Barca 3, Almeria 1, aka “Why bother? Somebody else will do it.” EDIT

"Snoopy dance! Snoopy dance!"

In Pep We Trust

It bears repeating, I think, because nobody knows a team like its coach. All of his dire predictions of gloom and doom were scoffed at, as results made us look lovelier than we should have. But Guardiola knows.

–Who knows how the tie would have gone against Shakhtar had they taken that early chance, or the three others, and we hadn’t gotten lucky setup deflections on two of our goals.

–We can’t lose this match against Almeria, he said, cognizant of the fact that right now, his charges are on a down slope.

So somehow (well, we know how), some way, we got it done today to maintain the 8-point lead going into El Clasic, a match that isn’t completely meaningless, but it’s a lot less meaningful than it would have been with a 5-point lead. And this is good, because the phrase of the day today was “Somebody else will do it.” My memory strains to find a sleepier, more half-assed display by our players. What, did playing keepe-uppe with Justin Bieber wear them out? Has the quality of our side jaded even us? A star always comes to make a great play. Surely the same will be true today, so I’m going to trot instead of run. Yes.


Did Almeria deserve better? Well, you rarely don’t get what you deserve, so no. But they played a much better match than the scoreline indicates, in an evening that wasn’t the stroll in the park that many predicted. Yes, we put 8 past this side in their house last time, but we were on form then and they weren’t playing for their Liga lives as they are now, with each player desperately trying to impress a new coach. They played harder than we did, ran harder, defended harder, came out and played football in a commendable effort that justice didn’t see fit to award with anything more than an on-paper lopsided scoreline.

But this match was so fraught because we were so bad. Guardiola rolled out with a lineup that should have been enough to get the job done, with style: Pinto, Alves, Pique, Milito, Maxwell, Mascherano, Thiago, Xavi, Messi, Krkic, Iniesta. That it was such a disjointed, lackluster mess had everything to do with the approach to the game. How often does Xavi find himself holding the ball with nobody to pass it to, as he was during too many moments of that first half? With no off-the-ball movement and real effort, it was a time that was screaming for a great individual effort, one that we got from Bojan Krkic.

For about 25 minutes, he was the player that all of his believers argued for: dynamic, aggressive, quick to every ball and always dangerous, far and away our best player on the pitch. His reward for that was to have his season ended by a lunging tackle that wasn’t even malicious, just the kind of tackle that you get from lesser players playing out of desperation, rather than skill.

This moment was typical of the day.

You could see it. Thiago was getting caught on the ball, or serving up a slow backheel that was just begging for an Almeria player to run onto it. Messi had a stupid giveaway that gifted Almeria a break, forcing Mascherano to have to take one for the team, picking up the yellow card that will rule him out for the next Clasic. That we ended the first half scoreless wasn’t at all surprising, really, because we weren’t playing as if we wanted to win the match. Off the ball movement? Why? This is Almeria! Width? Why? This is Almeria! It will happen, don’t you worry. That it did indeed happen doesn’t excuse this one, a match that Guardiola could see coming like a freight train.

So Messi did the Quixote thing and their defenders took the ball, or we shuffled and bobbled into their box, where their defenders took the ball. And when they put us on the back foot, with a bunch of possession and three corners in about 5 minutes, you could see the worry in the players’ faces. That worry wasn’t sufficient to make anyone actually do anything about it, and shortly after the start of the second half, we were suddenly down 0-1.

–Xavi knocked a pass to Iniesta that found him in acres of space, but on the wing, facing 4 defenders.
–Iniesta has control, but against two defenders on the wing and the end line as a third defender, the Ghostface Express is going nowhere fast.
–After Iniesta loses the ball, he kinda trots after it before deciding “Well, somebody else will do it.”
–Thiago steamed over as if to stop the ball, arriving at the same time as Mascherano. He didn’t do anything except put sMasch off, who took a futile lunge.

At this point, Almeria are off to the races and we are racing to the ball, forgetting that the ball moves faster than the man, so it might behoove us to mark someone. Like, oh, say that guy running off by himself, just waiting for the pass so that he could slot home. Milito was the last man back, stuck between the attacker and the free runner. As the pass came, he tried a desperate rearward lunge, knowing that if he didn’t pull it off, it was going to be a goal. He was right.

It was 0-1, and it was now crucial for Almeria to stabilize the match, to settle things down and get through the next 10 minutes without conceding. Problem with that approach is individual quality that can pop up at any time, even when the side is playing like crap. So Milito, as if to atone, bangs an amazing pass over distance for Villa that falls in the perfect spot for him to run onto. He does, getting there a fraction before the Almeria keeper, who takes him down. Penalty. Messi slots home, and it’s 1-1.

More crucially, the goal was a bucket of ice water in the face, sufficient to make us start playing as if we wanted the match, to stop playing like “Hey, it’s Almeria” and start playing like “Hey, it’s the league championship.” Big difference. From that moment on, we began to play, if not like our old selves at least like a side that wanted to win the match and complicate the math equations that argue against our winning the Liga.

We continued to pile on the pressure, grabbing a corner. Messi took it, and Thiago smoked it, making a run from the back that found him meeting the ball at full tilt, as he outfought and jumped the defender, glancing the ball past Diego Alves for the 2-1 lead. It was a brilliant goal, and one that should have found him texting Villa to say, “That’s how you head a ball past the keeper.” Because yes, the crowd was still buzzing after Villa wasted a brilliant Messi pass that dropped right onto the top of his head, to smash it directly into Alves’ midsection.

El Kabong

Still, it was 2-1 and we decided to take our foot off the gas, playing a possession game, looking for obvious openings if they came but most importantly, keeping them from scoring. That they almost did is a credit to how poor we were, and the stunning lack of pace present in our back line. Guardiola has repeatedly said that without the ball, we’re crap. These days, we seem bound and determined to prove him right at every opportunity, today in a match that was still balanced on a knife’s edge.

We had control, but Almeria were hopeful, bringing in quick and fast players such as Uche and Goitom, athletes capable of getting behind our back line and doing some damage with just the right pass as they pressed and hustled, seeking that equalizer. Then, suddenly, it happened, another of those moments of which there have been plenty this season, where a moment of astounding individual excellence makes things suddenly very different.

In this case, a pass toward the box was cleared off the volley by Keita, a full-legged swing that got some hip into it, a ball that was probably intended to do nothing more than let us reset by giving their defenders and keeper something to do. But who was figuring that, in the 90th minute of a hard-fought match, Messi would have the energy to chase the ball, running at the defender and causing him to just steal a look at the onrushing Messi. In that moment, suddenly what should have been an easy defensive header was misjudged and Messi fought off the defender and the foul attempt, controlling and quickly, before he could be fouled or stopped, lifted a delicate chip over the sliding Alves and into goal. 3-1, and we were done. And so was Almeria.

The 3-1 scoreline won’t reflect how difficult we made this match. Can a team be on form all the time? No. You pick and choose. We’re in a trough right now, and hopefully will come out at the right time. Nothing, nothing at all should be read into the hoops reversal of fortune that saw Regal Barca downed by EE in a close one, after the first hoops Clasic saw Regal Barca putting the wood to EE just like the footy side did. It’s been a brutal stretch for Regal, who were also eliminated from the EuroLeague by Panathinaikos. But …. nothing to see here, just move on.

Team: 4. At least try. Just because you’re talented, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t always try as hard as you can. It’s a long season, made longer by being alive for all three remaining cups, in addition to international duties. Yes, you’re tired. But the end is so close. Precious little support, precious little movement, precious little Messi, who bailed out the enterprise. Precious, indeed.

Guardiola: 7. Right lineup, right subs, but you have to have your side ready to play a match such as this one. They should have come out like rabid dogs, killed Almeria then cruised home. Would have saved more energy than having to fight almost the entire way.

Pinto: 5. Didn’t have a ton to do, except a few easy saves, long clearances and then picking the ball out of his own net. It’s hard to fault him for the goal. Any keeper would have been dead to rights on that one. I’m pleased that he’s renewed for next season. He’s a more than solid backup keeper, who deserves to get the start in the Copa final, Clasic though it is.

Alves: 5. His purple patch continues, as he sprayed balls all over the place. Solid defense, but the width that came with his attacking in quality positions and with quality efforts was sorely missed today. Did signing that new contract suck out his energy?

Pique: 5. Stop it with the long, diagonal passes. Just stop it. They never work, and just cede possession. And work on your pressure decision making. You had as good a chance as anyone to stop that goal, but chose the wrong angle to run at the attacker. Piatti got you a lot more than you got him, as well. A few excellent plays as well to balance out the accounts, sort of.

Milito: 6. I don’t think you’re washed up, just no longer able to fully cut it at our level. Solid match nonetheless, with flashes of quality that put the lie to the doubters. But it’s lack of pace that is the killer these days, as the only opportunities that sides are going to have against us is on the break. This requires pace. Love the long passes, and positionally, very solid as well.

Maxwell: 5. I miss Adriano. An okay match, but between overhitting passes and occasional uncertainty, it was a complex match for Maxwell. Then there was that 5-minute period where he just seemed to go crazy, running around everywhere and not getting anything done. And way to miss what should have been a relatively easy putaway.

Mascherano: 5. The usual command and control just weren’t there today, even against a team that did a lot of its damage through the midfield. Also loose with passes, and generally mediocre, like everyone else. Spent an uncharacteristic amount of time chasing play.

Thiago: 5. Sometimes, the hot dog doesn’t need mustard. What makes Xavi Xavi is that he makes the pass. No backheel, no flourish, just a tidy, simple delivery of the ball. Take notes. It must also be said that his was a man’s header, not quite Puyolesque in its quality, but certainly in its timing. Thiago will also learn to adjust his play to his teammates. When they’re off, he will learn to be more direct, and make it easier for them.

Xavi: 6. Positively brimming with adequacy. Some giveaways, and lacked much of his usual control of the situation, exacerbated by the fact that he was without his usual cohorts, Busquets and Iniesta, leading to a lot of “Now what?” moments.

Iniesta: 4. Don’t tell me that the late nights and changing poopy diapers are already catching up to him. Way off today, from his touch to his decision making. Not sure why malaise is always team-wide, but he seemed to be among the most affected. The ball at times seemed a foreign object for him.

Krkic: incomplete. The injury cut short his match, but he was playing his way to a high rating, for sure. He was our best player on the pitch, moving like a colt unbound. As usual, he was coming alive late in the season. His on-pitch stretch would be a solid 8, for sure.

Messi: 5. He wasn’t himself by any stretch of the imagination, and yet he is MOTM, and was involved in every one of our goals. That’s one hell of an accomplishment, and one hell of a personal standard. His individual runs played right into the hands of the Almeria defenders, every time. He really missed Alves, and the times that he tried to get anyone else involved, it was in a high-wire act in close quarters that didn’t have a chance of succeeding. And yet, two amazing plays provided the winning comfort margin. Impressive.


