Video Analysis: Alexis vs Atletico Madrid Aug 21st

We are three games into the season and suprisingly, Alexis and Pedro have started every game. Messi is out with a muscle injury, O Ney is acclimatizing/gaining muscle/learning Català and Tello, well, Tello is being punished or something.

Assuming that La Pulga will soon be jumping around the skin of the defense and leaving goalkeepers with unscratchable itches… Assuming that Cesc is a false false nine who should be looked upon to relief Xavi and/or Iniesta in the midfield… Assuming that  Neymar will indeed earn starting status – and judging by his last two 30-minute cameos the future sure looks promising… I guess we can safely assume the third attacker will be one of Lexusor Pedro.

Possessive of an impeccable attitude, Pedro has long been protected by the fans for having played two excellent seasons (’09/10 and 10/11) who are finally coming around to the idea that he has basically underperformed since then. Alexis’ solid first season was followed by a four month stretch of the Chilean missing every possible goal-scoring opportunity known to man. Some culés were calling for his head, to which others responded, “yeah, but he moves well and tracks back a lot.”

So how well does he move and how much does he track back? In this video of the game against Atletico de Madrid at the Calderon I have highlighted Lexus in yellow before the play develops.

He actually regained possession five times during the course of the game, which, for a forward, is a lot. He is consistently the most dynamic of all our attackers by offering himself to receive the ball or creating space for others to run into. He missed two chances, both blocked by an excellent Thibaut Courtois*

Alexis’s movement and defensive contributions are a constant and in this aspect he is already better than Pedro, who has often been lauded for the same attributes. Also in his advantage are his trickery and his phsyicality. While true that he regularly struggles to get past his man he still poses more threat on the ball than his Canarian counterpart and he definitely uses his body better. Scoring wise, both are coming off of the back of poor seasons and I am one of many who often critized Alexis’ wastefulness. With the opportunities he gets playing for this team, it is not unreasonable to expect fifteen goals.

However, form is temporary, class is permanent. Now that he is playing with more confidence we are starting to see the player many of us thought we had bought from Udinese, as he is finally adapting his firestarter playmaker role to life on the wings. He lacks the decisiveness of a superstar, but the aptitude of moving well and regaining possession, while basically being a pest for the opponents’ defense, could turn Alexis into an invaluable complementary player in a frontline shared with Messi and Neymar for years to come.






*One of the things I like about Sanchez is that the play never stops for him. When he loses the ball he immediately moves to get it back. Against Atletico when Thibaut stopped his first scoring attempt he recovers at once and passes it to Cesc, who should not have wasted any touches and shot it with his left. Alexis’s second chance is not in the video because his starting position is not on camera. A better finisher would have volleyed it.

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. Neymar loses the ball, runs right back, regains the ball. It’s nice to see.

    Feel like we’ve got a little more working in the last few minutes. Time to turn that into a goal.

  2. We won the cup but this is a worrying trend. When was the last important game we won outright? The second leg vs Milan?

    1. How many important games have there been since then apart from Bayern?

      This was a very difficult game and was never going to be anything else. We have two or three players not up to speed yet and that was the most thuggish display I’ve seen from a Spanish side against us since…… well probably RM at some point.

      Great to see some love at last for Valdes. It was maybe all that energy he saved from not appearing at the Qatar photoshoot 🙂

    2. The PSG games were important, the CdR games vs Real, the league game vs Real…
      Atleti were vicious. It became ridiculous at one point. And what’s worse our players will be the ones to be blamed.

  3. That was a horrible match. Our team done the best they could seeing as Atletico had no interest in playing football.
    They are going to make life hard for a lot of teams this season.

    I hope at some stage we decide that a suitable plan b is not having to play against 9 defenders every time by actually counter attacking every now and then

  4. Though we were very good in the face of some amazing fouling. At least 27, I think. Athletico know that in a game like that the ref will be reluctant to send anyone off and they played that factor to the hilt.

