Sevilla 1, Barca 1, aka “A lucky point” EDIT

No whining. After two viewings of this match that many will call excellent, but not me, that’s the first thing that’s worth saying.

No whining. This was a match that we could easily have lost, even though we should have won it, a match that came down to moments, millimeters and men being men …. or not. It wasn’t a referee, so squash that talk. He let the players decide the match, which is as it should be. We are not Arsenal, or Chelsea. Guardiola said that he wasn’t going to harp on the refereeing, and neither should we, because the ref didn’t decide this match, wasteful finishing did, along with key players not showing up when they are supposed to.

But thankfully, Bojan Krkic did, donning his SuperBoy cape right about the same time as last season, when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was playing his way to the bench.

This picture fascinates me, because it’s an all-Barca tandem of Krkic and the on-loan Martin Caceres who had a whale of a match against his former club as did his team, that played a match of two halves.

In the first, our team of Valdes, Alves, Pique, Abidal, Adriano, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Messi and Pedro!! had their way with Sevilla, picking up right where they left off against Arsenal with passing, pressing, movement and the jaw-dropping elegance that makes us the favorite club of so many. Sevilla was content to sit back and play the passing lanes, pressing in the midfield just enough to not create the time and space necessary to find runners, but determined not to let us pass our way into the net.

We, on the other hand, came at them with a display of useless beauty — ocular gifts that ultimately, didn’t lead to the glories that they should have, mostly because Sevilla played their hearts out, but also because it was clear that we were lacking just a little bit of sharpness. On form, Xavi takes that ball and immediately dishes to a dashing Villa, instead of doing a curlicue that, at its terminus, found a closed door that was open a second earlier. The passes that were justmissing or finding an outstretched Sevilla foot, would have found players.

We also didn’t use our width as effectively and when we did, howlers masquerading as crosses were the net result, as Adriano came down to earth and Alves found himself the target of more attention than usual, as Sevilla determined to keep our attack in the center of pitch and if Adriano was going to be the one to beat them, so be it.

It was smart strategy that we foiled with a goal that should have led to more, one of those amazing moments. Krkic, who entered early for an ailing Pedro!!, laced a pretty cross-pitch ball to Xavi, who began a lovely series of give-and-gos with Villa, then Iniesta, who popped a ball over the top to an onrushing Alves who slid it to Krkic, who walked it into the net, escorted by the aforementioned Caceres. It was a team goal, one that was started and ended by Krkic, whose grin seemed to be of both exultation and relief. (BTW, I am going to show my stupidity here, and ask why Krkic wasn’t offside when that pass came from Alves. He was already behind the last defender when the pass was made, as the replay shows. I confess to not being familiar enough with the offside rule.)

Then we proceeded to wet the bed. Messi was waiting for an offside call that never came, so his concentration wasn’t there as he took a ball over the top that would have found him in on the keeper. Villa got greedy and stupid, spurning a wide-open Xavi to take an absurd shot that didn’t have a chance of going in. In what would have been one of the goals of the season, Xavi chipped a lustrous ball for Messi, who plonked his header off the crossbar.

Everything was working as we harassed and harried their defense, creating chances and danger seemingly at will, playing our usual wonderful football but going into the locker room with a 0-1 lead. And you can probably imagine that their coach said to his side, “They played a difficult, intense Champions League match in midweek, and will get tired. You have taken their best shot, now give them yours.”

Then Sevilla came out and got in our faces, physically and offensively as they inserted Kanoute and declared the right side of the pitch open for business. Pique is clearly a marked man, and Sevilla showed why with an attacking sequence that came up the left side of the pitch. Alves and Abidal had contain on the attacker, and Alves got impatient, lunging at the ball instead of just standing his ground. In that space created by his attempted slide tackle came the pass that Pique, on psychic walkabout, or maybe looking at everything at eye level, which allowed him to lose track of the diminutive Jesus Navas, who headed home past a diving Abidal, to knot the scoreline.

That sequence was really a comedy of errors, as Pique began the mess by making a steal attempt in the center of the pitch, then Alves tried the sliding tackle instead of just standing his ground. This forced Valdes to rush over to try and blot out the attack, which made Abidal do the right thing once the pass was made, which was to rush to cover the line. Pique was playing the pass, instead of turning to face the opposition to check for loose attackers, and that was that. It was a terrible goal to concede, because every part of the defense broke down.

Busquets had a chance to stop the initial pass, with a simple foul. Two other players had a chance to stop the play by sticking a leg out, making the kind of lunging stop that Sevilla’s defenders had been making all half. But it was Pique’s positional error that really screwed the pooch. As a central defender, do that. By trying to act as a defensive mid, it left the center of our defense wide open, and that was that.

Yet even after their goal, this was supposed to be the time that we stuck our chests out and showed Sevilla who was boss, saying to ourselves that the goal was a fluke, really, and getting on with the business of rolling out of their stadium with our 7-point Liga lead intact. Instead, Adriano blasted yet another absurd shot, Krkic got in behind the defense with a slashing run, but in trying to control the ball off his chest, just slid it to their keeper, and on it went.

Sevilla decided that physical play was the answer, knocking us off the ball in the second half, and sending Perotta up the right for slashing, dashing runs that time after time, found the center of our defense wanting. As Guardiola says, we’re crap without the ball, but we’re even crappier without a fully functioning Pique. Some would say that he wasn’t the same defender after the sac shot. Others will say that he was, but just wasn’t being tested until Sevilla decided that they were going to try to win that match. Whatever. They had the best chances of the second half, as Negredo and Kanoute missed shots that they normally bury, Valdes came up big and Abidal turned into a lion as Sevilla came at us in counter after counter, hard-charging efforts that bombed up the pitch.

