Barca 5, Panathinaikos 1, aka “Playstation Football”

So, the cool thing about Playstation is that you can assemble teams, and they can pop the ball around and do really cool stuff. It’s all a video game, and provides hours upon countless hours of entertainment.

How cool is it that we have a real, live Playstation team to admire every week. Pep Guardiola has the controller, but we have the joy of watching “domination total del Barcelona,” as one of the Fox Sports commentators put it. And truer words have never been spoken. This match could easily have been 9 or 10-1, so lopsided were the statistics. We had the ball all the time, and spent all the time in their end of the pitch, essentially. They were never in the match, as we steamrolled out with a display of attacking football that had everyone wondering, 5 minutes in, why it wasn’t already 3-0.

So how absurd was it that after all that, Panathinaikos scored first?

I could hear the collective howl, that it was going to be one of those matches. The keeper bombs one long, Cisse does this insane, never again in his life on-the-fly flip directly into the path of Govou, who had Abidal dead to rights. He finished past a helpless Valdes, and that was that. 0-1 visitors, and I can bet that people were worried. Well, Panathinaikos had about another minute to celebrate the goal, before Xavi found Messi with a long pass that he threaded between two defenders. Messi controlled, flipped it past the keeper and we were off to the races.

Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Villa, Pedro! was the lineup that I wanted to see start the match against Hercules. If those guys had played for 15 minutes, it would have been 3 or 4-0, done and dusted. If you put marbles in a bowl, then put that bowl in a centrifuge, you have some idea of what the movement of our attacking players was like. It almost wasn’t fair, and you could see the “Oh, shit” looks on the faces of the Panathinaikos players, because professionals know that when a club is playing like that, you can only contain it for so long. Then that fraction of a step goes away, thanks to fatigue, and they have you.

The first goal was absurd enough, because it looked easy, but wasn’t. Not in any way, shape or form. Witness the other attempted passes that were intercepted and headed or kicked away by Panathinaikos defenders, passes from the feet of mere mortals. Now watch that Xavi pass again, as it floated, equidistant between the two defenders, directly not to where Messi was, but where he was going to be. Give that man the ball at his feet with only the keeper to beat, and it’s over.

The score was 1-1, impossibly, but everyone on the planet knew that it couldn’t stay that way for very much longer, because this was Barca football at its staggering best. You get the ball, and 3-4 midgets descend upon you, with quicker feet and more desire than you, to get the ball right back and resume the task of ripping your heart out. Or you get it into the midfield and that gangly dude is two steps ahead of you, to destroy the play and slide the ball to his midfielders, who resume the task of ripping your heart out.

The team’s best player is battling for the ball at the sidelines, working like a dog to break it loose, because the team seemed resentful when the opponent had the ball even for a second, as if the ability to play sublime, jaw-dropping football means that they should have the ball all the time. Possession stats were almost 80-20, and unlike the meaningless possession of the Hercules game, every time we had the ball, something good was happening. Guardiola was throwing his hands to his head time and again, as attacks resulted in shots that should have gone in, or passes that just missed.

But it was only a matter of time. The second goal came off The Luckiest Man in World Football, he who we call Pedro!. Dude took off on one of his crazy, high-wire runs that should have been stopped by the defender, but the ball bounced off the defender right back to Pedro!, who kept going, only to lose possession again and get it back …. again, forcing a corner that needed to have the defender ignore the keeper, who had the easy grab, and head the ball out for a corner. Crazy. Then in comes the corner, and the omnipresent Busquets heads across the box to a wide-open Villa, who slots home. 2-1, good guys.

And the relentless pursuit of goals continued, as Messi thwacked one off the crossbar before a delicate, seemingly impossible 1-2 with Pedro! (there he is again) found Messi again, running at defenders with the ball at his feet, in an area that makes him impossible to play. Because when he’s in the box, you can’t foul him, which is about the only way to stop him, and no matter what you do, he’s going to run around you. Unless he does a snap shot as he did in this instance, to make it 3-1 just before the half.

You never, ever want to be the next opponent of a club that has had egg rubbed in its face. Particularly not when that club is stacked with talent, talent that is still learning to play together as one of the most crucial parts figures his way through our thicket of brilliance.

The second half continued as the first, as another perfect pass found Pedro! directly in front of the keeper with the ball at his feet. I’m sure that he knows why he didn’t shoot, because I sure don’t. Then came a perfect pass from Iniesta to Abidal, who laid in a perfect cross for Villa, who did a Krkic in trying to get too fancy with a ball that should have been in the back of the net. And oh yeah, Messi missed a penalty shot by overthinking. The keeper stopped it, and the coolest part was the team was instantly there to console him, to make him understand that it ain’t nothing but a thang.

Messi had his revenge by taking a pass from Krkic and shooting from an impossible angle across the goal mouth and into the inner far post. Pedro! (again) was right there to bundle home the rebound, and it was 4-1. And then came this:

The word “ridiculous” has come into favor as a modifier with many uses. That party was ridiculous. That meal was ridiculous. It’s now overused, and has lost its power. But that goal was ridiculous. Flat-out, mindblowingly ridiculous. Because it was done in no space, and done perfectly. You can use words to describe it, to say that Alves popped a pass to Messi, who chipped a pass to Alves, who headed past the keeper. But words are so mundane for something that, in my notes, is represented as “Are you KIDDING me?!”

No.

I don’t know how far this team is going to go in its various competitions this season. And I don’t care. What I know is that it is capable of playing mind-blowing football, as it did today. People will say “Oh, it’s just Panathinaikos,” and dismiss it. Because they didn’t see it. You can say about a high-wire act, “Dude walked on a wire between a couple of buildings.” It sounds so mundane. Then you see it, how thin the wire is, the absence of a net, and your mind is blown. Likewise, you see our players control the ball in between two defenders, or Iniesta pull off a ball move that makes the defender fall down, and you can’t even wonder how it’s possible. All you can do is enjoy it.

Team: 10. It was everything in depth, from defense to offense to fighting for possession. This was exactly how we all knew this club could play. There might be another clunker or two in this season. But today, the effort was there to go with the brilliance. If the best is also the most fluent and hardest-working, how can you argue with that?

Guardiola: 9. He had his charges ready to play. I thought that he left Messi out there for too long, but that’s just me. The match was over at 3-1, and sure as hell over at 4-1. He did make the right substitutions, even though he put us down to 10 men with the Krkic sub.

Valdes: 4. Probably gets a higher rating if not for the fact that the one thing that he had to do all match, he fluffed. Usually he’s ready for action, but today he was totally flat-footed and waiting to be beaten by Govou. I guess I’d be ball-watching too, though, with an attack like we had today.

Alves: 7. His flitting up and down the right side of the pitch is so crucial to our attack. And when a team just lets him do what he wants, as Panathinaikos did, he influences the game in profound ways. You have to honor Messi, Villa, Xavi and Iniesta, then you worry about Pedro!, and here comes Alves. When he gets the ball the defense shifts, and the danger begins. He was caught out of position on more than a few occasions, in his role as offender (offensive defender).

Pique: 8. Not a lot to do but did it beautifully, including key interceptions of the few times that Panathinaikos did charge into our end. And the Piquenbauer boots are in full effect as he charged up the pitch, delivering the ball to the precise spot that we could do damage with it.

Puyol: 9. We are a different defense with him on the pitch. He is almost always in the right spot at the right time with the right play, including stopping a Panathinaikos break that was reminiscent of the one Saturday that resulted in Hercules’ first goal. Captain Caveman just slid over and dealt with it.

Abidal: 7. The Greyhound got smoked on the goal, plain and simple. I don’t know that any defender alive had the pace to do anything with a full-tilt-boogie Govou, who was able to take the ball in stride, but part of defending is position. Call me harsh, but Govou was making that run from far enough back where it shouldn’t have been a surprise to Abidal. But after that, he was almost inch perfect, fluent and powerful.

Busquets: 10. Hard to believe there was a time when people doubted this dude. If you watch the match again, spend some time just watching him. It’s sublime, from the perfect passes that he doles out, getting ambitious only when there’s a sure payoff, to the way he is always where the ball is, including one time when Alves was caught up the pitch. He destroys and then creates, winning the ball then distributing it. Wonderful. And I don’t know if that was a shot or an assist for the Villa goal, but it looked too deliberate to be a shot.

Xavi: 9. He was absolutely, spot-on brilliant today. The difference between he and Iniesta is worth noting again, as we saw a number of Iniesta passes that were full of ambition, but intercepted at the defense. You can see Xavi consider those passes, but wave them off in his mind for the absolute, sure thing. And when he does spank a long pass, you know it’s going to get there, because it’s Xavi. Just wish that his finishing matched his passing.

Iniesta: 8. If he stays healthy, we have the best midfield in the world. Period. His passing, ball control and runs with and without the ball destabilize defenses in a way that makes the lives of the forwards so much easier. Then he stops, and slides a pass to an on-the-run attacker. As noted above, his ambition loses us possession at times, a complexity less problematic with Xavi on the pitch. At some point, I will stop panicking whenever he takes a hard challenge. I just have no idea when that time will be, folks.

Pedro!: 7. He started out very strong, then disappeared for too long as our high-wire act did its thing. His effort is off the chart, and his football IQ is constantly improving. Still don’t know why he didn’t shoot, but I do know that when he is on the pitch, good things happen that he creates with his almost constant movement. The effect on and for Alves was huge. And his first 10 steps are so fast and effective that he gets to balls that defenders have a seeming leg up on.

