Barca 1, Rubin Kazan 2, a.k.a. “I saw it coming.”

If only I had bent the ball ....
If only I had bent the ball .... if only ....

I’m not customarily one of those “I told you so folks,” but when everyone was predicting destruction for Rubin Kazan, a few folks were cautious. Last year, when we were sweeping all before us, that prediction would have been easy. We would have wiped the floor with them. This year, in the wake of iffy team displays that have been bailed out by individual brilliance, we were ripe for the picking.

What did it take? A resolute team with absolutely nothing to lose, poor finishing on our part and two plays, both facilitated by a defender who has a contract on the table, but shouldn’t have been on the pitch.

This picture of Pedro! says it all. He was the beneficiary of our absolute best chance of the second half, a half filled with hope until it was cruelly snatched away by a casual stab at the ball by Bojan Krkic, who did a Busquets, directly into the path of an attacking Kazan player. The Yaya tried a sliding tackle ….

Abidal was running for all that he was worth, trying to stop the play somehow, somewhere, and Rafa Marquez stood there as if he was waiting for the train as the player rushed past him, and the deed was done. Was this one of the greatest upsets in the history of club football? Some are painting it that way.

I view it as a club getting its just desserts, and a necessary wake-up call.

Guardiola rolled out a starting lineup that was a bit problematic for me. It’s no secret that I don’t think Marquez has what it takes any longer. And this was true before the knee injury. So, when I saw Valdes, Alves, Marquez, Pique, Abidal, The Yaya, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Pedro! and Ibrahimovic, I was worried, for a number of reasons.

1. Marquez has been shit for a while now.
2. Where’s the cover? When we’re forced to play three back because Alves has pushed up, your trio must all be lock-and-load defenders with closing speed and ability to play the angles.
3. Kazan was going to park the bus, and the width and attacking up the flanks would be essential to breaking it.
4. No Keita? With a team determined to play off the counter, Keita would have been more valuable than Iniesta or Pedro! in keeping the middle locked down. That killed us on the go-ahead goal.

Yes, it’s easy to call it now. But the match started off brightly with a killer ball from Ibrahimovic to Iniesta, who probably would have scored a goal were he not child-sized, and easily muscled off the ball by the defender, who calmly tapped it away. Who knew it was to be that kind of night, as chance after chance went begging, lacking that final pass to complete the deal.

And the goal came so quickly after that, the cameramen were surprised. A simple clearance to Marquez led to a stupid, casual one-timer that he shanked directly into the path of a Kazan attacker. Valdes didn’t have a chance as the ball was blasted into the top corner, taking a glancing blow off the woodwork. That such an absurd shot beat our on-form keeper said a lot about what kind of night this would be, and this goal completely changed the match, because now we had to chase it, and chase we did. We kept the ball, and bombarded their box with attack after attack after attack as the Rubin Kazan defenders stuck legs and feet out, fouled, grabbed, pulled and tugged to kill momentum, waste time and inch ever closer to their miracle.

Yes, play was rough. Yes, the ref allowed it to be rough. So what? We should be used to it by now. Our arrogance as we swept the world aside last season has to be paid back, and that payment is coming from officials who say “Okay pretty boys, play through it.” So Xavi is loose on a break, and a defender just steps on the back of his foot. The boot comes off, the attack is stopped and all is fine in the world, right? It’s football, a professional foul. Last season, we played through those fouls. This season, they disrupt us because we aren’t anything vaguely approaching being on song, and teams know this. Touches aren’t as secure, players are lunging for balls instead of taking the extra step to get into position, and counters are coming fast and heavy.

And there will be more.

Is it justice that this loss came? Some would say yes, that we deserved it for thinking we could be collectively mediocre and skate through the season. I personally believe that any time we don’t win, it’s a travesty perpetrated by the football deities to make us appreciate it more when we resume winning. That they decided to snatch away a must-win match, particularly in light of Inter Milan drawing at home to Dynamo Kyiv, is particularly painful.

So we battered and scrabbled at the lock until two pieces of individual excellence broke the dam. Xavi played an inch-perfect pass to Ibrahimovic, who calmly controlled it and blasted it off the woodwork and past the keeper. It was 1-1, and the goal was brilliant. There isn’t any breakdown for this goal, other than to say it is precisely the kind of play that we purchased Ibrahimovic for. Flip the ball in to the big target man, and watch him do his thing. Now that’s bus breaking for you.

Then we began to go all out for the go-ahead goal, and Rubin Kazan were content to do little more than keep all 10 men behind the ball and wait for their chance. I won’t recap what already happened, as I did above. Suffice it to say that once that goal went in, a shot where again, Valdes was figuratively and actually defenseless, it felt like the lost points that it was feeling like for me, from the moment the first ball was dropped. Because here’s the difference between this year and last year, and it’s huge: speed of play.

Last year, we were past a defense and in the box before anybody really knew what was going on. But last year, we had all off season to prepare and train and get ready. This year, it’s SuperCups, and exhibitions and injured strikers and World Cup duty and a general malaise that was masked by a bright start in the Liga. The Valencia match was a warning sign, as we really should have lost that one, as well. So in my view, though this loss is shocking on paper, it was coming, like a big, ugly-ass freight train. I’m actually nauseous as I type, because losses sicken me. But even more, losses that smack of the Rijkaard years bring back profoundly unpleasant memories of matches dominated, only to fall away on a fluke play or last-minute breakaway goal.

Guardiola had better have some answers. I know that I have one, and he’s big and French. I like Pedro! and what he does as a substitute, as I’ve said time and again. Watching him dither away attacks in the first half frustrated me. Yes, he’s playing the best that he can, and more’s the pity. Because Henry, the much-maligned striker/winger/whatever dude, would have ripped shit to shreds tonight. Suddenly, those Robinho rumors make sense. Guardiola sees what we saw tonight, that without Henry in the side, the left side of our attack is fundamentally invisible.

Shit.

Team: 5. Not as bad as they’ve been recently, but they lack precision and pace. Attacks are too slow to build, and the amount of negative passes was distressing, as if they were out of ideas, or worried about making the wrong decision with the ball. Confidence? Whatever it is, we aren’t collectively sharp.

Guardiola: 3. How do you not start your best players in a must-win match? And is Krkic really the sub for Pedro!? It should have been the other way around. No respect for Kazan, eh? Does that explain Marquez starting?

Valdes: 5. I reckon it’s hard to stop two blasts when you’re just standing there watching us attack and attack, and he couldn’t really do a lot for either one, but he was there for both, which means he guessed right. So make the play.

Alves: 3. His marker was playing into acres of space whenever Rubin got the ball. Alves should have made them pay on the offensive end, but he didn’t, preferring to play those dangerous little one-twos with Messi, while surrounded by defenders. And now he’s out for three weeks. So Puyol goes to right back, and we probably see more Marquez in the away leg to Rubin Kazan. Shit!

Pique: 6. Loose with the ball at times, but strong going forward. Our defenders really didn’t have a lot to do tonight.

Marquez: 1. Yes, 1. That’s these many. The first goal was all him. The second was a team effort. The Yaya just misses the sliding tackle, and Abidal is caught up the pitch. He comes ripping back into the picture, and had the outside of the attacker. All Marquez had to do was make some kind of a play to slow him up for a fraction of a second. He didn’t. Is that second goal all his? Nope. But he could have stopped it more effectively than any other defender.

Abidal: 8. Monster. Owned his side again, with calm defending. He also assumed that intermediate level of possession control that Henry usually does, making smart passes and the occasional overlapping run. But you could tell that he respected Kazan’s wing attacking abilities.

The Yaya: 8. Massive. Saved defenders’ bacon time and again, tirelessly won possession back all over the pitch, ran attackers down and stole balls. Just a great match.

Xavi: 5. He was unmarked, so he should have been a lot more influential. Poor control in the first half cost us an almost sure goal as he took a perfect pass from Messi, only to bounce it off his feet.

Iniesta: 6. Good match from Ghostface, who played himself down by being too slow with his passes, time and again. There were fewer dribbles to nowhere tonight, mostly because that was Pedro!’s job.

Messi: 5. Started out great as he let the match come to him, and time and again capitalized on great distribution and smart passing. Then the one-on-one Messi showed up, and things went downhill for him. Fouls are frustrating him this season, and he tries even harder to beat a defense one-on-one. Not a good trend. People will claim that Rubin played a good match in marking you tightly with 3-4 defenders, and laying lots of ticky-tack fouls on you. In the first half, you had lots of smart movement and excellent passing. Why abandon what was working?

Pedro!: 6. Little P!, I know that you’re trying your best. But you have to play more quickly, because even though you’re playing in Henry’s position, you’re not Henry, who can make a two-step burst and lace in a perfect cross. You, on the other hand, are almost Hlebian in your ability to derail an attack. With all the space you had to play into, you should have been owning that side of the pitch. And precision over power gets us that second goal.

Ibrahimovic: 8. Wilingness to play and make himself available, and what a goal! It made up for the one he should have scored, but scuffed the shot on in the first half. But his passing and facilitation were exceptional. I love me some BANGS.

