Barça 2 – 0 Inter Milan: The Twin Hounds of Hell

Adios PupiYou know better, but you stare anyway, unable to resist. Your breath is ragged, your legs jelly beneath you, the bitter taste of acid in your mouth, your sweat suddenly cold even as you know you’re overheating. It’s hard to imagine a worse fate that watching your enemy take pleasure in your miserable end, but here you are, riveted, unable to run, unable to scream for help.

You are the hunted, they are the hunters–it’s like the footballing equivalent of “The Most Dangerous Game“. That, to me, is what it must have been like to be an Inter midfielder during yesterday’s match, awed by the sheer skills and silkiness of our midfield panthers assassins, Andres Iniesta and Xavi. Despite our lineup being a 4-3-3 by design, we played almost a 4-4-2 that allowed Iniesta free reign through the middle, playing that sunken striker role that we’ve seen Messi working on for the last few weeks.

Sometimes you feel like a fool because you deployed a meaningless set of midfielders in a tactical formation that would hardly give (cough Mourinho cough) and sometimes you fail to realize how good the entire squad of your favorite team is and guess they’re going to draw 1-1 in a crucial match at home (cough er, no one! who would do such a thing? cough). Without Ibra, Messi, and The Yaya, what chance did we have against a side feature the likes of…wait, who do they have again? Because I can’t remember a single one of their players making any sort of a contribution, unless you count kicking the legs of blaugrana-clad players a contribution. In which case Lucio, Chivu, and Thiago Motta all played. And Diego Milito almost lost his life by bumping Puyol. Does he not know that he can kill people with his hair via judo-esque moves? It’s true!

Okay, so Inter had 11 players on the field, but only one made a truly positive contribution: Julio Cesar. Because of him, they didn’t lose four or five to zero. They had no shots on goal worth the name and so little effective possession that I’m surprised we even bothered putting Valdes back onto the field for the second half. Technically they had 34% of possession, but how much of that was in our half? A tenth?

Let’s cover this first, though: did Inter simply not show up to play or did we truly outplay them? Some commenters have posted that they feel others are disparaging Barça’s performance in a way that makes it sound like Inter is some podunk team from, er, let’s say the Europa League. Which would mean they’re from, say–and let’s just pick a city completely at random that could possibly have such a team–Liverpool. Oh, but wait, didn’t Liverpool fail to qualify behind Fiorentina? Who, as luck would have it (remember, this was a completely random selection), are, in their domestic league, eleven points behind, hmm, who is that I see at the top of the Serie A leaderboard? Football Club Internazionale Milano? Can’t be. They’re not good enough! They don’t show up for matches!

What I do think happened was what the British press appears to think impossible: Mourinho was tactically bamboozled. No Messi? No Ibra? Ha! We’ll show those Catalan fools how to play some real football now! We’ll put some midfield players here, a defender there, and–wait, where are you going, Don Andres? No, you’re supposed to be on the right wing! No, no, no, you’re in the middle now! What are you…but that’s a supporting role…hey now…

And then kapow we scored from, and get this cause it’s pretty funny, a set piece! We’re the team that gushes around the middle of the field in fancy spirals and curlicues, but certainly we don’t know how to score from set pieces like a proper team! A near post cross from a corner meets Thierry Henry’s head and is flicked on to the back post where, despite Thiago Motta’s best efforts to remove his shirt, Gerard Pique–Gerard Pique–side footed home.

Albert Gea/Reuters
Albert Gea/Reuters

I was pretty much sufficiently recovered from that goal, getting into the groove of us dominating the proceedings, and then: magic. Not like Harry Potter wave-a-wand magic, but more like straight up fairy dust on your feet superhero magic. Cal Naughton, Jr.-style magic man shit: now you see him, now you don’t. The ball was won back by Abidal, who passes to Pedro!, who passes to Busi in the center circle, who passes to Keita in the center circle, who one touches it back to Busi, who, in turn, one-touches it to Xavi, also in the center circle, who turns, passes to Keita, who one-touches the ball to Busi. From the center circle, Busi passes along the ground to Iniesta, who is wide open in the middle of their half, as he turns he as Xavi directly level with him on his left and Alves making a bombing run down the right hand side, only a couple of steps behind him. Iniesta squares for Xavi when he runs into two defenders and Xavi one touches it diagonally through the defense to the wide-open Alves, who runs onto the ball and one-touch lobs the ball over the defense to the left side where Pedro! is rushing in unmarked because Henry has made a central run to distract Maicon and Walter Samuel while Xavi has continued on after making his pass, distracting everyone else in the box. Pedro side-foots the ball into the ground and it hops into the net. All of that took place in just 25 seconds, from 24:45 until 25:10 when the ball bounced into the net. Of course, don’t let me point out how awesome it is to have Pedro! continuing his absurd scoring run: let this do it!

