Barca 3, Atlante 1, a.k.a. “Workmanlike excellence”

If you look up, you'll see my ankle fairies.
If you look up, you'll see my ankle fairies.

Okay. Is it just me, or was that about the most boring dismantling of a side that I have witnessed in the semi-finals of a not-particularly-major competition?

Just asking.

I mean don’t get me wrong, the win is nice, as our beloved club goes for its 6th trophy in just barely over 6 months. But Mexican side Atlante, once they scraped out a wonder goal, never really looked like doing anything more than scrimmaging with us, particularly Guardiola walked over to Cabinet No. 10, the one marked “in case of trouble, break glass.”

I was watching the match, and when we conceded an early goal, within the first 5 minutes of the match, I just didn’t have the same feeling of unease that I had against an opponent of real danger. I mean sure, Atlante scurried around, and had a few dangerous-looking breaks, but if you give us 80/20 possession stats, it’s only a matter of time. Why? Because you have to chase the ball the entire match, and if you’re doing that, you had better be big and physical, like Rubin Kazan, or world-class and able to slug toe-to-toe with us, like Valencia.

Otherwise, you are going to run and run, and get a little tired, and suddenly you won’t have that fraction of a step that you had when fresh. And just as suddenly, those little dagger balls that you were intercepting will get through, and that will be that. Because here’s what I love about our game:

It isn’t just relentless physical pressure that we put on you. It’s also the mental pressure. We come at you with Alves, Xavi, Iniesta, Ibrahimovic, The Yaya, Busquets, even Abidal. And any one of them can make the play that will kill you. And that’s when Messi and Henry aren’t on the pitch. Eventually, it becomes impossible to deal with. Then we score, and the match becomes completely different, only you can’t shake that defensive mentality, but you’re tired. So in goes yet another goal, and that’s that.

That’s why the 1-0 didn’t really worry me. What, however, does worry me is that we’re so good, that we don’t seem to quite know what do with lesser sides. It’s sort of like when I took my dog into a city for a day of activities, and he decided that he wanted to hump a horse’s leg. The horse, looking back at the 70 pounds of husky/akita mix that was going to town on its leg, looked around as if to say, “What about this shit here?”

That’s us. “Look at the plucky lads. Cute.” And we are sloppy and too relaxed, often conceding early. Sometimes, we get burnt. Usually, we wake up and take care of business. But it’s a trend that needs addressing, and I don’t mean tomorrow.

Now. If you’re a team from the lovely, sun-kissed shores of Cancun, what your early goal will do is vex the shit out of us, wake us up, and make your loss even more inevitable. Could we have done it without Messi? Almost certainly. Was it nice to see him come onto the pitch and, with his very first touch, round the keeper and convert the precise kind of one-on-one opportunity that he’d been missing of late? Absolutely. But the plan and attack was working, particularly once we started playing Abidal into the mix, with his overlapping runs from the left.

And to boot, Messi looked on fire in this match, moving with an alacrity and verve that brought to mind the magic man of last season. Could he finally be shaking the psychological effects of abuse at the hands of Maradumber? Possibly. Or maybe he, like our beloved club, is just rounding into form. Because once Alves realized that he, like Marquez and Puyol, were responsible for that goal and had to get it back, it got kinda ugly.

Guardiola rolled out a “should have been enough” linup of Valdes, Alves, Marquez, Puyol, Abidal, The Yaya, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro! and Ibrahimovic. But it was also a lineup that needed to not concede early, since Ibrahimovic was Gulliver in the land of Lilliput as he stood in the Atlante box like a giant, an easy target for the villagers to harass with their little shoulders and pitchforks. Not conceding in the first 10 minutes would have made life a lot easier.

