Rubin Kazan 1, Barca 1, aka “Waste makes draw,” aka “Finish what’s on your plate!”

There it is, kids, so live it up. It’s the goal that saved our wasteful, imprecise blushes, a penalty kick popped in by David Villa. The keeper guessed right, but Villa was still able to power it past him after Andres Iniesta was taken down in the box.

And that was that. Apologies for the lateness of the review, but some dude in a burgundy shirt was blocking my computer. Couldn’t get to it for the life of me. Then a whistle blew, and he left. Hmph.

It was that kind of a day, and that kind of match. As Kazan’s coach admitted, there is really only one way to play against us, and boy did they do it. But “parking the bus” does that aggressive, hard-working side a disservice. This was a draw that we had to earn, even though it’s a draw that should not have been.

Guardiola said after the Bilbao match that he wanted sharper finishing in front of goal. We listen to our coach well, don’t we? Ramzi popped in during the (as usual these days) pessimistic LiveBlog and said that this was a match that he was satisfied with. I agree. We created no fewer than 7 excellent scoring chances, not to mention the ones that would have materialized had someone made the right run. Both Pedro! and Villa were guilty of that crime.

More importantly, we created chances against precisely the kind of defensive-minded approach that most looked like what Inter threw at us last season: defend in depth, but be ready for the lightning counter. Rubin Kazan gets the ball up the pitch very, very quickly. It caught us out a couple of times, most notably when Obafemi Martins banged a point-blank header off of Valdes’ near post, after muscling Carles Puyol out of the way. Muscling! Yes. I said it.

Guardiola rolled out with an all-business lineup of Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Maxwell, Mascherano, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro! and Villa. The clear idea was to attack like crazy folks, leaving our pit bull in the middle of the pitch to deal with any leaked attacks. And we created chances early, then we created more as the match progressed, clear scoring chances against precisely the kind of approach that has always, always given us fits. Here are just a few:

–Pedro! hit the crossbar with a chip.
–Villa pushed a sharply-angled shot wide of the mark
–Messi had two headers
–Krkic had a wide-open header that he pushed wide
–Iniesta proved that his force field is still in effect
–Villa punked out on a ball that fell to him at the doorstep
–Alves was surprised by a ball that fell to him at the doorstep
–Pique was surprised by …. you get it

That’s 8 chances to score, opportunities that even if we convert a third of them, we win in a romp. That we didn’t is vexing, and means extra shooting practice. But the reason Ramzi and I are thrilled at this one, is that we created chances, and a damn sight more chances to score than we usually create against an aggressive, ball-hawking, passing lane clogging defense of big, physical players.

So buck up, and know that we would have created even more chances had we played true one-touch football. We know this because every time we did, we created an excellent scoring chance. Two to three touches wasn’t going to do it, as that gave the Rubin Kazan defenders a chance to get into position. Speeding up play was the answer, but we didn’t do it.

Another problem is the second run. You saw it once when Pedro! worked a 1-2 with Alves, and when the pass was blocked the ball went back to Alves. P! should have made a second, diagonal run that was begging, positively screaming to be made. But he didn’t, and the opportunity went away. Villa guessed wrong on any number of runs, ones that if he guessed right, would have put him in with clear scoring chances. The first run sets them up, the second one should seal the deal. But we didn’t start to see that kind of a run until Messi entered the pitch.

This really was a simple match to dissect: Faster play led to scoring chances because of passing and movement. When we played deliberately, they were able to block every pass and get in the way of every run. Now we know that we can break buses. We just have to work on becoming more clinical in front of goal.

And a word about parking the bus. People speak with derision, as if teams are somehow being unmanly or less than sporting by parking the bus. “They should come out to play football and get killed,” we think as we crow away during LiveBlogs. But parking the bus is a legitimate tactic that, if properly pulled off, can grab your side a draw, even though it had the ball for about 14 seconds, and only a couple of shots on goal. It can be intelligent and effective if played as Kazan or Inter played it, defense with a mind toward the fast counter that catches our aggressive defenders up the pitch.

A coach does what he does to secure points for his side. Simple as that. Kazan played a hell of a match, and almost stole one at the death. Hats off to them.

