Match Comments: Atléti vs. Barça Supa Copa


Here we go – the team is in Madrid for the start of another lengthy season where numerous clasico games will be played against Real Madr…. oh wait a minute, it isn’t Real Madrid?  It’s Atlético Madrid?  Damn – we’ve swapped a Mad Mou for a Snarky Simeone.

Kicking off at the ridiculous time of 23:00 CET (there are CL qualifiers being played earlier & apparently the Supa Copa couldn’t possibly be played at the same time), the game will start on August 21st & conclude on August 22nd. Bit like a cricket match.

At least the club has paid the city for the Metro to remain open longer after the return match in Barcelona. Usually, it shuts down at midnight on weekdays. This caused us great angst after once attending a 10pm mid-week CdR game, only to find that the metro had closed & we had to find an alternative way home. A couple of bus trips & a few hours later, we were home just before 3am. We did wonder why the stadium had started to empty out about 20 mins before the game’s end. Some people were in the know.  We were not.

Simeone has played down the significance of this match for his team; saying that it was probably more important for Barça to win it.

Don’t believe him. He’ll most likely field a strong frontline – ooh – something like David Villa, Diego Costa & Léo Baptistão. Falcao who?

Martino has indicated that Xavi will possibly not be starting, so it may be a Midfield of Iniesta, Busquets & Cesc – perhaps Song instead of Busi.

The Attack will be spearheaded by Alexis, Messi & Pedro. In goal will be VV, and the back-line will be Alves, Piqué, Mascherano & Alba.

At least, that would be my team.

Adriano is missing. No! He’s not injured! His red-card tackle on Cristiano in last season’s Supacopa keeps him out of this game. Apparently it was far, far worse than a poke in the eye on the sideline.

Click this link to convert the 23:00 CET kick-off time to your local time: SupaCopa

And please share any good streams in the comments for those who can’t view it on TV.


Visca Barça i Visca la Samarreta de la Senyera!


  1. Sergi Roberto for Xavi would’ve been welcome just about now. But he’s not in the squad. JDS is.

    Not a knock on Xavi, his delayed pass to Alves for the assist was lovely, like playing at a whole different speed for all three players involved. But Chameleon eyes played 90 minutes on Sunday.

    Maybe Tello in, and Cesc down to midfield?

    1. It was stupid, which he’s prone to do, but that was made a meal of. I’m not sure it deserved 3 full rolls around on the ground. pathetic.

    1. Definitely Jim. I’ll take that. Hostile environment. Early season form. I like our chances at the Camp Nou. I’d like to see Neymar start that game in place of Pedro. Have Adriano play in place of Alba. If Messi is not right then play Cesc false nine.

  2. Whistle. The boys chummy with Villa, Neymar basking in adoration of fellow Brazilians. Not too many conclusions to draw here, we’re obviously not up to game speed yet (thank you, overseas tour from hell), Tata is still figuring it out. Props to him for the early subs, but what’s up with Xavi playing 89 minutes?

    1. I don’t think we ever had enough control of the game till the last fifteen to be able to take him off. Pity as he’s needing to be used more sparingly. Maybe if Messi had stayed on he could’ve dropped a little deeper to replace him.

    2. He’s not going to be there forever. He’s not going to be there when we need him at the business end of the season, if this goes on. Thiago wasn’t good enough? Ok. There is Cesc, Sergi Roberto, JDS, Song. Like the frontline has to learn to cope without Messi, the midfield has to suck it up and do it without Xavi sometimes.

  3. So are they gonna develop an alternative tactic (Plan B) or keep clinging to 4-3-3 false 9 like glue and blame performances like this on a lack of pressing.

  4. Great result from a tough, grueling physical game in the heat, and the Calderon. Atletico is never easy, they use their physicaility well. Tata found the right solutions. Cesc a brilliant sub for a possibly injured Messi. Changed the dynamics completely. And Pedro had a difficut night, so in comes Neymar and snatches a goal. From an Alves cross! Good signs. We have solutions. We have plan B’s

    Bad Busi. Iniesta in “ghost” mode, i.e. disappeared. Alba was beat by Diego Costa – the man is a monster. And clever. And he has the face of a total gangster.

    Interesting to watch the early moments as the game settled into “they kick us, we dive” mode. Got pretty ugly there for a while, and absolutely no respect for the ref. This is the ugly side of the Spansih league.

    All in all, a good, bad, and ugly game.

  5. Well fought draw. But we really need to figure out how to not get overwhelmed in the face of intense pressure. More than the bus, that was our greatest weakness last season.

    Not happy with Jordi Alba though. Seems to be the exact opposite of everything we need in an LB. Short, aggressively high up the pitch even when there’s no space for him to run into, bounced off the ball easily, and such a play actor.

    The exact opposite of Abidal basically.

  6. when messi plays theopposition crowds the middle, when cesc comes on, he is neglected and space is freed up in the middle. Pedro has lost his place in the starting XI, couldnt beat a single defender off the dribble, he’s one of the players that makes width become stupid

    1. I was thinking that this was one of those classic games where Messi’s presence actually hurts our play more than it helps – Atletico seemed to have us on lock down until he left. Of course he was playing injured and might have grabbed a goal at any minute. But I loved the way Cesc’s entrance changed the dynamics completely.

