Man of the Match Poll, Champions edition

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In my fantasy life, Iโ€™m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, Iโ€™m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

96 Comments

  1. JeffP
    October 1, 2009

    I’m somewhat concerned about the airing of this Saturday’s match. GolTV currently has a replay of the Milan Champions League match at 1:30pm followed by the La Liga Report at 3:30pm. I think Barca’s game starts at 2pm EST, no?

    I’m hoping this is just another case of GolTV not updating their schedule…..

    • Helge
      October 1, 2009

      I can only confirm that the match starts @ 2pm EST. And if GolTV doesn’t show it, you’re not alone. There are 82 Mio Germans and 1.2 Mio Indians with the same problem – assuming that all Germans and Inidans desire is to watch Barcelona ๐Ÿ™‚

      Oh, and my MotM is Xavi.

      • utility73
        October 1, 2009

        Germans with Internet can watch it at http://www.laola1.tv
        This site has the official licence for the Lliga for Austria and Germany.

    • October 1, 2009

      It looks like it will be on ESPN Deportes, though it’s not officialy confirmed…it’s just that there’s only the Barcelona match at the time so one logically assumes that “futbol espaรฑol as it’s listed here will be our match.

    • Muhammad
      October 2, 2009

      you deserve to be put with Yaya in the cage instead of Weligton.

  2. Ramzi
    October 1, 2009

    My man of the match:Kyiv keeper.

    And messi_fan, my answer for your last post comment: There will be some news next week. Stay alert ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Hector
    October 1, 2009

    Finally some good news.

    Bojan and Henry are back training with the team as per Sport.

    Also, the Referee Technical Committee chariman lambasted Ferreiro on TV and left it pretty well implied that he will be punished. He also lamented that the Competition Committee (which is the one in charge of punishing players) did not suspend Weligton. He complained that the players get away scot free while the refs are always punished.

    Damn.

  4. Kzevin
    October 1, 2009

    I think that this MOTM debate will be interesting. So many good candidates, only one victor. In many ways, that’s a good problem to have, right?

    Ramzi has a point about the Dinamo keeper. But I think that had we not done him the immense favor of shooting directly at him a number of times, the scoreline would have been a lot gaudier.

    But he also was excellent at reading the match, particularly with Ibra’s header.

  5. Tajh
    October 1, 2009

    It looks like henry has lost his place in our starting 11.Reports says that Iniesta is going to play his position untill the ACN starts next year

    • Kxevin
      October 1, 2009

      Good. I don’t think that anyone should have an automatic place in our starting XI. As with Abidal and Puyol, everyone should have to continually justify their presence on the pitch. I only wish we had people who could put pressure on other positions, as well.

      Henry will play, but he’s definitely been having the shits of late. But he will get minutes, because Iniesta still looks like he’ll blow away in a stiff breeze. If we want him to last the entire season, he has to be platooned.

      • UAI
        October 1, 2009

        I’m not against TH14 getting some bench time for some stretch of time. For a while, he might be more useful as a super sub. Or maybe bring him out when we don’t have our Messis and Ibra’s, I still see him as the kind of player that shines more when the burden is on him to spearhead a team (think Arsenal Henry, or vs. Valencia Henry).Thing is though, Iniesta himself has repeatedly said that he is most comfortable in the left-side of midfield, rather than the left wing/forward position, and I think he is better in midfield. I would rather use Bojan and maybe Pedro there than take Iniesta out of his optimal position

        • Kevo
          October 1, 2009

          I second what UAI said, Iniesta is much better in the midfield. Even when playing on the wing he tends to roam around the middle i dont know if that his duty but Henry (as a LW as he has been) one of his duty was to spread the field and play along the sideline.

          But i like some TITI! i freaking want this tridente to kick asss!!!!

  6. Eduard
    October 1, 2009

    I personally think Iniesta out shone Ibrahimovic(both magicians, but Iniesta was all over the pitch and it was his pass that let to the first goal), if he would have stayed on for the second half he in my book would be the motm.

