Barca 2, Chelsea 2 (2-3 agg), aka “What now?”

In thinking of images that would lead off this post, which will be short, this one strikes as perfect. Because here it is:

Support your club. I know. You already do. Go deeper. Dig like the players did to bring us so much happiness.

When you signed up to be a cule, irrespective of when you signed up, you signed up for this, the same thing that every football fan in the world signs up for: That time when your beloved club just can’t get it done.

And you know what? It’s that time, more than any other time, that your club needs you the most.

You bet the bandwagon is going to get a bit lighter. Next season, there aren’t going to be celebrities sitting in the posh seats, rock stars visiting rock stars. There is going to be a club that didn’t, for the first time in three seasons, win major silverware. And no disrespect meant to the Copa del Reig, but it isn’t major. Not like Liga or Champions League major.

So sit for a moment and think about when you were down, when you were thinking “Man, life sucks,” and the value of a support network. Yes, the players have home lives, friends, spouses, etc that they will go home and mope around. But they also have us. You wonder what this mes que un club business is about. It isn’t about piousness, as some allege, or about this notion held by outsiders that we are somehow more special. It references history, struggle, the club’s place in Catalanisme, the cules who love and support it and the socis who, in effect, own it. It’s a proud, beating heart like that of every club, but with something more. And that’s not just if you ask me. History says that.

And it’s that pride that makes it easy to say that Chelsea played brilliantly over the two legs, just like EE played brilliantly on the weekend. And in both cases, even not at our best, we almost got it done. But it just didn’t happen. And that’s that. So NOW what? It seems weird not contemplating next steps this season, doesn’t it? To be playing out the string, giving young players a run out and exhausted veterans rest, but there it is. Second place is secure, assuming nothing catastrophic happens to EE and we don’t vault our way to the top.

And wouldn’t that be crazy.

So it’s time for rest, time to consider an off season in which moves are going to be made, players are going to come and players are going to go, and we will spend hours and hours debating the value of moves, rumors and other business, how much someone costs and whether that player is worth it. And yes, it’s time, for those that choose, to battle trolls and haters, to remind people that you know what — we didn’t get it done this year. But for three years, we did. And how. That nothing, no matter how much hate someone spouts or bile they can muster, will change that.

For me, I just have a little something for now, about a turning point. I don’t know about anyone else, but somehow, weirdly, it seems right that this club didn’t win major silver without Eric Abidal there to hoist the trophy. Last season, on the Champions League podium, the moment was so indescribably beautiful and poetic, that anybody who got through it dry-eyed is far, far stronger than I am.

Last season was about redemption and unprecedented success. Abidal beat the big beast, or so we thought. Little did we know at the time that he was just delaying payment of the piper, that the club would renew him even as it knew that he would never again prowl that side of the pitch like an ebony gazelle, owning, shutting down and being Le Roi Eric.

When I heard about the transplant surgery, I didn’t think “Shit, now what about the left back slot?” I thought “I hope he doesn’t die. I hope that he beats this, goes home to his family to watch Barca matches on TV, able to actually fulfill his wish to retire with the club that he loves.”

So in a weird way, this season that has taught us so much about humanity, with Abidal, Fabrice Muamba, Piermario Morosini, the incidents that reminded us that life is life, that a game is a game, it’s somehow correct that the most enduring recent memory of this club should be of a player whose struggle and comeback became the story of last season, hoisting the trophy on the biggest club stage in the game and roaring in exultation.

It’s also an elegant bookend to a sequence of amazing, unprecedented successes. So when I think about last season, and this season’s ending, I can’t be anything except proud and joyful to have witnessed this all. We forced the absolute best out of each opponent who laid us low this year. Chelsea defended like lions, took their chances when they had them and had to turn themselves inside out to beat us. And the strength, the power of this club is that we weren’t at our best, its best players weren’t at their best, a key link in the game plan carted off to the hospital after an ugly-looking collision in our box.

We danced, we played our game, we threatened, spurned chances as usual, yes. And what we are left with are memories of glory, and a current feeling of love and pride.

But when I think about the turning point of this season, for me it was when we knew that Eric Abidal wasn’t going to playing left back for us. Emotionally, it was brutal. I cried. Couldn’t help it. The human side of it was awful, even as we are now buoyed by the knowledge that the operation was a success. He loved this club so much that he practiced with the first team, right up until the day of his surgery.

And tactically, returning to the field of battle, a player who wasn’t at all liked when he arrived, reminded with his absence that he is one of the most important players on the club. When he was gone, Puyol had to run more, Mascherano had to run more, spaces were open, danger was more present and holes were found where previously, they were rare. Was Abidal underrated by a lot of cules? I’d say yes, even as I say that he is the best left back on the planet, and not just the best left back for our system.

So physically and from a human aspect, that was the turning point for me. I Tweeted that the season didn’t mean as much for me at that time, that I was reminded of humanity, and life and wanting nothing more than for him to be home with his family. So I can’t be sad about this outcome of the season.

From a broader sense, I can’t be sad because of the absolute, immense joy that this club has brought me, has brought us all. So when you sit, maybe or maybe not daring to watch this match again via digital means, as if there will somehow be a different, happier outcome, think of Abidal, and the teammates who worked like dogs, fought like lions to bring glory to the colors that so many of us wear with pride. Think of a coach who wrung the best from them, until finally, the vast reservoir of genius, magic and tika-taka, was empty.

Think of all that, and don’t be sad. Support your club, and be proud.

By Kxevin

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.

327 comments

  1. On a possibly extremely tangential note, it is painful to think how Valdes must feel after injuring Pique like that.

    A hit like that can easily take a little something away from you forever.

    1. He should feel bad. He should have gave a shout out to Pique that he got it. It’s called COMMUNICATION. Last year he knocked out N’doye from Copenhagen with a similar type of play and both players could have ended up seriously hurt. Good thing that Pique is not hurt and as for VV he needs a little competition coz he’s becoming complacent and has been awful for the past few weeks. I still think he is a good keeper but, i’ve seen him in a differnt light lately. He should have come out sooner for Torres’s goal and he could have sacrified him self for the team and take Torres out for a fk near the halfway mark. He would have got a red but oh well.

    2. All that would have done is show him and the club in a bad light, leave him suspended for next season’s first game and allow Chelsea to progress on the away goals rule instead of by 3 goals to 2…

    3. Agree that Valdes needs competition. He’s the right keeper for Barca but he needs competition so he doesn’t get complacent. And let’s be honest, Pinto is nowhere near being proper competition for Valdes.

  2. What a game! As a Liverpool fan, you Barca fans have witnessed a truly great team steamroll all for the past 3 years. This defeat is just one of those that’s written in the stars and glaringly where you fell short was where Fate hamstrung the team: Lethal finishing from inside and crucially, outside the box(David Villa) and a calm defender capable of reading the play on the left( Eric Abidal). It’s no coincidence that Drobga, Ronaldo & Ramires all scored streaking down the left. It was often said the the space behind Alves was often the one to be exploited but now it’s both flanks.
    When Messi hit the bar for the second time, i knew the game was up. Another hour more wouldn’t have changed it. Sometimes, it’s just not your day. Tomorrow, i’ll be rooting for Bayern just to stop Jose and co. We Liverpludians haven’t forgiven him yet for telling us to shut up from 2005. A Madrid win will take his ego to unbearable levels.

    1. Thanks! When I was a kid, the first club team I supported was Liverpool. Don’t follow them much now, but always have an emotional attachment for them regardless of other negative stuff recently.