And we gave it right back as we found our sea legs again, and began to threaten their nets. Iniesta blasted a shot from distance that smacked the crossbar, then he had a shot cleared off the line. Krkic was fouled in the box, and many referees would have given a penalty, but not this one, not in this situation. And really, it shouldn’t have come down to that, to Barca fans sounding like Arsenal fans in howls that “The ref done us wrong.”

Our attackers done us wrong, in their worldview that more chances will come. If Villa squares that ball to Xavi instead of going for personal glory, if Messi or Iniesta’s aim were slightly better, that match is very different. As it was, we were at sixes and sevens, put there by a fresh side that came at our Champions League-fatigued legs, and we didn’t know how to respond for a crucial few minutes, before coming right.

Neutrals will say that this was a remarkable match, as the teams went up and down the pitch at each other, asking and giving no quarter. Abidal was diving at headers, the Sevilla defenders were scrambling like so many Dutch boys, trying to plug holes in the dike that was their defense as we kept coming at them.

What I saw, rather than a remarkable match, were the errors that gave Sevilla life, key players disappearing and a hobbled Messi, who turned it on in fits and spurts, rather than the constant brilliance that wears down defenses, thus making it easier to contain him since Villa had donned his cloak of invisibility. I saw a lack of sharpness, and the same frustrating finishing. I saw runs not being made, and passes not finding runs that were made, or passes that came a fraction of time too late, and goal-threatening chances that came too easily for them as only one of our central defenders manned up in a significant way.

See? He was on the pitch!

Great match? Not for me. What I saw was my club drop points that it should have grabbed with style. As Xavi said, “We should have finished this match in the first half.”

When we didn’t, it allowed a team that had something to play for, the opportunity to put it on the line. Sevilla played with quality, grit and determination. People who suggest that they were trying to kick us off the pitch, do them a disservice, as do people who will grouse about the officiating. As Xavi said, it should have been done in the first half. It wasn’t, and now we have to hear the stories about the EE’s championship aspirations being revived, blah, blah, blah, blah. But we have to screw up two more times in 10 remaining matches, and they have to be perfect. Anybody want to take odds on that happening?

Thought not.

Team: 6. Too many times we got away from what we do. The pressing was going to be impossible to maintain for the entire match, but there were too many instances of things we usually do, that weren’t done. Typical of them is the aforementioned Xavi moment, where if he’s on form, he spots Villa and cuts through with a dagger ball. Or Alves shows patience instead of anxiety-induced desperation.

Guardiola: 7. Pull Messi. Is a hobbled superstar better than a fresh-legged sub? No. This was the kind of match in which a direct, pace-y player such as Afellay could have made a difference, in both pressing and attacking. He would have been perfect with the Maxwell sub, taking over left wing and creating danger there.

Valdes: 7. Strong match, though he made a significant positional error in not trusting his defense to deal with that threat. When he left his line to lunge at that ball and go to ground, it was a play made without full tactical cognizance, a full-on fire drill.

Alves: 6. Off song for this match. Sevilla played him strongly and aggressively, but it’s his job to find a way through all of that, to give our attack the right-sided width that makes it go. The other problem was the absence of Pedro!!, and Krkic’s setting up on the left-hand side. Suddenly, Alves had no backboard to work give-and-gos with. He also should have been more defensively conservative for a bit, as it was clear that Pique needed help during Sevilla’s surge. Jailbreak runs at our defense are worrisome.

Pique: 4. It’s easy to play when there’s no pressure, but great players make the plays that they are supposed to when under pressure. The center pitch lunge was silly, as was playing with your back to goal, as the last man standing between any leakers and a goal. Not sure what he was thinking. Couple this with the positional errors of a defender who thinks he’s faster than he is, and stand back.

Abidal: 8. Far and away our best defender today. A diving header to clear danger? Staggering. He outran everybody who gave him a try, though he did make some positional errors that facilitated a couple of Sevilla attacks, in part because ….

Adriano: 5. What the hell was he doing? I like him for his offense, but if he’s going to blast dimwitted shots and sky-high crosses, sit down, and let Maxwel play. Guardiola thought the same thing. He was sharp early, then went steadily downhill. Fatigue? Maybe. Most importantly, he needs to calm down, figure out what the right thing is, and then do it.

Busquets: 7. More than solid, with positional play, defending and passing that gave the midfield some strength and fluency. I can’t help wondering, however, if this wouldn’t have been a match for Mascherano. Busquets was caught out of position when the attack that led to Sevilla’s goal was born in the midfield.

Xavi: 7. A beat off song. He made some amazing plays and incredible passes, but it’s the passes he didn’t make that stood out for me as signs that he was feeling the incredible effort of midweek.

Iniesta: 8. A glorious match in almost all phases of the game. His pressing in the midfield could have been better, but he was a constant danger with the ball at his feet, with the kind of very direct play that, coupled with Xavi’s usual quality, gave our attack teeth.

Messi: 6. Astonishing first half, then tailed off in the second, picking his spots, but what spots they were. But he couldn’t pressure the ball because he just wasn’t moving as fluently as he usually does. And ball pressure, particularly from the forwards, is what makes our attack go full speed ahead.

