mad!! The way he steals the balls is just like a thug whereas Busi uses his head and positioning to steal the balls.
    I wonder when Busi would get injured. He gets fouled hard at least once a match.

    -I missed a few seconds of the 2nd half prior to Mascherano change. Why did he look pissed? Did something happen? Or was he just mad at being taken out? I would be mad too considering the game he had but it was a good time to end the defensive mode.

  6. merge
    March 3, 2011

    Thanks for the review, Kxevin. It’s great to wake up and find a new “aka” waiting to be read!

    What a match, really! Every time I see Valencia playing I wonder why they don’t have more points in la Liga, who is able to even draw against them.

    Messi must be thinking of the “pichichi” every time he sees the net in front of him, I think that can be why he’s being so selfish lately, but he was a beast stealing balls.

    Masche + Busi = tentacled wall

    Did anybody hear Tito Vilanova speaking after the match? It was fun; it’s like hearing Guardiola but even faster!!!

  7. merge
    March 3, 2011

    Ouch, Guardiola went straight to the hospital after landing in Barcelona. He’s still there.

    • soccermomof4
      March 3, 2011

      back pain—been there, done that, bought the shirt—I honestly don’t know how he did it yesterday!

  8. Helge
    March 3, 2011

    Pedro actually joined the pitch way before the goal (14min earlier).

    It’s tough to rate Messi today. He was certainly our most dangerous striker, and we all know how often those little lobs from Leo (yes, even from such an angle) end up in a dream goal. In the end, he still got us 3 very important points (it’s now that I really start to believe in us winning la Liga!). As barca96 noted, he also tracked back, recovered balls and created chances. I give Messi a 5!

    • barca96
      March 3, 2011

      Nah. I think Messi deserved more than a 5 too. In football, especially in a team like ours, the goals are not the only thing that counts. Its how we play.

  9. xavi
    March 3, 2011

    I already said it yesterday, but got hectored I suppose… but had we had a CF to play instead of Villa yesterday Pep’s change in tactics would have been appreciated even more!

    We have seen numerous times this season when teams out-muscle & out-number us in centre & right flank leaving the left flank wide open, if only there were means to utilise those spaces it would really be making the opponent eat the dust!!

    • barca96
      March 3, 2011

      😆 you want Bojan to play for Villa?

  10. jnelson
    March 3, 2011

    Great review like always. I really thought Messi looked for the pass to Villa, but saw the defender cut off the angle. From the replay, it looked like great defending forcing Messi to take the shot himself. Weak efforts though. I was just glad he was smiling afterward though.

  11. Jnice
    March 3, 2011

    Watching the match again, I think the worst of the non-passes was during Messi’s first set of chances, when he shot 3 times to no avail. After the 2nd shot, Villa was wide open and would’ve tapped it in.

    As for the chip, he had Villa at first, but he held to the ball for too long and I just think that from that sort of range, you have to hit the target.

    Against Arsenal, we will need to be clinical like we were during our win streak.

    General notes on the match,

    – I think Adriano did really well…. I just think he has the opposite problem of Alves- he shoots too much. He’s certainly more dynamic than Maxwell offensively.

    -Busi is a beast. If Puyol is not fit for the Arsenal match, I’m certain Busi will be Abidal’s partner at CB. I would love to have him in midfield, but I don’t trust anyone else at CB and I don’t think Pep does either. If Mascherano plays CB against Zaragoza, then he’ll play it against Arsenal, but I don’t think he will.

    – Last couple of matches, Pique has been more focused. I like that. Shame he can’t play against Arsenal.

    – Mascherano did well and I just love the way he takes the ball as if it’s his. Ray and Phil were a little unfair on him and in general, him being substituted during the matches makes it look as if he played a bad match, but that’s certainly not the case.

    Fantastic win and shoutout to ElshowdeJason who had faith when Stephen and I didn’t (on twitter).

  12. Lev
    March 3, 2011

    In hindsight I don’t blame Messi for his missed chip. Yeah, conventional wisdom states that he should have passed, but the chance he created for himself was as clear cut as Villa’s had he passed. Yet he missed it. Dang.

    What did bother me, as Kxevin noted, was that La Pulga scolded at Villa for not passing to him 10 minutes later…

    Also leaning or not leaning, Valencia’s goal was not offside imo. He was played onside by (I think) Adriano on the left of the pitch who forgot to make one step forward.

    • Jnice
      March 3, 2011

      Yeah, I think Messi had no right to get angry at Villa considering what he did minutes earlier. That was dumb shot, though.

      • hammeronmessi
        March 3, 2011

        i think he is getting the leadership thing ala ronaldo.

        • Jnice
          March 3, 2011

          I’m not saying there’s any problems and for me it’s not a recent development, because if you watch Messi when he doesn’t get the ball in those situations, he always gets angry/frustrated (especially if it’s a tight match or if he hasn’t scored yet).

          I just think it was hypocritical of him to criticize Villa when he overlooked him a couple of times earlier.

    • Helge
      March 3, 2011

      Note also that Villa had a bigger reason to complain when Messi didn’t pass the ball but tried to lob the keeper. That was very hypocritical from Leo. Maybe someone should tell him that he is ahead of CR in the pichichi race, even in Marca’s table? 😀

    • merge
      March 3, 2011

      From what I saw in the aftermatch analysis on tv, Adriano was playing Alba onside, yes. But then, the goal came after the whistle.

  13. hammeronmessi
    March 3, 2011

    that happened 2 me long ago.solved it by a mix of bullying and withhelding the rent for a while.i m a bad person u know.

    Interested to know where r u from,akg?

  14. judaspissed
    March 3, 2011

    Isn’t it time Jonathan Soriano got a look in? 5ft 11in – 39 goals in 59 games for Barca B (including 17 in 22 in the Segunda so far & 5 in the last 2) the man is on fire! He could be our impact player from the bench when the tiki-taka between the little men isn’t working…

    • Jnice
      March 3, 2011

      I don’t think so.

      Yes he has scored plenty of goals for Barça B, but he’s not good enough for the first team. I’ve seen him play a lot and I’m not impressed. I really don’t see it.

  15. hammeronmessi
    March 3, 2011

    jnice and lev,what do u think?who is right?ramzi or euler?

    @jnice,may be i m asking too there any site like fbtz regarding football but only with torrent.?i ask this cause the internet here often brakes up aeter an hour or so.and also there is loadshedding in every 2 hours.

    How is your father after the bentdner hattrick?

    • Jnice
      March 3, 2011

      Who is right? Not sure, I was frustrated for most of the first half, so I guess I tend to agree with Euler’s assessment. Though Ramzi makes some good points.