Team: 6. When they did what they were supposed to do, great things happened. When they didn’t, it was an effectively ineffective mess. And our keeper and defenders have to talk. You could see evidence of it during this match time and again, as people just weren’t where they were supposed to be. That can’t happen.

Guardiola: 8. Right lineup, right substitutions, right call on Mascherano. It really liberated Busquets, who contributed to the offense in a Keita-like way, as Xavi was being aggressively marked and blocked. I wouldn’t have made the Messi sub, particularly after we’d grabbed the winning tying(!!) goal. Not on a wet pitch against a super-aggressive defense. But that’s why I’m writing this review instead of coaching a world-class football club, right?

Valdes: 3. Made some good plays, but cost his side with the shanked clearance that busted Rubin Kazan loose, that led directly to the penalty. Later, he did it again with a clearance that went straight to a Rubin Kazan player, who again sparked a seriously dangerous charge from them. He’s owed a stinker every now and then, I reckon.

Alves: 5. Not his fault people weren’t making runs at his fine crosses. He got caught out of position defensively a few times too many, but got forward with style and aggression to help create threat after threat. He fouled the Rubin Kazan barely, but the attacker made the most of it, as he should have.

Pique: 4. Wasn’t as bad as many thought. Yes, he had some wayward passes, but he also had some key interventions that broke up Rubin attacks. Went forward with his usual style, which relieved the midfield pressure that Rubin was applying.

Puyol: 6. Was doing great until Martins came in, then he often looked like a tired, aging defender as Martins beat him with pace and physicality. I also have to fault our captain for not more effectively marshaling his back line mates. And if Valdes isn’t talking to his defenders, Puyol has to remind him to do so.

Maxwell: 4. Not good. If he isn’t going to go forward, then why is he out there? Rubin had no real interest in attacking us except on counters, which would be coming at Maxwell too rapidly for his well-used legs and knees to keep under control. Invisible for huge stretches of the match.

Mascherano: 7. Color me impressed, with (mostly) his passing, pit bull-like mentality and high-quality ball winning. He was just gangstering the ball away from Rubin attackers, which as noted above, allowed Busquets the freedom to go hog wild up front. Probably would have had a higher score with a full match.

Busquets: 7. Aside from a couple of Bad Busi moments that were more than made up for with excellence, our lanky whatever position he is with a low tolerance for pain (funny, that observation by the announcer) was excellent. He had some great passes that should have received a better fate. He is flopping less, and winning balls more.

Xavi: 6. Strong match, but the tempo is in his hands. It was clear that we needed to play more quickly, and he should have been the one making that happen. The offense is in his hands.

Iniesta: 9. Man of the Match effort by our very own Ghostface, who needs to tell himself to shoot more. There he was, loose in the box with the ball at his feet. Why he didn’t shoot I’m sure only he knows. But his runs and passes were magical, gutting and almost unerring.

Pedro!: 4. Despite his stat-stuffer efforts that included demonic defense, he has to do better in front of goal. He was part of the sloppy imprecision that cost his side three points. His football IQ is improved this season, but he still has to learn how to move.

Villa: 4. Strong, active match with a number of excellent passes, including the one to P! that he clanked off the crossbar. But we must fault his finishing, and the fact that he still doesn’t know where to be in our offense. He will learn, but right now it’s frustrating to watch him moving the wrong way.

Substitutes

Messi (for Mascherano): 5. He entered the match and proceeded to single-handedly try to win it, losing the ball time and again. When he settled down and played within the system as he was supposed to, he was constant danger. He should have at least put that header on target, though. His passing and movement are glorious, and he is fearless, which sometimes isn’t a good thing for our ball control.

Krkic (for Villa): incomplete. He was only in for about 5 minutes, enough time for him to push a wide-open header wide of the goal.

Next up is a very winnable match at home, against Mallorca. In Champions League we’re second in Group D with 4 points, two behind leader Copenhagen. This draw helped a lot in securing our almost-automatic advancement, as the clubs below us have 1 and 0 points, respectively.

But as usual, we’ll see.

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

114 Comments

  1. Reagan
    September 29, 2010

    Nice review Kxevin!

    We really need to take our freaking chances!!

  2. September 29, 2010

    “I wouldn’t have made the Messi sub, particularly after we’d grabbed the winning goal.”

    Heh, I know it felt like a winning goal, but it wasn’t one, so you might want to correct that.

