Barca 1, Villarreal 1, a.k.a “Celebration ruined …. again!”

You’d think we’d have learned by now not to celebrate shit when Villarreal is in town. Last season, we feted the Liga trophy, and they left a turd in the punch bowl with a late goal. This year, we celebrated the 6 cups and again, they had the audacity to come in and out-Barca Barca.

These guys just ain’t broad minded.

And for the record, we should have lost this one. So rather than two points dropped, think of it as one point stolen, because we were outplayed for most of this one, in part because only a few of our lads came to really play, and one of them was my MOTM, Grampa Henry, the guy people love to hate.

Somehow, I wound up with 12 pages of notes for this match, one that gives so many examples of so many things, such as:

–Poor decision making by our defense: On the best chance that Villarreal had in the first half, Alves decides to head a ball, even though he has plenty of time to play it to his feet, then pass it to a wide-open Puyol. Speaking of, he follows the ball instead of marking a man, so Villarreal just passed into the space that had just been vacated by Puyol, forcing Valdes to make an excellent save.

–Busquets is not the answer: Don’t let a nice few minutes of play via parlor tricks fool you. Time after time, pass after pass, he just wasn’t up to the job today. And the constant falling down reminds of a child who does something, then starts crying in the hopes that it will distract Mom from spanking him.

–Ibrahimovic has to man the hell up: It’s easy to play well when things are going well. It’s when they aren’t that you have to show us why you’re worth 60+m Euros. Today, you behaved like a petulant child, one who will now miss the next league match. Lucky for you, it’s away to Tenerife. You also made bad decisions, such as moving away from that excellent pass from Pedro!, thus giving the Villarreal defender a chance to make the play. If you move to the ball, you remove that option for him, make the play and probably score the go-ahead goal. Of course they’re going to foul you. You’re the stud. Suck it up.

–Teams are figuring out how to play us, and we don’t have any answers: Villarreal was in our faces today, cutting off passing angles, getting bodies in front of the ball and filling the midfield with pressure. Sound familiar? Our bench was, once Iniesta was used, filled with plenty of nothin’. Krkic isn’t going to turn a match. Not with men on the pitch, who were playing the way that Villarreal were today, which was like they wanted it more than we did.

The worst part of the match for me was that we blew our cool, and lost it from the moment that the awful, awful foul call was made on Henry as he crossed to Ibrahimovic, who didn’t even get his shot on frame. The Villarreal defender, replay showed, jumped into Henry then fell down. Henry got the foul call, and we got apoplectic. And there went the match, because we’re waiting for something bad to happen to us, instead of playing through the bullshit and making it happen. Yes, at about the 70 minute mark we started doing so, but by then it was kind of too late, because our most potent offensive weapon was a dog-tired 32-year-old striker playing out of position.

So a draw it was. But if the Villarreal attacker doesn’t scuff that wide-open header, or if the justly deserved penalty gets called on Puyol (spare me the “ref sucks” comments, because he sucked for both sides), they have a 1 or 2 goal lead, and we’re chasing a match that we probably aren’t going to catch. Because Villarreal’s incessant pressure and hard work forced more negative passes from us than I have seen in a long time. And the center of the pitch, where this battle would be won or lost, had Xavi and Gangly, the Collapsible Boy. Villarreal had Marcos Senna. So you know how that battle went, and why Xavi had only brief moments of effectiveness. Because every time he got the ball, he was bracketed by 3 Villarreal players, snapping at his heels and removing all passing angles.

Usually, Keita comes rolling up to take the ball, or we have The Yaya to rumble up so that the pitch tilts, thus throwing the other players off balance and giving Xavi space. This time, Xavi was just screwed. The arrival of Iniesta in the second half relieved a lot of that pressure, and Xavi instantly began to show better because of the other midfield threat. But we were missing a layer, someone to fill that gap between midfield and forwards. Usually, it’s Keita (African Cup of Nations duty), or Messi (on vacation, watching from the stands), or The Yaya (ACN duty).

So today, we had two kids with Xavi, Busquets and Dos Santos, in a lineup that was Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, Dos Santos, Xavi, Pedro!, Henry, Ibrahimovic. And that wasn’t going to cut it, particularly given that our 60 Million Euro Man decided to go on psychic walkabout. Yes, he’s allowed to have bad matches. Everyone is. This was, however, a bad time to have a bad match. If he wants to quell the rumors that he only shows up against minnows, matches such as this one are the answer. Kick ass and take names. Your club needs you.

When we notched an early goal, it was feeling pretty good, particularly the genesis of the goal. A brilliant Alves pass led to a ninja-style volley by Henry that smacked the crossbar square on, with Pedro! sliding in to put away the rebound. And usually, an early goal allows us to settle into our possession game and put things away as the other club chases the match. But hampered as we were, things were always tenuous. Guardiola sensed danger, and was off the bench as early as I have seen him, coaching, cajoling and guiding, trying to get us through a match that was always going to be very, very difficult.

Because without control of the midfield, we were reduced to long balls for the forwards, rather than the kind of inexorable passing development that usually leads to another goal, and another win. But Villarreal kept pressing, kept making demands of our funky defense, demands that weren’t met during one horrid sequence.

It all started out when Busquets, for whatever reason, was dicking around on the right-hand side of the pitch. So they passed the ball right into the space that should have been occupied by him. Realizing his error, he comes running back to where he should have been in the first place, but the damage is already done, and it’s a 3 on 2 as Busquets is rushing over to make it a 3 on 3. They feed the streaking attacker who slides in behind Puyol, who has one shot to make the right play. He sticks a leg out rather than moving his body, and everything is then out of balance. It’s a fire drill.

Abidal comes charging in to control the attacker on that side of the pitch, then he and Pique switch. Things look to be in control, but if you look closely you can see danger brewing, because Alves, Puyol and Busquets are gathered in front of Valdes, covering the same man. The shot comes and Busquets does what he almost always does, which is stick a leg out, deflecting the ball to the one of the two spots on the pitch that we don’t really have covered. The Villarreal attacker pops a pass to the other part of the pitch that we don’t have covered: the back post, because Alves is doing lord knows what.

Now, what you see most defenders do, when confronted with a guy about to shoot, is square their body in front of the shooter (like Pique, who took one for the club late in the second half). Alves turns to the side. Voila, a goal. Valdes was pretty much screwed, and chose to play for the near post instead of the far post shot. The guy hit a hell of a shot, and that was that. The defense was victimized by another leaking attacker. In the first half we got away with it, even though there again, everybody’s back was to the most important part of the pitch, the part containing the other team. This time, we didn’t.

The match was tied, and we got on the good foot, to no avail.

I could go on and on about the worrying signs that this match brought, but the fact of the matter is that this will be our most difficult match in the Liga this month, and Copa shouldn’t be that horrible, either. So we might get out of this DM-less stretch reasonably intact. No, we aren’t playing that well right now, but we haven’t been all season, yet we aren’t losing matches. Yes, draws feel like losses, but we’re spoiled. Villarreal will justly feel like they left two points on the pitch today, and Guardiola will have plenty of deficiencies to show his charges, who had better learn fast, because Sevilla comes up mid-week, in the first leg of the next Copa round.

Meanwhile, we have some points to dole out:

Team: 5. You can’t let someone beat you at your own game.

Guardiola: 7. Pretty much had to play the lineup that he had to play, though I don’t know why you sub Krkic for Pedro!. Frankly, I would have subbed him for Henry or Ibrahimovic, probably the latter, who was clearly a time bomb waiting to go off.

Valdes: 7. A couple of funky early touches, and some stellar play after that. Not sure that he could have done much about the goal.

