News of the day: November 17, 2009


It’s a slow news day. There’s no doubt about that. But here goes with what we know:

-There are 9 first team players back in training along with 4 Barรงa Atletic players. Messi returned today and should be fit and ready to go for the Athletic match on Saturday–whether that’s true about the others who aren’t back from international duty is definitely a big question. I suppose it will depend on how much playing time they get in tomorrow’s friendlies or World Cup qualifiers.

Those present today were: Valdรฉs, Pinto, Bojan, Jeffren, Milito, Pedro, Maxwell, Mรกrquez, and the aforementioned Messi. The four Atletic players were: Marc Bartra, Oriol Romeu, Nolito, and Jonathan dos Santos. Also present but training alone were Keita and Ibra, both of whom apparently did ball work along with their physical recovery training.

-Abidal is still injured enough that he’s not back in training. Word on the intertubes is that he’s going to miss 3 weeks, resulting in us losing our arguably most consistent defender for both the Inter and RM matches coming up next week. That means Maxwell is going to have to step up something ferocious. I believe he can, but we might be a bit shakier on defense, especially if The Yaya isn’t able to make it back for the Athletic match. Our giant Ivorian is capable of playing almost as a third CB in between the true CBs. I don’t particularly trust Busi to do the same

-Tomorrow’s Austria-Spain should feature several of players, but I hope that Captain Puyol is kept out because he was pulled from the Argentina match due to a slight recurrence of the knee problem that has caused him considerable difficulties throughout the season. And that is why friendlies being played like they’re real matches is stupid. Seriously. Screw both del Bosque and Maradona for not using their friggin’ substitution allowance (6) until del Bosque woke up in the 82nd minute and took out Iniesta. Oh yay, Jesus Navas got 8 minutes! Yipee! And Maradona? Oh, he used 4 in total. People on the bench he didn’t use: Pablo Aimar and Sergio Aguero. Why bother calling them up if you’re not going to use them in a friendly? What a jackass.

-Reports indicate that Pedro! could be about to receive a new contract thank to his contributions to the team so far this year (which include being the only person to score in all our competitions so far). If that’s true, I expect that The Yaya will also get a contract renewal and raise or he will be g-o-n-e, especially if the wages being discussed are anywhere near accurate. Pedro! < The Yaya. That’s some serious math for you (math geeks: Pedro factorial? What does that equal? Answer in the comments. I’m going with 86,400).

-I should be able to run a liveblog of the Ukraine-Greece match (12:45pmEST on ESPN2/HD), but it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to do so for the France-Ireland match (3pmEST). Come by tomorrow and check out everything we’ve got going on.

Categorized as Team News

By Isaiah

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


  1. Looks like we gotta go Old-school-offside style, and do a SHOW-YAYA-THE-MONEY! post…

    Are we going to cash in on him? (to city)

    i don’t think it would be worth it. We should just pay him the money he deserves.

    besides, who would we buy with the cash we get? who ever it is… they probably arn’t yaya…

  2. How come that Messi is already back? Argentina actually plays against Nigeria tomorrow… so, was it a nice gesture of Maradona?

  3. Abidal gone is HUGE for two of the more important matches of the season next week. If Maxwell doesn’t step up (which he wont), it’s going to cost us dearly. Hopefully, the Yaya and a tight pair of CBs can close shit up.

    1. Agreed, Spencer, particularly given the trouble that EE can cause on the flanks. I’m very worried about that absence of our left-wing stopper will raise all kinds of hell, particularly given that Maxwell hasn’t been all that inspiring in his presences.

      That we aren’t whole during our two biggest matches of the season to date (and for the foreseeable future) doesn’t fill my heart with song. And regrettably, moving Captain Caveman over there and leaving Alves intact would damage Maxwell’s confidence.

      On the other hand, everyone who has been injured this year has come back early. It would be two weeks and one day for the Clasico, so perhaps Abidal can return early, as well. I’m more comfortable with Maxwell at left back vs Inter, in part because he knows the squad.

    2. @Spencer: saying that you’re worried about Maxwell playing on the left is worrying you is fine, rational even… but saying that he will fail is disrespectful to a member to our squad.

      i’m all for criticizing our players after a bad performance, but i don’t know how i feel about predicting that one of our own will fail.

