Ukraine-Greece liveblog

It’s international break and I’ll be watching the Ukraine-Greece match on ESPN2, which means a liveblog for you. You’re such a lucky fool. Check below the liveblog for some Barça-related news.

Gaby Milito played 45 minutes in a friendly against Bolivian team with the world’s most original name: Bolivar. This was his first match for FCB in 569 days, which is a very long time. Welcome back, Gaby!

The entire starting lineup was Pinto, Maxwell, Milito, Márquez, Bojan, Pedro, Jeffren, Ilie, Armando, Oriol Romeu, Palau. The last 2 in that list are from the Juvenile section of the club and the two prior to that (Ilie and Armando) are from Barça Atlètic. The match ended 4-1 with goals from Márquez and substitutes Gio and Benja (2), both of whom are from the Juvenile section.

Valdes wants to face off against Crynaldo in the Clásico because he wants to beat the best. It’s always good to hear that sort of thing from a player, even if it’s a bit forced. Like I’ve said before, RM are going to have to bring it and bring it something nasty in order to beat us, no matter the injuries/absences on either side. This is the real deal and it’s a week and a half away.

-Samuel Eto’o is on his way back to the Camp Nou next Tuesday and he says he’s prepared despite having received a slight injury on international duty. He played in Cameroon’s last match (and scored) so I’m sure he’ll be there in Barcelona come that most absurd of nights, where I hate on Samu and wish him nothing but the worst luck.

La Roja returns to the scene of their Euro2008 victory when they play a friendly against Austria this afternoon. Let’s hope that our boys get some rest, what with the Athletic match coming so soon afterward.

By Isaiah

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


  1. Wow. I assume all of you were just as outraged with our “Hand of Messi” goal


    I will also claim the powers of getting inside Messi’s head and all-knowingly judge intention. I will therefore always think of MEssi as a cheat (not).

    I’m surprised at the kind of language and name calling that has been allowed to slide on this blog

    1. i agree 100% i always found this blog refreshing because our regulars were respectful and intelligent, unlike most football fans on the web. some of the terms directed at our OWN PLAYER have just been unacceptable! i still love you peeps but please cool it a bit, we’re too good for that 🙂

    2. It is weird that this match has plumbed the depths of this blog’s psyche. Let’s, indeed, tone it down, shall we?

      Ciaran, I feel for you and your boys and was very much on their side in terms of cheering for them, but unfortunately it didn’t go their way. But that doesn’t make the French players bad people. It makes them people who want to win.

      I’ll post about this tomorrow because it strikes me as an important question.

    3. im not in his shoes so i dont know what he feels. but if his passion for Ireland is like it is for Barca(probably more) then i dont mind his comments.
      especially when they were written minutes or seconds after the incident

  2. Crikey, this is still going on? This is what Irish side player Kevin Doyle had to say after the match:

    “It is just instinctive on his behalf, but it is that obvious that I’m sure he expected the free-kick straight away,” the Wolverhampton Wanderers forward stated.

    “I don’t blame him as much as how it’s not seen to be honest.”

    In other words “Hey, in war, you do what you can to win.” Would he have done the same thing? You bet. People are screaming to high heaven about this “cheating,” but is a hand ball any worse than fouling, shirt tugging or all the other stuff that players do to get an advantage?

    Players make plays, illegal or otherwise, and the ref officiates the match. When you watch it in real time, it just isn’t all that detectable. In slow-motion, you can see it, but I still don’t see the intent that people claim. But the existence of intent depends upon your view of the situation. Les Bleus supporters will say that it wasn’t deliberate, Ireland supporters will say that Henry is a cheat.

    Barca fans who are also Ireland fans, and use rather unsociable terms to describe France players should remember how Barca was attacked by Chelsea fans, and labeled “cheats,” and other rather unfortunate terms. Yes, national fervor is high, and it should be. But lighten up. And yes, I would be saying the same thing if the positions were reversed, and Duff or somebody had a similar play to Henry.

    1. I have all respect to players such as him. Very much the same respect I had for Terry and Lampard when we beat them in Stamford Bridge while they came to the dressing room to congratulate us.

  3. Ok Benzema hasnt been in the best form for Real Madrid, but surely he’d have done a little more than Gignac.Not even bringing him in the extra time ?

  4. worst part about France going through isn’t Henry’s handball, but that it means Domenech, like Maradona, has squeaked through to qualify and now probably won’t be replaced before the summer.