  5. What a thug team. Dirty, dirty, dirty. What kind of retroactive punishment can be taken for the stamp since this is a SuperCopa game? Overall I’m extremely pleased with how we played. No, we didn’t create many opportunities, but that’s hard to do with 10 men behind the ball. They didn’t even come out against Busi when he had possession in their half. Sad tactics by a sad team. I almost hate them as much now as EE. Almost. 🙂 VV obviously stands out for me with 2 great saves. Again. He rescues are fragile defense more times than I can count. I wish he’d stay for next season and the season after so we don’t have to find a replacement, b/c no one will replace him. I thought Xavi had a good game. Buis was excellent. Our CB’s were. A bit disappointed with some of Dani’s final balls, but can’t fault his effort. Neymar needs to check his spikes and get longer ones! My god what was going on there. Messi was constantly shirt pulled and hacked and no yellow on most of them. Heck, no foul on mmost of them! I’ll take the nil nil with those cheap tactics.

    1. Fully agree!

      Disgusting display of pathetico … they for sure did not come to play football

      Winning like this makes it half the joy

    2. Stomping someone’s leg or arm is bad enough on its own but at least it usually does not lasting damage.

      Stomping on someone’s spine wearing cleats is really really dangerous – there absolutely has to be punishment for that

  6. I had some sneaking admiration for Atl Madrid and it is really down right now. Not just the fouls but he in general dirty play Atletico did was awful to watch. They will be a tough team to beat this season.

    As for the match, the simple fact is that when a good team puts 11 players in their own half, it is very difficult to defeat them. Atl are a very good team and they can defend. Even when Barca played at top of their game in last few years, good physical teams who put 11 behind the ball were trouble. And it is true for all teams.

    Tough match and Copa in bag.

    Main problems for me are still defense, especially Alves and Alba combination in same team and lack of quick passing in the middle. If we do not improve these aspects, the team will have obvious weak spots.

  7. And how the hell Gabi got a yellow for protesting after committing at least dozens of fouls, cheap, ugly, dirty, unprofessional fouls, is beyond me.
    Anyway, this is Simeone at his best, back to the roots.

  8. The most worrying thing about these 180min of football was that Atletico created way more opportunites than us even though we had vastly more possession. I really thought after Bayern hammered us last season the club would have had a bit of introspection. But No….

    The same false 9 formation, the same strategy, the same players plus Neymar. You have to question the logic of a team to get beaten 0-7 on aggregate and not even attempt to change something substantially. It strikes of arrogance a false assumption that our tactics and style of play is so superior that if we play well we’ll always win despite clear evidence to the contrary. How many teams beating us on the counter when we’ve had 70% possession will it take for the coach to try something new. Even something as simple as playing a double pivot as a plan B. Playing Messi as a 10 behind a striker or even playing him out wide? But No, same formation time and time again.

    1. Can’t create a lot of chances without space. Bayern was frightening because we were outplayed … different story.

    2. “Well why don’t we give up our possession, Pressing, And just throw our entire style out of the window, What the hell let’s just sign mourhinio (sic) while we’re at it….”–Rami, upstairs.

      I fear it will take much more than a 7-0 to change the dogmatic indoctrination current at our club. It would take a manager with balls, an administration willing to do what’s needed, and fans willing to accept change, even at at the cost of short term loss.

    3. The only thing atletico need to ‘create an opportunity’ is for them to kick the ball upfront twice or three times with good positioning, And they’ll be facing an empty space with only valdes in front of them.
      As for us, We’ll need around 8 perfect passes or more with perfect triangulation, In very tight space, And under pressure, Only until then we can create an ‘opportunity’, So no, i don’t think it’s fair to even compare the two teams.

      We always struggled and always will against parked buses, We did back in 2009 and 2010 with two true 9, The best two as a matter of a fact, Eto and ibra.
      It seems with every bump many start calling for a change, They don’t say what the change should be exactly or show how can it be effective, Just change stuff………

    4. I’m saying we must at least attempt to develop an alternate tactic a plan B. At the very least. People acting like Barca has always played a false 9 formation. Let’s be honest the reason the formation is preferred is because we don’t have coach with the balls to move Messi to wing. Ask David Villa.

    5. What’s this has to do with making messi a winger again? he was a winger against chelsea in 2009, And also against inter milan in 2010, But it didn’t make a difference, In the first one we got bailed out by iniesta and the latter one, We simply lost.

