Barça 3, Betis 4, aka “Crapfest”

This was supposed to be the one. Messi was back, Umtiti was back, it was time. Betis sat 15th in the table, rolling into Camp Nou to face a fully operational Death Star. The team was coming off a spectacular display in Champions League against Inter Milan, sullied by an unjust draw. What could go wrong?


Barça was played off the park by a smart, sharp, resilient and opportunistic Betis side who created its danger and got its goals in pretty much the same way that all teams that score against Barça do: by exploiting the fullbacks, who were both roasted repeatedly.

But the fullbacks weren’t the only problem. Slack passing, sloppy possession, poor marking and for a team that still has to have its play rooted in midfield because it doesn’t have modern fullbacks, horrific midfield play. William Carvalho has a passing accuracy almost 20 points higher than that of Busquets, and Arthur was anonymous. Even Ter Stegen was slack, letting a goal slip though his fingers.

The only players who could let themselves smile after this match at their individual performances are Arturo Vidal and Malcom, even as the latter was mostly ignored by his teammates after grabbing things by the horns with a sparkling first few minutes.

Valverde started it all off with the wrong XI, including a resolute reliance on Sergi Roberto at RB. This worked in the past because Ter Stegen was so brilliant and Rakitic was over on that side to babysit. Now that Rakitic is making like a proper midfielder, albeit a crappy, crappy one today, Sergi Roberto is left on his own as Pique has to play whack-a-mole with attackers because Lenglet isn’t as sharp at reading threats as Umtiti is.

Maybe Semedo kicked Valverde’s puppy or talked about his mama, but as soon as Sergi Roberto started at RB today, if you watched Betis at all this season you knew that Junior, their winger, would be licking his chops. Sure enough, he notched the first goal by turning Sergi Roberto inside out, then smoking home near side on Ter Stegen, who was screwed either way, guessed wrong. Junior could as easily have gone for the other corner as he had all day after obliterating Sergi Roberto.

Usually when Barça concede, weird things happen: lost possession in odd spots, deflections, etc. This season when Barça has conceded it has been poor defending with roots in opportunities created from the flanks, that lead to a fire drill. Tello put Alba in the crosshairs, taking him apart repeatedly, accounting for some damage as well. People snarled as Alba was left off of Spain team after Spain team, and claimed it was something personal with national team coach Luis Enrique, who at today’s match, must have sat in the stands and smiled to himself.

Culers rate their fullbacks at going forward, but defense needs its fullbacks to stop the opponent from creating danger, from makikng uncontested passes into the heart of the defense. Barça has a fullback that can do that, but he sits on the bench, where people feel he deserves to because he isn’t as good as Sergi Roberto at going forward. And that by all appearances seems to include Semedo’s coach. This defense is, in part, a consequence of that.

But it also everything all at once, the worst display from this team since last season when the debacle in Rome was followed by the mess at Levante. This loss was as deserved as the others were, a scoreline that isn’t fair to Betis as it made the match seem closer than play indicated. Betis could have had five or six goals as Barça was outplayed in every phase of the game.

The cool kids on social media said that Betis played Barça football, talked formations and Cruijffian ideals. To hell with all that. Betis played smart, sharp, modern possession football, a game that now lives on the flanks pretty much everywhere except FC Barcelona. But Betis also played off the counter, to take advantage of what might be the slowed midfield in football. Barça is vulnerable through midfield, vulnerable to the counter, vulnerable on the flanks, vulnerable to lost possession. The only way the team can battle that is the keep the ball and score goals.

Betis coach Quique Setien said that he had a match plan going into proceedings. While reckoning that part of it wasn’t predicated on Barça being pants, this certainly helped.

Underscoring this match is a contretemps from earlier in the week when Ousmane Dembele was home will with gastroenteritis, and didn’t call in sick to training within the specified time period. The team dispatched coaches to his home to check on him, and found him ill. But as a consequence of that transgression, Dembele was left out of the squad, unprofessionalismm that probably cost his team today. No way in hell Valverde subs on Munir when there is a fit Dembele to call upon. The Frenchman has the exact skill set that would have been needed to dismantle Betis. Instead he was sitting in the stands, bundled up, looking like just another tourist at the match, all because he couldn’t handle his damn business.

Suarez, who has been mining a strain of brilliant form in his role as a traditional 9 in Messi’s absence, regressed. The whole team seemed to be mentally lax, perhaps thinking that Messi was back so everything was fine. The sharpness and elegance that propelled the group to an almost perfect record in Messi’s absence was gone against Betis as team and coach filled their pants.

This will be the match where the people who were silent during the period Messi was absent and Barça played brilliant football, the misguided “Valverde out” crowd, will make their voices heard again, and they will be as misguided now as they have been all season. If someone gives you a cup of coffee and tells you where to deliver it, but you drop the cup, whose fault is that. The coffee might be poorly made, but you still know how to walk with a cup in your hand.

