Pop the Bubbly, It’s Over! Málaga 1 – 3 Barça

It’s all over and we’re all done. At least with La Liga. And, really, it was pretty fun despite some saying it wasn’t. People who don’t like children. And probably hate puppies, happiness, and rainbows too. Bah humbug and all that. But it really was entertaining and a great way to watch the youngsters. Now we can begin to break everything down, complain or rejoice in the relegations, and do the same for the promotions.

We started the match with Pinto, Adriano,Bartra, Fontas, Abidal, Maxwell, Thiago, Sergi Roberto, Afellay, Bojan, Jeffren arrayed in what looked like a wonky 3-4-3. The shadows at La Rosaleda kept me from understanding what was going on for about 30 minutes, but whatever, we were kind of trash and Maxwell kept trying to gift them the ball. They scored right as I figured out how to watch the game without squinting and I kind of wish I had kept doing it. Pinto did well, but there wasn’t much he could do to stop it.

And then we took over.

After being pinned back for so long that I noted to a friend that people would probably crap on Bojan for this game without considering that the ball hadn’t gotten out of our half, we suddenly figured out where to be and how to open up their midfield. We didn’t get more chances from that improved possession, actually, at least not before halftime, but we did end up winning a penalty. I haven’t seen it since the biased view I had from the bar, but at the time it looked stone cold and the tussle that ensued was pretty unbecoming of what had been a largely calm affair. Eliseu and Abidal were booked and frankly, Eliseu was lucky to escape with his feathers un-singed. He may be a kinder, gentler Abidal in everyday life, but as van Persie can attest there’s a different King Eric on the field. Would you tempt fate like that?

Bojan did celebrate his goal like he’d just scored the CL-winning goal and while that’s sorta lame because it was a penalty, it’s hard to really blame him. He’s 12, after all and hasn’t scored for a while. Give the boy a break, will ya? He actually played pretty damned well. Get off my back. I mean his. I…moving on!

You know who was also good? Jeffren. And Afellay. And Sergi Roberto once he found his rhythm. Bartra was never that great despite his later aerial prowess and he failed to clear the ball before Seba could get to it and Fontas was of and on.

Afellay’s goal was gorgeous and well deserved after his many runs through midfield over the last few games. He blew some chances before his goal, including his breakaway that he touched badly (I believe on his second touch–it went too wide right and boxed him in, so to speak, keeping him from being able to open his hips for the easy putaway with his left), but he really did put some sweet finesse on his shot and it curled beautifully beyond Willy.

After Bartra rose brilliantly to head home off a corner (a corner!), Málaga replaced their goalie with Francesc Arnau:

Yeah, he played for Barça from 1996 until 2001 after a long spell with Barça B. He then moved to Málaga and Victor Valdés took over. And it was his last match for Málaga and it was great to see him out there one last time. Whee and all that.

But now it’s over. It’s over over over over no more liga I get a break yay wooo. One more match, one more intense and amazing match that I’ll be going absolutely bah-nah-nahs over and previewing like I’ve got something to prove. And then I get my summer vacation. Which, of course, will be about as long as it takes for the rumors to pile up into publishable numbers after the final whistle. So…3 minutes? Crap.

La Liga in Review coming up later this week, folks. I’ve just got to write a screed about how I don’t care that Depor went down even though I really, really like Valeron.

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Written by:

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


  1. blitzen
    May 21, 2011

    So…who thinks we should buy Cesc?


  2. stowe
    May 21, 2011

    Good review and good to hear we won. glad that both Bojan and Affelay got goals.
    Who were the subs?

    • Para
      May 22, 2011

      I know this is just me theorising, but I wonder if we would have seen JDS as well, if Jeffren hadn’t gotten ‘injured.’ (Or…whatever it was that happened to him).

  3. Blow-Grenade
    May 21, 2011

    Love the “as van Persie can attest”. I love me some Abidal. Thanks for the reivew. As always. I miss the ratings.

    • guano
      May 21, 2011

      Loved the van Persie link too… he had it coming

      I DON’T miss the ratings. I focus more on content, not a silly number. Disliked all the fighting over 6 vs 7 vs 8 nonsense.

  4. May 22, 2011

    League has been over since we spanked them “blancus” 5-0 🙂 ok… I do feel bad for Depor.

