Sevilla 0, Barca 1, a.k.a. “No treble. Not this season.”

Today is a new day, one in which for the first time since 2008, we have been knocked out of a competition.

And I will tell you right now, that I hate it when our club loses. Anything. Period, full stop. A match, a competition, its way, some keys, a Euro …. anything! Further, I know that I am supposed to feel pride in the way that this club fought in that second half, and the brilliant plays that just missed being goals by a whisker. I know that I am supposed to believe that since Sevilla had two perfectly legitimate goals taken away, justice was ultimately done in this Copa del Rey tie. I know that I was saying “Dump the Copa, so that we can concentrate on the big-time competitions.”

I know, I know, I know, I know.

But this morning, I still feel like Guardiola looks in this picture, dejected and lost.

What bums me out a bit is that we didn’t go out with our principles intact. The Copa has always been for the kids and subs, Pinto, Krkic, Pedro!, Dos Santos. My hope was that Guardiola would stick to his guns, and trot out a proper Copa lineup. Maybe he thought that the moment would overcome them. Maybe he wanted the streak to continue. For whatever reason, he rolled out with Pinto, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Henry and Ibrahimovic.

What makes me smile is that we went out like champions, like lions who fought tooth and nail for the last scrap. It made me so proud. Our beloved club fought for every last one of the trophyless years that we’ve all watched, it fought for its coach, it fought for pride. In the end, it was outdone by a lackluster home performance at a crucial time and, when it mattered most, a superhuman performance by Palop, the Sevilla keeper who was majestic. Full credit to them for a hard-played match, and a plan that, as Isaiah noted previously, they executed to not quite perfection, but close enough to get the result that they wanted.

Simply put, it was to take advantage of the lackadaisical nature that has been manifesting itself at the beginnings of matches, and put early pressure on us. They did this with the usual high pressure, and having their attackers make long runs at our defense, because every club in the universe knows that we don’t put in the professional foul. So Navas just runs, and runs and runs, bereft of the good whack that Messi gets all the time from other clubs.

Helping this was the fact that we didn’t have any width to our attack. Alves was spraying shit around like a cat in heat, and for whatever reason, people would not pass to Henry. Think I’m crazy? At the 9:25 mark, watch as Henry is running into acres of space, and would have been 1-v-1 on Palop, but Iniesta ignores him, deciding to play the ball to Ibrahimovic instead, and the moment is lost.

Again at 16:25, Ibrahimovic gets the ball, with Henry behind his defender, just waiting for the through ball. Ibrahimovic plays it back to Iniesta, and that moment is lost.

Now, when Ibrahimovic switched to the left, the balls began flowing over there.

I admit to being clueless about why this is happening. Perhaps Hector can watch, and drop some of The Knowledge on my ass, that will explain it for me. But from what I saw, on many occasions, we decided to ignore a guy who could have given us a great shot at an early goal. And as I said, this was unfortunate because there was nothing happening on the right, and Messi was taking the first half off.

So the attack was essentially directionless, as Ibrahimovic seemed more interested in acting like a midfielder and again, nobody was in the box to take advantage of the crosses that Henry was laying in. As the announcer noted, “Henry crosses it in, nobody in the middle.” Indeed. Last season, Eto’o and his constant motion was in the middle, ravenous and ready to take rapacious advantage of any ball that got anywhere near the box. Ibrahimovic sets up on the wrong side of the defender, and stops, pointing to the ground in front of him as the play ends, as if the ball is going to magically pass through the defender between he and Henry.

If we can get somebody near post, Henry’s assist total will skyrocket. He only has one real play left these days, but he’s gotten the hang of it: the dive for the end line, and a cross into the box. If we just get someone on the end of those crosses, we’re in business.

Our passing attack just wasn’t right, as we didn’t seem to know who to play the ball to. Ibrahimovic, at one moment, played it to Xavi instead of a wide-open Messi, who made no bones about his frustration. Iniesta’s passing radar was funky, and the differences between he and Xavi were very clear. Iniesta will try passes that Xavi wouldn’t, or he’ll have just a bit too much weight on the ball, where Xavi is inch-perfect. Yes, it’s comparing a guy who is still getting there to one who is There, which made the differences no less apparent.

So we scrambled around, beginning to play our way into the match. Messi had an excellent chance in the 30th minute, a shot that he smoked toward the lower corner, that was snuffed out by Palop. Yet as we began to regain midfield control, in large part due to the efforts of a magnificent Busquets, the match was starting to turn our way even if ultimately, we weren’t playing smart football. Our passes were too ambitious, through balls that didn’t have a chance of getting through, or passes that reached one of our lads, as he was surrounded by defenders.

Sevilla’s game plan was very intelligent, with its strengths carefully attuned to our tendencies, and in the first half, we played into their hands.

Ah, but the second half was a very different matter. We picked up where we left off, with iron-clad control of the match. Sevilla was beginning to tire, and we were stepping on the gas, asserting ourselves like the champions that we are and always will be. Iniesta was suddenly on target, Xavi was still magical and we were now completing those impossible passes, as the Sevilla defenders tired just a little bit.

But we kept going a dribble too far. Iniesta did it, Messi did it, Ibrahimovic did it. Shoot. Just shoot. And then, Xavi did precisely that after a broken play found a defender’s frantic clearance whacking him in the chest. He turned and shot, and what a beauty it was, beating Palop and giving us that precious goal. We needed one more. Just. One. More.

Then Messi came to vibrant life, dribbling most of the Sevilla defense and smoking a shot that just missed. Then Messi hit the post. Then, after a beautufilly worked attack with Henry, lifted a brilliant little chip that just didn’t have the right dynamic on it. And still, we kept coming. Iniesta had an amazing chance, but went a dribble too far. He still got off the shot, but it was cleared just off the line by a scrambling Sevilla defender.

The pitch was drying, and our passing game was coming into its own as we suddenly turned the 1,000-watt bulb that is our game, on full. And Sevilla were just trying to fight their way out, to at least get the ball out of their end of the pitch. Still, we kept coming, and coming, and coming. An exquisite free kick found the head of Ibrahimovic, and his lofted header was stymied by Palop, who was having the match of his life.

That we tried and tried and tried and never said die, was the bright, shining evidence of our heart, pride and excellence. When we are on, we’re still the best club in the world. And for most of that second half, we were on.

But it ultimately just wasn’t to be.

The up side is that it’s kind of okay, because it relieves the club of the burden of a competition that many consider second-rate, leaving us with our full focus on the Liga and Champions League. And I think that some lessons were learned, such as we have to play a full match against a determined, resolute opponent such as Sevilla.

Another thing learned is that we are better with width. When we started playing the ball to Henry, good things started happening. When Alves got a bit less funky, even more good things started happening. Because movement-based offenses work better with more variables, right?

Here’s another question: Why do keepers have the matches of their lives against us with much regularity? The question has come up time and time again, and I have a thought, that is probably worthy of its own analysis post by Hector or RockChalkJayhawk: What if the inexorability of our offense, and its tika-taka greatness, also makes it predictable? That is, those lovely triangular diagrams that we describe that are so beautiful in their geometric precision, also have a terminus that keepers can figure out?

Hmmm ….