      I wouldnt count Pedro out yet. He had a bad game tonight, up against an in-form Juanfran and Diego Costa on his heels. . .

  7. Some thoughts:

    Alexis was on fire. He was everywhere and everywhere he was hell was raised. He combines with Dani very well on the right side.

    Glad Messi got subbed. I hope we get him off of the lazy cautious regime that his physio put him on during the games that allows him to play 90 minutes every game. A new more intense Messi that doesn’t play every single match would be very much welcome

    Cesc, for me, is one of a kind. Every time he plays he just adds so much composure and stability. He’s really growing on me.

    Iniesta drifted in and out.

    Xavi was ok. I liked the Song sub, but wanted it earlier. I’d like to see what Song can do offensively when we have Busquets on the field.

    Pique and Mashe were impeccable. Very solid performance by both of them.

    Atleti played their asses off, but I didn’t really like the hostility. At one point in the first half of the match I wanted to stop watching as it didn’t look like a game of football anymore. I know they were asked to play intensely and use their fitness to their advantage, but c’mon one stupid move can end somebody’s career.

    Satisfied with the result. We’ll take it home second leg.

    1. Classic Barça-Atletico.
      Agree that Alexis was really active and dangerous, but Im a little concerned with some of the hesitation. I suspect his confidence can just as easily weaken if he doesnt keep getting goals. And he still tends to get muscled off the ball more often than not. But good to see him out there hustling. Hoping for a better goal-haul from him this year.

    2. Martino: “Bartra not on the bench, no centre back there? If needed, my idea was to bring in Song and for Busquets to play as centre back.” (barcastuff)
      Waaait a minute.. Has he SEEN tape of Busquets at CB? In an actual match? Surely Marquinhos, Mathieu or Rami or just about anyone else would’ve been an improvement? So our bench is a guy who’s had about 40 injuries in his 14-year long illustrious career, and another guy who wasn’t played by the previous manager, and apparently won’t be played by this one? I must be forgetting someone? Oh yes, Adriano! Um… I guess I’ll just get myself a drink. Interesting times ahead.

  8. adriano should be first choice LB,he’s more solid defensively in games like this and we could use an out of the box volley

  9. official site at this point makes nothing of it and only says he had “muscle pain” (‘molestias’ — ‘bothers’ or ‘pains’)…doesnt say he will be subject to tests or anything like it usually would, so hard to say.

  10. Barca’s biggest problem is that it is soft defensively in the middle of the park. I love the fact that Barca has regained the forward press. But Xavi and Iniesta just don’t help out enough. Further, teams just drop off Xavi, so I’m not too sure what he really contributes.
    Song should replace Xavi I’m afraid.

    1. Song replace xavi?

      Your pro-song bias has officially gone too far man. He’s a mediocre player who should not have been bought and is not up to barca standards. Should have stuck with keita IMO.

    2. Which part of Xavi’s game is better than Song’s?
      It pains me to say it, but the game has passed Xavi by. Opponents just drop off him, block his passing lanes and make him into an east-west player rather than a north-south one. That would be OK if his defence was good. But it’s not.

    3. “Which part of Xavi’s game is better than Song’s?”

      Vision, footballing IQ, Passing range and ability, understanding of the system, leadership…. Should I keep going?

    4. Lots of people spend all their lives backing received opinions, and joining the consensus,and miss so much.

    5. I’ve also always been a big Alexis fan (unlike many on this blog). Guess I was wrong there too…

    6. You telling me that he couldn’t have played better than Busquets, who kept coughing the ball up in terrible positions. Absolutely lousy game

    7. Wait a minute. You go from arguing that Song should replace Xavi to settling for Busi? Stop while your ahead…oops…I meant behind. 🙂

  11. Zubi said that messi only suffered a muscle bruise, If that’s true then it’ll only take him a few days to recover.

    1. yah official site now says it is back of his left thigh, provoked by a ‘contusion’ — probably a charlie horse.

  12. Valdes

    Pique. Mascherano


    Alves. Alba

    we are exposed defensively. Effective teams like Dortmund, Bayern, Madrid, will finish us off so easily

  13. I dont understand, Neymar takes freekicks for Brazil. He spends extra time practicing freekicks with lucas Moura while on international duty.

    Yet Barca get a freekick and he shows absolutely no interest whatsoever. Why? I dont get it.

    Also Alexis Sanchez. He was everywhere. I think all our best chances fell his way.

    Also… Games like these make me realise how much we lack athletism. I know you cant have it all but still its our opponents go-to strategy to take advantage of our lack of it.

    Finally, Alexis Sanchez.

    1. Totally agree that we lack athleticism. And the big problem is in the centre of the park with Xavi/Iniesta when we lose the ball. We’re way too soft and good teams WILL kill us off.

    2. We’ll also lose the ball a lot more often if neither Xavi or Iniesta are in there.

      Are you seriously suggesting benching both of them?

    3. Nope, just benching Xavi.
      Xavi doesn’t lose the ball much because he’s not put under pressure. Teams just drop off him so he does lots of easy east-west passing. Watch the game. Then, when we do lose the ball, he’s a liability.

    4. I seem to remember Xavi making a North/South pass against Levante that maybe only Messi would be able to make as well. That was in the middle of a brick wall on the edge of the box. Xavi is just fine. He wasn’t playing high up the field this game. That’s why he wasn’t being pressed as heavily as the other players. They didn’t start attacking the ball until we were near their box. It was Ineista’s job to keep it then, which today, he didn’t do very well. How often will that happen? Not much, so I would urge caution in the face of 1 game.