      Regarding torrents, if you look on fbtz, there still are torrent uploads, for popular matches especially. (torrent should be up soon, though it’s a pretty big file b/c it’s in HD)

      I haven’t spoken to my father in a couple of days, so I don’t know how he feels about the Arsenal match. Maybe I’ll text him saying “Arsenal sucks!” to spark some discussion. 🙂

      • hammeronmessi
        March 3, 2011

        lol.they really r.

        Thank u again for the link.

        U r really amazing

  16. Camero
    March 3, 2011

    Wow what a match with so many tactical points to talk about. I kind of get what Ramzi is saying about having Busquets and mascherano playing very close together in the centre. However I also agree with Euler that our concentration in the middle and right really hurt is today in terms of control and chances. It is not enough to have Adrianno roaming the whole flank by himself when we actually need to play there sometimes to spread the field. Or, perhaps, for Pep this was as much a defensive tactic as by clogging up the the right, he also preventing valencia from countering there on turnovers(although they did manage several times).

    I think what has not been mentioned, and for me was a critical missing piece was my favourite player Iniesta. Today he wasn’t needed in the centre where he was often getting in Xavi’s way. I thought there was plenty of opportunity for him to open to the left(ahead of adrianno) and receive the ball as an outlet. He was also very slow to support adrianno on cut backs. Iniesta seems really out of it recently- I have noticed how he is always leaning back off balance while trying to prod the ball which he inevitably loses. Its as if he has lost some interest in the play and I think its part of the reason we are strugling this month but its hard to pinpoint him because he plays every game. I thought Keita would have helped a lot more than this Iniesta.

  17. barca96
    March 3, 2011

    I also noticed that our slump coincides with Iniesta’s off-form.
    Our team relies more on Iniesta than on Xavi, my opinion. I don’t know.
    It’s just so different without Iniesta.

    I’m glad Lev also thinks that Yaya would’ve solved our CB problems. I said it a couple of times already.

    Regarding the Messi Villa spat. I don’t understand why Messi was so pissed. Villa was trying to drill a hard cross to Messi but the shot/pass was kinda off. I know what Villa was trying to do. A hard pass like how Rivaldo used to do. Alves was superb last night but he killed one good attack. Or maybe it was even twice.

    Guys, why did sMasch looked so pissed when he came off? I only saw it when he was on the bench. What happened? Was he mad at getting substituted or did something happen before he came off?

    • Jnice
      March 3, 2011

      Just watched went to the bit where Mascherano got subbed.

      He wasn’t pissed at all. He ran to the sideline, slapped hands with Pedro, sat down, put on his jacket, took a deep breath, and sat back.

      All good.

  18. Jnice
    March 3, 2011

    This bit of news should brighten up anyone’s day:

    @Carlespuyol5: “Hoy 1er entrenamiento con el equipo. Muy contento, muchas gracias a tod@s x el apoyo. Un abrazo”

    “Today first training with the team. Very happy, thanks to everyone for the support. Hugs.”

    Great news.

    • Lev
      March 3, 2011

      this warms my heart and gives me courage like glass of whiskey on a Montreal balcony in February

    • soccermomof4
      March 3, 2011

      Thank you Jesus! Our fearless leader is coming back soon!!!!!

      Best. News. Of the day.

    • mardia
      March 3, 2011

      Oh, this is FANTASTIC news. Puyol, please come back!

  19. BarcaOwl
    March 3, 2011

    News from the official site says that Pep’s in the hospital. 🙁 I thought February was over?

  20. Lev
    March 3, 2011

    @hammer – Huh? Who is right between Euler and Ramzi? And you are asking me?

    Not to kick in an open door, but I think that more important than tactics are the players who have to execute those tactics.

    Furthermore, football is a 90 minute game that ultimately is decided by a couple of moments. Messi did not play bad at all imo, but in the 1st half there were 2, 3 key moments where he made a wrong decision / wrong execution of the decision he made.

    As Jnice pointed out he should have passed to a wide-open Villa instead of going for the 3rd shot, but I think he simply did not see him. The 2nd chance I don’t think the decision was that wrong as people make it out to be (compare it to a basketball fast break where instead of the easy pass you go for the easy lay-up) but the chip was just horrible. And little after that his pass to a wideopeninadangerousposition Adriano was too soft.

    Add to that the chance that Villa missed. Had we made half of those chances we would have been 2-0 up and everybody would say that Pep’s gameplan was spot on.

    @Euler you said that Valencia clogged the center and left both flanks open. I did not see it that way, bc in the 1st half they defended Alves very well.

    I think they expected Maxwell to play, because they left the left flank wide open, which makes it seem as if Adriano had a great game but personally I think he could have done more, especially in the first half. I am not saying that he played badly, but daaaamn the dude had a lot of space and time on the ball. To his credit they gave him less space in the 2nd half and he stepped up to make the decisive pass.

    Another thing not to overlook is that we could have easily been 1-0 down because of Adriano playing Valencia’s goal scorer onside. Bad refereeing saved us there, although I might be wrong as it was really close.

    In the end, we were lucky this game. Yes, we should have decided it in the first half, but combine the offside goal and the fact that the keeper really should have saved Messi’s shot we could have easily drawn.

    And Abidal really needs to regain his focus cause he cannot make these slip-ups against Arsenal.

  21. K_legit
    March 3, 2011

    Hey Vj if you’re around can you give me a link for 1st year syllabus of Electrical Engineering at IIT..kthx

  22. Artur
    March 3, 2011

    What I am extremely glad about (and I think many of you will agree) is how Adriano took advantage of the fact that Valencia didn’t take our left flank seriously at all. How often do we see Maxwell run up from back into mid … unmarked … just to pass the ball back ? It’s too easy to prepare for us when our only danger comes from right side and we’ve seen numerous teams done so this season with that in mind.

    Very important match, both for La Liga and for decisions that will be made Tuesday based on player performances.

    Btw Official: Guardiola has a hernia. He’s receiving treatment in hospital and his progress will determine when he is released

    • Jnice
      March 3, 2011

      Yeah, Adriano is more aggressive and more dynamic than Maxwell. Based on today’s showing, he deserves more time.

    • Artur
      March 3, 2011

      Pay REALLY close attention at 0:45 … look at Valencia double marking Messi, Villa and Alves and leaving Adriano completely wide open ..

