Barça 1-Gijon 0 Review: A bus, a goal, a win.

Alright, let’s wring our hands, gnash our teeth, and do other various and sundry things that seem to be misspelled, but in fact, are not. Normally I have trouble writing reviews that are not simply recaps because I find that they do not have the benefit of man’s greatest ally, hindsight and time. Writing a review of a match without time to properly think it through is silly and short-sighted, similar to proclaiming the cultural significance of an album after its first listen (see any 80s album) or talking about how a movie is the “best I’ve ever seen” without adequate time to actually process it. Exclamations are just that: excited utterances we sometimes make without time to think properly. That is why they qualify for hearsay exceptions in evidence law and why we probably should not take anything as truth 20 seconds after we’ve seen it.

A win and a facepalm... about right.

First things first: Barcelona won in the typical fashion it has to normally by avoiding a parked bus, using one moment of genius and skill, and playing solid defense on counter-attacks. The team did all of this without Messi to provide the magical spark and on 2 day’s rest. I am always happy when a game ends with no substantial injuries and the team takes all 3 points, especially from pesky bus parkers.

Now, the game started out with the normal fare. Gijon took to the fouling with some harsh, although admittedly fair challenges that were punished accordingly by the referee. Our boys took pot shots at the net while the keeper sprawled left and right and we were unlucky to take away at least 2 in the first 20 minutes. The movement was there to some degree although Keita seemed more invisible than normal, but this time in a bad way. Without the second midfielder making movements the offense usually tends to breakdown or suffer to some degree, although tonight it seemed like solid defense stopping us more than ourselves.

The rest of the half was a story of missed and half chances with Bojan going invisible aside from a few solid runs here and there and Villa being selfish and wasteful in front of net. Iniesta did his thing, causing severe holes in space for Gijon’s defense while taking lob shots to his heart’s content but nothing ever came of it. Xavi was somewhat there, providing control and all that jazz, but something was just off. It’s fine, everyone has those games, even Galactus, the devourer of planets, er, Xavi.

The second half was more of the same until Villa took an excellent through ball from Alves and punched it home from the right side, sealing the win for the good guys. It was a well-taken shot and a good ball, everything we have come to expect. After that the chances were there and the passes came and went but the team just could not make the most of them. Eventually Gijon had a corner and a dangerous free kick come to nothing and the Blaugrana took full points graciously.

Now, judging from the comments on the Live Blog and those floating around the Gore tubes, you might think that our boys lost another shocker. You would be wrong. I guess fans have expectations now and expectations are a lot like NASCAR races: big, loud, and stupid. Concerns about the team are to be heard and some of them are valid. The following would suffice:

1. Villa has been selfish in front of goal and offside far too much.
2. Bojan has been non-existent.
3. Mascherano is picking up too many stupid, cheap fouls, earning him too many cards.
4. Pedro has been in and out of the offense.
5. Maxwell’s defense, or lack thereof.

However, many of these are likely slumps or could be solved with practice and more time. Bojan needs to grow up and play better, but I am also not going to throw him under the bus forever. Likewise, Villa has to learn that the offside calls are going to always be worse for Barcelona and he will. We also have to remember he is one of the top producing strikers/wingers in the world for the past 4-5 years and has the quality, pace, and skill to score 30 goals in all competitions this season. Then again, he did score today and had a few other solid chances, so maybe people are being too harsh.

For those wondering why this was “only” 1-0 and not 5-0 like the “good ol’ days” (I guess 2008-09) I don’t know what to tell you. Barcelona won games against bad teams that parked the bus in this fashion last year when we had a holding striker up front and did so during the six trophy season. Perusing the score lines from those years confirms that the team has trouble against plucky, small sides hellbent on stopping us from scoring at all costs. Almeria last year. Espanyol normally. Getafe in 08-09. Betis in 08-09. These things happen and the team won’t always win big, even at home. Further, just because the team or a player starts out hot, scoring multiple goals and looking great does not mean it will stay that way (see Ibrahimovic, Z.). Nor do peak performances in great offenses take away from the fact that someone was incredibly lazy half the time and pouted the rest (Eto’o, S.). Finally, Thierry Henry was terrible last year and only “thrived” one year when Eto’o and Messi were taking defenses away. I am just saying.

The point is that if these problems persist into November or we are losing games to Hercules all the time, then there is cause for worry or dread. Missed chances and laziness in a few games is not a cause for uproar, or at least it should not be. Beside, all of those comments ignore the fact that Gijon played very well. They were steady in defense and repelled a number of solid chances. This is always overlooked in the bus parking conversation.

Ratings

Guardiola-7: I would have started Pedro over Bojan but that’s just me. He put out a solid team to face this opposition.
Team-6: Some good, some bad, but a win always gets you over a 5 in my book.
Alves-7: An assist and was a constant menace all the way around. Solid play.
Puyol-6: Did not necessarily do anything wrong but was hobbled throughout the first half. He will be fine.
Milito-7: Solid start for the Argentine and had a couple of critical tackles.
Maxwell-5: Anonymous for large parts of the game but his defense was not so noticeably bad tonight, that’s a plus!
Busquets-7: Had little to do for large parts but played his sweeper role well and did what he needed to when called upon.
Keita-4: Largely absent and subbed out in the second for more offense.
Xavi-7: Played his game: created space and made the passes, just wasn’t his dat.
Iniesta-8: MOTM for me. He made space, moved well with and without the ball and abused defenders doggedly both in offense and tracking back. Excellent performance.
Bojan-3: Ugh. Just ugh. Needs to create more for himself and stop putting so much pressure on himself. Note: I do not hate Bojan or want to sell him like Kevin does.
Villa-7: A goal and a few other chances made him dangerous. Although he was wasteful and selfish he still had a huge affect here. Better than reported, worse than he should have been.

