Beware the Silverware

Real Madrid’s celebration of its first King’s Cup in 18 years also had its downside. Around 4:15 a.m., as the team bus arrived at the Cibeles Fountain, the heavy trophy escaped from Sergio Ramos’ hands. The Cup fell in front of the bus’ front wheels, which proceeded to run it over […] As workers picked up small pieces of the trophy from the asphalt, the broken cup was brought inside the bus and not shown to the fans any more.*

El País, April 21 2011.

“Well, who’s surprised?” said Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso. “I mean, I know it’s four in the morning and all, but who grabs a big old piece of silverware and tries to put it on his head like a hat? What, did Sergio tattoo his brain or something?”

“That’s nothing,” commented Raúl Albiol, who plays centerback alongside Ramos and Alonso when other, more important players aren’t injured or disciplined. “Look, you didn’t hear it from me, but did you know that Iker once got so smashed after a fight with Sara that he actually tried to open the Móstoles town hall with his key to the city? Man, we were dying. It took him three tries before he realized the key was to Navalacruz. He may be the greatest goalie in the world and all, but what a putz! I honestly don’t know what Mou – oh, I mean Sara – sees in him.”

In an interview with girlfriend and sports reporter extraordinaire Carbonero, Iker shot back. “Raúl forgot to tell you about the time we came back to the hotel after winning the World Cup at like six a.m., and we were jonesing for a tortilla sandwich, and he’s all, ‘I’ll do it, I went to El Bulli once,’ and stuck his head so far in the microwave that his medal got caught inside. Dude freaked out when the lightning started, man. Puyi and I had to hold him while Andrés figured out how to open the door. So who’s the brain trust around here?”

At that point the world-famous portero looked directly at the camera. “Just remember, baby, there’s only one Raúl … and he’s up to los cojones in cold beer, warm brats and hot frauleins.”

*La celebración de la primera Copa del Rey ganada por el Real Madrid en 18 años tuvo también su cara negativa. En torno a las 4.15 de la madrugada, cuando el autobús en el que viajaban los campeones se acercaba a la Cibeles, el pesado trofeo recién conquistado en Valencia se le escapó de las manos a Sergio Ramos, que lo sostenía sobre su cabeza. La Copa cayó junto a una de las ruedas delanteras del vehículo y fue arrollada por el mismo […] Lo cierto es que miembros del SAMUR tuvieron que retirar del asfalto pequeños trozos del trofeo, que fue guardado en el bus y ya no se mostró más a la afición.

http://www.elpais.com/articulo/deportes/Ramos/le/cae/Copa/autobus/Madrid/arrolla/elpepudep/20110421elpepudep_17/Tes

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SoccerMom obsesses over FCB and this blog instead of grading papers, burning dinner and/or raising her small children. She blames a Spanish husband and easy access to Hispanic-targeted cable sports channels for her football addiction and consequent failure as a professor, housekeeper and mother.

143 Comments

  1. outerspacedout
    April 22, 2011

    I was going to comment on it being spelled Silverware, but then saw that it was a Soccermom post and thus was probably some linguistic joke I just haven’t got yet.

    • SoccerMom
      April 22, 2011

      No it’s not a joke! It’s a typo! Thanks, outer!

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      April 22, 2011

      I really regret I opened that video…

      you’re a troller, Josep! 🙁

    • Jnice
      April 22, 2011

      Ugly gesture, but The Yaya did the same thing in the 09 Cup final to Athletic’s fans after he scored his golazo.

    • simple_barcafan
      April 22, 2011

      lol..observe Adebayour.. 😀

  2. April 22, 2011

    By the by, what fascinates me about the Mourinho idolatry is that Fabio Capello won the Liga, but was fired for playing ugly football. And what he did was a beauty queen compared to what Mou Mou is doing.

    As I see it, we have two major problems:

    1. No defenders
    2. No real help for Messi

    As to No. 1, it’s just a strange confluence of injuries/maladies at a critical spot. Adriano, Puyol, Abidal are all key, and all knocked in one way or another. It couldn’t be predicted. Expect to see Fontas get some blooding against Osasuna for sure, as Guardiola won’t want to risk Puyol in that match. I don’t know of any team that could reasonably deal with that barrage of injuries to key defenders. Even the deepest squad. So I’m just not sure that the required depth would have even been possible.

    Who could account for Milito suddenly nosediving, or Maxwell being erratic enough to have Adriano take his spot? Should the club have popped for David Luiz, at almost the price of Alves? No way we were going to do that.

    So I just don’t know if I lay the spate of defensive injuries at the feet of having a short squad. Give knocks to Carvalho, Ramos and Marcelo, and how does EE deal with it? Pick any team. Take Ferdinand, Vidic and Anderson from United, and the same issues arise. We just ran out of luck.

    With No. 2, even when (and this has been said before in a previous thread) Henry and Eto’o weren’t at their best, they still had to be respected. Nobody respects Pedro, and he really hasn’t given them any reason that they should. Yes he scores goals, but he doesn’t do anything to hurt you when he isn’t banging the ball into the net.

    Villa is easily marked with one physical defender, which leaves us with The Messi Rules. “Don’t let the midget kill you.” This is easily accomplished by a team of the quality of EE, but just assigning one man to mark him, and having everyone else collapse upon him at times of danger. They recognize that he will get free, and all they can do at that point is rely on Casillas to come to the rescue, as he did.

    Again, a big, mobile forward who can create goals out of nothing would have been awesome this season. Even a dude like Peter Crouch, never mind He Who Inspires Anger At The Merest Mention. It’s of value at times such as this, to be able to loft a ball to a guy and have him do the trick.

    http://youtu.be/90Jox9w9_Yc

    Villa isn’t scoring goals, Pedro is exclamation point-less, and has been for some time now. More importantly, they both are feeders, in that they can only thrive when another player deflects attention. They alone won’t kill you.

    Therein lies our problem, one that won’t be easily solved in the offseason. Pedro isn’t a starter. Not for me. Said it before and will say it again. He’s Giuly, that match-changing 6th man. Problem is that our system requires a player who will run like crazy, track back and all over the pitch and be able to score the occasional goal. That’s Pedro.

    Is a player such as Rossi the answer? Not for me.

