Unleash Hell: Villarreal – Barça

Pedro scores against Villarreal (Jasper Juinen/Getty Images Europe)

Liga Preview: Villarreal – Barelona, Saturday 4pmEST, GolTV

It’s always tough to refocus on the league after being bounced from the Champions League, especially when the hyperbole (Mourinho is a genius!) is taken to the extreme like it has been by several typically astute and intelligent writers (from The Guardian to Zonal Marking on down to personal friends). But that is neither here nor there in the greater scheme of things for a Barça fan because if Mourinho leaves Inter and moves to the Bernabeu, we’ll get to see this “genius” every day next season and judge him on our own; we have a league to win anyway and The Special One can shove it.

We head to Villarreal, against whom we’ve recently had some trouble winning, including a 1-1 draw in the Camp Nou in the first half of the season. That match (Kevin’s review here, highlights here), was a strange one and it included Jonathan dos Santos starting and Iniesta coming in off the bench for him. This time around we’re taking little Thiago Alcantara with us, perhaps because JDS is currently injured or perhaps because Thiago has proven his worth to Pep. Whatever the reasons, here is our squad list:

Valdés, Pinto, Puyol, Márquez, Gabi Milito, Chygrynskiy, Piqué, Alves, Maxwell, Xavi, Busquets, Keita, Yaya, Thiago, Jeffren, Bojan, Messi, Pedro, Henry, Ibrahimovic

Note that Xavi is included after having trained normally today. Yesterday he was sidelined because of a slight calf problem, but that seems to have resolved itself and he’ll start. Puyol is back with the squad as well after having been suspended for the CL match on Wednesday. Otherwise, it’s just Iniesta and Abidal that are missing from the first team. Apparently Abidal wasn’t really ever close to fit for the Inter match, which is unfortunate because I think he makes a big difference for us with his pace and understanding. That said, Maxwell is fully capable of being the rock-solid player he’s been for the last couple of months (he has 4 more appearances than Abidal overall and 7 more in the league). Iniesta is a loss, of course, but I have full faith in our midfield to dominate this match.

There’s usually a hangover from the kind of loss we suffered on Wednesday, but I think the squad can pull it together for 90 minutes, even if it’s against as good a squad as Villarreal. But who is the Yellow Submarine these days? They’re currently 6th in the table (15W-7D-12L; 49GF 40GA), but they’re rather magnificent at home: 13W-2D-2L (33GF, 14GA) which tells me that they’re just like Mallorca. And we beat Mallorca at the ONO Estadi. And that tells me we’re fully capable of beating Villarreal. Their top scorer is Nilmar with 11, followed by Rossi with 8 and Joseba Llorente with 7. They’re a dangerous crew, but they’re also not the most talented team, they just work hard and know their tactics well (both commendable things).

Their 2 home losses have come against Real Madrid (0-2) and Osasuna (0-2). They out-possessed Osasuna, but were down a man for 55 minutes against RM and still only lost by 2 because of a late penalty (it was 0-1 when Gonzalo was sent off). I see no reason why we can’t win 0-2 and make a trend of this. While we’re probably a bit tired (Guardiola says we’re not) and we might be a bit depressed (Xavi says we’re focused), there is no reason whatsoever to hold back during the last 4 matches we have in front of us.

This is it. La recta final. This is the homestretch, this is the final turn and the straightaway to back-to-back Liga titles. This is our chance to unleash hell on Villarreal and the rest of the league. This is our chance to show them that you can beat us once, but you cannot beat us twice. It is time to get our blood up, to make the league cower once and for all. There is nothing left: if we lose this, we lose the league. And that, of course, we cannot do.

Predicted lineup: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Maxwell, Yaya, Keita, Xavi, Pedro, Ibra, Messi.

There is no tomorrow, so do not let fatigue creep in. There is only Villarreal and there is only ourselves to blame if we lose. Put our best team out there and let them do their thing: crush. I have excluded Busi from the lineup and will continue to exclude him until the end of the season. It is the punishment he deserves not only for his embarrassing crap from Wednesday, but also for his lack of productivity in other on-the-field situations. Yaya deserves to start. Pep must see that or, unfortunately, we are doomed to repeating the mistakes of the San Siro that have cost us the Champions League final (and that’s the truth).