      Adriano will be key in our squad from now on

  23. K_legit
    March 3, 2011

    And as for the match..I for one don’t blame Leo for the three chances he missed..the first was a great save and the second and third were a combination of fluke blocks and a great save so..Plus Messi is a great chipper of the ball so I guess he would have had great confidence in his ability but he should have squared for Villa no doubt.
    Pedro was a true game changer inspite of not being overtly active in the game. He was the one true reason why Jordi Alba was a virtual non-entity in the second half. In the first half Mathieu and Alba totally dominated the Barcelona right side (Alves was making his runs as usual but he was doing overtime tracking the impressive Mathieu).
    Adriano..I think he deserves major props for his second half performance..he set up Leo plus was a constant outlet on the left and was essentially taking up slack of both a lost Iniesta and himself. Good performance by him.
    And is it just or does Abidal now-a-days look more comfortable as a CB than a LB?

  24. hammeronmessi
    March 3, 2011

    @jnice.yes i m amazing cause i have the hammer of thor.

    @lev,i asked u cause when a lion and a tiger both r hunting for the same prey,then it is better to ask the prey who the better hunter is?not a good analogy,but think u will get my point.

    The first match i missed apart from the cdr,and it was a tactical classic.damn my cable network.

  25. soccermomof4
    March 3, 2011

    Great review Kxevin, Thanks! I honestly couldn’t guess where you’d put Messi. Anywhere from a 2 to a 6. He was super during so much of the game but the truth is that he shouldn’t have had to be super. His choices and bad finishing in the first place were the cause of some suffering and a game that should have been played on cruise control with a 0-2 lead was played on a knife’s edge until the end. The kid needs some bench time against Zaragosa. he can come on if needed as an impact sub. Busi and Dani were beasts. Adriano’s performance was great. I think Abidal has been overused and could use a tiny break, he’s not a machine. These hard-fought games are what make a team great.

    • Jnice
      March 3, 2011

      Allas is my boy. A year and half ago I asked him to make a Yaya compilation and two days later one was up.

      • Noslehcimretep
        March 3, 2011

        so you’re responsible for that! That video was how I found him. Well done.

  26. hammeronmessi
    March 3, 2011

    to all who watched the game,were the messi chances created from mistake or from our creativity.havent able to c the highlights,still @ work.

    One is created from the mistake,what bout the others?

    • Jnice
      March 3, 2011

      Messi’s opportunities in the 1st half came from our guys pressuring their defenders/mids, Villa’s chance came from our creativity. Same with Messi’s goal and Villa’s shot in the 2nd half.

    • blitzen
      March 3, 2011

      On the brighter side, it could be fun watching a heavily medicated Pep give press conferences. Remember the one he and Messi gave in Korea where they were so fatigued they got the giggles? 😀

  27. blitzen
    March 3, 2011

    I haven’t seen the game yet, I’ll probably wait until the weekend to download it, but from a lot of the comments it seems that Iniesta had an off match again. That’s several in a row now. I think Pep should consider resting him this weekend so he will be fresh for Arsenal. He could play Flyboy at that position instead.

    • barca96
      March 3, 2011

      Yeah. He was just off. Way off. Invincible.
      I dont know how on earth he got a higher rating than Xavi.
      Never trust Kxevin’s ratings Im telling you. Just kidding 😆

      Did anybody noticed Xavi giving the ref a body check?
      I think it was on purpose cause just a few seconds he was mad at the ref for not giving him a foul.Hehe

  28. Lev
    March 3, 2011

    I didn’t notice Masch being upset about his substitution, but to be honest this was bound to happen sooner or later.

    I don’t think he played badly, but we all agree Busi is better for us at DM.

    Now I was all for his acquisition last summer, but his situation is not looking good. Not only is he on the bench for Busi, but the difference is such that even when he does start Busi “has to” replace him after 45-60 minutes.

    @hammer huh??? I’m the prey??? WTF???

    btw one thing I miss from watching football back in Holland is that for the big games Cruijff was often the studio analyst. I think Dutch people were very fortunate for that.

    • Jnice
      March 3, 2011

      He wasn’t upset about the substitution, though.

      I would take screenshots of his facial expression, but I haven’t slept yet and I’m tired.

      If Messi and Villa had finished their chances, Pedro wouldn’t have had to come on for Mascherano. Is that his fault?

      • March 3, 2011

        Good point, Jnice. I think that like any top player, Mascherano has pride. He did a great job yesterday, so much so that Valencia were going over the top to keep him from gangstering the ball all the time. But that’s life and football, right?

        –Here’s the thing about Messi: I know that he is beloved, and yes, he had some awesome moments, but he was mostly way, way below his standard yesterday. He could have passed Villa the ball, rather than taking that third shot on his first chance, and he really should have drifted, and played Villa for the easy chip.

        –As for Villa’s chance, and the difficulty of it, 40m strikers are supposed to make that shot. If he puts that ball a foot to either side of the keeper, it’s in. Shooting it directly at the keeper is just a mistake.

        I noticed a comment about Abidal “regaining his focus.” This was his first bad match in I can’t remember when. I think that his focus is fine, but players do have bad matches, and he did. It happens. I’m still waiting for that glorious time when everyone is playing well again. It seems that if Abidal is on, Pique is off, or Alves is on walkabout. If Xavi is on, Messi or Iniesta are off. At some point, it will all come together, and will all be awesome.

        • soccermomof4
          March 3, 2011

          I don’t think he’s lost any focus, but seriously, when was the last time he was rested? We worry so much about resting our mids and forwards but not at all about a guy who has been called upon to be all things defensive for us (Busi has too but he has gotten a little time off). The problem is that I just don’t see anyway to rest him.

        • Lev
          March 3, 2011

          well I would argue that it’s the 3rd match in a row where Abidal makes uncharacteristically bad errors. Against Bilbao he was partly to blame for the penalty with his horrible pass to Busquets. 2 matches ago he gifted 2/3 balls to the opposition in the last 10 minutes and yesterday he was not as sharp with his passing either – most of the game he was solid but the central defenders have to be solid throughout the whole match because one mistake can cost us.

          And the thing about Messi is that the standard on which people are judging him is so high that some fail to realize that even when he is not playing up to that standard, he’s still pretty freakin good 🙂

          • March 3, 2011

            But if you watch the Bilbao match, it was one pass. And he lost focus at the end of the Mallorca match for about a minute. Compare that to Pique. Abidal has been our best defender all season, as well as our most consistent defender. I don’t see how people can argue for slack for Messi, then give none to Abidal. I would contend, based on play and results, that he’s been the Messi of the defense this season.

            He played to the score that he got yesterday, with a weaker match overall, compared to his season standard. But I don’t think that it indicates a lack of focus. Not from what I see.

    • barca96
      March 3, 2011

      Yeah but the other commentators used to belittle him which our household took offence especially my Dad.
      I remember once, before a match, Cruyff went on and on about Barca widening the pitch especially for this specific match, I think it was a KO stage of CL. And the other commentators took his words lightly. Poor old man. And at Ajax they didn’t treat him too good either. Never as special as with BArca.

