Sept. 17, 2000: What Child Is This?

Tales of lore do not attain their status overnight. They become bigger than life over time due to their implausibility and the decisions made that affect our histories so greatly. Such is the tale of Lionel Messi. A diminutive youth player with good skill in need of expensive treatments to repair a growth hormone deficiency flies to Barcelona for a trial made possible because of some familial connections with then-sporting director Carles Rexach. His trial is a success. He is offered a youth contract and that the medical bills would be paid for his growth hormone deficiency treatments. He succeeds in the youth leagues.

Almost 5 years ago to the day he if offered a first-team deal. As if this were not enough, he then scores a hat trick in El Clasico. The goals start coming, the assists are there, and he gains more time with the first team. Finally, he inherits the #10 and repays the team with a six trophy haul and 38 goals, winning the FIFA World Player of the Year Award. Then he outdoes himself the next year scoring 47 goals. Oh, and he’s still only 5’6″ and is the best player in the world. Adding to all that, he’s named after Lionel Richie, which is scary. It’s the stuff of legends that inspires us. 10 years ago today Messi and his father landed in Barcelona to take part in a trial that would pave the way for him to sign with the club. We present a collection of Messi’s greatness in the form of Youtube. Warning: Lots of video below.

Hug your MESSIah

We do not normally do this, but we think we can make an exception for Messi. Enjoy these videos and relive the memories. Not much more to say here. Save this: from the time he began with the first team in 2004 to September 17, 2010, Messiah has scored 133 goals and 54 assists in 219 appearances. He has won 13 trophies and has won every major award available to a player on the club level including the Ballon d’Or, FIFA World Player of the Year, European Golden Boot, etc.

2007 Hat Trick Against Real Madrid

Maradona Goal

2009-2010 47 Goal Haul

Arsenal 1, Messi 4

Image 1: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Europe

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We calls 'em likes we sees 'em.

152 Comments

  1. September 17, 2010

    All that in really, just a few years. Pretty remarkable, from a remarkable talent that we are so lucky to have. It boggles my mind that he is getting better before our eyes, with the addition of passing to his arsenal. It could even be argued that passing makes him even more difficult to play (as I’ve been saying for a while), because now you really don’t know what’s he’s going to do. You have to make a choice, but it also means that you can’t run 4 defenders at him any longer.

    Glad he’s ours.

    • Jnice
      September 17, 2010

      It does boggle my mind that he actually continues to improve.

      I remember before the 08/09 season, his shots from outside the box weren’t nearly as accurate or as powerful as they are now. His finishing and passing have also greatly improved. He used to be a joke from free kicks, now he will score a couple per season. Same goes for headers.

      He’s amazing and still extremely humble. I love that.

      • September 18, 2010

        The large background is back.

        Illegitimately posted here, since I have first hand knowledge Isaiah is about to Hector me.

        *http://theentropist.net/bfb/bck-large.jpg

  2. majatt
    September 17, 2010

    Think I saw recently he is on 91 goals from his last 106 games…which is totally and completely ridiculous.

    If he can maintain that for another season or two, for me, he would be on par with the original Ronaldo in terms of goal scoring ability.

    • majatt
      September 17, 2010

      I thoroughly hate that I have to qualify the name Ronaldo.

      • Peter
        September 17, 2010

        never has the adjective “fat” on the front of a name evoked as much affection as it does when qualifying him though.

  3. Jack
    September 17, 2010

    Great post. I wonder if it would make sense to acknowledge that you’re forced to weight Messi differently in the player ratings? After the Champions League game you gave him an 8. This in a game when he scored two goals and had two assists.

    Maybe you can add a cue to remind us that he’s on another level. For example, you list Pedro as Pedro(!). Maybe Messi should be “Messi(-2).” That way we’ll know his score is really two points higher, but that you’re using a “Messi Scale” to rate his performance. Such an adjustment would keep his scores in line with others and will keep you from giving out too many 10s (or 11s or 12s).

    • September 17, 2010

      Naaaah. Every player is rated according to his personal standard. The best player on the planet has a higher personal standard. So does Xavi, to list another example. We have a team full of great players, but we have a few who play on such a high level that it skews their personal standard.

      It’s also worth noting that a player’s rating has nothing to do with anyone else as regards his personal standard. It is his and his alone. But every rating is also explained. Messi didn’t earn a 10 in the Panathinaikos match. He’s played better, even when his scoreline hasn’t been as gaudy.

      • poipoi
        September 17, 2010

        I’m on that boat also. Messi to get a 10 would have to dribble the whole team twice, do a 360 around the ref, throw a cañito to pep & tito with the same touch, a one-two with hleb sitting in the crowd, and do a vaselina with the heel of his right foot all that in the same play. Besides not having lost a single ball in the whole game and having saved two or three goals in the goal line. His standard are too high ’cause he is … MESSI!!!

        • Helge
          September 17, 2010

          Wow! I’ve just imagined that situation figuratively in my mind… and came to the conclusion: We’ve already seen much better stuff from him 😉

        • September 17, 2010

          Ahh, but theres the point. Good ratings aren’t based on one-off skill moves. They are based on consistent performance and total-footballership ™. Do you win balls you should win, and then some? Do you make passes you should make, and then some? Do you score goals you should score, and then some? Do you make the runs into the right space, and then runs into the right space that even I didn’t see? And do you do the above with, flair, class and other intangibles? Thats a 10.