Valverde erred in his XI. Rakitic has been flirting with poor form and Busquets clearly needs a rest. Valverde rolled his conseravtive dice, thinking that he would be okay with essentially the same XI. Maybe he, too, thought “Hey, Messi is back.” Subbing on Vidal was smart, as the Chilean had a massive effect in the match, almost single-handed injecting energy into the side. He subbed on Munir, who had a hand in two of the goals, even as he was mostly ineffective. And Alena was a smart sub that was also too late, and for the wrong player as Rakitic (who eventually picked up a second yellow) should have been the player subbed off.

The team didn’t have a sense of formation as Betis stretched them out in attack, then contained them in defense as players were too individualistic. Malcom might as well have been in the stands with Dembele, such was his visibility to his teammates. There was no linking play because of sloppy passing, no defending when possession was lost because noobdy was in the right position. And even when the team got it together and did everything right, Betis would defend an individual foray by a Barça attacker, then scurry up the flanks, where there was plenty of playing space.

This loss isn’t entirely on the coach any more than it is entirely on the players. But it is a team effort. You have to equip your team with the best set of options to compete. But no matter who a coach puts out there, they have to compete. Barça isn’t top of the Liga table by accident, nor is Betis 15th in that table by accident. This was a statistical upset even as match play made it a fair result.

A fanbase will go into meltdown becasue as a collective, we have absolutely no capability of dealing with anything like adversity, and people will scream for various heads as the unfavored return to varied and sundry crosshairs. But everybody failed. Everybody. Even Dembele, who was sitting in the stands. That will be difficult for many to deal with, but it always is. Coaches make match plans, coaches adapt match plans and make subs, players execute those match plans.

Valverde’s insistence on playing Sergi Roberto over Nelson Semedo is costing his team. Again and again. But so is the inability to make a simple 5-meter pass to a teammate, or trying something for the highlight reel in the box when you have an open teammate. And that isn’t on the coach. Losing contain on trailing attackers isn’t on the coach. Everybody has to contribute to a crapshow, and everybody did. Betis took gleeful advantage of it.

That Barça will finish the matchday top of the table is a crazy bit of luck that is a consequence of a topsy-turvy La Liga. But make no mistake about it, if the team doesn’t play like it wants to win matches, if its coach doesn’t understand how the modern game is played and get players on the pitch who can deal with that game, this will be a silverless season as sure as any of us are sitting here.

And that, too, will be a collective effort.

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.


  1. Yup, I do think that complacency and maybe contempt for the rival made the team play like they did today. Of course, we can’t disregard Betis’ efforts that made them take advantage of every loose ball they got and being clinical on many chances they got.

    Yep, the team almost played like “hey, we did great without Messi, we bossed Inter and RM… now that he’s back we are gonna do even better and we play against a mid-to-lower table team… we can win it by just being there”… and well, by HT we all were astounded and how things were going…

    Valverde’s XI seemed wrong since the beginning… why Malcom on the left? He should have been on the right and Messi on left. Messi was coming back of a three week recovery and there’s an international break coming… he surely can track back at the left wing…

    Rakitic? I bet many of us have been saying that it’s about time he gets some rest… eventually being overplayed is gonna result in a crap performance… Vidal could have taken his spot without trouble.

    I don’t mind Sergi Roberto at RB… he is indeed a great player… but yeah, Semedo would be better for defending, mainly against these opponents whose approach is quick counters…

    Either way, this is just me being an arm-chair quarterback… Valverde’s subs were good ones… but the mistake there was leaving Rakitic on the field…

    Dunno, it was an overall crap game, even MATS had a big blunder that reeled us back to a 2 goal deficit… and the overall defending reeled us back there again…

    1. “I don’t mind Sergi Roberto at RB… he is indeed a great player… but yeah, Semedo would be better for defending, mainly against these opponents whose approach is quick counters…” what is up with you?
      Do u even watch Barca games? Roberto cost us goals no matter who the opponent.
      9 goals conceded due to him this season.
      You don’t mind….

    2. Yes, Sergi Roberto cost us goals, but he is also creating goal scoring opportunities… besides, I don’t think he’s as bad on the defense as many seem to say…

  2. Maybe Messi can have a chat with Valverde about Semedo as well,and ask him what a hell is the problem?
    When your team captain named Messi has to talk to the coach to clarify something that is making the whole team wondering, then to me, something is going on there.
    Valverde’s persistance on some decisions is at least strange to many, including me. Why is he continuing with it, who knows.

    1. I’m not even sure it’s his decision… La Masia? 4th captain, would be absurd to have one of your captains constantly on the bench.

    2. Well, rumor was that Messi talked to Valverde about Malcom… however, he was one of the players that ignored him on the pitch (along with Suarez and company)…

    3. Yes, that was strange, causehe was over and over overlooked when he made the runs.
      But that’s what happens when a player doesn’t get chances to play and show his worth. Teammates find it hard to trust you on the field.

