Barca 5, Cultural Leonesa 0, a.k.a. “Rockin’ it old school like”

Hey, tell dad how good we were! Really! LOL!!!!
Hey, tell dad how good we were! Really! LOL!!!!

I wasn’t expecting this one. We all laid out predictions of a tight scoreline from a club content to just get the job done, and move on to the next round. But the kids weren’t going to allow that to happen. They wanted blood, and blood they received. Yes, Messi and Xavi scored, but this was about the groundwork done by the young’uns, who ran and capered about, colt-like, peppering the Cultural goal with chance after chance, parried by their hard-working keeper, until suddenly, the finger popped out of the dike, and thus began the great flood.

It was beautiful.

This match can be summed up in a sentence, really. We had all the possession, all the chances and all the goals as the side turned back the clock to last year, when the game was fun, and beautiful, and all about one-touch passing, elegant little triangles and movement. You can’t kick what you can’t catch, and there was an alacrity of movement that I haven’t seen in a very long time from the big boys side.

Certainly Cultural helped with their pylon-like complicity, but much of that complicity was fear. That their fears came to pass was inevitable, really, because I’m sure they were wondering just how in the hell they got into the locker room 0-0.

So was I.

We were bombarding their keeper, moving, and defending tenaciously whenever they got a sniff of the ball. I know that people quail at making comparos to last year, but we played like that magical club yesterday. We also delivered a display of how you play the Copa against lesser sides: Crush them, and leave the bleeding carcass on a pike outside the citadel gates.

Spare a thought for Cultural, who played as bravely as they had to, as bravely as they could in light of the reality that they had to chase the match, being down two away goals. You have to come out and believe that you are going to get those goals back.

Hell, they watched us play as if we weren’t all that interested, laying eggs against lesser sides, including Rubin Kazan.

But who knew that an infusion would be just what the doctor ordered? Guardiola rolled out with Pinto, Alves, Marquez, Puyol, Maxwell, Busquets, Dos Santos, Iniesta, Jeffren, Pedro!, and Krkic. This lineup was an excellent balance of youth and experience, with some delightful benefits:

–The somewhat jaded vets got some life and energy, and remembered what it was like to play with people who sprint … everywhere. Did you all see the way that Jeffren and JDS were running? Jeffren ran down one Leonesa player to track back, coming in from behind like a rocket.

–The somewhat jaded vets were reminded of what it’s like to play for the joy of playing. Pass and move is a fundamental of our tika-taka system. That’s pass and move, not pass, receive, dribble, screw around, then pass. If you pass and move, it makes it more difficult to a defense to play you.

Look at that first goal, which was bred of constant motion. Jeffren charged up the left wing to throw in a cross that the Leonesa defense dealt with, but because our attackers were running around like particles in a supercollider, it didn’t matter. The ball pinged around and came back to Jeffren, who looked up and there was Krkic, holding himself beautifully on side. He broke right as Jeffren laced in the cross, and it was a nice, easy tap-in. Lovely, and the kind of goal that we saw so much last season, because of our incessant movement and pressure. Note that the killer ball to Jeffren was a perfect little stab/lunge from Pedro!.

After the goal, you can see the keeper instructing his defender, but what could he tell them, really? “Make them play like they were against Rubin Kazan, dammit! Get them to stop moving so much!” There weren’t any other viable options for his beleagured charges.

The second goal was again based in movement, and Busquets playing the way he played last year, passing and immediately dive-bombing the box. As the most dangerous attacker, the defense shut him down (and how) with a shoulder-to-shoulder poleax, but the ball moved through to Krkic, who dove toward the end line to round the keeper, whereupon he knocked in the finish from an acute angle. Very nice team goal, and a good finish from Krkic.

Now at this point, it’s 4-0 on aggregate, and done for. But there was more, because we had been transformed into a side suffused with the sheer delight of playing the game. So we banged a ball loose from a Leonesa attacker, fed Messi and it was off to the races, on a jailbreak. Can anyone remember the last time we had a jailbreak this season, where pressure won the ball in their half of the pitch and we capitalized so quickly?

Messi pushed the pace like crazy, as he is wont to do, slotting a lovely diagonal ball to Iniesta, who just side-footed to a wide-open Pedro!. Iniesta strolled away from the scene of the crime almost as if he were ashamed of the destruction that we were wreaking on a side that didn’t really anger us, that didn’t do anything more than get in the way of the train …. sort of like kicking a puppy.

But that cute little guy was still in trouble. Their keeper, on what should have been a simple goal kick, banged the ball directly to a waiting Alves, who fed Messi, a player who was in the match for therapy reasons. “Get out there and have some fun, Leo, before you get back in the clutches of Maradumber and get all screwed up.”

And so he did, making a high-speed run perpindicular to goal, just waiting for the opening, before smoking a shot into the upper corner. Now, the Leonesa defenders were sore perturbed by this one but really, Messi has done it before, to Liga sides. He’s done it to Champions League sides. There’s no shame in being smoked by the Best Player Alive Right Now. None at all.

But it kept coming. It was another jailbreak that came from ball pressure, movement and sheer effort, and the result was simple enough, as Pedro! popped up a nice little cross for Xavi to head home. Question: When was the last time anybody saw Xavi smile like that? I mean a great, big ol’ full-face grin? Yes, we were destroying a lesser side, but what I think that Xavi was responding to was the feeling, the “Man, this game is fun again” sensation that came to me, even via satellite link. There was lots of smiling last year, and precious little this year. We’ve seen that in our play.

To our credit from the third goal on, the celebrations were very low-key, because really, we didn’t need to score any more, and it wasn’t our fault that we kept playing our game and the ball kept going in. But we looked a little ashamed. Because who wants to kick a puppy?

For me, this result wasn’t expected. I expected us to advance, but I didn’t expect a destruction. It was beautiful, and something that I hope is infectious, because the main side needs some life, some of that verve that the kids somehow spread, like that parrot in the movie “What’s So Bad About Feeling Good?” And it rocked.

Team: 10. Excellent overall play and support. No one-on-one nonsense, just passing, movement and pressure. And look at the result.

Guardiola: 9. Don’t know what he said to the lads, but it worked. I still question bringing Messi in, even as I know why he did it. Xavi I don’t question at all. His grin made me smile.

Pinto: incomplete. He didn’t do anything. Sorry, but he didn’t. He wasn’t really called upon to do anything, as Leonesa rarely got into our end of the pitch.

Alves: 7. He was much better today with his movement and crossing. He was also moving to the ball better than I have seen him in a while.

Marquez: 7. Nice, nice play from him, particularly in controlling the back and attack starting with long balls, when necessary.

Puyol: 8. Our captain was in full form again, charging forward when necessary, intercepting balls and just raising hell everywhere on the pitch.

Maxwell: 5. He makes me nervous whenever he plays. He didn’t today, because we were in such control, but he just isn’t impressing. I remain hopeful, but this was his chance to shine.

Busquets: 9. Wow, what a match. This was the Busi of last season, with his simple, direct play that was based in movement and simple passes. He didn’t dwell on the ball too long or go foul hunting. You almost wonder if the kids made him decide to give them something to look up to. Whatever it was, he was magnificent.

Dos Santos: 6. Some good, and some okay. You can see the staggering talent and passing ability in this kid, who did nothing to make me not think that he’s going to be bigger for the side than the more touted Gai Assulin. Once he learns to be more aggressive with his passes, look out. He also tracks back on defense like a madman.

Iniesta: 8. Hey, Mini Vampire was excellent as the Xavi surrogate, with control and distribution that captivated. He still runs around a little too much in that instigator role, but he looked as good as I’ve seen him in a very long time.

Jeffren: 8. Loved me some Final Fantasy. Cross after cross, tracking back on defense, aggressively attacking the Leonesa defense were all of his shining attributes. Why isn’t he playing more again? Just asking.

Pedro!: 9. Fast and aggressive is how I like to see P!, who was another one playing like he was living up to an example that he needed to demonstrate. His confidence is sky-high right now, and he is a much better player for it.

Krkic: 5. I figure this one is going to be controversial. He was worthless in the first half, and not all that exceptional except for the two goals in the second half. And of the goals, one was a tap-in and the other an empty netter. I know, I know …. “You HATE our little Bojan!” No, I don’t. But he can’t just pop up, knock in a couple of goals and think that he had a good match. I like that he scored, and I hope that it helps his confidence, because we need him.

Substitutes

Xavi: 6. This isn’t a rating based in any lack of excellence as much as his not really playing into the match, except for banging in that header and laying out an exceptionally infectious grin.

Messi: 7. Best all-around run I’ve seen him play in a while. Had two goals on his boots, but went a dribble too far …. again. Recall that he did against Rubin Kazan, as well.

Fontas: 6. Again, he was just playing his way in, but made some strong plays and worked some balls loose. I like this kid a LOT.

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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.

128 Comments

  1. Hector
    November 11, 2009

    “But he can’t just pop up, knock in a couple of goals and think that he had a good match.”

