Postmortem: Barcelona 1-Villareal 0


In what may go down as the most important week of games that does not involve El Clasico, FC Barcelona acquitted themselves nicely while Real Madrid struggled and ultimately faltered before Sporting Gijon (titters). As a result, Barcelona stretches to an 8-point lead in the La Liga race with 8 games and of course the second Clasico remaining. As a fan, one of the biggest things is breathing room, so there we go, enjoy.

The team was bolstered by Madrid’s early loss and, depending on your view of the situation, this either gave Pep a license to run out a greatly changed lineup without Messi, or had no effect on his selection at all. After watching Pep for this long, he never does anything without a reason, so I know where my guess lies. Going in to what is normally considered a tough game for the team, the injuries and suspensions mounted. No Pedro, no Xavi, no Puyol, and no Messi, whose absence from an Argentina-Costa Rica friendly apparently caused massive rioting and post-apocalyptic scenarios (read: complaining), meant a younger, more uncomfortable lineup, and it showed out of the gate.

Villareal gained a ton of possession in the beginning. Rossi was dangerous, so dangerous. He kept undercutting Busquets, who was starting in place of the injured Puyol and the indefinitely out Abidal at the back. Chaos ensued early on. The first about 15 minutes there was no central midfield control because Xavi was suspended and Iniesta was playing out of position on the wing (someone please cite a good game he’s had there, because I cannot remember one). This led to 2 golden chances for Rossi, both ending in quick thinking from Valdes stopping a disastrous start. The first had Pique playing the ball and Busquets getting turned around before Valdes took the ball off a wide open Rossi’s feet in the box. The second was an excellent pass leading to a great palm save from Valdes across the goal mouth. Pep had seen enough and switched Pique to the other side while dropping Mascherano further back. After this, Rossi’s supply dried up and he was a non-factor.

The rest of the first half went along mundanely enough. Adriano ripped a shot, but for the most part it was nothing to write home about. Thiago showed a ton of promise and alternated between great runs, smart passing, and overrunning or missing his spots. He’s 19, so we’ll forgive him, or at least I will. I’m sure in 5 years when he’s Xavi II, some of you will still be complaining about his missed passes and all. Outside of Pique, Thiago, and Valdes, our team was three steps short of garbage.

Guardiola made no changes at the half, but a few players came out re-energized. Iniesta, for one, looked like a new player. I have a theory about this: it is because he knew he was being moved off the wing, which I am convinced he hates. Improvement came and Iniesta and Villa got close. Messi came on and this opened everything up. He actually had very little to do with the goal, but 3-4 Villareal defenders attached to Messi at all times and the whole thing opened up. Eventually Pique scored off a corner, an excellent volley, and not a handball. Silly yellow submarine. A few chances came and went before Valdes came up with a kick save off an 8-yard Santi Carzola strike. And that was that. Now for your takeaways.

1. Most importantly, breathing room
Beating Villareal with a depleted side is a plus. Beating them after Madrid loses to Gijon at home and I no longer have to hear about that stupid home unbeaten streak anymore, well that’s just a great Saturday. I will echo the sentiments of Avoiding The Drop’s Twitter feed and simply state that it is a lot more impressive to actually win the big games with your bajillion dollar squad than hold on to that kind of streak. Suffice to say an 8-point lead with 8 to play and a win by manita over Madrid already is amazing.

2. Thiago = Very Good
Let’s just say this, Thiago is going to be excellent. He’s 19 and already doing great things. He was not perfect, and after the first 40 he slowed down a lot, but that is to be expected. He has control, finesse, and the eyes to see it all. I hope the hype does not grow too loud on the kid, but he’s going to be excellent in a few years time.

Enjoy the victory. Enjoy your evening, or morning, or whatever time it is where you live. Remember, it’s all relative.

Categorized as Review

By Luke

We calls 'em likes we sees 'em.


  1. no ratings?! what am I going to do? where’s kevin? aaaaaaaaah.

    super glad to see we won and that we didn’t put too much strain on our injuries

  2. Repost. I can’t believe I was hectored.

    Came home from work, just finished the DVRed game.

