Bojan should go play in traffic.
That was the general consensus at the end of the first half of Barça-Sporting. It was not, in any way, an opinion that I personally shared then or share now. It was at halftime that Ray Hudson—I’m quoting Ray Hudson here, people–made a comment that should have made a bunch of people sit up and take note: after replays of David Villa’s non-pass to the little guy were shown, Ray Hudson said “That was the fourth time today that he didn’t pass to little Bojan in the box.” (my italics, though writing down what Ray Hudson says needs double bold super italics to really come off anywhere near hyper enough.
This is what I wrote to Luke yesterday in a private chat: “In the second [Bojan] became more of a winger and created the goal.” I’m assuming you’ve stopped laughing by now and are paying attention: I’m serious. Watch the goal again. Do it. I’m sure you paid attention to Bojan. If you didn’t, go watch it again and this time pay attention to Bojan. See where he’s standing? See who keeps David Villa onside? If you didn’t notice go watch it again and this time pay attention to Bojan. Sheesh.
I wrote this at Soccernet:
Villa’s goal against Sporting in the match this evening was beautiful in its simplicity and it was something the team had been working on for the previous 50 minutes. Alves, Pedro, and Xavi, played the ball around on the right wing and Villa snuck in behind his defender, who thought he was offside in that position. Alves lifted the ball up and because Bojan was on the left wing holding his defender back, Villa was onside.
Think back to the first half: Bojan tries time and again to get into the box when others have the ball or, if they’re swinging around to his side, he springs wide to receive the ball. That he didn’t have any real support most of the time from the midfield (Dani Alves was over there often) meant that Villa was supported by both Keita and Iniesta, which naturally gained him more space behind Sporting’s disciplined back line. For an example, look no further than the aforementioned moment Villa should have passed to Bojan: the defense was drawn out, a pass between defenders, and Villa was in on a slightly tighter angle to shoot, so he should have passed. Had he, everyone would be claiming Bojangles is the greatest striking option we have coming off the bench.
Instead? Go jump off a bridge. Okay then.