    5. MESSIAH10 – But that’s the whole point. Xavi doesn’t play high up against good teams and they drop off him. As a consequence, the biggest contribution which he can make is not offensive, but defensive, and that is just not his thing.

    6. Just off the top of my head, the pass to Cesc on Sunday, his run into the box for his goal and the pass to Dani for Neymar’s goal last night. I think we do all watch the game but there aren’t many who reckon either Xavi isnt put under pressure or that Song is a better midfielder than Xavi.

      We won’t find many teams putting us under more pressure in the middle of the park than last night but because of our passing game they tired badly towards the end. We also won’t lose many better one touch goals than last night.

    7. I would substitute athleticism with “size and strength”. Atletico was bigger, stronger, and more aggressive. They also foul a ton.

      But I agree – we definitely have issues with bigger, stronger teams.

  14. This match was awesome and yep, it’s footy season as my heart was beating at a 1000 beat per min. Barca was a bit off their game in the first half be it thought that, Athleti were brilliant. They wouldn’t let us settle down and that threw us off. It’s a good result for us, away from home with a draw in a very intimidating stadium.
    What I learned from this match, Alba should NEVER play these kind of games as he is easily wound up and I think Adriano is a better defender. He play acts a lot and is easily frazzled. Bad enough they still go on and on about busi’s past so, the squirrel needs to tone it down a bit.
    Wonder why Messi is getting all these injuries and why they don’t let him fully recover before bringing him back. Just like last season at the Calderon, Barca played better when Messi came of and Lexus played even better. Too bad he couldn’t finish off the chance he got.
    I kind of liked Villa sticking it to the players and giving his all for his knew club but, he was just being an asshole though. VV didn’t like that.
    Overall, good result and Ney was finally baptised today. Great goal that was. Visca Barca.

  15. One final thing I would like to say is that Atletico really targeted Alba in this game.

    There were so many diagonal balls angling in his direction.
    It reminded me of his match-up against Hulk in the Confed Final where similar tactics were used.

    We will be seeing a lot more of this. I Bet.

  16. Now that everyone have calmed down, It’s time to for me to comment about the game:
    Nothing out of the ordinary happened in this match honestly, In fact i couldn’t help but to feel a nostalgic feeling, It’s just the same old, Same old tactics from the all time classic ‘How to stop barca’ guide, And semione followed it to the letter:
    1-Stay compact
    2-Stay disciplined
    3-Use physical play to thwart their rhythm
    4-Maintain all above 3 steps as long as humanly possible

    But just like old days of pep, Unless your blessed with a miracle no one can’t maintain this for 90 minutes, And it simply wouldn’t work in camp nou.

    I predict 3-0 back home.

  17. Deliberately haven’t read any of the comments (yet) because I don’t want my impressions colored by others’. Overall I thought we played well. I don’t know if Messi was unfit from the start or picked up a knock during the game, but he looked completely listless out there. Can’t remember the last time we improved so much when he LEFT the field, but there you go.

    Xavi and Busi were brilliant, Alexis grew into his own in the second half. Pedro and Alba continue to worry me for different reasons. The more I think about it, the less Alba makes sense in that spot, esp if Adriano can stay fit (hahahaha).

    Also nice to see VV’s short passes back, hated that longball shit from last yr.

    1. The last time we improved so much after Messi left the pitch? Last year at the same stadium when he got hurt and we were down to 10 men and we eventually won that match.

    2. Sorry. Now I remember, it was a guy called Diego. He’s been missing for quite some time. Hope he’s alright.

  18. Briefly:

    — People waiting for the “old Pique” to come back should stop. This is it.

    — Alba was shit. Worse, he was a joke. Appalling behavior, and owned the entire match. For me, a more questionable transfer than Song. Every opponent targets his side of the pitch when he’s in there.

    — My MOTMs: Mascherano, Sanchez, Fabregas (even with his “I’m here. NOW what?) dithering.

    — Give Messi as much time as he needs to actually heal.

    — Yes. The Villa goal was well taken. And if he could do that with somebody around him, he would have cost more than 2m.

    — Neymar did exactly what he was brought on to do: make a difference. Brilliant cross from Alves, too, one of the 2.3 good things he did this whole match. And no, we haven’t before had someone to score goals like that.

    — The first half lack of movement was ridiculous. Like the players were uninspired. And it wasn’t just Atleti. Iniesta was off, Xavi was subsequently off.

    — The Old Pedro, Recent Vintage was back. He was on the wing, unable to find space because he can’t beat anyone off the dribble. He thrives on space. Without space, he’s just a dude passing the ball back to Xavi.

    — Fabregas is a random chaos generator. His movement and passing are exceptional. He just needs to shoot. Now.

    — Atleti will not play a better match. We probably won’t play a poorer one. I like our chances at home, with or without Messi.

    — Sanchez was in beast mode. Still isn’t a striker at heart, or those two chances, probably one gets put away. But Courtois deserves some credit, as well. He came up huge for Atleti.

  19. Why don’t we give Alba’s spot to Pedro and Pedro’s spot to Neymar? Would Pedro really be a worse LB right now than Alba?