    My goodness. Bojan really IS our very own Raul. You just described Captain Madrid down to a T. Be invisible, pop in and score a couple of goals out of nowhere, go back to being invisible. 😀

    Hopefully that game at least gets him some confidence. I was sad to see him injured since he played one of his best games to date on the left wing in that game and has had a hard time coming back to form. BTW, in La Sexta they called him “The Sixth Sense” after his goals. That was a new one to me. “I see holes…I see goals” (from “I see dead people” and a resemblnece to the kid actor I guess) was the catch phrase the commentator used. I still like the Mr. Bojangoals that somebody on the Offside came up with.

    • Tajh
      November 11, 2009

      Yess me to Hector i always pictured Bojan in the model of Raul……His scoring abilities and the his movement reminds me so much of Captain Madrid.

  2. Eduard
    November 11, 2009

    This game was definately a moral victory.

  3. Cesc Blanc
    November 11, 2009

    “Some good, and some okay. You can see the staggering talent and passing ability in this kid, who did nothing to make me not think that he’s going to be bigger for the side than the more touted Gai Assulin. Once he learns to be more aggressive with his passes, look out. He also tracks back on defense like a madman.”

    Gai Assulin = mediopunta
    JDS = central midfield

    Both not even 19 yet.

    apples, oranges and seriously?

  4. Hector
    November 11, 2009

    The big wild card is Thiago Alcantara. I feel bad for him because he has obviously lost a lot of ground on JDS due to being injured. Hopefully he will pull a Messi and save his career from being injury riddled. There are only so many spots available for creative center midfielders on the team. I hope he gets a fair shot when he comes back.

    JDS is for real. My only complaing with him is the same on I had in a few of the pre season games. He works hard, makes few mistakes, and keeps it simple but at his position he needs to try to posterize fools with the risky passes and taking on defenders. His pass to Bojan was awesome. Now he only needs to try those more often.

  5. BA
    November 11, 2009

    with this review, i just picture Kxevin looming over our little Bojan, scowling as he snatches away the Kid’s lolli. Bojan bursts into tears as Kxevin stamps away, muttering darkly about “off-the ball pressure” and “defensive duties”.

    dunno how you can that seriously fault any central striker who scores 2 goals in a match. if this was Pato, the Milan press would be falling all over themselves talking up his potential.

    • eklavya
      November 11, 2009

      hahahahaa that made me laugh out loud!! 😀

    • Alexinho
      November 12, 2009

      hahahahaha!! Brilliant.

      And I agree with the Raul comparison. If Bojan continues to play as badly as he did in this game, but still pops up with a goal each time, we will be singing his praises soon enough. There are those kinds of players out there…

  6. JMo
    November 11, 2009

    I felt like I was watching highlights films all match. The pass and move style of play was on center stage, I’m extremely upset at the fact we have an international break now.

    This was the kind of match, with the kind of showing that really could have knocked some sense into our first team squad. The passion, the delight, the joy, it was pure class, and entrancingly nostalgic.

    What a match, I’m loving Pedro more and more.

    I like Pedro! but I think we should really call him Giuly 2.0

  7. yogi
    November 11, 2009

    nice review. about gai, i have read lot of people hyping him up but from what i saw in pre-season, am not really impressed till now. for jds, getting better and if keeps his feet on ground, can fight for first 11. i just hope he has learned from his brother and will avoid making same mistakes.

    yesterday we were really having fun and that is something which is missing this season. now we have international break which is always scary.

  8. FCBarca
    November 11, 2009

    Very entertaining read, really captured the feel of the match for me too.

    Agree with just about everything except on Bojan…I found him to be a lot sharper than I can recall…Not just for his goals, either.

    The Biscuit, glad to have a good performance from him again…I was beginning to lose faith in the lad

  9. cliveee
    November 11, 2009

    it was really nice to see the youths play so well. it is truly a joy to watch the triangles and sprinting.

    a six for Jonathan. it means he sucked in a match when we trashed our opponent. I can’t agree with it because even he is not up to what was expected of him (to be more like Xavi?!) he still had a great game. At least the assist he made for the second goal had shown his talent, and generally he prevented a lot of giveaway by passing the ball conservatively. That added a lot of organization to our play. But I agree he will need to pass more aggressively. but he deserve 7 or 8.

    totally love how busi played. but he wasn’t tested in his defense, so i reserve some more time for observation in the future. he is back to his last year’s performance which everyone likes. he caught people’s eyes by his effectiveness and calmness in handling the ball. The box-bombing run that produced the second goal was sheer brilliance.

    I think Maxwell will be one of those players who will need a year to totally adapt and then finally shine. It is likely to see him being frozen in the fringe like Hleb did last year if he continue his unimpressive performance.

    5 for Krkic!?! since u know it is controversial lemme show some fire for Isaiah! wahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!@$##% NO!!!!!!!!!!!W$#%^$ERWXFSERG$%^ BOJAN IS THE BESTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!
    Thank you!

  10. November 11, 2009

    Indeed, your Bojan rating is controversial. The thing is, I thought he had a pretty damned good match and popping up and scoring 2 goals was about as good as you’re going to get out of any striker in the world. That he had other chances, including a long-range shot in the first half, is merely icing on the cake of a fairly terrific match from the kid.

    I thought Bojan’s passing was good, but his positioning and work rate were excellent. He never gave up and kept attempting to score team goals even after he had his 2 goals. He made intelligent runs all over the place, runs that really reminded me of how Samu: run after run after run and then bang a goal and bang another goal and bang another chance and the defense shifts to accommodate how well you’re playing and bang someone else scores a goal because the central defenders have to respect your diagonal runs.

    I could care less about the rating itself, I just felt that he had it all going yesterday. Sweetness.

    And JDS, for my money, was absolutely fabulous. Loved him from the opening minute, especially the sheer power he put behind his passes. Kid has a friggin’ cannon that I’d like to see him use from distance more often. Pull the trigger!

    Cesc Blanc has an interesting point about Gai and JDS playing different positions. Gai is more of what Iniesta plays, in a lot of ways and JDS more of what Xavi plays. So it’s useful to compare the two in a way and useless in another. But I think the comparison is that Gai is hyped to hell and gone and JDS wasn’t really and JDS is the one tearing it up (though Gai was unavailable for this one and looked pretty damned decent in the 1st leg). I hope they both make it.

    • Alexinho
      November 12, 2009

      First of all, props for pointing out Puyol’s shocking backpass, even I blocked that out of my memory.

      That said, I agree with Kevin, it just wasn’t a good match for Bojan. The second half was more like it, but in the first half he was utterly invisible. I think he had the ball twice, and he lost it both times. Sometimes I saw a few runs that weren’t fed, but it wasn’t enough. You can argue that his workrate was good, and perhaps I’ll agree. But saying that the defense shifted because of his goals is way off the mark. If they shifted, they did it for other reasons, perhaps Pedro.

      The thing about the match is that it’s against Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa, and we’re all excited about pretty play. Look, we didn’t score until the second half, and in the first half, I don’t know how much we looked like last year. And check that first goal again, Cultural was really complicit in its own demise by failing to clear, what, three times? The first goal, in that light, was pretty easy, and after that, their defense gave in. We scored one more without Messi and Xavi, and then those two pretty much engineered the next three against a tired third-tier side.

      So let’s not get carried away, especially about Bojan. I suppose this goes for everyone, but if there’s one match in which he should show utter individual superiority, it’s in a first-round Copa match. It’s consistently the easiest competitive tie, every year, against the most unworthy side we will see. Given the precariousness of his current status, he needed to score those goals or we would REALLY start calling for his departure. He needs to take this confidence and turn his goals into performances.

  11. November 11, 2009

    Oh and Puyol gets an 8 and Marquez a 7 when Puyol gave a horrendous backpass to Pinto that should have resulted in them scoring and forcing us to play from behind (though not on aggregate). Horribly sloppy backpass and fortunately the player jumping on it played for Cultura Leonesa and not, say, a better team.

    No flack for that cause he’s El Capitan? Meh.

    • Kxevin
      November 11, 2009

      Yes, because Puyol played his way out of it. Marquez didn’t play as well overall, even with the error. Whole match, not one play. Come on, dude. I learned to review from you.

      • November 11, 2009

        I just pegged them as equal throughout the match, except for that error by Puyi. My point is more towards the readership as a whole, though, not just you (plus, you’ve surpassed your teacher in reviewing capabilities, young grasshopper): Puyi hasn’t gotten any stick whatsoever for what really should have been a goal, but Marquez, who had a decent enough match, still got called out for funkmeisterism in the liveblog.

        I find that unfair because while Puyol has had a much better season on average than Marquez, it’s not like that means he didn’t make a mistake. I suppose now I’ll have to be chairman of the MFC, eh? 😉

        I just hope we can get through this international break and end up quibbling for the rest of the year on whether to give people 7s or 8s in 5-0 massacres… 😀

        • Kari
          November 11, 2009

          MFC? If people didn’t know any better, they’d think you were talking about Messi 😀

          On that thought though, I wonder if we EVER had a HFC. And no, I’m not talking about Henry. The other guy in Germany, whatshisface

      • Alexinho
        November 12, 2009

        I think the collective cule response to that backpass was “hahahahaha!! That’s funny, Puyi! We just have to laugh, because we know you’ll play out of it, right Puyi?” And we were right-

  12. Kxevin
    November 11, 2009

    I’m just speaking of hype and potential in terms of JDS and Assulin, irrespective of what positions they play. Assulin is the Next Big Thing. JDS, from what I read, doesn’t get the same love. But from what I have seen, he is a surer bet for first-team success.