Villa (for Krkic): 4. Increasingly lost out there. He had a much better match against Shakhtar, and he looked exhausted today, bent over and panting. Runs not made, passes not completed as he slid into increasing invisibility as the match progressed.

Pedro (for Milito): 4. Still playing his way back, but starting to look like himself. Shame he missed that put-back chance, and when he’s on, he isn’t shooting directly at the keeper. Not as demonic on the defensive end, either.

Keita (for Thiago): incomplete. Keita came in and does what he does best: be there. He sometimes changes plays by just being in the way, paving the way for a teammate to make the play. Selfless, strong and still a quality, quality player. And we have to credit him with an assist, I guess on the Messi goal.

And now the lead sits at 8, functionally 9 points, since a tie won’t be sufficient unless they beat us 6-0 at their house. Insurmountable? Nope. Highly unlikely to be surmounted? You betcha. I’d throw out a B side in the Bernabeu and sit back, but that’s why I’m writing crap, instead of coaching the best club in the world.

–By the by, that club is leading La Liga over its fiercest historic rival by 8 points, and is all but in the semi-finals of the Champions League as well as in the Copa del NIT…. erm …. Reig finals. We have a starting XI that any club in the world would salivate over. Is there any real reason to be down on this group? Yes, they will play bad matches, but truth to tell if I’d been running that LiveBlog today, I would have shut it down. Ridiculous. We aren’t Almeria or Hercules, or even Atletico Madrid or Valencia. We are FC Barcelona. We gonna act like it, or what?

Sad Bojangles

Get well soon, and see you next season.
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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. vicsoc
    April 9, 2011

    I have to say, if Pep plays a B side at the Bernabeu not only will I be surprised, I’ll also be extremely disappointed. El Clasico isn’t just about whether we need the points or not in the league, it is about beating our hated rivals. Even with 4 of them upcoming, and the first being the least important, the team has to go out and try to win every single one of them.

    That isn’t to say I wouldn’t mind a not-quite full strength XI. I wouldn’t mind seeing some Afellay’s or some Maxwell’s (see what I did there?) on the pitch for the first Clasico.

    One thing is certain – if Pep were to play a complete B-team for a Clasico it will be certain he won’t be staying with us for too much longer. But he wouldn’t be leaving on his terms in that case.

    • Miguel
      April 9, 2011

      Guardiola: “Barça don’t throw away any game, not even a friendly. Since I’m aware of things, a Madrid-Barça is always intense.”

      You’re right. I don’t think he’ll rest anyone. It’s the end of the season. Fatigue’s all in the players’ heads. I’m curious to see how Pep deals with Masche’s suspension for El Clásico, though.

      • mardia
        April 9, 2011

        I would be shocked if Guardiola played anything resembling a B-team. Completely shocked. (And if he did, and we ended up losing, he’d be CRUCIFIED by the press, to be frank. Well, his stock’s so high that I’m not sure crucified is the right word, but people wouldn’t be happy.)

      • footballfan
        April 10, 2011

        A Keita-Xavi-Iniesta midfield?

        My line-up will be:

        Alves Pique Busquets Adriano
        Keita Xavi Iniesta
        Pedro Messi Villa

        But I’d like to see a surprising line-up (like Alves at RW last year).

        In Pep We Trust

  2. Víctor
    April 9, 2011

    Bojan will be back for the last games. At least I hope so. 🙂

    Meh, I would that I disagree with the overall rating the players got… I mean, sure the team was playing bad today… but I’d take it with a grain of salt… well, not really… I think that they are relaxing. Not that I condone it… but there’s a CDR final coming up against EE.

  3. Miguel
    April 9, 2011

    At least try. Just because you’re talented, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t always try as hard as you can. It’s a long season, made longer by being alive for all three remaining cups, in addition to international duties. Yes, you’re tired. But the end is so close.

    You the man, Kxevin.

  4. Jnice
    April 9, 2011

    Thanks for the review, Kxevin.

    Glad we got the 3 points today.

    • 505
      April 10, 2011

      me too!! we need him so much, it’s insane! not to mention, my blog is dying because there’s no news to write about him anymore 🙁

      get well soon, puyi! — no, get well NOW!

      p.s. i love that video. always get chills when i see his fantastic goal at the bernabeu.

  5. blitzen
    April 9, 2011

    Shakhtar centre-back Chygrynskiy probably also won’t be able to take part in the second leg of the CL 1/4 finals on Tuesday #fcblive [sport]

  6. Miguel
    April 9, 2011

    Lucescu admitting that Barca are gonna go through to the finals:

    No, no. Yo he realizado bastantes cambios y he introducido a jugadores muy jóvenes para dar descanso a algunos de los que jugaron todo el partido en Barcelona para que lleguen en el mejor estado posible para la vuelta. Es un partido muy importante, sobre todo para ganar imagen y para confirmar el buen juego que hemos hecho toda la temporada, aunque no contra el Barça. Bueno, miento¿ la verdad es que jugamos bastante bien y a los quince minutos podríamos haber ido ganando 1-3. Esa es la verdad. Después cometimos errores increíbles a este nivel y perdimos 5-1, así que el Barça va a pasar a semifinales. Eso ya no se discute. Nosotros queremos hacer un buen partido ante nuestra afición.


  7. mardia
    April 9, 2011

    I think the thing we have to remember about this team is that when it matters, they get it done. Was this a good team performance? Absolutely not. But did we get the three points? Yes. Are we still walking into the Bernabeu with an eight-point lead in La Liga? YES.

    As a Liverpool fan, I have to choke at making this comparison, but the team that I’m reminded of right now is Man Utd, as they (much like us) get the result when it counts. Nobody watching the EPL would argue that Manchester United’s a brilliant team right now, but what has separated them from the rest of the league is that when it’s necessary for them to grind out a result, get that last minute goal that secures the win–they DO it. It’s the cutting edge that Arsenal doesn’t have, and that (in all likelihood) will get them the title this year.

    (Phew, now that’s over–I feel like I have to say Five Hail King Kennys and do a quick recitation of You’ll Never Walk Alone to repent of complimenting Man Utd.)

    So all in all, I refuse to be negative. We’ve got a squad full of world-class players, a brilliant coach, and everything to play for. That counts for a lot more than one so-so team performance in which we DID win the three points, btw.

    (Also, I disappeared from the live-blog early and only came back in for the dying minutes of the match, but wow–was it that bad?)

    • footballfan
      April 10, 2011

      Totally agree with you. That’s what makes a team a champion: get the job done even when they are playing really badly.

      The match started at 2 am here and after the first half I feel like switching off and go to sleep instead. But somehow I feel that they can turn it around. This is just a bad day, let’s beat Madrid at their home!

      • barca96
        April 10, 2011

        Haha. I turned off the engine, unload the car and the match started! I was just getting back from a 5hour drive from Singapore. Right on time! Good thing that I didn’t drive slow 😆

        • footballfan
          April 10, 2011

          lol where do you live? thailand?

          • barca96
            April 10, 2011

            5 hours drive from Singapore won’t reach anywhere close to Thailand 😆 even on a superbike I won’t be able to make it.
            I live in KL. But visit Singapore almost on a monthly average for the past 6 years. My parents used to stay there but now we just go for holidays.

        • footballfan
          April 10, 2011

          oh yeah, silly me. I thought KL is more fun than Singapore, no? I’m getting kinda bored with the place. Been here for 6 years now 😛

  8. flyzowee
    April 9, 2011

    Thank God kxevin said smth about iniesta coz he was just awful, couldnt find any rythm in da first half.

    What really is the use of having such a large pitch if all our strikers are gonna play so narrow? It was so obvious this was killing our attack in the first half.

    I really hate seeing iniesta on the wings coz he tends to float around too much and why has pep gotten villa to play so centrally of late?
    He was dynamite starting on the left flank drifting centrally earlier in the season.

    Im glad we won but i just wanna forget about this game asap, very few positives if u ask me.

  9. mardia
    April 9, 2011

    Off-topic, but can anybody help me out with a Gravatar issue? I’ve been trying to put in an image to go along with my username, but for some reason, they keep insisting that I’m not ME (basically, every time I try to log in with my WordPress username and password, they keep insisting that it’s the wrong password/username, even though I know it isn’t.) Am I going to the wrong site or what?

  10. April 9, 2011

    More importantly, do we promote someone to fill the Krkic shoes? Soriano sure is on form right now. He even has some size to him. Nolito?

    • Miguel
      April 9, 2011

      I was thinking about this. It’d definitely be Nolito. Soriano is La Segunda’s Pichichi, but Pep’d want someone who is comfortable operating on the flanks, cutting in and destabalizing defenses- all things Nolito does well. What’s up with his contract? Is he going to Benfica or what?

  11. BarcaGirl_Indo
    April 9, 2011

    I think the thing we have to remember about this team is that when it matters, they get it done.
    but what has separated MU from the rest of the league is that when it’s necessary for them to grind out a result, get that last minute goal that secures the win–they DO it.

    completely agree with you, Mardia…
    I watched some MU matches, and you’re right…

    I always said this, that MU almost always found a way to win…
    they can played crap for the whole 80 minutes, and BANG! there’s come the winning goal and they win…

    while Arsenal, at times they much more entertaining and played good football, but somehow managed to lose 3 points over and over again…

    good luck with your gravatar! 🙁

    and thank you for the review, Kxevin…

    • mardia
      April 9, 2011

      It’s really pretty astonishing when you watch MU play. They can be down 2-0, and you can almost guarantee they’ll equalize or score more goals than the other team.

      But Arsenal–man. At the moment, Gooners all around are shaking their heads and trying to figure out where this season went wrong, because they absolutely could have won the league this year, and probably SHOULD have–the rest of the big teams won’t be as weak as they were this year (you can bet that Liverpool, Chelsea, Man Utd, and probably Tottenham as well) will all be looking to spend, spend, spend this summer–and this could have been Arsenal’s year.

      Thanks, I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on w/ the gravatar issue.

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        April 9, 2011

        yeah… they were down to 10 men, but managed to win 1-0…
        down 0-2 in away match, and then come back to win 2-4…

        I read so many gooners said FA shouldn’t give the EPL title to any team this season, because no one deserved it, including Arsenal, LOL…

        I can understand their frustation though, coz when your rival played crap in some matches but always managed to get 3 points, that’ll drive you crazy…

        speaking of gravatar, I’m changing it again…
        I was trying to get interesting pics from our Captain because I miss him, and this is what I get… 😀

  12. April 9, 2011

    Oh, Bojan.
    Does anyone remember the way he kicked off the 09/10 season? And then got injured in that very game, out for a couple of months?

    Just when he’s playing well, just when his confidence FINALLY seems to be up at the level he needs it to be, he gets shot down,almost literally.

    Oh, Bojan.

    • barca96
      April 10, 2011

      Hey you!
      You’ve been missing for over a year or so.