          It’s just with Messi or Xavi, the difference between the “should make” and “then some” is skewed toward the “should.”

          • poipoi
            September 17, 2010

            lol, so true. but he did get some 10’s here right? I think so… I’d love to know in which game it was if anyone can recall.

          • Kari
            September 17, 2010

            10’s for Messi?

            Off the top of my head, one vs Atletico in the CDR (when he scored a hat-trick); against Arsenal; probably against Zaragoza; and I think against Sevilla in this past Supercopa (but I’m not sure on that one).

  4. Jnice
    September 17, 2010

    My man, Messi. I’ll always remember his first goal for the first team. Lob over the keeper from Dinho’s pass… whole Camp Nou went nuts.

    It would be so amazing if he actually were to retire at Barcelona. He says it time and time again and I actually think means it because he feels so grateful to the club.

    • puchanamano
      September 17, 2010

      the crazy thing was messi actualy lobbed and beat the keeper twice. The first one didnt count coz it was an offside pass from dihno. Guess the 17 yr old kid just told himself ‘meh il just do the same thing again’

  5. Diego S.
    September 17, 2010

    “Finally, he inherits the #10 and repays the team with a six trophy haul and 28 goals” .. You Mean 38 Goals !!

  6. September 17, 2010

    Nice Heading for the Blog, Patrick.

    The following five years will be the most important in Messi’s career. It will decide his rank on Football Pyramid.

  7. ooga aga
    September 17, 2010

    do you remember taht he lobbed the keeper prior to that in the same game, same exact angle, also on a pass from Dinho, but he was called offsides, then he did it again and it counted, am i remembering correctly?

  8. y2k156
    September 17, 2010

    I have always been a big fan of Messi. It kind of feels that he has grown in front of our eyes:).

    About Messi’s rank in football pyramid. Its an interesting question. I think to a certain extent Messi is already the player of this decade. The question for me is that can he join the ranks of Di Stefano, Pele, Maradona and Cruijff (this is totally personal view on best of all time). For me, if he maintains his mastery of ball (i do not pay too much attention to stats in such cases) and can continue to dazzle for next five years, he shall be part of that quartet. I do not give a rat’s ass to how he performs in WC in relation to how good a player he is. Di Stefano did not play in single WC but for all, he is one of the greatest.

    • vicsoc8
      September 17, 2010

      My list is a bit different: Pele, Maradona, Cruijff, and Beckenbauer.

      Interested to see different people’s lists

      • Eklavya
        September 17, 2010

        Di Stefano, Cryuff, Maradona, Pele, Batistuta, Zidane, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Guardiola, Messi, etc

        What?

          • Luke
            September 17, 2010

            For me, the most dominant player at a position to play the game on the highest levels would be Beckenbauer. He was a fucking god for Germany and Munich, I mean, a rock. If Pique develops into half the player Franz was, I’ll dance a jig or three.

          • poipoi
            September 17, 2010

            and also hristo stoichkov! to me the only extremo that could be half as deadly as messi is.

  9. ooga aga
    September 17, 2010

    this is the message i get when i try to view patricks collage thing:

    Oops! (509)
    This account’s public links are generating too much traffic and have been temporarily disabled!

      • Eklavya
        September 17, 2010

        LOL, I get the same message! Damn you downloaders! 😀

        • vicsoc8
          September 17, 2010

          the early bird gets the worm, suckers

  10. ooga aga
    September 17, 2010

    what channel in the states will be showing the game on sunday?

    • Miguel
      September 17, 2010

      espn deportes. already set to be recorded by my magic dvr.

  11. blitzen
    September 17, 2010

    I am shocked, shocked! to report that our little Lionel isn’t a big fan of the printed page:

    *http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/3140150/Lionel-Messi-talks-to-The-Sun.html

    “I don’t read books,” he says. Oh, Leo. No one ever thought you were a mental giant, but couldn’t you at least pretend to be literate? For the kids? 🙂

    (I work for a book publisher and consider myself a bibliovore, so I notice these things. Which leads me to ask, “What are you all reading right now?” I’d love to hear what sort of things interest such a distinguished group of commenters. For myself, I have just finished an excellent biography of the wrestler Gorgeous George. Now I’ll probably snack on a novel before diving into something more serious.)

    • Luis
      September 17, 2010

      Confessions of an economic hitman- John Perkins. Whats really sad is that we live in a world where this sort of thing isnt that shocking

    • Bill
      September 17, 2010

      And I am shocked, shocked! that you reported a report from the sun, THE SUN!

      • blitzen
        September 17, 2010

        No, it’s real, they have a picture of him holding the damn rag and everything.

        • Vj
          September 18, 2010

          Ya I saw that.. But I know that they must’ve misquoted him in one way or the other..

    • Eklavya
      September 17, 2010

      – Surely you’re joking Mr. Feyman.
      – A short history of nearly everything – Bill Bryson
      – Nightwatch – Terence Dickenson

      Yeah, I’m them at the same time lol

      • Vj
        September 17, 2010

        Funny how a typo can ruin a pucnhline, no?