    1. It’s not a bad thought because Pedro certainly has the straight-line speed needed, and endurance. Only question is whether he could adapt tactically, and only God knows that.

  20. Oh, yes, and mascherano was flat-out magnificent. Why bother buying a CB when you’ve got Mascherano.
    And don’t tell me that he’s not very good at the set-pieces. If Barca play their game properly there shouldn’t be many set-pieces. And they will only play their game properly with a smaller, agile player like Mascherano at CB.
    You can’t have everything in life.

  21. For a two leg cup final, a 1-1 draw away in a hostile environment is a good result for us.

    Our performance wasn’t bad, and NO this was definitely not like our performances against Bayern.

    Some thoughts.

    – Atletico played really great, staying compact and moving very fast on the counter. But overall atletico still created very little chances. Our tackle success rate was probably our most improved aspect of our game.

    – Like against Levante, again lets not jump to conclusions and giving up hope on our squad’s ability to perform. This season is long, and we were never going to solve all our problems two games into the season. This is a season long challenge. Let’s wait and see what Tata and our staff have in store for us.

    – One issue that I think Tata should address over the season is our lack of discipline in the closing minutes of a half or full time. For example Seconds before half time we gave away a stupid corner that gave atletico a golden opportunity to grab a second goal. All because we pointlessly tried to play the ball out of a crowded defense when Valdez instead should have cleared the ball out so that the ref could blow for half time with no worries.

    – I tend to back Pedro, but I have to agree he did struggle to create anything on the ball. BUT, which player in our team didn’t struggle? I understand why Tata started Pedro, 1. he is currently the most fit forward player behind Alexis in our squad and 2.Apart from Messi, Pedro is the only attacking player in our squad who can score goals. Alexis is a great dribbler but not so much a goal scorer. I was surprised though that Pedro doesn’t take long shots more often, he ain’t that bad at it.

    1. Apart from Messi, Pedro is the only attacking player in our squad who can score goals

      I think you missed the €57 million Summer signing that scored in the 66th minute 😀

  22. Didn’t watch the match but saw some highlights. This is my take on some of the viewpoints expressed here.

    1) Cesc – Cesc definitely is playing really well and there was an argument for him to start. But those who believe that Cesc would have been an ideal choice with this kind of opposition pressing in midfield, tend to forget that he(when played in midfield) usually goes MIA when exposed to these kind of pressing. He has been playing exceptionally well when deployed further up in the pitch and form me it made sense for Tata to start him on the bench.

    2) Alba – He might have been crap while defending. But stop pretending that we didn’t knew that. Two seasons back everyone used to lament about Abidal’s reluctance to go forward like Alves does. This is what happens when you have a similar full back on the left too. You cannot play with two flying full back and one defensive midfielder. You wanna use them, then install a double pivot in the middle and then use them.

    3) Villa – Some are seriously angry at the celebration. But I always expected a celebration from him. After having to be deliberately sidelined and overlooked for majority of last season, he had something to prove. I think we would have seen a bigger celebration had Tito Vilanova was in charge! That goal was brilliant, it was a miniature version of that brilliant Zidane finish.

    4) Messi – His injury streak worries me. But what worries me more with people saying we played better with Messi absent. I think we said almost similar thing in that La Liga outing prior to that PSG second leg. I think in that match also Sanchez and Cesc was brilliant and people were claiming that we didn’t need Messi for the second leg against PSG. But once the real thing started at the Camp Nou, Cesc went MIA and we knew what happened from thereon. Bigger, compact and strong teams used to close Messi really well. One of the reason why they do this is we play him solely as a center forward. I think may be in situation like these, Pedro or Sanchez should move to a classic 9 role and create space for Messi in front. One of the reason why we played better could be Atleti took it a bit easier after Messi was subbed out, maybe I don’t know. Think if Ronaldo is not present in next Clasico, I guess Alves will remain more or less camped in Real’s box. Maybe something like that.

    1. I was just going to comment about the Messi factor after going through the comments and saw your point.
      Very true, Atletico played differently without Messi, they were a bit more relaxed (tired already) and a bit less compact, and this helped us to do better than in the first half. Thats how I felt it.

  23. Anyone notice how the Spanish FA appointed the two refs that really(and I’m using the term loosely)always let Barca get clobbered without punishing the opposition that much for these super copa matches? Mallenco and Lahoz for the 2nd leg. The former is the worst when it comes to Barca. I think we haven’t won a game for the longest with this ref although, he did save Busi from a second yellow.
    It’s also appalling how the Spanish fans get away with monkey chants all season long. Dani Alves and also Ney when he came on and surprise surprise, the ref didn’t put it in the match repot 🙁 and of course our board don’t say a thing either.

  24. Crazy, I predicted before the game Villa would score. And he did. At 55 Minutes, I said to my friends that the game would end 1-1 and Neymar would get one. And he did!

    Anyways. Some observations from the match :

    – In the first half, I thought Xavi was really poor. There was no confidence when receiving the ball under tight spaces. There were some uncharacteristic wayward passing and some poor control of the ball. He is getting muscled out pretty easily.

    – Alexis was a total nuisance to Atletico. If only he had stiker’s instincts, he’d be the complete package.

    – The ball didn’t move fast enough or precisely for us. And our touches and runs weren’t as measured as usual. Atleti made us very uncomfortable.

    – Alba is not a defender even if he can defend. We need more height in our backline.

