Sevilla 2, Barca 3, a.k.a. “Don’t you know starving strikers need those goals!”

In honor of Mother’s Day, we adapt the standard admonition, trotted out when there was some food that you didn’t want to eat. She assured you that your shameful wastefulness was a slap in the face for some starving child your age, as in “There are starving children in (insert country of choice) who would love to have that food.”

I’m sure there are strikers all over the world who, having watched our match against Sevilla, and the chance after chance after wasted chance, chances strikers yearn for, who were saying “Dude! I could have used that!”

And so it goes. I took a while wrestling with a match that, really, was a lot more interesting than it should have been because of four minutes of unconscionable stupidity, in which we let Sevilla back into the match on the scoreboard, but they really weren’t back in it. Not really. Not once we decided to batten down the hatches and play football again.

And yet, during the LiveBlog and probably in the homes and hearts of you who couldn’t make the LB, there was anxiety galore as Sevilla grabbed two goals to make a 0-3 laugher suddenly tense. Crazy people even said it was fine, because they wanted a thriller. Well, bite your tongues, but okay. I’ll take a thriller. What’s a little more difficult to countenance is my team losing its mind for a period, making a match that shouldn’t have been close, close — on the scoreboard, anyhow.

“This game is as dangerous as a snake pit,” said our beloved Ray Ray, and so it was, on paper. Until Guardiola’s lineup of Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Maxwell, Keita, Busquets, Xavi, Messi, Pedro! and Krkic made mincemeat of Sevilla’s midfield. And as with any match, he who loses the midfield usually loses the match. But we did it with speed, effort and movement of a type that I have not seen in a very long time, movement and passing that created chance after chance after scintillating chance, because when we are playing like that, no team in the world can play with us.

And Width was back. Yes, capital w, because it is a factor so crucial to our game, because when we are passing and moving over the entire length of the pitch, forget about it. You’re doomed. Krkic was making his runs, Alves was earning his second Man of the Match, going hog wild on the right, left, front, back, pretty much everywhere and Pedro! was augmenting the field-stretching efforts with his own personal chaos theory. It just wasn’t going to happen for Sevilla, because we wanted it more than they did.

I haven’t been able to say that for a while, as other teams have wanted matches more than we. Sometimes, we’d lose or draw. Other times we’d win, but it was sloppy and kinda funky. This one, we wanted. Bad. Perhaps it was the lure of the Liga that focussed us in a way that we weren’t last season, with attentions split between three glittering pieces of silver. Maybe now we understand what is driving EE to keep winning and keep putting pressure on us week after week, to keep winning as well: Just one trophy. It’s all we have, and we want it. Bad.

So our sheer aggression, when we did and more importantly, didn’t have the ball, was unleashed. And Sevilla, caught with an attacking lineup, had to use attackers as defenders to neutralize our waves of effort. Capel was quiet, because Alves was driving him crazy, and nobody else was free to help because Pedro! was also running around like crazy, Xavi made a mockery of their efforts to mark him by passing and cutting while Messi drifted hither and yon, seeking wrecking space. So the first goal was as inevitable, as inexorable as the tides.

Maxwell popped a perfect ball to Messi, who chests, controls and shoots across Palop to the opposite corner. Just like that it was 0-1, but the goal happened so fast that it looked like pass, shot, goal. In fact, Messi was bracketed by two defenders and an alert, aggressive keeper. By controlling the ball away from his body and moving to it, he unbalanced the defenders, creating the space that he wouldn’t have got had he tried to control and dribble. As the defenders closed to shut him down he did a balletic pirouette and smacked the ball with that left foot of his, and Palop didn’t have a chance.

But before I go a word further, hats off to Palop, who played goal like a crazy man, in a match that could have ended with 7 or 8 goals on the board for us. He stopped Messi and Krkic time and again, playing like the captain that he is. Awesome and admirable.

Ray Ray said Messi’s goal was “truly, outrageously magnificent,” and he was right. We might be in danger of beginning to take his magic for granted, but we shouldn’t. That was a staggering goal. It also prompted the Ridiculous Ray Ray Moment, No. 12,993,487: “[Messi] plays like he’s got Woody Woodpecker down his shorts all the time.”