As for the goal, a long clearance from the Atlante keeper found a lucky situation. Without even realizing it, Marquez played both Atlante attackers on side. Alves let his man get inside of him, and I think that Puyol must have gone for a pair of souvenir flip-flops. The long ball bounced just right, and one sombrero (a very nice one) and a side-foot later, it was 1-0, even as the joy on the Atlante sideline was short-lived, replaced by what must have been foreboding. Because we seemed to wake up, and then it was on.

Pedro justmissed.
Busquets justmissed, as their keeper made an astounding reflex save off his header.

Ibrahimovic and Xavi were orchestrating, passes were justmissing as the storm clouds built. Our attack moved, as inexorably as it does, closer and closer to their box. And then, in the 36th minute, the heavens opened. Xavi lofted a perfect corner onto the head of The Yaya, who snapped his header to the far post, where Busquets was waiting to smoke it past the keeper. Suddenly the match was 1-1, and Busquets had entered the pantheon of Regrettable Goal Celebrations, with that tongue/pregnant/goofy face thing. Damn, dude.

But it was a typical, beautiful Barcelona goal that this season, is more and more coming from set pieces. It was 1-1 and a very different match. We stayed on the front foot, attacking every time Atlante got the ball, maintaining our absurd possession stats. Critics say that we spend too much time playing meaningless tika-taka. I dunno ’bout that one. Don’t forget that we still have the ball. As long as we have the ball, they don’t. Which means that even as we’re stroking the ball around like a training ground exercise. time is going away, they are getting tired, and you just know something is going to happen.

Even more staggering is that the complete goal is one-touch, from Xavi’s boot to The Yaya’s noggin to Busquets’ foot. Beauty.

The second half came, and we picked up right where we left off. I think that Guardiola wanted to bring in Messi because he sensed that this was precisely the kind of match that would let our maestro get some confidence back. But who knew that the instant he came in, he would be greeted with an absurd ball from Ibrahimovic, who drifted toward midfield, dragging his defenders with him to create the necessary space to a) give Messi space to run into and b) create the passing angle. Then he whips a perfectly weighted ball that is placed so that all Messi has to is control it, and keep on running. Goal. All the highlight packages focus on the goal, but for me, it was the pass that made the day and the goal.

Which is to take nothing away from Messi’s otherworldly control as he sucked that thing in and was in on goal in a shot. Amazingly, their keeper still got a hand to it, to no avail.

And then came the third goal, the one that eliminated the possibility of another error from our outpaced back line. Iniesta passes a ball to Ibrahimovic, who is immediately surrounded by three Lilliputians. He flips a deft little ball to Iniesta, who is running through, and it’s off to the races for Ghostface, who did his shake-and-bake on two defenders before sliding the ball into the space between them to Pedro!, who made no mistake that time.

I say that time, because Pedro! still gets seized by cases of the yips, as if the talent of the people around him catches him out and he doesn’t know what to do. So when Ibra nutmegged his defender to place the ball right at the face of P!, he just kind of froze, like “How did this get here?” And the moment is gone. He has more than a few of those. That he makes up for it with the moments where he doesn’t freeze, is why he has scored in every competition except Dance of the Network Stars. Only because we haven’t entered that one yet.

From that point on, with a 3-1 scoreline, all we had to do was control the ball, which we did. Yes, they had a couple of moments, including a breakaway which prompted a magnificent reflex save from Valdes, who had been back there filing his nails and then “Whoa! Wait! What!” Atlante’s pace was extraordinary, as they once again caught our back line just off the shoulder, vulnerable to a killer through ball, and Abidal got owned by his man. Owned. But VV turned the trick, and that was that.

So now what?

Team: 7. Tip-top collective performance, even as individual performances weren’t up to par. They understood what they had to do, and took care of business. Fix the early lethargy, and it would have been perfect.

Guardiola: 9. The exact right substitutions at the exact right time. Who didn’t think “Messi for The Yaya? Huh? What?” In Pep We Trust. And he didn’t wait too long, for a change.

Valdes: 9. I know, he didn’t have a lot to do, but what he had to do was crucial, and he did it in great fashion. It takes a lot not to fall asleep as your team possesses the match to death.