Alves: 6. Some excellent passes and good defensive plays, but came up short at crucial times, which puts the whole back line in danger. And look here, Glamor Boy, take a hint from Premiership defenders and get your damned body in front of the shooter.

Pique: 5. He’s showing signs of playing his way out of the funk that has plagued him of late. His passing is getting back to where it was, but he’s still slow on the tactical uptake these days. I might try Txigrinski in his place next match.

Puyol: 4. Some fine plays brought him up from a much worse rating, in a match filled mostly with bad for him, from bad positioning and woeful passes to a lack of his usual tactical awareness. And he should have had a penalty and yellow card to his credit.

Abidal: 8. A couple of passes that knocked off the legs of Villarreal attackers, and gave up a needless corner with a heavy touch after putting out a fire caused by Puyol. But he was far and away our best defender. Remember that play in which Puyol should have moved his body to cover? Abidal showed how in bailing out the defense on the very next Villarreal possession.

Busquets: 3. Almost everything bad that happened, came about as a result of one of his errors, from giving the ball away to Senna then falling down, to sticking out a haphazard leg and deflecting the ball to a Villarreal attacker, to a shitty pass to Puyol that led to the break that led to what should have been a penalty for them. If you think I’m harsh, just watch the match and count the mistakes that he makes, the times that he dwells on the ball too long, the poorly weighted passes.

Xavi: 7. Brilliant in the first half, less so in the second, though Iniesta saved his bacon. His movement was a little off, though the incredible pressure had a lot to do with that.

Dos Santos: 6. Hey, he didn’t get the memo that you aren’t supposed to pass to Henry, so he did, and the results were delightful. Contributed to very good midfield pressure, as well. Unfortunately for him, he was the obvious sub with Iniesta coming in. The kid’s a keeper.

Pedro!: 8. Constant movement and danger, with some brilliant passes that led to dangerous chances. His long passes are usually spot on. I still think he’s tactically a bit slow, but that kind of stuff can be learned. Exceptional match for him today.

Henry: 9. Not quite perfect, because he ran out of steam, but almost everything good offensively came from him, from the shot that resulted in the goal, to the best chances of the match for us, only to be outdone by excellent defensive plays or (on the one header) a great play by the keeper. The symbolic play for me was when he was driving up the wing and was fouled, got up and laid on a lovely cross. Too bad Ibrahimovic was late to the party, a tardy arrival that surprised Pedro! I think, who got there a fraction late.

Ibrahimovic: 1. Awful. Just awful. Petulant, ineffective and just plain bad. Had a great chance on the doorstep, and tried some silly flick thing? What the hell was that? I repeat. Man the hell up. Yes, they were fouling you, jumping into you then falling down only to have you get the whistle. Talented players are supposed to rise above all of that stuff. Letting it get to you just drags you down to the level of the mortals.

Substitutes

Iniesta (for Dos Santos): 9. What a sub role for Ghostface, who was betrayed a couple of times by a funky first touch, but he played exceptionally well. No surprise that our possession got stronger and more dangerous when he came on, as that player who can run with the ball, to move a defense around.

Krkic (for Pedro!): 1. In just about his only touch, he ran at 5, count ’em, 5 Villarreal defenders, who just let him get nice and deep before taking the ball away. “Hey, kid. Give me that.” The right play is to hold up and wait for support, rather than barging up the pitch and playing right into the other side’s hands. Wait for teammates, and we have real danger.

Now, we all know what was missing: That player that can run with the ball, changing defensive relationships on the pitch and creating danger. But that guy was in the stands, recovering from vacation and looking like he needed a nap and a shave. Iniesta did some of that. We were also missing a layer of pass reception, and a man to make Xavi’s life easier. Busquets ain’t it. He might be in a couple of years, but he isn’t now, and won’t be by the end of January.

There isn’t a whole lot more to say about this one, except get used to it. Every side that we play has the date on which they play us, circled on the calendar. On that night, they get a good night’s rest and do everything right, because we will be the match of their season. It’s going to be a close, hard road, so strap in.

But as usual, a bit of joy to leave you thinking good thoughts.

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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.

145 Comments

  1. vicsoc8
    January 3, 2010

    I’ve been down on Henry, but he played fantastic today. Let’s hope he’s rounding into form and will be able to give us a great second half of the season, because we are certainly going to need him.

  2. Fares
    January 3, 2010

    I think Pep should start thinking about moving one of our defenders into DM position, Busquets was just so bad that anyone could have played better then he did in his position. For 90 minutes all I saw from him was falling down and bad passing, I mean yes he beat a man or two once or twice dribbling but to no effect, so for the dribbling I think a 1 is about right for him.

    Ibra was terrible, maybe a bit better then a 1 as he did get a few shots on, but I must agree that he has to man up.

    The rest of the team was normal I guess, with some defensive errors I can surely live without, except Henry, who also is my man of the match.

    • Fares
      January 3, 2010

      I never blame a match on the ref, unless it is clear that he blew bad for one side only. This ref sucked, but sucked for us just as much as for them, that tackle by Puyol was a clear penalty in my eyes

      • poipoi
        January 3, 2010

        he sucks even more if you’re a vila supporter 😉

  3. Tim
    January 3, 2010

    I’ll agree that Ibra needed to do better with the chances he got, but it seemed to me that whenever he had the ball or tried to jockey for position, the whistle was blown and it was against Ibra. The frustration built and built and he started to try and get too fancy.

    I also can’t remember the last time there has been a match where Barca committed more fouls than the opponent, that blew my mind.

    • BL
      January 3, 2010

      thats because you can’t say that the ref was equally bad for both teams, its simply not true. sure he messed up a few for them, the biggest being a probable penalty for nilmar… but! holy christ… the ref called THIRTY SEVEN FOULS in that game. TWENTY TWO for barça! what the fuck!

      at least half of those 22 were soft, ridiculous calls. so frustrating… some interesting numbers concerning this ref:

      in only 16 matches, bernardino gonzález vázquez gave the 2nd most red cards of ANY primera ref last season (10 2nd yellows + 3 straight reds) and the 3rd highest yellow cards (115). the most yellows were given by carlos velasco carballo (122) in 18 matches. he gave more than 10 yellows in a match twice last season, 11 for villarreal v betis & FOURTEEN in valencia v sevilla. he also managed to send off FIVE players in a single match (bilbao v racing). says something about what this guy considers a “foul”, this season he’s had at least 6 cards in every game.

      of course aside from all that, we played like shit. busquets had many flashes of brilliance and solid play mixed in with some downright crap play. the worst for my money being when he lost the ball and went down in a heap “injured” while the play went on to provide a villarreal with an opportunity. you can’t blame busquets alone though, the whole team was pretty shit.

      jonathan had a good debut, he didn’t do anything wrong but also didn’t really do much beyond spray some delightful passes around. meaning he didn’t win and keep the ball that often which is crucial from our 3rd midfielder when playing a harrying opposition midfield.

      yep… big Z was pretty anonymous. if it wasn’t for that terrible shot he directed dismally wide of the net in the last few minutes i think he would’ve finished the match with ONE shot on target and ONE shot off target. i’m not going to count that stupid flick amidst that scramble.

      but to put it all in perspective, its another draw. still haven’t lost and this was a very tough match. villarreal are in the upswing after starting so poorly and they showed it big time. i still think we’ll do fine with busquets until we get our african studs back, considering our next match could have one leo messi and another andres iniesta start. so i’m not worried.

      just sucks that madrid can and probably will take 1st place tomorrow as they have more goals than us and equal goal difference at present time. no biggie though, still a long road to travel.