Pique-7: Came on at the half for Puyol and was staunch in defense, halting all comers and making the plays he had to.
Pedro-6: Made some plays but was also less dangerous than we would have liked.
Mascherano-6: Came on later for Bojan and provided defensive cover when Gijon tried to open up. Was abandoned once and was not at fault for the late chance as some have said.

That’s all tonight. We’ll have more later this week.

Photo: Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images Europe

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105 Comments

  1. Benj
    September 22, 2010

    Haha 1st in!!!
    A win’s a win, lets take the three points and look forward to three more on the weekend 😀

    • Kari
      September 22, 2010

      Basque Country scares me.

      (At least Bojangles like to score at the San Mames and against Bilbao in general.)

  2. Kari
    September 22, 2010

    The opening paragraph seems to be a message from Luke to the people:

    “Don’t slaughter me because I haven’t watched the match enough to take in every feint, block, dive, or suckage the match had to offer.”

    Well played.

    I missed the match, and tried to stream it on TVU GolTV, but my internet kept dying for some reason or another (I blame WIFI connection) so I only caught the first half + the first 5 minutes.

    Iniesta looked like MOTM as the only creative player that looked like opening up the defense. The team seemed to be missing some kind of spark. Very…workmanlike. It was a–apart from some players like Botia–largly B/reserve Gijon side.

    During the 2008/09 season, we always said that it’s winning theses kind of matches (when some players are out or exhausted and other are still finding their feet, and generally the team is hasn’t found their rhythm yet) that are the signs of champions.

    Some of us need to remember that the Treble winning season is historic for a reason. I remember being in awe because I knew no other team could repeat what we just did—not even ourselves.

    Our team is tired–Xavi hasn’t had a break in 3 years, neither has Puyol; Iniesta would have been the same if he wasn’t injured for the majority of last year; Pique has had a break in 2 years..and the list keeps going.

    If some of us are unhappy with not killing every team by 3+ goals at home, get ready for a long season folks…

    • Nik
      September 22, 2010

      My impression from the liveblog was that people were more upset with the play than the scoreline. Imposing your tactical dominance on a team and winning 1-0 is different than stuttering on offense and coming away with a 1-0 win. Obviously, the treble season will be extremely hard to repeat, but I don’t mind not getting the trophies if we can still live up to the level of play we displayed throughout that season. We didn’t look that great offensively today; sure we had possession, but we could have been more threatening with it. And like you said: grinding out gritty games is a mark of a champion, but isn’t expecting more out of yourself also the mark of a champion?

      That being said, it is still early in the season, so no reason to slap the panic button just yet.

      • Kari
        September 22, 2010

        Oh, I didn’t actually read the liveblog; I was just going on Luke’s point that the people who look back on the “good ol’ days” of 5-0 and expect the same level of dominance are being unreasonable.

        And for sure, if people were pissed at our overall display, I agree with them. Not the best of games to watch in all honesty, although we will probably experience more of these kinds of games in the coming weeks as Villa and SMasch continue their adapting process and Messi not being able to carry the offense as he has been.

        Anyway, in the end, 3 points are 3 points and that’s what really matters. The match will be forgotten quickly (at least by me). I don’t mind if we were lacklustre if we’re saving the beatdown for Bilbao. That game is 10^MASSIVE; a huge match IMO. A match I could see us losing.

      • Stephen
        September 22, 2010

        Couldn’t possibly agree with Nik more here, ” .. expecting more out of yourself also the mark of a champion?” Yes it is ! If we settle for crappy play and mediocre wins, we’ve become Real Madrid folks.

        • Vj
          September 23, 2010

          Not necessarily, sample these results from previous years:

          Espanyol 1 – 2 FCB
          Mallorca 0 – 1 FCB
          Getafe 0 – 1 FCB
          FCB 1 – 0 Almeria
          FCB 1 – 0 Espanyol
          Sporting 0 – 1 FCB

          I don’t mind *some* mediocre wins, as long as they are exceptions to the norm..

          • Nik
            September 23, 2010

            You’re equating level of play with goals scored, but that’s not always the case. My point is that it’s not the scoreline that matters but the quality of play. I have nothing against 1-0 wins. No matter if we win by 10 or by 1, the bottom line is that we walk away with another one in the win column. However, I’d rather have us win 1-0 playing *well* than playing poorly and coming away with the victory.

            I agree that a “mediocre” win here and there isn’t bad, but I don’t think it’s wrong to point out after that our level of play was a little below the norm and that we can do better. No need to castigate the players or predict inevitable doom, but constructive criticism is never a bad thing IMO.

          • Vj
            September 23, 2010

            If you watched any of those matches, you’d see how mediocre our level of play was.. We were finding it really tough to even get a sniff at goal on those days..

            BTW, I can’t remember a match in which we scored many goals and still played bad – I’m not implying we don’t, just that I can’t remember any..

          • Nik
            September 23, 2010

            Ah, I see. To be honest, my memory isn’t that sharp, so I don’t remember the particulars of the games. I’m not surprised though. The players aren’t robots, and dips in form are to be expected.

            Again, I’m not shouting for firings and public floggings. Just saying there were some issues in this game that should be addressed (and am confident they will).

