Barca 4, Sevilla 0, a.k.a. “Not as close as the score indicated.”

(A big thanks to Larm for finding this one.)

Um …. damn. Wait a minute.


As I noted in Isaiah’s most excellent preview, that Copa loss was going to do one of two things: Focus the hell out of us, and woe betide the next opponent, or start a downward spiral of “We can’t catch a break.”

Unfortunately for Sevilla, it was the former, not the latter. We put our foot down today and claimed a nice cushion in the Liga, while returning a favor of sorts to Sevilla. You killed our Copa chances, now we’re going to kill your Liga chances. Bet.

This was far and away the best match that we have played the entire season, even with our 60 million dollar man having a shit sandwich.

You could see that it was on right away, as we began pressing them everywhere on the pitch. There wasn’t going to be a laconic start such as we’ve been having, that allowed them to get off on the right foot at their home. Today, we essentially played almost the entire match in their half. Possession stats weren’t as lopsided in reality as they were in actual match time, as Sevilla didn’t have a chance.

Our midfielders were pit bulls, our defenders were sharp and always at the ready, our attackers were (mostly) razor-sharp and Valdes was his usual excellent self, just in case. I say that the match wasn’t as close as the score indicated, and I dare anyone to argue with that one. Palop was reduced to ball-kicking tantrums as we destroyed his side, having our way up the wings, in the middle and every which way. Hell, even with 10 men, we were still the superior side. Just think how good we’re going to be when Ibrahimovic decides that he’s ready to start playing football again, right?

But because Eric Abidal was two men today, it kind of made up for it. You might see a better performance by a Barca defender in your lifetime. If you do, mark the date. Puyol has had immense matches, so has Pique. All of our defenders have had matches in which they have had key stops, etc, etc. But not in a long time have I seen a defender own a team. He intercepted, he stopped, he blocked, he passed, he made forward runs and in a couple of plays that had me leaping from the sofa in joy, he put attackers on their asses, to add physical intimidation to his bag of tricks.

And then, he had the temerity to top it all off with: An absurd back leg, seal dribble, keepe-uppe bit of greatness to bamboozle a cadre of Sevilla players, then the interception of a Sevilla outlet ball, and an inch-perfect pass to Messi for our final goal. The man had one of those matches that just make you shake your head, while you’re giving him Man of the Match. Ain’t nobody even close, kids.

Guardiola rolled out with Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Ibrahimovic and Henry. Or as I call it, the “We’re serious” lineup. The work rate was off the charts, the passing and movement exceptional. We were playing like a team today, as there was almost always someone waiting to receive a pass, which meant that time spent dwelling on the ball was minimal to nonexistent.

And boy, was Henry involved in this match. From streaking up the wing and owning his defender, to passing efforts and crosses, he was playing like a man with something to prove today. And notice how, when he made his burst up the wing, Ibrahimovic went near post? I sure did. And speaking of Henry and Ibrahimovic, the former laid a goal on a silver platter for the latter, who decided “No, I’d rather tangle this shit up in my feet and scuff it wide of the open net. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Rock.”

So he did. I was home alone, and I screamed to nobody in particular, “How in the HELL did that just happen??!!” You almost have to try to miss that shot. And at the time, I rued the miss, because I thought that it would be just our luck that Sevilla would scrape out a goal against the run of play somehow, and spit in the punch bowl. But we weren’t about to even allow them to have the ball, much less score any goals as we clamped down on everything. Busquets laid on a couple of most excellent professional fouls, making it very clear that we were not messing about today.

And how the hell it took so long to score, I still don’t know, because we had chance after chance after chance, none of them sufficient to beat Palop, who must eat his Wheaties before playing us or something, because he was amazing again. And really, the only difference between this match and the Copa match earlier this week, is that we decided to see how it might be to play a whole match, instead of 20 minutes or so. Big difference. We looked dominant, controlled and confident, dishing out pain, elegance and goals in equal measure.

Ah, the goals.

The first one came from a busted play, really, as Marquez took a lovely corkscrew pass from Messi, and flipped a lovely pass to Pique, whose effort glanced off of a Sevilla player, yielding an own goal. My first thought was, “Man, it takes one of his own players to beat Palop. That’s just crazy.”

The second goal came from an Alves interception of a Sevilla outlet pass. He fed Xavi, who popped off a remarkable pass for Pedro!, who made no mistake. Just like that, it was 2-0, and we were rolling.