    Short-term, what’s the answer? I’m afraid we are going to have to improvise. Mascherano looked very good at CB, and Busquets is too valuable in midfield to sacrifice him and coverage by having him and Pique, the Slowpoke Twins, as dual CBs. This same complexity rules out Milito.

    Up front, I don’t really have an answer, except for the kind of off-the-ball movement and width that allows Messi space. Problem is that getting that from the left, with Abidal’s overlaps, is no longer an option, and Maxwell has to stay home, or he gets killed with Thong Boy’s pace. So the left side of our attack is dead to us, or at least the notion of getting width from an attacking fullback.

    Do we float Villa out there and have him do an Henry? Viable possibility. Pedro has to move more, and I think that Messi will have to become a forward-lying Xavi, and maybe Xavi becomes an attacker, working off feeds from Messi.

    My other potential solution is Afellay. I think that as a direct, attacking player of the kind that we don’t really have or employ, he could be the wild card. Casillas is too good with shots from distance for that to be a truly effective option, but the direct runs at goal cannot help but unbalance the defense, creating space for the other attackers. I’d sacrifice Pedro for Afellay. Yes, starting him in their house in Champions League. That’s right.

    Think on that for a while.

    • Para
      April 22, 2011

      I know this doesn’t really address anything you’ve brought up (and I am still ‘thinking of that,’ and undecided), but why did Henry leave? The club let him move to the US for free, right?

      I didn’t watch Barcelona last year (heck, I didn’t watch football last year), but from what you all say, and from the few matches that I have gone back and watched, it sounded like he was getting fairly regular minutes.

      • Josep
        April 22, 2011

        We were cutting wages after our debt numbers came out, and he had wanted to go to MLS it seemed. We judged him past his best as he had been replaced by Pedro.

      • outerspacedout
        April 22, 2011

        He barely played last season. And scored I think three or four goals. Pedro replaced him as a starter and was fantastic.

      • blitzen
        April 22, 2011

        It was definitely mutual. He had always wanted to end up in New York anyway, and with the money issue it was just the right time. Villa was coming in, with his expensive salary, and Ibra was still there at the time. Letting him go saved a big chunk of money.

    • outerspacedout
      April 22, 2011

      Pedro on the wing and the current starting line-up still makes for an utterly brilliant side when we ARE playing well and he is on form. Right now he’s off-form and the whole side are playing badly due to fatigue or whatever. Not the best time to judge imo, I mean I’d take the MVP offense fit and on form as a unit like up to before February over any other combination I can think of.

      Pedro’s sheer workload, positioning and how quickly he gets off a shot on goal whenever an opportunity presents itself fits in well into our system when he’s on form. Very few supporting players I know can get off a shot as quickly and nice shots from slightly further than we usually score, too. He does give us 20 goals a season or more while playing a supporting role, too.

      I guess a more outright talented player, the type who would need multiple players to mark him a la Messi etc, would be an upgrade though, if he’ll also work his ass off during games and provide 20 goals a season. Who though? Sanchez? Hazard? Tevez?

      Tevez! He seems set to leave City too, doesn’t he? And he works like a mule all game long, scores a load of goals, has quite a good shot, and can play across the frontline. Seems to have attitude problem but has always been completely committed on the pitch even through that period of time. He’s the most fitting candidate I can think of really.

      • soccermomof4
        April 22, 2011

        Tevez? But he would complain about being homesick, and threaten retirement every 2 months. Other than that and the price, no problem.

    • Ian
      April 22, 2011

      For one we’ve always had few players in/around the penalty box. Defenders are always clogging the area, and Villa couldn’t finish runs under pressure. Our flanks need movement to open up space, and that’s where we go forward, so how about Ibi and Pedro in one starting lineup? Or Pedro comes in the second half where EE are tired and we need new energy…

    • Barcaleya
      April 22, 2011

      I really think that to get Villa to play his best, we need a tall center like Torres or Llorente, as with the national team. Even a non-performing Torres would be good for us right now if we needed Villa to score like before.

      If it weren’t for the dearth of defenders that we have (and because I’ve gone crazy and running out of ideas to win) – I’d say put Pique in front and have Villa and Pedro/Ibi on both sides.

    • Dani_el
      April 22, 2011

      Really out side the box approach, I just wish that Ibi would be as tactically strong as Pedro, pressing high on the pitch, and make in the runs…for next season, I think we need a striker and a center defender..

  3. April 22, 2011

    Finally, what’s the story on this crpytic Tweet from Luis Enrique:

    GAME OVER . That’ s it. I don’t know when I’ll be back….. maybe never. Good luck and thanks for your support.

    • blitzen
      April 22, 2011

      Interesting. We can speculate that he has taken a new coaching job and will be leaving Barca B early, but I wouldn’t have thought he would do that with 8 games left to play in the season.

      Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

    • Josep
      April 22, 2011

      I was actually coming back on here to leave a comment asking if anyone knew what the hell happened with Lucho?

    • blitzen
      April 22, 2011

      Whatever happens, I hope he stays in Spain. He is much too good-looking talented to lose to another league.

    • Para
      April 22, 2011

      Some people (I think on the barcaoffside?) seemed to think he was referring to his presence on twitter, rather than his presence on the team. We already know he’s leaving at the end of the season, and I’m sure if he had all of a sudden decided to leave now, the club would have released something regarding his departure.

      • outerspacedout
        April 22, 2011

        Yeah that’s what it seemed to me too, that he was leaving Twitter.

        • April 22, 2011

          Oh, yes! I looked deeper into his feed, and he does say Facebook only.

          • blitzen
            April 22, 2011

            No, he says “Facebook no me gusta, solo Twitter”, doesn’t that mean he doesn’t like Facebook?

          • April 22, 2011

            Yes. My quick read flipped those two. Then I have no idea, officially.

    • Eklavya
      April 22, 2011

      Maybe a B-teamer wanted to prank him and hacked his twitter account LOL

  4. April 22, 2011

    Well i think we need someone making runs from the center so i’d pick afellay and put him in iniesta place and place iniesta on villa place…i think given villa’s form andres will be more of a threat…plus there wont be any offsides!

  5. blitzen
    April 22, 2011

    Didn’t Jeffren play at LB for us one time? How did that work out?

    • outerspacedout
      April 22, 2011

      Admittedly against Atletico who have deadly forwards, but I remember him being not distinctly awful but definitely not good either. I also remember Bartra coming on for Jeffren that game and having a quite impressively solid match as RB… so if we’re that broke for options I’d rather put Bartra there than Jeffren.

