Shakhtar – Barcelona Second Leg Liveblog

Join us for the second leg of the Champions League Quarterfinals. Barcelona lead 5-1 on aggregate.

Guardiola has gone for a no-nonsense lineup, which looks like this:

Valdes Alves Pique Busquets  Adriano Xavi Mascherano Keita Afellay Messi Villa

Bench: Pinto Milito Fontas Maxwell Thiago Pedro Jeffren


Clasico who? It’s time to take care of business in the Donbass Arena.




    1. This was the lineup I predicted. I have absolutely no proof that I predicted it, but you should believe me anyways.

    2. I believe you. And you have proof as well:

      I was the one who predicted it and let it secretly slip into your mind through subliminal messages during the previous LiveBlog. Yes.

  1. I don’t know how or when exactly I became Jeffren’s cheerleader, but I repeat: Pep must give Jeffren some minutes today. We need him to be match-ready with all these big games coming up. I know Pep doesn’t rely on him, but if something bad happens to Messi or Villa we may have no choice.

    Similar situation with Fontas. We are thin enough at the back as it is. Fontas needs playing time to get comfortable with the rhythm of this team. I look for him to play in the 2nd half.

    1. It’s a slightly disturbing pic of a shirtless Jeffren pouting and cuddling two Chihuahuas. Nothing offensive, just weird.

  2. It should be noted that they are missing 3 starting defenders
    Rat, Srna and Dima,
    They have the same situation we have, So lets hope the guys take advantage of that.

  3. Usually I dont participate liveblogs because I prefer focusing on the tv.
    But I guess I will participate today as Im trying to remove virus on my ext. HDD and recover my files. 490GB worth of data ( tons of Barca matches included) are on the line.

    This virus hides my folders and creates shortcuts instead.
    Anyone faced this problem before?

    1. Yeah I have.. I deleted the .exe files (after mounting it in Ubuntu) that looked like viruses and voila! everything got deleted.. So don’t do that!

      First try to backup all the files (atleast those you can’t do without). Then scan your drive using malwarebytes antimalware or some other scanning tool but DO NOT DELETE ANYTHING!! If you find a virus, try searching on the net on how to remove it..

  4. Game. Set. Match. Now what are the poor announcers going to do with the 45+minutes of air time they have been suddenly gifted by a delight of a goal?

    Hellloooo, semis!

  5. Looks like I have predicted the lineup very precise… Except that Messi-Pedro part

    And guess who plays CB, that’s right baby it’s Masch as I said it 😀

    Btw really sweet goal by Messi

  6. First team to win away at Shakhtar’s new stadium!
    Messi breaks the real Ronaldo’s record.
    Good day to be a Barca fan!

  7. -Messi moves into 7th place all time in UCL history with 34, passing Drogba and Morientes.

    -Messi is the top scorer ever in a single season with 48 goals.

    -We finally win an away match under Pep.

  8. Shakhtar was missing 3 starting defenders. They had their chances and so we did we. Next-the first of four Clasicos.

  9. Finaly Peps knock out curse has been brocken and we have our first away victory in a CL knock out game. With the monkey off our back, Madrid can come.

    Happy that Abi started and Jeffren got some minutes, but I have to say that we just can not play Milito in important games, I really like him but he is a liability these days.

    1. I think you mean Ibi, as Abi is still recovering from surgery.

      And hooray for Pep’s Barca finally winning an away game in the CL knockouts!

  10. Professional display by Barcelona. and what a goal by Messi! EE we are waiting for you 🙂

  11. Missed the first half and 10 minutes of the second, but from what I saw, it was a comfortable win. Little peeved that Messi played the full 90, but I recognize there are only three subs Pep can make and I agree with all of them. If Messi didn’t start–pity I missed the goal–we wouldn’t have the away goal and end of the tie.

    Speaking of Messi, that’s 48 goals this season and he breaks Brazilian Ronaldo’s all-time record.


    1. Congratulations to Messi on the goal, but he has got to stop trying the vaselina every time he gets the chance. The first one before the goal was ridiculous; the second one from 20m was pointless.
      “When you need to shoot, just shoot, don’t talk.” Somebody should tell him that–he’d score a crapload more goals if he’d just listen.

    2. It usually works like a charm, but this keeper was good at not dropping for a low shot too early.

    3. I know, he’s having such a crappy run of form. What is he thinking taking those shots! *sarcasm*

      Personally, I love our flea and if he sees an opening, I think he’s earned the benefit of the doubt 🙂

  12. -Barça is only the 4th team in European Cup history to qualify to the semifinals for 4 consecutive years.