Our third goal was a well-worked thing of beauty, as we easily worked the ball out of the back, and Xavi put an inch-perfect ball in space for Alves, who crossed in. That his pass fell directly to the feet of Messi was attributable to Pedro! not being as tall as he thought. If he gets to that header, it’s doubtful that a goal results. But he missed it and Messi, who ghosted in behind the Sevilla defenders, controlled a put it past Palop.

The last goal, as mentioned above, came from an Abidal interception and pass to Messi, who needed every bit of his pinpoint control to not only take in the ball but outrun the Sevilla defenders, before calmly sliding it past Palop.

This was a Statement Match, that said “We are the best club in the league, when we play our game. Watch.” Sevilla didn’t play any worse than they did in the other two matches in which we faced them. But we played so much better. It’s as if we were a different club, all because of our early work rate. Are we off to the races in the league? Don’t know, but we have a 5-point gap to the EE, thanks to Bilbao doing the business today. It made me so happy, because I was starting to worry about us. This match didn’t completely dispel the worries, but it sure was nice to see my team again, laying waste and controlling a match, even if the score at the end of the first half didn’t indicate our dominance.

Team: 9. Now that’s more like it. We’re still getting some kinks worked out, but the defending in layers, midfield pressure and constant availability for passes made this match so easy.

Guardiola: 7. He had the lads ready to play today. His substitution of Pedro! for Henry vexed me, since Henry had been our best attacking player to that point. Sure it worked, but what does it say to a guy who played his ass off today?

Valdes: 7. He almost certainly would have scored higher had he had more to do today. It says a lot for his ability that he is capable of swinging into action at a sudden tip of the match. Made a few tricky captures of the ball, particularly that first half trap off the half-bounce. A lot of keepers spill that one.

Alves: 7. Excellent match defensively, as he was quick and involved, making interception after interception, stopping attackers straight up and generally raising hell out there. His offense is still kinda stinky, though.

Pique: 6. Looked a little uncertain out there, clearly our weakest defender in the first half. Settled down quite a bit as the match progressed, though at that point he was pretty much just sweeping.

Puyol: 7. Powerful and fully engaged on offense and defense, just missing a scoring opportunity. Had some dizziness after a head-to-head collision, but he’s just fine.

Abidal: 10. For all of the reasons noted above, and I particularly enjoy his decision to just put people on their butts when they vex him. That’s new, and very welcome. Could he be reading this blog?

Busquets: 8. Another excellent match, with key defensive plays in the midfield, and that constant harassing he does that facilitates the defenders doing their job. He sprayed passes about with style and logic, though he did get silly with the ball as he usually does in every match, being enamored of pirouettes and other nonsense. Keep it simple, dude.

Xavi: 8. What a match from our general, from distribution to control. I’m not sure which pass was tastier, the one in space to Alves, or the one to Pedro!

Iniesta: 7. Excellent first half, then tailed off dramatically in the second. Man, he’s going to score one hell of a goal one day, at the terminus of one of his high-wire runs at a defense.

Messi: 6. Yes, he scored two goals, his 100th and 101st. But he disappeared for stretches, and got selfish when he started taking Sevilla’s constant fouling of him personally. Went a dribble too far time after time, and could have gotten us in trouble when he tried to dribble out of our end and lost the ball. Luckily, defense was on the spot.

Henry: 8. Excellent match for what I believe is his highest rating of the season. His work rate was off the charts, and he seemed to have an extra gear today. He created our best chances of the first half, and that snap shot as he was bracketed by two defenders (excellent save from Palop) was vintage Henry. He and Abidal’s interplay made that side of the pitch so difficult to control for Sevilla.

Ibrahimovic: 4. Where good balls go to die. Maybe that miss of the open netter shook him, but his touch was off, his passing was off and he seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, when he wasn’t lining up offside.


Pedro! (for Henry): 7. Danger Man entered, and scored a goal. Sure, he’s never done that before, right. Created constant danger on offense with his runs and motion.

Marquez (for Puyol): 5. Man, I thought this was going to be another loooong match, as he started right off getting smoked by a Sevilla attacker, and laying out some pretty craptastic passes. But he played his way into things nicely, and his cross set up our first goal.

