Quick Thoughts on Valerenga

I was able to watch the Valerenga match today and I have just a few thoughts on it:

Bojan being captain was both chuckle-worthy and wonderful to see. I have this overblown sense of what a “captain” looks like–big, commanding, not 12–so Bojan wearing the armband over Milito, while it made sense, definitely caused me to say “aww” at the sweet little tyke getting honored by Pep for 45 minutes. And he scored! Wait, no, that was the other Bojan. My bad.

Because I watched without commentary (thanks for the links, Jnice), the second half was confusing. There were no graphics about who had been subbed on, so I had to listen to the PA announcer in the background and then guess who was who. Around minute 75 I got bored with it and checked the final score and team sheets. Sure enough no one scored again and I was able to figure out that Nolito wasn’t Sergi Roberto and Edu Oriol wasn’t Nolito, so I had to change some of my match notes.

B-teamers that impressed me:

Nolito. #22. He was quick and incisive with the ball, though I didn’t see a whole lot of him on the defensive end. That doesn’t mean he didn’t do it (I only watched once), but he certainly stood out offensively and made me nod in appreciation every now and then.

Benja. #14. I’ll admit I’ve never heard of this guy before. I mean, I heard the name a few weeks ago, but had never seen him play and still know virtually nothing about him. His goal was nice, but it was his work rate and skill at slipping in behind defenses (which opened up space for Edu Oriol–#17–on the other side even when Benja himself didn’t get the ball) that most impressed me. He used the space created by Ibra’s much deeper positioning very intelligently and was a constant goal threat. His footskills were impressive as well.

Riverola. #8. The first half was a more dominate display, but felt less so a lot of the time because the tempo wasn’t quite right. Riverola played pretty much box-to-box and he worked hard throughout on both the offensive and defensive ends. He was constantly moving around and either freeing up or clogging up the passing lanes, depending on what was more beneficial.

Players that I was surprised not to be as impressed by:

Jonathan dos Santos: #4. Most regular readers will know that I have a burgeoning mancrush on JDS, but this was a game in which he failed a little at maintaining the tempo. He was the one playing the Xavi role, so to speak (though without a true DM it’s a bit of a different role), but he pushed the ball forward too quickly sometimes. That was my criticism of Oriol Romeu in the Spain-England U19 semifinal and it holds true here too. I think that is more a function of the need to mature and get more comfortable with the increased speed of the game and gaining some of the natural rhythm that comes with practice. It should be noted though that Xavi, of course, is very much in form now and he’s 10 years JDS’s senior. I don’t expect JDS to ever become as good as Xavi, but I still think he’ll be capable of controlling the midfield for years to come. Thiago has looked the better player recently (perhaps against worse competition), but fortunately they’re complimentary rather than working for the same spot.

Marc Muniesa: #5. He was caught out a couple of times by his own positioning and he almost cost us a goal with a poor outlet ball (and really, a poor decision to attempt that side pass) that was intercepted. For a kid that I’ve seen good things from in the past (his appearance with the first team counts as that and a couple of his B matches last year), I was surprised to see him be a little flat-footed. He’ll grow into it and, really, defenders usually take a bit longer than Pique to come to mature (in one very strict sense of the word, of course).

Albert Dalmau: #12. I thought I’d notice Dalmau a lot more than I did. It might be a function of having just spent an entire World Cup focusing on wingbacks that made me not notice him so much or it may be that I was just too focused on our left wing and watching Adriano to take notice of his solid play. He was burned a couple of times by Luton Shelton, but Guardiola did leave him a bit stranded out there with his formation and expected him to forward constantly, which he did until Bojan Zajić came on and necessitated a slight change in the approach. So perhaps he actually did really well, but I didn’t notice it.

There’s a lot more to discuss, but that’s my brief take on things.

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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. ballbeav
    July 30, 2010

    thanks for the observations, i missed the match.

  2. DiegoS
    July 30, 2010

    I didn’t see the Valernga match .. But I watched the U-19 Final .. Although I was impressed by Bartra against Atletico at the Vicente Calderon , He didn’t have the best of days .. but then again Spanish Players played a disastrous 2nd half .. I believe we can promote a CB to be 5th Choice after Pique,Puyol,Milito,Abidal .. but the DM position I think we should buy someone .. cuz it’s a big responsibility for a 19 year old kid to have ..

  3. ML
    July 30, 2010

    Ahh, finally the preseason starts. Some good, some bad, but mostly i was impressed by the performance of our young guns today, and im expecting Ibrahimovic to have a HUGE season. On another note, Sami Khedira from stuttgart has gone to EE. Looks like mourinho is taking the “pack the midfield with DMs” approach. Should be an interesting season.

