Dynamo 1 – Barcelona 2: “Onward and Upward”

Hey, look, a team!
Hey, look, a team!

What started, even before the whistle, as a death trap for Guardiola, a no-win situation of fielding Busi and Iniesta while leaving The Yaya and Henry on the bench became an utter nightmare as Valdes couldn’t keep out a first minute in-swinging freekick after just 60 seconds. Pique left his boot out too long and toppled Andriy Iarmolenko after the ball bounced awkwardly away from a Dani Alves tackle. Up stepped Sheva and sent a scorcher into the box where their captain, Artim Milevskiy beat Puyol to the back post and got the smallest of touches on the ball. That touch put Valdes off balance, though he still should have had it covered.

And suddenly we’re looking at a shocker, a European pesadilla that won’t be forgotten over the next few months by the Madrid-based rags and will blot out the whole of the Champions League with a bitter taste in the mouth because the blaugrana are out–out!–or perhaps merely in second place, but still! And I haven’t even gotten the lineup out yet!

Guardiola trotted out the surprises, once again, opting for passing rather than vertical attacking: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Busi, Xavi, Keita, Iniesta, Ibra, Messi. The ideas from Guardiola seem fairly clear: dominate the ball and worry about width later. With Henry you get vertical ball movement rather than Iniesta’s midfield prowess. The Busi-over-Yaya questions lurks unanswered, of course, but that’s been handled enough, so I’ll let it go with my theory: The Yaya just returned from Intergalatic War with the inhabitants the Evil Planet Gork and was a tad jetlagged from such lengthy travel.

So then, after they scored, we took the game and, essentially, we never gave it back. It was what Guardiola was hoping for, no doubt: our ball, all of the time. The final possession stats read like a keep-away training session: 80% to 20%. Was it really any wonder that we ended up scoring? Say what you will about Henry, but I’ll give credit to the team for getting the ball and not letting go of it. If you have the game handy, pull it up and tune to 31:51. Busi is intercepting a rotten pass. Watch the sequence that comes after that, over the next 50 seconds: Busi,  Keita, Ibra, Keita, Ibra, Iniesta, Xavi, Iniesta, Dani, Busi, Iniesta, Messi, Busi, Iniesta, Xavi, Messi, Iniesta, Ibra, Messi, Abidal, Xavi, goal. 21 passes by 8 players and a fine finish by a sliding Xavi after a wonderful on-the-ground cross by Abidal. Guardiola’s reaction was one of absolute relief, which was understandable. They were a long ways from getting two more goals on us and we were there, knocking constantly on their doorstep.

The point was total football, to run around with it and kill off 90 minutes while looking for the killer goal. 12 shots to 4, 8 on target to 1. The stats were on Barça’s side and so was everything else. When Messi sliced in that free kick in the 86th, it felt more like a “finally” than a great goal, but it was that too. Sublime touch worthy of the myriad replays we’ll see of it on YouTube. Guardiola’s reaction to the goal–surprise–was great and made him look like a little kid watching some amazing players. What’s irksome, of course, is the ever-increasing number of sitters we’re missing, of one-on-ones that are going begging, going awry, finding excuses for not going in. Messi can dribble through 18 defenders, but can’t get a ball by the one player who can use his hands? Not sure I get that.

Messi InjuryA fairly absurd moment was right as Messi got injured, finally succumbing to hard fouls being laid on him ruthlessly by Dynamo’s back line, who were, in effect, punishing him for staying on his feet instead of falling like so many others would in his position. The absurd moment, of course, came from Ibra’s resulting, well I don’t want to call it a free kick because it certainly cost Shovkovskiy a few braincells, which was struck so hard that it wet between Shovkovskiy’s hands and smacked him in the face. Dude can kick a freakin’ ball really hard.

It’s too bad Ibra didn’t get to score that one, though, because it would have cemented the “Don’t mess with my little friend” look on his face and confirmed that there’s nothing wrong whatsoever between the two stars. Oh and it would have meant 1-3, ensuring that I got the exact scoreline right from my preview, including the goal scorers. Argh!

In the end we finished first in our group, two points ahead of Inter Milan, who beat Rubin Kazan at home 2-0 with goals by Eto’o and Balotelli. I’ll admit I’m sad that Rubin didn’t make it in at Inter’s expense, if only for underdog reasons. What this means is that we’ll face a second-placed team in the Round of 16, the draw for which will be on December 18, a week from Friday. We can face anyone who isn’t Inter because the three Spanish teams that qualified for the knockout stages  did so in first place in their respective groups. I’ll cover more of it tomorrow in separate post, but rest assured that we don’t want another trip to Russia, so pray/hope/make human sacrifices in order that we don’t draw CSKA Moscow. Obviously we’ll get Lyon, though.

And that, folks, is it for the group stage. Good riddance.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.

131 Comments

  1. BlaugranaDOOM
    December 10, 2009

    Nice review. Messi looks to be set for a layoff. Not a bad time really. I hope he doesn’t play in the world club championship. Speaking of which, what an awful tournement. Right in the middle of the season and its really a worthless trophy. I liked it better when it was a one off match against the S. Americans played in Tokyo. This is just a waste of time.

  2. Jose55
    December 10, 2009

    I don’t know if Moscow would be too bad. Sure the first away match would be way cold, but they won’t be match fit at all… the Russian Premiere League will have been on break for 3 months or so by then.

    Of course, they break for winter for a reason.

    • Boat Forever
      December 10, 2009

      Not to mention there won’t be any Krasic for them!! Just my wild theory though 😐

  3. Liza
    December 10, 2009

    I scrolled down to look for the ratings before I even read the review– surprise!!! Haha, I don’t mind not having them, though it’s a good way to gauge how others see the different players and their performances. And I use the ratings as a reference point when re-watching the game. But I think team-victory is a good summation of game.

    At any rate, I was pleased overall with the game. I never thought we would lose once the game started, but after a while, I thought we might draw. Thank goodness we didn’t.

    Hurrah for Abidal. I remember those days when everyone wanted him out– he wasn’t a good enough defender. Then last season he proved them wrong. I was one of those who didn’t think much of his crosses back then, and I never thought he would be able to contribute much if he came forward, but WOW. Pep must have done some good work with him in practice.

    And Messi. I don’t really know what to think. I said this in practically every post– he’s ALWAYS had trouble with one-on-ones. Go back and watch last year’s games. Yes, this is a major problem and should be worked on. But honestly, some of those that he missed weren’t exactly sitters. Part of his problem is that he dribbles while looking down. He knows where the goal is, but not the goalie. Thus he hits it right to the goalie. Anyways, I’m not going to make too much of an issue with this yet. He’s improved his passing game a lot, and he’s starting to get a lot more accuracy. So we win some and lose some.

    I was prepared to hate the ref, simply because he is Howard Webb, but I thought he did a good enough job. I know I should expect it, but I still cringe at the way teams hack away at our players. Yes, fouling is a normal part of the game, but teams seem to get especially cynical around Barca. I just get so caught up in some of the moves and then BAM!, it’s over because someone got bored of ball-chasing and decided to tackle instead. SIGH.

    • Blow-Granite
      December 10, 2009

      Concur with the second paragraph totally!!!! A player can look up if the release of the ball is a little bit further, but Messi keeps the ball so close to his feet that it is hard to look up at times. Also agree that majority of the one-on-ones were not sitters.