  4. ashu
    January 3, 2010

    Oh ! The sheer pleasure of watching Henry when he is good, makes up for all the bad form he has been through in the past few matches. Such a beautiful sight !

  5. cliveee
    January 3, 2010

    Henry said we don’t need to change anything. I agree with him. We have been playing the same style of football, but sometimes we play better, sometimes we don’t play what we should play. This one is just straight-up bad.

    Villareal had the tactics right and it worked against us in the first place. They are the second team, after Madrid, to put so much pressure on our possessions but worked even harder. They worked so hard in their defense, and they marked each of our man well, and when the ball goes to the midfield, they crowd us and force us to make mistakes, and there were tons of mistakes made by ourselves.

    About Busquets, I am not so sure if he should bare so much blame, but in a collectively bad performance, his terrifying errors were just adding up with other teammates’ errors. But I am not defending him. He is not the kind of DM we really need right now. I want another stud there.

    Ibra’s disappointing performance is just making me sad. I only wish he will play some direct football. He has the tendency to make play. He is very team-minded. But hey, didn’t you say you are here to be a legend? We want a scorer, not a bigger playmaker. You hold up the ball and watch for movement, why don’t try harder and make some nice runs instead? You obviously can do it. Show us. Show the kids how a man plays football too.

    Feel sorry for Puyol too. I am sure he knows how bad he plays and should improve in the next game. Just watch. But Alves is a bit worrying me. Not only that he is often caught off position in counter-attacks, he also has the tendency to daydream. I can’t accept it when a defender do not commit enough in front of a shooter. IF, it was Xavi or Messi or Iniesta was in that position and do what he did (half-dodging I’d say), I can still reserve some anger because they are not quite trained to defend. But you are a fighter, Alves. I wouldn’t trade attacking prowess by giving up defense.

    Still upset for the draw, but Pep will guide us through. Nice catch about his early gesture. I wasn’t aware of how early he stood up until I read this. Well, let’s really hope this draw will really make us stronger.

  6. Sid
    January 3, 2010

    Kxevin,

    One can see your frustration and worries from the review. So sorry to disagree :-).

    I felt that we had a decent match. We were lucky? You got to be kidding. There were at least 5 golden chances begging to be put away (If only Ibra wasnt uncharacteristically off). Our midfield engine was as sharp as ever. Although,Defense was worrying to me.

    And like you said, Henry was playing really well. Havent seen him play this well for some time now.

    So all in all, I felt Villa were lucky to get away with the draw and our offense is still on track. Ibra wont be having toom any of these bad games.

    • BL
      January 3, 2010

      “But as usual, a bit of joy to leave you thinking good thoughts.”

      haha :O jesus! after that review, you laid the fucken doom and gloom down pretty hard bro.

      kxevin, your tone can be super depressing sometimes man, chin up! even a team as good as ours can’t be perfect in every game. it wasn’t the best night for the boys, still got a point… now we move on to the next one (they’re coming thick and fast). its a marathon not a sprint.

      • Kxevin
        January 3, 2010

        Sorry about the tone. 😀 It makes a bit more sense when you understand that it’s a match evaluation, rather than an overall assessment of the state of things.

        We have a more favorable January schedule than EE. As I said, this was our most difficult match, and except for a pretty appalling defensive lapse, we could have won it.

        • Helge
          January 3, 2010

          I’m not sure if our January schedule is more favourable in the sense of easier than EE’s. We face Sevilla thrice, might face Valencia twice. Real Madrid has to go to San Mames and this evening to Pamplone, which might turn out to be two tough tests. But it may also end in a 3-0 win each for the EE. Besides of those 2 matches, there schedule is rather easy. Mallorca away is nothing compared to them at home, one away win against 7 (?) home wins. So Madrid has two different matches, while we might have 6 absolute crackers within 4 weeks. In a way, that is favourable, but I preferred an easier way to the final of the CDR. Like CD Alcorcon 😀

        • BL
          January 3, 2010

          madrid drew 0-0 with osasuna, so the damage of the draw isn’t too bad. half empty types will say “shit! could’ve been 4 points up on those bitches!”, half full types are happy to keep the 2 point lead after a poor performance.

          sevilla are slumping. they just dropped to 5th behind mallorca! valencia up into 3rd, that warm fuzzy position they like so much.

    • mike in africa
      January 3, 2010

      @Sid: pretty optimistic guy you…

      “Our midfield engine was as sharp as ever.”… not sure if we saw the same game, but i thought our midfield had little presence. we definitely did not dominate the midfield and control the tempo like we usually do.

      • BL
        January 3, 2010

        thats because as good as johnathan’s passing was, it was his first start at camp nou in la liga. he did many things right but his presence wasn’t felt, he didn’t do the dirty things and against a midfield with as much aggression as villarreal’s had we needed some steel in there. ie. keiteeeeee + yaya for busquets.

  7. eklavya
    January 3, 2010

    I think we should played Chiggy in DM for this match. He’s more solid that Busi and keeps the midfield more “tight and solid”. He’s also better at making long range passes.
    JDS should have tried a few more things there but whatever, as long as he doesn’t drag us down or anything…

    • BL
      January 3, 2010

      hmm not so sure about that… chygrynsky at DM? that scares the shit out of me. the dude is slow as balls and has shown nothing yet to make me believe in him at all. a creative midfielder would dance by that guy with ease.

      • eklavya
        January 4, 2010

        Only his pace is frustrating. We could try Pique at DM and put Chiggy at CB but that’s worse for the defense IMO, at least at the moment considering how bad we were in that area against VR…

        • BL
          January 4, 2010

          puyol/milito with pique at DM? could work for some matches.

  8. Jim
    January 3, 2010

    Sorry, I’m with Kxevin, on this point at least. Sid, I think we must have been watching different games although I’ll admit I watched the second half horror show from a distance from behind the sofa, at least till Iniesta came on. I can understand being upbeat about our chances medium term but our deficiences last night were not a one off. Teams now think they know how to play against us and that brings them a confidence. How often have we said

    1. teams are stopping Valdes’ easy ball out by pushing up and forcing him to kick long
    2. Busi isn’t up to a position where you can’t lose the ball or the defence is knackered
    3. we need as many of our triumvirate of Messi Iniesta and Xavi to play as we can manage or our passing game suffers. Btw, what were our final possession stats – not near our 70% usual I’m guessing.

    I’m going to add another. Our defence, and I mean all of them (Kxevin, you didn’t mention Abidal’s failure to go with his man yet again when Puyol had to save his bacon by clearing off the line at 86.51 on Sky) , need to sit down and learn some positional sense. They are often clueless when a play develops and they are pulled about in the slightest. Puyol has the best positional sense of the lot but ends up like a whirling dervish trying to put out fires.

    The goal for me summed this up :

    49.40 – VR attacker contained on wing by 2 Barca players. Look at Alves’ position. He should have shuffled across to the middle as Pique has two men to potentially mark.
    49.48 – VR attacker in centre chests ball back to teammate. Puyol faced by two needs Pique to come across pronto but he doesn’t. Abidal (blameless for once) has been drawn out to mark man on wing and just now realises need to get back quickly.
    49.49 – VR attacker runs into space between quickly returning Abidal and behind Puyol. Blocked off well by Abidal.
    50.00 Lucky deflection out wide and cross comes over. Alves’ position correct as he had to mark man in centre due to Puyol off his feet after attempting block to stop shot but as been said he has no intention of throwing himself in front of the shot as both CBs would have. Goal.

    For most of that move we had easily enough personnel back to deal with it at an early stage but they lost their shape far too easily.

