Barca 4, Saragossa 0, aka “What FIFA flu,” aka “Broken ducks.”

"Keiteeee!"

My oh my, how we’ve grown to hate Internationals. The players travel hither and yon, sometimes not returning in the best of condition, usually to an opponent who has had everyone sitting around at home, watching our boys get tired via the telly.

And we look lackluster, drop some points and everyone grumbles. But we can thank EE, who is playing very good football right now, for the impetus necessary to find us razor-sharp this time out, against a Zaragoza side that was done in by its own pugnaciousness. It was a match that wasn’t as close as the score indicated, as we were light years ahead of them in every category except shots at an opponent’s Achilles tendon. It was one short of a manita, with the luxury of a second half through which we could coast, ahead of an important Champions League match against Milan.

Was anybody else bored?

Guardiola came out with an “I’m serious about this one” lineup of Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Maxwell, Keita, Xavi, Fabregas, Sanchez, Cuenca and Messi. The pressure on Saragossa was incessant, as Messi was playing like a demon, or maybe a dude who wanted to put this match to bed early so that he could coast home. Either way, it was very clear that Saragossa was out to maybe nick one on the counter, with a game plan that started with keeping us from scoring, and ended with keeping us from scoring.

And truth to tell, their plan worked for a while, even as our threat was constant. Then it took an unlikely goal scored in an unlikely way, to put things right and begin the road to relaxation. We scored a headed goal off of a set piece. Xavi dropped a ball directly into the perfect spot for a marauding Pique to head hom, complete with spectacularly dorky arm position, like he’s dancing on some music video show.

"Get down, get down, get down tonight baybeee!"

It was 1-0, as Eric Abidal, on the bench, tried to teach Fontas the cool shake celebration that he and Pinto are so fond of, and having much hilarity doing so. The players know, and they knew that 1-0 meant done deal. Game, set and match. Then, when Fabregas set up Messi with a flawless ball that our scoring dynamo slotted home, that really was that, and everyone knew it.

So now what? And that was the problem with this match, for those seeking excitement. We kept the ball, Saragossa didn’t do much with it when they had it except give it back to us (except for a couple of occasions). The end.

Now for me, this made for a dishwater-dull match, mostly because the opponent didn’t really seem all that interested in trying to make it something compelling. We even tried to help them out, as Pique headed a ball away, directly to a Sara attacker, who dished the ball wide, which has become all the rage as it usually means you’ll catch Alves pinched in toward the middle. They did, as well, and Alves got smoked as his man smacked in a cross that could have been danger, but Puyol cleared it. And if anyone noticed the look that Captain Caveman gave Alves after that one, you’re probably still quaking in your boots. It was withering, and deserved.

We scored two more goals, one that has probably been ruled an own goal by now, as Fabregas found Keita in the box with a perfect ball. Keita headed down to Puyol, who tried an effort that was stopped, then he tried sort of snaking his way to the ball, that was rammed home by a diving Sara defender. And then Villa broke his 500+minute non-scoring drought with a diving header off of a delight of a cross by Cuenca, a player described by Ray Ray as a “wonderful adam’s apple on the run.”

"My dance is better than Pique's."

And I had a hard time staying awake.

Meanies get what they deserve

This was actually a very cool match to have, leading up to the Milan tie, because Saragossa is big and physical, as Isaiah noted in the preview, being rather fond of leaving little calling cards. This played right into our hands, allowing us to gut their defense almost at will. We struggle against physical-but-disciplined defenses, who play spaces rather than players, preferring to stop the ball rather than put somebody on their butt, or flick at their heels. But when Sara kept coming at us with those niggling little “One for you ….” fouls, they left spaces that couldn’t be closed. The rest was easy.

Is Saragossa of the quality of Milan? No. But the way that we kept playing our game, successfully, in the fact of some big, nasty ol’ brutes was nice to see. And we didn’t even play at a level approaching our best, even as it was a level that was plenty good enough to win at a canter.

Team: 7. Loved the interplay and link-up action, as well as the challenges via superb passes. There were a few defensive lapses that would have allowed a better team to score, that need to be shored up.

Guardiola: 9. Hard to fault anything that he did, except for not taking Messi off when a match was decided. One day, that might cost us. But the lineup made perfect sense as it kept the pitch wide, facilitating things for our midgets. How did he know that Maxwell was ready to have a blinder of a match?

Valdes: 7. Called upon a few times, always perfect. Looks like he’s been working on his long, attack-starting passes, as well.

Alves: 6. Gets too cute with the passing interplay, and Puyol’s glare at him was justly earned. His tendency to get caught pinched toward the center is a problem. He doesn’t have real pace to catch and keep up with attackers, who almost always get the corner turned on him for a pass into our box.

Pique: 7. Beanpole was very good today, with key interventions, an excellently taken goal and more intelligent passing out of the back, rather than those bombs he is so fond of, that too often cede possession to the other side.

Puyol: 8. That man and his throbbing Catalan heart are amazing. Interceptions, taking fouls, one huge clearance after the Alves blunder and a kicking, clawing, scratching goal.

Maxwell: 7. Wow, what a match. He was almost like Abidal, except with even more attacking intent. Granted, Saragossa weren’t going to test our defense all that much, but still. Fine match from a player who always finds a way to be of value.

Keita: 8. Keiteeee! Great assist, great getting in the way. His physical presence was exceptional today, from end-to-end.

Xavi: 8. Gorgeous and inevitable. His passes, particularly that header to Pique, are unerring. Because Sara didn’t pressurize the midfield that much, giving him time to work his glorious ways.

Fabregas: 9. Monster match, from beginning to end, on defense and offense. His passing, movement and directness into the box are all what our offense has been needing. He left some goals on the table, or sure, but there’s always a next time.

Sanchez: 5. Dispossed way too easily, didn’t seem to know quite what to do. Had a couple of nice moments but overall, pretty adequate.

Cuenca: 7. Did some drifing in and out of the match but man, when he was involved. I don’t want to blaspheme here, but I might leave Pedro sitting until we can fully suss out Cuenca.