    – Mascha, as usual was a boss. He reads the game better than any of our defenders.

    – I liked that Villa celebrated. And what a goal that was! This guy isn’t finished yet and he showed us, stuffing it to those who are saying he is a ‘has been’. Tata saying he would have liked to coach el Guaje makes me sad.

    – Tata needs to come up with proper solutions for the problem of aggressive physical teams. We clearly do not have the muscle, athleticism or height to cope.

    – Messi’s injuries worry me. How is it that he was 100% fit throughout all of Pep’s era, while playing every single minute of every game?

    – I liked the calmness of Tata when we weren’t getting our shit together.

    – Song needs to be given more confidence by our staff. When he is confident, he is a unique weapon we do not have. Just like Lexus.

    – I think we will win this tie with a 3-1 win at the Camp Nou.

  25. For the whole first half, it felt like we were looking at a replay from some big match, last season.

    Xavi, Iniesta and Pedro had a poor match. Our midfield was terrible

    Masch and Busquets were excellent. Masch, especially, is growing into our main man.

    Talk about all rotation, and I wonder, why Xavi started. It is better we start him for the big matches, right? Ya, yesterday was the big match, but then why didnt we rest him on Sunday.

    Within a few minutes, I was wishing for Cesc to be in. This is the kind of match, which suites his directness rather than Xavi’s control.

    Messi, why is his injury occuring again and again.
    Teams play us differently with and without Messi. This, I think, is the reason why we managed to find some more space in the second half. Atletico was a bit less compact in their defence in the second half.

    I really liked how they played in the first half – a lot of heart, synonymous of Simeone.

    We looked exactly like the team of last season playing the big teams. No difference at all. Only the Neymar goal was different.

    Masche and Puyol plays with their heart. Pique doesnt. He is brilliant on form, but he is not consistant at all and this makes me think that, it will be disastrous if we dont have a new CB.

  26. our opponents have evolved and they easily use physicality and athletism to nullify our tiki-taka. As far as they are concerned,we can dominate midfield and have 100% posession, but once they out-muscle us and win the ball,they counter-attack on the spaces left by our fullbacks. Xavi has been superb since the Pep era but now, the game has evolved. Cesc should be starting over xavi to enable us transit from defence to counter attacks. We can’t keep on playing tiki taka week in, week out. Sometimes we might just have to do a man utd,plant bodies in ur opponents box and keep on launching balls in. I know our players are midgets but there’s no way our opponents will not miskew a clearance that will be to our advantage. And plus,we neymar and cesc have decent headers and we could use Pique as a 9. Better still, we could use some adriano volley from outside the box. Adriano definitely should be starting over alba cos, he is more solid defensively

    1. Simeone on more than one occasion praised and admired mourhinio’s ‘winning at all costs’ mentality that he gives to his players, So there you have it.

    2. aroundd the 30sec mark there’s an Athletico “You’ll Never Walk Alone” banner…what’s up with that? any Liverpool connections?

    3. Let’s not jump to conclusion. I admit, I was furious too after seeing the signal. But as time passed by, I was waiting for Miranda to strike Messi’s hamstring but it never came.

      So it could be that;
      a) Godin indeed asked Miranda to aim Messi’s hamstring or
      b) Godin was merely telling Miranda that Messi is hurt.

      It could be much clearer if they showed the time of the match it happened. If the time to the half time whistle was just like in the video, it really looks like “b” is closer to the truth.

    4. Sensible comment.

      I am not sure, but I think that is immediately after our first goal. Remember, there were three people on Messi and there seemed to be a foul, but ref didnt call. It was this lost ball, which went into our goal. And actually after this, we didnt see anything from Messi at all (before that there were some moments). Xavi was taking even,all the free kicks. I guess, that must be when he got hurt.

      I could be wrong, though. But being a Simeone lead team, I will not be surprised if Godin actually meant that.

      I am wondering, how did this video came out. It was definitely not part of the telecast, right? I dont remember seeing it live.

  27. For the rest of this season, whilst he’s wearing #22, can you refer to him as “Abidalves”?

  28. to some extent, its good messi is injured now so we learn how to play without him. Was getting fed up with everything having to be for messi. If we were going to have tactical width, it was going to be to create space for messi. If david villa would play as 9, it was going to be to allow space for messi. If villa would be on the wing, DITTO. If … It was going to be for messi. When are we ever going to play messi at RW, Neymar at LW and Pedro or Lexus at ST? Is false 9 our birthright? It use to work but it doesn’t now. Every team playing against us alters its tactics. Why can’t we evolve? Can’t we implement our philosophy through another formation? Until we evolve,we will keep on meeting teams with cavity wall set-up

  29. Official: Messi is suffering from post-contusional intramuscular hematoma (Muscle bruise), He is doubtful against malaga.