Messi: 8. What a staggering match in terms of effort, results and dedication to the colors. He still solos more often than he should, particularly when he’s smelling a hat trick or some such milestone. And that penalty miss was pretty pathetic. But he’s passing more, and passing better this season, which should fill the footballing world with dread, if it hasn’t already.

Villa: 7. He’s finding his way, but is getting there faster than we could have hoped. At times he looked almost fully integrated with our offense today, but didn’t make a few runs that he should have. Note that people called Ibrahimovic “lazy” and “static” for not making those same kinds of runs. Villa has to learn, as did Ibrahimovic and Eto’o, that you get your butt to the front of the net when an attacker has the ball on the wing. Excellent crosses went begging on more than one occasion, crosses that are the job of the forward to put away. And again, lay off the mustard, and just tap that Abidal cross home.

Substitutes

Krkic (for Villa): 2. Nice pass to Messi. The end. It was another earnest but almost wholly ineffective display from CT. Guardiola put him in because really, who else do we have to substitute for Villa? But I wonder what Guardiola thinks as he makes that move. Each match brings its own evaluation, and I don’t know if he is trying too hard or what the deal is, but again today, he just didn’t cut it.

Milito (for Pique): 5. This is a deceptive rating because players start from 0 and work their way up. He was playing his way to a much higher rating, and showed his immense value with that key interception that broke up a Panathinaikos attack. And dude, when the ball falls at your feet on the doorstep of the goal, shoot! Shoot Gabi, shoot!

Mascherano (for Xavi): 4. A few bad balls, and one overambitious pass that could have led to something bad, had we not been playing so well collectively. Had a couple of excellent wins of the ball, again in a way that takes care of business without doing anything that would endanger the team with a foul or a card. Can’t wait to see him once he gets it all figured out.

P.S. Spare a moment and a good thought for Antonio Valencia, the talented Manchester United attacker whose season came to an end today on a fluke of a play, really, in which a fairly mundane challenge resulted in a shattered ankle. That’s how easy it can happen folks.

And finally ….


“Damn, I’m good!”

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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.

165 Comments

  1. September 14, 2010

    And for the record, I love Comcast for its cheap Selecto Nuevo package, so that I can have FSE, Deportes and even TVE, so I don’t have to miss a thing this season. And they just added remote DVR programming to boot, so if the boys are playing and I forget to program it, or the time changes at the last second, no worries.

    United looked dire, by the by, but Rangers will do that to you.

  2. Jnice
    September 14, 2010

    Great review, Kxevin. Wonderful response from the team. I’m in the process of watching it a 2nd time now, and I agree with everything you said about Busquets. Dude is nice.

    Bojan was quite a hot topic in the Liveblog. I thought he did alright. Great reverse pass to Messi, but not much else of note.

    For those who want to watch Revista De La Liga:

    *http://hotfile.com/dl/69355635/8d7248d/Revista_De_La_Liga_-_14-09-10.avi.html

    Credit to Pakman at fbtz.com

  3. jnelson
    September 14, 2010

    If I was to try to convince anybody to watch futbol, I would probably show them this match. What a performance. I can’t imagine what the people who invented the game would say about today. Surely they wouldn’t spend 20 minutes out of 22 talking about how Man Utd. drew 0-0 with Rangers during what is supposed to be a Champions League Review. If only people would watch a Barca game, one without a boring, parked, English/Inter bus. I am sure people would be astounded at what they are missing. Excellent review. I am so ready for Patetico.

  4. Culer_Than_Thou
    September 14, 2010

    Ohh that Alves goal and the Messi goal (one-two * 3) had me drooooooling.

    And now I can finally see in Busquets what Pep saw a year back.

    🙂

  5. BlaugranaDOOM
    September 15, 2010

    Kxevin, nice review as always. Great late night post.

    Few things. I knew it wouldn’t end up like Saturday with the team we had out there. At 1-1, the match was basically over. Not really sure if they got out of there half except when Leto would dribble up the left side and kick the ball out of bounds.

    I would fault Pique for the goal as well. Puyol goes up to challenge the ball. Cisse does some absurd flick that lands perfectly in Govou’s path, but Pique should have covered that middle space. They only had two players up there…

    Villa and anyone on the left side of the pitch (including Bojan) are going to look worse than they should because our whole attack goes through the right. Alves is often more advanced than Pedro and with Messi in the center, drifting to the right and Xavi always looking in that direction, Barca just doesn’t get enough balance in the attack. Only when Iniesta drifts over that way and starts playing some one twos is there any threat there. Not sure what the solution is…maybe Gareth Bale? He seems to be a one man wrecking crew on the left.

    Iniesta can take over the Xavi role when he gets a half season of playing that position. He is so used to being able to roam around for Barca and Spain, that he hasn’t developed the discipline to play there.

    Messi playing one two passes while running past 6-7 defenders must be the scariest thing in the world for a keeper.

    This weekend will be a real test.

    • barca96
      September 15, 2010

      I used to be a GK when I was young. My legs would’ve shaken to death at the sight of Messi waltzing past 6-7 defenders.

  6. ariston
    September 15, 2010

    great review kev! slightly disagree on guardiola’s rating. everybody here will roll up the exact line-up after the hercules match.

    • barca96
      September 15, 2010

      It’s not the line-up that is the problem.
      It’s the substitutions. I thought that Pep should’ve taken off Messi and Xavi once we were 3-1 up.
      We could’ve easily pushed Iniesta to LW and Pedro to RW.
      Masch for Xavi in midfield with Busi and JDS/Keita.

  7. Jnice
    September 15, 2010

    I found an HD Sky Sports upload of the match. It’s 2 gigs a half and it’s hotfile. A lot of links, so you would need a premium hotfile account. If anyone wants me to post it, let me know.

  8. September 15, 2010

    dude, are we seeing the best defensive midfield in the world?
    I still can’t believe my eyes. Busquets was perfect today. He just did everything we could expect a dm would do and did so with such efficiency and smoothness. He is such a machine in the midfield when it comes to destroying. He created a lot of nice long passes which I saw less from him last season, and a lot of times they find Alves and Villa. Really love what I saw from him.

    Pedro had a wonderful first half. a little off color in the second but he was better than Villa imo. I’d love to see Villa fully integrated in our attacks. Right now he is a little too static. I see Pedro making more one-twos with Messi and in the box more often. But I see something similar happened to both Ibra and Villa. That is: when they do make some decent runs, the ball will never find them. So, I guess every new player needs the time to adapt our system after all.

    Banner from fans read:
    “IBRA Torna Estem Amb T… Pep reflexiona” what does that mean? The T something is somehow not showing… but I guess those fans miss Ibra.

    By the way, Messi has a big fat and pretty long tongue… is that what best player requires?

    • Josep
      September 15, 2010

      “IBRA torna, estem amb tu. Pep reflexiona” is Catalan for ” Come back, Ibra. We stand by you. Pep, think it over”

      Sometimes one is ashamed by his countrymen…

      • ElShowDeJason
        September 15, 2010

        I agree with that guy, as unpopular as the idea is.
        Ibrahimovic is just the forward we need.

      • September 15, 2010

        Thank you for the translation 🙂
        I would love to see more pro-ibra banners too.

  9. Diego S.
    September 15, 2010

    I was watching the game at a Cafe .. And while Alves was scoring his goal .. I stood up raising my hand and everyone looked at me like I’m Crazy !!

  10. ElShowDeJason
    September 15, 2010

    I think that we need to stop faulting Iniesta with not being Xavi.
    Although they lay the smackdown in tandem, they are very different players and hold very different roles.

    Based purely on observation I suspect that, especially when Xavi is on the field, Iniesta and Messi have licence to attempt some increasingly ambitious passes, and notice where they happen. Usually in low-risk, high reward situations where there is plenty of cover.

    Obviously Iniesta’s role and his passing selections are an entirely different conversation when Xavi is not on the field. But we as fans can only speculate on the instructions that he receives from Guardiola. Where it might be easy to say that he can’t play like Xavi, I don’t think he should. And more importantly, I think very few people can, and I firmly believe that no active players can right now.

    Barcelona’s midfield was in shambles on Saturday, without Xavi on the field, just as Spain’s midfield was against Argentina. Cesc is tactially closer to Xavi, but still couldn’t pull the strings.

    just random thoughts floating in my mind….

    Oh yeah… Busi is still awesome… like i’ve been saying for years 🙂

    • theMaginator
      September 15, 2010

      YearS? like two? LOL

      JK man.

      • Sid
        September 15, 2010

        Agree big time on the Iniesta comment.

        Xavi and Iniesta are two different players with different skill sets and different part of the learning curve. Though they play the same position in the same team and have been trained with the same philosophy in the same academy, they have differing method of implementing those and saying Iniesta is not as good as Xavi doesnt make sense.

        I would still point out that in the 2006 C League winning season, a very young Iniesta was able to fill in for Xavi when he was injured for last half of the seaon and did so very well.

        • barca96
          September 15, 2010

          If I can remember correctly, back then too Iniesta wasn’t trying to play the Xavi role. He was always a very attack-minded midfielder. Deco was the one with Xavi controlling the ball.