    • vicsoc
      April 22, 2011

      Imagine playing Hleb at left back.

      It was like that.

    • Miguel
      April 22, 2011

      He played right back and, yeah, he sucked.

  6. outerspacedout
    April 22, 2011

    Thought about what Kevin said about how having a player who would be considered enough of a danger for opposing defenses to have to concentrate on him as well, who can pull something out of nothing, on the forward line, with Pedro playing a sub role. And also considering everyone seems in agreement that we need a new signing in attack, that Ramzi and Euler among others seem to feel that that signing should also be a top-level player, and I’m thinking, what do you guys think about Tevez?

    He seems set to leave City in the summer, he can pull something out of nothing, contribute 20+ goals a season like Pedro does now, can play in the centre or in a supporting role across the forward line, and works like a dog down to the final whistle. And while he seemed to have attitude problems- or mostly, that poisonous agent of his- he was still being professional and working his ass off in every game he played for City even during that time when he said he would leave etc. I mean those other factors aside, he is a world-class player…

    • April 22, 2011

      I just don’t want another midget. I’d take Rossi over Tevez. A lot more pace. Not that I want Rossi, either. I’d buy Crouch before Bale.

      • Barcaleya
        April 22, 2011

        Agree. We just need someone really tall. With pace.

      • providence
        April 22, 2011

        the other time u said illorente over Fab, and now Crouch over bale, but i dont think that will ideally fit our style,i’ll go for Tevez though, power pace and finishing.
        against EE, i’ll go for
        vv
        puyi masch pique maxwell
        busquets
        xavi messi
        alves vila iniesta

    • vicsoc
      April 22, 2011

      I’ll probably be castigated for this, but I still think if we can get Forlan on the cheap he would be the perfect signing this summer. He is the only player who is a realistic target that truly offers the team something different, while still being able to fit in with tiki-taka. Sure he has been poor since the world cup, but he hasn’t had anything to motivate him since then. If he was cheap he could provide a great option off the bench for two years and give us some leeway on finding our next big money striker.

      • April 22, 2011

        Tevez’s game is already built around dropping deep to collect the ball.

        In other words he plays in the same space as Messi. Tevez is not the solution.

        Forlan would be a good fit.

        As unappealing as it may sound, Drogba would be a good fit as a player to come off the bench.

        • April 22, 2011

          And they would probably be looking to sell Drogba to make more room for Torres. 😀 (Sorry, but that’s just so funny.)

          • April 22, 2011

            They will sell Drogba. Selling Carvalho was just dumb looking at how badly they needed a CB during this season.

            But they are looking to get “younger” and perhaps build around Torres so Drogba will get moved.

            Chelsea really makes no sense. They look to be committing the future of the team to Torres when their real problem is that they have no creativity in midfield to provide service to the attacking players.

            And their lack of integration of any of the young players already on the squad isn’t helping.

          • vicsoc
            April 22, 2011

            Chelsea is a perfect example of owner-directed mismanagement. The players are bought due to Abramovich’s opinion of them, and when a manager is unable to integrate new players that they don’t need he is sacked for someone else. I expect Ancelotti to be out this summer – with the primary reason being his inability to get Torres integrated.

          • Jnice
            April 22, 2011

            I’m down with the Drogba option. Doesn’t sound unappealing at all. I could see Madrid going for him, though, especially if they don’t use their option to buy Adebayor.

        • Neel
          April 24, 2011

          I think Drogba would suit Barca…I truly believe that he was the absolute numero uno striker for a long period ending about a year back…
          he has accuracy, strength, height, great balance, willing to tread back, decent pace, can play anywhere across the frontline, is a workhorse…and he has so far taken the situation of him being benched rather professionally and is also fighting towards a starting position again…that especially adds to his value as a super sub…

  7. April 22, 2011

    Another thought: Afellay on the left, doing what he does for Netherlands. We aren’t going to get width from Maxwell, and it would free Villa to play with Messi from right of center. I’d actually do:

    Valdes
    Alves Pique Mascherano Maxwell
    Busquets Iniesta
    Xavi
    Messi
    Villa Afellay

    Xavi would be making more forward runs than Messi, who would pick and choose his spots. Pique would be doing Piquenbauer, with Busquets and Iniesta in more Xaviesque roles.

    • vicsoc
      April 22, 2011

      Assuming Puyol is healthy I would play like this in the away match:
      Valdes
      Alves Pique Mascherano Puyol
      Xavi Busquets Keita
      Pedro Messi Iniesta

      Puyol out left to shackle thong boy, Keita to provide some energy on the middle to counteract Pepe’s energy, Villa on the bench as an impact sub.

      • soccermomof4
        April 22, 2011

        Assuming Puyol is healthy:
        Valdes
        Alves Pique Mascherano Puyol
        Xavi Busquets 3M
        Pedro Messi Iniesta
        -speed on both flanks w/ 3M and Ini switching as necessary-

        When Puyol was injured, we were sad, but all was OK because Abi was awesome. When we lost Abi, it was NOT OK, but at least Adriano was coming into his own. Losing Adriano and Abi and not knowing whether Puyol will be up to playing 90 in the next clasico TOTALLY SUCKS! We can totally do this though!

  8. April 22, 2011

    The first thing that needs to be considered is how to respond to RM significant overloading of the center of the pitch through their compressed formation and three central midfielders.

    That requires reevaluating how Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta and Messi – the players occupying the center of the pitch – are deployed.

    That’s the firs step.

    Alongside that – Pep must then figure out how to exploit the flanks because that’s the area where there is more space to operate.

    Moving Messi back to the right in the second half was an important move.

    Now the trick is how to provide him with support when he’s on the right and looks to cut in.

    That support will need to come off the left flank.

    This was why moving Pedro to the left flank and having him stay wide was particularly effective as well.

    It’s the left flank where space is most available.

    Barca’s problem now is that without Adriano they have no player who can support Pedro on overlaps down the left.

    That’s a major problem they are going to have to address.

    The attack must come off the left and it’s not Villa how is suited to do that right now. If he plays, I would just move him to the center and have him position switch to the right with messi.

    The opportunity is on that left flank though.