    • Miguel
      October 1, 2009

      i voted for him anyway. they played the most beautiful football in a long time when he was on the pitch. his absence was felt during the 2nd half; aesthetically anyway.

  7. Museum
    October 1, 2009

    Nobody truly stood out to me in this one, lots of good play, but not a lot of outstanding, man of the match play. Went with Ibra. Love that man’s passing skill set. His exchange with Iniesta on the left side of the box, probably around the 25 min mark or so, was probably my favorite moment outside of the goals.

  8. Kxevin
    October 1, 2009

    Now Hugo Sanchez (Almeria coach) is saying that we can be beaten. Same old tune, right? ๐Ÿ˜€

    And Piquenbauer is playing down the Franz Beckenbauer comparos, saying he is his own player, blah, blah, blah. Yeah. Right. Whatever you say, Piquenbauer.

    Krkic is indeed ready, but Henry isn’t. Not quite, according to EMD and Sport. And whither thou goest, Marquez? I reckon we’ll see some of him this weekend, against Almeria.

    My MOTM vote has already been made. I think that the immense difference Ibrahimovic made on the attacking end made the argument. But you could argue for Xavi, for his keymaster role, or Puyol for his back line destroyer role. Toss a coin.

    • Helge
      October 1, 2009

      A coin with 3 sides? ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Seems like Xavi is on the missing side…

    • Kxevin
      October 1, 2009

      Recall that when they had the car giveaway last year, somebody commented that Abidal was “crazy.”

    • BL
      October 2, 2009

      i took some great photos while i was visiting camp nou last year of all the players entering the stadium parking lot all in their identical audis. there was a group of about 50 of us standing next to the ramp that goes to the underground lot and the players have to slow down quite a bit to make the turn, so they all gave us a wave. it was great stuff, i should really put those photos up sometime.

      ironically, xavi screwed up the turn and had to back up and do it again haha.

  9. john
    October 1, 2009

    That poll became a bit of a rorschach moment for me. As soon as the poll appeared before my eyes I automatically clicked ‘Xavi’ and ‘Vote.’ Then I read what was actually being polled, and realized I hadn’t actually watched the match (opted instead for Rangers v. Sevilla, because as a neutral for the day… c’mon!).

    • ooga aga
      October 1, 2009

      says john, whose favorite players are xavi and iniesta, and who loves the spanish NT (read: spine of spain = spine of barcelona = puyol pique xavi iniesta … + now busquets),

      but who still supports RM. cmon john.

    • ElShowDeJason
      October 1, 2009

      John, with all do respect, ooga aga has a point.

      You are a closet FC Barcelona Fan.

      Maybe a closet-cule?

      (it’s ok though… most people are ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    • jnelson
      October 1, 2009

      Ahh looks like Gabi Milito has returned just in time for the car giveaway. Coincidence? I think not…haha j/p

  10. Jason
    October 1, 2009

    *http://www.goal.com/en/news/9/england/2009/10/01/1535091/manchester-citys-emmanuel-adebayor-hit-with-suspended-two

    Yay!!! Adebayor gets smaked with a further 2 match ban, and 25,000 GBP fine.

    Screw you Emmanuel!

    If only Weligton was subject to the same justice Ade is…

    But on the bright side… Bojan’s close to being back!

  11. Jason
    October 1, 2009

    I hear that Madrid play Sevilla on sunday.

    I’m rooting for a Negredo Hat-trick

      • john
        October 1, 2009

        It’s all good, I’m rooting for the same… as long as Madrid score 4!

  12. Kxevin
    October 1, 2009

    So, I have a question/thought, that might become a full-blown post at some point. The biggest knock against Ibrahimovic is that he hasn’t scored in Champions League knockout stages, and until he does that, blah, blah, blah.

