Evil Empire 1, Barca 1, aka “When a draw is as good as a win”

Why, oh why, does El Clasic always destroy perspective? Cules are howling about referees and penalties denied. Marca is caterwauling about “a draw that feels like a win,” and the blather goes on. Here’s some perspective:

EE has all but lost the Liga with its 1-1 draw with us. That’s right. Read it and feel better. Guardiola went on all week about how a win is a “must,” etc, etc. He was kidding. If you’d have asked him in his heart of hearts if he would have been happy with a draw, he would have said yes, for the simple reason that it now means we have to drop 9 points in 6 matches. (The lead is 8, but we have the head-to-head advantage) That’s the same number of points that it has taken us 31 matches to drop. It’s a number that also assumes EE is going to win out, hurdling away matches against Sevilla, Valencia and Villarreal.

I’m a die-hard cule who sees gloom and doom around every corner, but even I can’t spin that one in a way that’s negative.

Further, people are acting as if we drew against Malaga, or some other bottom-dwelling side. No. We drew against arguably the second-best club in the world, who was able to bring in two inspired, match-altering substitutions. Even then, errors were required for those subs to have an effect. They began pressing because they were playing for pride at home. They weren’t playing seriously for the Liga. That much was clear when they came out with a defense-minded lineup that essentially stacked a trio of midfielders with the creativity of a drunk bulldozer driver.

An insult? Doubtful. Even the staunchest EE supporter will admit that a midfield of Khedira, Alonso and Pepe isn’t organized with offense and creativity as its paramount consideration.

We, conversely, were keeping it in second gear because we have a match against this same club to play on Wednesday, and we knew very well once the starting lineup was clear that barring any sorts of calamities or set-piece stupidity, this side wasn’t going to beat us.

And the chess match continues.

Guardiola came out with his “best available” lineup of Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Adriano, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Pedro! and Villa, and the quandary was interesting. Do you rest players by letting your best play in second gear, or do you rest players by flat-out sitting them down. Decorum and firing squads dictate that you can’t play a B side in El Clasic, no matter what your views on the Liga title are. So you roll them out, and watch them sashay about. No pressing, no pit-bull attacks, no serious efforts, no nothing except a calm possession game, facilitated by an EE lineup set up to keep us from dropping another manita on them in their house. Inspired? Again, it depends on perspective. Pepe played an excellent match, but he isn’t Ozil and it showed in their attack that was long balls and breaks up the flanks.

But the few times we were actually serious about attacking, Villa got into the box twice, earning a penalty once, wet the bed in front of Casillas a few more times and Messi had two point-blank shots stopped by Casillas. Then we went back to knocking the ball around again.

This match was interesting because of what it represented, another edition of the storied, bitter rivalry that is El Clasic. The world stopped, Spain hovered in a frenetic, breathless paroxysm of “Omigod”-ness in an affliction that recurs twice a year usually, but this month will plague with an almost weekly flare-up. But only the most generous would say that it was a truly, truly interesting match for the precise reasons I’ve already laid out. One team wanted to stop the other team from scoring, and the other team wasn’t all that interested in scoring that much. So one team passed the ball around and the other team chased it. 90 minutes passed and the hyperventilating began.

The only ways that they were going to beat us were set pieces or errors, and both came in abundance. Thong Boy smacked the post on a free kick, Adriano had to clear a set piece header off the line and a penalty was earned when instead of just hoofing the ball up the pitch like you’re supposed to do when defending a 0-1 lead against a very dangerous, pressing team, Busquets played the ball to Xavi without checking behind first. Opponent quality applies pressure in different ways. So Ozil stole it and played it to TB who played it to Marcelo, who was there when Alves got stupid and tried to make a play instead of realizing that Marcelo wasn’t going anywhere, so just do a Keiteeeee, and get in the way.

But again, that’s perspective. EE-centric press, fans and pundits will argue about ducks broken, great comebacks with 10 men, etc, etc. Mind you, excellent teams capitalize on opponent mistakes, so full credit to them. We usually get out of those sorts of dodgy moments because Almeria attackers put the ball over the net, or overhit the pass. But not today, not in their house.

And by drawing, we win. Yay for us! Will both coaches pay lip service to the Liga not being officially over? For sure. But it is. Done. Other than that, there just wasn’t a whole lot of match to review, folks. Sorry. One team was being actively negative, while the other team was being passively negative. A draw was a fair result. What makes me feel that we were being actively negative? Look at how slowly the ball moved, and how little off-the-ball movement there was. It was like a training exercise. EE didn’t care, because as long as we stroked the ball around, we weren’t presenting the danger of putting the ball into the net. So it’s all good.

I got to thinking about (once again) the Chicago Bulls championship winning teams and the Jordan Rules, instituted by Detroit Pistons coach Chuck Daly, a man who was a lot like Jose Mourinho. The Jordan Rules were essentially to let anybody except Michael Jordan beat you. Stop him, and kill the beast. It worked for a while, until Jordan got the quality players necessary to kill, thus allowing him to kill. Mourinho has the Messi Rules. Pepe shadowed Messi, with Marcelo hanging around. Messi helped them keep him quiet by insisting on making runs rather than using his teammates (again like Jordan, before he got religion). They’d absorb the pressure, then Pepe or Marcelo would take the ball and off they went on the counter.

Messi had two exceptional scoring chances that weren’t in reality as good as they looked. In the first, he took a brilliant ball from Iniesta and squared on Casillas. But Marcelo was right there pressuring, and Messi’s first touch was a little loose. So he had to recover the ball, then try a shot of some kind. An easily snagged chip was the sole option, and Casillas stoppped him. It’s worth noting that an on-form Messi controls that pass better and smokes Casillas, as he did last year at the Bernabeu. It happens.

The second scoring chance was Messi, taking advantage of space created by one of our “all hands on deck” breaks. But there again, he had defenders escorting him, cutting off the opportunities for a square ball and basically giving him a corridor through which to shoot. At the end of that corridor was Casillas.

Again, this wasn’t Ceuta, or Sociedad. It’s their world-class players against ours, and theirs are going to make plays, just like ours do. That’s what makes matches such as this one a Big Deal, even when they aren’t such a big deal in the actual realization, because what often happens is that two teams stocked with great players cancel each other out. So the match turns on one or two moments, plays made or not, calls made or not, brain cramps not being massaged out in time. Busquets could have guaranteed the win by hoofing the ball out. Hard. It’s the 81st minute, dude. No time to be pretty. Pique could have called him off the ball and hoofed it out. And Xavi could have further guaranteed things by shielding it better with his body. Neither one did, and a great player made them pay, turning a win into a draw.

Other talking points

–The referee wasn’t exactly some blind, blithering idiot determined to allow EE to make the match happen. Players create situations for refs to screw up. As Guardiola said, the man was doing his job. Calls were made, calls were missed, in favor of and against both sides. The only clear-cut situation was when Villa was jumped in the EE box. It would be hard to find someone who would quibble with a man being grabbed around the throat and hauled down by his shoulder as not being a penalty. Which isn’t to say that there won’t be some. As I said, this match screws with perspective. And yes, they were giving us extra little kicks and shoves whenever possible, but those are always allowed against us. We should be used to it by now. And no, the Casillas/Villa interaction wasn’t a penalty. Maybe had Villa actually tried to control the ball and score instead of being determined to trip over Casillas and draw a penalty, he might have earned an actual one. As it was, he was falling down almost before Casillas even got there, and someone might even (the bastards!) suggest that Casillas got to the ball a nanosecond before Villa.