          • Sid
            September 16, 2010

            Exactly. He was more attack minded but was still slotting for Xavi. Before Xavi was injured the midfield was xavi, Deco and either of Edmilson\Motta. Post Xavi Injury, Deco continued in the same manner, while Iniesta did the Xavi thing (tidying up, Positioned in a withdrawn position as a pivot in front of the back 4 to have the view of the entire opposite half and delivering those killing though balls). But he implemented the deed in a little different manner by being more aggressive and risky.

  11. September 15, 2010

    Disagree on Bojan, he didnt pop up an own the game, but setting up a goal from the Left wing is exactly what he was put in to do. Plus he got no service on the left, as an earlier post mentioned all of our traffic was moving down the right channel.

  12. skyislm
    September 15, 2010

    It was hard watching this match as i had to prevent myself from shouting loud (and waking my wifey up)!

    I dont have a recording, but can anyone find out how long did more than 1 player in a green shirt spent on our half?

    Total domination. Pana were played out of the park!

    In a casual observation, I found that our attacks were focused on the left in the first half while they came a lot from the right in the second. Did anyone else feel so?

  13. theMaginator
    September 15, 2010

    Kxevin it’s great to see that even though you do this after every match the quality of your posts are always great.

    BIG thanks.

    And yeah Busquets is the Man.

      • Kxevin
        September 15, 2010

        Thanks, guys, but I vote for The Queen. She’s feeding us and ESPN Soccernet, after all. Two jobs, both high quality. And I have a picture of SoMa’s brain on my wall.

  14. jaime
    September 15, 2010

    so pedro was on the wing and keita on the bench and we kicked ass? go figure

  15. September 15, 2010

    I think this was a GREAT showing, but we have much room for improvement (what’s wrong with me I’m starting to sound like Pep). We have to be more clinical in finishing, against a team like Panathinaikos we can afford to miss chances, but against stronger teams, we might not get that second chance. I think I’m being overly critical and it is very early in the season, but to beat the Inters, EEs, Chelseas, etc. we have to learn to just put away chances every single time. Fortunately we were playing in another universe different from Pana so it was all gravy. But I want to be in the Champions League final and the way we played today showed we deserve it. Now we just have to become an efficient machine.

    Oh and give the ball to Messi he seems like he knows what he’s doing with the ball these days lol

  16. September 15, 2010

    Great result to start the competition. Though I won’t compare Panathinaikos to Hercules (in the two games played at least). No comparison. Panathinaikos just let Barcelona move on will. Easy goals where skillful talented players faced no resistance at all. Without ignoring that we played better in this one. Especially that (two lines under the following) Messi accompanied Villa in offense. Basically because the team was not forced to move back at any time.

    Yet, the club needed a boost of moral and we played the perfect opponent to offer us that. Good training before the serious match against Atletico. Lets hope it help to create a momentum. We know what happens when Barcelona get in the mood.

    Dont we all love Busquets? 😀

  17. ML
    September 15, 2010

    This is by far one of the best games i have ever witnessed FCB play, what a display by the boys. Incredible movement, perfect passing, and that one-two between xavi and messi and then with pedro and messi left me drooling, absolutely magnificent.

    Download Links? 😀

    • September 15, 2010

      Hm…so you didnt watch the Classico two years ago nor the final against Manchester? Dude…You missed a lot!

        • barca96
          September 15, 2010

          Or Arsenal@Emirates 1st half.
          Probably the best 20mins of football ever!

      • ML
        September 16, 2010

        True, ive watched nearly every single barcelona game since around 2006, but this game was a real highlight for me. The 2-6 at the bernabeu was simply gorgeous, as was the first half against arsenal. Something about the way we played on tuesday left me drooling, maybe it was the double one-two goal from messi that made my jaw drop.

    • Jnice
      September 15, 2010

      TVE Broadcast

      1st Half:
      *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=PCHC2I0O
      *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=J17GCWBO
      *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=K1VE28HQ
      *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=YI7G7MV3

      2nd Half:
      *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=4F6LLKRZ
      *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=XTHE3STJ
      *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=ND781C2P
      *http://www.megaupload.com/?d=YJA32KD5

      Credit to siscopes1 at rojadirecta.com

      Another link for the game, same broadcast, TVE:

      Full Match: (Probably easier to download because it’s only one link, but of lesser quality)

      *http://www.easy-share.com/1912273584/bar

      Credit to adriancrm at rojadirecta.com

      Sky Sports HD broadcast:

      I’ll just post the torrent link because there are many hotfile files and unless you have a hotfile premium account, you won’t be downloading this anytime soon. If you have hotfile, tell me and I’ll post ’em.

      Torrent link: *http://www.multiupload.com/21VZCCFS90

      Another link, this time in Finnish commentary:

      First Half:

      *http://www.fileserve.com/file/ZqgP7yp

      Second Half:

      *http://www.fileserve.com/file/UKXYZ7H

      Credit to lecart at rojadirecta.com

      Also, Revista De La Liga for anyone who hasn’t seen it or wants it.

      *http://hotfile.com/dl/69355635/8d7248d/Revista_De_La_Liga_-_14-09-10.avi.html

      Credit to Pakman at fbtz.com

      • Jnice
        September 15, 2010

        Also, here’s the UEFA Champions League Goals program from Sky Sports hosted by Richard Keys. Shows highlights of every match played today and includes analysis from ex players, managers, pundits, etc. The panel today included Ruud Gullit, Graeme Souness, and Birmingham manger, Alex Mcleish.

        *http://hotfile.com/dl/69393564/270f4ff/Champions_League_Goals_-_14-09-10.avi.html

        or

        *http://www.fileserve.com/file/uZmXHtK/Champions League Goals – 14-09-10.avi

        Credit to Pakman at fbtz.com

        • ML
          September 16, 2010

          Thanks so much Jnice, really appreciate what you do for the people that want to download.

  18. barca96
    September 15, 2010

    Great review.
    Just one disagreement.
    I don’t think Alves deserved such a high rating. He had a really poor match. His mind looked elsewhere.
    As usual, I giggle when reading your review of Bojan.

  19. mei
    September 15, 2010

    There is not much to say with performances like these.
    I was sitting with a friend in a cafe waiting for the broadcast and my eyes were fixed on the screen ; he was minding his own business surfing the net, because he has no interest in football afterall.
    After 15 minutes i caught him watching the match as well , and he immediately turned on me and remarked : well i dont like to watch this sport but I like what I see from this team .
    It is exciting and dominating.

  20. Helge
    September 15, 2010

    What a match, simply godlike football!
    For me, Messi would have deserved a 10 if he hadn’t missed the penalty. Damn, that would have been awesome, 3 goals and 2 assists in one match, straight on his way to defending being the CL top scorer (for a second successive time, which has never been done by anyone before!)

    Oh, and I just saw your most recent article linked on the frontpage of soccernet, congratulations Queen Elizabeth!

    • Luis
      September 15, 2010

      Yes! Messi was incredible. I think he is far better this season than last and mainly because he is looking up more and spotting passes.

  21. JC
    September 15, 2010

    Off topic:- not sure if any of you’ll have heard about this, but this is way too scary. hXXp://www.monstersandcritics.com/sport/soccer/article_1584362.php/Ajax-player-Evander-Sno-revived-on-pitch-after-heart-attack

  22. Eklavya
    September 15, 2010

    Awesome review Kxevin.

    But as a Playstation player, I have to say its not *that* easy and simple…

  23. Luke
    September 15, 2010

    How did the worst team in Spain manage to win a game? I mean, with a defense THAT bad, no midfield chemistry, a terrible manager who doesn’t know how or when to sub, and putrid overpaid players, I’m surprised they even won today. Sell Mascherano, he’s awful. And Busquets too. And Puyol.

    Wait, it’s still September? Oh ok, carry on then.

    • Vj
      September 15, 2010

      And keep Xavi and Messi? Did you see how Xavi missed that sitter? And the penalty miss? And the numerous missed chances? Hell no!

      And someone should shoot Alves!

      • vincent
        September 15, 2010

        messi can’t even score from a penalty kick! sell him!

  24. Luis
    September 15, 2010

    Two parked busses,one sttod firm while the other one blown to bits. A few more like last night and teams will start to wonder if they can beat us this way as oppposed to pressing high up the pitch. I like the attitude of the players when they say that Hercules was a one off. We need to establish as fact that lower teams have zero chance of beating us, so they might as will save their energy for madrid.Lets make the league forget Hercules

  25. Jnice
    September 15, 2010

    This FiFA demo is hot.

    I’m going to murder people on XBOX Live this year.

    • Tarik
      September 15, 2010

      I like the intensity. I won’t be back stateside for a while, but keep my name on record. I am going to burn through you like a Spanish juggernaut going to town on a poor Greek team of schoolgirls.

    • Miguel
      September 15, 2010

      i need to get rid of the ring of death then spring for xbox live, but would i ever leave the house after that?

      i’ll take you on w/bojan in my line-up & even let you have the ball a little ;^)

      • Jnice
        September 15, 2010

        Haha, Bojan can’t hang with the big boys. He sees zero action.

  26. k5
    September 15, 2010

    agree. defense with puyol is totally different. glad he got to play.

  27. SoccerMom
    September 15, 2010

    SloMa finally gets Busquets.

    There is an upside to low-def, small-screen TV.

    You can’t see the big picture.