Alves: 7. Pretty crappy early, then he came to life and owned the parts of the pitch that weren’t already under the ownership of Xavi and Ibrahimovic. I know that he gets knocked for his defense, but this is the second match in which he has pulled off exceptional, one-v-one defensive stop and steals.

Marquez: 5. Better than usual, still kinda crappy. The worst part is that he moves as if he’s in quicksand, and attackers run past him like he’s parked. It pains me to say this, but at this point, I don’t see any reason for him to be playing over Txignasty.

Puyol: 6. Some key interventions, but this was an unusually down match for our Captain who again, was done for by the pace of those scrambling Atlante BBs that were rolling about the pitch.

Abidal: 7. Was having a great match, then his brain shut off and he got smoked by an Atlante attacker who ran behind him to get in alone on Valdes who, luckily, had his game face on.

The Yaya: 8. Speaking of Gulliver. He is so intelligent with the ball, and his traditional spot in front of the defense means that he can enhance our command and control. He also makes Busquets a lot better.

Busquets: 8. Brilliant match from him. When he is freed to take full part in the offense, it’s never a bad thing. He had a header that was somehow stopped, then the excellent one-timer goal. Smart passes and good positioning, as well.

Xavi: 9. Good lord, what a match. Why would anyone in their right mind, in this day and age, not mark Xavi? He just destroyed everything that he came into contact with (from the Atlante worldview) with passes, crosses, corners, control, curlicues, even defense. Wow. Just. Wow.

Iniesta: 6. Played himself up from a positively awful early match, in which he tossed off three rotten balls in consecutive possessions. He doesn’t usually have that many in an entire match. As the Fox Soccer commentator astutely noted, the closer he is to Xavi, the better he is. But who isn’t that true of?

Pedro!: 6. Don’t let the goal seduce you. He’s had better matches. If his presence of mind and overall play can catch up to his pitchmates, the league will have to legislate a smaller goal mouth opening to try and control him.

Ibrahimovic: 8. He didn’t score, but his influence was immense. I do have nits to pick, such as his tendency to line up offside, and he should have passed to a breaking Messi rather than trying a shot from a crazy angle, late in the second half. But we should never, ever underestimate the value of having as astounding striker who is also one of the club’s best playmakers.


Messi (for The Yaya): 8. Immediate and lasting impact. Sweet-ass golazo, to boot. Maybe the key is to only play him for about 20 minutes per match, coming on when the other side is dog-tired from chasing us around.

Krkic (for Iniesta): 4. I know, I know. He had some nice passes to teammates, that deserved better. But he wasn’t much more effective than he usually is, and missing what was in effect an open net is pretty absurd.

Pique (for Marquez): 5. See Gerard, usually when you come on, you’re supposed to play significantly better than the person you replace. Just saying. A few nice plays, but he’s been a little funky of late.

And finally, another special word for Pedro!, who has scored in all six competitions that we have entered. It is a rare and special distinction that is great, because it gives me yet another opportunity to leave us all smiling.

Nothing up my sleeve .... presto! Nice work, little one.
Nothing up my sleeve .... presto! Nice work, little one.
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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. December 17, 2009

    A repost of what I put up on the last thread:

    Just a quick stat shot, for those of you who put stock in such things…

    League Minutes Per Goal

    Pedro: 247:20
    Henry: 302:30
    Bojan: 221:00

    Just putting that out there, but remember, as always, statistics can be bent to the will of those who use them.

    • Kxevin
      December 17, 2009

      You said it yourself, Boss Man, about statistics. Word.

      • Diane
        December 17, 2009

        Hey guys, am I being shunned? Or has the comments box moved?

        Thought I would sneak in here to say that I wasn’t bored. In fact, its games like this that allow me to relax and enjoy myself (well as relaxed as I can get before the final whistle blows). I watch and whether something is made of a situation or not, I find myself thinking SO often, “I would have happily watched the whole game for those 30 seconds (or 5 or 10).” There were quite a few of those last night, plus the return of Messi’s smile was priceless.

