PSG 2 – Barça 2, as we snatched defeat from the claws of victory

Paris. The city of lights. Of sandwichs grècs and fries. Of tiny, dusty apartments made instantly awesome because you can catch a far away glimpse of the Eifel Tower through its one and only window. Of Parisians that are surprisingly non-arrogant as long as you are arrogant enough to hang. Of métro, boulot, dodo¹. Of expensive coffee and rude waiters. Of metal subway doorhandles you must open yourself if you wanna get out. Of black and arab ghetto youth that turn their words around keli siht so that people don’t understand them. Of a football team a city is just not all that passionate about but might just yet become a European powerhouse.

Paris. What do I care? Brush up on your high school French and read on.


Le retour du chef²












Awesome. Beautiful. Poignant. Heartbreaking. Rarely fair. Among these and many other things, life is also funny. It’s funny how we have all been waiting for Tito to come back, and now he is finally here: guess what? Life goes on.

I know we might try to deny it, but in a lot of ways football is bigger than life. Millions of people die from cancer and millions of people come back, but football will always be there.

Of course it makes us happy when before the game starts we see our coach on the bench. We imagine what he has been through and we love and support our team, our coach and our players because Futbol Club de Barcelona is part of our lives. But when the whistle blows, the game is the game. And we worry about insignificant little things, like goals and such.

Still, when the camera switches back to Tito we remember how awesome and beautiful and poignant life is, even though it is also heartbreaking and rarely fair. And it puts a smile on our face…until the camera pans back to the pitch, that is.

So welcome back, Tito! Benvingut. May you be blessed with many more years because yes, life is more than a game.
















For his stay in the French capital, a city of crappy restaurants in a country of excellent food, Chef Tito prepared a ratatouille of Valdés, Dani Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Alexis, Messi and Villa. Within minutes Busi did his best to justify his automatic starting spot by almost scoring the opening goal when he poked the ball past the keeper onto the inside of the post. In light of fairness I should add that it was the wrong post of the wrong goal behind the wrong keeper.

Paris-Saint Germain looked the most dangerous of the two teams for the first thirty minutes. In tried and proven fashion, they kept a lot of men behind the ball and looked to create chances on the break. Victor Valdés did very well to prevent us from having to chase the game. Ex-Barça player turned Pep-hater turned Leo-lover Zlatan Ibrahimovic came close to scoring twice. For our colors, el Cerebro almost opened the account with a delicious curler.

Slowly but surely, we settled into a rythm that let us do our thing while having to take great care to not expose ourselves to our opponent’s counter attack.

La Puce














When we don’t create opportunities in big games I get antsy. Given our record in big games this year, this happens even more so as of late. Who better to scratch that itch than our very own Flea?

He was not having the best of games, to put it mildly, but after Dani Alves’ sumptous pass with the outside of his right foot that brings to mind the ball skills and flair of the great Brazilian wingers of the early seventies, the Argentine killed it like a poacher.

One-nil for the good guys. Finally warmed up, Leo served a further reminder of his class by wriggling free and almost putting a second in the top corner. However he seemed to have pulled a muscle on that action. The last minute of the first half were spent standing hurt by the sideline waiting for the break. He was not to return afterwards, and Fabregas took his place.


Contrôle du Match

controle du match











The last twenty minutes of the first half and the first fifteen of the second half were characterized by an exceeding control of the game. We did not give up any shots over a period of 35 minutes during which we probed for scoring opportunities ourselves, sometimes successfully.

Busquets tried from a distance, a skill that I would love for him to possess – although I don’t foresee that ever happening. Jordi Alba also tried and Alexis Sanchez uncharacteristically *clearing throat* fluffed two good opportunities.

We should have killed the game here, while the Parisians were submitted. However with Villa largely invisible, Cesc as our false nine and our midfield trying in vain to carve out any more clear chances, we did not such thing. Admittedly the Brazilians Thiago Silva and Alex make up quite an imposing defensive duo.


Hors-jeu et autres décisions bizarres

Paris Saint-Germain











What do you call a 6 foot 5 Swede that stands two yards offside? Goal!

In a bizarre sequence of events the arbitral team turned the game on its head. Dani Alves, one of the standout players on our side, got fouled quite hard deep in the French half of the pitch. While he was sprawling and squeeming on the floor (granted, he does do that from time to time) Paris Saint Germain broke out. At almost the exact opposite spot where our wingback was assaulted tackled, Wolfgang Stark booked Mascherano for a foul I am still not sure was a foul.

We cleared the free kick and tried to break out through Villa. El Guaje was called for another foul which in fact could have gone the other way. This free kick was headed onto the post by Silva after which all Zlatan had to do was tap it in.

At one-one, the score was equal with eleven minutes of regular time left to play.**


Justice (première partie)

justice 1













After a deft pass by Cesc, the first Chilean ever to play for Barça combined very well with a truly moronic effort of keeper Salvatore Sigiru to give us the game.

A penalty in the 89th minute, gratefully converted by our captain on the day, Xavi Hernandéz.

The bad taste left in our mouths for the non-call of the German linesman well and truly rinsed. We had our justice. Right?