Substitutes

Krkic (for Pedro!): 3. Look Kid, at least Pedro! didn’t give the ball away in a primo attacking position. You can’t just stick a leg out. Move your body and control the damned ball. That goal was 80% you. And if you’re going to cock up like that, make up for it with exceptional play. Question for the class: Is it time to declare the Krkic experiment over for now?

Keita (for Marquez): 5. Solid but unspectacular. He should have been starting, though. If he and Puyol start, it’s a very different match.

Busquets (for Alves): incomplete. An injury-based substitution that had no effect.

And now, no Alves. For 6 matches or 3-4 weeks, whichever comes first. In some ways, I think we’re a better defense without him bombing up the pitch. Unfortunately, Puyol’s diminishing pace makes him maybe not the most confidence-inspiring choice out there. Last season, we were lucky with injuries. This season, not so much. We’re still top of the group on goal differential, and Inter are bottom. But the problem with losing this match is that now, we have to go into the cold lands and get results. Period, full stop. Which means that we have to start playing a lot better pretty damned fast, and hope for a mild winter out in those parts.

I admit it: My hope was to have my Inter match be meaningless. Now, with a very tight group, anything can happen. I still think we qualify, but now we will have to work a lot harder to do so.

And yes, Rubin Kazan deserve full credit. They battened down the hatches and defended as if their lives depended on it. And they got two goals from three shots on goal. Not bad production. Not bad at all.

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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.

211 Comments

  1. ballbeav
    October 21, 2009

    it wasnt a must-win match. we’re not out of the competition and we’re still first place in the group on goal diff. if this is a must-win match, as you say, then every match is a must-win, which frankly isnt fair to the team. putting it in perspective, im glad we lose once in a while. i guess you cant say taht in a fan blog?

    i know you like to be the demanding one. i also know that drama makes for good reading, but….we played a good match. i was very entertained, the pace was phenomenal. we worked very hard. keita needed a break eventually, henry is injured and krkic is still coming back from injury. Rubin got lucky, we were unlucky, thats about the sum of it.

    henry would help but his presence doesnt guarantee us a win by any means. i would still rather have messi, iniesta, xavi, ibra, yaya, alves etc on the pitch over henry, if i had to have one player missing.

    the first goal is always so important in this game, no matter what teams are playing. that was a scholes-type goal today. dude had his eyes closed.

    • UAI
      October 21, 2009

      I think most people including myself would disagree with the claim that we played a good match. Our left and right side of attack was impotent, our defense was clumsy, and our midfield wasn’t dominant.

      Sure Barca is a victim of it’s own success standards/expectations wise, but still..

  2. UAI
    October 21, 2009

    You’re right about Xavi, but he should get bumped up a point or two for that sweet sweet long ball for the goal

    Krkic still not ready for prime-time , he can play a supporting role but he can’t be relied upon to turn matches around. BUT, the experiment is not over. How old is he? I remember 5-10 years ago, before the Messi’s and Fabregas’s, when the expectation was that players can only show their real ability when they’re 23 or 24 and beyond. Not everyone is an early bloomer

    • SC
      October 21, 2009

      Bojan was promoted way too early. He should still be training with the JDS, Assulin, Fontas group. But the problem is that he is not getting enough play time to develop fully (granted, he was injured the last few weeks).

      Pep needs to ship him to a Malaga or a Racing where he can get the full 90 every week. Sorry to the fans, but he just can’t cut it as a sub. Hell, Pedro can barely cut it, imo. Let’s look at players coming off the bench for other Liga leaders: Higuain, Kanoute, Zigic. *cough* uh… yeah.

  3. October 21, 2009

    Kxevin, I get frustrated when I read your articles. I’m frustrated, because Pep Guardiola doesn’t have you as one of his main coaching advisors. You correctly predict and assess these matches, calling Barca on the same mistakes time and again. But (as in cases like P!, Busquets, Keita, Puyol, etc.) it seems like the Team doesn’t learn from them most of the time. I wish they had you to knock some sense into them.

    As a side note, I hope this match proved that Carles P. is “the beating heart of this club” and is still the most important and effective defender we own. Give him his new contract! With him in the lineup, I am sure the final score is 1-0. Us…

    • eklavya
      October 21, 2009

      Yeah sometimes I wonder why Kxevin/Ramzi/Hector/anyone on this blog aren’t coaches 😛

  4. UAI
    October 21, 2009

    Agreed about Puyol, he still has something good to give. The talk of him retiring is premature. He should come back and throw us a “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated” line

  5. jordi
    October 21, 2009

    It was better to lose in some ways. if we had managed to eek out a draw or win they would have been rewarded for their collective mediocrity.It would be harder for pep to convince them of the need to improve. Yeah he’d say it, but why play lights out if you got the 3 points right? Now they’ll be mad, or atleast they should and instead of coasting against Zaragoza, they can demand a performance of themselves. Besies we drew at home vs. basel last year and lost to shakhtar at home.If we improve and play to our potential, we can win in any stadium in the world.

  6. Miguel
    October 21, 2009

    fuck yeah i get to watch the barca rubin game in its entirety!

    /http://www.mysoccerplace.net/video/barcelona-vs-rubin-12-full

    well almost all of it. i think the first rubin goal was cut off. good.

    a “1” for marquez? thats pretty angry. is he over the hill now and should we ship him off to a mexican primera side? probably. but that shouldn’t take away from his last season. he was a rock while puyol showed his age at times(and i’m being as unbiased as i could possibly be). i do get a rijkaard post champions league trophy vibe too though. hopefully everyone learns from this defeat & pep gives people some rest. i’m down w/what ramzi was talkin bout in his rotation rant.

    • SoccerMom
      October 21, 2009

      The d.h. says Red rover red rover let Rafa come ‘cross the pond for a US Barca. Discuss.

      • SC
        October 21, 2009

        Yup. He was rumored to flag the new Miami Barca experiment, before investors pulled out.

      • Miguel
        October 21, 2009

        what’s “d.h.” stand for? desperate housewife?

    • stowe
      October 21, 2009

      in marquez’s defense, he did injure his knee pretty badly this spring. He could still be recovering physically and definitely mentally. Kxevin I can see what you mean by “must-win game.” It would have really benefited the schedule to win yesterday. But it is sometimes very helpful to lose, especially early in the season when it is less harmful. (probably would have been a bit better to lose in the Liga, instead of giving importance to games on frozen tundra)

  7. Jose26
    October 21, 2009

    “But even more, losses that smack of the Rijkaard years bring back profoundly unpleasant memories of matches dominated, only to fall away on a fluke play or last-minute breakaway goal.”

    This made me throw up a little. And die a little inside. Because it is exactly what I felt today, I just never put it into words. Thank you, Kevin.

    Btw, it was a “must-win” because now we need to be on full gear heading into freezing Ukraine and Russia. The ideal situation by far would have been to win this match AT HOME and then not have to depend as heavily on getting points out East. Not oft mentioned (outside this blog) but the commanding leads we took last year early on in the CL (both in the group stages and in knockout ties w/ Lyon and Bayern) were a good part of “the plan.” That is, that if we can smash in some wins/goals early on, we can conserve energy on the latter half/leg by playing Barca possession defense.

  8. Jose26
    October 21, 2009

    Two comments on the rating:

    Pedro!’s rating is 1-2 too high. Seriously, I felt like he completely broke the pace of the attack half the times he got the ball.

    Marquez’s 1. Probably what he deserved. Usually I sense that US Barca bloggers are resentful of Marquez’s role in the team (due to his Mexican captaincy and general -being an ass- on the international matches), but this time, it was deserved.

    • Miguel
      October 21, 2009

      i totally agree w/his rating! he fucking blew it hard. should pep have started him in this champions league game instead of against zaragoza @ the weekend though? coming off of an injury or not there’s no excuse for THAT sort of shit, although i do think it’s easier to integrate back into the 1st team from a long injury if you’re a midfielder(iniesta); not a defender.

  9. cliveee
    October 21, 2009

    totally sadden by the result. i’d say we were really unlucky to fail to snatch at least a draw. but it really becomes obvious to me that marquez should go. and to answer to your question, i think krkic should still be a sub for at least another year. he played like a little kid. however, something great for me is that Ibrahimovic was a joy to watch. every move and touch he made was fantastic. almost score the second, and maybe third… sigh…

  10. Eduard
    October 21, 2009

    I’m with Kevin on this one. So disappointing. However we should take positives out of this result and the one with Valencia and figure out how to start clicking, this is just too painful.

  11. Helge
    October 21, 2009

    My thoughts of the game:
    It was an approvement compared to Valencia. We lost this game, but it was very unlucky. The first goal is not only a mistake by Marquez, in about 99 of 100 situations, the player which is given the opportunity to score by Marquez’ misplaced header will fail to hit the target or shoot it more directly into the hands of VV (quite a few wouldn’t even think about lashing a shot). Actually, it wasn’t an opportunity at all. Then, this was happening right at the beginning, if it happened on the quarter hour mark, we might already have been 1-0 up. Every bad luck of the world (and positive luck for their shooter) came together in that situation.
    The rest of the match has been described perfectly by Kxevin.