    6. I though you first comment was pretty sensible. The false-9 is doing more harm to us than anything especially in bigger matches. I don’t understand why the manager realizes that opponents will not be always awed by it and will employ tactics to negate it. I think Martino is doing some changes to it. But with the current setup we can play nothing but the false-9. That’s because there are no true 9 in our squad. So there is no player who could be positioned as striker with Messi on the wing or with Messi playing behind him, like we did against Milan last season.

      I think against parked buses we need to morph our 4-3-3 to a somewhat a variation of 3-4-3 formation or a 3-5-2 formation whichever you are comfortable with the personals available.

  9. That was a shitty match filled with dirty tactics from AT and one stupid ass ref. No attacking threat from Barca who look like they were playing for the nil nil draw and Messi looks sick and unfit as well. Although Barca have improved slightly on defence, I think they are now lacking attacking threat.

    VV was big in this match. Made some good saves. MOTM!!! We are going to miss him contrary to what a lot of other people say.

    One trophy won, 3 more to go. Visca Barca.

  10. What really pisses me off is how Refs seem to try and “manage” the fouling – as if that will influence players. Dish out yellow cards early and then, maybe, be a little more conservative about handing out the red. That would calm a lot of players down.

  11. It seems that people think that teams playing with 10 men behind the ball is a mortal sin or something. So I assume they must open up so we can play beautiful football and beat them. Get real and most of you should be used to this tactic by now. And how can you say we played better if they created way more opportunities from open play?

    In the last two years I’ve heard every excuse for playing badly in the book. The pitch was bad, the referee was bad, they parked the bus, they kicked us. I don’t see why we must have this holier than thou attitude when we know Busquets playacts, Sanchez and Alves dive, Neymar goes down easily and our players flock around the referee to get players booked.

    Just get on wit playing football and figure out how to get around what teams throw at you. End of. Visca Barca

    1. Martino simply must think of other ways to play, instead of the same-old, tried and tested, 4-3-3, with Messi as the false 9. Would it be terrible to play any different way, rather than the exact same way we have for the past 5 years? Even my grandma knows how how we play and what to do to counter it.

  12. I’m trying to look past the whole “We struggle against a parked bus” reasoning. Few observations on my part, please feel free to contradict them:

    1- Messi dropped too deep initially to recieve the ball with Cesc, Xavi, Dani and Alexis in front of him all within passing range. He started most of his runs with the Athletico midfield in front of him. Ideally he should be in the space between the opposition’s midfield and defence.

    2- If we are looking at a Messi-Neymar combination, both of whom apparently draw defenders, wouldn’t it be better for them to be playing closer to each other?

    3- Alexis was quite ineffectual today/ Pedro definitely can’t beat his marker/ Where’s Tello when you need him?

    4- Leading on from point 1, our backbone starting from midfield is usually Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta/Cesc, Messi. Today it seemed like Busquets, Messi, Xavi, Cesc initially whereas Messi moved higher up after Iniesta came on.

    5- In terms of defence, I think we did a good job against quite a physical lineup. Pique was immense at times.

    1. 6- And most importantly, why aren’t we taking shots at goal? There were almost certainly three opportunities that I counted where we chose to do a cut back pass rather than having a shot?

  13. I’m not gonna say too much today other than this:

    1) The referee today, David Fernandez Borbalan, was a massive cunt and always has been.
    2) VV was huge today even though I’m not sad to see him leave at the end of this season. I’ve never been a huge fan of his. Our club can do better at the position. Nevertheless, he was MOTM today with sMasch coming in second.
    3) We’re playing Xavi waaaaaaaaaay too much. I would have taken him off instead of Cesc.
    4) We did what we had to today. Job done. It was ugly but so was ATM and the ref. In that sense, I’m proud of the team. They showed cojones, mental strength, and did what was necessary to win silverware — a Puyol like job.
    5) Visca Barça!!

  14. Oh, forgot this one:
    6) We still need to buy another CB (if only for cover, at the very least — Puyol isn’t even participating fully with the squad in training).

