Jornada 31: Barcelona – Almeria Liveblog

Pep is rolling out with a lineup that looks like this:


Alves Pique Milito Maxwell

Xavi Mascherano Thiago

Iniesta Messi Bojan

All I have to say is LET’S GO BOJAN! SCORE A GOAL!


  1. C’mon Barca! Let’s keep an 8 point lead!

    No LB-ing for moi; gotta last-minute babysit and attempt to watch the game at the same time. We get Ray Ray and Phil though. Wooot!

  2. Maintaining possession and being careful not to turn it over is going to be critical this match.

    This has to be one of the slowest backlines Barca has played in quite some time.

    3 of the 4 defenders manning that extremely high back line have very limited pace.

    I would have preferred to see Fontas today. Pique and Milito alongside Maxwell will be very vunerable to the counter.

  3. LLL slays me:
    Another tumble by di maria. This one is softer than a fabric conditioned kitten. Kaka scores second penalty for madrid.

  4. No Granero or Ramos for the Clasico, apparently. Not it matters much, Arbeloa will take over thugging duties like when he came on during la manita, and it’s not like Granero would have played anyway.

    1. Losing Ramos does take away a bit of height at set pieces, though. Mind you he was also most likely to see red against us πŸ™‚

    2. But with Ramos out who will be around to try to injure Messi or smack Puyol in the face? πŸ™

    3. That’s right! “Curb Stomp” Pepe is likely playing.

      Is Karim “Cat o’ War” Benzema alright? Don’t see him on the field…

    4. No that was only Ramos’s fourth yellow. He will be there to pick fights and Flash his abs at random times.

      Granero is suspended, but if the team decides to appeal it, it probably will get rescinded since the yellow was not deserved IMO.

    5. Nope, you can appeal any card if the team believes that the decision was unfair. I also believe the team will appeal the yellow Iker got. He got carded for picking up a white box that was thrown at him….

      And for clarification on the Ramos situation: After a player gets a straight red, all his yellows go away. Hence why Ramos has 4 yellows not 5 now.

    6. I kinda don’t agree with that. Pique got two yellows and was suspended, then had to deal with being on 4 earlier this year, I believe.

  5. Mourinho’s gamble worked perfectly. 3pts and lots of rest for everyone of importance, like Alonso and Oezil. I guess Mourinho will do the same for Tottenham and maybe even the league Clasico.

  6. Goodness me, that was the absolute worst football we’re played this calendar year. Simply atrocious.

    1. We did what we needed to do. Not every game’s gonna be a manita, and it’s not crisis mode if it isn’t. First half was shaky, then Almeria scored, woke us up, and we killed the game. Too much pessimism around here sometimes.

    2. I wrote that at the end of the first half when we were particularly dire. That we don’t have pace at the back is a well known fact, but even Almeria tore us up with that one counterattack.
      We need not win 5-0 every game. But it would be nice to start playing like we were playing before February. Today we might have lost the ball two dozen times. Against better teams, like Real Madrid, we will pay a sharper price.

    3. Yeah first half was pretty bad. It will be interesting to see our backline against EE. I’m guessing Alves, Pique, Busquets, and Maxwel. Not the quickest but it’s not like we’re spoiled for choice. The key, as always, is possession. That’s what was missing from our first half play today. If our forwards and midfielders are maintaining possession, our slow backline is less of a problem.

  7. Mascherano > Milito in the backline

    Kind of a sad season for Milito really .. Puyol injured and he gets surpassed by Abidal, Busquets and now Mascherano

  8. I’m still laughing at “extra effort face.”

    Messi’s goal made everything better.

    1. And I’m laughing over Pep’s “you almost hit me with the ball” shimmy. I guess we gotta take our laughs over stuff like this (an Messi’s goal) since otherwise the performance was a bit sad.

  9. That sound you’re hearing is the loudest sigh of relief in history. Didn’t I say this game was going to be tough?

    Gracies Messi i Thiago.