And before I get to the points, know this: I don’t want to hear any blame. We win as a club, we lose as a club. Some will say Txigrinski shouldn’t have taken the penalty. Okay. But how did the ball get there? Elves didn’t bring it there. If the other club scores, we are supposed to score. Twice. And we didn’t, as a club. Guardiola is saying “I failed.” I like that, the leader of a team taking on the onus for the success of a unit. That’s what a boss is supposed to do, but he’s wrong. We all failed. And by we, I mean the collecting beating heart that is Barca, one that has at its core the people on the pitch, and ends with us, sitting in front of TVs or computer monitors and sweating, trying to physically will the ball into the net.

Just as we should all feel proud, with no recriminations. Just as we will analyze the match in the comments, the players and staff will analyze the match and some of the things that happened. No blame, just the kind of bloodless analysis that should come as an entity tries to improve.


Guardiola: 5. I just don’t think that you did the right thing in not starting the Copa group. I know that you want to win, so sub in the big boys if the match doesn’t go as you want. And even if you have to inject them with caffeine, have them ready, rolling out of the gate.

Team: 6. Those lackadaisical starts hurt. Last year, we had matches killed by halftime. This year, we’re back-loading our efforts. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Once we started playing as a unit, we were majestic. It just took too long to get rolling.

Pinto: 6. Dude, don’t be playing with the ball outside of the box. That was a goal, and the ref bailed you out. Excellent reflex save early in the match for sure, and your play was mostly very good, when you had something to do.

Alves: 4. Not a fan of his performance today. Was it playing in a crucial match in his former home? Should Guardiola have gone with Puyol at right back, with Milito partnering Pique? Who knows? But between spraying balls and being in the wrong spot defensively, he was a bit of a mess.

Pique: 7. He should go to lunch with Guardiola more often. He showed major signs of coming out of his funk. He still lost track of men he needed to mark a few times, and seemed to have bits of uncertainty.

Puyol: 8. Loses points for not doing a more effective job of marshalling his back line. On set pieces, Sevilla players found holes in the defense time and again, and when things break down, it’s still a fire drill, but nobody knows what pole to slide down.

Abidal: 7. Had some early funk, mostly with spraying balls around. And here’s thing, dude …. if Henry is smoking his defender, don’t drag yours into the box with you, thus cutting off available passing angles. And you’re bigger and stronger than Navas. Take the professional foul and knock his ass down.

Busquets: 8. Great galloping Jesus, this is what I’m talking about! I thought that he was spectacular today with his midfield presence, with scads of plays and key interceptions, including one crucial one where Alves gifted the ball to Sevilla, and Busquets made a key intervention. On offense, he was simple and direct, though he lost ground trying to get too fancy later in the second half.

Xavi: 8. Wow. What a goal, and what an effort in controlling his charges. Started a little anonymously, but came on like a freight train.

Iniesta: 7. A pretty stanky first half, with balls flung all over the place, either to the wrong color shirts, or with too much weight/ambition. Spectacular in the second half, and really deserved a goal. Shoot, Ghostface. Shoot! They don’t all have to be perfect.

Messi: 8. Began playing his way into the match in the first half, and then lost his mind in the second. Dude could have had a hat trick in about a 10-minute span. Yes, we lost the tie, but I think that the Most Dangerous Player in the World is back. I do want to see him pass more when he is facing four defenders, but he even started doing that as the match progressed.

Henry: 5. You have to get yourself involved in the match, if they aren’t passing you the ball. Make runs to present yourself, but get in the game. When you’re involved, we’re better. Keep making those runs and crosses, and hope that we figure it out.

Ibrahimovic: 4. We didn’t buy you to be a playmaking midfielder. Get your ass in the box and raise some hell. You shouldn’t be passing to Iniesta. Iniesta should be passing to you. This was another match that was begging for you to stamp your name on it, and you came up woefully short. How can you not even get that Messi rebound on frame? The net was open! Yes, you’re that good, so play like it.


Krkic (for Ibrahimovic): incomplete. Came on and disappeared. He should have been getting subbed for, rather than subbing for Ibrahimovic.

Pedro! (for Alves): 6. Good effort and energy, including one play that created an almost chance. He’s quite the firestarter that I would have loved to have seen in the starting lineup, or as an earlier substitution.

So we have Sevilla again this weekend, in a Liga match. People are saying that it’s time to make them pay. Nonsense. I think they have all of their eggs in the Copa basket. And I hated the sight of that black hat-wearing little git Del Nido with a shit-eating grin on his lizardesque mug. Grrrr!

I know that I usually leave everyone with a photo to make everyone smile and stuff, but you try doing that from a smartphone. Word.

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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. Tyler
    January 14, 2010

    All I can say is I’m proud of how we went out. We looked inspired, we fought hard, we had everything but luck on our side. We will overcome this setback, and be stronger because of it. I agree with Busquets play today, it was pretty damn good. I was watching him in particular and he just seemed to always be in the right position making the right play, for the most part. But like we said, when he’s good, he’s great. We just need consistency from him.

    And this weekend we need to send Sevilla a message who the best team in the world is, if they haven’t got the memo already. VAMOS!

  2. vicsoc8
    January 14, 2010

    “What bums me out a bit is that we didn’t go out with our principles intact. The Copa has always been for the kids and subs, Pinto, Krkic, Pedro!, Dos Santos. My hope was that Guardiola would stick to his guns, and trot out a proper Copa lineup.”

    Couldn’t agree more.

    It’s been a while since we had this feeling, but we can’t win everything forever. It’s important we don’t hold the team’s successes against them and continue to support them through difficult periods as well as successful periods.

  3. January 14, 2010

    Yeah I want to echo the comment about being proud. That second half was something else. I haven’t seen intensity like that in a long time. It was a joy to watch.

    Also, minor complaint, but can people stop saying “we lost”? We did NOT lose. We WON yesterday. We lost last week.

  4. Phil
    January 14, 2010

    Completely agree with feeling proud that they played hard and went out like champions. Agree even more emphatically with “shoot. just shoot.” I liked the lineup at first because it showed Pep’s resolve to win the match, but considering the frantic pace at which the match opened up we might have wanted to use the kids to tire them out and then deliver the deathblow with some supersub action

  5. Miguel
    January 14, 2010

    “So the attack was essentially directionless, as Ibrahimovic seemed more interested in acting like a midfielder and again, nobody was in the box to take advantage of the crosses that Henry was laying in.”

    so instead of doing the same move and crossing with his head to the ground from memory to a striker that is no longer there, i agree with your statement, “You have to get yourself involved in the match, if they aren’t passing you the ball. Make runs to present yourself, but get in the game. When you’re involved, we’re better.”

    he’s gotta work w/ibra’s proclivities, not fight them. he should be making those runs and getting in more central positions, you know, where he used to play when he was a legend at arsenal.

    playing on that left flank is hard though. same goes for the dm position, whether it be toure or busquets playing it. it’s a fine line between providing width or cover, respectively, and being part of the attack and not fucking everything up.

    didn’t want to make this a henry discussion nor am i blaming him for the loss. he’s one of my favorite players too. i thought he played well yesterday.

    neither he nor xavi shoulda been playing though. this was the kid’s cup. we shoulda seen jdubs and krkic running their little hearts out on that pitch.

    • Kxevin
      January 14, 2010

      That’s true, Miguel, hence the rating that didn’t really reflect the overall quality of Henry’s match. But I also think that Ibrahimovic, who is big and strong enough to set up wherever in the heck he wants, should at some point say “Hmmm, that ball always seems to come rolling through at the near post. Maybe I should get myself over there, which will also leave space for Messi to run into, and take advantage of that ball in case I miss it.”