    Now, a very literal interpretation would say “They don’t play the same position, so you can’t compare them.” And that interpretation would be correct. Hopefully the clarification …. well …. clarifies things.

    I expected that the Krkic rating would be controversial and hey, you know what? I don’t care! 😀 I just calls ’em like I sees ’em. Eto’o’s running around was full of danger. Krkic’s running around is just running around. I know he has fans. I know he’s the Real Next Big Thing, and I’m an evil man for doubting that. But there it is.

    The biggest takeaway from this match for me is what I spent the most time on: The fun. Even Guardiola commented on the load that seemed to lift from the players during this match. Let’s hope that it carries over. Iniesta just knocked me out, and even further solidifies my belief that we already have the Xavi replacement, and it’s a stunner.

    • Boat Forever
      November 11, 2009

      Always said that! Finally!! Iniesta is the rightful successor of Xavi, wonder why he keeps flirting with he-who-should-not-be-bought!!!

    • November 12, 2009

      We can’t compare the JDS and Gai at all. I love JDS to bits but Gai is the kind of player who comes by once in 20 years. Honestly if you have seen the video highlights so far for him, he reminds me so so much of messi with his pace and movement!

  13. yogi
    November 11, 2009

    I think Iniesta is great but he is not Xavi. He is different, more mobile and better at running with the ball. I am not sure if he can control the tempo of the game as well as xavi. I would like to see him do this role without Xavi in couple of big matches to be sure about it. Right now, i do not think Iniesta is xavi’s replacement. but then, i dont think that cesc is his replacement as well. it would be difficult to find player like xavi who can decide tempo of the match. in recent times, only riquelme comes to my mind.

    • Hector
      November 11, 2009

      Remember that Iniesta’s quickness and pace will not last forever. Once they start diminishing he can and hopefully will adapt to play in a more withdrawn role and rely more on technique and positioning. I think he can dictate the tempo of a match right now. Not like Xavi can just yet but he can do it damn well nonetheless. Right now IMO Xavi is the superior center mid but what Iniesta has all the natural gifts Xavi has and more. What he is doing is learning and acquring all that experience and saavy that took Xavi over 400 games to accumulate and doing so from the master himself. We forget how experienced Xavi is. Lets just enjoy having the two at the same time for now.

      In recent times, there have also been a couple of guys named Zidane and Pirlo who have not done a shabby job at all of controlling tempo as well. Riquelme is the Last 10. I love and hate him at the same time. He gets me all whimsical like so I won’t say much about him. 😀

    • BlaugranaDOOM
      November 11, 2009

      Xavi used to carry the ball a lot more in his youth as well. I guess through time, he learned its easier to pass it around.

  14. November 11, 2009

    JDS, Alcantra, Sergi Roberto and a generation of youth midfielders that will end up bringing us one or two top notch midfielders. Thats if they decided to stay and wait their opportunity after we pay some zellions to get another young midfielder from Arsenal Just saying…

    Putting the ratings aside, I think this game was good for Bojan moral. I still dont see him as a striker for Barcelona system. And during the game I was wondering how unfair the game is for Pedro and Jeff playing on the flank with a midget in the box and two other midgets in the midfield. The wings options decline dramatically in this case. The question is: Withh the same trio we used in this game (SAy after 5 years from now) click in a Champions league game against an english team of giants? If these players are the future, then this is the question to ask. I can see him as a flank forward -Henry style- if he dress more muscles. I can see him as a second striker in a different system. But as a striker the way Barcelona style demands, he is yet to convince me.

    Regarding Maxwell, I think if we notice the improvement of Ibra performance from one game to another shows us what Maxwell really need. He is a new player in a new system where the players are not adapted to an offense fullback running on that flank -No offense for abidal. The link is still unaccomplished. It will never be unless if he get more chances to play. With the best selection, not the kids.

    • Kxevin
      November 11, 2009

      True that, Ramzi, and I hope you’re right about Krkic’s morale. He needs a boost. As you’ve said, he will never be a striker, but the question is what can he be?

      Valid question about the future, but I think that a lot will change. If Krkic is with the club in 5 years I will be surprised. You read it here first.

    • drew
      November 11, 2009

      yep. we dont need fabregas. pure luxury buy.

      • Alexinho
        November 12, 2009

        Boy though, Fab is playing his freaking mind out at the moment. When people (EPL fanboys) started saying he was really cookin’, I wasn’t quite believing it, but the last two performances at least have been utterly comprehensive. I’d hate it if he left Arsenal, but I’d LOOOVE it if he went back to Barcelona, some day. So yeah, I’m “that” guy who’s calling to buy he-who-should-not-be-bought.

  15. November 11, 2009

    “WiLL the same trio we used in this game (SAy after 5 years from now) click in a Champions league game against an english team of giants?”

    • yogi
      November 11, 2009

      I hope you do not suggest Messi will not be with us in 5 years time:). Though if we win next 5 champions league, it might be:D

      • eklavya
        November 11, 2009

        When he said trio he meant bojan, jeffren and pedro

      • November 11, 2009

        Who would have thought that Ronaldinho will not survive with us for more than 5 years?:D

        • Kxevin
          November 11, 2009

          Me. Superstars, particularly hired ones, have a shelf life of 3 seasons. At that point, sell ’em. Messi has the potential to last longer because he is home grown. But how patient will the supporters be when he has lost that blazing first 10 steps, and gets a bit more injury-prone?

          • yogi
            November 11, 2009

            life as a superstar must be toughie! I would like to see Messi play in midfield some day. like maradona! i think he has the vision and passing range to be like xavi and dictate the games from the middle. Messi does play the role with us as false 9 but i feel that once he loses bit of pace in few years time, he can be a real asset as playmaker. hopefully for barca.

          • drew
            November 11, 2009

            damn. so Alves has only one more season and ibra three!

          • BlaugranaDOOM
            November 11, 2009

            Yogi,

            I agree. In about 4-5 years, I see Messi as a playmaker in the midfield. He won’t be a forward forever. He already makes some killer final passes and that’s not even his job.

  16. jordi
    November 11, 2009

    Let’s not forget Gerard Deulofeu and rafa alcantara either

  17. eklavya
    November 11, 2009

    We’ll know when Kevin finally likes Bojan when writes his 1st name in the reviews. Strangely, pedro was never called Rodriguez nor Jeffren, Suarez.

    • Kxevin
      November 11, 2009

      I will never “like” anyone in that way. Pedro! is a graduation from Pedrito. Jeffren sounds like a last name anyway. Bojan sounds like a plush toy. Even were I to like him, I would still never use his first name.

      This is different from the likes of Xavi, who are just …. Xavi. But notice that Messi is always thus, never Leo or Lionel as many refer to him. Henry is always Henry, never Titi. Ditto for Abidal, Iniesta, and any of the other players. Dos Santos’ shirt says Jonathan, but he will always be Dos Santos to me.

      When, oh when, will people stop trying to read stuff into what I write, to arrive at a desired conclusion?

  18. Kxevin
    November 11, 2009

    Meanwhile, I am NOT going to be able to boo the ever-loving shit outta Thong Boy during El Clasico. Not if the EE’s contentions that he will be out another 4-6 weeks hold any water. On the up side, I won’t be booing until I pass out.

  19. drew
    November 11, 2009

    EMD have up some interview with gourcuff saying that he loves him some xavi and barcelona!!
    who would of thought it?
    i know fabregas has “barca DNA” but gourcuff has some zidane in him!
    just saying

  20. ballbeav
    November 11, 2009

    do we know or have an educated guess as to th date and time of the Clasico this year? im trying to plan that wknd around it!

  21. vicsoc8
    November 11, 2009

    This is the first time I can think of when I drastically disagree with player ratings (as in more than a point difference/more than just one player I felt very differently about).

    Busquets – Moments of brilliance, moments of idiocy. Seriously, I was watching him pretty closely, and I just couldn’t understand how he was doing it, but he would lose the ball one play, and then shortly after make a fantastic pass. The fact is he still just made too many mistakes. While his mistakes might be ignored because none of them had consequences in this game, they were still there. Much better than his recent games, but still not at the level I’d like to see. I’d give him a 7.

    Dos Santos – Great. Two moments stick out for me. The first was when he ran up to a Leonesa player with the ball and just completely robbed him and left him standing there confused. The second was when Alves was tracking back to his position and then all of a sudden sees Dos Santos already there covering for him. I was ready to condemn him for his negative passing, until his moment of brilliance. Very happy with his performance, a 7.5 for me.

    Jeffren – He attacked the flanks, and can beat a man, but he just wasn’t ever that dangerous. Worked extremely hard on both offense and defense, but for some reason never threatened as much as he should have. I’d give him a 7.

    Krkic – Tale of two halves. After the first half of my first watch I was convinced he had only had the ball once (his drive from the left side, which was effective). In the second half he was on fire. The first goal was a team goal, but it doesn’t go in if he isn’t positioned correctly. The second was just classy (BTW – I don’t think it counts as an empty net goal if the net is empty because you schooled the keeper). Other than that his movement and passing was excellent, particularly after Messi came on. The two of them connected to create several clear chances, with each playing great balls to the other on a great run several times. An 8, easy.