    So what looks like an offensive overpass …

    … that turns into a break …

    …. but then …

    … from behind the wire-hanger-turned-bunny-ear antenna …

    … Sergio is.

    And it’s back to you, Xavi.

    Yay.

  28. blitzen
    September 15, 2010

    I have to, I just have to:

    *http://www.goal.com/en/news/725/bundesliga/2010/09/15/2119837/former-vfb-stuttgart-midfielder-aliaksandr-hleb-regrets

    Hleb is being his usual charming self and commenting on his stint at Stuttgart last year:

    “I made mistakes and I was sorry for them. As a result my situation with head coach Christian Gross became ever more difficult. His conduct was not easy for me to deal with.”

    If only those meanie coaches would just leave him alone!

    As for the Barcelona game, I can’t really comment as I have only managed to download the first part so far (thanks for the links, Jnice), but what I have seen was gorgeous. I understand now, for every goal Villa scores, Messi will score two, just to keep him on his toes.

    And why is Kxevin so mean to poor little BabyBojan? :-p

    • Kxevin
      September 15, 2010

      Because Krkic has a standard to meet. It’s club-wide, and it’s high. I like, for example, that people are saying that Villa is too static. They’re right. I noticed that, and was wondering if people would cite the same issues as they cited against Ibrahimovic. Villa is also offside with regularity.

      But back to Krkic. He’s been growing up with the first team. He should be improving, but he is, to my eyes, getting worse. He had a few good matches at the end of last season, matches that have come to define him, rather than the record of ineffectiveness that was the case up until those matches. Now, he is once again ineffective.

      Slow starter? I don’t buy that. Still developing? The A team ain’t the place for developing. You’re first team. Play like it, or sit. Problem is we don’t really have another forward to sub for Villa. Krkic has been given the number 9 this season. It’s symbolic, and a heavy number to wear. We’ll see how he shoulders the burden.

      –Hleb is a jackass, plain and simple. I retract all my suggestions that he would have been worthwhile to keep. Guardiola knows better, and knows the toxic quality of that player, who has finally admitted that he should never have left Arsenal. Whatever. If everybody else is always the problem, maybe it’s time to wonder where the problem really lies.

      • blitzen
        September 15, 2010

        Bait taken. 😉

        Actually I don’t really disagree with your assessment of Bojan, although I wouldn’t put it in quite such harsh terms. I’m more prone to recognize the effort that he is putting in (and he is, even if it’s not readily apparent at the moment). I’m ambivalent about Bojan. He has flashes of brilliance, then long stretches of mediocrity. He was quite good in the preseason, I thought, but then he was playing with mostly members of the B team He is currently playing much better for the Under-21 Spanish team than he is for Barca.

        Pep clearly sees something great in him, or he wouldn’t start him as often as he does. I agree that this season should be his last chance to show he can become a superstar, because that’s what this team demands from its players. If he’s not up to it, or not up to it YET, it’s time to give someone else a chance. But for now we need him, and I truly hope he can break out and show us all what he’s made of.

  29. bhoywunda
    September 15, 2010

    Barca set the standard for all teams in europe this season without doubt but i was a little worried with the full backs. i have no doubt in daniel alves’ ability as an attacking force i just feel he gave away far too much passes last night and got caught out a few times against leto. this would be even more worrying if it was against ronaldo or ozil. abidal is also looking a little suspect for me govou had a lot of joy in the first half against him the goal being the punishment. Now i hate to take attention away from a world class display from barca but the hercules game and the goal last night plants seeds of doubt in ones mind considering real madrid arent conceding many goals this season. also i believe villa needs to play in the centre not on the left he will score for fun in there

  30. Kxevin
    September 15, 2010

    Random thoughts the morning after, from reading the LiveBlog and some comments here:

    –I’m going to disagree with CLUEless(john) here in his defense of Krkic, by citing precedent. He wasn’t getting service, and he set up a goal, which is what he was brought in for are contentions that didn’t work for Henry or Ibrahimovic. I don’t see why they should for farm-raised would-be Wunderkinds. Krkic didn’t do anything except slot that one ball to Messi. Aside from that he ran around ineffectually. Look at the difference in our attack from Villa to Krkic. Everything had to start going through Messi. I think that Krkic has this season to prove himself, and if it doesn’t happen, and Guardiola has anything to do/say in it, he will be loaned or sold.

    –This match didn’t prove much except that if you let us play, we will kill you. The difference between this match and Hercules was in the midfield and at the back. Two players, Busquets and Puyol, made a world of difference. People talk about Messidependencia, but I’d argue that Puyol, Xavi and Busquets are every bit as crucial.

    –Abidal said in his post-match comments that he doesn’t think that he played well. I think that compared to his immense personal standard, he’s right. But also note that Abidal has NEVER admitted to playing well, even after the monster match he had in which he almost single-handedly owned Sevilla. I like that in our players.

    –The Iniesta comparisons to Xavi aren’t direct. But they are illustrative. Iniesta is better this season, but he isn’t as good as he is going to be, barring any injuries. That one tackle that he took that folded his ankle underneath him scared the crap out of me.

    –Goal.com made the same comment that bhoywunda makes in our conceding goals. A team that presses as we do will always concede counterattack goals. Let’s look (briefly) at the three.

    Hercules 1: Ball watching and poor man marking, simple as that. Maxwell punked out instead of defending his spot.

    Hercules 2: Pique went on psychic walkabout. Part of the general malaise. Rarely do any of our defenders stand there and let a man take a shot like that.

    Panathinaikos 1: A perfect outlet to an insane backflip to a perfect finish.

    Three goals, two easily fixed (as we saw last night from a much more aware defense) and one a perfect play. I’ll take those odds. Panathinaikos would have scored that goal against any club in the world. When a club scores a goal like that, you applaud and say “Nice one. You’ll never do that again.”

    • Luke
      September 15, 2010

      The difference in these two matches is more glaring now. I don’t think anyone would equate Hercules with the best team in Greece, they just aren’t on the same level talent-wise. Hercules, like I said after it happened, was a combination of a lot of extenuating circumstances, external factors, and a lack of practice time together. When those things start getting worked out, they change for the better, like last night.

      Was it perfect? No. But after that goal and one other defensive mini lapse, it was pretty close. We could have scored 12 goals, it reminded me of how we battered Almunia and Arsenal in the first leg quarters last year, until the last 15 minutes.

      Kevin is right below, when he says the true test is Atletico Madrid, but only partially. It’s a true test of where we are as a team, not a talent level or anything that was being ignorantly bandied about after Hercules. This team is the most talented in the world, by a good stretch. It also plays to its strengths better than most. That does not mean it will not lose, but it does mean that it is setup to win.

      The biggest question for me is what happens when Xavi is out and can we just never sub the front line? Thanks

      • Miguel
        September 15, 2010

        hercules played really well & to dismiss them & their performance like that isn’t cool. i’m not saying there weren’t outside forces to take into account but hercules didn’t let barcelona play. panathinaikos did.

    • Nik
      September 15, 2010

      I agree with the over-dependence on Xavi and Puyol. I think our chances this season are going to come down to three factors:

      A. Can our back line cope without Puyol?

      Like everyone’s noticed, our defense is totally different with El Capitan flying around there in the back. He’s not getting any younger, and he’s already had some injury scares. Pique is going to have to do a lot of maturing and take over as leader of the defense when Puyol is rested. At this point, he’s just not at the level we need him to be at.

      B. Who’s going to be our engine when Xavi is out?

      Some people have suggested Thiago, some say Iniesta, and even Masch is in that mix as Pep has been subbing him in there for Xavi. Personally, I’d rather not be forced to put Iniesta in there, as I think we’d miss his ability to roam and create magic by having him sit back and dictate play. Masch would be interesting, but I just don’t see him getting enough familiarity with the team to play the vital role of team engine until past the halfway point in this season. It’s a bit futile to predict what Pep will do, but I think it’s safe to say that if we don’t find a good sub to take over Xavi’s role time to time, our season isn’t going to be as successful as hoped.

      C. How badly is our lack of depth in the forward line going to hurt us?

      Right now, we honestly can only rely on Messi, Villa and Pedro (and Iniesta too when he’s thrown in there) to produce in our front line. We were already hurting in terms of depth when Ibra was shipped out, but I took a little reassurance in the fact that we still had Bojan to sub in. After these first few games, I think it’s pretty obvious that Bojan has not lived up to the expectations put on him when he accepted the no. 9 jersey. If Messi gets shut down/injured/subbed out/having an off day like against Herc, who is our offense going to focus on? Ideally, it’d be Bojan. Only time will tell if he can step it up, and I hope he does it quickly.

      • Jnice
        September 15, 2010

        Mascherano was subbed in for Xavi, but Busquets was pushed up. Pep won’t have Mascherano playing a Xavi role.

    • September 15, 2010

      Kevin I think that you are correct in saying that Bojan can do much much more, but given the fact that A: Abidal was not attacking down the left flank &B: Alves was finding loads of space down the right, it makes sense that CT would not see as much of the ball. I do however think that he needs to make more runs into the box looking for junk goals when crosses are coming in from[ the right. He has muscled up in hopes of being able to play with center backs, and I am hoping it works. I do agree that this is the season he has to do it. Although I think he did scor half the goals Ibra did in roughly half the time last year, not terrible.