    I would argue that Ibrahimovic in Champions League is precisely the kind of player that it is easy to control, absent the kind of surrounding talent that we now have. Knocking the ball up the pitch doesn’t work against the kinds of quality sides that you will see in the CL knockout stages. And if that’s the only play that you have….

    Further, if you knock off the kinds of passes that create scoring chances (such as the one to Pedro!, or the back heel to Messi) for your teammates, aren’t you still doing good work?

    If he doesn’t score in the knockout stages this season, the naysayers might have some ammunition, because as with Henry when he came over, this is the most talented side that he has ever been part of. And no offense meant to Inter or Juve fans, but with us he has two of the best mids on the planet, the best attacker on the planet, and an attacking legend on the left wing. He’s playing with Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and Henry, not to mention the excellent Keita and Alves.

    Just thinking aloud.

    • October 1, 2009

      Basically, you’ve hit the nail on the head: how does one quantify a striker without watching at least dozens of their games? I fully recognize that there are no real stats out there for this, but consider this…

      What if there was a stat out there that told you points earned by a team when a particular player plays? For instance, what if it turns out that Xavi is the most “effective” player on our team in that when he plays we earn x number of points more than when he’s not? You’d quickly get into very small number differences (especially if you were more serious and took it to points earned per minute played), but I think it could be interesting.

      I think that that would give you a better understanding of how good a player is within a particular system, but you would still have to use your judgment based on actually watching the players. For instance, you would statistically see that when Busi plays we give up more goals than when The Yaya plays, but you don’t see that Busi caused a goal against Atleti with a craptacular header and then almost caused another against Dynamo. Not that I’m picking on Busi, but it’s the first thing that sprung to mind.

      Goals scored/allowed during a particular player’s time on the field would be quite interesting as well, but I’m not sure how you go about tracking that without spending hours writing down who did what/when/where.

      • Jason
        October 1, 2009

        I believe last season Marquez had the best points to appearance percetage. well, at least from the all of the players that had significant playing time.

      • Ciaran
        October 1, 2009

        Interesting idea Isaiah. I’ll leave the logistics of that to you ๐Ÿ™‚

        Of the 5 league goals that Ibra has scored in his 5 league matches, 4 of them were the opening goal… the all-important first goal which opens the opposition up to a beating from us.

        Goals, assists and penalty saves are the only stats that you ever really see.
        Other contributions cannot really be quantified, e.g. an off the ball opening up space for a teammate to score, a last ditch tackle preventing a goal scoring opportunity or a suicidal header back to goalkeeper that almost leads to second goal conceded in similar circumstances by the same player.
        Well that last one wasn’t particularly well disguised but hey.
        How many points was Eric Abidal worth to us last season? A lot is my guess.

  13. Ramzi
    October 1, 2009

    The low scoring average of Ibra in the CL in the previous years was due to two factors:

    1) Lack of service: After an adaptation period to the Italian game at Juventus he moved to Inter. Serie A declined significantly in the past few years (sadly). In serie A inter can sky high the ball to ibra from defensive third to the midfield and they can be sure he will drag the opponent players behind him all the way to the net. In the CL, even in group stage, Inter plays against better teams than at least 50 % of the teams they face in the league. There, ibra face more trouble to activate the one-man-show.

    2)Football style: Yes, Ibra succeeded in italy domestically. but I dare to say that Italian game contradict with Ibra attributes as a striker. While the italian game pull the team behind the ball after losing possession and apply zone defense, Ibra is in a way or another an Ajax Graduate. The rooted problem of Italian football is the set-in around their own box closing spaces. When you win back the ball you will have a huge distance to cover till you reach the opponent third. Ibra is excellent in the build up stage linking with his teammates then orchestrating the offense tempo. But with slow midfielders behind he has never showed his quality as a team player, but only counted (so as his teammates)on his individual skills. Thats less than 50 % of the quality of any player no matter who he is (even ronaldinho at his peak).