No. Sorry, but no.
Yes. Nailed-down, without a doubt yes.

And then there’s Alves. As I said, don’t give people a chance to screw up. What is Marcelo going to do against you, running full tilt at that kind of angle to goal? Nothing. It’s hard to argue for robbery when you give something away. Their players go down in the box, and they’re very good at it. No judgment, just an observation. It’s why they have so many more penalties awarded than we do. So a player has to think before making a play. Alves ddn’t. Am I saying the play was or wasn’t a penalty? Immaterial. You can’t allow the ref the option to make a wrong (not benefitting your club) call.

–The grass: They let theirs grow long, we give ours a buzz cut, then lubricate it with water. Does one being negative and one being “positive” make for right or wrong? Nope. In both cases it’s teams trying to get an edge. Shameful. Nope. Again as Guardiola said, you do what you want to your own house. It’s up to us to deal with it.

Team: 6. Good effort at times, mostly the uncertainty that comes from not playing your hardest. Will that pay off on Wednesday, as we face a tired EE in the Copa final? Doubtful. That’s 4 days away. A few good nights rest, and they will be right as can be. There were key breakdowns, and uncharacteristic looseness with the ball.

Guardiola: 8. Right lineup, right substitutions, made too late, as is often his wont.

Valdes: 7. A very good match with most of all the right moves. His choice to play Ramos the way he did was sound, even if not ultimately the correct one.

Alves: 5. Di Maria constantly used his vacated space to work into, and he didn’t really make them pay with his offense. And that play on Marcelo was just stupid. Don’t give the ref the opportunity to make the wrong judgment call in a bang-bang situation.

Puyol: 7. A very good match, punctuated by a few uncharacteristic giveaways. His presence makes Pique better, without question. His position defense is excellent, more than making up for the diminished pace.

Pique: 7. Key interventions, and a spot-on sense of when to roam and when to stay home. He should have been stronger on that final play. He was in a better position than Busquets to make a play. Call him off, and hoof it out.

Adriano: 9. Man of the Match, going away. When have we last had someone not named Abidal who could outrun Thong Boy, as Adriano did. He was in the right place at the right time with the right play time and time again, and what a header off the line to save a goal.

Busquets: 5. Not as influential as he could/should have been, with a few “Bad Busi!” moments. And that simulation on the sideline was ridiculous. He had stopped that sort of nonsense for a while. The pass to Xavi that gifted the steal to Ozil was ill-advised to the point of full-on stupidity.

Xavi: 5. Bereft of his usual command of the match, with some wayward passes and out-of-position moments. Yes, some great balls also, but not enough of them to keep him from being average.

Iniesta: 4. Even more withdrawn than Xavi. For our machine to go, its engine room has to be working. It wasn’t today. Disappeared for looong stretches. Pepe should have been gutted by Xavi and he running rings around him.

Messi: 3. Clearly off-form, even though he had a pair of very good scoring chances. Giveaways galore, and then not even bothering to chase the ball? Unlike him. He’s exhausted, and there’s no relief in sight.

Pedro: 3. The P in “MVP” is still playing his way back into form. He looks the same, but the results aren’t the same as he does the headless chicken thing far too often. Not one quality shot on goal today.

Villa: 2. He tracked back on defense some, and nice work to earn the penalty. Everything else was pretty awful. He’s looking and playing a lot like Krkic during his crisis on confidence. Dude just can’t buy a goal. How do you get put through on goal, and you hit it directly at the keeper? Yeccch!


Keita (for Puyol): 5. A little out of his depth, but he always is with fast, counter-attacking sides, where by the time he gets in the way, the ball/player is gone. Were Mascherano available, it’s hard not to imagine Guardiola not going for him instead.

Afellay (for Pedro): 6. Some good plays, but again not sufficiently dynamic to deal with that kind of a pressing, aggressive side. Some of the blame must reside with his teammates.

Maxwell (for Adriano): incomplete. EE took almost immediate advantage of his lack of pace and physicality, kicking off the sequence that led to the equalizing play/penalty sequence. Did he err per se? Nope.

Next up is the Copa del Reig final on Wednesday. Today’s match didn’t concern me all that much, and Wednesday’s N.I.T. final won’t either. Champions League. Repeat after me: Champions League. It’s sad for Krkic that he isn’t healthy, so that he could get the start for this match. But that’s life, right?

Meanwhile ….

Midget totem pole!
Related Posts with Thumbnails

Recent Posts

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. Diego
    April 16, 2011

    Happy with the draw, It’s a huge step forward to La Liga title, The draw was as good as a win indeed.

  2. Víctor
    April 16, 2011

    Copy and Paste: Good result. I wouldn’t have risked Puyol, but then again… like Kxevin says… I’m not the coach of the best team of the world. Many yellow cards for Barcelona as well… that is a sign that we had a difficult time.

    Now, going back to what it seems to be a main topic in here: Villa. While I agree that he had a bad game… I seriously don’t get you people. If Villa doesn’t press and doesn’t track back you people bitch at him for not doing so… and when he does… you people bitch at him because “that’s not his job”. So, which is it, people?

    Adding: Woa, dude. A lot of 4’s and 5’s… yes, Barça wasn’t the best out there… but let’s not forget that we were against a quality side. We are not gonna win 5-0 each match against Madrid.

  3. Diego
    April 16, 2011

    Kxevin, Can you edit the Review ? It wasn’t Pique who passed the ball, It was Busquets, Look at it again.

    • April 16, 2011

      Thanks, Diego. Initially hard to tell who made that weak-ass tap to Xavi, but it was Busquets.

    • providence
      April 16, 2011

      lets face the facts, it wasnt us who took it lightly, their tactics (PEPE) came us a surprised and im thinkn(any idea?) how we would outplay him on Wednesday. INIESTA, VILLA, PEDRO, MESSI AND MAXWELL deserve 2.4 and 3 is too much especially off song iniesta and villa

    • April 17, 2011

      “outplay” him would mean he played well. He didnt, he chased Messi the entire time, an uninterested Messi. Pepe did not provide much for more for them other than like Kevin said shadowing Messi when Messi was in the middle, when Messi moved (this only happened a couple of times) to the wings, Pepe was nowhere to be found. He’ll play CB for them, Ozil will start, Mourinho I imagine doesn’t want to pack 10 in the back when there’s a trophy on the line.

  4. Víctor
    April 16, 2011

    And yes, Guardiola would have signed off a draw if he had the chance to. of course, he’s not gonna say that to the press, the fans or even the players… but it’s obvious that a draw is totally a great result. Yes, mathematically isn’t over, but realistically it is.

    Gotta love that Madridistas think of this draw as a win… in their stadium, with a Liga title in dispute and against Barcelona… and they treat this as a win? I guess it’s a way, from them, to accept that Barcelona is indeed better…

  5. xavi
    April 16, 2011

    Regarding their grass Kxevin, it’s not shameful only as long as they play it that way every time! If it’s done in preparation to playing us, I’m not saying they did anything wrong… Just that they aren’t living to their billing as the greatest club ever

    Excellent review as usual man 🙂

  6. April 16, 2011

    We just drew against Real Madrid in Bernabeu (and almost won) with MVP, Xavi & Iniesta all getting ratings <=5. Imagine when we're motivated and firing on all cylinders! It's all good.