  4. Luna
    December 10, 2009

    Nice review! I just finished watching FSC call of the game. Earlier I watched the FSE match. I am assuming they were English commentators on the FSC Barca v. Dynamo match, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear them going on and on about how tough Messi is and how unlike most players he doesn’t fall. They were drooling all over Barca at the end of the match. Nice to hear. I was half expecting the typical wanker comments. It was certainly a hack attack on many our Barca players, ridiculous. Ibra was hella frustrated this match. I believe it’s a culmination of some of the bad ref calling going against him.

    I have to admit I worried when Rafa came on, but all for not. The team is really beginning to get a feel for one another and that is obvious and a joy to watch. It’s just this knack to give away these goals. I am sensing Barca won’t draw CSKA Moscow 🙂

    As Guardiola said, “ha sido un grup horrible” o the truth in that, what a horrible group. An interesting note from this same interview in Sport, Guardiola is super happy with the teams play during group play-“ha bordeado el 70 por ciento de posesión en todos los partidos del grupo…”no ha perdido su esencia en ningún momento”. Barca has had close to 70% of possession in group play!!

  5. harshawardhan
    December 10, 2009

    good review.. but ratings?

  6. Liza
    December 10, 2009

    Also, it looked SO COLD. In one shot, I saw someone’s breath in the air and it literally looked like plumes of smoke. So please, please, let’s not draw CSKA. I’d cheer over a Lyon draw.

  7. poipoi
    December 10, 2009

    Are the refs ion CL always be as “laissez-faire”? last night was a carnage… mr ref do you know how much those legs are worth?

    • jnelson
      December 10, 2009

      More than that ref’s gym membership I would think.

    • Liza
      December 10, 2009

      I’ve gotten used to how casual refs are towards fouls, especially those on Barca. The problem is that the players don’t always go down, so the ref ignores even potentially dangerous fouls and allows play to continue, which is both a good and a bad thing.

      Here’s the problem though: by not going down, the players make the opposition more aggressive and therefore more dangerous. That’s where the injuries come in. So as much as I take pride in the fact that our guys stay up, maybe they shouldn’t?

  8. December 10, 2009

    what a great match and a good review..
    our passing game is good
    but we seriously need to shoot more!!
    how to score goals if we dont shoot..
    we pass pass pass till the penalty area then pass it back…
    messi was MOM for me..
    ibra was quiet..

    • Eduard
      December 10, 2009

      Messi was all over the place, this is a tough game to judge player of the game. Xavi was awesome and did find the back of the net. Busquets had a good game. I guess I’d say Messi also, mainly because he payed the ultimate sacrifice(injury).

  9. December 10, 2009

    Great match, showed our resilience and patience, and ultimately we finished the group on top, which is the most important thing.

    I hope Messi is not injured for too long.

    You know what’s scary? He’s not even at his best yet, and look at what he is doing…

  10. Eduard
    December 10, 2009

    I have a theory about our style of play compared to last years. Last year, was well, a near perfect season ending in max trophies. We played well as a team, individually, we got the goals when we needed and we didn’t concede when we couldn’t afforded(or made up for if we did). This year, there is a different feeling. Like we’re not invincible anymore. This feeling, as my theory goes, is just an illusion. I believe Pep doesn’t want to leave it to chance this year. He doesn’t want another gamble(chelsea game). If we play fabulous futbol all the time teams will expect fabulous futbol all the time. This is a psychological battle, and a smart one. Because although FCB is still tTHE giant to beat, we don’t have the spot-light on us. People are just as worried about having to face ManU,Chelsea,E.E. Last year we were build to win the league. This year we’re build to win tournaments/decisive games. In fact, we’re doing better in the league, and same spots we were in both tournaments. The chances of us retaining all our tittles are near impossible(that’s what was said about the treble) but hey as I see it we have the best golie, the best back 4, the best midfield, the best forwards and most importantly one coach to bring them all together(I’m a nerd too).

    Forca Barca

  11. Corrine
    December 10, 2009

    watched this at the pub today… my break was ending during the last 5 mins of the game, and at the messi foul i was like “ok guys messi is going to score now because he wants me to go back to work in peace” then he did hehe. thank you my little messiah

    but damn he’s injured?

  12. Eduard
    December 10, 2009

    I feel like I’m spamming but here is the next transfer rumor, this one I like a lot.(David Silva to stregthen left wing next season)

    http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sport.es&hl=es&ie=UTF-8&sl=es&tl=en

    Valencia is also rummored to have said they would offload 2 of their 3 stars. Meaning Villa, Silva and Mata, they have a young’m that’s looking really good too. Silva would be my first choice, Mata my second. That’s if we decide to help strip the jewel that is Valecia.

    • Eduard
      December 10, 2009

      as of now, the only news says he’s a doubt for the Espanol Derby(since there’s only 3 days to recover). They’ll probably do scans when the team arives in Barcelona. So expect news tomorrow.

      • stowe
        December 10, 2009

        i guess we will get to see both henry and pedro! in the next game

  13. Roja-N
    December 10, 2009

    Great review as always Kxevin, but missed the ratings though. I know this is probably being a little repetitive, but i really need to know what the hell us going on with THE YAYA and Busi always starting in his place? Yes this dead horse has been beaten a fair amount, but i would really hope for a full fledged writeup on this issue..(Kxevin, Isiah, Hector) please. It worries me, that one of ours…supposedly the best DM at the moment (or at least was) is barely getting any game time. I can’t believe that its just cos of the ACN…and i doubt Busi would score over the Yaya in form. It seems that it does not matter what kind of game approach Pep’s going for…the YAYA just wont start. What’s going on?

    • Reaper
      December 10, 2009

      it was Isaiah’s review Roja-N! 🙂

      My conspiracy theory w.r.t Yaya is as follows

      1. Yaya’s agent ran his mouth in public which has bothered Pep to an extent. Funnily, over the last two seasons, it’s only Yaya’s agent that has had a problem with playing time with the exception of Hleb ofcourse. All i’m saying is that for eg. Keita didn’t play much last year either and he wasn’t disgruntled. We can safely say that about all the other players too.

      2. Pep knows that they will be a force to reckon with towards the business end of the season which is believe is the main reason he’s holding him back.

      Pep is also trying to evolve the team into a more unpredictable yet effective one because the teams are slowing figuring out what to expect with yaya in the heart of midfield.

  14. ElShowDeJason
    December 10, 2009

    Great Review Isaiah… (i didn’t really need to see under the header to know it wasn’t Kxevin)

    Ratings 🙁 … please…

  15. ElShowDeJason
    December 10, 2009

    We shouldn’t need Messi to beat Espanyol. I’m sure Ibra a) wants to do well in his first Catalan Derbi, and b) has some built up frustration after yesterday’s game, plus Henry still has something to prove.

    And although Pedro! isn’t Catalan, he knows what the derbi means, and well, he is always giving it his youthful 110%

  16. Vj
    December 10, 2009

    Trust Barca to make me feel better.. I don’t have a fever now!

    Am I the only one who thinks that Pep is giving Busi as much playing time as possible so that he’s ready for January? I think that is best for the team and Yaya probably knows that.. He said his future is with us and that is a good sign.. We’d be too foolish to let Yaya go wouldn’t we? So maybe there is a reason for everything Pep does and he knows much more than we ever can.. In Pep we Trust!!