    I thought Pique had a shocker — I don’t recall seeing him play this badly since he earned a permanent starting spot back in Pep’s first season. He got caught with the ball a bunch of times, the first goal was his fault more than most people’s, and he just didn’t look sharp. No worries, everyone’s allowed a clunker.

    Bottom line: 4 pts in 2 games in the CL group stage is good, very good. I’m happy.

    • BlaugranaDOOM
      September 30, 2010

      “Heh, I know it felt like a winning goal, but it wasn’t one, so you might want to correct that.”

      Ha, nice catch. And yes, it did feel like one.

  3. BlaugranaDOOM
    September 30, 2010

    Difficult match. Playing ten behind the ball in the last third is really hard to break down. Credit to them, when they won the ball they weren’t just hoofing it, but rather trying to hit us quickly.

    Iniesta was immense. He was the only player breaking to the ball when we got it on the wings. Too many times, we get the ball to the wing and you can see 5 players around the 18, but on the other side of the pitch. Well, we can’t win headers, so we don’t cross. What are those guys doing…

    Also, when they lost the ball, I feel our counters weren’t bold enough. I would like to see some riskier passes when its 3 on 4 or 5. If they win it back and try to attack again, it picks up the pace. Guardiola has instilled a cautiousness that hampers our attacks at times when trying to get past buses in our way.

    I really don’t fault Messi for being selfish. That’s his job. If anything, him losing the ball had to do with his tentitiveness (I imagine from Gaurdiola’s instructions and lingering weakness in the ankle) as much as selfishness.

    Awful tackle from Alves. Valdes is a shot stopper. Pique was there. Don’t stick your damn leg in, please.

    Busi plays the simplest football in the world, most of the time. He will be a top 10 midfielder in a season or two if he continues on his learning curve (and hits the weight room a few times).

  4. Kxevin, like usual, I have to disagree. I have to argue that Puyol lost Obafemi Martins through bad positioning, and a fair bit of laziness, rather than by being muscled out of it.

    I only saw the game once, so i could be wrong? anyone else see the same thing?

  5. Mido
    September 30, 2010

    just cant get it,if Villa deserved a 1 rating last match then Pique and Alves didnt deserve more than a zero today,they were targeting our right hand side and Alves-Pique made an epic fail,Just look at the amount of fouls Pique commited and his lost long balls,and just look at the penalty to see whats up with Alves and Pique but yeah those are players you want to defend,Alves was good because only his crosses didnt find the man,Pique was great because he got forward,you are all positive until you come to the name David Villa,he had a 4 rating because Pedro failed to convert his 2 assists,he also passed the ball to Iniesta in the penalty,what could have happened if Pedro scored the 2 goals,his rating could have been 4.5 right?!! I wasnt a follower of your Blog in Ibra’s era but I really want to know your rating for Ibra in the matches he flopped in

    • BlaugranaDOOM
      September 30, 2010

      Why do people always complain about the player reviews? Its like people come to the website to attack the reviewer (usually Kxevin) saying “you hate so and so” “Why does x get a 3 when y lost the ball more times and got a 4”

      If you agree, great. If you don’t, ok. Say why you felt differently. That’s what the comment section if for. Stop trying to nitpick every number.

    • extreme barca fan
      September 30, 2010

      i totally agree with mido, these ratings are way off. especially pique, he was worse than what many people think, he kept the kazan player onside for the goal-penalty. made rediciolous fouls and got him self a yellow.
      any how villa scored our 400th goal in european competitions.
      moreover we are in good position to win the group, hopefully before matchday 6 of the group stage.

  6. ooga aga
    September 30, 2010

    messi didnt look 100% i think he wasnt pushing it

  7. Jose
    September 30, 2010

    Kxevin, you biased idiot! 😀

    lol, couldn’t see the match, but I agree with the sentiment that a draw from likely the hardest match in this group stage (away in Russia) is a result I can be happy with. In these short groups, it’s just as important to not give your opponents points than it is to win them.

  8. September 30, 2010

    Thanks for the standard high quality review, Kxevin.