    Slowly, it’s time to admit just HOW incredible we were last season and it won’t be repeated. The farther we go into this season, the higher my appreciation for the last one gets. To be honest, at the very start of the season, I thought “We might do it again”, right now I’m more in the mood of “one title this season is a great success!”.
    It’s about to get tricky now, especially in the CL. Both matches in Kazan and Kiev are not certain 3 points for us, the only positive thing about the current standings is that Inter are last of the group. They have to travel to Kiev, which is also not guaranteed 3 points. If we are pointswise ahead of Inter when they visit us, everything’s fine. Inter will HAVE to attack than, or at least play a bit more offensive than they did in the Guiseppe Meazza.
    Right now I predict that one of the so-called favourites, Inter or us, will fail in this group. Some people claimed as group-stages were drawn that it will be a run about first place between us and Inter. From my point of view, our group is the hardest one of all. I still wonder how people can think of Rubin Kazan as a 2nd division team or compare them to teams like Maccabi Haifa, Unirea Urziceni etc. Press is already reporting about one of the biggest upsets in the history of the CL here in Germany… what the hell? There is no other “European” country whose football developed faster into a positive way than Russia (both on club and international level). Kazan is most-likely going to be the Russian champion for the 2nd consecutive time, and people still take them as underdogs? They are above Zenit and CSKA now!

    It’s time to pick up 3 points against Zaragoza, this might be the most important game of the season so far. As Alves is injured, I wanto to see a back-line of Puyol, Piqué, Txigrinski, Abidal/Maxwell. No Marquez in the next matches, please!
    We have to get rollin’ now for the match in Kazan, so we should better start with an impressive performance on Sunday.

  12. daw
    October 21, 2009

    Good review. I did miss Henry very much.

  13. Lumi
    October 21, 2009

    It’s better we are losing early than losing in the later stages of any competition trust me

  14. Bundy
    October 21, 2009

    I think it is wrong to compare this team with the team last season. Sorry but I do not see any definite sign of failure in this tea’s future this season

    If this article is going to bring last season into the picture, then you have to remember how the team began last season, also the fact that the layout of the fixtures, Injuries and new faces in the squad is completely different.

    I do agree that the team has had its fair share of problems, and this game is something like a wake up call.

  15. yogi
    October 21, 2009

    good review kevin.

    i am not that disappointed though. today was coming but on normal days, we would have won. i hope this will act as wake up call for the team. we are too slow this year. we need to play fast and somehow that is not happening. also P! is still a sub and not a starter. Can milito come back early?

    • siotmessi
      October 21, 2009

      Agree with you Yogi. ITS A WAKE UP CALL!!!! Come on Cules!

  16. Ramzi
    October 21, 2009

    One thing is for sure: Its a game we lost, not a game Rubin won. With all respect, they showed less quality than I thought they will. Beside the two goals where they exposed our exhausted legs and the typical bus parking that we’ve seen for years, nothing special makes them a threat. Unless if we just want to cover our eyes and feel better for losing against a great team.

    To crush the buss you need movement off the ball. We usually move effortless to break the opponent resistance down. We change the game tempo, switch positions, create gaps etc… We had no energy to do so in this game. We had no clear ideas and we were too predictable for any team. We wouldn’t have won this game regardless of the opponent.

    To crush a bus you need to play on the flanks well and cross the ball accurately. Everyone is jumping over pedro now for various/obvious reasons. But in the first half he was almost the only player who was playing as needed, tactically speaking. He was opening the flank, he crossed the ball right, he put lot of pressure on ball holder and helped gaining back possession. That diagonal pass to Alves is enough to give him a standing ovation. The problem was on the other flank where Alves was Cross-bad-curse all the time. And with Messi who was unable to figure out what exactly he has to do. At least pedro had clear ideas. But its neither Alves nor Messi fault. They were asked to play when they couldnt.

    Yet, I am kind of relaxed that we stated Messi and Alves instead of Bojan and Maxwell. Or else the subs would have been labeled as the reason for the loss and the benched/unavailable would have been considered as the only ones who win us games. Example: Since the beginning of the season, Henry had never got as much praise as he got in the last two games where he didnt play. Check previous posts. He is a key player no doubt. He is a quality starter, his presence create a slightly better depth as well if Pep wanted to recognize this (as one of the main weaknesses since last season is his inability to manage squad depth). With Henry you can make the Keita-Iniesta-Henry rotation that keep everyone less tired. But again, as in Valencia game, missing a player like henry is never a good news, but He was not the missing superman. So no need to bash anyone who play on the left just to live in denial. For two games in a row, we are not able to bother the opponent counters, we are miss-tackling, miss-covering, miss-positioning and you can feel that the players are pressing opponents just to show they are doing it, more than doing it in a systematic manner.

    If you watch the second half for example, you will notice that whenever Rubin moved the ball on our right flank, they had no resistance moving the ball from their third to ours. they were able to beat our three lines in three passes.

    The useless Pedro scored more goals than any one expecte he will in the whole season. Bojan before getting injured showed enough improvement to get a chance. I have no problem in signing more players, but till we do, we need to use what we have. What did Messi do in the first half that Bojan or even jeff couldnt? Nothing. I am not against messi, but I can predict that even Jeffren would have been able to put more pressure on Rubin players. Exhaust them without necessarily beating and scoring. Just make them run and run and run. Then in the second half, introduce Messi and thats when he can do the Magic. Instead, we started an exhausted Messi who collapsed fitness wise after 60 minutes (and wasnt fresh at the beginning), so the opponents were always able to outclass him fitness wise.

    We were already aware that we are tired, and yet we started only one holding mid in front of two tired technical players who cant do the transition nor the pressing. Space in the midfield was scary. it was even better to play two holding mids with Maxwell and Alves together. It would have been less fragile. luckily we only played against Rubin!

    In old military strategies there is a common plan: When you attack an enemy while you are not in a very dominate position, send first your less-valuable soldiers. let them run toward the enemy and get shot. Their objective is not to beat the enemy, but to make them less focused, less organized, less fit, and to decrease their armor and bullets. Afterward send the best you have to walk over them.

    We had the resources to do that as well, and we didnt. The loss is not a disaster. But the feeling that we are not learning is. And I dont want to go back to last season all the time. But may be the treble had some bad side effects as well.

    We can sign as many players as we wish. But if we are not going to use them, then they will only help us during training sessions.

    Now Alves is out, so we are forced to solve what we were able to avoid. If we start that automatic selection this weekend, I want also a loss. Till we learn.

    Pep is the best coach Barcelona can wish, and If he can only improve his resource management, he will end up being the best coach in the world.

  17. xj
    October 21, 2009

    Um…You rate Pedro too high. I like him but Bojan played better than him in the match against Valencia. What they need is confidence.

    Marquez’s rating is 1 and Alves’ is 3? it’s too harsh… Yaya played well but he shouldn’t have tackle like that.

    However I agree with your opinion about Robinho rumors.

  18. Hilal
    October 21, 2009

    Actually I think we played a decent game too and everybody seems to be harking back to last season…well as far as i recall whenever we came up against a well organised parked bus last year we struggled too. Lets not all forget the first game of the season, which was very very similar to last nights game. Lots of chances missed vs one chance taken and we lose the game. We didnt play our best game, no, BUT we have never played particularly well against 10 men behind the ball. Its not like Rubin came to play, dominated the game, shared possession, stopped us from creating any chances…none of those things happened. If they had I would be worried. Last year all our best performances came against teams who tried to play football and our worst performances came against those who didn’t. That is why we got Zlatan and that is what we are trying to improve on and I think its coming along. It certainly wont happen overnight..I am the kind of person who would rather draw positives than negatives and what I saw yesterday was a tired team trying their best to beat a very fresh, sharp opponent with only one goal : defend. That they got lucky over and over again is the nature of the game. We created more chances against this bus then I saw us create vs most buses last season. Certainly this is one of the better defensive performances I have seen from any opposition and we still created more than enough chances to win the game. That gives me a lot of hope, because like Kxevin quite rightly pointed out a lot of key players are tired, jaded and not playing to their best. Still, we created chance after chance. Certainly a lot more chances than we created against teams like Chelsea last season and that was at the peak of our powers.

    Most exciting thing to me is the progress of Zlatan and how he is improving. Again he was our best attacker yesterday and his goal was exactly why we bought him. Now all we need are the players around him to play as well as we know they can….

    “But even more, losses that smack of the Rijkaard years bring back profoundly unpleasant memories of matches dominated, only to fall away on a fluke play or last-minute breakaway goal.”

    This happened last season too Kxevin, more than once. These games happen, especially the way we play because we attack so much and can leave ourselves exposed. If we are particularly unlucky then we get stung, but we need to get pretty unlucky and I don’t think many will argue that we did last night. Vs Chelsea we got particularly lucky, had we lost that game instead of drawing or even losing it, you could have made exactly the same comment; but i think we all know how much better this team is than the Rijkaard era team. Even tired, off form and missing that final perfect pass, we are still better.