We were up 0-1 in a match that Sevilla had to win, and they wanted to play. Really. We just didn’t let them, as Busquets and Keita were everywhere, with even Pedro! playing defense, using pressure to force turnovers that sprung us the other way to batter their defenders and keeper. Hell, Messi was cutting so hard that he injured a dude, who rolled over his ankle trying to follow a cut made by our Pulga. Our defenders pushed up, presenting what was in effect a flooded midfield that produced constant ball pressure. Much of that athleticism and aggression came courtesy of Keita, who had his best match in a long time in the colors.

Not only was he running like crazy and shutting everything around him down, but “Huh? What?” was also passing like crazy, with pinpoint balls that were almost unerring, be they short or long. And with the chances that pressure was creating, you knew that it wouldn’t be long. What I didn’t really expect was the next goal, which was of the highest quality and a typical Barca goal in so many ways.

Alves and Messi played a deft, perpetual motion 1-2 before moving the ball to Xavi, who took the deflected pass and one-timed it off the half volley over the defense and right onto the foot of Krkic, who slid it under Palop for the 0-2 lead.

What made me so giddy about this goal is that it was a product of our system, and our immense talent. Krkic saw Xavi get the ball and immediately began his run, understanding perfectly what’s going to happen, because it has happened at every level in which he’s been exposed to our system. Make the run when your midfielder has the ball, and you will be rewarded.

But two things made this one of my favorite goals in a while. First, it was the incredible talent on display. But just as importantly, most strikers don’t even make that run, because they don’t have a midfielder who is going to get them the ball, not in that situation. It’s the possibilities created by great players that make them make seemingly unreasonable demands on each other. It’s daring and bravery, skill and footballing eloquence. So Krkic says to Xavi with his play, “I’m going to make this run, but we only have a split second to make this play happen. In that time, the ball has to be exactly where I and only I can get to it and control it, and you have to do it with a defender shadowing me. Oh, and you know their keeper is going to charge me. Let’s do this.”

And there was moment after moment like that, from the overlapping runs that were rewarded with passes and stoned by Palop, to a backheel pass/clearance off the volley from Alves to Pedro!, that landed perfectly, sending P! off to the races.

Then came one of those moments, when Xavi and Alves again gutted the Sevilla defense with a pair of transcendent one-touch balls. Alves’ perfect cross for Messi found Argy Bargy somehow finding a way to put it over the crossbar. You can watch and watch, and not understand how it happened. But we were destroying Sevilla with grace, style and sheer effort, sullied only by a beautifully executed set piece that found our defense napping, and Valdes parrying an almost point-blank blast. Who knows why he had a subsequent spasm. Vexation? Thrill at how amazing that save was? Good question, one that we decided to answer by maintaining possession and creating even more chances.

When the second half began, the question was how would we play, and did we understand how we got a 2-0 lead vs Sevilla in their house, in a match that they, too, had to win.

We did. More aggression and pressure led to a blast by Messi, that was parried away from Palop’s goal, right to the feet of Pedro!, who made no mistake with his strike, yet another of those one-timed, half volley bits of amazingnes. That goal made it 0-3, and Sevilla were done and dusted. But we didn’t stop playing, as Messi, who was passing brilliantly, dive-bombed the end line and crossed a ball to Krkic with the net gaping, that Krkic shanked wide. Again, you can watch and watch and not understand how it happened, but it did. And then something else happened: Sevilla scored.

Their goal actually began from a bad pass from Xavi, which sprung Sevilla loose. Pique and Busquets converged on the ball, which was played to Kanoute up the middle. Puyol tried the stretch block attempt which failed, and Abidal just couldn’t close in time. Kanoute spanked it past a helpless Valdes and it was 1-3.

And then they scored again.

This time, it was off a set piece, a quickly taken free out of our own book. While everybody was standing arount pointing, trying to figure out who was marking who, Sevilla started. ZokoraKonko found Fabiano, who spanked it past Valdes. Our keeper was furious at his defense, and he should have been. It was 2-3 and suddenly, a stroll in the park became fraught. What made this goal even more stupid is that it earned Xavi a yellow for protesting too much, which rules him out for our finale, on yellow card accumulation

On the LiveBlog, a number of people mentioned 2007, the year in which everything that could happen, did. But no, not this time. This isn’t like that Rijkaard team, because as much as I hate to say it, those guys (yes, most of the same guys) stood around, waiting for something bad to happen. And it did. This team, so adapted to winning and excellence, simply played tika-taka to get its mojo back, and finished off the match.