  17. Cesc Blanc
    December 10, 2009

    I thought that Guardiola’s reaction after the Kiew goal was the most significant. He just didn’t move, kept sitting and his face looked like nothing happened. This was an important message “dudes, shit happens, just keep on playing and what we planned. ain’t a damn thing changed.” When a coach trusts you and your skills so much and believes that you gonna turn it around no matter what, it makes you keep your cool on the field more easier too.

  18. Vj
    December 10, 2009

    Not sure whether this has been making the rounds but you can vote for the Goal of the year (July 08- July 09) here..

    /http://www.fifa.com/classicfootball/awards/puskasaward/index.html

    Guess which goal I voted for!

  19. skyislm
    December 10, 2009

    Pep’s reaction to the second goal was “priceless”. His reactions to both the goals pretty much explains what is “normal” and what is a “surprise”! But believe me – the only way to stop those burly defenders from hacking our fellows is to score more and more goals from close range FKs. Well done Messiah! And “more than well done” Ibracadabra. That shot in the end should have sent warning signals across the globe for goalies and defenders coming in his way!

  20. Kari
    December 10, 2009

    Sport is reporting our possible opponents and Stuttgart are one of them. Hleb is on Stuttgart. Imagine if we…?

    Nah! 😛

    OMG! OMG! OMG! IT’S ONLY SPORT BUT OMG!

    *http://www.sport.es/default.asp?idpublicacio_PK=44&idioma=CAS&idnoticia_PK=668940&idseccio_PK=1507

    Could it be…? IS MY CAMPAIGN WORKING?

    • Vj
      December 10, 2009

      I’d love Silva on our team.. Hope your campaign works..

      Valencia need to sell due to their heavy debts, this recently has been said by Sporting Director Fernando Gomez and their Chairman Llorente.. With clubs chasing Mata, Silva and Villa, whom will they be willing to sell is another matter.. I hope its Silva and I hope its to us. Why you ask? Because he’s good on the wings and in the middle and he can step in so that Xavi can rest once a while..

      In other news, Mascherano has “refused to extend his contract”. I think he wants to know whether he can play in the Champions League with Pool before he re-signs..

      • stowe
        December 10, 2009

        i know we will be thin in january without yaya and keita, but buying mascherano is a big investment for a few weeks. how far will Mali go in the tournament? if we got masch we would have 4 great players and only 1 maybe 2 spots for them to play. i would rather us keep yaya, who is taller and more suited to our style

  21. Helge
    December 10, 2009

    If we get Lyon once again, that would be spooky 🙂

    But I wouldn’t mind it, it’s usually fun to play Lyon. Bayern Munich would also be fun, they both have got something to prove against us after last season, which implies that they will probably not defend for 180 minutes. And they don’t have such an aggressive “I’ll kick you till you die”-style as the Russians. I’m still furious about Dynamo’s approach to the match and Webb’s out of the question performance.
    Anyway, we should be able to beat all of the possible opponents.

    It’s a shame that Ibra’s free-kick didn’t go in, it would have been the prediction of the year, Isaiah. And you deserved it!

    • Blow-Granite
      December 10, 2009

      Bayern and Lyon are good draw’s for Barca because they are attacking teams, they will play attractive football which is good for Barca and the overall spectacle.

  22. Kari
    December 10, 2009

    And WTF Guillem Balague! He totally didn’t answer my question! FYI, I ALREADY KNOW he’s top scorer and playing more in the centre! Way to state what has already been said here!

    From SkySports.com:

    CENTRE OF ATTENTION
    Hola Guillem. I have a question regarding Messi. It seems that he hasn’t been able to finish one-on-ones this season, the same ones he would have put away with ease last season! Why do you think that is? Is it a confidence issue (like Maradona forcing him to basically be Argentina) or is it something else? Thanks! Kari M

    GUILLEM SAYS: I don’t know which games you’ve been watching because Messi is Barcelona’s highest goal-scorer so far this season! I think what you are trying to say is that you haven’t seen him so much on the wings because he’s been playing a lot in the centre. In the centre it is more about the assist and seeing the pass, doing less dribbling. Everything’s still there. The current debate is whether Ibrahimovic is better than him. I think at this moment in time Ibrahimovic is probably the best player in the world because he is scoring every 90 minutes and has changed his game. He’s been outstanding”

    See?

    “The current debate is whether Ibra is better than him?”
    “Ibra the best player in the world?”

    Thoughts? You guys agree?

    • Hilal
      December 10, 2009

      This is something he brought up in the latest Revista show. He basically said that he believes that Ibra is actually a better all round player than Messi and overall will be more valuable to the team in the coming years. Obviously right now Messi is the best player in the world, but once Ibra settles down I guess it is certainly possible. Statistically they are both pretty much the same in terms of assists and goals, although Guillems arguament is that Ibra will get much better over the course of the season, whereas we are seeing the best of Messi already. Not sure I agree, but I can see his reasoning.

  23. Hector
    December 10, 2009

    I always take anything ol’ Guillem says with a bottle of salt. 😀

    – Ramzi- Messi has preliminarily been diagnosed with a grade 1-2 “esguince” or strain. Let’s hope its a grade 1 low sprain which is not a big deal. A grade 2 means a somewhat longer layoff. He gets MRI’s done today.

    I think the difference in this year’s team is reminding me in a sense of the difference between the 07-08 and the 08-09 Man U teams. The latter, although less spectacular than the former (but spectacular nonetheless), was somewhat more pragmatic but confident than the former. This is the first Barca team I have seen with my own eyes that seem to have a quiet “never say die” calmness and swagger about them. Most Barca teams including the Kluivert, Rivaldo, and even Ronaldinho teams could well have collapsed after the start in this game. Believe me, the Madridistas have a reason to accuse us of insecurity with “Canguelos” although they no longer apply. Barring the Dream Team and to a lesser extent the Ronny 03-06 teams, staying calm and executing under pressure has not been one of modern day Barca’s best attributes. I just never got that vibe from this team. Of course the obvious turning point for this change in mentality was probably the Iniestazo @ the Bridge. That said, I hope we develop more ruthlessness to go along with the swagger and not get drawn into overconfidence.

    – We still have to work on closing down counter attacks. I am loving Abidal’s new found fondness for attacking but I would rather have Busi move over to the left to cover for him instead of Pique (who should stay in the center). I LOVE Gerard but he is not at his best in the open field providing lateral cover.

    – Abidal had ONE almost fatal mistake when he missed a tackle, forcing Pique to come out and take the man with the ball on the wing which left three Dynamo players running through the center against Puyol. Credit Pique with the handball. In my honest opinion, it should have been a red card because if that pass go through there was a 3-1 chance that a Dynamo player gets it and is through on goal. However, it ended up saving our skins.

    – Guardiola came out to play possession football because he that first of all we had to keep them from scoring before scoring ourselves. That worked out great didn’t it? 😀 Two minutes in and we concede but Pep stayed the course. Its the type of counterintuitive crazy thing that makes you proud of this philosophy. When we want to keep a lead, we don’t put in an extra CB or a defensive mid, we put in Iniesta or Messi and increase our possession. Our version of parking the bus is to hog possession and carefully pick our spots before going vertical. This was a Barca version of bus parking. Sure, I’d like for some more finishing but for THIS game, the gamble paid off.

