Barcelona – Levante Liveblog

It’s hard as Frak for me to set these things up on my smartphone, so we’re going to have a Spartan layout today. Liveblog will be up 15 minutes or so before makick kickoff.

 

Staring XI: Valdes, Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas, Pedro, Mesi, Iniesta

 

Bench: Pinto, Montoya, Mascherano, Adriano, Thiago, Song, Tello

84 comments

  1. Another game for the two Ps. Gradually we’ll become tighter at the back. Good test tonight as there’ll probably be some turnovers from Cesc.

    1. idk do they filter regionally? all i could see on 426 direct tv was sports center…ended up streaming on rojadirecta. im in the South.

    1. Indeed. It’s become so boring to watch these clubs not show any initiative at all. Have some gusto and bravado. Most times you can see 9 men behind the ball with only Martins further up the pitch. Still, it’s up to Barca to beat it and it’s not looking pretty so far. Why hasn’t Tello started the last few games? He’d provide the width we need. Iniesta on the left is not working this game and Cesc is aimlessly wondering around.

  2. I’d like to see Tito sub Tello for Cesc right at the beginning of the 2nd half and move Iniesta to the middle.

  3. Levante did a beautiful job on their plan A in the first half. But once the first goal went in, they had no plan B.

    1. It’s the pressure of having to defend perfectly all the time. Once you’re trailing its difficult to keep the desire.

    2. That was a horrible dive wasn’t it! Surely, we can appeal that and get Cesc’s yellow overturned?

  4. Great weekend. Madrid loses, we win, 11 points lead, Barca B won too (while Castilla also lost), can’t ask for more 🙂

    1. I know, but it will have to be 3 points for at least another 8-10 rounds for me to take it really seriously

    1. Would he dare? I think he’s a footballing addict and would have withdrawls and possible DT’s if he did sit out!

    2. Part of me wants him to take some time off, but there is a record to be broken and immortality in the soccer world to be achieved. Who knows if he will get a crack at that record again.

      They will probably let him go for it, but he should get a much longer winter break.

  5. BARCA BARCA BARCA!!! What a 2nd half display from our boys! After a flat 1st half and steely display from Levante & Ballestero’s back line Iniesta said, “I got this.” Messi’s chip was wonderfully taken. He makes it look so easy. Chips aren’t easy and his space was limited. The split second decision making he takes and executes is sublime. It was all Iniesta for the 2nd. Amazing run and nice cut back for Messi, who cooly slides it in the net. 2 assists for Iniesta and 2 goals. Iniesta said, “I’m not done. Need to get my 1st league goal.” BAM. 3 nil. Iniesta then slides Cesc a perfectly weighted ball and Cesc, with the narrowest of margins puts it in. Iniesta 3 assists and 1 goal! MOTM!!! VV wanted a clean sheet in the league and said you better be less casual with your free kicks homey. 2 brilliant saves the 2nd showed cat like reflexes. Pefect 2nd half. Only POOR Pedrito! What does he have to do to get on the score sheet. He had a couple of chances. When Messi teed him up I thought surely this is it, only for him to take 1 touch to many and bumble the chance. Overall a lackluster 1st half with a lot of brilliance from Ghostface in the 2nd half and Messi being, well, Messi! Visca Barca! 11 points clear of EE. 3 clear of A.M. Messi 4 away from all time record. He also moved into 10th all time in Liga for total goals scored!

    1. I actually quite liked the whole performance. I thought we wore down an excellent defence. You could see them tiring at the end of the first half and we just didnt give them time to get their composure back in the second.

    2. Not so sure. Have to disagree. We looked like we lacked any creativity in breaking the bus. We did move the ball around nicely, but had no attempts on target and passed on shots we probably should have taken. It was the constant insistence on playing through the middle. I called for Tello to come on and would’ve like to seen him start to provide that width. 1st goal was huge. Flood gates opened. It was great it happened so quickly after the 2nd half began. What a ball from Iniesta!

    3. If you want to see how hard it is to break down a parked bus, watch the RM-Betis game. Mou’s team looked dazed and bewildered as they passed the ball around in slow-mo. The difference between the slick (but patient) way Barca go about their work and RM is quite stark.

    4. Watch that Pedro attempt again, and he was taking it around the defender for the shot. Unfortunately another defender came flying in to his left and mucked up his plan, otherwise the goal was on.

      Pedro lacks the goals but the rest of his work on the pitch is exemplary.