It is really a shame that we grafittied our own Mona Lisa with those two stupid, stupid goals, that allowed people who didn’t see the match to think that it was a lot closer than it in fact was.

Team: 9. Would have been a 10, but those goals you conceded were crazy stupid, like.

Guardiola: 10. Not sure that kind of speech you gave the lads before the match, but man were they ready to play. Perfect substitutions, as well.

Valdes: 7. You let in two, but they weren’t entirely your fault. Excellent stonewalling of Fabiano in the first half, as well. Unfortunately, your post-kicking, screaming moment didn’t really seem to inspire our defense.

Alves: 10. Your second Man of the Match, that you earned by understanding that the best defense is a good offense. You owned that side of the pitch, when attacking, and pass after pass after pass asked intense of questions of Sevilla. They couldn’t answer, obviously.

Pique: 6. Solid, solid match. Don’t think you were 100 percent, but luckily you weren’t tested all that much. You were, however, part of the Train Station Defense that we deployed for that second Sevilla goal.

Puyol: 6. Captain, you know that lunge doesn’t work. Almost every time you’ve tried it recently, it hasn’t worked. Just saying. And you should have had your forces ready for the Goal That Should Never Have Happened. We start play fast, what makes you think an opponent wouldn’t, as well? Entirely your fault? No, but you’re the captain.

Maxwell: 7. Strong match, and you got injured at the right time, since Abidal is back for us. Your passing has been excellent of late, and that assist for the first goal was just sick. Massive Man Points for playing as long as you did with an injured hamstring.

Keita: 9. You were majestic today. During the LiveBlog I actually asked how you were playing, because I didn’t notice. Blame a shite Web feed, because you were exceptional, from passing to work rate and willingness to bleed for the colors.

Busquets: 9. A couple of stupid fouls conceded, but you were everywhere, including one sequence in which you blocked a ball out of bounds to stop their attack, then made the interception of the subsequent effort in our box, then slipped a pass to Keita, who spun and kept the attack rolling. You’re also moving forward in the attack, which is nice as can be.

Xavi: 8. Command and control. You probably wish you had that pass back, the one they intercepted and charged down to score. I haven’t seen you as active as you were in a long time. Pass and move, pass and move constantly. You are the master of that, and our attack.

Messi: 8. Great match, including the passing that so serves to destabilize defenses, since they are so used to playing you to make the run. Why you started doing precisely that in the second half, I have no idea. Yet you were so excellent that your rating overcomes that moment of weakness.

Pedro!: 8. I know that I always natter about your deficient sense of tactical awarenes, but it’s rapidly going away. You were constantly where the ball was on offense and defense. And you’re playing solid defense when you have to, and understand the professional foul.

Krkic: 8:. You were part of a trident of agony. Your movement, intelligence and constant runs make the life of your midfield general as easy as pie.


Abidal (for Maxwell): 7. My Abidal Moment came late in the match, when he was battling a Sevilla attacker on our endline. Once their guy decided to knock it off Abidal to gain a corner, Abidal slid away from the Sevilla man, avoiding the corner kick and any late-match danger.

The Yaya (for Xavi): 7. You came in, and things calmed down. Your passing was very sharp today, and I loved the way you went flying through the midfield into their box, waiting for a ball that never got there.

Jeffren (for Krkic): incomplete. But the timing of your substitution was excellent.

So here’s the bummer of all this for the rest of the world/Liga: Pique, Busquets, Messi, Pedro! and Krkic are all no older than 2223. That means years we are set for years and years to come.

Next up is Valladolid, at home. Win that match, and we are Liga champions. Simple as that.

P.S. It might not be us, but Barca is still European champion. Congratulations to Regal Barca, who spanked Olympiakos to win the Eurolliga de Basquet, the Champions League of Euro hoops.

Dude, what are you carrying on about? And why the dishrag?

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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. Memorylane
    May 9, 2010

    I love and appreciate how the reviewer always notices the small details no one really cares to mention or detects i.e the comment on Yaya:
    You went flying through the midfield into their box, waiting for a ball that never got there.

    Hope to see Yaya many years in the heart of the midfield, don’t let him go Pep.