    4. That’s my point, perhaps Messi didn’t really talk to Valverde about playing Malcom… why would you do that and, when the coach aligns him in the starting XI, then ignore him?

  3. I said before and I’ll say it again. Roma repeat is coming. Only this year it will be worse, since now many team are aware what to do. When u don’t learn u get punished, when u refuse to learn u get humiliated.

    1. You are correct Roma is coming again—if you just wait long enough. Maybe by the end of this season, maybe sometime next season who knows? Sports teams sometimes screw up, that’s part of the excitement.

      But honestly Hristo, do you want to spend an indefinite amount of time brooding and waiting for your your favorite team to fail just so you can say “I told you so”? Where is the joy in that? You’ll end up missing out on one of the last few season played by the greatest player to ever kick a ball.

      Even if Kxevin and everyone else on this blog agreed with you verbatim about how poorly run the club is and which players to buy/sell and field each game and were totally outraged when the club didn’t follow your prescription for success, then we’d all just be miserable too. Barca are not going to hand the reins over to a fan—its like complaining about the rain. Try to see the positives and enjoy what we have—a team and manager that win ALMOST all of their games. They are playing attractive, attacking/possession football. What’s more there is real drama not knowing if the players are too old or tired to do it “one more time”, or if the youngsters will or will not be able to keep this team playing at the phenomenally highest of levels as the previous generation.

      Just enjoy it man. Let yourself be happy. It’s just sports.

  4. By now we have already dropped 12 points, of which 7 at home, againt Girona, Bilbao and Betis.
    The other dropped points are away to Leganes and Valencia.
    And we are still top of the table. Go figure.

    1. Didnu read what Valverde said after the game: We leave feeling we didn’t deserve it”. A-ha. Okay..

      Losing points against Power Houses.

      . We gonna keep seeing Roberto at RB. Got forbid if Semedo plays and makes an error. Decapitation.

    2. Valverde isn’t the right coach for this team , he is too conservative with his selection . Since he stumbled on the team since totenham, I knew he was gonna run them to the ground . He lacks creativity in his selections . It’s boring . It’s annoying really.

  5. Ah! Look who’s here in the house. Hristo!!! Well I’m not surprised, after all its time for some “I told you so.”

    1. Valverde was saved by the injury of Messi.

      Our team could keep much better width. Naturally there is little that is required from the coach.

      Coutinho drifting inside, pulling defenders and creating space for overlapping Alba. Malcom on the right.

      A month ago i wrote that Alba does not play well with wide wingers but Valverde put Malcom there so he could keep Width but neutralise Alba. U didn’t see any runs from Alba behind while Malcom was there, did you. Basic stuff.

      While Messi was away we required less creative feom midfield because we had more space in the channels due to our ability to stretch the pitch and score from Left, Center and Right.
      The opposition was spread thinking trying to cover their flanks, which they did but left space in the middle and Suarez reeled them.
      Our youth could push and track. Our midfield had more space because Messi was there to drop back in the middle with half their defend.
      Just covering up cracks. Now that Messi is back Valverde won’t make the right choice and bench players for thr good of the team.

      And Yes, i told u so. You think this is a Bad loss?
      You have seen nothing yet. Whem u don’t learn from your mistakes life tenda to humiliate you.
      And its coming.

  6. I feel like the coffee cup analogy goes more like this:
    If someone gives you a coffee cup and tells you where to deliver it and you drop it, whose fault is that? The cup maybe poorly made with multiple cracks and leaks, so even though you know how to walk with a leaky coffee cup, you end up with a sad and empty cup.

  7. Valverde has 0 chance of winning champions league. This is a clueless guy. Rafinha, Coutinho and Dembele on the stands!!! 3-D chess from Real Madrid doing bad in the first half of the season to make Valverde look too good to keep and then they win everything in the second half of the season while Valverde falls on his ass!

    1. Maybe not so clueless… Coutinho suffered an injury during the week, Dembele is ill… Rafinha? Well, you got a point there… sadly, he is one of the players that tends to be hated on the most by fans…

  8. 3-D chess from Madrid? Are you serious? They went on to hire Lopetegui (just before the world cup) to fire him at the middle of a season and then don’t hire any “big name” coach just to make Barça feel cocky and then win everything from them?

    They may have been playing that 3-D chess for a while then… seeing as how Barcelona constantly humiliates them at Clasicos…


    Hmm, an interesting take on what happened with Coutinho out injured, Rafinha, by consensus, pretty much a fringe player and not likely to be an asset in a game where we hoped to be on the front foot, while Dembele blotted his copybook pretty badly during the week between turning up late, not turning up or letting the coaches know and claiming his phone ran out of battery ! While we’re at it, have a look at the time on the video below where he retakes his seat after half time. Hope he had a quiet conversation with the guy sitting next to him who wasn’t playing but wouldn’t miss a minute, doesn’t have his talent, has had just about the worst luck ever, never moans but has twice the commitment to the club he seems to have.