  15. I dont understand why so many people are unhappy about the way we played today. I think today we were massively better than the first leg. I am starting to respect Martino a lot. Following observations –

    Lets start with what we could be improved –
    1. Messi. He was being tracked/hacked/scythed by around 3 defenders (atleast), so it pains me to say this, but I think he could have been more clinical when shooting. Also, I think he needs to realise that Neymar was free on the far post when he was attempting to play one-twos with Alves and Pedro.
    2. Free kicks. Xavi has hit the wall atleast five times in the last couple of games. We need to atleast try to make the free kicks count.
    3. Neymar. Needs to get proper shoes.

    Positives –
    1. Quick balls being played in the first half. We took fewer touches, spent less time deciding where to pass and created plenty of movement (Xavi and Busquets included). 2. Intensity. Like I said, even Xavi and Busquests showed that intensity, lots of movement and we pretty much controlled the game for the first hour or so. Not the best we can do but certainly much much better that the first leg.
    3. Busquets through ball. Brilliant. Simply brilliant.
    4. Defense – Although it was a bit too helter skelter for my liking, we are definitely showing improvement in this dept (no doubt the pressing has played a part).
    5. Valdes. Immense.
    6. Martino – Played Messi deep, drawing the defenders out. Sometimes on the wing, letting others cut in to the box. Too bad the ref turned a blind eye to all the kicks he recieved. Asked for more movement from the midfield, who in my opinion were pretty slow in the first leg. Dared to bench Iniesta (rightly) to allow a player in better form to play.

  16. Silver! Martino’s first. Neymar’s as well.

    Atleti played the match(es) they had to in order to give themselves the best chance to win. The Liga saw what happened when you tried to play your game, and give us space. Levante showed everyone that. Atleti will be closer to the norm than Levante for the rest of this season. The problem is when you play that way it is ultimately a Pyrrhic victory, because you sacrifice your chances at really getting a win. Yes, they had a couple of counter chances. That will happen.

    — The ref lost control of the match, then tried to fix it with cards. That’s never going to work. He was letting them play, and it was working to the advantage of the opponent (as it always will). Then when things got out of hand, it was too late. A couple of early cards would have fixed that, but then media critters would have said he was being Barça centric in his officiating approach.

    — Valdes was colossal, so was Mascherano.

    — Anyone suggesting that the team is playing the same way, should look a little closer. From the positioning of Messi, to the way Sanchez is being used to the presence of Neymar, things are different. The mids ghosting forward is different, defense is different, Busquets is being more direct. There is a lot that is different as tika taka morphs into possession football. Martino recognizes that with such dynamic players, tika taka is selling the crew short.

    — Neymar worked his ass off, tracked back, took fouls without whining and was generally very good. People who were lambasting him, calling him a YouTube player, vanity purchase who wouldn’t track back, etc, are pretty quiet right now.

    — If Xavi is past it, I’m a burlesque dancer.

    — Martino needs time. A month ago, he was hanging out in Argentina. Too soon for anything. Despite all that, the team is undefeated and has picked up its first piece of silver. This is in the aftermath of a craptastic preseason spent flitting about to hoover up dollars, lingering injuries and internationals. One goal conceded in four matches? I thought we didn’t have a defense?

    This club is going to be a lot of fun to watch, but it will require patience on the part of culers. Let things develop, and then let’s see what transpires.

    1. ▲This!

      Also it was good to see evIdence of the Iniesta we know and love making a comeback!

    2. Personally, I consider these two Super Copa matches against ATM to be part of our extended friendly campaign. Since the club scheduled such a lightweight, Mickey Mouse preseason fixture list, these two hard fought, serious matches will do the club a world of good. The caveat being that we can get the full three points at Valencia on the weekend, which isn’t a given.

      I will concede that with a summer international tourney the preseason was never going to be ideal.

      Visca Barça!!

    3. Agreed. I thought Neymar had a poor match though, despite working incredibly hard. Bound to happen at this stage, and no moral judgment intended. Overall we did pretty well considering neither Messi nor Neymar, nor Lexus for that matter, were firing on all cylinders. Masch is making me feel much better about our prospects in general.

    4. No, Jafri, I think that tika taka and possession football are different. Bayern and Dortmund play possession football. We play tika taka, if that makes sense.

    5. absolutely spot on.