  4. Mango
    July 30, 2010

    In reference to: “I was able to watch the Valerenga match today…”

    I have myself searched and searched for this match but, so far unable to find it. Would you possibly have the opportunity to link it to me also?



    • gv
      July 31, 2010

      mango, check the previous post. i think kari provided some dl links. it’s near the bottom of the page.

    • Jnice
      July 31, 2010

      First Half:

      Part 1 *http://www.multiupload.com/BBCK4MQNBI
      Part 2 *http://www.multiupload.com/NVFT80R2R9

      Second Half:

      Part 1 *http://www.multiupload.com/2UJH6TO4M5
      Part 2 *http://www.multiupload.com/WI3CO7SEH1

      Multiupload has a bunch of different host you can try.

      Credit to sportsmen on fbtz.com

      If y’all want actual commentators, here it is in Spanish:

      First Half:
      Part 1 *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=5G4QOUFE
      Part 2 *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=QHNFFKQ2
      Part 3 *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=IDPA5CXM
      Part 4 *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=NR9Y7C7N

      Second Half:

      Part 1 *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=URRAQNQ0
      Part 2 *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=B1X39AQV
      Part 3 *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=MAW9VXAZ

      Credit to siscopes1 @ rojadirecta.com

      Might be hard to download without a premium account, though.

      • Mango
        July 31, 2010

        Thank you very much guys! I really appreciate the help.

        I got the match working by using megaupload. Been waiting for this game for a long time. Almost got to panic-mode for a while 🙂 Great to see the next generation play nevertheless.

  5. Eklavya
    July 31, 2010

    Anyone knows football players who are (active) on twitter. I just joined, so…

    • Jnice
      July 31, 2010

      Puyol, Forlan, Giuseppe Rossi, Aguero, Babel (really funny). Luis Enrique is on there too.

      • Eklavya
        July 31, 2010

        The “real” Babel’s account is suspended, no?

  6. Eklavya
    July 31, 2010

    O.M.G. Iniesta on the beach but this time with another vampire:


    • MoSSi
      July 31, 2010

      They should give them a role in the new twilight movie! They don’t even need make-up..

      • inNYC
        July 31, 2010

        Did he lose a bet or something? That swimsuit is criminal. Someone get the man a pair of jeans, stat.

  7. July 31, 2010

    Well I dont share your point about JDS, Isaiah. I think he did really well. Not a Xavi of course and no one expect him to be so by now. But as a deep play maker he did the “looks easy” job that is not easy to notice.

    I made this demonstration for the first goal. While two players were praised most since the game, the one who played the assist and the scorer, there was one player who made that happen in the first place. And this one is just a sample of what he did in the first half:


    • Jnice
      July 31, 2010

      Yeah, I thought JDS was the best of all of the mids, followed by Riverola. JDS impressed me with his tackles too.

  8. Chippo
    July 31, 2010

    In defence of dalmau, Luton Shelton is really, really fast.

    • Jnice
      July 31, 2010

      Apparently Pep called him Usain Bolt’s son.

      • Chippo
        July 31, 2010

        He (shelton) also might have learnt a thing or two from Henrik Larsson. I think they played together for one season in Helsingborg

  9. Kxevin
    July 31, 2010

    Farewell, Rafa Marquez. We officially gave him his release today. Next stop: New York Red Bulls. Man, when I see the Chicago Fire play them, I could have two ex-Barca players to cheer against.

  10. Kxevin
    July 31, 2010

    My impressions are that we looked like Barca in preseason, playing a lineup stuffed with kids. So the calm and ultimate quality just isn’t there yet. Having said that, our kids spanked a full-on professional side (granted, in a second-tier league) that is what, second place in that league?

    I really liked watching Dos Santos. I think that ultimately, we are going to have to not compare him to Xavi. He looks to me to be developing into a hyper-speed Xavi. It’s obviously hard to tell right now, but he likes to play more quickly, which I don’t think is a bad thing, as sometimes we are a little too deliberate. But color me very impressed, and I think that not spending that 45m on Fabregas will turn out to be a very, very good thing.

  11. Luke
    July 31, 2010

    Messi is a crazy motherfucker. He has apparently gone crazy for Oasis and The Sun is reporting he has formed an Oasis tribute band that is going to do a secret US tour. Um… what?

    • Jnice
      July 31, 2010

      For some reason, I don’t believe the UK newspaper reports.

    • Helge
      July 31, 2010

      Well, the Sun is reporting since months that Messi has a crush on Oasis, and they have already published quite a few articles 😀

  12. cliveee
    July 31, 2010

    So long, Marquez. You are a winner. Thanks for the 7 years of great great service.

  13. cliveee
    July 31, 2010

    Hleb is traveling to Asia with the team!!

    I hope he will stay with us! He still deserve another shot.

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