Barca/Dynamo Kyiv, the points, a.k.a. “Whinnnny! Whinnnny!”

Ain't my fault, dude.
Ain't my fault, dude.

Ah, the debate that roiled….

In the comments of Isaiah’s most excellent match review, Abidal was called out for the free header that the Dynamo player had, and really should have scored from, off a set piece. I defended Abidal, and it was pointed out that he was slack on marking his man, he’s done it before, etc.

Watch the video again.

When you do, and do that fancy DVR thing to view it frame-by-frame, you see that it is Keita’s man that crosses in front of him for the header. Abidal had his man covered, a man who winds up off to his right side, away from the play. I had to watch it about 4 times to see it. Now, certainly if we’re expecting Abidal to cover two men, his own and the one who leaked (not out of the realm, given the immense match that he played), he has some culpability for that golden chance for Dynamo. Otherwise, Keita should watch NBA games to learn how to box out.

Just saying.

A few more observations. Iniesta was playing the Henry position, which I now call Lonely on the Left. He finally drifts toward to middle as to have an opportunity to play with the other kids, exchanging places with Ibrahimovic.

–We were able to take advantage of Dynamo’s willingness to play for the draw and the Europa spot, to keep the ball, essentially forever. With possession stats verging on 80/20 in our favor, this match was a living, breathing manifestation of our “offensive defense” in action. Pass and move, pass and move.

–A gorgeous sequence of 18 passes led to the Abidal assist for the Xavi goal. Why was he so wide open? Again, he wound up occupying the Lonely on the Left spot, as the Dynamo defenders concerned themselves with Xavi, Iniesta (who was in the middle with Xavi), Messi and Ibrahimovic. Abidal had another curler for the head of Xavi that just missed, earlier in the first half.

–When we have a match done and dusted, it’s better to play one-touch, to protect Messi. He got hammered while making a run that he didn’t really need to make, and now he’s injured. The rest will do him good, but still.


Team: 8. An excellent display of ball control offense and defense. If you don’t have the ball, you can’t beat us. Teams know this, but defending against it is a lot more difficult than it seems, particularly if we don’t really want to score. We were as content with the 1-1 as Dynamo were.

Guardiola: 7. He made the right call on Busquets, whose movement around the pitch facilitated our passing game. But in the 20/20 that is hindsight, I would have started Henry, then subbed in Iniesta when we had to play tika-taka defense.

Valdes: 5. He has to make that stop. And with the Dynamo header, he didn’t follow the ball, so had the attacker made contact, it would have been a goal. He could do with watching some instructional videos by Casillas or Buffon, to see how they track the ball on set pieces to keep their body between ball and goal line.

Alves: 7. Strong match, particularly on defense, once he got the yips out of his system. Got beat pretty badly on the play that forced Pique to foul, yielding the free kick that led to the Dynamo goal.

Pique: 5. Uncharacteristically off, with sketchy early play, passes going awry and general mediocritude. He played out of it in spurts, but …. Also, if he’d gotten the deserved yellow for the foul, he could have been sent off (and really should have been anyhow) for that hand ball.

Puyol: 6. Solid from Captain Caveman. Did all the right things, didn’t have a ton to do.

Abidal: 8. Holding it down as usual, with omnipresence on the defensive end, and in the attacking end as that safely valve pass receiver.

Busquets: 7. KISS (keep it simple, stupid) led the way today, as he didn’t try to gild the lily, or make fancy little flicks or headers. He just kept the ball moving, and followed play to make a number of interceptions and play disruptions.

Keita: 7. Quiet, but excellent match from the man who has really come into his own this season.

Xavi: 8. I love watching him play, and when we play our offensive defense, it’s really remarkable to watch him play. He was always in full control, and that was quite the instinct on the goal that he scored.

Messi: 6. I know, I know …. I hate Messi. Yeah, yeah, whatever. He wasn’t all that hot in the first half, and was a ball hog in the second. One player shouldn’t have the ball at his feet that much. Hell of a free kick to get it up and over the wall like that.

Iniesta: 6. Solid for Ghostface. Really came into his own when all we were doing was possessing the ball. On offense, he can’t really dribble defenders these days, and can’t out pace someone, as Henry still can. Hmmm ….

Ibrahimovic: 5. Was dropping more balls than an all-boys primary school in springtime. One play had me screaming at the TV, as a pass just missed, and he just walked away from the loose ball, which Messi sprinted in to claim and attack. Dude, come on.