    • Tyler
      October 21, 2009

      now, this is some real talk. I couldn’t agree more. it’s our first loss of the SEASON, we can’t win EVERY game. yeah, we’re tired, we’re injured, we looked less than 100%, but it’s not a wake up call, it wasn’t a must-win match. We still have three trophies from last year sitting in a case, so we are still the champions and we will be on top form very soon. It’s going to be harder, and take more patience, but there is no need to panic.

      Now, if we look bad on Saturday, that’s when we need to re-assess things.

  19. eklavya
    October 21, 2009

    Well I’m down for the Robinho loan thing!

  20. Mikel
    October 21, 2009

    Didn’t watch the game, so I cannot comment on it, but I saw the game against Valencia over the weekend, and it was the worst game I’ve seen play Barça in a long time, especially the first half. A positive that I’ve gleaned form the Uefa statistics page is that against Rubin Barça maintained good levels of possession: Barça 70%/
    Rubin 30%. http://www.uefa.com/competitions/ucl/fixturesresults/round=2000028/match=2000406/report=st.html

    The problem that I see this year is that we don’t have the goals of Henry, and nobody seems so far to step in to cover his absence. (Luis Suarez?)

  21. eklavya
    October 21, 2009

    Hmm, Larsson annoced his retirement yesterday!

  22. Corrine
    October 21, 2009

    i wasn’t gonna come here for a while because anything football is just too much for me right now but this review actually snapped me back into reality… so thanks. i missed the game but this is all i’ll be needing lol

  23. Alexinho
    October 21, 2009

    You mentioned a couple of things I was thinking.

    -Rijkaard years. Yeah, that sure looked like it.

    -Second to Messi only, Iniesta was our asst. chief non-passer. He sure looked good dancing around DMs at times, but he made too many passes too late and in impossible situations.

    -Speaking of impossible situations, I felt the team often tried the most OUTRAGEOUS final balls that were never going to thread the needle, by talent or black magic.

    -That was The Yaya’s best match of the season. Too bad.

    -Xavi wasn’t marked and maybe should’ve been more influential, but I still think he was the second best man on the pitch next to The Yaya. Perhaps you’re being harsh on him for not controlling that ball in the box? He was facing the goal and it was coming over his shoulder for God’s sake…that’s a tall order even for an out-and-out striker.

    -I do think we might have to consider getting rid of Bojan. That Valencia loan sure looks enticing now. It’s a damn shame, politically speaking, because Guardiola gave him some kind of “assurances” that he’d have more time this season, which is apparently the only reason he stayed. He’s going to come into quite a bit of hot water for that, and for the first time (italicize that mentally). But after tonight, I get the impression that Pedro will be chosen ahead of Li’l Bo for now. It very well could be curtains for him.

    • Jose26
      October 21, 2009

      “Perhaps you’re being harsh on him for not controlling that ball in the box? He was facing the goal and it was coming over his shoulder for God’s sake…that’s a tall order even for an out-and-out striker.”

      Lol, I feel like this is done often here. We call something “a great chance” when it’s really obvious from the player’s position and momentum that it would be hella hard for ANYONE to convert that.

  24. ballbeav
    October 21, 2009

    first time we’ve lost a competitive match since May. it’s a wake up call! sounds the alarms! who’s head rolls first!?

    gimme a break.

    i think we all watched different games yesterday.

    what i saw:

    24 shots taken, us, to 3 for rubin.

    a goal post hit twice and several other close calls, for us.

    complete, complete domination of the match.

    a parked bus.

    an early goal off a broken play a la essien.

    we were unlucky. period. if you have played football, or watched barca enough, you know this happens. there is a portion of the game always left to chance.

    please spare me the drama.

    • SC
      October 21, 2009

      completely disagree, ballbeav. may be misinterpreting skill and finishing with luck. you might also agree this was not the best line up pep could have rolled out?

    • Colin
      October 21, 2009

      Not to mention, the team is beat up and tired from the international break, and also hasn’t had a chance to play into form. When the team gets a few weeks to train together they will start playing faster and tighter. Then more of those 24 go in, and probably that second Rubin chance never happens.

  25. October 21, 2009

    Spot on Kxevin. The quality of our play in the final third was only as good as the streams we had access to last night and Eklavya will vouch for that. 🙂

    Last night’s game reminded me a lot of the champions league semifinal. They scored early, sat back as if their lives depended on it. The only difference is Chelsea wasted a hatful of chances to finish us off but didn’t while good ol’ Rubin took their chance well. It’s the perfect way to play us though. Every bus that we come up against is hoping for this script.

    I wouldn’t look too much into this. Like xavi said we were woefully unlucky. The alves injury is the saddest thing bout yesterday.

  26. Jose26
    October 21, 2009

    “Last night’s game reminded me a lot of the champions league semifinal. They scored early, sat back as if their lives depended on it. The only difference is Chelsea wasted a hatful of chances to finish us off but didn’t while good ol’ Rubin took their chance well.”

    To be fair to the team, we had 18 shots on goal to the 1 we got against Clam.

  27. Kxevin
    October 21, 2009

    For me, there are no analogies to the Rijkaard years. Yes, the example was begging to be made. But this is a better squad with a better coach (yes, I said it).

    Comparisons to last year’s squad aren’t really all that valid because as I said, last season we had the off season to really work on form and playing together, and staying fit. All those extra matches at the end of a season take their toll on a side, and Cup years are killer.

    This was, as I said, a wake-up call. We have to play as a team. We won last year as a beautiful, fully functioning team. This year so far, we are a collection of individuals. That grouping will always have trouble with a team, as Valencia was, and as Rubin Kazan was.

    We can point to the lopsided shot totals and say “Yeah, we should have won,” but how many of those shots really troubled their keeper? My larger issue is that we aren’t finishing as we should. We’re trying all kinds of crazy passes that don’t have a hope in hell of getting through six or seven men in the box. And they don’t.

    As for Pedro!, he got the rating he deserved. Yes, he gave us some width. But he also dithered too much when he got the ball. He has to be more incisive. Either cut and shoot, or cut and pass. But the dribble …. wait …. dribble …. wait gives the defense time to get into position to anticipate whatever it is he’s thinking of doing. He, like the rest of our attack, isn’t playing quickly to a degree sufficient to unsettle defenses. Criticism of him for this match isn’t a blanket criticism. We all like P!. I love him as a sub.

    I agree with Ramzi about Jeffren, but I’ve been lobbying for some pitch time for Final Fantasy for a while now. He just cuts and runs toward goal, and makes himself available. And when he gets the ball, he shoots, or returns the pass. No screwing around.

    Krkic, for me, is a complex situation. Yes, he’s young. But he’s been in the first team side for three seasons now. It’s time to start showing why on a consistent basis. For me, it’s as simple as that. If his feelings are hurt, that’s life. We can’t afford to gift someone a place in the side, not with it being as thin as it is.

    • SC
      October 21, 2009

      completely agree with you, kxevin. converting 1 shot of 24 isn’t being “unlucky.”

  28. Boat Forever
    October 21, 2009

    Alves getting 3 while Marquez got 1 is unfair… Alves should get 2 I suppose. I think Ibra deserves 9 not just because of the goal, but the various touches he exhibited, too good! Iniesta not better than Messi because Messi had good first half. P! no way deserves 6, I know he’s putting in lot of effort ‘like every body else’ but no it wasn’t the kind of play needed when most of the times he was allowed lots of space and he left Ibra wanted in ‘D’… He’s god-damn target striker and you didn’t spent 70 mill for no reason damn it!!
    I too think Alves going out for 3 weeks is in a way very good for the team… Bring Maxwell in & with Puyol we can be more sure of not conceding goals. Dima also will get more chances. And most importantly all the FKs can be now taken by Ibra, man it’s so frustrating when Alves keeps on missing those free kicks!!

    • Kxevin
      October 21, 2009

      That Ibra free kick was a rocket, wasn’t it? The 6 for P! was based in his effort, and the width that he did provide. Ramzi is right in that regard. He’s so close. I just wonder if he can close the gap.

      My jury is still out on Maxwell. Abidal is playing like such a stud right now. Too bad he can’t play right wing.

      I wouldn’t mind Messi taking some free kicks, either.

  29. Boat Forever
    October 21, 2009

    He provided the width but there was no efficient use of it… I think may be he should have played RW with Ibra on LW. Because with the amount of space that he was allowed may be Alves would have utilized that. Whenever P! was out wide with the ball, Ibra was right in the middle waiting for a cross but P! takes too much time on the ball and Ibra had to drift down the left to collect a short pass… Now for that we had Eto’o and there was no need to bring in Ibra wasn’t it!? But the problem is even Bojan doesn’t help in that regard!! I feel Maxwell could have helped may be
    Till now only Xavi could make some proper use of the bus-breaking Ibra, providing some good aerial balls… Messi some times, but that’s it!!!

    • UAI
      October 21, 2009

      That’s a good point… I’ve seen pedro on both sides, maybe he’d be better off on the right?