So look, I don’t care who you are, yesterday we would have killed any team in Europe. Period. Their strikers had no service and were reduced to playing 40 yards from goal versus multiple defenders. The ineffectiveness of Mourinho’s tactics is hard to overstate, but it should suffice to say that they were played off the park, thanks in part to Barça’s talent and in part Guardiola’s tactical genius. They started on the park, of course, but it was very quickly clear that they did not have the quality to stay with us last night.

Ratings (I start at 5 and work my way up or down–making this a different ranking system than Kevin’s):

Team: 9 – We smoked ’em. I mean, seriously, that was some brilliant ball. A clean sheet and making an Italian title-contender look like they were a Segunda B team? (Oh, sorry, RM, didn’t see you there) I’ll take that any day. Now we’re in first place 2 points clear of Inter and Rubin Kazan and 3 points ahead of our next opponents, Dynamo Kiev. There’s still work to do, folks, but it’s a lot easier now.

Guardiola: 7 – Yes, he was a tactical genius, but I will not accept such late substitutions as the smart thing to do. Sorry. Don’t care about any justification of it, because it’s stupid. So there you have it. Sub earlier, period. If you don’t trust your bench, get a different bench.

Valdes: 3 – With no actual keeping to be done, he simply failed at controlling that little spherical thing at his feet and almost gave up a couple of goals because of it.

Alves: 8 – Fantastic wing play all night and solid-to-great crosses as well as, you know, defending. You see him rip the ball off Eto’o and then juke him almost out of his shorts? Sick.

Pique: 9 – Our goal-scoring forward was at it again tonight–wait, he’s a defender!? Holy balls.

Puyol: 7 – Solid as usual on defense, but gave up a silly yellow, but at least he didn’t kill Milito for his schoolkid style chest-to-back bump. Get that shit the hell out of here, Diego, you’re only going to get your team beat 2-0 for stuff like that. Also, bad tackle by El Capitan.

Abidal: 10 -For real? I don’t give out 10s very often, but sonofanut that was a great defensive game. Maicon who? I’ll take a dose of that “I just tore my leg muscle and got The Swine” if that’s how you play coming off of it.

Busi: 9 – one point off for diving like a little chump too often, but this was probably his best match in the blaugrana. He was everywhere, with those coltish legs flicking out and winning tackles all over the place. Nice to see him getting over his early season jitters, but does anyone else think that he’s only good in huge matches? What’s the deal with that?

Keita: 8 – Ah the enigma. How do you rate a guy you never noticed because he was too busy locking down an entire city? If you tried to rob someone in Barcelona last night I’m sure Keita kicked you to the ground before you got away with even a euro cent. Dude is good, but dammit, he’s hard to rate. So he gets an 8, I guess.

Xaviniesta: 10 – The Twin Hounds of Hell of the title are, simply put, ferocious beyond comprehension. You do not comprehend the ferocity. You also do not get to touch the ball. Remember that mental tether that they had going on last year during our most glorious runs of form, where they moved in tandem, as if they were part of the greatest foosball table ever? Well that was back on display and it made Dali look like a talentless-hack the way they made art.

Pedro!: 8 – Pedro is so good I cannot stop thinking about how good Pedro is and how happy I am that I put an exclamation point after his name. A star in the making? How about a star in the made. And no, I didn’t forget a question mark.

Henry: 7 – It’s hard to give a bad rating to a player on such an awesome night, but it seemed that Henry was disjointed, as if he didn’t have his touch. He was making the right runs and he was making the right moves, but he never effectively controlled the ball and never did anything dangerous, really. He effectively created the space for Pedro’s goal with his diagonal run, but wasn’t really effective, per se. He’ll be effective against RM, though, I know it.

Bojan (for Pedro!, 85′): incomplete – yeah, uh, great, 5 minutes. Whoopee. Do you think Bojan hates Pedro! for stealing his minutes or does he think about how good he was in his first season and then how little he’s played since? Let’s hope it’s neither and that he’s merely developing well in practice.

Maxwell (for Abidal, 89′): incomplete – sorry I ever doubted your ability to lock down the left side of defense. You had that shit on lock!

JDS (for Iniesta 93′): 10 – Brilliant control, brilliant movement, and great defense. What a superb all-around game from the youngster, Cultural never had a chance! What are you looking at me like that for?

And one parting look at the Legend That Is Samu. You were pure class before and after the match and I wish you the best of luck from here on out. Thank you for your years of service to the club, you deserve our love. I too hope that we meet you in the Bernabeu in May.

