News of the Day – October 15, 2009

Paarl, South Africa
Paarl, South Africa

The international break is long and boring for most of us BarΓ§a fans, especially if we don’t have a dog in that World Cup race (as a USMNT fan, we squared away against Honduras on Saturday). If you were an Argentina fan, you were probably glued to your TV for most of last night while Maradona attempted to lose whatever dignity he had left*, but otherwise, there was this little ditty from the Honduran radio announcers (which warmed my heart), but that was it. Other than, of course, hoping our boys were fine.

They’re not fine.

Sigh. This is why I hate international break: injuries, change in form, fatigue, and transfer rumors. Blah. So we shipped out most of our starters and while most of them returned in fine shape, we ended up with a few knocks, some of which could be serious despite the unimportance of the games. That’s what’s so killer. In games that reflect only the coach’s statistics down the line, high-caliber players are forced to play to assuage fears of being sacked, to attempt to right negative goal differentials or increase already absurd ones.

Take, for instance, Spain. If you’re a Spanish player who doesn’t happen to play for Valencia, Real Madrid, or Barcelona, you won’t be making it on the team, sorry. Even when the game is meaningless. In order to ensure a 10-out-of-10, 30-point haul from World Cup qualifying, Vicente del Bosque used starters. Several of those starters ended up getting hurt because Armenia wasn’t going to lie down like del Bosque obviously thought they should. Instead they came in kicking and scratching and Xavi ended up with a knee injury that might sideline him for the Valencia match (though recent reports suggest he’ll play) while Puyol had a rib knock and thankfully earned a yellow card that kept him out of the last game at Bosnia anyway. Iniesta got a hard kick to his previously-injured leg and went down in a heap. He recovered enough to put in 68 minutes against Bosnia, which is good news (and del Bosque took him out, thankfully). Pique got some rest against Bosnia after scoring and made it through without injury, as did Busquets, who got 90 minutes in the second game.

My gripe is not about Barcelona’s players specifically, but all of the major team players in general. Who doesn’t know who Xavi is? Or Fernando Torres? Or Xabi Alonso? So why not give someone that is on the cusp, but hasn’t quite made it 90 minutes? Why not blood someone like Sergio Asenjo? Why not someone who is young (19, 20) and could prove useful in the future? You don’t need to play your best 11 against Bosnia for some silly statistical note. Numbers like that might bring some comfort to del Bosque when he’s 93 and looking back on his life, but really, they’re completely meaningless and could just as easily been achieved with a 3rd or 4th string Spanish lineup. There’s no continuity required from a meaningless game because the next time Spain will play will be in 2010 or in a meaningless friendly. Will del Bosque start his best 11 then? Probably. Moron. I don’t see why Casillas doesn’t get a rest and Reina gets 90 or maybe Victor Valdes finally gets to don the colors of the Furia Roja. Morons.

Thierry Henry played in France’s fairly meaningless match against Austria and was injured in the 50th minute. So far no timetable on his return, but hopefully it is not a serious re-aggravation of the injury he sustained earlier this year (right thigh problem). I can understand, to some tiny degree, that France needs continuity in its starting lineup between now and the playoffs they’re in, so while Domenech may not be the brightest cookie in the shed, he’s at least got that going for him. Del Bosque, not so much.

Sweden were eliminated from World Cup competition, but needed to win in order to put pressure on Portugal, so including Zlatan Ibrahimovic was a smart call. They won 3-1 on Wednesday, but thanks to Sweden’s 1-0 loss at Denmark coupled with Portugal’s wins, the Swedes find themselves at home, without even a playoff place. That Ibra was slightly injured is bad news for us, but you can’t blame Sweden’s coach for starting his best players in crucial qualifiers. There is roughly no news whatsoever on his injury, so I’m suspecting that it’s nothing serious and we’ll see him on Saturday against Valencia. If not, it’s totally fine to keep him on the bench as we have enough other players who can fill the role, if not quite as well as he can. More discussion of that tomorrow in the preview.