          • Eklavya
            September 17, 2010

            Oh wait…yeah I get it now.

            Stupid typos.

    • cliu
      September 17, 2010

      Playing and Reality by D.W. Winnicott, and trying to finish Jonathan Lethem’s Chronic City. Maybe Messi reads magazine, or blogs. Maybe he should get some recommended reading list from the bibliovores on this blog in particular.

  12. Kari
    September 17, 2010

    Yay, Messi! Just a minor correction, Luke:
    `
    “. Finally, he inherits the #10 and repays the team with a six trophy haul and 28 goals, winning the FIFA World Player of the Year Award.”

    He scored 38 goals.

  13. Bill
    September 17, 2010

    Messi to me, is already among the greatest. I think the only thing anyone can hold over him is a world cup win. He was robbed that chance by a fellow great this past summer. It’s only a matter of time though. Anyone at 35 with the statistics Messi has at 23 would be considered a legend. I still dont get how he makes goalkeepers fall down the wrong way consistently. He is the whole package, his poise, body control and suble body movements at full speed, combined with his peerless ball skills are too good to be true. Can’t wait to witness the end of this story.

    When I was young, I only got to watch rare games of maradona at Napoli, but mainly highlights and at the world cup. It was a regret I had that I never got to follow that genius as much as I wanted. I don’t anymore, because I’m following a better, more deadlier and a more humble version of him.

  14. Bill
    September 17, 2010

    So, Zubizarreta is saying Ibra was not creating good off the ball movement and getting himself open well enough in this Barcelona team. And some of us were called ‘Ibra haters’ when we were saying the same thing and that you couldn’t blame the likes of Xavi and Iniesta for not getting him the ball frequently, the big bird was constantly attaching himself to a defender!

    • theMaginator
      September 17, 2010

      ZubiZarreta is an Ibra hater.
      JK
      I thought he did good for a first year, but I also found myself screaming at him often.

      I can say that you were right, but I think we let him go for other reasons. Maybe he was unwilling to adapt, Pep said screw this your done, and the rest is history.

      Maybe you saw something in his play that my ninja loving eyes failed to see.

      I will now eat me some crow. */Looks for fork/*

  15. ooga aga
    September 17, 2010

    can anyone say what channel the game is being shown on in the States?

    • ooga aga
      September 17, 2010

      i just saw it is on both espn deportes and Espn2.///forget it sorry…

  16. Kari
    September 17, 2010

    Question: Will we be getting any guest bloggers for the Pathetico Atletico game?

    If I could make a suggestion, I’d recommend Al from the Atleti offside. He’s a great blogger, (so pop by his blog if anyone hasn’t already.) and it’d be cool if we had a short Q&A with him.

    • Eklavya
      September 17, 2010

      Yeah, what happened to Isaiah’s Q&A with the other bloggers? I think they got replaced by podcasts but we haven’t had that for a while…oh wait the season has barely started.

  17. Eklavya
    September 17, 2010

    The funny thing is that we almost let Messi go. It was Carles Rexach was saw talent in Messi and invited him to lunch and convinced him to stay but writing down a contract sort of thing on the restaurant’s tissue paper saying something like, “I Carles Rexach, head coach of FC Barcelona, allow this player to be in Barcelona…etc etc”.

    Or so he said when Messi won the Ballon D’Or on Téléfoot.

    • csidle
      September 17, 2010

      The Messi family was getting frustrated then with the lack of progress, but I wouldn’t say we almost let him go. It’s funny though, the Messi family’s agents were at one point in talk with Real Madrid because of Barca’s hestitation.

      • Helge
        September 17, 2010

        Really? I’ve never heard about that.
        I bet he wouldn’t be on the level that he is today if he joined Madrid back then.

      • ElShowDeJason
        September 17, 2010

        Iniesta was gonna set to join the Castilla, but the parents didn’t like the neighborhood, so they went to La Masia.
        YAY US!

        • ElShowDeJason
          September 17, 2010

          *was set to join La Castilla*
          (my mind and fingers can never agree)

  18. Eklavya
    September 17, 2010

    BTW, does anyone has a video of Messi’s 1st offside goal?

  19. majatt
    September 17, 2010

    Random but I love that Barca B is in the 2nd division now stats are available and I might actually be able to catch a few games.

  20. IS
    September 17, 2010

    Off topic… Can anyone here speak Italian?

    Came across this clip of Arrigo Sacchi and Ibra having a spat, with several mentions of our dear club throughout:

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDftR5WMfv8&feature=popular

    I get the overall gist of things, but it would be interesting to know what was said exactly..

    • blitzen
      September 17, 2010

      TotalBarca just posted a good translation. Check it out.

      • tikitakitoes
        September 18, 2010

        There are two versions of what he said. Some people say that Sacchi said he couldn’t have made the goal without his big feet, and the above translation says he said he couldn’t score without the preceding pass. I’m intrigued by how one of those comments could be mistaken for the other, lol, but I’m with Ibra either way. Sacchi is entitled to criticise his work on the pitch, as he has done a lot, and Ibra is entitled to criticise HIS work criticising him. I love the balls on Ibra, he clearly doesn’t listen to any PR folk telling him how to be as insipid as possible. If he thinks he’s being treated unfairly, by anyone, he doesn’t just roll over and ask for another. It’s refreshing.

