International Liveblog: France – Spain

You requested it, I come through. Call me amazing.

As always, keep it friendly and keep it awesome. It’s France vs Spain, Henry vs the rest of Barça. Go time is 3pm (on ESPN Deportes and ESPN360).

By Isaiah

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.


  1. repost:

    i’ve got links for the france spain game but i’ll probably be too busy to use them.



  2. Busquets starts and Iniesta doesn’t 😯
    Never thought I’d see the day 🙂 j/k

    No Torres either apparently.
    Casillas – Ramos, Puyol, Pique, Arbeloa – Silva, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Busquets, Iniesta – Villa

    Looks like they’re going to play with a lone striker only this time it’s Villa not Torres unlike the Euro final.

  3. Aaah, I hadn’t seen that the lineup had already been posted in the earlier post (with a good discussion happening). My bad 🙂

    1. It’s good news for us, right?

      Puyol and Xavi playing for one half, Iniesta for approx. one hour. That was pretty kind of Del Bosque 🙂

      And I feel that France will go down at the WC. And who still wants Ribéry? Navas, Silva are better than him.

  4. I don’t know why people rate France. They are a decidedly average team that deservedly barely made it to the WC. They will struggle to get out of the group stages. Name me one player on that team that would make it in Spain or Brazil’s team.

    1. Ok, I’ll concede the point on the LBs (Evra and Abidal). But Ribery? Is he better than David Silva? More productive than Robinho (who’s a punk, yes, but quite destructive in this Dunga setup).

      Anelka? Better than either Torres/Villa or Luis Fabiano/Kaka? I think not.

  5. guys, who was MoM for Spain? really glad that Villa scores once again!
    super scoring machine gun i tell you!

    1. The Deportes guys said Iniesta… it was a good collective team performance, but no one really stood out for me.

  6. busquets was quietly efficient throughout the 90. i still think it’s crazy how much playing time this guy gets for the best club & national teams in the world. where was he playing 2/3 years ago? some lower level third division team or something?

    if anything, this guy is going to have a wealth of experience by the time he’s only like 24 lol.

    my only gripe is that he just has to put some weight on. that starvin marvin look just isn’t going to cut it for barca haha

  7. anybody see jonathan dos santos hit the post off that set piece? glorious i do declare, glorious.

  8. By the way, people have been talking about Ribéry or David Silva (and the majority is pro David Silva). But what about Di Maria? He’s the top scorer of Benfica, played great against Germany (MotM besides Veron imo).
    In the end, I don’t want any of them because I trust in our youth and current players, but if the club really “has” to make one big fichaje, why not Di Maria?

    1. for me it’s Villa and only Villa.hehe
      imo better to get an experienced player who can give us goals instead of an excited youngster that might limit playing the playing time of jeffren, pedro and bojan

    2. And you don’t think that Villa is going to limit the playing time for Krkic and Pedro? Really? He won’t be at the center, because we already have Ibrahimovic for that task. Sorry, but I can’t believe that people are getting all damp over that Villa goal. That’s Striker 101.

      If he comes, the cost will dictate his playing time. And what will people say when he, too, has a difficult time slotting into our system? Just asking.

      People look to the transfer market for salvation, and X player who will make us perfect. But wr have immense talent in the farm, and on the bench. This doesn’t even get into, for me, the abhorrent EE model of buying scads of expensive, imported talent. What’s the point of having a farm if you’re just going to go out and splash for spendy players?

      Is Krkic a winger? Dunno. Will he have the chance to find out if Villa or Ribery come? No. So we drop 50 or so on somebody. What will make the talent stay? Krkic will have a career-defining next couple of seasons, and Pedro is right on the verge. I’d rather support, nurture, assure us of a bright future and not win silver, than win and stifle talent development, or have that talent leave because it doesn’t see a future in the side.

      Just my .02.

    3. Well if Henry isn’t getting much time for the rest of the season we probably will see a lot more of Bojan and Pedro (and maybe even Jeffren). So Pep may have a better idea of whether he needs to buy a replacement left winger this summer.

      I don’t know, I think Bojan and Pedro are both ridiculously talented, but is either one ready to start against a team like Chelsea in the Champion’s League? Then again I didn’t think Busi was mature enough to start the Champion’s League final last year but luckily I was quite wrong.

      With elections coming up though it’s hard to not see the new president wanting to buy some big name.

    4. I’d still go with Luis Suarez who btw scored in the Uruguay friendly this week, and who would be cheaper than Ribery, though Luis Suarez I think would score more goals in Barca than Ribery.

      And Leo Messi is new Top 1 in the Castrol Rankings, wich means that the thingy is going to be somewhat fair after all.