Excuses are for babies and, besides Busi, we don’t have any of those. Take that Busi. See if you ever dive again after such a hiding from me. So, the point is: we have to go out and we have to do our thing and no refs and no others are in charge of this. It’s just us. It’s just Barça and our next opponent. It’s us scoring more than they do and doing it beautifully. It’s just us playing with joy and passion, with the knowledge that we are a team, that our next pass, our next flourish of skill, is another piece in the wonderful puzzle that is Barça, that it is about playing, that it is about going out and being who we are, not who others say we should be. It is about results, but it is also about caring how we get those results, it’s about doing unto others and we’d like to see done unto us. It is about open, attacking play. It is about that moment you realize you’re a Barça fan because you can’t get the rhythm, the drumbeat of tiki-taka out of your head, out of your heart, out of your feet. That’s all I ask. Is that so much?

Leo Messi, our pichichi hasn’t scored for a few matches, so is this his time to shine once again? Well–let’s see. I’m going to say no. I think we’ll win, but it won’t be through Messi putting one in the back of the net. Official Prediction: 1-2, we go up 2 through Pedro and Ibra (yup, you read it here), and then give up a late, stupid goal that has most of us furious with the squad. Whatever, let’s welcome the month of May with three points, shall we?

Time: 10pm Local/Barcelona; 4pm EST/New York; check your local time here.
TV: In the US, this match will be on GolTV
Weather:  ~63F (~17C), 30% chance of rain

Unleash hell, boys, but maybe I should say unleash heaven instead. Visca el Barça!

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Written by:

Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


  1. Jim
    April 30, 2010

    Can’t help feeling that now might be the time to give Henry one last chance to play himself into form for the WC.

  2. Cloin (vicsoc8)
    April 30, 2010

    I would love for us to grab a large lead and let Thiago come on an give Xavi some rest.

  3. Ethan
    April 30, 2010

    and just as i was going to ask where the preview for tomorrow was, BAM! Here it is!!!

  4. jose011
    April 30, 2010

    exciting match, in many ways as monumental as our semi-final with Inter (even though it doesn’t quite feel the same).

  5. Tajh
    April 30, 2010

    In all honesty how do Madrid gets to play on a Sunday while our boys now coming off a straining match has to play on Saturday….This makes no sense to me…

  6. Eduard
    April 30, 2010

    i feel your sentiments entirely on this. I want our heroes to go out there and have fun(the ol’ Cruyff Speech)and bust a nut on the oppositions stadium!

  7. Rohanv
    April 30, 2010

    I think you’ll rue your no-Messi prediction. And by rue, I mean you celebrate in the best possible way.

  8. VicNZ
    April 30, 2010

    Back to the league YAY, CL over but hey im proud of the boys (except Busquets). Even though were out, they fought tooth and nail to try reach the final,but u cant win all the time plus theres always next year. Id like the idea of starting henry since lets face it, its his last season in the colours or jeffern would be good. Id play xavi from the bench tbh and start thiago, kids got it in him to be a great player. yerr i agree not sure bout messi scoring tomorow, im picking ibra gets a few. Hope the news on Villas true, but im not believing it till its official. Stupid Goal.com saying we signed him last season when it wasnt even true. Tisk Tisk.

  9. aapo
    April 30, 2010

    I hope they come out hungry and pissed tomorrow and just pour the pressure on Villareal. We have a great squad and I think they’re going to be eager to bounce back and remind everybody why this is the best club in the world (Inter may be going to the CL final but I still think Barca is better…heck, we beat them 3/4 games anyway). I’m hoping for a “Messi Show” and then a late Bojan goal around the 80th minute to finish things off.

    • aapo
      April 30, 2010

      er scratch that…beat them 2/4 times*. My enthusiasm for Barca altered my memories apparently

  10. barca96
    April 30, 2010

    i dont know about pusi. but i think exclude him for 1 match is enough.
    keita is the one that should be on the bench. he had one good match since his injury. and the rest just decent. so i dont see a reason for him to start.
    give thiago a chance in the 2nd half for keita or xavi(he needs a rest!)

    why was yaya playing at cb against inter? we had marquez..
    and why wasn’t yaya playing in the middle? i dont understand that decision.

  11. ooga aga
    May 1, 2010

    im gonna repeat what the guy above said and call bullshit on teh fact that RM plays sunday while we, having just played weds, have to play saturday….and then again on tuesday. this is a friggin conspiracy from madrid and im not just bein bombastic.

  12. Jose
    May 1, 2010

    We shall prevail. This game will be harder than we predict, but we shall prevail.