Etoo and the club

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Written by:

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


    • skyislm
      November 25, 2009

      now i will go and read the article.

      • mike in africa
        November 25, 2009

        am i the 44th? 🙂
        i have already read the article.

  1. Boat Forever
    November 25, 2009

    Isaiah sure can see the future… Spot on rating for JDS 😀

  2. y2k156
    November 25, 2009

    Great review. Loved it and agree with pretty much all the rating. I hope this is start of another nice run ala last year in Nov – Dec.

  3. Diane
    November 25, 2009

    Nice refreshing of fantastic images from a great blaugrana night. The metronome is restored and we looked like a breathtaking ballet again (well, the parts where duels are fought and dragons are slayed anyway). That thought always pops into my mind when the Camp Nou crowd claps for each good touch.

    I loved the 25 second play-by-play of the second goal. I watched the FSC replay after work and one of the announcers said something about how great it would be to count every touch that lead up to it, but that that would have to wait for the post game recap — which I don’t think FSC has, so if you know who announced the game for FSC, they might enjoy a link to the post!

  4. Blow-Granite
    November 25, 2009

    Hey Isaiah, you should do more ratings man. This is awesome.

  5. Soto
    November 25, 2009

    I unfortunately started watching the game late. So for the first few minutes I struggled to figure out our line-up. No Messi. No Ibrahimovic. Okay. So whos’ on the left? Henry? No. It looks like Iniesta. Uh, but now it looks like Pedro. Hey! How did Iniesta get over there! Is this a 4-3-3? A 4-4-2? An low viscosity fluid that is ever modifying shape to fit its surroundings and needs?

    If I was that bewildered as a fan watching from the vista of the all seeing cameras, I can imagine how the Inter Milan players felt as that fluid Barcelona offense whirled around them like a Kansas twister in the summer. There is no stopping such a twister and no predicting where it will go. And as a fan I just sat back and enjoyed.

  6. Alexinho
    November 25, 2009

    I wonder what he’s telling Henry. Advice?

    • Kevo
      November 25, 2009

      He told titi: “Between the two of us, daaaaaaamn i miss those days.”

  7. Achraf
    November 25, 2009

    Oh ya and the brilliant movement by dos santos was too good. He just knew where to be to make the best out of those 30 sec on the pitch. I mean who here has seen a better 30 sec performance. Hats down to JDS

    • BL
      November 25, 2009

      we joke, but it was invaluable for him to step on the pitch in the CL, hes cup tied this season (not that he’d be sold in reality), hes got a taste (a verrrry small taste) for the big time and hes one for the future.

      i wish i could peek into the future, 3 years down the line and see how awesome our midfield is with iniesta and jonathan at its core, xavi the wise – still around, nurturing the next generation of barça smoothness.

  8. Vj
    November 25, 2009

    Superb read Isaiah..

    Here’s Xaviniesta..

    Credit to the photographer with the keen eye..

  9. Hector
    November 25, 2009

    Pep was brilliant.

    It looked like some serious shifting between a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-2-2-2 magic square when in offense. Formation wise, it was ironically classic Pellegrini at times. Maybe some sophisticated inside coaches’ jab at Pellegrini before the clasico kinda like “even I can run your system better than you” deal? Watch the game again and you will see even Xavi and Iniesta playing as forwards at times. Our fullbacks were the shit. Part of it was Mourinho’s tactics and part of it was guys like Pedro terrorizing Maicon and getting him off his game.

    The magic square (4-2-2-2) is not perfect and will not always work (see Brazil’s 06 NT) for reasons that can vary from the opponent’s tactical system to available personnel but its something that was PERFECT for what Mourinho brought to the table given the personnel we had available. Fullbacks are absolutely vital for width in a magic square. Mourinho late on realized what Pep was doing so he deployed Balotelli and Quaresma to force Alves and Abidal to lessen their forward sruges. However, it was too little too late. He should have made those subs at once at half time and even then it would not mean that we could not keep possession and kill the game. It just made it somewhat harder for us to score again.

  10. BL
    November 25, 2009

    all the busi haters please sit the fuck down 🙂 what a tremendous game from the sabadell born 21 year old, former 3rd division player. i love this dude so much.

    when i went to see barça play zaragoza this season, my man united loving friend who tagged along could only say “busquets is amazing”. and yes, yes he is.

    great review isaiah, the twin hounds of hell, like molten lava flowing at its most liquid state. uncontainable, that was the barça we know. the best performance of the season, just in time for the EE.

    VISCA BARÇA!!!!!

  11. Eklavya
    November 25, 2009

    Wow 10 for JDS? He didn’t even touch the ball! Lol!!
    I would give henry a 5 really…did practicaly nothing. Busi gets a 7.5 from me as well…
    “The twin hounds from hell”…. I had to read sherlock holme’s “The hound of the Baskervilles” just for today! Did you get inspired from there by any chance?