    Does this mean we’ll lose the league? Of course not, but we’re kidding ourselves if we think Pep doesn’t have some problems to sort out. The one good thing to come out of this month may well be a renewed respect from club and some supporters for what Yaya gives us.

    • Sid
      January 3, 2010

      Jim, We were watching the same match I assure you and I agree that it wasnt the best match from us.

      But it was far from total disaster. The team still plays like a team and we create the best goal scoring chances compared to any team. If Ibrahimovic has scored in the chance around the 20th Minute, we would be cruising through the match ( And Ibra wud score from such a chance in 4 out 5 matches).

      All I am saying is that we still have a slid team with a good attack. And though the defence was off last night, we have been pretty good when needed. I am pretty optimistic abt this team.

      I do agree that DM is a bit of a concern.

  9. Lumi
    January 3, 2010

    Abidal was caught way up the pitch quite sometimes. And Pep should tell BANGS to start shooting please that would be his newest Edition cause the rest of him ain’t all that good. if and when he starts shooting defs coverhis shooting angles whereby freeing his teammates. Look at Drogba he has almost the same strength as BANGS but believe me BANGS has a better accuracy. BANGS please shoot the shot or as my Grandfather would say ”SHOT THE SHOOT”

    • eklavya
      January 4, 2010

      Thay reminds me:
      I really miss Slyvinho’s long shots!!………..aaand Eto’o scoring on the rebound xD

  10. Diane
    January 3, 2010

    Abidal wasn’t in his usual brilliant form of late, Xavi didn’t have Iniesta or Messi to draw guys that extra inch away from him that even he occasionally needs, Ibra exhibited all of the flaws listed above*, but to me the bottom line is SENNA. He’s quiet, he’s brilliant, he destroys the opposing midfield/attack. He does it with our guys for Spain and he did it against us yesterday. We should know how hard it is to keep possession when he’s in the mix, and we should have been better prepared to deal with that than with the two kids. Without Keita or Yaya, we had to have Iniesta to work with Xavi or Messi to mess with their left flank the way Henry did with their right (my MOTM too, by the way, I would have so loved him to get the one that hit the post). Another effect, of course, is that by the end of the match we had done so much more running back into our own half than our guys are used to that they were as tired as most teams that play us.

    *Ibrahimovic saddened me badly with his stomp on Godin’s foot. I’m opposed to a little necessary roughness, but he jumped onto the guy with his own not too dainty two feet full of studs. However he plays, he has a far way to go to regain my respect — which he had until now, even with the baby stuff during the rest of the match, that kind of sh*t can happen on an off day, but not a move that has no other purpose than to break a guy’s foot. Sorry to vent but…a pet peeve…

    • Diane
      January 3, 2010

      Meant to say that I would have loved Henry to get the one that hit the crossbar!

    • Diane
      January 3, 2010

      Meant to say that I would have loved Henry to get the one that hit the crossbar! And that I’m NOT opposed to a little necessary roughness — regarding my Ibra rant. I really must read before posting 😉 .

  11. Diane
    January 3, 2010

    Meant to say that I would have loved Henry to get the one that hit the crossbar. Also that I am NOT opposed to a little necessary roughness in my rant re Ibra. Must read before posting 😉 !

  12. Madridista
    January 3, 2010

    Eat your hearts out FARCA fans. RM will win the league for sure this year. We have had a tougher schedule and don’t forget the last classico is at the Bernebaue. And just think..our team is still gelling while yours looks uninspired and tired.

    Osasuna 0 RM 3 today.

  13. Ciaran
    January 3, 2010

    Sorry Kxev and every other Pedro fan, but did he do a single thing right in the second half?
    He was brilliant in the first half but absolutely shit in the second. I don’t remember one good thing in the second half from him.

    Giving Bojan a 1 in the 5 mins of playing time is pointless. What could he have done to change things at that stage? Nothing.

    Pep seems completely incapable of changing the match if Plan A doesn’t work. He never changes a match with a substitution – bar the obvious if he doesn’t start with a First XI player.

    Our squad is fairly sub-standard once you go beyond the main 13/14 players. An addition in the form of Suarez or someone would be very welcome.

    • January 3, 2010

      Wow, wow, wow… I gotta STRONGLY disagree on the substitution thing there Ciaran. Completely incapable? I lost count of how many games of ours have been turned by subs and tactical shifts. The Clasico, the Euro Super Cup, and the Club WC to name the most important ones.

      A manager can only do so much given the resources he has at his disposal. Iniesta was our only game changer on the bench at the moment. We had a bunch of defenders, Cuddly Toy, and a few rookie canteranos when we needed playmaking and midfield control. Messi or Jeffren being there would have helped immensely as “de-stabilizing” attackers and playmakers. Jeffren’s injury and Messi being given the extra vacation time hurt us on this one. If you say we are not a deep squad then I have to agree but I can’t blame Pep for not changing the game through subs when there was nobody to change it with.

      Everybody knows Villareal. You attack them through the wings and bypass Senna’s Zone of Destruction. That’s in large part why Messi and formerly Ronaldinho always seem to have had good games against them. I could not watch the game but I mention this because just by looking at our line-up for the game I saw a lack of wing play given the players on the field.

      • Kxevin
        January 3, 2010

        Yes, Pedro! maintained his standard of play in the second half, particularly with his passing. I’m not in the camp that thinks he is a regular starter, because of the abovementioned tactical deficiencies. He still is very slow on reading the match.

        There was one play in particular, at 10:26, where a Villarreal player laid out a weak-ass pass that you know Messi or Iniesta would have pounced on and sent us off the other way. Pedro! kind of looked at it, then chased the ball, alas, too late.

        Krkic was brought on to influence the match, and he was shit. You just don’t run toward the sideline with the ball, facing 5 defenders, and in effect making the sideline the 6th defender. You just don’t.

        What he could have done was moved, passed and facilitated our play as he often does, even in 5 minutes. Don’t forget that in about a minute, Messi got a goal when he was subbbed on. No, we shouldn’t compare Messi to Krkic. But subs are supposed to influence the match, particularly one in the balance. That would have been an excellent attacking opportunity, and it was wasted.

  14. January 3, 2010

    Guess I picked a good game to miss (my first one this season).

    Senna is a bad ass. That is all. Nothing but respect for the man.

    I’m guessing Pep was looking at the longer term but not having Messi in form and on the bench hurt us A LOT. We needed another game changer off the bench and all we had was Iniesta and CT. The last time this happened, Messi went medieval on Atletico in the CDR and scored a hat trick once he got over his jet lag. Lets hope we get a similar response.

  15. poipoi
    January 3, 2010

    a 9 is a 9, a killer and not a playmaker but maybe I’m just narrow minded. Ibra has to stop the ibra show we all enjoy so much with his ninja flicks, useless horizontal dribblings and all that and just push the ball into the net.

    busi was bad but not that bad, he’s not yaya

  16. Cesc Blanc
    January 3, 2010

    I also thought that the praises for Busi were a bit too much. I didn’t see him as bad as you did but still, he wasn’t really great as many comments tried to say.

    What hurt us against Villareal more than anything was not being able to get the ball out of our defense. That’s where we lost most. It’s a pity that Rafa is MIA and Chygro is not really there yet but when a team puts high pressure on you, what you need is a defender that can play the ball out long and apart of Pique, neither Puyol nor Bilal can do that really.

    The referee was bad on both sides, but of course you have Prawda and Keyhan writing mainly about how he didn’t give a penalty or what not, completely leaving out that the game had the flow of an NFL game. Credit to Valverde who was all class in the press conference. Really a great guy! Just wished he could have had his team rolling and playing well when they faced Madrid.