  3. Great post, Perspective is so important for fans.
    Posts claiming Pep’s time has come and sell x are really getting old and tiresome.
    Clubs don’t normally go around winning 3 league titles like its nobodies business or making five Cl semifinals and easily becoming the first team to defend the CL. At the end of the day we are expecting a performance from a dynasty, not from a team who is tired, missing key players and while Barcelona has become a fottballing dynasty under Guardiola the burden of expectation has surpassed whats healthy for a team. These two losses have not made destroyed our season, they have just stopped a great otherwise season, from becoming a legendary one.
    We should be grateful for Pep and all of the players for the performance they came up with despite so many injuries. The level they played leading to the classico was nigh unbeleivable, they made what would be a meaningless the title decider.Their performance in the Cl has also been amazing there were so many times in the first leg at the bridge where an ounce of luck would have meant that this 2nd leg would have been elementary.
    But that’s football and sometimes teams like Chelsea can put on a defensive performance that will be talked about for ages, just sometimes messi will miss a penalty that would make Chelsea advancing an unprobable statistic and just sometimes we need to support our team though losses and celebrate there acheivements nonetheless.

    Oh and Calvin pls keep doing liveblobs =(

  4. Wonderful piece, Kxevin, elegantly written and hitting all the right notes. Thank you for enriching all of us.

  5. What now, i say we regroup, get back to the basics and start again next year. Pep surely owes us now for the poor end to the season, he simply has to renew now and go out on a high. I applaud him for trying new things and trying to evolve the team but, even he has to admit it didn’t work out well. Players were over played, Messi was fatigued. Sometimes too many rotations and sometimes none. Barca played well tonight, got a bit excited after going 2-0 up, should have closed up until ht and regroup so as to force Chelsea to come out in the 2nd half. Things happen for a reason, somehow i was more upset after the clasico than today tbh. Maybe Pep will realise that soo many midfielders at one time in a game needing strikers is not such a good idea.
    On VV, these two legs were the worst he’s played and the play on Pique was just negligent on his part the club should fine him. Pique could have been seriously hurt and VV should have a shout to the defender to move. I would say he’s the best keeper for us but, he’s been dodgy lately. As for Messi, poor Messi, was in tears at the end after missing that pk. This Messi dependency has to stop and has hurt the team a lot this yr. Both Pep and Messi should realise that he can’t play every game. It’s seems they wait for him to do his magic and when it doesn’t work out, the team doesn’t know what to do. I’ve never seen a Barca backline panic like that before, OMG. Oh well we move on. I also have a feeling Barca became a bit cocky and got caught up in the worlds best thing. I say Barca definately need a new CB, LB and a striker and Messi has to get along with them wether he likes it or not. VISCA BARCA!!

  6. Thank you Kxevin. What this game reminded me the most (after the inevitable cursing/head-banging/throwing things) is how much joy the club has brought me in the last 4 seasons since the ran began. I can make a legitimate argument that they were the best years of my life, and I must attribute at least some portion of it to the weekly (and often by-weekly) displays of beauty we were lucky enough to witness.

    Regardless of today’s outcome, this team isn’t going anywhere, and if anything (as a lifelong Redskins fan) it helped me appreciate what I’ve had. Cue Joni Mitchell ‘Big Yellow Taxi’

    Visca el Barca!

  7. Gutted just like everyone else here. But, a team with everyone but 4 of the squad members injured at some point during the season.. making it to the Semi-Final of the Champion’s League is just unreal! I think some of us were spoilt by the success of this team and took things for granted. I for one took Abidal’s defending for granted during most part of the past 2 3 seasons. Now that he isn’t around it is striking how much of a difference and how huge of an effect Abidal was to our side.

    Losses are always heartbreaking but we will come back stronger.
    Visca Barca!

  8. Well said Kxevin. I noticed a trend in my posts on comments section of the live blog. In real time I was typing what I was feeling at the time. After the game I was reacting to comments from other Cules and to my own sick feeling. Now I comment reflecting on a few hours of watching my son play footie and reading Death In The Afternoon. It is funny b/c I turned on the tube when I got home and there were 20 secs left in extra time of the 1st half. We all know what happened next. I watched that play again. My real time posts were anger and frustration over letting Chelsea score a goal before the half. Now I can only feel empathy. I critisized Xavi for forcing a pass, for not tracking back on Ramieres. Now I see he was hurting, no where near his top form and unable to close down on Ramieres before he slipped the pass to Ivanovic. Perspective is everything. In the heat of battle I think a good many Cules let their hurt and frustration come out on comments. I’m one of them. I don’t think it’s an over reaction or being to harsh. It’s not being a bandwagon fan or only caring about silverware. Just a moment of madness one feels from time to time.

  9. There’s a lot of ways such a loss can be good:

    1. Can force Pep to renew, since he won’t want to leave on a “low.
    2. Force the team to realize changes are needed; evolution doesn’t happen without losing.
    3. Relieves the mental pressure on our players of having to win every game for the last 4 years. I for one am a little happy the last month of this season is basically meaningless aside from the CdR.
    4. Give a new motivation to players like Xavi, Iniesta and Puyol, who’ve literally won everything there is to win in football.

  10. Thanks Kevin for the post.

    At the beginning of the season, I was excited; looking forward to seeing what we could do. We got Cesc and Alexis, both are great players who could offer tactical varieties.

    We started our pre-season with less than a week preparation. The first game against an Eastern European team ended up in a draw. Then we played in the Audi Cup, we did not play well against a Internacional or Bayern. But we won the friendly cup. Then the team came to the U.S. Their first training session was cancelled because they couldn’t practice behind the White House’s lawn. Then more practice cancellations. Then we lost a few friendlies before winning our last match. During that time, we had Pique, Xavi and Afellay injured. The South American crew did not join us. That preseason mirrored our season so well.

    We got off to a bad start and couldn’t recover from it. Does this mean the end of an era? I don’t know. Next season is a test to determine that. However, I think it’s fair to have constructive inputs regarding this team. Pep has made mistakes, players have a few lapses of concentrations. Like Xavi, FCB is unconditional for me, but we must not make losing a habit! Not with a team this talented, not with a team that has the highest wage bill in the world.

    Lastly, I just want thanks the kids, Tello, Cuenca, Sergi Roberto, Montoya, Bartra and others for helping the first team. We would not get this far without them.

  11. For me, no way in hell is this the end of an era? a) what does that mean, anyhow, in the ebbs and flows of a sporting franchise and b) how can it be?

    a) That would mean everyone is old, and about to move on. The only one meeting that standard is …. maybe Puyol? Keita might be sold, but that’s about it. The nucleus, the bulk of this club is intact, but in desperate need of rest/recovery. Euros are coming at a baaaad time.

    b) Not only is the core intact, but there are new parts ready to integrate or be reintegrated, in Fabregas, Villa, Cuenca, Tello, Muniesa, other acquisitions.

    This “end of an era” talk is madness. We are simply hitting the reset button. As long as Guardiola stays, and the stay-home preseason tells me that he will, this club is fully capable of doing the treble next season, provided its key players get the rest and recuperation that they need.

    Remember what happened the last time this club went without major silver in an off season, right? Just checking.

    1. agreed about the madness of “end of era” blather.

      so much can happen in integration and development of the team into the next version – some things take time and difficulty to refine.

      it seems an evolutionary moment – there is a creative opportunity for them to sort out. i am looking forward to seeing what pep and the boys come up with!