    • April 22, 2011

      Hence my Afellay for Pedro suggestion. For Holland, Afellay does exactly what we need: Bomb up the left and either cut toward goal or make the cross. Crosses from the flanks are KEY to destabilization. The passes to runners also make us less easily defended. Balls on the ground aren’t going to do it against that formation.

  9. Miguel
    April 22, 2011

    did you know that Iker once got so smashed after a fight with Sara that he actually tried to open the Móstoles town hall with his key to the city? Man, we were dying. It took him three tries before he realized the key was to Navalacruz.

    Hey! I almost broke into my upstairs neighbor’s apartment(311, mine was 211) I was so smashed after a pool party. Luckily I found my house before I got caught in the police dragnet. I was like a cartoon baby wandering a construction site. Say “no” to drugs kids.

  10. Dave
    April 22, 2011

    Apart from Afellay,some of the transfer dealings by the club have been poor. Henrique and Kerrison both in limbo. Disaster. Caceres. disaster. Hleb. shocking. Added to this, missing out on a natural successor to Puyol in Luiz, luis Suarez and Ozil. The men at the top need to get a grip.

    On Crouch, no thanks. He lacks the pedigree or mentality for Barca.

    Defence reinforcements
    CB should be contrast to both Pique and Fontas. Pacy and hard hitting.
    Someone like Sakho or Kompany

    LB or RB
    Player will be used in rotation. I like Zabaleta from City as hes aggressive and versatile and wouldn’t be two expensive. Also the Honduran with Celtic is decent.

    Midfield- Fabregas seems the obvious. Personally I prefer Modric. Is Cesc Injury Prone? Someone that can dictate from deep.

    Attack- I like Mata or Rossi. Both know the league well and are quality. Outside that the Shaktar boys are decent.

    • April 22, 2011

      Henrique and Keirrison not on Guardiola’s watch. Caceres wasn’t a disaster. He has turned into a very good defender, just not our style, which is hard to know before someone arrives. Don’t forget that Hleb was good before his injury, which cost him form and his place, and the team was so good by his return that he couldn’t get a shout again.

      We were never going to pay what they wanted for Luiz. Never. He sold for 30+m pounds. Really? That’s Alves money for a defender who we still aren’t sure can play in our system.

      Suarez? No thanks. Where does he play? Ozil is the answer for someone, but not us. That was the correct decision.

      • Dave
        April 22, 2011

        Note that the I never accused Guardiola Kevin, but the men above. Hleb’s main problem was his attitude. Caceres has only been so so with Sevilla, capable of great things but too inconsistent. If Caceras was not suited to our, why sign him? Scouts are paid to make these decisions. For all his assumed development he is now worth a princely 3million. Bought for??
        I understand that transfers can be gambles but seriously. And Luiz is worth 30 mil. But we did not have the money, due to the feckless nature of previous dealings. Suarez plays anywhere up front, the area we lack genuine alternatives. Bojan? no chance.

        So if Guardiola is left with insufficient squad depth next summer, will the club blame Madrid for distorting the market once again?

  11. BarcaGirl_Indo
    April 22, 2011

    “What Arbeloa & Ramos did to Villa after that was against the principles of a football player, even against their morals.” – Del Bosque

    I love VdB… totally disgusted by Arbeloa and Ramos…

    • Barcaleya
      April 22, 2011

      VdB said this? Great! I keep telling everyone this – that I take exception to what they did. Picking him up like a rag doll trying to hide their sins before the teacher/mom (ref) arrives. Hmph!

    • blitzen
      April 22, 2011

      Awesome. This man is full of class.

  12. Eklavya
    April 22, 2011

    VV
    Alves Pique Masch Puyol
    Xavi Busi Afellay
    Pedro Messi Iniesta

    • Ian
      April 22, 2011

      Did Ibi play MF in the Donbass or was he a left forward drifting backwards? IIRC he has some time on the right?

    • providence
      April 22, 2011

      i like this one but puyi cannot be that effective in attack like Maxwell, puyol for masch and maxwell in

  13. April 22, 2011

    For anyone pining for David Luiz – they should go back and watch the Benefica – Porto match from earlier this season and then think about how well Luiz would do with Barca’s high back line.

    Pique and Luiz would be great on the ball and very prone to getting beat on counters at speed.

    Barca need another CB. But they do not need another technically gifted CB who doesn’t have great pace.

    They need a CB who has pace. They must expand the skill sets they have at the back.

    What’s become clear this season is that Pique has to have the right player alongside him to be at his best. He simply is too slow without the right player alongside him.

  14. tutomate
    April 22, 2011

    I just wanted to come temporarily from my drunken stooper to say;
    I hate you stupid freagin M*did

    OK back to my slomber.

  15. vicsoc
    April 22, 2011

    The real question for me is does Villa get the start this weekend. I’m a proponent of lettin players play through their slumps, but I think in this case it would be better to rest Villa. Not only would he get some rest, but I would like to see Pep legitimately experiment with a some tactical changes he could implement on Wednesday.

  16. Eklavya
    April 22, 2011

    My original plan was:
    VV
    Puyol Pique Masch Adriano
    Xavi Busi Iniesta
    Alves Messi Pedro

    Pique would play much higher than usual, pushing up the play and preventing Messi from dropping deep.

    • providence
      April 22, 2011

      nice one here, that wud hv taken care of di maria on the right then replace affelay with pedro to neutralise TB speed

      • Eklavya
        April 22, 2011

        Yeah, DiMaria is annoying. He needs to be shut down cause he’s causing the most problems.

  17. April 22, 2011

    After a meeting this week, Barcelona and representatives of Villarreal forward Giuseppe Rossi (24) have agreed to meet again in May. [tmw]
    -via barcastuff.

    Who knows what’s true of course. But these Rossi rumors have been so persistent over such a long time and have now been reported across such a diverse set of sources that it seems like there may be something there.

    Rossi is a terrific player. Very intelligent. Quick over short distances. Technically gifted.

    He is just not the optimal fit. Another 175cm striker is not what they need.

    Afellay playing on the left in the next match is an attractive idea.

    But one of Afellay’s biggest strengths on the left wing is the accuracy of his crossing. He’s basically a player stationed on the wing who has the passing ability of a central midfielder.

    But who the heck is he going to cross the ball too? Villa? Messi?

    Buying Rossi a year after Villa is just “too much the same.”

    I really wish they could get Llorente but that seems unlikely.