Justice (deuxième partie)

justice 2

It is only justice for Barcelona if we don’t let the lead slip away. PSG had been more dangerous than us throughout various parts of the match. Valdes saved our hides a couple of times. Ibra missed a short-ranged shot by letting it hit his shin before his foot. Their defense had a constant outlet in their star striker who, although not an aerial threat, will use his body and strength to receive any long ball played from the back.

Ten seconds before the end of the game the equalizer fell. A quick build-up resulted in enough room for  Blaise Matuidi to shoot the ball goalwards. A slight deflection off of Bartra was sufficed to offset Valdés’ reaction, who despite his earlier heroics really should have stopped the shot. After he got a full hand on it, the ball rolled over the goal line  at an agonizingly slow speed.  Justice for them, and a definitely more complicated home game to follow.


La parfaite réponse de l’enfant merveilleux…ben…presque!


You can bet your house on the fact that few culés were as excited as I was upon watching Alexis play today. He was as involved against PSG as he was uninvolved against Celta de Vigo.

His constant movement and looking for space when in possession and chasing down space when out of possession were evident from the start. He showed confidence with his touches and rarely turned the ball over – he even created and took a shot from outside the edge of the box in the first half, something I don’t remember seeing from him in a long time.

This Alexis Sanchez does not get subbed two-thirdway through the game. And I don’t care if two-thirdway is not a word.

He was almost bad-ass. That is, until he found a way to miscontrol the ball and fall over five yards from the goal with only the keeper to beat when presented with the 2-0 on a silver platter. With diamants encrusted into the rim. He then scuffed an almost similar opportunity about sixty seconds later. Damn, Lexus, you’re one frustrating Chileno.

Still, he had a good game and I am very happy about that.

People could be forgiven for thinking that I take pleasure in blasting Alexis the way I did after the Celta game. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, I take cheap shots at some (ok, all) of his misses. Then again, he has missed an obscene amount of sitters in the most embarassing ways this season. I also feel that he played better overall in his first year, which is a big reason why I have been so disappointed with him.

But continue like this, and you will succeed at Barça. And the goals will come as well, you’ll see.


Des opportunités ratées¹⁰

oportunité perdue




















So, missed opportunities. Had Lexus scored either of the two I mentioned above, the game and tie would have been done and dusted. And Villa would not have looked at him with such an expression of disgust (two photos up).  Then again, Villa did not exactly drape himself in gold either, missing the opportunity to make the most of his resurgent big game starting role. He almost had as few touches as the other Maravilla last Saturday, and not once created a shot to threaten the enemy goalkeeper.

I am quite sure that I was not the only one ruing the missed opportunity, if it ever really existed, to buy Thiago Silva last summer. Man, what a player. During 90 minutes of playing among modern giants of the game, he still stood out. Of course he is exactly the type of player that we have needed for quite some time now. Defenders like Silva don’t come a dime a dozen and it is not unreasonable to believe that we would have been solid at the back for years to come with him in our squad.

Last but not least, the biggest opportunity we missed today was the one to win the game. A team of our quality and reputation should not have given this lead away. That we have indeed done just that might come back to bite a big chunk out of our butt cheeks next week.


Le défi¹¹


Let’s be clear: in the first game of a two-legged tie, a multi-goal draw away from home is an excellent result. Any team in the knock-out stages of the Champion’s League would happily take this score back home with them, regardless of the opponent.

Barcelona’s out of Camp Nou experiences on the path towards Rome in our first European campaign under Pep Guardiola were one-one, one-one and one-one.

Two-two is twice as good.

Now with that out of the way, let’s get to the bad. Leo Messi has suffered a muscle injury which first reports indicate will sideline him for three weeks. He will receive further medical checks in the course of the day but is at the time of writing extremely unlikely to play the return leg.

Not counting early Copa match-ups against lower division teams, I recall two games we started without Messi this season. A 3-1 league win over Getafe and a goalless draw against Benfica. Also we do not tend to do well in games in which la Pulga does not score.

In addition Javier Mascherano is out for 6 weeks after our very own left back Jordi Alba cut through some ligament inside his right knee and left him bleeding to die, while we are already missing Puyol and Adriano to injury also.

For reasons unknown to mortal culés, the powers that be have not given Bartra the minutes needed this season to prepare for this exact eventuality. The option of Song, who was bought to cover the holding mid and central defense positions, has been abandoned in this particular case. We cannot count on Abidal to make any significant contribution and to make matters worse, Pique has left the outstanding form he displayed during the starting months of the league behind him.

Not for the first time in recent years, we are entering the business end of the season with a defense that is close to bankruptcy.

So no defense, and no Messi. That is quite a challenge. Let’s discuss how we are gonna meet it during the week to come.

Visca barça!