Messi: 6. Got off to a bright start, even as his passing was way off in this match. Lovely attacking football, but as he entered energy conservation mode, he drifted in and out of the match as he saw fit.

Substitutes

Thiago (for Xavi): 6. It’s interesting that people keep saying that Thiago isn’t playing as well because he isn’t the dynamic offensive force that he was during preseason. But when you look at how he plays defense for the side and controls play, he’s a delight. He’s fearless, and not shy about getting stuck in.

Iniesta (for Sanchez): 7. Aggressive and dynamic, even after a few rounds of Iniestabuse. He just seems to materialize where the ball is, ready to do some damage.

Villa (for Fabregas): incomplete. Didn’t get enough time for a full rating, but had some good moments, including the goal. Let’s hope that helps him begin to find the back of the net in the Liga more often. We need him to succeed, ultimately.

Next up, midweek, is AC Milan, who boast one braying jackass of a Swede named Ibrahimovic. I want to beat them. Bad. And these guys will probably be a huge help in doing so:

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Written by:

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

134 Comments

  1. Kimcelona
    November 20, 2011

    Great review. Theres nothing I disagree with really.

    The Milan match will be something else….assuming that Milan don’t “park the bus” in their own stadium and boot it long to IAmZlatan. But..Pato is back. He played a few minutes in Milan’s match today but I dont think he will start. Maybe he will come on as an impact sub?

    The RB position is of worry. I’m curious to see what Pep will do. Will he keep it safe with Puyi or surprise us and play someone like Masche or even Keita there..or even just 3 in the back?

  2. BarcaGirl_Indo
    November 20, 2011

    so man of the match was Cesc?
    I thought it will be Keiteeeee!! cause you put him on top of the article… Keiteeee also had a monster match… 🙂

    thanks for the review, Kxevin…

  3. barca96
    November 20, 2011

    And if anyone noticed the look that Captain Caveman gave Alves after that one

    Puyol didn’t say anything, just giving a look was enough 🙂

    -Did anybody also notice Xavi getting poked in the eye during Pique’s goal celebration? 😆

    -If Pep can’t rest Messi after playing 190 long hard minutes in S. America and travelling long distances (economy probably!) and still continue to play Messi in a match where we were leading by 2 goals and Zaragoza had 0 shots on target, then I don’t think Messi will ever get rested.

      • Eklavya
        November 20, 2011

        LOL. Better Puyol than Mou though 😛

    • hammeronmessi
      November 20, 2011

      If Pep can’t rest Messi after playing 190 long hard minutes in S. America and travelling long distances (economy probably!) and still continue to play Messi in a match where we were leading by 2 goals and Zaragoza had 0 shots on target, then I don’t think Messi will ever get rested.

      u still hope messi will get a rest?man, u r a half glass full type person

      • barca96
        November 20, 2011

        🙂

        Seriously, that was the perfect chance to rest Messi before a crucial CL match and a long stretch of games. Unbelievable. Kxevin should deduct 3 points of Pep for that!

        NZM, please if you ever meet Pep, ask him what he wants in exchange for him to rest Messi after a match is won. I’ll see what I can do.

        • nzm
          November 20, 2011

          I’m pretty sure that Messi has written into his contract that he plays every minute that he has available to him! Certainly that’s the way it looks.

          I think that after the Balon D’Or is decided, we’ll see (hopefully) Messi taking some breaks in the less important games.

          Someone does need to sit him down and say, “Do you want to still be playing at this level in 5 years? Yes? Then you have to realise that rest is a big part in helping you to achieve this.”

          It’s as if Messi knows he running on a limited time (that we all don’t know about), and he’s out there to do all that he can in that time.

  4. hammeronmessi
    November 20, 2011

    hairboybobs bestest match in a barca shirt.his directness is a welcome positive for us.motm for me.

    and no we just need to draw to win the group,but i think our players will play with their hearts out for pep

    • barca96
      November 20, 2011

      I love him but he had 2 poor misses that could’ve been a goal tonight. Had a horrible miss for Spain vs. England as well. Needs to be sharper on goal again.

  5. hammeronmessi
    November 20, 2011

    for the 2nd time i agree completely with KRS(first one was the EE manita)

  6. Gogah
    November 20, 2011

    Great win and valuable minutes for every one before milan. Pep must have gotten rid of the fifa virus if there was any. I just have one criticism from the match. It was Messi.
    Dont get me wrong. He was decisive even after grueling minutes with his country. But he is almost always reluctant to shoot with his right leg. If u see the game he scuffed more than 3 glorious chances just by hesitating to drill a shot with his right leg and lining up accordingly to shoot with his left. It therefore came as no surprise that the goal he would eventually score had to come off the right too. All the great goals he has scored have been with his right. It just makes him so much more unpredictable.
    otherwise a straight forward game for barca. and oh man! Cuenca is just so cool. Alexis was disappointing though. but then again, i guess he was never a finisher. SOoo glad to see Villa score. hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

    • Jim
      November 20, 2011

      Not sure I would agree that all his great goals have come from his right – maybe the opposite for me, certainly as far as the actual shooting is concerned – but I agree that if he can improve his shooting with his right foot it gives him more options as opponents will know he is left footed and shepherd him accordingly.

  7. November 20, 2011

    “Asked if the refereeing was shameful, Karanka said – Never do you feel shameful while defending the colours of Real Madrid.”

    Refs don’t feel any shame in defending EE? 😛

  8. nzm
    November 20, 2011

    For me, it’s not what happened with RM, it’s what Unai was thinking with Valencia.

    2 things don’t make sense to me:
    1. Bringing Diego Alves on for his first La Liga match – against Real Madrid?? I would have still given the nod to Guaita for this game.

    2. Not starting Pablo Hernández who is a dangerous playmaker.

    This wasn’t a comfortable game for RM. It took a lot of energy for them to defend a 1 goal lead for 50 minutes. Valencia could have made it even more streaky for them with some better choices.