    • ElShowDeJason
      September 17, 2010

      I don’t speak Italian, but I pretty much understood the whole thing. (but to be fair, I speak spanish)

  21. Jnice
    September 17, 2010

    Isaiah was on World Football Daily today. He’s famous. Luckily I have an account.

    • theMaginator
      September 17, 2010

      Jnice is there a way for non-rich folk to listen?

      • Jnice
        September 17, 2010

        Erm… I can download it and I’ll try to upload it to rapidshare or something.

        • Jnice
          September 17, 2010

          Does this work?

          *http://rapidshare.com/files/419683608/World_Football_Daily_9-17.mp3

          • Jnice
            September 17, 2010

            or Hotfile:

            *http://hotfile.com/dl/70121399/b626dd7/WFD_917.mp3.html

          • tikitakitoes
            September 18, 2010

            Thanks for doing that Jnice. I can only hear the first half an hour of the show, with both of those links unfortunately. Is that happening to anyone else? I wonder if it’s iTunes’ fault, maybe it’s too long?

  22. GREECE BARCA
    September 17, 2010

    guys did you read the talk between ibra and sacci?the guy has no respect for anyone.i understand pep and i am glad he gone even on loan.BUT!lets hope be very good all season and milan in summer say no to 24m and we will give him to city for 40!(if mancini stay to city!lets all pray for this)

    • ElShowDeJason
      September 17, 2010

      No respect? you’re referring to Sacchi right? he hasn’t garnered any respect from Ibra, neither has the Rosell administration.

  23. GREECE BARCA
    September 17, 2010

    in total.barca there is the talk in english!

    • blitzen
      September 17, 2010

      Zlatan: “I don’t care really, but when somebody speaks too much, he speaks too much and you’re one of those.”

      Priceless! Pot, kettle, black.

  24. GREECE BARCA
    September 17, 2010

    any news about aguero?even if he ll play i think he will not in perfect form.their midfield don.t seem good to me.asunsao,garcia,cammacho.they don.t have quality.if we play like a team,we will crush them.

  25. GREECE BARCA
    September 17, 2010

    oh.and i hate madrid,not only the E.E!all the town!atletico,xetafe,e.t.c!haha!go to segunda all of you!i want taragon,hirona,s.andreu in primera!all the catalonia!

  26. GREECE BARCA
    September 17, 2010

    from a greek jurnalist yesterday:barcelona is the picasso of football and all the others just paint the wall!haha!good guys??

  27. OhYes
    September 17, 2010

    I think it would take a library to list every award Messi has won.

  28. Luna
    September 17, 2010

    Did anyone read the article, “On Hating Barcelona” at the Run of Play?

    *http://www.runofplay.com/2010/09/15/on-hating-barcelona/

    IMHO one of the commentators got it right…many hate Barca (i.e. the British press) b/c their game, regardless of titles, is great. Simple as that, envy, and your envy drives you to look for reasons.

    • Luna
      September 17, 2010

      Here’s an example of the discussion:

      “Just to regurgitate my respect but declining interest in Barca – I loved the Dinho-E’to-Deco era of Barca because they played a UEFA style, first touch passing offensive system where you could never anticipate the movement of the players or the ball. The current Xavi-Pedro-Messi incarnation is almost too methodical – it reminds me of an NBA offense where the team spreads out, get’s a one on one, and tries to score one vs one. Granted, there is the occasional backdoor pass and pick-and-roll, but that’s the exception, not the rule.”

      Sure this person is free to have their opinion but I can also think it’s ludicrous

      • ElShowDeJason
        September 17, 2010

        I agree. We are too predictable.

        Especially that now we only have one type of player. Honestly. What can Villa do that Messi, and Pedro! can’t?

        I think Villa is a great player, but We are stuck with only Plan A, and when it hits a wall (like against Hercules), we are shit outta luck, because our bench is Bojan (#FAIL)

        I want Llorente. Starter or not, he offers power, and a strong Static game. Even Torres, who is powerful, good in the Air, and a decent finisher, his game is still more dyanmic than static. Llorente is a better static player, and can plant himself in the 18, and be deadly there.

        But then again, Zubi just said that that’s why we got rid of Ibra. We bought a Girrafe, and sold it because it couldn’t run like a horse.

        Anyways, my point is that, starter or not, a Llorente type player would be a good option on the bench if an opposing team gets cynical, especially with Maxwell and Adriano who are way better crossers of the ball than Alves and Abidal.

      • poipoi
        September 17, 2010

        It’s not moral anymore… oh man. now that is some epic bullshit. just play nice and don’t kick knees. he writes: “This squad no longer honorably plays the beautiful game—they’re just really fucking good.” our players are so fucking good ’cause we honorably play the beautiful game from the cradle to the grave.