    A couple notes on other players, although I agree with the ratings:

    Maxwell – couldn’t agree with you more, gave the ball up almost every time it was near him.

    Alves – maybe actually being injured has made him give up pretending he is injured every play. I hope so.

    Overall I’m happy with the win. But remember it was a Segunda B team, we should be cautious before believing we’re out of the frying pan.

  22. Kari
    November 11, 2009

    Off topic, but you guys now have 184 fans 😀 Talk about Internet-celebrities-no-one’s-seen-except-in-pictures-on-the-old-barca-offside. Now all you guys need is a Youtube page and you’re good 😛

    • November 11, 2009

      Well, I’m not necessarily an internet celebrity, but I’m certainly available for Barça games and a couple drinks at Nevada Smiths anytime you’re in town. And then you can’t say I’m some Wizard of Oz behind a curtain type fellow. I’m actually this nerdy.

      • Kari
        November 11, 2009

        Dude, you’re part of board with 150+ fans. If you’re nerdy, what does that say for the rest of us? 😀 LOL.

        Anyways, international break is here! We will now here of how we will get Fabregas, Robinho, Mascherano, Suarez,the guy at school who had decent dribbling ability, Hleb–oh wait, we already got him. He was a failure.

        Messi will be playing for Argentina against Spain, while I’ll be hoping sharing the same pitch as Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, probably Pique and Busi since Del Bosque seems to love starting Barca players, will calm the poor guy down. Here’s hoping during the game, Puyol et al. will give him some reminders that it’s Spain v Argentina and not Spain v Messi + some other people.

        But with Maracanhegetevendumber, this might get ugly. Hlebtastic.

        • Kari
          November 11, 2009

          Whoa, lots of Hleb love from me today huh? I guess the Enke Tradgedy (RIP btw, so sad 🙁 ) , linked me to Germany, which linked me with Helge (lol, jk) which linked me to Stuttgart, which lead me to He-Who-Can-Be-Named. What’s the update on the guy by the way?

          • Helge
            November 12, 2009

            He’s not doing particularly well @ Stuttgart. He’s had this one great goal in the CL qualification, but since then, he kind a disappeared. On the other hand, the whole team of Stuttgart is in a crisis, so it’s not easy for him to re-develop into a good player…

  23. Ethan
    November 11, 2009

    I just have to say this after watching the last two matches with Pedro. Its not just that his finishing quality has amazed me this season, but more importantly for me is his passing abilities he is showing right now. His crosses, set pieces, having the vision to see players and lay them a perfect pass for goal, have been incredible. I had no idea he could put such a perfectly weighted ball time and time again. That really has impressed me this season. Yes he is great at scoring goals, but it think his ability to create goals this year has just leaped him far and beyond anything Bojan could ever provide for us. Thats why i think Bojan wont last much longer with us because he will and cannot surpass Pedro at this point, and we all know he wont ride out the bench. I really was excited for this season with Bojan, i went to the season opener and got to see him play an incredible match before my eyes, thinking to myself, this is his year. Well than Pedro decided this was HIS year, and now i see the light. Pedro is a ridiculous all around forward that with time could become great, and i would love to see us play that out than waste much time on Bojan anymore…im just saying.

  24. Kxevin
    November 11, 2009

    Ethan said that, not me. Here’s the odd thing about Krkic: Just when people are ready to write him off, he has a match like this, in which he scores a couple of goals and people are ready to put him in the starting XI,

    Here’s what I say, and I know that people get tired of hearing it: If Henry is invisible, pops up and scores two goals then runs around to precious little effect, what are people saying? Henry didn’t get any real love except on rare occasions such as the Valencia hat trick, or his ownage of the EE in the second Clasico.

    So prima facie, what is the difference? One is young, one is old; one is a hired superstar, one is from the bosom of La Masia.

    But what are the similarities? Both have the burden of immense expectations, from Arsenal goals galore and a glorious youth career, both have been erratic/injured this season.

    Yet hardly anyone defends Henry the way that people do Krkic.

    But to me, when I evaluate performances, they are the same: Both first-teamers who have the job of putting the ball in the net.

    This match was, hopefully, like a pre-season one. Lots of goals, an opponent not of our caliber, and a chance to remember how to play. I hope it carries over, but I am not convinced by a brace against a Tercera club.

    I also, like others, see the emergence of P! as something that, short-term, doesn’t augur for first-team minutes for Krkic.

    • Soto
      November 11, 2009

      Well, I’ll always back Henry. I like his style of play and I hope that after last week he’s on his way to returning to form.

      (I regret that I discovered Henry only when he started to play for Barca and thus missed his Arsenal days.)

      These were some fum Copa de Rey games. I am glad that the players seemed to be having fun. But now I want to see what they take back to Liga and Champions League games where they will face tougher and smarter competition. The Inter Milan and Dynamo Kiev games are going to be critical, so we need not only a team that is enjoying itself, but also a team that demands goals and wins. A team that against Leonesa this week would have first scored in the first ten minutes, not in the second half.

      We have that team lurking amongst the players. Let’s hope that it rises up over this break.

    • vicsoc8
      November 11, 2009

      “Here’s what I say, and I know that people get tired of hearing it: If Henry is invisible, pops up and scores two goals then runs around to precious little effect, what are people saying?”

      Well that’s the thing, you think this is how Krkic played. Read above, and I think his game was much more effective than this.

      Henry hasn’t been fantastic this year, but you have been clamoring for him to come back. Bojan hasn’t been great either, but he has been getting much harsher treatment. I think it’s outrageous that people are considering selling him when he has been off due to injury when he is 19.

      What is the real difference between them? Henry can’t possibly have a future with the team, Bojan can. Henry was brought in to provide firepower immediately, while Bojan is a project. This is similar to YAYA and Busquets. Busquets has been playing poorly, but I haven’t heard anyone talking about selling him.

      When giving an evaluation of an earlier game, Messi got a poor score because he played poorly BY HIS STANDARDS. I’m just curious, but are all first team players judged on their own scale based on their ability, or are all the players judged on the same scale?

      • Kxevin
        November 12, 2009

        Good question, vicsoc. Every player is evaluated by his standards. When I say that Krkic and Henry are evaluated the same, I mean as first-team players. Of course you can’t use the standards of one player to evaluate another. That isn’t fair or logical.

        And if you’ll look back, you’ll see that I haven’t been exactly “clamoring” for Henry to return. What I and others have said is that Henry gives the width that is necessary to make our offense go. We saw that the match that he did return. It’s no different than saying that Xavi gives us ball control, or that The Yaya gives midfield stability. It’s what they do for the side. What does Krkic do for the side?

        Henry hasn’t been fantastic this year, you’re right. That’s been stated for the record, by me and others. Neither has Krkic. That’s something else that they share. But from me, Krkic doesn’t get any harsher treatment than anyone else. But he won’t get softer treatment either, because he is first team. As such, when he plays, he gets graded the same as any other first-teamer. Should he not? If you are on the pitch, you get graded. Dos Santos is evaluated the same as anyone else. You’re with the first team, so that’s how you’re looked at. I just don’t buy the “He’s young, he deserves a break.” That time is past. Play up to the roster spot.

        The Krkic question that you’ve heard me ask is “Where does he fit in, and what does he do for us.” If anybody has suggested selling him, it hasn’t been me. And if Krkic has a future with the club, what is that future? He’s too small to play the “9,” and we have more effective wingers. Midfield? We’re locked down pretty tight there. He is a project, but one who has been with the first team for 3 seasons now. At what point does a player stop being a project?

        So the question is, where do you see Krkic playing with this club, 5 years from now? Personally, I don’t think that he will be, but that’s just me. And it isn’t because he lacks talent. I just think that we’re well stocked in the places that he could play.

        • vicsoc8
          November 12, 2009

          Fair enough that you grade Bojan as any other first-teamer, but remember… Not all first team spots are created equally. By this I mean that inevitably some players are more important and expected to contribute more to success than others. This is only natural, but also necessary, we need people to be substitutes and bench players for success.

          The point of this is that its important to consider Bojan’s role in the team. I’ve spoken before that I thought Rijkaard gave Bojan too large of a role too early. In my mind Pep is trying to ameliorate this, and he has obviously given Bojan less of a role to play. In a way, Pep seems to be reintroducing Bojan to the first team, and this necessarily brings with it growing pains.

          Therefore, in my mind, we should consider Bojan as a second choice substitute for the forward line, and gauge his contributions as such.

          If you look at his performances this season, he was looking decent, then had a great performance before getting injured, and hasn’t quite been the same since. It’s a long season, he could very well rediscover his form and play very well. Also – for my .02, he played better than Jeffren yesterday.

          As to where he fits in in the future, I think he could fit several roles. You say he isn’t big enough for a “9”, yet Eto’o wasn’t exactly a giant and he was successful. Bojan won’t ever be tall, but he should fill out and become stronger over time. I could also see him becoming a good winger. In fact, it seems Pep is trying to groom him to play this position (and learning a new position has growing pains of its own). Most likely, I see Bojan becoming a versatile forward who can fill any of the three positions well.