  10. Hey is Jeffren injured again?

    Anywho, for the Classico, I’m thinking Pep will go with the normal lineup with Adriano and Milito.

    Or maybe he’ll put Keita in there somewhere

  11. Oh yeah, I was going to post this on the Offside but my email’s not being recognized for some reason, so I’ll post it here:

    Ehhh? So the one time I actually get my arse down to study, it turns out my presence was actually, sorta, probably (still not) required?

    I’m a day late, and forgive me if you wanted to forget and move on, but I just read your article on The Offside and I saw nothing wrong with it. Actually, it was quite interesting to read the RMEE point of view. Very interesting in fact, because there were some things I hadn’t considered beforehand.

    The thing with online blogs–actually anything viral–is that the little nuances we’d understand if it were a discussion face-to-face are lost. You may not mean it that way but the other person may take it that way—tone is difficult to manage and it is hard to gauge sometimes. Emoticons make it easier, but it’s still hard.

    Also, I lament the fact I didn’t say this earlier because this would have so been perfect to end the comment off with:

    Damn you, finals!

    1. Yup. The comment would have made more sense and 100x less random if I was able to post it on The Offside.

    2. haha, i was looking at the comment and saying: Hmmm, i write for the Offside. And someone called the article arrogant there. Hmmm.

      When i read your article, i thought to myself what winning or losing el Clasico would mean (from a Real Madrid point of view). While winning is always better, i found it very vital that we “attempt” to win the game. 5 points difference and with CDR final and 2 champions league games in 3 weeks and that means player exhaustion. Our team has depth enough to keep resting 4 or 5 starters and pull off a convincing win (ala today), but does Barcelona have that depth with all the injuries?

      I think the game today confirmed this a lot. Almeria is probably the easiest team that you will face from now until the end of the season, yet they caused you guys trouble. So is Pep willing to rest players against Espanyol or in Pamplona knowing that Real Madrid are only 5 points away?

      In my article i never made a definitive statement saying “we WILL beat Barcelona”. I kept saying, IF we beat Barcelona and we MUST try to beat Barcelona in the next Clasico because it will keep some sort of pressure on them to keep fielding a good enough team to win.

      I actually just re-read the article, and i didn’t think i sounded or was trying to sound arrogant. And if i did, i don’t think it was to the extent that the Barca poster portrayed in the comments. He made it seem like thinking that Real Madrid has a chance at even winning one game from the Clasico is arrogance.

      I hope you enjoyed the “other sides” point of view. It was inspired by your article πŸ™‚

      Congrats on the win today!

    3. And i completely agree with the part about how face to face discussion would cause much less controversy. English is my second language, as i have only been in the states for 2 years. I can speak it well, but i do have hurdles to cross when it comes to writing argumentative posts that are not in the scientific field (chem major). Although sports is a science in itself πŸ˜‰

    4. Yeah, I just read yours, today actually, and I didn’t find it arrogant at all. It was just from a Madrid point of view, which I found very interesting (Great post, by the way!) I genuinely didn’t get where the accusation was coming from. 😐

      Re: Almeria, as much as my pride clapped its hands gleefully in delight at being right, I was wishing I was wrong. This game was like a championship final and it had all the ingredients to cause an upset. I can’t say I was surprised we struggled, but I was a bit unnerved at how poor we were, particularly in the first half. You can even say Almeria did us a favour by scoring so early in the second half because that finally woke us up (it didn’t help that the one player that had something to prove went off injured at the half hour mark).

      Huge, huge sigh of relief that we got the win. And you know what they say, champions win games even when they aren’t at their best πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜›

      Congrats on your win too, although I can’t say I didn’t mentally strangle Di Maria in my head. The dives! The dives! My eyes! I know, I know–we have Alves but still. It seems that much more annoying when it’s not favouring your team. πŸ˜€

      Oh, and English is my first language, and I’m pretty sh*t at it. πŸ˜‰

  12. Okay, I was gone before the goals were scored, so what on earth even HAPPENED this match? I know that teams facing relegation are like rabid dogs, and I honestly wasn’t expecting 8-0, but…jeez. Was it our backline or what?

