The future is bright, aka “The Thiago Show!”

The thing about bragging, is that it ain’t bragging if you can back it up. This is how the weekend was supposed to go:

–EE break out the whippin’ stick on Hee HON at home, then kick back in their Barcaloungers (oh, yes …. and I know) to watch Villarreal torment us.
–We, lacking a fully fit Messi, Abidal, Xavi, Puyol and Pedro!!, then drop points to Villarreal, thus saying “Game on!” for the Liga championship.

But the script was flipped, by identical scorelines. The Moustache pulls out a stunner in the Lair of Evil, and Pique bangs in one humdinger of a goal to do the dirty deed against Villarreal, and we got a shout-out from Ray Ray (Thanks to Jnice for the upload!). This match was immense, and in the wake of Luke’s excellent post-mortem, I wanted to throw a few thoughts out, mostly to remain in practice, since it’s been some time since I’ve watched a match in anger, so to speak.

And yet, all I could do instead of taking the usual copious notes, was smack myself upside the head and think “Man, Thiago is gonna be good.”

Usually when you roll an effectively untested player out to give him a start, you do it against a lower-table side so that if he screws the pooch, it really won’t be that damaging. Rarely do you see a player such as Thiago rolled out against a side that HAS to win to stay in the race for the last automatic Champions League spot, is in third place in the Liga and has the kinds of players that can put the knife in, pouncing on any moments of silliness or indecision.

Guardiola did, and his decision was rewarded with a highlight reel match from Thiago Alcantara. Now, let’s throw all of the caveats out there right now:

–He’s young
–He will have bad matches until he settles
–The hype shouldn’t go crazy
–What will happen when defenses figure him out

In many ways, Thiago, Afellay, Dos Santos, etc are what make Guardiola’s staying another season or two crucial. He has a knack for getting the most out of young players. Has anyone seen Krkic playing with as much freedom and fluency as he did yesterday, in Deu knows how long? Exactly. I shudder to think of what a new coach might mean for the development of Thiago, who if he keeps his head on straight and gets the right coaching, is going to be a staggering midfielder.

Is he the next Xavi? No. If you watch him right now, he really has a very difficult time standing still. Xavi’s fluent-but-compact movements mean that the offense always has a focal point. As Thiago runs around and Iniesta does his thing, you could see times when the person with the ball wasn’t sure what to do, since the usual bulwark was absent due to biggus mouthus cronicus.

Thiago’s long-range and aerial passes are a true delight to watch, as well as the spin he puts on balls, curling them to meet the run of a player so that all the player has to do is collect and move. This is his most Xavi-like quality, to me, along with his comfort in close spaces. You folks with the match on DVR should find your way to the 37:20 mark of the first half, in which Pique throws a weak pass to Thiago, who is surrounded by 5 Villarreal players. He calmly takes, dribbles, fakes and slides the ball back to Pique. Craziness. Youth is audacious, because that’s what being young is for. And he’s a tricky little sucker. But like Ronaldinho before the wheels came off, Thiago uses his trickery for good, and he isn’t flamboyant, just effective.

Right now, he is a high-risk player, who chooses to attempt the passes that Xavi shakes his head at. That will change (or not), dependent upon his role in the side. He has pace that enables him to get up and down the pitch, making a steal on the defensive end then taking the ball in midfield to control the attack. He also has extraordinary foot control, that lets him curl and bend balls through passing lanes to find the right players. But that high-risk nature also makes him careless with the ball at times, a dangerous trait to a side that plays defense through possession, as we do.

This match for me, was full of little moments. Another one that spoke with eloquence was when Thiago just one-timed a chip that found Alves in perfect stride. Messi stabbed a pass to him, and Thiago didn’t even have to control it, seeming to control the ball with the simple action of passing it. Impressive.

Yes, people uttered many of these same words about Bojan Krkic when he debuted. And Guy Assulin was supposed to be the divine crack, right? Things could go wrong, potential could go unrealized. Look at Gio Dos Santos. But from what I have seen of Thiago, and if he stays in the right hands, the future is bright, indeed.

Finally, as usual, hats off to the wondrous Allas of YouTube fame, who has this Thiago compilation. Don’t know where our Barca-loving lives would be without this person:

Some other stuff from the match:

–Those wondering why Pique and Busquets switched positions, need only look at what happened with Rossi in the first half (when he could have, and probably should have put us 2-0 down by the 12-minute mark), compared to the second half. Just as I thought “What the hell is Pique doing over there,” I then thought “Hey, where’s Rossi?”