Barcelona's Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez

“Sanchez likes to dive”

José Ancelotti***



Le dictionnaire

¹ Subway, work, sleep

² Return of the Boss

³ The Opening

⁴ The Flea

⁵ Control of the Match

⁶ Offside and other bizarre decisions

⁷ Justice (part one)

⁸ Justice (part two)

⁹ The Perfect Response of the Niño Maravilla…well…almost

¹⁰ Lost Opportunities

¹¹ The Challenge


**DISCLAIMER The TV set I watched the game on had very bad reception. I am positive that it was a foul on Dani Alves, possibly even a yellow card one, as the player came in with an outstretched leg and kicked him on the foot (along with part of the ball, true). However, if any of you have seen the Mascherano foul and the Villa foul that were given more clearly than I have feel free to come forward (as a matter of fact, I trust you will). To me it seemed Masch did not make contact and to me it seemed that Villa was fouled upon when trying to break free with a sombrero, but I could be wrong on both counts.

***Speaking of which, don’t you just love it that our coaches rarely comment about referees in the way of the Mourinhos, Wengers and apparently also Ancelottis of the world? They make themselves look ridiculous by accusing Alexis of diving (which he didn’t) while their own player was more than a yard offside when scoring the equalizer.

Another note on the refs… I kinda like we have had so many calls against us in so many big games this season… If it hasn’t killed us, it is bound to make us stronger, right?

By Levon

Culé since way before football boots were of the neon yellow and lizard green variety, Levon is a deep thinker with increasingly shallow thoughts. He lives in Barcelona with his gorgeous wife and daughter. The lucky bastard...


  1. Nice review, lucky PSG! 🙂

    All those guys from the previous post who wanted to sell Dani Alves right away … EAT THAT! 🙂 MOTM for sure

    1. I don’t understand. This was not even Alves’ best match for us, this year or this season. Why only now all of a sudden he receives a lot of praise. I saw a similar pattern on the Guardian as well.

      Is it just because of that assist?

      Why is it that some people only notice someone’s performance because of a goal or for a nice bit of trick or something memorable in general?

      I understand over 15 years of watching football that that is the case for an average football fan and the media, but I am quite shocked to find it here too.

      Alves has been at the top of his game for a good few months now. Why does it only take for a nice assist for people to notice that?

      That assist was so reminiscent of one his no look, outside of the boot assist to Messi in Pep’s first season.

    2. It sure was one of his best matches of the current season. In the offense he beat his man every single time and defensively he supported Pique against Ibra. He was everywhere! The assist was only the sugar coating…

      Nevertheless I understand your need for a serious rant at times 😉

  2. I was really hoping that this site is different….but no, still the same blame for Valdes for the last goal. I’m just left speechless…

    1. Wouldn’t rate the quality of a site on the basis of one sentence in one well written review.

      Nevertheless I didn’t saw him at fault for the equalizer either and thought he had an amazing game.

    2. As far as I recall there was only 1 guy who blamed VV. And later on I posted a video showing the deflection.

      Pretty unfair for you to judge a blog because of one or two person who shared a different view as yours.

    3. He might have been able to do better but I agree that blaming him for the goal is a bit much.

      I have read and heard people say Barca will be better off without Valdes. That, in my opinion is utter nonsense. The way FCB play most of the saves the ‘keeper has to make are one v one situations or shots from distance. Few, if any, better in the world than Valdes at that.

    4. And I was really hoping allasFCB would be different…but no, still the same sweeping judgement of everyone on this site based on 20% differing opinions of a few. :).

      Seriously, first of all, welcome here.

      But this is how it works. Someone states why they think one way, and others jump in and state why they think that’s wrong. No insults, just different opinions.

      So, instead of passing judgement on peoples’ opinions, lets hear why you think he was not at fault. That’s what makes this site addictive to me.

  3. I like that guy Matuidi. He is bloody fast. Kept on harassing our midfielders. If only he had a better ball control, I would like him to come. I wish Song was more mobile like Matuidi.

    1. Matuidi, Lucas, Verraatti all were excellent. In fact, I have never seen Lavezzi doing what he did yday, for Argentina. And how poor is Pastore. Never have we seen Alves being able to go past his opponent in every one on one – isnt it. No wonder why Sabella doesnt call him to the NT.
      And Thiago Silva, what a defender. a one man defence, almost.

      Am really scared about our defence for next wed.

      Did you see the guardian blog on the match. Cant beleive the Barca haters increasing in numbers. Now were anybody mentioning about the unbelievable bias of the commenters against Barca players. It looked like Masch and Pique dont have any idea about Off tracks – they are just gambling???? Nor can they defend, they are just into dangerous tackling???? So unbearable it was.

    2. Lucas and Veratti showed flashes of brilliance. They need to do it consistently. But yeah, they are both exciting players. Hopefully they will stay with PSG project.

      My goodness. T. Silva. The best defensive display I’ve seen in a long time. It’s like he was all alone back there. No wonder he cost so much and was made captain straight away.

      Imagine a T. Silva and Varane in defense….

      Haha yeah I commented on Pastore too in the last post. But to be honest, he isn’t a defender. But damn it. At least don’t be turned inside out so easily, all the time lol. In the first half itself I was hoping for Tello to come on the RW and attack Pastore and Maxwell.

    3. That’s what I was thinking during and after the match – the two defenders that have really impressed me is year are Varane and Silva.

    4. You must have been watching on Fox Soccer. Sometimes I just want to turn the volume OFF!

    5. I don’t think it was an American broadcast. The commentators were British by the name of Tony Gale and Bill Leslie. It was only 1 guy who kept on putting Barca down throughout the match that made me suspect him being a Man U/Chelsea/RM fan.