    1. Okay, if Puyol’s not returning, then I’m sorry, but I can’t see how we can reasonably play Milito in that position during El Clasico. Or like, at all.

      I’m not trying to be negative here, but man.

    2. Yeah, I know. I’d say start Fontas in the game against Shakhtar and see how he does. Otherwise Busi goes back to CB, Xavi drops back to DM, and Thiago takes his place.

    3. Sorry, Nav. I’m not seeing the poor positioning from Milito on the goal. Can you explain what you think he should have done?

      As I saw it Maxwell played a one two and continued into the box, Iniesta lost out to two defenders and a whole host of our side didn’t bust a gut to get back. Masch tried to slow it down but maybe committed himself too much ( not sure) and the ball was played past him. Milito was the only one left between them and our goal. He could have come across but that would have left an easy pass centre with no chance to intercept. Instead, he tried to play for time by splitting the two of them but it didn’t work.

      Tbh, I don’t attach any blame whatsoever to him for that unlike when Masch got booked where I thought he was too easily done by the forward.

  13. Oh, CRAP. According to BarcaOffside, Bojan’s got a hamstring injury, and he’ll be out for 6-8 weeks. Jeez.

  14. Medical report Bojan: knee injury that will leave him out for 6 to 8 weeks @barcastuff


    1. That sucks. He was starting to play really well too. Great run in the first half.

      I guess Jeffren will have a chance to prove himself now. (Or perhaps Nolito will be promoted from the B team?)

    2. Might as well just promote Thiago now. He’s going to be on the bench for most of the rest of the season anyways

    3. We just can’t catch a break with the injuries. He was looking pretty good while he was on the field too.

      I guess it’s time for Afellay to show us what he’s made of! I also wonder if this means we’ll see someone from the B team make a temporary first team job to provide cover?

  15. Not vintage performance but glad we can grind out wins when needed.

    Also why is everyone we are going to play next losing there unbeaten home records. First Mou and EE, now Shakhtar has lost their unbeaten record they held for 2 & half years right before we come to visit.


    I know the general idea after a match in which we haven’t played well is to point out how other teams are going to kill us, how not finishing our chances is eventually going to prove costly, and how the lack of depth at such a critical point of the season is startling.

    But I’m pretty sure that most of us quite literally melted with relief when Messi scored our third just there, so I say we all take a step back and do a little celebratory dance: WE’RE EIGHT POINTS CLEAR GOING INTO THE FINAL 7 LIGA GAMES OF THE SEASON.

    Yes we made it a lot harder than it had to be, and yes, I’d have probably tossed my cat out the window and thrown a hissy fit if we’d actually gone on to lose 1-0 against a team that we’d scored 16 goals against this season prior to today. (I don’t have a cat, calm down.)

    But that didn’t happen, so let’s all bask in the glory of another victory, shall we? πŸ™‚ VISCA BARCA.

  17. all 3 goals r reminsicent of stoke.1long ball over the top,1set piece and 1hoofed clearance.

    And with this game is over
    i think the liga is ours.

  18. A win in a must win situation is never something to complain about. It’s clear that this match was essentially a rest for all of our players – Bojan was the only player playing like he had something to prove until Almeria scored.

    Pep made a mistake starting Mascherano in my opinion – now he has the difficult decision whether to play Milito or Fontas at center back, or play Busquets there and find some other solution for the DM issue.

    With that said Pep made the right subs today. When Pedro came on for Milito we were instantly better and it was only a matter of time until we won at that point.

    1. I’d like to see Fontas at DM. The Barca-B Thiago, JdS, Fontas midfield impressed me. Pep’ll probably wind up playing Keiteee there, though.

    2. Pep will definitely not play Fontas at all in the Clasico, today was the best possibility for Fontas to start, or even join the match from the bench, but he obviously didn’t.
      Looks like Fontas will only play if all other players are injured/banned.

