In Talking Barça 8, Nic and Simon start in a low key mood following FC Barcelona's surprise away defeat against Getafe CF. We prefer to look for responsibility in our own play and in the effectiveness of Getafe rather than blaming poor refereeing. Barça are, however, six points behind Real Madrid, who benefitted from the ref's decisions in the Derby against Atlético. Barça's fantastic win against AC Milan seems a long time ago, and this week sees two crucial matches against Rayo Vallecano and Levante UD. With our visit to the Bernabéu firmly in our sights, it's important to bag these points in order not to fall too far behind our eternal rivals.
Getafe CF v FC Barcelona
Saturday night's 1-0 defeat against Getafe in the Coliseum Alfonso Perez means that we start this week's Talking Barça in a reflective mood. After the euphoria over our Champions League victory against AC Milan, it seems that pride comes before a fall.
But all due respect to Getafe. They closed Barça down by putting two lines of defenders on the edge of their area and made it very difficult for our midfield - Xavi in particular - to create play. Nic is especially critical of the fact that the Barça players lacked verticality and limited their attacking game to runs through the middle.
It's not fair to look for excuses but Iniesta and Cesc were sadly missed, Guardiola started Messi out on the right of the attack again and we both have doubts about Villa's current form.
The truth is that we should have won, though. Nic is adamant that the incident for which Busquets got the yellow card wasn't a penalty. However, the goal that Messi scored in the closing moments should have been given. The ref didn't give the goal because Keita was offside. The truth is, though, that the ball came off a Getafe player rather than Keita and therefore, the goal was valid.
Like many Barça fans, we're a little unhappy about the difference in the way the referees treat Barça and Madrid. In their game against Atlético, Real Madrid had two penalties in their favour and, by the end of the game, the Colchoneros only had 9 men left on the pitch. Perhaps the change in government in Spain will go against Barça - Real Madrid only seem to win major competitions when there's a right-wing government in Spain!
Nic is once again very critical of Gerard Piqué, who was at fault in Getafe's goal. He seems to be lacking concentration and was guilty of some very poor passing. Nic questions his place in the team, whilst Simon more generously thinks that he plays better alongside Pujol
AC Milan v FC Barcelona
Although it seems a very long time ago, last week's Champions League tie in San Siro against AC Milan made both of us extremely happy - it was a great game of football!
Nic is particularly pleased with the predictions he made before the game on the Barça Central blog. He not only got the three-man defence right but also predicted 3-2 as the final result. Congratultions to Nic 'I know everything about football' Aldam!
Apart from being a fantastic piece of football entertainment, the victory over Milan means that Barça are going to finish top of the group whatever the resuilt of the game against BATE Borisov. This means that, with a view to the Clásico against Madrid a few days later, Guardiola will be able to rest some of the key players.
Despite our heavy criticism of Zlatan Ibrahimovic over the last few weeks, we were even quite pleased to see the big-nosed Swede get a goal and both of us really enjoyed Boateng's second goal for AC Milan.
FC Barcelona v Rayo Vallecano
This week is going to be a difficult one for Pep Guardiola and the team. We play Rayo Vallecano on Tuesday in Camp Nou - this game has been brought forward from Week 17 because Barça will be competing in the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan that week.
Although we feel that Barça are bound to bounce back, we wonder how the Getafe defeat will affect the team's confidence. What's more Rayo are no cinderella - they're currently ninth in La Liga and their attack is led by Raul Tamudo, an enemy of old.
When Tamudo was captain of Espanyol, he always played with particular vehemence and success against Barça, and there's no reason to think that he won't be motivated to make tings as difficult as possible for us once again.
FC Barcelona v Levante UD
In many respects, Levante are an even tougher cookie than Rayo. Although they're this season's surprise team, they're managing to keep things together very well and are currently riding high in the fourth place spot only two points behind Barça.
They'll be highly motivated against the Blaugrana and with Del Horno and Ballesteros in defence, Farinós and Xavi Torres in midfield and Koné and Barkero in attack, they've got some first-class veterans, who are capable of giving us a run for our money.
Don't miss next week's Talking Barça where will definitely be concentrating on the Clásico against Madrid in the Bernabéu on December 10th. What happens this week in our games against Rayo and Levante and Real Madrid's match against Sporting will obviously also be on the agenda.