10 post-Classic points, aka “It ain’t over, but many things should be over”

"Okay guys, we sucked. Next question."
“Okay guys, we sucked. Next question.”

So. Barça got its collective tails handed to it yesterday. What does it mean, and what are the implications, moving forward? Here are 10 thoughts about just that.

1. Exorcismus Guardiolus: Time to eradicate all things Guardiola. Cries for “What Guardiola brought us, blablabla,” are pointless. That team, that system existed in a moment in time. Nobody was prepared for it, but people got prepared for it. It affected Spain just as it is affecting Barça. Time for the team and culers to move on. The question is “What can Enrique bring us?”

2. People seem somehow surprised that RM attackers ran past Iniesta and Xavi like they weren’t even there. Why? They weren’t, for all intents and purposes. It isn’t about triangles and possession. Not with the players that Barça have. It’s about getting the damn ball in the net. The play is slow because the players in charge of dictating it play slowly, then can’t help when possession is turned. Enrique has to solve that. Pedro is one possible solution. The Cuadrado desire is becoming more clear.

3. Enrique should figure out what the hell he wants to do, and then do it and not waver. You don’t set up a system, buy players and then decide in the biggest Liga match of the season to go conservative. The lineup was illogical, and turned Barça into Celta. It shouldn’t have happened. It starts with the coach. If only there was half as much focus on Enrique as Mathieu …

4. The change that has to happen to the team is hamstrung by the looming transfer ban. It’s also a case of hanging on to players too long. Should the team have sold Iniesta by now? Good question. Xavi is still effective against everybody except the types of teams Barça have to beat on the big stage. So why are both players still there? Why is Busquets still an automatic starter? Iconic players make a coach conservative.

5. If Barça is no longer going to defend with eleven as it attacks with eleven, changes have to be made in the way the team defends. At present, when attackers pierce the nonexistent press and slow mids, the back line is going to have problems. It can get away with them against lesser opposition. If Neymar isn’t going to track back, sit him down until he figures it out. Enrique shipped out Deulofeu for defensive deficiencies. The player can’t be blamed for wondering why him.

6. I don’t care how hard the players work in practice if they go on mental walkabout in matches. Barça has conceded six goals (PSG, RM) through stupid play. All six goals could have been prevented. You can say that even as you can also acknowledge that Barça was outplayed.

7. Like every Barça coach since the Ascendancy, Enrique doesn’t have the nerve to yank Messi. He should develop that nerve. When Messi goes absent he never comes back, even as he might sometimes find himself in a position to do something wonderful. “They defended him really well,” say supporters. When the hell has a focused, alert, charged Messi been able to be stopped? Early in the season, Messi set the tone, running, pressing and leading by example. Those days seem to be gone.

8. You have to fail before you can succeed. There were moments when (in attack) Enrique’s system worked. But if you are going to have a lineup that needs possession, you can’t be sloppy with it and you can’t leave big spaces, which means exploitable passing lanes for a top defense. It didn’t look at times like players knew what they were supposed to do, and that’s on the coaches. There were also too many speculative passes that went to RM players, when somebody didn’t make an expected run. For the run to dictate the pass, the run has to happen.

9. This board failed the team and the supporters, but was it ever going to be allowed to make the kinds of significant changes that would have been required? I reckon that it would have been pilloried if it had. It was time to sell Ronaldinho and Deco (past time, actually). Many culers are romantic, and believe that this team can still beat top sides with Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets running around. I am as romantic as the next guy, but the game has moved on. RM demonstrated that very clearly.

10. Retrospect. Even with that beating, there was a very real chance that it could have been 0-3 20 minutes into that match. This team has quality. What it doesn’t have is a margin for error. Pace and athleticism give you that margin for error, because fast, strong players can fix their own mistakes. Even as we moan into our libation of choice and hunt for reasons, in looking at the team that we have, it can compete against top competition. But its coach is going to have to make some very, very difficult decisions.

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

182 comments

  1. Interesting point about messi you’ve made. The thing is, I’m still not sure whether his lack of pressing is instruction to conserve energy or simply him doing whatever he wants, I honestly can’t tell.

    I initially assumed it was instruction but when we’re down to real madrid and he’s still walking around with 20 minutes to go something tells me it’s something else.

    a.) It’s an attitude problem, he’s become bigger than the team. As much as I love him, I think that’s possible. He’s won pretty much everything there is t win and the motivation might not be there.

    b.) He’s going through a physical decline. I think this is more likely of the two options. Maybe he can’t handle running around and pressing for 90 mins physically anymore. He is only 27 but players are different and his unique combination of growth problems, hgh injections, injuries and explosive style could have had a different impact on him then the standard footballer. Not to mention the aggressive way he’s defended by teams, being hacked down a couple of times per game.

    c.) A lack of attention to diet and fitness regimen. I remember Pep assigning a physio to accompany him and make sure he stays on a particular diet and fitness/mobility routine. I heard (on this blog) after Pep that that physio no longer does this with him. This is another possibility.

    Either of these would be problematic. I’m just an outsider making lots of assumptions but his lack of pressing and movement at times, particularly when we’re down bothers me to no extent.

    Anyone have any other ideas on what it could be?

    1. I think it maybe a combination of multiple problems with a) self confident, b) jadedness, c) fitness due to poor diet, and d) Real played one hell of a match.

      a) His adrenaline may have got the better of him in the opening minutes of the match with over aggressive tackles, which resulted in a card, and badly composed shoots. Missing his sitter may have killed his confidence, and he was largely anonymous after. Also looming over him is his tax lawsuit, which may have been a major distraction.

      b) He played whenever he was deemed fit to play. Competing in four major competitions (La Liga, Copa, CL and WC qualification), starting every games, and refusing to be substituted, does not bode well for his body – it just can’t keep up with him. 3 matches in one week is simply too much.

      c) I have mentioned it once before but I think that Guardiola imposed a level of control on the team bordering OCD. After winning everything, most people, being superstars, can no longer follow that lifestyle. Guardiola felt that, and he left.

      d) Guardiola may be gone, his coaching style may be obsolete, but the hunger for winning has always been and will always be a major part of the game. In the later part of the game, Real simply want to win more. The only player on Barca’s side who want to win as much as them is Suarez.

  2. Momo. My idea is that, he is past it. He can’t press consistently for games on a stretch. Fitness regimen or food supplement, to me, is immaterial now.

    My fixers.
    — Enrique should start both Mascherano and Rakitic in midfield, to cover his deficient press.
    — He should sit out some easily winnable games, that is, be fully rested. So he is fresh for the next hard fixture.

    Now, the last is over the board, as he wouldn’t play for us after this. But would benefit us financially, in terms of new sporting recruitment.

    — Sell him. (He would get a new motivation. And maybe, get back to his best.)

    1. Agree on point 1 -Masch is a world class DM and needs to start with Rakitic.

      2- somewhat agree-at the least he can get pulled after 60 or 70 if the game is comfy on our terms

      3- sell Messi? Ridiculous statement and a typical response from a hurting Culer. Stupid. Sorry but I appreciate your sentiment but you do not sell Messi at age 27.

    2. You don’t sell Messi. You just don’t. He may need sometime on the bench (at least for his body to heal) but Messi is still a beast.

    3. Yea im laughing very hard at the idea of selling Messi as well. Also, if we are trying not to be knee jerk about this result why is it suddenly that Messi is ” past it” or that “those days are gone” from earlier in the season” ? Calm down. Also, Pedro is not a solution to anything let’s be real , Cuadrado has magic in his boots, Pedro is bereft of it

    4. We simply don’t have the information needed to objectively evaluate the situation and know what’s really going on.

      However:

      1) He was simply walking without any urgency to his game in all the important games of last season, even when we were down and were in desperate need of inspiration.

      2) He did the same in the World Cup final

      3) He did it again yeterday

      4) In many of these games he missed golden chances that would have won his team the game

      None of these used to be the case in the past.

      So there is clearly a problem.

      If it’s motivation, then it’s a very deep problem, because if the WC final can’t motivate you to do your bet, then what can?

      If it’s physical, then it’s also a very big issue, because it may never be resolved. Playing every game can not be an excuse though – Cristiano is older, plays just as many games, and not only does he not seem to be bothered by it, but has been actually improving.

      So if the inside information we do not have clearly points that this is a case of early stages of terminal decline, then it is indeed time to sell.

    5. It may indeed be time to sell him. If only there was perfect information. His case is not like that of Ronnie where there were whispers of neglect. He appears to reasonably take care of himself, tries and sometimes fails. Overall he still contributes except for the clutch games where you need his influence the most. Is that failure to influence the biggest games a reason to sell? Are the three points against Madrid worth more than against Celta?

      A Man U supporting pal of mine was decrying the absence of CR7 during his team’s struggles early in the season. His basic assertion was that CR7 guarantees you that against the lesser teams you will collect points. Whatever happens in the big games was for the other team players to resolve. At the moment i find Messi to be stuck in this space. He has never been the same since the PSG game.

      Its the board decision to make since they are better informed. Is it a reasonable expectation that Messi could rock it for ten years and more? Maybe given what we had seen so far. Is this decline irreversible?

      Time will reveal all. We have to wait and have and see.

    6. The problem of comparing C Ro and Messi is that they are by nature two very very different kinds of athlete. C Ro is the extremely professional kind – football is his top priority by an extreme margin, and he does everything – I mean EVERYTHING possible to maximize his body’s capacity to serve him. Heck, he even spent his own money fitting a personal cryotherapy ice bath in his house, the kind at professional training center. I think if he is told that drinking piss would improve his game then he would definitely do that.

      Messi, on the other hand, is the kind with natural born god like talent and football IQ, and he rely on that to do his things that no one else can do, even C Ro. But he do get a little unprofessional sometime, regarding his lifestyle and fitness – most likely the fault of all of us who indulged him because of his boundless talent.

      Messi, at his peak, is invincible. But Messi, without a father-like figure who takes care of him, may lose out in longevity to C Ro.

  3. Some good points. However I must stress this was but 1 mere game. Before this we went a ridiculous time not conceeding. If we are going to lose our first game, let it be against RM to focus the players more and not some robbery agaisnt say, Gijon or similar. While I agree that we are a romantic bunch here and Lucho made some errors..so what? Give the club and players the benefit. They at least deserve that.

    We will move on and keep on as we are. Players losing focus is what cost us. Im sure they have been more than made aware of that fact.

    We need to realise its unrealistic to expect we conquer everyone we face-especially a solid RM team and all the other bankrolled euro clubs. A bit of perspective and support is what is needed now. Trudr Lucho will make the hard calls moving forwards, he has already shown he can. Keep the faith and visca

    1. People should stop talking about the zero goals conceded up until the Clasico. We didn’t concede not because we defended good. In many games it was just down to luck and good goalkeeping. Against a more effective Eibar we could’ve been down 0-2 at halftime. With the current defensive organisation, I cringe at the prospect of playing teams like Valencia, Sevilla or Atletico.

      What worries me the most, is that we seem to get worse with every game. We started good, what commitment and organisation concerns. I really liked us against Elche and Athletic. But still, how many really good games have we played? And the opponents besides PSG and RMA were average at best. And now we almost have November. Things should click by now.

      Saying that the team needs time is neglecting the problems that have haunted us for already two or even more years. Some of the players that are supposed to need more time are in the fall or late fall of their careers. Others haven’t delivered for several seasons now. What shall we wait for?