Pedro!: incomplete. Really came in to kill a little bit of time, and run around some. Good. Thanks.

Marquez: incomplete. If he can’t keep from getting egg on his face with this match, it will never, ever happen.

So. Next up we have Espanyol, World Club championships, then a much-needed break for the Liga.

Until then ….

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Recent Posts

Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. jnelson
    December 11, 2009

    I can’t believe you suggested Valdes study Casillas. Very Phil Schoen-like of you, Kxevin ;).

  2. cliveee
    December 11, 2009

    veeeeeeeeeictor should get lower than 5.

    thanks for the rating, now i feel like i can work properly.

  3. Andrew
    December 11, 2009

    Messi was “top drawer,” “pure class,” and at the “top of the onion bag.”

    Did I mention I’m from Pennsylvania?

    Come on Mate’, do better than a 6.

  4. Jose55
    December 11, 2009

    It pains me to say, but Valdes has shown in the last two games why he’s fourth fiddle in the Spanish selection. Those mistakes are deadly. Spaniards must see that and just imagine that happening against Italy at the World Cup quarterfinals, and have a mini-heart attack at the thought.


  5. vicsoc8
    December 11, 2009

    Haven’t weighed in on the Abidal nonsense yet, so I suppose I should so I feel complete.

    Just watched it again, and I would say it’s both Abidal’s and Keita’s fault. My understanding (which is likely wrong) is that we don’t play man-to-man on free kicks, in which case it doesn’t matter whose man it was.

    Even if we do play man to man, YOU DON’T STAND THERE AND WATCH THE BALL DROP. GO FUCKING TRY TO CLEAR IT. Both Abidal and Keita stood and watched, when both could have tried to make a play. I don’t care if it isn’t your man, make a play.

    Overall decent review, but I think you missed the boat with this comment: “On offense, he can’t really dribble defenders these days, and can’t out pace someone, as Henry still can. Hmmm ….” and this comment: “I would have started Henry, then subbed in Iniesta when we had to play tika-taka defense.”

    I like Henry, but he just hasn’t been playing well, and I haven’t really seen him outpace anything this year other than the linesman holding up his flag. Besides, tactically we needed to keep control of the game and Iniesta is better for that than Henry.

  6. Liza
    December 11, 2009

    Don’t you feel better for posting the numbers? Now everyone can complain! 🙂

    I have to agree with you on Messi. After being fouled for the 100th time, shouldn’t he have figured out that holding the ball was risky and stupid? I guess he could have been trying to draw fouls earlier on to win free kicks, but once we got that second point, he should have just passed. But his work rate was really good– maybe I didn’t notice it as much before, but recently he has been working hard on getting back lost balls, going after those 50-50s, etc.

    It seems like Abidal might be a potential new man-crush? I wouldn’t blame you because I’ve been impressed with nearly every performance.

    • SoccerMom
      December 11, 2009

      Especially with rumors of trouble in Yaya paradise.

  7. December 11, 2009

    8 for abidal is too much…
    he lost his man a few times..
    just because of an assist and a great header doesnt mean he earns an 8..
    messi earns at least a 7!
    but ibra was really lazy!!!

  8. Vj
    December 11, 2009

    Madridistas in denial..


    I’m sure a draw in the Clasico would’ve made us better than them.. A loss perhaps? 😛

    This article best sums up their sentiments..


    • skyislm
      December 11, 2009

      Let me think what happened last year. RM lost 2-0 at Camp Nou and celebrated it like a victory. Pep was not able to stand that celebration and mauled them 2-6 at the “you-know-where”! Now they are doing it again! Should I wait till April?

  9. ashu
    December 11, 2009

    6 for messi ? that is nearly amusing.

  10. Sid
    December 11, 2009


    Seriously, Why do you not like Iniesta? 🙂

    • Vj
      December 11, 2009

      Don’t you know? Kevin hates everyone..

      What do you mean “everyone”?


      • Kxevin
        December 11, 2009

        Vj is right. I hate everyone equally. It keeps me honest.

      • December 11, 2009

        Is that a Leon the Professional reference!? NATALIE PORTMAN IS BAAAAAAAACK

  11. December 11, 2009

    I didnt read the whole thing yet, but as predicted it started by defending the french man. In Brief:

    Football defense bible:

    – When the ball is crossed from the flank the defending full back of the opposite flank responsibility is to cover the far post. That defrending role is based on ZONAL marking, not MAN marking.