  31. Kxevin
    September 15, 2010

    Oh, and the real test comes on Saturday, against Atletico in their house. If we pass that one, given the clunk that we’re still working out, then I start thinking great things about this group.

    • Miguel
      September 15, 2010

      pretty much. i’d love to bring those excitable atletico fans back down to earth ;^)

      atletico really has been playing well, especially after their defeat of inter in the supercopa. & they’ve shored up(bar not getting rid of perea) their deficiencies in defence.

      p.s. bojan did nothing but get punked off the ball before that pass to messi in the box.

    • extreme barca fan
      September 16, 2010

      Hi, soory kxevin but the Atletico madrid match is on sunday (that is ofcourse according to official website)

  32. Jim
    September 15, 2010

    I didn’t think Bojan played that badly when he came on but Kxevin’s right in that the bar for him has been raised this year. He’ll either rise to it or he’ll be gone at the end. We’ll have resolution either way.

    Not sure I’d excuse Abidal over the goal. I do, though, regard it as a fluke rather than great play. Not sure he knew much about the flick and it fell perfectly for the attacker. However, Abidal’s starting position wasn’t great.

    I also thought Alves had a pretty poor game. Balls were going to the opposition, bouncing off him and generally made him look like an amateur. however, I love his continual energy and was pleased to see him get a goal at the end. He didn’t hide and that’s good to see.

    I just love what Iniesta offers this team. don’t like comparing him to Xavi. It’s like comparing a good Shiraz to a bottle of Beaune. That move on the touchline was out of this world. I watched it over and over.

    Was it my imagination or did Messi stick more to the right wing than he has of late?

    Now, Pep, no tinkering for Atleti.

    • Alex
      September 15, 2010

      The only saving grace for Bojan was the assist. He F-ed up quite a few one-two passing settups where he was either in the wrong position or did not put the right touch on it…. shape up or ship out!@!!

      • Jim
        September 15, 2010

        Let’s be fair about this. He only got 20 minutes at a time when we had the game won and were coasting. He was on the pitch for 9 minutes then Xavi went off. He had a great assist and not much else, so by all means say he was only so-so but to say he was awful is imo ridiculous.

        I must have missed all the wrong touches he put in. He’s all we’ve got for at least half a season and will need to be used so let’s give him a chance till Christmas and then see where we are.

  33. Alex
    September 15, 2010

    The game against Atletico is on Sunday at 10AM. Soccertv has it listed as being on EPSN2, but the ESPN TV Guide and DirecTV guide does not show it as playing on ESPN2 but rather ESPN Deportes (non-HD, booooo)….. anyone have any insight?

    Also, for those of you with an Xbox and gold live accounts, come November 1st, ESPN3 will be available to stream from your Xbox to your TV in HD…………… how freagin sweet is that..

  34. Kari
    September 15, 2010

    Hectored Guardiola Comment [UEFA.com]: We’re in this silly phase of the season when you play well and are on top and then concede a goal or you have a clear chance and you miss. We scored five tonight with a game based on movement, possession and being ourselves.

    Yup, true speak, Pep. True speak.

    Full presser down below:

    “You know I’m not one to walk around with my chest puffed out, but I have to say we played an extraordinary game tonight. You know you are doing things right when you manage to create 20-something chances against the Greek champions, but we’ve not hit top form yet.

    “We attacked much better than [in the 2-0 home loss against Hércules CF on Saturday]. Víctor Valdés only touched the ball once all night and that was to pick it out of his net. We’re in this silly phase of the season when you play well and are on top and then concede a goal or you have a clear chance and you miss. We scored five tonight with a game based on movement, possession and being ourselves. The Champions League is a tournament that demands you win your home games and we’ve done that tonight.

    “[Lionel Messi] is the best player in the world by a distance; he always wants to play. Try heading off to Argentina for 11 days, coming straight back here and playing a game like he did tonight; see if you can. OK, he earns a lot of money but he’s also only human.”

    • September 15, 2010

      I love everything Guardiola says. EVERYTHING!

      someone should compile all his public press conferences and publish them in a book entitled: How to be the best coach in the world.

  35. romario
    September 15, 2010

    brilliant game!

    once again a wonderfull soccernight simply a joy to watch 🙂

    yesterday the team looked bursting of self-confidence the only things to critices was the ineffeciancy and the defence.

    messi once again with a outstanding performance love how he and villa are connecting more and more.

    agree on busquets!tremendous performance his devolopment is like piqué incredible at that early age playing at this highlevel..scary!
    and theres still much time for improvement xD

    @Jnice
    thanks for the links! 😉

  36. blitzen
    September 15, 2010

    Kxevin: Busquets said in his press conference today that he WAS trying to take a shot on goal when the ball went to Villa instead and he scored. I don’t know if that affects the perfect 10 you awarded him for the game or not (not that I was arguing with it).

    • Ryan
      September 15, 2010

      In any case, it’s great to see goals from set plays!

  37. Bill
    September 15, 2010

    Wow! It was amazing to watch this game, and cool to find myself screeming and cheering almost unconsciously. What wasn’t cool was I was doing this at a greek bar :). I’m lucky to be alive.

    Messi was amazing as is often the case. That pass from Xavi at that distance was out of this world. As for Messi’s second goal…the only other people ive ever seen orchestrate such one-two’s are Ronaldinho and maradona.

    As for Krkic, I cut him alot of slack because Ive been in his situation. As a young kid trying to get into a team, you are naturally nervous, not sure of your positioning and always feel slower than the play. But the worst part is, and I saw this from him in the last two games, your muscles tighten up on you, you can’t seem control the ball like you usually can, the ball just runs away from you with a simple touch. Give him time, let him work the kinks out. The best thing Pep can do is tell Krkic, ‘hey kiddo, don’t worry about anything, I just want you to go out there and have fun’, because when everything falls into place, this kid will be amazing.

    • Larm
      September 15, 2010

      regarding bojan i think you got it right, he seems just seems nervous. if he gets a goal or two in the next couple games im sure hell start to shine.

  38. Lev
    September 15, 2010

    great match yesterday. banging review today.

    watching EE vs my 2nd fave team Ajax right now. Ajax is playing dreadfull football. It is still 0-0 after 29 mins but EE is averaging about 1.5 shots on goal per minute 🙁

    • Lev
      September 15, 2010

      shouldn’t have kept my keyboard shut cause the second I typed this EE scored…

      • Lev
        September 15, 2010

        1st half finished. thank god i can’t watch the 2nd half cause i have to go to work now. Ajax LB Anita is possibly the first player scoring an own goal by heading it against his own leg first. Ajax seem to have a lot of problems passing the ball to other Ajax players. Stekelenburg is a solid goalkeeper, in the time it took me to type this post he has made 4 saves. EE fans are whistling a lot, whether this is because Madrid has not scored 5 goals yet or whether they don’t like Cristiano Ronaldo’s haircut I do not know.
        peace
        visca barça

  39. Josep
    September 15, 2010

    Its good to see my boy Lacina Traore score for Cluj. Don’t be surprised to see him in a big European team soon.

  40. lovelymofo
    September 15, 2010

    Anyone watching the Arsenal match? They had a nifty little, pass it into the net goal. I still think Messi’s two give and gos and then goal was better, but it was nice to see.

    So, top three teams in the Champions League will probably be Chelski, Arsenal, and Barça. Even tho, who knows how Arsenal will do against park the bus teams.

  41. Josep
    September 15, 2010

    I won’t give Arsenal too much credit just yet. Althought I will admit Chelsea seem to be one of the teams to beat, as well as us. I just don’t see, other than some odd circumstances, us two not being in the final.

    I wonder if Inter will make it out of the group stages. How did Rafa get that job? Liverpool couldn’t pay to get rid of him and someone offers him a job?? He’s gone as far as saying Spain is his dream job. Hah, dream on!

  42. Hilal
    September 15, 2010

    Kxevin I am so happy you gave Sergio a 10. His overall play in this game, and most games recently, has been absolutely fantastic. It is so nice to see him get the praise he deserves from some people. I still come across a lot of Barca fans who doubt this kid and I find it pretty unbelievable.

    What is even more amazing is the fact that he plays so well in such a tough position at such a young age. The rate at which he seems to be learning and maturing is staggering. Ever since the Inter game he has just got better and better each time I have watched him play. Not only has he learned precisely when to be cute with the ball and when to just pass, but his work rate and ability to win back possession is second to none. He also seems to have cut out all the diving nonsense!

    • blitzen
      September 15, 2010

      Wouldn’t it be nice to meet Arsenal in the final? Cesc accidentally puts on a Barca shirt…

    • Hilal
      September 15, 2010

      Whatever. Arsenal were rocking it last season too till they faced a real team. Then they got a lesson in football. A mediocre Liverpool held them to a draw a few weeks ago. Arsenal don’t worry me in the slightest.

      Chelsea worry me a hell of a lot more!! Would love to meet them in the final!

    • Jose
      September 15, 2010

      Arsenal are indeed rocking it! Good to see their fans feel the other side of a six-goal shellacking 😉

  43. GREECE BARCA
    September 15, 2010

    oh pep why don.t you wanted oezil!why???the kid is amazing..well madrid this season is better than last.ajax was a poor team.champions league need changes cause the group stage is a joke.

    • Jnice
      September 15, 2010

      Pep has his reasons, but he was MOTM against Ajax for sure. Intelligent player.