    I’m still interested in knowing what the KRS would have given to these guys…

    • November 25, 2009

      The only thing I can say in defense of the Henry rating is that he created a lot of space for others and that, given that I’ve praised Eto’o in the past for doing just that, merits a higher rating from me, just as an attempt to be fair to what I believe in, you know?

      Henry didn’t look great out there, but it wasn’t often that Inter was able to put more than one defender against each of our attackers because Henry was slicing through the middle and distracting them, like he did during the Pedro goal build up.

      JDS was a beast.

      To respond to what David said below: I realize he made substitutions in the manner in which he always makes substitutions, but I wanted Bojan much earlier–if our bench is as good as our starters, play the bench more often during matches. If they’re not as good, sell them.

      • David
        November 25, 2009

        It’s not just about “selling or playing” the bench. Who would you have wanted off for Bojan? Pedro? Iniesta? Henry? Each of them were, as you said, dominating, and taking them away would have fractured our DEFENSIVE game because all of our defense today came from their outstanding offense. Guardiola wouldn’t have made the team vulnerable for any more than was necessary. I also love Bojan, but not last night, not with these stakes. He needs confidence, and he could have taken away our width (or our defensive prowess at the top, which was Henry’s brilliance last night) had he been on.

        • November 25, 2009

          Right and I suppose my point is that if you say “not last night, not with these stakes” you should also include “not on this team ever”. But that’s just my opinion.

          • November 25, 2009

            That’s a rule for established players, by the way. Feel free to argue that Bojan is not an established player. I would accept that argument.

          • David
            November 26, 2009

            No, that’s misreading what I’m trying to say. The team, as you seem to agree, played fantastically. There was no need for a tactical substitution. Had there been, Guardiola would have gone to the bench earlier, even “last night, and with these stakes.” The starting 11 were holding their own and were in no danger of real fatigue as the ball was doing all the movement and Inter had already thrown in the towel. Guardiola was trying to boost his players’ morale, quiet simply, and I don’t see the need of laboring the point. I think Guardiola has done a decent job of rotating the players, especially considering international commitments, but maybe we’ll disagree here. Also, I like, and we might disagree here too, that he’s instituting a Fergusonian meritocracy that has not been a Barcelona trademark. Starting Messi, Xavi and Alves on the bench that game when they were out of form was a powerful statement: the best, most in form will play. I don’t think it benefits anyone on the team, especially those who aren’t regularly first choice, to get playing time for the sake of playing time. Sylvinho, the quietest, hardest worker on the team during the Rijkaard era, couldn’t handle the fact that Ronahldinho (amongst others) started every game even when out of form. That perception of subjective preference, not based on any sort of rule (merit) was that team’s downfall. All I’m trying to say is that Guardiola is doing well by breaking deliberately with that past. I think that Pedro, Abidal, and Iniesta benefited greatly from that standing ovation, more than anyone else on the field would have, barring maybe Henry. More generally, I think the fans loved the opportunity to give them that. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Messi, barring injuries or a close scoreline to the death at El Clasico, receives the same treatment this Sunday. I would love to see it!

            I love your reviews man, look forward to the El Clasico preview.

      • Kevo
        November 25, 2009

        Isaiah i think Xavi concurs with you on this:
        ” […] The forward three did a really good job, but particularly Titi [Thierry Henry] whose hard work created lots of space and dragged their defenders all over the place.”

      • Diane
        November 25, 2009

        I make an exception to that theory for youth. They have to taste first team action but they aren’t always ready to start. I like loans for that purpose, but Pep may want to keep Bojan under his tutelage — or Bojan didn’t want to leave home. Either way, it wasn’t Pep that called Bojan up probably a little sooner than he was ready and he can’t very well send him back to the reserves. Hopefully, they’re keeping his chin up while he gets to train and mature with the first team.

    • BL
      November 25, 2009

      … a 5 for henry?

      did you fail to notice the IMMENSE amount of work he put in destabilizing inter’s usually rock solid back 4? he absolutely hounded chivu, samuel, lucio and maicon even. he was everywhere, SPRINTING to harry and pressure. he caused at least 3 turnovers directly and possibly more indirectly from his relentless pressure.

      his offensive output, directly wasn’t so great.. but how can you forget that he flicked that corner on to pique? that his powerful run into the box drew both maicon and lucio to leave pedro open to score the second?

      henry worked his ASS off yesterday and the team benefitted from it tremendously.

      i give in an 8 personally, well done titi.