    – When you play football, you dont decide that “Its a foul/offside” and you just stop playing and wave your hand in the air. UNTILL THE REF BLOW HIS WHISTLE.

    Abidal didnt fullfill any of the two alphabatics in defense. He was wrong. Dont take things for granted and do your job from the start to end.

    This is one of the most obvious cases that no matter how creative we are pointing fingers accusing people left and right, its not the Marquez case nor the Busquets. This one was too obvious.

  12. Colby
    December 11, 2009

    I figure someone may as well defend the ratings of Iniesta and Messi. As far as Messi is concerned, I really don’t think he had a great game. Kevin is right about his first half, he really didn’t do much besides miss a one-on-one with the keeper. And he did look a little better in the second half, but it was more because he started going on crazy runs, which was probably not the smartest strategy when the other team isn’t afraid of kicking you. He should know better than that. If he didn’t score his free kick, I think this was a very average game for him. You can make an argument, however, that he deserves a 7 because he DID score his free kick.

    And Kevin, you are spot on about Iniesta; he was one-on-one with his man countless times throughout the game and couldn’t get buy him for the life of him. It either resulted in a turnover or an awkward back pass everytime. However, when we did the “a good offense is the best defense thing”, that is what Iniesta excels at, and he showed it.

  13. Hector
    December 11, 2009

    Damnit, Ramzi beat me to it!

    It’s zonal marking on set pieces. Our players don’t have “a man” but a zone to defend. In this case, Abidal had the far post. I’ll rewatch that part later today to be fair. Of course, if Kevin hates Messi then I apparently hate Abidal 😀 (just kidding, we all try to give all the players their fair due) despite him having (mistakes aside) alongside Puyi, the best game by any of our defenders.

    I would give Messi a slightly higher rating and by slightly I mean a 6.5 or MAYBE a 7. Remember when we always got on Samu’s case for missing one on ones or sitters. Well, Messi’s a forward too and he missed two golden chances today. That said, I thought he did a good job with possession and several great passes of his were wasted by a way below average Zlatan. In the second half, he terrified the Dynamo defense and he did get the winner though, right?

    I’m gonna analyze the first goal a little closer when I get back from work today.

    • December 11, 2009

      The issue I raised Hector was mainly stop playing before the whistle. Of course he got caught wrongly by the Offense movement. It happens. But its the matter of “Predicting” while playing.

      1) You can’t predict that Yaya will get that tackle right. When Bojan lost the ball, your role is to reposition. Waiting till the ball moved to the midline then predicting that “Yaya will get it so we set offense again” meant that when Yaya mistimed his tackle it was too late already. Marquez and Pique became against a 2X2 situation.

      2) When there is a player roaming on your flank you check him. Whether Busquets will head the ball to his own goal or will head it strong enough to score a goal against the opponent, its not your business. You check your player. Because if you dont and he ended up trashing you out of the play and penetrate into the box and score, then You carry responsibility.

      3) You cant decide that there is an offside, Foul, goal kick and just raise your hand and go to get the ball for valdes if the Ref didnt whistle already. Anyone who can watch that one again has to ask himself: Did Abidal raised his hand and stopped playing before the guy who was directly behind him headed the ball toward our net? There is really nothing to analyze about this one. Either it happened or not.

      And I can’t resist to note that people who start the “you are bias” argument toward anyone of us makes it hard for the rest of us to reveal our disagreements. When you dont agree with the guy (Kevin) just cause him the same headache I does by pointing out where EXACTLY you see things differently.

      And just to give the guy a credit, though he is never happy about it (When you dont agree with him), but the guy has the patience.

  14. December 11, 2009

    Jesus….it was the comments section of Isaiah’s post, and Abidal’s assist for Xavi’s goal! I’m sure everyone knows what I meant, but apologies for the sloppiness. Guess The Yaya isn’t the only one in a slump. 😀

  15. Hector
    December 11, 2009

    😀 . Respectful arguing with logic, reasoning, and willingness to be open minded is a huge part of what makes this such a great blog. As long as we disagree respectfully and make an argument other than “you are biased!” or “you hate X or Y player!” then its all good.

    Re: The most famous missed free header EVAR 😀 , all I remember is Abidal having the far post and a guy heading from there. It happens to the best of them. Like I said before, I’m gonna re-watch it to be fair before saying anything else.

    • Dee
      December 11, 2009

      But Kxevin is Pedro biased. No one denies it lol.