    I’ll apologise now for the length of what follows because some of it was avoidable and I’m hacked off.

    Anyway, onto the game. Crapfest isn’t wrong but it would be wrong to just right it off as such and move on. This has happened before, is always not far away and will happen again until we do something about it.

    For me, the problem is masked when we get our passing game going well because the opposition is too busy trying to get the ball and if the movement of the ball is quick enough that in itself will drain them ( see City today) . However, if we can’t get it going, or if someone loses the ball carelessly as its rotating we need to be able to adopt a defensive shape quickly. That happens well when the space between our lines is squeezed so they don’t have a quick pass and we have numbers near the ball to recover or delay. Option two is the foul to stop the game but that’s not particularly repeatable.

    Today at the start it was like our defence had done something to annoy the mids. The space was huge and when that happens Busi loses his effectiveness as he’s dragged everywhere. It also makes his passing harder and we saw how low his passing % was. The short passes into and out of defence to create time on the ball weren’t there. Pique, as Kxevin says, was flying about playing whack a mole ( good description) and if he is having to go to ground so often we know we’re in the last chance saloon. I’m only mentioning this as Fotobirajesh was surprised I didn’t mention his great tackle in the last game. Well, there were at least another three today.

    When we lost the ball they took a quick touch and fired it into the gap between our FBs and the defence. FB’s fault ? Nope. A structural fault and I’d love to be able to ask EV what he would like to happen in that situation. Does he see the FBs hating back and making up twenty yards over about thirty ? Not gonna happen. Does he want Pique and Longlet drawn out to the touchlines and isolated one on one ? Nope. So what is the best scenario ? Well, for me, either

    Both the FBs don’t go forward at the same time and as a move develops once up they don’t just stand there till it ends. They’re like a diagonal line with one end up and the other back. That always gives us three at the back so they can shuffle across if Pique gets drawn out.

    OR we instruct the mid on that side that if their FB goes off on a raid they sit back, with the instruction to stall if the ball is fired that way. Time and again we were caught with two or at most three back against four .

    However, again for me, there is a bigger problem., even allowing for the above working we still need our mids to offer a lot more help to the defence by actually busting a gut to get back with their man. These weren’t forwards causing chaos. They left two up ( which was brave at the Camp Nou) but it was the mids getting forward that killed us with the second phase. Busi and Arthur weren’t good at this today but at least they made an attempt. Rakitic was awful. Guy just doesn’t have the speed to come back with anyone. Have a look at the clip, stop it as they attack ( any attack) and count the numbers of us and them. No defence can handle that.

    Was the attack great ? No, but they did create some chances and could have taken one or two but it’s should destroying having a sieve at the back.

    The goals themselves are illustrative of some of the points I’ve mentioned.

    Goal 1. Now I have a crappy picture thanks to eleven sports ( and if I’m truthful I’d nipped to the kitchen to put the kettle on so I could be wrong here) but I think we had a set piece. Thus Pique and Longlet would be right up at their goal and we would have alternatives defending. So how come two passes see a one on one inside our box against SR ? We should have a couple at least back and two or three others able to come back in time if their mids join the attack. Didn’t happen. Now, anyone defending SR as a defender needs to have a quiet word with him that no defender worth his salt ( or even playing Sunday league) will let an attacker go inside.

    YOU SHOW HIM THE FRIGGIN’ LINE !!! ( I’m also side eying Lenglet for a similar mistake also on the clip. You’ll know it when you see it. )

    Goal 2. Just stop the clip at 4:59 and weep. I know I did.. Defence in position. Maybe unlucky not to clear but just do the Maths on the still.

    goal 3. Again, we’re fine. Defence is back, all marking their men. No way the guy will beat Jordi Alba to the byeline and if he does the cross won’t bother us. However, Rakitic who is marking his man moves forward to, I suppose, help Jordi Alba, leaving his man ALL ALONE in the middle of our penalty area. Now he’s not got the pace to cover to the byeline so all he can watch is the ball inside. Let Alba do his job. That’s what big teams with great players do. There is someone else outside the area who could maybe have got back quicker but it was Raki’s man. Ok, should never have mattered but TS is allowed one occasionally.

    Goal 4. Now I know we’re down a man ( in what world is that taking one for the team after we’ve just scored, you’re on a yellow and we have SR goalside of the guy ?) Anyway, we’re reduced to playing three at the back. We could discuss that but I’ve no issue with that, especially as Pique was making a nuisance of himself up the other end . However, it was also easily avoidable. Jordi Alba is in the correct position on his man ,mad is Lenglet but for some reason Longlet stops to claim offside and never regains the one yard ahead he needs to cut out any cross. Elementary error from an experienced CB and just after I’d said he was improving. He didn’t have a great game overall. Hopefully he’ll learn.