Pedro!!: incomplete. Showed signs, but was substituted early. We really missed his omnipresence, even as we benefitted from the presence of Krkic.

Villa: 4. He started with some excellent runs, tracking back on defense and playing well. As the match progressed and got more intense, he wilted to the point where you wondered if he was still on the pitch. It is matches such as these where he has to show why we paid 40m for him, instead of taking a powder. Of course things are physical and pressurized. Make the right runs, and make the right decisions. His shooting when he should square the ball hurts us again.


Krkic (for Pedro!!): 7. An excellent match. He still goes down too easily. Perhaps without that weighing on his reputation, he gets that penalty shout. His control is also erratic at the wrong times, including that ball that found him behind the defense. But he was making those cutting runs, pressuring the ball and beginning to play like the game comes naturally to him, rather than a stiff, uncertain attacker. The openness of the match helped his fluency in that regard. His strongest match of the season, by far.

Maxwell (for Adriano): incomplete. He came in for Adriano because of his positional skills as a defender, a sequence that, not coincidentally, began our coming back into the match.

Keita (for Villa): incomplete. Guardiola was clearly thinking that fresh legs late might make a difference, but it wasn’t to be, as Keita barely had sufficient time to get warmed up in this cauldron of a match.

And now, it’s a 5-point lead. Are we worried yet? No? Good. Because I’m not. Never worry about things that you can’t control. I have faith in this club, and will until the mathematical evidence proves otherwise to me. Right now, I see dropping 5 points in 10 matches as an impossibility, as big an impossibility as the EE running the table.

More importantly, we shouldn’t turn on the club or its players. They played their hearts out. And even as my evaluations are sometimes scathing, my faith and confidence are unwavering. Wins, draws and losses are all team efforts. Right now, we have the best team in the world. Let’s trust that team to take care of business. And lay off the referee, who didn’t choose not to pass to Xavi, or hit the crossbar twice. Players decide matches.

Next up is Getafe, a home match (whew!) that will run into the much-needed international break. Our players need quality rest of the kind that you can only get from significant time off. If we take care of business vs Getafe, Villarreal is our last remaining danger team, as I just don’t see Espanyol giving us a ton of stress at home. EE, on the other hand, still has to travel to Atletico (who will roll over for them as usual), Bilbao, Valencia, Sevilla and Villarreal.

I like our chances.

P.S. There’s actual news at the end of a review. Marca are claiming (via a broadcast on capitol city radio station COPE) that EE is going to petition the Liga for stricter doping controls, alleging that we have “disreputable” physios working for us, and that Valencia are also suspect. Sighhhhh…. As it turns out, this is all nonsense. Flo Flo contacted Rosell directly to call BS on the radio report, and we are taking legal action against the station.

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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. March 13, 2011

    Why is it that when we get scored on, we lose control? the team could’ve been doing 1000 great passes, the minute the other team scores, we make 2-4 good passes and allow them to run us around.
    Messi should’ve not been out there, he was off, he looked scared and you knew Sevilla would go after the knee, whether he was seriously injured or not, they were going to go for it. Afellay or Keita would’ve been fine with Iniesta having a hell of a match.
    If Afellay does not get crucial minutes when we need him, when will he? Guardiola should trust him.
    I feel in the absence of Villa, Bojan stepped it up, he was running when everyone else was walking, he wasn’t doing much with the running, but at least he was moving.
    Glad we got the point despite the awful situations.

    • ooga aga
      March 13, 2011

      kxevin bojan was onside because he was behind the ball when it was played, doesnt matter where the defenders are if you are behind the ball.

  2. BarcaGirl_Indo
    March 13, 2011

    like I said, if we finished our chances, we won…
    but also, if Sevilla finished their chances, we lost…

    so yeah, I’ll take this draw, I don’t like it, but what can we say…
    it’s a “fair” result (though it really should’ve been 1-2, with that disallowed goal)…

    but yes, no whining… we can act better than some teams…
    *cough*Arsenal and EE*cough*

  3. BarcaOwl
    March 13, 2011

    Thanks for the review, Kxevin. I must say that watching the game made me wince at times. Oh well, the boys will have time this week to pick up their game. Sure hope Pedro will be alright.

  4. Louis
    March 13, 2011

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention how the Sevilla goal started.. with a uncharacteristic Messi giveaway in the center of the pitch. You’re usually all over the that.

    But yeah, I don’t really want to think about this match. What a waste.

  5. outerspacedout
    March 13, 2011

    I missed the game. I set my alarm for 3.50 am, then I put it on snooze to lie in bed for just five more minutes and get up for the game, and when I woke up it was 6am.

    Great to hear Bojan had a good game. Hopefully he comes into his own in the home stretch of the season like he did last year as well, and hopefully that form becomes permanent and stays for next season on.

    All I want is to ensure we have atleast four or more points a gap by the Clasico. I’m confident of winning, but I want us to be able to play without the pressure of ‘if we lose this, we will be behind them in the title race’. When we play Madrid the whole team usually looks so absolutely confident, like they know full well that they’re so goddamn good they could make the other side their little b*tches, but also utterly focused. And on the flip side, usually when we get nervous we don’t play as well, though I have to credit this side for hardly ever getting nervous (remembering the Club World Cup final here).