–The only thing that kept Mascherano from being my MOTM was Valdes. Mascherano does what a DM is supposed to do, first of all: stop the ball. Think of the attacks that Villarreal mounted through the middle of the pitch, wherein the player with the ball had to either stop and regroup, or got obliterated by a sliding tackle. Enough of those come in, and mids start getting happy feet. This might not have been his best match for us, but it was certainly his most effective, as he just owned the center of the pitch. And recall the early chance for Villarreal in our area that Mascherano just stonewalled with one of his classic sliders. His passing is also fast improving.

–Villarreal got tired, and sat back a bit more in the second half. This was a huge help as their high, intense pressing was causing all sorts of complexities in the first half. It also showed the fitness of our players, who can press like that for an entire match.

–Those who say that Guardiola’s lineup and match strategy wasn’t altered by the EE loss should reconsider. Suddenly, even a draw was okay. Yes, our all-out attacking was hampered by the notable absences, but there is comfort in knowing that your side can lose and still not lose.

–Lionel Messi is a presence, even when he isn’t at his best. When he came on as a substitute, suddenly life for Villarreal got a lot more complex because we had another passer, creator and scorer on the pitch. It also brought life to a spot that wasn’t being covered by glory by Keita, who rarely does well in a match that fast-moving and pressure-heavy. At least not without Xavi. He was probably thinking, “Why won’t that damn kid stand still?”

–Santi Cazorla is a monster. He almost killed us three times, twice with passes, once with a shot that Valdes had to pull an amazing kick save out of his butt for.

–The title isn’t done, but let’s look at our remaining schedule: H-Almeria; A-EE; H-Osasuna; A-Sociedad; H-Espanyol; A-Levante; H-Deportivo; A-Malaga. That’s right. Except for Espanyol, there are no real bogey teams on that list of fixtures, one that would essentially need to see us drop at least 9 points in 8 matches to lose the Liga title to EE, who have to run a gauntlet of: A-Bilbao; H-Us; A-Valencia; H-Zaragoza; A-Sevilla; H-Getafe; A-Villarreal; H-Almeria.

Stranger things have happened, but if you were to ask me who’d be more likely to drop points in these last 8 matches, it’s a no-brainer.

And mostly for the sake of the KRS, here are some player ratings:

Team: 6. Playing at part-throttle for much of the time, possession footy was on full display. Those saying that we weren’t doing much with the ball on attack, should note that we didn’t have to. If we had the ball, Villarreal didn’t, which means that they weren’t going to score.

Guardiola: 10. Right starting XI, right subs, right game plan and the right switches in strategy to bring the demonic Cazorla/Rossi tandem in check.

Valdes: 10. If I could give a 16, I would. He had an astounding match. Yes, there is an element of luck in goalkeeping, but it’s also reading a match. He was as sharp as he knew he had to be, making match and potentially, season-saving stops. I still don’t know how he got hold of that late Cazorla blast. Man of the Match, locked down and tied up.

Alves: 7. Missing his partners in crime made his less effective, but his runs into space were still destabilizing. There’s a degree of irony in the fact that a player named Catala had such a good match on Alves’ side of the pitch.

Pique: 7. Easily his best match in some time for us. His forays up the pitch were decisive and controlled, and he was everywhere across that back line. Then, lest we forget, what a goal! A player with less control and skill gets that ball nabbed by the keeper.

Busquets: 7. Early on, Rossi took advantage of his tendency to roam for his defense-busting runs. The switch let Busquets not get caught on the wrong side of Rossi (as he did on that first run). The rest of Busquets’ game was excellent as usual, from anticipation of attacks and passing, to getting gangly limbs into passing lanes for attack-starting steals.

Adriano: 7. Still some positional issues that reared their heads once or twice, but it seems that he has become the left back of choice (we’ll know for sure when Maxwell gets fully fit). Pace, physicality and strong passing are a few reasons. He even did an Abidalesque walrus header, when he stumbled and fell while running to clear a ball.

Mascherano: 9. Dude had bleeding cleat holes in his knee, and limped back onto the pitch to continue destroying everything that came near him. Busquets is a more typical Barca DM, but there will always be matches where you just need a destroyer. No, sMasch isn’t just a destroyer. But rest assured that his business cards say: Javier Mascherano: Breaker-up of stuff

Thiago: 8. He made errors, to be sure, but his list of attributes and how his game went are all noted above.

Iniesta: 7. Fine match, though curiously subdued by his standards. He also missed a number of runs that Xavi probably wouldn’t have, a consequence of an attacking player rather than a pure creator (Xavi). His work rate was incessant, and he always seemed to be where the ball was, like magic.

Keita: 5. He struggled today. Xavi in particular provides him with a linchpin that rarely finds him stuck with the ball, as he was many times during this match. The aggressive pressing of Villarreal caught him out.