      • April 10, 2011

        Haha yes, I’m a little surprised anyone would remember me 🙂
        I’m a little ashamed to show my face here since I don’t watch games regularly anymore-subsist on highlights and following this blog,TotalBarca,and @barcastuff. I’m usually working on weekends, so get to watch a full game maybe once a month. That’s also why I don’t join in on the liveblogs, although I’ve done that once or twice.
        Will miss next weekend’s Clasico too! Plan of action – stay off the net all day long, download and watch game at home at night!

  13. April 9, 2011

    Thanks for the review of this complicated match, Kxevin. 3 points in bag, lead sits at 8, be glad everybody.

    I am very curious to know why you think Pique’s diagonal long balls are useless, Kxev. I think his passing range is what makes him so important for us. It also ties with the width problem.

    Thiago has so much to learn, but what a goal. Still need to work harder.

    It will be very interesting if Nolito come up to the first team and start scoring for us at this point of the season. Soriano will do too.

    • barca96
      April 10, 2011

      Actually his diagonal balls today were good. Usually they stink, always floating too much, making it always easy to be intercepted.

    • Jnice
      April 10, 2011

      Pique’s long balls in the air hardly ever come off. His passing on the ground and comfortably on the ball are his strengths. His long balls look good until the ball goes out for a throw-in or fails to reach its target. He didn’t get enough tips from Marquez of how to play a diagonal in the air.

      • barca96
        April 10, 2011

        But Jnice, last night they did come off. Only one was intercepted.
        Marquez’ long balls last season weren’t good too just like everything he did 😆

        • Jnice
          April 10, 2011

          I said hardly. That takes into account rare nights like last one when they do come off. And that one was intercepted led to trouble near the end of the match. Pep was shouting at Pique for a good 30 seconds after that.

          Marquez wasn’t good at all last season, like you said. Still, his diagonals are way better than Pique’s.

          • Eklavya
            April 10, 2011

            Yeah, I think Pique tries to be like Marquez many times with his long balls.

            But like Jnice said, Marquez’s long balls were waaay better. First of all the weren’t diagonal, they were straight forward towards the goal. (see assist to Henry vs Lyon 2nd leg).

            I think we could use come of them atm.

  14. barca96
    April 10, 2011

    Im surprised that Kxev didn’t deduct points off Iniesta for ruining an attack and then to casually walk back without even attempting to put any pressure on the guy who stole the ball who eventually let the counter attack. That play was really unlike Iniesta.

    I don’t know. This has been going on for a lot of matches this season but sMasch does give the ball away very cheaply at least once in a match. BUt everyone seems to not comment on that. Im glad Kxev finally did.
    I mean Yaya was a better passer but he didn’t get complimented near as much compliments as sMasch.

    I thought Bojan deserved a rating. He was wonderful. I was really excited by him!

    Why didn’t 3M get some minutes?? WHy Villa who was so obviously exhausted? We could’ve definitely used his pace to stop those counter attacks last night.

  15. outerspacedout
    April 10, 2011

    I’m an optimistic Cule. I’m not worried one bit about the possibility that our team might suck. Do I have a nasty feeling that Mourinho and EE will end up winning one of those four Clasicos, and that it might be a crucial one (CL)? Yes, but that’s just cos sense suggests so.

    I’ve been saying this a LOT- We. Should. NOT. Be. Worrying.

    For the doubters: remember the pessimism before the Bernabeu game in 08/09 when Real had won I think 16 in a row and were four points before, and we’d slipped a bit. That ended 6-2.

    Remember the talk before the CL final when we had both our full-backs missing, Yaya in defense, and Henry and Iniesta I think only coming back from injury. We played United off the park.

    Remember the Club World Cup final when we were down 1-0, Pep subs on Jeffren and we’re like huh? And we win 2-1.

    Down 3-1 to Sevilla in the Supercup first leg? We win 4-0 to win that trophy. Before the Madrid league game this season when they were undefeated in all competitions before meeting us? 5-0.

    We’re cruising and being meh because we can AFFORD to right now, since we still manage to get the three points. Come a big, angry game, when people have been doubting us cos we were sorta meh in previous games but grinding out wins, and we’ll either step it up three or four gears and blitz the other [insert huge European or Spanish side: Bayern, Arsenal, Lyon, Sevilla, Madrid, United] with dazzling attacking, or stifle the game and strange the daylights out of the opposition and end up winning like we did against Arsenal in the second leg.

    If you remember how we play when we’re running on adrenaline and anger and the desire to prove a point, when Messi has his game face on, when everyone presses every ball and surrounds and hounds every opposition player that comes close to touching the ball and actually takes long shots and crashes the box and actually finishes ruthlessly, like in the Manita game, THAT’S what we do in crunch games and you shouldn’t be worried.

    Awful pity about Bojan. Sucks about Mascherano missing the Clasico too.

  16. outerspacedout
    April 10, 2011

    @Ramzi: That’s interesting! No wonder Nistelrooy is so good at hanging around in that way where he always ends up being in the right place to score lol.

  17. barca96
    April 10, 2011

    Oh yes! Botia is ours according to Sport.

    How long will Bojan be out?

    • Jnice
      April 10, 2011

      Oh yes! Botia is ours according to Sport.

      If that changes to according to FC Barcelona, I’ll be happy.

      Bojan is out 6-8 weeks aka see ya next season.

  18. blaunero
    April 10, 2011

    Real Madrid come from a tough loss at home in the league that jeopardized everything they’d done, esp. with a team like Bilbao on the horizon. What does Mourinho do? He rests almost everyone, and EE still defeat Athletic quite comfortably. We rest none of our best players save those suspended against the bottom team in the league, and still we struggle to come up with any decent football. The lack of pace at the back is really quite worrying. Villarreal, Shakhtar and Almeria couldn’t quite take advantage of it. But Mourinho will. It’s time to change our tactics a bit to minimize our shortcomings in defense, otherwise it’s goodbye to the CL. (It is here that I disagree with Guardiola. To be considered one of the best teams ever, we simply have to win more CL than the single one we have thus far. And so the CL is vastly more important, to me at least, than the league, especially considering that we might have to face the hated figure of Mourinho in the semis.)

      • barca96
        April 10, 2011

        EE rested almost everyone? I don’t know. Only saw the last 15mins.
        I saw Ronaldo running around and complaining. But yeah, Carvalho was rested, played only 10mins. I didn’t see Di Maria nor Ozil.
        Im pretty sure Mourinho will rest players in England too.
        So they will be quite fit and ready for us next week unlike our players who are dead-tired.sigh.

        • footballfan
          April 10, 2011

          xabi ronaldo and ozil also didn’t start for EE. Are Barcelona players fitter or is pep just stubborn to not rest key players? Let’s hope they will turn on the style when it matters.

  19. ooga aga
    April 10, 2011

    the first half was dire, ill agree with you there. but our boys came out to play after the interval. exciting, worth the money.

    and i dont have the energy to type like some on this board, but i just want to stand in solidarity with jim, wherever he be, and say…well, i didnt miss adriano at all in this match. maxwell was as good as adriano has been in any of his recent showings. i thought he played quite well and made few mistakes, especially considering he has played little of late. his passing is better than adriano, that seemed clear to me today.

    i recognize that kxevins rating for max was about equal to the average for the team, fair enough. though i am trying to pay less attention to those numbers anymore…

    • Jnice
      April 10, 2011

      Wasn’t going to say anything regarding Maxwell, but come on man, let’s be for real.

      How many times did he give away the ball? It’s like he becomes indifferent at times during the match. He’ll play stupid chip ball that has no chance of reaching Villa or whatever and we lose possession. Just look at Pep’s body language when Maxwell gives away the ball unnecessarily. I don’t know what it is, but he just gets loose with the ball when he doesn’t have to be.

      I think he had a good couple moments in the first half that came after his shot was blocked. He also had a decent through ball to Villa, but he tried that long through ball one too many times for my tastes.

      This is my opinion, but there is no way in the world Maxwell’s performance was as good as Adriano’s in recent weeks. I can’t agree with that at all. I agree that Maxwell passing is better than Adriano’s in general, but yesterday? That’s about the worst match you can build your case off of when it comes to Maxwell vs Adriano.

      • barca96
        April 10, 2011

        No way! I’ve said this the whole time. My biggest beef with Maxwell is his casual passing and then his lack of desire to fight for the ball back. But last night he did fight for the ball on a couple of occassions.

        But his passing was as usual not 100%. It’s like he doesn’t put an effort to it. Lazy passing is what I used to call it.
        You either keep the ball or pass properly but don’t pass the ball speculatively.

        And I don’t think that his passing is better at all.
        I wish we had a stat on passing completion, balls recovered and balls lost Maxwell vs. Adriano.

        That said, I do think that Maxwell has never played so good this season. He looked energetic last night. It’s like he’s trying to prove to Pep that he can attack too.

      • Jim
        April 10, 2011

        I wasn’t going to mention this either but since you did I went back to see if I had formed a rose tinted view of Maxwell’s display. I’ve just rewatched the whole first half.

        What is “real” is that Maxwell “lost” possession four times in the half. you’d be hard pressed to find someone in our side yesterday who didn’t beat that ! However, these “losses” were:

        1. a through ball to iniesta that was cut off by the last defender before it reached him – described on Sky as “a vital interception” and by anyone’s judgement an offensive pass which risked nothing
        2. an attempted flick over the head of a defender to an on running Iniesta as a 1-2. Made at the edge of their box so another offensive effort. no danger to us and almost made it.
        3. a through ball to Villa which was slightly overhit. However, look at the vision to make a pass like that. He had head up, saw Villa indicating the opposite side of the defender and tried to curl it into his path. Villa appreciated it – he gave it an immediate thumbs up.
        4. an attempt on the edge of their box to play it inside. It was poor and was intercepted but Maxwell chased the defender and won it back himself instantly.

        In other words all four were in their last third and attempts to create a chance. Most offensive passes in any side come to nothing. To call that bad passing is putting it a bit strong.

        On the other hand he made
        three good defensive headers,
        one vital interception( 41:53) where he could’ve stayed with his man but saw Pique was ball watching and came across to cover his man thereby preventing a possible goal,
        a beautiful move (32:48) that Iniesta would’ve been proud of that took two defenders out of the game and he turned it into an attack by running at the heart of their defence
        a lovely reverse pass to Iniesta inside their box where he should have shot but passed to Messi who hit the side netting.
        two shots in the one move ( the second needed kept down but was well struck)

        Btw, in the interests of keeping it real, Alves lost the ball five times that I counted ( only two of them offensively) and passed back at least as much as Maxwell did – it’s what we usually do as a team, for goodness’ sake.