    5. Yes, Pedro looks soo confident on the ball lately, he even keeps it when challenged! He used to lose it, when a defender got close last year.

  6. Flawless performance by a special team. No coincidence that the clean sheets have returned with the return of our real defense. I was begging for iniesta to shoot throughout the first half, and he made the one shot of his count. Def the motm tonight.
    Hope Dani is ok. Why can’t a cule enjoy a near full strength squad for atleast a bit?

    1. Agreed. Isn’t it wonderful to have Puyol & Pique back there? It was also great to see Adriano and Thiago get some time! Announcers said Abidal is 4 weeks out from his return?!!! That would be amazing.

  7. Did I just see La Masia 11 on the pitch for about 1hr?

    Great game by the team, especially Iniesta.

    1. You did! That La Masia also equalled EE’s record start to a season with 12 wins and 1 draw. 1 more and it’s ours alone!

    2. What an incredible start to the season! I wouldn’t have expected this in my eldest dreams.

      The biggest difference between this team and Real Madrid is the patience in their play. Madrid looked hurried and disorganized yesterday. Barcelona was calm and ruthlessly methodical. Simply amazing.

    3. Truth be told EE also suffered some bad luck and an offside goal or two denied. On the other hand Pepe should have been sent off for violent behavior.

      Btw, when Ronaldo sucks, he SUCKS. I don’t think I have ever seen Messi have such a bad game.

    4. The keeper stopped when the whistle was blown. There was also a bad off-side call against Betis.
      Ronaldo looks like he’s spending the whole game worrying about his tax issues.
      More importantly than the result. RM really do look like they might be disintegrating as a team. Mou shaking hands with all the Betis players really looked like a big FU to his own team. Further, I’ve never seen him so subdued when attacking a ref. It was as if (God forbid) his heart wasn’t in it.

    5. Every time I watch Ronaldo, I ask myself, “how is this dude compared to Messi?” He has good positioning, power and speed. But he lacks the problem solving abilities that Messi possesses. And when he is not scoring, his overall contribution leaves a lot to be desired.

      And good points Kevino17 on Bettis offside call, they could have also scored. They missed almost as many chances as Madrid too. I hadn’t noticed their goalkeeper stop after the Benzema call.

    6. I share the same sentiment Bill. Put aside my bias, but I couldn’t think as a whole package what make CR is a better player than Messi 🙂 CR is a very good player, but Messi influence of the game is immense, whther he do it individually or teamworking

    1. Wow. What a finish! That was tighter than Cesc’s finish. Splitting defense in box was amazing, but defense allowed him to much space and time to get there.

  8. Sell Valdes! The guy is obviously not good enough to be in our roster.
    Glad to see Thiago back, Xavi needs the rest and this is his season.
    Iniesta…meh what is there to say? The guy has no match when he is on form.

  9. That match was an IniestazooooooOOOOO. He is my MOTM.

    Cesc’s contribution should not go unnoticed in the process. For the first two goals, he is the one who won the ball in the opposing half and was involved in the plays before Iniesta did his Iniestazo, and Messi scored. And he topped it of with a scintillating third goal.

    Valdes was shining today as a goal keeper.

    Sad for Dani, hope it is nothing serious. Montoya just gives the back-line more stability somehow. Eventhough Dani has recently had some good performances I somehow prefer Montoya over Dani.

    1. Based on form and results I definitely prefer Montoya to Dani. Time to sell Dani & give Montoya the job permanently. Dani is on to high wages to sit on bench as Montoya back up. I love Dani and I’m grateful for everything he’s given this club, but we need to capitalize on his transfer fee while we can. He’s not getting any younger and I don’t think we’ll get more than 15-18 mil for him.

    2. Cesc played a part in Iniesta’s goal as well. He made the overlapping run which made the defender back off from Iniesta. This helped create the space Iniesta needed to make the shot for his goal.