      I believe it was Tony Gale.


      His most bizarre comment was for VV;
      You won’t see a bigger howler than this

      Really??! I wonder if he has been watching football match only a handful of times. Even if VV did commit a mistake, it was by no means one of the biggest howlers. Let’s say there was no deflection and it was his mistake in which it looked like he was beaten by the near post, that is not even a howler.


      We have no chance seeing Alves & Varane don’t we, at least not at Barca. Sadly, we can’t even get one of them 🙁

    6. It was definitely Fox, barca96, I downloaded the same broadcast. The pre-game commentators are American, but the play-by-play comms are British. Gale is particularly awful.

  4. The moment I saw Busi’s face in the camera being so utterly disappointed that the PSG gk only got a yellow, my heart skipped a beat. Why oh why do you have to dig your own hole Busi???!!

    Doesn’t he know that most of the non-Barca fans hate him for him lack of sportsmanship? What a way to build a reputation.

    And Alexis was fouled but the way he fell, I honestly thought it was a dive on first viewing.

    Another one was when both of our players were down, they looked up and looked where the ball was and both simultaneously went down again. Damn. I know sMasch and Alba was injured and had the right to go/stay down but the manner they did it, looking up to see the ball, was very similar to Busi’s peek-a-boo. Sigh.

  5. Levon, in your match preview post over the weekend, I thought it was Kxevin’s review because I skipped the title and author. What I’m trying to get at is that your writing skill is catching up with Kxevin’s. How he adds jokes and ..(a word that escapes my mind). Basically it’s how he relates the subject to another story. That style.

  6. Pique looked back to his best this season but ever since the winter break, he seems a tad slower… Wonder what happened.

    I’ve never gotten a hamstring injury so I don’t have much knowledge of it. I thought that you get it from short burst of sprints.
    I read that Messi’s injury was due to fatigue especially after the gruelling WC qualifiers. Any truths in this?

    1. I’d agree on Pique and I’m just about his biggest fan !

      I think he’s looking a bit tired. Mind you, without having any stats to hand he has played with Masch and Puyol but I don’t recall a lot of Puyol/ Masch games so maybe he needs a rest. It’s also hard changing your CB partner as often as he has. You can’t really get any understanding going so you end up dropping deeper to compensate.

      Can’t see that rest happening anytime soon, though.

    2. Hamstring injuries HURT. A lot! For a long time. Got one playing softball a few years ago after batting while running to first base. It was a sudden acceleration thing. It was instantaneous and I just knew something went. For me it was probably due to not having played for a while and not properly stretching. Did I mention they hurt? A lot?

    3. @Jim

      Yeah I don’t know what happened to him after the break but it’s worrying now because we need him back back to his best. It’s true that he’s being playing non-stop. He is a fixed CB with either Puyol or sMasch being his side kick.

      Btw, I read an article a few months ago where it looked like Graham Hunter took your words right out of here and put it in his article regarding Pique. He must be a lurker 🙂

      So now it’s a thigh muscle injury… Which is worse? Thigh muscle or hamstring?

      Wow Mom. You are quite a sports freak. You used to play basketball and softball and passionately follow Steelers or Ravens I can’t remember and of course Barca. Whoa. What a cool Mom.

      Any other sport that you play or used to play and follow?

    4. I only played softball and basketball in high school and continued to play softball just a bit for a co-ed church team. Didn’t have time or inclination to play in college. I had an academic scholarship to keep and couldn’t risk the time needed to continue a team sport (no, I was never good enough to get an athletic scholarship)There were 4 girls in our neighborhood and 4 slightly older boys all playing together. The boys weren’t about to play with dolls so we all played rather rough and tumble sports related, tomboy stuff and became rather good athletes.

      I only watch soccer and my Ravens. Baseball bores me. Tennis bores me. Golf is a good cure for insomnia, imo. Soccer suits my TV watching time because it’s non-stop (I’m pretty sure I have some ADD issues and the non-stop nature puts it pretty high up on my list). All 4 kids played/ are playing soccer so it’s a natural progression.

      It’s not all sports in my life. I love cooking shows and English period drama. I do all the “mom” stuff, too. 😀

    5. Let’s not forget that baby Milan is probably keeping Pique up at night. Was the baby born around the winter break? That could explain it!

    6. Barca96, Shakira is in the U.S taping THE VOICE. :). Pique might be suffering from some withdrawal issues and loneliness. :).

  7. Damn it!! The return leg is next week. They should’ve made it at least at least weeks so that they have enough time to rest and what not. I can’t remember a tie being played in 2 weeks in a row. Maybe it was recently changed.

  8. – Ibra really sucked in front of goal yesterday. As much as Sanchez if not worse.

    – That Lucas Moura is pretty good eh?

    – I thought Xavi had a pretty poor game.

    – Thiago Silva was immense. Our transfer decisions continue to baffle me. We’ve missed out on players like Ozil, Martinez, Silva who not only offered things we were missing, but also dreamt of playing for us.