Krkic (for Iniesta): incomplete. Yes, it’s another incomplete for CT, who came on with about four minutes left, which is barely enough time to flash his winning smile at the ladies.

I’m also feeling pretty good about our chances to enter February with an even bigger lead in the Liga standings. The EE have Maulaga, then Super Depor. We have Valladolid, and Gijon. Time will tell, but the 5-point lead is very nice. And Messi is pichichi by two goals over David Villa.

Now, as usual, a bit of hilarity.

Rectum?! It nearly killed him! Bwahahahaha!

By Kxevin

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. A note on Henry – he played well today and generally looked dangerous. Worked his ass off for the second game in a row and has convinced me he still has the drive needed to play in our system.

    However, he got subbed at exactly the right time. About two minutes before he got subbed he made a bumbling run where he still retained the ball, but at that point it was obvious he was getting tired. He still isn’t in full game condition, and that bodes well.

    Major props to him for his work ethic and for tiring out Sevilla’s defense. We scored three goals after he left the field, but those goals only come because he busted his ass.

    1. so… enough of the “defense tirer” already, we need a goals scorer/ assist giver or at least a “something doer” you know πŸ˜‰

      I want the guy out of here so bad… so we won’t be discussing on him anymore. my opinion is he sucks

    2. So we are planning a love/hate post, so that in the comments portion, people will be able to lay out exactly why they love/hate a particular player. It should be interesting.

      For the record, I don’t care who anybody loves or hates, as long as they give them credit where/when credit is due. Henry kicked out the jams in this match. This is also his highest rating of the season, and deservely so.

      He should have had not one, but two assists, in your “assist giver” category. One where he fed Ibrahimovic, who somehow cocked it up, and the other where he got the ball at the defensive end of the pitch, and led a break that culminated in a feed to Messi that deserved a better fate.

      As I said, hate Henry all you like. You’re allowed. But is it really fair to discredit an excellent match because of animus?

    3. I gave him credit when he played well last game, but to me in this one he wasn’t very sharp… I bought the “I’m old and hurt but I can continue to play soccer”, judging for the last game when he had a really good night πŸ™ So I’m back to being dissaponted by titi. (in la liga 2 goals 0 assists)

  2. hmmmmmmmmm
    so Henry scores 8 while Xavi 8, Iniesta 7 and Messi 6?? sorry Kevin, but I didn’t get the joke!
    I won’t argue on that because we are so far away to come into a common ground!

    1. Just because someone scores, doesnt mean they deserve a good rating. Iniesta was amazing in the first half, and then fell off tremendously in the second. Xavi played well and consistent for himself, earning a well deserved 8. Iniesta had deserved the same had he not disappeared. Messi, was Messi as of late, made an impact whenever he wanted, but again, went one dribble too far. Time and again i was asking myself why he wouldnt just pass the ball off with 3 or 4 men moving in on him, and for him only to dismiss the wide open players to try and pull magic through 4 defenders. Luckily he got the fouls everytime and didnt get hurt, but he really needs to learn that making those runs is only good if 1. he scores 2. more importantly he opens up space for other players to receive a pass for a clear chance. Henry, played awesome today, you dont need to score to put ur stamp on a match. And it really was credit to him how we ran down that seville defense. When you have our left side working so well for 60 minutes, and then make the changes we did, its only time before they have to adjust and give more space to everyone else. Which also comes with fatigue for the other team, allowing us to pass the ball into the net. Great match, and how excited i was to watch Bilbao pull that match out before the game. I was watching on the edge of my chair knowing that if they could pull that out, we were going to destroy Seville putting us 5 at the top. So now with a nice lead, and out of a cup, we can get back to playing our game, keeping our guys fresh, and get into our groove that had us winning 6 trophies in one year. VISCA EL BARCA!!!

    2. thanks for the good post..
      i really hate it when people don’t watch the match, they just watch the stats or highlights and then comment.
      henry worked his ass off..both offensive and defensive

  3. Absolutely elated about the win today. You can see the machine start syncing. You can see the focus.

    And it bears mentioning that we’re now officially the only team in control, opening up a greater than 3 point lead on a team that we’ve already played. Madrid (and Valencia and their ilk) can take comfort in the fact that they could win every match from now on, even slaughtering us 5-0, and still lose the League. Because as of tonight, only we are in control.