    • museum
      September 15, 2010

      Ozil was straight genius today.

      • Helge
        September 15, 2010

        Messi was better yesterday. I don’t want to read massive praise for an EE player here on BFB… please!

        • skyislm
          September 16, 2010

          Helge dear, this discussion is about the mortal players in “this” planet 🙂

  44. Jnice
    September 15, 2010

    Sergio Busquets vs. Panathanaikos

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cq9CEjfoyf4&feature=sub

    • blitzen
      September 15, 2010

      Thaaaanks! I love these things because I miss so much when I watch it live!

      • blitzen
        September 15, 2010

        Just following up on my own comment to say that I found this video mesmerizing. I love how whenever an opposing player did manage to get the ball, either Xavi or Biscuits had it off him within seconds. My ball! Mine!

    • jordi(TM)
      September 15, 2010

      Thanks! I wish there were more busi vids around.

  45. September 15, 2010

    I really love the family analogy of this blog. As we discuss things from different perspectives and have different opinions, we still keep the respect for everyone. Family can disagree, but we disagree with the love of the club, as well as this space. This time I just have to disagree with comments saying Bojan did play an OK game last night, because he really didn’t. Not even OK. If it was really OK to you, you are lowering the standard of our players.

    Bojan can not be excused for his age, size, talents, past performance and being cute. They don’t matter when we have a standard to measure his games. Especially we have players who are of similar age, size, past performance and also cuteness (*blink). We need good performance in the next game, not the past. We need a player who play well week in and week out, not sometimes. As Kxevin put it, the number 9 is a heavy and symbolic number which comes with a role heavy as hell to shoulder.

    Bojan is 21 and you say he is still developing. It’s true. But Messi is still developing too, Busquets also, surely Pedro as well. But by the time you are with the first team, you should be a finished product. He might have been promoted a tad too early, but he cannot be excused by now. I ask, how many goals should a Barcelona number 9 score to make him a great striker for us? I don’t know. But he should at least be more effective on the ball and had decent runs off the ball. The minutes aren’t cheap, he should take them with a determination to do well. A player his size should be providing a fresh energy to the game. Even if the service is not there, you should still be putting pressure on the defenders by running fast, force long ball or lose ball, try to break off-side traps. He didn’t even impose himself as a striker last night. You say maybe he was asked to fill the left wing, but think about the ‘9’ behind his back and the meaning of it. He wasn’t even shooting. And losing the ball far too often is the most effective way to get benched.

    Don’t call me a hater. Hater hates regardless of how a player plays. I want Bojan to do well, but he is not. If he did play well, we won’t say agree to the zero he received. But seeing comments saying Bojan played ok really annoyed me. We don’t lower standard for any player because we cannot afford to. Our club is made up of the best players and they justify it on the pitch and the numbers they deliver.

    I will be cheering with you all Bojan fans out there whenever he scores in capital letters on the Liveblog. So, let’s hope we see those goals, we need them.

    • Vicsoc8
      September 15, 2010

      To hold Bojan to a higher standard than you would have before this season started, solely because he is wearing the “9” now, makes absolutely no sense. The nine is a number, not a magic cape, or a poisoned chalice. The important thing is that Bojan is contributing to the team at the level that Guardiola wants and needs him to be. No offense, but your expectations of what a “9” should contribute means nothing.

      If Bojan is contributing to the team at the level that Guardiola wants and expects him to, then he is being successful. Period.

    • September 15, 2010

      But I think the club or the football culture is not working the same way, Vicsoc.

      They are certainly just numbers on the back, but they are also a recognition, a representation of the importance of a player. It won’t be right if Messi wear the number 84 or any number other than 10 for us. It will also be wrong if Valdes wear 99. There are certain positions in which the number matters more.”1″,”10″ & “9”. Also, like many big clubs the number 9 is a legacy because former players who wore the same number did great things for the club. So to say those particular numbers don’t draw higher expectations is like ignoring the culture and history of the game. But even he is keeping his 11, I will still demand the same things from him because he has been with us for years now. He has no excuse not to play well and live up to the standard.

      Regarding your comments below, particularly on the mistakes part, I think mistakes are tolerable only if one don’t repeatedly make the same mistakes. Bojan gets out-muscled way more often than Pedro who is similar in size, let alone Messi. He lost the ball up front the most and it’s clear they aren’t new mistakes. That means he is not improving and has not corrected his mistakes. Busquets played his way into the first team, forced The Yaya to find new boss by correcting his mistakes. But when he played badly, strange thing is that no one would call it out and start hating, because that’s the pressure he has to live up to.

      • Kxevin
        September 15, 2010

        For the record, I’m not posting under cliveee’s name. 😀

        And I agree about 1,000,000 percent. Iconic numbers are earned, not bestowed in the hopes that the player will live up to them. I think that everyone wants to see Krkic do well, me because we need another forward. And I don’t mean tomorrow.

        I just think that certain numbers 4, 9, 10 are given to players who meet the expectations. Ibrahimovic was given 9 because he is. And he showed it right out of the gates. Messi is a 10 all day and night. Xavi isn’t 4 because he’s fine with his number. And if he’s fine, then I’m fine. Fabregas is a 4. Fo’ sho’. Certain numbers bring expectations of performance and for me, though it is entirely in jest, Krkic is a 4.5, rather than a full-on 9. I sincerely hope that changes.

      • blitzen
        September 15, 2010

        I’m sorry, I can’t agree about the numbers. Yeah, yeah, history, tradition, legacy. But is Pepe Reina any less of a goalkeeper because he wears number 25 instead of number 1? Villa could have had the 9 if he wanted it, at Valencia and at Barca after Ibra left, but he stuck with the 7 because he likes it. Does that make him less of a striker? And what about those crazy numbers they use in Italy? Ronaldinho is number 80!

        Maybe we should just all get over it already.

      • blitzen
        September 15, 2010

        Oh, but I agree with you about Bojan getting out-muscled. That, to me, is his biggest flaw. He lets himself get walked over in situations where he should stand his ground, or he gives up on a ball because he thinks someone else will reach it first. Contrast that to Messi, who sometimes has too much self-belief and tries to carry the ball through himself instead of passing to someone else when that would be the best move.

  46. Lou
    September 15, 2010

    Messi apparently got mobbed at an Adidas promotional event in London today.

    *http://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/blog/dirty-tackle/post/adidas-underestimate-interest-in-promo-event-Me?urn=sow-269950

    “Organised as part of a publicity stunt by Messi’s boot sponsor Adidas, the Barcelona and Argentina star flew into the spiritual home of English Sunday football via helicopter from London City Airport.

    However, the organisers – who posted photograph clues on Facebook as to where Messi would be throughout the day before revealing the location around 30 minutes beforehand – had not banked on the levels of interest.

    And after being surrounded by fans just moments after stepping out of the helicopter – alone, with kit bag in hand – Messi was quickly bundled into a van by his minders and taken towards a secure area further away from the pitch.”

    • jordi(TM)
      September 15, 2010

      *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_apAEKiqxc&feature=player_embedded

      The people came out of no where lol

  47. Vicsoc8
    September 15, 2010

    The whole Bojan situation reminds me how fickle fans can be. We want instant results now, but we also want to be building a team for the future. We take pride in our homegrown players, but we cringe and curse when our young players make a mistake or don’t have a good game.

    The perfect example is Busquets. For the first half of lad season many on this blog hated Busquets, they rage on him when he made a mistake, they claimed he was ineffectual, they called him weak, etc. That’s not to say that some of these things weren’t correct, but there was often tangible malice coming from every direction. Fast forward to this season, and the comments couldn’t be more radically different – he gets effusive praise from almost everyone, and man people hold him up as an example of our shining youth policy.

    To get to the point, you can’t have the great feeling and pride this year without going through the mistakes last year. The two are inseparable, if a home made player is going to make it into the team it is inevitable that he will makes mistakes as he earns his stripes. I’m very glad Pep knows this. It is acceptable to comment on A player’s poor match (and I’m thinking in one particular right now), but if you aren’t willing to let players make mistakes, then it is hypocritical to take pride in the homegrown players on our team.

    We are the most spoils fans in the history of the club and possibly in all of World Football at the moment. At this time it is especially important to retain perspective, if we don’t we will lose our identity as a club.

    • jordi(TM)
      September 15, 2010

      I agree with everything here.The absolutes and strange personal ultimatums to bojan as if they are part of the coaching staff by some fans both puzzle and slightly enrage me.for bojan read xavi or iniesta or VV etc. along the years and its always the same.X player will never be good enough.Years later Player X is the best and i always knew this and supported him.Busi’s mental strength is clearly amazing but there are the flip side stories of the xavi’s and iniesta’s that struggled with the expectations and consistency to reach where they are.They talk about it themselves many times like here at 4:50 *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCedmQZE0SE .With the logic i see expressed sometimes, if left to some people we definitely would have missed out on our number 8 and 6 by selling them when they were 21-23 and not world class.Thankfully the club has had a little more faith and will hopefully continue that way.

      • Kxevin
        September 15, 2010

        And after two seasons with the first team, Busquets is world-class, and one of the best players around at his position. Can anyone, even the most devoted fans of Krkic, say the same about him? Busquets earned his way into that role, and took it by dint of excellent play.

        I vehemently disagree with the suggestion that we are spoiled for demanding more from Krkic. It’s put up or shut up time. Pedro! is another example. He got the shot, and grabbed it by the neck. Now you can’t pry him out of the lineup.