      @ Kxevin, exactly what i was thinking. We CAN play Puyol on the left, but what messege does that send to Maxwell? Believe me I would rather play Puyol there, but I also don’t want Maxwell to be the next Hleb.

    3. Hmm, interesting. Did the Hleb thing start with us sending him the wrong message, before he spiraled into asshole-ery?

    4. And options we do have.

      to be honest, if Abidal was fit I would have still been tempted to play Puyol on the right over Alves, seeing just how effective Puyol was at shutting down Crynaldo in May.

  4. Well to contribute my share of math geekiness, it’s actually “factorial pedro” not “pedro factorial” ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Not good news re Abidal, lets just hope he is the only one and the rest come back safe and sound! To be honest though I think it is much more important that our attack is on song. Inter are going to park it, we all know it, so it might actually be useful having two attacking fullbacks with Yaya slotting in as a 3rd centreback. If they parked the bus at home infront of their own fans I expect them to try and park a train in front of goal when they come to our backyard.

    As for the EE, well, they will probably be more adventurous and the best of luck to them. I can see them scoring, probably even more than once, but I see us scoring more than them, quite a bit more actually. Their defense has been an absolute shambles at times this season so im not overly concerned as long as our attackers do what they do best.

    Iniesta looked on top form for Spain so I am hoping he is going to be the one to reignite the attack. I also have a feeling, and I hope I dont jinx it, that Messi is going to be back to his best soon. I think even though they lost, that goal he scored will be very good for him. The way he took it was class as well, must have been immense pressure and I cant imagine what it would have done to him if he missed….BUT he didnt ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I think Henry’s form will be important in the Madrid match.

    I would consider only giving him 20-30 vs Inter, and then starting him vs Madrid. The width that He and Messi provided was essential to our victory.

  7. The other thing is that Inter don’t have to win when they face us. They just have to draw, which we sort of wouldn’t be all that disappointed with as well, since a win at Dynamo would send us through.

    But man, having to travel about a million miles, then play a must-win match in some serious-ass winter …. I dunno.

    Besides, I want to see two victories, dammit. Last year I saw a win and a loss. And the fact that Thong Boy will be back means that Operation Boo Until I Faint is back on.

    You could almost see Guardiola, in the absence of Abidal, fronting with Maxwell and Keita alongside The Yaya, for something that looks like:

    The Yaya/Xavi/Keita

    It would kill me to not have Iniesta in the lineup the way he’s playing, but Keita would provide good cover for Maxwell, as would a drifting Puyol, playing fireman. And don’t forget that Van Nistelrooy is also fully fit for them. Hell of a sub, right?

    1. van Nistelrooy, to me, is just a somewhat more suave version of Raul. All he really does is score. Not that that ISN’T a bad thing for us, but I kind of doubt he’ll play any part in the game except in the last ten minutes if it’s deadlocked.

  8. I dont see the abidal deal as much of a problem, seeing as we can play the yaya at the back and puyol at left back, i though, completely agree with kxevin, what would that say to maxwell?


    not that bad, considering puyol can shutdown cr9 and yaya can stop any attack in the middle, with keitee as the powerhouse we have come to know from him.

    1. oh, and maxwell plays in the inter game, just because he knows the players and to get his confidence up a tad.

    2. Fully agree. I don’t think anyone should underestimated the power of putting a player in against a system he knows. I think that will always trump former-club softness in teams of this calibur.

    3. One thing is putting Puyol on the flank, which will kill Maxwell’s confidence.
      But if you Put Yaya at CB, then what are you telling Txigrinski and Marquez?

    4. Marquez isnt going to make the squad for the inter/madrid games, give him and chygrinskiy (i spell it right?) time against bilbao and after the 2 clashes to boost confidence, hell, throw in a little maxwell too ๐Ÿ™‚

    5. I believe it is Chygrynsky in Ukranian, Txigriski is the Catalan-isation of his name.

      I guarantee you that Marquez will be on the squad list for both the Inter and the Madrid game…

    6. That lineup is three people playing out of position, where as if Maxwell starts, we can have none. To me Maxwell surely can’t be that bad to justify 3 out of position starters.