  16. JMo
    December 11, 2009

    Let’s discuss the YAYA’s playing time Wednesday, or lack thereof.

    At first, my heart sank into my belly as I saw Pep had left him out of the lineup, and for the first 20 minutes, I stood there shouting at Sergio. Not because he was stinkin it up, but because he wasn’t YAYA.

    And then I realized something that may be a valuable point.

    Yaya knew he wasn’t going to start when he said he was “happy at Barca.” One the eve of the Dynamo match. Why would he say that though, he probably knew he wasn’t going to play. So here’s my verdict.

    Yaya knows that he is saved for big games. Pep doesn’t want him to be spoiled on lesser opponents except for the occasionaly alien invasion at La Masia. And so, I do believe that Pep was saving Yaya for the match against Espanyol considering the hostility of the atmosphere.

    Yes Dynamo was the biggest game of the season for us, but PEP knew we could win it without YAYA. So by saving the Gargantuan Ivorian, he’s 100% for Espanyol which could be a very tricky match. All we needed was a draw to advance so Pep could afford to leave YAYA out, and know we have the death eater of Africa to hold down our pitch when we face De La Pena and friends.

    I don’t know if it’s all legit, but it calmed me down, and at least made sense in my mind.

    • Vj
      December 11, 2009

      Lets see how you cope when Pep benches Yaya, again.. 😛

      • Hilal
        December 11, 2009

        Personally I think Yaya was benched the last few games because he mouthed off to the press. Pep is sending a message, and an important one at that; he decides who plays and who doesnt and crying about it to the press is only going to make things worse.

        I think Pep probably had strong words with Yaya and made it clear that while he is a very valued player there are things that just arent done. Yaya did a 180 pretty damn quickly and basically came out and said the complete opposite of his first statement. I found that quite indicative of what is going on in the background. I hope he stays and I think he will, but I can certainly undertand Peps position.

    • December 11, 2009

      i say the same things to myself when pep chooses busi over yaya
      pep’s saving yaya for big matches..
      but RM, Inter, kiev was a big match…
      espanyol isnt..

  17. December 11, 2009

    Yaya and Henry are most likely starting against Espanyol in what I call “The reaction to rejection” Opportunity. Yaya/his manager complained AFTER Pep benched Yaya more than Yaya/expected, its not that Pep started to bench Yaya after he complained.Even though taking in consediration that we have TWO holding mids, things are still within the average. Just in the last few games, Busquets was used more than usual because he is better at being involved in the possession games and he is more dynamic in a less-static positional game. Yaya has his own games that no one can take away from him WHEN HE IS AT HIS BEST.

    Again, against Espanyol both Yaya and Henry need to show Pep (not the fans) that they are back. And I dont think Pep will hate it. Nothing better than snding the right message in a derby against Espanyol (which is not at its best so far this season which offer a better opportunity for slower come back). I can only hope.

    • Hilal
      December 11, 2009

      Yes, obivously Yaya was benched first, then complained, otherwise he would have nothing to complain about. However, since his comment he has only played ONCE and that was only cos Busi was suspended. As you said, before he started mouthing off to the press they were pretty even in terms of games and playing time, whereas now it seems that Busi is definitely getting more time. He hasnt even been subbed on in a any games. That to me seems like a pretty clear message.

      Now maybe I am wrong and maybe it is because the ACN is approaching and Pep wants to give Busi as much time/experience in big games as possible. I can certainly see a huge improvement from the player that started the season. Sure he still makes mistakes but I am a hell of a lot more confident going into Jan now than i was at the start of the season. Quite frankly I thought it might be the month that loses us the league. Now that I have seen Busi perform admirably in several big games I am quietly confident we will get through the ACN period pretty unscathed. I definitely think that affording him so many minutes was very important. It may have upset the Yaya and many Barca fans but I think it was necessary and I think it might just be the diff between winning and losing the league.

  18. SoccerMom
    December 11, 2009

    Brilliant Barça in cold Kiev.
    Less dash, less flash, more pause and pass.
    (No DVR just VCR with ‘Provigor’ commercials so sorry no devilish details only impressive impressions … )
    I groove to Barça Backtrack Boogie.
    Ping-ping-ping-up-out-up?-no-back-back-ping-ping-ping. Ping!
    The commitment to total footie is total.
    Contrast and compare:
    EE is Fifi’s. Or Cristi’s. Not ‘Grini’s. Not even — as I think it should be — Iki’s. Bern says captian ought to go out cold. Warming up wounds the ego. Imagine the ‘pep-talk’ you get if you say that to Pep. Gràcies, I’m good. Whoo-hoo!
    FCB isn’t Iniesta, or Messi, or Ibra. Mès que un club, even mès que un coach. Football filosofy. It’s a mastery and patience is its virtue.

