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Posted by Isaiah Cambron on 01/10/2012

When the ref blew for the end of match, some of the Barcelona fan base muttered something about where his whistle could go. Others yelled about it. Still more tweeted it. Yet the lesson overall is hardly that Turienzo Alvarez is bad referee or, worse, biased - Marca went with a play on words about it and even Raúl Rodríguez, the man who committed the late handball, admitted that it was one - but rather that there are no easy games and never a dull moment when you're the worldwide target.

Perhaps the team were looking forward to Monday’s FIFA gala and Messi's third consecutive Ballon d'Or win (with Xavi coming in 3rd for the 3rd year running as well), but whatever it was, they looked listless and were outplayed. Pochettino put out a squad that, in very imprecise terms, "wanted it more" and filled the midfield. Barca gave the ball away more than Espanyol (88 to 86) while they had fewer shots (9 to 13), which suggests that, in several areas they were outplayed by their city rivals.

There are still 63 points left to play for, so the 5 point lead Madrid has isn't particularly overwhelming, but continuing to play as if the match has been won before it started (as with the loss to Getafe and the squeaker of a win against Granada) will ensure Madrid's chart-topping ways. Yet all of these doldrums are away from home. At the Camp Nou the team continues to smash all their opponents without conceding a goal (though Sevilla managed a scoreless draw), but on the road they've lost a game to Getafe and drawn 4 times.

It's certainly far from time to panic, but if Barcelona wants to maintain the mantle of "best team in the world," it would behove them to show up for away matches and put teams such as Espanyol to the sword when they have the chance. Down 0-1 after 17 minutes, Espanyol stepped it up, rather than putting their tail between their legs and running home to mama as the cules thought they would. The game turned petulant and the ball stopped rolling much, but that isn't much of an excuse for dropping points.

If Barcelona want a fourth consecutive La Liga title, they'll have to win matches like these, rather than draw or lose them. Guardiola, the man who just received the top club managerial award while Messi lifted his golden ball, will have to coach like we all know he can. The team too will have to play like they did against Osasuna, Santos, Al-Sadd, Real Madrid, Levante, and Rayo. They're obviously capable and perhaps this loss will light a fire under them that will carry them through the tough road (matches) ahead. Part of that will determine the Copa del Rey bragging rights between the top 2 as well as Malaga's claim to being competitive with the big boys.

All to play for, but now it's in earnest. As long as the team is willing to learn from Espanyol.


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Comments

Posted by Efe Dave on 01/10/2012

Really felt frustrated the way the match was handled by Pep & and the big boys. At 0-1, one would thought FCB would 1 or 2 more goals to be sure of victory, no we played game as if it was already won. Good lesson though!

Posted by Chris on 01/10/2012

That kind of game was a game where i'd like to see players with a little more hunger on the field.

I woul've liked to see Thiago, Keita (as a starter), and Macherano should've gone in for Alves who gave away more balls than he won; and had Puyol slip into a conservative right defender after the 1-0 lead.

Horrible possesion by Alves, probably Xavi's worst game of the season(doesnt say much).

The team had no hunger going in an Guardiola shoud've stuck to his guns and ATTACK rather than bitch out and put in Keita while alves, messi and xavi were all either unfocused or out played.

Posted by acurate on 01/10/2012

win some,loss some. Barca team & manager r humans

Posted by Mark on 01/10/2012

I would have liked to have seen different substitutions by Guardiola,

Iniesta wasn't playing well at all, and I would have taken him off for Pedro, and dropped Cesc into Iniesta's former role, while playing Pedro out on the wing where Cesc was before

If that hadn't gotten things going, Xavi wasn't playing a fantastic game either, and I would have pulled him for Thiago, to get a set of fresh legs, and a fresh creative mine on

Posted by Imre Nagy on 01/11/2012

Barca didn't play the way they normally do,it surprised me, but surely the ref helped Espanol when Messi was called offside twice in the last 15 minutes and replays showed he clearly wasn't, and the hand ball by a defender should have resulted in a penalty for Barca.

Posted by Jason on 01/11/2012

You said "perhaps this loss will light a fire...". Barca tied, they didn't lose. But I do agree with this article. They need to step it up and against teams like this, Pep needs to put players on the field who are hungry for time and want to prove themselves even more than they already have, i.e. Thiago and Pedro.

Posted by Adanlawo on 01/11/2012

Barca didn't play the way they normally do, but sincerely the ref did not help matter, especially the penalty he refuse to give. Though we should not shy away from the fact that Barca is the team to beat by all the club sides in Europe. Guardiola should stuck to his ATTACKING formulars i.e, the way he plays the likes of Madrids, M.United, Millans. Keita and other young players are good materials, they should be given room to help Lionel perform.

Posted by Eric Carrera on 01/12/2012

Speculation of Milan Tevez deal looks to be losing momentum by the hour, Tevez to Barca ...??

Posted by Fakayode Abayomi Emmanuel. on 01/13/2012

4get about espayol teaching barcelona a lesson. Afterall it was one all draw, why did they have to be proud of playing draw at their back yard? Besides, no team is unbeatable. So, barcelona remain d best team in the world.

Posted by Joshua adamu on 01/14/2012

Infact, all barcelona fans are not happy the way dat game was played. But barca can still do something fantastic because the seoson is not yet over.

Posted by Andreas Eworyi on 01/15/2012

The ref didn't handle the match professionally, and Barca also didn't play an impressive game.

Posted by ref on 01/15/2012

wow u guys always talking about madrid complaining about the refs yet here u are crying and moaning about the ref . hahahaha

Posted by elias on 01/16/2012

Before saying something just remember how hard it is to always be 100% motivated for 4 consecutive years. They have been winning Laliga, Champions League, europa and world championships(for Spanish players) and other trophies as a team and dominated individual trophies. They became at the center of the image of foot ball. So they sometimes can get tired. Even people who admire them can let alone them.

Posted by elias on 01/16/2012

@ ref you can not judge a club based on it's fans when it comes to criticizing the referee. Rather you should look at the people like the manager, the president and players. And if you do you take a great lesson for your manager,Mourinho. But that is if you are a Madrid fan.

Posted by Rangle on 01/18/2012

In the complicated world we live in, it's good to find simple soluitnos.

Posted by brown prince. on 01/18/2012

no matter what it seems to be,barca remains barca de best team in de world so dear barca fans dont complain much we are still capable 2 win again and again.

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About
Francesc Tomas Hola! I am Francesc Tomas. Barcelona is my passion and home-town team. I consider myself lucky to have regularly attended matches at the Camp Nou since the early 1980s. My cousin played for the Barça youth academy, sharing the team with Don Andres Iniesta, which gave me a clear inside view of how our club works behind the scenes. I am also the founder, editor and columnist at Barcablog.com.

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