    8 Points! EIGHT!!!

    Ray Hudson shoutout. OMgosh, love the guy more now!

    Thiago makes the case for saving around 40 million Euros this summer.

    Ibi starts!

    Messi gets some rest but to me it looked like two different games: the pre-Messi game and the with Messi game. We looked more like Barca when the second half started and then absolutely like Barca when Leo came in.

    8 is a lovely number.

    The 5th yellows were done more awkwardly than I would have liked.

    VV!! is MotM!!

    It was his chest.

    I think my favorite number is 8 and my second favorite coach is Preciado.

  3. can anyone give their personal players ratings? anyone…
    it’s nice to see ratings from other cule…

    I mean, I don’t wanna see for ratings… yuck!

    I missed the first half due to derby Milano and a really really bad La Liga broadcast…
    so I watched the second half of the game in black and white on my TV… black and white

    I even argued with my dad wether they wore home or away jersey…

    1. I’m the least qualified here to give any ratings, BUT I give everyone an 8. Because 8 is my favorite number now. Wouldn’t it be nice if after next weekend 11 becomes my favorite number?

    2. with all respect, I disagree with you…
      because VV should get 11… πŸ˜€

      btw, following the three substitutions, Barcelona finished the game with 8 cantera players on the pitch.

      you know what I’m trying to say, 8… πŸ˜†

  4. Another great review, Luke!

    I need that FCB duvet set linked to at the bottom of the page.

    I found the “caps lock” button on my keyboard. πŸ˜€

  5. Sorry friends, no ratings from me. I do not like them, too subjective for me. Others will be along to give you the goods I am sure.

    1. Not a problem for me cause I appreciate all the hard work the guys did on the pitch no matter what.

      Thiago did started brightly then slowed down then came alive again in the latter stages of the 2nd half. Some of his passing to an on running Alves, really were reminiscent of Xavi. I seriously thought he was Xavi whenever he made those long balls. Or maybe it was just my blurry eyes early in the morning doing the eye tricks.

      VV saved us twice! Now he made amends for the mistake he did at the Emirates. We are even stevens now πŸ™‚

    2. no problem…
      some people like ratings, some people don’t…

      I personally like to see ratings from other fans,
      but can’t make it myself… πŸ˜›

  6. Damn, I still can’t believe it πŸ˜€

    Great review Kxevin! And Preciado must feel like the king of the world now πŸ˜€

    1. €250! Next time I’ll bet with you since you seem to lose all them πŸ˜›

  7. Didn’t you guys notice that in the latter stages of the match we had 9 youth team players.
    The two brazilians; alves and adriano being the exception.
    Thats amazing!! The day just couldn’t get any better!

    1. Sorry.
      It’s the three South Americans being the exception.
      sMasch. Alves & Adriano.

      I was really susrprised that JDS was included. I only saw the name Jonathan on barcastuff and I thought it was Jonathan Soriano.
      Glad he came back in contention. He only had one notable play, the pass to the right with his outside of his right foot during an attack. Not bad. For the rest, he only pressured like hell. Thiago did some good pressuring work too over the course of the match. Both these guys did great! I’m over the moon!

    2. Pretty sure that pass with the outside of the foot was Thiago to Dani, and the one pass JDS had was a nervous one that was almost stolen, but he did work hard.

  8. I had some unexpected business pop up and was out most of the day.

    Just finished watching the match.

    My goodness. What a performance. What unbelievable will, discipline, composure and heart. What can you say.

    This was the kind of game that wins championships.

    And today it was the teams captain who provided the leadership that won this match.

    We’ve often said something to that effect about Puyol. Or Xavi.

    But today’s match was Victor Valdes’s match. Just phenomenal. The range of skills he demonstrated both physical and footballing were just remarkable.

    Against teams that are going to play on the counter attack it’s not how much a goalie “does” it’s how he responds to the moments when he is challenged that matter.