      As crazy as it may sound, but we were too successful with Pep. So successful, that now we’re reluctant to make natural chances that would have occured if we had only won 7 and not 14 trophies between 2009 and 2012. What worries me the most, is that we can’t make these chances now. The next time we can sign a new player is January 2016! I don’t envy Luis Enrique at all.

  4. Also keep an eye on Suarez…he’ll be soon plundering goals for us..in a way that Pedro could only dream about.

    1. Suarez is amazing, considering the fact that he went on for four months without competitive football. His through balls are very good, and his ability to be in the right place at the right time is very nice. His balance and composure needs work, but given a few matches he may even dominate the league. Quite unfortunate to be on the losing side.

    2. Suarez was the main positive thing about that game. Clearly not match fit (those several times he lost his footing do not happen if he is as sharp as he will hopefully be soon, and then it’s a different game), but you could see what he can bring. That assist to Neymar does not happen if the ball is in Pedro’s feet — Messi was next to him in the middle, and usually in such situations the ball is played short to him, the defense has time to shift, and the opportunity evaporates.

  5. Defeats such as these are soul crushing. They evince the worst of reactions and its at times like these that perspective is needed. If truth be told Barca have not really played super this season. We have played good in phases for whatever reason and met a Madrid team in the form of its life. What happened happened and its time to move on. Shifting Messi may solve the team’s problems or more likely it may not.

    Sometimes watching him play has been anti climatic. You harbour these huge expectations only to be deflated. But on Saturday he was not the only guilty party. The whole team sucked.

    The first half was alright in terms of control but there was no ambition to hurt Madrid. At times they were there for the taking especially through the centre but we did not take enough initiative.

    Victories and losses need to be absorbed in a measured manner. Knee jerk reactions either way do not do us any favours.

    PS. I have personally found refuge in this blog. Keep faith

  6. Thanks for the breakdown. I know you are an avid defender of Mathieu, Kevin, but I do feel that while some criticized his performance, LE did certainly not escape his share – not playing Mathieu as CB is on LE, or not playing Bartra and pushing Masch to DM, etc – whatever change which would have left only one of the three midfield starters still included. Xavi, preferably.

    I agree, however, that the biggest disappointment is LE’s lack of courage to keep his game plan (or to HAVE one). His famed toughness fades for every weak couching decision. Balls to substitute Ney and Messi during the Ajax game? Perhaps. Others would claim that to be a normal decision. As you point out, LE at this point has nothing on the balls of Martino playing Messi as RW for the clasico.

    Perhaps it’s time to abandon the notion of a never-changing Barca tactic – we are no longer good enough to afford that luxury, and haven’t been for some years. This idea, if it ever were true, is an anomaly at best. We need to consider our opponent, and not just party is if it were 2010-11…

    First point: playing a more defensive-minded midfield when fielding our big 3s up front; Rakitic has attacking qualities that can be utilized, and a dropping Messi must spark magic from the AM, too (when he is not rested…).

    Here’s to LE being both humble and strong enough to come to the right conclusions.

    1. I am NOT an “avid defender of Mathieu.” Please refrain from suggesting such a thing about me. It has been going on over the years with various players, and it is never supportable.

      What I AM is anti-demonization of any player when that demonization is unjustified.

    2. Well, I did not mean it in any negative way. Perhaps “avid” was the wrong word to use, but hardly an insult. You have defended him on numerous occasions, be it demonization or not, in a similar manner to your defense of Mascherano. So perhaps one can be forgiven for thinking that you find him to be a good player and a positive contribution to the club…

      My point, however, was rather that LE, to my mind, got his share of criticism, while you seem to suggest he didn’t.

  7. For at least three years, on the European stage, with Messi in the team, Barca has been mired in mediocrity. Maybe it’s not his fault – it’s just a coincidence – but it’s certainly something that needs to be evaluated.
    It’s going to be very interesting to see how Alexis progresses at Arsenal, because it looks like Wenger is going to build a team around Alexis at No 10. The guy has far more hunger and drive than Messi (as well as a desperate desire to prove Barca wrong about him). I mean, the guy made SIX tackles in his last game and scored two goals. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if, by the end of the season, Alexis is regarded as the more important player.

    1. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that the only time in the last three years when Barca were truly cooking with gas was when Messi was injured last year. Then the team hit top gear. Messi came back. What happened? The wheels suddenly fell off.

    2. Alexis is gone so I’ve no real interest in him now but it doesn’t take much to appreciate that he wouldn’t have gone or been allowed to go if he had felt he was an important part of the team and for better or worse that didn’t seem to be the case. He went to Arsenal, not one of Europe’s top teams and he will likely finish the season trophy less. That said he puts a hell of a lot of effort into his game and it’d be good to see that drive from all our players. If you mean by your last sentence the most important to his team you may well be right – and that wouldn’t be bad for Barca either- but if you mean in general terms worldwide it borders on ludicrous.

    3. Jim, spot on. Alexis is gone and I dont care what he does at barca-lite. The fact that he may prosper in that team shows you the quality difference. Dont fault his endevour and enjoyed him while he was here but he isnt going to win Arsenal anything on his own boot.

      The Messi bashing is now really concerning. The man who has scored 50% (or very close) of our goals in the last 5 seasons (someone correct me if its wrong but I think its 5) and we have people here wanting him out the door after a handful of poor games. Good grief.

    4. So, according to that logic, if Messi scored 100% of Barca’s goals, that would improve Barca as a team.

    5. No, Im just merely stating that his importance and contribution cant be downplayed. Comments about selling him as so ridiculous when the guy has single handedly on many occasions held us together and or won the game ofd his own boot..some respect is needed. Im not saying he is bigger than the club; but some common sense is needed in times like this

  8. As fans we have the right to vent our frustrations. We have the right to question systems, players and their attitudes because we have emotional investment. But some of the knee jerk reactions are a disservice. At least on this blog where the discussion is always measured.

    The rule that you are as good as your last game abides and applies to all players. But its also the reason where not much can be deduced from reading the contemporary press. Perspective is the right answer to Knee jerkism.

    In our anger lets apply our senses more. Shoul we be alarmed? Of course.

  9. As far as the ten above are concerned.
    1. Partly agree. You have to use the strengths you have in any team and it doesn’t do us any favours to set the bar to the Guardiola 6 trophy season. That’s not happening again to anyone anytime soon. However, I’m a big fan of his passing philosophy and that won’t change.

    2. Disagree. You keep saying run past them but where ? When RM punt the ball over the midfield for a quick break or we lose the ball unexpectedly like straight from corners, yes that’s a problem but that’s why we leave enough back to deal with it. Isco didn’t outrun Iniesta for the third. Iniesta was quicker than him. Ronaldo can run past just about anyone. Where did RM attack through the middle and something dangerous came from it ? Having got that off my chest, yes we need to look at speeding up our play. I was disappointed we slowed the ball down after our goal and we never really upped it again but the answer isn’t to hoof it over the mids. I find it difficult to judge because both Ini and Busi are playing poorly atm. Our forwards are also actually not that good at collecting these balls. That’s a big number nine back to goal, holding in job.
    3. Yup. This is one of the biggest issues. I can no longer tell what our pattern of play should be and it looks like some of the players are the same.
    4. Yup. Assuming we don’t have the personnel at the moment. Not sure about that one.
    5. First of all, we should be defending with eleven. That must happen. It has, sporadically this season and works well when it does. We began well that way but eased off when we scored. I agree Neymar, Messi, Xavi or whoever should be hooked if LE doesn’t think they’re pressing as they can.
    6. This is why we’re having this conversation. If we hadn’t made huge errors, unrelated to general defensive duties we would have won not games imo. Don’t agree Barca was outplayed for first hour.
    7. You know, I still think he does but is pragmatic enough not to just do it for effect. I’d like to see him wait till the 70th minute in a game we’re only just ahead in and if he is walking around hook him then. Trouble is, if he gets it wrong and we lose would he recover. He, and all others, have suffered to some extent from the not Guardiola factor.
    8. Absolutely. I’ve said before and about LE that I can’t see what he’s trying to do. The players are still clueless on corners. A long corner is still taking out both Pique and Mathieu because of their starting position in the zonal. If you’re gonna do that you need a man on the back post.
    9. I can see the sense in this one but can’t tell until we see this team bedded in. I thought at the start Xavi wouldn’t be seeing any time on the pitch but he has won back the right with his displays. We do need to put pressure on all the A team to perform each week.
    10. Absolutely. We lost because we didn’t take our chances when ahead, we slowed the game down and let them regroup ( they were struggling first half) and we threw away at least two goals. How many did they throw away?

    Some good conversation starters there, Kxevin. It struck me while writing this that not only do I not see what LE is trying to do I’m not sure what style commentators here would want. In the last thread mom4 commented that she was bored waiting for our attacks. While not bored, I could certainly see the warning signs after we scored when we slowed everything down deliberately. However, the worst we looked was after Xavi went off. No question in my mind about that. What are we saying? Do we want a long ball to the three great forwards game ? Do we want double pivot shut things down approach. Are any ( like me) fed up with the bulk of the creative play falling on the shoulders of the least creative players ( ie the FBs) ? Don’t know. Whatever, it’s still only one game of them at their best against us not quite there yet. For goodness’ sake there’d be no shame in getting beaten by them away from home while playing our best.

    1. You’re probably right. If we hadn’t made those mistakes against PSG and RMA, we would’ve won both games. What worries me, though, is that we made numerous mistakes is every recent game. We were just lucky to face opponents who couldn’t make use of them. Not conceding up until now was an anamoly, because it wasn’t due to good defending. It was due to luck, bad finishing and good goalkeeping. But as long as results are positive, people tend to overlook the deficiancies.

    2. Actually Leo1987, Barça is the one of the clubs whose supporters do NOT overlook deficiencies in the face of positive results, even sometimes (to my view) going overboard in their zeal to suggest that, positive result aside, WE’RE ALL DOOMED!

      It’s kinda funny, when you really think about it.

      What’s also funny is how the discussion tends to label people. Those who say that things aren’t as bad as all that are labeled Pollyannas. Those who insist the world is ending, despite the good results are called worshippers at the church of Eternal Discontent.

      The truth is always, always somewhere in the middle. No team is perfect. Even the Treble side rode an extraordinary degree of luck, which is always forgotten in the Legend of the Wonder Sprites.

  10. I couldnt sleep after. Coming back to BFB, I see even those who preach calmness normally are going on a bash.
    Thanks Jim for all your analysis. Spot on about the Xavi substitution at the wrong time.
    – When I saw the starting lineup, I thought LE must be mad to use that same lineup which has been found out by big teams. I was wishing it was Masche, Xavi and Rakitic
    – The first Neymar goal was like a gift by RM defence. Nobody even getting close to him
    – The early yellows to Messi and Neymar affected both their pressing and may be even their mindset about the ref.
    – I have never seen RM affording us so much SPACE, since the 2-6 match.
    – It seemed, after the first few minutes – that our players were told even a draw would be fine so just keep the ball. We were only interested in just keeping the ball, even when there were so many spaces to attack. Pep’s team would have tried to make use of it, even if we had gone ahead 3-0 in the first 20 minutes.
    – No hunger absolutely, not by the team, and for me, even more so in our Coach. He did everything wrong, and nor did have any idea on what to do and sat quietly in the bench – shamelessly. Learn from Atletico coach, LE.
    – At the least LE could have urged them to counter attack when RM had 4/5 players in our own box with the ball in our possession. We simply kept the ball until RM could regroup.
    – Ancelotti is world class, whereas our coach is good enough for mid table and lower teams. I wonder, if he even instilled a kind of fear in the players minds. We were playing RM like how they did to us some seasons back.
    I dont want to blame any player, even Pique. All had bad moments, but none more than our clueless coach.