  5. Humphrey Bogart
    May 22, 2011

    from Barcastuff:

    Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid): “Next year we will win the Liga.” #fcblive

    Does anybody know this movie with Bill Murray where he has to endure the same day again and again?
    It is like that with Crynaldo and his prediction, because I am sure he says this at the end of every saison when they are behind us in the table (again)

  6. BarcaGirl_Indo
    May 22, 2011

    yeeaayy! La Liga is really really really over now…

    eventhough mentally it’s over since EE lost against Sporting, and we won against Villareal (where that week, the gap was ‘supposed’ to down until 2 points, but it didnt) 😯

    and mathematically it’s over when we drew against Levante…

    congrats EE and EEistas, you get the pichichi and scored more than us! :roll:

    but we are the CHAMPIONS and VV gets his fourth Zamora trophy!!


    Del Bosque (coach ESP): “Of course Busquets is no racist. He’s a good guy and a player who puts himself at the service of his team-mates.”


    • Nik
      May 22, 2011

      Even though he coached EE, I’m a huge fan of Vincent of the forest. Such a classy, classy guy. He did a lot during the WC to protect and nurture Busi’s confidence. He was criminally under-appreciated by the EE brass, but I think history has allowed him the last laugh.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      May 22, 2011

      I like this interview…

      he said exactly like most of people has in their minds…

      about Pepe red card :
      “maybe if I had broken my leg, people would stop talking”

      about Busi’s allegation :
      “he got black teammates, for heaven’s sake! how would he be able to come to training if that really happened?”

      about EVIL EMPIRE :
      “we had to listen to a lot of tripe. we tried not to buy into their tactics but it reached a limit.”

  7. barca96
    May 22, 2011

    Was planning to get a fixie bike a get the same scheme like this

    But I don’t know. It just doesn’t look good on the road. An orange-white or lime green-white looked much better.
    But for my superbike, I will get one half blau and the other half grana, as a track bike that is.

  8. Dani_el
    May 22, 2011

    Great last review! So this is it, one more game, I am hopeful, but I reckon Manu is a great team, and if we dont get the great double, it would still be an awesome season for us, 96 points in LaLiga, Champions, getting to be in the final of the Champions League, and with all those injuries, and with all the awful things Madrid said about us, this club rocks! and Abi being Abi, and Iniesta and the values….I am rambling, this was a great season, let us hope for next saturday…!

  9. hammeronmessi
    May 22, 2011

    11 of Ronaldo’s 40 in last
    4 games. RM 20 in 4. (Once title
    gone) Can I do an @OptaJose-
    style one-word payoff? Pointless

    From sid lowes twitter.

    but ronaldos tally is f***ing barbaric.kudos to him for breaking the record.

    and i will pick aguero over anybody anytime.

    now i have to return to the naruto saga.animes can be good.can anybody suggest me other animes?

    • poipoi
      May 22, 2011

      I love agüero, it was too bad he played in atletico he didn’t shine as he should IMO. here, he would be the bomb playing with the guys we already have me thinks.

    • poipoi
      May 22, 2011

      I follow naruto ’cause I was the largest DragonBall fan when I was a kid, I could draw them with my eyes closed 😉

      I don’t follow much anymore but I looooooved “Evangelion” when older, and some of my friends talk about “dead note” … A LOT … also “bleach”

  10. hammeronmessi
    May 22, 2011

    now where did the rumour bout reegan come out?is he leaving ee?if so why?who will buy him?any foundations on these rumours?

    to all the spanish knowing people here,please notify us.

    i will be sad if he leaves

  11. Extreme barca fan
    May 22, 2011

    Thanks for the review Isiah, now we can start looking to the UCL final.
    Our starting 11 are almost known, but who do you guys think will be on the bench, i know we can have only 7 subs, so we have to leave 3 players out.

    • blitzen
      May 22, 2011

      Bench: Oier, Mascherano, Keita, Adriano, Afellay, Bojan.

      Last place one of Maxwell, Thiago, Fontas. Probably Maxwell.

      Jeffren definitely left out.

      • May 22, 2011

        Maybe. But If we take the starting eleven for granted, it doesnt make sense to take both Adriano and Maxwell. Fontas – for being a CB- is the most likely. But I won’t mind taking Thiago (both Mascherano and Abidal can play as CB if needed).

        • Extreme barca fan
          May 22, 2011

          Mascherano, it seems, is a must, since he might be needed to play as CB if injuries occur, Abi to me is the least guaranteed to start, he sure is more than good enough, but is he fit enough?