    Ibra will score enough goals in the cl and soon Goal.com will right an article that Messi is pissed off because Ibra is scoring goals in a selfish manner instead of passing to him. But even if he doesn’t score (and he will) I am fine with his contribution so far. And he is just warming up!

    • Luna
      October 1, 2009

      Thanks for that eloquent explanation. I’ve been saying this in other places, not so well put, but, even as a fan of Serie A, I recognize the decline

  14. Ramzi
    October 1, 2009

    Isaiah, I agree of the endless number of variables to include. Two examples: 1)offense wise, you need also to analyse the impact of every player on his teammates average assists rate then evaluate each and every player assists rate based on the selection and taking in consediration this selection assists average. Because its not as easy for Ibra for example to make an assist when he play with Jeff and Pedro, as it is when he play with Messi and Henry, right?

    Example 2, defensive wise: one of the data I use inversly is the ball possession zones of the opponent. If you split the field into 9 areas 3×3 and get a graphic presentation to the opponent offense flow during the game, then you can make a comparison how the opponent offense flow vary depending on the players your team select for everygame.

    The importance of this trick is measuring the defensive contribution with more accuracy. Its very missleading to take the statistics of balls won/successfull tackles of every player and base the defensive contribution based on that. Because it ignores the most important defensive qualities of the game including positioning and anticipation.

    If you have player (A) as a left midfielder and Player (B) as a right midfielder for example and if player (A) ended up with more successfull takles (5) and won 3 balls compared to (B) who made 2 successfull tackles and won one ball the direct conclusion is that (A) contributed defensively more than (B). But what if (A) sloppy positioning and (B) perfect antisipation tempted the opponent to attack through (A) flank because it was wide open while (B) closed his flank perfectly? What if (A) succeeded to terminate 6 attacks out of 10 while (B) terminated the only two attacks the opponent dared to generate on his flank?

    Thats why the more variables injected the better key strokes the statistical analysis provide for football analysis. It help, but it will never replace.

  15. ooga aga
    October 1, 2009

    suggestion: let blog reader be able to sort the comments either thread-by-thread, or all together by time/date posted. i know that on the old offside it got confusing when there were several topics going on at once, but almost always it was easy enough to decipher who was referring to what.

    • Corrine
      October 1, 2009

      i think there should be an option where we’re notified when people reply to one of our comments. sometimes i forget to check for replies, then my comments gets pushed up and i don’t see it until it’s too late!

      • October 1, 2009

        You guys don’t have a little check box below “submit comment” that says “Notify me when new comments are added”?

        I don’t know if it can tell if it’s in a particular thread or not, though, so perhaps it’s not useful.

        • ElShowDeJason
          October 1, 2009

          this notifies you when any comment has been added.. not particularly useful..

        • Corrine
          October 2, 2009

          yeah i tried it and then my inbox started to flood with every comment aha :$

    • Luna
      October 2, 2009

      What a great gol! How did you feel when he left for Inter?

      • Miguel
        October 2, 2009

        betrayed! not by him but by the people behind the whole calciopoli bullshit. i didn’t mind inter that much watching the partnership of martins & adriano. but once he came in & martins left & adriano lost his mind it looked like he’d be going nowhere in that his game would suffer having to carry the whole team. maybe that’s just hindsight talking.

  16. Miguel
    October 2, 2009

    i’m watching a replay of the valencia v. genoa game and…call me a glutton but i want david silva in barca next year. i thought he should’ve come two seasons ago. the one criticism i’ve heard over & over again was his inability to score goals. he’s been scoring for valencia & spain on a very consistent basis thus far. w/him you’ve got a left footed winger that can launch crosses over to ibra, someone who can play the false nine, someone who would give a more width to barca’s play, and someone who could give messi a break on the right wing or iniesta in the middle. i’m just saying.

    • Miguel
      October 2, 2009

      yes i said “a more width.” i’m a soprano.