      I think another complexity is that nobody is sure what Ibrahimovic is doing. He’s in the midfield one moment, flipping passes to Iniesta. Then he’s on the left. Then the right. We clearly have some work to do, but I think that we show serious signs of clicking, and when we do ….

  6. Kxevin
    January 14, 2010

    And I should apologize for the Krkic rating. I have never just lost sight of a player before. I felt guilty rating him, when his presence just didn’t even register. Pedro! had some nice efforts.

    It’s one thing if Krkic came on and was ineffective. But I just didn’t see him. Weird. I’ll have to watch again, but I wanted to make it clear that no slight was intended for CT.

    • vicsoc8
      January 14, 2010

      I haven’t watched it yet (damn you work!) but the impression I got from your rating was that he didn’t really contribute positively or negatively. It definitely didn’t come across as a slight, as you thought he should have started.

      However this does raise a question – I’m worried Bojan isn’t capable of being an impact bench player. That is to say that to be effective he needs to have time to play himself into the match, essentially he needs to start. However he’s not good enough to be a constant starter, and if he can’t be an impact sub it’s hard to see where his minutes will come from. Worrying in my mind.

    • poo
      January 14, 2010

      haha, yeah i know, this is another shit from you;-)

  7. Keano
    January 14, 2010

    I for one, miss having a etoesque striker as backup. That gervinho looks good

    • Keano
      January 14, 2010

      I mean anyone who is willing to run their hearts out so we can play our old pressure game.

  8. Helge
    January 14, 2010

    Hey, Piqué is coming up with the quote of the year so far:

    “Si ganamos la Champions al Madrid sentiré un superorgasmo”


    And a great review, Kxevin. After reading the first line, I thought this might get a little bit too depressing, but you’ve found the perfect mixture of criticism and praise.

  9. cliveee
    January 14, 2010

    I told myself to be positive, but I am still very, very sad. It’s a pain in the heart that you wanna ignore, but it is creeping inside and crawling slowly from your heart to your brain and then back to the heart so the whole body feels its presence…

    • Kxevin
      January 14, 2010

      That’s how I was yesterday, cliveee. In many ways, writing the review was cathartic. But it still feel weird knowing that there’s a competition going on, that we aren’t part of. And Depor even did the dirty work, by knocking out Valencia. The path to the silver would have been clear.

      Ah, well.

  10. ashu
    January 14, 2010

    Kxevin, you need to get over Henry. There is more to Barca than one player “providing width” and sending “crosses” who do not reach anyone. He did receive passes. Do you *really* think his teammates would not pass to him if he were free ? It happens all the time, strikers do not always receive the pass they want, because no midfielder has 8 eyes, or television cameras

    • Kxevin
      January 14, 2010

      ashu, it isn’t a question of getting over Henry. It’s a question of asking about a match decision and the reasoning behind it. I’d wonder the same thing if anyone was in the situation that Henry was in, and didn’t get the ball. It just so happens that this time, it was Henry.

      There is indeed more to this club than one player providing width. We need width on both sides. Note the Alves comments, as well. Width makes the middle of the pitch work for us, which is why the second half was so much better, as Alves and Henry got more involved.

      What I would suggest that people need to “get over” is the misguided perception that I feel anything more for Henry than I feel for any other Barca player. It’s tired. If people don’t like him, that’s fine. But it doesn’t render valid observations any less so. Fact of the matter is that he was open, and didn’t get the ball. Twice. There’s no way he wasn’t seen. Our mids can thread a ball through the knothole of a tree at 30 paces.

      If it’s something tactical, as in “the defender had an angle that would have precluded the pass getting there,” that’s one thing. That’s a better explanation for me than “you need to get over Henry,” which doesn’t advance the discussion in any way.

      • January 14, 2010

        We can’t really evaluate individuals without trying to understand the system of play. For example, when Ibra was moving to the midfield, why didnt Henry penetrate to the box? He was bad in that, right? Wrong. If we exclusively monitor Henry, it will be easy to say he was wrong not doing so. But, monitoring a player based on system of play makes us wonder: Where was Iniesta or Abidal? If any of them was opening to the left flank then it’s done. Henry’s fault. If Abidal was always back (forced by sevilla or instructed by Pep) and Iniesta was in the center most of the time, then Henry can’t get into the box as we are already squeezed in the middle. In my opinion, the next option is the valid one. He -most of the time- couldn’t get into the box. One of the tempting things about Ibra is that he can move to midfield, and he can open to the flank. Why didn’t he move into channels in this game is beyond me. Why Pep didnt ask him to do so is something I dont know. Moving to center didnt click. Moving to the left flank would have created more ideas. Strange.

        In fact The width problem was a result of the rigid structure we had. against a 4-2-3-1 system (when sevilla lost the ball) we had to switch to something closer to 4-1-3-2 that turn practically to 3-1-4-2 when Alves moves forward. The four players behind Henry and Ibra (Iniesta-Xavi-Messi-Alves) will stretch the field. Ibra and Henry can then dance between the center backs and the holding mids (Duscher and Romaric) keeping them busy (Exactly as Negredo did for Puyol and Pique which left Abidal and Alves Isolated on the flanks to face Navas and Adriano pace). With Henry and Ibra doing the job well, out of sudden the game dynamics will change. Iniesta on the left will have only one player (Right fullback) to beat, which will force Navas to move deeper for the cover. Alves will force adriano to move back as well for the same reason (helping his fullback) and Messi will be able to penetrate into the box receiving the ball behind the defense, as the only player who can track him in this case will be renato, who is busy with Xavi. Our defense will have it more easy so Pique could leave Negredo for Abidal and Puyol and assist Busquets as a deep holding midfielder. You dominate the game, and the goals eventually come.

        Not sure how right or wrong this approach is. Pep is more experienced. But I can only evaluate based on the average knowledge I have. And based on that, when I compare what actually happened to what I was hoping, I can’t really put blame on a specific player. And you rarely can do that. When the system is clicking, throw anyone in the mill and he will look brilliant. The system instructs and carries him. When the system feels rusty, don’t expect everyone to be a Ronaldinho (who was a standalone system).

        In that manner, I can’t agree that any player was bad (Beside Pinto), regardless of his individual performance. When everything is going smoothly, then the defect become obvious:”this player is not doing his job”, but when the whole system freeze, then putting the responsibility on any individual is unfair.

        I said it before, and I say it now, I don’t buy the:”They are not passing to him” idea. In a previous match I countered this Idea by counting how many times he received the ball in one half compared to the ball movement on the other flank. If you check how many times Ibra position himself in a good place to get the ball and still he doesn’t it will be more than Henry. This is a game of little details, and it’s not as easy to contain as it seems. Every time it happened there could be a different reason, so we need to tackle it one case at a time (which may include cases where the midfield had to pass but wrongly they didn’t. Notice, I said wrongly, not by intention). If anyone doubt that there is any player who didn’t want to win this game then we have a trouble. If we agree that all players wanted to win then they will do what’s needed to win. Even if that means to pass the ball to that French guy they all hate and envy.

        Regarding Henry crosses…I don’t want to be over critical, but we can barely call it crosses. He more passes the ball to the opponent defenders when he feel there is nothing much to do. Just desperate attempts to cross. If we are wondering how come his teammates didnt notice he always do that, then it’s a valid question to ask is it possible that his opponents didnt memorize that yet, as well? The reason why the ball reaches the near post is that the defenders wait it there. If Ibra will run to the near post then one of the defenders will move one step away from the post and easily get the ball. As I said it’s too easy to intercept. And it’s usually out of the common offense contest. That’s how I see it at least. Notice that Pedro in 5 minutes succeeded to deliver a more dangerous cross than all the Henry attempts. Is it possible that the players do not want to score from Henry cross so they don’t gain him an assist?