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      March 13, 2011

      if we can maintain this 5 points gap until El Clasico,
      then a draw result at Santiago Bernabeu is not that bad…
      a lost is bad, but at least we’re still on top of the table…

      but if we lose points again before El Clasico,

  6. tinymich
    March 13, 2011

    Completely agree with Xavi that we should have killed the match off in the first half, and have only ourselves, some profligate finishing, and (in the second half) an uncooperative larguero to blame. But much like everyone else, I’m not terribly worried. We built up a lead earlier in the season to draw on at times like these, for tired legs after after a tough CL game.

    I’ll focus on a bright spot today: Le Petit Bo had one of his better matches in a long time, probably the best since last year. He was hustling and harrying and making his presence felt. I was half hoping that Messi would go off in the second half so Bo could take up residence in the middle of the pitch (where he played at La Masia and has always felt most comfortable, I’ve been told), but my guess is that Pep didn’t want to risk it after having had to already pull Pedro off. But Bo in the middle with Afellay or Inieste coming in from the right side… could have been interesting. Oh well. Perhaps some time in the future. In the meantime, I hope Bo is heartened by today’s performance and plans to provide us with a bit of a bench boost during the run in.

    Villa was the most invisible I’ve seen him in a while, and hasn’t seemed to be in full song for the last couple of matches. I hope this ends shortly, hopefully after the international break…

    Finally, I continue to be amazed that Guardiola is on the bench still. He’s having surgery SOON, right?!

    Finally-finally, did anyone else WINCE when Geri got kicked in the ‘nads?! That did not look like it was any fun at all. *winces all over again*

    • outerspacedout
      March 13, 2011

      Haha at Le Petit Bo. My personal favorite is Little Bo Peep.

  7. Jackieboy
    March 13, 2011

    As for the Bojan goal offside issue, it’s simple – he wasn’t offside, because, as the offside rule states:

    A player is in an offside position if:

    * he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent

    Bojan was behind the ball when Alves made the pass.

    Also, told ya Bojan was good and deserved more playing time. He’s currently our 5th La Liga scorer, behind Messi, Villa, Pedro and Iniesta. And he’s the joint top U-21 scorer of the league. Remember, the kid is still only 20. He will be great.

  8. mardia
    March 13, 2011

    Completely agree. The truth is, that until FIFA/UEFA get up off their high horses about goaline and video technology, we simply cannot expect the refs to have perfect games, or even good games, sorry to say. If the ref’s having a dodgy night, then we have to be able to overcome that, and tonight, we didn’t, and that’s on us.

    Am I worried about the season because of this result? Nah. We were worn out from the CL, and it showed, and it was foolish to expect us to drop ZERO points for the rest of the season. Besides, I have every faith that EE will drop more. 😉

    I’ll admit that I was alarmed when Bojan came in for Pedro, but give him credit, he had a much better match than I’ve come to expect from him. Definitely things he can improve on–I’m not saying he has to outmuscle EVERY defender, but surely he can’t fall over like a twig?–but overall, much, much more improved. Perhaps the next time he’s subbed in, I won’t automatically cringe.

    • outerspacedout
      March 13, 2011

      Hmm. I never cringe when he’s subbed on. I’m eternally optimistic in that regard. 😀

      • barca96
        March 13, 2011

        The difference is that now when he falls(as usual) before he even receives the ball, he gets back up and fight back for it.
        That is why I was so impressed of him.

        Maybe he is a player who likes Spring?
        Last season he peaked during this time too.
        I guess he is excited to see the flowers open up during spring season.

  9. majatt
    March 13, 2011

    I agree that we were lucky to concede only 1 goal but we weren’t lucky to get the point, a tad unlucky. Inches made the difference…the messi header, the Iniesta buster rifle shot, the late shot and goal line clearance from the aforementioned players.

    Can’t cry over milk that already been spilled, some rotation for the next match is called for imo. Bojan earned a run out after today, Villa can take some time and watch from the stands/bench, wouldn’t be a bad idea to let Abidal catch some R&R if we can afford it.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      March 13, 2011

      against Getafe I think we should play our best players available…

      cause we’ll have a week rest and after that, international break…

      can’t drop more points at this stage…

  10. barca96
    March 13, 2011

    “then Alves tried the sliding tackle instead of just standing his ground.”

    That was a crucial tackle. If he hadn’t lunged like that, Negredo would’ve already found the back of the net. Because of Alves’ tackle he had to drag the ball further to the by line making his angle closer. That was supposed to give Abidal and Pique some time to position themselves.

    I also thought that this match was supposed to have Affelay in it and sMasch to bring control in the midfield.
    What’s the purspose of playing Messi if he has to be conservative? He wont be half as effective. Better put Affelay in.

    Villa was invincible yes. But that is due to the lack of service. Many times I saw him making a run but Xavi or Alves kept playing short horizontal passes instead of beating the offside trap.
    Time and time again I saw Villa making a run and he was onside most of the times unlike in the 1st half of the season when he was offside most of the times.
    Now he knows how to hold his run but they dont supply him.
    And if you noticed, whenever he has a match like this( the midfielders don’t supply him with through balls) he will disappear half way through the 2nd half.
    And twice he defended all the way deep into our half.
    Once in the 1st and once in the 2nd. How invincible is that?

    For the 2nd time in a week, I woke up BY MYSELF WITHOUT AN AID OF AN ALARM 10 mins before the match(although I did set the alarm but I just beat it once again). That was how excited I was for this match.

    Btw, next futsal is on Thursday. You better make it this time!!