    • mike in africa
      May 10, 2010

      not sure if he was in a good position to receive the ball tho. the speed the giant was stomping was incredible. almost like the hulk.

  2. Cesc Blanc
    May 9, 2010

    last 20 minutes I was waiting for Sevilla’s 3rd goal to happen and throw up. Yes, all déjà-vu, but forgot that this team is different than anything we have seen before. What a wonderful group of players we’re blessed with. One inch at a time, 90 minutes left. Finally this season will be over.

  3. cliveee
    May 9, 2010

    Visca Barca! This win is bigger than the whole Spain.

  4. Ciaran
    May 9, 2010

    I’m just being odd but Pique is 23. Just saying 🙂
    Great review… great match.
    Unfortunately, at the minute, Pedro, Messi & Bojan is definitely our best front three. Their movement was just crazy.

    • Lou
      May 9, 2010

      He certainly was very good against Sevilla, who are not a very defensive minded team. But would he be the right choice against Valladolid, who I suspect will indulge in some bus parking and rough tackling? I’m honestly not sure.

      • Manish
        May 10, 2010

        Well inter parked the bus and Bojan managed to break it. His movement is so good that he deserves a start every match.

  5. larm
    May 9, 2010

    i wonder after watching a Bojan make run after run, Henry at some point turned towards Ibra and just says “ya see man, thats how its done round these parts”

  6. vicsoc8
    May 9, 2010

    Say what you will about Henry, but the way he celebrated after the game reminded me that he is a consummate professional. While he may not be directly making a difference on the pitch, I’m sure he is imparting his vast bank of knowledge to our young players.

    I may be premature, but thank you for everything Titi.

    • May 9, 2010

      Don’t think it’s premature at all, vicsoc. He’s definitely gone in the summer. Only question is where. The Yaya’s jackass of an agent is also talking smack about Arsenal again. I know, I know …. In Pep We Trust, but can we really be thinking of selling The Yaya?

      • patrick
        May 10, 2010

        I read somewhere about how Arsenal wants more veterans to add consistency to the youngins (since campbell/percy can’t do it alone). Makes me wonder if Henry will do a farewell tour there. He obviously still loves that club, and that would be more than a little awesome for the fans of the invincibles.

        On the other side, I can easily see him going to NY and cashing in on both playing time, $$, NYC lifestyle, and some attention.

        Other than that – not sure who will pay the man the money he wants compared to the production he’s shown on the pitch this year.

        Pure class though, a lot of professional athletes could take some lessons from him. I even thought he handled the handballgate the best he could in the situation.

    • mike in africa
      May 10, 2010

      it’s clear the pep wants him gone. thereby giving him no minutes even though he still has a year on his contract. it’s clear pep wants to force him to make a decision to leave while giving youngsters a chance. we all saw that even though henry’s been given so few minutes, but almost every time he played, he showed class, intelligence and movements the likes of pedro and jefferen do not have (and very likely will never have). it’s a pitty though, but I honestly think he can still play at the very top level even not at his top level.

  7. Lou
    May 9, 2010

    Kxevin, I think it was Zokora who took the quick free kick for Sevilla’s second goal. Wasn’t Konko already sent off by that point for knocking Bojan over?

    • May 9, 2010

      You’re right, Lou. I have Zokora in my notes. Don’t know where Konko came from except the bench, since he had a red card.

  8. May 9, 2010

    What’s interesting is that some are making much over the Pique shove of Kanoute in the box, citing evidence of Barca favoritism, forgetting the Capel drag down of Alves, also in the box. Even if Alves didn’t go down (perhaps the one time he should have?), it still should have been called, and wasn’t.

    • May 9, 2010

      AND it wasn’t a penalty on Pique. Kanoute fell down like someone had shot him. Contact? Some, but it was legal contact.

    • ooga aga
      May 9, 2010

      likewise, bojan was fouled on his goal, but it would be par for the course if he missed and the foul wasnt called.

      i would like to see how many PKs RM has been awarded this season, versus Barca. anyone know where to quickly find those numbers? i would guess RM has somewhere from two to four times as many. and dont tell me that somehow RM is genius at drawing fouls in the box. it’s the refs.

      • Helge
        May 10, 2010

        It is 7 against 3 (only considering la Liga matches).