  11. The most important thing to remember is that the Liga season is 8 matches old. And Champions League season is 2 matches old. Do not overreact. Enrique has some work to do after getting his butt handed to him by Ancelotti, to be sure.

    Sell Messi? Mmmm, no. Mostly because no matter how much money you get for him, you’d have to replace him with 3 players and you can’t play them all at the same time.

    IMPORTANT NOTE

    Please refrain from attacks and insults, as they stifle discussion. Are we our ideas? Not, but they are espoused by us, so when someone calls a notion “stupid,” as above, it’s easy for a comments thread to get out of hand. Passion is fine, but we have to start from a position of mutual respect, whether we agree or disagree. Thanks.

    1. Given that we can’t buy anyone until January 2016, whether we should sell Messi or not is kind of a pointless discussion in real terms.

      But it is a useful one in terms of figuring out the problems of the team. When he plays like that, he is a part of them.

    2. Also for tomorrow: the sentence on the responsibility case against Laporta and the rest ex-directors.

    1. Daaayum! It’s one thing to feel a picture you cannot describe, and then someone shows you an HD photo of the picture with diagrams. 😀

      Thanks, Kxevin. Much appreciated.

  12. My other large issue with Saturday was the team’s work rate. RM outworked us by a huge margin. That was the killer for me, and what I hated most. I can take a loss. I can’t take being outworked. I reckon Enrique was stressing that, as well.

  13. One of the more interesting questions for me is, if Messi spanks that shot past Casillas, and if Neymar does one of his pullbacks to wait for Carvajal to slide past, then chips it over both he and Casillas, are we having these conversations?

    Barça have the exact same problems, win or lose. Certainly, winning makes people talk about other things. A loss is never good, but it does precipitate a level of introspection and discussion that is interesting, provided it doesn’t lead to overreaction.

    1. Good point Kxevin. We are by no means at our best but were fractions away from being a few goals to the good at Madrid’s house. People act like we were spanked from start to finish but until their penalty we were well in charge.

      There are lots to fix and most of which can actually be worked on but there still are issues that can’t be. I thought that while we had a reasonably good transfer window we significantly erred by letting Cesc and Alexis go. Both are more productive players than anything we had on the bench at the weekend.
      I also believe that signing Vermaelen instead of someone who could go straight into the task was a mistake even if he has immense potential.

      Lastly I believe that our right back situation is dire. If Lucho doesn’t trust Montoya or Douglas then they shouldn’t be in the squad. There is little quality out there to speak of but if you can’t find the right attacking right back then the next best idea should be to sign someone who can lock down that side defensively. We have neither.

    2. I think the scoreline flattered RM. We certainly could have won the match and we were not dominated until the last few minutes. Coincidentally or incidentally, just about when Xavi was substituted.

      Busi, Suarez and perhaps Messi were not 100% match fit so basically we were playing with 8 fit players. That might be enough against Eibar but vs. RM or BM, they will eviscerate you.

      It is possible that all the years of pressure are wearing down Messi. We assume that Leo has ice water in his veins, but anyone can just live under so much stress. The pressure of being the world’s best for years with expectations of leading a whole country to glory may finally be showing its effect. Ronaldo is lucky that being considered No. 2, he has actually been under less pressure than Messi and can continue to strive to be No. 1. On the other hand being top dog for years with everyone trying to dethrone you is a lot more stressful. Messi could have broken the scoring record in the Clasico and raised issues of whether the crowd will celebrate it, may have again added to the unbearable pressure. I can’t wait until Messi breaks the record in some minor game so the monkey would be off his back. Also, having Suarez and Neymar share the scoring load will be good for his psyche.

      The main challenges for Lucho will be:
      (1) have the balls to rest Messi even when he pouts;
      (2) have the balls to bench Neymar when he doesn’t track back or dives too much; (we might need to lose a few games due to (1) and (2) above)
      (3) integrate Suarez into the system especially the forward line and develop the same ‘feeling’ with Leo and Ney that the latter two magnificently have with each other. So far the early signs are good.
      (4) We now have 4 CBs Lucho. What are you going to do about it?
      (5) What’s wrong with Iniesta and to a lesser extent Busi? Over training?
      (6) Xavi is doing quite well. Carry on with playing him sparingly but please not together with Iniesta or Busi. That trio is now better left in myth and legend.
      (7) Find a way for Rafinha to contribute youthful energy to the mid or forward lines but not end up as Cesc with no clearly defined role;
      (8) find a way to use Pedro as a useful substitute, perhaps for the times when Ney is not tracking back enough or Leo is knackered;
      (9) find a way to strengthen the midfield without losing too much creativity when playing Masch with Busi for example;
      (10) get Sergio to expand his game and continue his development, perhaps be the future Xavi;
      (11) not leak too many goals on the right channel with Alves’ decline; is there a way to wave the magic wand over Douglas or Montoya; or play Pedro or Bartra as RB in big games?
      (12) find an effective system and eleven to play the really big teams like RM and BM which might be slightly different from the ones used when playing the minnows of the world but not too different that it is totally different.

  14. hahahah what the hell has happened to this blog?! everyone here is downright mental now, including the author of the post. I particularly love this gem;

    “4. Should the team have sold Iniesta by now? Good question.”

    hahahhaa.

    you write ten points about what’s wrong with everything, based on one match, then in your replies to comments also write “don’t overreact”

    well, which one is it?

    busquets has had two pretty bad games in the last 3-4 years and both have been games he was clearly rushed back from injury, this one is one and bayern is the other.

    I don’t think we can even blame lucho for what were obvious mistakes because…does he get to choose the lineups? I mean, really. He would’ve never played Suarez if it was his choice, methinks.

    regardless, lucho has proved through his limited managerial time that he doesn’t know how to win games through tactical shifts, or changes. if he were to pull messi (which…why? there were 3 other players way more in need of a sub than messi but continue that narrative..), he wouldn’t know who to put in or where to put them to look towards anything else but the plan a battering ram.

    the focus on mathieu over lucho is because Mathieu was given the chance to prove himself as a defense minded lb, and looked trash especially given his time in attack.

    1. oh and the “messi needs to press more” ideal etc. come off it. we all know, we’ve been told 200 million times why he doesn’t press entirely with the team at any given moment. and if you don’t know or continue to fight it, well, I don’t know what to say.

      p.s. neymar does a great share of tracking back, but continue to plug your narratives.

    2. As for the Messi needs to press narrative, he started the season pressing, and did so very effectively. He also sent a very clear message with that pressing that the team picked up on. The press was, subsequently, very effective.

      No, we haven’t been told “200 million times” why Messi doesn’t press. There was a statement that Guardiola didn’t want him to run as much because of the minutes that he was logging. That was two coaches ago. Subsequent coaches have had nothing to say on the matter. So yes, the question is being asked, particularly in light of the effect that a pressing Messi had in the first part of the season.

      Neymar tracks back sometimes. He does so less as the match progresses, and less effectively as well. It isn’t “plugging a narrative” to deliver observation-based opinion. If you have a different view, present it and support it.

    3. Go back and watch some of the games from 2008-09 (yes, I know, we should not live in the past, but that does not mean we should not be learning from the good things that we used to do) and compare it to now.

      It’s a huge difference – all three forwards, including Messi, were pressing very hard and in well orchestrated way that ensured that even when the ball got past that first line of defense, the midfield was in a position to force a quick turnover, and then we were in a good position to do something dangerous with it. This masked the defensive deficiencies of the midfield, which was never quick even then (though we had the Yaya as DM for most that season) – they have declined physically a lot since those days, but even the 2008-09 versions of Xavi and Iniesta would have still been overrun had they been inserted into the game on Saturday.

      It was a high-wire act with little margin for error even back then. It worked because everyone was fully committed and put in the work needed.

      I am not sure it would have worked with Messi not pressing like he has been doing for a while now. Note that he stopped pressing somewhere around late 2011 – even in 2010-11 he was still quite actively doing it. Also, since he moved in the middle, him not pressing is actually more detrimental than it would have been if he played on the wing – it leaves this large hole in the middle that is very easily bypassed and then that exposes the midfield badly.

      Football these days is quite a complex game, where systemic effects propagate themselves throughout all the lines. You just can’t afford to have any weaknesses at the top level. And it’s not just Messi – Neymar also does not work hard enough in defense, and thus having two out of the three forward basically not at all participating actively in the defensive phase of the game has huge consequences for the team as a whole. We get away with it against the Eibars and Elches of the world, but against the top teams it gets exposed, and with an alarmingly increasing regularity. It’s no coincidence that both PSG and RM had such an easy time maintaining possession, something that would have never been seen in the past. We just don’t do enough to get the ball back, and until that changes, we will not be the best team in Europe again. It’s not really a matter of choice at this point.

      It’s worth remembering that when we bought Henry, he was no less of a star than, say, Neymar is now, yet he still ran as much as required by the coach (even if he repeatedly said he had never had to run that much in his life). And it need not lead to increased fatigue overall – we used to be 3-4-5 goals up by halftime, by forcing turnovers close to the opponent’s box and scoring off those. Then the game was over and we just passed it around for the rest of the game without expending much energy. You don’t see a lot of that now either.

    4. Why so unnecessarily disrespectful? *Sigh*
      This is one of the few spaces on the internet where people can have substantiated, organized debates without rebutting with childlike notions like “hahahhaa”.

    5. I meant the fact that people here acted remarkably grown up without the need to resorting to insults just to win arguments.

    6. You only have something to say about one aspect of the post, not the entirety of its message?

    7. Josep, you are included in my response below, but I will deal with it here, as well. The Iniesta question is intended as a question. So what do you think? Respond to the notion, as others have. Asking a question is a very different thing from suggesting that a player be sold. Further, to suggest that asking a debate-inspiring question is “overreacting” misses the point of such a question. Because it isn’t an opinion. It’s a question. So what do you think?

      Busquets hasn’t been himself for some time, and has stagnated, in my opinion. Others differ in their view, and that’s okay.

      Should Enrique have pulled Messi? To my view, yes. Goals were needed, and they weren’t going to come from Messi. You are correct in that Enrique hasn’t gotten the knack of how to affect a match with a sub, yet. We can only hope that knack comes to him, and quickly.

      As for Mathieu, again I disagree. “Looked trash in attack” implies complete ineffectiveness, which is far from the case.

  15. Whatever player you are going to pin this loss on clearly is undeserving of such wrath.
    Real didn’t over work us, they just played like they play other teams and discovered ”oh hey, they are average and even more so than some teams we’ve beaten this season” and that led to Madrid having a walk in the park.

    First off, i kept repeating how we do not need to play xavi not because of the obvious detoriation of the team’s general work rate, but because messi has already been usurped into that playmaker role(took this season to spell it out loud for the public) and having too playmakers of equaling playmaking techniques in a team officially reduces the balance inthe team, as well as curtailing one of the player’s ability which in its right activates a deadweight.

    The whole line up just looks politically driven rather than a team wanting to win. Pique should never have been there and i guess it took only one Madrid burst forward for everybody to underline the importance of alba’s pace and the need to always have your best defenders closest to guarding your goal, mathieu at LB? The dude was surprised!