    1. Interesting idea, but I dunno.

      The Referee isn’t really part of our team, so we won’t be impartial ( duh! πŸ˜› That’d be weird and go against the Unwritten Code of Being A Sports Fan.

      So basically, we’d be marking the Referee on how much he was benefitting us.

      Because let’s face it, a Referee who give two penalties to EE, no matter if they deserved it, will NEVER get a high rating…in fact, if it wasn’t in the negatives, I’d call BS!

    2. imagine a ranking: worst single performance of the season, worst ref of the season, best ref of the season… It can be fun πŸ˜€

    3. You won’t see any referee rating. It’s just impossible to parse. A foul to one ref is not a foul to another, etc, etc. Bad angles leading to bad calls, etc, etc.

      Impossible task.

  4. Not much to say. Abidal owned Sevilla.
    Xavi, Iniesta, and Busquets both locked shit up in the middle, and did most of the attacking since Messi and Ibra were having terrible games, leaving Henry to be the only viable outlet in the forward line.
    Our two sweepers didn’t really get exposed too much thanks to our midfield and fullbacks.
    Great match. Can’t wait for us to start kicking ass consistantly.
    I also can’t wait to have Keita back. Xavi needs a break. Also, having some Yaya would be nice.

  5. I only watched the first half, because watching the games in Shanghai takes superhuman effort…but I went to bed thinking we would win comfortably. Sevilla had almost 0 meaningful possession in that half.

    On Messi’s 1st goal, does he call off Pedro? It looks like Pedro ducked a bit on the cross and dummied it.

    Also, could Pedro give Ibra a few tips on finishing?

  6. I think the biggest difference between this game and villareal, and previous sevilla games is how our defenders/midfielders dealt with the constant high pressure. In this game, it was clear that they have expected it and have taken instructions to move the ball quicker while also offer to receive passes; and thanks to that decisiveness and precision on our passes, we were able to move the ball quickly everytime out of our own half leaving sevilla chasing the ball.

    My only complain about the team performance is that, even though it was a great 1st half for a change, it was a more direct one and slightly less barca-possession-monster-tika-taka-like. pep did admit the first goal calmed the team down; but what more can we ask for… WAG!!

    1. Well Pep said that we were too hasty in the 1st half cause we knew that Real Madrid had lost.

    2. mike in africa makes a good point that I allude to in the review. Sevilla didn’t play any better or worse in this match. But we played a LOT better, particularly as regards ball movement, which is crucial in disrupting the high pressure game that teams try to play against us.

      Had we played the same way in the other matches, we’d have had full points against Villarreal, and we’d still be in the Copa (which I am coming to view as a blessing).

  7. Off topic but I found this great video of trick free kicks. We should try some….


  8. Is Pedro the only one taking the maximum advantage of this vintage called Zlatan!? He seems to be scoring whenever those 2 play together πŸ™‚

    1. It is weird. While Zlatan has been off the last couple of matches, which happens to all our lovely players unfortunately, his offness is more apparent with Henry. With Pedro on, Zlatan drops back more and then runs into the box and it seems opens up scoring for more. I am not going to jump on the bandwagon, “biggest $60 million waste” and then when he scores and has a good game, “wow, best $60 million dollar spent.” Same with Henry, same with chygnasty.

  9. since i posted after we won, it’s only fair to stop by after a loss, too, i think.

    fantastic performance from your boys. i (fortunately?) wasn’t able to see the second half, so i didn’t see the part where we were being dominated as clearly on the scoreboard as we were on the field, but…well, we were dominated everywhere. THAT’S the barca everyone loves to see (well, except the fans of the other team…sigh).

    it was probably madness to bring such a weak, defensive side to the game, but we really didn’t have much in the way of options. that’s certainly not an excuse, though, because the way barca played yesterday, i’m not sure anyone could keep up. other teams watching this game, though, will probably see this as yet more evidence that a defensive struggle against barcelona is a recipe for disaster–who would possibly think sitting back is better than high pressure after watching the same side have such drastically different results with the two approaches?

    anyway, congratulations. now that i’m not worrying myself about our chances to win la liga, and i don’t need to hope first and second place lose every week, i’ll be hoping you all continue playing like this…it’s just so damn fun to watch!

  10. I think Messi did very well, he did correct pass to Marquez to first goal, few chances and some good assist, 2 goals! Sure he play bad sometime, yeah, he dribble did not well today and I’m sure that he will do better next time, he learn fast πŸ™‚

    If someone like Pedro or Bojan play like Messi did, will get maybe 9 or something. lol.