        I can take the methodical thing… but not messi/pedro and methodical in the same sentence.

        spanish coach- “hey you!! what is the ball made of?”
        english player- “leather”
        s.c.-“where does leather come from?”
        e.p.-“from the cows?”
        s.c.-“yes and what do cows eat?”
        e.p.-“grass”
        s.c.-“then why don’t you just play the ball on the grass for god’s sake!!! it’s where it all came from!!!” 😀

        • poipoi
          September 17, 2010

          sorry, messi/pedro and “predictable”

  29. poipoi
    September 17, 2010

    omg!!! titi related

    www()sport()es/default.asp?idpublicacio_PK=44&idioma=CAS&idnoticia_PK=726358&idseccio_PK=803

  30. Jnice
    September 17, 2010

    But no one seems to care that Isaiah was on World Football Daily today. That’s huge. Isaiah, when you blow up and become famous, remember it was me who destroyed you in FIFA.

    • Jnice
      September 17, 2010

      Of course I didn’t see the post above mine haha.

  31. Kxevin
    September 17, 2010

    We should be careful not to get too thin-skinned. As ElShow notes, we are predictable. Further, our predictability requires excellence. There is no margin for error. Look at the Hercules match for example. No Xavi, and off-song Messi and we got spanked. We couldn’t get a sniff at goal. Like a real life high-wire act, if we put a foot wrong now, there’s trouble.

    Contrast that with Milan, who played like unmitigated shit for 89 of the 90 minutes of their Champions League match, but the one good minute included two good feeds to Ibrahimovic, and the 2-0 result looks much better for them than reality. We need a plan B. I guarantee you that the likes of Chelsea and even EE are saying “Bring on the midgets. We got something for ’em.”

    Cut off the running/passing angles, and it’s hard to see how we’re going to score goals. Yes, if Messi is brilliant he is unstoppable. But he ain’t brilliant every match.

    –Speaking of Messi. I have no idea when he’s received 10s from me, but I know that he has. What you’ll probably find, for the intrepid soul who wants to go back and search, is that his game included more than goals and assists, but an overall effort, and none of that one-on-one crap, that usually hurts the team and cedes possession when the 5 defenders take the ball from him.

    But the difference is that when Messi does some run at 4 defenders and almost makes it, people go “Oooooh,” and erupt into applause. I subtract a point for selfishness, because if he’s running at 4 defenders, somebody is open, and that somebody should have received a pass.

    Unfair? If somebody thinks so, then it is to them. I think about that Bulls/Lakers clincher for the first championship, in which Jordan was doing his 1-v-1 thing, and Phil Jackson asked him who was open. “Paxson,” he reluctantly admitted. Paxson got the passes from Jordan, and dutifully drained the shots that killed the Lakers. Don’t make yourself better. Make the team better. The two goals are rarely compatible, even when one-on-one excellence results in goals and a win.

    –ZubiZa on Ibrahimovic is doing a bit of revisionist history. I haven’t heard too many people screaming about how static Villa is, and how much he’s offsides yet. But he is. I’ve already noted that Villa will have a much, much longer rope than Ibrahimovic did. And I will ask the question now: If Villa has “only” 21 goals and 9 assists, what will people say?

    • ooga aga
      September 18, 2010

      villa is off by fractions cos he times his runs slightly wrong. ibra was off for that reason too, but too often i remember, he was off because he was lazy getting back onsides after the defense had pulled up.

    • September 18, 2010

      No one will call Villa a failure, no one will. People will treat him COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from the big Swede.

      Ibrahimovic performed excellently up until the winter break. He scored the all important El Clasic goal, after that, people started calling shit on him. Let’s have a clear mind and prepare to watch Villa closely.

      • September 18, 2010

        people started calling him shit because he did drop his performance, no doubt.

    • Jim
      September 18, 2010

      I don’t how anybody can think the goals that we ( and in particular Messi) score are predictable in any sense. I certainly admit to the applause when Messi runs at four and gets past three because with any really talented dribbler there’ll always be a safer pass they could’ve made and if you don’t encourage them to keep on attacking defenders but berate them because they lose the ball then they’ll stop – and we’ll really become predictable. That doesn’t mean he isn’t getting a better balance between the two now – he is – but just that losing the ball is an inevitable consequence of dribbling. Maybe just a different way of looking at football.

      I think back to when i first saw Ryan Giggs. I’d say Giggs is a world class player but wouldn’t think of mentioning him in the same way as the genuine greats of world football. Yet for the first two seasons with Man Utd. he ran at defenders all the time and had a whole barrowload of tricks and flicks. So many in fact that on our “Sportscene” programme on a Saturday night they had a Giggs spot where they showed all the tricks he had done that day. Ferguson coached that out of him and got a great player in return but also ruined his chance of being up beside the Maradonas, Ronaldinhos, Cruyffs and Messis. Again, its whatever floats your boat but functional goals, although welcome, don’t get me up out of my seat in the same way.

      With regard to Ibra / villa we’ve been over this a thousand times. You’re right that Villa will get more rope, certainly from me, than Ibra, partly because I can see where his style helps the team whereas it was obvious to many of us that Ibra would never fit in. Double standards – yes maybe and the amount of offsides with Villa does worry me but with him it looks like its a timing thing whereas to me Ibra used to sit offside for whole spells creating a lazy impression. Yet i was hopeful at the start of last season that he would try to fit in. However, as soon as people started talking about Xavi, iniesta and Messi needing to up their game in passing to Ibra and us changing our style to fit him I knew he was doomed because that wasn’t happening.