    5. The Castrol Rankings can’t be fair or unfair, dependent upon whether the results satisfy or not. If they were shit when Henry was leading them, they don’t suddenly stop being shit, right?

      Reality is that they are a laudable attempt to quantify the performance of the top players in the world. The system will be refined, and will improve, we hope, to something that becomes reasonably scientific and objective, rather than the subjectivity that now reigns the “best player” debates.

    6. You’re right, but I critizized the rankings becuse I thought that it was based on the actual level of a player, but it seems that it takes into the consideration the whole past year, so I can see now why Henry was so well positioned before. That’s why I cannot find for example Pedro in the first positions, becuse his emergence has only begun this summer. For example Pedro is in the 721 position in the ranking, but in 5 or 6 months he’ll be much higher if he performs as of late.

  9. By the by, Les Bleus were shit. But a rudderless boat will never go anywhere.

    And the fans were right to boo Henry. He was awful, and clearly didn’t have match fitness. What’s more, he ain’t gonna get it, apparently. Which means they don’t have a coach, OR captain.


    1. So, is Henry’s career over? If he had shown a better performance for France, maybe Pep would have reconsidered his decision (which seems to be: Henry is only the 3rd-best player for the left wing after Pedro and Bojan). I don’t think he’ll get much playing time for Barca, thus he will probably not re-gain match fitness and will go down in South Africa.

      I would have liked to see Cissokho and Trémoulinas, but I suppose it wouldn’t have changed much. Could it be that Dumbenech is even worse than Maradumba?

    2. It might be, Helge. He’s screwed here, for sure, which means that he’s screwed in South Africa. And it’s unfortunate, because he still has something to offer the club, but between being injured and the subsequent form drop, coupled with the emergence of Pedro!, he’s just an expensive, bench-warming veteran who will be moving on this summer.

    3. I don’t understand why les bleu is not firing that guy. i can’t stand him anymore.

  10. I’m not starting another “Let’s get Villa, he’s awesome” debate but man he would fit in our system so effortlessly it’s not funny. I just watched Spain in HD after such a long time, I’d forgotten…

  11. And it’s worth noting that I think the next 6 weeks have the potential to define our season, even before El Clasic. We are:

    Away to Almeria
    Home to Valencia
    Away to Zaragoza
    Home to Osasuna
    Away to Mallorca
    Home to Bilbao

    They are:

    Home to Sevilla
    Away to Valladolid
    Home to Gijon
    Away to Getafe
    Home to ATM
    Away to Racing

    After El Clasic, they have two potential banana skins, Valencia and Osasuna, but they’re home for both.

    We have two tricky ties, both away, to Villarreal and Sevilla.

    I think it’s gonna be a wild one, kids.

  12. Can’t understand everyone going mad about Villa’s performance either. It was a good match for him. Full stop.

    As for Henry, he’s gone. No doubt about that now.

  13. Busquets according to

    Did a power of work in the anchoring role. His job was primarily to win the ball, but when he had it he rarely lost it, choosing to sensibly keep things simple. When placed under pressure he continued to retain possession, and when asked to work back to cut out a dangerous square pass in stoppage time he was not found wanting.

    I never thought I’d see the day 🙂 not from anyway.

    I don’t think Henry’s done. He’s played like that in most of his International matches in the last year save a few. France have 0 motivation. I think they were a bit excited cause they were going to play against Spain and they had a chance to “prove” themselves but once Spain started to keep possession they were just plainly bored. I don’t blame them anymore, really, Domenech won’t be able to motivate his headless chicken if he wanted to.

    Apart from that, as Kxevin said in the LiveBlog, Spain weren’t having it too easy in the midfield but it didn’t cause them much problems because France couldn’t string more than 3 passes in Spain’s half which lead to anything. Spain did well with the long balls they threw at Torres and Navas though. Piqué helped with that. Busi didn’t mess up anything. Still a average performance by Spain, obviously because they weren’t pushing it too much, it’s still a friendly.

    If there was ever a Spain vs Barca match with Xavi, Iniesta and co. playing on both (obviously they can’t, I’m just saying) I think Barca would win. Spain are awesome but when Barca are at their best, they throw “waves” of attacks on the ennemy whereas Spain don’t as much.

    1. IDK, I think the XavIniesta pairing would pretty much be neutralized by, well, XavIniesta

  14. /

    Talking about Sport complaining that Valdes didn’t get a call up:

    ‘And to prove their point, Sport reel off some statistics that note that the Barcelona keeper has conceded just 0.58 goals per game this season, compared to Iker Casillas’ 0.75, the 1.00 of Pepe Reina at Liverpool and the current ratio of 98 strikes a match that poor Diego López sees fly past him at Villarreal, these days.