        • BL
          January 14, 2010

          no its not possible in regards to your question “Is it possible that the players do not want to score from Henry cross so they don’t gain him an assist?”

          i’m with you here, henry’s crosses aren’t so much crosses as passes to the opposition or putting the ball directly out of play. he needs to cut that option out of his game and cut back and distribute to the midfield. that would be far better than what hes doing now which is just utterly useless in every respect.

        • cliveee
          January 15, 2010

          no, i think they are crosses without anyone to receive. he also made some really good diagonal crosses in some league games he had played. but again, nobody made any run to try to get them.

          regarding the too-easy-to-defend claim, it is only valid until someone appear in the near post to prove. till then, if defenders try to crowd the player in the near post, there must be more open space elsewhere, and who knows what kind of cross will come next? how about a high one and a header to follow? i remember some goals scored by ibrahimovic were produced by some low crosses. abidal did twice, keita once. particularly the lucky one against getafe. The low cross went thru 4 defenders and finally reaches ibra’s toe to deflect the ball to the goal. what a fluke. but here is the difference, if nobody was even there, the chance is zero.

          when henry gets the ball, i have a feeling that other teammates have that kind of ok-whatever-let-him-do-it look suggested in their gesture. i don’t know if they are trying to predict what henry will do or they just don’t see the cross will come. Eto’o was always there while people are doing things on the flanks. he didn’t need to predict. whatever that player do, he is trying to come close to the goal, no? so just be there! we need a fox-in-the-box striker. eto’o was definitely one. he did so even when dinho was with us. and the result is clear. and i think this is one significant difference we have now comparing with last season.

          • January 15, 2010

            Keep in mind, I didn’t say he always cross bad or pass bad. But the point is not to cross the ball to the box (you don’t get any points when you do so); it’s making The cross as a part of the offense contest in a specific moment. The reason why Henry find space on the flank is the effort his teammates does setting offense. When everyone is setting offense based on specific ideas, he can’t just do a one man show and then when getting squeezed on the baseline he just throw the ball as close as possible to the keeper feeling that “well that’s how close we can get”.

            We will agree not to agree regarding the quality of the crosses. Or “the crosses with no one to receive and passes where no one is available…etc…”. One thing worth noting:

            “I have a feeling that other teammates have that kind of ok-whatever-let-him-do-it look suggested in their gesture.”

            May be that’s possible while playing in the neighborhoods. It doesn’t happen in professional football. Believe it or not. Or else, Pep is a dumb, if that’s what you mean.

            There is no conspiracy theory or anything. If one player is not ticking with 6 players (and I don’t agree with you on that), then it’s either the one player problem or the six. Pick what you find more reasonable.

          • Kxevin
            January 15, 2010

            Pursuant to the point below, a majority doesn’t make something right. It could just mean that the six players are set in their ways, right?

            I don’t think it’s as much the “sure, whatever” thing that cliveee observes, because professionals are supposed to be entirely thus, even though we all know they are human beings, and thus, being subject to the same human frailties as we all evince, aren’t always as professional as they should be.

            Should those players behave that way, it doesn’t make Guardiola stupid, as anyone who has managed people will know. It just means that at that time, at that moment, they behaved in an unpredictable fashion. Humans do that.

            The debate over the quality and quantity of Henry’s crosses can go on for perpetuity. What I know is that balls go into the box. Sometimes, they are stopped at the near post. Other times, they just roll right through the box and out the other side, unimpeded.

            The observation that “Boy, it sure would be nice if, when he made that same move, somebody moved to try to take advantage of it,” isn’t an assault on the Barca system, or anything else. It’s just saying that when balls go into the box, good things can happen. So we should be on the good foot, so to speak, to take advantage of those opportunities.

            We can tika-taka our way, closer and closer to the box, with about 437 passes, or sometimes, we just dump the ball to Henry (or Krkic or Pedro!), let them dive-bomb to the end line and send in a pass.

            Very few crosses into the box have real intent. You put them in a spot, and hope that one of your guys gets there to make something happen. More often than not, nothing happens. But at least give yourself a chance at making something happen.

          • Carles P
            January 15, 2010

            I think the one variable that has not been mentioned in this discussion (Henry’s crosses into the box) is… Messi. I think last year he “floated” around on the right, and moved into the center less frequently.

            This year it seems like he is “floating” around in the center/midfield and moves to the right when there is no space. I think Messi, last year, would be on the end of a lot of Henry’s crosses/passes into the box. I notice that when Pedro! plays on the right, he tends to get to a lot of those passes, even though he has not played many minutes there.

    • poipoi
      January 14, 2010

      Ghostface has a direct input from a secret aerial tv camera to his left hemisphere. Busi is good too and xavi is another super-passer.

      Ibra has to run more or play somewhere else. Left wing or something like that 😉 he is supposed to be the finisher, the killer. A 9 has to be like goal minded “chutar hasta las zapatillas” (he has to shoot even his boots) and not be so concerned about passing and/or beauty I think. Plus, I haven’t seen him do a really vertical dribbling for us yet, many nice ones but not so vertical… or I don’t remember.

  11. jordi
    January 14, 2010

    Well now that Mali lost, we may see keiteee back sooner.

    I felt Ibra should have subbed on.He always contributes a goal or something when he comes off the bench.

  12. Miguel
    January 14, 2010


    anybody else rate mauro zarate as high as i do? i hear he’s a dickhead. but then again, who isn’t? dude’s quick. shitty season this year for lazio as a whole, though.

  13. vicsoc8
    January 14, 2010

    I said it earlier, but damn I wish we had gotten Filipe from Deportivo. The guy had a goal yesterday and also set up their other goal with a great solo effort. I’ll keep dreaming we can get him someday, as Abidal is starting to get old (although he is playing awesome) and Maxwell doesn’t seem to ever be more than a substitute.

    • Kxevin
      January 14, 2010

      I’ll second that, vicsoc. He would have been a legitimate goad for Abidal. Maxwell isn’t, really.

    • DontPanic
      January 14, 2010

      Unfortunately I think he’ll end up in Real. They need a proper LB.

  14. the mighty barca
    January 14, 2010

    Busquets 8 ? What game were you watching ?

    • DontPanic
      January 14, 2010

      He had an excelent game. Didn’t lose balls, wasn’t trying to be fancy, didn’t do pirouettes,… This is the kind of Busi we want.

      Also am I the only one that thinks Ibra had a fairly decent first half. When the pitch was soaking wet, he was very useful as a targetman.

      • Kxevin
        January 14, 2010

        Not only did he not do the stuff that vexes some of us, but he was winning balls like crazy, and always seemed to be in the right space at the right time. That Alves giveaway had danger written all over it, and Busquets broke up the situation. On offense, his diatribution waa tidy and effective.

        Oh. Wait. Never mind. I hate Busquets. 😀

  15. Jim
    January 14, 2010

    Just sat and watched the game just now as I was away for three days to London. Only saw the second half live there and I was pretty proud of the effort put in. Not at all worried about going out of the Copa.

    On a side note i was sitting in the pub in London watching Liverpool first of all and got talking to some Arsenal fans who were a really decent bunch and admitted that they watch all our games on Sky and drool over the football we play. They were also pretty bullish about their own chances of silverware this year. Interesting.