  13. y2k156
    May 1, 2010

    ABout us plyaing today, its just something we will have to take.

    This is another tough one. Villareal usually give us problems. They are technical and play pressing game. I don’t know if it has changed really a lot since Pelle left. If we are not at our best or if there are no moments of genius, we will be left with a draw. I don’t think we will lose but i do think that to win, we need to be good tonight.

    • ooga aga
      May 1, 2010

      of course it’s something we have to take, we’ve been taking it all season. this is a blog where we get to complain about such things. humor me.

  14. Helge
    May 1, 2010

    5 (!) losses in our last 7 visits to el Madrigal. We better unleash hell over them!

    Here’s my preferred line-up:
    Alves Piqué Puyol Maxwell
    Xavi Yaya Thiago
    Messi Bojan Pedro

    Thiago is the best Iniesta replacement we have, imo. Nobody would argue about starting Iniesta, so why not try with Thiago?
    And Bojan deserves his spot because actually, he shot us into the final. Plus, it’s a statement that we want Bojan to stay and not sell him, Hleb and 40m for a then 30 year old David Villa. If he doesn’t click, Ibra can come on for him. I don’t know if Ibra has only played 60 min in his last two matches because of lack of fitness or because he was too good to be true 🙂

    If we win today, everything’s possible, but given the statistics and the blow we just received from Inter, I’m not that confident…
    But some good news: Santi Cazorla said they’ll definitely not play like Inter but attack. Will also be good news if Santi Cazorla isn’t fit for 90 min. yet.

    • Alexinho
      May 1, 2010

      Reasons why we can’t play Thiago or, perhaps, even start Bojan (though this latter might happen plausibly):

      -We’ve lost five of our last seven away matches to Villareal.
      -If we lose this match, we lose the league.

  15. Eklavya
    May 1, 2010

    alves pique puyol maxwell
    xavi yaya keita
    messi bojan henry

  16. Zizou
    May 1, 2010

    Today is the day that I warn you of our NEW DEMON PROJECT. After jose’s beautiful win over you myself and mr perez flew back in inters plane to milan. There we finalised the finer details of jose’s move to real madrid in the summer.

    However we were moved to hear jose’s demon project. He no longer wanted ribery and david villa. Instead he spoke of the min fee release clause in CR9 contract of €1b and asked what such a fee is on lionel messi. I replied €250m. And that was it jose and mr perez had by the time the plane had landed hatched a €1b plan to take messi!!!

    We will at the end of the season bid €250m for messi which you will be forced to accept due to his contract. From there we will not pay messi any wages or signing on fee instead we shall in one down payment give lionel messi €750m in cash – do not kid yourselves. This WILL convince him.

    The new Spanish champions shall have a front three next season of Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi.


    • jnelson
      May 1, 2010

      i once considered that front 3 on fifa…..not

    • May 1, 2010

      Hola to you, too.

      I would take €250m for Messi this very day. It would be fine. We would use that money and build a team, once again, of canteranos while balancing our bottom line and expanding our brand beyond anything RM has ever imagined.

      And then we would win the league with a midfield of Xavi, Iniesta, and JDS running circles around everyone while Bojan, Pedro, and Jeffren mighty-mited their way to joint super pichichi status.

      It would be the envy of all and you’d come crawling back with more cash to get our newest megastars…

    • ooga aga
      May 1, 2010

      proof yet again that madridistas have no imagination or creativity, even when they think they do. yawn.

  17. jnelson
    May 1, 2010

    So Im sure Im late but theyre back at it again…MARCA claiming we have agreed for David Villa in exchange for 40m Euros, the Hlebber and CT. Probably BS, but Pep merely said “It is normal for these things to be said. I am not the right person to ask” (more or less). Hmm…Im sure a “Ibrahimovic is our stiker” or “We have our forwards” would have been much more confidence inspiring. Seriously, would he want to throw Ibra aside after 1 GOOD season? What about CT? Someone who has been so loyal to the club AND promising. So, MARCA makes up some crap about two players who underperformed wed. and someone who we would include in ANY deal. interesting…

    • Jim
      May 1, 2010

      I wouldn’t say Bojan underperformed on Wednesday. I thought our game lifted when he came on. Not sure if that’s what you were saying. I’ve always doubted that Bojan can make the grade at the very top as a striker but I can’t fault his effort when he came on and he took his goal very well. Wouldn’t argue with a loan to decide the matter though, as long as we have sufficient quality and depth left here. If he’s good enough to play for us he should be able to stand out elsewhere.