    So, what to do.

    1. As Kxevin says Semedo must replace SR. Let’s just be clear. He may in some people’s eyes be a legend and he is undoubtedly a nice guy with Barca in every pore but he’s only a good defender and a slightly better mid, neither of which qualifies him for more than fringe player status. At least let Srmedo have a run of half a dozen games and assess it then.

    2. EV needs to take responsibility for the shambolic transitions from attack into defence. Me, I’d drop Rakitic tomorrow and let Vidal have a chance but if you wouldn’t do that how do we get pace into the mids ? That doesn’t excuse EV from making sure that there is a system for the transition, that each player knows their part in that and that he holds them accountable if they don’t carry it out.

    Finally, a query. Kxevin I confess I don’t know what you mean by a modern FB. I’m assuming you don’t mean a stay at home and I’m also assuming you’re not talking about pace as Alba has it to spare. He’s also getting much better at recognising his horizontal responsibilities rather than just vertical . I don’t have the whole game recoded thanks to the aforementioned purveyor of crappy streams but I also don’t remember him getting the runaround when he was back in position, which admittedly wasn’t often enough for me. The only shot I remember Tello having was the one where Lenglet let him come inside.

    1. Jim, this is just the beginning. Now that our players are tired, and they will be shattered after the IG, you will see what we really.
      But I’m glad u too have begun to sing my tune.
      Vidal, Semedo must play and Rakitic() a lengthy healthy stint on thr bench.
      If u remember, few weeks ago i mentioned that when Messi isn’t there our major issues get autocorrected. We begin often with a Right Wing.
      Often Rafinha, who still keeps a bit more width, or Malcom, or Dembele. Still it is width. And Coutinho drifting inside, cutting in trying to link up, shoot and so on. He often draws defenders with him. This allows Alba to overlap to great effect. That width on the right side, Couthino pulling inside and Alba keeping width down the flank. This way Suarez has more space and time on the ball. Hence his resurgence.
      Our midfield also has more space and Rakitics deficiencies font show as much. But ive repeated this many times.
      All this that come our right in the last few games was not due to Valverde but more to simoly playing 4-3-3 with a winger more or less. Unlike this game when we created absolutely nothing from thr right until Vidal came. Shameful.

      We are gonna get beaten real bad when we least want it.
      Despite the fact that even since we started SR instead of Semedo we have conceded tone of goals from our right.

      I’ve never seen a FB to responsible so many conceded goals in such short time frame. Abysmal.

      We were outplayed yet in press after the game Valverde said the result was unfair and we didn’t deserve it. Scary stuff.

      I man that is afraid is very dangerous.

      Like i said, mauling worse than that of Roma is coming. Is coming and we can’t stop it with a coach who has no imagination or vision.

      Fuck Valverde.

  10. “Write ” not ” right” before the ghosts of English teaching past come back to deal with me. ( Also meant to put the link at the bottom . . .)

  11. Only big problem i see is the fraud DM who for more than a year dont deserve to start for Barca.
    Only reason team maybe dont win CL is Busquets.
    A bad result does not bother me and i am happy that coach trusted Munir and Alenya in such game.
    Malcom is not something special and after watched Milan Juventus i believe not bying Cancelo wss stupid.Semedo is nowhere near him.
    It s obvious players drop their intensity in easy games.
    A DM in winter and team can win treble.

  12. When team played with 10 and they fought they could turn the game around.
    This team can beat anyone if they play with top intensity.
    It seems they care more for CL it was obvious from summer that the club prioritize it.
    Hope that dont cost in Liga.

  13. Post-match comment by Valverde:
    “The problem was that we did not play well, we did not control the game and we kept on making mistakes which is why we were behind at half time, In the second half every time we scored and got back in the game they struck back immediately.”
    (Source: ESPN)

  14. 2 things were kind of embarassing
    – SR defending for the first goal
    – the gap between defence and mf for the second goal especially
    TS miss was a shame and he looked a bit hesitant to stretch, which would be because of that injury and in that case, wasnt there Cillessen
    I want to congratulate Setien for how he set up his players. That we rolled out was a pity
    Finally, Rakitic gets rested
    Malcolm was good in those first minutes and he was not ignored then. Messi and Suarez send him good balls, but wonder why it changed.
    At least now, EV will bring on Semedo and Vidal

  15. The errors are so much I don’t even know where to start.

    Kxevin should consider writing for humanitarian magazines or religious magazines. This is a game of football, you have to be clear on where the problem is coming from. If you can’t understand the whole problem is from the coach then there’s a problem.

    Your coffee analysis shows you understand little about the process of football training.

    Going by your analysis that “the person still knows how walk with a cup” then the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, iniesta etc don’t need to be training. They should just show up on match days and the coach tells them what to do and they get on the pitch and execute it perfectly. For God’s sake what’s does Valverde do in training? He couldn’t see the quality of Arthur in training until he played him in wembly and he found out the guy was good. He couldn’t see Malcom’s quality in training until the his first touch goal in San siro.