  17. Kevin O
    January 3, 2010

    Its nice to see a Madridista following the blog.. Especially since the only time you see him comment, its when we lose or draw, like an “in your face” statement. Its nice because we dont see him talk that much, as we clearly play better than The EE and were in greater form. Can anyone say SCARED? lol

  18. Jim
    January 3, 2010

    I think I agree with Ciaran that Pedro disappeared after the interval but so did Henry and the reason was lack of control of the midfield. The whole forward line suffered from lack of quality and quick possession. If we have it they can’t have it and Senna, decent though he is in possession can’t do anything other than when he has the ball. Too much of our possession was on half way or going across and back.

    It’s not huge but i’d like to know why Pep didn’t take the insurance of having Messi on the bench and what he saw in the first half that made him keep Iniesta till later on.

    I think we need to keep an open mind on the January transfer window. To be honest we need goals coming from somewhere and also cover for Ibra to make sure he realises his position isn’t guaranteed. Pedro aint gonna play much second half of the season unless Messi is injured so it’s Henry’s position we need to think about. I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen of Suarez on youTube and if he plays left side we can give Henry his chance at CF as Plan B. Not the top league in europe but some of his goals nobody would save. If it means we can leave Bojan on the bench, no offence but that improves our chances at the top level. Iniesta must play beside Xavi every opportunity we get.

  19. January 3, 2010

    Marcos Senna was the best player on the pitch by an order of magnitude. He was amazing.

    I agree with Kxevin that we were very lucky to get out of this with a point. But I don’t think it’s the end of the world. They played an excellent game, you doff your hat, say congrats, and move on. There’s still half the season to go, one game in January is not going to make or break the campaign.

    • Hilal
      January 3, 2010

      Yeah. Especially when MAdrid dont take advantage of it. Where is that Madrid fan now? I thought Madrid were gona win 0-3?!?!?

    • BL
      January 3, 2010

      and senna still got owned by busquets numerous times. don’t forget that sergi did many things excellently yesterday, and a few things terribly. that has been his problem since day one, i truly hope he can learn the sacred art of consistency.

    • Diane
      January 4, 2010

      Ahsan is exactly right. I’ve never seen Senna completely “owned,” maybe momentarily distracted but then right back to work. Give credit where its due on both sides.

  20. Jose62
    January 3, 2010

    YAY! I officially forgive Osasuna for that whole Pique own-goal at the death business ^_^

    • Tajh
      January 3, 2010

      Now imagine if that own goal never happened…we would’ve been 4 points clean

  21. January 3, 2010

    I don’t. If they had taken away the whole 3 points from RM then I would have. However, not bad. 😀

    • lovelymofo
      January 3, 2010

      Ha, that would have been ideal. But I’m good with the tie.

    • Jose62
      January 3, 2010

      Well, I use the word “blame” but it was all our fault… 🙁 Still, we were forgiven today. Osasuna put in a solid performance, and evened out the points we lost to them. What I can’t stand is teams that put in a glorious effort against us and lie down for EE.

      • Helge
        January 3, 2010

        Taling about Atletico de Madrid, aight? 🙂

        And Villarreal also played bs against Real, but it wasn’t their fault as they’ve been in a horrible shape back then against any opponent.

  22. Miguel
    January 3, 2010

    way to park a bus, uh, i mean…great D, osasuna!

    • Tajh
      January 3, 2010

      This Result makes me feel sooo much better

  23. Kxevin
    January 3, 2010

    If I had an Osasuna shirt, I would wear it today. So happy. I didn’t watch, but just saw the comments here. Ex-CELLENT!

    I think that last season, with them getting a side right after us, they were taking advantage of the fact that a club can’t play two Matches of the Season in consecutive weeks. It’s different this season.

    So to have an off match, draw and come out the same in the standings, makes my already bright Sunday quite a bit brighter.

  24. Kxevin
    January 3, 2010

    And trust me, I think that we’re shopping in the January transfer window. We have to be. Our club has depth deficiencies that need to be addressed. Over the summer, EE money made everybody stupid in their fee demands. Things should be calmer in January, and we can do a little bit of business. I’d be very surprised if we didn’t get any squad additions over the January window.

    • BL
      January 3, 2010

      yeah but for who and for what position? robinho seems to be out now (thank god) but the murmurs of other transfers have really died down to nothing.

      signing a DM isn’t an option, but another utility midfielder would be nice.. though who would come? they may get to play a handful of games before keita and yaya return but then what? who would want to arrive at the club in that situation? tough sell.

      also, given the way barça has been handling its foreign imports lately (hleb, keirrison, henrique) its not very encouraging for anyone looking at joining the club. guardiola obviously has far more trust in la masia than the transfer market, especially when it comes to defense and midfield.

      • Kxevin
        January 3, 2010

        I could see a Suarez deal, and/or someone like Vieira, who is done but has enough quality to fill in for a few matches, then would be fine with a diminished bench role and the chance to say they were part of a championship squad. But maybe I’m crazy.

        I think that Hleb played/talked his way out of town, Guardiola didn’t want Keirrison but they signed him anyway, and Adriano had chances to impress, and didn’t do it. But the jury’s still out on those last two. For all we know, the loan to Zaragoza could happen, and K9 could start kicking ass and taking names. Either way, we need to see what his deal is.

    • Kari
      January 3, 2010

      Somewhat to what Eklavya suggested, I want to see Pique play DM. I know we need his height in the defense, but it seems like an interesting experiment. Cruyff played him there in that friendly v Argentina. Maybe he saw something….? At least if he plays there, we know he won’t be another Busi*.

      *Not really ripping Busi–but we all agree that he was pretty sh*tty in this game.

  25. Kxevin
    January 3, 2010

    And the news gets better, from Sevilla before Tuesday’s Copa date. Look who they have missing!

    Defender Sebastien Squillaci, midfielder Adriano Correia (ankle knocks), Didier Zokora, Frederic Kanoute, Luis Fabiano, Federico Fazio, Lautaro Acosta, Sergio Sanchez, Javi Varas and Tom de Mul.

    Holy crap! They’re saying it’s a 14-man roster for them on Tuesday. I want goals, and lots of them. We should go all out to win this tie at home, with the quickness. I know that Guardiola has been giving the other folks some love for Copa matches, but I say run out the big boys at some point, and put the knife in.

    My guess is that they park it. Fully and completely. That’s brutal for them.

    • Kari
      January 3, 2010

      Duscher was also sent off against Atletico. So he’s out too, I think.

    • Helge
      January 3, 2010

      And still, Sevilla’s got players like Jesus Navas, Renato, Perotti, Negredo… Adriano should be fit for tuesday, that’s what I’ve read somewhere.
      Squillaci had a horrible match against Atleti, dunno whether it’s good for us if he misses the first leg or not ^^

      Anyways, we should be careful on the counter attacks, because with Perotti and Jesus Navas on the flanks, plus Negredo in the center, there can always be danger.

  26. Kxevin
    January 3, 2010

    And in the “Holy Crap!” file, Leeds beat United??!!

    • Kari
      January 3, 2010

      More like “LOL, I want to watch the match now” file

      Just to see the post match reaction and reaction to the goal

      😀

    • Vj
      January 4, 2010

      I watched that match and were Leeds good.. They turned back the years, a decade atleast.. And its not even that Man Utd were understrength, Leeds had more than a couple of decent chances other than the goal.. If they were any more clinical, it would’ve added to Man Utd’s embarrassment..

      I know I’m coming off as a Leeds fanboy, but come on, it isn’t everyday that a side from the lower rungs of the league stuns a top flight title contender.. That happens like once in two months 😉 😛 ..