    – Another defender bites the dust. If El Rey is really healthy we could really use him now. Masch’s injury makes the extreme reluctance to buy a CB even more ridiculous now. If we are not confident in playing Bartra or Song there for the return leg, the only option out I see is Busi at CB and Song at DM.

    – The amount of ref calls that go against us in the CL is absurd, too bad the opposite is believed. I guess people want to see what they want to see.

    1. To your first point, I was surprised that Ibra wasn’t criticized more. He did have some good opportunities lost, but he was constantly dangerous similar to Sanchez. I guess he gets a pass for how many important goals he’s scored for PSG this year.

      I hope the theme this year is not about transfer opportunities lost. We survived a tough beginning this season, and it seemed we were fine, but now it rears its head again.

      Busi at CB isn’t a better option than Bartra surely. We have seen how that works, and PSG certainly has enough mobile options to take advantage.

  9. hey barca 96,agree with you on alves.he has been terrific for the last 2 surprise there he is the MOTOTM.

    Alexis he is so frustrating.forgot the 2 chances,i screamed at him when he didnt pass the ball to villa.impressive performance apart from the finish.

    Villa was as involved as alexis in the celta game.

    Dissapointed with iniesta.defended well but after the messi sub thought he would assume responsibility.

    Anyway,alexis in the central role with villa as the focal and pedro in the right we shouldnt worry bout scoring.moreove many in the blog will be happy to see the energetic alexis in place of the lazy messi.

    T silva was great but too much praise for him imo.noting exceptional.if the 2 chances were buried we wouldnt have talk bout that.

    Still i wish save color copy i m the champion of frugality rossel spend 30m ön him instead of a 20m purchase of song who though a good player was not a necessity.

    Beckham was not pressurized for a single moment.sprayed the ball ala alonso.

    Btw if we ever wanna find a replacement of xavi it should be veratti.

    VV we will miss u when u r gone.

    So at the end of the day it is bartra who has to play in the defence in a highly pressurized atmosphere of the ironic. Thank you rossell and also to you the coaching stuff

    1. Hey, good to have you back. Yeah, Alves is definitely back to his best. I hope he gets rested over the weekend though. He hasn’t had a rest lately. Even Messi had a rest prior to the Milan match and after the FIFA break.

      To be fair on Alexis, one of the chances that he had where he had to controlled it, wasn’t as easy as it looked. He had defenders breathing down his neck and he is not as technically gifted as our La Masia players hence the poor (er) first touch.

    2. BTW in regards to Beckham, I’m surprised he wasn’t pressured more. I’ve seen him lose the ball under pressure in the MLS more than once, and well, the gap between those players and ours… But to be fair he received the ball very deep and picked out his passes fairly quickly. But still opportunity missed.

  10. btw nice unbiased review @levon.
    My favorite right now in the blog.

  11. on another note ibra for me is never great in the cl,especially in the ko.he seems to me nervous when playing these types of games.his touch,vision deserts him somehow

    1. He did get a created a couple of chances last night after beating Pique and others. I wouldn’t call it a bad game like the commentator did but he did create a lot of trouble for our defense.

  12. Thinking back, I cannot believe we are unable to keep the possession when it matters the most. I mean, to use possession as a defence. Towards the end of first half and beginning of second half, we held the ball very well. Why couldnt we do that after our second goal. Isnt it only a right thing to do in such moments, to see the clock tick through. If we were good at it, we would have done this well, not just in ydays match, but many other recent matches too, including the Milan4-0.

    Just a question came into via this thought. We keep the possession very well, when the opposition let us do it. When the opposition is in real search of a goal, we struggle to keep possession and we let them create all chances.

    1. Now, of course, we have done this in many other big games, when we really are the great Barca. For me there are 3 Barca face – poor like in the Milan first leg, Ok like y’day and Great like the many big matches in the past 5 years. When we are poor and just Ok, we cant defend with possession.

    2. You raise an excellent point. We havn’t been that team to keep posession as a method of ‘defence’ for a few seasons now. We were kings at it during the late Ronaldinhio era (who was probably close to the best at it).

      An local analyst said it best here. There are two Barca’s – the good Barca (which we have seen today). And the Excellent Barca (which was on display against Milan for the 4-0).

    3. True. We can’t keep possession for some reason. The last time I saw them doing it as a means of defense was in Milan. After that, they were rushing things even when under no strong pressure. Strange. Gimme back the boring (in the eyes of the haters) Barca.

  13. For all the people whining why we didn’t sign Thiago Silva, here’s your answer.

    From Wikipedia.

    “On 14 July, it was announced that Silva had signed a five year contract with Paris Saint-Germain, completing a €42 million transfer to the French club.[10] It was reported that his wages are in excess of €185,000 per week, around €14 million a year”


    1. We are the Barca of 2001-2004!

      Whatever you score, we’ll just go and score 2 more. Defending?..what’s that?


    2. At first I thought what the heck, we might as well go all out and bought Silva instead of Song but I forgot to take his wages into account. That’s massive. No way he would’ve gotten anything close to that kind of wages.

      Unless he doesn’t mind being in the 3rd bracket then it would be okay.