    Such defeats are more mental than physical, the team might string a few good results together but we will still largely be thirsty for a big game victory, which makes for a more nervous/panick line up next time. Hope PSG comes sooner.

    1. I wouldn’t belittle RM’s efforts so easily. I have never seen their ball players work so hard. Before the match I was wondering how Modric, Isco and James would cope with having to chase the ball around and press. I needn’t have worried. They chased everything. They don’t/ can’t do that every week.
      In fact, now that I’m thinking about it Id like to reiterate that the effort plus the packed defence that we suffer week after week is quite a unique thing in football. It’s what turns Pedro and Alexis into more ordinary players because of lack of space and what makes the long ball such a hard option. Most teams keep a fair number of players back at any point so speed of ball to forwards is less effective as well as still being low percentage. Not saying I know the answer but I think I appreciate our dilemma.

  16. This space is for people who want to converse about barca, its players andother football related issues. For a few people who have devolved into belittling others and their opinions you should either respect the way this is run of else move to something like goal.com or twitter.

    Bringing racist remarks to this place is taking disrespect to a completely different level and you should be ashamed of yourself. It’s much easier to be a racist behind a computer screen.

    If the best response to a thought put forward is that it is a joke or deserves to be laughed at then maybe you should consider the question rather than dismissing it.

    1. Seconded. We have a huge spectrum of opinions here. If you take the time to write it people here will read and respond and there’ll usually be some who feel the same way as you but I’m guessing that’s not what you’re after. Either way comments like that tell us more about you than anything else.

    2. but historically that has never been true.

      the last person to take their time and write a long and truly valued opinion was sent packing, banned, and told to write on his own blog. and the place hasn’t been the same since.

      I agree, tho, wtf is this racist comment above about? That’s harsh.

      but I disagree that literally laughing, or in my case, writing hahaha, is some sort of insult. the idea presented that caused the laughter was the insult.

    3. I’m not so sure Josep. I’ve been participating in this blog for years and have never seen someone sent packing for having a different opinion. If someone can’t get their point across without belittling another person’s opinion then they are the ones with the problem.

      Disagreements are the basis for all important discussions and are welcomed with open arms. If I came to this blog and read a post that I agreed with fully I’d probably stop coming here. Instead, I find topics I have an interest in and differing opinions from numerous people.

      If I thought for a minute that Kxevin was going to let this space devolve into something akin to goal.com I would stop commenting altogether.

    4. Not sure who you’re referring to, Joseph. Ramzi ? If so, he was a valued contributor and I remember a disagreement but certainly not a booting out.

      I’ve crossed swords with Kxevin a few times ( just off the top of my head on the relative merits of Ronnie, Abidal, Maxwell, Villa, Alexis and Masche ! ) but that’s the cut and thrust of debate. I don’t take it personally and I’ve never felt threatened or belittled. If you bother to back up your opinions I’ve found folk here will listen and think about what you say. Doesn’t mean they’ll agree but if it descends into personal insult we all lose. As you say, the comment above is way, way out of line and is best ignored to allow the person involved to decide how they want to handle it.

    5. Agree Jim on the normal healthy debate here. Ive never felt anything but healthy banter and thoughs with the common thread of we all love this club. When we have above mentioned racist remarks it just puts us all back to really primative, dissapointing ways. Unacceptable

    6. I think that Josep is referring to Ramzi, yes. And I remember the incident differently from you. Some members (I think mods also) got very, very hostile towards towards Ramzi for not much of a reason. Of course he wasn’t told explicitly that he had to leave the site, but would you stick around a site where you were attacked?

      It is worth noting that it was an uncharacteristic moment for this space. Things do almost always stay civil and we get the king of constructive debate that you describe.

  17. Off topic, did anyone see any of Sevilla’s match at the weekend? Denis Suarez got the equalizing goal before they went on the win the match to draw level with us. Denis has been in great form and has made the loss of Rakitic much easier for them to deal with.
    Deulofeu continued his fine form with an attempt smashing the post directly from a corner. It had Asenjo of Villarreal scrambling to try to stop it and being very lucky that it hit the post. It’s not Deulofeu’s first time trying to score direct from a corner, if memory serves me correctly he scored for Barca B last season from the same situation.

    For the record, there’s 2 points separating 5 teams at the top of the table. It has me very excited for the upcoming months. It has the potential to be the best season in recent memory.

    1. I wstched both and you are right, they have been excellent. Also I believe Tello has been the assist king over at Porto this season. I would expect Samper, Suarez and Deu to be pushing hard for more minutes ans permanent first team squad places next season

  18. Have I stumbled into bizarro world? Let me second deerwithwings, what’s going on on the blog today?

    First of all, can we delete the comment by GebD and be done with it? I haven’t seen racism on here in ages. I don’t know if that’s due to diligent moderators or due to a truly respectful user base, but in any case racism needs to get out of here now.

    Second, referring to the actual football-related content here… sell Messi? Sell Iniesta? Are people serious? I’m having a really difficult time reconciling the fact that people are actually seriously considering those ideas.

    Anyway. Visca Barça, visca BFB, and keep the faith. One bad game does not a season (or a coach) make.

    1. I think the notion of selling Iniesta isn’t crazy. I’m not saying that it should be done but it certainly isn’t crazy. He has produced magic on the big occasion a few times but considering his talent he immensely underperforms on many occasions.
      I got accused of defending Cesc over the past couple of seasons. I stated that Cesc is not as talented as Iniesta is but produced far more goals and assists than Iniesta did during the same time period. Rather than berating Cesc for the moments he didn’t perform I questioned the moments when Iniesta didn’t.

      Now we have sold Cesc and now we are missing some off the ball movement and through balls. It’s not a coincidence.

      Iniesta is capable of great things but how often does he produce actual match winning performances?

    2. It is indeed bizarro world. Iniesta isnt getting sold, its a moot debate. He’ll retire at FCB or else play into years where he won’t garner any $$ worth selling him for.

    3. I can’t see the club selling Iniesta or Messi. Then again, I couldn’t see the club selling Ronaldinho until suddenly, it was time. So you never know.

      It’s important to not construe a question as advocacy of an opinion. ciaran responded with an opinion/answer, which is cool.

      hansh, there hasn’t been racism in this space, so there hasn’t been any need to moderate it. This is (was) the first incident, and I can’t say that I am surprised. It’s happened to me on Twitter, and I imagine it will happen here again. All I can ask is that people not reply, and let a mod remove the offending comment.

    4. I think you’re undervaluing some of Iniesta’s underperformances. It’s true that he does sometimes underperform when compared to his available talent, but that doesn’t take into account just how talented he is on his best day. Say Iniesta plays at 75% of his potential on a particular day – will we, as cules who have been accustomed to his best, always just berate him for underperforming?

      Now, one could argue that Iniesta’s available talent in 2014 is overall lower than it used to be (surprise, players age! haha), but that’s a far cry from saying he plays badly compared to other midfielders league-wide.

      You could say that Iniesta should be being phased out in the same way that Xavi is, but the problem is that we don’t really have an adequate replacement. He could deserve to be benched for a bit and have his time given to other midfielders, but that’s a far cry from selling him. Maybe this calf injury will do him good in the long run – serve as a kind of jumping-off point to be stronger going forward. (I guess you could also say that Iniesta should have been sold two seasons ago and the money should have used to but players X,Y, and Z, but that’s really not a productive debate.)

      Also, one shouldn’t forget Iniesta’s contributions as a leader on the team. He’s vice-captain and has worn the armband many times this season, plus whatever he does in training that we don’t see. I think that fans tend to overlook his leadership qualities because he doesn’t yell a teammates á la Puyol, but that’s not the only way to be an important figure on a team.

      I think I agree with you that Cesc got overly criticized in general. I find it a stretch to contrast him with Iniesta, though – I think they’re midfielders with different skill sets who thrive in different, kind-of-but-not-really compatible systems, playing similar-but-not-the-same roles.

  19. There has been some moderation that has occurred, which is probably obvious. If an aggressive, racist or insulting comment comes up, please don’t respond. Leave it, and one of the mods will clean it up, so to speak. When people respond, it leaves a lot of comments hanging, as WordPress links comments in a peculiar way.

    History. Josep is referring to the differences that Euler and I had with a comment that Ramzi posted in a past thread. We had no issue with the length (we have, and will continue to have long comments in this space). Rather our contention was that it was better suited to Ramzi’s blog. Things got out of hand. Euler and I reached out in an effort to explain, but Ramzi was, and still is having no parts of it. That’s his choice and all I can do is respect that choice. He and anybody else is welcome here, and always will be.

    So the suggestion that “the last person to take their time and write a long and truly valued opinion was sent packing, banned, and told to write on his own blog. and the place hasn’t been the same since” is inaccurate. Ramzi chose to leave, feeling he wasn’t welcome here. He was not banned, and was not told to leave.

    Further, many people have contributed long opinions. Comments here are valued, and are points of discussion.

    As for the place not being the same, I disagree. It is still a place where posts spark comment. Asking a question such as “Should we have sold Iniesta” is precisely that: a question and a debate starter. My role here is to write posts that spark discussion. If people have issues, personal issues with me, I wish they would just send me an e-mail, rather than attacking me in this space. It doesn’t help discussion.

    As for the racist insults, I have been getting them on Twitter, and it might well be the same person, for all I know. It isn’t the first time that particular insult has been leveled at me, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. The “know it all” part is more troubling, because that isn’t my position, nor is it my contention. I have opinions. So do others. I write a post, others write a comment. Everyone learns something from everyone else.

    But I don’t think that anyone learns anything from racism and insults, except how not to comport one’s self and presumably, we all understand that already.

    So some of the offending comments have been cleaned up. Others that are simply different ways of debate have been left as they are, as this space doesn’t have rules about HOW someone chooses to express their opinion, only that they do so respectfully.

    Thanks for reading, and taking the time to comment, everyone.

    Josep, my e-mail is kevvwill@yahoo.com. Fire away, but please keep the personal stuff off this space. Thanks.

    1. Thanks for this thorough explanation/response to some of the things that have been going on here today.

      I want to comment on one more thing re: selling Iniesta?

      When I read your post, I thought that you were indeed advocating for selling Iniesta. I think this might be down to your writing style – in the preceding point you wrote “If only there was half as much focus on Enrique as Mathieu…”, a phrase that clearly invites us to read between the lines and draw conclusions about what you’re actually saying. Then, when you write in the next section “Should the team have sold Iniesta by now? Good question”, it seemed to me that you were, again, inviting us to read between the lines to figure out what you “really” mean.

      (Um. Sorry to go all English-essay analysis on quotes from your article. College assignments are getting to me.)

      I don’t want this to sound like a critique of your writing style in the least, I’m just pointing out that I sometimes struggle to interpret your points – so I guess I’m used to looking for opinions in between the lines even when they aren’t actually there!

    2. Yup. That’s fair. I’m not a between the lines kinda guy. So both sentences that you cite are exactly as they are, one a statement that I haven’t seen as much criticism of Enrique as Mathieu (even if a pop singer on Twitter would disagree.)

      And the Iniesta question was just that, as well. Someone said previously that Guardiola came in and jettisoned some sacred cows. So my question just followed on that point.

      Thanks for reading, and asking the questions. I wish more people did. It helps us all understand each other better.