    And a draw leaves our players dissatisfied, and hungry for more, which is just the way we'd want it for 3 crucial games to go.

    Thank you, Kevin, for the first objective review of the game on a Barcelona blog, something supposedly neutral news sites are yet to manage.

    • soccermomof4
      April 16, 2011

      “We just drew against Real Madrid in Bernabeu (and almost won) with MVP, Xavi & Iniesta all getting ratings <=5. Imagine when we're motivated and firing on all cylinders!"

      Spot on!

  7. soccermomof4
    April 16, 2011

    Preach it, fearless leader!

    1-1 in THEIR house, got a little rest along the way while making them work extremely hard, Puyi back, Adriano looking like a beast, Next game we’ll also have Mascherano back! Hoping Adriano and Puyol recover fast! Hoping Xavi learns to control his mouth!

    Eight points guys! EIGHT! Remember when we were all exited about 5 points?

  8. Ryan
    April 16, 2011

    As the great singer Puyi once said, “La lliga! La tenim al sac!”

    • Para
      April 17, 2011

      Ryan FTW!!

  9. April 16, 2011

    1000x yes to this post, Kxev. This is a great result for us. There will be no last minute RM surge for the league. Soon enough, we’ll be able to rest starters for league matches and set ourselves up well for those midweek ties. That’s pivotal for us.

  10. April 16, 2011

    In Barca alum news, Yaya scored the winning goal today to knock ManU out of treble contention. Great work. Henry also scored today for RBNY, towards the end of the game.


    Bonus: Henry has a beard now?

    • Para
      April 17, 2011

      On the BBC- Toure “eased his mountainous way past Nemanja Vidic.” 😀

  11. April 16, 2011

    Thank you, Kxevin. I loved this review. And i appreciate the credit that was given to your opposition team, something that many seemed to dismiss. Just like i told the fans at my blog, don’t expect an easy game or chances galore, this is Barcelona you are playing against. The best team in the world right now. Not Almeria or Malaga. There is a reason why they are eight points ahead, and thats because they are great.

    The second one of the two clubs takes the game easily is the minute they lose the game. Look at us in November. The best thing that the two clubs can do for each other is show respect.

    I was really disappointed with both teams in the way they went down so quickly. And as you noted above, this shouldn’t be part of the game. And i didn’t take the no creativity in the midfield comment as an insult at all. It was spot on, to be honest.

    To play against Barcelona and get a result, you are not going to be the team with more possession. If anyone expects that, then they are delusional. I think Euler pointed this out in his preview which i thought was spot on. Real Madrid have the ability to bring the ball from their penalty area to the oppositions penalty area in 3 seconds. This was evident today. The choice of playing Benzema as a starter ruined that plan, but pipita, who plays that role well, is not even close to match fit. By keeping you guys from scoring using pressing and defense, the team allowed itself to stay in the game. I also want to add that the first 25 minutes of the game were very interesting. Zoom in closer and look into each Madrid players brain and you can see the clasico roaming in. This is why the team was playing very cautiously. As Kxevin pointed out on twitter, after the first 30 minutes, Real Madrid started getting into the game some more.

    The reason why the team was celebrating is obvious for me. We have gone 5 clasico’s without recording a win. The last time we scored was during the 6-2 loss. Thats 3 years ago. Against the team that is considered the best team in the world, and being down 10 men? With the Manita in mind, this was a great result for us. And FYI, your team is superior to ours ATM. You can’t compare a team that was built this year with a new coach to one that has been playing the same system for the past 3 years with a huge foundation and the same coach.

    And as for the league being over today, I beg to differ. To Madrid fans, the league was over against Sporting. Today was a “don’t screw up against your own fans”. And you can see how much it meant to the fans and the players to get a non negative result against Barcelona. Marcelo jumped over Adebayor once he got the penalty call. Thats how much it means to him. And you can see the fans chanting their hearts out all game. Especially after we scored. My friend was at the game and he sent me a text saying he is bleeding from the ears.

    I will say one last thing. This game was so emotionally draining for a Madrid fan. I would say that the next game would be worse, but thats not the case. Everyone was looking at the game wondering if we are going to get stuffed again, and guess what, we didn’t. I thought a draw was a deserved result for all the chances both teams wasted. Barcelona had the majority of possession, but when it came to the final third, both teams were equally dangerous. And what is up with you guys and set pieces? We usually never do well in that department!

    Great review Kev, and great game. Looking forward to Wednesday and the cup that really doesn’t matter.

    • providence
      April 16, 2011

      @ Bassam why are u guys Happy? bcos of the 1 – 1? or bcos u think Mourinho’s tactics worked? count yourself lucky bcos if it were to be UCL Pepe would have seen the yellow card long time. do u recall when he fouled Busquets n we were given an advantage? that shd have been a yellow card after the ball was out of play. WE didnt get the Best of Iniesta, Villa, Pedro, messi and Xavi. meet us in the copa and we will show you a different tempo!

    • April 16, 2011

      ummm, i think i asnwered your question above:

      “The reason why the team was celebrating is obvious for me. We have gone 5 clasico’s without recording a win. The last time we scored was during the 6-2 loss. Thats 3 years ago. Against the team that is considered the best team in the world, and being down 10 men? With the Manita in mind, this was a great result for us. And FYI, your team is superior to ours ATM. You can’t compare a team that was built this year with a new coach to one that has been playing the same system for the past 3 years with a huge foundation and the same coach.”

      But, ummmm, ok…

    • April 16, 2011

      Classy as always, Bassam. 🙂

      (I’m not being sarcastic)

    • providence
      April 16, 2011

      Providence, we don’t do all-caps shouting here. I know that you’re new, but surely you can look around the house and see how it’s decorated.


    • soccermomof4
      April 16, 2011

      The Pepe experiment worked well, Bassam (except fo the fouls 🙂 ) But Mou won’t be able to do that in the Copa with Albiol out or the CL first leg with Carvalho out? Do you think he’ll put Ramos in at CB to keep Pepe in the midfield?

    • April 16, 2011

      I think he will do exactly that. I was going to ask Euler about this, so i will throw it out here. In the first leg, a huge problem for us was that Pepe was a center back that likes running at players. When he did that, our compact defense got narrower (or stretched, depending on how players reacted). Today, both Albiol and Carvalho are center backs that like to sit back, while Pepe got to run at players from a DM position.

      Ramos is similar to Pepe. There is two things that can be done: One is play Ramos in the middle and Arbeloa on the right. The second is play Garay in the middle and keep Ramos on the right.

      I think the first will happen. Garay is not match fit and doesn’t have match practice to play a Clasico. Although i don’t mind experimenting in the CDR.

      This is the beauty of having such depth in the squad. 😀

    • poipoi
      April 17, 2011

      Interesting… he is one card away from suspension in cl right? That Pepe guy. Cl in camp nou maybe he won’t be there. L Diarra is a great defender also.

    • April 16, 2011

      providence, that tone is more fitting for Soccernet or Offside. Please try to be more respectful.

    • soccermomof4
      April 16, 2011

      We luvs Bassam (misguided as he is 🙂 )!