      Zubiza could stay above the argument, you’re right, but given Ibra’s ridiculous utterances I quite like to see what I’m happy to accept as the truth, being told. However, what he said only confirms what many on this blog were saying all the way through the season and no matter how its presented or how often we come back to it, Ibra left because he wasn’t good enough for that position in our team and wasn’t prepared to fit in. My only beef is the amount of time it took Pep to act.

      • Kxevin
        September 18, 2010

        I don’t know if “predictable” is a bad depiction, but the word is loaded. Perhaps “inexorable” is a better one. We ask, “Why do keepers have their best days against us?” The answer is because of how we build up play. A smart keeper knows tendencies, watches passing angles and runs. Then he makes educated guesses as to what is going to happen next. That guess is easier to make against us. It just is.

        Moments of brilliance (first Messi goal in El Clasic, Ibrahimovic’s goal at the home Clasic) disrupt that logic and make us much more difficult to play. Without that (yes) amazing talent up front, we become even more inexorable. I don’t yet know how that is going to hold up against a side determined not to let us score. We’ll have to see.

        Regarding Villa, I don’t see that his style helps the team any more than Ibrahimovic’s. Yes, he’s a midget and runs around a bit more, but I don’t see him tracking back, or popping out to serve as the bridge between midfield and the attack, something that in effect, makes the defense move and resets the offense.

        Regarding the offsides, strikers time runs. It takes time to get that right. Sometimes, they don’t bother running back to get onside, which is a mistake with us because you could get the ball at any time. Villa does it as much as anyone, by the by. Whether people attribute it to “timing” or “laziness” is a matter of perception and view of the player.

        Speaking of, Guardiola made the call that he had to make. I don’t doubt that. But as I have noted before, Villa will get a lot more rope than Ibrahimovic. And if he doesn’t have the same numbers, or if he doesn’t win a Clasic for us, I will be very curious to see what people have to say. Because I think that Ibrahimovic was indeed good enough to play striker for our club. He showed that time and again. But something else happened, something that we’ll probably never know.

        Being good enough to play a position and willingness to assimilate are two very different things.

        • Kxevin
          September 18, 2010

          By the by, nobody should construe my comments as a defense of Ibrahimovic. It’s clear that he, like Hleb, was much more a question of attitude and adjustment than talent. Clubs have to fix those situations.

          • vincent
            September 18, 2010

            imo we need an ibrahimovic-type player for a plan b. problem wih him is: he’s a star player, people will question if he’s benched for too long, he doesn’t like being benched, and his salary is way way too high for a sub.

            i don’t know about the whole attitude and row-with-pep thing, but i believe those reasons make pep let him go.

            just my two cents worth.

        • Jim
          September 18, 2010

          Our build up when its off I would describe as “laboured” but when it’s on keepers don’t have good days against us. They cop it for four or five. The only thing I think we need to watch is Messi’s run in from the right wing,beating two or three and curling into top corner. Keepers are starting to shift over to towards the far post in anticipation of that. I wouldn’t class Ibra’s goal in the Classico as brilliance – it was a very well timed finish but the move was fairly predictable.

          What you seem to be alluding to is the sort of scenario which comes about when either Xavi or Iniesta are missing and our build up does seem to stutter a bit in terms of creativity. However, I have enough confidence in our style to think that , injuries to the two mentioned apart, we have the creativity to take anyone apart. You’re right that we will be in trouble if Villa doesn’t score at least as much as Ibra did.

          You’re perfectly entitled to defend Ibra, whether its his play or his overall ability just as we were entitled to say he stifled our creativity and slowed down our passing. What I meant was that we needed a striker with a set of skills and he either couldn’t or wouldn’t deliver on that. I happen to think Villa will – but we don’t know yet.

          Not sure what you mean by the “something else” that happened. It seems fairly straightforward to me. No way Pep would’ve benched him in the vital games if he thought he could make a difference in the last few games. The fact that he replaced him with Bojan tells us all we need to know, given the low opinion a lot seem to hold him in. Fact is, he rose to the challenge in those games at least and made sure Ibra stayed on the bench. Up till that point I was in the Bojan won’t make it camp but there were some runs he made that gave me pause. Without wishing to insult Bojan, any striker who is kept on the bench by him is not good enough to play for Barcelona.

          Not being able to assimilate I would argue is the same as not being good enough for us.

          • Kxevin
            September 18, 2010

            Not true, actually. I look at it from my profession as a way of explaining it. We had a writer with gobs of talent. Everything came out brilliant. The person just couldn’t adjust to the whole 9-6 (or whatever), day-in, day-out routine of being in the office. So they quit to freelance, and we use them whenever we can. The talent is still there. The ability to assimilate isn’t.

            We have to separate the two. Did Ibrahimovic’s psychological stuff manifest itself around the same time as his cold streak? Or was it directly related to his cold streak? Guardiola is going to be a grownup, and Ibrahimovic is going to blame Guardiola, so we will never know.

            For me, it isn’t a question of defending Ibrahimovic as much as it is admitting that his skill set gave us an option that can come in handy when everything isn’t clicking, i.e. “Throw it in the box to the big dude and see what happens.”

            And don’t get me started on Krkic. I don’t think, right now, that HE is good enough to play for Barcelona.