  20. I was not going to get involved in this one but, well, sometimes it’s hard not to chime in.

    I am absolutely baffled by the reactions. Teams win and lose. It’s not the end of the world. I grew up as a Red Sox fan, and believe me, that was something to complain about. Enrique got it wrong, but he’s young. The team didn’t play well, but it is old. Unlike last year, there is a bench full of different solutions. Let’s see what happens.

    No one here thinks they are smarter or better or whatever, but I will venture to say that there is a preferred style of conversation. Kxevin get’s criticized all the time for not being critical, and he writes TWO pieces in a row that are critical and then is criticized again. If one doesn’t enjoy the reading, start your own blog, but don’t waste everyone’s time with a half assed whine about the writing.

    I’m not sure if “nig nag” is racist, if it is a reference to the racial slur that the above person should be ashamed of themselves. however, I read it as nagging. that being said, there are plenty of places on the internet to vent frustration. try the guardian, or goal.com, or barcablaugranes or twitter, or, stay here, but relax.

    1. Thanks for that comment. On Twitter, I tweet as if I don’t care whether anyone follows me. I don’t know any other way. When I write posts here, it’s the same. I don’t care if anyone agrees with me. Heck, the conversation flows better if people do NOT agree with me.

      All I want in this space is respect. Everyone who comes here deserves that much. Comments that are not respectful will be moderated, and we can move on, not as if nothing happened, but with the cognizance of that reminder fresh in the “room,” so to speak.

    2. I am truly baffled that there are still people who would be openly racist. Racism is so apparent in our institutions (world wide), but that it is deemed appropriate by certain ‘fans’ of a sports teams really makes me wonder. Obviously, humans have a long way to go.

    3. Its the problem of online posting.
      Most racists are cowards, and things they say will most likely earn them a punch in the face and several missing teeth if they ever dare to say that in public.

    4. Oh, I agree with the cowardliness of racism, it is based on fear, but what people fail to realize is that the internet is a quasi permanent public record. Anything posted on here is available for research.

      Perhaps it is my own vanity, but I can’t help but censor anything I place on the internet.

      In my mind, ‘publishing’ one’s racists views is almost worse than saying something in the street.

  21. As Kxevin said we should respect opinion of everyone no matter you agree with it or not. Speaking about the recent barca debacle we can’t solely blame LE for it the whole board is responsible for it. But first people should stop comparing this team to that of pep’s. Their is a large difference between this team and the which won treble under pep.

    We are crying for replacement of Xavi and Iniesta but there isn’t any replacement for them. But I have seen one player who has potential to be at the level of Iniesta , Suso – who has vision, good movement,good passing and pace and he is only 20. He is perfect fit for FCB but I don’t understand what FCB scouting team is doing when player like Suso is rotting on Liverpool’s bench. There are numerous examples like this.

  22. Ok, enough distraction. Regarding the match, I don’t understand why many consider this result is just due to lack of luck, and the result could have been 3-0 in the first half. Benzema got his one on one with Bravo around 6 min (good reflex from Bravo there), and hit the woodwork twice around 11 min following a cross to near post from Ronaldo. Ok the cross and header was very difficult to defend against but very sloppy defensive work to allow big Benz to strike on the rebound.

  23. Another thing. One thing quite remarkable that I read at first from the guys at realmadridfootballblog, and again noticed when watching the replay, is that Real did not even bother marking Messi, they marked whoever near him, and just put pressure on Messi whenever he has the ball. It is clear that marking Messi is useless, then why bother? When Messi can’t draw out defenders like he used to, and he can’t pass to anyone since all of them are marked and/or blocked, he is not as effective.
    Back when the Barca’s midfield was effective, Xavi can pull all the string allowing Messi the freedom he needs, but it is a big problem now that the team became quite one dimensional around Messi.
    If this is correct, one can only hope that other teams do not copy this technique.

    1. This tactic relies on the fact that Messi, unlike some diving Snow Whites, doesn’t draw fouls. They can wait until he comes near, then barge into him to push him off the ball or make him lose control. Messi rarely falls, and this is what’s used against him.

      Here lies your problem – “Back when the midfield was effective”. The midfield has always been the best of Barcelona, the midfield that controls the game and the flow, the midfield that connects the defence and the attack, the midfield that creates the chances for the strikers to convert those chances.

      Messi is asked to drop and collect the ball, MEssi is asked to create the chances for the other strikers, Dani Alves is required to be upfield to link with Messi and provide width and also be in position to prevent a counter, so my question is, What the hell does the midfield?

    2. Excellent question Peter – what the hell does the midfield. I said this during many of our big games last season too – its our midfield which was not working.

      However, with the new system of LE, without wingers, and having a midfield player playing so wide to support the attacking wing back, our midfield is as exposed as the Argentina teams before Sabella.

  24. Sorry for multi-posting but as I watched the match again (one too many I suppose), I noticed another interesting tibid: Real is quite unprepared to deal with Suarez’s crossing, which came from his experience in the EPL. Barca did 26 crosses, four of which was completed and all four are key crosses, one from Messi, one from Xavi (a corner). Suarez made two crosses and both are key (100% cross completion rate, crazy), and one results in Neymar’s goal. In contrast Alves made 8 crosses, Mathieu (who came forward alot) made 3, and all of them failed to connect to anyone.
    Suarez’s cross, if utilized correctly, may be quite a deadly weapon to use against unsuspecting opponent who are all too used to deal with Barca’s usual direct passing game.

  25. That has always been the case. Messi has generally speaking never been man marked. They have always tried to form a V around him. Reason being that one on one few can live with him. Don’t know about the marking of close team mates though. Haven’t re-watched the match though.

    1. Yes. It’s an after effect of a visit by an antisocial commenter. When you delete, rather than edit comments, WordPress moves the linked comment to the bottom, while the world continues as it was above it. It’s how the program links comments.

    2. Yes! But let’s not fotget that if the current board appeals —they have 20 days to do so— Laporta and the others will still have to guarantee 23,25 M€…

    3. Ha! Almost at the same time. I agree with the ruling, even as I still don’t believe that Laporta is the best man to run the club, should he decide to stand in 2016.

    1. Yup. Too many distractions for too long. As with the socio we shouldn’t be fighting among ourselves.

  26. Okay. Vermaelen is still training apart from the group. Adriano meanwhile will have been knocked and back to working with the group. I don’t know what the problem is with Vermaelen, but it’s clearly something more than a simple hamstring injury.

    Recall that last year the club gave Messi 8 weeks to heal his hamstring, when we all know it doesn’t take that long.

    — Speaking of Messi, the painkiller rumors were denied by the club, whatever that means. As usual, who knows what to believe, but Messi should NOT have been playing with painkillers. Dedication is one thing, the potential to make an injury worse is something else.

    I see that the club has also requested that he not be called for the next Argentina matches. That is about as likely to happen as me becoming the next Barça president.

  27. I remember saying here during the preseason that Enrique inspires zero confidence in me and I was urged not to conclude but to just give him time. I wasn’t a tad-bit surprised that he looked clueless in Saturday. Barca is a world class club and deserve better than a mid table team caliber of coach. Simeone Ancelloti, Mou and Guardiola are all going to hand him his ass in the la liga and champs league and then we will regret sending Tata packing. Given the quality of team and unfortunate circumstances including losing control over the dressing room(so they said), he beat EE twice in three meetings and was a neymar post away from making it three in three. He beat Citeh, and came within 5 goals shot of winning the treble all these with no European experience. imagine what he would have done with this team. I wish Enrique well but I hope he gets shown the exit door soon as I don’t even no why he was chosen giving that he was a failure at Roma and Celta. I am getting fed up with his ‘losing is a learning process and we will correct our mistakes’. Right after he finishes saying that after the PSG defeat same mistakes happen again in the classic. Losing is part of the game but the manner in which you lose also matters. Losing by playing like celta Vigo is demeaning to barca. I can’t wait to meet PSG soon. Don’t forget. Simeone is also coming to town with his new bus

    1. Too soon. Remember the reactions to Guardiola early in his first season. Not comparing, just saying. Things change, or not. Let’s let time answer some questions that we have.

    2. Guardiola had less experience than Lucho when he started and was constantly under scrutiny for his decisions.
      Guardiola had probably the best squad in history at their peak and yet got all the plaudits. Del Bosque had almost the same squad and won everything with them and somehow Guardiola still got the plaudits.

      Guardiola’s Barca fail to win but a Copa del Rey in his final year and the board gets the blame.

      Guardiola then takes over Bayern as the best team in the world and gets humiliated by Real Madrid and still is worshipped. I really don’t get it.

      Not trying to belittle his achievements but the dude wasn’t a god. He took over a good team and made them great. He then made them good again and has done little since.

      My question for you is how you equate the method of playing to how Celta play and it being demeaning to Barca?

    3. Spot on about Guardiola. I would also say that after two silverless seasons, Guardiola had a lot more carte blanche. As with the 1985 Bears, the Treble season has become something of an albratross for Barça. People remember that time, rather than that Guardiola did NOT win big silver his last season. Everything is, now and forever, burnished in the sheen of Year of the Six Cups.

      So there is success conservatism, a malaise that is unavoidable.

      — With Celta, a coach would set them up to make an early impression, hope that influenced the match then try to hang on. I feel like that’s what Enrique did, rather than approaching the RM match as a battle of equals.

      In that world, you don’t start Suarez, because you know you are going to have to sub him. Whether it’s better to have him coming in or going out late is a question for the ages. You know the influence of Xavi and Iniesta is going to wane.

      It was a low-risk lineup that nobody would complain about, even as it didn’t provide, based on form, the highest potential for a victory. Hope that’s clearer. It’s more a philosophical question than a personnel one.

    4. Whoa whoa this is quite a bit of revisionists history.

      Best squad in history? No. He MADE them the best squad in history, had a similar team to one that just finished third with more deadweight to lose.
      Del Bosque got a lot of plaudits? Don’t know what you’re on about there.

      Who blamed the board? Not sure what this is about.

      Besides getting humiliated (the scoreline was very harsh) he took them to their quickest league win in history, and won the european super cup, the german cup, and the german league as well as club world cup. Does that deserve no plaudits, too?

      If you don’t watch Bayern you wouldn’t understand. It wasn’t just winning its HOW they won. He is responsible himself for so many victories. Like he tells his players “I can do all I can but I can not play for you.” or something along those lines. He can do all the studying but in the end its the players who must execute his gameplan.

      The loss to Madrid he claims is the most embarrassing moment of his career, and that he got it all wrong. But if you watched them play at any other time last season, or this, you can see how deserving he is of the plaudits. 7-1 over Roma, and he’s missing Ribery, Thiago, Martinez, and a few others I believe. At Barcelona you miss one of those key pieces and its chaos.

    5. Well, I would amend that a bit. Guardiola inherited a team stocked with talent, with a Messi ready to bust out. Same for Henry. That team needed a psychological boost more than anything else.

      Then he added Pique, Alves and Keita and promoted Busquets at the right time. But the core of the club was there, even as the genius of adding Alves can’t be denied.

      Tactically, Guardiola adapted Barça principles and made the team unstoppable. Even then, it required some luck, as all winning teams do.

      Bayern strikes me as more like Treble season Barça in that there is top-to-bottom quality. With Barça that season and the next, the only truly irreplaceable players were Messi and Abidal. As the transfers got screwed up then dried up, and promotions became the main source of incoming players, that balance changed. That’s the difficulty. Iniesta goes out and Sergi Roberto comes on. That is a clearer statement about what has happened to Barça than almost any other.