      • barca96
        March 3, 2011

        @Lev, does he still do the Barca matches now?
        I left Holland in 2000. And whenever I went back it was in the summer.

        • Lev
          March 3, 2011

          Well that is exactly why he stopped doing it. As soon as people no longer treated him like the football Jesus that he is, he didn’t want to analyze the games anymore 🙂

          As for myself I feel that it was truly special to have Cruijff as a studio guest – he has a great way of viewing the game and his observation are very simple and logical, yet only he thinks of them.

  29. March 3, 2011

    On another note, there was some garbage strewn in here by a commenter. It has been dealt with. As I have said before, if that happens, trust us to take out the trash. Any comments will only be lost with the detritus. Thank you.

    • Vj
      March 3, 2011

      Garbage? I can understand garbage.. His writings, I do not..

  30. March 3, 2011

    Oh. For me, the wonderful thing about Adriano playing where he did yesterday is that it gives us a left-sided Alves. Our attack is all about forcing defenses to make choices, and not having enough men. Having Messi and Villa trolling around the center is inexcusable, because it makes them easy to play and kills the best thing they have going for them: movement.

    Alves is the wild card, a right-sided attacker who can kill you. We don’t have anything like that on the left, just Villa playing out there and cutting inside. But having Abidal coming up and playing with Adriano, or having the latter busting up the left flank is huge, because now the defense has to worry about the entire width of the pitch, an impossible task.

    Problem is that when the side is whole and healthy, there’s no place for Adriano, though I am still loving the idea (which should happen with more frequency in my opinion) of one of the big boys as a super-sub, either Pedro! or Iniesta. The former changed the match with his appearance and fresh legs. I haven’t seen something like that since Henry came in against Valencia, and turned things around with his fresh legs and movement.

    I know that P! is a starter and has earned that right. And if we had a match-changer on the bench, this wouldn’t be an issue. I wish that we did.

    On another note, is Krkic past the point of no return?

    • blitzen
      March 3, 2011

      I think ultimately Flyboy will be our match-changer, once he is fully functional as a part of the machine. You can play him in so many positions, plus he has pace and can shoot from distance.

      I don’t know about Bojan, but Milito definitely is on the way out. Did you see the bit on this week’s Crackovia where Pep is desperately trying to think of someone, anyone he can play at CB, while Gaby is bobbing up and down on the bench only to be completely ignored? Like that.

  31. soccermomof4
    March 3, 2011

    The EE game is on ESPN3 at 4:00 today.

    Kari Dear, if you’re lurking I’d like to remind you to study during the EE game. Remember that good things happen when you study during EE games 🙂

    BTW, for Saturday: US viewers- Barcelona V. Zaragoza ESPN3 2:00PM EST. Dang, no Ray 🙁

  32. March 3, 2011

    you said that Valencia clogged the center and left both flanks open. I did not see it that way, bc in the 1st half they defended Alves very well.


    Let me clarify what I meant as I was writing quickly yesterday (and still breathing a sigh of relief!)

    Teams throughout this season have often committed to marking Dani Alves with two players.

    That was one of the most interesting tactical questions coming into the season. When Messi was nominally on the right wing along with Alves the defense had to fortify the right flank. With Messi in the middle even more than in the past how would they orient the right flank defense?

    For the most part, the opposition still tries everything possible to double mark Alves. He is that dangerous. I’ve been really struck this season by how much opposition managers worry about Dani Alves.

    So yesterday that was part of why Mathieu was playing. He’s athletic and was in part playing to support Alba in guarding Alves. Mathieu played a similar role in the match at camp nou.

    At the same time Mathieu was required to get involved in the attack so he had a high pressure role. He wasn’t only a dedicated “defensive winger.”

    My comment on the right flank being open was a relative one. Compared to other matches Barca plays the right flank was comparatively open for them.

    And more importantly the right flank was still far more open than the center of the pitch.

    The right flank wasn’t as completely wide open as the left – but it was still open.

    It’s not an accident that Xavi and Iniesta both simultaneously had such poor games. There were simply too many defenders in the middle of the pitch even for the two best central midfielders in the world to contend with.

    • March 3, 2011

      Exactly, Euler. This is what I mean by a player such as Adriano forcing the defense to make choices. Recall that play when Abidal brought the ball up to just outside the Valencia box, and did so untouched or undefended. A team makes the decision to stop the players whom they know will kill them, and Abidal takes matters into his own hands, to grand effect.

      Adriano is the left-side Alves doppelganger that can also tip that balance. When he drew defenders by running free in the box, Messi got the sliver of space that he needed. It’s then imperative that our players make the right choices.

      As Ramzi noted, and I note above, Guardiola got the lineup right. The players didn’t do the right stuff. If they did, it’s a manita.

      The defense of the day against us is to press, flood the midfield and keep the defense narrow to guard against Messi and Villa. The wing players have to make our opponents pay for this.

      • March 3, 2011

        Adriano was really critical. Brilliant move to play him on the left yesterday. That was Pep’s major adjustment from the game at Camp Nou earlier this year against Valencia.

        A key aspect to how Valencia played was the left side of their defense. Both Pablo and Stankevicius were often moving in centrally to support the midfield defense.

        If Barca didn’t have a player on the left flank with pace that could create threats – that would have been a big problem.

        Over the course of the season this has been the evolution of the opposition’s tactics – leave the left flank “underdefended” in order to crowd the middle and defend Alves/ Pedro on the right in numbers.

        Team after team is doing this.

        Ultimately however, playing two strikers up top fed into the way Valencia was defending.

        They needed a dedicated attacking player on both flanks – especially on the left.

        That would have forced Valencia into defending in an entirely different way. Much harder for Stankevicius to support defending Iniesta for example if he has to worry about a player wide of him in an advanced position.

  33. March 3, 2011

    Not to kick in an open door, but I think that more important than tactics are the players who have to execute those tactics.

    Also – I completely agree with your statement above.

    Tactics set the context for how the game is played. They can have a multiplier effect on he effective the skill of the players impacts a game.

    But ultimately talent and execution are what counts – especially execution. Everything else is just staging for execution.

  34. hammeronmessi
    March 3, 2011


    you are not the prey i mean us, the less knowledgeable about football tacticians.

    my apologies

  35. hammeronmessi
    March 3, 2011

    about football tactics.

    sorry for the typo mistakes

  36. hammeronmessi
    March 3, 2011

    Not to kick in an open door, but I think that more important than tactics are the players who have to execute those tactics.

    that line is a classic.

    and i asked this in a previous comment on this post.

    messi,villa,puyi,dani,ini,pique can be successful anywhere without our system.but is this true for xavi,busi and p!?