        I’m loving Ibrahimovic, he’s as amazing as billed, and chips in more than some thought he would. But I don’t think they’re all clicking in the box yet. Too often see fewer players in there than I’m used to, but think its just getting used to integrating all the tools in the box.

    • Miguel
      December 17, 2009

      nothing’s linear yo. you gotta take into account bojan still playing in the little leagues(cdr) and henry’s lulling defenses to sleep for pedro! to strike.

      • December 17, 2009

        But that’s why I only put in stats from La Liga. Nothing else. No CDR or CL in there.

        • Miguel
          December 17, 2009


          “A corruption of the word ‘Owned.’ This originated in an online game called Warcraft, where a map designer misspelled “owned.” When the computer beat a player, it was supposed to say, so-and-so ‘has been owned.'”

          that’s why i never got this reference. pfff…warcraft.

          • Miguel
            December 17, 2009

            well, goals scored in a game that has already been killed off by the big boys can’t be quantified. :^p

        • Miguel
          December 17, 2009

          *can never be weighted correctly

      • poipoi
        December 18, 2009

        about pedro!, today there was no henry and p! also socred

  2. Eduard
    December 17, 2009

    Lmao, I love this “Busquets had entered the pantheon of Regrettable Goal Celebrations, with that tongue/pregnant/goofy face thing. Damn, dude”

    Completely agree with that.

    • December 17, 2009

      He looked like he had down syndrome, which I don’t doubt that he has sometimes anyway.

    • thebuya
      December 17, 2009

      maybe if we can get Busi more goals, he can refine the art of coal celebrations

    • Gilmango
      December 17, 2009

      yeah, that was hilarious, I also liked the image of your dog humping the horse. Just a funny well-written game summary!

      Anyone know if his girlfriend is really pregnant? I mean I like that we don’t have crazy clubbing party animals on the team anymore (that I know of) but damn, Sergio is 21 (but then Carles Puyol’s son Sergio was born when Carles was only 20, so maybe Sergio really did wait long enough).

      • Miguel
        December 17, 2009

        my siberian husky sooo would do that! that WAS a great image kxev.

        • Kxevin
          December 17, 2009

          They kept telling me that it was a dominance thing. Alls I know is that was one humpin’ ass husky. 😀 Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him, since he was put down at the age of 18 years and 7 months.

          • Miguel
            December 17, 2009

            my husky has black hair, a mask, one brown one blue eye. he’s an old man now. he doesn’t have a humping problem(he knows who’s alpha dog ;^I) but, i couldn’t imagine him passing up the opportunity to hump a horse. 🙂 i can imagine him running around the city off leash having a major ADD fit.

      • Jnice
        December 17, 2009

        Sport said it is not his child, but dedicating to someone he knew was pregnant or something like that.

      • Alix
        December 17, 2009

        On the topic of footballers having kids young: Eidur Gudjohnsen was born when his father was seventeen.
        Just thought I’d throw that out there.

  3. Kevo
    December 17, 2009

    Nice picture.
    P! looks like a hobbit next to Ibra.

    • December 17, 2009

      Doooood, you left me hanging about Nevada Smiths for the Espanyol match!

  4. eklavya
    December 17, 2009

    “ankle fairies” that just inspired me for some crazy jokes! 😀

  5. vicsoc8
    December 17, 2009

    The real question in my mind is if everyone else stays healthy, will Henry play more than 15 games this season?

    • Kxevin
      December 17, 2009

      Yes. Absolutely. Because we still don’t have anyone who can do what Henry does. I know a lot of people don’t want to hear that, but we don’t. I love what Pedro! does, and I liked how he tried the Henry move yesterday of pushing the ball past the defender, then running for the baseline. Very cool. But we don’t have anyone who we can put on the wing, and shift the defense just by his mere presence, and have that player still make plays.