    – Iniesta has not had a great first half of the season. He was excellent as an outlet and a midfield passer but offensively, he was as completely shut down on the left wing as I have ever seen him by a fullback playing against him on an island. Andres being Andres will never complain but he has publicly said before that he likes playing midfield much more than the left wing. I simply see him as out of whack lately. He is still missing that cutting edge final through ball. If he is among the world’s best attacking midfielders then despite all of his possession and passing, he NEEDS to score at least ONE goal every four months or so. Ibra will not score as much as Samu but he will open up more space for the midfielders. Keita and Xavi have put in a few but Andres needs to step it up in that department and be more aggressive without the ball. Look for him to play much better this weekend when he (instead of Messi) is given the free role through the middle.

    – Did you guys know that Abidal has ZERO (as in 0, NADA, ZIP, NOT ONE) goals in his professional club career? Goodness!?!? Any over-under’s as to who scores first at this rate, Iniesta or Abidal? 😀 Hell, lets hope he gets his first career goal this season.

    • Kxevin
      December 10, 2009

      Let’s not forget the collective Alves/Pique error that resulted in the goal (yes, thanks to Valdes). At least Abidal’s error didn’t change the scoreline.

      Ratings are coming. Work is insane, so Isaiah got a review up.

      I find it funny that some media outlets are saying that we had a “shaky” match. Hilarious.

    • Liza
      December 10, 2009

      Hector, your posts are my favorites. You “see” this team much better than I do. I’ve never had a head for tactics, though I’m trying to learn from you all. 🙂

      I like the idea of us “parking the bus” by with-holding possession. “You won’t let us through? Then you can’t touch the ball.” And then they get frustrated and tired and it’s our turn to attack.

      I don’t think that anyone has hit their own personal highs yet this season, which is actually very reassuring. In regards to Iniesta, I wouldn’t say that he is a terrible finisher (though he’s not very good), because he doesn’t seem to let himself get to that point in front of the goal very often. I think we got spoiled by the Iniesta who came out after his injury near the end of last season. That Iniesta was much more willing to attack than the present version. I’m not sure if it is confidence or what that he needs to regain, but he’s definitely slid back a bit in terms of performance.

      BTW- this has been discussed, but I’d like to get your opinion: what’s up with Messi’s finishing? I’ve never been of the opinion that this year’s has been worse than any time previous, but people seem to think it’s becoming an issue. What do you think? Should we worry?

      • Hilal
        December 10, 2009

        Nah, I dont think it is anything to worry about. Strikers go through periods like this when they just cant seem to put the ball in the back of the net. Remember Samu at the end of last season? I remember there was a game near the end of the season where he must have had at least 5 great chances to score and he couldnt take any of them. As a player, especially a player like Messi with so much weight on his shoulders, when you miss a few good chances it plays on your mind and then the next time you get a chance, in the back of your mind you have that lingering doubt. That little bit of doubt is what gets in the way of scoring. Dont worry though, he is getting back to his best. Once he finishes one or two of those 1 on 1’s he is will be back to his clinical self. In the meantime we have Ibra who is being very clinical, although yesterday was not one of his best games.

    • Boat Forever
      December 10, 2009

      True about Iniesta… He has to start wearing his shooting boots to get the maximum out of our ‘suppposedly’ most expensive signing(Kevin explained he’s not :D)

    • Mikel
      December 10, 2009

      I know the wiki article says that he hasn’t scored ever, but he scored a goal whilst in Lyon in France’s League Cup, which I believe is an official competition, akin to England’s Carling Cup or the extinct “Copa de la Liga” in Spain.
      Article about Abidal’s goal here:
      *http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=400377&cc=5739

    • Mikel
      December 10, 2009

      know the wiki article says that he hasn’t scored ever, but he scored a goal whilst in Lyon in France’s League Cup, which I believe is an official competition, akin to England’s Carling Cup or the extinct “Copa de la Liga” in Spain.
      Article about Abidal’s goal here:
      *http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=400377&cc=5739

      • Mikel
        December 10, 2009

        And the video:
        *http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-9069053189400957922#

  24. December 10, 2009

    I really don’t know the reason of all this depression about this season. I believe it’s the impact of the great surprise the team delivered at the beginning of last season where everyone was coming from a stressful summer and then BOOM 4-0, 6-1, etc….etc… But the same as this was a surprise for the fans, it was also a surprise for the opponents. Afterward, they started to try some tricks to stop this team and the period before December was our best performance last season. When it come to goal scoring, in 15 games we finished nine games with more than two goals difference (like 2-0,3-1,4-0 etc…) seven games of the 15 we finished with more than 3 goals difference. No way to compare this season performance to that, right? Wrong.
    This season we played 14 games so far. 9 games ended with two goals difference or more. Four with more than 2 goals deference. We lost no games and we made our best start ever in the league. We qualified to the CL knock out stages in the most difficult group (can we say the same about last season?) and we are still in the cup as well.
    In the CL, Last season we won 3-1 against sporting at home (compare that to the stars free game against Inter), 2-1 against Donetsk(Not even as good as last night result regarding performance) 5-0/1-1 against Basel and 5-2 against Sporting, then we lost a game we didn’t need at home.
    The only big things here were the 5-0 against Basel (but how will a game against Basel end this season? They are NOT Kazan!) and the game against Sporting (check their following result against Bayern to value the result we made).
    What’s more important is that we exceeded last season output in a situation where we are still not at our peak performance, which-again-was not the case last season. While last season we were -in December- hoping the team will KEEP its form, now we are confident that the team will most likely IMPROVE.
    It’s more a matter of mood than a matter of judgment if you ask me.
    As for last night game, it was simply a copy of Kazan game. And I hope that it proved the strategy in Kazan was not a coincidence (Nor that I was creating stories there). This is a method of play that we will use when needed. It was just a pure magic if you ask me. As perfect as any trashing result we made last season, if not better.

    Hector, ask yourself how come that for the second time in two games Abidal found a space on the left flank to run throw. Iniesta can play on the left and drag more players to that spot, or he can cut inside pulling these players and opening the space for Abidal and Keita. Anyone who think we were poor on the left flank last night REALLY need to watch the game again. During the first half we were a “Left sided” team offense wise. When you watch this game again remember my words, and if you didn’t see it, then reject my notation.

    Abidal actually did another mistake minute 52, when he –again for the third time this season- take things for granted. Luckily the Ukrainian header was bad, or else we would have conceded. Pep really needs to talk to Abidal now about this detail. Or else, he was great.

    And I have to say that the comments about Pep before the game were disappointing. At least on a blog where the “In Pep we trust” took place the first time. If you can’t understand him, then it’s fair enough to say you don’t share his opinion, but no one is in the position to attack him. Unless-at least- if the pissed off fans are willing to admit being wrong after they understand his intentions more. Luckily we didn’t lose the game or else: “SACK PEP!” will be the call. Let’s hope he keep on winning so we “Trust him more”.

    • Catalanblood
      December 10, 2009

      Plus I’m sure teams getting more familiar with how Barca plays now compared to last year where they were “suprised”, as you put it. I think it’s also a factor why we don’t seem to look as dominating as last year. I think one big difference now also is that other teams have that “if you beat Barcelona, you can beat anyone else” mentality. We really are the team to beat, and though we also were last season, there were still doubts. Now people are more convinced that we really are the best attacking team in the world and they’re all preparing for the Barca barrage.

      And you’re right, Ramzi. Though the goal counts don’t seem to be as high as last year’s, we’re still dominating the opposition. I mean an 80%-20% possession? Jesus Christ that only happens to me when I play FIFA. Given that we really will mesh more and improve as team in the coming weeks, I’m freaking excited to watch the next games. I do hope that we become the first team to win back-to-back CL. That would be a wet dream come true.