        Sorry if I’m sounding cranky but to be at the Liveblog yesterday you’d have thought Maxwell was playing for the opposition and to leap down someone’s throat today, Jnice, for putting an opposing view but not offering any evidence to back it up is also a little intemperate.

        a while back I asked you for the last time Maxwell had made a defensive error which put us in trouble and you replied ( correctly) that it was in one of the first games of the season and that the opponent dived to get the penalty. I mention this so we can agree that defensively Maxwell is as sound as it gets ( I know, I’d be worried too if anyone gets a run on him pace -wise but it hasn’t happened yet). We are probably in agreement that Maxwell needs to do more going forward if he wants to hold down his place in the team but certainly the first half yesterday was the most promising I’ve seen from him in some time and even if you don’t think so he was busting a gut for the team yesterday and deserves better treatment from some of our own fans ( not getting at you here).

        Btw, the only time I saw Pep talking to him was after we went ahead late second half where you clearly see him gesturing to Maxwell and telling him to stay back a little more.

        • Para
          April 10, 2011

          Thanks for this, Jim- not because I fall on either side of what seems to be the Maxwell ‘divide,’ but because it’s interesting to see a more comprehensive breakdown of a player’s actions (I think Kxevin did one on Adriano earlier this season).

  20. Eklavya
    April 10, 2011

    Thanks for the review Kxevin!

    I hope Adriano starts vs EE, at least in the league. We just have to draw/win at the Bernabeu and the title will be pretty much ours.

  21. Extreme barca fan
    April 10, 2011

    Great Review Kxevin thank you
    This was a strange match to say the least, the 1st half was close to shameful, i knew we would gear up in the 2nd half, but thats the thing right there, we should have started strong scored a few then rested in the 2nd half, but no, our players were on vacation.
    And i must disagree With you Kevin, Guardiola made a huge mistake by playing Mascherano, fully knowing he had 4 yellows, our squad is thin, add injuries to that and we are compromising the Classico, he could have started Keita there or even Xavi could have played the DM, but he took a gamble with Masch and it proved wrong, just imagine if Busi picks up an injury against Shaktar or in training who else is there to complete the squad??, im really pissed,
    If someone is assuming that Pep will rest anyone for the League Classico then i’m the queen of England or Jordan.

    • barca96
      April 10, 2011

      I know that Busi might pick up an injury in Ukraine but he doesn’t even need to play. sMasch is not suspended for that match so if Pep is smart, he should just play sMasch in that match to
      1) protect Busi from any injury and fatigue
      2) rest Busi some more! 🙂

      I’d prefer sMasch starting at DM last night rather than Keita or Xavi.
      It was the best choice. And he sacrificed EL CLasico to save us. That short pacey guy would’ve had a clear shot on goal if sMasch didn’t bring him down.

      Anyways, we have 4 Clasicos. And La Liga Clasico is the least important of all those so it’s not the worst match to lose sMasch.
      The advantage is that we will have Busi back in midfield.
      I hope Pep plays around with the formation to support Milito and Adriano/Maxwell on the left side.
      then i’m the queen of England or Jordan.
      I’d prefer if you were Queen Rania! :p

  22. stowe
    April 10, 2011

    so Messi has 47 goals, right? One more and he breaks Ronaldo’s club record. Should be interesting. Would be cool if he did it next weekend

    • footballfan
      April 10, 2011

      It’s time for Messi to start scoring against Real!

  23. April 10, 2011

    Not the best of Barca performances for sure, but it was expected in a way. This was the reason Pep went out of his way to emphasize how important the Almeria game was, because it’s entirely possible that the players might sub-consciously lose a bit of that sharpness against a weaker opponent, especially in this crazily busy and exhausting final stretch, however much they are willing themselves on. If everything works out, there’s possibly 12 more games to play this season, and they can’t afford another lapse of concentration in any of those. I’m just glad we got out of this with 3 points intact. Kudos, and it’s on to the next game.

  24. OSBAG
    April 10, 2011

    Very Graphical review. looked as if I was rewatching the match. All season I have calling for bojan to perform only for this to happen. Against EE pep would. Give his best but I see a couple of plyers beeing rested.
    I heard sumtin disturbing I need to confirm… If messi picks up a yellow during the liga classico, does he miss the copa final. Am not sure if suspensions in the league and cup are Intertwined .
    Seems every one is forgetting we hve a match before s claSsico so I would give my line up for the shaktr match and not the classico

    Alves pique milito Maxwell
    Keita mascherano thiago
    P! Messi/villa Affellay

    Xavi busquets gets to rest.

  25. barca96
    April 10, 2011

    This is really a sad news.
    I thought he was ok with being a squad player sigh

    Afellay will speak with club officials in the coming weeks. If there are no assurances over his future, he’ll be free to leave.

    • barca96
      April 10, 2011

      My heart is in shatters right now. I just can’t believe it. He hasn’t been given enough time. Please don’t tell me that they bought him to make a little profit.

      • April 10, 2011

        I wouldn’t believe anything that’s not official right now. 🙂 The media has been packing off Bojan, Masche and Ibi to other teams for some time now, and if we are to believe, Pep is going to Inter next year along with Leo Messi. 😀 That’s just how outlandish and ridiculous rumors can get.

        • barca96
          April 10, 2011

          It’s not actually as I don’t even go into that territory but it was from a quote from Barcastuff who got it from talksport.
          Never heard of them but it’s quite worrying.

      • Humphrey Bogart
        April 10, 2011

        The source is talksport, not very reliable. I would not believe one thing they write.

      • Sheena
        April 10, 2011

        These type of rumours have been flying about since before Afellay was signed. Chill.

    • Nav
      April 10, 2011

      ‘Twas inevitable, I guess. Wonder why Pep doesn’t play him more?

    • Eklavya
      April 10, 2011

      If Afellay leaves this summer, then turn I’ll change my name to Peanuts for a month.

      • April 10, 2011

        I’d hate to see that name here aka I’d hate to see Afellay leave.

    • footballfan
      April 10, 2011

      so the fabregas-afellay deal now has some truth? Granted he was given very little time to play but I thought he knew what’s going to happen when he signed the contract.

  26. 145culegirl
    April 10, 2011

    Players looked tired and were disinterested.Looks like the whole world are more interested in the upcoming barrage of Clasicos.First half looked as if Barca were playing a friendly.Second half was a bit better.I have a lot of confidence in Villa finding his form again but match by match,it’s vanishing.That fellow is just tooooo unlucky.He’s trying very hard to get a goal but lady luck is just not smiling upon him.But he’ll surely find his form again.
    Bojan was slowly getting into form and this tragedy happened!!.
    I love this type of climax as no one has clue what’s gonna happen next(except La Liga but it can also change).It’s 1000X times better than 10 rides of roller coasters.

  27. hammeronmessi
    April 10, 2011


    to me u r not the most optimistic cule.thats love lost there.

    But u then comment on the victory of EE with a lot of their players rested and us winning lethargically with our strongest 11.
    Use ur head a little bit with all due respect.they have nothing to loose but we have everything to loose on those a little bit perspective next time.

    This may sound sarcastic,but can u point out when was the last time u praised barca.?

    • April 10, 2011

      hammeronmessi, I appreciate the passion, but watch the tone. blaunero is right. They did rest a lot of their players, and put the smack down on Bilbao. Yes, the two penalties were pillow-soft, but that’s life. And yes, we did struggle to dispatch a bottom-dwelling Liga minnow, with pretty much our first-choice lineup for most of the match, except for Busquets.

      So I confess to not seeing why the aggression is warranted.

      For the record, let me reiterate the new policy: No members will be attacked in this space, by commenters or Team members. Period. We can disagree, and agree to disagree, but it will be done respectfully.

    • barca96
      April 10, 2011

      I was hoping that they would show a replay of that and thank GOd they did. Always loved Pep at the sidelines. He is always such a funny figure.
      I was hoping Iniesta would respond to that but he is too cool for that I guess 😆

      • Eklavya
        April 10, 2011

        LOL, That was the best thing that happened all game 🙂

  28. hammeronmessi
    April 10, 2011

    i agree on ur cl thing though.
    The most important is liga,2nd most is cl.

  29. hammeronmessi
    April 10, 2011


    i dont want any negativity.

    With vp misfiring,puyi abi boji missing,pique shaking,busi positioning in defence,alves crossing,maxwell jogging,milito tiring,shakhtar counterattacking,no history making,EE slaughtering all we not need is negativity.

    Btb,where r u from?

    • Sheena
      April 10, 2011

      Ay dios mio.

      Dude, we beat one of the best teams in the CL 5 – 1 without Messi, Villa or Pedro scoring. That is quite the accomplishment. Our players being injured is a tricky situation, but while our B-teamers may not be as stellar as we’d like them to be, they’re a bunch of players that many a club would love to have as back up.

      Shakhtar counterattacking? We’re 5 – 1 up from the first leg. They’d have to score 4 on us, while preventing us from netting a single goal. I’m not completely writing them off, as I still remember what happened against Getafe, but the team would have to screw up big time, and I mean BIG TIME, to end up not going through.

      I’m not trying to gloss over the flaws, even though it may seem that way, but I don’t think you can highlight the negatives without at least acknowledging the positives.

      And, I’m Malaysian. What about yourself?

  30. mohit
    April 10, 2011

    Nice review overall. Slight mistake though Kxevin. It was Messi who lost the ball (not Xavi) that led to Almeria’s counter attack and subsequently the yellow for Mascherano.

    So, one point more for Xavi (considering you might have deducted a point for him losing that ball) 🙂

  31. hammeronmessi
    April 10, 2011

    muchas gracius to u,Sheena.

    I m from bangladesh.what is the best time to visit there?i m planning to go there in 2011

  32. Helge
    April 10, 2011

    The way how Villa and Pedro give away best chances leaves me in total despair!

    Villa is without a goal since almost 2 months, and Pedro I guess didn’t score more than one goal in the last 2 months either.
    Villa hit the post, headed straight towards the keeper from 5yards range – and Pedro missen an open goal.
    Why do we have so many injuries, conseqeuently a slow defence and how on earth have Pedro and Villa lost their goal-scorer skills? And all this right before the probably most importatnt 3 weeks of Barcelona’s history 🙁

    • Diego
      April 10, 2011

      I can see a 5 man defence on El Classico, or 6 players with defending abilities and Iniesta, Xavi, Messi, and Villa upfront.

      Milito and Fontas must share their minutes against Shakhtar so that Pep can decide who will play against EE.

      I’d take Fontas over Milito, Experience means nothing when a fast player is against you.

      • blaunero
        April 10, 2011

        Nah, Guardiola will never play Fontas in a high pressure cooker like the Donbass, nor will he play vs Real. Leading the obvious question. Why was Fontas even brought into the first team? Wouldn’t the B team find more use for him?

  33. hammeronmessi
    April 10, 2011

    can u imagine a guy who is directly involved in 70 goals of his teams 135?
    Holy batshit,Batman.what a freak.

    And i really like the summary of messi in this review.u r phantastic,kxevin.

  34. footballfan
    April 10, 2011

    Who was Pep shouting at the last few minutes of the match? The closest guess is Maxwell but his lips movement were a bit different if he was saying Maxwell.