      People will argue that we do, but when you look at in the cold light of day, we don’t.

        • vicsoc8
          December 17, 2009

          Thank you Mr. Literal.

          I made up a random number of games. The idea stays the same though

      • Miguel
        December 17, 2009

        yeah, henry shakes and bakes a defender then gets baseline but it ends there. he makes a crappy cross w/his weaker foot hoping for a corner. i guess that’s something.

        fine. i take it back.

        • Kxevin
          December 17, 2009

          Not true, actually. Many of his crosses do make it in the box. What happens to them after that is another issue, as we seem to suffer from nobody in the box-itis.

          • poipoi
            December 18, 2009

            Maybe this is asking too much but xavi and inesta have to keep increasing their goals per season

  6. December 17, 2009

    That photo should’ve been the next caption contest, jajajaja 😛

  7. Jose59
    December 17, 2009

    That photo should have been the next photo caption contest, jajajaj 😛

  8. Jose59
    December 17, 2009

    Oh, and we’re at 59 goals, which is exactly 100 less than our total for last season (159).

  9. messi108
    December 17, 2009

    Superb read.
    Great work Kxevin.
    Thank You 🙂

  10. December 17, 2009

    While I totally agree that the Ibra pass was amazing, perfect, beautiful, and brilliant! The Messi finish just continues to blow my mind. The guy is on the pitch for maybe 90 seconds and BAM game over. There are so few players in the world that could even dream of that, much less execute it. The best part of Messi is, we already know that he is the best right now, but he just keeps surprising us in all the ways he can show it. Whether its a free kick perfectly curled, or just a perfect pass-assist, he can’t be stopped when his legs are fresh. We are lucky to be watching this two times a week right now!

    • Kxevin
      December 17, 2009

      Exactly. And recall that one excuse offered up for Krkic not finishing that chance was that he had just come on the pitch. So had Messi. They aren’t the same player, or course, but Messi’s goal was extraordinary.

      And speaking of Ibrahimovic, he should be allowed to take free kicks from now on, he and Messi.

      • December 17, 2009

        totally agree on the free kicks. just the build up alone before an ibra kick makes my blood pump faster.

      • vicsoc8
        December 17, 2009

        I’m sorry, but Messi is the best player on the planet, and Bojan… isn’t.

        I don’t expect Bojan to do what Messi does, and Bojan missing after coming onto the pitch ultimately boils down to mentality, which is his problem.

        • Kxevin
          December 17, 2009

          Definitely true, vicsoc. But isn’t Krkic running out of excuses? Age, needs more playing time, confidence, etc, etc?

          If people can ride Henry for an extended bout of non-performance, they should be able to ride Krkic, is all I’m saying.

        • vicsoc8
          December 17, 2009

          I’m not trying to be the perpetual excuser for Krkic. I’ll be the first to say he should have scored the goal.

          However I think it’s important to judge the progress of youth players over time instead of between games.

          I agree people should be able to ride Krkic. But comparing his performances to Henry, Ibra, and Messi is building a straw man argument. He is much less developed than all these players and has a much smaller role in the team, to expect him to perform at their level is to have unrealistic expectations.

          Don’t get me wrong, say he should’ve scored that goal, say he should be playing better, but in my opinion it is way too early to be discussing his exit. Give “the Kid” some time to go through his awkward “I’m not a man yet” phase.

  11. Miguel
    December 17, 2009

    “Could he finally be shaking the psychological effects of abuse at the hands of Maradumber?”

    that’s what i got out of this match.

  12. Alexinho
    December 17, 2009

    Wow, I can’t believe how short Pedro really is…or how tall Ibra is perhaps…

    Someone whom I speak with about soccer, usually about Arsenal, was trying to tell me how much better Iniesta is than Xavi. Er…

    • eklavya
      December 17, 2009

      hey me too! Arsenal remains arsenal i guess!