    • outerspacedout
      March 13, 2011

      I wake up like that sometimes too, mostly for the really big matches like CL or Clasico games. Even the Arsenal game, actually, woke up outside of the alarm. End up waking up and the alarm goes while I’m washing my face or the like. But I was really tired yesterday.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      March 14, 2011

      me too…I usually woke up by myself when there’s a big match coming…

      usually when I get nervous about a game,
      I can’t even sleep well… got awake every several minutes…
      If sleep, I have a dream about Barça…
      usually bad dream…

      when we played against Valancia, I dreamt Barça get 0-0 draw…

      oh, Barça… that’s how much I love you…

      you guys gonna meet for futsal? great! 😀

  11. jordi™
    March 14, 2011

    The regularity with which this club throws up those jaw dropping I cant believe he even attempted that moments is astounding.First Leo fakes a shot and does a sombrero over a keeper to score in the champions league then in a hostile stadium with crucial points on the line, abidal tackles away the ball with his head,while on the ground, as casual as can be. Wonder what Negredo thought when King Eric pulled that off.

    • outerspacedout
      March 14, 2011

      Iniesta and Messi do jaw-dropping ridiculous stuff on a regular basis. Some of the balls that Iniesta plucks out of the air and scoops up bringing it down to a dead stop by his foot, or some of the times he just completely bamboozles a defender. As for Messi, he’s beaten a defender with some move which I can’t really figure out from first viewing or the replay or whatever how the heck he did it but he just moves his feet some way and its gone somewhere, so often.

      This reminded me of that insane yet hilarious moment where he made Drenthe look like a complete idiot. Its WOW yet HAHAHAHA.

      HAHAHAHA POOR DRENTHE. Guy just can’t catch a break.

  12. Jnice
    March 14, 2011

    Great match? Not for me. What I saw was my club drop points that it should have grabbed with style. As Xavi said, “We should have finished this match in the first half.

    Exactly how I feel.

  13. Miguel
    March 14, 2011

    “In that space created by his attempted slide tackle came the pass that Pique, on psychic walkabout, or maybe looking at everything at eye level, which allowed him to lose track of the diminutive Jesus Navas, who headed home past a diving Abidal, to knot the scoreline.”

    -loved that. guy got hit in the nuts, though. he gets a pass.

    like louis, i think it was, said, i’m surprised there wasn’t a reference to messi’s giveaway that lead to the sevilla goal. reverse villarato! hope messi & pedro are ok.

  14. March 14, 2011

    We rarely utter this clubs name and the words ‘European hangover’ in the same sentence, but the phrase was not made up for no reason! We played one of our 3 most emotional draining matches (the others being El Clasico and Bilbao in cup semis in my opinion) this week against Arsenal. I mean when was the last time Barca played in a really important game (Clasico/Cup or CL knockout/huge league game) in which the outcome was seriously in doubt as late as the 89th min as it was when Bentner poo’d the bed and Masch saved our ass mid week. That has to take a toll on the team. So Pep gets really high marks for passing up Affelay (the hot name) and going with Bojan as the early sub, but I gotta say it is difficult to imagine how tired our core guys are, playing every game (which is more than most European teams being that we are in so many competitions). I know this was one of our remaining 3 difficult games, but some of our guys need a break, so they can be super strong down the stretch!!!! I would have loved to see Bojan for Villa, Affelay for Iniesta and Masch for Busi to start, with Kieta, Maxwell and Thiago all getting good minutes. I know it’s borderline blasphemous, but if you would have guaranteed me a point before the match and told me 6-7 of our regulars would be rested, I may have considered it. Of course hindsight is 20/20 and common sense says play this one full strenght then rest some boys for Getafe, with the break looming, but come on, these boys must be exhausted. And you know Thiago is kickin’ down the door to get on the pitch. How is he ever going to become a full “A teamer” if he never plays, and seems to be the second option off the bench at AM, behind Affelay, who I prefer on the wing. So now we go full strength v. Getafe in six days, depending on P!! and Messi’s fitness, and beat the hell out of Almeria (killing it early), using our subs to get Xavi, Iniesta and Messi out at the half hopefully, so we can prepare for 180 min. off being knee deep in E.E ass on April 17th & 20th. Another blessing is Madrid will be in the San Mames on the 17th and likely will not be able to rest any starters for fear of dropping all 3 points to Bilbao. If the likes of Ronaldo, Di Maria, Ozil, Cannavaro ect.. have to play a full 90 thrr days before we pass them off the pitch, it is advantage Blaugrana.

    P.S When does the captain come back!!! Anyone??? Anyone???? I would love to see him get some time V. Getafe, start V. Almeria and play in El Clasico/CDR final (or as I prefer ‘coronation”)

    • outerspacedout
      March 14, 2011

      Cannavaro? He left Madrid a couple years ago, I guess you mean Carvalho.

      Yeah the last crucial huge match (Clasicos and CL) match I remember the outcome being in doubt until the very last second was the Nou Camp Clasico against Pellegrini’s Madrid which finished 1-0, the Inter semifinal second leg, and of course the Iniestazo Chelsea secnnd-leg semifinal.

  15. gogah
    March 14, 2011

    The game was entertaining. but we were terribly wasteful. yet again. Villa was poor and i thought Bojan did fairly well, but squandered easy one on one chances. i have said this before, i really think messi needs to work on his right foot too. i mean, come on he gets soooo many opportunities when even a medium powered well placed right foot shot will kill the keeper. but he always has to get it into the left. It could have been an easy 3 points for barca if only they were not soo damn wasteful. why the F should we always walk the ball into the net. Bojan’s finish was, i agree very ‘barcelonaesque’ but why cant we just belt the ball first time into the top corner. and if we start doing that, it’ll go a long way into providing another perception, another dimension for our opponents to fear.