    Valdes was just brilliant. If either of those Rossi chances in the first half get past him the match would have been effectively over.

    Thiago. Remarkable. He’s 19 and playing against a team that played a wonderful tactical match and a very difficult defense to read. He is very special. And perhaps his greatest talent is one which is amongst the most valuable a barcelona attacking player can have – he thrives in compressed space. And villareal were playing almost absurdly compact this game at times.

    Afellay – I thought he played well but is still figuring out how to fit in with the barca system. It was very evident that Pep asked him to stay wide on the left as Pep knew Iniesta was going to drift to the middle and they wouldn’t have much of a right winger to stretch the field on the opposite flank.

    Afellay crosses the ball very well (even with his left foot). It’s just that crossing the ball in the air on this Barca team doesn’t work given their limited height. He did have a few nice low crosses.

    And on the whole I thought he was better once he switched to the right – not because of the foot he could play with. But because on the right he pinched in towards the middle knowing Alves would be wide on the overlapping run. He’s still learning how to play in the system, especially how to play wide. But he’s a very promising talent who played an intelligent tactically in a critical match.

    Just a wonderful day.

  9. well, i just rambled on for hours and ended up refreshing on accident and its all gone. Let me try this again.

    Oh wow, you guys got Ray to give you a mention! Thats awesome! i can’t say im not envious! But if there is a site that deserves this then its you guys! Great job from both readers and writers. Keep it up!

    This weekend was perfect for you guys wasn’t it? It was all suppose to go the other way around but instead it went this way. We were suppose to win while you guys were suppose to lose. That obviously didn’t happen. I can’t help but think that us losing played a big role in you guys winning and the formation that was rolled out. It gave you guys this extra motivation to capitalize on our win and removed any pressure off guardiola and his troops to win. Other wise i think we would have seen Messi start, or at least not Thiago start.

    What do you guys think of Botia? AS you guys moved Sporting to one of your favorite teams, I moved Botia to one of my least favorite players. I felt like he was such a scumbag. He went down 3 times in 15 minutes faking a muscle injury in his thigh, and then went the ref ignored him and ordered the game to continue, he jumped right back up and sprinted! His goal line save was excellent though. On another note, he let Adebayor through on goal in the dying minutes but he was lucky enough that Adebayor fails at finishing. And i don’t know if you guys saw the horrible tackle that he made on Ronaldo in the away game that he got a straight red for. I’m not complaining, maybe if you buy him your defense will become weaker πŸ˜‰

    As for the yellow card incident. I really don’t understand what the big fuss was all about when we did it, and i still don’t understand what the big fuss is about now. To say that this yellow card from Busi and VV was any different from the ones Alonso and Ramos got is just silly. There is no etiquette when it comes to getting deliberate yellow cards. The only etiquette would be not to foul someone harshly. But you waste time until the ref gives you a yellow. No obvious or none obvious way about it. The ref in that game refused to give the player a yellow for time wasting. So he had to waste time again. I’m sure had the ref not given Busi a yellow for time wasting right away, he would have continued to try more. But again, if thought about it objectively, both incidents are very similar if not the same. With all the media and papers going around in spain, we all knew that the yellow cards were deliberate. It really wasn’t a mystery.

    I am excited to watch you guys take on Shakhtar. I think Shakhtar will either surprise, or just crumble. I doubt there will be a middle ground. It will be interesting in seeing how they play against a possession based team like you as opposed to Roma who let them play their game. They will hit you on the break.

    Nice review Luke. I will suggest this though, you can do a player analysis or rating without actually putting a number next to the player. For example, Kxevin puts the name of the player, his rating, and then writes a couple of lines about him. It would be nice to do the same without the number. I do agree with you that ratings are too subjective and divert attention from the quality of the writing, which is great in your case, to just a number.

    Keep up the good work guys and congrats on a great week for you guys. Hopefully my week turns around on tuesday. Good luck in your own game, although i would hate to face you in the CL Semi Finals.