      But I think what lies at the core of ciaran’s comment about Guardiola is that he gets too much of the credit, and it has created an odd sort of post-facto hero worship that the club needs to free itself from. Guardiola only won a Copa his last season because the same problems that have plagued every other coach affected him as well. To win, you need talent. To adapt and innovate, you need building blocks. Absent that, you’re kinda stuck.

    6. again, revisionist history. i don’t deify managers or players, but to say Guardiola had a great squad handed to him and he reaped the benefits is just wrong. flat-out, unequivocally wrong.

      he inherited a squad that was dismantled by Real Madrid in the spring Clasico the year before (4-1 under Rijkaard). a team where Henry was directionless, Ronaldinho was busy partying, Eto’o making noises about leaving altogether, Deco the metronome was disinterested; Iniesta and Xavi flickering but never reaching potential… and Lionel Messi was a right winger.

      even just starting there, it’s obvious to anyone without a vested interest in revising history how steep Guardiola’s task was. nobody (including, at first, myself) expected him to pull off even the league. with his experience? psh, no way. we’d lost the league the previous season by 18 points, coming in 3rd behind Villarreal. it was going to be a long rebuilding. instead, he made the EXACT RIGHT adjustments, fired the team up and got them running, revamped the entire way in which we had been playing, basically invented a new position on the pitch for Leo Messi, and thrust Xaviesta out from behind the curtains into the light. **there was a 27-point swing** between ourselves and Madrid in Guardiola’s first year; we won the league by 9 points.

      you can say all you like about his coaching towards the end of his tenure, or at Bayern (though i’d argue he did/is doing great work with both), but to try to degrade his achievements in his first season, with a squad nobody expected to reach the kinds of heights he brought them to, is absurd.

      that team was the single most devastating, most ruthless, focused, cohesive team i’ve ever seen on a football pitch. we didn’t just win La Liga that year, we blitzkrieged it. no major team had ever won a Sextuple before, we did that…. IN THE MANAGER’S FIRST YEAR, WITH A NEW SYSTEM HE DEVISED. SO much of that credit has to go to Guardiola, and of course the players as well… but the way in which he took the lethargic, defeated players i watched succumb meekly to Madrid in the Clasico in ’08 to the controlled, confident, razor-sharp team i saw casually eviscerate Manchester United in the Champions League final just over a year later was one of the most astonishing changes i’ve seen in football. and those are FACTS, not revisionism because of some idea that we have to belittle the achievements of quite possibly our greatest-ever manager (a toss-up between Guardiola and Cruyff) in order to make the current disorganization seem better by comparison. does that mean we should worship at the Guardiola altar forever? of course not. but likewise let’s not go in the opposite direction and try to diminish what he did for us in those years.

      some context, please.

    7. Guardiola took over a really good squad and got the players he wanted to bolster it. He worked them hard and tactically improved them but don’t forget that the bones of that squad had won a champions league a couple of years previously.

      Del Bosque took the bones of that Barca side, less its best player and won everything possible to win and many people including journalists and pundits gave Pep credit. That wasn’t fair to Vicente or to the players.

      Many people blamed the board for not supporting Guardiola, even blaming them for him leaving. You surely remember those accusations and understand why I mentioned it. Guardiola got almost no blame for not winning anything important in his last year with a phenomenal squad.

      I watch loads of Bayern… He took them to their quickest ever league win and many believe that this cost them fitness, focus and sharpness when it came to the Real Madrid matches. They got torn apart in those matches and if anything the scoreline flattered Bayern.
      The squad that he has in Munich is absolutely incredible, and should be winning everything in Germany. I’ve seen them live and the strength in depth that is at their disposal regardless of who is available is crazy.
      Jupp, van Gaal and Sammer have to get most of the credit for putting that squad together.

    8. The most important aspect of all this is just this;

      Only one team can win.

      There’s only one Spanish League.
      One Champion’s League. etc. etc.

      As good as that Barca side were, given all the fortuitous calls, elbows, red cards, etc. going Madrid’s way…how could Barca win? That’s a different argument, but the fact that he won three straight leagues against that juggernaut Madrid squad should be given plaudits. Not that final season in which he “only” won the CDR.

      Same goes for Bayern. There can be only ONE champion. And every year there are 4-5 teams who set it as their minimum goal, meaning 3-4 teams per season are given disappointing seasons accordingly, no?

      Give whomever you want credit for putting the squad together, but Pep is already putting his mark on this inkling. Lewandowski, Thiago, Gotze, et al. are his players. Gaudin looks to be a perfect Pep youngster, and thank Pep for Rafinha’s career, essentially, as well as Alaba and Lahm’s flexibility.

      I always defend him because I’m tired of every Guardian article comments section ending up like this; Pep was handed a rolls royce. I would argue at Bayern he was handed the task to win 6 titles again for a team who had just won them. Motivation is always something thats argued is lacking at Barca, what did bayern players have in that?

      I think Pep is the most important manager in football, and if you need to see just how much a manager can switch a team around, look at OM (okay, but not sunday’s match :D) and see they play entirely different and with such confidence and are currently riding the league wave there. And their manager…well..

      A man who wanted Bartra, Montoya, Tello, and a few others and was given no one he wanted so what has he done? Given the signings zero minutes. Football is a fickle business. But only one team can win each trophy.

  28. Hmm, maybe I included too many “hahas” but nothing I said was ‘personal’, more so based on the history of the specifics writers writings, no? I guess if that’s personal we should all be given anonymous monikers so we don’t know who is writing what, and don’t typecast then?

    You say this is a place where posts spark comment, so basically “should we have sold iniesta?” is clickbate for a debate? Especially if you don’t think that, why bother asking? And referencing not thinking we would ever sell Ronaldinho, well you know the reasons he would be sold way more likely than Iniesta or Messi..

    As far as Messi not pressing, we know about his tendons(?) and that they are shorter than the average human, thus, he saves all his energy from pressing to release them in quick, rapid bursts when he can. A 90th minute Messi is still better than any sub you can throw out there.

    And who do you take Messi off for if “we need goals”? If we need goals, I’m not taking Messi off. All it takes is one moment, or even one set piece to score. Did you not see what happened versus Ajax when he and Neymar came off? We were absolutely lost with that baby forward line.

    Xavi shouldn’t have started, and was subbed off. Suarez shouldn’t have started and was subbed off. Iniesta then got hurt, after a poor match. That’s three subs already. Before that, I would’ve either taken off Pique (why are we pairing him with Mascherano? It hasn’t worked for years) and moved Mathieu to LCB and bring in Alba, or just take off Mathieu for Alba.

    I don’t care much for twitter, but I’m sorry to hear you suffer from this abuse. Also, as far as overreactions go, maybe I did too and I apologize. I vent with laughter mostly, and didn’t mean to direct it like that.

    Irregardless, I’ve been coming here for 6 years or so and I just don’t think writing clickbate points is a good way to ‘generate debate’.

    As for what went wrong in the match? Like I said, Lucho can’t fix a game. He abandoned his principles, who else did that in their first Clasico? Ancellotti. It sucks to lose, I would’ve loved a draw. But an away loss to a team also expected to win the title isn’t doomsday. Enrique got his first glimpse of a true huge game at a huge club, well second, and it hasn’t gone well.

    Ancellotti went with Ramos in the hole last year, and we went with Mathieu at LB. Both managers abandoned their principles and lost because of it. Let’s hope we don’t decide Xavi needs to play every big match, his legs don’t have it. You could see times where he couldn’t get back to cover the RW player cutting in to give Mathieu help. He claims he feels great, and he probably does, but he just can’t run anymore like that, and that’s irregardless of how he feels.

    1. The Iniesta question is just that, a question being put out there. Otherwise, I would have said “The club should have sold Iniesta by now.” I think the complexity comes in reading between lines, when there is nothing there to read. I don’t write like that. When something is my view, it’s a statement. When something is meant to spark debate (even as all posts do), it’s a question, as in the Iniesta one.

      Ah. “Clickbait.” “Man bites dog!” “You aren’t getting all the sex you should. Find out why!” Those are two examples of clickbait. A sentence tucked into a post is that. More precisely, the headline for the post would have been, for the clickbait term to hold, “Sell Iniesta?” Or, “Why is Iniesta still at Barça?” But others read something else between the lines, so it’s something I should reconsider doing in the future, as it was not my intention to suggest that I thought the club should sell Iniesta.

      — I would have taken Messi off because he wasn’t having any influence on the match, and wasn’t going to in the state he was in, even as I acknowledge his magic potential. Might as well risk a different approach. Would a central Neymar and Suarez/Munir running around in the box have changed things? Interesting to consider. But if Messi isn’t fully involved, he’s too easy to defend for an opponent, and nobody else on the team is going to beat you.

      I can accept that Messi has physical complexities. But why start the season pressing, then stop? Why not just say from the outset, Messi isn’t going to press because he’s more useful in other ways. And if you say that, and aren’t defending with 11, then you should reconsider how you defend, to my view. Maybe the double pivot raises its head, and Enrique experiments with Busquets in a more creative role, as just one example.

      — Good point on the subs.

      — I don’t worry about abuse. I’m black. Racism is like luggage. People pull it out when they need it. It says more about them than it does anything else. I’d be more bothered by being called a shitty writer than any racial epithet. The latter is nonsense spouted by the hateful. The former makes me wonder what somebody might be reading that sparks that reaction, and whether I am being as effective as I can be in my role here.

      — I actually predicted a 2-2 draw. The early goal surprised me, as did the final scoreline. We still top the table, the Liga I think, is still ours to lose. Enrique is still learning what he has (and doesn’t have … his presser and answers about Montoya, Vermaelen and Douglas were very interesting). I think that Barça have the personnel to compete with, and beat big clubs. But risks will have to be taken, and there is zero margin for error.

      Thanks for taking the time to pop in, clarify and comment, Josep.

  29. What’s this trend going on in twitter all about : Culers are demanding and should stop living in the past?

    If we fail to win La Liga, Luis Enrique is not good enough. Let’s stop pretending that our squad is weak. Even in the recent clasico, Michael Cox’s ESPN article showed the areas in which Barca are strong than Real Madrid. Barca won in defense, midfield and in attack. Real Madrid’s only advantage was their experienced manager and that single advantage was suffice for them. I’m not understanding Luis Enrique’s tactic at all. Is the midfielder’s purpose now is to support fullbacks in defending?. If so then why so much space was given to them in the right flank?. Hopeless organisation and what not?. I remember last year’s clasico very well, TATA Martino had won the tactical battle by shutting down Real Madrid and Ronaldo had 0 shots.Luis Enrique, meanwhile has now faced two decent teams and failed both the times.

    Luis Enrique should stop ‘Sparking the debate about Barca should have brought Cuadrado’ every time we lose against top opposition. He should change his system if it doesn’t work like how LVG and Ancelloti do. Because at the end, it’s all about getting the things done. Also I’d be interested to see why opposition are getting so many chances against us? this season, in particular.

    1. I’m not sure we’re getting to the nub of the problem if indeed there is a significant problem which Im not convinced about yet. We’re only eight or nine games in for goodness’ sake. Before his appointment we were all full of whatever happens he needs time to bed his side in. Most players arriving kinda get a season to settle into our way ( although that seems to be disappearing with Mathieu ) so a manager trying to change quite a bit needs a season as well. Having said that I’d love to get the chance to talk to LE and ask him some questions about the new style.