    3. were it up to me, i’d take Thiago Silva over Neymar in a heartbeat. i’d take him just a quickly over Cesc Fabregas. the club should have pushed harder for him that summer, and now we’ve seen the cost of putting the emphasis of our transfer policy towards flashy attacking players rather than where it’s needed.

  14. Agree with most of this. However, for me I wouldn’t let Alexis anywhere nearer than the bench for the return. I didn’t see any improvement in terms of taking on and beating his man or quality of shooting/ finishing to think he would be worth a space at home hen hopefully we’ll be attacking most of the time. At one point I was even thinking of posting that he passes back more often than Maxwell ( who by the way had a pretty good game) ! In a sense I’d agree that he would be the natural person to play in the Messi role behind Villa but I just don’t think he has the first touch to do it.

    Villa didn’t have a good game but suffered from the lack of Messi running at the defence. Before he got hurt he wasn’t in the game much and afterwards there was nobody to do it. In the return, though, with no Messi Xavi and Iniesta may have to take more chances with quick through balls to him.

    Have to take issue with those who thought Xavi and Iniesta had poor games. I thought they controlled the match brilliantly after the difficult start.

    Last point, I agree with the comments on us needing to man up. Still too much diving and feigning injury for me. Easy seen Puyol’s not around….

    This return is gonna be so interesting. It’ll tell us lots about ourselves.

    Finally, finally, sorry to hear you’re stepping down, Kxevin. Don’t always agree with your points but you’re always worth listening to and comments are always thoughtful. I also appreciated the times when I’ve been fighting a lone battle and you’ve come in just to even the sides or keep it civil 🙂

    Hope you keep posting and look forward to more abrasive comments now you’re not shackled by being a Mod !

  15. barcastuff‏@barcastuff14m
    Official: Messi being available for Wednesday’s Champions League game against PSG will depend on his recovery #fcblive #ucl

    Official: Messi, who was subbed off against PSG yesterday, has a thigh musle injury. He will at least be out for Saturday’s league game

    Fb Messi: “I will return soon, thankfully it was not so serious. So sorry for Masche, we will give him our support .

  16. 2-2 not bad. 2-1 would have been amazing.

    My bet for the return leg:
    Alves, Pique, Busi*, Alba
    Song, Xavi, Iniesta
    Pedro, Messi**, Alexis***

    * I’m assuming that if Abi were ready to come back for a game like this, we would have already seen him in a lesser game. If we had been seeing Bartra occasionally then maybe he’d be ready. Pique better not pick up any stupid cards. What’s up with Alba and stupid cards, too?

    ** You can’t keep a good flea down. Just an educated hunch.

    *** defensive frailties require wings that defend well. Villa can be a super sub.

    BTW, Why can’t a person get back into a LB when she leaves? Said it was over capacity?

    1. Oh, and for this weekend’s game, bring out the Juvenil A team for all I care. Everybody else gets wrapped in bubble wrap for Champions League.

    2. Because we don’t have a paid account with CoverItLive, we only get a certain number of “clicks” for free, which restricts the number of users. It’s unfortunate, but unless someone wants to stump up for a membership that’s the way it’s going to be. It only really becomes a problem for “big” games when more people come around.

    3. I get that. But it wasn’t crowded and I was more interested in being a reader than a contributor. I was at work so I was mainly lurking. Oh well, hubby kept me moderately well informed by texting me (had trouble with espn’s gamecast too so it could have been a driod thing).

    4. It doesn’t have to be crowded. There are plenty of people who “click” to read the liveblog anonymously without joining in. Obviously we would prefer if only those who want to contribute to the discussion come, but we can’t prevent people from reading.

  17. Good morning everybody. Thank you for reading!


    “I was really hoping that this site is different….but no, still the same blame for Valdes for the last goal. I’m just left speechless…”

    This site is different. It was by far my favorite Barcelona website before I started reviewing and we will work our butts off for it to be that for others also.

    However the opinions in my posts are mine alone and are not necessarily representative of those of the rest of BfB team. We are all different, after all.

    I knew at the time of writing that I would be quite alone on this blog at saying that VV should have saved the shot.

    Whenever a ball gets deflected, the goalkeeper is excused. I don’t agree with that. Victor got a full hand on the ball. That means he could have stopped it from entering the goal. In fact, he almost did.

    I have not a single doubt in my mind that he went home thinking “damn, I should have had that”. Any top goalkeeper worth his salt would have.

    Did the deflection make the save a lot more difficult? Yes. Was it unsaveable? Definitely not.

    These are the breaks. It’s not like I am blaming Valdes for the defeat*, eeerrrrr…draw!

    But again, other people such as yourself might have a different view. You are more than welcome to come here and disagree with me!

    emmm I didn’t write any preview. I think that most would agree that my writing style is very different from kevin’s (let alone our view on the game, lol) but thank you for the compliment, the comparison is a very flattering one!

    *thanks for pointing that one out to me, k_legit!

    1. I think that’s part of VV ‘s problem with the Barca fans. He doesn’t seem to get cut much slack at all. Once a ball deflected you are in the lap of the Gods. In trying to turn back he ends up folded ontop of his knees leaning backwards. Can’t get the slightest purchase to move back the way in that situation. Try it. If he got a hand to it should that have been enough? Maybe, but any deflection puts a lot of spin on a ball. Just not sure why he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt when he saved us big time at other points in the match.