    1. Also, i used part of a comment that Euler said in my tactical preview of the Tottenham game. It was during a conversation that me and Euler had on the site. I hope that is ok, if not, please do inform me and i will adjust it.

    2. Bassam,

      It’s my pleasure first of all to be able to talk tactics with you – I thoroughly enjoyed that conversation.

      And you are of course more than welcome to quote from that back and forth. In fact I’m very happy that you found something I said of use to you and your terrific site.

      I appreciate your thoughtfulness in touching base about the brief quote. But you don’t need to ask permission in any way – you were perfectly clear in your attribution so what’s there to ask.

      I just saw your post on the Spurs match up – looks very interesting. I’ll check it out tomorrow. It’s late here and I have to get some rest.

      One brief thing though on the spurs – I think it will be very interesting to see how a 4-4-2 with pace on the flanks matches up with RM’s 4-2-3-1 that emphasizes the periphery of play. RM will dominate the center of the pitch but if the attack gets funneled too much to the outside you’ll be playing into what the Spurs are set up to do.

    3. Well in the system they have been using in the CL against tought opposition (Inter Milan and AC Milan) they have opted for a 4-5-1 than a 4-4-2. It is a striking difference between their league formation and their CL one. In away games they tend to play Palacios with VDV and Sandro in the middle with Lennon and Bale on the wings, while at home they sub Palacios for Modric who is more creative.

      Believe it or not i went through 6 different Tottenham games other than the ones I’ve watched this year. God i love La Liga! This whole kick the ball up and hope for crouch to head it to someone gets boring really fast.

      Thanks man! Once you read the article you will get what context i used it in.

      Have a nice day!

    4. I think Botia is a good defender with the potential to be a great one. He might’ve had a few lapses against you guys, but then again, who doesn’t?

      As for his gamesmanship, not cool at all, but a lot of teams have those, no? Pepe frequently tosses himself to the ground whenever I watch Madrid. I won’t judge him on that because I’ve watched him a few times this season and that’s not really a part of his game.

      That tackle on Ronaldo was horrible even if he was frustrated due to the late goal. Hopefully he learns to control himself in the future.

      That said, I would love it if we exercised our right to buy him back for a measly 2m euros. I think he would enhance our defense rather than weaken it.

    5. Touche. I always think the quality of a defender raises with the quality of the center back he is partnering. Hence why Marcelo looks so much better for us this season since Carvalho is partnering him.

      It’s very interesting to see you guys starting on the whole buy back clause deals. They are a good businessmen investment and better for the player. You get cash flow to invest when you first sell the player, you secure a home for that player somewhere else, and if you liked what you saw, you can just buy him back with his consent. In loans, you always end up with players that you don’t want and players that don’t want to be here.

      Pepe has his chinanigans. I truly hate him. But otherwise, he is known as the cheerleader of the squad by everyone. Apparently he is the most calm and fun to be around outside the game.

      Now that i think about it, Botia as a backup will not be the worse thing for you guys. He will take the space that Milito has right now, and who is rarely getting time. But with Pep dropping bombs, do you think there is a possibility of him leaving this summer? Because if that happens, there will be a change in personell to acquire.

    6. “To say that this yellow card from Busi and VV was any different from the ones Alonso and Ramos got is just silly.”

      The word is hypocritical. It’s the word you used to refer to Barca fans in your website. Let’s all be consistent.

    7. I stick by what i said, Jose. And to be more precise, since you enjoy quoting me it seems, this is what i said:

      “Busi and VV got a deliberate yellow card in the last minute of the game to miss next weeks game and be ready for El Clasico. I remember Barca fans getting on our backs for doing something very similar. Its always nice to see how hypocritical some of the fans are. Even if they dont support the yellow cards, its a reminder that this is part of the game.”

      I always believe in using moderate language in blogs of opposing teams out of respect. Hence why i said it’s silly and not hypocritical. And i said some. Not all. Some.

    8. ?

      I don’t remember reading that “some” part in your original post. In fact, when James quotes you directly later in the discussion, there is no “some of”, and you don’t correct him.