          I can see Bojan going on loan within the next couple of years to gain playing time. However, As a Barcelona fan I’ve learned one important thing… patience. Madrid fans are the ones who demand their coaches be sacked 1 third of the way through the season and boo their own players.

          Finally, I trust in Pep. Pep kept Bojan around, and I believe it was for a reason. We all know Pep doesn’t play players he doesn’t have faith in (see: Hleb, Caceres, etc.), so I have faith in Bojan as well.

        • vicsoc8
          November 12, 2009

          Also, I’d like to clarify. Some of my comments could be misconstrued to seem like I was comparing you to a Madridista. This wasn’t my intention, I was speaking generally. I’m also happy we disagree, as this is an important issue that should be discussed.

    • Aeneas
      November 11, 2009

      With Krkic I always am hopefully that he will perform, but do not consider it an inevitability. Whenever Henry comes onto the pitch I feel calm and let out a sigh of relief. I expect(demand?) things to be better with his presence. I still have no idea how anyone can think Henry isn’t a huge piece of the puzzle. He filled a huge void last year but is struggling a bit this year with injuries.

  25. Ethan
    November 11, 2009

    I agree. I feel Henry though will come out of this injury funk and get back to producing the way he can, running down balls, getting back on D to help Abidal, creating opportunities and putting the ball on net, and not just into the goalies arms. So im not saying Pedro should start over on off form Henry, because once Henry gets in his groove, even the magic of P! right now, cant compare to the difference Henry makes. Pedro is still young and needs this year to really develop. Bojan has had his time to grow with the club and try and force his way into somewhat of a starting role. Well after 3 seasons of opportunities, though he has shown spurts of great quality, they are just spurts of moments, he still is far from what it takes to break into the first team. P! is already on the verge of breaking into it and after this season i believe he will be a great addition to our Left Wing. I think he needs to learn this year to make that position his own, he could learn alot from Henry. But i have to say again, his passing abilities are what makes him stand out for me over another breakout player such as Bojan. Dont get me wrong, I’m not saying i dislike Bojan in any way, he’s a good player, he just doesnt have what it takes. We have given him enough time already, and with the emergence of P! i dont see a spot in the team for Bojan anymore, our youth system has proven time and again how great it is. It’s so great that even when we have a young star like Bojan, the competition in the youth ranks is so competitive that even he who could be a starter on many great teams, can’t even find a real spot on the bench at Barca. And we as Cules should be grateful to have the greatest youth system on the planet.

    • jordi
      November 11, 2009

      “he just doesnt have what it takes”

      Nostradamus ?

      There are people who used to doubt Iniesta’s usefulness when he was 19 too.Remember when Fletcher missed the last cl final, and man united fans blamed his absence and said if he he had played (We know we’d have won anyway) it wouldve been different etc. Such is his importance to them now, but for the 1st 6 years of his man united career they used to want him gone, they used to accuse Sir alex of nepotism.Its a familiar story.Just ask milan and gourcuff.I wonder if when inevitably the next canterano comes through with god like skills, will the target be on pedro’s back next.”why isnt X as good as Y” and all that.

  26. ElShowDeJason
    November 11, 2009

    Comparing Pedro! to Bojan isn’t fair.

    Pedro! is 22, Bojan is 19. at 19 there are a lot of things independent of skill and talent that effect a player’s performances.

  27. Ethan
    November 11, 2009

    Comparing Pedro to Bojan at this point has to be done, there just isn’t room in this team for him, plain and simple. Yes he will get better and develop etc. etc. but he wants starting action and with pedro playing the way he is, he just won’t get it, which means he will be gone by next summer.

    • vicsoc8
      November 12, 2009

      There isn’t room in the team for him? So you think we should reduce our already small squad even further?

  28. jordi
    November 11, 2009

    I wish you would stop using definite words, like will never and wont.Like i said, unless you are nostradamus and can see the future you dont know how the season will end or how long Bojan will stay.

  29. Ethan
    November 12, 2009

    It doesn’t take a nostradamus to figure out the situation with Bojan. He isn’t good enough for this team, therefore he won’t play. This means as was already his concern over the summer, that if he doesnt get a lot of play than he would leave for another club. I just dont see him staying here past next summer without the playing time. That is unless guardiola can convince him to stay and build his talent to where he can be an important player for us. Though if anyone were to be able to do that, it would be Pep. But going back, yes Bojan is young and needs time, being P! is already 22. But that is who he has to compete with for a position that he wants in this team. I understand there are a lot of defenders of Bojan, but honestly i hope he remains on the bench for the most part and the opportunities are given to Pedro and we can see what an asset he turns out to be for us because he really does need this year to grow into the player he is going to become. And i would rather time be spent on him than having to split time between the two of them and delay progress in a player that is more capable of fitting into this team in the near future.

    • ballbeav
      November 12, 2009

      you’re wrong. i’m just saying…

  30. Kxevin
    November 12, 2009

    What I think that our left wing needs, and I’m thinking ahead here for when Henry leaves at the end of this season, are pace, passing, ability to take a defender one-on-one and the ability and willingness to track back on defense and help out with midfield pressure. I just don’t think we’re going to get the goals that we got from Henry last year, not even from Henry this year. But the width is crucial.

    And I don’t think that Robinho, most rumored to be coming, is that player. He’s immensely talented, but he falls way short when it comes to defending and tracking back. So who is out there? I guess we’ll have to table that one until January if something happens, or the summer time.

    • vicsoc8
      November 12, 2009

      I’ve been a staunch supporter of bringing in reinforcements for the LW, the next two months will really tell if we should bring someone in.

      First of all, it will be difficult to sign a top class winger in the winter.

      If Pedro can maintain his form then he could potentially start fighting Henry for his place, in small games at first. The best thing about Pedro is the width he provides, err I mean his hard work and team effort, err I mean the goals he scores… Wait, he’s been giving all of these to the team so far.

      I’m all for bringing in some top class talent, but I think the January window might not be the best time. Given time, the problem might solve itself.

    • November 12, 2009

      Kxevin, I’m not a Robinho fan either but then how many strikers or wingers in other teams track back and work defensively besides barcelona? I can only think of Eto’s (he’s learnt his trade here), Willian (the boy can run.. but then again he’s not an out and out winger either. He’s more of a wide midfielder.) and our supposed gazzillion pound interest.. rooney but he struggles to find a balance between the two.

      Henry didn’t track back before he came here but he learnt to do so. Ibra didn’t either but we can see a world of change in his defensive work as the season progresses. Messi.. well Messi is Messi.

      So in a nutshell, i don’t think we can judge prospective new signings on the left wing based on their reluctance to track back and do the donkey work in their careers so far. We need blinding pace, passing and the ability to beat defenders one-on-one and I’d like to have some Ribery there 🙂

      Wishful thinking? perhaps

  31. November 12, 2009

    For the record, I still believe Bojan can make it. On the flank, though.
    The boy is amazing when it come to the one-touch-game. He assists. He finishes. And his dribbling qualities are underrated. When he dare to man up.
    Will he be the new Messi? I doubt. But he can be a lethal gadget in our offense kit. A game changer, to say the least.
    But let me put it this way: This is the year that will decide his future. The question is not if he will perform good or bad on the field. He is still young enough to give him more time. But now with all the competition for places, will he have the “it” to be determinant and work hard to break through? Will he bow under the pressure and prove being too fragile for a highly demanding club like Barcelona? Being a youth product who made records during his childhood generated popularity and expectations. But that will do him no favors now in a more-mature environment. It’s the work on the field that decides his destiny. That’s what I was glad to see before he got injured. The “Grinta” as the Italians call it. He needs that.
    As a bench player who can perform as a game changer, I have no doubt he will be great for the club future. But if he can’t accept this role, and if he wants to be a key member and automatic starter, he will need to develop a lot for being an amazing talent where talent is just not enough.

  32. jordi
    November 12, 2009

    If Yaya were somehow to leave, how much would we get for him ? I dont see why he wouldnt be worth as much as Xabi alonso. Ill be really upset if he leaves, but even more so if its for an insulting 15- 18 million.

    • November 12, 2009

      Not that he will leave, but his market value is somewhere between 20 and 25 millions.

      Xabi was over-priced as far as he is overrated. I mentioned it here during last season during the calls to get him to Barcelona, and he is yet to prove me wrong.

  33. Ethan
    November 12, 2009

    Ramzi, well said. Very convincing points.

  34. November 12, 2009

    Well last time I talked about Bojan on this blog it got very ugly very quickly, so I will abstain. I do have one question though for Kxevin: can you please tell me, for my sake if nothing else, the number of times you’ve given a “5” to someone who scored two goals? Thanks.

    • Kxevin
      November 12, 2009

      Good question, Ahsan. I don’t know, and would have to troll back through the archives both here and at The Offside, which my flu-riddled body doesn’t have the energy or willingness to do.

      But what’s most important is this: Do goals in and of themselves represent the kind of overall goodness that is necessary to be most effective for this club, even for someone in the striker’s role?

      I’ll save you some contemplation: No. I recall watching the match and thinking, about 10 minutes is, “Is Krkic even on the pitch?” He played better in the second half, but not significantly better to warrant more than a 5, in my view. The first goal was a team goal. 99% of the work was done for him. The acute angle of the shot made the second goal noteworthy, but even rounding the keeper wasn’t that difficult for a player at that level with his ability.