  9. i’m worried about having maxwell and titi on the same wing for the important games we have coming up. last time they played together (was that in preseason?) both players were completely off and they haven’t had time to build an understanding since

    1. Corrine, I cant see any reason why Maxwell will not max well with Henry. I think Maxwell is actually the perfect Full back for Henry as he gives him more opportunities to penetrate into the box while the Brazillian open the flank. And Henry is the best forward to play infront of Maxwell as he can link with him on the flank without closing his path while making the runs from behind.

      Is there any possibility that the poor thing will be given 0.0010021 % of the patience everyone was welling to have toward Ibra till he adabt to his new team? Just saying…

    2. I’m in. If Prof. Sylvinho can produce at ripe old 35, Maxwell should be able to smoke the left wing.

    3. Good comment, Ramzi! I’ve been racking my brain to come up with a “Maxwell will max well”-type pun to come back at you but I just can’t do it…

      I’d like to agree but Corrine has a point. I’m willing to be patient, for sure, but I will keep my doubts. You’re tactical theory makes sense, but I remember that game (I think Kevin had made a comment about how lost Henry looked without Abidal), and I think precedent will always give you a better preview than the theory.

    4. over time this combination will be very valuable but last time they played together i saw titi having problems linking up with maxwell and you could tell he was not used to playing with an overlapping fullback. like i said we haven’t had much time to build their partnership and there’s not a lot of room for experimenting with unfamiliar combinations for the games we have coming up!

  10. I have to say Puyol would be my first choice at LB but only because he is an immense inspiration to us wherever he plays. I don’t have any of the qualms some seem to have about Maxwell at LB either. I didn’t see a lot of the pre season but what I have seen of him he seems to have pretty good technical ability, the ability to get forward quickly and beat a man and i haven’t seen any outrageous errors. At 28 he’s not the long term answer at LB either but lets give him a chance. Does anyone think Inter are going to attack us at Camp Nou? It’s more about not having both fullbacks going up at the same time. If that doesn’t happen we should have enough cover.

    Can’t go into either game without Iniesta.

    1. I say Maxwell. I’m going to come out and say that I didn’t particularly enjoy Puyol at right back in most appearances this season, before I came to this blog to see most everyone raving about him. He’s been okay, but he’s a stop-gap on the flank. The pace that Alves and Maxwell have give us more in that position, and it’s quite visible to me. Besides, we’ve been running Puyol ragged on the wing lately, it feels like every other week, and I’d rather he stay healthy.

  11. We might be in for a very sweet surprise by Guardiola… Milito is playing a friendly today, he could as well start the match against Madrid which is still 2 weeks away ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. I very much doubt that even if he’s fully fit he’ll play in any matches before RM for us and if that’s the case, he won’t even make the squad for the clasico.

  12. Puyol at left back would be very interesting. What would we do with Maxwell though? Talk about no confidence…

    In almost every league, it seems FWDs are payed much more than MIDs and MIDs a little more than DEFs. In Captain Caveman’s case, this may be different (I don’t know). I would not be surprised if even after a Yaya raise he would be making less than Bojan or P!. Wrong, but in the cards, considering both P! and Bojan are youth products and FWDs. I would be surprised if Yaya made less than Pique, Abidal, and even Dani Alves.

  13. Well, my .02 is that we played the Champions League final with The Yaya at centre back, with Puyol arguably out-of-position, without Marquez, Alves, AND Abidal with grey-haired Mr. Nice-Guy Sylvinho at left back, playing against a pretty much full strength Man Utd (-Fletcher).

    And we all know how that turned out. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Anyway, at least now, we are only missing Abidal (and Milito). Granted, we are also, I-don’t-think-so-arguably-, lacking form. However, the boys tend to up their game when playing EE, and Pep knows they know that the Inter game is pretty much must-win. Having experience the Tourmalet last season, I think 2 successive big-games are good for the team in the long run.

    I think the Inter tie will be different this time around. You could argue that Inter weren’t “in-sync” in the 1st leg, but we weren’t either. Plus, Ibra was…how should I put this, not lively, but kinda involved in the early stages of the 1st leg (meaning he had a couple of shots). Now that we know him better and vice versa, I’m thinking (hoping) there’ll be a better showing from him in the 2nd leg. A fully involved and motivated Ibra will hopefully be like the Mallorca-Ibra.