    • vicsoc
      April 22, 2011

      I really need to refresh the page before I post. You took the words right out of my mouth.

  18. vicsoc
    April 22, 2011

    The Rossi rumors just won’t go away this season, and they are coming from all over the place which makes me wonder if there might no be a seed of truth to them. Call me a sceptic, but I’m not convinced Rossi would provide enough of a different option compared to the players we already have.

  19. April 22, 2011

    Crosses from the flanks are KEY to destabilization. The passes to runners also make us less easily defended. Balls on the ground aren’t going to do it against that formation.

    kxevin,

    It’s an attractive idea and the correct one tactically.

    But the problem is who would Afellay be crossing the ball to?

    RM would easily intercept those crosses into the box that come in through the air.

    It’s really a shame. Afellay crosses the ball very well. He’s put in some amazing crosses for the Netherlands this year from that position. His cross off the left against Sweden was amazing.

    I just don’t know how they can utilize that talent though given their front line.

    For those who haven’t seen that cross from Afellay here’s a clip – it’s at around 1:30

    **http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_R6Ot2sbhA&feature=related

  20. Josep
    April 22, 2011

    So striker’s we should look at based on price and what we need/

    So far the shouts seem to be:
    Kanoute. He’s getting older, and he’d be the Larsson-type we miss.
    Drogba. Clearly on the way out, past his best, but a huge presence up front.
    Forlan. The same as Drogs, maybe costs more though?

    My 2 cents is we should go for any of those three, not Rossi though. Thomas Muller is 6’1” and if Bayern don’t make the Champion’s League spots….?

    Abel Hernandez is a good young Uruguayan, he’s 6’1” I believe, but would cost a bit. Barrios from Dortmund might be 6’2” – 6’3”
    that van Wolfswinkel kid from Utretch? Kalinic or Zigic for Blackburn? Oscar Cardozo from Benfica? Goitem from Almeria? Okay, I’ll admit thats just cuz I like him.

    There’s plenty of creative options if we’re looking for a tall dude.

    • outerspacedout
      April 22, 2011

      You’re a Goat too Josep?

      I like the idea of Kanoute. Drogba and us most likely not exactly getting along aside, he’d be my ideal pick though just looking at ability. He’s still very very good, has been very good the past few games too. He was off for a big stretch of the season cos he had had malaria, apparently. But he looked good in his last PL match. Bullying the entire opposition defense. Imagine the amount of space that kind of bullying could open up if we had a guy like him who’d occupy two CBs. But Drogba seems waaaay too unlikely for some reason. So from feasible options I’d like Kanoute.

      • Josep
        April 22, 2011

        i’m a goat? (confused)

        Adebayor’s success in Madrid gives me hopes if Drogba could come here. Plus it would make FIFA even sicker as he’s constantly overrated in that. 😀

        I wouldn’t mind Kanoute and Drogs. I think Kanoute could be had for between 1-4 million honestly. Drogs no more than 10? Swap for Guardiola? 😛

        • outerspacedout
          April 22, 2011

          Don’t you read TotallyGoats? Goats are followers/fans of Henok Goitom apparently lol. And that website is weird but funny, check it out.

          • Josep
            April 22, 2011

            Ohhh, wasn’t aware. No, never read it I just like Goitom he’s a legit dude. I follow his twitter he’s pretty insightful.

      • BA
        April 22, 2011

        i’m a huge fan of Kanoute, but he couldn’t play on either wing and works best in a 4-4-2. where and how would he play?

        i think the emphasis on a “big man” of some form is misguided. we don’t need a “different” option, we just need options. we have 2 1/2 attacking players: Bojan and Jeffren (Afellay is an attacking midfielder). one is 19 and the other has less than 30 appearances in the first-team in 4 seasons. we’re simply not the kind of team that can alter it’s entire playstyle in the final 15 minutes of a game when we need a goal and start hoofing balls to a tall center-forward; but we DO need more attacking options when 1 or, in this case, 2 of our standard 3 attacking players are misfiring.

        the problem, therefore, as i see it isn’t that the team has to be able to change it’s style, but it has to have the players available to implement the style we already have. because of our lack of squad depth, we just don’t have it at the moment and it’s hurting us.

        • Barcaleya
          April 22, 2011

          Hi BA! I just thought that the fact that we have Villa means we need a “different” option to take advantage of all his potential. We can see from the national team games that he needs a tall forward to play with so he can come in from the sides and score. He’s always been useless up front by himself or with smaller players who cannot drag away defenders from him. Also, when a side plays dirty against us, I think we don’t have the physical mass to really keep the ball. A tall, strong forward (like Drogba) can possibly keep the ball long enough to deliver to Messi or Villa and he won’t be easily dispossessed by opposing defenders.

          That we have a tall defender doesn’t necessarily mean either that we just hoof the balls to him. We really just need someone to cross to and these crosses will always fail if we have midget-sized forwards. As Kevin/Euler have said – crosses from the flanks are the key to destabilization. But even granting that we cross well, who does it go to? It goes to the taller opposing players. If we just had a tall forward, he might be able to protect our kind of play in fact as the defenders will always be looking out for that cross and he should be strong and fast enough to leave space for our other players.

  21. soccermomof4
    April 22, 2011

    Thanks SoMa! I think we all needed that!

  22. Dave
    April 22, 2011

    Based on recent performances, Forlan will not cost the 25million mentioned before. Age also.

    • vicsoc
      April 22, 2011

      Despite wanting him to join the club, I wouldnt want to spend more the. 10 million max on him. Even that much would be paying the “we’re Barcelona” tax.

  23. Miguel
    April 22, 2011

    My line-up against Real:
    VV
    Alves-Puyi(assuming he’s 100%)-Piqué-Max
    Busi
    Xavi-Keita
    Pedro-Messi-Ghostface

    Villa as a game changer.

    Or:
    VV
    Alves-Puyi-Piqué-Max
    Masche
    Xavi-Ini
    Messi-Villa-Pedro

  24. Josep
    April 22, 2011

    Khedira is reportedly out for the remainder of the season.

      • beeeef
        April 22, 2011

        If it wasn’t for the #7, I would have thought it was Danny.

  25. Diego
    April 22, 2011

    I’m back !

    For those who attended the Copa del Rey final Liveblog, I’d like to introdue you to Jeff, He’s my best friend in real life and a fellow cule, He’s hoping he’d become a part of our community.