      And even then, look at what other contributions he made during the match. Jeffren, for example, not only worked his butt off on offense, making excellent crosses and passes, but he was constantly tracking back on defense, battling for possession in the midfield and trying to stamp his authority on the match whenever he was given the opportunity. It’s the kind of all-pitch effort that makes our club go.

      Krkic has gotten higher ratings from me, for sure, but he’s played more of an all-pitch game. If Ibrahimovic or Henry did the same thing, hanging around, popping up to score a couple of goals then disappearing again, they’d get the same rating, particularly in a 5-goal spanking.

      • Blow-Granite
        November 12, 2009

        Bojan was playing a true no. 9 in the game. He was hugging the offside line!!! Could he have done more… no. I think he was instructed to do that, by the one and only Pep. He was invisible in the first half because there were no goal scoring opportunities. He shone in the second half because of the service he got. His rating: 5 is fine, for a striker still returning to form. I could have given him an 8 as well. It is how you look at his role, and if he keeps a defender with him that can provide width to our wide men, Pedro and Jeffren.

    • ballbeav
      November 12, 2009

      last time that happened it was another player kxevin doesnt like: sammy eto’o. heheheheh. feel provoked? well so do i! LOL!

  35. jnelson1731
    November 12, 2009

    I read an article on ESPN saying we are BROKE! WTF? authored by a man named Harry Harris oddly enough. Is there any truth to a lack of transfer funds available. Being unable to meet demands for star players in a severely inflated market is one thing, but to have little funds to begin with is another…

    • November 12, 2009

      It is true to the extent that we probably don’t have the money in our coffers but i think Kxevin n the team had a detailed discussion about this issue earlier.. still have no clue about the amount of debt we’re in though. Some articles suggest that we wiped off our debt in oct/09 while some say we’re still a great deal in debt..

      • Hilal
        November 12, 2009

        Financially we are one of the healthiest clubs in the world. Certainly we are the healthiest of the “top clubs” who pretty much all run on huge amounts of debt. Real Madrid, Inter, AC, Chelsea, Utd and Liverpool all have enormous amounts of debt, much more than we do. Arsenal are different, but i wouldnt class them in the same category as the other clubs mentioned.

        I remember at the start of the summer there were all these stories that we could only afford to spend 30M Eur and look how that turned out. Dont believe anything you read during international breaks, its all crap.

      • Random Juve Fan
        November 12, 2009

        Barcelona are heavily indebt. They have the 6th biggest debt in world football. 384 million pounds. Real Madrid have a debt of 494 million pounds at least but these are from very sympathetic banks, im not sure how “sympathetic” the banks Barca borrowed money from are. I did a big write up on Pep’s old blog.

        • Random Juve Fan
          November 12, 2009

          Those figures a from Jose Maria Gay, Professor of Accountancy at the Uni of Barca.

          • Boat Forever
            November 12, 2009

            Heard that with our financial planning we will be at 0 debt situation in 3-4 years period!! Don’t know how far your numbers are correct because the above statement was made by a board official

  36. Hilal
    November 12, 2009

    //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forbes%27_list_of_the_most_valuable_football_clubs#cite_note-debt-2

    Barcelona have a very low debt as % of value. It is only 7%. Compare that to RM 23% (and that was before they spent 300M Eur), Man Utd 54%, Liverpool 59%, Inter 77% or Chelsea 92%. Arsenal are 107%!!!

  37. Kxevin
    November 12, 2009

    Numbers can be interpreted any way that anyone wants. Some will see the same numbers and say our debt to income is great, or we’re bankrupt, or our debt level is absurd, or we’re on the hook to “unsympathetic” banks (say what now?).

    Laporta has made it a point of his reign as King of Catalunya to ensure that this club’s fiscal health is sound, and he has done so. The fiscal plan is on track, as far as I know, and there was some excellent news at the last convocation of the board.

    As Helge said, everything else is nonsense. Everyone should recall that when we were down, during the last Rijkaard year, nobody was writing about us. There wasn’t any reason to, right? No need to try to pull us down from a lofty perch.

    Different story now. I’d rather get back to football.

  38. Ramzi
    November 12, 2009

    Regarding the debt: No one will ever know for sure! Prepare yourself for the dirty financial reports that will come in the following few months. Laporta accountants will issue balances that show us donating our overloaded money for the poor Oil princes who cant match our luxury wealth, and Rossell accountants in return issuing reports about us under the threat of selling our camp, Official website domain name and Yaya Boxers to pay our debts or else!

    Whats for sure is that we have a debt, but its still considered as “Healthy debt” thats more related to the operation management and strategic investment in one way, and thats well covered by the team assets and returns kit.

    Regarding the transfer budget, do not worry about finding the money to buy player, be more worried about how much are we going to push our financial stability to the edge to meet the election bills through popular transfers. We can even gather a budget of 100 M. But will the spending part be based on a cost-benefit analysis for the club, or the election candidates?

  39. Kxevin
    November 12, 2009

    At present, we are in a break. During breaks, in the absence of real news, the footy press doesn’t as much make stuff up as go hog-wild with speculation. So despite all of the facts of statements by Mark Hughes, Txiki B, etc, Robinho is still coming. Despite the fact that The Yaya himself said “Not going to Citeh,” he’s still going to Citeh.

    If we sell The Yaya, it will be because a) Guardiola and Txiki B. have lost their collective minds or b) see a). Because you just don’t sell the best defensive mid in the world, a man who is integral to your club’s success.

    I would add that you don’t pay him the way that we are paying him, either. In a club of highly paid players, many of whom are irreplacable, he deserves to be right up there. I always think about what would happen if X player were gone. Most times I think “Well, so and so can step in.” But there are a few players that just make me shrug and say, “We’re screwed.” Xavi is one, Valdes is another, and so is The Yaya.

    Now for the blasphemy: I’d rather see us try to get along for a while without Messi than The Yaya. We have players who can score goals and destroy defenses (no, this isn’t any kind of a knock on Messi’s immense abilities). But somebody find me a player who can do what The Yaya does.

    He isn’t going anywhere. Every player wants to play, even over the logic dictating that over a long season, platooning is important.

    But every “story” that you hear, from Gai Assulin going to Arsenal to Fabregas coming to us, is nonsense. And we know they are. But it occupies the press during a period of no matches, and snags clicks.

    • Ramzi
      November 12, 2009

      “Xavi is one, Valdes is another, and so is The Yaya”

      For all my unquestionable love to Yaya, there is a trend to create lot of fantacies around his quality to an extend that makes it impossible to ignore. Even though any evaluation that doesnt meet the current -created- public opinion may sound as a critic though its not.

      At least Messi, Xavi, Ibra, Puyol, Iniesta are on different categories that you cant include Yaya in. Messi, Xavi, and Ibra are the best players in their positions and no one come close. Puyol is the team leader and Iniesta is the best up coming midfielder for the following ten years (And one of the best at the moment). Compared to how much players in their positions are earning their contracts’ conditions are realistic.

      Yaya in return is one of the best midfielders in the world (you can call him the best if that makes it feel better) but compared to the other quality defensive midfielders in the world, his contract is realistic the way it is. I dont mind some enhancements but lets keep some common sense.

      If the question is:”What will the team do without Yaya? and who can come to take his place if he leave?” I ask:”Who can we buy as a guaranteed performer as Abidal if he leaves? Alves? Henry?” its even easier to find a replacement for Yaya than to find a replacement for Alves, and cheaper. This is not how we evaluate players contracts. Any player who is well-adapted to a system makes it hard to replace. Even if his name is as humble as Keita.

      I can predict the responds, but I had to release it 😀 as it start with a remark and become a snow ball where everytime it is repeated it get more spices.

      • Kxevin
        November 12, 2009

        Yes, the African defensive mid is all the rage right now, but in the context of what he does for the side, his contract, in the Barca context, is indeed out of whack.

        We have a number of players who are among the best in the world at their positions, making them difficult to replace. But replaceability also depends on an individual’s view of a certain player.

        For me, when I see the midfield control and command that we have with The Yaya in the lineup, and watch other matches in other leagues, I wonder who will replace him. And for cheaper? I’d love to hear those names. Abidal? I’d replace him with Ashley Cole in two seconds. Cheaper? There are a host of fast, physical left backs in the Prem who would come to us in a heartbeat.

        Henry is irreplacable. We’ll have another left winger, but we won’t get 20+ goals out of him. Xavi, at present, is irreplacable. You’re right in that Messi is among the best in the world at his position, in our context. Would Messi be as compelling in the bigger, more physical Premiership? Good question, that is, at present, unanswerable. Is he irreplacable? In the context of what we need on the pitch, I would say no. But that’s me, just as “we can replace The Yaya in a minute and for less money,” is you.

        Is Ibrahimovic really the best at his position, or the best for us at that position? Again, good question. Eto’o proponents say “No” in both cases. We have 60+ million that is hoping he is. Puyol? Again, I love what he does, but give me a choice, given our system, of going into battle with an extraordinary center back or an extraordinary defensive mid who can also attack? The latter, every time, because if our system is working right, our back line is watching the match and sweeping up the occasional stray ball that leaks through the midfield.