  5. I don’t think Henry was as deliberately as it seemed when he did his deed now. 1) He was completely affected by 2 Irish players who were running at him and jumping. 2) He only saw his chance of touching the ball after the ball bounced up. 3) He attempted to control it by keeping his posture upright( trying to chest it or tummy it maybe?) but then the ball bounced up too high for that and thats when he knew his is not gonna either chest the ball or touch the ball with his abs. So he reacted with a handball. … . .. . . .. . .
    thats how i see it after replaying for 1899 times.

  6. I personally do not fault Henry as much. Just the officials. And even for them, i can buy the argument that they were not capable to catch the fault in real time. In that case, i just think it is pity that some very important moments are decided incorrectly. Do i think there is easy solution? I do not think so. The only solution i can think of is to have a real time referee watching the match on tv and helping the man on middle to make decisions. This also means that officials will use their head phones to be in contact with extra official pretty much all the time. This will not eliminate all the current problems but i feel pretty sure that this will reduce them drastically and having a real time ref will avoid the time delay that a video ref can result in.

  7. DAMN! All this drama about a handball?! For a non-Spain affiliated match?! But RUSSIA was ELIMINATED today! I can’t believe that. They dominated their qualifying group with the exception of no luck versus Germany and then they lose to Slovenia? WOW. Looks like Hiddink will have some thoughts about what could have been at Chelsea now…

  8. OMG! Coming back to Barca, EMD reports that Ibra is in doubt for the clashes against Inter and Real Madrid!!! meanwhile says that Puyol won’t play against Bilbao.

  9. I think in such cases the worst thing someone can accept to do, is to live in a moment of denial. Just try his/her best not to comment on it as if it didn’t happen. But for some people not only to defend it, but even praise it in a way or another, that’s unbelievable shocking.

    “He did it because he wanted to go to the world cup.” 60 % of those who attack banks killing people and rubbing money do it because they have children to feed or parents to treat. Or so they claim. What’s wrong is wrong. No buts..well…because… Its wrong. The same as claiming that it’s the referee job to prevent it. As if the bank hackers are not considered thieves anymore if the cops didn’t catch them. What is this?!

    I watched the game. There was one team of men. They wanted to go to the world cup. They really wanted that badly. It’s obvious that they trained like hell and prepared during the night and light to fulfill this dream. Thousands of their supporters followed them all the way to France, and millions were praying for them in their home country. They didn’t save any breath for the following day while chasing each and every ball as if they won’t live another day. They proved why that SPI (or whatever it is) is a dumb methodology for considering players as robots with measurable parameters and not men of passion and pride that can overcome any lack in quality or experience. They played against a lifeless team that lack fighting spirit. Players who wanted to qualify to world cup without really putting their hearts for it. They want to get rich without working for it. The only way possible was to steal, and so they did.
    Ronaldo is pathetic because he dive for a foul. Henry is a winner because he cheats to get into the world cup. How ironic! The most shameful part is not that he did it. But the fact that he was so proud of it. Celebrating like he never did before. It would have been less disgraceful if he at least claimed that while he passed the ball to Gallas, he stretched his leg and that he feel some pain. Fall down, where the cams can’t hunt him.
    Will I do it if I was in his place? Believe it or not, it will cross my mind but I will hesitate in the last moment. Then I may regret for the rest of my life for NOT doing it. Its there where you show what you are made of, not in an interview. This is not a moment Henry will be proud of. Nor anyone who defend it, or try to find a less shameful explanation for it. Because they make it sound much worse.
    Does it mean that we have to hang the guy? No, we have to forgive him. We have no other choice as We all do mistakes in a moment of weakness.

    1. Completely agree with you Ramzi. I’m appalled at some of the justifications given here.

      So you are justified in doing whatever you want to do to win as long as the ref doesn’t catch it? The whole concept of fair play in sports goes right out the window then, doesn’t it? And Weligton was justified in doing what he did? Is that what we really want to see in football (or any other sport for that matter)?

      And Isiah, everybody is as much a cheat as Henry? Really? I’m reasonably sure not everybody would’ve done what Henry did in his place, as you claim. Or almost every major game in every major sport would’ve had such incident’s wouldn’t they?

    2. thank you Ramzi, you made my day.

      and i would expect we cules, who will die for the style than for the silver, must never side with such dirty tacts.

      what is done is well in the past, but i least expected a justification for it, in *this* forum.

      henry may be ours, but he is not *us*. atleast after last nite.

      and please stop references to the chelsea match, because there is a world of difference between that and this.

      peace please.

  10. Henry’s like our child. We still love him, because he is ours, but we are disappointed in him.

    I think most of my obscenities were reserved for the Referee.