          • Kxevin
            December 11, 2009

            Daddy likey! I’m going to have SoccerMom write the next review. 😀

          • SoccerMom
            December 12, 2009

            Aw shucks daddy-o’s but no can do.
            Got finals to grade and ‘I don’t like my number’ is all I hear this time of year.

    • Eduard
      December 11, 2009

      I’m reading it like William Shatner. Is that how you’re suppose to read that?

  19. Kxevin
    December 11, 2009

    Well I don’t know much of anything, but the Caceres for Poulsen rumors are buzzing (again). Apparently, Juventus want to keep Caceres, but don’t want to pay us the 12m that is the price. So they want to send Poulsen the other way, and call it a day.

    Or so says the rumor mill. I confess to not having seen enough of Poulsen to know what his deal is, so Serie A folks can fill me in on whether this is worth doing.

    –I’ll say it again: Messi’s injury comes at a perfect time. We should be able to beat Espanyol (at home, no less) without Messi, and we should sure as hell be able to win that World Club thing without him. Then it’s the two-week break, when everyone can get some much-needed rest, allowing to return fresh and healthy, and ready to conquer the world.

    The ankle should also keep Messi out of the friendly against Catalunya, which ain’t a bad thing.

    –Yes, I joke about it, but it’s kind of true: When it comes to the ratings, I hate everybody. I’m not a fan of anyone in general. It would impede my ability to rate them. Notice that Busquets gets one of the highest ratings for this match. If I hated him as much as many allege, such a thing wouldn’t be possible. Likewise if I love Henry so much, my coal-black little heart couldn’t find it possible to give him a 5, as I did for his last outing.

    Which means what? That I am reacting to what I see on my big-ass TV, after a couple of viewings and a serious workout of the frame-by-frame feature. I don’t see everything. But I see a lot.

    –Abidal. This argument is never going to go away. It’s all a matter of perspective. From my viewing, when Keita’s man leaked, suddenly Abidal was faced with a ball coming his way and a man behind AND in front of him. The defender’s default setting is always to fling the arm up and hope the ref gives it to you. It’s Abidal’s fault that Keita’s man leaked? Doubtful. Should Abidal have done more, like following the ball and trying to make a play? If he does, and the man getting the ball heads to the guy that he just left, what then?

    Just asking.

    –I think Hilal is right about the The Yaya business. (Damn, that looks almost as wrong as the possessive form of Eto’o.) Guardiola is the Boss. Capital B, full stop. The fact that Txiki B. called out The Yaya’s agent in a very public manner, followed by The Yaya not playing in some important matches, sends a clear and eloquent message. Yes, it’s all my speculation.

    –Messi. Yes, he’s known as the Messiah and all that. And fans might cheer when he does a fancy, ball-controlling dribble to nowhere that ignores teammates. I’m not. I hate when he gets into ball hog mode. And so does Guardiola I bet, because it makes us easier to defend. “Pssst. Just block the little dude. Pass it down.”

    –Iniesta. I know. It hurts to read it. But every time he came one-on-one against a defender straight up, the defender won. That doesn’t happen with Henry. Yes, Henry hasn’t been what he was last season, which doesn’t negate the point.

    • December 11, 2009

      Poulsen is not as bad as his “haters” say, but not even close to what we need at the moment. With Sevilla he was decent (he was even on our short list), But to be honest with you, I am not so excited about such kind of “Trial transfers” if thats even english. But I guess you got the point.

      I agree that we can win without Messi against Espanyol. We can win the CWC without Messi and we may not win it even if Messi played. I just want to note that Clubs of South America are usually underrated, they are very difficult to defeat most of the time.

      Regarding Abidal, we agree not to agree then. For me its a matter of “Play on the whistle” and “Take nothing for granted. Do your job”. The guy was behind him, where Keita had nothing to do. But anyways.

      Against Espanyol, Yaya can save us from creating stories on weekly bases by performing up to the expectations.