  25. Kxevin
    December 10, 2009

    Oh, piffle on the Guardiola comments. I think that every pre-match comment was prefaced with “in Pep we trust,” or “Guardiola knows more than me.” Just as fans can quibble with the performance of players, they can second-guess a coach. Then the coach can call bullshit on that second guessing by being right.

    It’s all part of the game. People have been ripping players a new one left and right in this space. Why not give Guardiola a little bit?

    Speaking of Guardiola:

    http://www.goal.com/en/news/12/spain/2009/12/10/1678817/barcelonas-pep-guardiola-incites-political-rift-we-are-our

    When asked why he was answering some questions in Catalan, he replied “We are a country with our own language and when we leave its borders, those of us that speak it, use it.”

    Suffice it to say, some feathers are ruffled. The dudgeon is particularly high over at Marca. Imagine that.

    And yes, Abidal makes mistakes. So do all the other defenders. Is he this week’s whipping boy? He’s been our most consistent defender all season. Xavi gave the ball away, Iniesta dribbled into piles of defenders, Messi missed chances, Ibrahimovic gave the ball away like it was Christmas. Lots of mistakes. Is there a specific reason that we’re tracking Abidal’s?

    Or do I have to start an Abidal Fairness Committee now? 😀

    • December 10, 2009

      All the other players mistakes were pointed out when it happened, no one considered is at whipping, but more as evaluating. why does it have to be different with abidal?

      I think we need to start a None-Abidal Fairness Commitee then 😉 For the rights of the rest of the squad (most of them).

      ——————————————

      “In pep we trust”
      How stupid is he (Pep)?!!

      ——————————————

      We even lost a Cule who switched to become an EE fan 😀
      It was craziness last night. Whether people admit it or not.

      • Kxevin
        December 10, 2009

        The person who said they were becoming an EE supporter was clearly joking.

        And sorry, but if you have to say “at minute 53, Abidal made a mistake that could have resulted in a Dynamo goal,” that’s reaching. Many other match reports that you read single out Abidal for overall excellence.

        You could do that with every player in every match, I rather imagine. “At minute XX, if Puyol hadn’t run left, our opponent could have scored.” But they didn’t. Our defenders are supposed to have each other’s backs, so that they can make mistakes and we still don’t concede.

        So singling out Abidal for a mistake that could have resulted in a goal, seems like singling him out for a reason that escapes me. Admittedly, that’s my opinion.

        Fans say all kinds of stuff in the heat of a moment. Obviously, a man who has brought the club glory in record-setting style, isn’t stupid. Far from it. But fans always caterwaul about stuff. Every fan is an armchair coach at heart. It’s part of the fun.

        • December 10, 2009

          When its a mistake that Abidal did three times so far this season, then not mentioning it is as strange as not noticing it.

          Thats an invalid logic. What did valdes do wrong last night beside the goal? So lets not mention it. If its Abidal, Puyol, Pique or whoever he is. If he repeatedly does the same mistake then it has to be mentioned.

          You will say he didnt do this mistake before (keep focused without guessing things). The same as there is always a reason to make things sound more ugly no matter what, there will always be a way to make some other players mistakes sound well…”Eh not a big deal”.

          The reason why I mention specific events is the fact that if I will say:”Abidal anticipation is not at its best recently”, you will be the first one to jump saying thats not true. So I am pointing out specific events. And still you dont like it 😀

          I say things the way I see it and understand it. You do the same from your behalf. Fair enough.

          • Kxevin
            December 10, 2009

            Then I await the observation (which I have made in the past) about Puyol being in fireman mode and getting out of position. He’s done that numerous times this season.

            Or Alves getting caught pinched in toward the middle of the pitch and consequently, not being able to get back to cover a break that comes up his wing. Again, it’s happened many times this season.

            Valdes has been caught leaning the wrong way a few times this season, which points to his positional anticipation.

            The Yaya (and Busquets) tend to get lazy and stick a leg out, rather than running hard to get into position to stop a play.

            The list goes on. Indeed, we both see things the way that we see and understand them. But everybody makes repeated mistakes. Let’s call them all, I say.

          • Boat Forever
            December 10, 2009

            Alves need not get caught up the pitch for that Kxevin… He can do that stuff while being in our own half as well!! eg.. That Marcelo’s chance on 26th minute against Madrid where Puyi had to that awesome tackle to save our asses!! Agree that was not entirely up to Alves there, but he does that quite often which makes me wonder if he keeps forgetting that his first priority on the pitch is to defend. Against Rubin, in the home leg, he was caught day-dreaming like 4-5 times!!

  26. Kxevin
    December 10, 2009

    This very cool bit from the ESPN match report:

    There was a rare spectacle on the way out of the Lobanovskiy. Dynamo fans applauded the small band of travelling Barca supporters and the Catalans chanted “Dynamo” in response. The mutual respect spoke volumes of the quality of the contest throughout the group – vindication of the current format or a suggestion that only genuine champions should be involved?

    • SoccerMom
      December 11, 2009

      Baltásar came to my house in UPS brown.
      My baby’s been naughty, but his VV1 kit is wicked nice.
      Might click to link and hook me to up, too.
      Soccerbabies, it’s coooooold outside!

  27. December 10, 2009

    Is there a place to watch the game w/o downloading it? I couldn’t watch the second half; was in a meeting.

    I too find the hand-wringing over the team a little strange. We’re unbeaten in La Liga, and just topped the toughest group in the CL. There are some concerns to be sure — Henry’s form, the fact that Pep chooses to play Xaviniesta together in midfield once every three games, the fact that Yaya gets a game once every five games — but it’s not the end of the world, people. Frankly, I think this team is steel-ier and tougher to beat than last year’s.

    • Kxevin
      December 10, 2009

      As I’ve posted before, we’re on a record-setting club pace in the Liga, off to the best start evah, have won two pieces of silver this season, and if we win the Club Championship, would have grabbed six trophies in less than 12 months.

      We’re doing okay. We aren’t going to annihilate everyone as we did last season, for a number of reasons:

      1. We’re the big boys on the block who everybody plays out of their minds to try to beat, or at least not lose 5-0 to.

      2. There are a lot of matches in our legs. You can’t overestimate the effect of not finishing well season before last. That meant no early-season cup competitions, etc, etc. So the team could play together and come together.

      This season, not only were we playing late into the season, but had to tack vacations on the end of that, so players were coming back later. Add in Internationals, a big new face, and the effect is undeniable.

      And yet, we’re still getting the results.

      3. Injuries. As a 48-year-old athlete, it’s hard to come back from niggling injuries. As a 32-year-old athlete competing at the highest level for club and country, coming back from a rather serious knee injury, I can only imagine how much life must suck for Henry, who said about a month ago that he plays in pain pretty much all of the time.

      The integration of Ibrahimovic was delayed by his coming to us with a busted wing. Then the ankle, then the hamstring. Messi’s injuries are more psychological, after time with Maradumber. Iniesta is still recovering.

      So we aren’t as good now as we’re going to be a month from now. And we’re still winning.

      Now having said that, yes, fans are going to clatter about how the team and its players are doing. Just as people can rip on Henry, they can ask why a favorite player isn’t being played. It’s all part of the deal. But it is important not to misinterpret that clattering from fans as a general dissatisfaction about how our beloved club is doing. I think that everybody is over the moon at how we’re doing, and if they aren’t, they’re crazy.