      • Helge
        January 4, 2010

        Or, in the special case of ManUtd losing in the first round of the FA Cup, once in about 30 years 😀

        Sir Alex has never been kicked out of the first round during his complete ManUtd career.

  27. Achraf
    January 3, 2010

    Ok this is offtopic maybe but i wanna know wat u guys think. Now one thing we can agree on is Busquets put in an under-par performance. This has been discussed and his performance rating has ranged from terrible never play him again to an “inconsistent but showed some flashes” so ill take the average and say it was under-par :D. Now my question is concerning the YAYA. Now before January every time the YAYA was benched while has was fully fit there have been many many excuses given for his exclusion. The most redundant was that Busquets was being readied for this month of January to cover for the Yaya (So far not so well) OK let’s say that was true. Now how bout after the month of January will this mean Yaya’s playing time raises to a more significant level something similar to that of Keita or maybe even abidal (this is relevant because it is maxwell who sits for abidal and busquets should be sitting as much as maxwell esp. after January. Well what do you guys think will Yaya play a lot more or will this “rotation” thing continue. I guess will have to wait and see but either we’ll have to accept that Yaya will be leavin or get a much better excuse cuz the “preparing for January” card will have expired by then. Your thoughts?

    • Flippy
      January 3, 2010

      I always thought Pep was benching Yaya so Yaya was prepared for the ANC, not Busquets for January, because the ANC really tires and possibly injures players in Europe.

      • Miguel
        January 4, 2010

        me too. both, actually, but fo sho dat.

  28. Lumi
    January 3, 2010

    I was YAYA and i don’t start all league matches(coz UCL is out of the question) between now and February and March, trust me once summer comes knocking i’ll pack my bags

  29. Flippy
    January 3, 2010

    Sevilla, having lost to Athletico on Saturday (2-1), are now 5th in the table from third. With a weak roster for the month of January they’ll probably forget about the Copa and just try to get through this month in a CL spot. I want to destroy Sevilla next match and play the reserves against Tenerife and the second Copa match. Obviously we won’t play every starter and I think Ibra’s suspension counts in the Copa as well (which means he can play against Tenerife), but I want a drubbing.

  30. Keano
    January 3, 2010

    Adriano for sevilla is a fine player.Busquets showed glimpses of class (at one point he reminded me of Redondo)but not enough. For a tall guy he doesn’t have presence. What peoples opinion of these two for our left wing- nani or babel?

      • Keano
        January 3, 2010

        Just think they could be got on the cheap.Jefferen will prob be better than nani, but babel reminds me of a raw henry. ps marca are reporting that barca are interested in miquel velaso and afellay. Velaso strikes me as a poser like thong boy thou

        • poipoi
          January 3, 2010

          there are many good players and nani is great for the few games and videos I’ve seen but I specially like Silva for Barça.

      • eklavya
        January 4, 2010

        Oo0oo that SO close to becoming a smiley! So close, yet so far…

    • eklavya
      January 4, 2010

      Heck no nani noooooo! He’s heading down into a brick of wall. Rumor is that fergueson wants to exchange him for Di Maria.
      Babel is OK but I don’t think he’s our guy…
      Im all game foe giving Jeffrey/n more time. Oh, damn you stupid injury!

  31. poipoi
    January 3, 2010

    thong boy FC 0-0 in reyno de navarra… nuff saif

  32. Kxevin
    January 3, 2010

    Hmmm. I thought that Liga suspensions didn’t carry into Copa matches. Weren’t we debating this last season, when somebody was suspended right before a Copa tie? Who knows the answer, before I have to do some research.

    • BL
      January 4, 2010

      i think they do extend to the copa and vice versa.

    • eklavya
      January 4, 2010

      I think they count if you get a straight or sonething…I think.
      Welcome for the little help 😛

  33. Tajh
    January 4, 2010

    There u have it folks Titi now explained on sport.es that he have been playing with pain in his knee since the final in Rome,he reportedly said that he is only now starting to get to full fitness and that he didn’t want to abandon his national team over the summer to recover.

    • Kxevin
      January 4, 2010

      Nope, I don’t buy it. He sucks, and we should sell him. He’s stealing valuable playing time from Krkic.

      😀

      Actually, that’s the second time I’ve read that. He has back, knee and achilles tendon issues. It’s why he collapses when he gets what looks to be a soft foul from behind. Part of it, I’m sure, is protective. I can’t imagine what that must be like.

      • BL
        January 4, 2010

        part of his collapsing on those soft fouls is probably due to the debilitating condition known as: “being french”.

        :0

      • poipoi
        January 4, 2010

        Easy easy guys… it has only been one “good titi game” this season for what I know. Let’s just hope he stays like that, like he is supposed to 😉

        has he scored yet?

  34. Charlie
    January 4, 2010

    We accused Eto’o of being a hothead, was he ever a hothead on the pitch like Ibra was?

    Goals have dried up, we are now barely squeeking through teams and there is the feeling that we dont have control of games until the end…even with the two south american teams! We have marvelled at Ibra’s passing prowess, his flicks and acrobatic shows, but what we have slowly been missing, is a goal hungry striker. Yes, he has pounced on a few great passes to score, made some good one touch hits. But when’s the last time he bamboozled a defender or two to score? When’s the last time he created an inch of space so he can score? Now we blame messi for being selfish. Now we blame Iniesta and Xavi for not scoring enough. Now we blame Henry for not producing enough. But the mistake lies in buying essentially a 2nd striker/attacking midfielder ala’ ronaldo. What Barcelona now needs to do is buy a real striker, and move Ibra to shore up the wings or midfield. He just isn’t a killer striker, is what some of us have argued about for a while.

    • Vj
      January 4, 2010

      Dried up? I thought the man was 2nd in the Pichichi list by a single goal and still is..

      And surely, you cannot blame Ibra if we are squeaking through teams, you simply cannot blame a single person for that..

      By the by (ala Kxevin) name one real/killer striker currently that can come on in the most high pressure game there is, and bury a difficult volley with almost his first touch in the game?

    • BL
      January 4, 2010

      chill dude! he’ll score again. no worries.

      woah.. just read that you said to buy a real striker and move ibra to shore up the wings… ummm what? lets hope you didn’t type that with a straight face, because if you did you are one crazy baldhead.

    • OhYes
      January 4, 2010

      If memory serves me right (and It usually doesn’t) I’ve already seen two silly things from our friend Charlie here. Troll?

      I mean.. saying we need a real striker when Ibra is close to the guy we wanted (Villa) in pichichi.. that’s pretty troll sounding to me

  35. Vj
    January 4, 2010

    On another note, we need to defer our celebrations until after we play Villareal.. It’s become a habit recently..

    Seriously, how many points have we dropped after a break? As far as I can recollect, barring last year’s win over Mallorca and this seasons start, we have always dropped points. It seems that we are incapable of churning a result when the Liga resumes. Thankfully we are still ahead by 2 points instead of trailing by 1..

    Something should be done to stop the complacency/fatigue/whatever because its going to be a fight to the finish this season and we can
    ‘t afford to play like we did against Villareal..

  36. Jim
    January 4, 2010

    Good to hear that Henry at least feels there is a reason for his lack of pace and performance over the first half of the season. I’m prepared to believe him and have a look over the next while as an in form and fit Henry is well worth the wait.