    MoM – no doubt – ERIC ABIDAL!

    1. Welcome Ivax, and thanks for commenting!

      True, but on this blog, we rate (or Kxevin rates and we argue (or agree, but mostly argue πŸ˜› ) with the ratings) based on indiviual expectations. With Messi, we have a certain expectation, which by the way, is very, very, very high–he IS the best player in the world and he has to play like it. A nice dribble here, a sick pass there, and a brace to top it off, just doesn’t cut it. Yeah, the expectation is that high πŸ˜€

      On the otherhand, everyone is rating on the same scale (but spaces between the lines may be bigger for some). For example, how many times has Bojan’s rating gone down (even when he has a brace since he seems to like scoring in pairs) because he didn’t do this or that–basically the same things that we’d get off on Ibra for not doing.

      Same goes for P!. Say he dribbles a defender or two, and shoots for a tight angle, some people would be like ‘Ah! Nice try P!’ but if Henry did the same thing, we’d be like, ‘WTF Titi?! You gotta pass that!’ or ‘Why didn’t you look to see if someone was in the box?!”.

      Confusing, I know πŸ˜› .

    2. I LOVE this comment. It’s why my ratings are usually so contentious. Different things get different reactions from fans. If Henry makes a move, creates space and smokes a shot that gets stopped, it’s “Why didn’t he score? He sucks! Bring on Pedro!”

      If Messi makes a run that results in a shot that also gets stopped, it’s “Nice run! Man, he’s the best player in the world!”

      What I try to do when rating, and it’s one reason that I don’t allow myself to be a fan of any player, is to remove all that. For me, it doesn’t matter who did something. The only question is the result, the effect and the context.

      It warmed my heart to see up above, ElShowDeJason saying that a 6 for Messi was generous, and other defending Henry for the excellent match that he played. Usually, I’m the one having to do that. πŸ˜€

      If someone is looking to weight a rating, it’s effectiveness+individual standard=match rating. Henry has a very high individual standard. So does Ibrahimovic. Messi’s is the highest on the squad, and it should be.

      But were I to assign numerical values to individual standards, the spread would only be a few points, say 10 to 7, from highest to lowest.

  11. Thanks for stopping by, cleareyesfullhearts, and for the comments. It’s not everyone who can bring themselves to congratulate the opposition in such an unambiguous way – are you watching, EPL ? For what it’s worth, I’m glad you weren’t able/inclined to attack as much as in the previous matches or it might have been much closer. You don’t play a bad brand of football yourselves πŸ™‚

  12. Btw, for a lover of good football, cleareyesfullhearts, as you seem to be, the second half really is worth watching at some point if you can.

  13. Steady on with the Ibra bashing he’s had a few bad games he’ll come good you know he will. And lets not forget Sevilla were without almost their full starting 11 so lets not get carried away with the result. We can enjoy it though.

  14. Well, it’s the same Messi this season –not his usual dribbling/passing/heckraising — but definately his most clinical.

    It seems like he’s trying to develop something in his game. Something he’s doing this season that he didn’t do AS much last season are:

    1) Coming into/Playing more in the midfield. When Iniesta gets subbed, he doesn’t stay a forward. He goes into left side of the midfield (to cut/move into the centre like he usually does)

    There is something else but I don’t remember..

    1. *IS, not ARE

      **Iniesta is usually subbed for P! who moves to the right

      Oh, yeah, this Messi-to-left-side-of-the-mid, (I think) starting happening to compensate for the loss of Keita there.

      I dunno what’s up with Messi though. I don’t think the team quite gets this “new” Ibra, so to speak. The Pre-Winter Break Ibra kept it simple, knowing that he was there to be just a goalscorer. Now (maybe he watched his games over the break), it’s like he want to show his expansive repetoire a bit too much. Notice how Ibra drops back into a deeper central role–well, usually Messi’s there. Titi, meanwhile, isn’t really sure what to do, since Ibra is now another ‘playmaker’, and there is, essentially, no-one to pass to in the centre, other than a box-breaking Xavi, and while he was here, Keita.

      Ibra seems be getting his “s*it together”, for a lack of a better phrase. So, I think that they (the offense + Xaviniesta) are just trying to learn to play with him–until he gets that this is BARCA not INTER and we do, in fact, have a midfield–the best in the world at that.