    • Jnice
      April 22, 2011

      Hola, Diego and What’s up, Jeff?! 🙂

  26. Hannibal
    April 22, 2011

    Lineup for CL

    VV
    Puyol-Pique-SMash-Alves
    Biscuits
    Iniesta-Xavi-Affelay
    Messi Pedro

    imo playing Messi a’little deeper will pin Madrid more down, as a consequence we probably will be more in control of the pitch and the ball. The drawback will be increased vulnerability to EE counterattacks.

    Furthermore, playing Iniesta in Messi’s place will give Madrid virtually the same problems defensively and I ought Iniesta more likely to move the ball faster than Messi would. Affelay on Iniesta’s spot increases our outside-shooting threat. Placing Alves as a LB near TB will imo be detrimental to Madrid’s offensive threat.

    Playing 2 (wing)strikers instead of 3 with Messi as a false 9 will make the CB’s of Madrid even less usefull (Ramos-Albiol). They’ll be in big trouble when pinned against wingstrikers with speed crashing their penalty box.

    thoughts?

    Btw: all for getting Big Freddy K. or Don Diego as a plan B

    • psqd
      April 22, 2011

      like the formation with a couple tweeks.
      flip puyol and alves.
      sMasch drops between puyol and pique, in and out of MF.
      hopefully help track the runs that were killing us.
      afellay tracking back to cover runs on left with pace.

    • Neel
      April 24, 2011

      Thanks Para, Now I have my eyes on the pre CL press conference.

  27. blaunero
    April 22, 2011

    I’d play with a quasi-Xmas tree formation.
    Alves, Pique, Puyol, Maxwell
    Keita Busquets Mascherano
    Xavi Iniesta
    Messi

    Let’s see if Mourinho’s counterattack works against that formation.

  28. Jim
    April 22, 2011

    I’m not sure we’re not starting to give Madrid too much respect with talk about changing our style. I couldn’t make myself watch the whole game again but I did watch the second half. For whatever reason the game changed, it changed massively. Madrid weren’t in it and we could have scored three or four. Different formations won’t solve a lack of taking chances problem.

    I worry when we talk of moving Iniesta back to the wing. How often have we tried that and I’m not sure it has ever seemed like a good solution. He won’t ( and shouldn’t imo ) stay there for long so we don’t solve the width problem. Afellay might but I’m not sure he’s not out of his depth in this sort of game atm. Next year will be his big season if he’s going to make it here. However, I agree with Euler that if his forte is going to be hitting the byeline and delivering high crosses I can hear the sound of suitcases being packed in the background.

    I’m as confused by Villa’s lack of scoring as anyone. The chances are largely a confidence thing and imo he isn’t missing them badly or not showing for them so it’s not terminal. With Madrid not trying to play a high backline his early ball chances are harder to find. I still think he looks best coming in from the left. His touch is more worrying – balls are coming off him that weren’t earlier in the season. However, he was severely hacked off after the aforementioned incident and will be fired up for the next match. We really don’t have a lot of choice. He also knows he can score against them. I’d put him on the bench at the weekend then give him half an hour to see if he can get one against a tiring side just to rekindle the confidence.

    Maxwell may well get the nod for the next Clasico but if he does we need to learn some lessons. He’ll be vulnerable to the long diagonal ball and he needs a CB to be aware and able to tuck in behind him. Ronaldo won’t fancy pushing the ball past Maxwell and running if he knows Puyi is coming across at full speed. He genuinely looked scared of Puyol in the first classic at the Camp Nou.

    In midfield we need to achieve what we did second half which was to have good enough possession to camp just outside their penalty box and look for gaps. We need Xavi a bit further up the park weaving his magic than he was in the league match or the first half of the cup final. He’ll struggle to do that without Iniesta beside him. If we do that the chances will come eventually. We’re never going to sit back and counter and we’re not even particularly quick at doing that.

    The key for me may well lie with Dani. He hasn’t been getting forward effectively recently and his distribution has been worse – I’m not even going near the free kicks here. We need more from him going forward. If we can persuade Maxwell to come forward it can’t be at the same time as him and the DM needs not to join that attack.

    Remember they need everyone defending to the best of their ability to keep us out. We will have the possession – it’s down to us to do something with it. I would ALWAYS rather have our team than theirs.

    PS. Pep, we seriously do need to rest a few this weekend.

    • Whatever
      April 22, 2011

      Messi, Xavi and Iniesta should go to the stands for this weekend’s game. They really need a rest.

      • April 22, 2011

        Width, I think, is the key. All the attacks were coming on the ground, up the center. All their defenders converge, stick legs out and that’s that. The left side has to have a real threat, hence my Afellay suggestion.

        Alves hasn’t been his marauding self of late, but some of that is due to the players lined up against him.

        I wouldn’t have Maxwell come forward at all. We’d have Afellay for that. Maxwell would only come forward on the safest of passes, to prevent the kinds of turnovers that would catch him out. I’d fine him every time he got into their half of the pitch! 😀

        I’m not confused at all about Villa’s scoring. Fatigue. When you’re fresh and sharp, the plays that you make seem easier. You have plenty of time and lovely control. As you tire, you lose more balls and your finishing isn’t as sharp. It happens. In many ways the fact that it’s happening to Villa, a player who should be as capable as any of integrating into our side, demonstrates the difficulty of fitting into this starting XI.

  29. Jose
    April 22, 2011

    Don’t know if this has been mentioned, but there’s an interesting report from ESPN:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=6391145

    It shows the highest paid athlete from almost every country, listing their sport and salary. Football, of course, dominates, with over half the countries’ best paid athletes being football players. Highest paid athletes in the world are the Phillippines Manny Pacquiao (boxing) and the New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez (baseball) at 32M each.

    Argentina has Carlos Tevez at #1, with 19M, but that’s just because Messi’s new contract hasn’t been accounted for. Funnily enough, RM’s Adebayor has the highest ratio of salary to GDP per capita of country… He makes 25,000 times more than the GDP per capita of Togo.