  30. It seemed to me that the first half Athletico was not the using the “new and improved method to defeat Barca,” but a throw back to 2 years ago, Chelsea style. NIMDB ™ is to keep a high defensive line and pressure in the middle third and higher, isn’t it? (Bayern/Mourinho)

  31. I watched the match and thought it was one of the worst performances that I’ve seen from us.
    Valdes wasn’t bad in goal.
    Alves lost possession numerous times but at least redeemed himself with a rare good cross for Neymar’s goal.
    Pique didn’t have a bad game but gave Villa too much space for his goal. Good in possession and made quite a few interceptions.
    Masch had a good game as usual, but given his characteristics he is as good a centre back as we can hope for.
    Alba was bad, just plain bad. There was no space for his over lapping runs and he was just safe in possession but in defense he was just bullied.
    Xavi was awful, bar that one move which opened up space for Alves to produce the cross for the goal. He was slow, cautious and unproductive.
    Busquets was good in possession at times but gave away far too many fouls and was very lucky not to be sent off.
    Iniesta was very poor, probably the worst I’ve seen him play in quite a while. No forward movements and didn’t take anyone on.
    Alexis was better than most and when he was playing with Cesc in the second half he was much more confident, I think that Cesc makes him a better player.
    Messi wasn’t himself and looked uncomfortable all night.
    Pedro was disastrous and failed in every attempt to pass forward or take on a player. He was absolutely terrible. Whether it’s Neymar or Tello or Cesc or whoever that starts in his place but he shouldn’t be starting the big matches.
    Cesc himself had a decent match and should have had a penalty but in my opinion he should be starting these kinds of matches.
    Neymar was decent too without doing a huge amount except the goal, he opens up space for others and that’s always a good thing though. He will need to curb some of that temper though because there are too many ‘clever’ players in La Liga.

    Atletico spent the whole night bullying our players. Diego Costa should start every match with a yellow card because he is an asshole.

    The match was a good eye opener though, it was very tough and there were no spaces for our team. Maybe we’ll be treated to a much better second leg

    1. I certainly didnt think it was a bad performance but not our top form either. The problem was that Athletico went full on from the start knowing thy couldn’t keep it up in the hope of going ahead and then sitting in. They were pretty cynical about this at times and it took us a little by surprise. Having said that we should have moved the ball a little quicker. However, this was not Xavi’s fault. He struggled like everyone the first twenty minutes but after that he began to get a hold on the game. Anyone advocating Cesc for games like this has a short memory as he just can’t cope with numbers piling in on him. Iniesta was poor and it hurts me to say so but he wasn’t the support to Xavi that he should have been. Maybe not match sharp.

      Defence didnt actually do too badly. Alba wasnt great but he will be better, Pique and Mascherano played well. Don’t know how anyone can have a go at Pique after that game. He was a rock. If you really want someone to have a go at on their goal, and you shouldn’t as it was absolutely brilliant, then look at Dani Alves. Talk about jogging while Rome burns
      … !

      Villa’s goal was the absolute answer to those who have been saying that he is finished. His part in it was stellar and the reason he didnt do it with anyone around him is that he comprehensively lost various members of our defence on the way. It still galls me that we were foolish enough to waste his talent. Nothing to do with Messi losing it either as we had our other ten men goal side at the time.

      In the forward line Messi was struggling from the start for me. I just don’t think he was fit. Pedro was poor and I don’t know where he superlatives for Alexis are coming from. I reckoned he had one decent run which might wll have led to something had he not been fouled and he rest of the game was very average. Not faulting his effort here. Cesc is looking up for it though and I’m impressed by his movement. That doesn’t mean he could cope in Xavi’s absence in a big game as I don’t think he would.

      Neymar isn’t match sharp yet but we saw a glimpse of his natural scoring ability and you can’t teach that. All in all a good display against a very determined, organised and talented side. We should take them in the return.

  32. Apparently the Bale deal is on and almost done, 98 mill euros plus Coentrao. Should be finalized or announced tomorrow.
    As for new talents and the search for them, including a CB for us, was wondering when did the last time a talent came out from the former footballing glorious countries such are Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria…Surely there must be something worth a look over there. In the end, some of the best players n history came from there.

    1. Players from that region still seem to do well in England, such as Vidic, Berbatov, and Modric. Although they haven’t had a Stoichkov-level of player for a while.

    2. Accidentally replied there. Was supposed to reply regarding the players from that part of Europe.

      I too notice that it’s been quite there. Many years ago like more than 5 years ago when I still watched a lot of football, there are some exciting youngsters but they never grew into good players.

    3. It was not meant for former Yugoslavia players, but these other countries.
      The last good thing from there was Berbatov, and that’s around 5-6 years ago, even more.

    4. Don’t expect such a player to come out if those countries any time soon. I am originally from one of them and the situation there is the following:

      1) The well organized talent development system that existed prior to 1989 was completely dismantled and not replaced with anything. It used to be that coaches would walk around all the playgrounds in cities watching for talented kids then pick them up and develop them. There is nobody to do that anymore

      2) The kids themselves aren’t even interested in playing the way they used to back in the days – it used to be that you could not find a place to play because all school and street playgrounds were occupied all day. Now you cannot find anyone playing.

      3) The end result is a drastic reduction in the size of the talent pool and that talent pool is feeding into a youth development system that is decades behind the rest of the world.

      So don’t expect anyone on the level of Stoichkov or Hagi to appear anytime soon.

    5. I’m secretly hoping for a Bale deal because that will mean an unhappy Cristiano. Despite what anyone thinks, CR has been the biggest thorn on our butt these last few years. I sense an implosion.