  14. I don’t think we can have a centre-back pair of Pique-Txigrinsky, because together they’re WAY TOO SLOW. It’s not that I don’t think they can play together, but with Eto’o and Thong Boy, playing them together is suicide. I dunno if the Yaya is much faster, but he’ll just stop them with his mind.

    Since my apparent solution is to play Puyol in the centre, I’m thinking that we might actually see Txigrinsky at leftback for one of the games and Maxwell for another (most likely Inter). I’m not really a fan of having Txigrinsky at LB, if memory serves he’s played there before and sucked. But for arguments sake, I’ll put him there.

    1. Er…not sure what to say about Txigi at LB, but I would attest to the argument of Pique and Txigi together being “WAY TOO SLOW” to being indirect proof that Puyol should not be played at fullback on either side for RM or Inter. Yes, we beat Man U when he was on the right, but that was when our midfield was playing out of its (not their) freaking mind. I just don’t see that scenario playing out for these games, our defense is going to get challenged more. A lot more or a little more? I don’t know, but I want the strongest defense possible, which means Puyol in the middle if at all.

  15. I really don’t understand why it is that we don’t trust Maxwell to be our best LB. Seriously. Maybe you don’t trust him as much as you trust Abidal, but less than anyone else in a position he plays as a professional player? Sorry, but that smacks of the ridiculous.

    Maxwell is not as good as Abidal, but he certainly is a better LB than anyone else we have. I actually haven’t been super impressed by him, but I also haven’t been unimpressed. To me he is this year’s Sylvinho. He works hard, is a veteran, and he seems like a nice guy. So yeah, let’s trust him because he is who we have.

    Corrine makes a good point that Maxwell and Henry haven’t played together, so I hope they can play together against Athletic and Inter before the RM match, though it will be a short turnaround for Henry. That isn’t to say, however, that I don’t think they can, but that if you’re going to play some serious opponents, it’s best to be gelled as a unit and we currently aren’t because of early-season injuries and a goddamned stupid WCQ schedule that is goddamned stupid. Did I mention it’s goddamned stupid?

  16. We have to play Maxwell at left back, full stop. We bought him for this precise contingency. He is a pro and a veteran though unlike Isaiah, I don’t give a rat’s ass if he’s a nice guy. He’d better hold down his shit while he’s out there.

    Do I have the same confidence (defensively) in Maxwell that I have in Abidal? No. But some of that is the burden of tenure. It’s good that Maxwell will have the Bilbao match to settle in and get some confidence. The Inter match will be good for him as well, because they build their attacks mostly from the middle, with some strong wing play from time to time. Again, he should be able to work his way in very nicely, and his offensive mindset as regards passing and ball control will be a bonus.

    So let’s wait and see.

    1. I make all these comments and here Isaiah and Kevin put the ki-bosh on the whole discussion in proactive agreement with me as I reach the end of the thread-

    2. “He is a pro and a veteran though unlike Isaiah, I donโ€™t give a ratโ€™s ass if heโ€™s a nice guy.”

      Couldn’t disagree with you more.

      I think a lot of Xavi and Iniesta’s awesomeness is because they are good, humble and nice. Their considerateness makes its way onto their game. Like last game, when Iniesta got played in by Messi and had the goal-keeper dead-to-rights, but calmly flicked it to Pedro! to smack in.

      The counter-example of course is Cristiano Ronaldo… although young, pro and veteran could be applied. But he is an absolute ass-hat. It is exactly because of his attitude that i hate him, and I believe it weakens him as a player.

      He’ll dribble to much. He’ll take a speculative shot instead of going for a good pass. He won’t track back. When the going gets tough, the arm-flailing gets going.

      Also, I think if it wasn’t for Sylvinho’s personality, he woulda been offloaded a long time ago, instead of being able to see out his contract.

      I see where you’re coming from, but I think it ends up making a world of difference.

    3. But you’re confusing nice with unselfish. You can have a brilliant playmaker who makrs all around him better, but off the pitch is a full-on bastard.