Everyone seems to have survived their trips to their national teams, including Lionel Messi, who qualified for the WC with a victory over Uruguay that I frankly didn’t expect. Good to see little Leo in with a chance of winning the biggest sporting prize on earth, though with Maradona in charge, I don’t especially like their chances. Messi is apparently back in Barcelona already, which is pretty insane turnaround time. Turns out that Barcelona hired a private plane for him and got him back with as much recovery time as possible before the Valencia match. Apparently we like the guy.

So it’s back to regular training and then a trip to Valencia. Can’t wait to get back to the good life of watching BarΓ§a play for a few weeks before the next international break screws us all up again.

*Translation: “For those of you who didn’t believe–and apologies to the ladies–suck it. Keep sucking it. I’m either black or white, never gray. Those of you who treated me how you treated me: keep sucking it. Next question.”

Categorized as Team News

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater Philadelphia area.


    1. sucks about henry, but has he NOT been injured this season? hopefully bojan will get the start in his place.

      and I will take a “tocado” Ibra anyday. I’m not sure if he has even been 100% this season.

      bring on Valencia!!

    1. Oh, I don’t think so. Valencia’s attack is the broadest part of their squad. If David Villa doesn’t play, there will be Mata, David Silva and Pablo Hernandez who can still produce a lot of danger.
      Maybe the loss of Marchena and Joaquin (as far as I know, both won’t be available) weights even more for them…

    2. if those are the only injuries in the valencia squad they should be fine. zigic could fill in for villa. how well? :^/ joaquin takes a back seat to pablo hernandez & usually comes in as a sub. marchena has been playing just in front of the back four in a doble pivote along side banega. old man albelda’ll do. they usually play a 4-2-3-1 w/villa up front, mata & p. hernandes on the flanks, & david silva in the middle. silva’s the dude to contain.

  1. Good news re Ibra, not great regarding Henry but 10 days isnt so bad and between Pedro and Bojan we have enough cover for the LW. What worries me is that if Henry and Ibra are both injured at the same time we will be seriously lacking a proper ‘9’. Bojan is good, but like Kxevin said in the previous post, he is not a true striker like Ibra, or even Henry.

    1. Considering that Bojan is about 50 years younger than both Ibra and Henry, he has sometime to develop into the “true striker” that they both are.

    2. i wanted guiza over the summer in addition to ibra. he only would’ve cost another 15m euros or so. i know people think huntelaar looks slow but he’d be worth swooping up in the winter, or is he cup tied?

    3. Fernando Llorente would have been the better addition… After all that speculation during Copa final, and Txiki himself being a basque I thought Eto’o would stay and we’d get Llorente to add that extra dimension Pep always talked of adding… But then we got the complete package in Ibra πŸ˜›

      Suarez*Suarez*Suarez* is the word man, not Hunter!

  2. RAC1:

    Xavi practiced today and is looking good.

    Messi practiced today and will most likely play.

  3. ————->VV

    Xavi for Keita
    Busi for P!
    Ibra for Bojan(Messi)

    Hopefully all goes well πŸ™‚

    1. lefty loosey messi? i think xavi’ll play alongside toure & probably keita. its valencia not tenerife.

    2. Xavi picked up a knock and I don’t think he, of all, should be risked; Iniesta can quite manage. When P! & Messi both start I remember Messi started out on left, but both eventually drift along of course

    3. Since Xavi isn’t in the starting XI, I’ll bet the whole world you’re wrong. It wouldn’t matter even if he LOSES his knee.

  4. Sid Lowe just said that if he were a betting man, he would bet that Robinho ends up at Barcelona during the January window. both parties seem to be very interested (including, crucially, Pep), and the only potential hurdle is City; but as they are overloaded at the front and Robinho is on the outs with the manager anyway, a loan deal is not really that big of a hurdle after all.


    1. Honestly, in his last season with Madrid, Robinho was Madrid’s best performer along with Casillas. I believe it was Robinho in the first half of the season and Casillas in the 2nd half.