      There are some positive signs of change from Martino.

      1. Sanchez for some time played as a 9.
      2. VV started passing the ball.
      3. Pique remains focused.
      4. Xavi didn’t look physically exhausted(dont know why people are saying xavi should be rested,it was iniesta who looked exhausted in the previous matches).
      5. Quick movement in the final third,though we didnt create many,the offense didnt collapse on messi.
      6. The keys to unlock a 10 man organized defence are 3 things
      a) constant movements
      b) quick passing
      c) a true mobile 9(we dont have that)

      martino managed only 4 official games yet people expect him to change the whole setup in a short period of time.thats too much.

      On another note IMO we need a mobile 9 more than we need a CB.

  17. It’s strange, we made all the addition in the summer to the offensive line and eve then the contender for man of the match for last three match running have been Mascherano and Valdes.

  18. yea! We didnt create clear cut opportunities, against a good side, defending with 11 players, infact, no one does. EE couldn’t win the league last term cause they couldn’t break down parked buses. One of the ways, we could thrive against parked buses is, by shooting from outside the box. How many times, has Adriano been our saving grace, with an out’a the box cracker? Neymar, Messi, Adriano, smasch, Cesc to some extent and even Pedro [not this one, the other Pedro, the real one, the one with an (!)] have the ability to shoot from outside. Why do we always have to pass our way through a cavity wall? Why can’t we by pass it?

    1. Good thoughts. In prospect of Adrianos latest defensive displays I’d prefer him over Alba or Alves if he can finally fix his muscular troubles.

  19. To the “They need to score, so let them bring it. But we are an illogical club, who attacks no matter the score.” …

    I have never understood why the last 5 or 10 minutes has to be the most hectic for us if we are one goal ahead. A confident team full of controllers should be happy to pass the ball around until the end. In theory.

    Do the players lack patience or confidence to do that?

    1. Interesting point. It all comes back to the Barca DNA. Controlling posession (and there-in the game) is true, but the Barca way is to consistantly attack on that possession; not retain it to wind down the clock.

      While I agree with you on controlling possession and playing triangles should be a method to whittle away time, I dont think Barca have that in them.

      Also, as a sport, soccer is incredible difficult to do that (compared to other sports). Trust me, I’ve played it for 26years now!

    2. Thanks for the reply.

      It may be incredibly difficult, but I believe this Barca is able to do it.

      If they can pass the ball around to lure the opponent players out of position, they should be able to do it to calm down the play when it goes too hot.

      But if they don’t have the mentality (or DNA as you say) to do it, then it remains as a theory.

    3. Triangle play and pass and move for Barca isn’t hard; that’s the backbone of our structure and philosophy. Doing it as a method to shift opposition around is perfectly fine as well, but it’s very, very unsustainable for extended periods of time (not to mention, the opposition would just foul and or force a long ball pass after pressing).

      You’re right, however, that it can be used to calm down play and for small periods\moments of games, entirely appporpriate tactic.

      The mentality for Barca to do this for the purpose of (defensive) time consumption; well, let me tell you this, I’ve watched Barca for over 20 years and cannot recall a time where it was used extensively for long periods or even at the end of games as a way to wind down the clock.

      It’s a great theory Norden; and it’s applied in great effect in say, NFL, (running plays with 30sec playclock); netball, and other zoned\large pitch\non contact sports (Australian Football, basketball etc).

      Again, I don’t discount that it’s possible; I just dont believe it’s possible in soccer in general, and for Barca, certainly not for extended periods of time AND for purely a defensive\clock run down purpose.

  20. Ever since the CL semis against Inter, ‘how to really stop us’ is not a secret anymore. And we too know which teams are going to employ this strategy against us. The problem is when our stars are marked and pressed hard, Xavi, Iniesta, Busi and Messi (with 3 people always), it is difficult for them to execute well our plan A. We really need to evolve a strategy to play against this tactic. I am afraid almost every match this CL, we will face the same. I would hate it, if we will progress on away goals each time, like we did against PSG. Inspite of having a new coach, I am afraid, we may not be evolving on this aspect.