  9. nzm
    November 20, 2011

    This was a much-needed game and result for our team, right now.

    From the get-go, Barca was in control of the match, although there were some silly moments – Alves, as well as Keita in the penalty box almost gifting the ball to Zaragoza!

    I was impressed by Maxwell last night. Apart from some little flick-flakky movements when he should have been more direct, he had a great game both in defence and attack. At one stage, he closed down a Zaragoza movement just outside the penalty box when he moved in to the middle of the pitch, out of position. The only thing that didn’t work was his hook-ups with Alexis – but that had more to do with Alexis being static, than with Maxwell. I think that I would have swapped Alexis and Cuenca over and given that a try.

    Keita had another great game, and Puyol played like an intelligent 16 year old – so much energy. I don’t care what anyone says, that goal was his!

    Is it wrong for me to be thinking that, against Milan, I care more about deflating IAmZlatanTheEgotisticGiraffe more that I care about the game as a whole? 😛

  10. mom4
    November 20, 2011

    Great review, great title, awesome captions.

    My how we’ve grown?
    Guardiola came out with an “I’m serious about this one” lineup of Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Maxwell, Keita, Xavi, Fabregas, Sanchez, Cuenca and Messi.
    This was not our steriotypical “best XI”. Yet suprisingly, I had no fear when I saw the lineup. Iniesta, Villa, Thiago, Abi, and Mascherano available as subs. Wow! Busi gets to rest in the stands, awesome! Xavi gets a little rest.

    Messi a 6. OK. Although when he did get the notion to, he provided most of the entertainment value of the game. The most important thing is that he was able to go into energy conservation mode.

    Yes, that look from Puyi… be afraid…be very afraid!

    • barca96
      November 20, 2011

      The most important thing is that he was able to go into energy conservation mode

      It is still nothing compared to the rest he would get were he to sit on the bench. Even though he didn’t run much, but it is still tiring, physically and mentally.

      I just wished Pep would’ve taken him out for Villa although I suspected the journalist would have a field day later on thinking that VIlla really wants Messi’s position 🙂

  11. Ryan
    November 20, 2011

    I can’t say that I was bored during this game, as it was just so much fun seeing decent football after the Spain and Argentina games. I do wish they would have involved Cuenca a bit more, as there were long periods where he’d be waiting out on the wing and watch as play focused (and often died) in the center. But I’m really glad he got an assist and showed off some of his skills – hearing the crowd gasp as he spun around his opponent was great. 😀

    • Jim
      November 20, 2011

      I enjoyed it as well, possibly more for the relief that we weren’t struggling after the break and for some of the interesting points than sheer excitement. The more games like this, the better our long term chances this season.

      For me, some interesting points. I liked the back four – a lot. Sorry for Masch who really hasn’t put a foot wrong but Puyol / Pique gets my vote every time. I thought Maxwell did have a pretty good game and he remains an option if we need to keep things tight. For me, it looked like someone has had a word with him about getting forward more and he has the skills to carry, pass and occasionally dribble if he believes in himself. Too often he stays in the comfort zone for me.

      Good to see Xavi getting some rest. Nice to see Thiago get some minutes. I’m sure he has been told that this season he has to watch Xavi and Iniesta and their control of games rather than try to dazzle with skills. Not there yet – we go a little anonymous when he is there in place of Xavi for me – but I can see he is learning his trade.

      Up front I’m not seeing the goals in either Alexis or Cuenca so it may be a bit of rotation there as we need more goals out of our forward line. Not as worried as some about alexis. A proper hamstring tear is as much a confidence thing as a physical and it’ll take about a month operating at full tilt before he trusts his body again. However, if he can’t go past defenders at speed again he won’t hold down a place in the team based on passing and shooting. I liked the fact that our defence and mids had obviously been told to get the ball early to alexis on the left. A good sign that Pep has realised we can become a little one-paced.

      Cuenca is interesting. Being a winger and going past defenders involves also losing the ball a lot – as Messi does. Is Pep prepared to take more chances in the last third? I hope so as we need the unpredictability at times.

      Only three weeks to the Clasico? Gonna be a thriller. Still feel our best chance is four at the back ( with height) and our trusted midfield. One place up for grabs up front for me. If we can’t resist their pressing we’re in bother so we need all our best passers on top form.

      • barca96
        November 20, 2011

        Alexis

        I guess you didn’t watch the Paraguay match. He was superb!! But as a result, he got some special treatment from the defenders. I guess he was tired.

        Cuenca

        Like you said, goals, will be the reason why he won’t get the nod over Pedro. And he still lacks the defensive skills. That’s why I still prefer Pedro. Cuenca can give you the flair and crosses but not the goals and recovering process.

        Who do you think should play at RB vs. Milan?

        • Jim
          November 20, 2011

          No I didn’t see that match and that in some ways would make last night more worrying if he is back at full tilt as I didn’t find him impressive at all. Still think it’ll be a month before we can judge him physically. Hope it works out as we need something different.

          Not sure about the Milan game. In some ways, other than taking a certain Swede down a peg or two, it isn’t vital. I do think Pep needs to decide on his RM formation at the back (esp. CB but also RB) and give them some playing time together. formation is everything. If three at the back against a narrow Milan attack then the question answers itself. If four, do we need an attacking option from our RB? If not, do we give Masch and Abidal the FB roles? Certainly not for me a game for youngsters. Personally, I’d put Maxwell at RB and Abidal at LB if Adriano isn’t fit. Maxwell benefits from more playing time but if we did that he’s gonna have to get forward.

          If none of the above appeals, I might be tempted to stick Cesc there, make sure he gets forward and his delivery would be miles better than Alves’.

  12. Rao
    November 20, 2011

    Barca is gaining more bandwagoner cules.It almost pathetic to see cules saying that Xavi slows the game down,he is jealous of Messi because he won the Ballon d’or etc.It makes me even more upset that these comments are posted in TOTAL BARCA.Such a nice site and those type of comments is absolutely unfair.Why does’nt this man(Xavi) get his credit from Cules itself?. 🙁

    Coming to game,it’s great to see Barca winning quite comfortably that too after an international game.It’s Milan next and I hope we beat them.I want to see Ibra regretting his comment about the team.