    • April 16, 2011

      I like for our visitors to feel like they’ve just been served hot coffee and warm cookies when they come over. And Bassam makes up for his misguided sporting allegiances with his well-guided taste in television shows. 😛

    • April 17, 2011

      you guys do a wonderful job at that, Jose. Otherwise i wouldn’t keep posting here. I know its annoying to have a Real Madrid fan always around like an annoying bug though 😀

    • providence
      April 16, 2011

      @ Jose i love BASSAM especially being a EE fan writing n explaining things to us on our BLOG, but that Mourinho? i hate him! if its not refree that made him lost, its the spanish FA that didn’t think aba fixture since it was after UCL,or the media said bad things that Made him loss or is Valdano who is interupting with his duties. HIS TACTICS HAS NEVER FAILED HIM! I THINK HE IS PERFECT or..? BASSAM I LOVE YOU. are you on twitter?

    • April 17, 2011

      i sure am. @bassamdgheim. I must warn you though, i am very new to the twitter world, and sometimes you will see random things about quantum mechanics.

  12. mardia
    April 16, 2011

    Excellent review, Kxevin, and thanks for the perspective. As fcbfandrivel says, a draw’s good in that it puts the Liga beyond doubt (barring a COMPLETE collapse by our team and flawless form from EE, something I find really unlikely given our respective schedules) and gets our players fired up for the next game.

    As for Villa…I think the nicest thing I can say right now is that thank God Spain’s not playing in the Copa America, as that is one dude who CLEARLY needs a break. He is exhausted.

    No matter how this season turns out, I do hope that Pep and co consider our tiny, tiny squad and the stress they’re under as a result. Some of the absences couldn’t be foreseen–Abidal in particular–but I would not be displeased if we got some more backups for our back line and our front line as well. Regardless of what Villa’s current form is right now, we basically HAVE to play him, because there aren’t any other substitutes (w/ possible exception of Ibi) available.

    But enough of that. We’ve got the Liga sewn up, and the Copa and CL still to go. I’m not complaining. At least not anymore.

    • Jnice
      April 16, 2011

      No matter how this season turns out, I do hope that Pep and co consider our tiny, tiny squad and the stress they’re under as a result. Some of the absences couldn’t be foreseen–Abidal in particular–but I would not be displeased if we got some more backups for our back line and our front line as well. Regardless of what Villa’s current form is right now, we basically HAVE to play him, because there aren’t any other substitutes (w/ possible exception of Ibi) available.

      My thoughts exactly. This summer is going to be really interesting. We can’t go into next season like we did this one.

    • mardia
      April 16, 2011

      I don’t think we need a squad the size of RM (remember, they’ve left a potential star in Canales on the bench all season) but we do need more quality players. And no, Cesc Fabregas shouldn’t be one of them, dear God.

    • Jnice
      April 17, 2011

      Definitely not a squad that big, but we definitely need some options.

  13. xavi
    April 16, 2011

    I’d repost some of the points from a huge rant of mine from the previous page…

    1) I think Mou resorted to the very same tactics he employed in the first leg; narrow the pitch, sacrifice Ronaldo’s position to play di Maria as practically a LB but losing another creative source and also possession because Pepe is no good at passing… so it’s basically an advantage for us
    2) Pepe wouldn’t have looked so great had the game been played any where other than Bernabeu because those fouls wouldn’t have spared him cards in 1000 years elsewhere
    3) Albiol out for CDR & Carvalho out for CL 1st leg tie means the whatever psychological advantage they gained by restricting our forwards, they lose it.
    Granted Ramos can be played in the center but as far as I know he loses his concentration once in a while, which being one of the reasons his best position if RB. So yeah advantage again
    4) The late snatching of equalizer is touted as the confidence booster for the EE, but I think Pep might have played them into it. I mean we totally took the foot off our gas once we scored the goal. Tired them out. Also a reminder to our players not to get complacent in any of the remaining matches
    5) Afellay skinned Marcelo easily… Considering Villa’s off-form and Pedro’s longtermsidelinedeffects, we might still do good starting Afellay instead of one of them. Although I think the follwing would be the lineup for CDR, Pinto-Alves-Puyi(Hoping he recovers)-Pique-Adriano(Hoping he recovers)-Busi-Xavi-Keiteee-Pedro-MEssi-Iniesta

    And Yay! We mathematically practically wrapped up the league 🙂

  14. ak
    April 16, 2011

    The lack of ambition was a little sad, but no complaints really, since the team was so obviously saving it up for the next 3 games.

  15. PM
    April 16, 2011

    As most sensible fans I am happy with the result, but you know Argentines don’t get happy with draws. You could see it the way Messi kicked the ball at the end. I can see a devastating game from him on Wednesday.

  16. April 16, 2011

    Considering the performance of others, I thought Iniesta deserved atleast a 6. Remember he played atleast three great overhead lobs to find Villa, but the our centre forward couldn’t do anything with it. He wasn’t able to control Pepe and that was a major worry. Busquets was giving away possession cheaply and that was another big worry. Third was we needed Messi to drop into midfield and apply pressure on Pepe, but that never happened.

  17. ak
    April 16, 2011

    It was interesting to note the look on Messi’s face when Puyol was being stretchered off. Not concern, not frustration, nothing. Totally blank.

  18. scavendish
    April 16, 2011

    Great wrapup as usual by Kxevin.

    My only question is this — If that was a throttled down performance, is the club capable of a better one against competition that good this late in the season.

    Or, to ask another way, has the thinness of the side put a ceiling on what they’re capable of doing.

    I think they’re surely capable of winning the next three, but I don’t know if they’ve got the high gear left.

    (Surely this is a great problem to have . . . wondering if it will be a trickle of silverware in the next few weeks or a flood)

    Forca Barca.

  19. can_we_go_Xalvies
    April 16, 2011

    Well, since we have practically put the la liga battle to bed.

    Despite having a small squad is having an affect on our performance this late into the season
    Winning the Liga though will feel more rewarding as we won it using a very small squad compared to our rivals. Given the media also were pitting us to lose the league because of our ‘lack’ depth.

    Small squad or not, even teams with large squads can’t win the treble too, (thanks to Yaya)

  20. Lev
    April 16, 2011

    wow you guys are really positive.

    For the first time in my life i don’t agree with a Kxevin review.

    I am not that unhappy with the result itself, but I am unhappy with the way we played. I would like to see the match again with a cool head, but I thought Madrid the much more dangerous team, especially before their red card and even after playing us with 10 men they created plenty of chances. Regardless of playing 3 holding midfielders, they still created plenty of chances.

    Also, Dani Alves played the ball and thus did nothing wrong. Can’t blame a guy for good defending.

    Btw, what the F was Guardiola thinking playing el Capitan from the start? And now he is injured again? Are you kidding me? Does this mean we will be without him for the CL semis?

    Agreed Adriano was having a great match.

    I am pretty disappointed that we could not win the game after leading and having a man more on the pitch. I don’t understand your assertion that we took it easy and brought our B-game but I hope you are right.

    • Jnice
      April 17, 2011

      I don’t think Madrid created that many quality chances. I went through the game again and I didn’t see that many clear cut chances.

      I saw them get into dangerous positions and put it dangerous corners, but not too many great chances.

    • Lev
      April 17, 2011

      for all their lack of creative players, they created more danger than we did. i will watch the match again and maybe I will agree more with you guys after a 2nd viewing, but for now Sid Lowe’s match report on the Guardian pretty much sums up how i feel about the match.