Afellay: 6. Solid and effective, as one play showed his real value to us as he blitzed up the wing to run onto an outlet pass and wreak havoc. He’s still finding his way, and struggled a bit with a more limited role on the left side. Made some good crosses, including a couple that you just know Messi, had he been in the match, would have run onto and tapped home.

Villa: 3. Profoundly ineffective, which wasn’t entirely his fault as the left side of the attack was a wasteland, and Iniesta/Thiago weren’t giving him the service that he’s used to. But when he did get that service, he seemed to be running in quicksand, missing no fewer than 3 glorious chances to run onto a ball. He doesn’t do well as a lone striker, but this time he didn’t even come to life when Messi entered the match.


Messi (for Keita): 6. He didn’t play all that brilliantly, even as he had a deep, lasting effect on the match. When “Uh, oh, it’s the little guy!” happens, everyone’s lives get easier.

Krkic (for Villa): incomplete. Didn’t get enough time for a full rating, but he really is starting to look like his season might not be a total loss. He wasn’t even getting knocked off the ball as he usually does, and his runs were strong and purposeful.

Dos Santos (for Afellay): incomplete. A couple of really nice moments, but not really enough time to properly evaluate.

P.S. Huge congratulations to our own Don Andres, who has spawned. He’s a father, and his daughter’s name is Valeria. Probably explains why he wasn’t all there yesterday. Who would be?


“Heeeeeey, macarena!

By Kxevin

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. Haven’t read the post yet, just wanted to repeat the news that Iniesta’s daughter Valeria was born today! 😀

    What a great weekend this has turned out to be!

  2. welcome back.

    I have a question for u.why most of the barca fans are so pessimistic when things are not going well.its better to be realistic but holy moly so much negativity?

    1. Because that is the Way of the Cule. It has always been thus. I know. Simple answer to a complicated question. Some teams and sets of fans just have a sense of perpetual victimhood. The Chicago Cubs are one. If all it takes for that team to not win is to have a meteor fall from the sky and obliterate the pitcher’s mound, I wouldn’t want to be a pitcher on the cliching day.

      We, unfortunately, are another one. Every match fills us with dread, positive results therefore become even more amazing, while negative ones are simply justification of our cursed place on the planet.

      Recall the dire predictions for the Villarreal match, and we won. It’s almost as if cules can’t believe their good fortune, whenever victories and success fall our way.

      It’s definitely an odd phenomenon.

    2. thanks.

      Thats just consolidate my own thoughts.

      Bu there are some cules who r free from this victimhood virus.kari,blitzen and definitely me

  3. wow,a girl.she will be loved by ini more than her mother.

    Its universal.fathers favourite are always girl.

    Btw,what is inis girlfriend?

    1. Her name is Anna Ortiz. she is a fashion designer I think.

      I suspect that this was a planned delivery date (ie. labour was induced) so that she could have the baby on a non-match day.

  4. Nice writeup Kev! Thiago looks like he is going to be something special no? As for the question about whether he was as good as Xavi or not, let me try and chime in with a little thought. Xavi is right now, and in the past two years, at the peak of his ability and career. But Xavi hasn’t performing this great all his career. He has had the ability, but not until a system that fit Xavi’s strengths was installed by Pep till we saw Xavi rise up to the world stage. This is why Guardiola leaving might be a huge turning point for both the team and the young players. IF the new coach doesn’t stick to the system that is already installed, then the 18 and 19 year olds at the club have to change and learn a new system that they have never seen. And for a 19 year old, that is not easy. Not to mention, the central midfielder role is one that requires a lot of mental strength and experience, so if Thiago is showing promises at such an early stage, this could only mean positive things in the future.

    This has probably been asked before, but who would you guys see as a possible successor to Guardiola? If only Vicente Del Bosque wasn’t a Madradista, he would have been perfect. The most tactically flexible coach i have seen. Of course i don’t mean he changes his tactics a lot, but rather works with the players he has around him in the best possible way.

    I wrote this to Euler in the other post, and in case it gets lost, i will repeat it here again.


    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.

    And finally, congrats to Iniesta.

    1. Well for a coach I Would go for Luis Enrique because frankly I don’t see anyone else that can compare with Pep even remotely but for lucho I have high hopes. But the one thing I do not worry is the system. There is NO WAY the system will change no matter who the coach is… NO WAY 🙂 The system has been the same for the past twenty endured many coaches and four presidents…the system DOES NOT change…:)

      As for Xavi yes I do think he upped his game under Pep…but he was amazing even before that. Let’s not forget he was named BEST PLAYER of EURO 2008, which was the summer before Pep took over..