    With regard to performances I thought Ibra was awful and I’m still struggling to shake off the idea that it is the difference between his and Eto’o’s movement that is crippling us. Yes I know he’s scored some great goals but so did Eto’o and to me he was better in the box attacking crosses. I do think Henry sent over some pretty good crosses if you have a front post striker coming across his defender but Ibra just doesn’t put himself about physically in there. It would also help though if Henry could put a bit more pace onto these with his left foot.

    I agree that Alves is off at the moment especially with his crosses but don’t think Abidal was any better defensively, at least first half. It wasn’t so much the distribution for me. Navas had him on toast – even the Sky commentators noticed and that’s saying something – and we could have lost two or three goals from that position in the first twenty minutes. I agree i liked him more when he just bundled into them second half and let them know he was there.

    On the plus side I thought Puyol’s reading of the game is still great, Pique seems to be coming back and I still can’t fault the twins in midfield. Messi looked to be back to his best and was really unlucky. Loved him going outside the full back in the second half when brought to the ground. More please.

    With a bit of luck we could have won this and the effort was good. Let’s move on and see how good they are at the weekend when we are pissed at going out.

  16. poipoi
    January 14, 2010

    @kxevin, if you gave busi a 8 NOW I’m gonna watch the full game, I haven’t seen nothing but the goal yet 😀

  17. BL
    January 14, 2010

    all this henry crosses it nobody in the middle stuff is just nonsense!

    the reality is that his crossing is just AWFUL, and the reason why he never finds anyone is because a) he never looks up before he crosses, he just prays someone will be there b) he has no accuracy with his left c) he has seemingly no clue the strength or power he needs to put into the cross d) he never looks up, oh wait i already said that.. but its worth repeating. LOOK AT WHO YOU ARE PASSING TO FFS. so sick of it.

    most crosses fail. that is a fact. doesn’t matter who the player is, messi, xavi, iniesta, alves, navas, lampard whatever. i’d guess that there is a success rate of 10-20% of all crosses resulting in legit scoring chances.

    with henry, i’d guess its more like 1%. he just sucks at it.

    sorry for the rant but its been building. *breathe*

    anyway, as has been said. we fought courageously and could very easily have won the tie, though we did win the game. so very close.

    in the end though i’m content. our players simply cannot physically repeat the feat of last year, its just too much to ask. with one less thing to worry about, we can focus on winning la liga, the one trophy we MUST keep.

    oh. and ibra was awful. so, so awful in this game. the dude needs to wake the funk up.

    • January 14, 2010

      I have to disagree with you on that, BL. I think Henry is actually crossing extremely effectively given the spacing allowed by our system. The problem really is that no one is on that near post. What you’re suggesting he do is somehow flip the ball over the top of the near post defender, the goalie, and the back post defender, and onto the head whoever is attacking.

      Given that he’s aiming for one 6’5″ guy or like 18 5’7″ guys, it seems more beneficial to hit the ball hard towards the near post where he’s only got to avoid one defender (the near-post) defender. I don’t see how that’s a negative tactic on his part, but what’s more telling to me is that Ibra, as Kevin mentioned, is constantly floating to the back post where he almost always runs into another one of our players. So we have two guys on the back post and no one on the near post? Why?

      I do think that there are improvements that Henry can make (though perhaps he is in the old dog-new tricks world already), but that doesn’t mean others shouldn’t make improvements too.

      • BL
        January 15, 2010

        no i’m not suggesting he flip the ball over the top of the near post defender, i’m hoping and praying that he stop crossing the ball entirely.

        henry is best running at defences in open space, banging in shots from the 18 on in and making short, interlinking passes with his fullback and other attackers.

        i want him to beat his man down the left, cut back inside and make a PASS to someone bombing the box. take your pick: iniesta, xavi, ibra, messi, bojan, yaya, keita, abidal… i don’t care. i just want him to make sure he gets the ball to someone. theres a major difference from a hopeful ball and a ball with intent, to me it seems that henry 90% of the time is playing a hopeful ball when if he used his eyes and his head before makes that decision, it would become a ball with intent behind it.

        its not only henry i’ve been critical of this season, iniesta’s crossing and passing in the final third has been really bad this season too, alves the same deal – though hes very streaky and was so last year. its just that henry’s has been worse and more noticeable.

    • Reaper
      January 15, 2010

      Isaiah, I agree with BL here, with probably less venom cos i’m a laid back kind of guy. 🙂

      Truth is Henry’s passes aren’t up to the standard. A fine example to suggest this is the cross Bojan put in for Messi’s first goal against Tenerife. He did pretty much what Henry does in that position, two defenders in front of him, did a little dance, went down towards the touchline, LOOKED UP and saw Messi who finished exquisitely.

      Henry would have gone for his regular near post cross there. It’s all acceptable criticizing Ibra for not darting to the near post but Henry has to look up and cross! Sure, he has little time to make a decision etc. but one’s got to adapt quicker than he is. He’s gotta try to atleast pull the ball back cos there are so many of our midfielders at the edge of the area by then. All I’m saying is Henry’s gotta be smart enough to figure out by now that Ibra is not the kind of player that Eto was at Barca and make different decisions.

      • Kxevin
        January 15, 2010

        The difference in the Krkic cross is that Messi made the correct run to adapt to the cross, and the defenders were Tenerife defenders, so the pass got through. No offense meant to any lurking Tenerife supporters, but that ball doesn’t get through against class opposition.

        Nor does the “he only crosses to the neat post account for the number of Henry crosses that roll through the box, untouched.

        Fact is, we don’t attack the goal as much as we should. Put the onus on the oh, so blameable Henry all you like, but part of playing with a guy means adapting to his style. Get your ass over to that near post and make something happen, if that’s where the ball is going. Put yourself between Henry and your defender. Maybe you get fouled in the box.

        The observation about those crosses being opportuniies wasted is valid. If he doesn’t cross the ball, then Henry sucks for not doing anything, right? I’ve noted it nefore andI will do so again: We won’t fully appreciate what Henry does for our side untile he’s gone.

        • BL
          January 15, 2010

          its been stated a couple times above, if henry takes that split second to use the vision we all know he has (at least i hope he has it) then instantly his passing and crossing become a 200% better.

          simple fact is he doesn’t look before he crosses. he just doesn’t.

          messi looks up, takes a mental photograph of the defense, goes head down and scythes/one-twos his way through to the box, then he looks up and takes another mental shot of the scrambling D and makes a decision, dribble more, pass, shoot.

          henry gets the ball, maybe looks up, maybe doesn’t, enters into the one move he has (put the ball past the defender and run faster than him hopefully) with his head down and either gets to the goal line and fires a speculative ball into the defender at the back post, skies it over the goal, into the side netting, maybe through the defense just too far for someone to reach or clean through with one one near it.

          thats henry’s contribution to our football in the final third wide out left this season.

          he did it a lot last season too, he also fired a lot of pathetic shots at goal and could’ve scored as many as eto’o had he been more clinical. hes a great player and had a great season last year because just about everything went right… but this year? niggling injuries, on/off form, inconsistent starting opportunities, pressure of WCQ and probably some others i’m forgetting have led to him being poor for barça.

          hes had some great games where he worked his ass off and i respect that work, but what he does after beating his man down the left needs to improve, because there are other players out there that can do more and do it better.