      Now as moderator I know you have the ability to change your posts, Bassam. I would hate to find out that you are being less than honest with us here.

      “I always believe in using moderate language in blogs of opposing teams out of respect.”

      To quote you again, “since when has hypocritical become a harsh word”?

      I like to be welcoming to outsiders here, Bassam, so just hoping you clear this up.

    9. Nothing to say, really. Just thought my avatar should be in here somewhere. πŸ˜›

  10. I told u guys my barca always step up when the going gets tough,the tough gets going,SIGN ROSSI!

    1. But wasn’t it you who slammed the players after the draw against Arsenal?
      Or was it bafanalopus? I always get the two of you mixed up. Hehe

  11. don’t know if anyone mentioned this before but is it possible that one of the regular commenters on this blog is Ray Ray in disguise?

    1. That would be me. I thought it was as obvious as spandex strechted on a Miami beach!

  12. Good review Luke, thank you.
    That was one tough match, i was hoping for a draw, but we won, madrid lost and its an 8 point lead, wooohooo.
    VV gave a MOTM performance, he was spectacular, perhaps wearing the armband gave him puyol powers, that was a true captain performance.
    @ All the Mods of BFB: congrats on the shoutout by ray hudson, you guys deserve it. (Jnice gets some credit too)
    @ Vj, Eklavya and all the other gents/ladies from india: Congrats on winnig the cricket world cup, i know its a very big thing in your country, im pleasantly surprised you have interest in football, all the guys i know from india only care about cricket.

    1. Hey while the rest of India was celebrating till the morning, I was watching Barca! I bleed red AND blue!!

  13. Valdes, wow. Definitely this win is his.

    Did anyone notice, after that amazing Cazorla save, he and Dani (I think) jump into a hug? I thought that was cute, a goal-saving celebration instead of a goal-scoring celebration. It made me go “aww”, since goalkeepers usually don’t get to celebrate with anyone.

    1. Yup. Sid Lowe was speculating that he’ll sit out the Almeria match, which would certainly lead to some interesting choices at centre back.

    2. so, barring injury:
      Alves, Fontas, Milito, Adriano
      sMasch, Xaviniesta

      Would like to rest more but with a weaker back we need a strong midfield, Almeria is not a Segunda B team afterall. And 3 points is 3 points!
      Do we rest Messi because of the fourth yellow or just assume that he won’t get carded? Maybe Captain Caveman will be back. I’m only assuming P!! will be back.

  14. Valdes stepped up huuuuge. Instead of being happy with how well the team played, had he not made those 3 crucial saves (of which 2 were really hard saves) we would all be talking about how badly we played last night.

    Btw speaking of Sid Lowe, in his new column on the guardian he has just written that Ozil, more than Messi or Crynaldo, has been the standout player this season… wft????

    1. He does admit in his twitter tho that he “feels a bit foolish now after tonight but [Ozil] has been excellent this season.” Lololol still.

    2. And he even said ‘certainly more so than Messi or Ronaldo’.

      I seriously think that Messi has made the ridiculous so normal that everyone keeps on just FORGETTING how amazing he has been playing. 27 goals and 16 assists in the league alone…

    3. And he doesn’t have the second most assists in La Liga after Messi, Alves does. And I think Di Maria is third with 11, not Oezil. Oezil has 10.

    4. I just checked, outerspacedout, and according to the Real Madrid and Barcelona websites, Messi has 17, Alves 13, Di Maria 11, and Ozil 10. (All in the league)

  15. Cavani is class. I’m watching the Napoli-Lazio game, the last half hour only though, and Napoli came from behind and are now leading 4-3 with a Cavani hat-trick.

    The commentator was hilarious though. When Cavani scored the fourth Napoli goal, and a really sweet goal it was too, he goes:






    by which time I started laughing at the TV, and


    by which time I was rolling around laughing, and


    my mom and sister came out of the room far away to see what was going on and laugh, and


    1. Also, Italian football definitely is not boring to watch these days though. Not that defensive either. At least sides like Udinese, Napoli, a very dysfunctional Milan, and Palermo are quite attacking and enjoyable, and there are a lot of high scores.

