Well, we lost 4-1 last night at the Sunlife Stadium in Miami to Chivas de Guadalajara. The truth is we played pretty well for the first 60 minutes, spurned many chances, then things fell apart when we had a flurry of substitutes and the team was essentially all reserve players, many of them in foreign positions. It was definitely an entertaining game and it was nice to watch a game with a team ready to attack us and not just sit back and counter only. I seriously am not one tiny bit worried about the result, even though Pep didn’t look impressed and will probably tell the lads in no uncertain terms. The commentator I had annoyed me far worse than the score. He continuously called Guardiola ‘Pepe’, called Dos Santos Milito the entire game, and decided of the young lads was Mascherano just because he was wearing 14. How some people stay in work I don’t know.
We started off with Pinto, Dos Santos, Pique, Fontas, Abidal, Keita, Xavi, Thiago, Cuenca, Villa, and Carmona.
The first 6 minutes were awesome. Barely 1 minute in Chivas broke past Dos Santos, who again was in that foreign right back role, and it took a sliding effort from Abidal to clear it off the line. We then made it 1-0 after 4 minutes after a lovely ball from Pique over the top to the onrushing Villa. Villa showed what he does best here by peeling off the defender and perfectly timing his run. His touch was perfect, went round the keeper with ease, and that was 1-0.
Pinto had to make a smart stop off a Chivas freekick soon afterward, and then in the 6th minute Carmona cracked the bar after Abidal did well to put Thiago in space, who then maturely and correctly just lay the ball back onto Carmona who smashed it into the bar.
From here on we really dominated the game, especially in the last 15 minutes of the half where we truly suffocated them and barely gave them a sniff of the ball. Carmona missed a pretty easy chance in the 27th minute when after doing the hard work (and a bit of luck with deflections) got through 2 defenders with just the keeper Michel to beat, but he put his finish wide. Carmona is already 24 and the truth is he won’t ever be a first team star at the Camp Nou. He was quite poor early on but grew into the game and it’s a pity he couldn’t score for the first team tonight cause his chances will be very few.
The first sub was already in the 33rd minute when Sergi Gomez, fresh off his victory in Romania in the UEFA U-19 Euro, came on. I’m not sure if Fontas was injured, it didn’t seem the case, so maybe Pep wanted to give him a run.
Villa again beat the offside trap perfectly in the 38th minute after Thiago played him in over the top. Villa chested it perfectly and in the same motion lobbed it over the onrushing Michel, who was very lucky to see the ball just clip the top of the crossbar and miss.
Three minutes later Keita was running through wanting a pass from Villa, who correctly didn’t play it as Keita was very likely to be offside, but then Villa’s shot that was bound for goal crashed into Keita back. Keita was not happy about the whole thing but he was totally in the wrong and should have been more aware.
Just before half time Cuenca, who is a tidy little player, got a bit selfish and blasted the ball high and wide when Villa was waiting in perfect position.
So that was the first 45 and we really were rather good. The interplay was very nice, there was endeavor and effort, and Villa really enjoyed playing this defense and had a very involved game. 1-0 was flattering to Chivas, and I reckon a score line of 3-1 was appropriate.
At the half we made 3 changes, with Iniesta on for Xavi, Pedro for Villa, and Busquets for Pique. Already early on in this half you could see the loss of Villa as the forward line totally lost shape as neither Pedro or Carmona could play that central forward role.
Things deterorated from here and it began with a cracking strike from Marco Fabian in the 59th minute. He was a good 30 meters out and just rocketed the ball into the top corner.
Almost directly after that subtitutions 5 to 10 happened, with Armando on for Gomez, Muniesa for Abidal, Riverola for Thiago, Espinosa for Carmona, and our 17-year-old rising star (also new U-19 UEFA champ) Deulofeu on for Cuenca.
Muniesa at number 26 (I think?) was a disaster from start to finish, which was only 12 minutes later, in an unfamiliar and noticeably so left back role. Just 3 minutes after he came on, they broke through his left side and a Chivas player crossed it and then Marco Fabian smashed the ball in with a beautiful scissors kick, really lovely.
We conceded number 3 basically because of Muniesa when he passed it straight to a Chivas player, then was murdered for pace on the left, then simply stopped running. The defense was nowhere and Chivas striker Casillas had enough time to mess his shot up but then recover to score. The rest of the Barca guys were not impressed with Muniesa here. He must have pulled a muscle or so because the way he simply stopped running was incredibly unimpressive and unaccepatable. He was yanked out directly after this event so either he was injured or Pep did the right thing by immediately removing him. Adriano came on in his place.
We had an early chance in the half actually before they even scored when Pedro casually tried to lob the keeper, but our best play was in the 76th minute when Iniesta played a superb ball through the defense to Dos Santos, who crossed it in, whoever was playing 14 for us (Espinosa I think) was stopped well by Michel and then Deulofeu shot was stopped off the line. After this Balliu came on for Keita.
We conceded number 4 in the dying minute from a corner kick that Pinto punched away horribly and then it was bundled in from a deflected shot.
So we lost but really, at the end there we had only 3 starters playing and it was shambolic and uncohesive as a result. We actually played really well the first 60 minutes or so, especially going forward and there is nothing to read into this result. Pep was not happy and he is right to be so, but then again with so many subs and inexperienced players against a team that is really up for it, what can you expect. We have our next game in 2 days versus Club America and I think we may take that one a bit more seriously.