  10. Is it just me or does anyone else notice that Mascherano is sucking. Busquets needs to go as well.

  11. Couldn’t help but repost this from the comments section at the Guardian review…

    FlashRat – “RM’s performance against Betis was an epic of awfulness. Betis showed that if you take away Mou’s counter-attacking option (long ball to the flanks) he’s out of ideas. Trying to break down Betis’ packed defence, RM’s players ran around like headless chooks on tranquilisers. Then, as if that wasn’t funny enough, we got comic interludes where Cristiano took free kicks and blasted the ball into the wall, into the stands, into his own players, into the ground – indeed, anywhere except in the direction of the goal. Hey, don’t get so tense, Crissie. So what if you haven’t scored from a free kick in your last fifty games. Over-cerebration is your enemy. It always has been.
    Then, after the game, Mou shook the hands of every Betis player, which looked to me like his petulant way of telling his own players they’re sniveling cowards. I doubt they’re amused.
    In his press conference, Mou couldn’t even summon up much enthusiasm when he attacked the ref. When that happens, you know that his life-force is at a low ebb. Until now, Mou has been able to paper over the cracks at RM. They will soon rupture and spew lava.
    Mou really might finish behind Athletico this year. Dare to dream.”

    1. I wonder if the stat about CR not scoring free kick in 50 games is accurate? Doesn’t seem possible since he is one of the best free kick takers in the game. He can make the ball do things I’ve never seen before. Weird spins and curving that are insane. It’s so sweet how Messi has become a free kick magician! He must’ve worked extremely hard at it and it’s definitely paid off.

  12. And what an epic night for Don Andres!! 3 spectacular assists + 1 Iniestazo! WOW!!

    As well as for Barça… Having a La Masia XI on the field for ~60 min. is no less than G.R.E.A.T for the club.

    1. Yep, if Messi’s stats are from a different era then so is the fielding of 11 players who’ve come through from the youth team! 😀

    2. Xavi: “Playing with 11 homegrown players was Van Gaal’s dream, so I send him a hug. His dream has come true.”
      “Playing with 11 academy players? It’s amazing. I have lived moments when only Puyi and I were playing with the first team.”

      Alba: “Playing with 11 academy players? It’s great for the youth players, that they see they can end up playing with the first team.”

      Iniesta: “When I started at the first team, it was really hard to imagine Barcelona would one day play with 11 academy players.”

      Pique: “Very proud to win at such a difficult ground, with 11 homegrown players!”

  13. VV totally answered his critics today, and Iniesta… what a match!

    As far as the league, I think it’s time we start talking about our lead over Atletico instead of that other team from Madrid!

    1. Yes.

      For once in my life, I’ll be wanting a Real Madrid win this weekend. 😀

      That will take points off Atletico.

      So if Madrid wins and Barca wins, the table would look like this:
      Barca 40 (currently 37)
      At. Madrid 34 (currently 34)
      Real Madrid 29 (currently 26)

      That would give a 2 game buffer over ATM.

      If Madrid loses, Barca would have to win against Bilbao to stay ahead by 3, or by 1 if they draw.

    2. I’d be happy with a draw for them. Spread two points around instead of giving any one of them 3 🙂

    3. I still want Atleti to win. I don’t want them to have a breakdown minor or not after going out with a whimper again after Real, and while I actually think they’ll do strongly over the season this time instead of a characteristic usual catastrophe I don’t think they’re a major threat for the title yet. Not yet.

      Also, I just want to compound Madrid’s struggles as much as possible. I hope they get put to the sword and the team starts to crack at the seams and there’s infighting and more pressure on Mourinho etc.

      That said, I’d still bet on a Madrid win. I won’t go against the curse on this fixture even if Atleti look the best they have in ages, they’ve looked strong previously but lost and they just seem jinxed when it comes to this game. And I think jinxes to big sides only break at unexpected times when nobody is expecting it to. Jinxes seem to stick especially hard when the jinxed side logically seem likely to break it.

      Also, can we recognize looking at Madrid this year after they won a league what a genuinely amazing achievement it was for Pep to keep Barcelona a relentless winning machine for three almost four years straight?

  14. Or by goal difference… I dnt know why but i still feel madrid are more of a threat than atletico are…madrid has a very strong winning character…they are capable of going on 15 games winning streak…i’d rather they stay far behind us as possible…an atletico win will just cement the league for us…

    1. I don’t know how you can, with any conviction, say that an Atleti win will seal the league (meaning it keeps Madrid back), when Atleti is only 3 points behind Barca.

      The pressure isn’t coming from Real Madrid on the table, it’s coming from Atleti. Barca needs to keep winning to stop Atleti from taking 1st place.

      ATM has only blipped against Valencia (who are now looking a shambles) and drew against Levante. That loss to Valencia is the only thing keeping Barca and At. Madrid apart on the table.

      From my perspective, it will be interesting to see if Atleti can sustain another high pressure year after winning Europa League last season.

      However, Simeone is doing everything right at the moment. He rotates the squad very well, rests Falcao whenever he can and knows what tactics to use against each team.