        • Kari
          September 23, 2010

          Exactly what Vj said.

          I`m not saying we should settle for crappy play, I`m saying that when it happens once in a while, the team shouldn`t be lambasted heavily. They`re human too, and as long as we win those games where the team is tired or out of sync, I`ll be okay with it.

          • Stephen
            September 23, 2010

            Someone mentioned we as FCB fans are ‘spoiled’, and yes we are, they can have bad games, they can lose some, but that still doesnt take away that we should be ‘happy’ about it. Or settle for it, nor do it again, Messidependent or not.

  3. Ethan
    September 22, 2010

    Send CT to the B Team. I can’t watch him anymore. But nice win today, Villa finally got his first La Liga goal for us.

    • Kari
      September 22, 2010

      Bojan strikes me as a confidence player, which, I guess, makes sense for a young player.

      When he feels good and high in confidence, he shines (see games under Rijkaard, penultimate games of last season and CDR final). When under pressure (usually put on by Bojan himself), he tends to buckle a bit and struggle to get his feet and nerves under control.

      Problem is, he’s going to be under constant pressure now that Ibra’s gone. I will continue to support him and it’s early days yet (yeah, yeah. I know, but I’ll give him more time.)

      • Stephen
        September 22, 2010

        He’ll get La Copa Del Rey for sure,some minutes, we’ll see what he can do. Treble season when we won that Cup, Eto’o was by his side, now he’ll prob lead the line for that. regardless Beginning of the season or not, this is his THIRD. How much MORE time will that kid get?

    • jnelson
      September 22, 2010

      Villa scored against Racing, remember?

      • Ethan
        September 22, 2010

        good call. totally forgot about that game…

    • iBlau
      September 22, 2010

      Didn’t Villa score vs. Racing on opening day?

  4. jnelson
    September 22, 2010

    I can’t fathom why a team would not play to win, or even draw (second half) against us. That really ticks me off. Gijon was wasting time from kickoff with their goalkeeper (most noticeably) and continued to do so even when they fell behind! The bus remained intact and they only scrambled for the late corner and free kick. Don’t believe me? Watch when their attacker conceded a goal kick very late in the game and carried the ball in a very very light jog for 15 yards before slowly turning and then tossing it back, or watch their goalkeeper pick up the ball later and fake a pass and then walk around looking for somewhere to throw before he finally kicks it away. Are you serious?

    Also, I was wondering just what year is good. Last year it was all about “this is a World Cup year and ACN year so be prepared for things to suck because of qualifiers, friendlies, ACN, lack of training and injuries.” This year it is “be prepared for this year to suck because it is after a World Cup year and there are Euro qualifiers and friendlies and lack of training.” What about next year? “Be prepared for it to suck because of Euro qualifiers, tourney, lack of training, CONMEBOL??” And the year after? “Be prepared for it to suck because of WC qualifiers, friendlies, Confederations Cup, and lack of training.” International futbol sounds so depressing…

    • Jose
      September 22, 2010

      It’s not really the full seasons, but rather that the two-half seasons that sandwich the World Cup usually are kinda funky.

  5. Stephen
    September 22, 2010

    Against my better judgement after missing the live game I rewatched.. and like someone up there said, we were missing some “spark.” When I asked Kevin what we were missing he mentioned Henry (whom I forget all the time played for us), and its exactly what we don’t have this season. We have no “BIG” players. Nobody that can scare a “parked bus.” A threat! Bojan, as much as people think he’s going to become Ronaldo (the fat one) overnight, its not going to happen folks. The fact that he looked good in past seasons is because the alternative was doing WORSE. And it looks as though this is what the season will look like, we have no alternatives, or good ones I should say.
    Good review Luke.

    • Jose
      September 22, 2010

      To be fair, Bojan has looked good in the past seasons because he was good. Whatever it is that is getting to him (most say pressure, and I can’t disagree) is worsening his game.

      • Stephen
        September 23, 2010

        Pressure-handling.. well shouldn’t that be something we require of our ‘9’ ?? If he isnt ready for the role, then stepdown. Obviously he can’t do that himself, so Guardiola should do it for him already.

    • September 23, 2010

      true words, Stephen.

      We have no alternatives and if we settle with Bojan’s crappy plays, we are stepping down. Pep knows it, that’s why he is being subbed out.

  6. ballbeav
    September 23, 2010

    gijon had not one shot on goal. 3 shots total, all off target.

    “un barca mas practico que vistoso” — it has to be, once in a while.

    cant wait for bojan to break his 2010 duck (where did that brit phrase come from?) against the basques.

  7. ballbeav
    September 23, 2010

    jeffren is fit, he should be in the roster this weekend, i would like to see what he can do….

    • Jnice
      September 23, 2010

      I don’t know if he can handle a start away in San Mames, though.

  8. Kxevin
    September 23, 2010

    Whew! Back from hearing the fat lady sing. First things first: Yay, Luke, for getting up a damned fine review.

    Stephen is right, but more specifically, we were discussing what was missing, and I mentioned (as I have before) that we need someone to hold up play with his back to defense, to take a pass and wait for the midgets to show up. But I do recall that Henry was in there during our 2-0 win against Inter, which featured neither Ibrahimovic nor Messi. Rock.

    I also think we need to RUN. Krkic shouldn’t have been the sole attacker as he was on that break up the pitch. That was another advantage that Henry offered, the pace to run with anyone and provide a viable option. Without that option, it’s too easy to play Krkic, and stop the threat.

