Barca 3, Xerez 1. a.k.a. “Be here now.”

As any even half-cocked Buddhist knows, a fundamental expression is “be here now.” It denotes the mindfulness necessary to live life effectively. Because hey, if you aren’t where you are, then where are you?

Thinking about Inter Milan and Wednesday, maybe?

Consider the last time you tried to do two things at once: Drive and talk on the phone, cook and talk on the phone, walk and chew gum, pat your head and rub your tummy. How often are you successful?

Yet, we spent significant chunks of a match against (thankfully) bottom dwellers Xerez, deciding to be here now just long enough to cadge a few goals and do the business against a side that was some better finishing away from really making this match interesting.

As Guardiola said post-match, “It was a dangerous game because however much you prepare tactically, your mind is on last Tuesday’s match — and the one we will play on Wednesday against Inter.”

Even his lineup had that match in mind, as he rolled out with Valdes, Puyol, Marquez, Txigrinski, Maxwell, The Yaya, Keita, Xavi, Jeffren, Henry and Ibrahimovic. That this lineup would score goals wasn’t really a question. The question was would they score enough to win, or would plucky Xerez defy the “Don’t wear white at the Camp Nou” edict and vex us mightily?

Got my mind on my money and my money on my mind.

We came out and, essentially, let it be known that we could do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, on offense. Henry found the fountain of youth, and was capering around like somebody who suddenly lost about 10 years off the clock. Or maybe, like somebody who doesn’t want to be left out of this very crucial time in the club’s season. Jeffren was making like Pedro!, with the running around like a headless chicken. Xavi was relaxing a bit in midfield, leaving The Yaya to be giant Xavi, with extraordinary effect. And it was all fine in Paradise.

Xerez are a very dangerous side, because it’s fighting for its life, and you just never know. But they had to go and wear the white strip, the big dummies. So we knew how this one was going to end up. Before I go one word farther, full credit to them for coming to play. Xerez understand that to stay up, they need 3 points from every match, so the time for packing it back and trying to hold what you came in with isn’t for them. Hats off.

What this match also showed is that there is a decided talent gap between sides such as Xerez, and us. Duh, right? But that gap manifests itself in a simple reality: No matter how hard they work, the ultimate quality just isn’t there. They had chances galore, and just couldn’t put them away, because that little smidgen of refinement, the extra quality on the ball or the patience that allows a great player to extend a second, just isn’t there. So instead of having a rather difficult match, we had a stroll in the park, with about 7 vexing minutes.

We’re a different equation. As Ray Ray said, we’re “An Elysian temple of goodness,” which is pretty funny when you come to think of it, because he’s right. So when Xavi popped in a millimeter-perfect ball for Jeffren to run onto, our winger was greeted by two defenders who fully comprehended the danger. And they would have had it covered, but when Jeffren dug in to make his cut, he slipped and fell to the turf. But in doing so, he snaked out a leg to keep the ball close, popped to his feet and beat a near post-shading keeper.

Blammo, 1-0 off a goal that really was and wasn’t expected. We knew we were going to score, we just didn’t know when, and whether we would be able to score enough goals to be able to stroll comfortably through this one. The answer came shortly thereafter, when Keita slotted in another perfect ball for Ibrahimovic, who found himself in the box, rolling in on the keeper. But rather than taking a shot that would have been contested, he neatly slid the ball over to Henry, who tapped in for the 2-0 lead.

The astute will find a certain irony in the fact that we were debating the merits of Ibrahimovic during the LiveBlog, while he was on the pitch, demonstrating exactly why he might be the perfect striker for our system. He assisted, scored, played defense on set pieces, battled for possession in the midfield, held up possession and passed with grace, style and dexterity. Yes, an outsized price means outsized expectations, but he was a delight to watch yesterday.

What wasn’t a delight to watch (though it might have been for a neutral) was the Xerez goal, which you knew was coming just because they were working too hard and being too brave not to be rewarded by the footy gods.

And this is the point in every review where people smack their heads and say “Man, Kxevin’s a jackass!” So get ready.

The Yaya spanked a crappy pass to Txigrinski that the Ukranian couldn’t control. His blunder gifted possession to Xerex, and they attacker spanked a piledriver of a shot into the upper corner. We had one shot to stop that goal, but it was at the feet of Marquez, who didn’t quite have the pace to, even though he sensed the danger, get over to block the shot and control the attacker. Could Valdes have gotten to that one? Maybe. But if he shades to that near post, that means trusting that Marquez had the back cut covered. Risky proposition. So he played the percentages, thinking “If he can spank a shot into that sliver of space at the pace that is needed to beat m …. whoa!”

And the “25 million for this crap” began, about a player who really didn’t have that bad of a match. He played like a player who spent time injured, hasn’t gotten much in the way of playing time and is still finding his way into a side, which is to say, erratic. He’d make a very good play, then get caught out of position. We have to expect that.