      Robinho tore apart defenses and I was so happy to see him leave Madrid.

      With that being said, my only questions have to do with his work ethic and his night life.

      Where did Sid Lowe say this? On Sky Sports?

    2. i think its robinho’s build that keeps him from tracking back. messi isn’t the biggest dude but he’s strong as hell(thanks barcelona’s hormone treatment). i also think that his(robinho) perceived inability to defend has made his coaches put him in really advanced positions while they compensate for that w/a couple of dms to back him up(dunga’s 4-2-3-1, not sure really how hughes plays). they just kind of reinforce each other.

    3. Till now Sport recommended Robinho and El Mundo recommended Suarez… But then recently they interchanged their stances and Sport said Barca are interested in Suarez while El Mundo said we already have an agreement in place πŸ˜›
      Man these Robinho rumors are becoming quite strong and making me restless πŸ™

    4. he was asked about it on The Guardian’s bi-weekly football podcast: //

  5. Yeah, but don’t forget that EMD has said we have agreements in place with everyone from Jesus to the Disciples. You can’t trust Judas, but he’s a demon in the midfield.

    I’ll believe the Suarez (and Robinho) news when it happens. But with Robinho’s pace and ball skills, if he is willing to do the donkey work in the midfield, and willing to raise hell in other parts of the pitch, I say do the loan and off we go. He knows that this is his last, best chance.

    Sucks about Henry. I don’t think that the dismissive comments about his quality and injury status take into account his immense value to us last season. If we are to repeat this whole triplete business, we need a healthy Henry. Period, full stop. Bojan ain’t it, Robinho ain’t it, Suarez ain’t it. Find me someone else who could have ripped the EE to shreds as Henry did last year at the Bernabeu. Yes, it was a team effort, but every time they scored a goal, Henry came back with a stunner.

    1. Yea, what Peter lacks in speed he makes up for with effort and intensity. remember that time he took that guys ear off? As for striker, John is has got some speed (more than peter at least) and can maintain possession for a really long time.

      As for real football, i’m not a big fan of Robinho’s attitude, but he would definitely be an exciting addition to the team in terms of ability.

    2. But what about the cost of Robinho’s wages?? There is no way someone could convince me he is worth 160,000 pounds a week.

  6. 10 days out for Henry is the word. It came from MARCA, of all places. And Ibra just has knee bruising, but should be available for Valencia.

  7. Impressive part about the Robinho comments, IMHO:

    “It’s not a question of talking about a transfer or a loan agreement, about now or in the summer,” said Robinho. “It’s a question of sitting down and talking about it when there is a concrete and serious offer. But, I repeat, nothing has reached me. When it does, I’ll say so. Right now it is best not to say things that can be misinterpreted both here and there. Let me make one thing clear: I have a contract with City and as a professional I owe my allegiance to them.

    “It is no secret that [in the summer] there was clear interest from Barcelona in signing me but Manchester City didn’t want to negotiate. I was declared untransferable and that’s the way it stays; I’m concentrating on doing the best I can for City. We’re thinking big now. We have built a very strong side that has aspirations of winning the Premier League with [Carlos] Tevez, [Emmanuel] Adebayor, [Joleon] Lescott and [Gareth] Barry.”

  8. Im kinda pissed about Henry being out 10 days.However I am so happy about:


  9. Isaiah, why did you choose that picture? thats the paarl valley, like 20km from my house! sooo random to log on and see such a familiar site. it was a nice surprise

    1. sometimes, usually in the summer when it gets very hot the sky gets hazy and then the sunsets are amazing.

    2. I chose it because I was writing about World Cup stuff and South Africa looks pretty sweet if that picture is any indication.

      Didn’t know where Paarl was in the country, actually.

    1. I can. Because he’s stupid. It’s the same reason he started that gibbering little monkey Barthez over the much more capable Coupet in the last WC final. “Set pieces? What are those?” So Italy gets one, and a ball that any keeper in his right mind would have caught or punched, Barthez just stands there, relying on his defense. My Dumbenech label is rooted in history and reality.