    • Jnice
      April 17, 2011

      They created danger more so through set pieces, but I didn’t think they created many quality chances. We didn’t either, which is what annoys me.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 17, 2011

      Puyi able to play in CdR, Pep said that…

      and it wasn’t his knee, just a precaution of harmstring…

      I’m worry about Adriano injury though, hope he’ll come back for UCL semifinal… I’m nervous with Maxwell as our LB…

      and yes, I don’t like the way we played, but then again, a draw is as good as a win…

      I agree with Kev’s assertion, if the points gap was 2 or 5, I’m very very certain they would play their hearts out…
      when was the last time we saw Messi play the I-don’t-give-a-damn performance in El Clasico?

  21. smozer36
    April 17, 2011

    Damn good article. You definitely did put it all in perspective for me. Hopefully Puyol will be back for the Copa del Rey final. Is Pique ruled out for that one with his accumulation of yellow cards?

  22. barca96
    April 17, 2011

    Kxev, every striker will look for contact with the GK when ever they have a slim chance of scoring.
    Villa did just that by moving the ball to the right making it look like he had the chance to round off Casillas. Which he did and Casillas made full contact.
    If Villa tried to strike the ball instead and Casillas made contact then I would say, no penalty.
    Just look at Casillas’ face after that. He knew he made a mistake.

  23. barca96
    April 17, 2011

    Great goal by Yaya. We miss you 🙁

  24. April 17, 2011

    It’s only upsetting knowing that your team can do better than they did, this was a game for pure pride, but in the end winning the one’s that matter are much more desired. We could’ve put in 3, but just didn’t want to, Messi was watching out, we know Pepe breaks legs, so I can understand why he was playing ‘slow.’
    Hope the Mestalla has nice grass 🙂

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 17, 2011

      yes, if we played more aggresively, it also increase the desire of EE players to break our players legs…

      and like Dani said, we leave with bitter taste , so I believe Barça will play with much more spirit in the next 3 El Clasicos…

  25. 505
    April 17, 2011

    xavi, on puyi’s return to the pitch: “when i look back and i see him, i feel that it is impossible for anything bad to happen to us”


    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 17, 2011

      you could see the huge psychological effect for the players just to see Puyi was there for them…

      as long as Captain Caveman is here, we’ll be just fine!

      especially Piqué, finally I saw the real Piqué, one of the best CB in the world…

    • jordi™
      April 17, 2011

      yea, theres just more certainty with him there.Puyi would have kicked that ball into orbit and we dont concede :(.

  26. Nav
    April 17, 2011

    I know I’ve said this before but I’m really bummed about Adriano being possibly out for the CDR final. 🙁

  27. BarcaGirl_Indo
    April 17, 2011

    I know that Bassam already explained it…

    but still, I’m amazed with how happy EE fans to get a draw in their own ground, against a half-speed Barça…
    the celebration and the joy is almost like when we smashed 5 goals into their net…

    not to mention we maintain 8 (9) points above them, but no one seem to care about that fact?

    even Sevilla players and fans looked disappointed and bitter with a draw…

    talk about inferiority complex…

    • April 17, 2011

      May i respectfully disagree and say, i resent the inferiority complex term. Getting a draw in a Clasico when your team was down to ten man is a great accomplishment, especially against one of the best Barca teams in history. I believe there is a difference between showing respect to your opponent, which is what we did by celebrating a draw against a great team like yours and an inferiority complex where we go in to the game expecting to lose. Because if that is the case then we wouldn’t have fought to get the draw with 10 men. That is why i resent that term and think its a tad arrogant to brand your biggest rival with. But i might be wrong.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 17, 2011

      well, I might be wrong too…and I apologize if I wrong…

      maybe inferiority complex wasn’t the right word?

      I read that words in some post match comments, and I use it…
      I just still amazed with what I heard from my friends who watched in cafe together with Madridistas…

      Cules left with bitter taste and not-so-happy, while Madridistas was jumping with joy…

      I was like, uh, really? 🙂

    • April 17, 2011

      Well this is thought to be the breaking of the losing streak. we have lost the last 5 games, and 2 of those defeats were harsh, so getting a mildly positive results (a draw) and coming from 10 men behind, was really satisfying. And a side of our game showed yesterday, and that is the team can be fired up and pressure well. We usually are described as lazy (points finger at ronaldo) 😀

  28. blaunero
    April 17, 2011

    We can certainly get positives from this match. We have an 8pt lead with 6 games to go, and Real still has to travel to Valencia next week. But unfortunately Real Madrid have reason to feel good as well. Down to ten men they managed to peg us back and they may well have won too. I didn’t like how we were basically toying with them for 15 minutes after scoring. We did the same in London too and it’s rather disrespectful to the opponent.
    Perhaps in a strategic sense this could be counted as a victory for Mourinho. Yes he lost the league, but he had lost it already vs Sporting. But it is important to note that their morale must be sky high right now with a vastly more important set of game coming up. Meanwhile neither Villa nor Pedro, not even Messi are playing well and all look completely baked.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 17, 2011

      hopefully this will be a positive for us too, that our players didn’t look too happy and satisfied with the result…

      it’s a good reminder for them, if they don’t give their best and play at second gear, a great opponent like EE will hurt them…

  29. stowe
    April 17, 2011

    where can i download the match?

    • Jnice
      April 17, 2011

      Sky Sports Broadcast:

      Pre Match:


      /http://www.fileserve.com/file/rNvtyZ8/Pre Match – La Liga – Real Madrid v. Barcelona – 16-04-2011.avi



      First Half:

      /http://www.fileserve.com/file/YMkbTEK/First Half – La Liga – Real Madrid v. Barcelona – 16-04-11.avi



      Second Half:

      /http://www.fileserve.com/file/FBM2Shc/Second Half – La Liga – Real Madrid v. Barcelona – 16-04-11.avi



      Post Match:


      /http://www.fileserve.com/file/Hrsu2ut/Post Match – La Liga – Real Madrid v. Barcelona – 16-04-11.avi


      Credit to Pakman at fbtz.com

    • stowe
      April 17, 2011

      I knew you would come to my rescue!

  30. April 17, 2011

    – Villa’s first penalty was…hm…a penalty. No doubt. Unlike marcelo’s which leave lot to decide. Sorry, cant play diplomacy in this one. That’s not a critic to the ref as the two cases were too fast to give a second thought.

    – I dont see any reason (regardless of all the “reasoning” attempts) for RM fans to be anything but disappointed. I am a Barca fan and i am disappointed of their performance. If I was a lost soul myself I would have showed lethal anger toward the team.

    After a 5-0 defeat, a great club get into their field tasting their blood and seeking revenge. While if you count serious scoring opportunities they had as many as Villa, beside that they were completely dominated and Barca played their game the way they wanted it, and dictated the tempo that perfectly suit a team with a tinny squad and a dozen bog game waiting in a queue and 8 points in the pocket.

    But I won’t mind them feeling good, so good for them.

    As I mentioned in the previous post this result is a victory for us by all means.

    And as I mentioned on my twitter:
    I feel so proud of Barcelona when Real Madrid fans praise the draw & sid lowe write that RM “shocked” Barcelona by achieving 1-1 at home.

    I wish they keep this attitude in the following matches, that make our life easier. Because they can be much better if they took it the right way. I am betting on Mourinho to keep it the way it is, though. I would have been more worried if it was Pellegrini (to echo my statement at the beginning of the season).

    We almost won the most important one. It is highly unlikely to win all with a team like RM standing in the path, and with the offense complications we have. But I hope we win the cup with big ears. Its already a successful season in my books. And we are the fans who should be proud of our players.