    This match will be very useful for us in the future. It is a reference of how we should play against huge, fast and strong bus parkers. As I noted, they were extremely dangerous throughout the whole match. Their stamina and spirit amazed me to the bone in that 90 minutes. They really played their hearts out and fully deserved what they got out of this match. Against this kind of brave teams, our usual casual tempo was disturbed. Much like last year’s El Clasic in our house when we saw EE pressed against us and we had to play a lot of long balls. That’s also what happened today. But when we calmed down, we played football, and played really freaking good, except the finishing.

    Content with a point and satisfied with the plays, vexed to see the ball didn’t go in.

  9. GREECE BARCA
    September 30, 2010

    we play better than last year in kazan i guess.last season we made one chance,ibra hit the post..pep must work with the team in that:you can.t have that possesion and rubin in 2 attacks almost score 2 goals.against pana the same.one counter one goal.some things never change in our team..and it s pep who must change it

  10. Vj
    September 30, 2010

    No Keita, no win.. Keitadependencia!

    • stowe
      September 30, 2010

      it’s true! look at the finish he had on the weekend.

  11. mei
    September 30, 2010

    Nice review kevin .
    Maybe we are wrong about messi , I dont know. Maybe he just needed some minutes on the pitch to get his match fitness back because he was fully healed . Its impossible that guardiola and physios are so fundamentally stupid that would endanger the rest of this years squad for such an insignificant game , and proceed with the transfer.
    We all know what happened to iniesta. Most probably it was the champion’s league final that he played injured that killed his whole next year minus the world cup. But it was a champion’s league final for god’s sake , and it was worth it . So I really think that he was fully healed and resting him further would be pointless.

    Also rubin kazan’s coach said the only real chance you can get to win fc barcelona is to park the bus. Of all the teams that have played us these 2 seasons + the games of this season , how many have actually got away with a win?

  12. GREECE BARCA
    September 30, 2010

    check this:our 14 games away in C.L the last 3 seasons:4wins(sporting,basel,dinamo kiev,shahtar donetsk)8draws(lyon,bayern,chelsea,kazan 2,inter,stutgard,arsenal)2loss(inter,wisla).now the home:10wins2draws2loss..and compare that with our away record in liga last 2 seasons.big difference.

    • mei
      September 30, 2010

      Theres oviously a pattern there.
      We are not going all out for a win in most of the away games in the cl , because we really are not supposed to. We can qualify through winning the home games first , so why should we knock ourselves out.
      This ,combined with the fact that travelling away between la liga games is creating lots of problems for us (fatique etc).

      To put it differently : would you rather win against bilbao in their home ground, or against rubin in cl?
      Cause I choose the first in a heartbeat.

  13. GREECE BARCA
    September 30, 2010

    what i mean is that when we want bad a game we take it.in liga you must win everywhere.C.L is a different story.last night i believe we gave the 50percent of our dynamic.

  14. GREECE BARCA
    September 30, 2010

    i agree my friend.that.s why i wrote that!

  15. GREECE BARCA
    September 30, 2010

    guys we played in semifinals of .C.L in 06,08,09,10..WHOW!and in 3 of those seasons we won liga!why there is pessimism in the blog lately?we live the last years so many joy that other teams fans want decades to live it!and with so much beuatiful football!i think our expectations becomes to be over the limits..

  16. GREECE BARCA
    September 30, 2010

    and something last:there is no logic in the groups of C.L.in our group there are 4 champions in madrid.s group the second of spain,holland the third of italy,france..last season?inter,kazan,dinamo kiev.again 4 champions!in madrid.s?one!

  17. Helge
    September 30, 2010

    Wow, BS.com rated Mascherano as flop of the match, so I’m relieved that KRS gives him a better rating.
    I was positively surprsied by Mascherano’s passing and FAIR defending, I knew he’s goot at bad tackles and tough defending, but yesterday he showed different aspects, aspects that suit Barca’s style and philosophy.
    As I watched it on an internet stream, I couldn’t see clearly which player was defending as a third CB, but I guess it was Mascherano who played the typical new Busquets role?

    And now, the BIIIG news of the day:
    Xav i hasn’t been called up for the 2 internationals! Hooray 😀

    I also don’t know exactly why Kazan celebrated the draw at home given that Copenhagen has won in Athens. I predicted Copenhagen to be the worst team in this group, but now they are 5 points ahead of Kazan. If Copengagen wins their home-match against Panathinaikos, I think they are as good as qualified. And we’ll finish first, that’s for sure!