  15. Whoa, and Abi really wasn’t joking when he said that he was playing so c*appy for us in ’07 he shouldn’t have even been starting. It must have been the century of games he reached with us πŸ˜›

    What a match!

  16. And isn’t it a joy that we (me included, because I feel the same way) can critize the best player in the world for his lackadaisical play, when he has some 21 goals and how many assists?

    Love this blog, and being a Cule for that matter–but that was a given πŸ˜€

    1. He played really well too, and his third goal was sick! Dare I say there were even flashes of the Ronaldinho of old! I think he is trying to make sure he gets into the world cup squad and if he continues this way I’m sure he will. Its very nice to see him playing well again…

    2. Its the trend for 2day as ex Barca boys Fran Merida and Fabergas also scored 2day to help arsenal win 2-0….

    1. IF somewhere in the future there would be a ‘like’ button there should also be a ‘dislike’ button.

      Therfore there will probably be no ‘like’ button πŸ™‚

  17. Busi out for the match against Valladolid.. He spent last night in a hospital with a left renal contusion.. Although he has been discharged, he has been advised rest for the whole week..

    So who would be the DM this weekend? Pique, Marquez or Chiggy?

  18. It bothers me that there is something missing in our frontline but we fans just can’t get it right.(even me). We can just guess as to what we need. But i pray Pep figures it quick because Pedro is not ripe for that left wing yet

    1. Whats missing is simple: Understanding.
      Last game showed how the defense gets perfect when the defenders compliment each others roles, get advantage of the goods of each other in a game and make things easier to each other.

      It was even better and more complete, talking about midfield.
      Offense wise, I saw offense players, but I didnt see offense line. Everyone of them was his own empire playing the way he feels its nice. Is that Pep job? Partially. But there are things that need time.

      Ibra is getting the bashing. Thats kind of understandable. He is not in his form now and it happens/happened to all players, especially strikers. But if what we needed is just a player in the box, we could have bought Crouch for 5 M. Thats not why we bought him. We bought him to add more option”S” and dimention”S” for our offense. IN the box he is Off. no question. Which makes this option poor so far. But he is pulling the entire opponent defense out of position sometimes. Any player who does a diagonal run behind will get assisted to score. Neither Henry nor Messi are exposing that as needed. The only player who is getting the most advantage of Ibra movements on regular bases is Pedro. Watch when he entered the field, he entered to play on the flank but he was so obsessed attacking the box and the spaces in the area. And this game was not an exception.

    2. very very well said..
      we need a fox in the box..that’s why i still believe that we should sign villa.he could play LW role and still be a fox in the box and score shit loads of goals for fun.
      but at the moment pedro is our fox.
      however i don’t believe that he is good enough to be substituted for henry. henry is still too good. maybe pedro can sub for ibra and prove to us that he can be like etoo.
      making the diagonal runs and pressuring defenders

    3. truly agree on this one. Ibra did pretty bad in the box as he was off, but the way he can play as a midfielder is really another huge option he can offer for us. i can’t wait to see him become good again and start dominating in the area.
      pedro got the most advantage of ibra’s pull back, maybe perhaps he came off from bench? or pep pointed it out to him so that he makes that kind of runs? i say both. but i also think he is a smart player who know when to do so.

  19. That last goal in his hat trick by Dinho was a miracle goal. What a right footed shot. My my.

  20. Just rewatched the whole second half after Ramzi’s comments about Ibra and its interesting how your perception changes about various things.

    first of all, Ibra is slow. No question. However, his movement tends to be at the last minute and there were one or two times when he got free but we didn’t find him. I couldn’t see any time when he pulled the whole defense anywhere. He had one marker who went with him unless Ibra went deep. Pedro’s goal was more to do with Pedro’s unbelievable sprint from way back with his speed beating a static and square defense along with a world class ball from Xavi to a place nobody saw coming. The guy is trying though and he’s such a good player things can only get better when the understanding comes.

    Secondly, to me Iniesta, who i previously had thought disappeared in the second half , did nothing of the sort. He was involved in every move but seemed to be playing more the Xavi role with simple balls everywhere, allowing Xavi to play a more advanced role. Watch the half again for Iniesta and you’ll see what I mean. Answers for me the question about eventually taking over from Xavi. The only thing I’m not sure about was whether it was because Pep asked him to save himself, he was tired or he was feeling a strain. What is clear is that the opposition have an almost impossible job in marking both of them.