      I’ll repeat the Al Davis saying: “Just win, baby.”

      • December 10, 2009

        Well…I missed the time we used to agree on something so, FINALLY, here I say it:”I agree”. Phew!:D

        I am not misinterpreting anything though. I dont do that. Its not the “dissatisfied comments that I mean. Its a comment like:

        “FUCK THIS. I am now an EE fan.”

        • Alex
          December 10, 2009

          Ramzi, that was my comment, and it was dripping with sarcasm. Unfortunatley the interwebs does not allow me too make that obvious. I was expressing my frustration about not being able to see Yaya again, that’s all. I would sooner shave my butt and glue the hair to my forehead then become an EE fan, now thats the truth.

          • Kxevin
            December 10, 2009

            Um, thanks for an image I’m going to have a hard time shaking, Alex. 😀

          • December 10, 2009

            And I was talking about that frustration that went too far.

            Obviously there are players who are put over the coach and sometimes over the club (with or without intention). The same as you generate popularity when you critisize some players and it goes the other way when you critisize others.

            Its all fine for me. As I am not the kind of guys who get over-emotional in this matter 😀

          • jnelson
            December 10, 2009

            WHOA! I dont know if I would go that far. What passion! haha

  28. December 10, 2009

    also ot, the chelsea suarez rumors seem to be heating up. wonder how much weight there is to them?

    • Boat Forever
      December 10, 2009

      They do need a striker during January because they’ll be losing both Drogba and Kalou for ACN… So they would be left with only Anelka and utterly inexperienced duo of Kakuta & Sturridge!!

      • skyislm
        December 11, 2009

        …and anelka spells like s.h.i.t, if you watched the citeh game! maybe they are really after suarez

  29. Maki
    December 10, 2009

    It’s official – Messi’s out for the derbi…

    • Boat Forever
      December 10, 2009

      For how long!? We were certain he’s gonna miss the derby anyway!!

      • Maki
        December 10, 2009

        According to the website, he has a grade II sprain and they still don’t know if he’ll be able to play the Club World Cup.It could have been worse…

        • Helge
          December 10, 2009

          He should also miss the CWC semi-final (that’s my opinion, not confirmed news). I don’t want him to be forced to play, and if we don’t reach the final without Messi, we don’t deserve to win it anyway.

          • jnelson
            December 10, 2009

            Maybe fate is on P!s side for his whole history making thing.

    • BL
      December 10, 2009

      sucks!

      espanyol are rocking 14th place at the moment with -12 goal difference, so perhaps all we need is a little pedro! messi can sit this one out and get healthy.

      its not a foregone conclusion that we’ll win, but damn if it ain’t tilted in our favour.

      • Eduard
        December 10, 2009

        I think they were in a similar situation last season and they put up a good fight. 2-2 was the final score, if memory serves me right.

        • Kari
          December 11, 2009

          Nope. They beat us. 3-2. Caused a fuore of talking points; mostly the EE press that went mad with ‘we can catch them’. Looky-looky, they lost to bottom dwellers Espanyol!”

          Remember when Keita was sent off and Valdes basically passed the ball to ‘The Buddha’ who then chipped him to score?

          Yeah, that game.

  30. December 10, 2009

    Kevin, there is nothing wrong to say that Alves get caught out of position sometimes and anything else of what you mentioned above. Really. So I dont know what that has to do with saying that Abidal showed a weakness in his performane that he needs to perfect. Mind you he is a player whom I defended since day one, so nothing to take against me in this matter.

    Good player doesnt have to be Perfect player who is over any critic. Abidal is a great defender even though his anticipation is weak. Pique is a great Defender but he lacks some pace. Iniesta is a great player but he lacks some physical elements, and yes the list goes on indeed.

    I remember once I said that Messi still lack some skills and you agreed with me. We all say Iniesta need to enhance his finishing. And so on. Why when it come to some specific players it has to be different or else it turns to an emotional debate?

    Well, not for me. What a player lacks he lacks. When a player play a good game its a good game (regardless of his history), and when he plays a bad game I will note it. Thats the way it went all the time through my comments and thats how it will keep on going.

    If I critisize Marquez now I will get a Medal. Hell even if I say Milito is a bad defender (says who?). but in the other hand, Some people got offended when I said things about Eto’o last season (Specially from the day one when I brought Ibra name to the table). others when I say things about Yaya, or Messi, or Iniesta, or Henry, or abidal. Thats not something I can control, as long as I dont tend to say only what others may like. There are always honey players and salty ones.

    I can live with that 😉

    • eklavya
      December 10, 2009

      salty reminds me of a certain joke….
      😀

    • john
      December 10, 2009

      I’ve made mental notes in the past about how the K.R.S. purports to start a player at zero and work its way up, not the reverse (start at 10 and then subtract). While this usually seems to be the case, Abidal (who had the highest average rating, last time I checked) seems to be the exception. There was at least one case when Kevin even wrote something to the effect of ‘tell me one thing he did wrong. One thing!’ Which, in itself, and according to the declared rules of the system, could justify a zero as much as a 10.

      I’m not bringing this up as a specific point to argue, (and I enjoy and largely agree with the K.R.S.) but more to say that I, too, have noticed that the Kxev seems to be a bit biased when it comes to Abidal. Just my observation.

  31. BL
    December 10, 2009

    busquets had a great game at DM, i was in shock that yaya didn’t play. man i’m dying to see that dude get some game time! but sergio stepped up big, he was calm, great simple passing, awesome feints to throw off defenders when he needed to, very impressive. if only he could be like that consistently, though i’m banking on him learning that aspect of his game over the next couple seasons.

    as to why yaya isn’t playing? its getting silly now, but who knows what happened behind the scenes? yaya came out and said theres no other team he would want to go to, barça is the best. it just seems a waste to not use him running up to the ACN. yeah, i know we are all thinking the same thing..

    • Miguel
      December 10, 2009

      i thought busi played well too. he’s a really great passer of the ball. better than the yaya? :v/ bouquet’s like a somewhat more defense oriented pirlo or something. when he and keita are partnered up, so that all the defensive responsibilities aren’t solely placed on his shoulders, they lock shit down.

      as for the yaya not playing, i’m thinking pep doesn’t want him returning all burnt out the way messi did after being worked like a rented mule by maradumbfuck. now messi’s injured. coincidence? maybe.

    • Jnice
      December 10, 2009

      Yeah I was happy with the game Busi played, though I think Yaya should get a chance to play against Espanyol.

  32. Miguel
    December 10, 2009

    i liked pique’s pau gasol impression yesterday. he didn’t play that well. don’t hear too many people noting that.

    this was like the kazan game in that when iniesta drifted to the right and was able to play along side xavi as his outlet, messi in the middle, and ibra dragging defenders by the ear over to the left, things started clicking. the moment he ran over there i was like, “fuck yeah, goals a coming!” we score two minutes later.

    iniesta didn’t really start scoring goals until late last season. i remember that really great goal against valencia he took from a ways out. he didn’t even really shoot the ball, he passed it into the net. all that shit culminated w/his goal against chelsea. it’ll come back to him.

    • Eklavya
      December 10, 2009

      don’t you mean the sevilla goal?

      • Miguel
        December 10, 2009

        maybe. i don’t know. i smoked a lot of weed as a kid.