    • barca96
      November 20, 2011

      I love going to that site to read the latest news but don’t read the comments. It’s Barca fans fighting each other and a lot of young fans.

    • Ryan
      November 20, 2011

      I think the person who said that even admitted that he was a Messi fan rather than a Barca fan. So definitely take his comments with a grain of salt, or just take barca96’s advice and skip the comments altogether 🙂

      • barca96
        November 20, 2011

        Now I’m curios 🙂 Could you please link to the article or just paste whatever that person said. I prefer not to go through each and every article reading through the comments cause most of them are pretty bad.

        Love the writers and translators though. It’s just that most of the crowd isn’t any better than espn sites.

  13. Dave
    November 20, 2011

    I hate to mention him again but does anyone believe Neymar is good enough for barca? I honestly don’t know enough about Brazilian football to say.
    Would anyone suggest the necessary squad improvements? I think the squad could do with an injection of pace and power.
    Silva cb,
    alba lb
    Capoue cm/dm or Romeu
    Thierry Henry like striker!!

    • G6O
      November 20, 2011

      If he tracks back and defends and subdues his ego for the team’s good, then there isn’t a better player they could sign. Right now the problem is that out of the front three of Villa-Messi-Pedro only Messi can take on defenders and consistently get past them, while Villa and Pedro simply can’t, which makes the attack very predictable if the off the ball movement that creates space is not on the needed level. Alexis Sanchez’s signing should help a lot on one of the wings but so far he hasn’t really been able to display the dribbling skills he is known for because he got injured, hasn’t played a lot and is visibly still adjusting and not in optimal condition. Also, Villa is already 30 and he will probably be around for another 2 or 3 years at most given the physical demands of the position. So Neymar would fit straight in on one of the wings and provide both the destabilization factor that only Messi can right now and some very good and consistent finishing (the guy both rarely misses sitters and can score with surprising shots from longer range), i.e. he could be that Henry-like striker but even better. The questions is if he is willing to adjust his game to the requirements of the Barca system, of course, which is a big if.

  14. Eklavya
    November 20, 2011

    So how do we proceed for the Milan match? That is the question.

  15. blitzen
    November 20, 2011

    Silly Kxevin, Pique wasn’t dancing. That is clearly air guitar!

    Rock on, dudes.

    • Xingxian
      November 20, 2011

      Blitzen I love you and I hate EE but I’m not seeing a handball. BELIEVE ME I WOULD NOT MIND SEEING ONE but my eyes say it’s hitting his chest.

      I was quite disappointed with my eyes and watched multiple times to triple check.

      That being said, recognizing fouls/handballs/offsides is not something I pride myself on and so if anything I’d trust your opinion over mine, but I just felt like putting that out there >_<

      • Jnice
        November 20, 2011

        I see handball, but my eyesight is terrible…

      • blitzen
        November 20, 2011

        Dude, you must be blind. Stop the video at the 9 second mark–his hand is up and it bounces off the side of his hand.

        Like I said, though, not that it matters at this point.

        • Xingxian
          November 20, 2011

          Watched it again. Still don’t see a clear handball.
          I’ll go get my eyes checked? 🙁

        • messifan
          November 20, 2011

          Please don’t take this the wrong way, but why are we having a discussion about RM? We didn’t play them yesterday, so I don’t think we need to be involved in their business.

          • Ryan
            November 20, 2011

            I was born in Barcelona; making Madrid into a pantomime villain is in the blood!

          • blitzen
            November 20, 2011

            You are quite free not to participate in any discussion that doesn’t interest you.

      • Ryan
        November 20, 2011

        To my eyes his bicep and chest are both getting plenty of contact in that gif.

      • Helge
        November 20, 2011

        Hand ball or not…

        Valencia might have deserved a draw.

      • November 21, 2011

        Really?? You see see no handball?? And you even say it is crystal clear for you?? Do you really think we’re that stupid or has the mou propaganda made you that blind?
        There’s even movement from the player’s hand to the ball and even that should have been enough for the ref to point to the spot since he doesn’t have a clear view and we’re talking centimeters here… but which ref wants the whole propaganda villarato mechanism on his head?
        Enjoy your conscience-free team till December comes…

  16. Jnice
    November 20, 2011

    Thought Cesc was a beast yesterday. Maxwell was great too.

    • blitzen
      November 20, 2011

      Maxwell? The same Maxwell everyone was writing off over the summer and expecting the club to sell?

      Yeah, that Maxwell. 😀

        • The__K__Man
          November 20, 2011

          Exactly. He’s been average to say the least, at least for the whole of last season. 1 good showing vs Zaragoza doesn’t change that.

          • Dave
            November 20, 2011

            Hes a better alternative to abidal when teams park the bus but Adriano has made him redundant overall. Still I like Max but remember its Zaragoza. If Abi and Adriano are out against a heavy weight team, I suspect Pep would still choose Puyol over him on the left.

  17. BarcaGirl_Indo
    November 20, 2011

    @carriebaird : Johan Cruyff accused of racism against Edgar Davids today, by the Ajax Board at their meeting.

    Ugh.

    • Ryan
      November 20, 2011

      I’ve voted for him too, but I also voted for Giffords. Messi really could take it, he’s only a few thousand behind the 99%!

    • blitzen
      November 20, 2011

      FFS, people. Get some perspective. We all love Messi, but he is a football player.

      I voted for the Arab protestors who have toppled dictatorships and changed the lives of millions of people.

      • Ryan
        November 21, 2011

        I think that’s what the “totally irrational” part implies, that it’s all in good fun. Messi can wait a few months to win the actual award he deserves anyway.

  18. mega_tajh
    November 20, 2011

    Wow anyone reading about how the Granada-Mallorca game was called of with 30mins to play because an assistant ref was hit with an umbrella. Granada was wining 2-1 also…Crazy stuff.