    If SR has been so poor for a long time that even fans could see his flaws in matches, then has valverde been blind all this while in training?

    Rakitic has not had a single rest from football since the World Cup started and the ignorant coach keeps playing him for 90min every game.

    Like Hristo already said and like I’ve always said everytime I come here to make comments, the worst is yet to come.

    I will say this without apology or remorse. VALVERDE is a middle team coach at the best. VALVERDE is an Europa league coach just like unai emery if not worse.

    Betis was playing a 3-5-2 formation with flying wingers but our own valverde was clueless on how to respond.

    The clueless and lifeless coach could have instructed Messi and Malcom to stick to the wings to force back the flying wingers and exploit the spaces behind the 3man Defence thereby giving SR and JA breathing space but he chose to sub in another midfielder in an already packed midfield. He could have instructed SR to stay back and play with Messi hugging the wings.

    Messi with his ability to hold the ball would have held back junior and another midfielder which would’ve reduced juniors attacking threats. Malcom and a potent JA combining well could’ve forced the right wingers back and still Suarez could’ve had more space in the middle to operate.

    If the game had been allowed to go on for more than 3hours betis would’ve kept on scoring goals.

    The formation was right, the starting XI was right but the arraingement and their onfield role as instructed is very flawed.

    We’re playing a 4-3-3 of 3strikers instead of a striker and two wingers hugging the sidelines.

    The only thing I’ll say is valverde out now before it’s too late. The guy is too clueless for a Barça coach.

    BTW I’m happy Rakitic got a red card. Atleast he’d be able to rest even if it’s just a week.

  16. That!

    “Kxevin should consider writing for humanitarian magazines or religious magazines. This is a game of football, you have to be clear on where the problem is coming from. If you can’t understand the whole problem is from the coach then there’s a problem.”
    One who can rival the stubbornness of our coach is our main writer.

    I bet, when Valverde gets fired Kxevin will say: these things happen. Its easy in hindsight. Or some benevolent sheit

  17. Wow, just calm down people, we are still top of the table (with up and down season until now) and qualified for the KO round in Champions League.
    But, that doesn’t mean that we cannot address the flaws, mistakes and ongoing around our club.
    Valverde out? Not yet, and never in the middle of the season, and what would be the point of it? I can understand that, if we really suck, knocked out in the CL, etc., but we are not so bad.
    About Valverde: When he stuck to his 4-4-2 last season, he had results, but no beauty in the game. This season he switched to our beloved 4-4-3, and sometimes the game is great, sometimes not, but we are quite vulnerable with this formation, knowing that some of our players cannot press like few years back, if not a decade. And the results are showing that,
    Another thing is motivation. How can you motivate veterans such as we have?
    That’s man management and i’m afraid that Valverde is poor in that segment.
    It’s clear to me that players are not putting everything in each game, somehow like they are preserving themselves depending on importance of the game, which is wrong. I understand and they made it clear at the beginning of the season that CL trophy is going to be a must and a priority, but, La liga should not be left behind.
    Valverde, along with the players now have 2 weeks to think about our performances throughout the season, bad and good.

  18. I’m tired of this repeating pattern… The team would play like crap, you’ll come in here and people just be making excuses to justify the coach, the tactics and even poor performances from players… Lets be realistic please… If you ask me I haven’t seen anything that EV has improved in this team, there are more players declining than progressing

  19. Some questions; Why does he stick with Roberto?, Doesn’t Valverde notice that most teams target our right flank with SR and Pique there?, Why not sub SR when you see he’s being targeted?, Why is semedo constantly on the bench, Why keep Rakitic in the game when he was on a yellow when frustration was starting to creep in?, Why does he rate Rakitic more over busquets?,Why stick with a 4-3-3 when were being defensively susceptible?, Is he not allowed to play the 4-4-2?(not surprised), Why did he allow that much space between our midfield and defence?…. Most especially, what were the freaking tactics in the game?(I’m guessing, Messi is back, give him the ball) and why wasn’t there an orthodox winger in the second half to give there fullbacks second thoughts about pushing forward and possibly to catch them on the counter….Just some niggling questions,For a team that its philosophy is based on pressing we seem to not be able to deal with other teams press.

  20. Seeking guest moderators. Perhaps Hristo, or the other folks who think I and my writing is such crap. Reach out via

    Because here is the thing. We (I) do this for free. I watch the same match that everyone else does, and offer analysis, which people then read into what they like, and hurl insults.

    I have said before that this space and the comments should nevet, ever be personal. People consistently and routinely ignore that. My interest in this space began with quality football writing from a team of minds in both the production and comments spaces. There was give and take. But above all, there was respect.