  12. BTW one thing I would like to dispute: the allegation that Pep tinkered too much. There’s two aspects to this, personnel and tactics.

    On personnel, we’ve had so many injuries that I would say Pep didn’t tinker enough. In a health season, Fabregas would not have played when he was clearly tired, Alexis wouldn’t have played half fit, Messi wouldn’t have played every single game, etc etc. So if Pep was forced to play players a bit more or less than ideal, it was because of injuries.

    On the tactics, a lot of people argued against 3 at the back and yes it gave us issues (though I didn’t see anyone complaining when we were beating Villareal 5-0 with 10 midfielders or Madrid 3-1 at the Bernabeu) but if you look at all the great teams in the past, they got figured out and died a natural death (Ajax, Milan etc). Pep was trying to guard against that by staying one step ahead of his rivals. In 2008-09, he introduced pressing to our game, in 09-10 he introduced Messi as a full time false 9, in 10-11 he made Busi a half DM/half CB and pushed Alves even further forward, and this year he tried playing with 3 at the back. Ok we can quibble with the execution but I am completely behind his tinkering because it means he’s thinking about the future and not just resting on his laurels.

    1. Agreed that we have to tinker and not letting others catching up. Agreed on the personnel problems. However, at some point the experimentation should stop. I don’t want to repeat myself from prior posts. But Pep doesn’t have infinite time. In my opinion, yes we should experiment, but try to find a formula before a crucial moment of this season. We didn’t find that this season irrespective of other issues.

    1. I’m listening to your music right now. Thanks!

      I guess tonight, FCB is taking over my life.

  13. thank you, kxevin,

    very well said.

    it’s been on my mind, too, that the loss of Abidal on the pitch and in the dressing room has been having a very layered, important effect on the team.

    i feel sad for the players who work so hard and well to win in a context that ends up demanding almost the impossible from them. it must be hard to come into that kind of pressure day – after week after month after year after year (…) but they have done it so consistently and beautifully that some people didn’t even know it could possibly be different. pep’s comment to them (“welcome to the club” with a smile) was so perfect.

    frankly, i’m amazed by them. so thankful for the joy, entertainment, inspiration and healing i’ve experienced from watching them live so passionately on the pitch.

    the last several years i’ve had a neuro-immune illness that makes me pretty much housebound. after losing home, job, independence, the ability to participate in life, and most of the time feeling really awful (pain, cognitive problems,fever for 3+ years, etc.), it was hard to find much to celebrate. never any kind of sports fan, it was kind of strange when i first saw barcelona play, and became so attracted to their style and grace. getting the hang of the different competitions, learning to find streaming matches because we don’t have La Liga on tv, starting to read about the players, the process, tactics, etc., it brought me back into the world gradually.
    this is the first time “my barca” has lost significantly. it makes me appreciate them all the more. tomorrow my life will still be constrained by this illness, but it will still be enriched by this “mes que un club”

    i’m still gonna watch the last few matches of the season. just love to see them play.

    hoping their hearts aren’t too broken, and that the announcers can pull back from endlessly discussing the end of an era.

    it was nice that torres said “This is the end of an era for Barcelona? No, this team can continue to win for 15 more years.” and some other respectful words. it made me consider that maybe his months of drought have made him more humble and interesting as a person.

    well, i know this is kind of rambling, and it’s just one more person’s story of connecting with barca. not really remarkable, but my heart feels in it for good.

    hope everyone gets some rest and enjoys what else life brings ~
    good night.

    1. Hey, I said that I wasn’t going to cry today. Stop that! 😀

      Thank you so much for sharing, elacule. It’s always difficult to know what will bring a disparate group together in a way that can facilitate not only bonding, but bonding in a way that makes you feel as though you know the people, even though you have never met. It is this group that elicits those kinds of feelings, and I think (hope) is one reason that the family keeps growing.

      I have only had occasion to meet a few of you, and those occasions have been like picking up a friendship in person, particularly with Isaiah, whom I spent a night with at a women’s roller derby meet (no, I’m NOT kidding).

      Sport can elevate, it can give meaning to something that sometimes doesn’t make a lick of sense. Or it can simply take our minds off of whatever might be going on in our lives.

      Your comment isn’t rambling. Not at all. It’s heartfelt, and makes me so happy that anything we do in this space can bring you joy. Thanks for being part of the family.

    2. (i’m a bit teary, too.)

      thank you for your kindness and welcome.

      the consideration expressed by folks here is easy to appreciate – not as much of the knee-jerk stuff, although those folks show up some, too.

      btw, roller derby sounds like an excellent way to spend a night if you’re not watching Barça! why not? it’s exciting and fun.

      you’re right about sport – after a lifetime of being an anarchist, farmer, chef, scientist, & whirling dervish, it still surprises me how much i didn’t “get” about life in the world that’s really well delivered through the experience of sport.

      seems pretty cool how much life can bring us, if we can be open to it showing up as it will.

    3. Thanks so much for sharing, elacule. It’s the first time I’ve seen you comment so allow me to welcome you to the BFB family!

      Sports are so fascinating. They can make you feeling like you can fly one day then make you feel like sobbing the next. We’ve been so lucky to have a team that’s given us the feeling of the former so many times.

      Now it’s our turn to stick by them. And why not? It took crippling injury and injury to just contain them. We’ll be back next year!

    4. thank you for the welcome, Kari, and for your kind words. you’re spot on about sticking with them – they would have a hard time getting rid of me, that’s for sure!

      do you all sometimes wish for a way to do something lovely for them – to reflect appreciation for all the joy they’ve brought so many people? a post card seems kind of silly. 🙂

      ~with best regards

    5. Your story has touched me, elacule, and it is remarkable. I wish you well with your illness (my sister has MS, so I know a little of what you might go through).

      I’m identifying mostly because when I discovered Barça I was barely ‘waking up’ to life, after a lifetime of living with a mild depression that I didn’t even know I had. I’ve had to work hard to overcome it, to discover myself and to start getting in ‘touch’ with my feelings, some of which I didn’t even know existed or that I was able to feel. These past 3 Barça years have also been the years of my emotional awakening, and what a ride it has been! Barça has been an important part of it. I never imagined that I could love a sports team, and that I could be interested in football tactics, stats, players, etc.., and that I could be anxiously waiting for August to arrive so that the season could start. Who could have imagined? To make a long story short, there have been a lot of things that have enriched my life in these past 3 years, and Barça has been one of them. I, too, will keep following them because I am now a culé, a new one, yes, but a culé through and through now. I knew that already, and today, after the match ended it, I confirmed it.

      Best of luck to you and Visca el Barça.

    6. thank you so much, and greetings to you, tiaali ~
      what i have is much like MS, so you do have a good idea, i’m guessing.

      thank you for sharing your story, too. this club is so much more, and has a special way of interacting with people on the journey of life. the way they treat each other, other teams, the fans, the public through their charitable focus, their focus on the strength of catalan culture – it’s really amazing, isn’t it, that we can even connect with that energy and feel the healing power of it.

      when people get mad at the players, it always surprises me – because i feel like they are giving so much and showing things all the time about being alive. they don’t need to be perfect for me to deeply enjoy and appreciate them. how can anyone not be affected by these people?

      truly, visca el barça!

      i’m so glad to be here with you all.

