Blame it on the pitch: How Barcelona's eternal excuse always seems to surface

Don't blame it on the sunshine, don't blame it on the moonlight, don't blame it on the good times. Blame it on the pitch.

Every time Barcelona loses (and sometimes, even when it doesn't), the Catalans complain about the playing surface, and Wednesday's deserved defeat at Atletico Madrid was no exception as Dani Alves moaned about the state of the Vicente Calderon grass in the mixed zone after the game.

"It wasn't a matter of desire; they play with their weapons and leave the field very, very dry," the Brazilian said, even though Atletico scored the only goal of the game, hit the woodwork on three occasions, saw an excellent penalty appeal turned down and was superior in terms of chances if not overall possession.

But Barca's pitch protests are nothing new and here, Goal takes a look at some of the Catalans' more memorable laments in recent seasons.

April 9
Atletico (A)
Lost 1-0
Even though Xavi claimed Barcelona deserved "at least a draw," most observers and even fans of the Catalan club acknowledged Barca was second best Wednesday. But Alves complained: "It wasn't a matter of desire; Atletico play with their weapons and leave the field very, very dry." Unnecessary.
March 8 Valladolid (A)
Lost 1-0
Barcelona was unrecognizable in a dreadful display that at the time looked to have ended its hopes of winning La Liga. "The pitch was bumpy and that didn't allow us to play our game," Xavi said. Nor did Barca's paltry performance.

Dec. 2
Athletic (A)
Lost 1-0
Just days after losing at Ajax, the first defeat under Gerardo Martino, Barca went down by a single goal at San Mames. Neymar had problems with the pitch and had to change his boots. "It wasn't just him," said sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta. "The pitch affected a lot of our players."
Jan. 19
R. Sociedad (A)
Lost 3-2
Barcelona lost just twice in La Liga last season and the first of those defeats came at Real Sociedad, when Tito Vilanova's team went down 3-2. "It's hard to play at Anoeta," Xavi said afterward. "The pitch is really big and the surface is usually too soft."

Aug. 29
Real Madrid (A)
Lost 2-1

Barca beat Real Madrid 3-2 at home in the first leg of the Spanish Supercopa, but lost the return 2-1 and saw the silverware won by its fierce foe. "The pitch was dry," coach Tito Vilanova said later. "The ball didn't move properly and that harmed us."
April 7
Zaragoza (A)
Won 4-1
Pep Guardiola's side cruised to victory at La Romareda, but the Catalan coach was still unhappy with the playing surface. "The grass was long, but at every away ground it's like that," he sighed. "The only team that doesn't leave the grass long is [Marcelo] Bielsa's Athletic."
March 28
AC Milan (A)
Drew 2-2
AC Milan and Barcelona drew 0-0 in a Champions League quarterfinal first-leg match at San Siro, but the Catalans were furious with the state of the pitch and presented an official complaint to UEFA. "We adapt to everything," Guardiola said. "But it's clearly a problem for the game as a spectacle."
Feb. 1
Valencia (A)
Drew 1-1
Barca failed to overcome Valencia in the first leg of the sides' Copa del Rey tie in February and Guardiola was unhappy at the state of the pitch. "I didn't expect them to leave it that dry," he said. When Carles Puyol equalized, he screamed, "Let them leave the pitch dry!"

April 16
Real Madrid (A)
Drew 1-1
Barca was unhappy that Jose Mourinho left the Bernabeu grass long in the sides' 1-1 draw in La Liga. "I believe people like to see attractive football on a good playing surface, not long grass and hard pitches," Xavi said. "It's deplorable that there are no regulations in place for the state of the pitches."
March 2
Valencia (A)
Won 1-0

Barca beat Valencia, but the Catalans weren't happy with the Mestalla pitch. "The grass was long and the pitch was dry," David Villa said. But Unai Emery hit back at Barca. "Some of their coaching staff protested," he said. "But in Barcelona they prepare the pitch as they like it. Every team does that."

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