      With regard to Ibra it’s a no brainer that Pep needs an alternative of some sort. He just plain looked lost during the week. Even if he does improve next year we need to have more quality in terms of game changing coming off the bench. Henry will be gone and even if you think Pedro is an answer ( I don’t , yet) he will possibly suffer the second season slump that a lot of promising youngsters go through where the expectations are upped. I’ll be interested to see our forward line for tonight.

      Villa sounds good to me, as long as we aren’t fleeced price wise. I’d expect to now see us linked to several other possibiities ( certainly the likes of suarez) if only to let Valencia see that we have options. Most of the other clubs capable of paying that amount seem to have ruled themselves out and the EE surely can’t afford to sit another striker on their bench.

      Official site is saying Xavi to have a late fitness test. That could go some way to deciding our season. Mind you, who would get the playmaking role if both Xavi and Iniesta are unfit? It’d be a hard neck for Pep to turn to Yaya after ignoring him for most of the season 🙂 but I don’t think Busi could do it.

      I’m not in the camp of banning him by the way. I hope UEFA ban him and we fine him for conduct which brings the club into disrepute. I’m sure Pep will already have laid his future at the club on the line to him so no better time for him to get clattered neck height tonight and get straight to his feet. Then we’ll know we have a prospect rather than a liability.

      • Kxevin
        May 1, 2010

        I repeat:

        No width makes us too easy to play. That isn’t Ibrahimovic’s fault

        I’ll repeat this, too:

        You can’t buy a Plan B if your offense only knows and is capable of working Plan A

        And yet, people will continue to harp on Ibrahimovic. We don’t need an alternative. We need a space-creating, REAL player on the wing. No, that isn’t Pedro, nor is it Jeffren. We’re now understanding the true value of Henry last season. Without him and his abilities to shift a defense, not all that much happens in the middle.

        Recall that he required two defenders last season. How different might things have been in midweek had we a real left wing threat who required two defenders? Ask yourself that, and then muse about how that too, is probably Ibrahimovic’s fault.

        No matter how talented a player is, if the entire defense collapses on him, he will not score goals. You folks with a sense of Chicago Bulls history will note that until Michael Jordan got a reliably excellent surround, he was just that dude who scored a lot of point, but his team lost.

        If our offense doesn’t have width, it just isn’t as effective. Put Villa or Torres in Ibrahimovic’s spot, and you get the same result against Inter. But it would probably still be more palatable to Sport or EMD because at least they’re Spanish.

        • ooga aga
          May 1, 2010

          i dont think many or any people are saying ibra sucks, just taht he has to go. we all agree then. harmony.

        • Jim
          May 1, 2010

          Kxevin, I agree absolutely on the need for width. As I said before the game we should have played Henry – no question for me. That is the summer’s top priority.

          However, we made one chance in the hour with Ibra on the pitch (nothing to do with him) and had three (two better ones from Bojan) in the half hour he was off – not to mention our game came alive. In fact neither Bojan’s header nor Pique’s goal had anything to do with creating width – it was quick movement inside the box allied to a superb ball.

          As I’ve said before I do think there could be more to come from Maxwell meantime if we can just get him to take a few more chances by running at defences on that wing. To me he’s playing within himself.

          • Kxevin
            May 1, 2010

            We looked better with Krkic because the system works with his kind of player. And we can’t very well ask the system to adapt to accomodate a new talent after all now, can we?

            At season’s end, it will be time for some serious soul searching in the management of this club. To return to my analogy, right now we have a great shovel, and are using it to drive nails. That can’t continue.

    • barca96
      May 1, 2010

      great news!!
      this will seriously benefit me cos im watching matches at 2-5am.
      but it will affect the us cules :p
      im sorry but after 6years of non-stop missing sleep at least once a week, i wouldnt mind you guys suffering a bit :p

  18. Sal
    May 1, 2010

    AdeC.Look at 1.30 min and what he does to puyol. Pure quality… . Ibra and Henry out. Villa and another Leftwinger in and we should be back to total domination. This year Messi/Xavi/Alvez had to do all the work, because our left flank was dead (with all respect to Pedrovwho would be a superb impact sub)with Iniesta out of form/injured and Keita providing no attacking treath, our ennemies like inter just closed down right flank. With henry/Eto/Messi/Ronaldihio. Ibra was bad experiment time to correct that mistake. We have an exceptional generation with Xavi/puyol and no need for sentiments.