    3. Can somebody explain to me why Fontas is so unlikely to play? I get that experience in the backline is desired, but Milito, I’m really sorry to say, seems more like a liability than anything else.

    4. Well, I cannot explain it at all… I’m wondering myself why he didn’t get a chance today πŸ™

      But he is unlikely to play in the upcoming, on paper more difficult matches, simply because today was the best opportunity to gain some match experience.

  19. Damn that was awful. In a weird way I’m happy they scored when they did because it kinda woke us up. Luckily it was early enough for us to have time for a comeback.

    I really hope Pep rests Messi and Iniesta against Shakhtar. They both look tired as hell. I’d play a “you shall not pass” type team in Ukraine, with Busi, Masch and Xavi in midfield; Afellay, Pedro and Villa the front three. No chance in hell of it happening but that’s what I’m hoping for.

    1. Iniesta’s not playing against Shakhtar anyway, but yeah, here’s hoping Messi doesn’t play. And really, if we’re going to play Fontas at ANY time, I hope it’s this away game. The idea of playing Milito in the Bernabeu gives me HIVES, and we can’t throw Fontas into there cold.

    2. Oh yeah forgot about the deliberate yellow, my bad.

      To be honest I’d rather have Milito than any of the kids, experience really counts in big games and Milito played really well at the Bernabeu last yr, though yes this yr he has slipped but I have faith in him.

  20. i just want messi in the subs bench for the next 2 games.thats that.

    And please cant we rejoice for a tiny bit!
    Shakira is still 2 days away

  21. Oh my God… I’m so sorry for Bojan. He misses the rest of the season πŸ™
    And tbh, I think he was better than Villa today, Bojan had an explosiveness to some of his moves that I haven’t seen for months, maybe years. We really could have needed him. Now we only have MVP left, and the VP is giving away even the best chances lately :/

    I also think that Real Madrid might hit 4 or 5 past us, because they have even more pace than AlmΓ©ria and Shakhtar and our defence is totally vulnerable to fast counters. Plus, Mascherano is banned, so who will play alongside PiquΓ© / who will play DM ???

    1. I think the Shakhtar game will give a big clue, if Pep starts Milito in that game you can almost be sure it’ll be Milito at CB and Busi at DM for Madrid. We obviously can’t play one of the kids at the Bernabeu, so I think Pep will go for experience. Not an ideal situation but whatever, there’s no point complaining now.

    2. I’d rather play one of the kids. I’ve lost faith in Milito..

      Totally unrelated, I loved your Semifinal LiveBlog. Reading it after the final made me enjoy it even more. The bit about ‘the easiest prediction’ and then ‘done and done’ killed. Seriously!

    3. Well, Villa did earn the penalty that got us back into the game…

      But I agree, Bojan was looking really promising. It’s too bad Thiago didn’t finish Bojan’s cross!

  22. I won’t say I told you so, but If you go back to the liveblog at half time, you’ll find that I did tell you so. πŸ˜€

    1. FK Obolon Kiev. 1-0 winner in the 86th min.
      Obolon Kiev was placed 12th in a league consisting of 16 teams before facing Shakhtar.

      Shakhtar only played 3 first teamers (Rakytskyy, Jadson and Douglas Costa), seems like they haven’t given up the CL yet. Oh, and they’re still 9 points ahead if Dynamo Kiev wins their match tomorrow, so a very affordable loss.

  23. OK, time to spout some crazy gibberish.

    Why not play a totally changed line-up with lots of B-team/subs against Madrid in the Classico? It doesn’t matter if we win lose or draw next weekend. At worst we come out with a 5 point lead at the end.

    But if we play our first team, we essentially give them a free chance to figure out how to play against our best line-up before the games that really matter. If RM and Barca play identical line-ups for all the games it will almost impossible for us to win every game. Plus this way we get to have key players rested for the Copa final.

  24. Bojan was playing great, It’s really sad to hear about his injury, The referee didn’t give him the foul or the player a yellow card.