    2. ….I didn’t find the Botia thing all that offending to be honest. If you hate him, that means we should buy him back right now. 😛

      *goes back to studying*

    3. Haha, well Euler thought otherwise and hence why i apologized. As i said above, i like to watch my words when i comment here, because a little out of line word would be misinterpreted and thought of as offensive. Similar to what i said to Jose. On my site i call the yellow card incident Hypocritical, on this site i call it silly. It’s just out of respect to the space I’m in and the fans I’m around.

      Is that the new criteria for signings? If so, i will email you a 300 page excel file ranked from most to least hated. You can start by buying Drogba 😉

  5. Excellent read, and for once I agree with all your ratings! 😛

    Thiago is definitely the future, and Pep singled him out for comment after the game saying how pleased he was with his performance. He also mentioned Ibi, so he seems pretty happy with him as well.

    Shakira goes on tour and Pique’s game gets better. Coincidence?

    Villa was pretty invisible, but as Jim pointed out in the last thread, he never stopped working. He doesn’t have the same connection with Thiago as he does with Xavi, and you could see that on the pitch.

    Kudos to Villareal, though, that was the best they have played in ages. I’ve always been a fan of Santi Cazorla, and he had an excellent game. If Valdes had been just a smidge less alert it would have been a tied game.

  6. Thiago has been my boy for awhile, so have nothing more to say about him really. Thanks, Kxevin.

    Congrats to Andres and Anna. Great news.

  7. @bassam
    you truly are a great madridista.wish u were a blaugrana but u choose your club only once.

    I am no euler but have been watching footy from 99.but i agree with you.
    As for xavi,its true what you said.i may be shoot down for this only puyol,pique,dani,ini,messi,smash and villa can survive without our system.
    Just a correction,xavi was also very influential when we won the liga after 6 years

    @blitzen.thanks.sometimes you are overshadowed by jnice link but you along with kari are also awesome.

    1. I don’t think so.

      Pedro would survive outside our system, for one, he has the skill, deadly finishing and high work-rate that would mean he could slot in in place of most support strikers in most top clubs in the world and still be very dangerous. Abidal’s game is also not very dependent on our style. From the sub bench, all of our subs were also very good for their previous clubs most of which played different systems from us.

      Busquets would probably struggle in the solely defensive midfield role in a system where he would be expected to play like a full-on DM, like in an EPL-style game of not much possession and having to stop breakaways, though. That’s not his style. He’d probably play as a CM and not a DM in another system though I would think.

  8. Messi: “For players from outside it’s hard to adapt. Mascherano is a great player but still needed time to adapt.”

    Messi: “I’ve matured but I think I play like I did 10 years ago. My football is natural, I play without thinking too much, without a plan.”

  9. Abidalesque walrus header <– Brilliant!

    Who still wants Cesc back?

    Thanks a lot for the great summary of Thiago's ability, Kxevin, and also to alles for making all these great videos 🙂
    I'm lovin' both.

  10. “You folks with the match on DVR should find your way to the 37:20 mark of the first half, in which Pique throws a weak pass to Thiago, who is surrounded by 5 Villarreal players.”
    I actually went on to check out the video, a nice rip of la sexta, with comments of the once great Marcos Lopez, and he and the narrator acknowledged, the tricky thing Thiago pulled out controlling and passing in such a difficult situation.
    Excellent review! I think that Thiago is more a Iniesta than a Xavi, maybe Cesc with his maturity could give us a more Xavi-like control of the game, I just wish somehow he wouldn’t cost so much!

  11. Aaaah Kxevin! Nothing brings more satisfaction than reading your posts! 🙂

    It’s like drinking a full glass of cold water after working in a 40 degree Celcius coal mine for a day or something (not that I have…).

  12. Thanks, Kxevin! I like to see those numbers. It helps as I learn this sport to see whether my assessment of a game is “on”, whether I’m reading the game right or not.

    “since the usual bulwark was absent due to biggus mouthus cronicus.”
    My oh my, I never took into account that while learning to love a new sport, I’d have to learn about new medical conditions. That one may not be as worrisome as “the ebola of the Alps”, but it sure is a frustrating syndrone with which to contend!

    Iniesta has the freedom to do all his usual brilliant things because he doesn’t have the responsibility that Xavi has. He and Thiago will never be the next Xavi. They are the first Iniesta and the first Thiago, but they are going to have to learn some Xavi-like reservedness when they are thrust into the Xavi roll (either by injury or aforementioned syndrone).

    BTW, what is a KRS?

    1. Kxevin Rating System. Kxev does the ratings and Isaiah punches out the stats on them at the end of the season. Fun, interesting stuff.

  13. * First thing first, Bassam, Xavi has always been the best and most underrated player at Barcelona- at least for me. The only difference is that currently he has the Iniestas and Messis to help him and the team to shine and everyone start noticing. But at least for me, he was my favorite since FC Holandona.