    “Valdés is lacking good PR, is not so media-friendly as Casillas, does not have a father who played with the selectors like Reina nor is he a goalkeeper who is just happy to be involved, like Diego López,” says Josep María Casanovas.

    And nor is he actually any good as many, many Barcelona fans will readily confirm.’

    I just don’t understand why so many people still in think media still think Valdes is a bad keeper. It’s like it was decided years ago that Casillas is god and Valdes is terrible and no amount evidence to the contrary will ever change that perception.

    Look, I can understand why Del Bosque didn’t call him up. He’s already got three keepers, at least two of which would start for pretty much any country in the world, so why shake up his squad three months before the world cup? But to say that Valdes isn’t good? Whatever.

    1. I think that the comment about Valdes not being good is scoffing at Barca fans, who still heap shit on him when he makes the least little error, even now. Many a time I’ve gotten my head bitten off (less these days) for suggesting that VV is a much better keeper than he gets credit for.

      And then you have jackasses like Phil Schoen, who when he wipes his ass the wrong way, says “Uh oh, Bad Victor is back,” when there was never any such thing as Bad Victor. A keeper is only as good as his defense, ultimately. Yes, some are better at making those reflex saves from close in, others are better at reading a match and following the flight of the ball, etc. But look at a guy like Kameni who, if he had a real defense in front of him, would probably never concede.

      Mind you, I don’t think that VV is a World Cup kind of keeper, in which set pieces and on-the-doorstop saves predominate. You can see Casillas and Reina getting the nod, when you consider those parameters.

  15. Here’s what I would do if I were king of the world, this off-season:

    1. Give Keirrison a legitimate shot (with the chances we create, a big, smooth poacher would thrive)
    2. Give Hleb another shot (he isn’t a wing attacker, he’s a midfielder, if you look at what he does)
    3. Situate Krkic on the wing in matches that we aren’t that worried about, to see what he does. It’s either he or Jeffren.
    4. Get a good, hard look at our young defenders. It’s looking like we already have an Alves backup in Bartra, and what about Jeffren?
    5. Fine a player for taking more than one touch on the ball when we’re in attack.
    6. Bring back Botia and Adriano, and talk to Puyol about beginning the process of accepting a lesser role.
    7. Sell Marquez.
    8. Spend quality time with Assulin to assess his real quality.

    Done. I don’t think we need to do anything in the transfer market, given the talent that we have. I know that new presidents will want to make all kinds of splashes, etc, so we will almost certainly make some kind of big-name signing. But let the record show that I am against it. 😀

    1. I know, a king cannot be voted, but I would support you as soon as you cancel point #2 on your to-do-list 😉

    2. Completely disagree with #2. You earn your second chance by working hard and keeping your mouth shut or saying the right things about your playing time. Hleb has failed to do that not only at our club, but also at his loan out club.

      Why bring in someone who has already shown they aren’t willing to give everything for the club?

  16. I watched Argentina – Germany and argies were effective if not pretty. Maradona is playing 4 – 4 – 2 but with no fullbacks. All the back 4 are central defenders. Veron and Masch in midfield with Di Maria and Johan G on flanks. Messi in classic 10 with Higuain to lead the attack. Messi was closed down but Di Maria is quite a hand ful too. Higuain simply cannot stop scoring. I kind of think that this is the way Maradona will line up in SA.

    And they can be a contender. Even in Spain friendly, Argies did play well in second half. If Messi does hit high spots, I can see them as dark horse. It makes my heart feel so glad. Is Maradona learning? I sure hope so though i shall not get my hopes high.

    1. Gr… I though the Germans were more ineffective than Argentina was effective.

      – four CB’s ain’t cutting it in the WC. I am glad Diego FINALLY called up Samuel who despite the ocassional rush of blood to the head is an old school thug who can match up with the Drogba’s and Torres’ of the world if need be.

      – Heinze can fill in on the left if it is absolutely completely necessary (*barfs*) but Otamendi on the right was atrocious. Argentina has no world class fullbacks at the moment. Hell, Zanetti is a better option.

      – I’m glad they realized that the key to winning is not conceding though. Still, guys like Parejo and Garay damn well better be in the squad.

      – Building a team around a 34 year old (Veron) who, despite being a world class player, is a renowed choker who’s legs wear off by the second half is NOT a good idea. This is like Capello building around Scholes. Sure, he’s good, but he should be in the boneyard not the centerpiece. Notice how Argentina started off well and tapered off once Veron got tired. He’s got the will but his legs aren’t having it.