        Which is why I say that a player’s value depends upon a fan’s view of his value within the system. I like adaptable defense, but defense first. I’d rather win 1-0 than 5-3. Others are different. It’s why some see a Messi run into three defenders and say “He almost did it.” I see that same run and think “If you have 3 defenders on you, then somebody is open. Pass it.”

        It’s also why player value arguments are impossible to have. Because there is no real truth, only individual perspective.

        • Hilal
          November 12, 2009

          Very well put Kxevin! It all comes down to how fans value players. For me one of the most important players we have is Keita, he does one of the hardest jobs and gets very little recognition for it. Is he “irreplaceable”, no, but i think finding a plyer who does what he does, as well as he does it, without making any sort of fuss, would be a tough task.

          I am also one of the fans who thinks “ohhh he almost got through” when Messi tries to dribble 3-4 players. I can certainly see your point of view, but if he always passed instead of trying the impossible then we would never have had that goal he scored vs Getafe, where he could and probably should have passed to Eto’o who was screaming for the ball. The way i see it, if we are 0-0 or 1-0 then he should pass, play the safer option. However if we are 2-0 up or more then i say its fair game and let the boy try to do what nobody else in the world can.

        • Ramzi
          November 12, 2009

          – Ashley Cole is a player I won’t take for free. He will be a disaster for a team like Barca. And he is not half as good as rumored. So he is not good enough even as a back up for Abidal. He is not as good defense wise (his positioning is laughable) and he is very poor technical wise to play the offense, Barcelona way.

          – I am not sure since when are you following Yaya, but anyone who saw him playing for Monaco can tell he will not work as a DM. It would have sounded like a stupid idea back then that even wenger denied the opportunity to sign him almost for free. not once, but twice. SO I am not sure what other leagues you meant but the player performance with a team is something, and his natural attributes is something else. I will not name some cheaper targets to do the Yaya job as well, but there are many. Will they click for sure? No one can insure that. But they have more hope to succeed than anyone who will come to replace Xavi or Messi.

          The offense value and credit Vs thats of defense is valid. But you missed a very important point: We defend through offense. The presence of Messi make a defensive impact the same as it makes an offense impact. The midfield control is the work of Xavi more than thats of Yaya. He is doing great, no doubt. But again, even though he is a key performer, he is not the back bone of the team the same as the likes of Xavi and Messi are.

          All that DOES NOT MEAN that we will sell the guy. No one with common sense can recommend that. But its only to put things in place.

          And Ibra, through leading four teams already to titles (single handed sometimes), proved being the best forward in the world more than any one else. As his quality performance proved being independent of the team he plays for. Any other name?

          • Boat Forever
            November 12, 2009

            Ashley Cole is a crap player… Clichy is a better player compared to him IMO. Though he some times makes silly mistakes that’s down to his experience and not quality!
            Ibra, as much as I love him, cannot be called the best yet… The reason is of course well known, he couldn’t cut it out on the biggest stages yet. I don’t understand if it’s down to his confidence or the lack of quality in the MF area backing him up or as every Ibra-hater, & lately Eto’o supporters, try to make it look like he just brings an ill-luck on every team that he plays for! Against ManUtd last season, he did very well & supposedly the best defense duo of last season couldn’t contain him & Ibra totally pocketed Vidic. Even Vidic admitted this saying Torres, Eto’o & Ibra(mind you he didn’t score on both the occasions!) had been the best forwards he faced till now. Even though he did so well against ManUtd he couldn’t convert the chances. He hit post twice & though made VDS completely get beaten by his shots they just missed being on-target! So he came very very close on 4 occasions… Even against Inter and Rubin this season, he came close twice against Inter & once against Rubin in the 2nd leg. I want to believe it’s just down to his confidence and the lack of MF support(even with us he didn’t have much support from MF area!!) & have high hopes on Pep that he would rectify that!!

  40. Hector
    November 12, 2009

    Re: Debt

    It’s a complicated thing. All of the big teams have different explanations and reasons for having it.

    Firstly, I 100% agree with Ramzi. Accounting figures are way too easy to manipulate, particularly in Spain. Hell, just look at Valencia. However, I think we have a much better foundation to build on and support our finances than several other big teams. Why? The Camp Nou and the mini-estadi. Here’s my rant.

    When you acquire a company, the key thing is the valuation. You have to account for the outstanding debt in the valuation as well as valuing the shares, usually on the basis of various EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, and Depreciation) multiples and comp analyses (empirically comparing its value with acquisitions of similar companies). What affects EBITDA and thus the share value probably the most? Recurring revenue. To Private Equity (PE) firms, that’s gold because it’s almost a sure thing. A competitive football club (as in competitive for domestic titles and UCL) with a historical brand is almost sure to fill up (or come close to filling up) the stadium over 50 times a year. That’s a great base to build on because that revenue is relatively secure. Sure, the big bucks are in the TV contracts but those frequently have payment issues (see Barca vs Media PR) and in real life are paid in rather large installments. The stadium income is the most secure source of revenue for a club with a brand and plays a huge part in covering and paying LOC’s (lines of credit). It’s funny how in today’s globalized world of TV contracts and marketing, good ol’ stadium revenue is still the best, most sure thing in town.

    When the BIG transfer arms races started in the 1990’s, clubs began a race to build bigger stadiums. The EPL is fascinating in this respect, primarily because their “communist” TV contracts even the playing field for everybody which further emphasizes stadium revenues’ importance to gaining a financial upper hand on their rivals. EPL clubs suffered significant losses when in the early, after Hillsborough, all stadiums were converted to seating room only. Some stadiums lost over 20,000 in capacity. So, the big teams started looking for ways to expand their capacity. Man U had the biggest advantage of the big teams simply because up to that point, Old Trafford had been kept well up to date with frequent renovations and their surrounding real estate allowed them to consistently expand seating without having to resort to a new stadium. Arsenal suffered in large part during the 90’s because of this. Highbury had its capacity reduced by around 20,000 and, being in a London residential area and all, zoning laws prevented them from expanding the stadium. So, they took a huge risk, and moved the whole shabang to nearby Ashburton Grove, redeveloping Highbury into upscale apartments. The new stadium increased their capacity by 20,000 but was costly as hell. Building a stadium in London is definitely not cheap. They did make a huge coup because they had sold off all the as of yet uncompleted apartments in 06 before the real estate crash and credit crisis. However, they are still paying off the huge costs of the new stadium (they even had to sell the naming rights to Emirates Airlines as we all know) despite the apartment sales and hence the seemingly huge debt. However, they make an operating profit, are able to service their debt, are competitive, have the brand, have increased capacity, and count on a wealthy London fan base (individual and corporate). To me this is a case where debt is misleading. Arsenal will be fine as long as they keep being competitive and fiscally sound (Wenger’s transfer policy) until the new stadium’s debt is reduced.

    The opposite case is Liverpool, who I think is in real danger. Similar to Arsenal, zoning laws and the surrounding area of Anfield makes it impossible for them to expand and necessitates the building of a new stadium. Gillett and Hicks have put it in high risk by treating it as just another acquisition to use up and sell onwards. I read a good case study on it a while back. When it was acquired, Gillett and Hicks got it damn cheap IMO- 174 million for shares and assumed 44 million in debt. Similar to Arsenal, they realized the big increase in recurring revenue that could be had by building a brand spanking new bigger stadium would boost eventually Pool’s valuation through the roof allowing them to sell it off for a profit. Anfield seats “only” 45,000, less than half of Camp Nou’s capacity. This puts it at a tremendous disadvantage relative to the rest of the big 4. What screwed them? Shitty ass debt servicing analysis and horrible timing.

    The day they bought the club, their holding company (Kop Holdings) took out a huge (approx. 290 something million euro) LOC and not only that, it shifted half of the liability to the club! They did it in part to compete with two other teams (Arsenal and Man U) who have much bigger stadiums (remember they all have the same TV revenue) and another (Chelsea) with an Oligarch sugar daddy who personally loans the club what it need. First mistake. The construction of the new stadium has been derailed by the price of steel doubling from 07 to 08 and the credit crunch making developing and selling the old Anfield highly unfeasible. On the other end, they severely miscalculated the LOC. It was not enough to compete with the other big teams and they had to extend it in 08 to 350 million to meet their obligations but at that time the credit crunch had hit. Consequence? They got the LOC extended but at such a high interest rate that their cash is pulverized by the interest payments. Liverpool last year made an operating loss of 46 million of which approx 36 million was due to interest payments. At this point they are essentially using loans to pay off loans. Financially, they CANNOT compete with Arsenal, Man U, RM, Barca et al with such a small stadium and Leveraged ownership. They have refused to accept this and as such are digging a really deep hole by competing on the basis of debt. They are currently in limbo because they can no longer make big expenditures because of the interest payments but can’t stop paying them because the liability belongs to the club which would then be officially bankrupt if they do. It’s a hell of a quandary and the light at the end of the tunnel (a new stadium) is still not in sight.