Yes, I said that The Yaya fed him a crappy ball. I’ll drag out the basketball analogy, in that your point guard, as he’s coming up the court, assesses options. If he smokes a pass to the shooting guard, that player is going to take, stop and pop. If he smokes that identical pass to the center, it bounces off his hands or he has a hard time controlling it, and it’s a turnover that leads to a fast break going the other way. Xavi, Iniesta or Messi control that ball, no problem. Txigrinski doesn’t, and never will have those kinds of ball skills. So he turned it over. Does he have culpability? You bet. Does he have full culpability? No. Sorry, but he doesn’t.

We took a 2-1 lead into halftime and really, were it not for the luck that usually graces the best sides (which makes you wonder how lucky it really is), Xerez would have had another goal or two to show for their pluck.

And boy, did they come out in the second half like they realized that. We, on the other hand, came out of the locker room as though we were still in our jammies, smacking our lips at the aftertaste of cocoa and cookies after nap time. And they got in our butts, big time, which meant one thing:

It was Valdes Time. Save after astonishing save, Valdes was on the case, keeping them from scoring and keeping us in a game that we suddenly seemed to have lost interest in. My favorite save of his was off the point-blank header, because he followed the play, and correctly sussed out the path of the ball, its most likely terminus and the fact that the lesser Xerez player would go for power rather than placement. So Valdes just stood right in front of the dude, and caught his rocket of a header without giving up the rebound. Hell, he even got himself in trouble by spanking a clearance directly to a Xerez player then making the save, just to pad his stats. Yes, Marquez could have given him a better return ball, that gave him more time to actually make a good pass, but that’s a quibble. Valdes screwed the pooch on that one.

Guardiola, sensing the danger, sent in Pique and Messi, the former to stabilize the back line, the latter to say to them “Keep pressing forward if you want, but the little dude is going to kill you.” And it worked, as we regained control of the match, and our equilibrium. All we needed was a third goal, and a lovely display of passing dexterity found The Yaya storming into the Xerez box, facing defenders who seemed to say “No, you take him.” The Yaya slid a square ball to Ibrahimovic, who banged home the one-timer, capping off a tip-top match for him, and getting The Yaya into the scoring column, with an assist.

Then we turned the dials down even farther, and rode out a match that got rather chippy at the end, resulting in not one, but two Xerez players being sent off, one on a shameful, cynical tackle on Messi. Now as I noted in the LiveBlog, professionals don’t like to be shown up, so Messi should have expected the blades to come out, and I’m sure he did. Just not that hard. Then another Xerez player was booted after picking up his second yellow, for a silly, silly challenge on Krkic.

We did what we had to do, which was not kill ourselves, not get anyone injured, pick up the three points and get a few minutes for key players, going into Wednesday. Would Messi have played had Guardiola not sensed the alarm bells ringing? I think so. Messi thrives on reps, and needed some match time to prime his engine. And now, we look forward to Wednesday, when another team wearing white will come into our house. Can’t wait.

Team: 6. Mostly solid and effective. The star-less lineup meant a “one for all” approach that worked very well.

Guardiola: 7. Right lineup, right substitution patterns, atrocious halftime speech, if he even made one. We almost let Xerez back into the match.

Valdes: 9. My Man of the Match patrolled his area like a lion, sprinting off his line to break up Xerez attacks, making save after save and being generally excellent. Yes, he hosed one off. So he wasn’t perfect.

Puyol: 7. Very good match, with key interventions at important times. He was a little under the radar, but his effectiveness was as per his usual. No, he can’t attack like Alves. Those days are gone for Captain Caveman. But what a defender.

Marquez: 5. Most of the danger from Xerez seemed to come from his side of the defense. He still can’t cope with real pressure, which necessitated the Pique addition to bring things off the boil.

Txigrinski: 4. Some good, some bad, some adequate, some mediocre. I’m still not completely sold, but I can see the promise. He was much better his last time out. This time, he was very tentative, but looked much better when Pique came in.

Maxwell: 7. Solid and assured, with as much attacking as I have seen from him in a while. He adapted so quickly into the side, once he started getting the regular reps thanks to Abidal’s sudden fragility.

The Yaya: 9. What a match by our Terminator, both on the offensive and defensive ends. He made key midfield interceptions, then bombed forward on the attack, preserving Xavi and his energy for Wednesday’s match. Hell of a run and subsequent assist, as well. He looked like Our Yaya yesterday, which is good. We need him.

Keita: 8. One of those quiet but insanely effective matches for Huh? What? as he helped control the midfield with his athleticism and pace. It doesn’t note anything on the stat sheet, but any loose ball that was near him, he got to, including battling for possession to work the ball loose for The Yaya to make his run that led to our third goal. Nice to see after his funk of last Tuesday.

Xavi: 7. He was like this apparition who was there, just off the field of view, that would pop up, do something amazing, then dissolve into quietude. His first perfect ball was for Henry, whose weak shot was awful. Then he hit Jeffren with yet another perfect ball. I love watching him play. I know. Duh, right?