    And guys…really Mou did nothing special in this game that any rookie coach won’t consider. Lets stop the hype, it’s getting silly.

    • Jnice
      April 17, 2011

      And guys…really Mou did nothing special in this game that any rookie coach won’t consider. Lets stop the hype, it’s getting silly.

      Couldn’t agree more. All these silly articles talking about Mourinho figures out Barcelona and what not. My goodness.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 17, 2011

      did Preciado get called ‘tactical genius’ or ‘genius technician’ by media after they held us 1-1 in their home ground, with an average quality squad?

      and what did they say about Mou who held us 1-1 in their home ground, with their world class squad?
      “Mou proved once again that he’s a genius and outcoached Pep! what a footy god!”

      gimme a break… that’s why I prefer not to go to BS.com or any place with ridiculous hype…

    • simple_barcafan
      April 17, 2011

      Ramzi…I come hear sometimes just to read your comments…Always one of the most sane comments…Miss your write ups for pep blog though…

  31. poipoi
    April 17, 2011

    Pepe midfielder??? Khedira-xavi-pepe omg who is the “offensive one” …. all in their home. There was never a game and they had to go for the win we were 8 points up and still are. That’s filthy. The crowd chanted with 1-1 like it was a win. Besides mou complains about the ref. Please let’s save football!!

    • poipoi
      April 17, 2011

      Have to change my tottenham avatar

  32. Sheena
    April 17, 2011

    Remember a few weeks ago, when the chances of us maintaining a 5 point lead ahead of the Clasico were looking dangerously slim? Well, here we are, emerging from the Bernabeu with an 8 point lead. Yay perspective!

    It was clear that the team wasn’t playing up to it’s capabilities. People talk about how the we haven’t regained our November-December form. But I firmly believe that the team can turn it on when it needs to.

    When we put on what was, in my opinion, the performance of the season against Arsenal, it was right smack in the middle of an underwhelming 1 – 0 win over Zaragoza and a frustrating 1 – 1 draw against Sevilla. We weren’t on form then, and we still aren’t. We just needed to get the job done at all costs, and so we did. This is what leads me to believe that, when the team needs to perform, it is capable. We just didn’t need to win this match.

    And yet we still could have. Even playing at half-speed, it took a sloppy error to allow Madrid the chance to snatch a draw from what would have been a pretty fortunate victory.

    I get how people may say that this result may prove to be a psychological boost for Madrid ahead of the remaining Clasicos, but they fail to realise that it also serves as added motivation for our team, which is going to be pissed off that it didn’t hang on for the 3 points. Plus, the fact that a draw in their place brings them that much joy just shows that they view themselves as inferior to us.

    And that’s about the biggest psychological edge you can have over a team.

    • Helge
      April 17, 2011

      True that.

      Other teams might start to doubt their own ability when failing to defend a lead with one man more on the pitch.

      But as you can see by the reaction of Dani Alves or Messi, this will only serve us as a further motivation in the next matches 🙂

  33. y2k156
    April 17, 2011

    Well folks, i can give some impressions from the stadium. I was in a section with almost all madrid fans. But there were more then a few Barca fans dotted in the stadium and it wasn’t any issue.

    Atmosphere were brilliant. For huge stretches, the crowd got full throttle behind Madrid. I was sitting at the end where Messi scored his penalty and the noise when he was getting ready to take penalty was deafening.

    As for match, it was average. We were visibly slower in movement and passing and Madrid was ultra defensive. Their strategy of just going for it when they have the ball was troubling us and will trouble us. As for penalties, it was hard to see exactly from my seat but the feeling i got was the both were penalties though on softer side. One thing for sure that most of the players were ready to make meal of any contact that they suffered.

    Pepe especially came into his own in second half. I sometimes found that our players were simply too slow and took too long on ball which allowed Madrid players to pressure them which increased pressure on us.

    At our best, i think we can defeat this Madrid team consistently but if we are not best, they will give us a game and win a few.

    Also, fans in stadium were happy with result. I got a feeling that they know that their team is not as good as Barca presently so they just to win the games or at least put up good resistance.

    And one last thing, the only two players who really stood out for their technical ability were again Messi and Iniesta. Messi because he was at heart of most of our dangerous movies. You could see Madrid players covering him all the time. Even when he was positioned alone somewhere up the field, he had someone within touching distance. Iniesta was not great but his touch is so silky. And both Messi and Iniesta could beat their marker. Oh and Afellay was quite good. He looked way more dangerous then Pedro and Villa.

    • Helge
      April 17, 2011

      Maybe Afellay could start in the Copa?
      He’s got great pace and if Adriano is injured, he could be obliged to play a little deeper, to support Maxwell in defense when Real attacks.

      The line-up could look like this:
      Alves, Piqué, Puyol/Mascherano, Maxwell
      Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta
      Pedro, Messi, Afellay

      with Afellay and Iniesta constantly interchanging positions.

    • Jim
      April 17, 2011

      Agreed. I lost count of the number of times Iniesta took bad possession and turned it into good under all sorts of pressure. There was one ball in the second half someone battered at him out of defence and his touch was not only feather light but angled so he could make his quick turn.

      He is the sort of player that Pep needs to have a word with occasionally to tell him that the team needs a special display. He could have been more influential going forward. As I’ve said before, he strikes me as pretty humble and willing to let others take the limelight if he doesn’t have to.

  34. Extreme barca fan
    April 17, 2011

    great Review Kevin thanks
    Personally i’m not at all happy with our performance, our guys were sleep walking on the pitch, And i dont credit RM as many have done, they drew because we allowed them not becuase they were THAT good, yes i know the liga is done, we have other competitions etc etc, but this was our chance to really kill them and show em who is boss, and we screwed that up.
    -the Copa competition is a bad joke, i dont like it, never did and never will, but i guess Pep will go full throttle to win it.
    -their’s was not a PK while Villa’s 1st was 50/50
    -Puyol’s return was a huge boost, hopefully he can play the remaining Clasico’s
    -I’m pissed thats all.

  35. April 17, 2011

    i’m satisfied with the draw. i have been thinking that trying to win them all would be too tiring and might anger RM into pulling out flying tackles and karate kicks.

    but i didn’t like how they got the draw. the penalty that wasn’t, with all due respect, the ref played us with that.

    and there has to be the question regarding carding. Pique VV and Xavi all got one for bitching, but continuous fouling from Khedira and Pepe is not card worthy…my eyebrows are raising here.

    i think Afellay should start in Copa, instead of Pedro.

    • Sheena
      April 17, 2011

      I think Afellay should start in the Copa, ahead of Villa. Yes, he won us the penalty, but he did zilch all rest of the game. Dude is exhausted, and it’s hurting the side. Rest him for the CL matches.

    • Sheena
      April 17, 2011

      Meh, my comment doesn’t sound right. I meant rest him in the Copa so that he’ll be fit for the CL matches.

    • Jnice
      April 17, 2011

      Villa looks like he needs to be rested for the rest of the season plus the summer lol.

    • Helge
      April 17, 2011


    • April 17, 2011

      Villa is now Ibra 2.0 oh god 🙁

      but with no fit Bojan……….