        Nothing compared to Chelsea, who got 13!
        And it’s not like that every team in the EPL gets way more penalties than the teams in la Liga, ManUtd for instance received 5 penalties.

        • jose011
          May 10, 2010

          any idea how many penalties we had domestically last season?

    • Museum
      May 9, 2010

      Apparently we have gained 7 points from favorable ref decisions this year, while Madrid has only gained 2. Or so I hear. We should probably just forfeit the Valladolid match to avoid having to pay postage mailing the trophy back.

    • Cesc Blanc
      May 10, 2010

      big difference was that our players knew how Undiano was making calls and they most of the time got it right. Like, they knew how much contact he allows and did just as much and not more. big aspect in game preparation, and the bonus of having a quite rational referee.

  9. cliveee
    May 9, 2010

    hahaha, spasm of Valdes was the best moment i remember.
    “boyeahh! I got a piece of the ball finally!!”

    • patrick
      May 10, 2010

      I’ve always played for what I guess could be called mid-table type teams when I was growing up — honestly can’t image what its like to be a keeper and see so little of the ball during a game.

      If anything, VV is amazing for his ability to go from 0-60 for the 5 minutes a game he is needed.

    • cliveee
      May 10, 2010

      That was a brilliant reflex save if you ask me. Pique covered large amount of space leaving VV’s vision hugely obstructed. That shot was powerful and the ball barely found space to pass Pique. It was a huge, huge reflex save.

      The scream might be also for la Seleccion. yelling: “I deserve the cap! Damn it! “

  10. Tim
    May 9, 2010

    I only see Xavi having 4 yellows on the official site, I don’t think he’s out for Valladolid.

    • ooga aga
      May 9, 2010

      i think he really IS out, no matter the numbers on the official site, the same official site mentions in several different news pieces that xavi is suspended.

      • Urska
        May 10, 2010

        He has 4 yellows in LL and 1 in super copa. I don’t know why but that 1 also affects liga matches.

  11. Euler
    May 9, 2010

    Terrific review. Much appreciated.

    The only thing that mattered was picking up 3 points and they did that – first by dominating and then by surviving. No matter – goal accomplished. That said the manner in which the club faltered is a concern, particularly because it’s not the first time the squad has coupled it’s most brilliant first halves of play to it’s worst second halves. Next season the opposition, in addition to studying the two CL Inter matches, will try to understand why this is and exploit it.

    At a high level, what this match once again demonstrated the kind of strategic advantage Barca has against any other attacking squad. Simply put if the opposition is strategically committed to the attack and is unwilling or unable to adjust tactically to face Barca , Barca is at enormous advantage. It is difficult to see a team with a like strategy having strong probability of beating Barca within that framework.

    Tactically, I think this is why Pep decided to go with Bojan over Ibra. The tactics here followed from that strategic advantage. If the opposition manager is willing to make it a competition of style and technical ability, the purest Barca system will do the most damage. Thus Bojan.

    Alvarez was committed to continuing what made Sevilla successful recently. They maintained a modified 4-4-2. Very difficult to close off Xavi and the midfield given that tactical formation. When Keita plays as he did yesterday – it is nearly impossible as Barca will be able to utilize both flanks effectively.

    Sevilla allowed Barca space in midfield – and that is disastrous for the opposition.

    However, what those first brilliant 65 minutes truly demonstrated at a fundamental level was how important width is to the Barca attack. When the squad generates width everything opens up and there is no way to defend.

    But how Barca generated that width was critical and helps describe why the match changed so radically in the last twenty minutes. Width yesterday was generated by the backs, particularly the sublime play of Dani Alves – he was clearly the best player on the pitch for much of the match. Yesterday Alves and Maxwell truly played like Brazilian backs – they were playing more as “laterals” than traditional backline“full backs.” Their runs in space and play on the ball completely opened up the game in Barca’s favor. Brilliant tactics by Pep to press the strategic advantage.

    And the secondary advantage of this pressing forward was that it pinned Sevilla’s own attacking players into a defensive posture. This was central to the dynamics for much of the match. The offensive nature of the backs was our best form of defense.

    What concerned me however was that how those dynamics radically changed once the backs stopped pressing forward as aggressively. We lost width because we didn’t have the wing play to make up for Alves and Maxwell (and later Abidal) playing more defensive postures. This in turn was part of what allowed Sevilla to enhance it’s own attack even after going down one man.