Jeffren: 5. He had one of those Pedro! matches in that he wasn’t that good, except he scored a goal. Like P!, he seemed to be trying too hard to impress, as if wanting to make the most of his limited pitch time.

Henry: 6. Turned back the clock with this one, a very good, and very active performance that included a well-taken goal, and a joke of a shot. Which is about par for his course this season. You had to really watch his match to understand the unfairness of some saying that he stank yesterday. He did run out of steam in the second half. Big time.

Ibrahimovic: 7. Excellent match for our Big Swede, who was doing everything on the pitch. He looked like a player who was enjoying the game again, even smiling and (shudder) celebrating goals with the team, something that he doesn’t always do. But as I mentioned above, he passed, defended, possessed, assisted and scored.


Pique (for Marquez): 7. Brilliant, stabilizing influence on the back line and at the rear portion of the midfield.

Messi (for Jeffren): 5. Was just warming up, and serving as the nuclear deterrent. A couple of moments of appalling selfishness, but that’s part of the wonder that is Messi, right? Right?

Krkic (for Henry): incomplete. The Kid looked active, but didn’t really have time to do much except run around and look cute. Was almost the benficiary of an amazing assist, as Ibrahimovic tried a little chip lob of the kind that Xavi executed to perfection in El Clasic. Would have been an amazing goal had the pass gotten there and Krkic did the business.

How is everyone feeling about Wednesday, in the wake of this match? I’ll tell you how I feel, which is like we can’t really draw any inferences from this match. It was Xerez, not Inter Milan. Yes, we looked good and times, and disinterested at other times. We almost certainly would have had greater focus against a better side, or without Wednesday looming. That’s life.

I TOLD you buttheads that we needed more shirts. Now look!

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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. Kevin O
    April 25, 2010

    Really entertaining match to watch, especially cause titi got to play finally! The yaya commanded this 1!! Inter is gonna be completely different, cause mou isn’t gonna want it as open as xerez played us. Btw, when are we gonna c the table prediction thingy? Visca Barca!!!

    • April 26, 2010

      You’ll see it later today, Kevin. I have been delinquent in the updates, but today seems as good a day as any to do it. Working on it now.

  2. JDBarca
    April 25, 2010

    Loved seeing the Yaya playing so well. I’m going to be extremely disappointed if he doesn’t play on Wednesday, but what do you guys think of his chances of actually playing?

    I also lost a lot of respect for Xerez at the end of the match. After playing their hearts out, they started just playing dirty at the end. I understand you’re crazy frustrated after letting chances slip away along with the hope of avoiding relegation but to start tackling like they did at the end (especially on Messi)was immature and unprofessional.

  3. Nick
    April 25, 2010

    Was it also a delight to watch a number of times Ibra making bad touches and being too slow (including getting onside)? I’m surprised to have not found even a word on it.

    • stephen
      April 25, 2010

      I think thats why the “7”, the good outdid the bad.

  4. Luke
    April 25, 2010

    Yaya played a horrid back pass to Chygy. I said it yesterday and a re-watch confirmed it. Literally just an awful pass while Chygy was wrong-footed and he did all he could. More of a bad team play than individual.

    Of course, this won’t stop anyone from claiming he’s a bust.

    • Jim
      April 25, 2010

      Didn’t stop him almost costing a goal on 22 minutes with a horrendous backpass, ‘though. Then on 24 minutes comes the goal which he was involved in. His original pass to Yaya wasn’t brilliant and all Yaya was ever gonna be able to do was knock it back to him. Now it was a poor return pass to him, no question, but have a look at what he does. Then ask yourself what Pique/ Puyol would’ve done. I’m not saying this as a Chiggy hater but when you pay that amount of money what are you getting? I can see what I’m getting in Dani alves for instance ( mostly good but some not so good ) but not what I’m getting in Chiggy. He’ll always be slow, just now he’s making the sort of errors Marquez has been making and he still tackles with the wrong leg and will cost us free kicks although he didn’t have to do that yesterday. What is his special skill that makes him one of the most expensive defenders in the world? I’m not saying that he won’t get better, I just can’t believe that Pep didn’t see speed as being essential for any new defender he purchased. There’s no point in saying he’s been great as Pep himself hasn’t played his own signing . . . and for a good reason.

      Jnice / Nick, as usual the answer is probably somewhere in the middle imo with Ibra. Like Chiggy, I want to know what I’m getting that I couldn’t have got cheaper elsewhere. To me, he isn’t fitting in yet and David Villa or someone similar would have been a better fit. . However, I’m not convinced yet that he can’t and i can see Pep wanting a Plan B. I just can’t see what Ibra brings to Plan B. The man has great ball skills, he has a footballing brain. I’m seeing small signs which make me hope. If he ever fits in he could be great and it’s far too early to be writing him off. Likewise, he was guilty of several poor touches yesterday ( I can give the times if anyone can be bothered). That should be reflected in our assessment of him (to be fair to Kxevin i think the 7 is pretty close) because he should, if nothing else, have a natural great first touch. That doesn’t depend on being at the club for a year. So without agreeing with Nick that he had a poor game overall ( how can you with a goal and an assist?) he has some way to go for me. It doesn’t help the argument to just dismiss a person as a “hater extraordinaire” though. Why is he wrong? Let’s debate.