  16. Eklavya
    March 14, 2011

    Bof, I’m not too worried. We should have won but didn’t. Whatever, on to the next match with more focus. That is all.

  17. Sheena
    March 14, 2011

    I’m upset about the result. The draw against Sporting was different, in the sense that they made us pretty uncomfortable for the majority of the match and we were lucky to equalize.

    In this match, we dominated the first half, and should have rolled into half time two or three goals to the good. Sure, you could blast the ref for disallowing Messi’s goal, but if we put away our chances in the first half, that decision becomes irrelevant.

    I was hoping that we would maintain the 7 point gap until the Villareal match so that we would have the chance to rest players ahead of the first leg of our CL quarter final. That isn’t an option now.

    I’m more concerned about Messi’s knee, though. It was clear that he was holding back in the second half, but I can’t actually fault Pep for wanting to keep a player of Messi’s quality in the mix with the score at 1 – 1. All it would have taken was one moment of magic, and the 3 points would have been ours.

    But to put things in perspective: if someone had told me way back at the beginning of the season, that with 10 games left, we would be 5 points clear of Madrid, I’d have been jumping for joy. So while were all pretty pissed off with this result, remember that we’re still in a fantastic position in all 3 competitions. Keep the faith, culés.

    • Jnice
      March 14, 2011

      But to put things in perspective: if someone had told me way back at the beginning of the season, that with 10 games left, we would be 5 points clear of Madrid, I’d have been jumping for joy. So while were all pretty pissed off with this result, remember that we’re still in a fantastic position in all 3 competitions. Keep the faith, culés.

      Very true.

      At this point last season, how did it look at the top? I can’t remember. I think we were a point behind, no?

      • Sheena
        March 14, 2011

        If I’m not mistaken, we were level on points but behind on goal difference.

  18. Arvind
    March 14, 2011

    My main concern is Pique. He looks off balance and there is an inherent sense of danger almost every time an attacker is 1 on 1 with him. His fitness seems to have gone downhill as well considering he looks more rotund by the day. And his cross field balls rarely find their target – Piquenbaur no more?? Hope he gets back to some semblance of form and fitness soon.

    • outerspacedout
      March 14, 2011

      Let’s hope Shakira doesn’t become the Yoko Ono to our too-good-to-be-true group, as Phil Ball once put it.

    • soccermomof4
      March 14, 2011

      Says something when I feel more confident with Busi as CB than Pique. I know this is irrational. Pique, I think, needs our captain directing him. I WANT OUR CAVEMAN BACK!

      • Jnice
        March 14, 2011

        Some of the errors Pique continues to make are so basic, I just wonder what his problem is. His awareness right now seems to be set at zero.

        He’s not good enough to start right now. Lucky for him, we don’t really have any other options.

        On another note, don’t know why Busi didn’t pick up his yellow card. Maybe he’ll rest for the Getafe match and pick it up against Villarreal.

  19. soccermomof4
    March 14, 2011

    Thanks for the review Kxevin. Can’t complain about a thing you said. I’m not worried, just a little concerned about our finishing and our back line brain farts. Thankfully we have a week to rest and Pep has the luxury of resting everyone for two days before they start training again.

    • jordi™
      March 14, 2011

      You gotta feel bad for the Madridistas.Were it not for the doping of Valencia and Barca they clearly would have won 10 league titles the last decade :(. For shame.

  20. Lou
    March 14, 2011

    I posted this article the other day, but I think it got lost amongst a sea of orphaned comments.

    Run of Play Article on Bojan Krkic:

    Why do Bojan’s seasons always follow this pattern? Every year for the past three years he has been pretty bad for the first half of the season, then he somehow steps it up at the end of the season.

    Is it a lack of fitness? Motivation? Confidence? Do some players just need a six month pre-season?

      • barca96
        March 14, 2011

        No. It’s his excitement for the spring.
        Flowers blossoming

        • Jim
          March 14, 2011

          Actually it has always amazed me that some players turn it on towards the later stages of a season when there is talk of them moving on . ..

          No, seriously, glad to see him have a good game.

  21. Jnice
    March 14, 2011

    Seems like we have a few injury problems…

    Dani Alves has a bruise on the tendons of his right ankle and the evolution of this injury will determine if he can play on Sat.

    Adriano (muscle strain left calf) and Messi (bruised right knee) will also be under observation to see if they can play.

    Pedro has a groin injury and Maxwell has a thigh strain, it’s unlikely they will be fit by Saturday.

    Via Edu Polo and The Barça offside on twitter.

    • blitzen
      March 14, 2011

      It’s OK–Jeffren is healthy!

      Seriously, though, this is some bad news we do not need right now. Sevilla used to be one of my favourite teams, but if our season goes to sh*t because of the way they played us, I will never cheer for them again.

    • Lou
      March 14, 2011

      Can we get Sylvinho back? Loved him.

      Seriously though, if we are short I’d trust Keita or Masch to play fullback against Getafe. We also have lots of excellent fullbacks in the B team (Montoya and Bartra have already played for the first team this year) so I think we’ll be OK.