    7. Sorry! Don’t mean to take over this blog, but I have a quick story to share related to what you say, how ‘this club has a special way of interacting with people on the journey of life’. I was very blessed to have been able to go to Spain this past November and was at the Camp Nou at the match vs Zaragoza (was also at the one vs Getafe, in Getafe, but who wants to remember that one!). I felt kind of intimidated before we got there because, after all, the people at the stadium are ‘true’ culés, people who have been socís all their lives, right? Well, I bet half the people there were just like me, people from all corners of the world who just wanted a chance to see this phenomenon at work, and to experience this magic at least once in their lives. I couldn’t have felt more proud. The atmosphere at the stadium was festive, but more than that, it was one of respect. When the hymn played, when they announced the players, clapping respectfully when someone did a good play, the Messi chant when he scored or shouting at the refs, or at the other team, but always in a sort-of subdued, respectful kind of way; never rowdy or wild. When we visited the museum and the mega-store it was the same. Everyone was helpful and, if not warm, at least very courteous (something which I cannot honestly say about most people in Madrid). I know a lot of people do not identify with this philosophy, but I do, and it gives me great pride to identify myself with a team with those values, which go way beyond winning and losing.

      Good night all!

    8. tiaali ~

      i’m so glad you got to have that beautiful experience, and that you could share it with others there, and with us now. thank you for telling the story, and for sharing yourself and what is meaningful. best wishes in your continued embrace of life!

    9. Beautiful story! Thank you for sharing.

      Messi pulled me into this team and the rest has convinced me to stay.

      For this fan’s selfish reason, Pep has to stay because I’m going to see Pep’s team play next season at the Camp Nou.

    10. Thank you for sharing your feeling elacule. It makes me more proud of following this club when I come across fan like you.

    11. :’)Thanks for sharing and can I just say that I think you are an inspiration with your outlook on life.

    12. Thanks for sharing this Elacule. Truly inspiring your love for our club. I believe that this club gets together people with similar values and attitudes about life. Your strenght is truly remarcable. I hope you get better soon, and a lot of “fuerzas” from Peru. Best of luck.

    13. You’re wrong about one thing, elacule. Your story IS remarkable, as the multiple responses can attest. Again, thank you for sharing something so heartfelt and personal, and reminding me what this wonderful club can bring.

      And a heartfelt thanks to the team for giving us such a good season. Not perfect, but filled with beautiful moments and performances that won’t be forgotten. Here’s to a few more good showings as the season comes to close, and another season that sees us continuing our fight for glory.

      Visca Barca

    14. Elacule, Thanks for putting a different perspective on the loss. Great to read your comments! Look forward to reading more of your comments.

  14. I started following Barcelona because of their brilliant style of play, but I became a culé because I quickly realized Barça is ‘més que un club’. This post sums up exactly what that means.

    Let there not be any doubt: We will be back. With Abi always in our hearts, with the new players, hopefully with Pep & Tito, maybe without some of the players that have already made history and surely without a lot of the band-wagoners, but we will be back stronger and wiser than ever, because we are exactly that: ‘Més que un club’.

    Thank you, Kxevin.

    Visca el Barça!

  15. I said in last season’s review that no matter what happens this season, I’d just remember Abi lifting the trophy after a monster match on the left and all the negative feelings would go away with a poof. I mean, what could possibly top that?

    But I’m not gonna lie, I’m gutted. So, so close. If only we were fitter, concentrated for a couple of minutes longer…. we’d have a shot at being the first team to win b2b titles. But if I’m that sad just imagine how the players feel. CrushiCrushing I guess it just isn’t right to get to a final with a battered by injury squad missing key players like Abi, Villa, Piqué….having Messi carry us all the way to the final.

    The team owes us nothing. Bandwagoners will be hopping over to Madrid or Munich (good riddance!). We’ve become human again. Expectations will be lower. We can just enjoy a game instead of being spoiled brats obsessed with results….

    But forgive me for still being disappointed. 🙁

    It’ll take me a bit to get over this. Too competitive for my own good.

    One caveat : we won the World Club Cup, officially becoming The Best Team in the World(TM), and that matters. To me anyway.

  16. Thanks Kxvin nobody can put things into perspective like you, in encouring, but als hard way. Still remember your aka after we did go out against Inter and you said you are happy that we did not go through after what happened to Busi, A hard, but fair stance at the right time.

    and today again, the right words to give peace to all the cules heart in disray

    Most important thing is now pep and his decision. Either way there must be an end to the uncertainty, therefore we can start to plan the next season and then we wil be back

  17. I approve of this post.It definitely hurts, not to go out, but the manner we did. However when the dust settles we realise that for even a season like this most fans of other teams would bite off our hands to experience these highs and lows.

    We’re in the 5% of clubs that compete at the top and play an aesthetically pleasing style to boot.The day will definitely come when we wish we were in the mix for European glory in late April and May.We lost our first two finals in devastating manner, took 14 years to reach another final, after finally winning one in 1992 and now we appear in the final every other year.That level of growth is incredible.

    It can get better or worse.Since I don’t set limit for this club, Ill lean towards the better always, but even if not it will always be our Barca.

  18. First of all, I just wanted to thank you Kxevin for being a leader in this lovely BFB community. This post definitely summarizes our feelings and you never fail to put things in perspective. Thank you, sir.

    I also wanted to thank everyone here, even those who just read the posts (like myself), for making this community what is. In my social circle, I am the only football fan so I literally have no one else or no where else to learn more about our club. Although I don’t post often, it’s only because there are so many knowledgeable Culés out there who make outstanding arguments and comments here that I can’t help but to read and absorb. You guys are amazing and I’m so grateful that we’re all so proud of our club. Together, you guys have made the best community for FC Barcelona fans.

    It’s funny, when I watch a match, I’m so filled with emotion. I scream, swear, cheer out loud, do celebratory fist-pumps, etc. Although a lot of that has to do with beer consumption, I really should ease up on the theatrics as I’m the only one watching the matches in my tiny downtown Ottawa pub. But after the last two matches, I just didn’t say a word. To be honest, I felt so bad for the players. They have gone through such a tumultuous season, with grave illnesses, long-term injuries to key players, not to mention almost everyone suffering an injury at some point. It really is remarkable that they have gone this far to be within a shout of another historic treble season. I really don’t think any club in the world would get this far given the circumstances we’ve been forced to endure.

    Looking back, while the season isn’t exactly finished yet, I’m so thankful for the great moments and memories this season has given us. Seriously, I’m never going to forget that we went into the Bernabeu twice this season and came out victorious. I especially loved the 1st leg of the CDR quarter-finals. Those goals from Puyol and Abidal were legendary! Remember the Gijon match at the Camp Nou we played without Messi? Each goal we scored was crucial and amazing. How about Messi’s 4-goal night at Camp Nou against Valencia? How amazing was that match considering that we were actually losing 0-1? How about the wacky 5-3 against Granada when Messi broke the club’s all-time goal record? It was an incredible match filled with pride and emotion. And of course, my favourite memory of this season, the CL rubber match against BATE Borisov when we gave our kids a run-out and they replied with a thrashing that garnered applause from the entire first-team. What other club can boast such an achievement?

    We have so much to be proud of. We have a group of players who have accomplished an absurd amount of success in the last 4 years. Even if the bandwagoners abandon them, I know we all certainly will not. Let’s continue supporting these living legends, because that’s what they are. Let’s continue enjoying each match and discussing it in the LiveBlogs and comment sections. Let’s continue to cherish every special moment this club gives with their unrivaled dedication to hard work and adhering to the club’s philosophy. While the club hasn’t achieved the season’s objectives, I know that as Culés, we certainly have. We supported this club through everything and we are still proud. To all of you, all I can say is, Molt Gracies!