    • November 20, 2011

      Very interesting backstory. And now the accusation is that Cruijff told Davids that he’s just on the board because he’s black. Yikes.

      If we can ignore the question for moment, of what if Cruijff is right, the question lingers of whether you’re allowed to speak the truth about such matters.

      I think of the short-lived, misguided Nike boycott in the U.S., because some of the Operation PUSH types (mostly Jetstream Jesse) got it in their heads that Nike was evil because there weren’t any blacks on their board.

      So ignoring for a fact how people find themselves on boards, had Nike then scrambled and found a black person to put on the board, and someone said “You’re just on this board because you’re black!” It would be true, right?

      But can we say stuff that’s true all of the time? Of course not. There are these little things called tact and circumspection. Cruijff isn’t renowned for such things, it must also be noted.

      Grim day. This, and the Eboue incident, which some are calling racist abuse, but folks who know are just saying it was good ol’ club-on-club hate.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxA1z2PYrGk

      • culegirl3
        November 21, 2011

        That video made me very sad.

        It’s one thing to heckle and jeer…its another to treat a person in such an inhumane way. That isn’t club on club hate, its pure stupidity.

        As far as Cruijff goes, whether or not it’s true that Davids is on the board because he’s black is not as relevant. There’s a way to go about things and using race as a cheap shot is immature. It’s not a way you want someone with such an important position within a club to conduct themselves, even if it is Cruijff. It’s never too late to learn civility and manners 😉

        • barca96
          November 21, 2011

          The Eboue video actually reminded me of a horrible photo that I saw a few weeks back where a young African man was beaten up and burnt in public. There is a video but I didn’t dare to watch it.

          It is not exactly the same thing, but it’s similar. No person should be humiliated in full view of the public and nobody tries to stop it. It is sick and very disheartening. Hopefully Eboueu will quit Turkish football.

    • Xingxian
      November 21, 2011

      I’ve heard bits and pieces of this but never a summary like this before, thanks for the link 😀

  19. Srini
    November 20, 2011

    Ahem.. the Higuain handball leans more toward being a handball than it is not. Lucky EE. Or unlucky Los Che. And Unlucky Barca.. for they deserved a Messi penalty (or two) against the Che themselves.

    I think the best way to get out of scoring points through schadenfreude is to win it against EE away in December. Lets hope for the best.

    and btw.. CUENCA!

    • barca96
      November 20, 2011

      I think it hit his chest cause if it did his arm, the ball wouldn’t be bouncing off like that.

      • Srini
        November 21, 2011

        Umm.. every replay I see, including the one posted by Bassam shows up some part of the arm (upper at least) touching the ball…which in my view is handball.. And it did hit part of his chest as well, but that is not the point. The point is that he seems to intend to hit the ball with his hand and that for me, is tantamount to atleast a Yellow and a penalty. Too bad, the ref didn’t see it that way. Can’t blame him too much, as the replays themselves were touch and go.

        • barca96
          November 21, 2011

          Oh I thought he was actually trying to move his arm asap to prevent it from being a penalty. Didn’t think and look like he was trying to handle the ball.

  20. Ryan
    November 20, 2011

    Bummer, Patetico beat Levante 3-2, which means the big 2 further distance themselves from all the other teams with European spots this jornada.

  21. K_legit in Oz
    November 21, 2011

    So Barcelona go to the Clasico trailing, beat Madrid and regain the lead
    Normal service is then, resumed

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      November 21, 2011

      that’s what we hope.. not a mission impossible..

      the nightmare scenario is of course, we left with 6 points gap (or even more) after El Clasico..

    • nia
      November 21, 2011

      Am i the only one who’s panicking about the up coming clasico? Barca is good but, so far this season, EE is better. They seem faster, better organised and more determined and the fact that Mou is not talking a lot of crap to the press is making me nervous, he’s got something up his sleeve. The fact that even Graham Hunter is kinda leaning toward them is kinda scary ” Real Madrid are playing like Barca did in the treble winning season”, he said. That’s some deep sh*t. For me is the thought of losing to EE in the clasico’s and the league, than losing the league to any other team coz i really cant stand EE especially their leader. **

      • barca96
        November 21, 2011

        Real Madrid are playing like Barca did in the treble winning season

        It is very similar indeed.
        -They just lost the crown 2 to the arch enemy 2 years in a row.
        -Hurt and wounded.
        -Their 3 strikers are scoring for fun.
        -They attack all out.

        They might pull a 5-0 on us *touchwood*

      • sd
        November 21, 2011

        You are not the only one…We have not hit top form. We have not even hit anything close to top form. We have dropped points where they would have picked up points. I am a little afraid about them too. Its entirely possible they could do to Barca what City did to United. But don’t forget that it only takes one game to throw a team of form. And there are 3 games before then. Maybe Atletico can throw a wrench in their machine…baahahahaha, I make myself laugh sometimes.

        • can_we_go_Xalvies
          November 21, 2011

          The season is long, who knows we may pick up points later in the season where we usually have dropped points in the past.

          media personnel swinging towards Madrid has always been the case in the past 3-5 seasons, even last season b4 the manita on re-vista the majority were predicting madrid to triumph, madrid were also looking crash hot at that time, but look at what happened.

          anything can happen

          • November 21, 2011

            +1 Media considered madrid a favorite in the 5-0 and especially before the 2-6…:)

      • Srini
        November 21, 2011

        EE has indEEd bEEn terrEEfic.

        The best aspect of their play is their varied forms of domination – they can play a very rapid counter-attacking game and can also play a game of possession and build up. The team-mates trust and complement each other far better than last season and their defense has become very solid since the swap of Sergio Ramos to CB and the quasi-retirement of Ricardo Carvalho.

        But again, they were peaking quite early in the late pre-season as well, and faced a tired and unprepared Barca squad who still managed to overcome them in two legs. In that sense, they gave their best punch at an opponent who was underprepared and still came up short. I remember Graham Hunter saying it that if Madrid couldn’t overcome an unprepared and unsettled Barca, they might as well hang it up, before the Supercopa. So I take his EE > Barca comment with a tiny tinge of salt.