    • Noslehcimretep
      March 3, 2011

      Lev’s statement is definitely very true, especially in light of the face-off over the tactics of the game in question.

      Also in answer to your question for Xavi anyways, I remember he said in an interview (I can’t remember which now, I’ve read and heard far too many!) that his career would be far shorter if he didn’t have the luxury of playing for both a club and national team that play a similar system. Especially one which allows him to play his game the way he does without straining his ageing body like he would with a different style.

      He could just be being modest though.

  37. Josep
    March 3, 2011

    I don’t see all the surprise about Adriano at LB. That’s his “natural” position, he said so himself. He’s also left footed. In fact I’d love to see him start there vs. Arsenal. And I THINK he might, especially with Walcott out, he can maraud up that wing and push Sagna back.

    He was my MOTM, because he hasn’t set a high standard for his play yet. He needs to work out his shooting but I like that he’s not scared, unlike Alves. I thought the ratings were spot on, except 1 more point for Messi.

    Messi makes these mazy, in your face how did he do that run, where if it was anyone else in the world we’d be saying “oh my god what a goal that would’ve been!!” but because it’s messi we say “wtf should’ve passed”. I agree, that second one he should’ve passed to Villa.

    The first one after Villa showed up, he was already committed to trying to scare, it’s near impossible to pass at that point. So happy Puyol is okay.

    So, with Zaragoza winning a shocker this week, who do we rest, if anyone? I mean all I know is Pique WILL play.. thats about it. I’d love to see Afellay start in midfield. Jeffren getting time off the bench heres my lineup for Saturday.


    Jeffren on around 60-70th if we’re up more than 2-0 for Messi.
    Thiago/Keita for Xavi
    Maxwell for Adriano

    then for arsenal
    VV (fingers crossed)

    If we go up and try to hold on
    Maxwell for Adriano
    the rest depends.

    Also, can Jim make a “Maxwell is awesome” compilation video? 🙂

    • Josep
      March 3, 2011

      also, not that LB is our weakest point (I mean it kinda is), but we definitely need to buy someone for here next year.

      I mean teams are openly (arsenal, sporting, valencia) giving us space on the left back area. And thats Maxwell’s look, look, look, pass to Abidal area. The great change was Adriano going all out and just bombing up the pitch, it’s something we don’t usually have at LB. Now, it probably won’t work as well with Alves bombing up, but if we play 3 at the back like last night it will. Not even that, as long as the DM drops back.

      Like stated I’d love some more Adriano reps. it moves Maxwell to the bench, where if things get nasty he can come in and kill a game off with his backpasses. But still I’d love to see a LB come in this summer, especially with the rumors that Maxwell might leave for 12m (I forgot to where. russia?)

      Also, I love Alexis Sanchez. I’ve been waiting for his breakout season for a couple years. I wanted to buy him before Pedrito became Pedro!! I love watching him.

      So who’s on everyones buy list this summer?
      I wish we would’ve bought Urby, I think he could’ve played well here, or even just got him on a free this summer..

      • blitzen
        March 3, 2011


        I like this lineup except I would start Villa instead of Messi and put Bojan in the middle where he likes to be. Definitely rest Iniesta, for lord’s sake!

      • vicsoc
        March 3, 2011

        If we can sell Maxwell for 12 million it might be the most amazing deal (selling) the club has ever done.

    • March 3, 2011

      I don’t, actually. What I think when Messi is making those runs is “Why the hell is he running at four defenders?” Plus I think that individual effort makes team play more complex. Note one point where Messi had the ball outside the box and we had three players in it, in an offside position. Nobody even bothered rushing to get back on, because they knew they weren’t going to see the ball again.

      Now as I noted during the match, Messi has always been selfish. My concern is when it starts to affect the play of others, when Villa decides not to bother making a run. I think that Messi, in his improvement as a player (it’s easy to forget that he is still growing, still improving), will learn exactly when to cut and draw the defense for the killer through ball, and when to make the run. Right now, he loves scoring goals as opposed to someone like Xavi, who you sense would almost rather have an assist than score himself.

      • Josep
        March 3, 2011

        Well it can be argued that they stayed offsides because they knew they wouldn’t see the ball. That’s opinionated. But you’re right he’s selfish, but you don’t get double digits in assists by being completely selfish. Some of his passes are out of this world.

        That being said he does want to be our leader, our goal scorer, our attacking output, and rightfully so. When he takes on these roles he needs to finish though. The chipped shot was typical Messi but somehow he put too much on it.

        I can’t believe this kid is just getting better and better though..amazing

        • Diego
          March 3, 2011

          Agree with your first Paragraph, Josep.

    • Jim
      March 3, 2011

      If I had the slightest ability technically I would do so , Josep, . . . . and I wouldn’t be short of material either. Well, maybe offensively 🙂

  38. merge
    March 3, 2011

    Random, just out of curiosity: Does anybody know how the Zamora is awarded? Now that Valdés is not playing I wonder how it works.

    If it’s based on goals conceded by the team, is Pinto having an effect on Valdes’ numbers (and viceversa)?

    If it’s based on any keeper performance (percentage of goals conceded per match), then Pinto has better numbers then Valdés, isn’t he? Or any other keeper playing just, say, one match and keeping a clean sheet.

    Or do goalkeepers need to play a minimum number of matches to opt to the prize?

  39. OSBAG
    March 3, 2011

    Tense. Match. Yestersay. It would take a while to catch up on the posts I missed. Have been very busy for a couple of days. Though I was half asleep during the match, I noticed messi was trying too hard to score. I just hope he doesn’t wear himself out before the arsenal match. Resting him against zaragoza would help.

  40. Diego
    March 3, 2011

    This is the first time I will publicly disagree with the ratings, I think Xavi deserved a 10 for his break dancing routine and So Does Messi and Pinto for their secret handshake after the match. 😀

  41. Lev
    March 3, 2011

    @euler’s clarifying comments
    “aaaah…uhmm-mmm…yes” lol

    – i wouldn’t say BJ is past the point of no return, because he is still so young. i would say that a loan would be good, especially to a lesser league like the Eredivisie (like we discussed before, Ajax would be perfect), or maybe the French league. It would be very wise to look for another forward for next season though.
    – If our no 10 yesterday had a different name we would say hmmm this guy is pretty good. By far our most dangerous attacker. However his name is Messi so we hold him up to ridiculously high standards. Doesn’t mean I don’t agree with you about where he failed, but it is the reason I think people are harsh on him.
    – Abidal is our rock, and yes, he has been the Messi of our defense. However his bad passes, even though they are few, are due to lack of technique? (no), vision? (no) concentration? (hmmmm….can you think of another reason?). That is why I hope he will regain his focus.