      • Reagan
        April 25, 2010

        Jim, I get the feeling that Pep likes Chiggy so much because of his potential to be a ball playing defender. There are not many in the world who can do what pique does, Marquez and Milito come close to him and Pep feels that Chiggy is capable of the same. He played a very similiar role at Shakhtar to Pique’s current role at Barca. We need one central defender to do the dirty work and make the last ditch tackles and cover the ground laterally while the other plays the role of a fake deep lying midfielder.

        All he lacks is confidence and he’s only 22. The best thing on his side is Pep’s support. Caceres and henrique don’t have that. He will eventually have a stormer of a game and never look back from that, I’m sure of it.

        Pique has to be signing of the decade though or atleast right up there with Ronaldinho.

        • Jim
          April 25, 2010

          Agreed on Pique. I just feel that I’ve become more aware of the perils of our high line of defence and I’d like some speed in the backline to compensate for it. Abidal is usually playing too far up to get back so it would be handy if at least one of our CBs was quick. As you say he may come onto a game next season though.

      • Jnice
        April 25, 2010

        Jim, to me he is a hater extraordinaire, because who asks someone if it was a delight to see a dude losing the ball? When you ask a question like that, you do it for one reason-hate. Why couldn’t he say, “Ibra had a goal and assist, but I thought he lost the ball way too much,” or something like that. Why be a smart-ass and ask Kxevin if he was delighted to see Ibra lose the ball also? That type of question doesn’t warrant debate. It’s stupidity. Sorry.

        • Jim
          April 25, 2010

          Agreed, there was an edge to the way it was put which wasn’t helpful. One of the big plusses of this blog is that we tend to discuss things (reasonably) civilly. That’s why I wouldn’t fight fire with fire. I haven’t noticed Nick’s name much around here. Maybe he’s new and doesn’t know our ways?

  5. Museum
    April 25, 2010

    What do those shirts they put on say? Anyone know?

    • Helge
      April 25, 2010


      • Spencer
        April 25, 2010

        Wow, if we win on Wednesday, I really need to find a way to buy that shirt!

  6. jnelson
    April 25, 2010

    Wow. So few comments on the preview and liveblog. I’m guessing really everyone has Wednesday on their mind. Unfortunately, I ran into one of my friends last night whose favorite team is Inter. All I could say was “Man, you beat us. Inter played very well.” Of course he went on saying “We have the best coach. Now tell me who is the best coach!?” I said “Well, that may be true, but he is also the worst human being.” He went on reminding me that Madrid won earlier and Kaka is back and how we are supposedly going to lose everything. I reminded him we beat EE twice, so come on, they don’t deserve to be Liga champions. Champions of just what? Everybody but the best? and Sevilla? I’m not worried about that, so I just echoed what Pep said after Tuesday in an ESPN article. “[When Inter] come to the Camp Nou, you will see the real Messi.” That just doesn’t seem like something Pep would say though. I know we can beat Inter 2-0. I believe we can beat ANYONE 6-0 when we are in full gear. I also believe we can beat anyone 3-0 when we are in full gear and they are also in full gear. We could also lose 0-3 when we are not in gear, but we are champions. Time to shine.

  7. April 25, 2010

    Always nice to have you in the review seat Kxevin.
    I was gonna say I agree 100% but wait a sec all he did was “run around and look cute”…didn’t you see His Cuddliness’s yellow card. Obviously he reads this blog and wants a new name.

    …and I think I’m ins step with 90% of Iniesta-Yaya centric fanbass here at BFB. “If we can’t see some Iniesta we gotta have some Yaya”…no not some, but all 90 minutes of Inter-Destroying-Machine.

    Xavi had the luxury of being “a ghost”, cause he had a bodyguard! If The Man Mountain doesn’t play wednesday and we fail, I will always wonder. Let’s go down slugging (or better yet enter the history books.) Busi can do that for us in 2015 or something.

    It’s YAYA TIME.

    • cliveee
      April 25, 2010

      i agree! Yaya the Great will help us triumph!

  8. stephen
    April 25, 2010

    Like all those players yesterday, my mind is on wednesday, we won! thats the important part, it did not really matter how.

    Forza Barça !