        • soccermomof4
          May 22, 2011

          Maxwell and Adriano give you more flexibility. Adriano can play RB, LB and midfield. Maxwell can play anywhere on the left(and has played on the right too). With Abi, Pique, Puyi, Masch, and Busi(in a pinch(heck, even Keita in a pinch)) we have CB covered. I like flexibility; Fontas and Thiago give you less of that. But would take Thiago over CT because I would sub in 3M as a wing over Ct and 3M gives you the flexibility of being able to play as a midfielder as well. But that will never happen so I have Bojan on my bench.

      • soccermomof4
        May 22, 2011

        Bench: Oier, Mascherano, Keita, Adriano, Affellay, Bojan, Maxwell
        first sub in if we’re winning= Mascherano, maybe Keita
        first sub in if we’re (gasp!) tied or losing= Affellay
        Adriano must be on the bench in case the King gets tired.

  12. blitzen
    May 22, 2011

    Copying this from the NYT article on Messi because it’s cool:

    He Doesn’t Live There
    by Robert Lalasz

    Absolute genius again
    From Messi!
    They tried
    To kick him
    They tried
    To plow him into the ground
    And what you do then?
    You try to put
    Fire out
    With gasoline!
    Don’t look for him
    In the X’s and O’s
    He doesn’t live there.
    He doesn’t live in
    The tactical world
    Or the technical world
    He lives in the
    Magnetic spectrum
    Of genius.
    You could corral him with
    A dozen alligators
    And still he’d weave
    His way out.

    • blitzen
      May 22, 2011

      One coach said, ‘Don’t try to tackle him strong, because maybe you will break him.’ And we (Pique) said, ‘O.K., but don’t worry because we cannot catch him.’ ”


    • soccermomof4
      May 22, 2011

      Ray Hudson quotes are custom made for poetry!

  13. flyzowee
    May 22, 2011

    Its nice that we can finally concentrate on the CLfinal.

    We are mostly being hailed as favourites. What wud u guys think if the final went to penalties?

    In wat order would lyk the penalties to be taken?
    Id go for:
    1. Xavi
    2. Messi
    3. Pedro
    4. Alves
    5. Villa

    Im not sure but for some strange reason, i get this feeling that iniesta isnt good at pks.

    • May 22, 2011

      That’s the only situation where we may miss Pinto. But I don’t expect the match to reach penalties. Our football style is more like “Kill or get killed!”.

    • soccermomof4
      May 22, 2011

      I like a very front-loaded order.
      Messi, Xavi, Villa, Iniesta, Pedro
      But would Villa still be in after 120 minutes?

      • poipoi
        May 22, 2011

        no penalties please… no no no I shake just to think about it.
        villa, pedro!, xavi, messi, BUSQUETS 😛

  14. Lev
    May 22, 2011

    idk iniesta is usually pretty clutch 🙂

  15. blitzen
    May 22, 2011

    Charlie Adam scored off a lovely free kick to keep Blackpool hopes alive. 1-1 at the half. Berbatov and Park looking sharp.

  16. blitzen
    May 22, 2011

    In other news, Barca B currently sits in 4th spot in the Segunda. Obviously they can’t be promoted anyway, but I really want them to stay top five, preferably third overall. Considering how many of their players have been borrowed by Pep lately, they have done incredibly well and should be congratulated. Thanks, boys, and especially thanks to Luis Enrique!

  17. Roz
    May 22, 2011

    Birmingham City have been Hlebed. Too bad for Blackpool. I really like Adam though he is overhyped in english press. Relagation stinks. 🙁

  18. You know, I called Hercules and Depor going down with Almeria. Where’s my prize? 😀

    A pity Blackpool went down. Why are Stoke still in the EPL anyway? Don’t answer that.

    In other news, CL final week begins!

    • privateeye
      May 23, 2011

      Look at
      “Real Madrid gave up on the title a bit too soon. After Clasico defeat, Barcelona relaxed a bit and dropped a lot of points. Had Real Madrid won all their matches after the Clasico, I think we still could have taken the La Liga from Barcelona.”

      What is that place? Filled wth adolscent kids being racked by the pangs of puberty?

  19. soccermomof4
    May 22, 2011

    Happy Wigan stayed up, they’re kinda my pet EPL underdogs. Happy Everton gets to play in Europe (Everton has US’s #1 keeper).

    As for La Liga, I’m ecstatic that Hercules is going down, overjoyed that Sporting finished top ten (go Preciado!), and naughty enough to feel absolutely giddy that Espanyol finished out of Europe.

    • Para
      May 22, 2011

      Do Everton get to play in Europe? I thought it was Birmingham, Tottenham, and whoever is second in the fair play table (right now I hear it might be Blackpool instead of Fulham!).