    • BL
      December 17, 2009

      I had a recent conversation with some premier league fanboys and i suggested that yaya toure is one of the best players in the world and got ridiculed pretty vehemently. poor yaya doesn’t get the props he deserves, they contested that essien is a better player… essien is awesome no doubt, but better than yaya? hmm not sure. if yaya had as much freedom as essien does (he has obi-mikel to back him up) he’d score more goals no doubt.

      another suggested that daniele de rossi is a better player than yaya… that one i laughed at.

      • Kari
        December 17, 2009

        “Essien better than Yaya”. Yeah…That’s why Yaya was the only defensive midfielder nominated for the Balon D’or.

        “Oh! But that’s only because there’s a conspiracy against the PL. Ovrebo and all that”.

        Please. PL fanboys can stuff it (except the decent ones)

        Anyone who can run a really long time, can jump high, and is a good athlete, is world class in PL, even if you have the ball skills of a elephant. An English football manager once said about a player : “He covers every blade of grass, but that’s only because his first touch is crap” (I’m not even joking, the manager’s name is Dave Jones)

        Conversely, if you can pick a pass, and have increbile ball skills, you’re world class in Italy even if you’re slow as heck (I don’t think I’m all that qualified to talk abou the Serie A 🙂 seeing as they only broadcast Milan, Inter, Juve and the occasional Roma games )

        As for La Lliga… 😀

    • poipoi
      December 18, 2009

      It’s very hard to rate one over the other, xavi is the best in what he does and iniesta does more things. As xavi is constant as a freakin’ swiss watch he is better I think.

  13. Xu
    December 17, 2009

    Manchester City Defender Kolo Toure Hopes To Join Barcelona

    Kolo Toure has instructed his agents to offer the Ivorian international’s services to Barcelona, according to Cadena Ser.

    Following several seasons in London with Arsenal, the defender jumped ship with team-mate Emmanuel Adebayor this past summer; making a €18 million move to Eastlands.

    Despite City’s big spending, things haven’t quite gone as planned for Mark Hughes so far this season and Toure is said to already be looking for a way out of the club.

    Kolo’s brother, Barcelona midfielder Yaya Toure, has constantly expressed his desire to play in the same team as his older sibling and the feeling seems like it’s mutual.

    Having failed to entice Yaya to Arsenal or City, Kolo is apparently ready to make the move to Spain as soon as the winter transfer window. However, it is believed that the Citizens will be reluctant to sell.

    • Kxevin
      December 17, 2009

      That’s been kicking around for a bit. I couldn’t see Kolo cracking our starting back line on a regular basis.

  14. Kxevin
    December 17, 2009

    In other good news, you Comcast subscribers will be thrilled to know that Setanta Sports has joined the channel lineup. No word on how much extra per month, but that was the last brick in the wall of my never leaving the house, ever again. 😀

    • December 17, 2009

      Will your wife be kinda pissed that the door has been sealed or is she a huge Gaelic Football fan?

      Saw that on Setanta once in a bar in Chicago (Ginger’s Ale House, I’m pretty sure) when it was -30F with windchill so I wasn’t going back out after Barça finished playing.

  15. Tim
    December 17, 2009

    I hope somebody can find the clip of when Ibra was running up to take the free kick, the faces of the defenders in the wall were priceless. One guy looked like his bowels had just let go, and who can blame him?

    • Miguel
      December 17, 2009

      referee needs to hand out colostomy bags everytime ibra steps up to take a fk.

    • Eduard
      December 17, 2009

      On games where our players are being kicked every 5 seconds, he should just aim for the wall, kinda like going duck hunting. Aim for the torso and let the bullit(ball) do the damage.

  16. cliveee
    December 17, 2009

    Pique the diver!