    ** Inspired by the first point, and as I mentioned in the live blog, this match was totally unfair for Thiago. The dude had no offense line to embrace his majestic posts. With better offense he could have had more fun. But at least he sent Pep the message I just love when youngsters deliver, A.K.A. “Scratch your head, boss! Give me shirt number less than 20!”

    *** Afellay showed his limitations again on the flank (for Barcelona). Yes he hugged the lines and stretched Villareal’s defense a bit. But thats basically because he is a new player and the opponent is yet to analyse him. Prevent him from cutting inside and he will gift you the ball with pleasure. He may develop with time, but so far he is a good center midfielder for me. You cant put “Iniesta is not good at the flank” and “Afellay is Barca’s future on the flank” in the same paragraph. Pale face is still much much better there and I think Pep should have tried to switch their roles during the match.

    1. And I know he is new and need time and everything….recall I was the first who pointed that out when we signed him 😀

  14. 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.

    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. Well, at least he didn’t simply say that the team played great and required zero tactics, like in the past classico. 🙂

    2. definitely… I like Zonal Marking, but his last El Clasico article didn’t impress me at all, when he said it wasn’t about tactic…

      when Mou’s teams won, it’s all about his greatness, no? a genius tactician, they say…
      when it comes to Pep, it was all about the players, or the opponent is just weak…

  15. Thiago was amazing. Thiago made 136 successful passes – that’s huge, and our tempo was much much higher than it usually is when Xavi is out. So far this season, when Xavi has been absent, our play has been slightly funky. Iniesta, Busquets/Masch and Keita didn’t have the fluidity that we had last night.

    I think our lineup has to be some combination of Xavi/Thiago for tempo, Busquets/Masch as DM and Iniesta/Keita as ‘3rd’ midfielder to get the most from our system.

    A lot has been said about whether we will sign Cesc or not. I know some of us are very much against it and some are for it. I also know that Thiago’s performances won’t impact that decision. It will be interesting if we don’t sign Cesc to see how far this kid can go because the sky’s the limit.

    Anyone see a hint of Deco in him?

    1. Deco? Nah. At least I hope not. More Dinho than Deco. I never liked Deco that much, so my opinion isn’t valid, but he way too wasteful for me. Frustrating to watch at times.

  16. -i will tell you guys I am for buying Cesc. However, I have always maintained we should get Cesc for the season after next season. If Thiago continues to develop, by that time I might have changed my mind.

  17. Thiago has a real swagger about him doesn’t he. My favourite thing about him, about from his close control, is the way he shuffles on the ball always with his head up and his body looking for a killer pass. He is most similar to Ronaldinho in this respect. Ramzi made a good point about this not being the easiest game for Thiago to shine. With both Pedro and Messi in front, I see him making many killer passes in the near future.

  18. Watching the Camp Nou Rubin match, and the goal that Thiago and Fontas conspired on. Thiago’s close control in the box, and how simple he made the pass ….

    And Fontas definitely has the stuff. Can’t wait for his rollout.

  19. I think I’m the only one here who hasn’t watched the full match…

    Kevin’s analysis makes me can’t wait to see Thiago (our future is bright!), sMasch, Valdes, and also Busquets-Pique switch…

  20. Like Kxevin mentioned above, it’s similar with review from totalbarca, which is exactly my nightmare was :

    This was supposed to be a special week for the Spanish League. FC Barcelona was “supposed” to lose to Villarreal CF at the ever-imposing El Madrigal, and Real Madrid FC would “surely” beat Sporting Gijon at the Santiago Bernabeu. This was going to the week in which FC Barcelona’s five-point lead over Real Madrid FC was “supposed” to be cut down to two points, and thus setting up one of the most crucial El Clasicos in recent memory. However, there was one problem; words such as “supposed” and ”surely” don’t matter in the world of football, and at the end of week 30 in La Liga, the table looked different than predicted. Much different…

    +8 points… yaaay!! 😀

    1. Hiya BG_Indo
      8— It’s your favorite number now too! 🙂
      I think 11,14, or even 17 could grow on me as well given the chance! How ’bout you?

    2. +11, +14, +17, +20
      I take all numbers… as long as it’s a plus (+)… 😀

      but I like 5 and 7 too …

      you know why I love FIVE… who doesn’t love FIVE? EE fans, of course

      and SEVEN… in other forum we used to mocked EE fans with 7UP and CR -7 pics… 😆

    3. Oh yes, 5 is a particularly sweet number this season too!

      7UP/CR-7? Interesting!