      We’ve seen him create moments of opposition-defense-devastation before, but for this game, he was the black hole of left-sided-attacking threats, everything stopped at his feet

  30. Miguel
    October 21, 2009

    when did juande ramos start coaching for cska moscow? he was great in sevilla. i can’t fault him for taking the real madrid post. if it weren’t for barca selling their souls to the devil for the three cups last season he might have won something.

    • kirsten
      October 21, 2009

      what do you mean barca selling their souls to the devil??

  31. Boat Forever
    October 21, 2009

    WOW! El Mundo attacked Sport for spreading false rumors, indeed as Pep from the previous blog mentioned Suarez’s rep might really have some contacts at El Mundo 😛 But hope the board is really scouting on him… Another FAAAACCCCK YOU for Txiki for ruining pep’s plans during summer, had we bought one attacker we wouldn’t be in such a tight position in CL group

  32. BlaugranaDOOM
    October 21, 2009

    Somewhat agree with the review, but everytime Barca attacked, Rubin had 8 behind the ball. They were very well organized.

    There were some great balls that almost came off, but a bit unlucky. For instance the Xavi chance wasn’t his fault. The defender got a toe in a deflected the ball just enough.

    Alves was and has not been crossing the ball well. He hits the defender 9 out of 10 times because he takes too long.

    Pedro slowed the play down at times, but that comes with confidence. He needs to realize that he is one on one often and try to beat the player. He definitely has the skills for it. Messi on the other hand has two defenders coming at him every time he touches the ball. Many times he passes it off quickly, but he tries to do too much sometimes.

    Yaya played very disciplined. Good game, but I would put more blame on the goal on him than Bojan. Yes, it was a sloppy pass, but the tackle was sloppier. In a situation like that, if you go down, you get the ball or the man, but he pulled up because he didn’t want the card. Marquez was terrible on that play though (as well as the first, I am not sure what he was doing, just head the fucking ball).

    Xavi definitely deserved a higher grade. What more do you want from a midfielder. He controlled the whole pitch as usual. Great assist.

    Overall, bad result, great play from opposition (unbelievable first goal, what a strike).

    Good fight from Barca to bring a goal back. Two mistakes (well the second goal came from three compounded mistakes).
    Barca needs about 2 more players and they should be set.

    After sweeping aside Europe last season, for every team, they play the game of their lives against us. And they all play very conservatively (except Atletico and that was 4 goals by half).

    Not really too worried about the season.

  33. Ciaran
    October 21, 2009

    I don’t know where all of your Bojan-love is gone, Kxevin.
    He played extremely well in the first few games of the season, then got injured and hasn’t been quite up to scratch since then.
    Comparatively, he is at the same level as Messi in his current dip or Iniesta after his injury and is miles ahead of Marquez.
    Pedro is a decent winger but does not have the intelligence needed at this level. I’ve said it before, I expect him to make it at the likes Deportivo or Villarreal.

    Abidal has been immense this season, our best and most consistent player by a long shot. I would think that at the minute we should be playing a back four of Puyol, Pique, Abidal & Maxwell, with maybe a double pivot in midfield until Henry is back.

    • Boat Forever
      October 21, 2009

      Next match should be Puyol, Marquez, Dima, Maxwell… Don’t think Marquez could fuck up that match as well. The starters definitely need some rest

      • Kxevin
        October 21, 2009

        I never really had the Krkic love, Ciaran. But even if I had, it wouldn’t change my view that it’s Go Time for the Kid.

        • Kxevin
          October 21, 2009

          And that’s Go Time as in, “Show me what ya got,” match in and match out. Right now, he shows just enough to make us wonder if it wouldn’t be a mistake to loan or (shudder) sell him. His potential is immense, just not as a striker. Killer winger, for sure, or he could be.

  34. Boat Forever
    October 21, 2009

    Stats so far this season

    Goals :

    Messi 8
    Ibra 6
    Pedro 4
    Keita 2
    Bojan 2
    Pique 2
    Xavi 1
    Alves 1

    Assists :

    Xavi 5
    Messi 4
    Ibra 4
    Alves 4
    Pedro 1
    Keita 1
    Busquets 1
    Maxwell 1

    • Helge
      October 21, 2009

      Thanks, I still appreciate your work! Well done.

  35. Jim
    October 21, 2009

    Pedro for me wasn’t close to being a 6. I don’t fault his effort or the fact that he may well grow into a decent player but last night he took nobody on, wasted a number of crosses and seemed unable to get to the byeline and put in a decent ball. His major play was getting the ball in space going nowhere and making an easy pass back to someone.

    As someone else said its symptomatic of the fact that our subs aren’t good enough. They don’t change games and don’t pull their weight enough in the game. I think there is a tendency to see things a bit black and white at times. The youngsters weren’t good enough 2 years ago, last year or this for top games.
    However, I’m not as worried as most seem to be by the defeat. We had to get beaten sometime. We weren’t outplayed, they had a lot of luck and played as well as they can. We weren’t great, that’s about it. It took a combination of all these things to beat us.

    Final word from me on Marquez. He’s not one of my personal favourites but he’s not a duffer. He’s just playing his way back, needs time on the pitch and made one mistake which caused a fluke goal from 30 yards that on any other night we’d have seen off safely. I’m still not sure what anyone is criticising him rather than Bojan/ Yaya/ Abidal/ Alves for anyway.

    Let’s get a week’s rest and training and see what the response is next week. If we play badly then we may have a problem. Where i absolutely agree with Kevin is on the need to speed up our passing game to get at teams more quickly.

  36. SwedeBarca
    October 21, 2009

    Great review but I´m not quite sure about Yaya’s rating. Might have played fine overall but after reviewing the goals I really feel he should and could have prevented both goals had he been on his toes. The faulty passes were not his but his awareness was sluggish, got the ball between his feet in the first goal and was very late on the ball for the second.

  37. Kevo
    October 21, 2009

    This season is BS for everyone, too tight of a schedule and all players are getting injured and fatigue and blah… not talking about Barca but in general european football.

  38. Larm
    October 21, 2009

    i think its kind of weak to expect consistent result out of a player, but not give him consistent playing time. nevermind the fact he just came back from injury, and was playing with a team that was playing like crap.

    i dont think we should ever blame fowards for loosing the ball in the attacking 1/3rd that result in goals. last time i checked we have an entire midfield and defensive line, and keeper, who are paid to also defend

  39. jnelson
    October 21, 2009

    I don’t think it’s time to sell Krkic; that’s just a little rash. However, since he can’t cut it as a striker would bringing in Suarez force us to sell him since Suarez is also young? What if we brought in Robinho? Curse Rijkaard for debuting people like Bojan and Gai too early!

    Another good question (in terms of the future of our youth) is who will replace Ibra as the 9? Who is the last canterano to a actually start as the 9? Not Ibra, Eto’o, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Stoichov, etc. etc… Does anyone have the size that Pep’s system requires? What exactly does this have to do with what’s going on now? Our transactions during the transfer window have to work with Pep’s plans for the future. After all, we can’t just **** everything up like Milan.

    • jordi
      October 21, 2009

      I thought Rochina looked like a 9, but lucho prefers to play older players.Im waitng on Mauro Icardi though.And any of the young Cameroonians could potentially be future 9s for us.They have the advantage of their physical strength, its a pity Bojan couldnt be stronger.

      • eklavya
        October 21, 2009

        RUBEN ROCHINA!!!!
        Who scored a awesome goal in the preseason!
        I want him to be our first real number 9 from the cantera

  40. eklavya
    October 21, 2009

    Bayern are losing 2-1 to Bordeaux.

  41. eklavya
    October 21, 2009

    Anyone else watching Ronnie and feeling ‘something’ ?

  42. eklavya
    October 21, 2009

    Poor Huntelaar didn’t even start and now Inzaghi gets subs for Mario Bollelo or something like that….NOT Huntelaar. Haha

  43. Hector
    October 21, 2009

    Shit. It took me this long to work the loss out of my system and go back on the internet.

    – Overall, yeah, we dominated and the shot totals reflect that. It did seem like a vintage 06-07 “dominate a match but lose it on stupid mistakes and a fluke goal” performance. However…

    – Our transition game is still not up to full speed. Credit Rubin for keeping disciplined and compact but we are having a harder time than last year in moving through midfield and setting up attacks. On the bright side, Yaya played his best game in a while minus going to ground on the ultimately game winning goal and missing the tackle.

    – Iniesta is driving me a little crazy lately. He was awesome in relieving the pressure on Xavi and was instrumental in keeping possession. However, he still has a way to go to get back in form near the box. Xavi did a much better job than he did in crashing the box and his final ball was lacking. The season is obviously still young for him but he needs to improve his play in the final 1/4th IMO. When we play a winger like Pedro rather than a Henry on the left, we need a midfielder to provide a threat in the box and make runs in. We know Keita is more effective at this than our two midgets but at least Xavi tried to do it. Iniesta lived too much on the edge of the box.