    @hammer I think all our players would be successful elsewhere, but yes Xavi and Busi are among those who I think perhaps benefit the most from being from the Masía and playing in our system right now.

    • Josep
      March 3, 2011

      I have no clue why Abidal has made those random bad passes, but I think he’s had one each in the last three matches. The one where Busi gave up the penalty, the one vs. Mallorca late in the match (I think 90th) and maybe one this match. Don’t know what to credit it to, maybe he reads this blog and is excited that we don’t call him a weak link and it gets to his head 😀

  42. Diego
    March 3, 2011

    I just love the fact that Busi, Abidal, and Pedro are our underrated players. Busi is on a 25 match winning streak and people criticize him without even watching our matches. Just go to and read the comments, some of them are hilarious.

    Question of the day :

    Is Busi as important as Puyol and Messi ?

    • Eklavya
      March 3, 2011

      Yeah, the comments there are so dumb it makes we wanna smack them in their head!

  43. Lev
    March 3, 2011

    Hold on guys…you are calling the league leader in assists selfish??? Really?

    Is there even any player in Europe with more assists than Messi right now?

    The first time he should have passed to Villa I believe he simply did not see him. Otherwise he would have passed because the path to goal was completely blocked and his shot was hopeless.

    The second time he should have passed to Villa I don’t blame him for not passing. I blame him for not scoring the excellent opportunity he created for himself.

    Not saying he is never selfish, but I wouldn’t qualify him as a “selfish player”.

    I agree with Kxevin that at times I think “Whyyyyyy are you running at 4 players”. When those times are when he has a clear passing opportunity to a well-positioned teammate, it drives me crazy.

    On the other hand one of the things that makes him so exciting, so special, and so dangerous, is that he can take on 4 players and score. Our opponents know this and they fear us for it. And as a fan I love it when he tries those dribbles. Just not when a teammate is wide open.

    Apart from that, any of Barça’s players who stop making those runs because supposedly Messi is selfish are shooting themselves in the foot. As we all know, it is hard to score from one of his assists with a bullet in your foot.

    • March 3, 2011

      I don’t know about anyone else but yes, I am calling Messi selfish. Not as selfish as Thong Boy, but selfish nonetheless. Just because he is the league leader in assists doesn’t mean that he isn’t selfish.

      He didn’t see Villa because he had his head down. The thought of passing didn’t even enter his mind. The second time he should have thought of the team, and passed to an open teammate for the tap-in, a much higher-percentage shot than the chip.

      Messi gets a pass when he shouldn’t. Imagine another player not making those passes, and what people would say. Being selfish is different from being a selfish player. I think that Messi always thinks that he is the best scoring option. That’s an erroneous assumption, particularly when you’re surrounded by players, and a teammate is standing there by himself.

      The job of every player on that pitch is to do whatever is necessary to help the team win. That means passing to a wide-open teammate as much as it means scoring highlight reel goals.

      And I think that our opponents LOVE when Messi tries to take on the whole defense, because that makes it much easier to play us. He stops to make a cut, and there’s one more defender. Right now, he’s early-career Michael Jordan. Late-career Michael Jordan, the one who acknowledged that working much more closely with his teammates would make his life easier, was a much more effective and dangerous player.

      • vicsoc
        March 3, 2011

        The thing is Messi has to continue making those runs at 4 defenders. That is a part of what makes him so dangerous. If he were to all of a sudden stop those runs then teams would be able to play him for the pass, and he wouldn’t be so effective.

        Being able to make those dangerous runs is what allows him to be so effective with the pass. Take away those runs, and Messi wouldn’t be anywhere near as effective.

        • March 3, 2011

          Not arguing against the runs, arguing for intelligent versions of the runs, or runs that keep his head up, waiting to slide the ball to an open teammate. Big difference. Jordan kept dunking throughout his entire career. But the passes and jump shots made the path to the basket for the dunks a lot easier.

  44. hammeronmessi
    March 3, 2011

    finished watching the whole match(though missed the first eight minutes).

    my god what kind of freaking high standard we cules has set up for ou team? criticizing a certain no 10 for not finishing 2 golden chances?

    first one: he shoot a lame shot,his 2nd try was cut off by the onrushing defender,3 rd try was also a lame way at that point he can pass the ball to villa,his decision was correct in the 3rd attempt,but not his execution.

    2nd one: if he wanted to pass the ball to villa,he should have done it at the first attempt,once he made up his goalscoring mind there was only one option,to chip.also this time his execution was poor.if he wanted 2 pass to villa that ball would have been cut by 2 defenders.

    apart from adriano,he was the only attacking player who hustled,dribbled,engaged others in this match.this is his best match 2 me for the last 3 games apart from finishing.(which is a cause of concern)by far our most dangerous player.people forget that he is a human,not a machine and we r so accustomed 2 his continuous brilliance in engaging others,play making and goal scoring that for his 2 poor executions he is hounded like a dog by us.

    instead of criticizing him for the poor executions,we should criticize him for his behavior with villa.a 6 from me by his own very very high standard.

    iniesta was simply a ghost figure in this match.

    and how p got a high rating is beyond me?
    His effort and energy, as well as the committment to the cause is admirable. He just runs, and runs, and runs, and runs. His nose for where the ball is going to be, is the reviewer.that earned him a question is apart from 3 poor executions messi did all those things.and the first chnace was created because of alves,2nd chance because he harried the defender.

    apologies to kxevin if i come a little bit harsh.i know you put a huge amount of your time analyzing the match.after all if there is no debate then what is the worth of the review?in this regard u r awesome.

    oh BTW,smash was a 10.he was simply amazing,banega and t costa didnt have a sniff when he was on(dont know about the first 7 minutes)and ramzi u r the winner for me,not euler.

    • March 3, 2011

      Did you see the bad passes and giveaways from Messi as well? I did. As well as the times when he was standing around, watching the match, or having no influence on it. Those moments are also part of the rating.

      I understand that people love Messi. I don’t. I’m not a fan of any player, so to me, he’s a player on the club that I love. So yes, when I watch him, I probably watch him differently. Fact of the matter is, he put his club in danger by not doing his job, which is to help the club succeed. Had he done his job, Villa would have had a brace against his former club by halftime.

      –Pedro! earned his rating by virtue of the work that he did after entering the match. Again, his job was to create chaos. More specifically, run at defenders, harass in the midfield, run into passing lanes and facilitate possession while also looking out for scoring chances. Keep that in mind, then watch his play when he entered the match.