      • December 11, 2009

        Oh and just one more thing :D…

        I remember a game where Marquez was hooked between two roles, doing the basic role covering behind Pique, and doing the urgent role of closing up on the player Abidal left behind. He did the first and was blaimed for not doing the secong instead. Your Abidal/Keita Vs two players thing just reminded me of that one 😉

        • Kxevin
          December 11, 2009

          But that speaks to your earlier point about making choices. Abidal made a choice based on the situation, just as Marquez did. The latter just happened to make the wrong choice. Do results define right and wrong choices? Often, yes. And great players usually make the right choices, unless they’re in a slump like Messi, who is making the wrong choices in 1-v-1 situations these days.

          In that instance in question, if Abidal makes the choice to leave his man for the leaker, and that guy that Keita let through heads the ball to the guy that he just left, what then? So he made a choice that turned out to be (luckily) the sort-of right one. In the post-match perfection of hindsight, it was the “wrong” choice on paper. But the result makes it the right choice. Keita’s guy missed the header, but Abidal’s guy didn’t side foot in a tying goal. Yes, sometimes luck makes a wrong choice a right one in the result-based illogic of post-event assessment.

          It’s why I say that great players have the luxury of compressing time. In the 2006 World Cup final, Zidane nailed a rocket of a header. Buffon did the math, made the choices, and was in perfect position to make the save, and keep Italy in the match. A lesser keeper doesn’t make that save. Every situation demands a choice. The better the player, usually the more correct his choice is.

          • December 11, 2009

            Kxevin, I will take your discription of the instant as you said it (Regardless of what I think about it) :

            – There was a man attacking the far post behind Abidal, and another one was infront of him (Regardless of who is the one you think Keita left) Abidal man is the one on the far post. If he did his job with him the guy wouldnt be able to head the ball in the first place. But even if he head the ball to the other player, then its Keita or whoever responsible of covering at the center will carry the responsibility. Read your comments above again, do you think this is a valid point:

            “If Abidal would have marked the player on the far post, that guy MIGHT have headed the ball to his teammate, so instead Abidal left the guy free and at ease to head the ball toward the net.”

            Not every player make decesions on the field before the ref. I do not agree. He left the man and the ball and raised his arm the moment the free player behind him was doing his job. Thats wrong. If anyone else does it, its wrong. If everyone else does it, then it is still wrong. Noting that most of the defenders play till the ref stop whistle. Again, Abidal predictions.

            Regarding Marquez, he actually did the right choice. I wich if I can show it on a board, it will be more clear. Review that goal. Pique was marking a guy who is in possession, Marquez was covering behind him while another guy was approaching. In football when you lack numerical superiority in defense (If number of defenders are not more than the number of attacking players) we ask the defenders to delay the process. Which means positioning themselves in a way that cover defensively without making attempts to win back the ball till they get more support (more players to help). Why? Assume that Marquez left his role covering behind Pique and run to close down on that other player. The space between the last defender pique (who as already in trouble) and the goal keeper will be empty. The forward can easily play the ball into the space behind Pique back and pick it again while moving to a one-on-one against Valdes. The forward will get the ball first because he is facing the ball while Pique is giving his back to it. Besides, Marquez will not help more by taking the player man to man when there is no cover because the guy will still be able to out-race him demanding the ball in the space behind.

            Not sure how clear I explained it, but I hope it was clear enough.

  20. December 11, 2009

    Kev – as much as it pains me to say this….

    1) I agree regarding Messi. As Andy Grey won’t stop saying about my players on FIFA, “form is temporary, class is permanent… don’t worry he’ll be back.”

    2) Iniesta is my favorite player. I love players like him because of who they are on and off the pitch. But seriously, I think we’re being awfully forgiving of his performances recently. Granted, he’s being thrown in some different roles, and was dealing with injuries earlier, but a player like him should be trending up by right now. In reality, he’s our second worst midfielder ahead of Sergio. Which right now, seems more due to Sergio being terrible than Iniesta distinguishing himself. Am I crazy? Am I the only one thinking this? He hasn’t been terrible, but by and large he’s just not playing anywhere near last year’s level. And I’m starting to feel like Henry is getting far too much “credit” for the relative lack of left side attack this season…

    *Ducks behind a sturdy concrete wall*

    • December 11, 2009

      Could Andy Gray STFU with that statement? I’ve played one season at Barcelona and apparently my players have never had a good day despite constant drubbings of all and sundry suggesting differently. What a jerk!

      Have any of you noticed that the commentators have a great love for screaming “THIERRY HENRYYYY” when he gets the ball in the box? They don’t do that for anyone else. Oddly, whenever they’ve screamed that, I’ve never once scored with him.