  13. A few things we learned today;

    1) Masch is a monster. I lost count of the number of impeccable interceptions he made today. He should play CB and put Busquets back where he is best.

    2) Dont think we need to look for a new LB come the summer. Adriano has made that position his own. His pace, aggression and ability on the ball make him perfect for us.

    3) Afellay is getting there, slowly but surely. I thought he was great tonight. He didnt do anything spectacular, but he did his job and he did it well.

    4) Villa has a problem. I feel bad for him because he does work his ass off defensively, but offensively he has been pretty non-existent lately. He needs a goal and he needs it quick.

    5) Messi is a god.

    1. If only we could have Masche back there on Saturday. At least we’ll have him for the other 3 clasicos.

  14. And here I thought it was too late in the season to start experimenting with Mascherano at CB, but it seemed to be a very easy transition for him. He had a great game back there. Props to those of you who called this tactical switch.

    It’s too bad he’s suspended for the 1st clasico, but I’d rather miss him in that game than in the next three games against Madrid.

    The next several weeks are going to be one of the craziest tail-end of the seasons ever. Can’t wait.

    1. This week’s Golden Tapir goes to Ibrahimovic.
      “Milan continues winning, but Ibra continues getting red cards. After the two games’ suspension for the punch on Bari’s Marco Rossi, on his return to the pitch on Sunday he got himself yet again suspended for three games for the nice little words whispered to the assistant ref.” And so it goes. Striscia la Notizia is the funniest thing on Italian TV. If I had the time I’d translate the whole thing.

  15. All we need to do now is invent a time machine, Go back in time and tell Masch not to do a yellow card earning foul and We use him as a CB against EE.

    1. We won’t have for the first league game but I bet we’ll use him as CB in all the other Clasicos.

  16. Masch being a starter at CB would solve many problems. We would have a good, experienced CB with good positioning. He would get playing time. He and Pique could be first choice. Bring back Botia and test Fontas. Puyol and Abidal remain our dependable rocks. Busi goes back to DM! Ta-daaa!

    Then we would just need to buy another LB (sell Maxwell) and a striker and we’d be fit to go for another season.

    1. 1. I don’t think it being reversed is really an issue. The play is beautiful, no matter what angle you look at it from.

    2. Messi playing with his right and everyone else with their left and it feels like the 2nd half.

    3. 2. I was fine until I read the name on everybody’s jerseys. I have to sit down now. 🙂 Is that your channel?

      Yay! Barcelona won!

      Guardiola: “We wanted more speed at the back, Mascherano has done great. He has been a spectacular signing.”

      Guardiola: “I dedicate this victory to Bojan. We hope he’ll be back soon.”


    4. Yes, sir! You can tell by the eljuevesTV subscription 😉 And to elmagicomessi10 but he doesn’t make videos anymore 🙁

    5. I was more annoyed by the commentator saying of Xavi’s goal “it’s not the greatest goal you’ll ever see”

  17. And we are in the s̶e̶m̶i̶ double final against that other team! Unless if…


  18. The problem or worry with Masch as CB is one thing.

    If he mistimed his tackle as a DM, he’d get a yellow.

    If he mistimed his tackle as a CB, he’d get a red.

    DMs are usually more reckless or hopeful with their tackles than CBs, Other than that His height is proper and his speed is good.

  19. If anyone has a link to match highlights I would appreciate it, I was unable to see most of the game…


  20. Revista De La Liga – 04-12-11


    / De La Liga – 12-04-11.avi


    Credit to Pakman at

  21. You know a team is crazy when DM’s look better at CB than the one’s actually playing naturally that position.
    Btw , rosell and co have made like the best buys ever for a barcelona squad.
    Adriano , Nascherano , Afellay. Multitools that help the team majorly in several positions/roles and have a future with us. Decent personalities as well.

  22. What a pleasure this team is to watch. We are so lucky to be able to see this.

    They just played a beautiful match. Professional. Composed. Business like but still filled with wonderful one touch football.

    And on top of all that – what a relief this match was.

    I’ve been wanting Masch to get minutes at CB since last summer when he first signed. Every season teams runs out of CBs at some point late in the year.

    Masch played an absolutely masterful game. He was tremendous. He has all the skill sets to excel at CB. And today he demonstrated how he could put those skills into practice – and did so against one of the most dangerous counter attacking teams in Europe.

    It just wasn’t optimal to play Busi and Masch together with Busi at CB and Masch at DM. It just wasn’t the best use of their respective skills and weaknesses and never was.

    It’s unfortunate that Masch won’t be available for the Clasico. But I fully expect him to be anchoring the CB spot for the remainder of the season in critical fixtures.

    His pace, positional understanding of the game and steel are just a great fit for CB and his ball playing skill fit very well with what’s required to play the position at Barca.