        EE is still secondbest (very narrowly) to Barca because they have mostly played reactive football against the latter, except until the Supercopa. Remains to be seen if they can dictate terms like those two games against a peaking/peaked Barca, which is what I want to see/ am bound to see come 11th December.

        • November 21, 2011

          Carvalho was much better last year for madrid than Ramos has been this year in central defence. So for me for the upcoming classico I trully wish Ramos is Pepe’s pair 🙂

          • nzm
            November 21, 2011

            Yup – would LOVE to see Ramos fouling in the box! 😀

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        November 21, 2011

        I do feel nervous, and I always do before Clasico, except before the 1st leg of Supercopa, and why I didn’t feel panic/nervous/excited?
        because I gave up before the game even started, I thought “hell, no way we can win with this current form”

        that was our worst form of the season, against a very well prepared Evil.
        and we won it. we got a draw in a game where the scoreline could easily end with 5-0.

        it’s not that easy to beat our team, we have a special coach and special players, with the heart of the champions. one of the best team of all time.

        can’t say I’m optimistic either, but I still have faith with our team.

        • Jim
          November 21, 2011

          I remember saying before the first Clasico last year when the panic was stalking Culedom that they can be playing as well as they like but they haven’t been playing us. It is a completely different game. They still need the ball to score.

          What will be really interesting is to see if they can match us in the Bernebeu possession wise. If not, they’ll be lucky to do any better than before imo.

          However, we need to bring our first team and our first team game to that match . We are going to have to make them chase shadows for spells in the match to get at their self belief. It can’t be strong after what they’ve gone through and for that we need Busi, Xavi, Iniesta and Messi

    • G6O
      November 21, 2011

      Hopefully we win it. It is really critical that Barca wins the title this year, it is a historic moment in fact. If Real can’t do it with Mourinho in his second season with all the players they bought, then how could they ever beat us? How would they enter the next season, with Mourinho fired; who would replace him to begin with, etc. It will wreck their whole organization. That’s why it is one of those moments that could shift the balance for many years to come and it is so important that we don’t let them win this year, and if we manage to both win La Liga fourth year in a row and repeat in the CL, it would be an even more crushing blow to them.

  22. BarcaGirl_Indo
    November 21, 2011

    @barcastuff Medical – Official: Iniesta has some thigh problem and won’t travel to Milan out of precaution

    ****!
    well, at least we still have Cesc, hopefully he can maintain/improve his last beast-mode-on performance.

    • Helge
      November 21, 2011

      Don’t think that’s a reason to panic.

      We do not only still have Cesc, more importantly we have Thiago!
      It is still very likely that two of the following players will sit on the bench: Villa, Pedro, Cesc, Thiago, Sanchez.
      Offensively, our squad has such a huge depth, we can even compensate the loss of Don Andrés.

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        November 21, 2011

        yes, I’m not panicking. still, Busquets-Xaviesta is the best triangle for our midfield. it’s suck to lose Papa Andres.

        I think Pep will play Cesc (maybe with Thiago too, who knows), the last time Cesc want to San Siro he was a beast.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybsVkC8rIRU

      • Xingxian
        November 21, 2011

        As a supporter of FCB I take it as a point of pride and a solemn duty to
        A) not need a reason to panic
        B) scream bloody-death at the TV/monitor with all the berserk fury of a cornered animal that can no longer run

        WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE
        MY CEREAL IS COLD

        • mom4
          November 21, 2011

          But I love cold cereal. Especially Captain Crunch and Cocoa Crispies!

  23. Eklavya
    November 21, 2011

    Iniesta injured. *forehead slap*

    • blitzen
      November 21, 2011

      Don’t panic, it’s just a “contusion”, ie. a nasty bruise. He’ll be fine. No reason to risk playing him when we have already qualified for the next round.

      • Jim
        November 21, 2011

        Yeah, Jnice, but the Clasico cottonwool is starting now for our main men or at least it should. More important to me is starting to settle on our back four and giving them time together.

  24. blitzen
    November 21, 2011

    There Is a really nice (translated) interview with Keita here:

    http://www.adifferentleague.co.uk/p6_1_11453_seydou-keita-barcelona-now-has-more-resources-with-alexis-thiago-and-cesc.html

    Are you surprised at getting so many minutes so far this season?
    Personally, no. I know Barca have players of great quality but I had a good pre-season and the Coach always picks the ones who are physically the best. Here, if you don’t play it’s because somebody is better than you are.

    Tell us about your future. They said on Sky Sports you appreciated Liverpool being interested in you.
    There are some things that annoy me and one is when something that is made up. I’ve never spoken to any newspaper about this, so it’s impossible I’ve said anything about Liverpool.

    Original Spanish article is here:

    http://www.mundodeportivo.com/20111119/fc-barcelona/keita-con-el-ambiente-que-veo-se-que-sera-otro-gran-ano_54239075269.html

  25. blitzen
    November 21, 2011

    In the fine tradition I established last year, I will apparently be on a plane the day of the Clasico. 🙁

    What time is the game on? Eastern time. I might just be able to get home in time.

    • Xingxian
      November 21, 2011

      I THOUGHT it was on Sunday at 6:00 AM EST?
      That was last I heard, I looked it up, and now I see this:

      “Madrid, Nov. 14 (ANDINA). The Spanish Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona will be played on Saturday 10 December, it was announced late on Monday.
      Real had wanted the game to be played at noon on Sunday 11 December in order to be broadcast live to the lucrative Asian market. However, Barcelona had insisted on Saturday in order to have suffiicient time to prepare for the Club World Cup in Japan.”

      From http://www.andina.com.pe/ingles/Noticia.aspx?Id=SowSAlmOhXU=

      I don’t know how reputable this is, or how subject to change it is.
      Does anyone else know better?