      I scored with Muniesa once, on a header that put me through in the Copa del Rey semis. Cause I’m so badass I play Muniesa in CDR semis!

      shit, must write preview. KEVO, are you still going to Nevada Smiths?

      • December 11, 2009

        Yeah. Which is really weird when it’s on a one touch in the corner of the box to Ibra. By the time he finishes screaming, I’ve scored with poor (announcer) neglected Ibra. What’s super annoying is when he says “that just denied him his X straight game scoring a goal,” after that player scored earlier in the game…. whoops.

        You want to really have fun with FIFA? Turn on the Spanish commentary. And stop playing on amateur.

        Boom. Roasted.

        • Carles P
          December 11, 2009

          Yeah, Im on board with the spanish commentary. WAY BETTER!

    • Boat Forever
      December 11, 2009

      That bloody fucker Andy Grey (What’s the antonym of ‘sigh’?)*ed when Iniesta scored against Chelsea… Don’t ever mention about that bloody english arrogant ass in this forum PLEASE 😀

      • December 11, 2009

        Got some bad news, he’s headlining the world cup for ESPN.

        Doesn’t worry me, it will be fun to see him cry after England looses. Besides, he can’t be worse than Dick Vitale during college basketball season. Sometimes I think he’d talk shit about his own mother is she was playing Duke.

  21. vicsoc8
    December 11, 2009

    Regarding Abidal making the “right” or “wrong” choice.

    As a defender, who is the most dangerous man? The man with the ball. When the time comes for Abidal to make a choice, it is always the right choice to challenge the man with the ball unless a team mate is already doing just that. Abidal needs to go up and try to win the header, as the man who is taking the header is the most dangerous man.

  22. Boat Forever
    December 11, 2009

    Sport has an article on Valenciennes who play 4-3-3 formation inspired by our Guardiola and his achievements… Their manager says he shows his players our videos to inspire them and learn from them. He also compares his players to our Xavi, Ibra, etc

    SWEET 🙂

    • Boat Forever
      December 11, 2009

      They played in division 3 till 2005, got promoted to Ligue 1 only in 2006… Came 12th in the table last season and are now just 5 points behind ligue leaders standing 3rd themselves… Interesting

  23. December 11, 2009

    Regarding Abidal: I have no memory of any incident like what is being described. Thus, all of you are wrong and it never happened. (Seriously, though, I don’t remember it).

    And that, ladies and gents, is why Kevin does the ratings and not me.

    • Vj
      December 11, 2009

      Isaiah is right.. I don’t remember either..

      Maybe its because I only get to watch a match once, that too on a shitty stream but I cannot remember more than half of the incidents Kevin and Ramzi ramble about.. Even their posts are ATLEAST a page in length.. I read two lines and scroll down because I can’t understand what’s going on.. To me ignorance is bliss!

      • Kxevin
        December 11, 2009

        You’re right. Even I get tired of writing ’em. Which is why my new attitude is no more arguing. My new attitude is you’re right that I’m wrong. Next, please! 😀

    • Kxevin
      December 11, 2009


      There’s probably a post in this, which gives me the opportunity to use another lovely goat picture, as regards blame and player assessments. It seems like it all depends.

      I’ve basically agreed to disagree, so I’m done with it. But as a study, it fascinates me that Keita is absolved of culpability in the play, which has all come down to Abidal. So I’m thinking about the different view of Keita this season and how that affects how he’s looked at, compared to Abidal’s long-standing burden. Like Valdes, he’s still one error away from the villagers gathering with pitchforks and torches, to run him out of town.

      I guess the notion is one of slack. Some players get it, others don’t. Thoughts, everyone? We’ll have some dead time during the Liga break, when we’ll be scrounging for posts. Might as well start gathering string now.

      • vicsoc8
        December 11, 2009

        The problem with trying to assign blame to any one player is that, well, it’s a team game. For example, I think both Keita and Abidal should have worked harder to clear the ball, but why hasn’t anyone blamed Alves for giving away a free kick in a dangerous situation? Why not blame whoever initially gave away possession? All of these things go into that header, and in the end it is the whole team that must bear the responsibility for mistakes etc.

        (Note: this is in general, I still blame Marquez for trapping it to an opposing player, but you get the idea)

        Regarding slack, some players get more than others. Messi gets tons of slack because he is often decisive. People don’t care if he loses the ball 10 times if he scores the winning goal.

