Liga Liveblog: Barça-Sporting

It’s another day, another liveblog from me, your host. You know the drill: be there or be…not there.

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.


  1. i always enjoy seeing the avatars of the facebook friends of BFB, just above this post — who are those people? ooo i see ciaran and vijay, usually i have never heard of any of em..,lurkers i guess

  2. hyped for the match. i have to go to city hall in an hour, hope i will be finished in time to get back and watch the game.

    reports in holland that sneijder might go back to real madrid…

    1. And Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Pique, Valdes, Bojan, Busquets to…

      well, FC Barcelona.

      VAMOS! !

  3. Valdez
    Alves Puyol Milito Maxwell
    Xavi Busquets Keita
    Messi Villa Iniesta

    Bench – Pinto, Piqué, Adriano, Mascherano, Thiago, Nolito, Bojan

  4. I don’t see my face above, maybe it rotates.

    The lineup is interesting, I assume Botia will play for Sporting. I’m very annoyed that we let Botia leave but maybe we’ll buy him back. I just imagine that a central defense partnership of Pique and Botia would be perfect long term. Height, strength, ball playing and a few goals to boot.

    1. i have yet to see enough Botia to comment, but is he really that good??? we have the buy back option to exercise, which i like, but after 3 years, do we have the up and coming youths fill the spots already??? many unknown questions.

    2. Cliveee, Botia is our youth. I really do hope we get him back. He seems at the right age. About the same age as when we got Piqué back, right?

    1. Points is points.

      I couldn’t watch the match live, but the updater at said we were playing like Real Madrid. Oh, dear.

    2. Was a hard match to watch….was boring a few times….but say what, EE plays like that all the time so I should be grateful!!!

      3 PTS is 3 PTS just no style points for us this time…

    3. I mean, our players have proved themselves enough over the past few years that they are allowed to have bad matches, but yeah, very boring for me.

      I refuse to watch it again. I’m not interested in seeing a bunch of passes get nowhere with bad touches sprinkled in between.

    4. Opening minutes were good, no goals tho. And it isn’t EE-like unless we get a non-existant penalty called our way.

      But it wasn’t the greatest match ever, Sporting did a good enough job stifling attack and our front-line just looked too static in the second half. And Villa has got to work on staying onside.

  5. On a different note, does anyone have any idea what time (Eastern) the match versus Kazan will be on next week? I’m looking at time zones and getting confused.

  6. Pipping only one goal vs an undermanned Heehon side isn’t something that should be filling our hearts with song. But there it is, and it’s three points.

    Someone noted the pessimism that pervaded the LiveBlog, and it’s true, but increasingly typical. This team isn’t going to crush people 5-0. I expect a lot of one-goal matches this season as our standard M.O.

  7. Guardiola on the game //

    # Guardiola:”More than a lack of games, we have a lack of training sessions. 4-5 players need more but the calendar doesn’t allow it” #fcblive 15 minutes ago via TweetDeck

    # Guardiola: “Statements by Marca director Inda? I don’t know that man, never talked with him.” #fcblive 16 minutes ago via TweetDeck

    # Guardiola: “Pedro always give us something extra by his movements.” #fcblive 17 minutes ago via TweetDeck

    # Guardiola: “Puyol? He got hit, he had troubles during the whole first time so we decided to take him off. He’ll be back soon.” #fcblive 17 minutes ago via TweetDeck

    # Guardiola: “I liked the whole game. I’m satisfied. They didn’t shoot on goal. We could have finished it earlier though.” #fcblive 21 minutes ago via TweetDeck

  8. Was in class for the match, so I didn’t watch. Is it the type of match I shouldn’t feel bad about not watching? Or should I go back and check it out?

    Very happy to see a 1-0 scoreline. The team is certainly not playing up to the lofty standards it has set itself in the past, but all things considered (World Cup, injuries, short preseason, stupid friendlies, etc.) that isn’t unexpected. Being able to grind out wins while not playing at their best is a skill the team needs to conquer.

  9. It was not the thrilling of matches though i am mightily happy with 3 points.

    Bojan again showed why he is frustrating. There were some nice touches but lot of times he simply did not produce enough.

    As for Villa, good goal but overall i felt that he has to improve a lot. On his positioning and keeping himself onside. Also on being less selfish. I get that all the strikers are selfish but taking unreasonable shots when there were better options near by was quite silly. I had high hopes from him. Still have.