      I don’t know if Maxwell (or Sylvinho, for that matter) kicks kittens and pisses on car door handles, and I don’t care. He has to do his job.

      We often ascribe qualities to players, when we don’t have any knowledge of said qualities. Maybe Thong Boy is the nicest guy in the world off the pitch. Who knows? A player has to handle his business. Illegal behavior, a la Michael Vick, is one thing. But I hesitate to call anyone “nice” when I don’t know them.

      What kept Papa Sylvinho around was that he did a very good job as a substitute left back. He still had a season or two in his legs. But he couldn’t make it happen at our level any lomger, so off he went, nice guy or no.

    1. If he is that good, he wouldn’t want to play second fiddle to Abidal.

      Classic Dilema transfer dilema for Barcelona.

      A player is either
      a) Too good – won’t want to play second string.
      b) not good enough to cover the first stringer.

      its the same reason buying Fabregas seems odd.

  17. I think we are judging people too fast. “Maxwell played one match with Henry, and Henry was lost” ==> Maxwell sucks and cant play with Henry. Neither the first statement is accurate, nor the conclusion is valid. Sorry.

    I have seen Henry more in the “lost” Panel than in the “found” panel so far through out most of his games this season. He hadnโ€™t been himself so far, neither with Abidal, nor with Maxwell. Probably we need to change them both?

    I think there is a tendency in Barcelona to whip the skinny ones because its more secure than wrestling the ones with more muscles/big names.

    If deleted the text file where I save players names and photos in my brain, and evaluated the players again, made ratings (SPI:D), recovered that text file and was shocked that in my evaluation, Maxwell was more reliable both defense wise and offense wise than Alves this season. I got a panic attack, and formatted my brain once and for all!

  18. Many, dare I say most, of the errors we have seen from Maxwell have come from being a stranger in town. You don’t know how x or y player moves, so you aren’t quite sure where to put the ball for him, etc. It takes time to work into a system, particularly one stocked with many of the best players in the world at their positions.

    My fundamental issue with Maxwell at present is that he has the Serie A tendency to just knock the ball out however he can. That often means, because of how deep Liga sides get on the attack, that he concedes needless corners. But EE and Inter aren’t like Premiership sides on set pieces, so that tendency won’t be as potentially damaging.

    But we’ve never seen Maxwell as The Man, where he practices and works with the first team. We’ll see some of that evidence against Bilbao, and he should benefit even more against Inter. And don’t forget that with Maxwell as its left back, Inter wasn’t exactly a defensive sieve, right?

  19. I don’t think that the issue is whether Maxwell sucks or not but the way we have been playing lately, it has always been more or less 3 in the back with one offensive wingback, basically a 3-2-2-3. So if we play Maxwell, we have to keep one of Puyol or Marquez/Txigrinski out, which in case of Marquez/Txigrinski would hurt our opening and in the case of Puyol would make us worse in duels. The way Madrid have been playing lately, Ronaldo would play as a second forward in place of either Higuain(more likely) or Benzema. Maxwell can’t really play with Henry because both play rather offensive, although if Sylvinho was capable of tucking in, then Maxwell should be that too.
    So although we have a short squad, Pep will have his problems in picking the right team for El Clasico. I guess that to a degree it will depend on whether Arbeloa plays leftback or rightback. If he plays rightback, it makes no sense to play Henry there but then we could play Maxwell,Iniesta,Keite. If Ramos plays rightback, I guess he will go for Henry and Iniesta and Puyol as a leftback. If Diarra plays rightback, it gets even more interesting.

  20. This is a good news day. Milito is back, and The Yaya says he isn’t going anywhere unless we sell him, or he ceases to be a regular.

  21. Does anyone know how alcantara’s injury is progressing?

    On a separate note, it’s good to hear that valencia may be finally willing to sell. 100 bucks says tomorrow’s headline would read “Silva agrees personal terms with Barca as the trail for Robinho grows cold” ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Probably because we have Henry & Iniesta hitting their form again!? ๐Ÿ˜€ May be we should have tried that when Henry was injured & had little confidence in Pedro. Playing Iniesta in wings only delayed him getting back his form imo

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