      • soccermomof4
        May 22, 2011

        Dangit, I think you’re right. I thought that 7th place gets a spot because Citeh are in CL but my sportsgeek son informs me otherwise. I dunno now??

  20. Eklavya
    May 22, 2011

    Why are you guys sad that Blackpool is going down?

    • blitzen
      May 22, 2011

      I’m not a fan of Blackpool, particularly, but I am a huge fan of Ian Holloway, so I was hoping they would stay up for his sake. I will miss him in the Prem next season.

      • blitzen
        May 22, 2011

        And how bad must poor old Ian Evatt feel right now? Bad enough to score an own goal. Worse to score an own goal that loses a game. But to score an own goal that loses a game and condemns your club to relegation when they were this close to staying up… 🙁

  21. soccermomof4
    May 22, 2011

    Are there still rumors about Luis Enrique going to Atletico Madrid? It would be kinda cool if he did since they managed to get into Europa again. Playing in Europe would be great experience for him if he ever becomes someone’s successor(hopefully many years from now)…

  22. Whoa. Man Citeh finished third! They get CL football next season (while Arsenal have to go through a play off. Ouch). What are the odds we draw them and get to face The Yaya and Silva? Ooooh, the possibilities (moc, moc).

  23. In more EPL news, Ancelotti has been sacked by Chelsea. Wonder where he’ll end up next season. Maybe Pathetico? 😆

  24. flyzowee
    May 22, 2011

    I think thats unfortunate, he just won the double last season and a 2nd place finish isnt good enough 4 Roman.

    Feguson himself wouldnt last 3 seasons over there.

    In fact, considering all the managers in europe, only a run like the one pep has had at barca would be enough to secure the blues job and even then u gotta pray that Roman is lenient in your 2nd season where pep only won the league.

    • Helge
      May 22, 2011

      Yah, and I don’t think the coach is the main problem at Chelsea.
      It is their philosophy of buying players and neglecting the youth work. And they failed to rejuvenate their squad, right now all of their real star players are beyond 30 – and the Chelsea reserves simply lack the talent compared to ours, for instance.
      But now, Chelsea is not even the richest club, City and EE will probably spend more money (well, at least both of them COULD spend more than Chelsea).

      I think ManUtd and City will dominate the EPL for the next seasons.

  25. Jnice
    May 22, 2011

    Sources in Spain-Gol Television, several journalists in Gijon saying we’ve signed the left back Jose Angel from Sporting Gijon. More details are supposed to come out tomorrow, but they’re saying it’s basically a done deal. One of our youth players (a defender) is supposed to be tossed in the deal on loan as well.

    I really like the kid. He’s one of the brightest Spanish prospects in defense. We’ll see what happens.

    • Ehhhh? Well, this is unexpected. I thought the next time we went back to Sporting, it’d be for Botia! If true (I only believe a transfer after I see their smiling mug posing with the shirt), guess this means Maxwell’s time with us has come to an end?

      Personally, as much as I lurrrve Bartra, I hope he’s the one who goes on loan there. He’ll be a beast when he gets enough experience.

      • Jnice
        May 22, 2011

        guess this means Maxwell’s time with us has come to an end?

        I think so. Wonder where he’ll go and how much we’ll get for him.

        • Well, we got him for 4.5m, so anything above that would make a net profit, no? On the other hand, knowing us, we’ll let him go for free. :roll:

          As to where he’d go, I’m pretty interested in that as well. Methinks he’ll go either to Serie A, Brasileiro, or another Liga side. Prem is too fast for Maxi

          • vicsoc
            May 22, 2011

            I have this strange feeling he will end up at AC Milan.

          • Jnice
            May 22, 2011

            I was thinking Milan too, but they’ve signed Taiwo and young Didac Villa was signed in the winter. Antonini is still there as well. I think they’re good at left back. Although, considering the relationship Milan has with Raiola (Max’s agent), I wouldn’t rule the move out entirely.

    • vicsoc
      May 22, 2011

      Not sure what I think about this one. I don’t know the player well enough to really be able to comment. More interesting will be what player ends up going on loan. I’d prefer Bartra myself, but if it involves Botia not returning then i think we will definitely be looking to make a large center back signing.

      In a way if this is true it raises more questions than answers about what our backline will look like next year.

  26. May 22, 2011

    There’s been a few rumblings about Jose Angel coming to Barca over the past few months.

    We’ll see what happens. When a name like that comes up it’s interesting because unlike a “big name” transfer there’s often something to it. It’s just so random otherwise.