    During last fall as we watched Masch play in the colors I became very hopeful. I felt like he had the potential to be Puyol’s heir apparent. Today I felt like we may be watching the first page in the next chapter of Masch’s career at Barca.

  23. Also – Victor Valdes has been the best goal keeper in Europe this year and I hope he is finally acknowledged as such.

    He was amazing once again today.

    1. I was about to comment on this fact as well. In the past, you could credit Vades’ great goalkeeping to a great defense. But for most of the season we’ve had a makeshift defense at best and Valdes has been nothing short of astonishing. Even late in the game when the match was all but dead, he was still stopping point blank shots and would NOT let them score even one goal. The guy is class and severely underrated.

    2. It’s great to see Valdes come out like this recently. Hopefully it puts down the lingering sentiment that he was somehow gifted all those Zamoras 😛

    3. That’s just great too see. L’Equipe is so influential. For them to start that conversation is wonderful.

      He’s been the best. He deserves the recognition.

    4. Do you think he will ever be Del Bosque’s number 1 choice for the NT over Casillas?

    5. Unfortunately, blitzen, I don’t. I don’t think he’ll get much time with the Spanish NT given his age and Iker’s.

      Iker is the captain of the NT. There’s also the whole politics of the NT being so Barca heavy.

      I just think Iker’s shadow is cast so far that Valdes won’t get much of an opportunity.

      But right now – he’s become the better keeper. He’s more athletic, more dynamic and better on the ball than Iker.

    6. He might be able to leapfrog Reina though. Which is something. It’s a bit sad that he doesn’t get to represent his country even though he’s so good. :/

  24. Positives:
    -Victor Valdes. This guy is simply amazing, MotM for me once again. He’s one of the best goalkeepers of the world at the moment, next to Manuel Neuer imo, but second to none!
    -No injuries, and a match played in save-energy-mode
    -Still a little bit too many regular starters, I would have liked to see a bit more readiness to assume risk, for instance start with Fontas
    -David Villa, who has been poor for the last 9 matches. Simple as that. I doubt that his overall season will be any better than Ibra’s in the end. Has Ibra had such a bad run???
    -Pedro also didn’t score 🙁
    -Gaby Milito. If we want to stand a chance against Real Madrid, we simply cannot play him. It would be suicide to play him, it practically meanns gifting Real the victory. This match just proved it once again, Milito is completely out of form and will probably never return to the level which is required to play against mid- or top-class teams

    1. No, they are between mid- and top-class.

      And I also think that Milito is actually not good enough to face Shakhtar. But clearly he is not fast enough to face the pace of Madrid.

  25. I think Villa is exhausted. I just think the intensity at which he’s been required to play offensively and defensively this season have worn him down.

    Competing for a treble this late into the season is a new experience for Villa. Being required to press this intensely is new for Villa. Playing this many matches in a season is probably new to him as well. And all this is exacerbated by the WC last summer.

    It’s unfortunate. But I just think he’s running out of steam. Hopefully he can find a second wind.

    1. That’s a good point.

      Now I really wish that Bojan was healthy 🙁
      Because if Villa doesn’t discover a new reservoir of energy, he will be pretty useless in the remaining matches…

      Could we promote Soriano?

  26. Hey JNice I know your the man to ask this,are there any links I can download the 06 final against Arsenal??

    1. Usually for things like this I look in the Pirate Bay, though I’d be happy to hear any better sources, even torrent sites. I’ve gotten videos of recent Clasicos, the last four Arsenal matches, and some World Cup matches (like the 2002 final) through torrents.

    2. Like Jose says, torrents are usually the best option for older matches.

      Let me see what I can find, though…

      05-06 Champions League Final Barcelona – Arsenal HD 720p

      First Half: /

      Second Half: /

      Credit to Barca@Man and 381183706 at

    3. Do you have a torrent source that’s really good for football matches?

      I know you have your secrets, Sr. Jnice…

    4. Haha not really. I probably could search and find one. I usually just go to fbtz for all matches.

  27. Well, I guess this is nothing new, Villa isn’t the only player at that position who have come in from outside and have not performed up to standards. You can’t bring Messi into the equation because he is our main man upfront and almost everything goes through him and of course he is going to perform very well anywhere on the pitch.

    But I think nearly every player that we have signed for CF or winger in the past five years have come in and struggled to adapt or impress.

    Eto’o is debatable because there were times he would have major goal droughts and there were other times he would bag in four or five goals a week. But it was somewhat obvious Eto’o struggled to play a role under the shadow of Messi. Ibrahimovic also struggled as well, the list goes on.