    On Twitter, when people come at me without respect, I can block them. Here, I have no such option. So I guess I have to block myself.

    So. There are lots of people here who quite clearly can do this better than I. Again. Reach out to

    As for me, those wjo are interested in what I have to say should note that I write for The Athletic, in their soccer space. It is a subscription model, but it’s also lots of fun for me. Visit there if you like.

    As for this space, barring new mods, and again, people should reach out, I don’t see a future for it unless that happens.


    1. The question always remains, if they don’t like ur writing why do they keep coming here? Most are just looking for an avenue to rant their frustrations and do the very same things on other barca platforms

  21. You have to balance this out. What we need u cannot provide. It just not in you. A character like Levon constitute traits u don’t posses. A certain grid that is needed in writing, bluntness, a sharp tongue that express very clearly the basic issues.
    You have a wonderful way of expressing your thoughts. No question. Find a writer who complements you by contrast.

    In my work u often choose what i don’t know, or what i don’t like. I like it that i don’t like it.

    Instead of writing here every week, sometimes twice a week, let Isiah take over and focus on recruiting. Invite other writer from different blogs. They will glad come over. BFB is massively know place.
    I know what I’m talking about. I ran one of UK most successful meet up groups. It went for 10 years. I know pressure very well. I don’t talk for the sake of it.
    If you notice your writing attracts readers of similar intellectual mold. There is dire need of diversity. You sing the same tune for two years. Even though things change. And have changed.
    You are losing readers too.
    You feel unappreciated. I do too. And so what!?

  22. Hristo, sorry to be blunt but give it a rest. I agree with some of the points you make but not how you make them. I’m not singing anyone’s “song” – a lot of what you mention was well discussed last season and my view then is at it is now. We have some structural problems which EV has to fix or, indeed, he will be gone but there will be differing views and that’s fine.

    Last year was a slightly different problem for me. We were often boring and very unattractive to watch. Suarez was often isolated up front and we couldn’t get bodies into the box. On the other hand the defence looked more solid.

    This year he has done what I at least was looking for and concentrated more on the quality of the football by switching to 4-3-3 and bringing in Arthur slowly and sensibly but he should now be a fixture ( although he is also lacking in pace which doesn’t help). He achieved this in that I’ve enjoyed our football much more this year. However, this has led to us becoming more vulnerable at the back because we don’t respond quickly enough and our CBs are left with too much to do.

    Just looking at yesterday what struck me was the lack of fury in Valverde when I was screaming at my TV that we had an 8 lane highway between defence and mids. I want him a fearsome sight on the touchline, arms waving and screaming at who he thinks isn’t doing their job. Instead he’s crouched almost foetus like on the ground with a worried look on his face. The players will see that.

    I didn’t agree with his subs. For me, Vidal for Rakitic was a no brainer, I’d have left Malcolm on and told the mids to include him a little more

    That is the problem. EV now has to solve it and for me he gets this season to do it. I’m not convinced he will but I’m not prepared to chuck him at this stage of the season. It would be after Christmas before we get a replacement even if a suitable one can be found. I think we have more than enough talent in the squad to do that and win trophies if we get the right mix. We can assess at the end of the season whether he has managed it although he may decide to walk anyway.

    One of the main problems we have to solve is that we need a little more pace in the midfield. I was hoping Arthur would add it and he has a little but there is still a problem, especially if we’re not prepared to reign in the FBs. Luis’ answer is to drop Busquets. I find that amazing and not sure what it is based on given his performances against Madrid and Inter but it would solve the pace problem. I’d rather drop Rakitic, who is much slower than Busi, doesnt have his ability on the ball, doesn’t get back much at all and doesn’t add a huge amount to our style of play but I suppose each to their own . It needs solved either way.

    Having (slightly) defended EV I have to say I was disappointed in him yesterday. I saw little wrong with the starting lineup, rewarding Malcolm although I’d have kept Messi on the bench till we saw how it was going. However, I wasn’t taken by his demeanour throughout the match. He was quiet the whole game, at one point reduced to crouching, foetus like, on the ground with a worried expression on his face.

    Meanwhile, I was screaming at my TV for him to sort the 8 lane highway between our defence and mids. That sort of thing can’t wait till half time. I didn’t agree with his subs. We didn’t play our football in the first half but I’m not sure how Arthur ended up taking the blame. You bring Vidal in but take Rakitic off. You keep a little pace, much better defending and have a chance of getting your passing game going. I wouldn’t have brought Munir on for Malcolm but would have indicated to Messi, mids and co that he needed to be brought into the game more, if only to pin back their RB. Can’t argue with the thought of switching him to the right wing, though, where at least SR has more help and Alba can roam freely. Alena for Busquets was a last throw of the dice but with Pique being allowed to go up front I wouldn’t have removed Busi for anything.

    Btw, has anyone mentioned how well Betis played ? They knew precisely how they wanted to play came out and played it perfectly so well done to them lest we get so self absorbed we forget that they are entitled to ruin our day.