  9. April 25, 2010

    Addendum re Yaya vs Inter:


  10. Ciaran
    April 25, 2010

    I’m never one to agree with everything and I have a bad feeling about Chygrynskiy. He doesn’t fit in at all. He is considered to be this ‘ball playing centre back’ but every time he plays I see bad balls flying everywhere.
    As said above, just before the goal he played a suicide ball back to Valdes; and if we had any other goalkeeper in world football would not have gotten there.
    Then for the goal he couldn’t control the ball but first of all, he is a defender… DEFEND. If he clears the ball into touch or boots it forward, we regroup and regain possession. Pique knows it, Puyol knows it, Milito knows it and so does Marquez… sometimes you have to just clear the ball.
    A couple of mins after the goal, he stepped up into midfield and smacked a 50yard ball straight to the corner flag.

    So he can’t play the ball… can’t run and he generally tackles fairly poorly. I’m sorry but for one of the most expensive defenders in history he is not very impressive.
    I get very frustrated when I watch Botia play for sporting, and he is not the finished article but he is well on his way… of yeah, he didn’t cost €25million.

    • Ciaran
      April 25, 2010

      PS… Bojan is getting better and better every time we see the kid.
      He has put on a lot of muscle and he is getting to be all grown up.
      He is throwing his weight around and I expect over the summer he’ll gain a step or two in acceleration too making him a very good all round forward.

      • Colby
        April 25, 2010

        This is somewhat random, but speaking of Bojan having lots of muscle…


        He has tree trunks. And that was a couple years ago. I imagine he has redwoods now.

        p.s. Don’t shoot, I’m not suggesting we start him on Wednesday.

  11. Kxevin
    April 25, 2010

    Re Ibrahimovic: He had some bad plays. But his good far, far outweighed his bad. He had an all-pitch match, a goal and an assist. It boggles my mind that people can be so set on their detestation of a player. We will have him for at least one more season, more if my wishes come true. I know that some think Villa is a better fit, but when you see Villa defending set pieces, or contesting for possession in the midfield, give me a jingle, and I’ll listen.

    Last summer, Villa would have cost 50m. For what? I’ve said before that I think Villa is very good, though overrated. It’s the context. Liga pumps up its stars, just as the Prem pumps up its stars. It happens. Anybody who has watched Ibrahimovic, and I mean really watched him, not just saying “I want my money’s worth,” but really watched him, can’t help but be excited to see what he can do, fully integrated into the side.

    –Remember, re: Txigrinski, that Pique wasn’t all that hot when he first rolled out. It takes time. Guardiola saw something in Txigrinski and last time I checked, he’s the coach and resident genius. So I’m willing to give him a shot. He’s been every bit as good as he’s been bad this season. But again, watch him. Not with “25 million for THIS,” eyes, but with an eye toward his immense potential. Height, strength and distribution are what catch my eye. He has talent galore, and excellent ball control.

    Oh, and after he lost that ball off the funky pass from The Yaya, he was screwed. Even Abidal wouldn’t have had the pace to get back into that play.

    For the record, I don’t believe that we have had a player come through in recent memory, who has been flat-out not good enough. Gudjohnsen, in position (he rarely played there) was a very good squad player. I would have loved to have seen Hleb in a controlling, tika-taka maintenance position, as his strengths are ball control, dribbling and passing.

    But sometimes, players can’t take the pressure. The Barca press and fans are unrelenting, and lightning-quick to turn on a player. Once they do, he’s dead, with no chance of redemption. Henry’s respite was temporary, despite the effort he has put in every season with the club. But it’s an expectation. Every time we sign a player, it’s “We’re the best club in the galaxy. If we’re signing you, you’d better be up to that immense standard. Right now.”

    This, despite the fact that we have a difficult system to learn, that is also physically demanding. Henry said he never ran as much in his career as he ran in our system. That all takes time. But we don’t give time. None at all. It’s vicious, it’s often mean and it isn’t all that understandable.

    Imagine if Krkic were a transfer. What would the worldview be on him? “Too expensive, can’t play against real defenses. Should have bought Villa.” Or Iniesta? “Good player, but can’t shoot and is too fragile. Should have bought Silva.”

    We need to have patience. Txigrinski is 22, and came to us from Shakhtar. Different system, different standard. I doubt he was fit when we got him. He showed well, then got injured and hasn’t been the same since. It’s sort of a Hleb story. Hopefully, the ending will be better.

  12. Kxevin
    April 25, 2010

    In other news, looks like no Sneijder for Inter. Big blow for them, just like no Puyol/Iniesta will be huge for us. Doubtful that Mourinho will have the same game plan now. Just have to wait and see.

    EMD is saying it’s a ruse, and that Sneijder will play. Too funny.

    –Still no word on Abidal and his Wednesday availability. He and Iniesta worked out on the sidelines, away from their mates.

    –Ibrahimovic is now, with 21 goals, second in scoring on our roster. Not bad for a dude that sucks.

    –Reliable source the Daily Mirror is saying that Clichy will join us in the summer for 7.5m pounds. Thoughts?

    • Kxevin
      April 25, 2010

      Yes, “reliable source” is loaded with sarcasm. 😀

      • jnelson
        April 25, 2010

        HA! The only bigger joke would be Eboue!