    • Helge
      May 1, 2010

      Sure you got the right page to post this comment? 😉

    • Reagan
      May 1, 2010

      lol… Sal got the wrong blog! 🙂 funny stuff!

  19. Kxevin
    May 1, 2010

    Two other thoughts:

    –In crucial matches last season, we had a midfield of Xavi/Iniesta/The Yaya (or Busquets). Our attack can work, because Iniesta makes Xavi impossible to shut down completely. Invest the resources that sides have been to shut Xavi down, and Iniesta makes the killer balls. Simple.

    –I believe the club let Henry down this season, every bit as much as people allege that he let the club down. Recall, by way of one example, Guardiola’s comments that were meant to serve as a goad, which were essentially, “If he wants to play, he will do what he has to in order to do so.”

    Can anyone imagine him saying that about Iniesta, or Busquets, or Messi?

    Further, why not take some extra effort to get such a (we now understand) key player ready? Yes, that means extra fitness work, extra attention, just plain extra. He’s old in footballing terms. You bet. But it isn’t as if Henry decided this season, “I’m going to take a break, be lazy, collect my money and scurry off to somewhere next year.”

    I can’t help thinking that the match-changing guy we saw against Valencia was there, only we (and he, to be completely fair) didn’t do enough to get him there.

    Maybe he didn’t want is as much, and his performance in practices solidified his slide down the pecking order. Maybe Guardiola just didn’t want to put that much trust in an old, fragile player. I’d love to know the real story behind Henry and us this season. Never will, I know. But from my chair, I see his loss to us (essentially) as a blow that, like the absences of Iniesta and Abidal, were too difficult to overcome.

    Abidal? Wait, why do we need a defender when Inter wasn’t going to attack? Recall his proficiency of late in generating offense, getting forward and providing genuine width. Ah, yes!

    So now we have the Liga. Villarreal must die in order for us to live, it’s as simple as that. I think that this season is going to require some risks by Guardiola, to reach an ultimate reward. Thiago? Good question. But we need midfield creativity help, and we need it NOW.

    We can deal with all the silly season stuff when the real season is finished.

    • barca96
      May 1, 2010

      if i could ask pep 3 questions at the end of the season, it would be;

      1. why were you reluctant to play yaya. why do you drop him after one bad match? but at the same time, no matter how bad of a mistake busi makes, he still get’s to start. looks like double standard to me.
      2. why don’t you play henry more? even though he lost pace but he still makes up for it for other stuffs. he is not that bad!
      3.why didn’t you give some of the promising athletic players more time to integrate with the team earlier in the season so that we wouldn’t have squad depth issues.

      • ooga aga
        May 1, 2010

        the feeling i get when henry is on the field (this season) is just one of indifference, emptiness, sometimes flaring up into frustration. those are my feelings and you cant take them away from me. heh heh.

    • Jim
      May 1, 2010

      Agreed absolutely on Henry. Allowing the LW to fade has cost us big time, as has Iniesta’s injuries. Yaya’s lack of time I’d also include although not quite as vital. If Henry was genuinely struggling with injury early on you’d think Pep would have backed him up by making that clear at the time. I don’t recall being aware of it.

      Even now, surely after midweek he has to get a chance?

  20. adal
    May 1, 2010

    It seems has been forever since Messi scored last. Why is no one talking about his goal drought? I bet there are people blaming Zlatan for it 🙂
    Hope he scores soon.

  21. BA
    May 1, 2010

    the club didn’t let Henry down. he simply failed to turn up. Pep isn’t not putting him in because he’s biased, he’s not putting him in because Henry isn’t sharp or hasn’t shown the willingness to do what’s asked of him. both of which are HIS fault, not Pep’s or the club’s. the “he’s recovering from an injury” excuse might have worked for a month or so, but not the entire season. not when he’s not been playing and we have no word of him straining anything in practice.