  33. Athletico’s pressing was bad ass.

    – They were overly physical and made it into a pub brawl rather than a football match.
    – I think our players saw that they couldnt play their normal game nor did the referee prevent bad challenges from Athletico and hence started falling down as soon as someone even touched them. I don’t blame them for this.
    – Athletico cut off all the passing channels every time a player had the ball with 3 and sometimes even 4 players. They know that our players prefer playing the short pass and will not play a long ball (not just a random long ball, even a simple pass to a player who is unmarked but at some distance).
    – Speaking of long ball that is exactly how the goal came about. 4 players surrounding Alves and the player next to him. This leaves Neymar free. Big mistake. Goal.
    – Busquets needs to buck up. He is extremely slow compared to the previous few seasons.

    Overall I think we need to tweak our game based on the opponent sometimes.

  34. SC has always been a glorified friendly. Some of our players are still in pre-season shape such as Ini. You can tell that our players who had more pre-season training like Masch and Alexis were sharper. I think Sergi Roberto would have done better, and dos Santos at least as well as Xavi for this early match.
    I agree with others that this was a game suited for Cesc though I think he has been giving good signs that this year will be better than the first two. AM is also on pre-season form so they were too tired by the second half to keep up the intensity. Upcoming Liga dates with them will be interesting as they have the physicality to trouble Barca, and their confidence has grown in the last two years. I do hope they start giving RM real tests in Liga. Guaje is still one of my favorite players.

    Neymar is getting by on pure natural ability at this point, but he is the real deal, a natural goal scorer and exactly what we needed to escape Messidependence.
    I’m a bit worried that Messi was jetting around on causes this summer instead of getting a proper rest. Expect Tata to put the lid on him for Malaga.
    Rapid fire succession of tough games: Malaga in 4 days, AM in 3 then Valencia in two. Martino already gave that signal that he will rotate when he subbed Messi two games in a row. We’ll see if he is as good as his word.
    I expect to see Montoya, Bartra and Roberto, maybe even Song and dos Santos to start in Malaga.
    Normally, I would be happy to give up the SC to get a good points lead in the league but this time I would be willing to settle for a draw in Malaga to win the SC at Nou Camp, then win at Valencia. Due to having a new coach and the CL drubbing, Barca needs to send a message by taking home a trophy right away.

    Alba and Pedro can be overwhelmed by physical teams so I expect to see Adriano and Neymar start in the second leg. I think Tata has been using Ney as a sub partly to send the message that everyone has to fight for a place in the team and no one is guaranteed a spot due to their name, but its coming sooner than later that it doesn’t make any sporting sense to use your second best player sparingly.

  35. htmillbay, good point regarding this being a friendly fitness for all our spain/brazil players. still our players never want to lose. atletico played a great game yesterday.

    masch in postgame said pitch was poor, very dry.

    1. Yes, we will see this kind of pitch in just about any away game. Next week in our stadium I expect to see a 3-0 or 3-1 win.

      Btw, we’ve always discussed the lack of a Plan B. Usually, that has always meant getting a traditional big number nine to head goals. However, Cesc, Neymar and Roberto may actually be our Plan B. It will be interesting to see the Barca style evolve to a post-Xavi era.

  36. Messi definitely out for Malaga, and a doubt for the return leg next week. This is as it should be. That man needs to rest, and heal.

    — Transition defense needs a lot of work. If you look at the Atleti goal, our players seem to be trying to run back to get in front of the ball, rather than picking up the man nearest to them and running with him, and teams good in transition defending do.

    It strikes me that counters will be the primary means of attacking our defense.

    1. Messi can be on the bench for the second leg on a break glass if needed basis. That will allow Tata to start Alexis, Cesc, and Neymar as the front line – a combo that seems to have good chemistry.

      Counters and set pieces seems to be the best ways to score on Barca due to a high line and short players. Thus the need for a pacy and not-too-short CB. Perhaps our next CB signing should also be a converted DM but one taller than sMasch. But as you say, it’s the defensive system especially transitions that still need a lot of work. AM is good practice since they are good enough to trouble us and expose our weaknesses, yet not good enough to beat us.

  37. A stat came out that prior to the PSG match in which he pulled up injured, Messi had played 88% of all possible minutes for Barça. Wow. That is WAY too much. Something around 70% probably workable, my ideal would be 60-65%.

    1. This doesn’t tell the whole story, For example he has by far lowest distance coverage per match compared to his team mates.
      Pep and tito found it more suitable to lower his workload for the sake of playing him more minutes, Because messi’s impact on a match doesn’t directly correlate to how much effort or distance he puts, His presence by itself can turn the outcome of a match.
      I wouldn’t mind reducing it to 75%, Now that the intense pressure is back.

    2. Lowest distance covered because of all the minutes he plays. I’d rather have a full-pitch Messi 60% of the time than a quarter-pitch Messi 88% of the time.

    3. Full pitch Messi equals havoc for opposition defense which in turn equals more goals for Neymar, Alexis and Pedro..or atleast thats the theory

    4. You didn’t seem to pay attention to my comment Kxevin.
      There is simply no need to have a full-messi 60% of the time if he can still win us matches by playing with quarter of the effort and thus play win and help us win more games.
      Last season is the best example, Where tito removed what ever defensive duties he might had with pep which decreased his workload further, But surprisingly, He goal stat risen up, Specially in away games which helped us secure a historic la liga.

    5. I absolutely did. You are suggesting that more Messi on the pitch is a good thing at a diminished work rate. I am suggesting the opposite. This club is of sufficient quality where it can subsist without Messi.