      The overall quality is low though, to be honest, and that is probably why too, in a way, no real top defenses around except Inter. There are a lot of good teams but no very very good teams at all. Milan leading is meh, Napoli is exciting but not top quality and not even as good as Valencia or Villareal imo, Inter is the only genuinely quality side when fully fit and on form but have been crap much of the season and are aging, Udinese are terribly exciting and attacking but again not a top side. The top four or five are not that great.

  16. Well in the system they have been using in the CL against tought opposition (Inter Milan and AC Milan) they have opted for a 4-5-1 than a 4-4-2.


    Yes. They have played a different formation in the CL. I’ve watched them play and realize the difference in formation.

    It was very late last night when I commented so let me clarify the point I was trying to make quickly.

    I’m not certain Tottenham will play in the CL vs. RM in the same fashion that they did against prior teams e.g. AC Milan.

    Against teams like AC Milan and Inter, the Spurs had a very good chance to have significant ball possession. In turn that’s why they played a 4-5-1/ 4-3-3 type of formation. They extra man in midfield allows them more opportunity to control the ball compared to a 4-4-2.

    Against RM however, I don’t know if the Spurs are going to try to play that kind of game.

    I’m not sure if they have a good chance to control possession against RM in midfield even with a 4-5-1 especially at the Bernabeau.

    In turn I think they may actually play more like their EPL form.

    I think they will sit back, look to enhance their defensive solidity and look to play largely on the counter.

    As such, I think they will wind up playing more of a 4-4-2/ 4-4-1-1. The 4-4-2 allows them to more easily fall back into two lines of 4 with 2 at the top. The 4-4-2 in many ways allows for the most efficient spacing across the pitch which was why Sacchi insisted on the 4-4-2 at Milan. This is especially true in the defensive phase.

    To my comment yesterday – the 4-4-2 also allows the Spurs to facilitate counter attacks along the flanks as there are traditional wingers already in place during the defensive phase of the game who can quickly transition phases of play into attack.

    This is what I was trying to get at but in too cursory a way as I was tired.

    The Spurs might just continue playing how they did against AC Milan. But I’m really not to sure about that – especially in the away leg. I think they will look to play a more defensively oriented game and utilize a different shape to enhance it.

    On another note – I only skimmed through your comment yesterday. I find your use of such derogatory language about Botia unfortunate and disappointing. Gamesmanship can be very frustrating. At the same time if that kind of language is appropriate to describe Botia, imagine the level of venom that would be appropriate to use for an average game played by Angel Di Maria.

    1. uuuuuuuh Di Maria annoyed the HELL out of me yesterday, lol.

      Talking about BotΓ­a makes me think about Busi. How do you guys think you he is doing at CB? Yesterday he was partly responsible for at least one of Rossi’s break-out chances and at the chance that VV saved a couple of minutes before the end he didn’t even go for the challenge but just stood around waiting for the Villareal player to take the shot.

      To state the obvious, we miss Puyol and Abidal and missing both of them at the same time hurts three times as much.

    2. He did ok as usual at CB but I really miss seeing him in the middle.
      There was a spark in my heart whenever he ventured forward and sMasch retreating back. The games seems more fluid with Busi in the middle.

    3. First off, apologies on the Botia thing. MY intentions was not to insult, but rather to describe behavior that i didn’t enjoy. As with my reply to Jose above, i do tend to go for less controversial words when it comes to commenting on opposition teams blogs, but this was an exception. Once again, my apologies. And in regards to Di Maria, I’ve spewed venom upon his actions many times, and i’ve heard venom spewed on him from this boards. You do the crime, you do the time. All Madrid fans are in agreement that he needs to work on his “diving”.

      Now for the fun part, here is what i think the case will be:

      The reason why i believe that the Spurs will go with a 4-5-1 is because they will be aiming at parking the bus. I also think that they will direct their counter attacking game through their fast wingers, and with an extra midfielder in the middle, this will allow their wingers more freedom to go on the counter faster.