  32. Kxevin
    September 17, 2010

    I also want to stick up for Abidal, who has become a much better crosser of the ball in the latter part of last season, and in this one. I think that people don’t expect it, so they don’t do what they need to do. But many an Abidal cross has gone floating across the goal mouth, with our attackers standing there with “I’ll be damned, looka that,” expressions on their faces.

    • Jim
      September 18, 2010

      In a rare moment of weakness I’m going to agree that over the last while Abidal has started to improve his offence 🙂

  33. Kxevin
    September 17, 2010

    Oh. Looks like the disciplinary committee lowered the fine on Guardiola from 15K to EUR1500. They must have watched the match video.

    • jnelson
      September 17, 2010

      It is still ridiculous though, isn’t it? The referee assistant clearly lied and RFEF acted like they never even watched the match. I know plenty of people will say it is whining, but obviously RFEF has a problem with Barca. How many cards were overturned for us compared to other teams? Remember Kameni or Arbeloa? I just want us to crush everyone. It gets so annoying seeing blatant favoritism like that and also hearing so much garbage from English “analysts”. After seeing Busquets from the World Cup on, I have to say I am not worried about our lack of a Plan B. In Pep We Trust.

  34. Kxevin
    September 17, 2010

    In the “bizarre Barca moments” file: I’m sitting at an outdoor cafe by the office, wearing a home shirt. A Japanese tourist came running up, making a camera gesture. He puts his arm around me, his wife snaps the photo. He bows, and goes rushing away, all giddy and shit. I don’t speak Japanese, but the “trahm” sound was probably “Thuram.”

    The people around me were then very curious, as in “Who the hell IS that person, eating a spinach salad quietly, by himself?” Weird.

    • Eklavya
      September 18, 2010

      LOL!! Awesome! Hahaha, why doesn’t something like that happen to me??

  35. Kxevin
    September 17, 2010

    Hey, and three years ago yesterday, Bojan Krkic made his first-team debut, I am reminded by Pep@barcastuff. Against Osasuna. I can still remember Ray Hudson’s orgasmic cries and predictions of greatness.

    • September 18, 2010

      For the sake of my stomach, can we avoid putting “Ray Hudson” and “orgasmic” in the same sentence. ;/

  36. Bundy
    September 18, 2010

    I have thought about our lack of plan B and out predictability. But I still think it is early days to start thinking about Chelsea and Madrid and so forth.

    I think when it comes time where our squad has played a fair amount of games this season, we will probably start to see where we can found our alternatives, or our plan B.

    Remember Villa would need as much time to adapt to the team as anyone else would. But we never know, Villa could turn out to b our plan b, against teams like Chelsea and so forth. Busquets again has been brilliant so far, and Pep looks like he is building him up as some Xavi alternative, hopefully. Iniesta aswell is the bus breaker we never got to use last season, and well if he came up against Inter in the Semis last season, who knows what would happen.

    as for the Hercules game, there was an issue with anxiety in our game and we got crushed, add on top of that player fatigue and form, playing out of position and so forth.

    But, like every season, the team grows and forms over the course of he season. Mourinho and Ancelloti are probably spending months in advanced planing to stop our game, but again, you can never really no what Barca is like from this early in the season.

    • Kxevin
      September 18, 2010

      Pique has also been coming forward on the attack. ZubiZa has said we will reevaluate the squad in December, to see what needs it has. He’s admitted that we’ve lost almost all the height we had, with the departures over the summer.

      • Jim
        September 18, 2010

        That is my main worry for when we meet EPL teams. They seriously know how to take advantage at set pieces.

      • September 18, 2010

        please figure out a way to get Llorente over here. I think he’s a good bang for the buck and brings height with sensible movement.

  37. Vicsoc8
    September 18, 2010

    As for the lack of a plan B, I only have to remind you of the third game against inter last season, where Bojan caused much more damage than Ibra did. My opinon is that we are more effective against parked buses with a mobile and sneaky front three than with a front three that includes a hold-up striker

    • barca96
      September 18, 2010

      A cheap option to the Plan B would be to send Pique up there and putting Milito in Pique’s position.

      Hold on a sec, is that you or is that really Thuram on your avatar Kxevin?

      Btw, I really think that henry was innocent as hell.
      He hardly touched the GK.

  38. skandy
    September 18, 2010

    The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera

  39. Jim
    September 18, 2010

    In the full expectation of getting Hlebbed by the Preview, what do people think about whether Alves might spend the Atleti game on the bench after his last performance which was a bit ropey apart from his usual energy and goal? Will Pep take the chance to send a message?

    • Jnice
      September 18, 2010

      Don’t think so. Sure, his passing and crossing was off, but, he was always available. He opened up the flanks and was a great outlet all match long. I don’t think we can afford to have him on the bench tomorrow.

    • Eklavya
      September 18, 2010

      You can’t get Hlebbed by a preview. Only Hectored.

  40. Jnice
    September 18, 2010

    Barça B plays against Elche at 10 AM EST. I’ll be watching that.

  41. Helge
    September 18, 2010

    By the way, can someone tell me which radio station collaborates with Barca’s English website?
    Or do they (the club) produce English radio broadcasts by themselves?
    Examples can be found in any match review, for instance:
    *http://www.fcbarcelona.com/web/english/futbol/temporada_10-11/arxiu_partits/champions_league/primera_fase/jornada01/grup_D/Barcelona_Panathinaikos/partit.html

  42. sab
    September 18, 2010

    interesting comment from http://www.runofplay.com/2010/09/15/on-hating-barcelona/.