    • DontPanic
      April 26, 2010

      Don’t believe for a second Sneider won’t play. That is just Mourinho’s ruse.

  13. Kxevin
    April 25, 2010

    Oh, and my Catalan isn’t quite that good, but as I take it, “ens hi deixarem la pell” is a demand for an immense showing of strength. Somebody better with the language can help, but I think it’s literally “we will leave our skin there,” meaning of course we will turn ourselves inside out to turn this Champions League thing around.

    Those t-shirts kinda kick ass, yes?

    • Vj
      April 26, 2010

      By my limited knowledge of how Google translate works, I think an equivalent(not literal) English phrase might be ‘We will play out of our skins’..

      I love those ads.. Kinda make me wish to buy a ticket for a home game somewhere in 2015..

  14. Colby
    April 25, 2010

    One more thing on Ibra and Villa. I may not be remembering correctly (and please correct me if I’m wrong), but I believe we tried to get Villa and could not. And I believe we tried to sell Eto’o to just about everyone and could not. So in the end, even though I think I remember that Ibra was Pep’s main target to begin with, we ended up with Ibra because he was pretty much our only option. So when judging him, remember we pretty much got stuck with him because Eto’o was gone no matter what and we didn’t have a whole lot of options (plus Real had spiked the market and made everyone super expensive). Therefore, there is no reason to think “he cost X amount of dollars, therefore he should score this many goals” (and remember that the math is very shady when it comes to determining just what X is). Think, “This guy is pretty darn good, it’s his first year in a completely different system, it appears that he is working hard, (fill in pretty much what Kevin said); he’s our best option on the team and he’s here to stay so I should support him (and sometimes constructively criticize him).”

  15. Lou
    April 25, 2010

    For all the talk of lack of squad depth (which I somewhat agree with, particularly in midfield) it’s really nice to see that there actually is some depth in the forward line. Last year, when the team had a much greater lead over Madrid Pep would still continually play Henry, Eto’o and Messi. He didn’t have many options: Pedro and Jeffren were with the B team, Bojan was low on confidence and Hleb never really worked as a winger.

    Players like Bojan and Jeffren may not yet be ready to start against Inter, but they can give Messi/Ibra a rest when needed. That is really important when you play two games every week. Hopefully next year JDS and Thiago will be ready to do the same for Xavi and Iniesta.

  16. barca96
    April 25, 2010

    i agree with jim. ibra lost countless balls in the 1st half. in fact, henry had a better half than ibra and jeffren too but ibra stepped it up in the 2nd part of 2nd the 1st half if you noticed jeffren made a run to the back line and he was just watching from the edge of the box . he did it twice in the 1st half.
    i noticed that ibra loves to ball watch instead of running with the play. especially when messi is having the ball. but i cant blame him for that :p id do the same thing if i see messi doing some magic.
    so, a goal and assist. what more do you want from a striker.

    id rather play muniesa or fontas, at least me and the crowd would accept mistakes. but not such a shaky display from a 25mil 23 year old man. and im not even gonna compare him with botia.
    chigwimpy was believed to be good at bringing the ball out, but i have yet to see him do that.. most of the times, his long balls flies to nowhere. if i can recall only once, a few months ago did it reach its target.

    • Kxevin
      April 26, 2010

      Again, selective memory. When you watch the whole season in compiling a DVD highlights package as I do, your memory is better. Txigrinski has had a number of excellent long balls to the likes of Alves, Messi and Pedro!, that kick-started attacks. Those same long balls are good for a flooded midfield, to play directly to an attacker.

      And why are mistakes more acceptable from the likes of Muniesa and Fontas? They are every bit as critical to the team’s performance and the outcome of a match. That’s like saying it’s okay when Krkic is crappy but not when Ibrahimovic is crappy. In my estimation, Krkic being crappy is LESS forgivable because he’s been in the system and the first team for a lot longer.

      It’s just one more example of the bias that I think evinces itself in the way we treat players. There is a standard, and it is a high one. That comes with being Barca. But that standard should be the same for everyone.

  17. April 26, 2010

    Ibra didnt cost as much as Kaka, but lets say he did. Anyone want to make a cost-benefit analysis?

    He scored 21 goals in his first season+Assists. The team collected more points in the league than last season. Messi is playing his best season currently (how does Ibra damage Messi’s game?). We are in the CL semi finals. With a new striker who is yet to reach his peak performance (he matched our great ex-striker Annual input). I am trying my best to find a reason to complain, but I just cant.

  18. April 26, 2010

    And regarding Chegrnskiy, when we bought him, I thought we were buying a CB/holding mid. Strangely we only used him as a CB.

    I still believe we could have waited one more reason before signing him. Pay for first option and keep him where he was so he play one more year on the highest level with Shakhtar. It will bring the best of him, being a 22 years old player. He wouldnt have cost more anyway.

    Yet, now that we have him. He is a 22 years old player. He can serve 10 years. If he can reach a level of an automatic quality starter for that period, it means that we will earn back much more than what we paid. If he end up as a quality squad player, he still worth what we paid. And I believe he has the quality needed to serve one of the mentioned roles.