    Oh, and I don’t want to sell Krkic, per se. I do think that he needs to be somewhere that will allow him to get the playing time that he needs. I don’t think that is with our first team. I would loan him, since sending him back to the B teams isn’t an option. He is indeed a confidence player. He is stronger than Pedro!, has a better touch and is quicker than Pedro!. He might even be faster, and is about the same size.

    So why for the life of me P! can play his way into getting capped with the senior team, and Krkic can play his way into cule scorn is beyond me. But it’s something that we need to solve, one way or the other. His path will never be more wide open than it is right now. Both he and Villa are pressing WAY too hard. And shame on Villa, after ignoring Krkic on the run and putting the ball into the side netting, for not even apologizing to a wide-open Krkic. Most players will acknowledge “Hey, you were there, and made the run. Sorry.” Villa didn’t. Also note that he didn’t even look Krkic’s way. He was probably ashamed, and he should have been. When we are struggling to score is no time for selfishness.

    That’s it. I’m going to bed, but will note that a 7 for Villa is the sign of a kind and generous soul. 😀

    • Jose
      September 23, 2010

      So what’s the conversion factor from LRS to KRS? 😛

    • Jnice
      September 23, 2010

      I don’t think Bojan is quicker, faster, or has a better touch than Pedro, but that may just be me. Pedro takes on more players than Bojan, gets beyond the defense with more regularity, and has a better touch with both feet. Only thing Bojan has over Pedro for me, may be strength. But even then, Pedro seems to know how to use his body better than Bojan.

      I felt for Bojan yesterday just because he played the majority of the first half on the right, something he isn’t really too good at.

      As for the match on the weekend, I don’t think we should start Bojan against Bilbao in San Mames. Aitor Ocio (the guy who Bojan said was the toughest defender he has faced) and Amorebieta are no joke.

      • Kxevin
        September 23, 2010

        I meant on paper, Jnice. In reality, Krkic is worse than P! in every parameter. But in terms of raw talent, Krkic has it over P! all across the board. It’s a fascinating complexity. You look at two players, one of whom plays as 9 or 10/10ths all the time, always maximizing his potential (Pedro!) while the other one plays at 2 or 3/10ths, and occasionally at 7 or 8/10ths. That’s Krkic.

  9. September 23, 2010

    Forwards are the hostages of the players surrounding them. Their mates either cover the forward’s weaknesses or expose it. Checked.

    If you monitor the rise and fall of every player’s performance, you will find a definite pattern. It was the same during Eto’o’s era, Ibra’s Era, and now Villa’s or any striker in the future. Excluding the factors related to time served, adaptation, and being compatible to the demands of our key players’ brotherhood on personal level-putting football aside.

    So I will not repeat what I’ve been saying since Eto’o days, especially during the seasons I defended him facing his “you failed” critic. Ironically from the most Eto’o-istic fans these days 😀
    The problem is that this time, our striker type of weaknesses concurs with the main weaknesses of all his mates rather than oppose it. This makes solving it a bit more challenging. But there is always a way. Let’s see how Pep deals with it. He has a striker who is less complicated to control and comprehend in Villa, football-wise and personality, which seems like the only type of players Pep can deal with, so no excuses. He may need till January to figure, or buy. So far, none of the games we played was satisfying. Sorry.

    Or else, we can always count on Messi. Almost Always.

  10. poipoi
    September 23, 2010

    is it me or xavi stepped aside of the game a little yesterday? maybe he’s still a bit injured

    • Jnice
      September 23, 2010

      He plays great 9/10 times. This game was the 1.

      • poipoi
        September 23, 2010

        true, if 3 happen in a row one should start to think about worrying. don’t wanna sound to harsh but he’s in his 30’s now >_<

        • Ryan
          September 23, 2010

          Well, he did misplace 4 passes, but he still did his magic in maintaining possession, evading challenges, etc. I noticed that he shot from range more often; was he trying to atone for that miss in the game before this one perhaps?

  11. gpcrush
    September 23, 2010

    Yes we won but it seemed like the psychic link was broken today. That is to say we looked sloppy and disjointed. Maybe it was the lack of Messi, or maybe they just woke up wrong. I dunno. Lets hope this weekend’s match is far better. We don’t look like champions.

    ps. I’m thrilled Masche didn’t get booked this match. =))

  12. Diego S.
    September 23, 2010

    I think we need a transfer in the Winter Transfer window. Does Anyone know when Suarez’s contract will end? I’d like us to buy him next Summer.

  13. barca96
    September 23, 2010

    Great review Luke. Agreed on every point.
    But I thought match reviews were Kxevin’s job.

    I’m really hoping to see Adriano taking Maxwell’s spot. I see Adriano being a better defender. Maxwell is weak to me and commits too many unnecessary fouls due to his poor defending.

    • Luke
      September 23, 2010

      Kevin was busy so I fill in. I am effectively the Keita of the blog. I’m here, I’m there, doing what needs be done.

      • Kxevin
        September 23, 2010

        Keeeiteeeee!

        I was swanning about in a tuxedo listening to a not-so-fat lady sing. Besides, variety is good. And as my heavy training rolls into vibrant, leg-buckling life, expect even more non-Kxevin reviews, which, it must be said, not everybody will be all that bummed about. 😀

  14. majatt
    September 23, 2010

    2 Things:

    1. Has anyone else noticed our pitch has been kicking up, skiddy and generally not conducive to a fluid passing game?

    2. Busquets as a sweeper seems very dangerous to me, he can get done for pace very easily on the counter.

    • Nik
      September 23, 2010

      Yeah, I think we’ve all noticed it. The pitch is utter crap with clods of dirt flying up periodically. As others have mentioned before, the two rugby matches being held at the Camp Nou in the near future aren’t going to help things.