    – Our front line minus Ibra was frustrating. I mostly agree with Ramzi that Pedro was at least positionally sound which is more than can be said for Messi, Alves, and sometimes Iniesta. Notice he was almost always hugging the left touchline, spreading the field and he did an awesome job controlling long diagonal balls from Xavi and Pique. His problem was a lack of understanding with Abidal on the overlaps which meant he missed some cutting in opportunities and I would say his crossing was bad if I remembered if he even crossed. Pedro is ambidextrous in theory but it seems to me that his right leg is preferred in the passing department because his service from the left was poor. That said, his off the ball movement and tracking back was good.

    – Messi and Alves were near positional disasters (albeit overall no). Messi had bright spots but he once again seemed lost in space for large stretches as he could not seem to decide where he needed to be. Alves and him frequently played one two’s like Kevin pointed out but that left an interstate’s worth of highway on the right for the counterattacks. Our team is at its best when everybody is in sync but Messi seemed only to be in sync with Alves and Xavi today. Also, I know the Rubin CB’s are big but a cross or two unto your 6’4 #9 won’t kill you.

    – I think this game was equal parts:

    1) Bad luck (hit the post twice and sorry, but the first Rubin goal was 1 in a 100).
    2) Fatigue and slightly faulty resource/player management coming off a tough FIFA round and a tough away Liga game.
    3) Individual mistakes

    Nothing that can’t be fixed.

    As far as I’m concerned, this was an ALMOST “must win game”. Why? Because now we must close out the deal in Rubin’s stadium in Russia, against Inter at home, and if it becomes decisive we have to take out whole A Team, to Ukraine in the middle of winter to play at Dynamo. Not exactly an easy run of games. Two far away cold games at enemy stadiums and a home game against Inter. No sweat. 🙁 Now we become even more tired and stressed. We can sure as hell still win the group but we have just over complicated our classification a hell of a lot.

    • eklavya
      October 21, 2009

      Not now Hector! We’re watching the game right now!

    • Helge
      October 21, 2009

      Thanks Hector for your analysis. And the last part is sooo true. We could have made the next 2 month a lot easier if we simply won today. Now we’ll need to be in a good shape for each remaining CL match, no more slip-ups allowed…
      And with Inter drawing against Kiew, this was the PERFECT opportunity to cool down the heat in the groupstage.

  44. eklavya
    October 21, 2009

    HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLY SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT
    WHAT A GOAL BY PIRLO!

  45. eklavya
    October 21, 2009

    GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL PATOOOOOOOOOOO
    MILAN 2-1
    WTF!?!?! WOHOOOOO
    woot woot

  46. gv
    October 21, 2009

    you keep on beating me to it eklavya. hahaha. now a goal by ronnie would seal the deal.

    • eklavya
      October 21, 2009

      hahaha, lets keep our eyes open for the other goal, eh? 😀

      • gv
        October 21, 2009

        😀

        i’d do anything for a ronnie goal.

        • eklavya
          October 21, 2009

          as long as its not a own goal 🙂

  47. eklavya
    October 21, 2009

    Did you guys know that was Pato’s FIRST goal in the CL?
    Wow Bojan has 2 or 3 I think!

  48. Miguel
    October 21, 2009

    patito! great to see ronaldinho making real madrid fans cry again @ the bernabeu. maybe a side w/ronaldinho in it, making real madrid fans cry, is more apt.

    • eklavya
      October 21, 2009

      But ronaldinho isn’t playing great.
      I mean all his little ‘flicks’ which used to open us spaces/keep the ball just dont work anymore.Before they JUST used to avoid the defender but now they JUST dont work…. 🙁

  49. Miguel
    October 21, 2009

    fuck off drenthe! i hate you. 🙁

    • eklavya
      October 21, 2009

      Damnit u beat me to it this time

      • gv
        October 21, 2009

        😀 i was going to comment when he eqaualised. lol

        • eklavya
          October 21, 2009

          me too, it took me time to backspace it, thats why it took so long (10 secs more maybe? lol)

  50. gv
    October 21, 2009

    amazing shot by drenthe! we should buy him! 😛

  51. eklavya
    October 21, 2009

    R10 made a similar run to what he had done long ago when we won 3-0, for once sec i thought maybe he’d do what he used to do best:
    magic

    • Miguel
      October 21, 2009

      i know. why you gotta play w/my emotions dinho? he just juggled through a couple defenders.

      • eklavya
        October 21, 2009

        ronaldinho always played with emotion.thats what drives him!
        i wish he would score a crazy goal now

        • Miguel
          October 21, 2009

          i almost pooped my pants a little watching raul flick the ball over dida. O_O

  52. Alex
    October 21, 2009

    Any streams for the EE game, cant find any?

  53. eklavya
    October 21, 2009

    HOLY CRAP THAT WAS CLOSE!!
    NO GOAL I THINK

  54. eklavya
    October 21, 2009

    GOOOOOOOOOOAL!!
    WAIT NO GOAL?!?!
    WTF NO GOAL
    STILL 2-2 WHY?? THEY SCORED!

  55. Miguel
    October 21, 2009

    what the fuck? what was the call? that is such bullshit. that would’ve been the sickest own goal ever.

  56. Miguel
    October 21, 2009

    patito!!!!!!!!!!! i thought seedorf had blown it for a second.

  57. eklavya
    October 21, 2009

    HAHAHAHHAHAH
    DID YOU GUYS SEE WHAT RONNIE DID TO RAUL
    AHAHAHAHAHA

  58. eklavya
    October 21, 2009

    GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL
    PATOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    • eklavya
      October 21, 2009

      haHA!
      beat u this time!
      although others beat both of us

    • eklavya
      October 21, 2009

      *http://livetv.ru/en/webplayer/tvu/21500/

  59. eklavya
    October 21, 2009

    Oh man R10 comming off….no standing ovation??
    he made only 23 passes (57%)

  60. Hilal
    October 21, 2009

    Both teams look poor. The amount of poor passing and balls being given away by either side is shocking. I was annoyed watching us give away the rare ball here and there yesterday, cannot imagine being a RM or Milan fan right now. Compare Sevilla and RM right now and Sevilla look a far bigger threat. As i say that RM concede another goal.

    Its sad watching Ronnie, because he used to be so damn good, unimaginable that we would ever see him like this.

  61. ElShowDeJason
    October 21, 2009

    holy crap… R10’s stats were like 9.87 km ran, and 57% passes complete…

    thats fucking terrible… at least for a former Barca CAM…

    • eklavya
      October 21, 2009

      exactly!
      its what i said 2 comments ago, its terrible!

      • ElShowDeJason
        October 21, 2009

        yeah… you beat me to it..

        if Xavi was rocking those stats…. he wouldn’t make it to the 60th minute…

        • eklavya
          October 21, 2009

          Oh no im not talking about those ‘beating u’ stuff, but its really bad!!
          🙁
          Its been a while since i saw ronnie play…

  62. Ramzi
    October 21, 2009

    Just for the record, my complain regarding the starting line up has nothing to do with the result. So its not a panic cry, as that’s not my nature. I was criticizing this point even when we were winning by 5 and 6 goals last season.

    Even a win last night, wouldn’t have changed my opinion that The selection was wrong. I said it even before the game start as it risk both the game result and the players injury threats. So, inspired by Kevin’s review title:”I saw it coming”

    Not sure if we would have won with some rotation. thats something no one can tell. But at least we would have some needed energy, and decreased injury risks. Not only Alves got injured, but the rest of the players are exhausted that the ones who will start this weekend will be under a serious threat of getting injured. We will need some patience with the team and the right planning to overcome this cycle which may take couple of weeks to resolve. And I wish it happens. My opinion will be based on this, even more than results in the following games.

    Through lack of resource management we squeezed ourselves in a corner last season but we had the luck of gods. The strike will not hit the same place twice.

    Regarding being unlucky last night, I don’t buy it. We generated 5 or 6 serious opportunities. Count them. Thats almost the average that you can expect in a CL and must be enough to score. Yet against a team like Rubin and by starting all the big guns, you expect more.

    Its not the parked bus problem. Valencia were not exactly parking any bus. So we dont need to create excuses. Instead lets hope that Pep and co see the defects and fix it. Or else we can only count on the excess of quality rather than efficiency,if it is still valid.

    We dont need to praise all the time. Some critic is healthy as well.

  63. Tutomate
    October 21, 2009

    Yes its over. I’m so happy, made my CL week since barça stunk it yesterday.

  64. Ramzi
    October 21, 2009

    Oh it seems you care for that other game now…sorry to interrupt 😀

    • eklavya
      October 21, 2009

      I love me some Hector/Ramzi analysis but long comments in a middle of a crazy match….
      😀

  65. gv
    October 21, 2009

    good result for milan. it can help boost their confidence,

  66. jordi
    October 21, 2009

    Well im completely cheered up, fuck AS and Marca for making fun of us.

    • ElShowDeJason
      October 21, 2009

      yes, but i’m sure the headlines tomorrow will boast about Raul and Drenthe’s wickedly awesome goalasos, and mention Pirlo’s lucky strike, and pato’s easy tap ins from unfortuneate balls.