    • missingpage
      April 26, 2010

      Plus chygrinsky took a huge pay cut to come and and play with us
      and i think he is getting paid around 1.500.000 right now. So yeah we paid too much money to get him but we’re saving on yearly paycheck..

    • Vj
      April 26, 2010

      Yeah.. on a similar note, anyone remember how poor Pique was till the winter break last season? He had a stinker at Villareal (ironic isn’t it) and after that took names and owned games.. Txigi shows the same promise and can even play as a DM as he did with Shakhtar.. Remember he was bought after the Super Cup and so missed out on gelling with the squad then, and couple that with the lack of opportunities (owing to that one blunder against Sevilla), it isn’t really a wonder that he is falling out of favour..

      People still need to have faith in him, as they did with Henry, Abidal and Maxwell..

      • mike in africa
        April 26, 2010

        pique sucked for half a season…

        • Bebop
          April 26, 2010

          It’s hard to argue when someone says “id rather play muniesa or fontas, at least me and the crowd would accept mistakes.” To each of their own opinions I guess.
          If I’m not mistaken,abidal, YAYA, henry was also pretty bad in their first season.
          I’ll just keep on believing in the clubs and the players that are present. 😀
          Can’t wait for the semis…!!

    • cliveee
      April 26, 2010

      waiting for another year might be ok, but i’d say the earlier a new player join barca, the better fit he will be. to get the most out of a young player is to get him used to our system as early as possible, especially when he is not from La Masia. pep coached barca atheletic (?) so he knew what players are coming up and their levels. but he still chose to sign this expensive CB. well, I don’t know, but I trust Pep.

  19. y2k156
    April 26, 2010

    Good win for us.

    Regarding Ibra, I for one think he is great addition. The problem, as has been said by many, is that he is still learning. When he is in full flow, he does add to our system. The problem is that sometimes he goes missing and bring fans, we need some one to point out. Ibra has done many good things and if he can top it up by good performances in coming games, he will silence all his critics. For me, the problem regarding him is in details. In more than a few matches, I have seen him too slow in getting back onside. Such things are jarring and hence he becomes focus sometimes.

    Regarding Chryggy, I saw him live against Atl Bilbao and the guy is good but still tentative. He is simply not there yet but as Kevin has pointed out, he has immense upside and hence worth perseverance.

    Come Wednesday, i just want our team to show our brand of football. Results at this stage are not easy to come by. And as Ramzi said someplace, we have to be too good to go out. We shall not reach Madrid by being good enough but by being too good to left out. Even for us, that means putting performance which has to be best of the season till date. Not an easy task. I am optimistic which is a given considering i am fan.

  20. Helge
    April 26, 2010 is reporting that Pep has already made a decision on the line-up for Wednesday. Unfortunately, there’s no Yaya in it 🙁

    • Bebop
      April 26, 2010

      But the EMD one has YAYA on it.. 😀

  21. Nick
    April 26, 2010

    Jnice: Don’t even bother reading my comments.

    Jim: I didn’t say he was poor overall and the question was put that way to express surprise at the praise he received in the review that didn’t point out anything negative. I do, however, agree with the rating.

  22. ermengol
    April 26, 2010

    Great review, Kxevin.
    Second, the remarks on Ibra and Txiggy. The long view.

    Anyone hear anything about Alves?
    He’s going to ManC?
    Signing a new contract?

  23. ermengol
    April 26, 2010

    On a different note, I know we’d all love to win more, but I have to say, this season, compared to last, the way the team plays when it’s on? Man! Just beautiful!

  24. Kxevin
    April 26, 2010

    Baby Kxevin’s hilarious, clutch my sides, ohmylordican’tbreathe Rumor of the Day:


    Wait for it….

    “Valencia keen on Villa swap for Hleb, Krkic.”

    First off, I wouldn’t make that trade. In a few years, Krkic could BE Villa. The ralent is there, the pce and touch are there. The head seems to be coming around. Why mortgage the future? Yes, Villa is a striker in the hand, so to speak.

    But conauder, just for a second, what you just read: Krkic, Hleb for Villa.


    • April 26, 2010

      Your phone-created typos are hilarious. “ralent” is obviously “talent” but I’m going to go with ralent as a combo of rare and talent.

      He’s so damned ralented!

      As for the rumor itself–hilarious! I wouldn’t do it because I think that Bojan is worth the money we would ship over there instead of him. But I don’t really think we need Villa anyway with Jeffren, Pedro!, and Bojan all getting better and better.

      • stephen
        April 26, 2010

        I think Guardiola would ship out Bojan but NOT for Villa.

        • Kxevin
          April 26, 2010

          I hate smartphones and the way our page loads on it, dammit. And to hell with soft keyboards and fat fingers. 😀

      • Reagan
        April 26, 2010

        I’d be quite okay with selling Hleb outright, sending Bojan on loan to valencia and paying 15m.