          • Kxevin
            January 15, 2010

            But how do you account for the crosses that have rolled through the box, untouched? There are as many of those as there are like you describe. Further, if a ball goes through the box and we don’t try to capitalize on it, whose fault is that, whether it’s Alves making the cross, or Abidal (same complexities, with crosses sailing through the box) or Henry. We don’t attack the box as we should. And we can blame Henry for that. Sure, why not? It’s easier than analyzing why we don’t crash the net like other teams.

            As I said, when the ball goes into the box, good things often happen. He’s putting the ball in the box. Now what?

            And the factors that you describe: injuries, on/off form, pressure of WCQ have hampered every player on the side this season. Abidal has been our most consistent player this year. Everyone else has been sporadic, up to and including Messi.

            We have nobody on the roster who can do what Henry does. Sorry, but we don’t. Yes, Pedro and Krkic are there. Can they do it match in and match out, making the space-clearing runs, being the kind of threat that constantly occupies defenders, tracking back on defense, contributing to pressure in the midfield? No.

            Have a bit of patience. Henry will be gone this summer. Don’t worry. Then the new board will have to figure out who to put in that role. The choice will be interesting.

          • BL
            January 15, 2010

            kxevin, one thing that we can agree on for certain is this: crossing/passing the ball into the box, to no one… isn’t working.

            who do you blame when alves blasts a crazy ass hooking bomb of a cross to the back post that would’ve been oh so perfect… if he hadn’t blasted it over the space where everyone had made their lung-busting run to?

            one thing that people have consistently ignored in this argument, and my core point, is that henry doesn’t look up to see where his teammates are before he crosses.

            that is what i blame him for and that alone.

            i love that he is getting balls into the box, but if they consistently amount to zilch, then i’d rather he do something different that adds up to… something? don’t you agree that would be better?

            i just try to think if i was henry, doing the same thing on my local team, essentially making passes into spaces where no one exists… my coach would get fed up with me and ask me to actually to pass to someone for once.

            it actually is completely valid to suggest that messi, ibra, pedro, bojan, xavi should be on the end of some of those crosses. and a lot of the time they are there, but the accuracy isn’t there, or the defender is. the times that the ball goes clean through are the worst case result of henry’s head-down-crossing-style, a pass to space no one is occupying because he doesn’t know where they are.

            and for the record, i don’t want henry to go. i think he’d be an excellent impact sub next season, but he does need to make way for new blood in the starting lineup at LW.

  18. Vj
    January 14, 2010

    Eerily, the last time we lost a two legged tie like we did yesterday, (1-2 @ home, 1-0 away), it sparked a downward spiral for the club.. Hope it doesn’t happen again..

    To me, its no shame in going out the way we did.. 5 games less right? (A trophy too, which hurts as hell.. 🙁 ). But the true mark of a champion isn’t that he doesn’t fall down, But its how he gets back up.. Venganza on Saturday!

  19. Tyler
    January 14, 2010

    off topic but how sad is it that David Villa has about 0% percent chance of claiming any silverware this year. He won’t even be able to lift the Copa del Rey. Such a talented player stuck in such an inconsistent side, as the years of his prime slowly tick away. Hmmmmmm we’ve been know to win a cup or two….I wonder how he would look in azulgrana : )

    • January 14, 2010

      I was wondering the same thing until Valencia decided to play hardball. Now they can enjoy Villa and yet another season chasing CL qualification. So it goes.

      • Keano
        January 14, 2010

        What about Kun for the left next year?

        • Ryan
          January 15, 2010

          Villa has a nice chance at winning some silverware this summer I’d say…

  20. January 14, 2010

    And about this match as a whole: they wanted it more. Simple, really. In the end it came down to our first half nonsense of being craptastical and then a second half where we realized we were 45 minutes from being out of a competition and that woke us up. But the first 45 minutes were lethargic and we didn’t have our hearts in it. The second half was a different story. Chalk it up to whatever you wanted, but certainly we were the better team in the second half, but they were far and away the better team in the first half and last week.

    We knew what we needed to get done coming in and we couldn’t do it, even when the ref was giving us quite a few calls. We can blah blah about Bojan’s goal in the first match or a soggy pitch in the second, but the fact remains we didn’t do it. Romaric should have received a red, sure, but what difference would that have made, in the end? The difference could have been made by Navarro’s yellow that should have been a red, but then Henry’s tackle on Capel deserved a red as well.

    I’m over this match in the sense that I’m moving on, gearing up for the league match and screaming my head off at Nevada Smiths on Saturday while we pound Sevilla into the mother-f’in turf. So jazzed, so excited.

    • January 14, 2010

      Isaiah: The pitch was very soggy in the first half. I don’t think the team was lethargic in the first half, I think it was just tougher to connect passes. The pitch dried up a little in the second, and the players also got the hang of it. Also, they stopped passing as much as they did in the first half, and dribbled with it more (I definitely noticed this…I’m sure there is a statistical way to measure this, passes completed/attempted half vs half is probably the way to go). Iniesta and Messi especially tried to drive through defenders, and honestly, that’s where our best opportunities came.

      I’ll repeat myself: Barca played really well yesterday. It was a heart-warming performance and honestly gave me goose-bumps…the heroic champions going down swinging and all that. Best of luck to Sevilla going forward, but if we beat them this weekend, their La Liga campaign is effectively over. I know which position I’d rather be in.

  21. Miguel
    January 14, 2010

    la liga loca’s team of the decade:

    6 real madrid: 4 barca :1 valencia though

    & another piece from stannard:

  22. SoccerMom
    January 14, 2010

    TGIF-as-in-FUN last Wednesday. OE OE OE OE … OE OE.
    Do-as-Mama-say-not-as-she-do jumping on sofa to her 2 culines.
    Second half a little Pep in their step!

    But, Barçabloggers, be real.
    Pep bet on culé cubs in Nou leg.
    No way that line lines up for Liga. Or Champs.
    Then pulls out the showstoppers at the Pez.
    It’s not a throw facto ipso.
    It’s a toss up.

    Now Valencia (w/ SoMa’s new BFF, Mata) gone, a stumbling but hard-set Sevilla sets out for silver. Would it were w/ SoMa’s blessing … but Liga loyalty overall, so …

    Dial us up some ‘Debaser’!

        • SoccerMom
          January 15, 2010

          Pixies, people, Pixies!

          Don’t know about you but I am un CHEIN andalucia!

          • Miguel
            January 15, 2010

            the pixies? i’ve seen the movie un chien andalou by dali and bunuel.

            mata looks like a english bulldog.

          • ooga aga
            January 15, 2010

            soccermom you are doing nothing to temper my crush on you…poesia y pixies…no puedo pedir mas.

    • Miguel
      January 14, 2010


    • Kxevin
      January 15, 2010

      Nice stuff, SoMa. And so true. Mata BFF, eh? More so if he dons the right colors, yes?

  23. Catalanblood
    January 14, 2010

    Didn’t see the game cause I didn’t have Internet. It’s mighty fine to be back to be able to see replays at least and read the blog again. To be honest, I feel bad that we lost but I think it relieves pressure from our team. Fans want to win that treble again but it’s just really difficult to do. Last year was majestic and we need to go back down to Earth again. But what I’m hoping for, but not expecting, is that we win the Champion’s League back to back.

    I didn’t know what Busquets did that he got a rating of 8 cause I didn’t see the game. I just really thought it was sarcastic when Kevin first mentioned him as “majestic.” Lol.