    We will keep hoping Puyol comes back, I can’t see how we’ll continue the season or even play against RM with the players available, I won’t worry my head because It’ll give me headaches and then Pep will surprise us.

    In Pep we trust.

    1. I also think that, But I’m just false hoping myself for some confidence and assurance.

  25. Hmmm. I just read through the LB–not all of it, mind you–but there is one thing I noticed that I feel we should nip at the bud early: the tone.

    I like to think we’re pretty lenient in the LB, considering it is live and all, and people are free to talk about–we’re all grown people here and no-one needs to be told what to say.

    But lately, and I’m not calling anyone out, the general tone of the LiveBlog has not been great. Respect is a big factor in BFB discourse and, well, there is something creeping in that I haven’t quite put my finger on, but it needs to stop.

    LiveBlogs are an important part of BFB, and it connects fans all over the world for 90 minutes as if we were all watching the game in the same room. We want to keep it respectful so that even more people will feel confident that they want to join in.

    1. I have to agree… I’ll admit it’s why I tend to sign in to the LB, then sort of just focus on the match for the most part.

    2. Be happy that I’m not part of the LiveBlog, because I smashed a glas when Almeria scored (not deliberately, I just hit on the table in front of me and the glas fell to the ground) πŸ˜€

      During live matches, especially if they don’t go well as this one, I’m soooo emotional, I cannot even control myself in real-life. I shout at the TV, I pull my hairs, I fell of my couch in pure despair when Pedro missed the open goal and Villa hit the post… so I can somehow understand if the tone during a LB is different from the one in the comments here^^

    3. Thank you, Kari. I am on record as having found the last few liveblogs discouraging. To the point where I’m not sure I will bother with it for the Clasico.

      Swearing, disrespect, general contempt for some of our players. It’s not what I enjoy. πŸ™

  26. Guardiola: “If we lose against Madrid, there’s still a lot to play for in the last 6 games. If we win, we almost finish the league”

    Is Guardiola going to throw the match away or playing mind games ?

  27. Okay, that was surely not our best game but we have the 3 points in the back. The pessimism displayed by same is really astonishing. Has the team ever disappointed us with Pep on the helm? The circumstances with the grave injuries to Abi and Puyi are far from ideal but we have a 8 point lead and have a very good chance to progress to the semis. I keep hearing before each classico that the EE will put five behind us, but since Pep we have not lost one classico so I think this team has earned the trust from all cules.

  28. @hammeronmessi, Shakhtar lost their unbeaten record to a modest Ukraine side called Obolon today.

  29. Thiago stepping up and scoring that goal when the team really needed to put the ball in the back of the net was extraordinary. What a brilliant strike of the ball.

    He is going to be very special.

    In a game that was clearly a must win and the team struggling, Thiago puts the ball in the back of the net and does so on a header.

    Really terrible news on Bojan. He looked terrific today. Very dangerous on the ball.

    And now he’s effectively out for the season.

    The club is now in the process of trying to win the treble with only three true forwards available.

    They are going to need Afellay and yes, even Jeffren, to contribute.

    It’s very fortunate they’ve built up that 8 point lead on RM and done so while playing almost all of their difficult Liga games done with.

    This is an amazing team. A historic team with one flaw – a lack of depth.

    And that limited depth is now almost as big an issue as the opposition is.

    19 players to start the season. The added Afellay but lost Puyol for most of the year. Now abidal and bojan will also be out the remainder of the season.

    They have so few options at either striker or at CB. It’s fairly clear that Pep has real concerns about depending on Afellay to contribute and in trusting Fontas in games that mean so much at the end of the season.

    Teams are going to look to exploit Barca’s lack of pace at the back over and over now. It’s clearly the way to hurt this team.

    And RM and Man U are both very good on the counter.

    All that said, this is a special team with a chance to cement their place in history. I expect them somehow find a way despite the obstacles.