        • Eklavya
          December 10, 2009

          you could pass me the leftovers you know…traffics are common here 😉

          • Miguel
            December 10, 2009

            nobody i know smokes anymore, sorry :o( friend’s used to be growers. used to make butter from their leftover shake. best. brownies. ever.

      • Miguel
        December 10, 2009

        you’re right eklavya

        //http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGiFtCOqmuU

    • Miguel
      December 10, 2009

      i was thinking the inter game. oh my.

  33. BL
    December 10, 2009

    iniesta’s final balls this season have been awful. how many times in the last couple weeks has the tried that diagonal pass from the left into the 6 that has resulted in absolutely nothing. mostly the same with dani, can’t wait for those dudes’ passing to click more, benefit of that is it takes the burden off xavi as the sole creator – come to think of it messi’s passing has been frustrating too this season.

    yeah pique didn’t play well… in the first 10 minutes but he was great after that. just some early jitters. well… that handball, not sure if you categorize that as bad play or smart play… depends on which team you support i guess. from the trajectory of the ball i don’t think it was going anywhere near that open attacker, but still gerard had no idea and threw and arm out.

  34. Eklavya
    December 10, 2009

    Oh I had almost forgotten, if anyone’s still interested I’ve translated another Ballon D’or video for TotalBarca:

    *http://www.totalbarca.com/2009/offside/video-special-paying-homage-to-the-ballon-dor-lionel-messi/

      • Vj
        December 11, 2009

        You are Ekar? You did the translation? I don’t believe it.. Why? NO MENTION OF PEANUTS..

        • eklavya
          December 11, 2009

          Yes, ‘Ekar’ is name I usually use in the internet except here (no idea why). I know, no peanuts but I didn’t want to risk it….if you get what I mean 😉

  35. Kxevin
    December 10, 2009

    If there was a good time for Messi to sprain his ankle, this is it. If we need him to beat Espanyol, some shit has gone really wrong. Same for the World Club Championship. Recall that we crushed Inter with neither Messi nor Ibrahimovic.

    • jordi
      December 10, 2009

      Dont you remember inter let us win because they weren’t motivated :)? I mean they were only playing the defending champions with the chance to make a statement and provide a killer blow in our qualification chances. Who would be motivated for such a meaningless game 🙂 ?

  36. Kxevin
    December 10, 2009

    Oh….

    Grade II Ankle Sprain:
    “A grade II ankle sprain is more severe partial tearing of the ligament. There is usually more significant swelling and bruising caused by bleeding under the skin. Patients usually have pain with walking, but can take a few steps.”

    Messi finished the match out, then needed to be helped off the field. On the other hand, if it’s an ankle sprain like the one that Ibrahimovic suffered, he’s already running. 😀

    • BL
      December 10, 2009

      i knew instantly by the way his ankle tweaked that he’d done it, was just praying for a less severe outcome. guess its not that bad, i haven’t seen any length of recovery but at least he didn’t tear anything.

    • Ethan
      December 10, 2009

      Hope he comes back for the World Club Championship. I remember missing his presence on the field in the 2006 final. But damn was i shocked when we lost. After being mesmerized by our smashing of Club America, i couldnt believe it. And does anyone remember how great ronaldinho and deco played in that thrashing? Ronaldinhos kick back to a running deco who blasted in a ball that moved every which way from faaar out was siiiiiiick. Playing in Japan for this tournament was cool, hopefully its still fun to watch next week. AND hopefully we have out little Messiah back in time so he can enjoy the tournament this time around. Visça El Barça.

      • bill
        December 10, 2009

        I think ankle is better than hamstring injuries, that slowed him down in the past. All the same, wish you speedy recovery Messi!

  37. bill
    December 10, 2009

    Truth be told, when that Dynamo player rose to head the ball uncontested, my first thought was, “who was the defender supposed to cover that guy?” and the replay showed it was Abidal not contesting that header. It’s not being picky, it was just a glaring defensive lapse by an otherwise very good defender. And if Puyol or Pique did it, we would point it out too.

    Speaking of Abidal, am I the only one who notices that his surges forward have become more frequent and more effective when Henry is on the bench? I think I pointed this out last season, I noticed Henry just didnt make use of him as much as Messi did with Alves. I noticed Abidal making soo many runs forward, only to be ignored by Henry, who was more interested in either making a run of his own, or cutting in and looking for a one-two with the midfielders. Nothing against Henry, but Iniesta and Pedro work with him better.

    As for Yaya, I dont buy the common sentiment that Busquets is being prepared for ACN. If you are preparing someone, you simply dont bench your main player for most of the important games. Are you saying that Pep is willing to destabilize the midfield for 4 months and risk losing some important games because he is preparing busquets for a 1 month performance? With Yaya on the bench, you have to play Keita more to help Busquets,which then means you have to move Iniesta to the wing, and you get a less effective winger, an unhappy Henry and Yaya on the bench, but most important, less harmony, and command in the midfield… i think this is why, even though we are winning games, it just doesnt feel as clean or as commanding as last year. Maybe he is forcing Del Bosque’s hand in involving Busquets for the world cup?

    Great Interview by Xavi

    //www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091209/SPORT/712089898/1043/businesscolumnists

    • Ethan
      December 10, 2009

      Thanks for that link, GREAT article.

      • Kxevin
        December 10, 2009

        I also wonder if the reason that Abidal’s forward runs become more frequent with Henry on the bench is because he becomes the only option when Henry is on the bench.

        In both instances, he was an island on the left, running into acres of space. Those acres of space are filled with a fellow Frenchman and his coterie of defenders when Henry is out there.

        And I’m not saying that we shouldn’t call out Abidal for screwing up. I’m just saying that in this instance, it feels like it’s ONLY him getting called out (to me), and lots of folks are making errors, and more than once. Recall that Wandering Eric Syndrome is a phrase of my own creation. 😀

        I think that Guardiola has his own reasons for not playing The Yaya, and they were spelled out when they had that “Yo, tell your agent to shut up, because here are our plans for you” meeting. And The Yaya came out happy.

        • bill
          December 10, 2009

          Thats a good point about Henry, but I just remember seeing Abidal running along the sideline quite a few times, only to have Henry constantly work a move into the midfield when Abidal is waiting, I don’t know about Abidal, but if I make those runs and you ignore me, I’m not trying next time….maybe thats why Im on the comp typing about it while Abidal is actually doing it? Who knows 😉

    • john
      December 10, 2009

      Don’t underestimate the power of plain dislike. As in, what if Pep just doesn’t LIKE Yaya, personally. I still think that was the case with Eto’o.

      • December 10, 2009

        I cant agree here. A coach wants to achieve things. Pep is smart, and he knows he need his best players to win. And thats the only condition he takes while picking his selection. He bought Hleb, but he felt he cant help. He is using Keita more than Iniesta this season (even before Iniesta injury). Any one doubt that Pep likes Iniesta.

        Regarding Eto’o it was the same story as nowadays. Some said Pep hates Eto’o. Others said its an ego matter, some even called pep a racist (dont ask me how they jumped to that conclission). In fact -and time will prove- Pep wanted something different for his offense so he can achieve more.

        I think that Abidal move forward more because:

        1) with Iniesta-Xavi-Keita-Yaya/Busquets comanding the midfield he will be covered when he move forward.

        2)When Iniesta move to the center he pulls more players deep and that creates more space on the flank for Abidal.

        But thats only me.