    What the hell does this have to do with Barca? Since in Spain, clubs negotiate their own TV Deals, RM and Barca don’t have to deal with the same level playing field in that regard that EPL clubs do. The Camp Nou is Europe’s highest capacity stadium. It’s so big that Barca at times has trouble filling it. Of course, traffic, public transportation alternative, and the times of games play’s a part in this. However, believe me this is a problem Liverpool wishes it had. It’s about due for a renovation (which in theory should begin in 2011) which is a better deal than Arsenal had. Now that Laporta has gotten the zoning laws changed, that renovation will be paid by itself by developing and selling off the Mini Estadi real estate. In short, we don’t have the disadvantage of needing a new stadium like Arsenal and Liverpool had. What Florentino did to finance Galacticos 1.0, we will do to finance an investment which should increase our recurring revenue and thus the valuation of the club. Barca is making a steady operating profit and although I read the financial statements and can’t understand the difference between “bank debt” and just “debt” according to Spanish accountants, the foundation for Barca is in a LOT better shape than many other big teams.Florentino pledged the Bernabeu’s stadium revenue as collateral for the Kaka/Ronaldo loans. Our revenue is still ours. Now, let’s see what happens during election time which should be wild.

    Rant over. 😀
    Nobody will probably read this whole thing and I will most likely be hectored but oh well, I’m a geek.

    • Boat Forever
      November 12, 2009

      Hectored!!! Who brought up the debt issue damn it!! 😛

      • Soto
        November 13, 2009

        That would be me in the previous post. My bad.

    • Kxevin
      November 12, 2009

      Lord, how I wish that I had a post ready. Hector hasn’t been Hectored in a long time. 😀

    • Hector
      November 12, 2009

      This comment is begging for it, isn’t it, Kevin?

      • eklavya
        November 12, 2009

        VERY MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😀

    • Ramzi
      November 12, 2009

      I want the name of the software you used to autotype all that while you say it. You didnt really type all that yourself.

      I read the whole thing on dozes. Well put.

    • eklavya
      November 12, 2009

      Wow I actually read the whole thing and was pretty addicted! Whoever started the debt thing must have forgotten there’s a businessman lurking around right here! 😀

    • Blow-Granite
      November 12, 2009

      Hector !!!! I read the whole thing!!!!! What do you eat for breakfast!!!!????

    • Soto
      November 13, 2009

      Not only did I read the whole thing, I appreciated it. You filled in some details that I had been looking for.

      Thanks.

  41. Keano
    November 12, 2009

    Whats peoples opinion of zarate instead of robinho and suarez? Dont watch italian football but hear hes handy

    • Ramzi
      November 12, 2009

      If you are asking a wierdo like me, I will pick Mirko Vucinic over the three. But pretend that you didnt read it.

      • Boat Forever
        November 12, 2009

        Seriously!? Vucinic keeps missing chances after chances for Roma!! Menez has been good though 🙂 He’ll play World Cup I suppose

        • Ramzi
          November 12, 2009

          I said pretend that you didnt read it! 😀

      • eklavya
        November 12, 2009

        Add Vedad Ibišević to the list, although he’s a pure striker not a winger.

        • Boat Forever
          November 12, 2009

          Add another Bosnian Edin Džeko to the list… He’s also pure striker not a winger. Funniest part is Man City considered him to be an option to replace Barca bound Robinho!!

          • eklavya
            November 12, 2009

            Yeah he’s also good…but I’d take Ibisevic cause his goal scoring rate was freakin’ crazy while playing for a club like Hoffenheim.He was Europe’s top scorer in and was like 5 goals ahead of Eto’o at some point….it’s a shame he was injured for the whole season…. 🙁

    • Boat Forever
      November 12, 2009

      He’s quality & I wonder why the douche Marajuana picks Di Maria over him!! ‘The Zarate kid’ signed a 5 year contract for Lazio only this season(for 19mill) & his buy-out clause is supposedly 60mill!! But his agent-brother made public statements twice that the player is not satisfied with the Lazio’s performances, results & the lack of quality in the team, although he said he’d like to respect the 5 year contract that he signed. And it seems he’s considering his option to play for Italy if Marajuana keeps snubbing him for Di Maria(& lately in-form Perotti has also been picked which leave him chance) And if at all he chooses that option he wouldn’t leave Italy any time soon

  42. Ramzi
    November 12, 2009

    My problem with the left wing is that I cant really find a mouth watering option thats also Cheap enough to consider a steel.

    Suarez is a player I followed before. This season I only watched one game for him (last week) and it wasnt that impressive. I know the number of goals he scored, but I dont take that reccord for being the only deciding factor. Its important to analyse his functionality. He seems to play more now as a striker with Ajax. If he costs less than 20 M, we can get him. More? then Robinho is more proven.

    But again How much will Robinho cost? 30 Millions? Well, I prefer to get Villa for 40 M instead.

    The other middle to low teams performers are having there plus and minus as well. You cant gamble paying over 15 M for any of them, and its unlikely you can get any of them for less than that. So there is no need to analyze if they can work.

    In brief, the only player at the moment that I can without thinking twice is Villa. Villa-Ibra-Messi is not a bad thing. Anyone else has to come for a good price, or else thanks but no thanks. Good price means Robinho for not more than 25 M, and Any other unproven option for something near 15 M.

    Or else, we continue with what we have till the summer.

    • Boat Forever
      November 12, 2009

      That’s why we’ll go for just Hernanes and stay put for now!! We can wait for Willian till summer because he’s cup-tied anyway… And who knows!? by that time we may not be needing any winger either!!

    • tutomate
      November 12, 2009

      Hells yes Ramzi, that what I’ve been saying. Villa-Ibra-Messi would be dope.

      • BA
        November 12, 2009

        whoa whoa. Villa/Ibrahimovic/Messi? who plays in the middle? Messi drifts inside more and more, we bought Ibrahimovic to be a classic bulldozing/linkup center forward… leaving David Villa, arguably the most effective player in the world in front of goal, out on the left wing? he’d undoubtedly score goals, but it seems a waste of his talent. Silva i might see out on the left, but i’d think any team would want Villa in the middle of the box as much as possible.

        • November 12, 2009

          I am not sure if there is anything Silva can do that Villa cant. Ibra is not just a bulldozer, he is probably the best striker who can move to channels creating wholes. That will end up being highways toward the goal for the likes of Villa and Messi.

          Villa is very skillfull. He can play on the flank, he can cut inside and generate assists. He can penetrate into the box and score. Nothing more to wish.

  43. Boat Forever
    November 12, 2009

    I’d advice Kxevin to have a close look on opponent wingers & mid fielders that we are going to play in Club World Cup… Pep might give us some surprise, just saying.
    Like Fergi he seems to have a liking for opponent players who give us hard time on the pitch! Txygnasty, Willian, Srna, Cristian Ansaldi, Mata, etc are all some examples
    Fergi has carrick, Berbatov, Ronaldo, Anderson, etc for examples 😀

    • Ramzi
      November 12, 2009

      May be he can start as soon as next week against Athletic. They have one of my favorite prospects: Susaeta

      • Boat Forever
        November 12, 2009

        Javi Martinez 😉
        Heard there’s a rule in Spain that if a player starts like 5 games with a club in the league and got transferred to another Spanish club in January he’d not be eligible to play with his new club in the league during the second half of the season!! If that indeed is true then such a dumbass rule that is!! What if Villa(whom you’d like to play for us) is snatched by some EPl club during January!? Since Villa is a high profile player, that is more or less unlikely, but what if Suasaeta is snatched away!?

  44. yogi
    November 12, 2009

    i like zarate and i think he will be better investment then suarez with whom i have not been very impressed till now.

    the financial analysis was awesome though as someone working in bank, i can say that whats reported can vary huge amounts from what is true. it does apprear that barca are in better shape then most of the competitors. the clubs more at risk are easily liverpool and manchester united though if united keep on performing, they should be ok. chelsea do not have a problem as most of their debt is to their own owner.

    • Boat Forever
      November 12, 2009

      I skipped all the financial talk since it’s been such a huge one 😛 But it seems ManUtd are in such huge debts not because the club’s been in losses or anything but it’s because the owners had to borrow money to buy the club. So they didn’t have such a large debt before the current owners took over

  45. Jim
    November 12, 2009

    On Bojan my worry is still the same. Even if he plays really well how does he change the game? I don’t see blinding pace or the ability to beat a man. He could be a nearly man for the next 6 or 7 years but I’m with Kxevin. Pep won’t keep him around beyond the end of this season.

    To me, irreplaceables are Xavi and Iniesta with Messi close behind. Everyone else I can think of a decent replacement. I’m with Ramzi on Ashley Cole. Don’t think he’s worse than Abidal positionally ( both are pretty poor) but technically I think Abidal actually has the edge if only because he doesn’t attempt anything very dangerous. Cole is obviously better going forward.

    Yaya is a difficult one for me. I love him dearly and I value his little give and goes in front of the defense which I think would be hard to replace. i suspect Xavi would hate to lose him as he gives the midfield a bit of muscle. Yet the skills of the defensive mid are not the most precious on the field if only because there are quite a few who can fill that role. This year I’ve found Yaya a little hesitant and I am worried that Pep isn’t sure about him. I don’t think appearances in the CDR can be judged as a vote of confidence. However, it would worry me more if Pep thought Busi was a ready made replacement.

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