      See with Sandro and Palacios/Modric covering the middle and VDV tracking back, the counter attacking game for them can pretty much start from the middle. VDV and Modric provide great delivery of the ball, and Lennon and Bale provide great pace in going forward.

      With Marcelo absent for the game, i think our right side will be the most culpable and capable of being exploited. Both Bale and Ekotto possesses great pace, and i suspect that they will use that to overlap our right back.

      I would enjoy it more if they played 4-4-2, as i believe that we play best when we are allowed to control the middle. In a 4-5-1, especially in one that a lot of pressure is put on Alonso, we tend to feel disjointed and unorganized. Anyways, i do agree with you that in the away game, they will go on the defense and tend to hit on the counter. With all the missing players that we have, that might work pretty well for them, regardless of formation.

  17. Of all the days not to be online, it had to be yesterday. Ugh. So many wonderful things apparently happened. But I’m very, very happy to see the results – EE lost, we won. Yay!!!

  18. Forgive me but it’s a wet Sunday and I have too much time on my hands so long post πŸ™‚

    Just rewatched the match. first thing to say is that I can’t really fault anyone’s effort. We must be hell to play against. The second thing is that my worries pre-match about the quality of our possession given the midfield were largely unfounded. I put this down to Thiago rising to the challenge first half (impressed by how he takes a ball in tight situations) and in the second by Iniesta resuming normal service along with the arrival of Messi who didn’t really exert himself at all and rightly so His mere presence seemed to alter the dynamics of the game.

    I do think that its about time Dani improved his crossing. He often has a fair amount of time when he gets the ball but needs to pick bodies out better for low crosses.

    That brings me to David Villa. He has taken a fair amount of stick for not scoring recently so I decided to watch him for a mere five minutes or so around the goal. I can see what the doubters are getting at. He doesn’t fill the most obvious spots for a CF.

    However, this shouldn’t be confused with lack of effort. Typically at the start of a move he offers himself for the more traditional quick ball played inside the FB and CB. I have news for him – he needn’t bother. We hardly ever play it. I had high hopes yesterday of that happening with Villareal actually coming out to play us but I think the combination of Xavi missing and Iniesta not playing the central role the whole game it never materialised. It was his other tactic that I really like though. He lets a move develop and looks as if he isn’t interested, then suddenly will sprint to give himself four or five yards from his defender as they watch the ball.

    From the corner at minute 60

    Villa pretends to be slowly walking back but speeds up as Messi gets the ball. In about five yards of space but Messi can’t get it to him.

    60:30 Villareal attack. Villa just 5 yards outside their box. We have enough cover back.
    60:43 Villa has sprinted all the way back to half way inside our half to cover the advance of the LB.
    60:59 Sprints back up right wing as we attack. He’s the only unmarked man going forward but Messi doesn’t spot him.
    61:43 Villa back deep in his own half to pick up a pass .
    62:13 Neat back flick to Thiago
    62:30 Comes towards near post but awful ball from Afellay straight to keeper’s hands
    63:49 We attack again. Villa extreme right wing but watch him start the sprint to the middle as the ball goes left to Adriano. If Iniesta’s pass was into Adriano’s feet Villa is sprinting into the box for a first time pass.
    64:14 Villa offside but the defence find themselves square thinking ball will go to him allowing Thiago to make his run – and he wasn’t off.
    65:02 Great example of what I mean. Villa in old inside right position marked by two. Feigns lack of interest but watch him move behind the ball watching defender into space
    65:05 By this time when the ball goes to Thiago Villa is wide open for a a pass but Thiago turns other way to Afellay for a shot. (Decent decision, not getting at him.)
    65:29 Villa again has found space behind the front line and is screaming for a cut back from Dani who is determined to try an impossible ball to Messi.
    65:57 The goal. Villa makes sudden run to front post emptying space behind him for Busquets to get flick on.