    The second issue, that came into play during the change in dynamics from the first two-thirds of the match and the last third was the Barca’s limited depth. As long as the team could play with fierce energy is it was able to generate width and space. But part depending on that kind of energy to create space is difficult to maintain without depth.

    Much is going to be made out of the issue of Bojan and Ibra. However, in many ways that was a secondary issue to the story of width and space and the cascading effects both had on the dynamics of the match.

    Depending on the backs and the clubs athleticism to generate width can create enormous tactical advantage. But it’s a tactical advantage that is difficult to main due to the energy required and the tipping point that can occur if the backs are forced into a defense posture.

  12. Jose
    May 9, 2010

    Messi, Pique, Bojan, Pedro and Busquets… all under 23. Things are great looking forward.

    Also, Kevin et al. this is a little pre-mature (there’s still one match left!) but what are the plan for this space for the summer? Sure there’ll be the requisite transfer rumors, developments, pre-season friendlies. What are looking at for the World Cup? Following Spain, all Barca players and their teams…

    • May 9, 2010

      Silly season, World Cup and whatever else comes to our little brains (that, in my case, doesn’t involve F1 or bicycle racing). No slacking, don’t worry. And something tells me that we’re going to be busy this summer, as we have some decisions to make:

      Henry: gone
      Marquez: gone
      Milito: ????
      Krkic: ????
      Jeffren: ????
      Pedro!: Dependent upon our wing purchase, ????
      Adriano: keep or continue to loan?
      Botia: (see above)
      Hleb: another chance, or sell?
      Keirrison: staying at Fiorentina, but have a look, just to see?
      Dos Santos: ???? Give first-squad time?
      Assulin: Haven’t heard a peep outta this dude in some time.
      Thiago: ???? (see Dos Santos)
      Muniesa: Loan or try out?
      Fontas: (see above)
      Dalmau: Loan?

      Our core is intact, and with a full off-season with the club and in the system, Txigrinski and Ibrahimovic will be much better next year.

      But we will have to address the fundamental issue of depth. With adequate depth, i.e. a quality winger and a midfielder or two, we’re almost certainly doing the treble again. We had that kind of quality.

      Problem was that we broke down psychologically at certain times. Fresh minds don’t concede the kinds of goals that we did at Inter, or Sevilla. Even more than fresh legs, it must be said. But working with functionally a 16/17-player roster (Henry was all but useless, and Marquez only came on line late, the rest were kids).

      A team competing at the highest levels needs the kind of squad depth that we had last season. With a productive Henry, as well as Gudjohnsen and Hleb, you had some cushion during Copa matches, and early-round CL ties. You could also get some late-match rest for Xavi by bringing in either of those dudes to take part in tika-taka.

      Squad depth will be crucial this summer, and we need wing help (Pedro! is the business, but he ain’t no starter) and midfield help. And we have to put Iniesta on ‘roids. Guardiola’s confidence in his players was and is admirable, but I think in a moment of honesty he would admit that we didn’t have sufficient depth to compete on three levels.

      • Euler
        May 9, 2010

        Couldn’t agree more on squad depth. It critical. If depth is not improved opposition tactics will push the issue even more next year.

        There’s going to be a great deal of conversation on selling Ibra, buying Villa, etc. But more than issues with any one or two players they need to significantly enhance overall depth. They can’t get distracted by “big names” alone.

        • vicsoc8
          May 9, 2010

          Hate to get into silly season concerns, but I’d love for us to sign Jan Vertonghen. He plays for Ajax, and can play in the middle or on left both in defense and midfield. Would be a fantastic utility man who wouldn’t demand starts. If only he could play right back instead of left back.

          • Euler
            May 9, 2010

            A multifaceted player would be very beneficial. That’s not the kind of role that a young player can easily fill and would make a useful target in the transfer market.

      • barca96
        May 9, 2010

        was expecting you to follow motogp since you like cycling.
        f1? bored to death!

  13. vicsoc8
    May 9, 2010

    I agree with Euler and the general line of thought that says Bojan starts this game over Ibra due to tactical concerns (with a bit of recent form thrown in for good measure).