    But every time Villa is asked about his goal drought he keeps mentioning the same sentence over and over. “…I’m glad to help the team by working hard”.

    There is no denying however that Villa has had moments where he failed to finish his chances, but I think by the looks of things Pep wants a player upfront that can deal with playing in the shadows of Messi. By the looks of things in reality it is harder then you think to play upfront in a team that demands the very best because you play against teams who respect you and want to beat you. You have to show your worth where you don’t get as many chances as messi or that opportunity to play that freedom role like messi.

    Maybe Villa is Exhausted, but I don’t think its because he can’t handle that level, I think its the role he has to play is very challenging.

  28. With Valdes’ recent surge in form and our shaky defence, does anyone think VV should don the gloves for the CDR final? Or does Pep do the ‘honourable’ thing and put Pinto there?

    1. I want VV to play the CDR finals. He’s just so good. They have a shot to win the treble. It would be very unfortunate to not do so because you haven’t fielded the best team possible.

      This is particularly true with the issues at the back and the importance of GK.

      All that said, I don’t think there’s any significant chance that Pep even considers playing VV. It’s just not his way.

    2. Pep has already said multiple times that Pinto will play the CdR final (assuming he is healthy). He has played really well throughout the competition, and deserves his starting place.

    3. I’m pretty sure that in a press conference after we advanced to the CdR final, Pep assured that Pinto would start the final.

    4. I really hope VV will play… but I don’t think it’ll happen…

      am I a bad person if I wish Pinto will have a very very minor injury?
      maybe a flu or stomach bug? just for 1 day, on 20th April…

      no need to answer that, I know that’s evil

      I trust Pinto as a great back up for VV,
      but VV is just too great to be on the bench…

  29. so, it’s 4 El Clasico in 18 days… let the fun begin! 😆

    my not-so typical arrogant cule prediction :

    lose by little margin/draw in La Liga
    win in CdR final
    lose by little margin/draw in 1st leg UCL
    win in 2nd leg

    my oooooohhh! what a typical smug arrogant cule prediction :

    what the hell, we’ll win it all, why not?

    which is very unlikely, but hey, a girl can dream! 😉

  30. An article about the whole Cruyff-Ajax thing:

    I think Villa is just tired. Pity he wasn’t rested for this game imo. But I think the adrenaline will carry our players through to peak performance in the Clasicos. That and the fact that, after all, Pep and the team’s physical training IS supposed to be made to peak at April, and if they designed it they would know their own rotation methods, so they would have done it taking that into account too. So I’m not entirely worried.

  31. *Above post was more my overall thinking of the whole CF position and Villa.

    Secondly, Euler, It was interesting to see that Shaktar’s chances in the first leg were completely different to that of the chances today/last night. I could see that our backline and midfield sort of sat further back then usual and absorbed Shaktar’s attacks, It looked like we completely shut down any chance of shaktar making any breaks through the middle of the pitch, we had that area on lock down, Shaktar had to revert to the wings which we just whisked away.

    This is interesting because we were allowed to do that because we had the 4 goal advantage in the first leg.

    For the league however coming into the weekend we are sort of in the same position, we have a big lead over E.E and they pretty much have no option but to go for a win. So my question is, Do you think we will field a similar kind of tactic against E.E?

    there are some key points I have ignored though,

    -Im guessing Madrid’s attack or strengths lie in their wide players, so us locking down the centre of defence really doesn’t hinder Madrid that much.

    -Shaktar were missing key players at LB and RB. Maybe thus allowed us to defend like that?

    -We will be missing Mascherano in the classico an integral part of our defence in our last match

  32. in case anyone hasn’t read it :

    You don’t need to win four back-to-back matches against your biggest rival to prove that you are the best, at least, from the blaugrana side’s point of view. Coming from where they are, winning what they’ve won and how they’ve won them, their goal will not have to be to win all four.

    Their goal should be to win the right matches, and of the four, the two will be the Cup final in Valencia and the return leg of the Champions League semi-finals in Barcelona. One is worth a title, the other a pass to the final.

    It is not a matter of winning everything, but of winning the appropriate matches.

    can’t agree more… 🙂

  33. Congrats on the win! There was no doubt that you guys were going to make it through, especially with all the missing players Shakhtar have and the quality of the team Pep rolled out. It seems like Mou will be putting out a full strength line up tomorrow, so I’m sure you guys will be keeping an eye on the players that will get suspended. There is a lot of them huh?

    I try to not get into arguments like this, but i think if each and every one of you guys think of it in a non cule mind, you wouldn’t put VV ahead of Iker.

    First of all, while VV has been performing at a high level for the past 3 years, Iker has been doing that for over 10 years. Thats 10 years of both International and club experience at the highest level.