      – For God’s sake, give Banega a chance! Has anybody seen Valencia games this season. He’s still young but so are Messi and Higuain. It’s better than Gago. Mascherano does what he does extremely well but he needs a playmaker next to him.

      – I still don’t understand what Jonas is doing there although considering the for of guys like Maxi and Zarate I guess I can somewhat understand but he plays for NEWCASTLE…still! I think it might actually be interesting to put Messi there and Tevez in the hole but with Otamendi providing “support” from that side, that wing is dead. Di Maria has the potential to be Caniggia II but he is still rawer than Sushi when it comes to positioning and football IQ.

      – I am Messi’s number one defender when he plays for Argentina but he was horrible. I can understand when he is frustrated, when he dribbles into people because nobody makes runs, when he misses passes because guys stop running, etc. BUT he was sleepwalking out there yesterday. Messi needs to touch the ball to get him into a rhythm. He’s like a little kid. He needs to touch the ball early and often.

      Yeah, I’f frustrated. Sorry for the rant.

    2. I hope Gabi makes it to the WC. With him at least their defense will be more stable. They play defense with a:

      Then they could process their midfield and attack which I think should have D.Milito as the number 9 and Higuain/ Tevez/ Lisandro/ Aguero as supporting striker. Messi can play a bit more on the wing…

  17. Heh check out ronnie owning Dunga 😀


    For me,the argument that Dunga only wants hard working forwards doesnt hold, as Adriano and robinho are in his team.Kaka doesnt track back either.

  18. How many teams can boast of having forwards who defend too? I can only think of Rooney but besides him, Eto and the Barca forwards, noone defends 100%. The forward will try and get the ball back only if he’s in the 10 meter radius of the ball. Ibra didn’t do it at all while he was at Inter so we can’t really judge a forward by saying he’s not performing his defensive duties.

    On another topic, I agree with Kxevin that Villa is not going to solve our left wing problem (if we have one). Villa will always cut in and the lack of width was our biggest problem in the worst 45 mins we’ve played so far this season (stuttgart). But then again, someone like Di Maria is the other extreme IMO. His crossing is absolutely superb though!! I’d prefer him to villa or ribery! Although Pedro! looks super right now, so maybe next transfer window, we can go get him


      Di Maria is very good; I saw him live during the U-20 WC in 2007; but I don’t really want him. He’s young, not a finished product and we already have 2 players that go down too easily and make a meal out of a tap on the leg (Busi and Alves).

      I guess any player looks really good when they’re tearing it up and they’re not playing for us, huh? I bet a bunch of fans from other teams are talking about Pedro! the same way we’re talking about the Di Maria’s, Suarez’s, Ribery’s of the world.

      Every player has their upside and downside; I think Pedro! just needs more experience and multiple games at the highest level. Then we’ll see if he’s really the real deal.

      Still, I love me some Pedro! and he’s got a real goalscoring touch that’s all talent. No way, no how, can someone convince me he’s ‘lucky’. Too many cluch goals point against that.

    2. I’d keep P! for sure. He’s scored, what, 16 goals (?) in his debut season already?

  19. Squad travelling to Almeria:

    Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Puyol, Chygrynskiy, Márquez, Milito, Maxwell, Touré, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Jeffren, Bojan, Pedro, Messi, Henry y Ibrahimovic.

    No Pique which means we’ll be seeing either Milito (please!), Marquez (I shudder at the thought) or Txigrinski (whoa, when’s the last time he played?!).

    I hope Milito gets the nod (for his beastliness) butI also think the Puyol-Milito pairing is too much ownage for Almeria to take. I think our best CB pairings have to have balance–a destroyer and a passer, so to speak.
    i.e a pairing of Puyol-Pique/Marquez/Txigrinsky


    a pairing of Milito-/Pique/Marquez/Txigrinky. Still, I’m pulling for Milito, and Txigrinky to sub him after, knowing Pep, the 89th minute. Marquez, at this point, will be like reducing us to 10 men (sorry Kaiser, prove me wrong already, will ya?!)

    Hector me with a preview, Isaiah!

  20. Ah, comment moderation. Comment restated with the link asterisked.

    You guys read this? Some interesting comments from Pep on Henry:


    1. Yeah, I did.

      “If he’s not playing, it’s maybe because, among other things, there are other players more inspired than him

      “I need him to have the same ambition that made him the best over many years.

      “He knows he has to improve, although I believe he is better than he himself thinks. I am sure he’ll give us the best of himself over the next two months.”

      Very, very interesting. Line-up of: Valdes; Alves – Puyol – Milito – Maxwell; Xavi – Busi* – Iniesta; Messi – Ibra – Pedro! , anyone?

      *Me want YAYA! C’mon Pep! And he didn’t even play midweek.

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