    A couple of things. Regardless of this particular rumor it seems likely that the team is in fact looking at a left back. There’s been a number of stories brewing about Barca looking for a left back and Maxwell leaving.

    It seems likely that Abidal will spend most of his time next year at CB with Puyol used only from time to time.

    Adriano has shown he can be a starter. But that leaves a few problems in terms of depth. This is particularly the case because Adriano was originally brought in to be the back up RB – when Adriano starts there is no to give Alves any time off.

    And right now there is no outstanding LB in the barca youth system. And in addition the players who can play RB also are not ready.

    Tactically, the way Pep has had the FBs play this season as modified wing backs just does not suit Maxwell’s style of play. It’s not even a criticism of Maxwell as much as it is a systems issue. The fit just is no longer there. Maxwell would do much better in a system where the LB has to play in a more “usual” way. I think he would do very well in Italy.

    From what I’ve seen of Jose Angel – I like him quite a bit. He’s a very promising player. I can’t say to have seen him play a great deal – but I have tried to watch Gijon play this season mostly because I wanted to see Botia. And when I did watch them Angel often caught my eye and impressed. He’s very good for his age. I could see him being the national team LB in the future for Spain.

    Whether or not he’s going to fit in the Barca system given how unorthodox it is for full backs to play in is unclear. But he adds qualities Barca can use. For example – he’s got very good height.

    • poipoi
      May 22, 2011

      Yes indeed the future of the NT… one of the things I love the most besides dude is skilled for a lb

    • We really need another RB, though. If it’s true that Abi will be counted on as another CB (and I think it is), that leaves us with Adriano and, if this proves to be true, Jose Angel (who I admit I’ve never heard of until now). Puyol doesn’t have the legs to play RB anymore IMO and as beast as Alves is, he needs a break from time to time. Bartra isn’t really ready — we should loan him to Sporting — and, as you say, the youth team wingbacks aren’t ready.

      If we get Botia and Jose Angel we’ll have:

      RB – Alves, Adriano
      CB – Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Botia, Milito (?)
      LB – Abidal, Adriano, Jose Angel, Maxwell (?)

      Just doesn’t seem enough to me…

    • Para
      May 22, 2011

      I’m not disagreeing with you (all I know about him is what I just read on wikipedia), but I absolutely love that 5’11 is genuinely considered height at Barca 😀

  27. can_we_go_Xalvies
    May 22, 2011

    I really thought we were going to go after Rubin Kazan’s LB Mr Cristian Ansaldi.

    But Jose Angel seems like a low risk transfer, I hear his name a lot when I watch Sporting matches but haven’t really seen him play.

    TBH, I don’t think Botia is ready yet to make the jump to our senior squad. I’ve seen him play for Sporting a few times, and he still plays with a little inexperience and he tends to make mistakes here and there. I do think the signing of Angel would be a bit of a kick in the nuts for Botia, but again it’ll give him even more motivation, Because the buy-back clause I believe lasts for 3 years.

    We have really good relations with Sporting, which TBH I’m very happy with, Sporting have made a very smart move there too. I’m not saying the teams are helping each other in the league, we still have healthy competition with each other.

  28. poipoi
    May 22, 2011

    We got ourselves a SPANISH LB!!! Oh my gotta love this club. He looks good I love this signing… and the timing, oh my these guys are genius viva jose angel

  29. flyzowee
    May 22, 2011

    I think its unlikely that we will get a CB if we make a LB acquisition.

    We will have pique, puyol, abidal and a youth product (Fontas?) as cover for CB.

    This only makes sense because there just isnt good business for CBs on the market IMO.

    Inflated prices everywhere and the risk factor becomes even greater bcos of our system.

    40 – 50 mill is all we got, i believe the bulk of this (prob 25 – 30mill) is going into a forward.

    Midfield is packed……… or is it?
    In terms of numbers – yes.

    In terms of quality – well it depends on how highly u fancy thiago and keita for the xaviniesta spots.

    Personally, im hoping for a class forward and and a CB/LB.

    And btw its not normal for us to be in the market for a foward every summer, we need to ship out the dead weight on our bench and bring some stability to that department of our team.

    • can_we_go_Xalvies
      May 22, 2011

      If we are not getting a CB, then we will get a midfielder, I’m sure of that

      • stowe
        May 23, 2011

        I can see that. If we get another midfielder then Masch will be more free to provide cover in case of injury. I also agree that we need to get rid of dead weight from our front line and bring in more stability

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