  23. Sorry, but I’ve just read Kxevin and Hristo’s comments posted while I was wittering on.

    First of all, Hristo, the difference between you and Kxevin is that he has had to bear all the writing duties in this place for a while and the fact that he does is appreciated by all here. I say that not as someone who agrees with everything but finds his perspective interesting. You can’t have been here long if you think there are no disagreements ! As for saying you don’t think he’s blunt, well . . . I like like Lev, Isiah and all the other guest writers here as well as Kxevin. What you seem to be looking for is someone writing who always agrees with you. Then what do we do in the comments ?

    That’s the way it works. Kxevin gives his opinion and then we respond. It’s done pretty well so far. However, we keep it civil. If you want to come here and use the space have the good grace to do likewise or else go run your own blog rather than pissing on ours. . .

    Sorry to be so blunt but I enjoy this space and I enjoy Kxevin’s writing. I even enjoy the differing opinions we have. What I don’t enjoy is having to put up with insults and sarcasm directed at someone who as you say has created a well respected space here. I would like it to continue.

  24. If people want to insult and just blame everything on the coach and some players… well, there’s a space for that: twitter. Full of people that want to sack Valverde at every chance and blame Dembele, Suarez, Rakitic, Roberto and even Pique for defeats…

  25. I don’t see someone disagree with me. Instead avoiding the actual issues. You have begin to address them. Ans more openly. By February will scream Valverde to be out. Fired on the spot.
    Whats about to occur will marvel to behold. The more difficult it is the more abysmal Valverdes decisions will be.

    At somw point I’ll ask you, how did u not see this coming? Insist on a change that will not happen. There are no behavioural patters suggesting that. No convinceming ones at that.

    1. Hey, Hristo. I do understand your indignance at some of the team’s miscarriages; still and all, a man that has almost single-handedly run this space for years deserves our utmost respect despite his and other contributors’ busy lives. Our approaches and opinions will often differ, like Jim stated, and when our discourse is devoid of civility, we lose our humanity. Cheers.

  26. Regarding the full-back positions, I have often be puzzled with the club’s obsession with having attacking-minded players fill that role. While it is positively intended due to our philosophy, placing that criterion above defensive ability is infinitely preposterous for me. There is a reason Guardiola kept Abidal in the starting 11 despite his very limited attacking contributions. His presence, along with that of Puyol, provided the backline with a lot of solidity. Considering we had sufficient attacking players in the team, Alves’ forays sufficed. While Semedo may not be defensively perfect, he does offer more security, along with Umtiti, to our errabund backline. Having both fullbacks absent, just because we want to be loyal to our attacking philosophy, is a recipe for chaos, as was evident yesterday. I can live with Alba’s defensive short-comings when factoring his invaluable attacking contributions, but we can’t have two defensive liabilities (Alba being the better of the two) in an already insecure backline. It doesn’t hurt a lot to be contentful with only Alba being the only attacking fullback.
    Judging by precedence, I don’t envisage the coach altering personnel in our RB position, because if he wanted to, he could have during half time, considering how shell-shocked we were in that position. I’m afraid his recalcitrance will see him stick with Roberto ahead of Semedo in the coming matches.
    Then again, as with the baffling Malcom situation (before he eventually got a look in), the decision is ultimately the coach’s as our opinions as fans matter very little.

  27. What do you think about Camp Nou’s and Busi’s flirting with Setien?
    I read that he was once considered for a coaching position, prior to Valverde’s appointment. Can he be our next coach?

    1. There’s no denying that Setien possesses the requisite tactical dexterity to manage a team like Barca. Anyone who watched Betis’s victory over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu last season should scantily be surprised they subjected us to a footballing daymare yesterday. However, I do worry that his teams concede in equal measure as do they scoring. Take for instance, Tito, Real Betis scored 12 and conceded 15 goals this season; netted 60 and conceded 61 last season.

      While his open play approach is attractively lethal and structured, the same cannot be said of the defensive aspect of his tactics. But, in the event that EV is no longer with us, I surely wouldn’t mind having someone like him in our dugout, while hoping at the same time he comes up with a comprehensive, effective and sturdy defensive blueprint.

  28. There’s no denying that Setien possesses the requisite tactical dexterity to manage a team like Barca. Anyone who watched Betis’s victory over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu last season should scantily be surprised they subjected us to a footballing daymare yesterday. However, I do worry that his teams concede in equal measure as do they scoring. Take for instance, they’ve scored 12 and conceded 15 this season; netted 60 and conceded 61 last season.

    While his open play approach is attractively lethal and structured, the same cannot be said of the defensive aspect of his tactics. But, in the event that EV is no longer with us, I surely wouldn’t mind having someone like him in our dugout, while hoping at the same time he comes up with a comprehensive, effective and sturdy defensive blueprint.

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