    The pitch as Camp Nou is still aweful. And they are apparantly having two rugby matches over next few months. It is disgraceful. No matter what, the pitch plays a part in our game and one would expect at least the home pitch to be well suited.

    Overall, Bilbao is going to be fun and quite tough.

  10. Guardiola: “I liked the whole game. I’m satisfied. They didn’t shoot on goal. We could have finished it earlier though

    I’m not heartened by that. He sometimes seems way too satisfied with a patient possession game that doesn’t have a cutting edge. We should have tried to aggressively break the off-side trap, but we preferred to play the safe balls out wide rather than the riskier through balls and chips.

    1. I think he’s being pragmatic. He knows how long the season is and how tough it will be to try to win both La Liga and Champions. I know the whole “Filosofo” thing suits him, but I think he’s more realistic about how this season is going to play out. I’m sure he would have been happier with a 3-0 result, but it ended at 1-0 and he’s not going to berate his players for it.

    2. Maybe. But I also think it’s a question of what he wants as a coach, which is for the team to always be patient, play the passing carousel, control the game, and wait for opportunities. Sometimes I think we could use a change of tempo and a little more directness.

    3. Which, I should add, is where the loss of Messi really hurts, because he’s the one player who is always looking to turn towards goal and make something happen quickly.

    4. That’s how Pep is. If it was 5-0 he would probably say we weren’t perfect and have to improve in certain areas.

      Besides the lack of chances, like Isaiah pointed out to me on Twitter, defensively we were very good and they had 0 shots on target. That’s a positive.

  11. 3 points without Messi, how am I not satisfied.

    The fact is that we had no choice, Philo Barca. Out there on the pitch, we played our best possible line-up and if we didn’t do well, we will have to live with it. Sure enough, there are room for improvement, lots of it. But when Pep clearly sees the need of having more training sessions, what can we expect while we don’t have time for them. I am sure those 4-5 players who Pep said in need of more training sessions include Bojan & Villa.

    On another note, some said in tlhe iveblog that Iniesta or Thiago are more direct players for us than Keita, and I am not gonna agree with that because Keita is the one who plays fundamental, solid, direct football for us. He might not be at his best tonight, but he is the one who shoot more from long range and bomb the box with great speed. Iniesta is amazing of course, but when we talk about direct football, he is not the first player in mind. The way he dribbles to nowhere sometimes really means that other players will have to wait for something amazing to happen first, and then run to receive a pass which nobody knows when will arrive. Thiago is more of a playmaker imo. But if playmaking is a direct way of playing in your view, then he is. But what if he can’t make a play in an off day like today?

    We are lacking options, the squad is shallow, some players are not up to standard. 1-0 , 3pts, I am happy.

    1. There’s a difference between being direct, and being able to create chances. Iniesta and Thiago are certainly more creative than Keita, and that is why I imagine people were calling for him to be played.

    2. but to say they are more direct than Keita is just plain wrong to me.

      You are right, their creativity is about several classes above Keita’s.

    3. Sorry but if you’re comparing Iniesta and Keita in an attacking sense it’s no contest. Btw, when was the last time keita “crashed a box” ?

  12. I have some worries that I hope are resolved:

    –Krkic is regressing, rather than progressing.
    –Villa isn’t demonstrating the kind of movement necessary for him to even score as many goals as our failure did last season, much less numbers that will make everyone giddy with rapture.
    –There isn’t any kind of holdup play in front of the opposition box. Sometimes, we create chances by having the forward hold the ball while someone makes a run.
    –Our high-risk defense is going to bite us in the butt someday soon.

    1. I’d compare ’em first season to first season:

      Eto’o: 28 goals, 0 assists
      Ibrahimovic: 21 goals, 9 assists

      Both accounted for almost the same number of goals.

    2. In thinking of a “perfect” striker for Barcelona, he would have the hunger and movement of Eto’o, the versatility of Ibrahimovic and the shotmaking skill of Henry. Dude doesn’t exist, yo.

    3. Just saw Eto’o dish out two assists for Ronnie (vs Milan) and Maxi López (vs Chelsea) that season in the CL alone, so I don’t think those numbers are right. You use soccernet for your stats right? Their assist numbers don’t go that far back. You can tell when Xavi and Ronnie also have a 0 in that column.

    4. They track assist totals to even before Eto’o’s first year with us, so I don’t know that they would suddenly not track assists for a while. Maybe Xavi didn’t have any assists that season, as well. He wasn’t always the Xavi that we have now, right? Nor was Ronaldinho.