    4. BTW, the add at the top of the page that keeps on flashing pictures of Barca stuff is annoyingly tempting. On a site such as this it’s akin to putting a bottle of rum in front of an alcoholic. 🙂

    5. Must have that messi jersey, One day that Messi jersey is MINE! and the baseball cap, and the bag, and the…

    6. it is annoyingly tempting… but the price is also very annoying…

      because if I convert dollars ($) to rupiahs (Rp), the price will be so high… 🙁

    7. i thought the Barcelona FC Football Soccer Club Flag was a mini skirt. 😀

      Gotta think of another Christamas gift now.

  21. An observation… Rosell blabers and Pep predicts he might be closer to leaving, mind you just before the most important match of the league when the players might really be low on confidence because losing all those players for injuries and suspensions is never a joy; cut the scene and move forward by 2 days; the players deliver the goods, the ‘president’ apologises publicly and Pep comes out saying he’s not exactly thinking about leaving!

    Coincidence!? I think Pep emerged out the winner in the power game and a small motivation for the players never hurts!!

    Pep is staying, we are cruising… A return to normality is such a joy 🙂

    1. Did Pep say he’s not thinking about leaving? I didn’t watch the post-match interview, but it sounded like he said that what he had said to the journalist was nothing new, that he’s ‘closer to the end than to the beginning,’ or something to that effect. Has he said anything new since?

    2. He said he was not betrayed or anything by the tv people, he did say what he exactly meant to say…but may be they didn’t get the exact meaning. He says he only wanted to explain that he is not thinking of leaving in a short while(as is widely believed) and that here onwards he needs to explain things more clearly to the media

  22. –The title isn’t done, but let’s look at our remaining schedule: H-Almeria; A-EE; H-Osasuna; A-Sociedad; H-Espanyol; A-Levante; H-Deportivo; A-Malaga. That’s right. Except for Espanyol, there are no real bogey teams on that list of fixtures, one that would essentially need to see us drop at least 9 points in 8 matches to lose the Liga title to EE, who have to run a gauntlet of: A-Bilbao; H-Us; A-Valencia; H-Zaragoza; A-Sevilla; H-Getafe; A-Villarreal; H-Almeria.

    Ugh, damn. I was cautiously optimistic of our lead in La Liga, based on points alone. But if fact that our biggest remaining matches are RM and Espanyol is encouraging, that RM still has to face us, Sevilla, Valencia, Athletic Club, and Villareal is a big cause for calm.

    It think it has been overstated that this lead actually gives RM an advantage over us in other competitions, as Mourinho can now focus fully on the CdR final and the UCL. I say nonsense. The biggest favor RM could do for us now is to stop pressuring us in the league. That doesn’t necessarily mean it still isn’t their best option right now… But if we keep this lead after El Clasico (that is, if we don’t lose to RM), then Pep can start resting starters and experiment with new players/positions in league games. With our smaller squad, we would benefit from this more than RM, and it would set us up well for the CL semis (should we make it) and final.

    1. it’s interesting to see wether Mou is already “give up” on Liga or he wants to pressure us until the end…

      after game against Hotspur, they’re gonna face Bilbao in San Mames, the lions cage… if he indeed want to fight until the end, it’s a very tough business for them…

      and yes, this is too early to sing Campeones, and we shouldn’t…
      but at least we can breath calmly at the moment…

    2. Exactly! I wonder if people saying ‘So now Madrid can give up on the league and focus on the other tournaments’ don’t realize that the flip side of that coin is ‘So if Madrid is no longer gonna bother then Barcelona can quit worrying as much about the league and focus on the more pressing worries as in the CL and Copa then’. Seems rather obvious doesn’t it, right?

    3. LOL, exactly outer…

      IF Madrid decide to focus on other competitions, than Barça will do the same because Madrid give up… 😆

  23. LOL BarcaGirl_Indo of course those numbers are huge when converted to Rupiah hahahaha. Isn’t a dollar like 9000 Rupiah? And my Indonesian friend says it cost like 800 Rupiah to text me here. I’m a multimillionaire in Rupiah 😆

    1. 1 USD = 8.675 IDR
      1 EUR = 12.335 IDR

      IDR : Indonesia Rupiah

      so if you work in Indonesia and get salaries with dollars or euros,
      you will be a very very very rich person here… 😀

      that’s why I “hate”… LOL… 😆

  24. Afellay !! wish he would look up when he crossed.. if you notice he just crosses, I think he forgets we’ve got height deficiency up front. The minute he places the ball on a target he can deliver some amazing assists. He’s another one that sent a message to Guardiola.

    About the schedule, not that I want to pick on EE or on other teams, I know we are playing amazing futbol right now, but I wouldn’t call it an easy schedule, if Preciado can go in and reign over a 9yr record of sorts, any other team can feel inspired and come at us. Not that we are EE and would allow it to happen, but Hercules did it and I’d hate to feel that crappy again. [yes I am a negative Cule when we play terrible – just a note on some comments 🙂 ]

    CL This week !!