    2. @levon

      Sorry. I meant review. Of course your writing style is different. Everyone has their own style but for a few seconds I thought it was Kxevin’s article. Your last preview was very good. And I love it when there are some jokes included like how Kxevin always does.

      I do think that it was savable. But you need a really strong arm for that. I was a GK for 2 years (mainly because I sucked when I started playing hehe) and was even asked by one of the Sparta Rotterdam and many more to go on a trial at his club either as a player or GK, went for GK in the end and failed miserably. Anyways, I did get some saves off deflections but I can remember them being more whereby I had my arms stretched out.

      I guess that is easier to save that a ball coming at you close to your body. It is harder.

      But strong arms and hands alone is needed because I had a hand in many penalty kicks during practice sessions but the ball still went in. But in this case, it is not just the case of strong arms as the ball was too close to his body for VV to apply a lot of strength.


      VV had a great match indeed. My top 3 Barca player.

    3. Thanks for your perspective! Very good points.

      I think at the top level the difference between “could have saved” and “should have saved” is very small!

    4. Thanks for replying, Jim.

      For me it is not about cutting him slack. Just like I praised him for some of the saves he did make I knocked him for letting the second one slip through his hands. It happens. And nowhere did I overreact as fans often do when their goalkeepers make mistakes, e.g. call for his head.

      I believe we should try to convince VV to renew his contract. If he does not want to then we should try to convince him to serve out the remainder of his contract.

      That’s how much I believe in him. And when he lets shots pass that I think he should stop I will continue to call him on it.

      “Once a ball deflected you are in the lap of the Gods”

      True, because who knows what trajectory the ball might take, right? But Matuidi’s shot still came pretty much right at VV. In the lap of the Gods, but not out of reach of our goalkeeper.

    5. But Matuidi’s shot still came pretty much right at VV. In the lap of the Gods, but not out of reach of our goalkeeper.

      But like I mentioned above, it is harder to stop the ball on close to either side of the body as compared to a ball that requires you to stretch your arms out.

      Or perhaps that was just my personal weak points as a GK 🙂

    6. I wrote that before reading your reply.

      Like I said, the differnce between stopping that ball or not is extremely small.

  18. Current injury list:

    Mascherano – 6 weeks
    Messi – 7-10 days, just possibly “fit” for PSG game.
    Pedro – possibly fit by this weekend? Almost definitely available for PSG game.
    Adriano – end of April
    Puyol – 6-8 weeks

    Xavi & Alba may also not be 100%, carrying thigh strains.

    1. Perhaps it may have been easier to list the “fit” players. 🙂

      I’m starting to think that buying one defender is not enough. Maybe two… one world class and one utility?

    2. Jeez…

      I don’t think Messi should play against PSG. Also, could we just send out Barça B to this weekend’s league game so that the rest can rest?

      @mom4 You do have a point, but I think that after Neymar we should use the remainder of the transfer kitty to buy the best CB on the market.

  19. That Ref was horrible. Whats going on? Second game in a row I have seen refs meltdown in comical ways.

    That first PSG goal was a travesty in how it was called by the ref from beginning to the end. I’m with Lev here, the foul against Villa could have easily gone the other way, because Villa was blocked. Lets not mention that foul on Alves that was ignored.

    Alexis is either not a good striker or severely lacks confidence lately. I can forgive misses, but I can’t forgive bad basic striking stances. Why fall away from the ball when one on one with the goalkeeper? Atleast Ibra had good form on his one on one, he just got nervous and rushed his shot…thats’ always been his big problem.

    Valdes is getting a lot of support here, which is great, but I’m still of the opinion that we can improve that position. He may not have been entirely at fault for the 2nd goal, but he didn’t cover himself in glory either.

    To understand why Valdes was less than competent for that goal, you have to go back to Messi’s goal. Sirigu thought Messi would go near-post and high, but Messi went far post and low. What did Sirigu do? He re-adjusted his position, transitioned quickly and led with his leg, which was closest to the ball. Messi still scored but Sirigu put himself in the best position to stop it.

    Now, let’s review what Valdes did. Granted, the ball took a deflection, but I honestly don’t know what Valdes was trying to do. It seems as if he wanted to slide across the ball and ended up having his leg tangled up under him. If he leans to his left and the ball is deflected, he could have led with his leg and easily kicked at it.

    But my main issue with Valdes wasn’t that. In my eyes, I’ve never really rated his shot stopping skills as much as I rated his ball playing skills. To me, he has lost that plot this year spectacularly. In this game, his problems started around the 60th minute, when he resorted to just booting the ball forward. It gave PSG too many chances with the ball. That second goal was a direct result of an attack being relaunched immediately after Valdes boots it upfield. Just like that first Milan goal was relaunched after Valdes booted it upfield. I’m sorry guys, but Valdes has lost the only thing that set him apart from other goalkeepers.

    1. My only beef with Victor is that he no longer is the best goalkeepr in the world. In the 2009-2010 season he was, imo.