  30. Serious
    April 22, 2011

    I have been visiting a lot of barcelona blogs, all and sundry seem to be submerged in the classic case of post match depression. Common quotes-“We are suffering because of small squad”. “Villa is shit (not that I disagree)”. “Pep cannot find a way to counter Mourinho’s defensive tactic”. All very well thought out methods of Anger Management but unfortunately most are not very plausible reasons for the loss of Copa (Plate now). Puyol/Abidal/Villa are three vital cogs of Barca machine who are irreplaceable but we had to loose them in one way or the other. Pep also had Bojan and Jefferen at the beginning of the season to pin hopes on which didn’t click due to one reason or the other. But we have Afellay, Maxwell Mascerano who may not be equal replacements but tell me one name who you would bet to sit on the bench entire season hoping to play when injury strikes. You cannot plan for injury, now we must play with all we got and we got enough in the tank if strung up properly can win us Champions easily. Why so serious?

  31. Alex
    April 22, 2011

    Call me crazy, but what about moving Pique up to center forward and having an Alves, Puyol, Smasch, Maxwell backline with Buis Xavi Iniesta, and Afellay Messi Pique up front………..

    • Barcaleya
      April 22, 2011

      Hi Alex! I said this several posts above. I believe that we will only be able to unlock Villa’s potential by having that tall forward who can distract defenders and who can score himself and who can win the crosses. I really think we need Pique up front (since we have no other choice right now until we start buying new players). Pep makes him go very high up sometimes anyway like at extra time in the last game.

      So my formation would be

      VV

      Alves – Puyol – Masch – Maxwell

      Busi

      Xavi Messi Iniesta

      Pique Villa

      • April 22, 2011

        But the back line setup assumes that the ball is never going to get there (midget city). And who’s the crosser to take advantage of Pique being up front? I also think that this lineup sacrifices the left side of the attack, since Maxwell will have to stay at home.

        • Alex
          April 22, 2011

          VV

          Alves – Masch – Puyol – Max

          Xavi – Busi – Iniesta

          Messi – Pique – Afellay

        • Barcaleya
          April 22, 2011

          Hi Kevin! As I said earlier, this is the the line-up of the desperate 😀 And I am by no means a tactician or anything. You are right. This supposes that we never let the ball reach the backline. We’ll have to press and hustle like crazy high-up to always keep the ball in their half. Puyi, Masch and Max will also have to stay at home. We don’t have Adriano so Iniesta will have to stay wide on the left. Him and Dani will provide the crosses to Pique. Xavi and Messi can also deliver the long balls up front.

          Pique is good enough to bring down or head the balls. I noticed that Pique was practically a left winger/forward (?) on extra time but he has no one to give balls to except to pass back to a well-defended Messi or someone else. If he stayed in front, I think that Villa and Messi might have more space. I really don’t know. I just thought he was the only tall player we have that’s good enough technically to stay in front. Completely sacrificing the backline, of course. But given that we play the best possession football and when we’re on fire, the backliners having nothing to do anyway, then we can do this, I guess. And only if this assures that Villa ends up scoring. That this gives that extra time and space for Villa to make his shots. A tall forward who can drag defenders out of position. Just like with the national team.

          • Barcaleya
            April 22, 2011

            But my line-up leaves us one short at midfield? Is iniesta more needed inside? Argh. Whew…really wish there was Adriano. We really do need him at left flank. You’re right. If Adriano was available, then I would just put him in place of Maxwell and I think it would a plausible line-up.

            I’m watching some highlights and it seems like….Iniesta has to be in the middle. He’s never really productive out wide. Arrrgghh. Would it be even more crazy to have Ibi replace Maxwell and he can try to copy Adriano’s position and movement? Has he ever played attacking LB before?

          • April 22, 2011

            That’s why I have this lineup:

            VV
            Alves Pique Puyol (assuming healthy) Maxwell
            Busquets Messi Iniesta
            Villa Xavi Afellay

            That’s right, Xavi. Making runs into their box and taking passes, rather than playing an out-and-out striker, with Messi as playmaker. Afellay does the left-wing hooligan thing, and as he’s also excellent at tracking back, should be able to help Maxwell also.

          • Barcaleya
            April 22, 2011

            Kevin – yeah, looks good to me. But… does this support “crosses being the key to destabilization?” I mean – I totally agree with that point but we also thought that there was no one to receive the crosses. They always go to the opposing players since we’re too small and easily outmuscled. If we put Xavi in front – he’s just going to take passes but not necessarily crosses (long? diagonal?). We might be a bit more fluid but not necessarily effective?

            Also – Xavi is better with having space and the whole field to survey. Are we really better with him exchanging places with Messi since Messi is surely more creative in front of goal than Xavi is?

          • April 22, 2011

            I think that the destabilization comes with balls falling to feet in the box, and making the defense shift, rather than being able to keep everything in front of it, as it did midweek.

            Messi would pick and choose his spots, but I think that having him as a playmaker who can score, rather than a false 9 who makes Quixotic runs at their defense would upset their tactical notions quite a bit. Xavi can score, and has a very good shot along with excellent control.

            Crosses can be low as well, it’s also worth noting.

          • Barcaleya
            April 22, 2011

            Yes, okay! I think this is a great idea (provided the crosses are not easily intercepted).

            At this point – I’m willing to try anything. ANYTHING. Haha. The boys just need to execute. And to win, for heaven’s sake. Or at least take lots of away goals at the Bernabeu.

            So….any line-up, tactic, strategy that will give us those goals – I would gladly take. Nothing will be too strange for me as long as they practice and make sure it works. If it means Pique up front to pair with Villa, I’ll go with it no matter how crazy so long as Villa scores two. Then we can go back to a more sane formation. And if its better to have Xavi up front with Messi being the playmaker, agree and support as well!

    • blitzen
      April 22, 2011

      That’s it! The move I was talking about, at the 1:45 mark! 😀

      • Miguel
        April 22, 2011

        I forgot to post this earlier. My bad. 🙂 I had no idea what move you were talking about, though.

        • blitzen
          April 22, 2011

          Thanks for posting it. I haven’t had the heart to watch any highlights up to now. I have to say on seeing this, Ramos may be an idiot and a hothead, but Arbeloa is just an outright thug. Worse than Pepe.

          • Miguel
            April 22, 2011

            Atleast we’re almost certain to get an awesome Crackóvia touchline bit out of this! 😀

    • blitzen
      April 22, 2011

      And check out the beautiful flick from Villa at the 2:25 mark. But he sucks, right?