      • guano
        November 21, 2011

        4 pm eastern on saturday Dec 10.

        taht is what the official site says, anyhow

        • blitzen
          November 21, 2011

          My plane lands at 2 pm. Assuming it is on time, and I have only carry-on luggage I should make it home in plenty of time! 😀 #barçafanproblems

          • blitzen
            November 21, 2011

            Remember, the last time I traveled on Clasico day and had to scramble to get to a TV in time to watch it…we won 5-0. So maybe I should travel every Clasico day?

          • Xingxian
            November 21, 2011

            …when you put it like that…

            >_>
            <__<

  26. November 21, 2011

    @missingpage:

    I am neither blind nor do i think anyone is stupid. I was just giving an opinion, and last i checked, this board welcomed opinions with an “open mind”.

    It is clear to me, and many other people (including many Barcelona fans. His hand movement is away from the ball, not towards it. Had it been towards it, he would have kept it in it’s place because that’s were the ball was headed. Although it seems that you have your mind set, so no need for debate, no?

    • sd
      November 21, 2011

      I am pretty sure there is no handball. First of all, it has taken a lot of debate and a lot of replays and angles in slow motion for us to determine whether there is handball or no handball and there is still a lot of disagreement. Clearly, in this scenario the penalty not being given is completely understandable given how crowded that area was.
      But more importantly, this debate is completely taking credit away from Casillas for that amazing save. I am sure Casillas saved that even if there was help from the crossbar. This debate is moot if Casillas does not pull that off. I was hoping Valencia would score but Casillas won them two points. The credit should go to him instead of being deflected to whether there was a penalty or not. He made a tremendous play and even as a Barca supporter and a despiser of ‘them’ (I probably dislike them more than I like Barca) I can only say “WOW!”. Much like many of them recognize Messi’s goal in the first leg of the semis last year or his hat trick in his first ever classico.

        • November 21, 2011

          Who cares? It wasn’t called, and that’s that. The officials, even when they cock it up (not that I am saying that they did here) have a hell of a hard job. For example, the The Yaya handball that wasn’t. Sure, you see that via slo-mo video replay. On the pitch, what you see is a blur that hits a mountain, you think in the arm. And you make the call. Or not. And that’s that.

          If we are going to win the Liga this season, it will be coming from behind, and on our own, not because of any handballs or non-handballs or whatever. Strap ’em on, and let’s go. May the best side on the day win.

        • sd
          November 21, 2011

          You are correct. I had not seen the video. Anyways, like Kevin said, the refs have a hell of a job and that’s why its pointless to debate it too.

  27. November 21, 2011

    Don’t know if anyone watched the Roma match, but those 90 minutes summed up the life of Krkic last season. He missed at least two howlers, right on the doorstep. And and anguished look is one that we are oh, so familiar with.

    As someone notes, Krkic probably has more talent than Cuenca. But they have very different attitudes. In many respects, I wonder what Krkic would have been like had it all been just a little more difficult for him.

    • November 21, 2011

      No shock there. I can only repeat that Cruijff can believe that Davids is just on the board because he is black, and say that very thing, yet not be a racist, nor have that be a racist remark.

      This crap is getting ridiculous, and I’m black! The Davids quote was pretty craptastic, as well. “There’s been some racist stuff, but I’m not going to mention it.” But you already DID!

      • ciaran
        November 21, 2011

        No smoke without fire eh?
        For a long time he has been making stupid remarks so it doesn’t surprise me but Cruijff, on the pitch, will forever be a legend.

        The argument will be made that he is from a different era but still, as an important figure he should be more careful with what he says.

        I’m Irish and there aren’t many places on the planet that are so passive about racism but Davids was both a very important player in our transition from the mediocre to the great and also an incredibly successful footballer for many of the biggest teams in Europe so I hope he is given the respect he deserves

  28. November 21, 2011

    Will be out of pocket for a while, folks. London-bound for the next week or so. But you’ll have the other folks to keep ya tied up, and Kari will be back before you know it.

    • Dani_el
      November 21, 2011

      Have a nice trip Kxevin and thanks for the review. Maybe in London you can make some free time to kidnapp some Arsenal player and take him to Barcelona. My vote is for Walcott or Song.

      • mom4
        November 21, 2011

        But we have lots of players like Walcott on Barca B…oops, I forgot, we get in trouble for saying such things.

    • BarcaGirl_Indo
      November 21, 2011

      have a great trip and come back soon, Kev!

  29. BarcaGirl_Indo
    November 21, 2011

    I saw a comment from a Milan fan :

    “Please Big Guy (Zlatan), don’t go missing, please give it your all!
    This is the biggest game of your career..”

    dude, really? the biggest game of his career?
    one of the biggest, if not the biggest game of his career was CL semifinal 2010, against Inter. and he failed. badly.

    • mom4
      November 21, 2011

      I don’t just want to win, I want to embarrass a certain Swede. I want Busi to stick to him like ugly on an ape and man mark him out of the game. I don’t want him to even touch the ball. I want him to be so frustrated that he goes home crying for his momma. Sorry, I’m having a mean moment.

      • BarcaGirl_Indo
        November 21, 2011

        lol, mom4… you’re having a bad day or you just dislike BANGS that much? 🙂

        • ElJefe
          November 22, 2011

          This should be payback for Bangs comments about Pep. Lets take this game personally.

          Capitan Caveman & Masc – this means you

      • K_legit in Oz
        November 21, 2011

        I want Busi to stick to him like ugly on an ape

        is that racist? 😀

  30. barca96
    November 21, 2011

    What’s up with the one liners Jnice?

    • Jnice
      November 22, 2011

      Dunno… I don’t have much to say right now.

  31. November 22, 2011

    How the hell is saying that someone has a job because of his race, racism?

    This is ridiculous. In India where afirmative-action is not just unwritten policy but actually a law, if I were to say to someone that he has a job because they’re dailts or some other caste it’s not just discrimination. More often than not it’s a fact.