    • barca96
      September 30, 2010

      Yes. Smasch was playing really well but unfortunately he had to make way to put Busi at DM. Busi looked really aweful at Cm today. I expected him to rise on the occasion. But he really looked uncomfortable. He kept giving the ball away under pressure.

      Btw, that Busi new role that you are referring to, if I’m not mistaken, Pep used it during Yaya’s era too.(as if Yaya stayed long enough :lol:)

    • Jim
      September 30, 2010

      Noooooo. He has to play against Scotland. I’ve got a ticket 🙁

  18. El Diez
    September 30, 2010

    Offtopic – anyone with Revista De La liga of this week?

  19. El Diez
    September 30, 2010

    Offtopic – anyone with link to download Revista De La liga of this week?

    • Jnice
      September 30, 2010

      Revista De La Liga 09-28-10

      *http://hotfile.com/dl/72456267/fc3e31a/Revista_De_La_Liga_-_28-09-10.avi.html

      or

      *http://www.fileserve.com/file/yeDHm9W/Revista De La Liga – 28-09-10.avi

      or

      *http://www.filefactory.com/file/b3b583b/n/Revista_De_La_Liga_-_28-09-10.avi

      Courtesy of Pakman at fbtz.com

      • romario
        October 1, 2010

        once again thanks for the links jnice!;-)

  20. barca96
    September 30, 2010

    All this while I used to think that I had the worst commentator for CL matches in Andy Gray, but now in Australia, I get coverage from ESPN USA. The commentators were Andrew Orsatti and Tommy Smyth.

    Do you guys get him as well? They were absolutely horrible, anti-barca fellas. I thought it couldn’t get any worse than Andy Gray, but these two pricks were so bad that I didn’t leave the tv even during half-time, just so that I could get their names.
    They went as far as saying that Messi over-reacted when he got tackled by Usjalufsi. So now that I have their names, I want to try and send pictures of Messi’s ankle to their email. They just went too far with their anti-barca campaign.

    My take on the match. Looking at the result, I’m quite happy considering how tough it was there last year. But the passing was really poor. Perhaps it was due to the quick closing down by Rubin Kazan players. Whenever a player had the ball, there were 2-3 players surrounding the ball.
    I say it once again, Maxwell is very poor in positioning. Where was he when Martins hit the bar? He always seems to be nowhere near the ball when we are defending. And I don’t see him attacking as well.
    But for the penalty, it was Alves’ fault imo. He made a similar mistake later on the match as well.
    Where was Pedro during the 2nd half? I kept on looking for him. That was how quiet he was.

    And that Bojan header miss was just unforgivable!! How many headers has he missed that were crucial over the years? Instead of hitting the gym, I suggest him to practice on his headers.

    So sorry for the long post. It wasn’t supposed to be long but thanks to the ESPN commentators it became a rant.

    • BA
      September 30, 2010

      Tommy Smyth is notoriously atrocious. most football fans in the States of any sort are pretty irritated by him; in fact i believe there was some kind of internet petition to have ESPN remove him from the air last season or the season before. though Gray is a jingoistic schmuck who will always praise the English teams and slight everyone else (however wide the disparity between his narrative and reality), Smyth just doesn’t seem to know what the hell he’s talking about.

      then again, i’m also greatly amused by Ray Hudson on GolTV so maybe i’m alone on some of those counts.

      • barca96
        September 30, 2010

        Thank God. I thought I was the only one who thought that he was an idiot.
        After doing some research, I found out that he isn’t even an American. From there, the strong accent. Why doesn’t ESPN use American commentators instead of taking these low-class ex-pro football players who seem to hate on the beautiful game and love anything British.

      • Nik
        September 30, 2010

        I don’t think the American commentators would be better. I’ve listened to some before (during the World Cup, I think), and I just ended up switching to the Mexican channel.

        I would say 90% of commentators I’ve listened to across various sports are garbage.

        And I can’t say I’m Ray Hudson fan. His constant slobbering is just as annoying to listen to as Gray’s bias.

        • ooga aga
          September 30, 2010

          it’s true, american broadcasters suck at football. if phil schoen is the best that GolTV can find, it’s telling you something. americans talk too much, just like they do during american football games. the best broadcasters are a bit minimalist IMO.

          i also like some accent with my footie.