    1. Yikes. Just yikes.

      7 is a weird number for us because we don’t really play a true “7” in our formation. A true “7” is a natural winger whose specialties are paciness and crossing (and perhaps control). The closest thing we have to that is Dani Alves, but, well, he’s a fullback, and defenders don’t get that number no matter how attacking they are.

      Perhaps Pedro, a bit down the road. Though I highly, highly doubt that he and Bojan will stay simultaneously for much longer, unless we sell off some younger canteranos (and I more expect the former scenario).

  10. Also , in his last season for madrid he had 15 goals in all comps. and 13 assists. In 38 games total.

    For me, id take him for the 6 months, but im not sure about longer than that, something is bound to upset and unsettle him by year one or 2 if it follows his career history thus far.

  11. I think Pep will take care of Robinho so he doesnt get sidetracked! And if he does, Pep would also know when to leave him out, we have plenty of talent to cover for his position.

    I am more worried about the next general election. That could signify whether Pep would continue as Barca coach or not. He still hasn’t signed his contract you know.

    1. Making the presumption that crack isn’t a problem in Barcelona, only the most addlle-headed meddler would not let Guardiola keep on keeping on. If he gets some silver this season, his position will be even more unassailable.

      In the big Txiki interview in Sport, Txiki sais that he and Guardiola have already begun planning for next season.

    2. Thats awesome!!! I guess that’s the reason the world is going crazy about Barca transfer rumors and all the Cesc talks.

    3. But you know what, screw that! Planning ahead is great, but shouldn’t we they be focused on this season? Despite the faultless record so far, which was to be expected, things haven’t been going too swimmingly on the overall-play and injury front.

  12. messi came back to barcelona after he went on a privat plane while the bibito and gago and the rest O’ the gang are still hanging around in buenos aires and yet to come …

    though ..

    i guess if robinho comes pep will beat the shit outta his ass,, he won’t be like ronaldinho !

  13. Amal Welcome, (brown nosing warning) With Isaiah, Kevin, Baby Kxevin
    and evil twin Kzevin, plus Hector and a dash of Ramzi this is the best blog for English speaking Cules on the web. Plus all the Commentators keep things lively, fresh, and fun while making arguments based on reason and logic ( for the most part ) and making it a great envirement for everyone. So in other words you came to the right place.

  14. am kinda 99% sure that emiry will come out w/ this lineup on sat:

    miguel — navaro de — albert — alexis


    ever banega
    paplo mata


    nicolas zigic (via)

    1. that’s pretty much what i said, although i think villa will have just reached full/functional fitness by saturday.

  15. Tutomate .. hola bro
    i knew you guys from the offside,only a reader never comment in my life, but i was gone for while then you were all gone. i found a your link on face book then am here now ..

    for godness sake i missed a lot !


  16. u kno the ref for sat game is that stupid guy “Burrull” isn’t he the one who gave madrid a win against Osasuna .. i thought he should get a life ban not a cpouple ones …

    he’s gonna ruin our game .. anybody wana bet?


  17. Bad ref? Meh

    What’s new?

    Have we not had a bad ref this season? No matter where we go–CL or Liga, and probably the Copa, too–we get a shit awful ref.

  18. I’m almost sure Villa and Xavi will play..both teams therefor should here near full strength line ups. Excited about Bojan(prob) starting in such a high profile game.

  19. The nice thing about Burrull is tbat he doesn’t allow rough stuff. Not that Valencia will try to kick us off the pitch, as truly lesser sides do.

  20. I was just thinking of something.

    If things keep going this way, this is going to be a huge season for the future of Bojan Krkic. Henry is almost definitely leaving this season, and it’s shaping up to be more like his first season than his second with the injuries delaying his run into form. This will give Bojan lots more time, and remember how he flourished two years ago only to look a bit less fantastic last season (when Henry had his name written all over LF comfortably). We keep talking about finding a replacement for Henry, but it just might be Li’l Bo.

    1. Rather than bringing in Robinho or Suarez we should give more time to Bojan. Opportunities are bigger than risks here imho.