    1. Don’t you think that, to counter EE’s inevitably fast counterattacks seeking to exploit our lack of pace and the fact that our fullback are really wingers, don’t you think that, in short, we should bring the defensive line further back? We’d lose chunks of our
      ball-possession but it would (I think) neutralize EE’s ability to exploit our shortcomings. Basically we’d trade away part of our strength(which is also our ability to compress the adversary wit our centrebacks) in exchange for reinforcing our weaknesses. I’d tell the players to play shorter, wherein the forward line mustn’t be further than 40m from the back line.

    2. The system does not work without a high backline. It would be significantly compromised if they did not play that high line.

      Without the high line they would not be able to stay compact. And if they don’t stay compact two things would happen. First as you said – they would lose ball possession. And a major way this team defends is by keeping the ball. They aren’t built to absorb pressure.

      Second – and perhaps even more important, their pressing would suffer. If you don’t stay compact you can’t press effectively. Too much space opens up for the opposition to work around.

      The highline isn’t going to change. And I don’t think the fullbacks rushing up the pitch will change much either. Without the full backs there’s no width.

    3. I reckoned so. Guardiola as much as admitted it last year. Without the ball we are mediocre. Valencia showed it to us in the first half last October or November. But we have to find a way to solve the issue. The personnel is what it is, neither Pique nor Milito have pace, and despite his exceptional positioning Busquets isn’t particularly fast. What is to be done? Either Guardiola solves the problem or Mourinho will find a way to exploit it at the most inopportune of times, like in the CdR final or the CL semis (if we get there in the first place).

    4. Yes. 1000x. As a fan, I grew up learning to lose. A lot. On face value, I don’t mind my team losing. Not showing any effort (not the case here), yes, losing, not so much.

      But with this team, it’s different, because this is a team that has the potential to be one of the greatest football teams of all time. Without a doubt, the talent, management and desire is there. But we’re not there yet. Two La Ligas and one Champions League doesn’t put us there. Not yet. There is so much more that this Barca team is capable of achieving over the next few years.

      I fear not so much the idea that we might lose, but rather that this team might not fulfill the potential that it so obviously has. That’s why when I feel like we’re overlooking some important pieces for that success–like managing depth and rest–, I worry.

    5. Jose,

      I agree with everything you wrote. What makes this season so important and in some ways so difficult as a supporter is that the club is playing for it’s spot in history.

      To rightfully take their place with RM from the 1950’s and Milan of the late 80’s they need to win more.

      But if they could win more than one trophy this season – they’re argument becomes that much stronger. Another treble would given them an extremely good case as the greatest club team ever.

      But they have to win. And right now it’s the lack of depth that’s their biggest obstacle.

      And I also think this is why so many cule’s are on edge this season.

      There is so much depending on it.

      One of the things that makes football such a great sport is it’s history. And what this Barca’s place in that larger story will be is still being written.


    That’s me, the sounds of my big relief…

    I know we didn’t play well, didn’t finish our chances, our defensive line was sloppy, slow, shaky, miserable, bla bla…
    so I’m not supposed to be happy, right?

    but champions win even in their bad day… it’s like EE never lost when they play bad? Sporting/Osasuna anyone?

    so screw that, for this day, I wanna ENJOY and be HAPPY with this EIGHT points with only SEVEN matches to go… πŸ˜€

    really sad for Bojan, though… πŸ™

  31. completely agree with Jose and Euler…

    can’t say it better…
    as a fan, I know how to deal with lost…but this team is different, I know what they’re capable of…

    from everywhere I heard people said we’re the best team in the world, some even the best in history, from the way they’re playing…

    but they still need trophies to confirm it…

  32. The top goalscorers in the 2 highest Spanish divisions are Barcelona players: Messi (29 goals), Soriano (23 goals)[@dsaura]

    Life is good.

  33. so this girl has been talking to me all week about how shes good at footy and blah blah. and 3-4 nutmegs later I showed i’m superior!

    guys I dropped my laptop and now theres a yellow line permanently on m y sccren HALP PLEAS

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