      • blitzen
        March 14, 2011

        I’m more worried about Alves and our forwards. If neither Pedro nor Messi is fit for Saturday, that leaves Villa, Bojan, Jeffren. Maybe Afellay or Iniesta in a pinch. Actually I would love to see Afellay start that game. And poor old Jeffren could really use some minutes.

        • Jnice
          March 14, 2011

          I’d rather see Pep play Montoya or Muniesa at fullback than Keita or Mascherano.

          As for our frontline, the Getafe match could be tricker than we all thought. We could struggle to score goals in that one.

          • blitzen
            March 14, 2011

            Muniesa is on a red card for the B team right now, so he may be called up for us, why not? At least we would have that extra option.

  22. blitzen
    March 14, 2011

    Thank you for the review, Kxevin. I’m a little surprised you didn’t use the picture of Pique taking a boot in the ‘nards, as it pretty much sums up my feelings on the match. I won’t go so far as to say that Sevilla was playing dirty, but they were extremely aggressive and physical. For me, Xavi had a very off match, but that is understandable—you can’t play a passing game when the people you want to pass to keep getting knocked off their feet. I frankly would have liked to see Pep take Xavi off at the half and put in Keita. His physicality and box-crashing abilities would have made the difference IMO. Yes, I know Keita did come on, but much too late to do anything. And yes, Messi probably should have come off, but that would have left us with a front line of either Bojan-Villa-Flyboy or Iniesta-Villa-Bojan, neither of which inspires me. All in all, I am happy with how the team played with a few exceptions (I’m looking at you, Pique) and the result was fair enough.

    Now it’s time for some Blitzen Awards:

    Otaralliv Award: A flimsily disallowed goal, no penalty for Bojan. I guess we must have forgotten to bribe the ref sufficiently. Or as someone else mentioned, our sack is running out of gold coins. Oh well, no whining. 😉

    Fish Out of Water Award: El Delfin Abidal. ‘Nuff said.

    What Sport Are We Playing Again? Award: Now we know why we saw our team practicing with a rugby ball the other day. They knew what kind of a game Sevilla was planning!

    Bezzy Mates Award: Masch making sure Messi was OK after that knock to the knee. Awww.

    Temper Temper Award: Xavi getting all up in someone’s face and getting a card for it. Is it wrong that I enjoyed that?

    There’ll Be Sunshine On a Cloudy Day Award: Wasn’t it nice to see Cuddly Toy happy again? 😀

    • barca96
      March 14, 2011

      Haha I like your awards.
      Are they weekly editions?

      Xavi kinda lost the fight. He pushed the S.American guy away first cause he got too close. I don’t really like him acting tough tough. And it’s his fault in the 1st place. Who the hell does he think he is simply pushing people off? He was pushing that guy’s back demanding the ball back. I love him and all but you gotta show respect to a fellow human being. Where’s the humility?

      • mei
        March 14, 2011

        He’s the one allowed by the rules to continue the play as fast as he likes to , and the guy that held the ball had no right of keeping it a second more after the referee blew the whistle against him.
        Hes also the captain of the team that got some really rough treatment yesterday.
        Weve had 5 injury reports today.

      • blitzen
        March 14, 2011

        @barca96 If people like them, I may do them regularly, or just when I feel like it. 😀

        About Xavi, I’m not usually one to approve of players getting agro with each other, but coming from Xavi it is so unusual that I can’t help but enjoy it. And as mei points out below, the whole team had been pushed around so much that he just hit his breaking point. As for humility, this is Xavi we are talking about, remember? Arrogant, holier-than-thou, Cesc-tapping Xavi, the bugbear of the English Press. 😛

  23. BarcaGirl_Indo
    March 14, 2011

    – ouch, this storm injury is worrying me…I will be very very grateful if we get 3 points against Getafe…hope 1 week is enough to recover Messi, Alves, and Pedro…

    – Pique, I really love this guy a.k.a I’m a fangirl,
    but if he keeps putting my beloved team in danger, I better not see him on the field for the rest of the season, seriously…
    where is that guy who owned Drogba and CR? he’s not exist anymore…
    when I trust a DM (Busquets) and a LB (Abidal) more than a pure CB, I know there’s a big problem…

    – Bojan, maybe he is meant to be the “injury times” saviour…
    maybe for the next games he will save our season like he did last year… yeaaayy, Cuddly! 😀

    – Captain Caveman, how I miss you so much… 🙁

    – I’m watching Black Swan at the moment… this movie is not helping me to get rid of my bad mood at all… LOL…

    • Extreme barca fan
      March 14, 2011

      Is Black Swan any good??

      • outerspacedout
        March 14, 2011

        The music, as anything that Clint Mansell composes (see: Requiem for a Dream, Smokin Aces, The Fountain) is gorgeous, even though this time its a lot of variations on the original Tchaikovsky and not Mansell’s own stuff like Requiem for a Dream was. But still, gorgeous music.

        Visually and all it was a real treat. Cinematic experience wise I mean, the look and dance and music and score and all that. Great acting. I liked the film but not a LOT. Just liked it. But it was disturbing enough to stay with me and keep me disturbed-ish until I slept that night, though (watched it around 5pm).

        Very good acting esp in the lead role.

        Did I mention the music is awesome?

        And BarcaGirl_Indo, if you liked Black Swan, watch Requiem for a Dream! With Jennifer Connelly and Jared Leto and Ellen Burstyn. Best movie soundtrack ever. And a similar look and feel, but I liked the story a lot more, one of my favorite movies (in the I-hated-it way, cos it was scary as heck and depressing very) even though it terrified the living daylights out of me and made me swear never to even look at drugs ever ever.