        And ALL WHAT I SAID was that “Abidal need to pay attention to this mistake because he is doing it often now”. I mean come on…

        Lets hope Yaya and Henry starts against Espanyol and lead the team all the way. I will be as excited about it as Kevin will be while pointing out in his review that “Where are you the one who said they are under performing”. I will take that unfairness for the sake of the team 😀

        • Miguel
          December 10, 2009

          i’m leaning more towards ramzi’s hypothesis on this one. eto’o was left on the bench for the first few games after guardiola held a pressy telling everyone eto’o was surplus to requirements; hence the whole, “no one can guess wily old pep’s starting line-up” thing. he loses his first game, draws the second, then starts playing eto’o and booyah! pep mans up.

          • Vj
            December 10, 2009

            Which season are you talking about? Eto’o played against both Numancia and Racing..

            /http://www.fcbarcelona.com/web/english/futbol/temporada_08-09/arxiu_partits/lliga/jornada01/Numancia_Barcelona/partit.html

            /http://www.fcbarcelona.com/web/english/futbol/temporada_08-09/arxiu_partits/lliga/jornada02/Barcelona_Racing/partit.html

          • Miguel
            December 10, 2009

            ha! how dare you check the facts. hmmm…thats how i remembered it. maybe i have to get BACK on the weed or up my dosage of omega3s.

      • December 10, 2009

        I think if Pep didn’t like Yaya, we wouldn’t have given him an extension this summer, he would be gone. If you remember he was one of the first players to give a contract extension to during the summer. I think the reason is far beyond anything we understand, because we aren’t on the team, and we really don’t know what goes on between those ear’s of Pep. Everything else is speculation.

        • Kxevin
          December 10, 2009

          Note as well, in addition to wanting something different for the offense, that the board was also clamoring for Eto’o’s departure because of matters fiscal. I posted some Sid Lowe background on that in a previous thread. Here t’is:

          There was a financial and contractual imperative too; the board pushed for Eto’o to go as well. More, even, than Guardiola did. Forget the truck of cash, Barcelona considered the deal a straight swap. Eto’o’s contract was due for renewal. He wanted €10m net, a four-year deal, and no longer qualified for the 23% tax band. From Barcelona’s point of view, his salary would suddenly leap to €14.5m a year; more than €20m extra over the duration. Then there was the signing on fee, at around €10m. Barcelona didn’t see Eto’o’s departure in terms of a loss so much as an act of good housekeeping, enabling them to secure Ibrahimovic below €50m, the limit they’d set and the price at which they balked over Villa.”

          As far as Guardiola disliking The Yaya, a coach who wants to win will play Beelzebub if it will get him victories. ‘Nuff said. All the talk about Guardiola disliking Eto’o (if at all true) went out the window when pencilling in that starting lineup. It has to, irrespective of whether rumors have a shard of truth to them.

          I’ll be excited about wins. I don’t care a whole lot who starts, except from a psychological aspect. The Yaya made nice and said all the right things. A start would have been a nice gesture to keep a key player happy.

          • December 10, 2009

            I’m with you, I don’t care if somehow Hleb started and we won. Ok wait, I would care then, but all that matters is wins. Busi had pissed me off recently, but he held his own last night. I think Yaya will be around for quite some time, and we’ll be getting plenty of minutes.

            Speaking of hard to understand subs, Marquez in like the 85th minute?? I understand bolstering the defense for the final push, but Marquez?? whatevz, in Pep we trust.

          • john
            December 10, 2009

            Pep’s winning plenty without Yaya. Would he be winning as many with him? He did before.

            Look, to point out that my comment is ‘just speculation’ is so obvious it shouldn’t need to be said. Of course it’s speculation – this is a blog! I’m enjoying my little fantasy where Pep lets personal preferences influence his line-ups, regardless of whether they make the best sporting sense. I’m a Real fan, after all!

  38. bill
    December 10, 2009

    Well, Pep himself admitted he was responsible for Eto’o’s exit because of a ‘feeling’. Laporta also laid it squarely on Peps door step, saying “we loved Eto’o, but this is what our coach wanted, and we gave it to him” I don’t know how much more “insider” information Sid has above and Beyond those two….Damn, I promosed not to go back to this issue 🙁

    I think our concern is because there is no debate about Yaya’s performances. They have been there for all to see. Even Drogba admitted no one has ever defended against him like Yaya did (homeboy praise????) It definately raises eyebrows when he gets benched soo much, considering the calm and assurance he brings to the side (when’s the last time Yaya flopped or headed the ball directly to an opposing strikers feet?)

      • Kxevin
        December 10, 2009

        I’ll watch the match again. I have DVDs of the season. If you mean the Camp Nou leg, he tried a sliding tackle on the go-ahead goal, that came up short. I don’t recall any headers directly to an opposing attacker from that match. But the beauty is, I can go home and watch it. 😀

        • BA
          December 10, 2009

          DVDs of the season? where could one acquire these?

          of course, my compiled collection of our glorious run last season was just lost when my desktop’s harddrive melted.

          i think a brilliant idea, if it doesn’t exist already, is to offer Blue-Ray (because of it’s greater capacity) compilations of each team’s games for a given season or competition. you could get a set of Barcelona 08-09, Sevilla 04-05, Manchester United 98-99, A.C. Milan 92-93 and so forth with commentary in various selectable languages. with Blue-Ray it would only be a few discs so it could sell for $75 or so for half a season, and no doubt people would pay to relive some of those games and have a record to show their kids “THIS is how football used to be played at our club”. really give fans some more depth and history to draw from.

          not sure if that’s what your talking about, but i think some enterprising chap could make a boatload if they could get the commentary cheap (but after all what use does Sky or La Sexta have for games in their records that will only be shown a handful more times at best?) and the production costs down.

          • Kxevin
            December 10, 2009

            I just make my own, BA, by DVRing all the matches, and then dubbing either an entire match, or a highlights package. Sometimes it’s just the goals and their build-up, as well. For my own pleasure.

      • waleed
        December 10, 2009

        camp nou? a lazy sliding tackle? causing a counter attack? conceding the second goal? well,I thought we hanged Marquez for that one Ramzi ;P
        dont you get me wrong on this one! I’m not justifying his benching and I’m not in the position to do that! I’m just saying that Yaya wasn’t in his top form when he was benched!

        • Kxevin
          December 10, 2009

          Had to go back and find the Rubin review. Here’s what was said about the goal then:

          “until it was cruelly snatched away by a casual stab at the ball by Bojan Krkic who did a Busquets, knocked it directly into the path of an attacking Kazan player. The Yaya tried a sliding tackle ….

          Abidal was running for all that he was worth, trying to stop the play somehow, somewhere, and Rafa Marquez stood there as if he was waiting for the train as the player rushed past him, and the deed was done.”

          Now certainly, people can blame who they want for that goal. There was plenty to go around. Marquez was discussed in the review thread, but he was hardly hanged, partly because there wasn’t any rope left from the first goal caused by his giveaway in our end. 😀

  39. iBlau
    December 10, 2009

    Off-topic but a pretty hilarious article on CR’s competitiveness: //http://fistedaway.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/futfanatico-cristianos-competitive-fire-alienates-teammates-and-mates/

    • jnelson
      December 10, 2009

      How can you NOT celebrate your teammate’s goal. I could understand if you wanted to be all humble and not celebrate your own, but your teammate’s!? Ri dic ulous.

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