    1. I’m not gonna say easy,
      but on paper, our schedule is easier than EE…

      don’t worry Stephen, you’re not alone, I am a negative fans,
      but not as negative as Jnice… 😛

      his optimistic prediction was 2-2 against Villareal,
      while my optimistic prediction was 0-1 or 1-2… 😉

    2. Pre-game Im usually much more positive than post-game 🙂 or during the game.
      I just really don’t see the wrong in demanding (and expecting) greatness from the players you know are capable of it.

    3. Agree with Affelay. A few of his crosses were just too close to the by line. But he hardly had any space. So can’t really blame anyone.

  25. Nothing to disagree with. The review sums up my thoughts. Well, yes, Valdes doesn’t deserve a 16, he deserves a 20.

    Either way… just a couple of comments:

    what about these rumors about Afellay being used for a trade with Arsenal? (Of course, for Cesc) What’cha people think about it? I said it on the LiveBlog and I’ll say it again: I definitely favor Cesc coming here, but I don’t support doing this to bring him. Seems unethical to me.

    However, any one can confirm if these rumors are true or just crazy press talk?

    1. I think it’s just journalists putting two and two together and getting orange. ‘Ooh, Barca want Cesc’ + ‘Ooh, Barca already have a top-class attacking midfielder they got for very cheap who is also very good but not AS good as Cesc and not Catalan of course, so less desirable’ = ‘Ooh, Barca are DEF gonna use Afellay as a make-weight in an otherwise very expensive Cesc deal!’.

      I mean, that option even popped up into my head when I saw we signed Afellay, even without anyone saying so- ‘will he be a makeweight to get Cesc later?’- as did a lot of ours. The same would have popped into the head of ‘journalists’ at the likes of and Sun, who would then of course pass off the speculation as ‘unconfirmed rumours’ or suggestions by ‘an inside source at the club’.

    2. Affelay is very versatile. We can use him on either side of the flanks and of course his best positions in the midfield.
      It would be really stupid to let him go. We need his quality.
      His pace is good for the flanks!

      Can Valdes appeal the yellow card? If he was really injured, Im sure he can prove it. I find it hard to believe that he purposely got himself booked for the Almeria game. He is GK. What are the chances that he will get booked in that match and subsequently miss El Clasico?
      Or does he has the same disease as Xavi? The biggus mouthus cronicus? And was scared to have a fit during the Almeria match and get himself booked? 😆

    3. Whether or not it was intentional, it definitely is useful.

      Not only does it mean Valdes clears his yellow card tally for the Almeria match. Pinto also gets match experience ahead of the Copa del Rey final, in which he will be starting.

    4. That’s a good way to look at it.
      But the way I look at it, is that it was silly if it was intentional. Why risk our match against Almeria?
      It’s not like he will pick up a yellow card, he is GK after all. The chances are slim.
      Imagine Pinto makes a blunder and cost us the 3 points? Pinto has done many mistakes this season. Kinda wild with his distributions.

      But like you said, it’s good for him to warm-up for the final. I just hope he doesn’t mess up out title chances.

      But man…nobody mentioned this. VV made two interceptions with his head that could’ve been really dangerous. Imagine he didn’t intercept, our defenders had a high chance being beaten to the ball by Rossi etc by pace. So it was really crucial for VV to come out that far.

    5. I think it would be awful bussiness to trade Afellay without giving him the chance of proving himself, he has potential, he plays well in the left wing, he has pace and he is a strong player, that almost never falls down in a struggle (Bojan?). I wish he stayed for the next season, imagine how well he will play with a “pretemporada” preseasonal work.
      About Cesc I wish we signed him, but it would be great if he asks for his transfer, that kind of pressure would ease down the price, I know some Arsenal fans would hate that, but a player has to think where he feels the best, like Toral, he wanted to go to London, so we opened up the way for him…for a reasonable price.
      Rosell said we had 50 millions, his vp in economic matters said 40, plus sells, and maybe plus the 24 million (or a part of it) for the sell of Ibra to Milan, as always Pep decides, I also think that if Rosell would have waited for Dima, he would have come through.

    6. well, this summer probably a now or never for Cesc…

      because if Pep leave next summer (please don’t do that, Pep!),
      I don’t think our next coach has the same love interest like Pep to Cesc, and vice versa…
      *we all know the fairytale of number 4 jersey…*

      and next year Thiago probably on the way to be a world class midfielder… 🙂

      so it’s up to him and Arsenal, I think our club will certainly into the business if Arsenal willing to let him go with lower price… which is very unlikely, but who knows…

    7. C’mon. Dima never showed any promise, at least not to me.
      He always looked uncomfortable. It’s good that he is gone now.
      Even if he was here, I think Busi and even Milito would get the nod over him.