    1. Thank you for coming on to share your Barça experience with the community. I love hearing how people made their decision to join this journey, as Blitzen puts it. I’m so happy to know that this club brings you joy amidst circumstances I couldn’t even begin to understand. Thank you again, elacule. I look forward to reading more of your contributions.

  19. Thanks Kxevin for writing such a beautiful piece. After reading it I really felt better 🙂

  20. Kxevin, you idiot. You made me cry. Dammit. 😥

    Pep said it best: “What do I say against the Barça fans who cry for the first time tonight? Welcome to the club…”

    You want to be cule, you sign up for the heartbreak as well as the glory. And oh, was there heartbreak tonight. Poor Leo will be crying over that PK miss for some time to come.

    All I can say about this club: After such a season full of injuries, setbacks, and immense fatigue, they still gave everything they had in every competition. Playing every 3 days for 4 years (and more for many) has taken its toll. No one can win everything forever.

    Tomorrow the deluge of “end of an era” opinion pieces will hit, but it won’t make a difference to me. This is a historic team that given us something incredibly beautiful and a lasting legacy. Their story isn’t over, just evolving. They have much much more to give us in the future. I look forward to the journey.

    Like I said on twitter: Barça today. Barça tomorrow. Barça for the rest of my life.

    1. you know what: I can not wait that all those “experts” write us off like they did after Inter. We did come back stronger and we will come back stronger again.

      Once Barca, always Barca

  21. What i’m also proud of, is how the fans kept faith with the team and how after torres scored and they knew that we were definately eliminated, screamed and cheered the team even louder. Brought tears in my eyes it did. I think now we can appreciate Barca even more and the effort it took last 4 yrs to play like they did.

  22. Ah, I like this page much better than the previous one..
    Too many absurd comments back then, though it’s understandable because people wrote right after the final whistle.. plus some ugly trolls..

    And I have to say thank you, Kxevin, for put things into perspective. It’s beautiful, honest, and sad at the same time.
    Like a wise cule said :
    Disappointment is a part of life. Discouragement is a choice.

    Sad, hurt, disappointed, gutted. Yes. If you love this club, that’s how you feel.
    But if you’re a football fan for a long time, you should’ve known from a long time ago that in sport you win some, and you lose some. Doesn’t matter how great you are, you’re still gonna lose some. If you know how to win, then you should know how to lose.
    I’ve made a promise to myself last year, that I will never let a football result take happiness and health from my life.

    Nothing’s change for me, I still say : ser del Barça es, el millor que hi ha.
    Being a Barça fan, is the best there is. Never ever I regretted my decision to support this club.

    I want Pep Guardiola to stay for many years to come.
    I love our coach, our players, our club, with all my heart, no matter what.
    And how fantastic the Camp Nou crowd last night? So proud of them.

  23. Thanks for this post Kxevin.
    Well this had to happen sometime. You can’t always win everything. Football is all about details, says Pep most of the time. A couple of “palos”, a good call on offside. It happens. Still, like Cesc said, we died with our philosophy, which doesn’t mean we can’t get a plan “b” for next season, as Ramzi points out.
    I only wish for Abi, Villa, Ibi, Fontas and Pique to recover and stay healthy. For this space for us to keep growing. Thank you all for this, to be able to share our love and pride for this team is awesome.
    I hope Pep can realize he has much to offer yet to the club, and renews soon. And I really expect Rosell gives him whatever he needs. He’s vital for our club.
    This was tough, but #nos levantaremos (#we will rise up from this).
    I know so.

    Visca el Barça!

  24. OFF TOPIC!!!

    Some are criticizing Valdes for the last few games, how did he play today? I don’t have the heart to watch this match yet, but I heard that he and Pique got into a collision that resulted in Gerard staying in the hospital.

    He’s been inconsistent compared to last season. Some have said it was due to us not controlling the game, thus putting more pressure on our backline and Valdes. But I’m wondering if the new first team’s goalkeeping coach has anything to do with VV’s performance? The last few years, Busi’s dad was the coach, now he’s with the B-team.

    And speaking of Busi, he scored his first goal of the season!!! (IIRC). Congrats to him.

    Now, I’m interested to see how we approach Sunday’s match against Rayo. Their stadium is the smallest in La Liga and their fans are fantastic. It should be an interesting match. Maybe Leo will get a rest at last along with Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Puyi. But can we afford to play kids after losing three straight matches?

    1. I think Pep should play a full-strengh team. Ok right now it LOOKS as if La Liga is over, but it’s not over. Real Madrid C.F. is highly unlikely not to pick up the six points it needs from its remaining 4 games, but it’s not impossible. Imagine how horrible it would be from a Barca point of view if Real Madrid C.F. actually dropped points but Barca didn’t take advantage? Until the Liga is mathematically decided, you should play your full strength team because you never know.

  25. Another top article from kxevin. I heard that after the match, some reporter asked Guardiola what he would say to a young Barca fan crying over a major-trophy-less Barca season for the first time in their short life (seeing as how Barca have been winning everything for the past few seasons). And he said something like “Welcome to the club. You will cry more. No team keeps winning forever.”

    Therein lies the reality for Cules, especially the millions who jumped the bandwagon in recent years. After this season, your club will lose a lot of bandwagon fans. Some will jump on the Real Madrid bandwagon. But look around you, now and during the offseason, look at those people who don’t desert the club. On this blog and elsewhere. And you will know who the true fans are. Remember them. Failures like this season have a purpose; it is to seperate the true fans from the rest. Right now this might sound trivial to you as all you wanted was to win trophies. But this is an opportunity.

    When I comment here I often relate your current predicament to my experiences as a Real Madrid supporter. After the 2003 Liga when we didn’t win anything for a while, we lost a LOT of bandwagon fans. I’m glad we did, because it was then that I learned which of my Madridista friends were actual Madridistas, and which ones were glory-hunters. That time has now come for Barca.

    On an unrelated note, I wish you would stop referring to my team as the Evil Empire. At least as a mark of respect. You don’t have to like us, you have every right to hate us if you want to, but you can try and respect us. Over at RMFB, yes we have some commenters who use terms like UEFALona etc., but our writers and regular commenters refer to Barcelona as… well, Barcelona. Or Barca. It’s a sign of respect.

    Otherwise, I generally agree with what people have been saying here. Your team has had a sublime run, but it has had some weaknesses exposed. You need to find a solution to your Messi-dependencia, just as we at Real Madrid C.F. need to find a solution to Xabi-dependencia. You need to reconsider the small-squad philosophy, as it’s something that only works when you have good fortune with injuries. And generally Pep needs to find a Plan B – yes yes I know this has been overstated and overanalyzed… but that’s because it’s true.

    Anyway you guys have had a fantastic, unbelievable run and this Barca team has cemented its place as one of the top 3 club teams of all time. That’s a ridiculous achievement when you think about it. When you feel sad or down, think about the fans of all those proud teams that never win anything. Valencia, Atleti, Bilbao, etc. etc. You don’t have it that bad. It’s not like your entire team forgot how to play. They failed this season that’s all. It seems like the end of the world now, but come next season you’ll be joint-favourites to win La Liga and the CL again. Cheer up, it’s not that bad.

    1. might reconsider the term EE, but only after a certain Sauron leaves his tower in Bernabeu, and a true Gent like Pellegrini or VdB return.

    2. Mourinho is not Real Madrid, and Real Madrid is not Mourinho. I love him as a coach and I like his outspoken, honest nature… but like any other Madridista I’m sometimes ashamed by his words and actions.