    Finally, Seville weren’t good so we really shouldn’t get too carried away. They really committed suicide with their setup and by the second half were chasing shadows. No denying the smoothness in our play or the desire though.

    1. But whenever we crush an opponent, isn’t it always “they didn’t show up” or “this what not their day” or “they handed the game to BarΓ§a” When we were crushing teams last year, how many times did you read about how the other team didn’t show up, or gave the game to BarΓ§a? Shouldn’t we realize that is more than just coincidence, but instead it is our game and our play that makes it seem like teams give us the game? Honestly, when have we ever gotten proper credit in a 3, 4, or 5-nil drubbing w/o their being some type of “Team so and so didn’t show up” comment?

    2. Exactly Jim, the same had happened to me as I had to watch the second half againe to follow what Iniesta was doing, he switched positions with both busques and Xavi, he played behind them, on the right setting Xavi free to do his play making role, and every now and then he opened to the left, Ramzi was the first to rise attention to this midfield rotation after our match in Sevilla, and it’s becoming more smooth and pronounced.

  21. Kevin, I hate to begin by pointing out holes in your analysis, but I can easily think of the last time a Barca defender had a game as good as our Greyhounds, and that would be Puyol against the EE in November.

    I’m in no disagreement however about the MOTM. Dijon was all over the place, wrecking shop on all sides of the pitch, but when I read that bit about the match, I immediately thought of captain Caveman bustin one of these on los blancos,

    Now while I’m rejoicing in the glory of El Cinco, I’m realizing that it’s quite possible that Bojan doesn’t sniff the pitch for any considerable minutes until we’ve clinched something (which likely won’t happen until late into May) or we’re severely injured up top. Just a thought, but a sad one at that.

    PS – operation CLONE PUYOL has begun.

    1. Siena? they almost defeated Inter in Guisepe Meazza the last weekend if inter didn’t make their lucky comeback in the last 3 minuets! they may be the last in the table but that means more cantenaccio.
      serie A may not be the best league in Europe but I can assure you, there are no puupies in it πŸ™‚

    2. Ronaldinho seems to be really, really back this season. He tore up that side from what I saw, and it’s not the first team against which he’s done it this season. He’s been excellent, and it’s great to see him score a real Ronaldinho goal (that is, a majestic one with his feet) rather than the headers-from-corners he seems to score “too” much with Milan. I hope Henry can capture that kind of form with the five-or-so months he’s still here.

      But how about Marco Borriello? God-DAYUM, all-potential/young-boy-coming-up status blasted to pieces this season.

    3. Inter were made to look like puppies when they played us, and describing Roma as puppies at Old Trafford on night would be quite generous.. I could go on..

    4. @ Alexinho

      I’d wait before the Milan Derby before passing judgement on Ronnie, but yeah, I think he’s finding his groove..

    5. Very much looking forward to Milan-Man U. There can be any scoreline for that one, and really that’s hard to say about many CL matches when you think about it.

    6. no one’s talking about Europe, VJ. Serie A is totally different from UCL, you dont even compare!

  22. I understand what Ibra brings to the table, but it’s not still complete i think we need someone that has part of Ibra part of Eto’o and something new

    1. like who????? Villa is not tall enough. Only Drogba and Fabiano come to my mind, but neither are capable of the remarkable assists Ibra has had.

    2. Marco Borriello!

      Nah frankly I think Ibra’ll integrate and we’ll all see the world-class player he is. If anything, Ibra’s more of a complete package than Eto’o is, although there are things I miss about the latter that our new #9 seemingly doesn’t do. But who knows, it doesn’t mean he CAN’T do them. Time.

  23. i think we will finally see some Piquenbauer DM in Valladolid.

    my bet is no puyol, coz pep is gonna protect him. and that leaves us marquez and chgrynskiy, which give me nothing but worries.

    1. I will not exclude Milito. I am a huge admirer for this player and I felt strange when people asked to offload him during his injury period. I hope he gets back to his previous form and he will be a very reliable player to count on. He didn’t play enough games to start one, but his personality helps him to pick himself up and rise to any challenge.