    5. They did… for the Premier League. Pirlo? No assists until 2005. Zidane? Nada. Have a look yourself at our team stats from 2004/05:


    6. And you know, that Ronaldinho guy did win FIFA WPotY in 2004 and 2005. But you wouldn’t believe it’s the same guy when you see the 2008 vintage.

    7. We did, barca96… endless one… how could you forget those painful days or Eto’o vs Ibra…

      And now, Ibra and Villa has a similar situation, they both arrived the club for their first season. Eto’o was at his peak and had been with us for some years. Ibra and Villa both first season. A world of difference.

    8. [b] –Villa isn’t demonstrating the kind of movement necessary for him to even score as many goals as our failure did last season, much less numbers that will make everyone giddy with rapture. [/b]

      Are you surprised? Everyone should have seen this coming, fitting into our system – particularly for a forward, is extremely difficult. Look at Henry’s troubles, look at Ibra’s troubles, look at Villa’s troubles. No one denies they are all world class strikers, but they all had trouble adjusting. If you look at Ibra last year, he NEVER really fit the system – most of the goals he scored were because he remained outside the system (which had advantages and disadvantages). As long as Villa continues to try to integrate himself, I will be patient

      [b] –There isn’t any kind of holdup play in front of the opposition box. Sometimes, we create chances by having the forward hold the ball while someone makes a run.[/b]

      Agreed. This is a major problem, even more so because we don’t have anyone on the roster who is particularly good at this.

      [b] –Our high-risk defense is going to bite us in the butt someday soon. [/b]

      I view this as a risk/reward situation. If we don’t play a high defensive line then our high pressing loses all effectiveness as there would be space for the other team to play out of. This has always been a weakness of our defense, but I think it brings more risks than rewards. I wouldn’t mind picking up another fast CB though.

    9. I’m not at all surprised, really. I think Villa would have been much better with Ibrahimovic, or some kind of more traditional center/forward, somebody to keep folks honest while he does his thing.

    10. I don’t think it’s limited to forwards. I think any player will struggle coming into a system unfamiliar to him. Not only does he have to get used to playing with his teammates (let’s not forget: futbol is a team, not individual, sport), he also has to figure out where he belongs in the new tactical system.

      Like you said, no one should be surprised Villa isn’t performing to his best yet. Hopefully, Messi and other Barca vets can produce enough that Villa’s assimilation period isn’t a problem.

    11. Villa would only be considered failure by the fans if he scores under 20 .. He has some advantages over Ibra ..
      1- He bought him for less ..
      2- He wasn’t traded with Eto’o so no direct comparison
      3- He is Spanish
      4- He isn’t that much of a trouble maker in the locker room
      5- He doesn’t argue with the refs as much as Ibra did
      6- We don’t hear much from his agent
      7- More Merchandise (I guess)

    1. Truly Enjoyable match .. I feel the goals that De Gea concedes no other Goalkeeper would save .. He has a great future ahead of him

  13. So… mangles Pep’s comments about the match.

    According to them, he said “Messi is an irreplaceable player, today if he was here we would have won 5-0 but he was not and we had to play another in his place.”

    What he really said was, “Messi is an irreplaceable player and he still would be even if we won 5-0.”

    He would never disrespect Sporting like that. Shame on you, goal.

    1. They mangled Messi’s as well. And when I decided to try and inform the other commenters of that, they didn’t even publish my comment.


    2. Yeah, they’ve done that to me before. I think they have certain words flagged, like “fake”, “lies”, “made up”, and possibly even “truth”. 😉

  14. I should remind everyone of the warnings that World Cup years always, always suck, particularly on the heels of Euros and Confederations Cup. That’s a lotta lotta matches, and they swing right into qualifying for Euros, which will swing right into …. you get it. Tired players, short training camps, etc, etc.

  15. In other news, you remember the temper tantrum Neymar (of Brazilian side Santos) threw last week when he didn’t get to take a penalty kick, which spurred him to play keepaway with the ball from his OWN teammates for several minutes? Which got him suspended for a match?

    Well it seems that Santos’ coach Dorival decided to extend Neymar’s suspension for another match to teach him a lesson. So the Board of Directors fired him. Dorival, I mean. Yes, in their infinite wisdom, the Board decided that the whims of a spoiled teenager were much more important than having an effective (and talented) coach. Yes, Santos is now being completely held hostage to the ego of an 18-year-old. Well done.