    • Ryan
      September 30, 2010

      The commentators really distracted me as well. It’s like they decided on a narrative before the game and wouldn’t budge from it despite what they saw happen in front of them.

    • Jim
      September 30, 2010

      Sorry, but if there’s one thing that Maxwell isn’t bad at it’s positioning. He doesn’t have much pace and is caught out that way but he has a good brain on him for what is going to happen. The incident you talk about – I’m assuming its the one where he hits the post not the bar – , if you replay it, you’ll see that the reason Maxwell isn’t in his normal position is that he sees that our whole defence have been drawn to the attacker on the wing and Martens so he moves into the centre as he’s not needed. He is, therefore, the nearest to the centre and Puyol should cover Martens with Iniesta covering the one outside the post.

  21. Philo Barca
    September 30, 2010

    Also, when they lost the ball, I feel our counters weren’t bold enough. I would like to see some riskier passes when its 3 on 4 or 5. If they win it back and try to attack again, it picks up the pace. Guardiola has instilled a cautiousness that hampers our attacks at times when trying to get past buses in our way.

    My feelings exactly. I’d also like to see Guardiola go away from our standard “full court press” against teams that bunker deep. When we lose the ball in the opposition’s half, we should fall back, invite them forward, get the ball back in our half, and then try fast attacks with the extra space we’ve created by having them come forward. A “Plan B” doesn’t have to mean hoofing crosses.

    • barca96
      September 30, 2010

      And this wasn’t the 1st time I felt that they made the same mistake. A few times in the 1st half, all our outfield players were in Rubin Kazan’s half. That was just wrong.

      And yes, they tend to slow down even when we had the chance to launch a counter attack. Really baffling considering the goal scored over the weekend by Busi. We can do it, so I really don’t understand what’s stopping them.

    • Nik
      September 30, 2010

      I’ve noticed this problem the entire season so far. I think someone mentioned this (Kxevin?), but the lack of a player who can run at defenses on the wing hurts us in these types of situations. Of course, we do have speedy players, but like you said, they don’t really seem to want to open the flood gates and charge.

  22. blitzen
    September 30, 2010

    Good to hear that Mascherano did well. I had a feeling he would start this match, as it seemed like the type of team he would be useful against.

    Busi playacting again? I don’t like that. I thought he grew out of that.

    Sounds like we need to spend tomorrow’s practice session on shooting on goal!

  23. Josep
    September 30, 2010

    Guys, guys. Xavi has been given a break! No call up to Spain. His first time off in about 3 years is it? Yay.

    • blitzen
      September 30, 2010

      Apparently he has a bit of tendonitis, so he needs the rest. I wonder if he will even play against Mallorca?

  24. Luke
    September 30, 2010

    I told you guys: Kazan is an extremely tough home side. Their defense is solid. There is no shame in this result so long as we do not falter against Copenhagen. We missed chances but I think we’ll be just fine.

    More on this in my preview for Mallorca.

    • jose89
      September 30, 2010

      are you going to include your Fifa 11 review of Barca?

      • Luke
        September 30, 2010

        I have yet to decide when I will do that, hopefully soon. I doubt it is in the preview, but it should be soon.

  25. mad4barca
    September 30, 2010

    Watching the match and earlier matches that Barca played against strong defensively built teams, it made me feel that we practice our paasing and tackticks well but dont pay that much attention to shooting. Its been a misnomer that u keep creating goal scoring chances and goals would come automatically. Nothing ever happens automatically. If we want to score goals getting the ball past everybody except the goalkeeper wont get any goals.I hope Pedro gets a good shooting practice from outside the box with Villa cause that is the only way we will win such claustrophobic matches in the future.

  26. y2k156
    September 30, 2010

    Xavi will almost certainly miss Mallorca and so will Villa. I think we might go with

    VV – Alves/Pique/Puyi/Abi – Smasch/Busi/Iniesta/Keita – Pedro/Messi and if Messi drops back, as he will, this should be quite good line up. On bench, we will have only Adriano, Maxwell and Bojan. Man, we do have a very good but very short squad.

    • blitzen
      September 30, 2010

      Bench also has Milito, Jeffren, Pinto, and likely both Thiago and JDS. Not so bad.