      • Eklavya
        November 25, 2009

        OkOk…I was a little harsh there…

      • David
        November 26, 2009

        I agree, Henry was central to the success of our attack-in-order-to-defend dogma. 8 for titi!

  12. David
    November 25, 2009

    Did you seriously give Guardiola a 7 because of his failure to SUBSTITUTE properly? You completely missed the point of them. None were tactical, no player needed a rest and the formation did not need amendment. They were showcase substitutions, a chance for the (in his eyes) players of the game to get their standing ovation, to boost morale as much as possible before the RM game. The only reason he did not take out Xavi is because Xavi doesn’t need the morale boost; and despite Iniesta having been brilliant yesterday, he has been relative shit in the days since coming back. Pep is aware of that, and wants him at his best (i.e. morale) for Madrid. Guardiola trusts the bench completely, THAT’S THE WHOLE REASON WE WON THIS GAME. Depth.

    • Eklavya
      November 25, 2009

      Yeah but there was almost nothing happening in the last 15-20 mins, we need some change to make something happen. It was starting to get a bit boring….

      • Vj
        November 25, 2009

        Why do you think it was a bit boring at the end? Was it because we had taken the foot off the gas because we needed to or WE WANTED to? IMO the latter.. It reminded me of the thrashings of yore where goals would go in a flurry in the first half and nothing in the second.. We wanted to conserve for Sunday..

        • Eklavya
          November 25, 2009

          the latter of course, so then why not take off iniesta earlier and put bojan so ”save” him for the clasico?

          • Vj
            November 25, 2009

            And lose one of those players who can hold the ball all day long and add one who is of no great use defensively? Surely Iniesta playing 10 minutes more maintains that rhythm for us.. Beats the hell out of bringing Bojan on only for him to lose the ball a couple of times and presenting Inter with an oppurtunity to attack..

            Point is we were controlling possesion nicely without burning too much of gas and we didn’t need to change this..

  13. poipoi
    November 25, 2009

    Nice review … “How do you rate a guy you never noticed because he was too busy locking down an entire city? If you tried to rob someone in Barcelona last night I’m sure Keita kicked you to the ground before you got away with even a euro cent. Dude is good, but dammit, he’s hard to rate. So he gets an 8, I guess.” … great!

    What a 1st half the team played yesterday, if it had been a knockout round they could have won by 4 or more. All paranoid culés try to doubt about the team (and I am one of them, or was I don’t know) but team is HUGE in the big dates.

  14. adal
    November 25, 2009

    Simply great review. And what a great match it was!

  15. November 25, 2009

    …ah ’tis good to be back. Been watching highlights 4 weeks late, and avoiding this and all Barca blogs for spoilers.

    I-man your run down is as juicy as the events themselves were. I’m going to re-re-read it like a Messi-dona goal on Youtube.

    My only worry (as a cule must worry) was how much of last nights brilliance was a direct result Ibra-Messi absence…are our Big-dogs in the way of our Hounds of Hell?

    • BL
      November 25, 2009

      quite simply: no.

      this is the first game iniesta has shown what hes made of all season.

      xavi has had a lot of pressure on his shoulders as the only avenue for creativity at CM, now with iniesta back to form it will only make xavi, zlatan and leo better players.

      watch out EE. watch out.

  16. November 25, 2009

    Who’s better, Xaviniesta, or Xaviesta? DUN DUN DUN. Well done article, mirrors a lot of my thoughts about the game as well.

  17. Tom
    November 25, 2009

    Just throwing this out there…Pique has more goals than Henry.

  18. Kxevin
    November 25, 2009

    I need to go on vacation more often, probably permanently, if the result is reviews like that. Great read, and spot on. Hope everybody understands whose blog this is now. 😀

    My numbers wouldn’t have been that far off, save a 2 for Valdes, and a 10 for Guardiola, who coached the Not So Special One off the pitch, while getting the lads ready to breathe fire.

    I also would have given the Team a 10. No superstars, just talent, belief in a system and rock-solid belief in it.

    • BL
      November 25, 2009

      10 for Kxevin for being at the match, ps. you’re a bastard!

    • November 25, 2009

      Don’t you dare leave me to do all the reviews, not least because I’d have to find you and destroy you for getting to watch all the Barça matches live while I toil here in NY during winter.

  19. Jim
    November 25, 2009

    Great review, Isaiah. I could quibble with the ratings ( Abidal never a 10 after the first five minutes and I’m not even sure i wouldn’t give him some of the blame for the passsback which Valdes mucked up – but he did have a good game, Guardiola putting Iniesta up font but then pulling him back to allow Alves the space to overlap and giving the wee man the standing ovation at the end def more than 7) but that would be mean.