  21. Amal, I feel Ronaldinho would come back to life under Pep and I’m convinced the only reason he left is because he was focussed on other things in life and football was no longer a priority. It breaks my heart to say that. My secret desire is that he comes back this winter for the knock down price and pep will fix him for sure. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ wishful thinking..

    Robinho on the other hand is a fruit cake! You either love him, hate him or think he’s just okay πŸ™‚ historically, signing a player like him is risky business indeed considering his acrimonious departures from his previous two clubs and his sudden interest in Barca after a few bizarre rumors on The following things can happen in my opinion..

    1. He’ll put his head down and play his heart out and do the donkey work in midfield and be the superstar we all know he’s capable of being.. (30% chance of that happening)

    2. He’ll start off with a flurry since he’s used to the spanish league and will have a special point to prove against EE. We will all think differently of him in the first few months, he will dazzle on the left flank, do a good amt of defensive work and attempt to rival a certain #10 on the other flank. But he won’t be able to keep it up. Messi will keep churning out performance after performance and he will eventually have to play second fiddle. The whining will begin followed by a lack of defensive work, Pep will drop him, he’ll poison the dressing room with his sulking and that’s that. (60% possibility)

    3. He’ll come in January, won’t be as effective as pep might hope him to be, Henry will come into his own, Bojan will push him further down the pecking order and we’ll let him go after his loan. (10% chance of that happening)

    makes any sense?

    1. Get Suarez and the number of ways the things might end up cuts to just ‘2’ 1 or 3 πŸ˜‰

      BTW I think the winger signing is most likely gonna be more of a political one, Don Joan promises Pep a crack & he’d have just “I’m obliged!” to say… But what about the mid-field depth!? Another DM? Italian press says CISSOKO, a CUP-TIED player! But then Yaya would be back & well available for the CL if the ‘virus’ does not affect him of course!

      For every Cissoko, the English press screams a Lee Cattermole, who’s beginning to surpass Walcott to be hailed as the next big thing from England. The lad’s already gained some good EPL dirty work experience, had good season at Sunderland till now… But then like Masch he’s being paired up with another DM in Lorik Cana, don’t know how far he’d click to be a lone DM at Barca.

      No body speaks of my favorite Gojko Kacar these days. His recent 1 month long injury didn’t help much either πŸ™

      De Rossi is again in the news because Roma supposedly have to gather up some 16mill, so De Rossi, valued at 18mill, might help them there!!!

      What say you guys? Do you think Busi, with some help from Marquez, can manage the 4 fixtures(we host Sevilla during that period) that we’d be playing without Yaya? Even then we have only 3 first-team mid-fielders available for those 4 fixtures! If we were to buy a mid-fielder, my call would be to buy a DM instead of an attack-minded one because for that we have Yaya, Keita & some body called Ghostface. Don’t know how good the last one is but the Yaya & Keita are beasts in attack!!

    2. Random shit:

      –I have very little confidence in Busquets as our starting DM. This is justified in his performances. When he hasn’t been screwing up, he’s been solid. But does anyone think that solid will be good enough against Sevilla? Don’t think too long about that answer.

      We aren’t going to be blowing sides out this year. A single goal could be the difference between a win and a draw. Busquets is playing too loose with possession right now. Sorry to all of his fans, but he is. And you’d better believe that Guardiola has let him know about it.

      –The Henry injury is even more rankling because the Austria match was meaningless. The side has its chemistry. Dumbenech just wanted an impressive, job-securing performance. Fuck him.

      –Messi should be a sub against Valencia. We can afford to drop points, as the EE already have. Better that than risking the long-term health of key players. My starting XI:

      Alves Pique Txignasty Abidal
      The Yaya Iniesta Keita
      Pedro! Krkic Jeffren

      We’re going to suffer on the attack, but that defense shouldn’t concede. So if we can scrape a goal, we can snag a win.