  27. September 30, 2010

    Xavi in pain, possibly out for Mallorca. Hope we will see some Thiago. I still believe Thiago is more like a Xavi than Iniesta.

    • Helge
      September 30, 2010

      Xavi is definitely out for Mallorca, but as long as he gains fitness within one week (and it seems his injury isn’t serious), it’s an advantage for us: He can rest for another week without having any matches to play. If he wasn’t injured, he would have played nearly 180min for Spain, that’s certain.

      • Jnice
        September 30, 2010

        Xavi has played 203 matches in 36 months. That’s nuts, yo.

    • Jnice
      September 30, 2010

      I hope we see him too. I feel like he can play as a Xavi when he wants and keep the ball moving, and other times, he can play as an Iniesta and take on players and what not. He really is versatile. I think he can deliver against Mallorca.

      Seeing Wilshere get all of this praise for Arsenal makes me want Thiago to make his mark in La Liga as well.

  28. blitzen
    September 30, 2010

    Just on Masch again: The official website says 73 out his 77 passes were and he recovered the ball 10 times in 60 minutes of play. That’s pretty impressive. I would say he is adapting well.

    • blitzen
      September 30, 2010

      73 out of 77 were good, I mean.

  29. September 30, 2010

    Holy crap! I just read the review! After riding 30 miles in 1:17, watching the match twice and then writing this review, no wonder there’s some funky stuff. Fixed the “winning” goal, and few other grammatical clunks. Some parts read like I was drunk. Sorry, everyone.

    • El Tel
      September 30, 2010

      30 miles in 1:17?? We’re lucky to have anything at all from you. And who’s the dude in a burgundy shirt blocking your view of the computer? Was he off the Rubin Kazan bus?

  30. September 30, 2010

    BS.com is stupid. If Mascherano is the flop of the match, I am the queen of Spain. It’s the danger of watching a match once, or watching it with a certain set of expectations. Because here’s the thing: Ratings and evaluations are weird. I can watch Messi dribble his way though 5 defenders, lose the ball to the 6th and say “subtract a point for selfishness. Pedro! was wide open.”

    Somebody else would watch that same run and say “Messi almost got it done. High points for style and aggressiveness. He’s really carrying the team.”

    But I fail to see how anyone could watch Mascherano yesterday and label him flop of the match.

    Players are rarely all bad, just as they are rarely all good. When rating, you try to arrive at some sort of an aggregate. So if Pique, for example, loses position on a tackle, makes a funky attempt to win a ball and picks up a yellow, then in the next go-round makes a key, goal-saving intervention, then storms down to the other end and bangs in a header, there again, it’s a matter of how you do it. For me, he started with zero, went into negative numbers after the dumb play, then started climbing out of the hole with the positive stuff.

    So my ratings are always aggregates of a player’s overall performance. That’s really the only fair way to do it.

    That said, people will always find issues with my ratings, in part because what many seek is an affirmation of their view of a player and his performance in my ratings. And that’s good or bad. Pique had an off match. WAY off. But he also did some very good things, on offense and defense. And he didn’t cost his team a goal by playing a player on, as someone suggested above. When Valdes clunked the clearance, Kazan rebounded into attack so quickly that it was a fire drill after that. Garbage in, garbage out. If Valdes clears that ball properly, we almost certainly don’t concede.

    • Jnice
      September 30, 2010

      I chuckled when I saw the “flop of the match” and 5.0 rating Mascherano was labeled with. Whoever wrote the review expecting him to perform badly, and in doing so, ignored his actually performance on the pitch. Talking about he failed to control the midfield and we looked better offensively when he came off. What did Rubin do in the midfield and since when is Mascherano supposed to be Xavi? And of course we would look better offensively when Messi steps onto the pitch.

      I mean, how could you not be impressed with some of those tackles he put in… the ball still stuck to his feet like glue.

      Thankfully your rating are a million times better than goal and you actually watch the match.

    • Diego S.
      September 30, 2010

      He’s not only Flop of the Match by Editor’s choice .. The Fans voted him as Flop of the Match as well .. I don’t know what match they were watching.

      • Kxevin
        September 30, 2010

        Well, as I said, it depends on what you expect from a player. If you view Mascherano through eyes wanting to evaluate Busquets, he’s going to fail. Every time. He ain’t Busquets. But after last night, I do think he is Barca. His passing was damn fine, and the way he won balls while staying on his feet, then feeding them right back into the attack was a thing of beauty.