        • DontPanic
          April 26, 2010

          I will be shot for saying this, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Hleb in Barca next year. We need subs to rest Xavi and Iniesta. He had a good start last year, then he got injured, and after that we were in full swing and he couldn’t make his way back into the lineup. After hibernating in Stutgart one year, I believe he would work harder to prove his worth to Barca. Just a thought.

      • Dave
        April 26, 2010

        Great discussion here however one thing Isaiah’I don’t really think we need Villa anyway with Jeffren, Pedro!, and Bojan all getting better and better’ on the contrary we do need an attacking reinforcement- pedro etc are all future options therefore an accomplished talent is badly needed. This idea of staying true to the cantera is brilliant and loveable but sometimes you’ve got to import. Villa is an exceptionable talent-hes carried valencia long enough.Sid lowe regards him as the finest.

        • Kxevin
          April 26, 2010

          But recall that Sid Lowe also said that he was beginning to change his mind about Villa. This was very recently.

  25. Eklavya
    April 26, 2010



  26. Reagan
    April 26, 2010

    I don’t get what all the fuss with Ibra is about. Just give him some time guys! if he hasn’t improved but the same time next year, I’m all for questioning the purchase. I’m home early from work and this is what i cooked up.

    Player —–> Ibra Torres Rooney Villa

    Attributes – (Rating 1-10)
    1. Aereal Threat 9 9 9 6
    2. Pace 6 8 9 7
    3. Tiki-Taka 9 6 5 8
    4. Finishing 8 9 9 9
    5. Passing Ability 9 6 7 8
    6. Team Player 7 7 10 7
    7. Versatility upfront 7 6 8 7
    8. Potential to fit
    into the Barca system 8 7 9 8

    Total 63 58 66 60

    Acc to me, Rooney just shades this comparison and I would love to see him play here but realistically it’s too much to ask for. I’d rather have Ibra compared to the other two.


    • Reagan
      April 26, 2010

      that sucks.. my hardwork looks like crap!! I laid it out beautifully! 🙁 🙁

    • Eklavya
      April 26, 2010

      I think Villa would fit as well as Rooney if not better. Otherwise pretty interesting.

    • cliveee
      April 26, 2010

      Disagree with Team Playing and Versatility of Zlatan. He is a huge team player to me. The way he is more willing to pass the damn ball than to score showed it. His team play should be 9 if not 10.

      Talk about versatility, remember the pull back and then backheel thru ball he played to set Pedro free early in the season? Karate Ninja passes? Passing with his back? flip and flicks of ball in the midfield / final third? Torres, Rooney, Villa will only be able to stand and in awe to see those.

  27. cliveee
    April 26, 2010

    Whoa, Villa for Hleb + Bojan?! what a proposition!

    I don’t really have any strong opinion in my mind to make me say “NO!!!” or “YES!!!” at all. Krkic was really not up to the standard early in the season, but he has been playing his way to a higher level recently. Hleb could have been a great help this season were he not so big an asshole and stayed with us for another year. I am badly impressed with his attitude and the way he refuses to try harder to blend into the team at all while Zlatan is now doing everything in Spanish and show that he is working really well with teammates. So, I don’t mind if Hleb leaves us.

    Really not sure about Bojan. The way he played the second leg against Arsenal at home, he was as predicted by me, in between utterly anonymous and presence with not much impact. Of course every player had ups and downs this season, but Krkic has been with the first team for how long, two full years? And he still turned in a lot of bad/mediocre matches than the better ones this season. Will he really be as good as today’s Villa at all?

    I rewatched part of the Madrid vs Valencia match the other day because I wanna see Villa. As many of us wondered, questioned, suggested that Villa will fit us best and a much better option and Zlatan. But a thought came when I looked at how Valencia played. That is, the offense of Valencia is hugely relying on Villa. Every player is trying to play the ball to Villa and let him score goals to win. Their second top scorer is David Silva, but with only 8 goals. So, when you say Villa is a goal machine and will score at least 30 goals for us each season, you are saying something you don’t know, or nobody knows.

    Yes, Valencia plays similar to us, and have a lot control of the ball, have a balance squad, got some star players like Silva and Mata or now Pablo, Benega, etc. But how the attack is surrounding Villa is another thing. It’s almost like the former Arsenal with Adebayor, or Mutu in Fiorentina, Toni when he did magic in Bayern last year. Can he do well with us? I am positive about it. But he will be 30 years old next season and ready to start going downhill any time.

    Should we do the trade? I lean toward no, at least not like that. To give up a potential star and an asshole but with some skills and probably a good sub for us, I’d say its silly. I agree with some other people who suggested money + Hleb deal, but I wonder if Valencia would like to do it that way, because obviously, they have an eye for Bojan’s RALENT.

  28. October 27, 2010

    I generally don’t reply lying on websites nevertheless you have several excellent comprehensible post.

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