    Henry handling the ball is cheating as much as shirt tugging and stiff-arming is cheating. What he did is wrong. When Defenders make “professional fouls” They know they are committing an infraction, but they are choosing to live with the consequences. Obviously Henry knew what he was doing, and knew the consequences of him being called on it. But at that point it is the Referee’s job to call him on it.

    This isn’t a huge deal because Henry committed a handball, this is a big deal because it wasn’t called.

    My heart goes out to all Irish fans.

    btw, my job is a soccer referee. It is the worst job in the world. He coulda have made 99% of the calls perfectly in that match, but he will only be remembered for that failed call.

    1. Jason, I think we can’t blame the ref for this one. That was an impossible call. Fast, covered and well executed.
      In any way, I won’t judge the cops before the thieves. Henry is our child, but he is solely responsible of this one, without casting any doubts on it.

    2. I don’t know…

      This issue is very much in a grey area…

      I WONT say that “I wouldn’t do what Henry did”, because I’m not nor will I ever be in that situation (at least not at that level and with those consequences), but i would say that “i’d like to think i wouldn’t do it”

      I can kinda see every camp’s point.

      Ramzi you are arguing that he intentionally cheated. He used an advantage not afforded to the other players. This is no different that using steroids (doping). I can see the logic there.

      Isaiah is arguing that we all would have done it, so – how does it go? – let he who has not sined throw the first stone. And i can see the logic there too. From Maradona, Messi, Henry (again), Crouch*, Ronaldo, I suppose i could see anyone in the situation be overcome with natural instinct and do what it takes to survive right then and there, instead of being civil.

      I believe Kxevin’s last argument was that all he did was commit an infraction. Just like everyone else. And the ref didn’t call it. Such is life. And i can see that too. Most defenders grab jerseys and tug when defending a corner. Why? because referees allow it. They will never call it. But it still is a foul, so they are cheating. Kxevin’s point seems to be that the players will do as much to win as they are allowed to by the ref. And i can see his point.

      I’m not saying any of the three are wrong or right, but I completely see where you all are coming from. I personally don’t quite know where I stand, but know that I was furious when it happened, and not happy with Henry or the Ref when it happened.

      And I will openly admit that my feelings toward this would probably be different if the teams and players involved were different.

      If Henry does this for us against Real Madrid, i would probably find some bull-shit way to justify it.

      If a Madrid players does this to us, I scream bloody murder and raise the conspiracy flag.

      as a fan of soccer i am not unbiased. so who knows…

    3. “Ramzi you are arguing that he intentionally cheated. He used an advantage not afforded to the other players.”

      If you had no chance to cheat, then you have no credit for not doing so. Whenever someone cheat, it’s because he is taking advantage of something here or there. Someone who cheats his wife with a model is a cheater. Though he is taking advantage of something that may not be afforded to all men. Same with corruption, and anything related to life.

      “I WONT say that “I wouldn’t do what Henry did”, because I’m not nor will I ever be in that situation (at least not at that level and with those consequences)”

      I respect your honesty. But I can say I WONT do it. We all pass in our lives in situations that are relatively as crucial for us as being in a world cup for a player with all the achievements Henry had already. Actually, he didn’t even need it this way. So we probably pass in a situation that demands more from you to keep your pride than what he had to deal with last night. But in any way, you may never know what you will do if you had a chance to steal a million dollar, burn a forest for fun, or become the president of a rich country through a bloody revolution that kill lot of innocents. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t take a position.

      “Isaiah is arguing that we all would have done it, so – how does it go? – let he who has not sined throw the first stone.
      Admitting that it’s a sin is a good start. But I can tell you there are thousands of players who had the chance to do the same but they didn’t. Do you think the papers one day will write “Jason had the chance to cheat but he didn’t?” It’s not going to happen as people only notice bad things. Who congratulated you today for not stealing? Raping? Cheating? Lying? Etc… But when you do any of that once, they jump on you. That’s how it goes.

      Kxevin’s point seems to be that the players will do as much to win as they are allowed to by the ref. And i can see his point.

      So diving, doping and all kind of cheating are ok in football. If the players got busted then they get punished. If not then good for them. Talking about Kxevin, he knows how dirty bicycling competitions became because of this mentality. So I can’t understand his point at all as he should know more. I think his heart took him a bit further than his mind would have accepted. But its France after all, and its Henry.

      And I will openly admit that my feelings toward this would probably be different if the teams and players involved were different..