    I am wondering, why we dont counter attack. Yday there were couple of occassions, when we could have tried a fast counter. But we keep the ball, pass it horizontally, slow it down so that Atletico players can regroup. It is like we are on a laboratory, trying to work out ways to beat two banks of 5 players.

    Vales, and to some extent, Masch saved us this cup.

    For the first time, I was wishing the Messi Penalty to be saved. A red card so late, and a penalty immediately after, it would have been very unfair on Atletico. I felt, they deserved to win this cup more than us.
    I am not saying they played fair, but they didnt expect the ref to be too strict and they played their heart out, on and off the ball. Every coach knows that Barca dont have an answer to aggressive physical play. It was not their fault that the ref allowed it. It is the fault of our Club, that we dont make proper noise, whenever such things happen against us. How come, every foul by a Barca player is a yellow and we are fouled about 30 times or so. They seemed to concentrate to Messi a lot and the ref didnt seem to mind. For once, I started doubting the truth behind the Godin action from the first leg.
    I am afraid, we are going to see these 2 banks of 5/4 players in many matches, may be in all the CL matches. Right now, we dont seem to have a clue to break it.

    Finally Messi and Neymar playing together. But it is not going to be of any use, if they are about 50/70 meters apart. They need to be close, like 15/25 meteres around, if they are to make an impact as a pair. Just my opinion.

    1. I don’t understand how you say that Atletico deserved it more than us. They started the tie with an inferiority complex that they just couldn’t play us and win without making it a fight labelled as a football match.
      If they actually tried to win the cup at any stage in the two matches they would have won the match.
      They were a disgrace in their cowardly attempts to bully our team and cheat.
      whatever about Mourinho’s tactics with Inter or Madrid at least they tried to win the game.

      The referee was in no way too strict like you suggest, seeing as Diego Costa and Diego Godin should have both been sent off along with Filipe, and Gabi, Koke and Arda all made enough fouls to get two yellows.
      They were beyond cynical, they were cheating and deserved to lose

    2. They didnt win, because of two incredible saves from Valdes, one which no one expected. They did try to win the match, the only way most inferior teams can play us – defending well and counter – which they did over both legs. Dont forget, we, such a superior team, didnt manage to defeat them over two legs.
      Please dont forget, lots of people around the world call us too – a disgrace.
      but they didnt expect the ref to be too strict and they played their heart out . I meant, they realised the ref was not going to be strict, and increased the physical aspect. sorry, if I wasnt clear.

      Many teams play cynical with us, but it is always our players who gets yellow for the very first foul. And lot of thuggery is done against us, for the last 3 seasons, and we have accepted all that politely. That is exactly what I am saying, our club doesnt react, and the thuggery against us continue.
      It is not the mistake of Atletico players that the ref didnt act. They found out in the first 10/15 minutes itself that he will not be strict – how many fouls did Messi alone suffer in that time – If the ref was strong then, Atletico would have been more careful.

      Remember, the 11-12 season in which Madrid ensured one of the liga refs will never be seen in their future games. I dont want Barca to be like that, but if Barca make proper responses, this kind of thuggery will not happen. Right now, we are a soft target.

    3. – Ateltico’s approach to this game was mainly to reduce our effectiveness and rely solely on little details to get a result.

      – There is no magic pill or silver bullet to beat parked buses and sometimes we just got to stick by our style and be persistent. Despite the very little space we had we still created chances. Most Importantly Atletico had only 1 chance on goal by half-time.

      – If we were to change our game to a counter-attacking approach then we would have invited atletico to create way more chances. With the quality of their forwards they would have eaten us alive.

      – I don’t think Messi and Neymar playing closer to the middle would be as effective right now. Again we want to resolve the parked bus problem and playing them wide and drawing out defenders is a good step for that, especially when we want Sanchez and even Pedro to gain more confidence.

    4. I am not saying we should sit back and invite them , so that we can counter. All I am saying is during the course of the match, there are occassions, when we can make a fast counter, but we dont seem to be interested.

    5. Still, that won’t stop Atletico from parking the bus.

      If we are to start making fast counters we’ll have to make sure we end up creating good chances from them, otherwise what’s the point, we are just gonna give up possession faster. It is still early days in the season, some players need more time to build form and confidence, others need to integrate and build fitness. Over time our team will be playing more effective and possibly even start attempting fast counters.