    Now none of this is world class finishing but I feel any criticism of Villa has to take into account the fact that he is working his socks off, often cleverly but with little reward . However, it will come – hopefully at the Bernebeu. πŸ™‚

    1. What people usually notice is the ball. And Villa is always on top of the screen running left and right making runs after runs but never receives it. I was happy to see Thiago playing yesterday because Thiago is not Xavi, he is more risky so I expected Thiago to release the ball a lot quicker but unfortunately Thiago didn’t have the chance to do so.
      And it wasn’t really anyone’s fault since it was so packed. Villareal were pushed all the way back so there were hardly any space for Villa to run into.

      Somebody complained in the last post that Villa should’ve done better with Affelay’s cross. But where was Affelay’s cross? On two occassions they were right at the end line, ready for the GK to pick it up.
      So can’t really blame anyone there.

      He does a lot other good things. Like his passing has improved tremendously compared to the 1st half of the season but it’s funny that nobody seems to realise that. Last season, our big striker always received credit for participating in the play but yet Villa doesn’t receive the same credit and instead is always looked at his goal scoring only.

      Can Thiago and Iniesta play at the same time in the middle? I find that too risky. Unless they have both sMasch and Busi protecting them it’s fine but that’s never gonna happen.

  19. This win shuts the mouths of critics who say that Barca are nothing without the likes of Xavi or Messi.And I hope that the board of Barcelona gives up the chase of Fabregas and

    1. We didn’t really look that comfortable without both of them to be honest. There was no fluidity and calmness (Xavi) and urgency ( Messi).

  20. Thiago played against Villareal in the Madrigal with more than 90% Passing accuracy, even without Xavi, Messi, or Pedro.

    I thought we needed Fabregas to fill in for Xavi but after last night, I don’t think we need him at all, Thiago played like that last night with an unorthodox midfield of Keita and Mascherano, Imagine in the future when he plays along Busi and Iniesta with Pedro and Messi making runs forward.

    I hope we see Fontas against Almeria (which I think will happen), Thiago needs minutes, He’s 4 years younger and dare I say more talented and 40m cheaper.

  21. My dream Summer transfer campaign

    CB : Fontas, Botia, Caceres (I’ve watched most of Sevilla’s games this season, He has improved a lot, If he plays as RB he’s better at crossing than Dani.)

    They all cost 2m and We’ll have (Pique,Puyol,Abi,Fontas,Botia,Caceres) If Guardiola feels it’s too much, He can bring back only one and we’ll have 5 CBs with Busi as an emergency.

    Jeffren, Maxwell, Milito with all the Loanees out.

    Midfield is stacked and Guardiola can buy his own type of an attacker to make our attack 6 players and Midfield 6 also.

    LB -> I’m starting to get comfortable when I see Adriano playing and Pep is starting to trust him more and he can look in the market if he wants.

    In Brief, We’ll only pay for a LB and an Attacker.

    1. First : That’s el Zamalek, I’m supporting the rival team called el Ahly.

      Second : It’s a total disgrace, We don’t know why it happened, It has no reason or justification at all, The Zamalek Players protected the other team and guarded them till they reached the tunnel, Some say it’s the former regime (Mubarak and others) trying to disturb us, some say they were rented, Using the state the country’s in right now knowing Police won’t act. We can’t find a possible even a stupid reason for such an act.

      Third : I do hope that they get banned and heavy sanctions on the Egyptian Federation if necessary, The League and Cup for this year was canceled after these unfortunate events.

  22. Is the fact that our main forward line isn’t scoring anymore concerning anyone? It sure does me.
    We have an 8pt lead and that’s awesome, but Messi hasn’t hit the net in 4 games in the league, Villa in a month and a half, Pedro (though injured) has only one goal since January. I hope Guardiola doesn’t get taken by the optimism bug and focuses on why we aren’t scoring goals.

  23. Aww, Iniesta just posted on Twitter that his daughter Valeria was born today. Congrats!

    1. Couldn’t have a better role model for a dad from what we can tell. Humblest player I’ve ever seen I think. Congrats Don Andres πŸ™‚

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