      I don’t know what the issue, but I hope it gets fixed. Soon.

      • jose89
        September 23, 2010

        does anybody know if the pitch is going to be in such horrible condition for the duration of the season? or is it just until these rugby games are over?

        • ooga aga
          September 23, 2010

          guardiola said teh grass had a fungus and a virus, and the experts were trying to fix it

    • Diego S.
      September 23, 2010

      1- Yes
      2- He’s only a sweeper during the game when Pique or Puyol push up to hold the attack till one of them returns .. But when we’re having a corner It’s Abidal and Alves at the back.

  15. eto'opologist
    September 23, 2010

    Wow, you guys are still slandering Eto’o to make yourselves feel good about the sale? I come by and read this Luke guy calling Eto’o lazy half the time and pouting the rest??!? Seriously? When was Eto’o ever found being lazy on the pitch? When did he pout ‘the rest’ of the time? This is plain stupid. This space was the worst when it came to completely misrepresenting what Eto’o was about, and it still is I see. Thats why I felt the need to come up with my name.

    Here is an excerpt of the ratings from the Inter offside on Eto’o:
    Eto’o: I was in love with Eto’o’s game last season. He comes back to help on defense. He’s deadly in front of goal. He passes like a demon. There isn’t much that he can’t do in cleats and I have said how much I admire his ability so often that I am feeling a little redundant. But I really don’t care. I love his game. Today, if I was the defender that he just totally destroyed, I would be nearly suicidal. I haven’t seen too many players play the game I saw out of Eto’o today. He was amazing, astounding and incredible. Yes, this has turned into a fully bloomed bromance. It was a grand gesture to let him take the penalties considering how much he played and how hard he worked for everyone else. Btw, here’s some fun facts for you: Eto’o has scored in every game Inter has played this season (SuperCoppa, Udinese, Twente, Palermo, Bari) except 2 and he has 2 games in which he has scored a double (3 if you count the SupperCoppa). 9.5

    Yep, Barcelona is sputtering because they screwed up big time!

    • mei
      September 23, 2010

      Have you ever followed barcelona?
      Obviously not.
      You are following inter so why would you’d come here to brag about your player when you clearly have no clue to what he was like with us ? Etoo was lazy on the pitch . When doesnt matter because even if we point you at a certain date , you did not watch any of these matches , much less had you focused on the output of one player to understand what he did and did not do well.

      • eto'opologist
        September 23, 2010

        mei- I follow Barcelona probably more than you do. This is why i say it’s nonsense to say Eto’o was lazy. Eto’o was ironically loved more for his industry in barcelona than his skills. He is that rare striker who was willing to defend, track back, switch to wings. You could never ever accuse eto’o of being static on the pitch or not being mobile. It doesn’t seem like you followed barcelona. Go back and watch any of the ’08 games…then watch an Ibra or a Villa game at Barcelona. Then you will know the difference.

        • mei
          September 23, 2010

          Well , since i cant prove how much i do and how much you dont follow barcelona or whatever , i can just point you out the fact that what you are comparing is simply put, stupid.

          You compare eto’ fifth season as an established player of Barcelona , to the first season of ibrahimovic and the first couple of games of David Villa.

          • eto'opologist
            September 23, 2010

            Simply put, It is STUPID to call Eto’o lazy. You could call him many things as many of you have done over the seasons, but lazy on the pitch was NEVER EVER an issue.

        • Luke
          September 23, 2010

          I like Eto’o, I liked him when he was here and have no real hard feelings. Pep and he did not see eye-to-eye and he moved on. The fact that he lazed about part of the time is not in question. He did it for Inter last year some too. That’s how he plays.

          Please do not come here and insult me when you cannot deal with a well-established fact. Also don’t read your own issues into what was said.

          • ooga aga
            September 23, 2010

            i like what luke has to say, but i have to agree with the man above, it is ridiculous to sum up his tenure the way luke did. he was anything but lazy. the pressure he put on opposing defenses was as missed as his goals when he left and ibra came. the proof is in the pudding, go back and watch the games. neither ibra or villa can run as much as etoo did. dude was a maquina, un motor. i just cant see how luke sums it this way. and as far as his season at inter. mourinho employed him as a quasi-midfielder precisely because the dude is un motor and can go up and down the field. it is not a “well-established fact”, luke, that is unfair. nobody sprints an entire 90 minutes (maybe dani, ok) …the faithful en el estadio watched him work, tahts why they love him…

        • Stephen
          September 23, 2010

          you are comparing very very physically different players in your eto’o defense of being a “rare” striker…

      • poipoi
        September 23, 2010

        Eto’o is/was great, he won two champions with us being the starting CF. We kicked him out and he wanted to stay, some say because we wanted a plan B, pep says because of some feelings and I think because pep could not control him even though his game and personality INSIDE the pitch was really appreciated in the dressing room, don’t know about OUTSIDE the pitch. I also loved him and I still do, I like it when good things happen to him, can’t say the same about ibrahimovic. I feel like Eto’o deserved more titles and recognition in his career… and he already got last CL so all he’s gonna get from now are italian cups 😀 😀 I also love his game he’s a one of a kind CF, haven’t seen one run so much and well, not like a chicken without a head good tough pressure and runs to the space. Our game has changed a lot since he left I liked it with him, don’t see lazyness or bad touch. like you said he’s a good passer also. how old is he btw?