  24. jnelson
    January 14, 2010

    I wish we could all write a letter of thanks and encouragement to Pep. He appears to have taken the loss extremely hard, and the Spanish press can really push someone. I am very proud of our coach, and will continue to trust in Pep even if the football gods continue to stack everything against us and deny us of any trophies this year.

  25. Xu
    January 15, 2010


    • Kxevin
      January 15, 2010

      Yep, all over the news, as well as our expressive rage that rang through the halls of the SP, resulting in kicked lockers, overturned drinks tables, etc. Guardiola was apparently pleased with the fire, even as he mourned the Copa ouster.

    • Hilal
      January 15, 2010

      Damn. If that is true, and its a BIG if, then Seville are going to have one angry little Messi on their hands come saturday….we all know how Messi plays when he is angry…

      • iBlau
        January 15, 2010


  26. Hawk
    January 15, 2010

    Sorry for off topic.. but when are we getting a new El Banquillo??

  27. Sid
    January 15, 2010

    “Iniesta’s passing radar was funky, and the differences between he and Xavi were very clear. Iniesta will try passes that Xavi wouldn’t, or he’ll have just a bit too much weight on the ball, where Xavi is inch-perfect. Yes, it’s comparing a guy who is still getting there to one who is There, which made the differences no less apparent.”

    I CALL BULLSHIT ON THAT ONE, KXEVIN !!!! Dont know why you keep doing this with Iniesta, Match after match

    No offense intended 🙂

    • Kxevin
      January 15, 2010

      Because it’s true, Sid. Look at the first half, and the overly ambitious passes that found either Sevilla defenders blocking the way, or just an empty patch of grass. When he stops doing it, I’ll stop noting it. Simple as that.

    • yogi
      January 15, 2010

      I tend to agree with Kevin on this one. Iniesta is great with the ball but when it comes to passing, he is not on par with Xavi. Well, almost no one is!

      • Kxevin
        January 15, 2010

        Generally, we have a high-risk passing game, with the number of passes that don’t make their way through to an attacker higher when the defense is fresher. As the match goes on and they tire of chasing us, those passes start getting through, and chances start to come. It’s the “Crap, not again!” mentality that defenses demonstrate and that people cite when they talk about us sticking to our game.

        We play the way that we play, and inevitably (usually) it comes out right, because you can only stop those passes for so long. If you get just a little bit tired, it’s getting through and we’re off to the races.

        Iniesta is fond of the higher-risk pass. No shame in that. Messi is, too and, Lord help us, so is Ibrahimovic. But my contention is that just because you can make a pass, doesn’t mean that you should.

        Case in point: Ibrahimovic takes a ball, and slides it to Iniesta, who was surrounded by 3 defenders. Sure, he completed the pass, but what the hell is Iniesta supposed to do now, right? That’s a pass that Xavi doesn’t make, because he views possession as something sacred, and has already done the math which says 1 little dude+3 defenders+1 ambitious pass=lost possession. So he’ll do his little dance with the ball, waiting for something better, i.e. more secure.

        • Sid
          January 15, 2010

          I would like to disagree there. Any Barca follower (or La Liga follower for that matter) over the years has wooed big time by Xavi. So we are not any different. But its this Xavi worshipping that has left Iniesta in the shadows.

          I like Xavi like everyone else. But I do not agree that Iniesta has inferior passing or goes for more risky passes. Just like Xavi, you can almost count the number of times he gives away possesion with your fingers.

          Guess I’ll have to agree to disagree about Iniesta 🙂

          • Kxevin
            January 15, 2010

            Sid, I don’t think that anything has left Iniesta in the shadows. He’s been acknowledged by one and all as one of the best players on the planet. Because he is.

            And my observation isn’t a general one, but specific to the last couple of matches. It happens, and in Iniesta’s role in our offense, he’s supposed to be more aggressive. You’ll never see Xavi making those crazy high-wire runs into an opponent’s box, for example. If Iniesta and Xavi were exactly the same, where would be the fun in that?

          • poipoi
            January 15, 2010

            one thing xavi won’t do for sure is make a really really sick pass easily with his left foot and don andres, well… he just doesn’t care 😉
            xavi to me lacks some things, more than andres. even though xavi is maybe a better player for the team. it’s just that there is different criteria I think. xavi is more efficient I guess but to me iniesta is the best. xavi has better shot, better movement without the ball and doesn’t miss a pass, what he does with his repertoire is inmense. he “is there” and that is true. andres with the ball is pure magic, he dribbles 4 guys vertically and then makes a sick pass no one thought of even watching on tv, he can do more things I think but as I think kxevin said, he can be much better. I don’t think xavi can get much better, he is there being perfect already, and almost every single game.

            one of the two has to get a ballon d’or 😀

          • Sid
            January 15, 2010

            Agreed. We are lucky to have them both at the same time. Kudos to Aragones for explointing the combined strength of the two and having the guts to bench Fabregas.

  28. stowe
    January 15, 2010

    wow, loving the new logo. looks better than i thought it would and i love the picture on the right, blends in really well. oh well for the loss, hopefully the team can be more focused in other areas now.

  29. vicsoc8
    January 15, 2010

    On a good/bad note, depending on your point of view, the ACN hasn’t been going very well for our players nations. Mali is needs to win and needs some help to get past the group stages. Their next game is on the 18th. Ivory Coast needs to win today to guarantee themselves a path through, a lose and they are effectively out, and a draw makes the three team group very murky.

  30. Bill
    January 15, 2010

    Great debate everyone!

    I think the Henry argument is somewhere in the middle. I agree with the notion that you simply cant be passing balls into spaces where there is no one and then act like you expected someone to be there. Thats my ‘cop-out’ theory. When players run out of ideas, then simply release the ball into the first place they can think of, then act as if they are surprised no one was there. Xavi can kick the ball towards the right corner flag, then turn to messi, who is next to him and ask, ‘why arent you over there?’ Then it looks as if Messi was at fault. We did this as kids playing soccer, but professionals arent supposed to do that. Don’t pass the ball where there is no one then act surprised. there is many different spots where a striker can set up inside the 18 if he thinks he can score from there, the winger has to seek him out.

    Having said that, I also think that a striker should be constantly working inside the 18 to give wingers and midfielders options to pass to them. Ibrahimovic is not doing that.

    I have had that sinking feeling ever since we got rid of Eto’o. This is why some of us were defending him almost fanatical. I remember at one time writing that, yes, he may have a bad first touch, yes, he doesnt give fancy passes, but the dude always presented himself to others and answered the call inside the 18 time and time again. Did he miss chances? Yes he did. But I liked that he was constantly putting himself in positions to get the ball and shoot. Watch some of last years games,when Messi makes his runs with the ball, observe what Eto’o is doing. He runs to spot and jumps around like a dog waiting for it’s owner to throw it a freesbie. But when Messi makes another cut, Eto’o runs to a different spot providing Messi with a different option and confusing the hell out of a defense. Messi then ignores him and goes for glory by himself. A few minutes later, same sequence happens, Eto’o still keeps running, and this time Messi Passes to him.
    Now watch what Ibra does when Messi is making his runs. He hides behind a defender and does his little trot while Messi watching.

    In short, like I said before, you don’t mess with chemistry if it worked well for you. You only mess with it when it stops working. We ended up buying an offensive midfielder, or a very good second striker in a 4-4-2. Just not the main striker.