    And no one has any proof that Cruyff even said it. Pure defamation. And has anyone ever heard of Cruyff’s foundation? It serves people of other races much more than whites. You’d think he would do that if he were racist?

    Anyways, nice link blitzen, those guys (netherlands WCblog)always have great info on off-the-pitch news from dutch football. That article just makes me sad mostly because you can see the inevitability of it. They’ll always be so politically unstable and nothing would get done properly and being Ajax, who always think of themselves as such a big club and have such little patience as a result.

    I mean it goes to show that alot of the Ajaccied have less patience than Barca fans. And then everybody has to criticise everybody else: Laporta and Rosell may seem at each other’s throat now but imagine it’s been so long since their relation broke down and overall the back and forth has been limited. Compare this to almost anyone at Ajax but specially Cruyff and Van Gaal. Even I don’t care what JC has to say about him anymore.

    Things are going to get alot worse before anything improves for Ajax.
    Sigh. And they seemed to have so much potential at the start of this season.

    • barca96
      November 22, 2011

      -I won’t be surprised if V. de Boer get’s fired this season.

      -Hiddink doesn’t even want to have anything to do with the club because of it’s history of unstability. Sad….

  32. Miguel
    November 22, 2011

    Sacchi.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/nov/22/arrigo-sacchi-milan-italy

    “What I would say is that, thanks to teams like Ajax, Milan and now Barcelona, football is a sport which has evolved and consequently it remains compelling,” says Sacchi, stalling, but behind the trademark, aviator-style, reading glasses his mischievous eyes betray him. Sacchi is too modest a man to be drawn into bold claims but he is also too proud to let his teams be talked down. The suggestion that his old-fashioned 4-4-2 might prove too rigid against Guardiola’s more flexible schemes draws a more pointed response.

    “No. It is not a question of 4-4-2 or 4-2-1-3, it is a question of having a team which is ordered, in which the players are connected to one another, which moves together, as if it was a single player,” he interjects even as the question is being asked. “Today few teams know how to do this. Few teams work as a unit – few, really few teams. They are all made up of little groups. There is no great connection, nor a good distribution of players around the pitch.

  33. November 22, 2011

    So the latest is that yes, as we all suspected, Cruijff is NOT a racist, just like he said, and like Egdar Davids said. Cruijff did observe that David’s job on the board is in part to reach out to black youths who are interested in the game and the club. The. End.

    Why people went all crazy with that is something only they can decide. But speaking the truth and having it be misconstrued, particularly in a situation such as this one, points to something deeply wrong.

    –Edgar Davids: “I never said that Johan Cruyff was a racist. I’m surprised & shocked by the effect of my answer, and how this story has ran.”

    –Johan Cruyff’s immediate reaction to Davids statement tonight: “Well, that’s beautiful. Another problem solved.”

    Further ….

    –Explanation (from @carriebaird): Johan said Davids was appointed to talk to dark players in the youth, as when they had problems they had nobody to talk to. That’s why Johan said to Edgar: you are here because you’re black. Meaning you are partially here for supporting black players.

    Yikes. How silly this all got.

    • blitzen
      November 22, 2011

      Johan Cruyff’s immediate reaction to Davids statement tonight: “Well, that’s beautiful. Another problem solved.”

      Heh heh heh. Legend. I completely understand why Cruyff rubs people the wrong way and people have trouble working with him, but I just love him, brilliant arrogant bastard that he is.

      Further to Kxevin’s point about speaking truth and having it used against you—it’s true. We have somehow arrived at a point where it is completely taboo to mention someone’s skin colour even if it is actually relevant to the conversation. It’s ridiculous and it just leads to situations like this where people are fingerpointing and making snap judgements of peoples’ characters while feeling secure in their own “more-colourblind-than-thou” smuggery. Meanwhile the real issues of racism in football are swept under the carpet.

      Was Cruyff tactless? Yes. Was he rude? Most likely. Was he racist? Definitely not.

  34. Josep
    November 22, 2011

    Argh I’m so angry you just posted that Kevin, I drop by to actually comment and state exactly that.

    Cruyff is the lovable buffoon. But he is indeed, not a racist. He’s adopted another nation as a second home for him, essentially..

    Davids is there, like you said, because he’s black. For the younger, “darker” Netherlandian kids to have someone to look up to and share their experiences.

    btw, the board went head over heels with it because they want Cruyff out, and want LVG to be the main dude.

    I love Cruyff..he’s such a cheeky fellow. by the way, there’s no chance in hell de Boer gets fired. Not this year, at least. He means too much to the revolution going on there. They’ve struggled (ugh, how do you blow a 2-0 lead in the 83rd) a lot lately, but a win tonight could be a huge boost. They have a great crop of young talent coming through and could hold onto them for a while with FFP.

    That is, untill we buy Jan Vertonghen next summer..

  35. November 22, 2011

    “I completely understand why Cruyff rubs people the wrong way and people have trouble working with him, but I just love him, brilliant arrogant bastard that he is.”

    Exactly how I feel. Cruyff is brilliant almost to a fault. The thing with him is that He understands football better than almost everybody but if they get it, if they don’t see it he’ll call you an idiot and try to do what he wants because he knows he’s right. And he is most of the time.

    Kinda like House. And his charm comes from that as well. I adore Cruyff, almost worship him but I’m well aware of his faults. if someone would ask me who would you prefer among Cruyff and Pep to coach Barca. My rational answer will always be Pep. (not the emotional one 😛 )

    Ajax fans complain that compared to Beckenbaur, Cruyff shied away from taking direct control. They say it’s because he doesn’t want blame if things go wrong. They say he loves his Godlike image too much. I feel that he knows his shortcomings and doesn’t want to expose the club to them.

    Barca worked so well when he could guide the board and they’d place great importance to what he said but eventually take the decision themselves and execute it in their own way.

  36. Helge
    November 22, 2011

    Zagreb in Madrid = most pathetic half ever shown by a team in the CL history?

    • blitzen
      November 22, 2011

      What’s the Madrid version of Villarato?

      I kid, I kid. 😛

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