        • mei
          September 23, 2010

          Lets rephrase that down to what was actually real.
          Etoo was great for us , won two championships with us being used as a CF.
          We kicked him out because amongst others ,he wanted to stay for his last contracted year ,see out his contract and leave us on a free transfer the next year.
          He has created trouble with rijkaard in the past, via press conferences and has even spoke out on laporta several times.

          So you got 3 major reasons to want him out :

          -Coach did not like his personality , and had several reasons for it.Dont forget that he was recognised as one of the players to leave as soon as he took charge along with deco ronnie and oleguer.

          -Tactically he is neither disciplined nor versatile for [b] our kind of play [/b] to be used on the wings , or as a forward interchanging positions , something that characterizes better the forward line of barcelona.

          -Losing an asset for free is bad for business and in this case combined with the above points , it doesnt make sense to try and keep the player.

          • Luke
            September 23, 2010

            I stand by my statement that he was petulant and a whiner, he was. I also stand by my statement that he was great but took games off. I further stand by my statement that he was not going to stay here after his final year and we wanted to get something, which is why we sold.

            Further, he had no place on the wings at all. It was center or nothing for him.

    • Kxevin
      September 23, 2010

      I’d suggest that your screen name speaks very eloquently as to your intent and objectivity in this matter, and leave it at that.

      • eto'opologist
        September 23, 2010

        Yes, I came up with that screen name specifically because of the misrepresentations you guys were putting out a while back. Lazy, petulant, cancer in the locker room, can’t score without being spoon fed by Xavi & Iniesta and specifically from you, that he couldn’t play on the wings. You should see what he is doing now from the wings. You guys were insufferably biased against the player.

        • Kxevin
          September 23, 2010

          Eto’o is many things, such as petulant (even he admits that he has personality issues) and full of fire. People have speculated that he is a locker room cancer, but that has been unproven.

          What Eto’o also is, is an ex-Barca player. When he played with the club, he was shit when he played on either wing. It presented tactical problems. Aside from that, there were complexities with the relationship betweeen he and Guardiola that necessitated his departure. So he’s gone. Every right-minded culeappreciates what he did for the club, and wishes him well in his new role, until Inter plays us.

          Simple as that. I would suggest that any “insufferable bias” has roots in the fervence of someone’s fandom.

          • eto'opologist
            September 23, 2010

            See why I came up with the moniker? Eto’o killed barcelona with 2 smart passes from the wings. He played there when asked by Mourinho to deathly effect. Kxevin, if you were an honest journalist, you would have pointed out that calling him lazy is not true, but you avoided that issue by attacking my screen name. Interesting.

            Look at Eto’o on the wings and tell me thats shit.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJMJPg4vJAg

          • September 23, 2010

            Nope, didn’t attack your screen name. Just stated that it made your views on the matter very clear. It’s next to impossible for someone to be objective, or to be perceived as thus, when you have a screen name such as yours. It would be like someone having the GuardiolaSucks screen name, then criticizing the coach. Nobody would be surprised.

            For me, it doesn’t matter what Eto’o did at Inter. Players often work on their deficiencies when they leave a club, or when they don’t. And even had he not disappeared on the wing when playing for Barca, the other difficulties that necessitated his sale would still have been present, so he would still have been sold.

            Luke clarified his comments. You, however, living up to your screen name, will not let it drop. Well I am. So comment about Eto’o all you like, but I suggest you will find more kindred spirits on an Inter board.

    • Blow-Grenade
      September 23, 2010

      Eto’o is loved for everything he has given to Barca. He has had is good and bad days like any other player in Barca, but more good than bad. The guy is a machine when he is on song. The rest is history.

      • Blow-Grenade
        September 23, 2010

        His pace….he would just burn defenders. Miss that!!

  16. poipoi
    September 23, 2010

    IMO pep threw a hand to bojan yesterday making him start, but what did he do in return? Loosing balls and it’s not his first even he’s so young. I really don’t know, people say he’s only that bad in the right, the fact is he played horrible. P! or nolito 😉 should have started. if he’s a CF let him play as CF, it’s not that bad for a third option being 1-villa and 2-messi or viceversa… or loan him or trade him for cesc 😀 😀 😀 or something. Games like the last one should affect a player’s confidence and career.

      • Stephen
        September 23, 2010

        The thing is that he’s THE ONLY option to any of the 3 positions, which is the depressing part of the whole thing.

  17. Kxevin
    September 23, 2010

    (from Pep over at Twitter) The new Barcelona board will not go ahead with the Foster project to reform the Camp Nou and is looking how to dissolve the contract. [el9]

    Interesting.

    • mei
      September 23, 2010

      wasnt it put on hold for some time anyway?

    • Nik
      September 23, 2010

      I’m not that familiar with the Foster project. What was it proposing?

      • mei
        September 23, 2010

        an around 200million euro worth reconstructure of the camp nou , adding some seats etc.

      • Helge
        September 23, 2010

        Extending the Camp Nou to more than 100,000 seats and renovating the facade in a Gaudi-style (colourful mosaics).

        • Helge
          September 23, 2010

          He wasn’t the one who wanted to build a completely new stadium on an articifical island next to the port of Barcelona, right?

          • poipoi
            September 23, 2010

            cover el bernabeu and then fill it with water with everyone inside 😉

      • Jose
        September 23, 2010

        It was the “birthday cake” Camp Nou project, which looked awesome.