        And I think that you mistake the excoriation that Busquets received for other than what it was: outrage that a player was playing in the first team, and making crucial errors. But he grew up fast. Now he’s playing like the guy that Guardiola thought he was, so he gets praise.

        As I’ve said, this club has a high standard, and every player has to live up to it. If fans can howl about a striker’s 21 goals and 9 assists not being sufficient, what are we to say about our current 9?

        A larger problem is that there are different standards for different players. For me, Krkic is a first-teamer, not a project. He could get away with the project stuff two years ago. Last year, you could say “Well, he wasn’t getting the time with Ibrahimovic in the house, etc, etc.” Except when he got the time, he was awful, until the end of the season.

        This summer, Ibrahimovic was sold. And apparently, everybody who was anybody knew that he was going to be sold. Krkic should have been ready. Instead he’s the same ineffectual player that didn’t show anything for most of last season. That has to change.

  48. barca96
    September 15, 2010

    Hmmm nobody mentioned about the superb build-up play that led to Messi hitting the bar after Xavi sliding it right to Messi.
    THat was most probably the nicest build-up play I have ever seen.

    If you still cared about Ibra, have a look at this. Kinda shocking.

    **http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaE4d3nAL0g&feature=player_embedded

  49. blitzen
    September 15, 2010

    Is it just me, or do we all spend way too much time thinking about a team that for most of us isn’t even on the same continent?

    Still, I wouldn’t change a thing. 😀

  50. barca96
    September 15, 2010

    Did you guys see the back heel pass from Wilshere to Chamakh.
    Now that was really nice!
    Kxevin, I know you don’t like mustard, but you gotta admit, that was brilliant 🙂

    • Kxevin
      September 15, 2010

      I don’t like mustard when you don’t need condiments. I didn’t see the play in question, but if something fancy is the only way that you can get it done, and you have it in your skill set (witness the Ibrahimovic assist to Pedro! last season, for example), then rock on.

      I’m just not a fan of mustard for mustard’s sake, so to speak.

  51. GREECE BARCA
    September 15, 2010

    well i hate madrid like all of us.my comment about oezil was made cause we had the chance to take him in a very good price.pep sometimes confuse me with his transfer policy..oezil can play in wings or midfield.and don.t tell me again about tiago,santos,romeu e.t.c.any of you have see this guys playing any minute?me no.against pathetico will play the same boys.

    • Kxevin
      September 15, 2010

      Guardiola’s decision about Ozil was made with the full picture in his head. Had he not had the confidence that Thiago and Dos Santos wouldn’t have been getting harmed by the acquisition of Ozil, I’m sure that he would have done the deal. Ozil works for them because they had a need in the position that he plays. We don’t, the Fabregas lust notwithstanding.

      The decision was X million Euros and stilted development and potentially a lost player or two, or taking a stand and looking at the future of this club. Time will tell if Guardiola made the correct decision.

      • poipoi
        September 16, 2010

        that ozil looks good, and he wanted to come. I guess then he WAS comitted with FCB, which is what pep likes so much. It wouldn’t have hurt to add a little variety to the team… a creative and vertical player that can really play mid or wing… besides it was 15 million for a 22 year old!!! bad, bad call by pep IMO, chigrisnkyi style. And the youngsters haven’t played a minute in la liga yet. I just don’t understand… only when Fabregas comes to mind. But anyway I don’t want Fabregas that bad, he was ours then left and now will cost us around 30 or 40!!! (that is what I call a bad culé with irresponsible behaviour) Ozil would have been 15!!! And he would have brought new stuff to our game me thinks.

        One single injury can hurt us a lot this year (think of players like pedro! messi villa iniesta xavi) and let’s not think of two “offensive player injuries” at the same time. He could have fitted in any of those places

  52. Kari
    September 15, 2010

    A collection of Barca misses after amazing build-ups (well, most of them) from last season (and some from the Treble winning year)

    /http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeWFIGFp4LM&feature=fvwk

    No prizes for guessing who appears most often. 😀

    • Ethan
      September 15, 2010

      Haven’t Watched Yet So Takin A Guess.
      Goin With Bojan…Am I Right, Am I Right????? ; )

      • Kari
        September 15, 2010

        Nope. Nice guess, though. Here’s a hint:

        He’s tall, dark and handsome short, pale, and awesome.

    • Ryan
      September 15, 2010

      Aw, I remember that across the field corner that essentially became 3 crosses finishing with an Henry header. So close!

  53. jose89
    September 15, 2010

    anybody see the Müller goal in the bayern v roma game? wow.

    • Kxevin
      September 15, 2010

      Yes! Absurd. No keeper alive stops that one, because the shot made the impossible not quite so.

  54. jose89
    September 15, 2010

    and does anybody have a video of that iniesta touchline move? what a sublime touch to move it away from the opponent’s reach.

    • Kxevin
      September 15, 2010

      Unfortunately, no. And then he passed it to Xavi, who proceeded to smoke a pair of defenders with that spin move of his. You know it’s coming, but you just can’t do anything about it.

    • Jnice
      September 16, 2010

      It’s in the beginning of this video:

      *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBjz9hwlLtA&feature=sub

  55. Kxevin
    September 15, 2010

    JJust sitting down to the Bayern match, and imagine that! Robben is in street clothes.

  56. Kxevin
    September 15, 2010

    And Milan’s bargain striker kinda did okay for them today. 😀

  57. gv
    September 15, 2010

    Just OT, speaking of playstation football, has anyone tried the fifa 11 or pes 11 demos?

    barca features in both demos. in the pes demo, it’s only bayern and barca. Plus ibra’s still with bara in both demos. hope ea and konami updates this. Atleast, we’ll get to play with the villa, messi, ibra trident! 😀

    here’s the fifa dl link,

    *http://static.cdn.ea.com/fifa/u/f/fifa11_pc_demo_EU.zip

    and pes

    *http://dl.pes2011.konamionline.com/pes2011/package/PES2011_Demo.exe

    they’re both the pc version btw. fifa improved a lot. i mean a LOT!

    • Jnice
      September 16, 2010

      Yeah, I played the demo for Xbox. It’s real nice. Looks like I will be ranked top 20 in the US again this year. 😀

      I have to decide who I will use, though. Busquets or Mascherano. It’s a video game, I have no favorites lol.

      • poipoi
        September 16, 2010

        lol… I don’t play much but it’s always nice to have a tall dude in there to stop the rival’s air play 😉

        I used to play with Guddy in there and he kicked so much ass!!! lmfao

      • Josep
        September 16, 2010

        So you play for XBox? what’s your GT we can play, either the World Cup game now, or 11 when it comes out.

    • Jose
      September 16, 2010

      When I saw a Real Madrid player as the cover screen, I threw up a little. Thankfully, FIFA broke its usual one team per league demo policy, so you can play El Clasico.

      FIFA 11 does look promising. Interesting note, Pedro! and Bojan have both been bumped up to an 81 rating, and Busquets, I think, is even higher. Ibra is still in, though that’ll definitely change. Btw, the Barca starting front three are Pedro, Villa and Messi.

      Apparently, one notable thing is that player personalities are more realistic… i.e., you won’t have Iniesta give the kind of cocky celebration someone like CRon would. Small, but nice attention to detail.

  58. September 16, 2010

    Yeah Kevin, I have t say you may be putting to much into this number thing. Surly the number is important in many cases, but in this case it is obvious that Pep was trying to to instill a bit of confidence into Bojan by giving him a number that is synonymous with class and pure greatness. It may backfire, it may work well, but mocking him and calling him 4.5 does nothing good. I understand expressing your frustration due to your perceiving his inability to preform to your, if I may say so, overtly high standards. You and Issiah are tremendously important to this blog, (you guys founded it for Christ sake), and your opinions carry a lot of weight with your readers, so your being down on Bojan will in all likelyhood cause a snowball effect making him Mr. Unpopular this season. Those of us who disagree, either because we think he needs more time to mature (name me another 20 year old striker that holds down a starting role on a top 5-10 team), or because we think that his performances underrated will in all probability be in the minority as the season drags on, but surely you can see both sides of the argument and give the kid his due when he does well.
    As for Tuesdays game I would argue that for long stretches Villa was a ghost out there, and only made an impression with a junk goal and a few nice linkup with Messi. And his complete inability to stay on side is becoming an issue, as it disrupts the flow of our buildup. Why not call him 3.5? No doubt he is a class player, but he was rendered useless early on because our attack was running consistently through the right side with Messi and Alves finding tons of space. So when Bojan took over on the left it is no wonder why he did not see much of the ball. Finally I think it is important to remember that Bojan will not have the ball facing up to fullbacks very often when playing on the left because Abidal is not a very offensive fullback, so he wont link up with a LW as much as Alves, who is overtly offensive will link up with players on the right. I know you hope for the best for Bojan, as we all do, I just wish you would vocalize your support more and defend him as staunchly as you did Ibra all last year.

    • Kxevin
      September 16, 2010

      Once and for all, I am not down on Krkic. I will call him out when his performances don’t match the expectations of being first team on the best club in the world, but duh. I expect that anyone else will, as well.