      –Every player is human, and not a machine, yet very few of them get the slack that Messi does. Some bad passes, and some are talking about Abidal needing to regain his focus. If Messi is sacrosanct, shouldn’t our best defender also be? Yet he isn’t. Messi gets no slack from me. No player does. Help the club win. That’s job one. It’s why I noted, on that Arshavin goal at Arsenal, that Abidal turned sideways facing the shot, instead of full-body fronting it. Maybe if he does that, he blocks or deflects the shot. “Taking one for the team” happens in many ways, including having one less potential goal on your pichichi-leading tally, in favor of the sure thing.

      As you note, his first attempt on goal was poor. Because he had nowhere to go, all the more reason to feed an open teammate. So while people are saying “Oooh!” because of the run, that isn’t my reaction at all. Same with the second attempt.

      You’re new here, so you don’t yet understand how I evaluate player performance. It’s everything, and doesn’t take into account who the player is.

      Help the team win.

      • hammeronmessi
        March 3, 2011

        with all due respect,
        As well as the times when he was standing around, watching the match, or having no influence on it. Those moments are also part of the rating.

        having no influence,to have influence u have to have the ball,and whose job is that?and he did that dropping every now and then?bad passes?no.giveaways?yes.giveaways in there half,not in our half.pedros job is to create chaos.i get the impression that he was brought on to make the pitch wide and help alves.

        why the mention of abidal?i didnt speak a single word for him.but since u mentioned him just remember his first 2 years for us.he wasnt a beast then,but he is still playing for barca,because the expectation was not high from him,but when the expectation is high even a bad pass at a dead game become an i think he was the most dangerous player for us in this match with all the giveaways,standing around, watching the match, or having no influence.

        and i think i try to be rational not critical of u.

        oh bTW, i m not new(may be new in posting).i m a lurker for a long i understand how you evaluate player performance.thats why i say a 6 from me by his own very very high standard.

        and i dont talk bout KRS.i talk about the contexts of the player perdormances

        • March 3, 2011

          No, to have influence you do not have to have the ball. Our system is predicated on passing and movement, both on and off the ball. If Messi makes an off-the-ball run, he moves the defense, which helps the other attackers.

          The Abidal reference is just for context, from the comments above.

    • Roz
      March 3, 2011

      Thought it was the Yaya at first. You scared me!

  45. mei
    March 3, 2011

    Btw , how can busquets , kxevin , not be man of the much?
    He was perfect both in defense and ofcourse when transfered to his usual role. Did he have to score a goal too?

    • Roz
      March 3, 2011

      Not to be rude or anything mei but why do care whos MOTM in Kxevin’s opinion. Its his exclusive opinion after rewatching the match. Personally I think I should be MOTM but thats another story ;P,

      • mei
        March 3, 2011

        I dont care who is motm as long as thats a flashy guy.
        But busquets is hard to appreciate , so when he’s got an outstanding perfomance he should be recognized.
        Its easy to say messi was motm hes got two goals , or villa or pedro. Heck even for xavi and iniesta for these mesmerizing runs and assists. But like abidal , busquets should get credit too.
        In particular when he is filling holes in the system he wasnt meant to fill , and unlike abidal didnt have the experience or time to adjust to.

    • March 3, 2011

      Some matches I have an MOTM, some I don’t. I thought he was brilliant yesterday, but so was Alves.

  46. hammeronmessi
    March 3, 2011

    Now as I noted during the match, Messi has always been selfish. My concern is when it starts to affect the play of others, when Villa decides not to bother making a run. I think that Messi, in his improvement as a player (it’s easy to forget that he is still growing, still improving), will learn exactly when to cut and draw the defense for the killer through ball, and when to make the run. Right now, he loves scoring goals as opposed to someone like Xavi, who you sense would almost rather have an assist than score himself.

    cant believe u said this,kxevin.this little guy is the highest assist maker in barca team,that too i think by a large margin.he is also possibly the no. 3 in 2ndary assists(u know what i mean by 2ndary assist).and from that u said he has always been selfish.come on.yes he is selfish but not in the way u describing him ala CR.

    as a fan i loved those runs by messi as noted above by lev.the opponents double mark,triple mark him for that.sometimes he should choose a better positioned barca mate instead of those runs.but thats the unpredictability of messi and thats why he is the best in the world.u want me to believe that u didnt enjoy the three croquteas against bilbao?i dont think so,i didnt think so.

    ny of Barça’s players who stop making those runs because supposedly Messi is selfish are shooting themselves in the foot. As we all know, it is hard to score from one of his assists with a bullet in your foot.100% spot on ,lev

    • March 3, 2011

      Messi is yelling at Villa for ignoring a wide-open Alves and taking a shot. But it’s okay for him? How is that okay? When Xavi has the ball, players move very differently. Watch them. They’re like dogs at feeding time.

      You should believe that I said it, because I did. Because it’s true. I’ll probably get struck by a lightning bolt for blaspheming against God’s own footballer.

      You should also read more carefully the comments above yours, so that you will note that I took pains NOT to describe as a selfish player in the same way as Thong Boy. Read the comment thoroughly, then check your outrage to see if it’s still intact.

      I understand that nobody is ever supposed to utter a discouraging word against Messi. Whenever I don’t rate him a 10, I’m an evil man. But he has bad matches, just like any other player. But watch him all the time, not just when he has the ball. It will help you understand my ratings.

      • blitzen
        March 3, 2011

        So now Kxevin hates Messi too?!? 😛

      • mei
        March 3, 2011

        kxevin hates messi hahaha :P.
        Was messi selfish yesterday? Yeap , for sure.
        However , at the particular time he did yell at villa , he had more right to do so than villa to messi for him completely ignoring him in that previous “similar” situation.
        It wasnt so similar , thats why.
        Messi was closer to goal , had the keeper on his knees , and was more centrally positioned while the ball was in control between his legs.
        Villa was wider and had to make a much more difficult shot that the keeper had well covered anyway.
        Not that he had the right to yell , or that his actions were unselfish , but thats that.

      • hammeronmessi
        March 3, 2011

        You should also read more carefully the comments .

        i said this in a previous comment.
        instead of criticizing him for the poor executions,we should criticize him for his behavior with villa.

        he has bad matches.i know. i can give u examples.asenal,hercules(both matches),valencia(home match)and many others.and i m ready to accept that.but not this one.apart from poor finishing he was fantastic.that was my point of argument.

        as i have said i have no interest in KR.have interest what u said about the player performance in the game

  47. Jim
    March 3, 2011

    Strange game. It really seems to have split opinion on all sorts of issues. first things forst. This was a potential loss – no question. The fact that we came out with three points is awesome ! That could turn out to be the moment the league was decided.

    And we only won the match because of one gloriously timed run by messi. He could have headed towards their 6 yeard box at speeed but he holds back and times it so that when Adriano cuts back and looks up ( well done on both counts) the pass is actually really easy. Goal was 90% Messi 10% Adriano imo.