    At the same time, if I’m Ibrahimovic watching the last couple of games my thoughts are something like this:

    “I hope Pep will start staying an hour after practice to work extra with me. Maybe he’d be willing to work with me over the summer as well. I bet he’d watch some World Cup games with me and we could discuss tactics if I bring the beer.”

      • May 9, 2010

        I think that, as with Henry, Ibrahimovic will come to understand the work ethic necessary to be part of this offense. Never forget how he came to us, and from where. I think fitness was an issue for him. Recall that Henry said that he’s never run as much in his career as he did for us last season. That’s huge, and most players aren’t ready for that level of effort and physicality.

        He knows the game, and has talent. Fitting into our system is a matter of understanding that “Hey, I have players who will get me that ball.” As I noted above, Krkic knows that, so he makes the run. Eto’o learned that, so he made the runs. Ibrahimovic will find freedom in that knowledge.

        • Luna
          May 9, 2010

          Let’s not forget that we’ve seen what it can look like, the 1st 20 minutes of that Arsenal game, besides the missed goals, lol

      • Cesc Blanc
        May 10, 2010

        if by roja you mean grape juice, then yes. he doesn’t touch alcohol from what I know.

  14. ooga aga
    May 9, 2010

    thanks a lot kxevin for all your work!

    another hudsonism from the match, after it was 2-3 and guardiola got up off the bench, ray ray said: “he’s as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs!”

    • May 9, 2010

      Ha! I missed that one. That’s good. Ray Ray cracks me up. But I wonder if he’s fully aware, with the Woody Woodpecker reference, about the American slang connotations of “wood,” etc. Thank you, Beavis and Butt-Head.

      • ooga aga
        May 9, 2010

        funny, good point. sometimes when you hear him talk, you realize ray ray is just streaming consciousness, he’s not thinking about what he’s gonna say, so once in a while he will miss the mark or go way over the top. usually he’s perfect though. 🙂 so i forgive him for the woodpecker-in-the-pants strangeness.

        BTW i think that preceded beavis and butthead. i remember it from elementary school, early 80s, “i got a woody” maybe they popularized it, dunno.

        • May 9, 2010

          They made it part of the general lexicon. The goodness of that will depend on your view of the lads and their contribution to American pop culture. 😀

      • Helge
        May 10, 2010

        Haha, this is hilarious 😀 I’m a big fan of Beavis and Butt-Head!

        But I really appreciate it to see quotes from RayRay in the reviews, this guy is the best commentator in the world, imo.

        • barca96
          May 10, 2010

          where does he get all these random idioms from?
          theyre hilarious!!
          i wish i had that guy commenting.
          is that for american channel only?

  15. Tim
    May 9, 2010

    I’d like to see a game where Ibra is in and Dani is as on fire as he has been for these last two, I think that would be glorious.

  16. ooga aga
    May 9, 2010

    if iniesta features in the last match, it wont be for a full 90 minutes. so we are back to imagining a lineup, sans xavi, sans iniesta.

    it could be that both ibra AND bojan will be starting, with messi as a playmaker, as kxevin has suggested earlier. this is the most interesting aspect of this match for me to think about in the coming days.

    • May 9, 2010

      I’m finding Xavi with 4 yellows, and Suspended Xavi. Love to know which one is true. Recall that Busquets was suspended, right up until he rolled out onto the pitch.

      Iniesta was saying on his FB page that he will be ready for Valladolid. And like you, ooga aga, particularly given the passes he was laying on today, I’d love to see him as a playmaker. Only problem is that record business, right? You know Guardiola wants to see him get it.

      Hell, he should have had it just yesterday. 😀

  17. ElShowDeJason
    May 9, 2010

    It would be fucking awesome to close out the season with Iniesta, YAYA, Henry and Abidal on the pitch, Ibra getting good service, and Messi getting th record. Hence my line-up (i’m sure it won’t happen) would be:


    a man can dream can’t he?

    • May 9, 2010

      Daddy likey! Not sure that Ghostface will be ready for a whole match, though. I’d be thinking sub, if that.

  18. Blow-Grenade
    May 9, 2010

    Golden Boot for Messi!!!! Here is hoping for two more goals by Messi to equal Ronaldo’s 47 goals in a season record.
    I think next game will be all about having Messi get those 2 goals- besides obviously winning the title.