  17. cliveee
    December 17, 2009

    “The pantheon of Regrettable Goal Celebrations, with that tongue/pregnant/goofy face thing!” hahahhahahahaha, he looked like he planned the celebration since last season though! hahhaha regret it or not, that is hilarious!!!!

  18. VM
    December 17, 2009

    Yaya Interview in Dubai


    look for post #882

    “Yeah, well sure, if you play every match for one team, I mean 100 per cent of the games, it’s very important for you as a player. I am a strong person and physically strong as well, so I feel very complete. I can play 25 or 30 games but when I only have five or ten games to play then I am not so happy about that. We have a squad of 25 in which 11 play and the rest don’t, and you can’t show you are unhappy because when you get angry then you don’t show respect for your team-mates….”

  19. Kari
    December 17, 2009

    I agree with your ratings Kxevin. I know people don’t always agree with them, but at least you back up what you say and what you say is logical unlike some other people. I’m not naming any names *cough cough*.

    Well, I think I’ve said a lot on this topic but let me say this: I’d rather Bojan go through his growing pains now and suffer for it than later. Imagine if he continued his rise to fame, only to play like he is now? This is good for him and if there’s one thing that is really comforting, it’s his patience. He could always bolt and go to a place where they’ll always play him a la Gio, but he isn’t. I like his tenacity and I think it’ll pay off.

    I read an interesting article on that followed up on Bojan’s comments* where he said he felt ‘obsessed with the goal’. They’ve noticed** (gasp! Catalan newspapers aren’t blind to how badly Bojan’s been playing?! 😛 ) and say that he’s too ‘anxious’. They’ve also correctly (in my opinion) likened it to Eto’o at the end of last season when he was played only so he could regain the Pichichi. He was obsessed with scoring and tried really really hard- more than he had and needed to. It backfired. He actually played worse. I remember he was playing against Mallorca(?) and he really wanted to score a lot (he had scored the opening goal. Remember who assisted his goal and was the man of the match? I’ll give you a hint: Cuddley Toy). We were losing at that point and he got a penalty at the last second, but blew it. We all know what a great goalscorer Eto’o was and still is, but in those last few games, I’d say he was playing as bad as Bojan is now (Remember his ‘foot-of-stone’?). But of course, those two are different players, but the situation was similar (albeit at that point Eto’o had, like what, 35 goals? Yeah, way different)

    It’s been stated here, like a million times, but when he DOES get to play, Bojan! He’ll learn and he’s learning it the hard way.

    *You can read Bojan’s comments here: /

    ** ‘s article is here: ^

  20. Kari
    December 17, 2009

    Guys, Round of 16 draw tomorrow! Who wants Milan…! …or Stuttgart!


  21. Weeee
    December 17, 2009

    Potential Opponents

    Bayern Munich
    CSKA Moscow
    Milan <-
    Lyon <-

  22. Liza
    December 17, 2009

    One of the things I love about Barca: since the game was already won, the team basically spent the rest of the match trying to set Bojan up for a goal. It didn’t work, but it was very sweet and showed good team spirit. They could have taken one look at Bojan and decided to avoid him, but instead they passed to him even when there were better options.

  23. Kxevin
    December 17, 2009

    I want Stuttgart, for no other reason than to rub Hleb’s face in it? “Next time, learn Catalan, bitch!” 😀

    I’ll take any of ’em. Milan would be the only worry, since a Ronaldinho with something to prove could be a dangerous Ronaldinho. Basically, anybody but CSKA. Long travel and cold? Been there, done that, got the parka.

  24. vicsoc8
    December 17, 2009

    I love this quote and it sums up my own thoughts on the team perfectly:

    “It isn’t just relentless physical pressure that we put on you. It’s also the mental pressure.”

    Just look at the second Inter game, all of their players looked as if they had just rushed a trench amid relentless machine gun fire in World War 2. Shell shocked. Awesome. Visca Barca

  25. vicsoc8
    December 17, 2009

    As an aside before I start a potentially long post, can we get an update of the omniscient KRS values for the season? Would love to see if Abidal is still holding down his spot at the top (he’s really been great this year).