    Second of all, while VV is playing well, that doesn’t mean that Iker is not. He is actually doing extremely well. Especially when comparing the two teams and the defense that they have, which is better at Barcelona especially with their high pressure system, i think Iker is doing great. For example, Helge didn’t even put Iker in his top keepers. Neuer, who is a great goal keeper, was included, but not Iker?

    Third, while Real Madrid don’t play a “build from the back” type of game, and hence doesn’t require the goal keeper to play the ball, he didn’t do a bad job. Especially for someone who hasn’t played in that system before. And in the World Cup, he conceded only one? goal. And made some VITAL saves. Vital saves in high pressure games. Those two saves in the final of the world cup, especially that one v one with Robben won Spain the world cup as much as Iniesta’s goal did.

    I am all for giving support to players, but you won’t hear me say that Marcelo is better than Roberto Carlos just because he is having a great season. It’s similar to saying Cesc is better than Xavi just because Xavi had a good season while Cesc had a great one. There is a reason why Iker is considered Spains number one and the best keeper in the world at the moment.

    Anyways, its going to be a long Clasico 2 weeks if we get through tomorrow. Better get my heart pills ready, and I’m only 21!

    1. And for the record, having watched most of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Villareal games this season, i would say that Diego Lopez is having the best season out of the three in terms of amount of saves made. He has been brilliant the past two seasons.

    2. Iker is a great goalkeeper, with a great mentality… one of the best, maybe the best? I don’t know…
      as a Spain NT supporter, I’ve seen that, especially in WC 2010 where the pressure was unbloodylievable!

      you don’t have to worry about what cules say, Bassam… “P

      no matter how hard we scream “VV is better than Iker!”, VV will never get the recognition he deserves in this world…
      one of the most underrated goalkeeper in football history…

      since you said you watched our games, you must be noticed how many times VV saved our head? countless times…

      I’m not gonna argue about Iker vs VV, because you’re right, we haven’t seen how VV perform in NT, well, he doesn’t have any chance for that…
      but I can argue with everyone that VV is the best goalkeeper for FC Barcelona…

      with our style, we need a goalkeeper like VV, who can be a center back, make accurate short passes, great reflex, master in one-on-one, communicate with the backline, etc…

      put Valdes’ name out there on Twitter, argue that he’s in the top three, perhaps top two in the world, and there is this hardcore of anti-Victors who snarl about him as if this were personal.
      – Graham Hunter

    3. Well the thing is, key words Helge added is “at the moment”.. no doubt Iker is has been a great keeper for the past 10 years no1 can deny that. What we here will like is VV to finally get the praise and recognition he deserves for being the best keeper in Spain for the last 3 years. VV is a late bloomer in football terms. Statics tells this but we all know they hardly tell what a player performance is like. What I love Iker for is how his reflexes are insanely cat quick.
      He’s also the only Madridista I truly respect so your points haven’t fell on deaf ears.

    4. No one here is saying that Casillas is not a great keeper. I certainly rate him as one of the top three in the world, and his performance at the World Cup was awe-inspiring. However, that was over 8 months ago. Based on current form, in the current season, Valdes has been playing better. I mean, if we’re going to include the last ten years in our assessment, Gigi Buffon is the best keeper in the world. Right?

      Valdes has won the Zamora 3 times, and is well on track for his fourth. Casillas has won it once. I can’t remember the last time anyone put 5 goals past Valdes. I remember very well the last time Casillas let 5 goals in. Do you?

    5. Ouch. Seems like i upset someone.

      Anyways, i don’t rate the Zamora trophy as a symbol of who is the better keeper. It is a collective effort, of both defense and goal keeper.

      And if you watch Real Madrid consistently, you will know that Iker has been having equally as good of season as Valdes is. You can take a game out of the books and say he conceded three goals, yes, but then you look at the goals and you see Marcelo being burned on the left twice, and Ramos burned on the right twice. All one on ones or saves that cant be saved.

      I don’t agree that VV is playing better. I think they are both having good, if not great seasons. The reason why i brought up the “10 years thing” is to point to experience of playing at a high level, which i included in my post above.

      And FYI, if you want to pick on Iker for conceding 5 goals, then i can say RVP scored a goal in the CL against VV on the near post, which was VV’s mistake. Which is making a mistake at the top level. And then i can ask you, when was the last time Iker made a mistake in a high pressure game? But thats not fair for VV, as one mistake or one game does not erase a good season.

    6. And i want to add, since the response blitzen had seemed to me a tad aggressive, i would like to apologize if i have upset anyone here with my comment. I was just looking for a good discussion, which i got. Didn’t mean to offend anyone. And in no way, if you re read my comment you will notice that, do i say VV is not a good goal keeper. I think for someone who doesn’t like VV at all, i praised him a lot.