      Why are we persevering with the FBs pushing forward at every opportunity ? For me, RM didn’t break us down when we had numbers back, the mids are more worried about covering for them than busting the box and there are too big gaps at times. I’m not convinced by the more energetic players in midfield. Does anybody seriously think we played better when Xavi went off? There’s a reason for that. Someone above asked if Messi had to press. Given the amount of ground covered ( have a look at the heat map on 442 ) and control in passing Xavi offers, does he need to press ? He does most of the time unless it’s a quick break but if you have your FBs back you really don’t need him especially if Rakitic and Busi are there. This gets back to the pattern of our play that I tried to raise in an earlier post. Are the marauding FBs essential ? Is Dani really creating enough given the amount of ball he gets at crucial times when we’re looking for the final pass. If either Busi or Masche cover when one of the FBs does we have sufficient numbers back but they should be filling the space later once the opposition has set their defence for the attack and be running onto a moving ball to give them an advantage.

      I suppose the point I’m making is that at the moment I’m not sure the new system is doable. If Xavi was such an old plodder we should have seen a big improvement when Rakitic came on but it was our worst spell of the match and he certainly didn’t hit the pitch like a whirlwind full of running, good passing, breaking into the box etc. Not getting at him but suggesting the wide CMs might just not be viable.
      I’d like to see a more advanced Xavi bolstered by two energetic DMs whose task is to get the ball forward to him or Messi a bit quicker but when that’s not possible we work our way up. We’re still pretty good at breaking defences down and will be better with Suarez. However, nothing beats an unexpected mid either running at them or breaking into the box late.

  30. From Luis Enrique’s presser, on official website:

    En este sentido, ha explicado que el 3-1 no se produjo por un “problema de actitud o nivel físico” de los jugadores culés, sino porque “se dieron una serie de circunstancias futbolísticas que afectaron al grupo”. Ha afirmado haber detectado el problema, pero no ha querido revelarlo públicamente.

    translated:

    In this sense, [LE] has explained that the 3-1 was not produced because of a “problem of attitude or fitness” of the barca players, but because “there was a series of ‘futbolistic’ circumstances that affected the group.” He has affirmed to have detected the problem, but he has not wanted to reveal it publicly.

    = = =

    At the same time, he clearly states that RM played the superior game. But what were the circumstances to which he refers?

    1. A strange thing to say, certainly.

      Also from the presser (Barcastuff):

      Luis Enrique: “Saturday’s loss was logical as we were inferior. First half was good, second half we didn’t play our normal game.” #elclasico

      I’d agree with this.

    2. I think he is referring to the totality of the match, and he is correct except for the first 20 minutes. Once they woke up, they were the superior side.

      There weren’t any futbol circumstances. They just got outworked and outplayed. Enrique can call it as he wants, but the evidence is plain.

    3. I’d quibble with the 20 minutes. For the life of me I can’t find what anybody would use to support that assertion. Not getting at you in particular, Kxevin. I’ve seen it said in other places. I’m with LE in that the deterioration came for whatever reason in the second half. In the period from 20 to 30 minutes we had five or six openings to add whereas they had precisely none unless you count Ronaldo’s header which was going nowhere. For the rest of the half I come back to how many times was Bravo called into serious action ? Defence was handling breakaways really well without them turning into chances. That’s what they are there for and I have to defend Dani in the first half in that he handled their attacks focussed on his wing pretty well. Look at Ronaldo in the 40th minute. Floated cross to nowhere as he had only Benzema supporting. They were knackered chasing us. Look at the passage of play following that cross. We make 37 ( !!!!!!!! ) passes without them touching the ball. There fans are whistling ( either us or them, doesn’t matter ) as they sit back in their two banks. Remember, we’re at their house playing against them in top form.

      No way they were better than us first half .

      The question for me is when and why did that change. I would argue they came out more fired up for the second half which is natural at home. Is there something LE could have done motivationally ? (Btw, I didn’t like the comment on Revista about the players only finding out who was playing a couple of hours before the game. That has to go. ) They should be working on their jobs in the match all week.

      As I said before the only bit I felt we looked lost was after Xavi left – and I’m not complaining about him being taken off. He was everywhere and must have been exhausted but we can’t have a dip in control accompanying it just at the time they are flying with a third goal and we should be responding. Our midfield was fresh. Theirs wasn’t and we didn’t make that count. Why ? Because we used all our impact players at the start when bringing on Suarez and Iniesta in the last half hour might have made a difference. I couldn’t see any reaction on our part and there was easily enough time.

      i know I’m beating a well worn drum here but I’d be grateful if those who did genuinely see us outplayed in the first half could at least point to something in the game to back it up. I’m left with the thought that maybe the problem is still just the shooting ourselves in the foot at bad times plus their physical advantage when two goals up at home. Two big games and a barrow full of mistakes which at this level would cripple any team.

  31. I wasn’t saying that Guardiola wasn’t a great manager but at the start he was inexperienced and like everyone he made, and is still making mistakes.
    Lucho has had a near flawless start to his Barca career, a better start than Pep had for example, but he is being measured against unrealistic, unreasonable and inaccurate standards.
    Pep’s first season finished with a total points haul of 87 in the league. That was the last season that this points total was enough to win the league. Once again, I’m not playing down the achievements of that team but people remember things that finished positively as only positive. We look back at Iniesta’s as a triumph of our style against the ultra defensive Chelsea which it was. Some also selectively forget that Chelsea had numerous penalty claims waived away, rightly or wrongly, and our goal in the 93rd minute carried us through on away goals.

    People remember Pep’s time as if it was a career in FIFA played on the easiest difficulty. We sometimes scraped by; sometimes we lost, sometimes we drew, sometimes we played badly and sometimes Pep got tactics wrong. Acknowledging this doesn’t mean that you don’t respect Pep or that team.

    Comparing this team or Lucho to that team or Pep is fine once it’s a fair comparison. It would also be helpful if more than a handful of games had been played before it happens.

    1. Spot on, ciaran. If Ronaldo doesn’t wet the bed in the CL final, for example, that could have been a very different match.

      Any culer who doesn’t have immense respect and gratitude for what Guardiola did for our club is bonkers. But as you note, I think that it has left an unmeetable standard.

      Vilanova won the league with 100 points, and people kinda snarl about it, saying it ran the team down, cost us Thiago, etc. Enrique has had a very good start. The two matches he has lost have been error-strewn affairs, and only the RM match saw the team decisively outplayed.

      At the end of the season, we will know what is what.

  32. The club has issued a statement that they are considering an appeal of the judge’s decision, and will decide at the next board meeting.

    One day soon, Barça will be about all football, all the time again.

  33. I actually found a few positives from our loss.
    1) Neymar’s in super form.
    2) Suarez albeit unfit adds a whole other dimension to our forward line.
    3) We have not caught top form early on in the season so we can steadily keep racking up points ala Real Madrid last season.
    4) Despite not being in the greatest form, we are STILL top of the League.
    5) Iniesta’s injury will give him so much needed rest.
    6) The burden of proof of being the best team in Spain shifts back to Madrid and takes pressure off of us. It’s always great to be an underdog of sorts.
    7) Lucho will learn from his mistakes early on instead of a knockout round in the Champions League.
    8) Lucho may opt to start playing Mascherano as DM more often.

    1. I totally agree with these sentiments!

      The past two years have begun stellar and petered out. I have a good feeling about this year, I really do!

  34. Can’t recall us losing a game in the Pep era because we were outplayed. Am not in anyway comparing Luis Enrique with Pep. But even in that infamous Chelsea match,we were a man down and playing with yaya toure in defence. what am just saying that during his spells in Roma and Celta, he didn’t do anything outstanding to warrant we hiring his services. For God sake Pep did an amazing with the B team. And a look at his first few competitive matches, he showed promise even when we were dropping points. The goals weren’t just coming. Enrique said he has identified the problems that surfaced in the classic, well we will see about that in our next big match. Anyone ever noticed and wondered why we don’t stay compact and organized when defending without the ball? in other teams you see a clear line of two banks of four cutting out our passing lanes with two strikers upfront pressing only when the ball is moved into their own half(call it bus parking if you like but its working) but in our own case, we look zigzag-ish and unorganized with the opponent having so many passing lanes open to wreak havoc. Isn’t it better to work out on having a compact defensive shell when not in possession as the press wouldn’t be that reliable considering Messi’s attitude towards pressing and Neymar’s ineffective pressing and press only sometimes. Pressing, once its not effective only creates passing lanes and leaves us open for opponents who can get pass the press with one two or three passes.

  35. What made me quite gutted and apoplectic was the reaction (or lack of) of our coach to Ancelloti’s game plan. Seeing he must have watched recent encounters, he allowed the major channel of Madrid’s attack (Alves’s wing) to be perforated with little resistance. Playing Rakitic, as we all have agreed he should have done, certainly would have been a plus. And whatever happened to instructing Suarez to track back since he played at the right side of the attack mostly?
    Ancelloti meanwhile corrected the lack of compactness and aggression in his side in the second half which made it quite laborious for us to find the little space we enjoyed in the 1st half but didn’t optimally utilised.
    Again, the way we marked against both psg and madrid was really ‘girly’.
    Save for Masch that reasonably showed some aggression.
    There is a reason Atletico don’t allow many chances…I hope we emulate that part of them.
    Finally, glad to see majority advocating for Masch as our first choice dm.
    Ever since that Hercules game that we lost at home coupled with some implausible conclusions that he can pass the barca way, emergency needs at our defense, etc, he has never earned the trust to play there.
    Still and all, a compendium of what the man offers in that role esp the pace, aggression and Intensity (that we so desperately need) is indubitably invaluable.

    1. Hey, I I’m not trying to troll here, but the use of “girly” really bothers me, and I assume it might bother females on this site. Girly is not an adjective for weak, which is what you imply by this phrase.

      I agree with the substance of your comment though. Masch needs to be our DM and Rakitic has to play. We need to change our game because everyone and their brother knows how to defend against Busi, Xavi, & Iniesta.

    2. AMEN, deerwithwings.

      Girly, as a pejorative, is sexist and just generally not OK. Let’s avoid it in the future.

    3. Plus if you watch women play football, and the way they get fouled, get up and keep on playing, I can on WISH our marking was “girly.” We would have won both matches.

      Dimwitted, distracted, distressing, daft, dumbfounding, deranged all work. Or if you want to stick the letter g, grim, goofy, gobsmacked, guffaw-making.

    1. I’m not a great stats person and I thought you weren’t either, Kxevin, but they can show trends. Pepe passing more and better than Busi would worry me ( although it’s only fair to say we’re talking 1%, he’s in an easier part of the pitch and he only made half the number of passes inflated by their dominance in the last 20 mins or so) but I absolutely take the general point that Madrid are moving to a more passing game with more able passers. Modric at 100% completion is amazing. However, I didn’t think other than that the article told us a whole lot. We know Busi isn’t playing well at the moment but will return to fitness hopefully and for them in their own house to lose both possession and territorial advantage by 60/40 ( they made 37 clearances to our 17 which kinda shows where it was happening) indicates they have a long way to go to beat us as a passing team. We made way more passes with a higher completion rate.

      However, enough of stats and back to eyes on the tele. What I did find interesting is that they have moved to a more able type of player but managed to find ones who will also track well. They are becoming a more fearsome opponent even as, I would argue, we are starting to sort out our defence. If LE learns from this and develops a style that still plays to our strengths, if Iniesta gets a decent break and if we can integrate Suarez I foresee a decent season.