      When he stops playing like half of a real 9, I’ll stop calling him 4.5. This space has a nickname for failure, called being Hlebbed, and nobody said boo about it. We started calling Gudjohnsen Oso (bear) because I said that at times his play with the ball was like giving a bear the car keys, and nobody said boo. Now suddenly it’s “You might damage poor little Bojan.”

      He’s a 20-year-old multi-millionaire athlete playing first-team football on the club that we all love. And right now, he’s doing it for shit. Go back and look at the stick that Henry took for underperformning. Or Ibrahimovic in more recent memory. Or Abidal. Or Busquets. If Krkic becomes Mr. Unpopular this season, it will be because of his play. Same thing happened to Hleb, and his play didn’t even fully justify it.

      And Krkic occupies a role on a top 5-10 team. He doesn’t hold it down. Henry performed better than Krkic has been, and got benched for his trouble.

      As for Villa, I suggest you watch the match again, without trying to justify his poor play through the prism of defending Krkic. His movement, passing and link-up play enabled much of our Playstation football. And he was perfectly placed to take advantage of that midguided Busquets shot. The left side went dead when Krkic came in, not because they weren’t giving him service but because he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing to get service. There’s a difference.

      Finally, I did not defend Ibrahimovic. I defended what he did for this club. When Krkic gives me 21 goals and 9 assists, I’ll defend what he does for the club, too.

  59. September 16, 2010

    Someone made a comment about how how fickle many of us fans were, and I cant agree more. At the end of last season, nearly everyone on this site was applauding young Bojan for stepping into a starting role and preforming more than adequately all while having to fill the shoes of the “best, most expensive and overall technically proficient” strikers the world has ever seen in Ibra. Well to remind everyone, mister 4.5 scored 8 goals in the seasons final 11 matches, which was second only to Messi during that period. So far this season we have played in three games that have mattered, clearly the sample size is not large enough for us to pass final judgment on Bojans season.

    He is not Messi, or even Robbie Keane (lol) but a goal every 57 minutes in his last 11 games is fairly impressive.

    • Kxevin
      September 16, 2010

      If you will recall, I was not one of the ones applauding Krkic for doing anything other than his job. It’s easy to pass judgment on people, calling them “fickle” when they don’t hew to your set of expectations. And it’s wrong. It’s also not in keeping with the spirit of this space.

      What if they are judging Krkic as they should be? Because here’s the thing: The first team isn’t for player development. Particularly not with a short squad such as we have. It is for performance. Meet expectations, or sit.

      When Krkic has a good match, he has always been praised. By everyone. But when he’s been crap, he should take the stick like any first-teamer.

  60. Diego S.
    September 16, 2010

    Don’t Judge Bojan depending on the first 3 Games of the Season .. He has a whole season to prove himself or at least till January .. Get Good or Get Gone !!

  61. Bundy
    September 16, 2010

    I don’t think this will be the make or break season for Bojan, hell no!

    firstly we have to consider that the past few CFs we had were not satisfactory in the CF position either. Ibra was a good player, and made good performances but he didn’t bring what the team needed at CF. Eto’o was a prolific finisher and could easily coexist with the passing system, but! he was limited, he couldn’t pass good enough and his touch wasn’t good enough either. Whether he was what the team needed, remains to be seen, because well, the 09/10 season we played against teams who defended differently against us, something maybe Eto’o would have struggled with.

    other than those two, we have very little options to buy another CF, unless we splash the bug bucks, but does Pep really want to splash the cash on a player who will more likely fail due to the strict demands the CF position holds in this team? surely not after what happened with Ibra

    Usually the best CF we can get are fairly old and high priced, not Ideal for us in my eyes.

    on the other hand, we could invest in younger CFs and build them up under less expectations, really we should be doing this and we already have a young CF, but is he built up under lower expectations? its debatable. I just think we are taking things too quickly with Bojan here, especially when we want to avoid certain situations like the Ibra saga.

    Bojan seems to be playing LW more often than CF, but CF is where Bojan will most likely be playing his trade in the future. He does look right now very out of place, but again, he isn’t given the time he deserves.

    Right now it seems very very difficult to find a good transfer option for CF. But i just think Pep is taking Bojan on slowly and giving him the time, even if he is not performing well right now, he is pretty much the best option we have, even more so than players we can buy for millions.

  62. poipoi
    September 16, 2010

    “Busquets: 10. Hard to believe there was a time when people doubted this dude. If you watch the match again, spend some time just watching him.”

    Not that hard to believe, people trashed him all the time in here not that long ago. I guess the shade of yaya was too long like we say in Spain but he has even overcome the modafriggin shade of his yayaness which is nothing but epic. There are times I spend like 5 or 10 minutes of the game (I mean live) just watching Busi, he is amusing even when not touching the ball. And his anticipations make me rise of my seat shouting BUSSEEEY!!!

    I think it’s only his third year in primera, this hijoputa is gonna be such a legend if he keeps it like that 🙂

    • poipoi
      September 16, 2010

      btw… “Krkic (for Villa): 2.” I have to sadly agree, now he’s starting to worry me and the fact that “who else do we have to substitute for Villa?” 🙁 messi? nothing else if not more cantera.

      rochina time!!!!

      • September 16, 2010

        Clearly it should be KERRISON TIME!!!

        The guy is not cup tied (Santos), and is silly good. He is a pore mans pato, or you could say he is like Pedro with solid ball handling, good instincts and tunnel vision in front of the net. Plus I believe he could play on the right wing, either subbing for Messi, in copa games, or simply allow messi to play as a false 9 against teams that are parking the bus. Mainly, what are we loosing by letting him in the squad? A squad I may add that has serious depth issues.

    • Kxevin
      September 16, 2010

      And again, I have to say that people in here trashed Busquets because his performances usually warranted it. Remember the diving, and misplayed passes and wayward headers that cost us goals. It wasn’t that long ago. Now that he is playing up to the standard of his place in this squad, people are praising him. That is as it should be.

      The only player who took a long time for people to come around on was Valdes. For a while it was “He was good, but he’s going to be bad the next match, because he isn’t a world-class keeper.” But the doubters know better now.

      • September 16, 2010

        Yet sometimes people take time to understand what a player bring for the team. It is safe to say that Busquets started to get some credit during the world cup. But there is a reason why he was called to the national team in the first place.

        The main reason is that we cant avoid comparing players. That is the mother of all confusion. It happens almost on annual bases. Remember. Abidal and Alves. Keita and Iniesta. Busquets and Yaya. Ibra and Eto’o. Iniesta and Xavi…

        I do think that avoiding such comparisons and trying to evaluate a player based on his role and qualities that he bring to the squad is the roadmap to be fair with each and everyone.

        • poipoi
          September 16, 2010

          I remember the most his game vs Manchester in the final, having been only that current season with the 1st team. He did a great WC but del bosque had to call him for a reason.

  63. September 16, 2010

    Actually the answer to our “young, cheap” striker needs may be over. Juanmi is available for only for only eight million euros, his buyout. Now after spending a cool 100 mil on Villa and Ibra, this investment seems reasonable to say the least. It would also leave us with a trident of young forwards to compete for time and feed off eachother in training, Juanmi. Bojan and Pedro. I could see this working, as we always seem to do better with players we buy who already ply their trade in Espana.

  64. Helge
    September 16, 2010

    Apparently, we have to pay 26.7m € to a TV station after our case got dismissed by the appellate court…
    *http://www.as.com/futbol/articulo/barca-debera-abonar-sogecable-otros/dasftb/20100915dasdasftb_14/Tes

  65. September 16, 2010

    Regarding Bojan: I agree with Kevin that Bojan need to show improvement, or else the club must not keep being the hostage of Bojanism.

    What I dont agree with, is making it Bojan’s fault for being the only “9” we have beside Villa. Managing Bojan’s growth as a player was wrong. He is a victim, not the one to blame. Does that give him the right to stay forever with the squad even if he doesnt improve? No. It offers him more time, but not endless time.

  66. Josep
    September 16, 2010

    So what’s the Keirrison deal anyways? I’ve heard so many rumors. One of my favorites is that with the Keirrison loan, Santos have given us a right to first buy on Neymar..

    Now Neymar I think is someone who could be the future #9.

    Look at it this way, we want someone so great at the CF..and we haven’t had the perfect one. As noted, everyone had their flaws. But with Eto’o and his flaws we still won a treble.. what if someone perfect for the system played up there? We’d be unstoppable.

    I think Neymar is that player. I buy the hype on this guy, and he can also float out wide on both wings and I believe is both footed.

    But what’s the history on Keirrison? I knew he was highly wanted, we play 20mil right? And nothing? Just some loans..

    Our future CF, if not Bojan, should be Keirrison, Neymar, or Lukaku. I wouldn’t mind seeing Lacina Traore but I don’t think his on the balls skills are good enough.

  67. Barcathegreatestever
    September 16, 2010

    Sergio looks more and more like Xavi and should step into that role before Iniesta if needed IMO. Pedro, Villa, Messi and Iniesta are the heart of Barca’s attack and shoulder the responsibility of that limelight. Bojan has shown his quality meaning absolute freaking brilliance going back to the CL under Rikjaard and sadly some mental inconsistency as has Pique and Sergio. His goal and assist numbers measured against minutes on the field compare favorably to other forwards and lastly his devotion to Barca warrants further consideration and respect. The guy is not a starter and won’t peak for another 5 years. Comparing him to guys at the peak of their careers, 28 to 30 year olds is not warranted.

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