    7. As a die-hard Furia Roja fan, I can assure you it was 2 goals – the Swiss goal and the Pique own goal – that Casillas let in during the group games. He (and Spain) hasn’t conceded a goal in a knockout round since WC2006!

      But let’s not forget that Barcelona this season hasn’t been able to field its best 4 consistently. One of the things some people use to discredit Valdes’ accomplishments is having great defenders in front of him, but look how ad-hoc ours has been! Valdes has come up time and again with great saves – I’d probably put him as surpassing Casillas since his heroics vs. Drogba in the treble season.

      And that’s not discounting Casillas’ great work with Spain. I loved how he made those vital saves in the PK shootout vs. Italy in the 2008 Euros. (Finally, finally past the quarterfinals!!) And you’ve already mentioned how he saved Spain in last summer’s World Cup.

    8. ahh, your memory is better than mine Ryan. I totally forgot that own goal. You would think i would remember an own goal by a cule 😉

    9. You’re confusing the argument. It’s not about how Iker or Victor performed 10 years ago, it’s about form at the moment. And certainly Iker has been massive for Spain in the past, but that alone shouldn’t be what keeps him on the field… particularly when it’s not like the alternatives could not have made those same saves.

      One of the big criticisms over the last few years was that Valdes’s shot stopping abilities weren’t up to snuff. In the last couple of months, Valdes has been absolutely amazing (his most salient error being that RVP goal at the Emirates… that was 90% on Valdes). Now given that he a) has more experience working with Spain’s CB pair (Pique and Puyol) and b) deals more commonly with the defensive predicaments that Spain deals with, there is an argument to be made that Valdes should be Spain’s keeper for the next Euro/WC cycle.

      Not one I would ultimately agree with, mind you. I would favor keeping Iker, who is not only a Top 3 keeper over the last couple of years, but is the captain of Spain. It’s why I, along with Reina and Valdes, backed him up after the Swiss loss. Iker is more than just Spain’s keeper.

      He’s also one of the respectable guys over at RM, and someone that I find likeable on a personal level. But this whole mentality that “there is no argument” or off-handedly dismissing the idea that Valdes could be, yes, a better keeper for Spain than Iker right now is misguided.

    10. In my post, i didn’t say VV didn’t deserve to get a chance with spain or that he isn’t having a good season. I said he is having a great season. I just pointed out why Iker is Spains number one right now, and why i believe, and hope, that he will be for the next 4 or 5 years.

      And for the argument that you are showing about the center back pairing, i don’t believe Puyol will be around come the next WC, and might not be fit enough to play a huge role in the next Euro. Replacement is Albiol (not my preferred, but lack of options no?), and that makes Ramos and Albiol part of the back line. By that logic, i would go with Iker for more Familiarity with the defensive line.

      Anyways, Spains back line is in for huge changes come the next big Tourny, and thats going to be vital. I’m very unhappy with how Del Bosque has not been grooming a left back or a center back to replace the aging Puyol and Capdevilla. Although Arbeloa would be a “decent” replacement at left back. Don’t expect him to attack though.

    11. and since I like to see EE forums sometimes,

      EE fans were screaming like :
      “you played so well in national team, now show it for your club, goddamn it!”

      I’m not making this up, Bassam…
      I’ve seen that kind of comments since last season…

    12. haha, it’s really odd. Take away the manita against Barcelona, Iker has conceded 17 goals he has conceded this season. Not to mention, he saved our ass so many times. Some Madrid fans are delusional. I read this once:

      “How did iker not save that penalty. He shot it to the left and didn’t hit it hard. That goal is 80% on Iker”.

      While i love my club, some of its fans are mmmm, weird to put it nicely.

    13. in the last El Clasico, he could’ve saved 3 from 5, don’t you think? the first, second, and fourth goal…

      and I’m not gonna say Iker is a bad goalkeeper because he conceded 5, of course…
      Julio Cesar’s net got smashed 5 times against Schalke, but it doesn’t mean he’s a bad goalkeeper…

      I’m trying not be a biased cule here…
      I remembered Spain conceded a goal, and cules in twitter were starting to scream –> Iker is suck! VV would surely save that! VdB, are you blind?

      well, maybe VV can save that, but I think the shoot was too hard for any keeper to save, so I didn’t blame Iker for that goal…

    14. 3 out of 5? I don’t think so. I actually re-watched that game today (the pain of preparing for the upcoming Clasicos) and i thought he could do better on the cross that passed by him, but not the other ones. one v ones are hard to save for any keeper. Plus he made 3 vital saves that game that saved our team from a manita + 3. I don’t know if there is a name for such a thing.