  67. ElShowDeJason
    October 21, 2009

    Anyone still cursing Valdes should look at the ame Dida just had. that was absolute crap…

    • eklavya
      October 21, 2009

      Yeah!
      Man im so hyper now i cant stop commenting!

    • ElShowDeJason
      October 21, 2009

      oh, and to say that Kaka was annonymous would be giving him WAY too much credit. he was downright invisible!

      • jordi
        October 21, 2009

        Silence! He’s better than iniesta! *sarcasm*

        • eklavya
          October 21, 2009

          I would say that, he was still there trying stuff…but it didnt work out!

  68. eklavya
    October 21, 2009

    MMM, EE are still 1st though (like us)
    they have a +5 goal differencial

  69. eklavya
    October 21, 2009

    Man atleti lost 4-0 to chelsea!Damn!

    • Miguel
      October 21, 2009

      thanks. i was just about to watch that. ;^)

      can’t wait to download the bayern bordeaux game.

      • eklavya
        October 21, 2009

        Oh, I hope I didn’t destroy the suspense!

  70. ElShowDeJason
    October 21, 2009

    I think today i am wearing my ’07’08 Milan Home Andrea Pirlo 21 Jersey…

  71. Hector
    October 21, 2009

    Schadenfreude. It feels so good. Madridista tears are so damn yummy.

  72. ElShowDeJason
    October 21, 2009

    Jesus… our group is:

    Barca 4pts
    Dynamo 4pts
    Kazaan 4pts
    Inter 3pts

    I told all my friends that it would be a tough group with all Champs. They laughed and said we were going as first and inter 2nd. done deal.

    • eklavya
      October 21, 2009

      me too
      some of EE friends are saying ‘oh at least we lost against a good side’
      yeah milan play reeaal good these days!

    • Helge
      October 21, 2009

      Those people don’t know much about Russian football…

    • Jose26
      October 21, 2009

      Your friends have a point. That is if you accept the logic of most football fans that a team’s quality is directly proportional to whether they’ve heard of them. 😛

  73. jordi
    October 21, 2009

    Watch as perez decides that to correct their defensive isssues they should by Pato

  74. john
    October 21, 2009

    I feel a lot better right now then I did 24 hours ago lol…. By the way goal.com is reporting that Pato has just been bought by the EE lol.

    • Helge
      October 21, 2009

      LOL, are they serious???

      To be honest, I think Madrid losing to this Milan side is as surprising as our defeat to Kazan. Yes, Milan won against Roma last weekend, but if you consider their performances of the last matches, I already feared a 5-0 or sth like that for the EE 🙂

      Made my day, a crazy CL playday!

  75. poipoi
    October 21, 2009

    yaya!!! EE lost and HOW

    I just watched the highlights and when I saw Raul’s goal I thougt the usual “that damn raul, he got soooo lucky” but after watching the review and seeing benzema or whoever looking at the grass I realized that not many players would go up to get that ball, it’s a goal by a unique player. the guy is ended but he sure deserves credit… long life to raul in EE!! 😀 😀 😀
    btw… what did casillas do in pirlo’s goal? looks like he gave it away, he pulled back his arms!!! lmfao

    • poipoi
      October 21, 2009

      omg! yay! not yaya 😀 Now I have to pray a hundred prayers to ask for yaya’s forginess.

      • eklavya
        October 22, 2009

        Good Lord!What have you done?! 😀

  76. inNYC
    October 21, 2009

    How nice that Kaka was spared the terrible agony of having to score a goal against his former team!

  77. inNYC
    October 21, 2009

    And I was shocked, SHOCKED to see Pepe stirring the shit after the disallowed own-goal.

  78. Corrine
    October 21, 2009

    what did dinho do to raul? i missed the whole game :S

    but i caught a bit of atletico after work
    they’re shameful!!!

    • eklavya
      October 22, 2009

      After Thiago silva scored the goal (or some EE player own goal) which wasn’t allowed both teams started pushing each other and Ronnie sort of slapped Raul on the back of his head.

  79. Jose26
    October 21, 2009

    Atletico’s performance was expected, but still upsetting. Nothing a 2-3 Ronaldinho slap at home for Real Madrid couldn’t ammeliorate, though, haha.

    Still, 3/4 La Liga teams LOST this round.

    “For me, there are no analogies to the Rijkaard years. Yes, the example was begging to be made. But this is a better squad with a better coach (yes, I said it).”

    “But even more, losses that smack of the Rijkaard years bring back profoundly unpleasant memories of matches dominated, only to fall away on a fluke play or last-minute breakaway goal.”

    Contradictory? This is obviously not the same situation, but this particular match definitely had the same bad smell to it.

  80. Jose26
    October 21, 2009

    Btw, just saw the replays… the game was exciting in the same way Chelsea-Liverpool was exciting last year: famous teams playing terrible, TERRIBLE defense.

      • Boat Forever
        October 22, 2009

        For those who forgot Hernanes & why we heard the name, here are the most recent videos(if you haven’t already watched them)
        *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GjpaPlglEU
        *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyOyNcBTJC0
        *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdK0XweUAss

        • eklavya
          October 22, 2009

          Didn’t Keirrison,Hernanes and Henrique played all together in da same club?

          • Boat Forever
            October 22, 2009

            No they didn’t
            Henrique & Keirrison played for Coritiba befor Henrique moved to Palmeiras… Keirrison followed him one year later but by that time Henrique moved to Europe
            Henrique plays for Sao Paulo

  81. Kxevin
    October 21, 2009

    All is a little more right in the world. I would love to say that someone else’s misery doesn’t ameliorate mine just a bit, but I’d be lying. And I have to say that, and my apologies to those Casillas devotees who think that if he sits on an oyster, cultured pearls will fall from his ass, but he should have stopped two of those shots.

    I don’t like that Liga sides lost 3 of 4 matches in this go-round. I also wonder, having watched some of the Sevilla/Stuttgart match, about Hleb and why he was so insufferably erratic for us.

    • Miguel
      October 22, 2009

      i didn’t need that visual of casillas floating around in my head bro.

  82. Kxevin
    October 21, 2009

    Oh, and …. ahem!

    Begiristain told http://www.elmundodeportivo.es: “Robinho is an interesting player who we asked about in the summer. But City would not talk about a transfer and since then we have not made any move.”

  83. Kxevin
    October 21, 2009

    Is it ever going to end?

    Eto’o is taking legal action against Barca for compensation as part of the transfer fee that took him to Inter and admits the move hit him hard.

    Asked if there was anyone at Barca who disappointed him, the Cameroon international said: “Yes, I think if I say two, I will certainly aim at Pep and Joan, but there are many more people who let me down, many more.

    “There were many injustices made against me. I didn’t realise this would hit me so hard.”

    And then ….

    Joan Laporta has hinted that selling stars such as Samuel Eto’o, Ronaldinho and Deco was necessary when Pep Guardiola took over as it allowed order to be maintained within the squad.

    The Barcelona president lifted the lid on the reason why the current coach announced that he wanted to sell the trio within days of taking over in 2008.

    Though the move may have shocked many at the time, Laporta has now explained that new leaders were required, while rumours suggest that the older stars were becoming too powerful.

    Ronaldinho was sold to Milan and Deco left for Chelsea. Neither enjoyed great seasons last time out, while Eto’o persuaded the club to let him stay for one more campaign before being traded to Inter for Zlatan Ibrahimovic this summer.

    “We were confident that Pep would bring order to the dressing room. We made some changes, recycling the team’s leaders. We thought that was necessary,” Laporta was quoted as saying by Sport.

    “It allowed Guardiola to create new leaders, like Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta and [Lionel] Messi. But the result surpassed our expectations.”

  84. Khairallah
    October 22, 2009

    Hahaha, Fire in Mordor (EE offside)

    “Oh, stop whining. We lost. Take it like a man.

    We’re Real Madrid fans and we should be ashamed of ourselves. Now quit pretending you’re a “bigger” fan than I am. Do you enjoy losing and whining about it? Do you need your mommy to comfort you?

    Oh no, AC Milan only has 7 Champions Leagues. Oh, they’re so much more *pathetic* than we are (sarcasm off).

    They won their trophies RECENTLY. Just Paolo Maldini was present for 5 of them. At one point, they had the most indestructible team on the planet (the Capello era).

    So, give respect where it’s due and keep your head up high.You’re an embrassment to the club.”

    • eklavya
      October 22, 2009

      Hey thats a good title!Nice thinking!

  85. eklavya
    October 22, 2009

    for all those unfortunate people who missed the match you can watch the disallowed goal and the fight here:

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPrgEROxSs0

    P.S. I hate the “your comment is awaiting moderation” thing!

    • Jose26
      October 22, 2009

      I’m not saying Raul deserved to be hit (although the fact that it was our former talisman, and the first man that led me to Barca is a guilty pleasure for me) but I love the fact that he lost the way he did… Jeez, the man celebrated Dida’s gift like he just scored a chilena at the end of a 90 second team play. It did take some skill, but show some class for God’s sake.