  35. hammeronmessi
    April 10, 2011

    dont worry helge.
    VP will come roaring back in classico.

  36. stowe
    April 10, 2011

    that video of Pep’s clash with Iniesta is HIlarious!
    I’m worried about playin thiago against shaktar, i think he will be too risky and give away possesion.
    alves,pique,fontas, maxwell (adriano might be better against the pace)
    Smasch, xavi, keita (worked last time)
    P!!, Afellay(false nine), villa

    i really want to see afellay in there. I think he would bring hunger to the side and yet not so risky as Thiago (hot dog who doesn’t need mustard)

  37. messi_fan
    April 10, 2011

    An Afellay-Fabregas deal makes no sense whatsoever. Using a player for whom we paid 3m as a makeweight in a deal for a player worth 40+ m? Jokes!

    As for Afellay himself wanting out after half a season? I doubt it.

    Now on to the Classicos. I want us to win every single match and for Ronaldo to continue his duck against us. And for us to get revenge for Mourinho’s Inter knocking us out of the Champion’s League. And I don’t want Madrid with their bajillion dollar team winning a single trophy this season.

    But that’s my heart speaking. My head is saying to me that Madrid has way more depth than we do. Chances are we won’t win all, and if we were to lose a match I’d rather it be the Liga Classico. What I absolutely DO NOT want is for Madrid to get that tenth Champions League that they’ve been craving all this time. THAT is why they got Mourinho. That is what they measure a successful season by.

    • Sheena
      April 10, 2011

      In theory, we can get past them even if we only win one game.

      Allow me to elaborate: We lose/draw the league Clasico, beat them in the Copa, get a high scoring draw against them at the Bernabeu, and hold them to a goalless draw at our place.

      Tadaaaaa~ 😛

  38. flyzowee
    April 10, 2011

    I say we risk the upcoming clasico, even if its just for the first half, we gotta play real smart, i suggest we throw in Jeffren Affellay and Messi in attack for that game. We could even throw alves up top and play adriano at rb.

    In midfield we could rest xavi and play busi, thiago and iniesta and bring on keita/xavi to stabalize da game 2nd half.

    Milito starting this game isnt even worth arguing over coz smach is out meaning our defence from yday is our only option unless you fancy a baptism of (clasico) fire for fontas who isnt that fast anyway.

    A point from this game is all we need imo.

  39. April 10, 2011

    I think that either this translation is wrong, or Eto’o’s memory is bad. He’s saying that we lost 5-1 to Getafe, then won 4-0 to qualify for the next round, when in fact it was the other way ’round. I suspect a dodgy translation:

  40. April 10, 2011

    Review edited for accuracy, folks, and Xavi picks up a rating point. As mohit accurately pointed out, and I confess to not knowing where the brain cramp came from, it was Messi whose sloppy giveaway gifted Almeria with possession, leading to Mascherano’s yellow. Not Xavi. Even worse, my NOTES say Messi, which makes me wonder what my brain was telling my fingers.

  41. April 10, 2011

    It was an enormous win yesterday. Pep was absolutely right – they could afford to drop points in the remaining difficult matches this season at RM and Espanyol. But they could not afford to drop points against a team they clearly should beat. That would have wasted the advantage they developed by Madrid losing to Gijon and dropping points in ties to other sides.

    And that’s why he most likely played Masch with 4 cards. Pep felt that they had to win yesterday game. And I’d guess he was very concerned about the CB pairing being vulnerable against the counter and as such wanted Masch in the match to screen the back two.

    Their options are limited for the Clasico at the back. Playing a high line with such limited pace is going to be a real risk against RM pace across the front. But Barca will just need to figure it out. It’s going to be one of those matches that the team has become so adept at – grinding out results when it needs to.

    Cule’s should also get ready for this upcoming run against RM. It’s simply not reasonable to expect Barca to beat what is likely the second best team in the entire world 5 times in one season and 4 times in one month, especially when 2 of those 4 are at the Bernabeau.

    Barca are still the superior team both for reasons of talent and tactics but RM eventually going to break this run. No team can play perfectly all the time.

  42. soccermomof4
    April 10, 2011

    Thanks for the review, Kxevin.

    I watched the game last night having already talked hubby into telling me the result. So I could watch it more calmly than if I were watching it live. Yes, we were far from our normal selves, but we still got the job done. Let’s not forget that we’re hurt, we’re tired, and our squad is seriously depleted (that’s the main adv. EE has over us, a large squad and key players returning from injury at the right time) and yet we still managed to get the 3 points.

    I looks like we’re gonna hafta trust Fontas or Milito in the back. I doubt Puyol returns before the clasico and even if he does he will have 0 match fitness.
    So for the clasico :
    Alves, Pique, Milito, Adriano
    Xavi, Iniesta


    Alves, Pique, Busi, Adriano
    Thiago/Keita, Iniesta

    Please people, remember that this team is taking us on the ride of our lives. Love them when they’re brilliant. But also love them when the best they can do is just get the job done. 🙂

    Hugs to all the cules!

  43. hammeronmessi
    April 10, 2011


    the match of EE and the match of ours should not be judged in the same scale.if they won then good,if not then mou could say that the liga was already gone.not the same for us even Pep said that we must win this game.I WAS JUST ASKING HIM TO BE OBJECTIVE WHEN JUDGIN THE 2 GAMES.

    U mentioned bout the tone but i asked the question in a serious far all the comments i have read of blaunero is full of doom and gloom.thats why the question.

    I may not embrace him But i didnt foul mouthed him,not shown any kind of hostility towards him.

    I just said that he is not the most positive cule to me,that he should be more objective when comparing 2 different teams each of which has now 2 different mindsets bout liga.if that warrants me an attention from you bout agression or hostility then i give up.may be i should be more diplomatic next time.

    • blaunero
      April 10, 2011

      Don’t worry about it. I didn’t find your comments aggressive or offensive. I am a pessimist, there’s no denying it. But my pessimism is directly proportional to the way the team plays and the way we’ve been playing in the last two months does not instill in me any confidence. We have no pace in the back even with Busquets, and none here can deny that; we have two forwards who have collectively scored a goal since 26 February (Pedro himself has only 1 since January). Meanwhile in central Spain, Mourinho has used the situation to his advantage. He can rest players at his leisure and he still can expect the same result–he has a deeper bench, obviously, and in the league his team is under no pressure anymore.

  44. Pyro
    April 10, 2011

    My dearest cules:

    Maxwell has to go. Do you agree with me? He needs to go because lazy passing, lack of pace, and the inability to fight for the ball also forget Cesc Fabregas, give Thiago the number 4

  45. April 10, 2011

    Srna picked up a knock and is reportedly not going to play in leg two the CL match.

    That means that both Srna and Rat would not be playing as Rat misses the match due to cards.

    Not having those two playing will make it much easier for Barca to defend. Much of their width comes from those two players making forward runs. They are also both dangerous on the counter.

    Sport is reporting that Bojan’s injury was a partial tear of his posterior cruciate ligament. As far as injuries go, it’s fortunate that the didn’t tear the anterior ligament as that bears stress on the knee. An anterior cruciate injury can often take up to a year to recover from.

    Let’s hope the tear isn’t too bad and they can avoid surgery.

    You could just see how disappointed Bojan was. He tried to stay in the match but there’s no way you can play through that kind of injury.

    They are very fortunate to have been able to pick up Afellay over the winter. He’s even more valuable now given that Bojan is out for the season.

    • Jnice
      April 10, 2011

      I really did feel bad for Bojan. Luck isn’t on his side, but hopefully he bounces back strong. I can see him using this as a motivation in the summer to strengthen his body even more than he has over the past couple of summers.

    • blitzen
      April 10, 2011

      This must be devastating for Bojan. Just when he was in form and playing really well. That run he made in yesterday’s game was terrific and should have resulted in a goal if Thiago had been just a titch faster.

      Poor kid. 🙁

      At least Jeffren might get a run-out now, though.

    • mohit
      April 10, 2011

      Tough luck for Bojan, but he’ll bounce back!
      Anyone remember Messi and his run of injuries under Rijkaard’s era? Every year, he’d pick up some long-term injury. That brings me to the question – are players in the 17-22 range more prone to injuries?

  46. messi_fan
    April 10, 2011

    I’d rather have Milito at the back than Busi. My logic is that I’d rather have a slow true centre back than a slow makeshift CB + a makeshift defensive midfielder (e.g. Keita).

    And I personally don’t see the harm in keeping Maxwell around. We aren’t a very deep squad as is.

  47. Helge
    April 10, 2011

    Looks like Srna and Txigrinski will both not be available for the CL 2nd leg. And then there is another defender(?) suspended, wasn’t it Razvan Rat???
    Anyway, Shakhtar loses its captain and will have to make do with an irregular defensive formation, I think we can play a weaker line-up @ the Donbass Arena 🙂

  48. Para
    April 10, 2011

    Kxevin, this isn’t a criticism by any means, but I was reading over some old reviews from last year (oh, procrastination, you are my friend) and you often wrote the player summaries as though you were speaking to the player. I’ve noted during the last few reviews (possibly much longer than that, but I wasn’t paying attention previously) that you speak about the players in the third person. I wondered if there was a reason you’d switched, or if it was unconscious.

  49. footballfan
    April 10, 2011

    Keita as CB anyone? Pep has tried Busquets and Masch there. Then midfield will be the usual Busquets Xavi Iniesta and MVP upfront.

    • April 10, 2011

      He played Dani Alves as a winger in a Clasico before, he could try it, I doubt it though.

  50. April 10, 2011

    We got the 3 points !!! it was fugly, but it worked.

    I know everyone is really concerned with the EE matches, but I’ve said this before and right before the 5-0, against Madrid it isn’t the players and their individual qualities necessarily that win, its our style. Some teams CAN play without the ball and chase it around and cut off our style, but Madrid players CAN’T seem to quite do it. They played their BEST team in the 5-0, Ozil was running around and tired at around the 20th minute mark, Xabi Alonso also tires quickly. If we can get past EE for their first 15 minutes, and just not allow them the ball much like the 5-0, we’ve got a win, they stop running, they don’t like to play monkey in the middle and Mourinho may have a plan, but its his players attitudes that he can’t change.
    Plus I am also okay with losing the Liga Clasico so long as Thong Boy doesn’t score.

  51. Jim
    April 10, 2011

    The way Pep’s mind works I reckon it’s almost a given now that Milito will play at CB along with Pique against RM. He won’t throw in anyone he doesn’t have to. The upside of that is that we will have our best three in midfield and along with Messi, a fitter Pedro and Villa that is as good a ball hogging combo as we will need. Remember last time they hardly got a kick.

    Only question is can we do that again ? you’d have to say that’s unlikely as we played virtually the perfect possession/ pressing match and they are unlikely to give us as much time as they did last time. That means we will have more to cope with defensively than last time which equals a few issues for us. However,

    Best back four? Adriano or Maxwell? Thiago or Keita instead of whoever ? (No wait, I’m putting the foot down at Iniesta playing the wing again )

    I haven’t a clue but I know a man who does . ..