      –If we do anything more than loan with Robinho, we’re crazy. As others have noted, he has a shelf life. He would be of value in CL, since I am seeing Henry’s last season with us as a mirror of his last Arsenal season: lots of knocks, no real chance to get in form.

      But we all knew this. Cup years mess up sides and injure players. It’s the nature of the beast.

      –A fond welcome to the new voices. Good to have you, and don’t be shy about jumping right in.

    3. I think that Busquets has gotten worse since the summer, unfortunately, and there’s only one reason… complacency. He is very talented, and has the right physique but he is fairly dumb. He tries to do too much with the ball and doesn’t understand simplicity. He has all the attributes needed to be a world class DM but as long as he doesn’t understand his role then he cannot do it properly.

    4. Kxevin, the suggested lineup seems terribly toothless. In addition, there’s a higher chance of Messi playing than Bojan since he’s coming back after a while.

      this is my more romantic lineup πŸ™‚




    5. hello reagan, thanx for ur port ,, totally luv it.


      u kno that playiing at barcelona for robinho is just an opprotunity not challenge for him to take. i would still belive that bojan can do as much damage robinho can do if not better specially on the flank since henry is becoming a prone injury lately.
      i luv robinho, he’s actually one the best players of all time for me at least.. robinho is still a great fetch but don’t think mark hughes wouldn’t let him go by any mean, sice they gonna loose adybayore for the CAN ..

      bye now :)))

  22. Txignasty not yet match fit, so it’s gonna be El Capitan there…
    If Pep feels Messi’d better come as a sub, I think he’d rope in Busi instead of Jeffren. Valencia’s defense is not great considering their recent form, now that even Marchena is out, so why not play our best offense!?

    1. Hmmm. Thought I read that he was practicing normally. I’m thinking long-term. Why not get them some rest if we can? The Valencia defense is precisely why we should be able to steal a goal with the B front line.

      You’re probably right about Puyol. But I would ride Txignasty like a rented mule, since we can’t use him for the CL.

  23. Good news from Manchester!


    I don’t know the Manchester Evening News, but I presume that is is a serious, reliable newspaper.

  24. Hey guys,

    I’ve been a little absent from the blog lately but I work in commerical and industrial security and we had a general “strike” (more like a big ass march than a real strike) here in PR yesterday which went smoothly except for this: . Lots of fun for me and my guys and thankfully no violence minus a few fisticuffs but still plenty of work and some vandalism to deal with. Anyways, back to football.

    This is a game which in fairness we are favored to lose. If we steal this one with so many important players out or fatigued in a stadium that has always given us trouble then it will be a huge statement for us in La Liga. It will be interesting to see how Pep manages his guys. Should Xavi start? Messi and Ibra as supersubs or starters? Iniesta up front or in midfield? I think Keita and Yaya start seeing as how they both played one game less than the other starters. The third mid will be Xavi or Iniesta. Bojan is almost a sure bet with him being rested and all.

    Valencia played one of the best games against us that I saw in the second leg of last season. Emery threw some good curveballs at us and guys like Silva and Mata have an excellent work rate and can pressure our midfield and defenders thus making our possession difficult and muddling up the midfield. They are “Barca style” forwards in that sense. We have to be “on” or this game will get ugly. Remember that they now also have the giant, Zigic which makes them extra dangerous on set pieces. He is, by Pep’s own admission, the only player they ever man marked in set pieces due to his height. Pique or Chygnasty have to play and will be on him seeing as how he will most likely be in for Villa.

    PS I am not optimistic about Argentina at all. Let’s just leave it at that.

  25. BANGS has been passed fit. Still no definitive word on Txignasty, but my last report had him training as normal with the squad, so we’ll see.

    And on the official Citeh site, Mark Hughes is calling bullshit on all of the Robinho stuff. Whew!

    1. Chygrynskiy trained in isolation today so I’m guessing he’s not available.
      Bojan has been training normally, and Henry is out so I’m guessing the kid will get half an hour.

    2. I read Txigrynski will get the green light next week. There’s no way he plays tomorrow. I think it will be Puyol and Pique.

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