        *http://tinyurl.com/campnoucake

        Kinda bummed it won’t go ahead, but it’s understandable.

  18. eto'opologist
    September 23, 2010

    Ooga aga, sorry I wanted to reply to you but that comment section is closed. What you said is exactly my point. I rarely contribute in this space lately, but when I see something as ridiculous as how Luke summed up Eto’o’s tenure at barcelona, in order to excuse someone else, it just riles me up.

    I have seen the likes of Ibra, Adriano, the real Ronaldo, Villa, Ronaldinho & Eto’o play live. You could never ever call Eto’o lazy, especially compared to those guys. I urge anybody who has seen Ibra and Villa at barcelona, to go back to any ’09 game, and specifically look for Eto’o’s play. Then you will see what his movement, help in midfield and simple passes were all about. I can’t post any whole games here, but this comes closest to observing Eto’o:

    //http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eqJqd3FQQQ&feature=related

    • Stephen
      September 23, 2010

      Not pulling your side or Luke’s side… but I hardly think Luke is trying to “compare” Eto’o to anyone else. It’s more of an observation about a certain player in context with his review…just saying.

  19. ooga aga
    September 23, 2010

    dont worry, i watched almost every barca game while etoo was with us, nobody will ever convince me he was lazy…it’s like saying the sky is orange…maybe it is on one day cos of some weird sunset LOL but that’s it….

  20. Bill
    September 23, 2010

    Nice review Luke… up until when you described Eto’o as lazy :0. I think you got a little lazy in calling him lazy. It shows how a single sentence can detract from a whole piece!

    As for Bojan, I still think Pep shouldve given him incremental 30 mins at the end of games, leading up to a full start. Starting him and then yanking him at the half is just slowly destroying this kid. I feel sorry for him. He may have to go to a coach that knows how to handle young players, like wenger or ferguson.

    • mei
      September 23, 2010

      I dont really get bojan. Really.
      Last year everybody made a point that he was always performing when he got a start rather than coming off as a substitute.
      Now pep starts him , he doesnt deliver and he gets subbed. What did you expect?
      He is a confidence player?
      How much more confidence can the coach show to him?

      Always talking him up to the press even when he was on the bench , firing ibra and not getting a replacement that would limit his playing time even further. He even got the 9 shirt .
      There are no more excuses. The coach drew the line when he did not get another attacker , limiting our options to bojan , pedro and perhaps iniesta. Hed better deliver.

      He cant both be a confidence player and at the same time someone cracking under pressure. Not for us anyway.

    • Stephen
      September 23, 2010

      Personally the time that Pep could be spending babysitting Bojan he should spend finding someone who will perform and doesn’t need all the pampering. Pedro played his way into what he is now, he did what he had to do at any given point, sub, or a starter. That’s what a player who wants to be a part of the first team should do.

      • Bill
        September 23, 2010

        Bojan is a child prodigy. Period. Many expect him to do some amazing stuff at 20. But he is no Messi, or pedro for that matter. But he is not a bust. Bojan will probably fully blossom at about 25. And when he does, watch out. He is a combination of Eto’o, Torres and Villa. He has Messi like finishing and Iniesta like open play moves. When it eventually comes together, watch out. At 20, I bet none of those guys, aside from messi, was anything to write home about. It’s too much pressure on him.

        He has to be handled carefully. Pep has not done that. Historically, superstars are never the right people to bring up another star carefully. Michael Johnson wasn’t, Larry Bird wasn’t, maradona isn’t, and neither is Pep. A case of expecting too much too soon is dangerous. Does anyone rember Kobe at 20? Yikes!

        • Stephen
          September 23, 2010

          “.. expecting too much too soon is dangerous..” I’m glad you mentioned this, even Guardiola mentioned last season, Bojan was brought up TOO SOON from the B team. Now Bojan has to grow WHILE in the first team, of course its pressure, we are big club, once in a while good games isn’t good enough. Which is why, as Kevin mentioned above, he should be loaned out, get minutes somewhere else, finish ‘growing’ and then come back, which I’m sure the club would have him.

          • blitzen
            September 23, 2010

            And this is why Pep is being so careful about bringing B players into the first team this year. Everyone is raving about the likes of Thiago, JDS, and Romeu, and rightly so, but Pep doesn’t want to promote them too soon and have them just sit on the bench watching the first team play. He wants them to stay with the B team, get lots of playing time there and improve their skills, and call them up for first team matches here and there. That way they get experience AND they get the feel of what being in the first team is like. He doesn’t want to create another Bojan situation.

          • September 23, 2010

            fully supporting the views of Mei and Stephen.

            Add to blitzen’s point, the B team has just become a much better environment for the youth to grow because they have promoted to segunda. Its a whole new world for them, because the league is much more competitive. I think you are right, Pep deliberately let the likes of Thiago, JDS, Romeu and Fontas stay with B team. I personally think it’s for the success of the club even in the segunda level.

            Again, no club has ever won both the liga and the segunda at the same time. So it will be all the sweeter if we could do it.

  21. September 23, 2010

    Putting the endless forwards nostalgia argument aside (if we reached no where in that already then we know we never will), I think its better that Pep gives Bojan a break from starting lineup for few games.

    Another bad game may damage him permanently. Focus on Pedro, Villa, and the others (not that there are a lot!) to start and get the boy in when things are smooth. Till he treat his psychological wounds.

    Cant wait to see Pique as a nine for a whole game. It will be a Crazy awesomeness.

  22. jordi(TM)
    September 23, 2010

    eto’o and ibra again? Ill get my coat..