    For the rest I for one didn’t like the set up of the team. We just weren’t comfortable. I don’t like Busi at CB – it’s a waste and I don’t share the thoughts that Masch had a great game. We needed Bus at DM and that would’ve given Xavi and Iniesta a better chance of establishing their dominance. Although I praised Adriano for the goal I really didn’t think he had a particularly good game. however, it may be that a few appearances there will change that. he certainly added a bit of pace which Maxwell hasn’t shown.

    Kxevin, I’m stunned – we agree on Abidal 🙂 Seriously when he makes a mistake it’s usually a serious one and there have been a few recently. . He needs to get his thinking head on for Arsenal. He’s going to cost us one day if he doesn’t. I thought Pique actually played well but maybe that’s me. Still like to see him assume more responsibility for the defense as someone said.

    Finally well done to Pep. I was more worried about his potential absence than about the line up. That speaks volumes about his influence on this side.

    • March 3, 2011

      But we shouldn’t only agree on Abidal when he’s bad, right? 😀 And I’d say the same of all of our back line players. Pique did one of the “I head a ball into the air, where it will fall I know not where,” bits. Someone has to be the screamer, and it seems like nobody is.

      • Jim
        March 3, 2011

        Yeah, I keep waiting for Pique to assume the mantle but it doesn’t really happen. We need any kind of half fit Puyol back for Arsenal.

        Btw, I think we do agree on at least Abidal’s good bits. I’ve often praised him for good games this season and I think it has been one of his best. He has also forced me to rethink his abilities as a CB. he has come in and done a great job in covering for Puyol so fair dos to him for proving me wrong. There are two reasons I find myself posting about Abidal. Firstly, to me he has weaknesses which I consider important in a defender . I don’t rate his positional sense, especially as he has to readjust as a move develops, he often turns his back on the ball ( more crosses than shots usually) and he isn’t good if a winger gets a run at him. The second is I can’t help but react to the over the top comments, often on the Liveblog such as Abiiidddaalllll ! and when I rewind the TV in confusion I see its referring to a simple picking up of a ball that an attacker has over run.

        However, I would have given him a 5. I think you were a bit harsh 🙂

  48. hammeronmessi
    March 3, 2011

    btw i m not outraged.just having a civilized debate.

    after all that what is this blog for

  49. Tom Johnson
    March 3, 2011

    As someone who has been supportive of Adriano, I am satisfied with the developments yesterday. The way Valencia chose to defend played a big part, still Adriano deserves the credit for making the most out of it.

    While his performance leaves plenty to improve on it is a step in the right direction.

    A player with that body frame (if he was only couple of inches taller), pace and comfortable with using both feet to pass, dribble, and shoot is a tremendous asset to have. Considering the price ‘we’ paid (and are paying) for it, a true bargain.

    If Pep is to place confidence in him (more minutes) it would bring necessary calmness to his game. He still does look a little bit anxious. Like he is trying to do too much. The shots that are going wide and high would be closer to the target if he is just more used to the ‘game speed’ and is not as eager to ‘prove’ himself.

    More used to the ‘game speed’ would ensure he doesn’t get caught out of position too often.

    Either developing Adriano or making an addition at LB (the one that would take time to sync), if the said player can give us about 80-85% of what Alves’ overall contribution is at the right side this team will become dangerously close to be ‘unplayable’.

    Coupled with a proper adjustment(s) up front, there would be simply too many holes for the opposing defenders and not enough plugs.

    On a side note, I always thought Banega would be a great addition for us in terms of defensive presence in midfield.

  50. hammeronmessi
    March 3, 2011


    this is the end of maxwell i better make the compilation.


  51. hammeronmessi
    March 3, 2011

    banega is more needed to real madrid.great player though.

  52. poipoi
    March 3, 2011

    Partidazo! Tactical heaven. How did we start? 3-5-2?? Emery knows us well & Valencia are such a good team. Banega is class, if they had two banegas like we have xaviniesta they could have won. He is very canchero, very good, and stronger than the two added up. AND Alba’s goal is a fair goal, in case of doubt the lineman should stay still. Valencia could and to me should have won. Or at least a draw, we got sooo lucky. We can do better! The team looks tired, like they have had too much of each other. Xavi Iniesta and Messi look wasted.

    Busi is a beast no matter where he plays, genius. Adriano was great, he has a much bigger repertoire than Alves IMO and can use both legs. I wanna see him play a lot and see his improvement with us next season! Masche ok. All three of messi xavi iniesta were bad, and it has been some games in a row…but we still won. ( Kxevin, I believe messi stole the ball from dealbert, a defender and it was a clear foul iturralde didn’t call) villa should have spanked messi’s ass, respect the elder messi! And freakin pass dude! Dribble in the box if you don’t know how to look up and can’t think what else to do but pass it to the game creators while you’re in midfield. He looses so many balls not even trying to pass everyone starts to see it now. Hope the mighty 3 wake up someday before the arsenal game. I have tickets!!! Please do 🙁

    BTW…. did you guys realize that valencia didn’t water the grass for like days and also they let it grow so high that barça could not move it fast and the bats reached soon enough to make pressure? First passes from the payers all were too short, until they got used to it. Unai Emery, the antibarça oh yes

    • justsayin
      March 4, 2011

      Yes, I noticed a lot of the passes seemed too short at the start of the game and then realized that the grass seemed very tall. I guess you try to do anything and everything in your power to gain an advantage. But, the boys caught on and simply started to adjust how hard they struck the ball.

  53. justsayin
    March 4, 2011

    Just because we don’t criticize Messi’s game playing doesn’t necessarily mean it’s because he is the “golden child” that can do no wrong. Not for me at least, everyone is fair game. I always find it interesting to read people’s comments about Messi being selfish or not when he doesn’t score, but we don’t debate if he is taking too many defenders on and a keeper that is too prepared for a shot, and Messi takes his chances and scores an unbelievable goal. I suppose you can debate if Messi is being selfish on a play by play basis, but to say that he is an overall selfish player would be much more difficult to argue. As of Dec. Messi was scoring 25% of the times he strikes the ball. Amazing! Of those strikes 46% were shots on goal. Plus .64 assists per game.

    I can’t compare him to Pedro or his rate of play. If Messi did half the running around Pedro did, he wouldn’t have the energy left to deal with 4 defenders that are consistently trying to man handle him off the ball. If Messi is walking around the field, it’s because he plays to his strength which among other things trekking back to midfield to start plays, passing the ball quickly, tearing down the field with defenders in tow, maneuvering around them and taking a shot. I’m sure I don’t have to explain the way Messi plays to any one of you, and I wouldn’t really want to tweak anything Messi is doing right now. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is my motto in this situation.

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