      Yesterday’s match against Sevilla was won psychologically. A few AtM dives onto the pitch had the Sevilla players going out of their minds and unable to focus. A slew of cards and 2 players sent off for Sevilla had Michel almost blubbering on the sideline. It wasn’t pretty by AtM, but it was damned effective.

      AtM is on an immense high and full of conviction and self-belief. Their fans are also supporting them in huge numbers right now – Calderon was packed for yesterday’s game against Sevilla which is a rare sight in Spain this season.

      They’re in this for the back-to-back Europa win, the Liga win and a Champions League spot next season. They’re not going to lay down and die.

      Madrid was out to a double-digit lead over Barca last season only to stumble at the end, and IF Barca had managed to win the clasico at Camp Nou, it would have been an extremely tight race to the finish.

      The league’s not over – Atleti win or not – not when there are 60+ points still left unclaimed for each team.

      The threat is still Atleti and Real Madrid – as well as any self-imploding from Barca.

      Barring miracles – Malaga, Betis and Levante aren’t going to be consistent enough; Sevilla and Valencia are already too far back, and the rest are battling it out at the bottom of the table.

    2. Too assume that Atletico can keep up this consistency over the course of a 38 game season is more than likely mistaken. They have not proved that they can do that in well over a decade.
      Our biggest threat at this stage is complacency and if Real Madrid get into their pattern then they can easily go on a 10 game winning streak and cut our lead down significantly.

      I want an Atletico win to keep Real Madrid out of the title race and to keep pressure on Barca knowing that Atletico are only 3 points behind.
      I want Atletico to be strong for as long as possible so that we remain focused and consistent for the remainder of the year.

    3. I prefer an Atletico won over Madrid first and foremost. Barca has the experience and depth to go on a a 10 game winning streak but can Atletico go toe to toe. They have been doing it so far but for how long?

      Leagues are not won in Dec, Jan, or even March. Perhaps if we’re leading by 11 points over Madrid in March, only then I’ll rule them out but then we still have Atletico to worry about.

    4. I’m in complete agreement with nzm on A.M. How can anyone presume they won’t keep winning and aren’t as good as their record indicates? They have a good defense, good midfield, and wonderful front line. History means nothing. Historically, A.M. haven’t done well in the league. So! Simeone has his team together and playing with a fight in them I haven’t seen in some time. Barring a Falcao transfer in Jan., A.M. will be keeping pressure on us all season. We will inevitably lose form at some point in the season. How many games it lasts and how big a lead we have over 2nd place will determine the season. I would like A.M. vs EE to be a draw, or EE win. I’d rather have a six point lead at the top of the table then 3 if AM were to win. That’s math. That’s logic.

    5. Then again logic isnt based on maths alone…if atletico wins vs madrid they’ll be closer to us (3pts or less depending on our game)…but then again it would mean a 14pt gap over our FIERCEST RIVAL and that just about seals the league…atletico wont be able to keep this momentum on through out the season…hell, they wont even be 2nd placed come march

  15. Cuenca joined the team for today’s training!

    Slowly but surely. Alves out for 3 weeks, with Abi and Muniesa the 2 remaining long-term patients.

    As for Villa, I hope that it’s just an isolated injury to his ankle. With his surgeons advising Vilanova not to play him, I have this horrible feeling that his tibia may have cracked again. Then again, perhaps it was a preventative call, thinking that an injured ankle may place further stress on the old injury.

  16. An interesting comment from a regular blogger on Guardian, a respectable chap. I wonder where he got this spicy bit of info from.

    AmbrosiusBocanegra
    26 November 2012 2:01AM
    Response to Yazalde, 26 November 2012 1:52AM

    Maybe Levante’s payback was playing Barsa like ‘gentlemen’ in the second half

    Well that’s what someone in the Levante squad appearantly had screamed at Pepe; “laugh now, but you won’t laugh when we let Barca beat us”

    1. I mentioned that possibility in the thread before this or 2 before this. However, I find it hard to believe Levante would put up such a dogged fight in the 1st half and then lay down in the 2nd. Why even try in the 1st half if your going to tank it? Waste of energy and risk of injury. Ridiculous statement and should be fined for insinuation.

    2. They wouldn’t just lose for such a reason IMO. Levante are a professional football team of the Spanish first division. Would the club even let the players do such a ridiculous thing by themselves too? It would be an achievement for a club to snatch some points from Barça at this stage of the season.

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