      I think it’s very hard to put another goal keeper in a situation and say: that other guy would have saved it.

      Unless there is a blatant mistake like not covering the near post, mistiming a clearance or something like that, its really hard to judge a goal. You never know what exactly is happening on the field (sometimes the keeper doesn’t see the ball until it is meters away from him because the defender is in his way.

    15. Well, I don’t know if you see many Bundesliga matches, but it’s no coincidence that Bayern, ManUtd etc. are interested in Neuer. He has saved Schalke’s ass not only sometimes, but on a regular basis this season.
      And if you only consider this season, I’m still convinced that Valdes had a better one than Iker. He saved us lots of games, too.
      If someone made a compilation of the best saves from each keeper this year, the one of Valdes would be the longer version.
      Last season, for instance, Iker wasn’t at his usual best either, especially at the end of the season. He made quite a lot mistakes for his level.

      Right now, Neuer = Valdes >= Iker > Cech, van der Sar, Julio Cesar etc. That’s my ranking.

  34. In a way, Villa has taken the whole “attackers defend” mantra a little too much to heart. Gotta love the guy for jumping into a new system with total commitment and apparently no ego, but attackers need to, you know, attack, and he certainly has no shortage of attacking credential.

    I’ve often wondered, when people say, “we need someone more direct, to take their chances” (like Ibi is getting people excited), wasn’t that supposed to be Villa? I had thought his addition to the team was supposed to add that dimension, a striker that added a different tactical edge to the tiki-taka but could still mesh with the system, the bonus being that he/Xavi/Iniesta/et al. already seemed to have figured out that hybridization through their highly fruitful time with the Spanish NT. Instead he seems to have taken on the expectation that he assimilate so completely that he could be mistaken for a La Masia product, and it seems like that pressure has stifled some elements of his play that made Barca want him in the first place. I don’t know if I’m making sense, but it’s like we keep on looking for that something new (Rossi! Neymar! Pato!) when we already have the top scoring Spanish international/has never scored less than 20 goals a season in the nine previous seasons (thanks, Wikipedia!).

    1. maybe this whole “attackers need to defend” and “pass, receive, pass, receive, pass” mantra is starting to mess his head?

      I’m still not worry now, but if he still doesn’t show up in the next 2 El Clasicos, where we really need MVP to shine… he has a big problem…

  35. All I know is when Iker makes mistakes, people tend to keep it on the hush-hush. All it takes is one save for him to be ‘San Iker’ again.

    When Victor makes mistakes he gets lambasted. And those mistakes tend to follow him around.

    Don’t think it’s fair, but it is what it is.

    1. true this…

      everytime VV makes mistake (i.e at the Emirates), it’s always gonna be the perfect moment for clueless people to say :

      see? see? he’s overrated! he only looks good because he plays for Barça!

  36. bassam,

    Thanks for the congratulations.

    Regarding the VV vs. Iker discussion – it’s one of the entertaining parts of being a supporter and following the game.

    That said, I’m really struggling to follow what your argument is here.

    I made the original comment on this subject in this thread and I stand by it. Valdes has been the best goal keeper in Europe this season, IMO.

    And believe me – I’ve watched a lot of RM play. And yes I do think Valdes has been better than Casillas.

    I’ve also watched plenty of Diego Lopez. And he has been great. But I think Valdes has been better.

    It is possible for people to think that keepers are having better seasons than Casillas.

    Last year Zonal Marking picked Pep Reina as the top keeper in Europe, for instance.

    And on the subject of Valdes, it was L’Equipe who today also raised the subect of Valdes being the best keeper in the world. Are they also just a group of people who see the world as Cule’s?

    Now who the “best” overall in the world is difficult to say as it depends on what time span you want to consider fitting into the best. But that wasn’t the original conversation. It was best this season.

    Regarding your NT argument – if you feel he should start that more than reasonable.

    That said, I’m unclear on why his number of goals allowed during the world cup should make it a closed story that he should be the number one keeper.

    It’s kind of ironic. Spain easily had the best team defense and amongst the best back lines of the entire WC.

    Valdes’ goals allowed stats are routinely dismissed and the credit given to barca’s ball possession and team defense. But that doesn’t hold for Casillas during the WC?

    And believe me, I thought Casillas was great in the WC. I saw the finals live in Johannesburg. And I remember watching Robbens’ breakaways as if they were happening in slow motion. I was certain he would score on his two best chances. Casillas was great.

    Again the irony here is that Casillas during the world cup played in a way similar to how Valdes winds up playing for Barca. Not a lot to do for most of the match as the team dominates possession. But then needing to spring into action in an instant.