  19. messi_fan
    May 9, 2010

    Great review! I’m going to miss them next season 🙁

    • Manish
      May 10, 2010

      Miss whom ?? Dont tell me Kxevin and Isaiah…

      • Vj
        May 10, 2010

        Not Isaiah, but Kxevin.. He said he would cut down his number of posts.. Lets hope he comes around once in a while..

        • Manish
          May 10, 2010

          That would be really sad.. Kxevin reviews are really fun to read.. got a good dose of humour in it..

  20. Lev
    May 10, 2010

    I think Messi does not really care about the 47 goal record. At least he will care a hundred times more about winning the league, just like the rest of us. I can’t wait til Sunday!

  21. Ciaran
    May 10, 2010

    As far as I can tell, Xavi’s only got 4 yellows, against Almeria, Getafe, EE & then Sevilla.
    He should be available. Maxwell is definitely out though.
    I expect Valdes – Alves | Pique | Puyol | Abidal – Xavi | Busquets | Keita – Pedro | Messi | Bojan

  22. mike in africa
    May 10, 2010

    we lost concentration in the second half after dominating the first, again. we used to retain control, slowed down the tempo and finish strong. when will they learn their lesson?

  23. Helge
    May 10, 2010

    “Hell, Messi was cutting so hard that he injured a dude, who rolled over his ankle trying to follow a cut made by our Pulga.”

    Can someone explain to me how come that Messi barely slips while cutting so hard? It cannot be about the shoes, right?
    When you see how easy other players slip or get stuck in the lawn while trying to change direction at a pace which is not as fast as Messi’s (because as Arsène Wenger said, there’s no other player in the world who changes direction as fast and on such a pace as Messi does), one could be afraid it’s only a matter of time until Messi faces the same fate (which could result in a serious ligament damage). But somehow, it doesn’t happen to him. What’s his secret?

    • Bebop
      May 10, 2010

      I’ll tell you a secret..
      He is Not Human!.. He is from another planet.
      other than that, there’s no other way to explain :p

    • jose011
      May 10, 2010

      he’s a damn small dude, with a low center of gravity. pele, maradona, messi they’re all between 5’4 and 5’8.

      • barca96
        May 10, 2010

        yeah…that was an ankle breaker shake and bake…
        and1 hot sauce…

        • Kxevin
          May 10, 2010

          Jose hit the nail on the head. I think, when watching Messi do his thing, of Barry Sanders of NFL fame. That dude was little compared to the average NFL defener, but had legs like tree trunks and could stop and cut on a dime, because of that low center of gravity and strong legs.

          Sometimes, players are just small (Iniesta). Other times, they are a big person, compressed (Messi). So his musculature is actually more than his frame needs to support it. This gives him the ability not only to cut, but to have those amazing first 10 steps that get him so much space.

          It also helps with ball control. Ibrahimovic is so amazing because of his ball skills, being as massive as he is, to be sure. But Messi, functionally being lower on the pitch, actually has an advantage when it comes to the kinds of movement and skills necessary to take and control a pass, his ginormous talent notwithstanding.

          So Pulga Power is actually a physical advantage.

          • Helge
            May 10, 2010

            Thanks, that’s a reasonable answer, but I also liked Bebop’s explanation 😀

  24. Vj
    May 10, 2010

    Its official, our final round starts at 19:00 EST on Sunday 16th of May..

  25. fcbfan
    May 10, 2010

    Nice review Kxevin!

    one more game!

    Actualy what I really wanted to say is that we are still the champions of Europe! Visca Regal Barca!

  26. andrew.M
    May 10, 2010

    Dear ElShowDeJason and Eklavya,

    this is for you two:


    • Blow-Grenade
      May 10, 2010

      That is an epic photograph! I will look at it again if Barca win the final game.

    • lovelymofo
      May 10, 2010

      You guys get the Scarlett/Portman picture, I get the Zlatan and Pique picture. Equality for everyone!

    • Kxevin
      May 10, 2010

      Negotiating ploy. They’re getting the whole TV revenue thing worked out. It will never happen.

    • Blow-Grenade
      May 10, 2010

      Yes this has been out there for about a month or so.

  27. Medhen
    May 11, 2010

    wat a good read … thoroughly enjoyed it… hit the nail on the head

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