    Last thought – I might be tempted to ask Keita to play at CB midweek, you know. He’s tall, can tackle, isn’t slow, is used to reading the game in midfield, has quick enough feet, can pass the ball. We could do worse. As I understand it the only reason it didn’t happen before was that Keita told Pep he didn’t think he could handle it.

    • Jnice
      April 10, 2011

      I think Keita told Pep he couldn’t play LB, not CB. I wouldn’t mind seeing how Keita does there, though.

      I regret us not having a bigger lead yesterday because that might’ve enabled Pep to tryout some different things.

  52. Barcaleya
    April 10, 2011

    Thanks for the great review, Kevin!

    The game was terrible – made better only by the fact that I watched it with Isaiah and his crew who were so much fun. Yay!

    I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing in the first half. So many loose passes (including Thiago backheels) going straight to opponents. And in the second half, the sequence of play leading to Almeria goal was downright embarrassing. Our players stood and did nothing. No one even seem to anticipate it happening. Lack of pace can be remedied by anticipation. By being in the right position. Poor Milito – who was left on his own against two players.

    But we got the win which is what matters now. I was tempted to think that our team display at Almeria was meant to lull EE into a false sense of complacency. If only this were true. I found our players slow and dull yesterday.

    BUT I’m really thankful for the win. And I’m sure we’ll recover and play better in the Clasicos. *on her knees praying*

  53. Miguel
    April 10, 2011

    6 – Racing have now dropped the most points in Liga BBVA this season because of goals conceded in the 90th minute or later. Robbed
    -Opta Sports

    Poor Racing. Your little brother isn’t supposed to cooler than you are, Gio.

    • footballfan
      April 10, 2011

      As an Arsenal fan, I’m not sure how to react with this piece of news. I certainly hope there will be more money to be spent on transfer, but it doesn’t feel like a really good news.

  54. mardia
    April 10, 2011

    Does anybody have an English stream of the Villerreal/Valencia match? Preferably with Ray-Ray commentary?

    • Miguel
      April 10, 2011

      It’s Sid Lowe MC’ing. Watching on TVland.

      I’m gonna miss the second half. 🙁 Why do I have to play the role of the child in my friends’ shared custody battles? I don’t want to hear your marital problems. I want to watch Villarreal.

    • Ryan
      April 10, 2011

      Buy Soldado! 😉

      (Nice goal from him just now)

    • Miguel
      April 10, 2011

      Oh! Here’s Ray Ray’s twitter, though:

      3-1, Messi. “The North American Indians would call him ‘tatonka’ — buffalo — because he’s that strong. He’s got the dexterity of a flea.”
      about 21 hours ago via web
      Ray on Justin Bieber: “Canada should apologize.”

      Cool! It’s not really him, is it?

      Soldado stike puts Valencia ahead. Boo.

      • mardia
        April 10, 2011

        I think it IS him, or rather, transcripts of his more memorable quotes. And bah, I’m rooting for Villerreal myself as well.

  55. April 10, 2011

    Valencia is playing a very intelligent game. They are attacking Villareal up the flanks, especially on transitions and counters.

    This is a problem for Villareal because their interiores pull centrally when in possession to prevent villareal from being outnumbered in midfield while still playing a two striker formation.

    This leaves the villareal full backs all alone to defend the flanks on transitions. Villareal can’t press or put pressure on the ball wide as it’s only one defender by himself.

    And that’s made worse due to the fact that so much of villareal’s width has to come from the full backs. So they have to push up while still not getting caught 1 vs. 1.

    This is why villareal often look shaky at the back. They play that high line but if they don’t press really hard and run really hard to close down the ball that high line can get picked apart, especially off the edges.

    • Barcaleya
      April 10, 2011

      Wow, two great saves from Villareal keeper.

      Valencia playing really well.

      • Barcaleya
        April 10, 2011

        Valencia learning from us 😀 One-twos between Mata and Banega. Brilliant goal from start to finish.

  56. vicsoc
    April 10, 2011

    I know it’s dangerous to vet too far ahead of ourselves, but I just had a crazy thought for El Clasico. Afellay played as a defensive midfielder for PSV near the Ned of his time there, right? Do you think there is any chance he could perform there in the first clasico? Busquets at center back, Afellay at defensive midfield (probably with Keita in the midfield as well).

    It seems like a bit of a stretch and it would definitely be a gamble, but with the prospect of Milito starting at center back I think Pep needs to examine all of his options very closely.

    • messi_fan
      April 10, 2011

      A bit of a stretch is right 🙂

    • April 10, 2011


      I was just kicking that idea around in my head yesterday.

      Afellay did play defensive midfield for PSV for a fair amount of time last season.

      It wasn’t his best position but he does have experience there.

      In the Clasico I would probably try using Keita as the holding player with Busquets at the back. But using Afellay is an interesting idea.

      I’m concerned about Milito playing at CB. He just has very little recovery speed anymore. He just can’t cover for the mistakes the players in front of him make nor does he recover well for a mistake he himself makes. He just doesn’t have the pace.

      I think the team would be better served by introducing a player with more pace in the holding position and moving Busquets to CB.

      • Miguel
        April 10, 2011

        You’d be more likely to see JdS in a holding role than Afellay, I’d think. Fontas does a great job there, too, dropping back whenever needed to play as a third CB. We’ll probably see Keiteee there, though.

        3-0, Valencia. I’m outta here.

      • messi_fan
        April 10, 2011

        Even though I suspect Pep will go with Keita as DM and Busquets at centreback, I really don’t like the idea of anyone besides Busi at DM. In my mind, that would weaken the midfield too much and put our CBs under even more pressure. Plus, like Kxevin said in another review, Keita is not good against players who have a lot of speed.

      • mei
        April 10, 2011

        I think the classico will all be about our offensive player’s performance.
        We will definitely be presented with an unfamiliar pick regarding the players that will form the defence and the middle : if busquets is not in the midfield and iniesta might be picked to play in a forward position if pedro cant play for the whole match its all about the pressure, effectiveness and the danger outlook of our attack line.
        If we press them hard enough and look quite dangerous , couple this with a goal then real madrid will instantly start to look more hesitant to go forward or to even counter convincingly and at any given opportunity.

  57. April 10, 2011

    Villareal have just completely fallen apart.

    Having to play Capdevilla in an advanced position on the left flank has been a disaster.

    Over and over Valencia were able to play fastballs to the left flank which left Villareal exposed to 1 vs. 1 situation. That was their primary strategy.

    But on the whole this was a match where valencia intelligently exploited the weaknesses of the 4-2-2-2 and the transitions involved by playing at speed down the flanks.

    And like that Soldado scores again. Just a disaster at the back for the Yellow Submarine.

    Villareal’s system takes a huge amount of pace and fitness to play over the course of a season. And if their pressure at the top fades even a little their high back line gets destroyed.

    It just goes to show how remarkable Barca is in the way they defend and play on the pres.

    But credit to Unai Emery. He planned this match perfectly.

    • Helge
      April 10, 2011

      I just hope our equally or even higher back line doesn’t get destroyed by Real Madrid in the next Clásicos…
      Nobody would have expected Valencia to win 5-0, right?

      • April 10, 2011

        When a high backline is not sufficiently supported by pressure across the pitch it can get very ugly quickly.

        That said, Villareal press is much more complicated than Barca’s and more fragile, especially on transitions.

        It’s a testament to how good Barca is defensively and what Pep has done tactically.

        Also – Madrid are fairly vulnerable to being pressed. Their players, particularly in the center midfield don’t feel comfortable being pressed. Both Alonso and Ozil really thrive in space but are susceptible to pressure.

        It’s the defense forward up the pitch which will be the key to protecting the Barca backline. It’s ironic but that’s how Barca plays. The advanced “attacking” players in many ways protect the “defenders.”

        • Helge
          April 11, 2011

          Thanks for the insightful comment Euler.
          It takes away a little bit of my nervousness 🙂

  58. messi_fan
    April 10, 2011

    So on tv right now, they are showing El Clasico the movie (in Spanish). I’m not sure what channel it’s actually on since I watch football on DirecTV Latin America’s Sports Channels. Maybe GolTV? But the imagery is AMAZING. Seeing Messi’s dribbles in slow motion is really something else.

  59. Jnice
    April 10, 2011

    Jim, thanks for taking the time to re-watch the first half and look at what Maxwell did or didn’t do. If you look at my argument, though, I included the second half in my assessment of him. I think you may find that he was worse in the second half than in the first.

    As for the type of passes he attempted, he’s attempting passes that I don’t think he has the quality to make. It may come off every once in awhile, but there’s a reason most of them never come off. Alves can do that, because I know that ultimately, he has the quality and that’s his game. Might be a double standard (for good reason), but when Maxwell does it, it seems to me that we are wasting possession unnecessarily.

    I didn’t criticize him defensively, so you didn’t need to include what he did on that end.

    And no offense, but IMO saying things like “Villa appreciated it – he gave it an immediate thumbs up” is stretching things a bit in order to boost his credibility. I’ve seen Villa give thumbs up for shit passes.

    But my feelings on Maxwell came without viewing the match a second time, so if you say Maxwell wasn’t that bad offensively, I’ll take your word for it. You have evidence- I don’t. I just thought he looked dire for stretches and nowhere as assured as Adriano has looked in recent weeks, but I could be wrong, no problem.

    • Jim
      April 10, 2011

      Thanks for the reasonable reply, Jnice. I didn’t have the time (or inclination) to watch the whole match again – don’t know how Kxevin does it – and you may be right that he deteriorated as the game went on. i can’t say. I do remember a great low cross and a couple of good moves inside with the ball ( including ironically the one which ended up with Iniesta losing the ball and us losing a goal !) but not much else.

      I’ve begun to doubt he has the will to attack rather than the quality – you’ll not see a better pass than his reverse one to Iniesta but I do think he attempted a bit more last night until Pep gave him the word to play it tighter. We may never know if he has the quality as Adriano may now be getting the nod ahead of him. However, that wasn’t my original point which was more that he seems to become the whipping boy if things aren’t going well and the facts don’t always support that. He is rarely awful, just as he is rarely brilliant but he has never let us down.

      • April 10, 2011

        Interestingly, I just tracked Maxwell for the entire first half, and would be happy to continue if folks want. He had 40 touches, (including the fateful pass that Krkic kocked up — if his first touch is better, he doesn’t get injured, I hate to observe, but must), and it’s interesting:

        –Of his touches, almost half (16) were lateral or negative.
        –ceded one corner
        –1 straight-up giveaway, that he won right back (37th minute)
        –offensively, he had a few very good moments, including the pass-shot sequence that resulted in him missing a shot he should have done better with. He also had a very nice offensive header on the edge of the Almeria box to keep possession for us, and a nice run/pass sequence in the 33rd minute.