  36. Humphrey Bogart
    April 17, 2011

    One thought with regards to Pepe as DM: I hope and pry that not one of the 2 CL-games will be officiated by Howard Webb. It is ridiculous that an outcome of a game can be influenced by choosing a ref who thinks it is an acceptable part of the game to karate-kick, kick and hurt opposing players. Howard Webb as ref would play right into Mous cards.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 17, 2011

      oh yeah, fact that the Karate Kid Pepe didn’t get any card is just beyond ridiculous…

      I just hope the referees for the next 3 El Clasico can bring justice to the field…

  37. Helge
    April 17, 2011

    btw, anybody knows where to look up all the stats of the match?

    During the broadcast, they’ve shown lots of new stats like average speed, passes completed/played by player, distance covered etc. (well, at least that’s new for la Liga matches) and I’d really like to watch them again.
    Especially since I want to find out if Real really covered much more distance (per player) and thus might be exhausted on Wednesday.
    Oh, and on the weekend, Real has to go to the Mestalla, should be fun 😀

  38. 145culegirl
    April 17, 2011

    Nice review.It’s a fair result and both teams were not upto the mark.Especially our boys were looking uninterested.I think the thought of having wrapped the league talk got into their heads though pep keeps on saying it is’nt over.
    Some decisions did not go right but as Pep and Kxevin mentioned the ref was doing his job.I’m happy with the result but not the laid-back performance from our team.One thing I dont like is players complaining with the ref especially Xavi.I get disgusted when they compalain to the ref and they know that he’s not gonna give them anything.All our players get from that is just cards for dissent.It just gets on my nerves and I hope they stop.
    I was more disgusted with Mourinho after the match when he said that he’d like to see Barca with a man down.He says he’s not good at refereeing and points out the mistakes the ref does.And when a player of the team commits a foul which is dangerous,he ought to be sent out.I hope he learns that and also get to know that we dont have players get sent off because we dont play defence like his team.

  39. Vj
    April 17, 2011

    I remember the EE was rejoicing when we beat ’em 2-0 and then 1-0, with the sports rags claiming a moral victory on both occasions.. No prizes for guessing what happens when they actually drew against us (in a match they HAD to win to have any chance of staying in La Liga) – cue the fireworks! 😛

    (Just a dig Bassam, just a dig :D)

  40. Liva
    April 17, 2011

    I think that the result was fair enough. Both teams had their chances, both of them squandered a lot of them, but that’s football. A draw in this case is almost as good as a win, Madrid can claim the “moral victory” if they want to, but if I were their fan, I probably wouldn’t start to sing celebration songs about how everything is going to be great in the Copa and CL just yet. Barca didn’t look like they tried that hard, and the whole game seemed more like a warm-up for the next 3 matches (a rather brutal at times, but still a warm-up).

    I thought that it was really hilarious that Pepe, of all the people in the world, would start berating Messi for kicking that ball in the stands. Yeah, Messi should not have done that, it did seem a little petulant, but still – Pepe? Really?

    As to Mourinho – I stopped taking him particularly seriously a long time ago, now he’s just providing some entertainment. Yes, it can get frustrating, but if you don’t have someone like him to show how annoying people can be, you can’t really appreciate how reasonable and smart Pep really is. You need to have seen something ugly to realize that something else is beautiful.

  41. Lou
    April 17, 2011

    From barcastuff:

    Right Now > Training session. Recovery. Puyol and Adriano with the group. Bojan and Abidal individual treatment.

    Looks like Puyol and Adriano might both be OK…

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 17, 2011

      I’ve been thinking…

      IF we have fit and healthy Puyi, sMasch, Pique, Busi, and Adriano for the rest of the season, then our defensive line problem solved…

      however, can we win the treble if Pedro and Villa keep playing terrible?

      Pedro was anonymous and invisible in recent matches…
      he’s back to headless chicken mode…

      while Villa, he’s working his arses off,
      but looks extremely exhausted and has zero confidence in front of the goal…

      we keep hoping and waiting to get our MVP tridente back, match after match, still not happening…

      not just them actually, we keep waiting to see our team back to their peak performance… 🙁

  42. BarcaGirl_Indo
    April 17, 2011

    Barca looked like they didn’t want to play, doing cowardly back passes and keeping the ball away. Its not brave, its cowardly, even if it works.

    Barca has a couple of extremely talented centerbacks, especially in Puyol, but they prefer to kick the ball around their defense than to actually fall back and make some tough tackles all game long on the Madrid strikers.

    The other way in which Barca are cowards is that they are so poor playing football without the ball, they dont trust their defense to win games for them, that they always have to have the ball just so no one can gets shots on them. If you are so confident in your football, so great at keeping a lead, then why so afraid to give the ball away and sit back and defend??? Why???

    a comment from Zonal Marking…
    so we’re coward, huh?

    we should’ve let EE have the ball, sit back, and defend by doing man-to-man marking and rough tackles… that’s show bravery and passion…

    I’m sorry, but some EE fans are just…… (be free to enter your favourite words here)

    • April 17, 2011

      BarcaGirl_Indo, you should know better by now. Haters gonna hate. People who know the game know why we play the way that we do, and why. Can’t worry about the rest of ’em.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 17, 2011

      ha, I know, I know, I even stop reading The Guardian already, too much hatred towards Barça out there…

      I was just wanted see ZM’s article about tactic and stuff…

      so I read the comments there, cause I thought visitors in ZM website maybe have a healthy and reasonable discussion…nah…

      this is the most comfortable place for cules… 😉

  43. April 17, 2011

    I see a few new names here, almost certainly because of the occasion. Welcome. We have a lovely place here. Look around the room, see how the locals are behaving, and comport yourselves accordingly.

    Some of Providence’s comments have been edited, for that precise reason. Bassam is misguided in his loyalties, but good people. And even if he weren’t, he still deserves the same respect as anyone else here. We should all look at if the shoe were reversed, and EE had been beating our asses like a gong, how we’d feel about a last-ditch draw with 10 men….probably pretty good.

    –To SCavendish’s question, I think that we played the match we had to play yesterday. I don’t believe (and Guardiola knows this) that we have the depth to produce that many more manita quality efforts this season. The lads are so tired. Could we have played that one for-real and won it? I think so.

    I think we have high gear available for 1 or 2 more matches, and I don’t think that the Copa will be one of them (sorry in advance, folks). I think that one of the two CL legs (the first) will be all out, with the finals in mind, and another all-out effort.

    And you’d better believe that we will not go into next season with a squad as shallow as we have now, not in terms of quality, but sheer numbers. I think that a side competing in 3 competitions has to be able to field two complete starting XIs, because you never know. That means 22 quality players who are in the squad and part of the rotation. We don’t have that right now, and we haven’t for some time. Injury luck doesn’t always hold, right?

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 17, 2011

      I think we have high gear available for 1 or 2 more matches, and I don’t think that the Copa will be one of them (sorry in advance, folks). I think that one of the two CL legs (the first) will be all out, with the finals in mind, and another all-out effort.

      if losing the Copa means we’ll progress to Wembley, I’ll take that any time…

      yeah, it’s gonna be a very exhausting month for our soldiers, physically and mentally…

      can’t expect them to be in A performance all the time…
      even me, who watched the game from my couch, feel sick during the game…

    • gogah
      April 17, 2011

      hey kxevin.. good to see a lot of sane comments in this blog. i’m new though – been reading for bout 3 months now, not posting.
      would love to hear your comments at http://barcapower.blogspot.com

  44. Helge
    April 17, 2011

    It’s really funny 😀

    The official EE website writes about an ‘epic Madrid’.
    This team that used to be called the Galacticos, where the fans usually ask for offensive, attractive football suddenly proclaims itself as epic after drawing at home with a destructive and defensive tactic. For sure, they made quite an effort in the end to come back from 1-0 and one man down, but this doesn’t match with the self-conception of ‘the best club in the world’…
    I just wonder what they’ll say if they narrowly lose out on all competitions to Barça.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 17, 2011

      well, in our dictionary, 5-0 is EPIC…
      apparently 1-1 draw against second gear Barça is also epic for them?