      You can’t brand an entire club (“club” includes players and fans) based on the coach’s behaviour. If I were to brand Barca based on the antics of Busquets or Alves, it would certainly be something derogatory. But while I hate those two players, I prefer to think of PUYOL, Iniesta or Xavi as being representative of what Barca stands for. Positive thinking, even when it comes to your biggest rival.

    3. You are right, but for me Mou did go to far when he said that Barca is not good enough to win anything by its own merit. That was so disrespectful. Does Barca benefit from ref calls sometimes? Sure. Is it the only team? are you kidding me. Just 3 weeks ago CFC did beat Wigan by 2 blatant offside goals, was it conspiracy, no just dodgy decision.
      But due to Mou every game FCB wins is only down to refs, when RM had it’s own share of decisions going their way

  26. The worst part of last night that from the hour mark, you feared this would happen. The team was a bit guily over playing passes from minutes 50-75. But then that kind of things happen.

    “End of an ERA” talks are nonsense. Next season would be good – Mascherano, Messi, Sanchez, Alves etc will get their deserved rest in the summer. But I am a bit worried about the Spanish stars. I think Xavi should skip Euro because he is seriously struggling with that injury.

    What the last match showed was the value of Abidal ina three man defense. His pace would have been essential in the last three match.

    1. “End of an era” talk is certainly nonsense. If you suitably reinforce your squad next season, you’ll be perfectly fine. It will be more difficult for Barca to win than in previous seasons because Real Madrid have a very young squad that is developing chemistry and becoming better, and after this season will also develop belief that it can beat anyone anywhere. But Barca already have all these things, all you need is a few strategic transfers and a bit of flexibility in your playing style.

      There’s no “end of era” business because Barca hasn’t suddenly become a bad team. Where R.M. are concerned, they have caught up with Barca after a few years of being well behind. But next season, if you make the right transfers, our teams will start on an even footing.

  27. This was a gutting loss, and it’s perfectly natural to feel sad about it, to roll through a series of what if’s “What if we’d had … Villa, Abidal, Afellay, Piqué for the whole game?” “What if Messi hits the PK?” “What if just one of those missed chances at Stamford Bridge goes in?” Trust me, as a Cleveland and Seattle sports fan, I’ve been down this road many times.

    But there’s a difference here. The glow from all the triumphs of the last 3 years dulls the sting of this defeat. No amount of “Fin Del Ciclo” bloviating from English and Madridista wankers can take those 13 trophies or Barça’s place in the Pantheon of all-time greats away from us.

    It’s natural to wonder and worry about such things, but we must try to resist the temptation. The nucleus of the team remains strong, with Puyol and Xavi the only key outfield players over 30 (and since Xavi doesn’t rely on raw speed and athleticism, it’s realistic to think he could make like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes and still be great well into his 30s.) And of course there’s the veritable mountain of young talent on its way from La Masia.

    Adjustments need to be made this offseason, but they are just that, adjustments. Not full-scale overhauls of the roster of the system. A genuine Etoo-esque goal scorer, a left back to replace at least some of what Abidal provided (unless some Abidal clone exists somewhere), maybe another center half for depth? These tweaks won’t be a a slam dunk, mind you, but neither is the team in shambles.

    A better preseason, more and better squad rotation, hopefully better luck with injuries… chin up. 2012-13 is a new day.

  28. torres: Barca best team of the world. Sorry I am not a friend of that kind of backhanded compliment and media phrase. If you do not think so, best say nothing at all

    1. Hmmm…I always think of him as genuine person. So I’m inclined to believe that he meant what he said. Watching him struggle since the World Cup and seeing him bounce back makes me happy. Yes, he’s a millionaire, but it’s very rare nowadays to see someone who’s been very professional and never complained about anything despite a lot of obstacles. A player like him will always have my respect.

    2. Hes praised us since the last years tbf.Plus he won the world cup and euros with many of our players.He knows what its like to be playing with the side trying to break down 10 men behind the ball so I dont think he was being disingenuous.

    3. Although I haven’t seen/read any of Torres’s post match quotes, I’m guessing that he sincerely thinks Barca is the best team in the world. Sure, his team beat Barca, but there is a difference between being a better team overall and being the better team on the day (or two days), and I’m sure Torres knows that well.

  29. Some numbers/facts:

    CL 2006-07 group stage:
    CFC 1 – 0 FCB
    FCB 2 – 2 CFC (CFC equalized in injury time)

    CL 2011-12 semis:
    CFC 1 – 0 FCB
    FCB 2 – 2 CFC (CFC equalized in injury time)

    Struck the post 4 times over the 2 legs.

    Have had a player (opposition & us) sent off in each of the 4 CL semis since Pep took over.

    Record in CL since 07-08:
    07-08: Knocked out in Semis
    08-09: Won
    09-10: Knocked out in Semis
    10-11: Won
    11-12: Knocked out in Semis

    For the 7th time this season, we’ve drawn 2-2. (EE x2, RSOC, ACM, VAL, ATH, CFC) – the season’s most common scoreline (mode in statistical terms).

    For the 5th time this season we’ve conceded a 2 goal lead. (RSOC, EE, BET, GRA, CFC).

  30. Thank you, Kxevin. What a poignant and inspiring post. As every one have said, you pretty much summed up what every true cule is feeling right now. And how wonderful it is to read so many touching stories on this blog — that’s what makes this community special. Like many others, I feel less compelled to post because so many intelligent comments make me pause and think deeply and think again. For many of us, we seek solace and companionship on this blog. My family loves football, but is not as passionate as I am with Barca; I consider myself lucky to have their support for putting up with my high highs and low lows. This community has been my companion throughout the years and will forever remain grateful for that sense of kinship, camaraderie and brotherhood I feel whenever I read all the comments. I may not be a frequent commenter but have always been a faithful reader and follower.
    Tonight, it’s hard to swallow the bitter pill of defeat. But this team has touched so many people’s hearts and have inspired the young and the proud. At my daughter’s 5th grade class, the kids were agitated and could not concentrate when the kickoff began. Barca fever is as stronger than ever in the US and has taken over Asia and the world.
    Be proud to wear your team colors. Be proud to be a cule. Visca Barca!

    1. Thanks for the link. I like the song and it’s certainly relevant right now for cules!

  31. have been a regular follower of this blog as an ardent cule…but this is my first comment here…feeling extremely dejected…not for the loss but for the manner of the loss…this barca is being tipped by many as one of the greatest teams to have ever played the game…..for such a team to surrender at a juncture while leading by 2 goals with the onus of scoring on the opposition (to qualify)…playing against 10 men for nearly an hour…just doesn’t go down well…

    anyways….the past week is probably a lesson for all of us…to take defeat gracefully…just as we have taken the sweet victories in the past…a new season beckons….with new hope…but with same vigour from cules backing the team…we will be back…

    visca barca…

  32. Everyone is proud of their team when they win, but I feel even more proud of this team after the loss. They’ve been nothing short of brilliant these past 4 years, and yet, they still know how to be down-to-earth and lose gracefully. I can’t ask for a better team to support.

  33. Since I started supporting Barca in 1996 we won cock all in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007 & 2008 – that’s 6 trophyless years out of the 16 years I’ve followed them so far – so don’t tell me the Copa Del Rey isn’t a major trophy.

    ON TO MADRID!

    1. Good point, I mean last year every RM fan would declare how important the CdR is, therefore we will gladly take over

    2. It is an important trophy, and was especially so for us because we hadn’t won it in around 15 years. Raul never won the Copa del Rey in his entire career, how ridiculous is that?