    I was wondering why Marquez hasn’t been very solid this year and I started thinking about our center backs. Am I the only one who feels that despite the plethora of options we have at center back it is still one of our weakest positions? Pique and Puyol are a great starting pair (How was Puyol worried about his playing time?) but I’ve been unimpressed by our other choices this year. Marquez has been playing for the other team half the time, Milito just returned from his hiatus, and Chygrynskiy has yet to convince me he was worth 25 mil (although I think I can finally spell his name without looking it up).

    Not only have our subs not been playing well (or much at all) now, but there are also questions about their future. No one knows how Milito will return, and I hate to say it but Marquez is looking a bit senile. God willing Puyol has many more monstrous games in his legs, but he won’t be able to keep up with our fixture list forever. Luckily I think we have some real talent coming up. Muniesa is my favorite youth player we have, and Fontas looks good while Botia is having a strong season on loan. I don’t expect Caceres to ever return, and we may have to entertain the idea that Henrique just won’t be good enough.

    But that leaves us with the Ukraine in the room. What do we do with Chygrynskiy? I’ve heard voices saying they don’t think he’s fast enough to partner Pique, and may not be fast enough to play in our back line (and I don’t think the voices are just in my head, I hope). He’s a great lad, intelligent, motivated, and seems like a good presence in the locker room. However I don’t get to see him in the locker room, I want to see him on the field.

    And here’s my question, can he be converted into a defensive midfielder? He’s intelligent, strong, good in the air, and has a hell of a pass. Do you think he can hold down a starting place in our defense? I think we’ll all agree he’s one for the future, but where exactly does he fit in in the future? And overall, what do you think is the future of our defence?

    • December 18, 2009

      I like me some Txignasty. Here’s why:

      –Good in the air.
      –Good positional sense.
      –Very physical, but not in a stupid way.
      –Will get a lot better.
      –Might be a better attack-starting passer than Pique

      I think that we just haven’t seen enough Txiggy to be able to render an adequate verdict, but Guardiola wanted this dude. Bad. And he’s no mean judge of horseflesh. He came, got injured, and has been working his way back in. He still isn’t part of the preferred XI, because of the Double P express, but any time Marquez plays instead of him, a baby kitten dies somewhere in the world.

      I see him as a regular in our back line of the future, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was purchased precisely with the DM traits that you mention in mind.

      There will be more during the break, when we do a “so far” evaluation of the side, that I hereby nominate Isaiah for. Yes.

  26. stephen
    December 18, 2009

    I think you are WAY too kind to give Bojan a 4. He deserves a -6 for missing those chances, and just completely blowing it.

    • crayven
      December 18, 2009

      uhm, what are “those” chances you are talking about, apart from that chance? Bojan came in and create some great pass/cross to Ibra and others but they failed to took their chance.

      If anything he should have a 5 or 6 while Ibra and Yaya should be down a point. Yaya for all his supposed brilliance only played for 55 minutes. There’s a reason why Pep subbed Messi in for Yaya not Busquets or Pedro and it probably has something to do with his performance.

      • Kxevin
        December 18, 2009

        Actually, Messi was subbed in because Messi could be a better advanced attacker than Busquets, who slid back once Messi entered. Guardiola could see that the match was tottering on the brink, and needed a bit of brilliance to tip it.

        Thr Yaya was a deterrent that served its purpose.

      • stephen
        December 18, 2009

        the had to great opportunities for goal, he didnt look sharp and for someone who lost his spot to Pedro! he should really be attempting to prove something, his quick passes were awful, and he just looked lost. Maybe you had him confused on that field, I definately saw why he’s leaving over the summer.
        And Ibrah couldnt have done better with the way those around him were playing, so you are a little wrong there. yaya hasnt played this season much at all, so i almost forgot what the yaya used to be like, which is sad too.

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