    • Eduard
      October 2, 2009

      I’ve been saying this for years. Everyone always talks about D.Villa but to me, if I was a coach, D.Silva is a better midfielder then fabregas. He’s like hybrid between Iniesta and Xavi, I also think he’s a destablizer with a great eye for the goal.

  17. JC
    October 2, 2009

    totally off the topic,I was watching the Athletic Bilbao match against Werder Bremen and in the 2nd half the coach put on a 16 year old kid called Iker Muniain who was quiet awesome. The only way Werder could stop him was by tripping him… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB8VpKCBoQE

    • JC
      October 2, 2009

      Sorry, the youtube clip ain’t of the werder game, but a compilation of him against other teams…

      • October 2, 2009

        Muniain is the new sensation of La Liga. He’s making waves both because he’s 16 and because he’s actually good.

  18. Muhammad
    October 2, 2009

    a couple of weeks ago Balague declared that “Ibra’s bad for Barca”.

    a week ago he “knew that Ibrahimovic was clever enough and talented enough to do it anyway.”

    two days ago he wrote “what can you say about Zlatan Ibrahimovic? Five goals in five games – but four out of those five goals were the first goal of the game. His influence is huge.”

    • Hilal
      October 2, 2009

      Balague….please….he is probably one of the least credible “journalists” out there. I watch him every week on Revista and he constantly contradicts himself. Prime example; last season, the whole season, he went on and on about how amazing Messi is, how he is undoubtedly the best player in the world and by quite a margin. He made these declarations on several different Revista episodes, especially close to the end of the season. Now, all of a sudden, his tune has changed; now Cronaldo is more effective than Messi, he is better with his head, better at free kicks, blah blah.

      • Muhammad
        October 2, 2009

        heh true, you can never know what he thinks about this particular subject, one time it is definitely Messi, another it is Ronaldo without a doubt.
        I can’t expect more of an Espanyol supporter, but he went a bit too far with the Ibrahimovic signing.

  19. fcbfan
    October 2, 2009

    hahaha at Balague. I remember during the transfer period, he said he has inside scoop that Messi is absolutely going nowhere next season. lol

    • Muhammad
      October 2, 2009

      haha, that’s the problem of not learning Spanish, I keep reading the likes of Balague just to find something I can read in English about La Liga.

    • Kxevin
      October 2, 2009

      Keiiiiteeeee! Thanks for that, Kevo.

  20. PM
    October 2, 2009

    Imagine Ibra, Messi, Iniesta at full form.
    If I were a goalie I’d run away from the stadium.

    • Kevo
      October 2, 2009

      I saw that Keiteeeeeeeeee goal as well… that was wicked, i think he was expecting to shoot with the right leg but got too close with it so he shot with his leg which was suppose to be his anchor for his right leg… lol it was a mess but nonetheless a fabulous goal.

      and that Iniesta goal was just… awww ๐Ÿ™‚
      I like the spanish commentators (not in that video) that was scream DIOS EXISTE! DIOS EXISTE! (GOD EXISTS!) pretty funny.

    • Kxevin
      October 2, 2009

      Ramzi, that first link was sick. And he’s OURS!

  21. Eduard
    October 2, 2009

    Iniesta is in the Spanish NT for the last 2 WCQ, and as expected so is Xavi,Puyol,Pique,and (a little less expected)Busquets.

    • SC
      October 2, 2009

      I think it’s expected, Eduard. Senna’s been injured and Busquets hasn’t struggled for the NT as much as he has for us lately. He already knows the squad’s system, so he’s actually a safe pick for Del Bosque. It’d be interesting to see if he continues to be called up once Senna makes his return, or if he is unable to break out of this rut. And yes, I think it’s a rut. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Muhammad
    October 2, 2009

    key city of the day:
    Rio de Janeiro.

    • Miguel
      October 2, 2009

      so its either rio or madrid for the olympics in 2016. kxevin must be bummed. i would have liked to have seen the states get it. :^( poopie face.