      Right now he is top 10, maybe. It is very hard to say. This is a position where players are judged on five, six actions per game.

      Casillas is also top 10, regardless of the consensus outside of Barcelona that he is top 3. He just has not had that good of a season.

      It is very difficult to get a top 10 goalkeeper. When you do, you should hang on to him. The grass is not always greener on the other side of the goalline.

    2. Valdez doesn’t punt the ball if there is a decent option to play it out. I’m happy to relook at any occurence where this isn’t the case. Towards the end of the game they pressed up on our bakline much more which made playing it out more diffucult. long kicking by keepers is something that plagues a lot of great keepers – Joe Hart for one.
      I also saw nothing wrong with his shot stopping skills in this game.

      Lev, I’m wondering who you would rate above him in Europe currently ? There are very few top goalkeepers who don’t have howlers to their name, even just this season. I don’t regard him as the best overall goalkeeper but he is certainly imo the best goalkeeper for Barca. If we don’t have to, I’d be reluctant to spend more on possibly getting less.

    3. Not true Jim, watch it again. He ignores players close to him so he can kick those balls upfield. Pressing is not the problem. Like Guardiola showed, you can spread players across the field and create tones of options. Now Valdes just signals ask his players to go away.

      I have watched too many attacks being launched against us this year, immediately after Valdes boots it upfield. The two goals I just mentioned are the most recent I can remember…but there have been many close calls, desperation blocks and goals as a direct result of those kicks. Kicking the ball forward is a low percentage game that a team like Barca shouldn’t be playing.

      It’s funny because at the world cup, I hoped Del Bosque would have the guts to bench Cassilas for Valdes because of those upfield kicks…

    4. I was being purposefully vague with talking about a top 10, as I don’t think the ranking order could be as clear for goalkeepers as it is for other players.

      There are Czech and Buffon, obviously. Casillas. Neuer also despite the fact that he has not been as solid this season. Courtois and Ter Stegen might be up there already. Cesar is making quite a comeback at QPR. I really like Stekelenburg and I don’t quite understand how he has managed to mess up at AS Roma

      Victor is definitely among the best in the world. He might be top 5 but he is no longer as undisputed as one and a half seasons ago. Howlers, for one. Being known for gaffes during the first half of his career he hardly made any from 2008/09 to 2010/11.

      No longer being as decisive in the one-on-ones as the years before (the amount of times he saved us during 2009/2010 was incredible – we would not have won the league that season with any other keeper). And he has made very little “absolutely incredible” saves over the last one a half season also, including last night’s game.

      I love De Gea’s ability to save the shots that have already broken your heart before you realize that your GK has somehow kept them out. I am not saying he is already better than VV, but for me he has great, great potential.

    5. Some of his actions are head scratchers. On Thiago Silva’s header, why was Valdes falling down when the ball is up high? And when it hit the post, why does he slide across the line then falling backwards covering the least amount of space instead of attacking the ball while trying to spread himself as much as possible? On the second, I’ve already mentioned having his legs tangled beneath him…Huh? What goalkeeper does that?

      There have been too many instances when I watch and rewatch his actions trying to figure out what he is doing, and I honestly just end up having a Keita face, Huh? What?. It’s as if he shrinks because he loves to fall backwards, right where he is standing.

      Now, I’m not saying he is at fault for those goals, but he really doesn’t give himself the best chances to stop them. That’s why I’ve never really rated him, but like I mentioned before, that’s not my main issue with him.

    6. That second goal was a direct result of an attack being relaunched immediately after Valdes boots it upfield

      But who else besides VV himself and Pinto wouldn’t have done the same thing? I can’t remember that scenario but I reckon VV had no option to pass cause otherwise he would’ve done it.

      Would you rather have Pinto in goal since Pinto plays the ball too instead of hoofing it up. If not VV or Pinto, who do you reckon would’ve played the ball out of the back in that situation?

    7. Btw, the fan’s favorite GK now Neuer has had many blunders this season. Comical ones too, on Pinto’s level 😆

    8. The point is, it doesn’t bother me that he is leaving because he is now just like any other goalkeeper minus incredible command of his area.

      If he still played balls out of the back, I would still give him support. I don’t like players that lose confidence that badly or the ones that start playing for their own reputation and not how the team needs them to play.

      By the way, there is no one to play the ball to because he instructs them all to go upfield.

  20. I hope Malaga go through to the semis..As much as I admire BVB, Malaga deserve something for all the effort they have put in this season…

  21. The very fact that people are arguing about whether or not the ball took a deflection means that it was the tiniest of deflections. But the issue I had with the save attempt by Valdes was that he was a good two feet out from the goal line when he attempted to stop it. There was no reason for him not to have been back on the line and it would have given him that extra half second to react to the shot (+/- deflection) and make a better attempt at stopping it.

    Having said that, there’s no reason why they had the ball in the first place. We give too much time and space to opponents in our defensive third and it makes me nervous as hell whenever even one of them brings the ball into that area and our players just stand off him and simply gawk.

  22. So uhmm, since I apparently can’t go a day without contradicting myself, I loved it when Dani Alves ripped the referee. Absolutely loved it. So much that I want to know what you think, too, so I put up a post about it.

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