      That’s probably one of the reasons why my children may hate me 😀 I am a bit boring and cold when it come to emotionally protecting what’s not right.
      At least, so Irish know that people admit it was not fair. And not that they failed to understand the reality of the game.

    4. “…if you had a chance to steal a million dollar, burn a forest for fun, or become the president of a rich country through a bloody revolution that kill lot of innocents.”

      😀 😀 😀

  11. Whoaaa ho ho, so much stuff on that Handball? I know it was crazy but come on. The ball pretty much came on Henry’s hand, then bounced, then Henry just sort of um deflected it’s motion in which he hardly had the time to think about the consequences. I’m pretty sure he was expecting a call but it didn’t happen. Well too bad, that football.
    And France aren’t proud about it, I don’t know how much stuff you guys got to see but here in Geneva you get loads of French Television stuff and on the channel we were watching, there was Arsene Wenger commenting along with the commentator the whole match (not the 1st time it’s happening). Anyway, they interviewed Domenech about the dressing room spirit and he said that they we’re almost disappointed cause they really wanted to win the match and prove themselves worthy of going to the WC.
    I’m not a France fan, I laughed at them being beaten 3-0 against Austria and their shameful streak of losses but after seeing them play almost every qualification match I think they deserve a place in the WC. I don’t think they deserved to beat Ireland though if that makes sense (which it probably doesn’t duh).

    1. Oh and I don’t blamed that referee for not calling that. That one was real tough, heck it took a few slow-motions to properly see what happened! I hope everyone agree that there should be refs watching the penalty area now..

      And I agree with those who say it: I would have done that Handball too. Though I wouldn’t have celebrated like that. Like others I’m a bit sad that Henry did that and that they won that way….but like some who said before THIS MAKES HENRY A REAL LEGEND 😀

  12. Here’s an interesting idea:


    And here’s a good article:


    And Lloris was easy MOTM. He’s also in world’s top 5 goalies at the moment. That crazy kamikaze run to deflected the ball of Kean’s feet nearly injured his head ala Cech. Unbeatable in the air, has courage and when he makes a decision he doesn’t turn back on it (*cough valdes cough*).

    1. A limited video challenge is used in American Football as well. For much of the 80s and 90s American football extensively used video replay for referee decisions but it was found that unlimited use slowed the game. They eventually moved to limited challenges (I think they can use one or two and that it costs them a time out if the original ruling stands — or something like that).

      So there are at least two sports that we could look to if FIFA tried to design their own limited video challenge process. I prefer the extra officials at the goal, but a limited video challenge is not a bad idea either.

    1. Nah, just want to make sure if he is one of my players so I behave. Or may be tell him that he can use his hand if he decides to use it without intention 😉

  13. I haven’t been able to go back and read all of the comments, so I don’t know if anyone’s heard Henry’s post-game interview: “The Barcelona striker insisted, however, that the handball had not been intentional and even claimed to have told the referee about his breach of the rules. “He said to me the same: ‘You are not the ref’,” he told reporters.” (From TimesOnline)

    I say the same things I always say in these situations. There have always been horrible game-changing calls. The questions remains, especially in a situation where the player was not trying to influence the ref to his advantage, whether the rules should be changed to change the refs powers. I have very mixed feelings about it because each suggestion has such a domino effect that the whole game changes.

    The one thing that seems like too much of a coincidence are the shady draws and late introduction of seeding. (Not W.C. related, but who has stopped laughing yet about Barca and Inter and Real Madrid and Milan “drawing” each other from the little Champion’s League fish bowls?).

  14. I think in a situation like that, i would’ve done it… intentionally.
    Because, simple as this…

    You are the captain of your National Team, you are “this close” of being eliminated from the World Cup (greatest competition in football) and you are playing extra time! Plus! your COACH is soooooo bad that you HAVE TO DO WHATEVER YOU CAN to make a miracle happen (tie or win the game).
    In part i’d blame Domenech for some actions because he is not fully in control of his players and he lacks the inspiration that other coaches might transmit. When your “boss” looks clueless and doesnt know wtf he is doing, it is up to you to “take it for the team.”

    Shameful? yes. But look at Zidane, he retired from football with a red card in the finals of a WC and still he is considered one of the greatest and Maradona is considered a GOD in football.

    If I were PEP Guardiola, i would congratulate him for qualifying but whisper “DONT YOU EVER PULL THAT KIND OF SHIT IN MY TEAM.”

  15. I’ll just quote our beloved RayRay (commenting on Messi’s hand-o’-god):

    “If you’re not cheatin’, you don’t want it enough!”