    Henry got what he wanted and now he’s cruising his way out. which i can even understand on a personal level: if you’ve accomplished everything there is to achieve in football, why work your ass off? but that doesn’t mean he’s not abandoning the club when we need him. Thierry Henry was a great player, maybe one of the best of all time. he put in consistently heroic performances last season, and was a vital part of our unprecedented Treble. but he’s simply switched off and is biding his time to leave. that much is OBVIOUS to any objective observer.

    simply put, we’re going to need a new left-wing presence next season. we need that width to make our spaces big, and Pedro for all his goalscoring ability offers little in the way to build-up play and in any case isn’t ready to take up that position as a starter. out-and-out left wingers who can score goals and provide assists from wide are exceedingly difficult to come by; we got lucky with Henry because he was such a canny player who could adapt his game. there aren’t more than a handful of options (Suarez? Silva?), but i think we agree we’re going to have to purchase one.

    just as pressing a need, in my opinion, is a cover for Iniesta and Xavi. a truly quality midfield playmaker, preferably young, who can fill in for one or the other and partner well with both. we can’t expect Xavi to be available for 50 games a season; how he’s managed to do that for 2 seasons in a row never ceases to amaze me. Iniesta’s brittleness doesn’t need any introduction. JDS is an up-and-comer in this role but isn’t quite ready to take control of a midfield yet, particularly in big games. someone like David Silva, who’s intelligence, versatility and familiarity with our system is going to be a requirement. i would equally love Luka Modric, because i think he’s going to be the next great playmaker in European football and to watch him playing with Xavi and Iniesta would be football from another world. whatever we decide, we’ve seen the deficiencies in creativity in our midfield when Xavi doesn’t have a ball-playing partner around him.

    i know it’s not transfer season yet, and in fact transfer season is a long way off with the World Cup rolling in, but i also think the Inter tie and this coming run of games has thrown our lack of depth into sharp relief and we need to start talking about it. it’s a problem that we skidded past last season but has caught us here.

    • Kxevin
      May 1, 2010

      Objective observer? Nonsense. Everyone has been on Henry’s back all season, and even more so since the handball incident. Personally, I don’t care, but I DO care that a player who was vital to our success last season has been, for all intents and purposes, worthless this season.

      “Switched off and is biding his time to leave?” Then why work to get fit, and overcome the injuries to the knee and achilles tendon? Why not just say “Sorry coach, it still hurts,” and spend the season watching great football without having to purchase a season’s pass?

      If people don’t like Henry, that’s one thing. I don’t care about that. But Guardiola’s reliance on Pedro has harmed this club. But do yourself a favor, and don’t think of it as Henry. Think of it as Puzzle Piece C. Without that puzzle piece, we go from A to B do D. The missing link is what makes us easier to play, because a connection is missing.

      Players should never be personal. As I’ve said before, it’s why I’m not a fan of any of them. Can’t be. They could be gone tomorrow. But what certain players do is important to what the club does. Pedro scores goals. People point to that statistic as the reason he’s “better” than Henry. To me, Pedro scores goals, and doesn’t do a whole lot else. So we get one on the scoresheet, but aren’t any better before and after he scores his goal.

      With a healthy Puzzle Piece C, we were. For me, it’s as simple as that.

      • Cloin (vicsoc8)
        May 1, 2010

        I have to disagree that Pep relying on Pedro has harmed the club. To be perfectly fair to Pedro he has scored some humongous goals, including against Shakhtar to win us the Euro cup, in the CWC to keep us alive, and numerous other times.

        I prefer to think of it as Pep has relied as heavily as he has on Pedro because it was the best option available to him. There is no doubt that Pedro this season is not as good as Henry last season. At the same time, Pedro this season has been much better than Henry this season. It doesn’t matter what the reason is that Henry has had a poor season, or whose “fault” it is. It’s a reality, and the reality is that while Pedro hasn’t been as good as Henry last season, his performances and Pep’s reliance on him have been instrumental to our season (which I still consider successful).

      • BA
        May 1, 2010

        i also don’t think Pep has shown his bias towards cantera players (which DOES exist: note Busquets and Yaya) with Pedro and Henry. the stats speak for themselves in that regard:

        Pedro has played only 578 more minutes (about 1/3 more) than Henry this season, but has 20 goals in all competitions to Henry’s 4, many of which as has been noted have been crucial goals at key moments. Henry’s goals, by contrast, have all been in games we’ve won by 2 goals or more. Pedro has just been a better player this season than Henry on the left, which itself is a statement on Henry’s fitness or willingness to play because we all know that Henry IS a better total player than Pedro.

        yes, when Henry is playing properly he offers us far more than Pedro on that side, but that’s just the point: he hasn’t done so at any point this season, barring a good 45 minutes against Valencia. and again, “injury” is no excuse as we’ve all followed when he’s been nominally fit this season; Pep just hasn’t played him because he doesn’t have faith in him or Henry hasn’t shown that he deserves the spot. everyone knows that Henry is leaving this summer, even Henry. that means he’s staying fit but not sharp, staying healthy without doing anything too strenuous. and that’s just not good enough.

        it’s frustrating because i loved Henry as a player, both at Arsenal and last season when he gave his all and really picked up the slack when we got under pressure. but now i’m forced to dislike him for in essence abandoning the team by not showing Pep enough to play him, especially when we’re under serious pressure now.