  36. Also, the board will have a special meeting on Friday to decide whether to appeal the judge’s decision in favor of Laporta. It’s disgusting. Let it drop.

  37. Like some people pointed out, if we went 0-3 up in that first half, the result would have been different and Enrique would have been called a genius and all these rubbish talk of Madrid out passing and beating barca at their game wouldn’t have come up. Yes, we played crap football, Enrique rolled out a crap line up, but if Pique didn’t go horse riding instead of defending, we wouldn’t have conceded the frigging penalty, if crap defending mode wasn’t activated, that corner kick would have been cleared, if Iniesta had cleared the ball or done something more iniesta-esque, we wouldn’t have been having this conversation. Things changed remarkably after that second goal and the third goal left the team in disarray. The way you play when you are 3-1 up is different from when you are 3-1 down. Its just a matter of confident and organized vs desperate and disorganized. If we were 0-3 up at half time, I bet you EE would have been staring a manita in through face. But then its only if’s and if’s. I hope Enrique learns from his mistakes. Then again, I talked about how we aren’t compact in defence when we are without the ball and leave a lot of passing lanes open for our opponents and the author of that Kevin’s link got it spot on. This the age of the 2 banks of four whether we like it or not. Madrid weren’t even pressing us that much, they just had clog our passing lanes.

    1. I quite align with your opinion on the need for compactness, Tata2.
      Looking at the match, there was nothing much a Benatia or Marquinhos could have done seeing there was really no organisation or coordination in our defensive play.
      I’v always felt we needed an individual amongst the coaching staff whose sole focus would be on team defence something like what Steve Bould is doing at Arsenal.

    2. That is one of the more interesting sentences I have seen, Dar_vincy, that there was nothing much a Benatia or Marquinhos could have done given the mess that was present. I agree, despite the fact that it would be difficult to convince many others of that.

  38. Vermaelen is not even on the squad for the irrelevant Copa game with Espanyol. Did we buy damaged goods?

    1. Good question. Many are stating to wonder. Enrique, in his presser yesterday, said that Vermaelen is ready to play, but he isn’t ready to play. By that I can assume that he meant he was still acquiring the match-specific fitness required. Dunno.

      Didn’t look bad at all in that exhibition, but that was against U19s. But it is kinda weird when a summer transfer won’t be playing before November. That 4 months. Hell, Abidal came back from liver surgery in less time.

    2. i don’t understand why we keep buying players from Arsenal. they are almost all of them, to a man, either crocked or not good enough. possible exceptions only, *maybe* for Henry and van Bronckhorst, but think at the list of Arsenal players we’ve taken during Wenger’s tenure: Overmars (injured), Petit (ineffectual, injured), Hleb (nuff said), Song (not good enough), Cesc Fabregas (not good enough), Vermaelen (injured).

      that’s a piss-poor transfer record. and we BOUGHT him injured. it just doesn’t make any sense.

    3. 1. Song has managed to become the captain of West Ham, two months after moving to London on a loan. West Ham are fifth right now, after floating in the lower half of the table last season – and the coach has said Song is one of the key reasons why.

      2. It’s high time we stopped with the BS that Fabregas is not good enough. Right now Fabregas leads the Premier League table in both assists and chances created. You may want to see a comparison between Fabregas, Xavi and Iniesta, both in the last two La Liga seasons as well as this season. You will see something interesting/bothering/sleep-deprivating, just looking at this season:
      Xavi and Iniesta have yet to notch a single assist between the two of them in La Liga. In the Premier League Fabregas has EIGHT. Here’s one more thing to consider – Xavi and Iniesta have Messi and Neymar to pass the ball to. Fabregas has Diego Costa.

      Now you will say that Fabregas does half a season. The problem is not really that he does half a season. The problem is that in the last season, the one with Tata, Fabregas in his “half a season” had more goals and assists than Xavi and Iniesta COMBINED!!!

    4. That’s a fair point, Peter. It’s wrong to say particularly Cesc was a failure or not good enough. Any ” failure” was in the context of playing the Barca way against packed defences. I’d have been happy had he stayed. Song I think ihas found his level as a very good EPL player but wasn’t gonna hold down a place at one of the top clubs in the world. Cesc was great at Arsenal before and is again at Chelsea but there was something lacking while he was with us. Still not sure why that was. Let’s you see how hard it is to fit in here.

    5. It’s not just this, Jim. I hate it when I see sweeping statements “not good enough” with not even hot air to support them.

      Song’s problem is that he isn’t Busquets. The current problem is that even Busquets isn’t Busquets. But for me the real problem, the actual real problem, is that Song and Busquets don’t have Iniesta and Xavi of four years ago. Fabregas was hated for four reasons – “not being good enough”, “cutting Thiago’s wings”, “being lazy” and “not being good enough”. However, it turns out that he is good, not just in Barcelona, but in England as well. Some food for thought.

      The good thing right with Song is that if he continues to play like that there will be more than one EPL club with enough money bidding for him. He may not command a top price, but it should be more than enough to compensate the money spent for him.

    6. Hang on there, BA … maybe Henry was good enough? Are you going to make me resurrect the Henry Fairness Committee? His first year was assimilation, and he still had a good year even in that mess of a last Rijkaard year.

      The first year under Guardiola, he was a demon at both ends of the pitch, and a decisive player. He scored a great many decisive goals as well (first goal, or goal that defined the result). And he worked like a dog for the club, bringing pace and quality to attack and defense.

      Maybe!? Nuh-uh. Not even close to a maybe.

      Fabregas and Song are two players that, rather than not being good enough have the same problem that Sanchez had: right tool, wrong task. You can’t use a screwdriver to drill holes. People also conveniently forget that Hleb was playing excellent football until he was injured, and during that time the team hit the gas pedal. He didn’t learn Spanish, didn’t work hard enough and got left behind. We will never, ever know what would have happened had he not gotten injured.

      We bought Fabregas and tried all sorts of things to fit him into a system instead of trying to adapt the system to work to his strengths. Same thing with Song. At West Ham, Song has been exactly the kind of player that Barça need right now. He was also much of the reason the Hammers got a win against Citeh.

      There is this odd culer reasoning that because a player doesn’t make it at Barça in our peculiar system, that he isn’t good enough, rather than trying to adapt a system. And when a coach looks at the talent that he has and tries to do something different, as Martino did, he is pilloried in a post-Guardiola world.

      I take your point, which is that our transfer history with Arsenal is festooned with … erm … complexity. And it’s a lot of players from a single team who have had debatable results. But for me, sweeping generalizations are complex.

  39. And Barça is your SuperCopa Catalunya champion, on penalties.

    Everybody who was on the bench played. Montoya was unimpressive. People say he needs playing time before we judge, but if Douglas had the half that Montoya had …

    Adama was pretty uninspiring, as well. Lots of running around with the ball, to no effect.

    All in all, an ennui-drenched affair. Suarez assisted Pique for the only Barça goal. The Espanyol goal came from a patently absurd free kick that really was something else.

    1. Adama Traore is going to be one hell of a player though. yes he’s young and a bit impetuous, but from what i’ve seen of him at Barça B if he can keep his work rate up, he’ll be in the first team very soon. anyone looking for Pedro’s replacement can start watching some Barça B matches.

      from that team, we have gems in Samper, Halilovic, Traore and possibly Munir. others have a ways to go to prove themselves, but that’s a hell of a lot of talent for our midfield and attack in coming years. Samper in particular, if he keeps developing, is going to be a brilliant player; so good that maybe this board will let him go to another European rival over a contract clause as well.

    2. Adama Traore is a bright, but still raw, talent. Every time I watch him I think “Black Deulofeu.” Same dive to the end line, same reluctance to pass (“There MUST be a way out!”), same dubious decision making. He is going to have to go on loan, probably next season, for a finishing school rather than sitting around on our bench.

      But man, that midfield … Samper will be ready next year. Halilovic will be close enough to go on loan. And Suarez should come back, along with Deulofeu. We will see if the latter is ready to do what needs to be done to play for us. I certainly hope so.

      If Samper decides, like Thiago, that he wants to leave, the club won’t be able to stop him, just as it couldn’t with Thiago. The only issue with Thiago was that the fee wasn’t high enough, and that was the complexity of a contract that the player himself insisted on and the board agreed to, figuring they weren’t going to get burned by the risk. They did, and have hopefully learned from the experience.

      But unlike Thiago, it appears that Samper has more in common with Jonathan Dos Santos, as regards dedication to wanting to make it AT Barça. We’ll see what happens.

    3. to me that line of thought has always been a non sequitor. we are FC Barcelona, not Grimsby Town. there is *no* club in the world that can offer significantly more wealth, or prestige, or a higher standard of play. this is a club which features a lineup of legendary players, THE best player in the world, which competes for every trophy, every season; any claimed weakness at the bargaining table in terms of the attractiveness of such a club to a young player is an admission of the failures of the transfer policy as it’s being managed by that administration.

      if we want to keep a player, we can offer them more money, more attention and better options. nearly every player on the planet WANTS to play here; some players, like Thiago, just need an ego or wallet massage every now and again to keep them happy. if the sporting project needs that player, give it to them. and i don’t recall a single instance of us getting “muscled” over a player; of a club purchasing a player from us that we didn’t want to allow to leave (Jon Toral?).

      of course players aren’t slaves and some players, Yaya Toure being a good example, decide to go to other clubs for more money/better playing time/etc.. but we didn’t try to keep Yaya by offering more money and playing time, because we had a ready replacement in Busquets. but we NEED to keep young players like Samper, and D. Suarez, and daresay even Thiago IF we want to maintain continuity and our high standards in the relevant on-pitch positions.

      THEREFORE the club should do everything in its power, and makes those efforts public, in order to keep their services and to keep cules behind the sporting project. the loss of a gifted young midfielder and our dissatisfaction with the Thiago transfer was a result of management/administrative failure to do these things. i don’t want that to happen to Samper.

    4. As I say. It is convenient to lay the ambitions of a talented young player at the feet of the board. I get why culers want to believe that the board messed up, and Thiago’s decision wasn’t based in avarice and self-interest.

      It doesn’t matter what a player’s buyout fee is if he doesn’t want to leave. Thiago wanted the best deal for him. No shame in that. Guardiola came calling and he ran. It was a better deal than he was going to get at Barça, with Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas all ahead of him, justifiably, in the pecking order.

      So he made the decision that was best for him. No shame in that. But I also think that the culpability needs to be placed where it lies, and that is with the player as well as the people who consented to that silly playing time clause. And if you are going to put that clause in, then amend it so that when a player spends 8 weeks knocked, the numbers adjust.

      So yes, the board screwed up by acceding to a demand that they should have suspected would bite them in the ass.

      As for Barça and its status, if I am a talented young midfielder looking at Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas, and Pep Guardiola rings me up with promises of a starting role, etc, I’m gone. It’s a better job.

  40. the first barca game i saw on tv was the final against steaua in 1985 so i understod from the start that the team i will support in future will make me sad a lot of times..after 29 years i am so proud of this team.Always attacking football without fear and with a romantic and stupid a lot of times tacticless pov.Ok franco madrid after spending billions and using bankia are better now but we will be back soon.Enjoy the team.Oh and luis suarez is a racist as people said so i believe it lol

  41. oh and if u wonder i was 12y old in 1985 a boy with love for the spanish civil war and the anarchists who fought franco thats why barca be:-))came my team:-)

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