    *http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20080202231409/uncyclopedia/images/1/11/Beating-a-dead-horse.gif

    • Luke
      September 23, 2010

      Haha.

      In all seriousness, jordi is right. I’m tired of the Eto’o/Ibra bullshit. I probably should have just avoided it all together but thems the facts.

  23. Kxevin
    September 23, 2010

    Hey, why is Krkic crying in the picture above?

    Also, hats off to Tim Stannard for the following:

    “Everyone is throwing in their 10 cents’ worth on Real Madrid’s performances so far, despite the iron-clad rule that a team isn’t supposed to be judged until 10 games into the season. (Then it’s perfectly fine, if necessary, to tap that ass of aggression.)”

    I’m not sure what’s funnier, that he even used “tap that ass,” or that he used it properly.

  24. Bill
    September 23, 2010

    The problem isn’t that Bojan came to the first team too soon. He was perfectly fine when Rijkaard was handling him. The problem is how pep has messed with his Psyche. Like I said before, you give him 30 mins a game. Maybe 10 in the champions league, and a full start in all the cup games. Then when he is on a hot streak, and his confidence is up, you give him starts. It’s how Iniesta, Motta and Messi were handled by Rijkaard. It can be a very smooth transition if handled right. Starting him in the first game of the season with 6 or 7 changes on a below par team, then yanking him at the half, giving him 3 mins in the other game, then starting him again only to yank him at the half is beyong belief.

    How Pedro and Busquets were brought in is extremely risky, thank God they were upto the task. But you never bring up young kids that way. Look at how Mourinho handled Balotelli.

    • Kxevin
      September 23, 2010

      But Rijkaard, with his handling of the player, effectively made him first team. Guardiola is playing him like a member of the first team, as he should. You either contribute, or you sit. The B team is for development, the first team is for performance.

      Guardiola hasn’t messed with Krkic’s psyche. Krkic has by not performing at a level that guarantees him minutes. I just don’t buy the “Krkic needs different handling” bit. This is his fourth season with the first team.

      How Pedro and Busquets were brought in, was by a coach who knew that they were ready, and was proved right. Krkic was brought up by a coach and a board who didn’t want to run the risk of losing him, and brought him up early. Only now do we know that it was too early. When he was brought up, the huzzahs were vociferous and numerous.

      Now he must prove himself. He isn’t a kid any longer. He’s a member of this club’s first team. He will play like it, or sit. And that’s as it should be.

      • Kxevin
        September 23, 2010

        To go you one further, look at how Guardiola is handling the B team talents that he has control of, in the forms of players such as Thiago, Dos Santos, Fontas, etc. He’s letting them practice with the first team, and get some occasional minutes. The club is renewing them, which gives them more opportunities to develop, and they will move up when ready.

        I think that to diss Guardiola for not handling Krkic properly is incorrect. I fault Rijkaard for making the initial move, and leaving Guardiola with the problem of what to do with this pint-sized bundle of talent.

        • mei
          September 23, 2010

          All i can think of when i remember rijkaard bringing up bojan was … wooah thats our new talent! He looks suberb!

          And sadly that’s what I think was the actual reasoning was behind the coaches decision to promote him.
          I think that even surpasses the fear of us losing him :
          Rijkaard mainly wanted to soothe cules for him underperforming for a second consecutive year , so i give you a new brand toy to brag about.

  25. Josep
    September 23, 2010

    All this talk about P! and Bojan.. whose to say P! doesn’t follow his path? I mean Bojan had success his first season called up and has cooled off. P! has time for that, and hasn’t been as impressive this season (still very early)

    • blitzen
      September 23, 2010

      Not going to happen. Pedro is coming off winning a World Cup, for goodness’ sakes! And not just being on the team, he was a starter in the semi-final with Germany. He has the confidence of both Guardiola and Del Bosque. His self-confidence is sky-high and you can see it in the way he is playing, even if he hasn’t been at his stellar best the last couple of games.

      If I had to pick one Barcelona player I would want to be right now, it would be Pedro or Busquets. Young, super-talented, confident, and with his whole career still ahead of him. This is a good time to be Pedro.

    • mei
      September 23, 2010

      Pedro was an integral part of a championship winning team , both domestic and international.
      Bojan was a rising star while the whole team was underperforming ,for the second year and the coach had a bullzeye ypon him.
      I want bojan to stay and get himself together.
      However the mixture of expectations , squad level and his recent performances dont look good at all for him.

  26. blitzen
    September 23, 2010

    I couldn’t have been sick yesterday, when I could have watched Barcelona. No, I have to be sick today, when I can watch…Villareal vs. Deportiva La Coruna.

    Oh well, I do like the Yellow Submarine. Anyone else watching?

  27. Kxevin
    September 23, 2010

    Did anyone catch Ray Ray on Messi and his avoiding more severe injury? He said “The angels protect their own.” Awwwwwww!

  28. vicsoc8
    September 23, 2010

    Speaking out the Foster project, I’m glad it wasn’t renewed. The whole look of it was gaudy and not particularly eco-friendly with all the lights on the outside of the Camp.

    The Camp Nou needs to be renovated, but I think it will be done in a much more tasteful (and less expensive) way.

  29. blitzen
    September 23, 2010

    My Xavi shirt just came! Woo hoo! Congratulate me! 😀

  30. December 6, 2010

    Really enjoyed looking at your blog, it’s a little like mine. If you have time, you should see what you think of my site. You can leave comments and it’s always nice to get opinions from visitors.

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