  21. Fucking thugs is what they were and how they behaved.
    I am extremely surprised Tata or the club has not called out the violent tactics employed by these ruffians. This is not to complain, but to safeguard us against the kind of ref decisions that fucked us during the league campaign 11-12. That step on Alves’ back was the final straw for me. It deserved at least a 5 game ban.

    1. You need to rise above that mate.

      It’s the ultimate compliment. Other professional soccer teams not capable of squaring off in an appropriate soccer approach, normal atacking mentality.

      I pose this to you? what other (elite) club, in world football..EVER WEEK; face a team that would park a 5-4-1, 4-5-1, 5-3-2 against them..yet Barca more often than not still break them down..(and win)..

      not every time, but, certainly, odds on every game!

      Other elite clubs DO NOT face this! Not your Manchesters, Bayerns, Milans or Juventus’

    2. I am not talking about ultra defensive setups. That, is a compliment to us and more often than not, we succeed in finding solutions. I am talking about out and out violence here. And there is no need to keep silent when you are being allowed to get kicked, beaten and stepped on. Because it violates the rules of the game. I am only saying that it needs to be called out. Because if it doesn’t, it will very likely start becoming a legitimate tactic that may go unpunished most of the time. Refs need to be encouraged to just call the game. straight up. Not orchestrate it.

  22. Also, don’t forget that Champions League group stage draw is today, as well as picking the best player in Europe, which will probably go to Ribery, as it should.

  23. There is no certain ‘tactic’ to counter a parked bus, No likes to hear this, But that the reality, We’re not the only team that falls down against such tactic, And here are two examples:

    Bayern vs chelsea: They lost the CL in their own stadium to a team that had many of it’s main players missing due to yellow card accumulation, Yet the parked bus eventually triumphed, And bayern doesn’t resemble us in terms of players or style, They’re physically stronger and taller, But that didn’t change their fate.

    EE vs Manchester city: MC parked the bus in bernabeu, And EE turned into headless chickens, They only won in the last 8 minutes of the match because of two individual moments of brilliance and nothing to do with any certain tactic that mourhinio applied, And this is a team that plays pure counter-attacking football, The anti-barca, Yet we shared the same ultimate scenario.

    Now what about us?, I think martino said it perfectly after the match:
    “We need to play faster, more precise, use the spaces better”

    And he’s right, In these types of games, Every millisecond, And every inch can make the difference between victory and loss.

    1. I was just going to say the same thing. We just face them a lot more because we’re the best but how does any team break down a parked bus? Name me the best eleven players in the world today and put them against a ten men in the box side who prefers to kick them rather than the ball, and see how well they do.

    2. Another point which is somewhat ironic, Is which team in the world can tolerate working in tight spaces which involves accurate short pases and triangulation? That’s barca.
      So in essence, We are the most effective team against a parked bus, But unfortunately this isn’t easily translated into the pitch, Because even though we are the best in terms of short passes and tight spaces compared to other big teams, We’re still not fast enough or accurate enough to comfortably win against those parked buses.
      So improving what we do best is our best chance, And that both needs work from the coach, And also as the time passes and our physical condition and rhythm reach their peaks, It’ll be easier later in the season.

  24. Juve, Milan and PSG in pot 2, Man City and Dortmund in pot 3. This has the potential to turn out very, very badly.

  25. One of the quotes in that excellent Ronaldo piece I posted a link to, goes something like “When they stop kicking you, it is because they have found other ways to stop you.” Kicking is good, in a perverse way.

    I can’t fault Atleti for doing what they did. In a straight-up football match, they get killed. You do what you have to do. Officiating has to step in at some point, and take control. If you look at all the cards that came in the last 10 minutes of regular time, it’s clear that the ref lost control of the match, then things got out of hand. Just a mess.

    More distressing for me is that those tactics worked on Messi, who became increasingly removed as the match progressed, to the point where he was standing around midfield. That isn’t like him, and makes me wonder if he was indeed 100% for the start.

  26. some thing about cesc: he doesn’t lose the ball when you expect him to and vice versa

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