    The whole team played well as a team and you correctly emphasise the absolutely unique ability of our twins to put the opposition to sleep. Xavi’s pass to Alves for the second goal had me off my seat screaming ” Did you see that?” to absolutely nobody.

    Hopefully no injuries either ?

    • Eklavya
      November 25, 2009

      Xavi’s pass to Alves for the second goal had me off my seat screaming ” Did you see that?”

      Hahaha…happens with me too! 😀

  20. Tutomate
    November 25, 2009

    I’ll quote RNE, ” ha alguien le aburre el Madrid haorita?” Si Si Si Si 4 out if 5 commentators answered yes. Lol

  21. Eklavya
    November 25, 2009

    anyone watching milan – marseille? Ronaldinho looks he’s gonna have good game…milan are up 1-0 thaks to heinze who gifted a goal to milan….lets hope dida wont screw up again….OMG DIDA GIFTS A GOAL FOR LUCHO!! Omg! For THE THIRD TIME!! Milan 1-1 marseille xD

    • Andrew M.
      November 26, 2009

      “lets hope dida wont screw up again….OMG DIDA GIFTS A GOAL FOR LUCHO!! Omg!”

      hahahaha oh the irony

  22. Tutomate
    November 25, 2009

    They also said ” todo el Bernabeu esta aburrido Los unicos gritandos son Los hinchas del Zurich”

  23. Tutomate
    November 25, 2009

    Then they say “el Madrid no juega ha nada… Gooooooool”

  24. November 25, 2009

    Anyone read Inter game review on the offside? All I can say is:”Sweet dreams living in denial”. Anyways…

    Pedrotic review Isaiah. Sraight to the point and full of joy.

    • Kxevin
      November 25, 2009

      Wow. Y’all really should hit the Inter Offside for that review. Holy crap. A glorified training session? Yeah, for US!

      One request: If you comment, remember how we roll, BFB-style. Grace and class.

    • Vj
      November 25, 2009

      What can you say, the author is MAD 😀 ..

      • Eklavya
        November 25, 2009

        i was going to say the same thing!

  25. Eklavya
    November 25, 2009

    Oh and THIAGO SILVA likes to bring the ball up ala Piquenbauer….

  26. Kxevin
    November 25, 2009

    You’ll all be happy to know that the locals mostly have the same love affair with Krkic as many folks here do. The clamor to put in Krkic in Henry’s place was intense. I was going to say “You need a man out there,” but I thought it would cause an international incident …. and I couldn’t for the life of me remember the Catalan word for “need.” 😀

    The reaction to a big, burly American knowing and trying to use their language has been very funny. I thought this waiter was going to kiss me when I pronounced everything correctly. He said that hardly any non-Catalans say p’amb tomaquet correctly.

    Another waiter in a restaurant today said “Merci” as I paid the bill, because he knew I wasn’t a local, and I must somehow speak it with a slight French accent. Which is weird on so many levels.

    I have had three cab drivers, two who spoke Spanish, and one Catalan. The number of our apartment, 98, is (phonetically) newrahn-teh bhweet. The first, Spanish-speaking driver corrected me with the Spanish pronunciation. I just smiled at him.

    Had a great French/Catalan chat with the second driver while headed to the match. He warned me about the travestis, and we had a nice giggle about the sausage surprise that some post-match revelers get after picking up one of the indigenous business(ahem!)ladies.

    The third spoke Catalan, and had about a million questions, quickly outrunning my pace, as he was so surprised by the notion of an American from Chicago, who would come to Barcelona for a match, and was a socio. Great times so far.

    And speaking of Abidal, we have him until 2012. Yay!

    Krkic came to mind because BarcaTV just showed his Top 10 goals as a young’un. Against players his own size or slightly bigger, he was unstoppable. The talent and potential made the screen glow.

    By the by, if we had BarcaTV here I would never stop watching, as I am here. It’s been pretty much non-stop Barca/EE classics, to get everyone in the mood.

    One last thing, and apologies for the length. At the match, the Barca fans jeered the UEFA “fair play” announcements about not taunting or beating the Inter fans, not because anyone planned to, but because of the presumption that we would be so base and classless. Pretty funny.

    • Eklavya
      November 25, 2009

      Wow…aren’t you enjoying life….you *@&£€¿]¡!!! 😀

    • Alexis
      November 25, 2009

      Hey Kevin!
      I hope you don’t mind me saying something about the “Mercigate”.
      I am pretty sure that your Catalan is as good as somebody from Chicago can get. Depending on the day, my English is non-existent despite having studied it and lived in the UK for 5 years.
      You can say “thank you” in Catalan by saying “Mercés” as well as “gràcies” or “agraït” (which in Spanish would be “Mercedes”, “gracias” and “agradecido”). Many people (me included) shorten the word to “Merci”.
      Are you going to be there for the Big Match?