    On Ibra, I don’t think one poor game should count against him. My worry is more akin to Charlie’s in that I’m not sure who has the penalty box instincts that teams who score lots of goals have. Its not just Ibra – we need more of the sort of goal that Xavi scored a few weeks ago where he made the run into the box on faith and got ahead of his defender. He’s not been doing that regularly, neither has Iniesta or Henry. You have to say atm that Pedro has been the one finding himself in the right place and getting shots off.

    Mind you, unless you can get regular good crosses coming in nobody feels its worth making the runs.

  37. barca96
    January 4, 2010

    i agree that this season we play further back..
    1.all this while i haven’t figured out why but now i know why as someone earlier pointed it out..absence of the yaya..
    last year we played on the opposing teams goal most of the times.
    so when we lose the ball we can recover it back quickly as the lines are narrower..
    2.we need a goal scorer.fox in the box..i know ibra scored a lot of goals already but he could’ve scored way more..he doesn’t even create that much.he passes too much and he plays too much like a AM.so we are too far from the goal.
    3.lack of 1-2’s or triangles.since the players are standing too far apart..

  38. Ciaran
    January 4, 2010

    Am I the only one that thinks that one of our biggest differences from last year is that Xavi is once again playing 5 yards further back than last season?
    He has not yet scored a league goal this season compared to 6 last season. Iniesta hasn’t scored yet this season either.
    Henry has only scored 2 in 10 as opposed to 2 in 3 last season.

    When Yaya plays, our whole team is shifted further up the pitch than when Busquets plays. In every match, teams pressure Busquets in possession because he is an obvious weak link. No one ever dispossess Yaya so they instead try to cut out passes rather than bump off him and fall down. when they bump into Busquets he falls down, rolls over and cries a little.

    There have been stories today that we will try to get Miguel Veloso from Sporting Lisbon. That would be nice because he plays a very simple short passing game and reads space well.

    One other thing… if our options on the bench aren’t good enough why do we have a €13million striker on loan at Benfica?

  39. Jim
    January 4, 2010

    No, I’m with you on that , Ciaran, and also the benefits of playing Yaya as opposed to Busi. for a big man he has quick feet and mind and crucially understands that a good DM is invisible on a first watching because he doesn’t dwell on the ball.

    I keep thinking that teams now are giving us what we would have longed for last year. They are committing more players to playing further up the pitch. That must leave gaps as long as we are quick enough to take them.

    However, i don’t think its any one thing. I feel its also tied up with Messi’s new role, Ibra’s lack of movement, Henry’s loss of form and crucially the lack of playing time together for Xavi, Iniesta and Yaya.

  40. fcbfan
    January 4, 2010

    Yes we do nneed someone in midfield, but we need him now. Whoever we bring in will have no time to adapt, and it’s only till Mali get knocked out of ACN at least (sorry Keitee!). If everyone step up a bit, we probably won’t need to spend money. If Busi would grow up a lil bit more, if our defense stop daydreaming…

    and why are we wasting Keirrison on loan?

  41. Kxevin
    January 4, 2010

    –Abidal is okay. There were worries that he might have pulled a hamstring. Good news. We should see Maxwell v Sevilla, at any rate.

    –Ibra has bonded with Guardiola, and apologized for blowing his top in the match. Steps are being taken.

    –No gratuitous slams against a people, I don’t care who. If you want to shit on Henry for his play, fine. Any more episodes will be deleted. Period.

    On another note, anyone who believes the bit about the French being inclined to surrender, should learn their history. Or better yet, tour the WWI memorials that are in almost every small French town, and just read the names. Entire families were wiped out. It’s staggering, and moving.

    As for Henry in specific, roll out with a painfhl knee, back and achilles, and have some dude wack you from behind with a cleated shoe. See how you like it.

    –The mask that Ibra was using in practice was due to frostbite suffered while on vacation back home. Makes sense.

    • BL
      January 4, 2010

      damn buddy it was a joke and quite a benign one at that, it’d be tough to find a more definitive example of being over-sensitive about a topic hot damn!

      what the hell does all that about the war have anything to do with football? sorry to have upset you but take it easy man. i meant nothing beyond playful riffing on a sterotype of being prone to overreacting, as are many a latin culture from spain to italy to mexico to brasil to argentina.

      • Tutomate
        January 4, 2010

        Like The Knowledge once said, Kxevin has “francophelia”.

  42. Kxevin
    January 4, 2010

    Ciaran is spot on. The Yaya moves the pitch forward. It’s a luxury that we haven’t had this season. Busquets gets a pass from folks, and I confess to not being sure why. He dwells on the ball too long, and doesn’t think about the consequences of headers, or just sticking a leg out and calling it defending. I do not like the way that he plays, not in the context of any other players, but rather based on what the side needs.

    We can all acknowledge that Henry has been off this season, but at least he hasn’t cost us goals. Busquets has, yet the conga line of venom waiting to spit on Henry is many times longer. It baffles me.

    • Hilal
      January 4, 2010

      Well maybe that is because Busquetz is still young, with a lot to learn and a lot of time to improve, he is not the finished product, nor is he meant to be. Henry on the other hand IS the finished product and he is expected to produce. 2 goals since ths start of the season is simply not good enough for a player of his quality. Pedro has a dozen goals in ths same period and he is stil “not ready to start” according to a lot of people. The last game was Henry’s first really great game all season and I really hope he continues in that vein, since he has always been one of my favourite players. I dont think it is fair to compare an older complete player to a much younger player with a lot of time to learn and grow. I would certainly hope that most ppl would be a lot more patient with Busquetz than they are with Henry…

      • Kxevin
        January 4, 2010

        I’ll buy that, Hilal. Although I think that being old should get Henry some dispensation as well, speaking as one who is old. 😀

        I’m of the “Pedro isn’t ready to start” camp, mostly because his tactical awareness needs improving. I cited an example above, and in every match he demonstrates that lack of awareness. He’ll probably be ready to start toward the end of the season, next season for sure.

        • Hilal
          January 4, 2010

          Henry should definitely get dispensation for being old. His position requires an immense amount of work, he has to be incredibly fit and his work rate never dissapoints – even if his offensive work does. I think sometimes we Barca fans are a little spoilt. We demand great performances every game from our players and it is simply not possible because they are humans not machines. For me, Henry is performing as well as can be expected, at 33, to still be playing as a winger and putting in the shifts that he does is quite remarkable. If he can come anywhere near his form last year in the next few months I will be very happy. Although I do believe that LW position should be occupied by a player who can consistently score 15-20 goals per season and Henry, sadly, is not that player anymore. I do believe it will be his last season with the club.

          On the subject of Henry, I find it quite remarkable that in a career as successfull as his, having won absolutely everything, he has never been awarded the Wolrd or European player of the year.

    • Miguel
      January 4, 2010

      a “conga line of venom?” jeez baby kxev. to quote you, “[someone’s]wound tighter than a swiss watch in a tornado.”

      😉

      • Kxevin
        January 4, 2010

        Nope. Not wound tightly at all. Just observing. The man gets no love, and when he does, it’s begrudging. That’s life, right?

        But everyone has a player who they think gets the shaft. Ramzi thinks that it’s Busquets. Others think it’s Krkic. Still others think it’s (insert player here).

        It’s part of the thing, right?

        • Miguel
          January 4, 2010

          i don’t think we’re particularly good for any player’s self-esteem ;^)

  43. January 4, 2010

    I was doing some homework using your schedule (games schedule on the blog) And I found this result:

    Dynamo 2 – 0 Barça

    may be an Ukraine fan Hacked your blog?

    • Kxevin
      January 4, 2010

      😀

      Certainly an optimistic one. That might explain some of the site pokiness over the last day or two. Thanks, Ramzi.

      • Vj
        January 4, 2010

        Maybe he/she was the one who turned on the ‘comment reply mail’ system..