        • BarcaGirl_Indo
          March 14, 2011

          yea, the music, acting, and dance is amazing…
          thumbs up for that, especially the last part of the movie… woo hoo!

          I watched it from 9.30 pm – 11.30 pm…
          so I hope Black Swan wont give me nightmare…

          thanks for your recommendation…
          Requiem for a Dream released 11 years ago?
          how can I miss this…

          • outerspacedout
            March 14, 2011

            You’ll have heard variations of the theme music of Requiem for a Dream everywhere. It was so famous its used in like the trailers for twenty different films. Most notably the trailer for The Two Towers has a variation of it.

            Oh Black Swan was just disturbing not scary as in no need to worry about nightmares I would guess.

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        March 14, 2011

        it’s good for me, very good…I don’t know, this movie depressed me, haha… but I enjoyed it, it’s intense… depends on your taste…

        for me, Natalie Portman’s acting stands out in this movie, brilliant acting…
        and I appreciate her hard work for learnt ballet… I bet that’s not easy…

      • outerspacedout
        March 14, 2011

        Oh, and Extreme- Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis make out. Can’t believe I forgot that little caveat

  24. Jnice
    March 14, 2011

    If I’m not mistaken, that yellow card Xavi picked up in that very, very silly confrontation with Gary Medel means that he’s another player on 4 yellows.

    At this rate, someone big will surely miss out against Madrid.

  25. barca96
    March 14, 2011

    Does anyone here have the Barca vs Man. U match in 27gb or 16.5gb?

    • Jnice
      March 14, 2011

      Nah, I didn’t download those. There were smaller HD files that were good enough.

  26. jordi™
    March 14, 2011

    The madridista pathetic accusations for anyone who wants have a listen BTW.


    • blitzen
      March 14, 2011

      Now, I know that Messi has been getting daily infusions of tiger blood and Barca DNA since he was twelve years old, but does that really count as doping? 😉

    • jordi™
      March 14, 2011

      On their twitter the guy said he only transmits what he gets direct from Real Madrid BTW.

      Thats it for ,me.None of this “considering” legal action.Slap a lawsuit on EE’s butt pronto.Like yesterday.

  27. March 14, 2011

    The Messi giveaway wasn’t in and of itself noteworthy because usually, we press, shut those things down and recover. Four different players had a chance to stop that play, and none took it. We have to understand that a simple foul will stop play, and remove danger. If you ask me if I’d rather have the Fair Play award or full points, my choice is the latter. Every time.

    And thanks all, for the clarification on the offside rule.

  28. blitzen
    March 14, 2011

    Here’s a fun question for you all. I know it’s kind of early, but who would you like to see Barcelona play in this year’s Gamper Cup? (And don’t say Stoke, because as awesome as that would be, we all know it will never happen!) Looking at recent years, we have played a lot of Italian teams, so let’s have something different this year. Here are my top 5 picks:

    Tottenham (if we don’t end up playing them in the CL). Bale vs. Alves Battle of the Century!
    Borussia Dortmund. Because they are so very good this year.
    PSV_Eindhoven. Afellay’s old club! They played in the Gamper 10 years ago but we haven’t had any Dutch since then.
    NY Red Bulls. Titi and Rafa’s triumphant return to Camp Nou. Sure, we’ll hammer them, but won’t it be fun? Although it might interfere with their regular season.
    CF Monterrey. Current Mexican League champions. I don’t think we have ever played a Mexican team in the Gamper. Why not now?

    Unfortunately I suspect that this year’s pick will be based more on marketing than footballing reasons, so expect to see either Qatar’s national team or an Asian team.

  29. Jim
    March 14, 2011

    I can’t get as worked up about this dropping of points, Kxevin. On another day the game was dead and buried by halftime.

    Defence had a real off day. Adriano has a long way to go before he is a stable enough defender ( I’m not even going near his offence today ). However, I feel you are letting Abidal off far too lightly for the goal we conceded. Messi’s involvement is almost incidental. There were lots of players had a chance to stop things after that and we will occasionally lose the ball in midfield. Although I accept that Pique’s dart to close down the Sevilla player wasn’t necessary, keep an eye on what Abidal does. He completely lets his man run away from him to score. I’m gonna say again that this was reminiscent of the RVP goal against us at the Emirates where Abidal didn’t go with his man who sneaked behind Pique. I worry about his positional sense against a forward line that can move the ball about. No way Puyol would have left him. Good call on Alves needing to think a little more defensively at times. If we end up with Pique, Milito or Maxwell on their own against a fast forward there’s only gonna be one result.

    Those calling for Messi to come off – I can see the reasoning but he was still our best attacker after that and our best chance of getting three points. Hopefully, since it’s a knock and not a twist, he’ll be okay for next weekend. I’m guessing that’s why the doctors gave him the go ahead to play on as it’s hard to make that kind of injury worse.

    I said at the end of the Liveblog that I enjoyed the game. I did. It was actually good to see us pushed and put in the effort all the way to the end. Thought we’d done it right at the death.

  30. barca4eva
    March 17, 2011

    Pique had better sort himself; he is becoming distracted with his high profile social life. if there was anyone responsible for the 1 point instead of 3 that we deserved it is Pique. Next to Pique is the referee. I wonder what sort of connection he has with Madrid? The goal he disallowed was a very pathetic decision.

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