      • Kxevin
        November 25, 2009

        Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I have a ton of work to do with the language. I’m watching a studio audience debate football, Barca, politics and Catalan independence. The more passionate the commenter, the more lost I get. Just one example.

        Bur I will be better in a week, and better still when I return next season. It’s a process. 😀

        Thank you so much for the tip! That indeed explains the “Merci.” It’s the first time I’ve heard it. Very interesting.

        I will indeed be there on Sunday. It will be an amazing week.

    • cliveee
      November 25, 2009

      Are you not going to post some pictures for the sake of the fans here?!!??! We wanna see some unofficial photos from a big, burly American who speaks Catalan with French Accent! Show some city pictures too, whatever you want, I just wanna see them! not the business ladies part tho. XD

  27. mike in africa
    November 25, 2009

    like many of the fans, i often felt pep did not have enough trust in his bench, hence only substituting players really late in the games. he did that on a number of occasions with guddie and hleb (when he was stil playing them) last season; i’m really not sure how that helps a player with his confidence and integration in the system. pep did say in the beginning of this season that he’s gonna utilize the bench more this season. let’s hope jeffren and bojan will both get more chances in the season ahead.

  28. Kxevin
    November 25, 2009

    Oh, and now they’re showing a special on the club’s humanitarian work in Africa, Senegal in specific. The teachers are wearing smocks in the club colors. 😀

  29. Eklavya
    November 25, 2009

    milan – marseille is such and open game….and pato is faster than light

  30. Eklavya
    November 25, 2009

    marseille have 68% possesion! Wow!

  31. Eklavya
    November 25, 2009

    marseille’s defense is worse than warm butter! Pato just walked through 3 non-existant defenders and just misses his lob. Both team lack concentration… Also they’re not communicating between them (the defenders)

  32. Eklavya
    November 25, 2009

    i cant belive how many howlers both team have committed but no one has taken advantage of it…

  33. Blow-Granite
    November 25, 2009

    Hey Kxevin, Expect a blog from you on your Camp Nou experience on the Inter game. Remember, a lot of people are living through your eyes so do a good one.

    • Kxevin
      November 25, 2009

      Not sure I can capture it. Seriously. Anyone who has been to a match there knows what I mean. Toss in such meaning, and it’s just crazy. The air was electric.

      • Kxevin
        November 25, 2009

        But I will try of course, when I have something other than a smartphone to peck away on. 😀

  34. Miguel
    November 25, 2009

    “…but at least he didn’t kill Milito for his schoolkid style chest-to-back bump….”

    i’d a knocked milito the fuck out for that shit. i wish i had puyi’s caveman like patience.

  35. Eklavya
    November 25, 2009

    ronaldinho should have taken that free kick…

  36. Kari
    November 25, 2009

    CL today so far

    *Milan v Marseille: My pick for ” Game to watch”. Borriello scores a sweet goal, turning Heinze inside out, but like in slow motion (gosh, he sucks so hard). Then Niang pwns Oddo on the left side before Dida gifts Lucho a tap-in Score: 1-1

    EE v Zurich: Borefest (in my opinion). Higuain scores from a nice pass from Kaka’. Marcelo hits the post and Zurich’s had like 3 shots on goal but aren’t that bad on the counter. Score: 1-0

    Man Utd v Besiktas: Man Utd down 1-0 at home *insert maniacal laughter here* Score: 0-1

    Apoel v Atletico: Pathetico’s woes continue. Losing 1-0 to Apoel, who’ve had 2 shots (one was the goal in the 5th min) to Atletico’s billion and a half (12 with 6 on target). Score: 1-0

    Bordeaux v Juve: Tactical warfare to the extreme. Really tight (read: boring) affair with Gigi Buffon pulling off a good save Score: 0-0—oh wait. Bordeaux just scored in the 54th min. 1-0

    Porto v Chelsea: Porto hit the bar! Still (lamentably) 0-0.

    • Miguel
      November 25, 2009

      i would have picked juventus v bordeaux as the match to watch. i should be happy fox soccer channel isn’t showing that game live? i aint streaming shit.

      • Kari
        November 25, 2009

        Well Bordeaux’s been the better team. THe first half was really tactical and dull. Dunno about the second. Juve are away from home so I’d expect them to be more defensive. Bordeaux are without Gourcuff who didn’t even make the bench. As it stands with Bayern 1-0 up , Juve v Bayern will be one to watch next matchday.

        Darn! Anelka scores.

        Atletico equilized through Simao, who always seems to come through for them (he works hard)

  37. Kari
    November 25, 2009

    Totally off topic, but does anyone here speak French? I dunno if I can claim I speak it since it’s the Quebec accent = crappy french 😛 and the fact I’m from English speaking Ontario. If you do, test your understanding with this…song?