  44. Hilal
    January 4, 2010

    No signings in Jan?!?!?

    //www.goal.com/en/news/12/spain/2010/01/04/1724961/barcelonas-pep-guardiola-its-not-worth-signing-someone-for

      • poipoi
        January 4, 2010

        I think the youngsters can do a much better job than any other midfielder in the world… they already know our style and sure have talent. It’s always hard to adapt to FCB specially in midfield I think, and half a season is too short no matter how good you are. If we had to sign someone, signing Silva (winger+of.midfielder) would be the best option in my opinion, he fills a lot of gaps, knows spanish football and plays like the angels. But JDS is ok… a true shooter.

  45. Blow-Granite
    January 4, 2010

    I see some remarks that Henry has scored only 2 goals this term. The reason for that is that Ibra likes to move left rather than right of the central striker position forcing Henry to move further left or even to the left attacking midfield position. Eto’o would stay in the middle or move slightly to the right or left, but mostly to the right.

    We need Henry to cover for Ibra, I dont believe they can play together.

    I saw the last match and found two things because of which we got the result we got. Pedro never took on his man on the right wing. Just the presence of their right back forced Pedro to pass to the ball back. I did notice a couple of runs into open space towards the by line were created there after Iniesta came on. But that is more the magic of Iniesta.

    On the left side Final Fantasy would have been a very good option to open up their defence. That would have killed Villarreal since they were middle heavy. Sadly both Messi and Jeffren were out. Even having Keita would have spread their defence since he is left midfielder.

    Lastly, we did not have the option of Yaya. Tactically what happens if he plays is that Pique can crash the opponents box and between him and Ibra they manage to do some damage to the opponent.

    In summary – things will get better with Messi and Jeffren are back. They will start rocking when Yaya and Keita are back.

    I respectfully disagree all the talk of Busi being bad. Barca were just middle heavy and the opponents knew exactly how to exert pressure because of the above mentioned tactical deficiencies. Yes, Yaya is a better player to deal with that situation, but Busi did well too.

    • BL
      January 4, 2010

      thank you! i feel severely in the minority in my busi-love.

      kevin feels that henry gets a bad rap, but everytime busi plays (excellent, good or bad) all i hear/read is negative after negative after negative. give the kid some damn credit! he plays in one of the most difficult/important positions in the barça system and gets panned constantly.

      do you guys really believe that guardiola is clueless? pep has gone to busquets time and again in big games, surprising the shit out of many of us. yet…

      we have 6 trophies in 2009.

      and we still bitch. life is tough!

  46. Kevo
    January 4, 2010

    Ramzi mentioned this in barcelona.theoffside.com and i went ahead and youtube Titi’s match and found IT!

    //http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v12Hlmdglak

    In 0:35 you see Titi hughing JDS and that to me is a great gesture from a veteran to a youngster. I am a big fan of Titi and although is true that he is old, i agree 100% on what Ramzi wrote about him.

  47. Tyler
    January 4, 2010

    In regards to the whole whining about Ibra deal, I think we need to take a step back. Usually in this forum we can begin to overanalyze and look at every minute detail of the team from a very narrow point of view.

    Take a deep breath and look at the facts like someone mentioned earlier: 11 goals, second in pichichi standings. Sure he has missed a lot of opportunities, but EVERY STRIKER DOES. I can’t understand people saying, we need a more goal hungry striker, a fox in the box…. you can’t be serious. Ibra is a monster, a very talented monster, and when he scored that goal against the E.E., everyone was singing his praises. He didn’t score yesterday, as didn’t a lot of other players on our team. So he got pissed off, and almost broke a guys foot. GOOD, I’d rather have someone with a fiery passion/temper, than a complacent striker who just hangs his head down *cough Bojan cough*

    He’s made a few mistakes, missed some shots, showed some unsportsmanlike conduct. Yeah we get it. But to suggest there is someone else out there, or that he is not doing enough, or simply isn’t “goal hungry”, is absurd. I think a huge reason why there haven’t been as many goals as of late period is because the better teams are figuring out how to stop Xavi and Iniesta. And for every glorious goal we made last season, there probably was an unmarked Mighty Mite quietly going about his business. But guess what? The news is out. Every team we play knows that Xavi is our best player on the field, and they are figuring out how to stop him. In a way its a complement, but what we need to do is figure out how to get around it. And if there is one way to get around a clogged midfield, I know a 6foot 5inch Swedish dude that will create more opportunities out there than ANY other striker.

    *end rant*

    • Tyler
      January 4, 2010

      also i finally got FIFA 10!! add me – Mylilpwny33

    • Vj
      January 4, 2010

      You forgot to mention the keywords ‘Ninja’ and ‘Assasin’ that would have immensely helped your argument.. 😀

      • Tyler
        January 4, 2010

        haha you’re right, but I had assumed that all should know of the Ninja Assassin skills of Ibracadabra. my mistake 🙂

    • BL
      January 4, 2010

      completely on board.

      i find MANY people on this site that frequent the comments to be just a tad (or a lot) too quick to freak out.

      we can’t forget that this is half way through ibra’s first season in spain and in one of the harder teams to integrate into given the way it plays (no one can match it).

      BANGS will score again, shelve the whining.

      • Tutomate
        January 4, 2010

        LOL at your earlier comment. You know which one.

  48. Kxevin
    January 4, 2010

    I think that the only concern about Ibrahimovic is that if defenders know he can be made angry, that will be an ongoing problem as the season progresses. As Guardiola said, one match he is going to make us play with 10 men. If you give someone directions to what button to push, and access to it, they will push it, and drive you crazy.

    Ibrahimovic is just fine. He’s the striker for me. All day and all night. I do think that match was begging for him to take it by the scruff of the neck. He’s the solution to a flooded midfield. His touch was off, and he got distracted. Now he knows better.

    Balance is important, as in looking at a match but not drawing any long-term inferences from said match. We’re the best club in the world. Period, full stop. We have only rarely played up to our potential and still, we are on target to repeat the amazing feats of last season. Scary. We will improve, so anybody who wants to get us, had better do so now.

    • Tyler
      January 4, 2010

      Totally agree, we can’t afford to lose a player in a clutch matchup, especially when he’s our highest scoring player.

      Now in terms of tactics (this is probably a Hector question), how can we work around this flooded midfield problem and still utilize the best midfield in football? I don’t want to entirely lose tiki-taka and switch to long pass to the 9 slot. I mean if it works it works, but still there has to be a way to keep our playing style and work around these defenses we’ve been seeing. The only thing that matters is winning, but I feel Pep and Co. should be able to solve this puzzle.

    • OhYes
      January 4, 2010

      Hey man, if a player is not allowed to have a shitty game, who the hell do we sign? Jesus? God? Virgin Mary?

      Up until now he’s been great when he wasn’t too busy trying to fit in or recover from an injury.

      • Blow-Granite
        January 4, 2010

        Funny comment. Ha Ha.
        On that note let us replace our entire forward lineup with Jesus, God, and Virgin Mary and see if they do better.

      • Tyler
        January 4, 2010

        i didnt say we shouldn’t allow players to have a shitty game. in fact I was advocating Ibra to have as many as he wants. and if we had jesus, God, and Virgin Mary, as the forwards I guess Xavi would still be the midfielder haha.

      • Vj
        January 4, 2010

        We already have Jesus and God.. I think the absolute opposite of the Virgin Mary is about to leave the EE, shall we sign him?

      • Jose62
        January 4, 2010

        We already have the Son (Messi-ah) and the Holy Ghost (Iniesta)… Who’s the Father?

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