  34. You can’t understand the value of light without darkness.
    The same can be said about winning and losing.
    I’m just extremely proud and happy to have supported this team and I’ll continue to do so, no matter what, there is no falling out of love.

    Back to the game itself, I kept having a strange sensation that It just wasn’t meant to be. That Chelsea were going to inflict the same kind of heart break Iniesta did to them. Ever since Terry’s penalty miss in the Moscow final, I’ve actually wanted them to win it sometime. I hope that time is now.
    Further, this game constantly reminded me of the inter semi final.
    In both cases the we went down to an aggregate score of 3-2.
    In both cases the opponent wore blue and then white.
    In both cases, there was a strange red card for the opponent in the 1st half of the second leg. and in both cases we couldn’t prevail against a 10 man side at home. Congrats to Chelsea. I’ll even say that they deserved it.

    Don’t want to dwell in the past and ‘what ifs’, but I’ve never seen Messi like that. Pushing lampard, frustrated with himself..

    I have a good feeling about next season. Hope pep stays and makes us cry more.

  35. Too late to comment now.

    But while this was hugely disappointing.. and a complete downer..

    This is no end of an era. Barca will come up strong again next year. Their talent base is still there and they will have reinforcements next year. If Pep returns and there is a 99% chance IMO that he is coming back, then Barca will still be with a chance to win it all again next year. They are still the best team in the world. All they require is some reinforcements, squad (and injury) management, some healing of tired, fatigued folks.. and they will contend for everything again.

    And the Copa Del Rey final is going to be a huge final between two superb teams. May football win.

    1. In the CdR final, the winner will be football. It may be a much more entertaining and beautiful match than the CL final.
      Far less important, but more joy!

  36. Well written Kevin.

    It was a cruel match or set of matches. We played true to our style and created so many chances that it was amazing. For performance, it was way better than any semi we have played in Pep era. For results, it was obviously not. Luck was not with us, so many balls hitting the frame. And what hurt us really bad was lack of threat from wide players. Chelsea crowded Messi pretty thoroughly and our wide players were simply not good enough. And with their age and experience, they are not supposed to be that good. As Al Pacino says, its game of inches and we lost too many of those. Hard luck.

    Who knows what will happen in future but we have a a good team and more importantly it is my team. So i will continue to support them.

    In England, the team i support since ages is Southhampton. They have never been anywhere but hell, they are the team i support and that’s that.

    At the end of the day, its sports. There will be another year and there will be other matches.

  37. Chelsea is officially Barca’s bogey team in Europe. They were the ‘La Bestia Negra’ tonight. An epic rivalry already. I wish and look forward to witness many more European nights with Chelsea in the future. And hopefully, Barca set the records straight then.

    Overall, what a game that was. Edge of the seat stuff! Except for the Torres goal. I was already off the seat and on the floor by then. It’s hard to digest that Barca didn’t go through. To the future now!

  38. Great post putting some perspective to everything.
    The moment Pique went down, I wasn’t thinking of anything else but just being worried about him. He looked terrible.
    It was a terrible end to a terrible season, mainly because of the personal issues involved(Abidal, Tito) but it made me even more proud of the team and proved what a special group of players we have.
    Hats off to everyone! Som i Serem!

    1. Agreed, but BTW it’s _not_ the end of the season. There’s still some Liga games, and a Copa final. The Copa might be a relatively minor trophy, but it’s a trophy, and I expect a good game given Athletic’s performances this season.

  39. Been a lurker here for over a year. Read every comment,post and attended nearly all liveblogs. I decided its about time I joined the family.

    Living in an Asian community in Saudi Arabia I was not exposed to international football.Loved the game though, but supported a local club. However a common question by my school mates then (back in 2005) was “What’s your favourite club? Man U Or RM?” I just didn’t like this fawning over the clubs, especially since half of the ‘fans’ didn’t know more than 4 people at their clubs. Anyway I love Ronaldinho’s play and declared myself a barca fan. However I rarely watched games, just highlights or finals( I was only 13 then). I started watching regularly from 2009 and, boy, was I amazed. The team was literally out of this world.They defined football.Etoo & Ronaldinho ripping & waltzing around defences while a young star was developing. Three years from then it was Messi running through defences like they were not there, Xavi bossing the midfeild, Iniesta ghosting past defenders and gliding along the pitch.And puyol just being puyol.The joy this club gave me was immense.

    This past week was the worst as a fan and i watched the game with a bunch of friends who enjoyed rubbing it in.They rarely get any chance to.It was one of those games. We played well, just lacked clinical finishing. NO team can be expected to win everytime. The best team in the world does not diminsh after one game. We lost the league to a team that we humiliated for the past 3 years, a team that spent 300 million just to keep up with us & probably the second best team in the world. We were eliminated from the CL by a team that parked the bus and are praised(rightly so) for their tactical and defensive discipline, but we created chance after chance even under these circumstances. Football is like that.The best team may not always win. This team has been through injuries, sickness, accusations, provocations but always held their honour and stayed true to their philosophy.
    I love this team.I joined in the glory years, not for the trophies but for what this team embodies ,what this team stands for and the way they play the beautiful game. Mes que un club. I will always be a cule.
    And a brilliant job done by the BFB writers as well as the commenters.The diversity plus the love for the club makes this the best Barca blog on the net.May BFB reach new heights, just as a our team will.
    Through losses and victory,a proud cule till the end. Visca Barca!!

  40. I’d like to share a comment from what I read in totalBarca website:

    “The game taught us many things. First, nothing is permanent but we could always strive for perfection next season. Second, especially after the Clasico and defeat to Chelsea we as a community were brought together; there appears to be unity and solidarity that had never existed before. Thus, the benefit of having a community such as TotalBarca is that we can share our fear, disappointment, sadness amongst one another = less pain.”

    I’m very happy to have known this community. We may have different opinions but what’s important is we only share one passion. Thank you Kxevin for putting a lot of perspective to all of these. Losing really sucks but that’s life. You cannot always be on the top. But I always believe in this team. I always and will admire the quality and attitude of our team. I also believe in this community that no matter what happens, win or lose, will never waver our support for Barca.

    We still have four games +CdR final and I hope the results last night won’t dampen our spirits in watching these games. I’m really sad that we lost. But let’s just forget the sad and disappointing faces. Let’s just remember the most poignant moment of the game: the fans at Camp Nou cheering and singing the anthem during the last few minutes of the game. At that, I couldn’t be prouder of our team.

    Mes que un club!

  41. “What now?” you ask? I put down my thoughts in semi-rambling fashion…

    What Barca need to do to improve next season:

    1) Replace Abidal – MASSIVE loss to the team in terms of height, defensive ability, balanced formations, quality, character, etc. It would be great if he manages to come back to the same level but the main hope is that he goes on to live a long and healthy life. Jordi Alba has been mentioned and could work, although he’s more a left-sided Dani Alves and lacks the physique and defensive quality to be a true replacement. Bale would be a similar prospect, though taller and stronger, but would also be a lot more expensive and again isn’t a great defender.
    Another Abi (amazing at both LB and CB) would be the ideal. Perhaps there’s someone else out there or Munesia will step up his game after being promoted to the first team (Grimaldo has shown potential but is still very young!)