    Je parle francais mais je ne comprends pas cette chanson.

    Qu’est-ce qu’il dit ?

    “Je ne suis pas comme les autres tout doux moi je suis un p’tit … ?”

    • Miguel
      November 25, 2009

      Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?

      i can’t believe how many times marseille hit the post against milan. weak sauce. i think ronaldinho is getting his mojo back though going by his last two performances. four day clasico weekend woo!!!!

      • BL
        November 25, 2009

        nice, i just got suspended from my league match for yellow card accumulation (3 total… now thats weak sauce) so i can stay home and drink during el clasico, woohoo!

    • Kxevin
      November 25, 2009

      Je parle Franciais, mais le voix de l’animal sont impossible, par’ce-que les alterations electronique, et trop de “boum boum” en le chanson. Desolee ….

    • Eklavya
      November 26, 2009

      Moi aussi je parle Fraçais mais c’est chaud a dire….

  38. ashu
    November 25, 2009

    Superb review. Exactly on the spot except ..

    7 for Henry ? What did he do ? He flicked that corner, yes. But absolutely nothing else, except running around
    – He was unable to trap any passes sent his way by Xavi.
    – He only took a couple of falls under pressure from Lucio trying to win fouls

    O Henry of yore, where are you ? You are too nice to Henry, though, Isaiah :). I thought he was the only player on the field who did not do so well

    • BL
      November 25, 2009

      i already talked about this further up, but please… don’t underestimate the work henry put into this match.

      one of the first things xavi said after the game was to praise henry’s contribution up front, constantly pressuring the inter defence and absolutely running his ass off.

      i loved what i saw from henry, sure he didn’t score, sure he didn’t really have that many shots… but he caused inter’s defence so many headaches all the way til the end.

  39. Eduard
    November 25, 2009

    I know I’m hectoring myself but here it goes.

    Simply put “We made Inter look retarded”

    I love when non-Catalans give our midfield maestros the well deserved recognition.

    I loved LOVED Henry playing up front, haven’t seen that since his Arsenal days, we should use that option more often.

    GReat REView!

    • Kxevin
      November 25, 2009

      And sorry but I’m calling bullshit on any criticism of Henry. I was there, and that man worked like a dog. Yes, his offense was off, but he was also like the nuclear deterrent. With him in the middle, you had to respect his ability to play just off the shoulder of the defense. Inter were not going to let Henry kill them, and he controlled the match by moving 2-3 defenders around like they were on a string.

      His pressure of their back line completely unsettled them, so they rarely played the ball out, usually just booting it up the pitch. Sometimes the pressure was light, other times heavy. But he was terrorizing the keeper Eto’o-style, and almost stole a goal with that pressure.

      This doesn’t even get into his chasing down Inter attackers from behind, and contributing to the defensive effort.

      Anybody who thinks Henry had a bad match, wasn’t watching. Yes, I have given our strikers, including Henry, a hard time for not doing their job, which is scoring goals. But when one has such a large influence without scoring a goal, it’s compelling to watch.

      Most importantly, he had fire in his eyes, at the right time. Because the EE has an answer for eveeybody except an on-fire Henry. Foul Messi, put 3 men on Ibra. But Henry changes the math.

  40. Corrine
    November 25, 2009

    aha jds 10 and valdes a 3

    i think goalkeepers need a rating system of their own! they’ll get the same low scores if they a) had a terrible game or b) didn’t do anything. the 1-10 system is a little inconsistent when it comes to rating them, but i can’t think of any better ideas :p

    great review and great game! i just hope the team doesn’t go off thinking they’re back in shape though. most of the time our system works beautifully like what we saw against inter, but we still haven’t gotten around to adjusting our play against defensively organized teams like rubin and chelsea. if we wanna last this season we gotta come up with a good plan B asap! but it’s funny how experienced coaches like mourinho and fergie didn’t do the obvious thing to frustrate us haha.

  41. Kxevin
    November 25, 2009

    You have a point, Corrine. If our team is working as it should, Valdes can go for xips or something. But I think that in this case, his rating is spot on. It was “crazay VV” today.

  42. messi108
    November 25, 2009

    Thanks Isaiah.
    Awesome read as always

  43. DBarcaMan
    November 25, 2009

    Just read the match review at the Inter Offside. Clearly that guy is delusional.I could never in a million years believe that a coach like Mourinho would not care about a result against Barca. Sad to see the lengths a fan will go to in justifying his team’s loss.

    Glad we don’t have that mentality over here.

  44. Nick
    November 27, 2009

    One of the best reviews I’ve read. You’re the man, Isaiah!

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