      We beat Levante 3-0 instead of 7-0. What’s the harm? As kosby notes, many goals start from turned possession at the other end of the pitch. He’s our best ball winner as well as our best goal scorer. Whether he steals a ball and feeds Pedro for a goal, or scores it himself, it’s still a goal for Barça.

      I care nothing for his individual stats. I just see the result of a team that used to attack AND defend with 11, now defending with 10, and I don’t like it.

      It’s funny how we question Guardiola and Vilanova for some things, but not others. If they were fallible in some ways, couldn’t they have been fallible in that one?

      P.S. On a different note, never, ever assume that I am disrespectful enough to reply to a comment without reading and understanding it. Such an action would undercut the spirit of this space and the quality of its discourse. As one of the founders, who understands the value of that quality and respect, rest assured that such a thing will NEVER happen.

    6. What could be a cause for concern however were the reports that Guardiola lessened Messi’s (defensive) workload to avoid muscle injuries.

      Martino has the Pulga going all out for less than 90 minutes and he has had two muscle injuries in one month.

    7. This is where we disagree, I don’t think we’ve reached the point where we can subsist without messi, His absence was severely felt in many of the games he missed last season.
      Neymar is a major step toward a capable messi-independent team, But he’s a work in progress, I don’t expect him to take any major responsibly until next season, At the very least.
      So who’s going to take over the burden in the other 40% of the games?, Last season we had the luxury of 11 points ahead of EE, But this time it’ll be neck and neck, And we’ll need messi even more, Even martino himself knows this, That’s why he’s planning to substitute him as much as possible so it can add up later to a full game of rest, Without having to be forced to droop him off from an entire match and risk losing points.

    8. Maybe it’s just me, but for 60 goals a season and over 20 aszists,, if personally buy him a lazyboy arm chair and place it outside the other teams ’18’.

  38. What a nice gesture of Nate Robinson to wear #10 because of Messi. I was surprised when he went up against the Superman (Dwightmare) many years ago in the NBA All star dunk contest. He’s a midget amongst the NBA players.

    Messi should send him a signed autographed jersey.

    1. This is the kind of thing that a professional image management team does in two seconds. It’s a boon, that gives them the opportunity to brand build in a whole new arena. But then a professional management team isn’t trying to skirt tax laws, either, because it understands you can’t do that kind of stuff.

    2. Hm, FCB is located in Europe, even southern Europe, and therefor professional management has not the same meaning as in England or the USA.
      And that is good and that’s one reason I like this club.

    3. This happened a while back, more than a month ago. Messi have him a shoutout on his Facebook, thanked him and welcomed him to the ’10’ club.

    1. Actually it wasn’t just the picture, i deliberately watched what will happen in that second or two between them last night, and yes, it was just a cold handshake, nothing more.

    2. Watching it live it looked like the minimal contact possible to avoid making it obvious to me I’m afraid, as I like both these two. There’s no doubt in my mind that one of the reasons we hardly saw Messi and Villa together was down to some kind of coolness between them which is bad only in that I’m now wondering if Messi has more sway in team selection than he should have….. Or maybe I’m just tired and my mind is over active.

    3. Nope, you guys are not wrong, I definitely noticed coolness between the two of them during the handshakes. Villa was warm with all the other teammates with a smile on his face, but when he got to Messi, the smile was gone and replace with a cool nod. Messi also barely looked at him. Yes,I think there was something there.

    4. I thought most of them only shook hands bar his close team mates like Xavi, Iniesta. But I did remember that they didn’t warm up to each other while the rest who shook hands all at least had a warm smile.

      This sounds like a gossip blog now hahahahahha.

      Ultracule, any truth in this?

  39. Denis Suarez signed a 4-year contract with a release clause of 12M, to be raised to 35M once he makes the first team.

    1. I always find it strange that we always sign players on 4 year deals while Madrid always sign players to longer ones.
      They often sell players at a profit and we hardly ever do.
      Once people know we don’t want someone we basically give them away while Madrid sell players like Higuain at a profit.
      Maybe it’s just me

  40. 3M aka afellay today had surgery on his leg, not sure what, and recovery could be 4 months. good luck Ibi.

  41. OT: excuse me for asking his question which is non Barca related but, why did Mou and Karanka part ways? Jus curious coz they’ve been together forever.

    1. Karanka was Mourinho’s assistant only at Madrid, managers normally take a local assistant to help them familiarize themselves with the club and its culture.
      He had an ex-Chelsea player as his old assistant at Chelsea and an ex-Inter player at his assistant there so he chose Karanka when he went to Madrid.
      I’m not sure who he has as his current assistant but you get the pattern

    2. They’ve never been together before Madrid as far as I know of. Karanka is a Madrid man. I think he hoped that Mourinho will take him along to Chelsea but that didn’t work out. And in the end, he was sacked, not even an offer to coach their youth teams. All that sucking up to Mourinho didn’t lead him anywhere 😆

    3. Thanks, I always had the impression they’d been together or long the way Karanka was always sucking up to Mou.

    4. They look good together though it must be said. It looks like they’ve been together for ages.

    5. I think you’re talking about ‘Rui Faria’ not karanka, Rui Faria is a fitness coach that’s been with jose mourinio since his days with porto until now at chelsea.

    6. Blitzen, you just got me in trouble because I burst out laughing in the middle of a meeting!

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