    There are worse things in this world going on than a cashmere-clad, Gillette-aftershaven euromillon-earning flying Frenchman touching a ball with his manicured hand.

    Chill ma babies.

  16. Im a Barca fan but Henry is a Cheat pure and simple. Spent most of the year out injured to comeback to so this???wtf Its a pathetic act like Roanldhino when he dived against Madrid in his last classico in order to win a penalty.After Barca he be joining LA Lakers not LA Galaxy. ps Fifa are a shower of plonkers.

  17. Jesus guys, are we still on this hand ball thing. ITs not the first time its happened and it wont be the last, its just part of football, deal with it. Sometimes refs see them, sometimes they dont. ITs part of what makes football so exciting and so different to other sports. Anything can happen and the better team can lose as a result of something that isnt particularly fair or just, but hey, thats the game.

    Calling Henry a “cheat” is stupid. Any other player in the world, in the same position would do exactly the same thing. If you think for a second that the roles were reversed and it was an Irish player he would have done anything different? No chance. Its the same as diving or making reckless fouls. Players will always try and get away with something on the off chance that the ref/linesman makes the wrong call in their favour. ITs human nature that refs make mistakes and its human nature that players try to take advantage of those mistakes. If it bothers you that much i would suggest watching another sport cos it aint changing anytime soon.

    1. My biggest issue with many comments here is how they claim intention. His hand barely moves from its original position before the ball bounces. I’m not saying there definitely wasn’t any intention, but how are the witch hunters so sure? If anything I’d only guess there wasn’t much

      Did Messi have any intention with the hand of messi goal? His hand went up to slap the ball in ahead of his head directly into a goal. Are the same people here willing to call him a “cheat”?

      Many people posting are acting as if they’ve never played football. None of you committed a handball? When it happens to me I really don’t see it coming. My reflexes betray me and my hand moves towards the ball, and I’m not happy with it afterwards(I doubt there was much hand to ball in Henry’s case however). You’re sometimes giving everything you have to work towards winning, and the line between what you can and can’t give gets blurred in the moment. It’s most often not a conscious decision in a few hundred milliseconds. While fighting for an air ball, 2 or 3 times I found myself digging my elbow into an opponents spine. Again, I’m a little dissapointed I allowed it to happen because I hate that kind of play, bu I can’t guarantee it won’t happen as I’m oxygen deprived and my sights and my being is laser-focused on that ball in the air. I can only only imagine what playing at a pro-level would do to my split-second judgement with the amplified burden of what’s at stake.

      Everytime somebody commits a yellow-card worthy foul, they are breaking the rules, and they were trying to gain an advantage. Mind you, I did not yet claim they intended to hurt the player. They know you can attack the ball but not the player, yet they end up hacking down the player very frequently. What are they thinking? They’re not really thinking most of the time. They allow themselves a certain degree of physical aggressivness, which they know will very often lead to a breach of the rules (hitting the player), but they say so be it, the referee will stop me, or he will misjudge it and I will have stopped the player. By the flimsy definition here, all frequent yellow card earners (mascherano and the like) are cheats, they just got caught for it.

      The only thing I fault Henry for is the celebration afterwards. Then again so did Messi with our goal, it bothered me a little at the time as it did yesterday. But again, how many of you want to call Messi a cheat as well?

  18. Ramzi, please do not compare a hand ball to Murder or Rape. I agree with you on the principle that it’s wrong and should not be justified, but to compare to murder, rape, deforestation, mass killings and such is just too far fetched. A hand ball is in a whole other realm because it’s just too trivial. Because it’s not just about if it’s wrong or not it’s about why it’s wrong.

    1. Yes but Justifying Murder and Justifying a handball are seperate and disticnt things because of what they involve. It’s not as simple as a saying Justifying is Justifying just like cheating on a spouse is not the same as cheating on a test. But I agree with about the principle of trying to justify something that is not justyfiable.

  19. Yes but the difference is that the likes of Henry came out to winge after Barca beat Arsenal in 2005 saying there was injustice and eto was offside. He often takes the high moral ground on racism in football and rightly so, but wheres his morality here. And Im not going to be some hypocrite who calls arjen robben, drogba or ronaldo a cheat when one barca player does the same. If you dont like the label cheater thats fine but its an act of cheating.end of story. If anyone thinks I feel too strongly that grand but maybe just maybe you won’t be so pc if it happens to your country.And Messi’s hand of god was cheating and thats what no action on maradonas goal led to- imitation.Stamp it out!! Messi and Henry are both extraordinary players and can score brilliant goals-its just sad he must resort to this.PS you brought messi up, not me.

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