        I’m not sure exactly what causes this, but it seems to be different for different people. For example (this isn’t a criticism) I think you, Kxevin, have been giving a decent amount of slack to Abidal and Keita this year, but almost none to Bojan. I think it has something to do with personal expectations for a player (although this brings us dangerously close to our past discussions on what should be expected of Bojan, so let’s avoid that).

        • Kxevin
          December 11, 2009

          So I went back and looked at the reviews, and the points that I awarded Keita and Abidal, for any evidence of slack. Every point award that I gave is justified by the match report. And I think (hope) that most (except for Jim) will agree that Abidal has been our most consistently good defender this season.

          I would quibble with the “slack” contention, but I’m not arguing any more. So you’re right. 😀

  24. Jim
    December 11, 2009

    After a season of trying to say that Abidal has serious positioning problems in the face of blindingly high ratings i find myself having to even things out by saying that he is still probably our best LB ( need to see more of Maxwell). For me the issue is that too many of the goals we concede come from his position week after week. It’s not a one off.

    On the plus side his offensive contributions have improved a little 🙂

  25. kallo
    December 11, 2009

    messi a 6??? i know everyone in here is in love with xavi and his possession game but come on. messi was our most dangerous player by a mile. doesn’t everyone realize that keeping the ball and drawing out defenders is what messi is there for. he is the only one who can dribble past a host of players and create something out of nothing. xavi`s game is suited for opponents who at least try to counterattack, but not against teams like kiev, who put 10 men behind the ball and defend. thats why guardiola plays messi in the middle, because of his close control and dribbling skills. xavi depends on players movement, so when a team restricts that,he is not as influential. while messi only needs the ball and halv a meter and he will create a goal scoring opportunity 9 times out of 10. so before you criticize him for hogging the ball imagine if wasn’t playing, and xavi had to open up a defensiv team like kiev. i will tell you what would’ve happened, we would dominate possession but have nothing to show for it. here is an example for all you americans and followers of the NFL, lets say xavi is a quarterback and all his receivers are marked closely, what would he do, Nothing. because he is a pure passer and nothing else, he cant run with the ball to end zone, because that is not part of his game. messi on the other hand would create something on his own. against kiev(specially the second half), he was dangerous every time he faced their goal, and with a more competent ref the kiev thugs would’ve been booked more or even expelled. messi is our most unpredictable player and needs to try stuff on the ball, thats why he is given the free role on the team. Now we can discuss if he is not fulfilling his role and criticize him for that. but giving him a 6 for keeping the ball and trying to create chances using his natural and unique abilities is ludicrous to me.

    • December 11, 2009

      The problem is that Messi is starting to become Michael Vick instead of Fran Tarkenton. Individual creation is detrimental if it affects your ability to contribute to the TEAM aspect of the sport. Both Messi and Vick become one dimensional in certain circumstances and when defenses pick up on this, both are ineffective. Note that nobody complains about messi/vick when their skill WORKS, or even when a few bad attempts go wanting. But after the Nth failed 1v1/scramble in a row, you start to wonder if it’s worth not being a team player.

      Be careful not to confuse potential with performance. Messi’s play may have had a lot of potential, but based on the results his performance was lacking.

      • December 11, 2009

        Yes, I retrospectively realize nobody on a Barca site knows who Fran Tarkenton is. He is widely considered the best scrambling (running) quarterback in the modern history of the NFL, but unlike Vick, he mainly used scrambling to create better pass opportunities instead of running upfield to gain yards/score.

        • kallo
          December 11, 2009

          i understand your point. i too get frustrated when he sometimes gets his tunnel vision going. but i believe its because of his form at the moment. i wish messi could have the same vision as xavi or iniesta. dont get me wrong, messi has vision to rival the best and he can thread a ball through as good as xavi and iniesta, you only have to look at some of his assist videos on youtube to see that, but he is not looking to assist as much as xavi and iniesta are. i think this is because he`s told to be a leader and decide the games, and he has misconstrued it to mean become a one man army. because if you look to previous seasons, when he was breaking through, he would always look for the assist. it actually was annoying, because he would be better placed and still pass to someone else. so what im saying is he cant win with me either way unless he learns to do both(dribble and assist). is that too much to ask for.haha. but we need to keep in mind that although messi is supremely talented he is only 22, and has alot of maturing to do. i believe that messi at 26 will be absolutely unstoppable.

Leave a Reply