    2) Get David Villa back to full fitness – and hope that he is the same player as before his leg fracture, apart from Messi, Barca have looked largely impotent up front this season, with opposition teams not having to worry too much about anyone but our number 10 being given a great deal of time or space with the ball. It’s been far too easy for sides to pack the middle of their defence, and while Cesc had a purple patch and Sanchez has looked dangerous if inconsistent, both will hopefully improve in their second season.
    Repeated minor injuries have been a problem for Pedro and Alexis, amongst others; hopefully with a good (i.e. not a $$$-tour of the US/Asia) pre-season this, along with the apparent fatigue shown by most of the squad can be eradicated, although with the Euros arriving it doesn’t look like the Spanish contingent will get a great deal of rest…

    3) Away Form – has to be improved! For me the key reason for the drop in success this season has been the away form, with the key reason for that being the jungles that constitute the opposition pitches. The injuries, fatigue/loss of form and tactical experimentation have played some role, especially with teams being able to play a packed, narrow defence, but there has been a noticeable degradation in the quality of playing surfaces.
    Whether through a lack of water, length of grass, uneven surfaces or even a lack of grass altogether, the footballing world has realised that Barca are nowhere near as effective if they can’t move the ball quickly and accurately along the ground. Whether or not the Spanish FA/UEFA decides that they want to impose any standards when it comes to playing surface, the team need to expand their game to be capable of getting a result on any pitch.
    Perhaps in this sense there IS a need for a “Plan B” after all (even if it isn’t a tempermental Swede..) or perhaps the team needs to forgo some possession in exchange for a slightly more direct approach (although increased solidarity in defence would have to accompany this), something for Pep to think about I’m sure.

    4) Xavi and Puyol – both have missed games through injury and although both are still performing at the highest level this can’t be expected to continue for too much longer, especially not in every game. With Thiago, Fabregas, Busquets, Iniesta and even Messi already in the first team, Xavi’s midfield role looks to be secure but with the lapses and injuries of Pique and some backup at the back is certainly required, Fontas will return, Munesia and Bartra are both being promoted, I haven’t seen enough of them to be able to judge whether they can provide the answers but it’s possible. Perhaps Puyol’s potential international retirement after the Euros will help him ‘do a Maldini’ and play on at a high level for a few more years?

    5) Pep’s renewal! So long as he has the motivation and is healthy I don’t think there’s any better coach for this Barca team. As such an obsessive thinker it’s quite probable that he’s already been coming up with ways in which the team can improve in the future and the lack of success this season is in no way comparable to the end of the Rikjaard era.
    The fans have been spoilt with trophies over the last 3 years, finishing 2nd in the league to one of the most expensively-assembled and greatest Madrid sides ever (not forgetting they’ve still had a few ‘lucky’ results against Rayo, Betis, etc) with the injuries is not a “crisis” or the “end of an era”, similarly losing in the CL semi’s despite dominating play is just the way football is sometimes.

    6) “Something something learn more from losses” – not winning the league or CL has some benefits, any complacency or lack of hunger within the squad can hopefully be eradicated, the pressure of being the “greatest team in the world” may lessen slightly (perhaps even other clubs will face more teams playing for a 0-0!), less jealousy-induced hate from other clubs’ fans (although I don’t hold out too much hope there…), “fairweather fans” can go support the latest fashionable (or trophy-winning) side, perhaps even the character of some players and staff can be developed by the experience of not winning everything!

    1. What we missed the most from Abidal is his pace and calmness on the ball.

      We didn’t really benefit from his height from all those years.

    2. Agreed but I think it would have been less of a mis-match compared to Adriano marking Pepe for the first Madrid goal on Saturday, I guess by “height” I meant his all round physical and aerial ability 🙂

  42. Guardiola:
    “After we were 2-0 up, i told them to attack more” (something like that).
    Isn’t that a little naive coming from a coach of his caliber?

    1. Of course is tricky, but every experienced coach would calm down his players in the last minutes of the game to go at half time with a 2 goals lead and try to score in the second half.
      I think it was the general euphoria among the players and the coaching stuff that it was a moment for the third,
      Sure it was easy for me to watch it on my TV and scream at them to calm down and dont do anything stupid those last minutes, but…

    2. Can’t help but agree with this. We’re going through as it stands, they face the prospect of going in at half time downcast and having to come out in the second half and open up a bit more to get back into it. What do we do? Lose our shape in a totally unnecessary way. Tbh, I can’t believe that statement attributed to Pep. That would be naive in the extreme.

  43. today>>>>>>.tommorow>>all the days of my life….come rain,come shine..win lose draw or bust>>>>>>>>>>>>>>BARCA TILL I GO SIX FEET!!!!!!!!!!! OLUFESTUS SAID IT

  44. Long time reader of this wonderful blog but commenting for the first time. I am extremely sad that we went out of cl but at the same time immensely proud of my team as well!!! Lovely to see such solidarity amongst culés… This team will be back again next year and will continue mesmerizing the whole world. This hasnt been a good week for this team but surely 1 bad week in 4 years should not be a cause for serious concern and certainly doesnt merit “end of an era” discussions. Wonderful piece by kevin and i would like to congratulate the bfb team for the wonderful work they are doing. Cheers
    Visca El Barça

  45. In a positive Note:

    1) We are by far still the best team in the world and by some distance. Even the Madrid fans will concede that as their team which was assembled at a cost of 500 million also parked the bus to get the favourable result.

    2) Since the disappointment of the result has died down a bit, I would say I was pretty impressed by the performance of our boys in teh two semi legs. Usually against a Park the bus teams we used to struggle to create serious chances. This one was different, we created enough but never took any of those. So atleast that’s a good positive sign.

    3) The result of last two weeks indicate how important is Abidal in the system. his pace is one thing we cannot afford to lose. A close look at the flank from where we conceded decisive goals will testify for that. Having said that it is not yet clear how Abidal will progress from the injury. Alba is a good option and we need to buy his especially with Maxwell already sold. But the most importnat move should be to give Muniesa more playing time. It is good that he will be promoted to the first eleven, but Guardiola should not do a Fontas on him. He needs to be played more especially in home matches. He is quick and I think he is the future.

    4) The position where we should be looking seriously is the holding midfielder. we have been lucky that Busquets usually does not get injured. But in case he gets injured, we will be left with no choice.

    5) If you look why we lost against Chelsea and RM, we could see that we gave away the initiative at crucial time. We went behind Real by a huge margin so early that it was an enormous catching up that was needed. I know some Real Madrid fans claiming that they have finally got on parity with us, but for me that’s utter non-sense. We still have a 4-1 record against them when seen at the end of the season. But then why they did better than us – they were critical in away matches and we were stupid to handover the initiative after the La Liga victory at bernebeu. So we need to improve our away record, not only in La Liga but also in Europe. For that Guardiola need sto restrict experiments mostly into home matches. Even if you want to try it in away matches, please don’t do it at stadiums like Mestella etc.

    6) I am confident that our team will do really well next season. One reason is that if Guardiola stay(now he cannot leave) he has laready done all the fine print interms of tatcics this season. So next season our boys will be more used to the tactics. Second the Latin American group Messi, Sanchez, Mascherano, Alves etc will all get some serious rest in the summer. Also we will have Villa and hopefully Abidal back in full flow(hope fans here stop demanding that Villa should play like a winger). Third in even years we get really lucky with avoiding injuries to crucial players.

  46. A very disappointing night for Barcelona.

    Place the two games into context. 47 attempts at goal by Barca against 11 by Chelsea. 82% possesion last night also.

    Its the small margins which make the difference.

    I have a couple of articles up on my blog about the game and the potential future of Pep and the club if anyone wants to check them out.

    http://www.chalkontheboots.wordpress.com

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