      We need an additional CB to rotate with Puyol, Pique and Marquez. It’s a race between Milito and Chegrnskiy now. I can’t wait till Chegrnskiy prove Pep right, but at the moment I prefer that Milito get the node first -based on form improvement. Mainly because Chegrnskiy -as I noticed so far- is more a Pique/Marquez type of defenders, while Milito is more a Puyol type (with better abilities to initiate offense from the back). That’s why Milito-as a cover for Puyol- is more essential now than Chegrnskiy as a cover for Pique, in the presence of Marquez.

  24. Villa or Faciano should do the trick but it’s still a maybe. Damn time is running out Pep should do something

  25. I think iniesta ll play as a DM and either thiago or dos santos will pair xavi in the middle.

    1. I can be pretty sure that Iniesta will not play DM. I think it will be Marquez though i prefer Milito.

    2. lets not forget iniesta came on as DM vs Arsenal in the UCL in 06. I don’t think he will either but he is an option.

  26. Baby steps, guys and gals. Baby steps.

    After the way we started out post-Christmas holidays, I’ll take it. The most important thing is always the same: worry about the principles and fundamentals first. Our offense WAS most definitely not as efficient and deadly as it could have or should have been. However, this game was very encouraging on other levels.

    – Defense: FINALLY! After an overall good first half of the season, our CB’s finally re-discovered their form. They spread the field wide when we were playing the ball out, moved it quicker than they had in all of January, held the line better, and provided better cover amongst themselves. Not a dominating performance, especially with that one “Marquez and Pique getting owned in quick succession by Kone inside the box while the score was still 0-0” moment but still much better overall. Just as importantly as scoring is neutralizing counter attacks and keeping a clean sheet. We did that.

    – Tempo and Flow: The most important and encouraging thing for me. For possibly the first time this season we actually controlled the tempo and flow of the game for a full 90 minutes. Yeah, this is intangible. Yeah, our last fourth offense was flawed. Yeah, Sevilla was not even close to full strength. But we controlled the tempo and dominated possession. We can talk about Ibra staying onsides, diagonal runs, plays in the box, and crashing runs all we want but if we don’t dictate the tempo of the game and dominate possession then such discussion is close to useless. We had not put together a full 90 minutes of this consistently in Liga play. Even against Atletico and Zaragoza, we had spurts that we took off. After seeing how badly we started out the new year, it was good to see us finally put this together for a full game, circumstances be damned.

    – Our A-Team is FINALLY getting some time together. I 100% agree with Ramzi that flaw 1a with our offense has been “understanding”. Does anybody know how often we have played what would be our A-Team (what last year was Abidal, Pique, Puyol, Alves, Xavi, Yaya, Iniesta, Henry, Samu, and Messi) this season so far? If its not Henry having a nagging achilles injury which necessitated rotation or Messi going off on NT matches then its Ibra missing pre-season or Iniesta getting injured/recovering from injury. The team dynamics on offense change considerably with the Xavi-Iniesta at midfield and Henry on the wing line-up.

    Gotta get back to work….Ill continue later.

  27. The team gave Pep a perfect birthday present. Today, Pep turned 39 years of age. Congratulations to the best coach of all times!

  28. Wow! I don’t know if it was really THAT dominant of a match that it should have been more goals, and I’m not even sure if it’s the best match of the season, but it was certainly a good one. For me, it looked like a consummate win, but maybe not 4-0. The OG breaking the ice left a bad taste in my mouth, and perhaps if that hadn’t happened it would have been 1- or 2-0 at best. There were a few moments of great “back-in-the-box-again” aggression and some majestic plays, but overall I can’t say it was vintage Barcelona. Best team in the league when we play our game, though? Sure.

    I didn’t notice how great Abidal was until I thought about it around the 80th minute. All I could think of was flawlessness, constant presence, and tirelessness. Ray Hudson was ripping on Henry all night expressing, at one point, incredulous bewilderment at the fact that we were “attacking more on the left than through Messi”–there were two reasons for that.

    Xavi for me, definitively, is not the same player he was last year, even with this match, which I didn’t think was totally breathtaking from him, except for that pass to Pedro. I just feel his effectiveness has really fallen this year, while his partner in crime, Andres Iniesta, looks more and more like a one-man show with every game. Though this latter superstar, admittedly, seems to have a bad habit of playing Earth-shattering first halves and sub-par second halves.

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