  22. ooga aga
    May 1, 2010

    all competitions

    bojan, 1131 mins, 8 goals = 141 min/goal
    ibra, 2950 mins, 21 goals = 141 min/goal

  23. Jim
    May 1, 2010

    I think that’s being a little hard on Henry, BA. Apart from an awful few minutes when coming on as a sub against Arsenal which actually angered me, he hasn’t been that bad. The problem was he wasn’t finishing and Pedro was so Pep (maybe rightly ) put him ahead. However, when Pedro isn’t scoring he isnt doing much and doesn’t have the timing of runs that Henry has always had and still has.

    I’m not disputing that he needs to go. I just think with better handling he would have still been an asset for us and badly needed at this point in the season. Although I don’t agree with Kxevin’s defence of Ibra I think he has a point when he talks of the need for a clever player wide.

    • May 1, 2010

      Thanks for that, Jim. It’s why I always argue so vehemently against people who say that we’re a rich club that buys our way to success. Far from it. We do often purchase a missing piece, but the roots of our success lie in that squat little building that sits just off the Camp Nou, as you leave the facility, working your way back up toward Avignuda Diagonal.

      La Masia.

  24. Tajh
    May 1, 2010

    I 100% agree with Kevin on his statements regarding our left width issue…It was there for all to see in both the Inter matches…
    When either Pedro or Jeffern was out the on the left it only took Maicon to cover them and when they did have a slight break the cross or final pass was poor. This has to due with the relative easy that any good professional defender can read both Jeffern and Pedro.

    BTW idk about everyone else but it was frustrating in the last 10mins of the Inter home game that only Jeffern was there on the left in acres of space with no productive end product. Henry last season at least had the speed and killer ball/pass to take on his defenders and move them with him towards the line, creating space for Xavi to find the passing lanes.

    In the last Inter game all they did was clog the middle, stop the pass and boot the ball up-field, something in which i have no idea why Mourinho is getting praised for.

    • Kxevin
      May 1, 2010

      The Inter tactics weren’t as simple as that, Tajh. If they had been, we probably would have found a way through that wouldn’t have been called off by the official. We’ve seen sides park the bus against us. We haven’t seen sides so artfully play the passing lanes, and play committed, physical defense only when it mattered.

      Parking the bus is simply putting 10 men in the box, and booting the ball out when it goes in to the box. Had Inter done that, the Krkic chances wouldn’t have materialized. But almost certainly, other chances would have. But by playing passing lanes and angles, a defense opens itself up to an extraordinary ball, a moment that exists outside of expectations. That was Messi’s ball to Krkic, the header that he hosed off.

      The other extraordinary incident was Samuel bashing the ball off of The Yaya. It’s impossible to predict that, or that the ball would land at Krkic’s feet. Inter deserve credit.

      People point to the Krkic chances as the argument against Ibrahimovic. To me, they’re a more eloquent argument in the lack of adaptability of our system. It worked with Krkic, and it should. He’s part of the system.

      The question now, is what are we going to do next?

      • Tajh
        May 1, 2010

        I know their Tactics wasn’t as simple as how i put it but as an average Joe watching the game I love that’s how i saw it on the telle. We can call what they did Parking the Bus 2.0

        • May 1, 2010

          I’ll buy that. Or maybe more Parking the Large, Agile Minivan. 😀

    • Dave
      May 1, 2010

      Arsenal mania blog was having a right go when we were eliminated. imagine lol

    • Vj
      May 1, 2010

      I think a deadball specialist is a good enough substitute for a plan B.. We miss those freekicks that Ronnie used to score.. Too many of those are wasted by Alves et al..

  25. May 1, 2010

    Oh, and there WILL be a LiveBlog today, so get ready. Every match matters from here on out. Win out, and we are Liga champions. Simple as that.

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