      • eklavya
        October 22, 2009

        Yeah, although I have no idea what he did to be hit by dinho like that really…

  86. eklavya
    October 22, 2009

    Marquez says he must improve rapidly! Glad you did the match Rafa

    *http://goal.com/en/news/12/spain/2009/10/22/1576394/i-must-improve-quickly-barcelona-defender-rafael-marquez

  87. eklavya
    October 22, 2009

    Has anyone watched ManU lately?Who do you think is better Nani or Valencia?

    • Miguel
      October 22, 2009

      manu’s even more lamerer now than it was w/out that cursed ronaldo. i can’t believe that game didn’t end nil nil.

  88. Miguel
    October 22, 2009

    i just started watching a replay of the juventus maccabi haifa game. they started diego, giovinco, & camoranesi and they only managed a 1-0 scoreline??? worthless trezeguet. atleast its pretty.

  89. hesaidshesaid
    October 22, 2009

    Does anyone know where to find the distance ran (covered) by both teams from the last game?
    As I recall, UEFA started tracking it last season, but it is no where on the website

    During the game, I think at one point barca had like 250km and Rubin had around 80. But i am not too sure…it does paint a vivid example of our how our system works and how, especially after the WCQ, our players’ sub prime preformance (on tired legs)

    • Cule
      October 22, 2009

      I think you’re talking about passes made

    • Helge
      October 22, 2009

      All the stats can be found here:
      \\http://www1.uefa.com/live/competitions/ucl/matchday=3/day=1/match=-1/index.html

  90. Boat Forever
    October 22, 2009

    Rumors of the day:
    Barca linked with Gregory van der Wiel(RB) of Ajax & Sandro Ranieri Guimarães Cordeiro…
    El Mundo says that the board is planning to sign 3 players to increase the squad depth, the lack of which hurt us against Valencia & Rubin. They say the first preference would be signing a LW. And they continued speculating that Luis Suarez would most probably be signed because the board are getting frustrated with how Man. City have made Robinho untouchable. The back-up option would be Willian from Shakhtar.
    Next preference would be to sign a back-up for Alves & it seems that van der Wiel, a promising Dutch youngster, would be an option. The fact that Wenger, of all, is prepared to part with 7.5 mill for the player makes him an interesting option(because Vermaelen, who was bought for 10mill interestingly also from Ajax, has been an instant success at Emirates & been one of the best players till now for Arsenal)
    And last preference would be to sign a mid-fielder, which according to El Mundo, would be just a luxury if a RB is signed because Marquez or Pique could help out Busi to make it safe when The Yaya is absent!!! Now Sport chips in saying Sandro Ranieri Guimarães Cordeiro(CDM) from Internacional could be just that…
    Well coming to Sport, they came up with an article that signing Robinho in January should be a “must” because out-of-form Henry is not being replaced properly by Iniesta or Pedro! & the whining of Henry after he got subbed against Inter shows that lack of options might result in arrogance & complacency creeping into his play!

    I know I should have waited until Isaiah or Kxevin came up with ‘News of the Day’ before I posted this comment, but I couldn’t content myself because Sport’s article ‘Robinho signing-a MUST’ is actually their response to the nice smacking they got from El Mundo for publishing arbitrary fart about Robinho 😛
    Also I think that if at all we were to sign a Brazilian AGAIN! it better be Hernanes than another unproven but promising prospect, hope Txiki is listening!!!

    • Boat Forever
      October 22, 2009

      And yeah, Ex-Barcelonista & the Spanish international still under our radar, Diego Capel is being targeted by Benitez… I wonder how many more Left Wingers would he be needing when he already has Riera, Babel & Benayoun!!!

  91. Kxevin
    October 22, 2009

    No worries, Boat Forever. Good news. I figured that we were just waiting for the more sensible Jan. transfer window to do some depth repair. I like the rumors. Too bad they are only that. I like Willian a bit more than Suarez for our needs.

    The bit about Marquez feeling he needs to improve cracks me up. Will he find the step that he had already lost prior to his knee injury? I want some of that magic juice. Yeah!

    He isn’t of sufficient quality to be in the side for important matches. Period. When Milito comes back, look for Marquez to slide a notch down the depth chart. This game is cruel, but usually fair. Puyol keeps himself sharp with insane levels of fitness, and an internal fire that burns unabated. Fire+fitness=longevity.

    • eklavya
      October 22, 2009

      Aha! Why William to Suarez? I LOVE listening to this sorts of player different ‘styles/abilities comparisons.

      P.S. 200th comment 😀

      • Hilal
        October 22, 2009

        Kxevin has a soft spot for Willian 🙂

        I still think Silva is the best option, followed by Robinho. Dont like the idea of taking a risk on a player who may or may not be any better than the kids we already have. No offense to the respective leagues they play in, but its not the same level. A new player is always a risk, but a tried and tested player is much less of a risk. I especially dont like the dutch league for judging talent, its so touch and go. I still remember all the hype surrounding Kezman and the ludicrous 112 goals he scored in like 130-something game, he went to Chelsea and was such a disaster. Even after leaving Chelsea he never did well. Does anybody even know where he plays now?

        Yes… Suarez could be an exceptional player and if we didnt need quality depth so badly i would be all for risking it, but under the circumstances we need a player who can come in and almost instantly be a hit. There are only 3 players i can think of that fall into that category; Ribery, Silva and Robinho. Unfortunately i dont see us getting any of them 🙁

  92. Kxevin
    October 22, 2009

    Nope. Because Willian also plays defense, and is a pure winger. People are enamored of Suarez, based on some highlight reels and a pile of goals in a league that is known for piles of goals. Is he talented? Assuredly. Barca quality? Excellent question.

    Willian tormented us in the UEFA SuperCup, and showed all the traits that a pure winger in our system needs to have: pace, ball handling skills, good control and the ability/willingness to play defense. This last is crucial, and one reason Robinho didn’t make me all that happy. Henry’s tracking back on defense is remarkable. Willian performed those same duties against us for Shakhtar. He’s also young, and works very hard. Good passer, too.

    I don’t have a soft spot for Willian any more than anyone else has a soft spot for Suarez, or whichever other player they advocate. I just think that his skill set is the most effective solution on the wing, as a backup.

    • Hilal
      October 22, 2009

      Yeah ok but you are talking about one game. A game in which he was playing against the best team in the world and probably played one of the better games he has ever had. Players always raise their game when they play us, i have seen it so many times. You can’t judge a player on one game, or even two or three, anymore than you can judge a player by youtube clips or how many goals they scored in a (no offense) quite inferior league. Those to me are signings that are too risky, they are as likely to fail as they are to succeed. If we were planning on getting this player purely as a backup then maybe, but it looks like Henry is going to have a stop-start season so we need a player who can come in and fill his shoes adequately, or even if he stays fit allow for comfortable rotations so that its not risky resting Henry.. I don’t see how either Willian or Suarez could do that.

      I think Robinho could. I still think if he comes Pep will make sure he defends. Look how much Henry tracks back and defends now, but he never defended at Arsenal, or even in his first season with us. Same with Ibra; how many people were worried he was gona be lazy, hell as much as i supported the move its something i was concerned about too. Yet, Pep is getting the best out of him and he isnt even 100% yet. I would much rather rely on Peps ability to get the best out of a player who we already know, on his day, is world class, than players who may or may not be Barca quality.

      Now maybe you have seen a lot more of Willian than i am assuming you have (I assume you dont watch more than 5 or 6 Shaktar games a season). In which case maybe you are completely right and he’ll come, be a star and i can eat some crow 🙂

      I still want Silva more than any of em….and i most definitely do have a soft spot for Silva!

      • Miguel
        October 22, 2009

        silva would be fucking awesome! “would he score enough goals though?”, seems to be the 30 + million dollar question.

        i don’t know that you’re argument about willian showing up during big games makes any sense but here are some stats on him:

        07-08: 28 appearances, 1 goal
        08-09: 42 ———–, 5 —-
        09-10: 9 ———–, 1—–

        i don’t care where you’re playing, but if you average out about 3 goals a game & are top goal scorer playing as primarily a winger in a similar set up as barca,i’m guessing, you’re not much of a risk. i’m for suarez.

  93. jordi
    October 22, 2009

    Willian doesnt score enough for me, his goal output would be no better than iniesta out there.But i guess he can improve.

    • eklavya
      October 22, 2009

      Willian sure seems more barca guy to me but its tough to ignore all those goals Suarez puts in the net…

      • Kxevin
        October 22, 2009

        But Henry has us spoiled. I would also say that Willian would score more in our system. It’s unavoidable.

        Henry’s wing excellence facilitated the triplete. Suddenly, there was that one extra person to watch out for, which created real space for others.

        I’ll have to make a point to watch Eredivisie matches, since they’re on Deportes or something.

  94. jordi
    October 22, 2009

    True, and he would have the advantage , i would think, of being cheaper.i really like Suarez though, and if it works out he can play all along the front 3 effectively.But im sure the club and pep will get the best available option.

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