    Angharad I find this newfangled anti-Barca sentiment interesting, because for me my feelings on Barca have reversed (somewhat). I have always disliked Barca strongly, precisely because of their hypocrisy. They claim the moral high ground with their UNICEF shirts and their “mes que un club” flag-waving, and yet they engage in the same sneaky, underhanded back-room dealing and manipulation that every other big club does. It is not that I have disliked them for behaving like a Big Club, it is that I have disliked them for behaving like a Big Club whilst telling all and sundry they are paragons of virtue. At least Real, Juve etc. have always had the decency to never pretend they are anything but evil.
    But lately — well, it is true that what happens on the pitch can be more important than what happens off it. All football fans are incurable romantics at heart, I think. The football Barca has been playing lately has been beautiful, the kind of stunning, overwhelming beauty that made me a football fan in the first place. Against that — and against the fact that Guardiola and many of his players seem to be fundamentally decent human beings in a profession which has depressingly few of them — I find it difficult to dislike Barca as strongly as I once did.
    My understanding of the current anti-Barca feeling in the English-speaking world is that it primarily comes down to one thing: Barca’s dominance. There are complications to this, of course, but a lot of what I have seen seems to be simple resentment, a desire to denigrate Barca to prove that they really aren’t that much better than your team. (This feeling, I might point out, is not helped by the legions of truly obnoxious Barca fans who delight in crowing about how much better Barca is at everything than everyone else.) This feeling seems to be especially strong amongst supporters of Premier League teams — and even in the States most people are supporters of the Premier League — who know that their team can never compete with Barca in the tiki-taka style of football and so proclaim that that style of football is rubbish, they’re a bunch of diving cheats, they don’t like it up ‘em, let’s see how they’d do in a real league, etc., etc. And then of course there’s Arsenal fans, who want to compete with Barca in the tiki-taka football world, and can’t, and know it, and so must find something else to complain about.
    Beyond this, Barca’s current prominence means a lot more people are aware of the hypocrisy inherent in Barca’s identity, and so there is a lot more furore about it. It is not that Barca has become any more hypocritical, it is just that the entire world is paying attention to Barca now, and so their (glaringly obvious) hypocrisy is front page news, rather than known only to those who follow La Liga.

  43. JC
    September 18, 2010

    I am so glad that I have lived in a generation where I could watch both Maradonna and Messi play.

    I was 5 when my dad told me to sit and watch an Argentina match with him. Don’t remember much about that match, apart from the commentator shouting “Hand of God” and then dad & everyone going gaga over the 2nd goal.
    I don’t have a son yet, but hopefully Messi will still be playing when I do have one and the 2 of us can sit and watch the best player on the planet entertain the entire footballing population.

    • Helge
      September 18, 2010

      Well, then you better hurry up because Messi will have to switch his style in about 6 years 🙂

  44. ooga aga
    September 18, 2010

    per official site Abidal will not play on sunday

  45. Jnice
    September 18, 2010

    Barça B 1 up at halftime. Defense has looked good, but our passing and buildup play have been horrible. Thiago should come on in the 2nd for either Jonathan or Sergi Roberto. Both players haven’t controlled the midfield at all.

  46. Kari
    September 18, 2010

    Dudes, we’ll be Grayhoundless as Abidal is travelling to (or already in) Martinique to be beside his dying grandfather. I guess this means we’ll be seeing Maxwell, but Abi is the only player that’s started and played every game for us this season.

    Blow for us?

    • Helge
      September 18, 2010

      We cannot really tell before the match, but I trust in Maxwell. He should simply play a little bit less offensive-minded than usual, then it shall be fine.

    • Jnice
      September 18, 2010

      I trust Maxwell, but I would rather have Abidal back there. Maxwell is going to need to lay back a little bit.

  47. Helge
    September 18, 2010

    Why do only the elder players score for Barca B? Do the younger ones lack the “killer instinct”?

    • Jnice
      September 18, 2010

      Well, the strikers ARE the older players, so it makes sense. Nolito is 23, Soriano 24, Benja 23, Saul 24.

      The midfielders don’t get a ton of chances to score a game, so it’s only natural that the older players, the strikers in this case, get the goals.

  48. Jnice
    September 18, 2010

    Barça B with the 2-0 win over Elche.

    Better 2nd half. Midfielders controlled more of the match, Nolito and Soriano had more chances to score. Defense did reasonably well to keep the clean sheet.

    9 points from 4 matches is pretty great.

  49. jordi(TM)
    September 18, 2010

    Thiago has been called up for the trip to madrid as well

    • Jnice
      September 18, 2010

      Is that the reason he didn’t start? Because that’s what I assumed when I saw he wasn’t starting.

    • Helge
      September 18, 2010

      I thought you cannot play for both teams on the same playday / weekend?

  50. October 24, 2010

    What a great post my friend. I am a facebook addict and mostly spend my time playing some playfish games and just talking out with my friends. Surely, there are so many ways we can use facebook and I really love using it. I hope they have something more new to come for all of us.

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