  26. I just saw that - is full of our players pics… 😆

  27. terrific match in pep’s words one in which I really can’t blame villa for his nonperformance. He wasn’t getting the supply he needed and our play was different from when we have MVP in front with Xaviniesta behind them; no one twos in the opponent’s box. besides, Barcastuff claimed that after the kickoff, he didn’t touch the ball for another 20 Mins. If I were a footballer I sure would be psychological affected by that. all that runnint without getting the ball! I play “Become A Legend” and hate it when I don’t get the ball.

    On out remaining matches, I fear the ones against relegating teams the most especially as w e would be playing Almeria without VV Busquets and probably Messi (coasa of the yellow cards) and Malaga on the last day though I trust things to have been wrapped up pretty nice by then. My ratings in other of their performance:

    VV- I never thought he was that good
    sMasche- Mr Slide-Destroyer
    thiago- Mr Slickfooted/ Mr Potential hope he wouldn’t be over hyped
    Pique- after the goal, I could only scream “Mr Shakiraaaaaaaaaaaa”
    Iniesta- awoken in the second half. I don’t think the positioned he iniatilly played in should be an excuse as he has splayed there numerous time. (though Xavi was missing today)
    Adraino-if dude performs well in the next two months, we might not need another LB
    Affellay- has so far not be brilliant for us in the flanks(better in midfied) but I don’t think he would feature in pep’s midfield plans
    Busquets- took a cue from cassillas and Ramos in picking up his yellow
    Messi- MR Inspiration
    keita- can’t say much here
    Bojan-kid you are looking better and better
    Villa- I really can’t blame him

    Once again “Mr ShakiraAAaaaaaaaa”

    1. A lot of strikers know that in their position, sometimes they won’t get to see a ball for 20mins. I can’t remember who said that, I think it was Van Basten or some other top strikers in the 90’s.

      This happens a lot to Villa where he doesn’t get the ball but it was particular the worst in this match. In the 2nd half he chased Villareal players to our half. He really didn’t have much to do.

      Messi drops deep to get the ball but Villa is not that type of players. But imagine if he did that yesterday, there would be no one waiting in the bos cause Iniesta was busy in the middle and Affelay on the left.
      When Messi plays, even when he drops deep, Villa will slide from the left to the middle.

    2. VV- I never thought he was that good

      he’s been saving our asses for countless time…
      I always know he is THAT good…

  28. I love watching the Spanish broadcasts of the matches because they are in control of the cameras so they give you different angles from what you normally see on GOLTV, Sky, etc.

    Thought Pep’s reaction to Pique’s goal was worth uploading since most of you wouldn’t have got the chance to see it. You can tell it meant to a lot to him.

    So here it is:

    1. thats great!
      barcastuff :
      Abidal has put on his training outfit and has been walking out on the training pitch to be with his team-mates
      Man , abidal is a truly great guy.

    2. Hahhaa. that guy can seriously be a comedian!
      he is always funny even though he doesn’t try to.

  29. Tidbits from various places:

    –Optajose finds that neither Thong Boy nor Messi have scored in the Liga in a month. How ’bout that?

    –Craig Thomson will be the ref for our first CL leg (via @barcastuff). He has not handled a match with either side before. Nice UEFA trend, I think.

    He handled the Ajax/EE match in which a couple of their players got deliberate yellows. Thomson was also the ref when the Italy/Serbia match was suspended for that craziness.

    He’s considered Scotland’s top official, and was the first Scot official to be tapped by UEFA. In looking at his history in the Scottish league, he seems to have a consistently high average number of cards per match, with a high (in November) of 7 yellows and a red.

    His early rep was that he was card-happy. Not sure about now, but I can’t see how a tightly officiated match isn’t going to help us.

    –Maxwell and Pedro trained with the group.

    1. hehe, if they don’t start scoring soon, Edinson Cavani or Antonio Di Natale will win the European Golden Boot. Who whould have thought that, one month ago? 🙂

    2. Well, between injuries and international break, neither of them have had much of a chance to score in a Liga game, have they?

    3. Unfortunately, Messi played 2 more matches than CR during that time, but he failed to score in those…

  30. I was just having a heated argument with some friends whether we should buy Cesc or not.

    Can we have a vote ?

    Personally I think we can wait two years till Xavi starts suffering with Thiago at 21 Then we can estimate him and Cesc would be much much cheaper.

    What do you all think ?

    1. Never let it be said that I don’t listen to readers. Poll is up.

      You’re right, blitzen, but I don’t believe that we’ve ever had an actual poll that gauges how folks feel. Opinions change, right.

      At any rate, the requested poll post is up.

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