      • Kxevin
        October 2, 2009

        I’m seriously bummed, Miguel. Thanks for thinking of me with your comment. We were the first city out. In retrospect, you can understand why, from the long-standing disputes between the USOC and IOC, to the fact that (as a Saudi comittee member expressed to Obama) it is difficult for the world to travel to America.

        So I don’t know that we had a realistic shot. I’m just surprised that Rio would get the World Cup and the Olympics.

        • Muhammad
          October 2, 2009

          well the US got both the world cup in 1994 and the Olympics in 1996, but to be fair, it is hard to imagine Brazil having similar success.

  23. Muhammad
    October 2, 2009

    no no rio de janeiro is the winner.
    the look on Raul face is priceless.

      • Muhammad
        October 2, 2009

        yup.
        Barca US-based fans can find consolidation in Raul almost crying in pain. haha.

  24. Jose24
    October 2, 2009

    Rio! I was always rooting for them. I think it came down to, as said on ESPN, that the Chicago bid accumulated plenty of “I’ll vote for my favorite city, and then you after they’re eliminated” and not enough first round votes.

    This meant the Asian IOC members first went with Tokyo, half of the European delegates leaned toward Madrid and Latin/African delegates went to Rio.

    Chicago, funnily enough, didn’t play its politics well ๐Ÿ˜›

    But Rio! Let’s just move to Rio from 2014 to 2016…

    P.S. I thought it was funny that Madrid (my third choice city, btw) had a video of Real Madrid with a goal from BRAZILIAN Ricardo Kaka, hahaha.

    • Jose24
      October 2, 2009

      Vote tallies:
      First round: Madrid 28 votes; Rio de Janeiro 26; Tokyo 22; Chicago 18 (Chicago eliminated).
      Second round: Rio 46; Madrid 29; Tokyo 20 (Tokyo eliminated)
      Final round: Rio 66; Madrid 32 (Rio to host 2016 Games)

  25. OhYes
    October 2, 2009

    This whole olympics thing is a bunch of bollocks. Chicago is the best city in the world, so it’s shocking to see it lose in the first round.

    I am guessing it’s all about jealousy.

    • October 2, 2009

      If you’re such a fan of Chicago, you should have been rooting heavily against Chicago winning the Olympics. They’re a financial drain on the city and end up with a massive social cost as well. I’m sad that that’s what they are, but as it is, it’s all politics and Rio got, which sucks for them in the long run.

      • OhYes
        October 2, 2009

        Nah, the biggest complaint was that it would greatly increase traffic.

        Chicago would have been able to make the money back as it is already built for tourism and as a sports city.

        And the jobs would have been super nice.

        • Kxevin
          October 2, 2009

          OhYes is exactly right. People were all grumbling about the personal inconvenience (“Why are all these foreigners on my train?”), related to traffic and crowding, and the specter of tax increases, by people unaware of how the Games were going to be funded.

  26. Jose24
    October 2, 2009

    Another thing that probably influenced the decision: the recent anti-Olympics demonstrations in Chicago and a recent poll that found that nearly half the city did NOT want the Olympic Games.

    Chicagoans had to want it, “best city in the world” or not.

  27. Kxevin
    October 2, 2009

    The infrastructure and jobs that the Games would have brought to the city, not to mention the buttressing and improvements in a much-needed area (the South Side) made it a win-win. The costs would have been borne mostly by private entities (same as our Millennium Park).

    Yes, it would have been expensive, and wouldn’t have made money. But no Olympics ever does. It would, however, have changed the perception of the city from “Michael Jordan and Al Capone” to a true world-class destination. The tourism up-side, short and long-term, would also have been huge.

    It sucks. The ESPN voting explanation makes sense. I don’t think that the short-sighted residents who were anti, had a lot to do with Chicago’s not turning the trick (insert Rio tranny joke here….). I just think that we had a compelling package as a whole, that didn’t deserve a first-round knockout.

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