    1. its not that simple , really.
      Ofcourse treating a player like this is wrong and sad , but dont forget that he is prized at 40 m , just received a huge pay rise , is considered the best big thing and is probably worth more than the rest team combined.
      Its not easy to manage such an asset , especially when others pale in comparison.
      Firing the coach, sadly , is the cheaper solution.
      Take small teams for example : most of them when they fail they fire their coaches . The other solution is to fire the squad.

    2. Eh, all the coach wanted to do was hold him out for the match against Corinthians, and he was perfectly justified in doing so. Neymar made the club and manager look like fools.

      Forget what Neymar is worth, benching him for one match wasn’t going to flip the universe. He needed to learn his lesson. If he wants to sulk after that, remind him that he has a 4 year contract, and if he wanted, he could stay home for the rest of the season. That incident was only one of many stupid and petulant things he has done this season.

      Firing the coach was the dumb solution, forget cheaper. I hope they suffer for it.

    3. Well two points here , just because i might get misunderstood.

      We dont know what happens behind closed doors in the teams.
      Most of the times anyway , and we always dont know exactly what happened , only what we are told.
      Maybe this was an already planned firing. Maybe benching neymar gave the board an excuse to do something they already wanted to do with that coach. Mayber the coach requested to leave the player out of the squad for the rest of the season and the board rejected this option Maybe it was just neymar.

      second point is , we have to be realistic when talking about other teams. Just because barcelona have a great stadium ,are playing attractive football , have a suited coach that the board listens to, a great squad of players and a pretty hefty revenue doesnt mean that any other team should or even could reach these standards.

    4. No, no, it is that simple. IMO, any player who thinks he is above the team and the coach is NO asset. I don’t care how much he is “worth”. If he can’t play with a team, who is going to buy him? Not Barcelona, anyway.

    5. Dreadful match, but we got the win.
      Say what you want about Villa, his movement was bad (I agree), offside too much (I somewhat agree), missed too many chances (I agree), should have passed to Bojan instead of shooting the ball in the side net (not sure on that one, I think had he passed the defenders could have intercepted, though i can’t say for sure). What I do know is that he was the most dangerous player on the pitch tonight. Or the least “undangerous” one, lol. Agree with Kxev that he and Ibra probably would have gelled nicely.
      Pedro and Bojan were pretty lame imo. Xavi was kind of sloppy with his passes too. All in all we have 3 points. we have 3 points. we have 3 points.

  16. Alfredo Relaño says that Madrid’s spot at the top of the table has merit because unlike, us, they have had harder matches. The games are not delivered to them, like Sporting did for us today (his words), and it showed with how effusive the greeting between Pep and Preciado was after the match. Teams are more motivated to face Madrid than Barça both home and away.

    I find that funny seeing how hard Hercules played us at our house, how Atletico Madrid is always motivated to beat us at their home, how despite the many changes, Sporting defended well today. Teams are always motivated to beat the best team in the world and in their league.

    Yes, Madrid have Mourinho, Cristiano, and whoever… but I guarantee if you go around the league and ask teams who they would rather beat, the most popular answer would be the defending champions, FC Barcelona.

    It’s fine to be proud of being 1st place, but the reasons he give for this don’t reflect reality.

  17. To be clear about my comments above, I wasn’t really complaining about Pep’s satisfaction with the score line, but with the way we played. If we had a 1-0 in which we created a lot of chances but just didn’t get good finishes, then that means the tactical system is working but the players just failed to execute. But we really didn’t create any good chances outside of Villa’s goal and Iniesta’s half volley.

    Today, all the space was behind the defenders and along the wings, but we didn’t exploit it. We needed to time runs behind the defense for through balls. It probably would have resulted in a ton of offside calls and dispossession (it’s hard to pass through or above two compressed lines of 4), but it would have also probably resulted in 4-5 breakaways that would have hopefully opened up the game. That’s what I meant by a need for more direct play rather than a patient possession game. Our wingers and wingbacks should have also tried to bring the ball all the way to the end line and cut it back. That would have stretched their lines a little bit.

    I also don’t think you can fault Villa for a lack of holdup play, because there really wasn’t any space for him to receive and hold up the ball. To me, holdup play becomes useful when the opposition pressures high, so your defenders can kick long passes over the midfield to your attackers who sit in front of the opposition’s defenders, where they can then hold up play until they can bring the midfielders into the attack (we did this well against Zaragoza at home last year, which I think was the best use we ever got out of Ibra). With Sporting playing such compressed lines and dropping behind the ball, there really wasn’t room to hold up play, IMO.

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