        His involvement picked up as we pressed more. Whether the perception that Adriano is more dynamic than Maxwell is probably a matter of personal preference, and how the match is being played. But if we revisit the Adriano single-match tracking, there are some differences:

        –Different match obviously, but the actions seem to bear out the notion that Adriano is more dynamic. He had 14 positive possession-changing interventions (over the entire match). He outran 2 players to loose balls.

        –He also had key giveaways that could have cost the club dearly. His risk/reward factor is higher, one reason Guardiola probably opted for the more secure Maxwell, who won’t get you as much on the offensive end, but he won’t kill you directly, either.

        As Jim notes, Maxwell is always solid. It’s also worth noting that the Adriano tracking was for the Arsenal CL Camp Nou tie, a match in which we were in resplendent form. Not so yesterday.

        I suspect that some of why Maxwell gets a bum rap is because he isn’t as active as Adriano. And fans want to see their players running around all the time, doing something. Maxwell doesn’t roll like that, another reason that Guardiola probably prefers him to Adriano in a “tighter” match, that is to say a match that we will be extremely wary of conceding.

        The differences are interesting. Whether Maxwell is a negative player where Adriano is a positive one depends upon interpretation, since there is no direct comparison. But there’s no question that he’s a less risky player defensively, because of the way that he plays.

        • April 10, 2011

          I did it anyway. Jnice’s impressions that Maxwell was significantly worse in the second half aren’t borne out by viewing. I will say this:

          –On the Almeria goal, we missed Abidal’s (and Adriano’s) tendency to make a play and return to station. Maxwell makes a pass, runs to the center of the Almeria box and stops, waiting for the attack to develop. When the giveaway happens, he’s out of position when a left back could have maybe helped Iniesta.

          Anyhow, another 31 touches, with a much lower percentage of them as negative/neutral. Worked a nice 1-2 with Villa, also had 3 interceptions and a dangerous header into the air in front of our box that could have been trouble.

          Almeria essentially ignored Maxwell, pretty much even when he had the ball, until he did something positive. Teams seem to treat Adriano as more of a danger man, supporting Euler’s perception.

          Hmmm ….

          Other general observations:

          –Milito gets a bum rap. As noted above, he had a very solid match. Bailed Pique’s butt out a couple of times.

          –Villa is too often lazy for me. On one occasion, he could have really tried to run onto a pass that he knew was coming, and half-assed it. And on the set piece that resulted in the Thiago goal, he barely moved. At least try to get open. Was the play designed for Thiago? Maybe. But what if it doesn’t work?

          –Pedro!! always runs. Not trots, not walks. Runs.

          –Alves never, ever stops. His man, Ortiz, was hammered, and Alves looked daisy-fresh, still running full-speed and raising hell.

          –Watch the Messi gamesmanship at 74:55, where he runs into the back of an Almeria player, then falls back as if he’d been elbowed. I don’t like that.

          Finally, a Ray Ray moment, describing Thiago’s header:

          He rises like a salmon out of a beautiful mountain stream!

          • Jnice
            April 11, 2011

            Thanks for taking the time to do that, Kxevin.

            I usually watch matches at least 2 or 3 times, but I didn’t get around to watching this one again yet, so I acknowledge that I may have been wrong in my assessment of Maxwell.

            Maybe it was due to my emotions during the match, but I just didn’t feel Maxwell was doing enough to help the team’s cause at the time. You and Jim have both pointed out evidence that says the contrary.

            Like I said before, no problem, I’m glad to be wrong in this case.

          • April 11, 2011

            No worries, Jnice. That’s why we’re here. I think that Maxwell’s “cooler” style leaves a bit of the wrong impression. Adriano is more Pedro!!, while Maxwell is more Villa, is the best way I can put it.

            What I can’t figure out is the seeming hesitancy to pass him the ball. He was out there by himself, hugging the sideline, but seemed to be a last resort many times. Maybe somebody has an opinion about that one. I found it interesting.

            I imagine some of it is the right-centric tone of our offense.

  60. BarcaGirl_Indo
    April 10, 2011

    so I see some of my milanisti friends are starting to beg for BANGS to be send back here…

    he just finished his 2 matches ban and played again last night…
    and guess what? he got another yellow card + direct red card, which can lead to another 2-3 matches ban…

    like always, Pep knows better…

    • April 10, 2011

      And he was having a good match before that, being involved in both Milan goals. But you could also see the petulance building in a player who seems to send the message through his off-the-ball actions that his teammates aren’t worthy of him. As the exasperation builds, his cork pops.

      Unfortunately for Milan, returning him isn’t an option, as I understand the deal.

  61. Sheena
    April 10, 2011

    Valencia just totally copied our style. Pfft.

    (I’m so glad we’ve already played them this season 😛 )

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 10, 2011

      but EE hasn’t played against them in Mestalla… so… 😛

      • Sheena
        April 10, 2011

        Meh. I’ve given up hoping that EE will drop points against the bigger teams. I had high hopes for Bilbao, especially with them playing at the San Mames, and EE just brushed them aside. They always tend to slip up when you least expect it.

        • BarcaGirl_Indo
          April 10, 2011

          well tbf, that is exactly the same thing EE fans said, that Barça won’t slip against big teams…

          but as we all know, we lost 2 points against Sevilla…

          • April 10, 2011

            I will also say, having seen only the highlights, that both those penalty calls were flat-out ridiculous, Di Maria selling the lightest of touches with “I’m dead! I’m dead!” aplomb. Our defenders need to be wary of that nonsense.

            Athletic isn’t going to be the club that causes EE stress, because they are a more dynamic side than we are, meaning they get up and down the pitch faster and more directly. Our patient style lets Athletic set its defense, rather than a dive bomb into the box that puts the defenders into immediate danger.

            Valencia, however, is another question. Same for Sevilla. Villarreal will depend on Europa League action. Note how tired they were today.

    • Nav
      April 10, 2011

      That picture is originally from the Clasico in November after Villa scored his first goal making it 3-0. I’ve got the high-res version of that as my wallpaper. I loves it.

    • tutomate
      April 10, 2011

      if it was not for that Qatar Foundation Logo I would be super excited.

      • barca96
        April 10, 2011

        Yeah in an ideal world it would be perfect without the Qatar foundation.
        This would-be jersey would be the first since 06/07 that I would say; “I WILL GET IT AT ALL COST” before it was even released. After those years, it’s just ok ok.

    • Eklavya
      April 11, 2011

      WOW, that jersey is really awesome!! Obviously, the sponsor spoils it a bit but still it looks cool 🙂

  62. xavi
    April 10, 2011

    😆 @ people falling for Afellay rumors… Sure barcastuff reported it but come on guys Barcastuff’s Pep only ‘reported’ it there’s no confirmation! Also he’s no official source, he just translates different rumors emerging in Catalan media…does pretty good job at that though. Whenever he has proof that a rumor is total speculation he mentions it’s 100% fake but when he got no proof for that he just ‘reports’ it!! Take a blind eye on that speculation because just two weeks ago, after giving those glorious performances for the Dutch national team he confirmed in an interview how he’s enjoying his stay at Camp Nou and how lucky he feels to play alongside such a glorious players. He even got to start the most difficult fixture of our season, Villarreal away! Now that Bojan is injured and there’s such a tight schedule we have ahead he’s bound to play pretty often. So no worries really 🙂

    Oh on the Maxwell debate, I think this has been his best performance all season, he was best defender last match and I thought he’d get a very good rating from Kxevin too

    It sucks that Bojangles had to break his knee at such a stage. He must have realised that now that the league is almost ours he’d get to start regularly. The confidence showed in his play last match but it’s really bad luck that he had to get injured like that. I think this will either make him mentally very strong when he returns or he suffers another setback…hope it’s the former

    And regarding Botia rumors, I really like ’em. Always maintained we’d do well to bring him back next season. Regarding the speculation that he might be used in further transfer deals, I don’t think they are true. Because ‘Sport’ suggested that the club buy him back for peanuts and then sell him for higher money in order to raise funds for Cesc. Now that Botia is starting to turn the heads with his leap in quality and Preciado expressing his thoughts on the player that he is very much ready for Barca, ‘Sport’ are trying to clean their hands by reporting Sporting ‘believe’ Botia would be used in further deals by the club! I wonder how Sporting thinks so when their manager openly says the player is very much ready for Barca!!

    I’ll start Valdes, Alves, Busi, Milito, Adriano, Masch, Xavi, Afellay, Pedro, Messi, Villa for Shakhtar match. And start Valdes, Alves, Pique, Milito, Maxwell, Busi, Thiago, Keita, Jeffren, Villa & Afellay for the first classico. I don’t believe losing the fixture playing the kids would kill the confidence. They themselves are going to start their reserves judging from their starting 11 against Bilbao… Also the thugs like Lass and Arbeloa are going to start that match so I don’t want to risk any of our starters ahead of the Copa final

  63. footballfan
    April 11, 2011


    thanks for the swiss ramble article! all things considered, it looks like a good piece of news for arsenal. cheers.

  64. Diego
    April 11, 2011

    Di Maria just broke the record of number of Penalties won by a player in a single season.

    • blitzen
      April 11, 2011

      Tim Stannard of LLL:

      The Athletic keeper was guilty of a foul that was so blatant and heinous on Angel Di María in the eleventh minute that the Argentine didn’t even have to attempt a dive. The winger made up for that in second half though with a double salchow to win Madrid’s second spot-kick of the game and keep up the penalty count that Marca and AS have demanding of late.

      • barca96
        April 11, 2011

        Brilliant by Tim Stannard. So frickin’ hilarious!
        Thanks for posting that Blitz..

        p.s. Everytime I see your name, it reminds me of a drift car.
        Im pretty sure I’ve seen a drift car with a big Blitz sticker on it’s sides. Ugly! Not your name though 🙂

  65. outerspacedout
    April 11, 2011

    Ah, seeing Snoopy Dance always reminds me of Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    Pique just tweeted/FB status updated that they were now in Donetsk and ready for the game tomorrow. Does anyone know which players traveled and who were dropped from the squad and allowed rest?

  66. outerspacedout
    April 11, 2011

    The whole squad makes the trip to Shakhtar? Not happy with this development… not pessimistic, just not happy. Hope most of them will just be on the bench then.

    • blitzen
      April 11, 2011

      Why should this bother you? Pep always prefers to have as many of the team as possible, especially for important matches like this one. Firstly, it fosters team feeling. Even those who don’t make the bench will still feel involved and part of the team. Secondly, Pep likes to keep his options open until the last minute. He has a general idea of who he will pick for the game, but this way he can make last-minute changes based on training form, injury flare-ups, ect.

      • outerspacedout
        April 11, 2011

        Yeah I know I generally wouldn’t mind but we have a four-goal lead and its SOOOOO FAR! I’m worried they’ll be tired from the thousands of miles of travel. It takes me a couple days to get back in sync after just the Maldives-Malaysia flight even.