    Casillas is hailed for this. Valdes is penalized because he simply doesn’t see that many shot attempts. Not saying your are arguing this, but that’s commonly argued all the time.

    The notion that Valdes is having a better season than Casillas isn’t simply a function of some kind of bias. It’s not upsetting some incontrovertible truth.

    I’ve seen them both play a lot. Valdes has been better this season. I’d guess you disagree but I wouldn’t dismiss what you have to say through a general labeling of your position as non-analytic thinking and bias.

    1. Again the irony here is that Casillas during the world cup played in a way similar to how Valdes winds up playing for Barca. Not a lot to do for most of the match as the team dominates possession. But then needing to spring into action in an instant.

      Casillas is hailed for this. Valdes is penalized because he simply doesn’t see that many shot attempts. Not saying your are arguing this, but that’s commonly argued all the time.

      Sums it all up for me.

    2. ahhh, it seems coming from a Madrid fan, my argument, or rather my comment, came out as too extreme. Maybe i didn’t articulate it right.

      I didn’t say that VV is considered better because of biased assessment. I said that if you look at it in a non biased way, you would understand why Iker is the number one goal keeper right now for the Spanish NT. I also said that although Valdes is having a great season, so is Iker. I never said Iker is having a better season than Valdes or vice versa. I was just saying that hey, yes VV is having a good season, but its not a huge surprise that he isn’t number one for Spain.

      I disagree that VV is having a better season than Iker. I think they are both having brilliant seasons. And they are both doing very well for their teams. Of course thats a matter of opinion. And for one to edge the other out as being better, it will go down to the smallest detail. I think because Real Madrid haven’t won anything in 3 years, people start assuming that Iker isn’t performing that well.

      The reason why I included the Spain statistics is to say: The reason why he is the Spanish number one is because he has been doing brilliantly well for Spain. And this was directed to the idea of “How has VV not been chosen as Spains number one”.

      Once again, i didn’t argue that its not possible for keepers to have a better season than Iker. I honestly believe Diego Lopez is having a better season than both Iker and VV. That doesn’t make him a better goal keeper though. All i said that there are valid reasons why Iker is the number one in Spain.

      Maybe what threw people off is this part:

      “i think if each and every one of you guys think of it in a non cule mind, you wouldn’t put VV ahead of Iker.”

      I should have added: you wouldn’t put VV ahead of Iker IN THE SPAINISH NT”.

      That’t my mistake. But i didn’t mean that people are biased if they think someone is having a better season than Iker. I myself as a Madradista think Diego Lopez is having a better season than him, as i mentioned above.

      I hope this clears things up.

    3. Thanks for the clarification. It was that one sentence which threw me off.

      To be honest, who the spanish NT GK is, is pretty secondary at least to me. NT football is a separate from club football and personally I don’t even root for Spain so it’s not some big deal to me.

      I would like to see Valdes get to play for the NT at some point but I would also agree that Casillas hasn’t done anything to lose the position.

      Finally, for me, the first Clasico does matter. I can’t just give Casillas a complete pass for that match and blame everything on RM’s defending (though it was clearly the team defending that was the main issue). Casillas didn’t play very well in what was clearly a match of enormous importance. And given how close Valdes and Casillas are as player I do think that match makes a significant difference in how one evaluates their overall seasons.

      But we still have 4 matches left for that situation to change!

    4. Yea i re-read my comment and noticed that part. I should proofread my comments before pushing that submit button. MY apologies again.

      Casillas could have, and should have done better in the Clasico. But as you said, there are four more to come. Here is to closer encounters so i don’t have to stay in bed for days on end.

      My personal goal for the next up coming Clasicos is: If Madrid get one win, I’m happy. And contrary to other Madradista’s, i want that win to come in the last game. My objectives for the season have all been achieved (except for staying competitive in the league, which hasn’t been achieved). Other than that, my objectives are fullfilled. If we get a win in the last Clasico, this gives my team a boost coming into future Clasico’s next year. A get over the hump kinda thing. Because for the past 2 years, Barcelona have been a HUGE hump. Psychologically the team has to want it, which wasn’t the case in the last Clasico.

    5. Thanks for clarifying. I agree, Bassam, that it was your unintentional implying that we are blinded by our fandom that elicited mildly negative responses here. We’ve recently had issues with a poster that had an attitude of “if you disagree with me then you are not thinking clearly”. You can imagine it’s quite grating. Just try to watch the tone.

    6. I’m just gonna comment on this because you’ve said everything, I can’t agree more about Iker vs VV…

      I saw the finals live in Johannesburg.

      I envy you.

Comments are closed.