    Now, the only other striker out there capable of doing his job well in the system is David Villa. We will have to shell out 50 million and move Ibra to the left if this system is gonna work.

  31. Bill
    January 15, 2010

    As for Iniesta, I love the guys adventurous spirit. I wouldnt change anything from him (maybe his shooting boots) But he has a different role from Xavi. Xavi is the ‘maestro’. He keeps the chains moving, and there is no one better than him. But Iniesta helps him keep the chains moving, but also tries to make something happen. When it doesn’t work…oohh well. But when it works, amazing things happen. His dribble through four players and sudden change of direction and pass to Bojan for Messi’s goal was amazing. His dribble through Man U defense on our first attempt to give Eto’o a chance to do his thing was spectacular. I love Iniesta’s spirit, and daring mentality

  32. BlaugranaDOOM
    January 15, 2010

    It’s been a while since I posted, but here is my two cents. Henry is old. Eto’o was great at poaching, but no one else is at Barca, except Bojan. Anyway, if you watch Arsenal, they put balls in the box, but people crash it. Henry learned from that system and it’s hard to change when you are 30+. Barca now scores on a cut back or a through ball. Not on a down the line cross (except Alves who has enough time and passing to him signals a cross in the box). So, the system doesn’t fit Henry, yet with a bit more luck, he could have 8 more goals and a few more assists this season. You can’t discount luck ever in top class footy (Messi could have 20 already). That’s life and such. Barca should still do very well by winning the league and CL. Ha.

    • Kxevin
      January 15, 2010

      Keeeeittteeeeee!!!! Who should be back early, right?

      Off-topic but ANC related, Adebayor is really freaked out by the incident with the rebels, and on leave from playing. He’s not eating, losing weight and trying to get over it. I can’t imagine what that must feel like.

      • BL
        January 15, 2010

        yeah i’m super stoked about keita coming back, strangely… more than yaya. we can get by without yaya with busquets (until yaya returns of course), but we don’t have anyone that can do what keita does.

  33. Jim
    January 15, 2010

    I can’t separate them. I love them both. Other than to say I reckon that Iniesta could play Xavi’s role but I’m not sure the reverse is true. Whatever, I don’t think I’ve seen a midfielder to touch either in the world over the last 18 months.

  34. cliveee
    January 15, 2010

    not trying to cheer or give too much applaud to opposition, especially when we will bring our big guns to crush them tomorrow, but,

    does anyone think Jesus Navas is good enough to play for us?

    i truly like that dude for his speed and control. he makes great runs on both flanks and has a different package in him to bring to our squad. I know we have Jeffren as a true winger too, but he has to mature in a few years time. What do y’all think?

    • January 15, 2010

      But do you think when he play for Barcelona, he will find the same space he find when he plays for Sevilla? Imagine him in that Chelsea game for example.

      • BL
        January 15, 2010

        he’d get kicked liked messi and end up in the air because he weighs 110lbs. hes an awe inspiring footballer, but hes got no build. hes as slight as a female model.

        i think he’d be pretty killer for barça if he could learn to play on the left, otherwise no point in looking at him. messi > navas.

        one kid who i am definitely over is diego capel, hes emerged as one of the premier divers in la liga. starting to realllllly not like him.

        • ooga aga
          January 15, 2010

          Navas was amazing, if we have the money we should buy him just so he cant run past us over and over again.

        • Keano
          January 15, 2010

          Capel is hunched up cheating rat.He never looks up when running

  35. January 15, 2010

    …KK a few days and I’m getting over it. The Sevilla fans deserved this one. I think their mojo kept a second goal from going in…I really thought Sevilla were toast 2nd half and it was only a matter of time…but those pesky drum beating fans never gave up. Good on ’em.
    On to bigger things…I think we may need some gas in the tank for La Liga end run.

  36. Kxevin
    January 15, 2010

    Great stuff, everyone. Just another reason I’m thrilled to be part of this blog. Many of us disagree, but we do so with respect and logic. That is, you never hear the “You’re stupid, because your mom!” 😀

    I see everyone’s point about Henry, and it’s nice that everyone also sees my point. And I’m really not even arguing one side or the other as much as observing that hey, at least try to get to some of them.

    I’ll have to watch him some more, because I can see both sides of the contention (it’s the Buddhist in me). And my ratings display my overall view of how Henry has been this season, which is why his aggregate is somewhere around 5. The thing I don’t know, pursuant to BL’s point, is if he does look at some point. I read somewhere that great players have crazy-ass peripheral vision, and if you’re looking, then the defender knows to play you for the cross, right? I think that part of why that move works is that defenders still think that he can cut in toward goal with the ball, so they have to play him for the least dangerous option, which is the cross.

    Bill’s point about Eto’o is spot on. I have never, ever seen a striker hungrier for goals. Anywhere. Ibrahimovic started out gangbusters. I thought that the diving header for his first goal, and him ending matches with bloody knees was going to be symptomatic of his effort.

    But of late, he seems fonder of playing around in the midfield with Xavi, which ain’t why we paid more than 60m for him.

  37. ooga aga
    January 15, 2010

    BL is spot on regarding Henry. I hate to play the “I’ve played a lot of football” card, but his tendency to go straight to the endline and just send in blind crosses tells me two things: one, he has only confidence in his speed and not in his dribbling, and two, he is tired. sending in a cross like that is lazy, and it tells me that the player does not have the extra amount of energy it would take to do something more nuanced. note also that once you make that run and send in a cross like that, you have just taken yourself out of the play — once the other team has the ball you are past the endline and in no position to defend.

    not to be a hater, but people are also right in pointing out that we lack eto’os engine. ibra just does not have the motor. in fairness, i dont know any “big men” that do. but ibra also has not established himself as real aerial threat a la Toni, course he never was, but he still has not given us much in that department. he is great bringing a ball down with his body and protecting it, but heading for accuracy, no. furthermore it is also very true, as poi poi i think mentioned, that ibra has not shown us much “vertical” dribbling. he just doesnt run like sammy or have that break-out speed, which we do need at times, even if we are not a “counterattacking” team. im one of the people that didnt like the trade with Inter and i have been in part won over by ibra, but a dozen or so magic moments do not a good trade make. i want more from him. but im sure none of this is lost on pep.

  38. Jim
    January 16, 2010

    I think we need to distinguish between the types of delivery Henry puts in. I agree that Henry is capable of making it to the byeline and putting in a soft no-threat cross. That might well be because he can’t get the power at pace with his left leg. Compare his rattler off the crossbar recently with the fluffy crosses we saw at times in the last game.

    However, in most of the games recently as has been said I’ve seen crosses from him go clean across the box with nobody near them. I personally feel he has done his bit if this happens and the questions are then why is nobody on the end of it. He’s usually under pressure when he strikes the ball ( admittedly maybe due to less pace than he used to have) but nobody has time to look up in the couple of yards before sending it over. A look any earlier is worthless as the situation changes in no time at all with runs etc.

    He is one of the more intelligent players around so to me if we want to go all the way this season we might need him firing on all cylinders. I would also like to see him cut back onto his right and let rip a bit more in that situation.

  39. barca96
    January 18, 2010

    why are you guys blaming henry for crossing to no one?
    his job is to provide. he does that but there are no finishers in the team. if you see your LW going to the line obviously he is going to cross, you just get your ass in the box..
    last year the whole team would be ready there waiting but now it seems that the team is playing deeper and slower to attack

  40. nininho
    January 19, 2010

    eff the treble. lets go for back to back CL.

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