  67. Eklavya
    April 11, 2011

    The Squad list is out!

    The Bad:

    The whole squad goes. Well, we were excepting it. What we hope is that not everyone plays.

    The Good:

    JDS is selected!! Oooooh, moc moc! I hope he gets minutes!!

    -Iniesta isn’t traveling. Duh, but still yay!

    -There is also Thiago and Oier and Pinto. There will be someone dropped out right? The final squad is of 19 players. And since Valdes and Pinto are first teams, the person to be dropped will probably be Oier, meaning that JDS will not be dropped! Yay x Yaya!

    • blitzen
      April 11, 2011

      CL squad is only 16 players, isn’t it? Highly doubt JDS will make the bench.

      • Eklavya
        April 11, 2011

        Oh yeah, 11 starters + 5 bench = 16?


        • Josep
          April 11, 2011

          90% sure you get 7 bench players like in the league.

          • blitzen
            April 11, 2011

            You’re right, it’s the CdR that you can only name 16 players.

  68. blitzen
    April 11, 2011

    From the official website:

    Tuesday’s game against Shaktar will be just the second match in his career that Andres Iniesta has missed through suspension.

    That is nothing short of amazing!

  69. Eklavya
    April 11, 2011

    My XI:

    Adriano Fontas Milito Maxwell
    Thiago Mascherano Jonathan
    Pedro Villa Afellay

    I’d rather put Afellay in the midfield but then there wouldn’t be any JDS and Messi would have to play.

  70. outerspacedout
    April 11, 2011

    Unrelated, but for the Arsenal fans making fun of us being in debt, I wonder if her article IS accurate. Namely, this quote:

    “Bayern Munich has become THE German football team, and one of the five biggest footballing clubs in the world; ranking 4th in the Deloitte’s index and 5th on the Forbes list. Only two clubs of those top 5, Barcelona and Bayern, are financially viable as Manchester United, Real Madrid and Arsenal are all upwards of 40 percent in debt.”

    Us and Bayern are the financially viable sides of those five according to Deloitte/Forbes, and also Arsenal are over 40% in debt?

  71. Josep
    April 11, 2011

    Silvio Berlusconi on Ibrahimovich: “He started off well, but he hasn’t scored for ages. Maybe I threw away some money…”

    So I noticed everyone saying EE rested players and dusted Bilbao. Did we watch the same match? For the most part, Bilbao looked far more lively in the first half. Di Maria gained an actual legit PK. Then cemented his performance later. I honestly can’t stand him now, and to think I liked him before.

    What’s worse is Bilbao had several shouts turned down and I seem to remember a Carvalho to llorente elbow to end the first half. Di Maria’s PK total from this weekend was equal to our league total before the match.

    And no one argues Milito’s rating? He did make two great plays, the pass to Villa, and the 2 on 1 he did absolutely what was needed and was an inch away from breaking up the play for the goal. I hold him responsible for Masch’s yellow as well as Messi though.

    So why was Fontas called up again?

    • April 11, 2011

      I’d suggest that you watch again. Milito had a host of interventions, including one where he saved Pique’s bacon and broke up what would have almost certainly been a goal. Milito is another player getting a bum rap these days. He had an above average match.

      • Josep
        April 11, 2011

        All I said was no one argued his rating, I actually thought he played to a higher rating is what I meant. Did you interpret it differently because of the proposed Milito rap everyone gives him? Since its based on his average, he’s had his best game of the season.

        • April 11, 2011

          The context of your comment, founded in: “I hold him responsible for Masch’s yellow as well as Messi though,” makes the supposition that he didn’t deserve what he got an easy one to make.

          As for his getting a higher rating, no. He was in the wrong place as the pinnacle of the comedy of errors on the goal, and should have been more decisive on the play that resulted in the Mascherano yellow. There were a number of other occasions that found him wanting, as well.

          I’m pretty sure he’s had a better outing for us this season, but I do believe that he was our best defender yesterday.

          • Josep
            April 11, 2011

            “And no one argues Milito’s rating? He did make two great plays, the pass to Villa, and the 2 on 1 he did absolutely what was needed and was an inch away from breaking up the play for the goal. I hold him responsible for Masch’s yellow as well as Messi though.”

            Hmm I was implying he made a great play, another great play, but I do also hold him responsible for a bad play.”

            Although I do understand where you’re coming from and what you’re saying. I don’t remember him having a better match, but still based on what he’s done all season this was his best match. That’s not saying too much..

        • barca96
          April 11, 2011

          He definitely had his best game of the season and I was really surprised that he was taken off. But I guess we needed more midfielders so it was a tactical move by Pep.

          I guess Milito will play some part tonight.

    • Para
      April 11, 2011

      If hair gel lead to injury, half the Barcelona squad would be permanently stationed in the treatment room.

      • blitzen
        April 11, 2011

        ^ 😀

        Xavi and David Villa are in traction as we speak…

      • footballfan
        April 11, 2011

        But Iniesta will be fit all the time!

          • April 11, 2011

            Wait …. that isn’t a joke! They really are testing Jeffren for external causatives. Wow.

            Did anyone notice how Villa’s hair after his blown header, looked just like it did before?

          • barca96
            April 11, 2011

            Did anyone notice how Villa’s hair after his blown header, looked just like it did before?

            Yeah yeah. They were that strong. I wish I could style my hair like that. TOo bad my hair is too stiff. No gel or wax would keep it straight up.

            FUnny story. Many many years ago two sets of my friends had a feud so there was a big fight. That’s not funny. The funny thing was that after the fight, my other set of friends were laughing that I was the only one who came out of the fight with my hair still standing 😆
            I was the mediator of course.

  72. barca96
    April 11, 2011

    Oh ya. Just a little suggestion to the BFB crew.
    In hotmail account or on some other forums, when that page is on your browser (Chrome for me), when you are not on it, you will get a notification on that particular tab.

    For example, BFB is on one of my tabs right now but Im not on it as Im reading something else in another tab. But let’s say somebody commented on BFB, so on the tab there will be a exclamation mark ( !! ) notifying me that there is a new comment on that page.

    Just a suggestion.

  73. xavi
    April 11, 2011

    So JDS included… I wonder if it is to try him out as defensive midfielder some time, while playing Masch at CB? That would evaluate the following situation… Remember Masch is suspended for the first classico while Busi needs to be tried out as CB at all costs in that match, so why not try JDS at DM position?

    Also we need to try out Masch at CB position too, because of the obvious loss of Busi’s quality in the midfield when he plays a defender… What better way to verify it than trying it against the second best attack in the CL(or is Shakhtar third now?)

    I reckon that we’ll start a full-fledged team against Shakhtar in Valdes-Alves-Masch-Pique-Adriano-Busi-Xavi-Keita-Pedro-Villa-Afellay (I only hope we rest Messi in this match but it is mostly not gonna happen though) but then some where in the middle we remove Busi, bring on JDS and also remove Pique, bring on Milito…that way Masch will be tested more 😛

    Or we might try Fontas too, because he already played a defensive midfielder many times

    • barca96
      April 11, 2011

      We have Fontas who could play at DM so why should Pep play some one who has little experience in it? However Im not discounting of that option as you were right last time in assuming that Pep rested Adriano for the Arsenal match. Hehe. Still in my memory.

      I really found it strange that JDS was called up as he wasn’t even training with the 1st team today or yesterday.

  74. barca96
    April 11, 2011

    WTF??!! Messi’s brother’s house was shot!
    Gang style drive by shooting.
    Why would anyone want to hurt his family?
    Messi has done so much to help the poor people.
    Bunch of useless low life scum bags that who ever did that.

  75. Josep
    April 11, 2011

    JDS has played DM from time to time, maybe more than Fontas.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing masch get tested at CB with JDS as the holding mid. or go Fontas-Busi. Whatever we use tomorrow is what we should use Saturday.

    Also, I heard Luiz Adriano may not play now?

    • barca96
      April 11, 2011

      MOre than Fontas?
      Not too sure about that cause if Im not mistaken Fontas started out at DM. If Im correct, definitely Fontas has more experience.

    • Miguel
      April 11, 2011

      Guardiola makes the funniest faces at his press conferences.

      • blitzen
        April 11, 2011

        And whoever took those pics is in love with all of his faces!

    • Para
      April 11, 2011

      If you keep clicking through, there are pictures of Thuram visiting Jerusalem. Keeping in mind the fact that I only started watching football recently, my first thought was “Kxevin!”.

      • Miguel
        April 11, 2011

        Yeah, I was like, “so that’s where Kxevin went on vacation.”

  76. xavi
    April 11, 2011


    As Josep says, yeah JDS did play a holding midfielder a lot of times. He did so even even with the first team, but that’s a forgetable affair really. The 1-3 loss to Sevilla in the first official match of this season, although tbf to the kid had to be said there was like no first team player starting that day

  77. Miguel
    April 11, 2011

    You guys see Andy Carrol’s goal just now? Deeeamn.

    Uh-oh. Carlos Tevez off. 🙁

    • Ryan
      April 11, 2011

      I missed it, but he scored again!

      They’re saying on Sky that Tevez’ injury looked bad…

      • Miguel
        April 11, 2011

        I didn’t really see the injury. I was making lunch. Carrol’s second goal was a header. Well placed. Don’t remember if it was a corner or not.

        Kuyt’s goal, Liverpool’s second, came after about 20 missed chances in or around the box. Nuts.

  78. PhepheSa
    April 11, 2011

    liverpool playing some good stuff. Suarez is class. I so hope man city miss out on champions league football again.

    • Helge
      April 11, 2011

      haha, me too. But they are practically still 4 points ahead of Spurs, due to goal difference. And Spurs still have to play Arsenal and @ManCity.

  79. blitzen
    April 11, 2011

    I didn’t see anyone else post it, so:

    Happy 20th Birthday to Thiago!!!

  80. Helge
    April 11, 2011

    lol, Balotelli is such a joke!

    He doesn’t show desire or work ethic, but he believes to one day being better than Crynaldo, his idol 😀
    How much did City once again pay for him?

    Dzeko is also a huge disappointment, they both probably only get outshone by Fernando Torres. And I feel lots of schadenfreude watching those 40+mio strikers fail *g*

    • PhepheSa
      April 11, 2011

      Ha! Was about to ask why so much hype surrounding the guy. Must admit i didn’t watch inter much last season but my god is he overrated.

      Oh my brother was asking laughing out loud asking “Is it even allowed to substitute a sub?” That’s how bad he’s been.

      • Jnice
        April 11, 2011

        Manchester City…. what a terrible team. Yuck.

  81. Humphrey Bogart
    April 11, 2011

    I think we should start a rescue mission for David Silva to help him out of this terrible Man Shitty team.

    Phantastic stuff from Liverpool and I just adore King Kenny, he is just too cute.

  82. Josep
    April 11, 2011

    C’mon you lot aren’t serious when you say Balotelli is overrated. He’s really, really good. He just shows it when he feels like it.

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