    • psqd
      April 22, 2011

      thought he was best on the field!
      and for all the calls to put him on the wing next match, watch him running at people out of midfield. gotta have him in mf.
      think the unknown/threat from afellay cutting in from the left. and he is actually willing to shoot! would like to see him as a wingback.
      max is just gonna get run past by everyone RM will throw his direction. Also, having a guy they won’t bother to mark as he moves up will only make things worse for AI, xavi, meessi, et al.

      • April 22, 2011

        Oh, hooey. Nobody is saying that Villa sucks. They are saying that he hasn’t scored since Messi was in diapers, and his finishing problems are only getting worse, rather than better. I want my striker putting the ball in the net, not making beautiful flicks.

        Everyone should scroll up and have a gander at the Afellay video that Euler posted a link to. If we watched that vid we’d be clamoring about wanting to sign that player. But we already have. Direct play destabilizes. To Euler’s point, I think that his crosses (he’s also good at ground-level crosses) could give our players more of a shot inside the box, rather than trying to run into the box.

      • psqd
        April 22, 2011

        right, sorry, replied to wrong post. meant iniesta best on field.

        • April 22, 2011

          Figured you were referencing Iniesta, psqd. I watched the match, and knew that you couldn’t possibly have been referring to Villa. 😀

  32. Colby
    April 22, 2011

    “Crosses from the flanks are KEY to destabilization. The passes to runners also make us less easily defended. Balls on the ground aren’t going to do it against that formation.”

    I think the issue of who is Afellay (or Pedro) going to cross to is interesting. I think the key is not necessarily connecting on these crosses for headed goals, it is creating broken play that leads to defensive breakdowns by Madrid.
    The two best examples i can think of for this are Iniesta 93′ and Bojan’s disallowed goal against Inter last year. Before Iniesta scored, a cross was put in towards Bojan, which forced a failed clearance from Essien(?), which lead to the goal. If you rewatch the goal, you’ll notice that the cross into the box got Chelsea’s defense out of position, all sitting back very deep.
    Bojan’s goal against Inter came after a failed clearance from Inter.

    Situations like this can be created after corners, turnovers, long balls, failed clearances etc. It’s all about destabilization as Kxevin said. So at a certain point if we can’t destabilize them with the perfect tiki taka, then throw on Affelay, have Keita bombard the box, and let Pedro run around and wreak havoc.

  33. Barcaleya
    April 22, 2011

    Here’s my line-up:

    VV

    Alves – Puyol – Masch – Maxwell

    Busi

    Xavi Messi Iniesta

    Pique Villa

    Once Villa has scored two, we can put Pique back at the back, sub Puyi or Max (whoever needs to be taken out) and bring in Ibi.

    With this formation, I wager a Barcelona 3 – 1 EE scoreline 😀

  34. culeluvr
    April 22, 2011

    Here’s my line-up(ive been thinking about it all night because I want revenge!)
    VV
    Puyol Mascherano Pique Maxwell
    Afellay Xavi Alves
    Messi Iniesta Pedro

    Any thoughts as to why Guardiola waits so damn long to make sub? He does it when there is no time to make an impact..it really annoys me.

  35. culeluvr
    April 22, 2011

    Nope. I’m new here so I’m unfamiliar with everyone.

    • Vj
      April 22, 2011

      That was an in-joke what Miguel cracked. Welcome!

    • Miguel
      April 22, 2011

      Yeah, I lost my canicas a long time ago. Pay me no heed.

      Willkommen!

  36. Vj
    April 22, 2011

    If the players are half as pissed as I am, then get ready to see fireworks come Wednesday. Hoping they’re even more..

  37. beeeef
    April 22, 2011

    I wonder if Mou will play a B-lineup against Valencia this weekend to rest players? Thoughts? I think his mind is already firmly on the CL. He knows he can’t get anything out of the league anyways.

    But in the meantime, excited to see 90 min of Thiago tomorrow. It would be nice if Villa could score a goal or two.

  38. flyzowee
    April 22, 2011

    Those calling for pique to be our target man to help villa cant be serious.

    I think it was kxevin in a post above me who mentioned something about defenders respecting henry and eto’o when off form and citing pedro as one whose presence currently isnt being given the needed respect to open up space for MV.

    Well if this applies for pedro then surely its gotta apply 4 pique as well.
    In that position, hes a poor mans Ibra at best.

    No pace, even poor technique. Can he even press?

    And in case you guys havent noticed his heading technique is also suspect. Dude cant just head the ball on target.

    • Barcaleya
      April 22, 2011

      I was serious 😀 Though my comments were prefaced with the caveat that it’s the thought of someone going crazy (from our situation) and desperate to win the coming El Clasicos.

      It seemed the only solution to me to unlocking Villa’s scoring prowess (given the lack of other choices). We don’t need anyone super good, we just need someone tall and strong enough and who would make others believe he can score from a forward position. Perception is enough. Because the goals will actually come from Villa and Messi and Iniesta and Xavi. I don’t think that anyone can discount Pique that far forward. I’ve seen him score there. The last one when he chested the ball quite well and volleyed it. We don’t need pace for that position. He’s a forward who will receive passes and crosses from Iniesta, Xavi and Messi. He’s not the best but he can receive crosses and head better than all the smaller players – just by virtue of being able to reach the ball.

      Again – we don’t need him to score. What’s important is he can when in a great position. I’ll bet money that defenders will discount him at great peril. If left alone that near the goal, he can very well score the goals we need. And of course he presses. When he’s in Piquenbauer mode.

      I put him forward as an option not to score the goals. But primarily as someone who can receive the crosses from the flanks so as to give us an option of attack from the sides (instead of coming from the middle where we are effectively clogged). If he can bring down, shield and pass the ball – and make space – for Villa or Messi – then he’s great. Finally, again, EE defenders court great risk to not mind him at such an advanced position. I know he can score from there, especially if left alone.

  39. Benjamin
    April 22, 2011

    Going back to the issue of potential future strikers, what do you guys think about Cavani? His height would add another dimesion yet he also seems dynamic enough to be able to gel into our system, and he’s shown a knack in the box that we seem to be lacking at times. I know there is conflicting reports coming out about whether he wants to stay at Napoli or whether they can afford to keep him (and his unfortunate statement about wearing EE white in the future) but the more I think about him the more he seems to be an excellent fit. Euler, if you see this your input would be greatly appreciated, your insight and depth of knowledge are as always highly respected.

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