      Bassam didn’t agree with the words inferiority complex…

      I don’t know what to call it then… any idea, Helge? 😀

    • Helge
      April 17, 2011

      Possibly because inferiority complex sounds like an illness 🙂

      I’d simply say they have reduced their expectations.
      Maybe it’s also a mind game, to make the players think “What?!? Our own fans and critics called this ‘epic’? We’ll show them what epicness we’re really made of in the next matches!”

      Anyway, we should not yetlabel EE as inferior, there are still 3 rounds to go.

  45. Lou
    April 17, 2011

    I’d hate to see us have players on the squad who never play like Madrid (Canales, Leon, Garay, Diarra before he left, even Gago), however I think one or two more signings are crucial for next year (in addition to finding replacements for those who leave):

    A forward who can play either as a number nine or cut in from the wings. Pedro and Affelay are great players but not classic forwards and Bojan has spurts where he doesn’t play well. Also, Nolito and Soriano will probably both leave this summer, meaning that there will be less options to call up from the B team.

    A pacy centre back who can be groomed to eventually replace Puyol/Abidal.

    I think the midfield depth of the squad is fine.

  46. Lev
    April 17, 2011

    “And you’d better believe that we will not go into next season with a squad as shallow as we have now, not in terms of quality, but sheer numbers.”

    Don’t forget that only a couple of days before the season started Ikeahimovic decided he wasn’t getting the star treatment he deserved. So instead of going into the season with Villa-Messi-Pedro-Ibra all of a sudden we had only one (not so) viable option coming off of the bench with Bojan.

    Same could be said of Chiggy except that we didn’t sell him so late in the preseason.

    Regardless of the small squad, the bigger problem is that Pep has criminally underutilized some of the bench players. How many games / minutes could he have rested Messi and Villa had he used Afellay more?

    • messi_fan
      April 17, 2011

      In a way I blame that underuse of bench players on Madrid. They were playing so well that we more or less had to win every match. I think if Madrid weren’t as good as they were, the bench players would have got more time cause the league would’ve been out of reach much earlier.

      But Pep definitely has to take some of the blame. What I particularly don’t like is how late he brings on subs. 5 minute of play isn’t going to do anyone any good. And he can’t leave it up to Messi when he wants to come off, because as we know, Messi will ALWAYS want to play

    • Lev
      April 17, 2011

      exactly. that’s why i said games / minutes. But given how Villa just looks worn out he could have started Afellay more.

  47. poipoi
    April 17, 2011

    Great review, enjoyed it a lot. I also feel we didn’t play at a 100 percent, maybe because the next clasicos or like you said when we saw their criminal line-up. It’s all good though, a trashing could have been bad for the next 3 games.
    A draw and we were kinda off it is ok it was la liga, even we deserved the win. EE deserved to end with negative goals.. only cornerkicks and set pieces. Best club ever oh yes, worse than Holland in the final to me. On fcb I thought this was gonna be villa’s comeback but looks like he suffers ibritis now. 😉 Iniesta deserves a 1 he wasn’t there. Adriano yes yes!

  48. vicsoc
    April 17, 2011

    The most interesting thing about this result is that it makes both teams happy.

    Barcelona can be very happy because despite what Guardiola says they effectively won the league today. They also drew at away against one of the best 4 sides in Europe without playing particularly well. It was obvious in the way the team was taking less chances and focusing on possession when they would have been playing killer balls in other matches that a draw would have been good for use today. Finally, the team forced Madrid to use every ounce of energy while Barcelona never really looked like they got out of second gear – something that bodes well for upcoming games.

    Madrid on the other hand didn’t lose to Barcelona for the first time in 6 games. It should be a bit discouraging for them that a draw that doesn’t help them at all in the league is considered a victory – but they needed something, anything to give them hope.

    Neither team is beaten mentally yet in the series, and both teams will feel they can win overall in the series.

    • Extreme barca fan
      April 17, 2011

      “Neither team is beaten mentally yet in the series”
      I Dont agree with that, Vicsoc, RM were beatne since they announced the line-up, playing with three DM’s at their stadium in a game they needed to win much more than we did, that is a huge blow to the players confidence, and its as Mou was saying to his players: Guys, Barca are too good for us, we cant play ball with them, so we sit tight and hit them on the counter… but with his ultra defensive line-up he chocked creativity out of his team and made them just a hacking and tackling group of players.

  49. Para
    April 17, 2011

    With regards to the lack of squad depth in the team, how does the B team figure into it all? I know Fontas has been called up now that we’ve got a severe CB shortage, but the only other ‘regular’ call-up has been Thiago. (Right? Correct me if I’m wrong, please).

    Someone mentioned that Soriano is not signed up to play with the first team, and therefore couldn’t be called up, but how much should we be relying on the B team during the bulk of the season? Is it seen as a pool to pick additional squad players from, or as a path on the way to the A team (i.e. as a separate entity that’s only called on in times of absolute need)?

    • messi_fan
      April 17, 2011

      I may be wrong but I think a B teamer can only play a certain number of matches with the A team before he has to be promoted.

      Btw, how do you guys rate Soriano? Would he be good fit on our team? Are there any other B team players who you’d like to see on the A-team next season?

  50. outerspacedout
    April 17, 2011

    On depth, with Thiago being promoted we’ll have enough depth in midfield, but we definitely need more in attack and defense.

    If Balotelli wasn’t such a complete headcase who only shows his talent whenever he feels like it, and is a lazy, huge liability the rest of the time (which is most of the time), I’d have liked him. Skills wise he’d be good. He can play up front, as a trequartista or as a support striker on either side, he’s 6’3, a physical presence, much more mobile than our other tall forward Ibrahimovic, quite fast, with a mean shot and wicked free kicks. And he’s got skills. Pity that he’s a maniac right now and I definitely wouldn’t want him to come for that reason, but if only…

    But he’s not, so I wouldn’t like him here and there is no chance we would get him now not in a million years, so what quality options are there that can play across the forward line? I’d love to get Kanoute, personally, as an experienced but still class striker to play minutes off the bench, which he is doing now in Sevilla as well, he can win more trophies and stuff too so that’s an attraction. To play a Larsson. I’m guessing that would allow us to rest any of the three forwards even though Kanoute is a CF, cos he can either sub Messi, or Messi can move to the right and Pedro get rest, or Pedro can move to the left, Messi to the right, and Villa get rest.

    In defense, who? Assuming Milito leaves, and like Ramzi says we would want to have complementary centre-backs, we’d need someone with some pace at least since Milito’s main shortcoming now is pace, and that should also be a Puyolesque type since Pique, Fontas, etc play a similar game, right? What good options are there that would be willing to sit on the bench but could sub in and be good at top level? At least, next season, with Adriano proving to be very capable at left-back, we have the option of playing Abidal at CB without losing much defensively or in terms of attacking thrust, so that’s a relief.

Comments are closed.