        • ooga aga
          September 30, 2010

          it’s because a lot of liverpool fans were voting

  31. Kxevin
    September 30, 2010

    From Mallorca defender Kevin Garcia:

    “If we can give [Messi] a kick all the better but at the same time there is no need for aggression,” the 21-year-old, who will likely have the job of marking Messi, told a news conference.

    “Football is about contact and you can give someone a kick,” he added. “We are all footballers, not just Messi and Cristiano just because they have a higher media profile.

    “He (Messi) is the best player in the world but we have to find a way to stop him.”

      • Kxevin
        September 30, 2010

        Press conference. The story is bouncing all over footyworld. I’m sure that he doesn’t mean anything malicious, but it also means they aren’t going to shirk contact. Nor should they, it must be said. Players expect hard challenges, particularly players who play like Messi. Hard but fair is fine.

    • Helge
      September 30, 2010

      Wtf?!?
      Watch out Garcia, I got my eyes on you!

    • romario
      October 1, 2010

      that’s strange..in spanish media it doesn’t sound like he want’s to use that kicking method..

      either the english reporter’s need a new translator or it’s one of those made up press quotes..espacially the one refering to messi’s and cristianos media profile.

  32. Kxevin
    September 30, 2010

    The other thing that vexed me sorely was we didn’t use the wings. At all. They are crucial in bus-breaking. Note how many of our best chances came from balls from wide. Playing in the center of the pitch just enhances what a side like Kazan is trying to do. It’s why Maxwell’s performance got me so.

    • Luis
      September 30, 2010

      Yes this cannot be stated enough. I have noticed in the past two games that almost all our goals come from the left( and alot which involve maxwell). This is crucial- that so many of our attacks go through alves yet produce not much but whenever Maxwell(or left side) does take risks stuff happens. All im saying is that our left side needs to be more daring because they are quality.

      On another note, I like that Xavi is spending more time on the right of midfield. tbh, If messi isnt LW, I dont see the need for him on the right because he doesnt use his outside of foot hence cant play through balls as often.

    • Diego S.
      September 30, 2010

      We don’t have any “True” wingers except for Jeffren. Andrade and Correia can play as wings but in the middle not upfront.

  33. Euler
    September 30, 2010

    I was very satisfied with the draw yesterday, especially given the dynamics of the match.

    Kazan played very, very well. They were extremely impressive both in maintaining their shape and also in the transition game on the counter.

    Maintaining shape that way is not easy. And it wasn’t a static shape either. It varied particularly in how they pressed. Most of the match they would just sit back deep and wait to press. But not always. They would mix in pressing once the ball crossed midfield and their forward 2 would mix in high pressing as well to induce the Barca back line into mistakes. This added an element of uncertainty to their defense, one that made them less predictable than many “parked buses” can be.

    And then to go from that structured shape and counter that quickly – not easy to do in any way. Requires excellent transitions which they had when the opportunity came along.

    The best way to beat a team like that is to make sure you score first. Beating a parked bus is in many ways less about tactics than it is about execution. Once P! missed that goal I thought it was going to be particularly difficult.

    • ooga aga
      September 30, 2010

      very few teams can score when their opponent has their forward line at the 25-yard line. 11 men behind the ball. and indeed no team is asked to, except for our FCB. you need some luck.

      and you are right the first goal is paramount.

      • Kxevin
        September 30, 2010

        The trend of hosed-off first chances is beginning to suck. A first goal is huge. A first goal against a defensive setup is even more huge. Krkic could have turned the trick against Hercules, and it would have completely changed that match. If Pedro! makes that easy, really shot against Rubin Kazan, that’s also a very different match, and one that’s easier to play.

        • extreme barca fan
          September 30, 2010

          its not that I’m happy we lost to Hercules, but tbh i think it was a wake up call. one that we didn’t learn enough from.
          i sure do hope we don’t go through more early chance-wasting and score the early goal that gets us were we want to be

        • ooga aga
          September 30, 2010

          well, it wasnt that easy of a goal (pedro’s chance). it would have been great if he scored but i can certainly forgive him. with the keeper coming out, he didnt have space to get his foot around it to turn and go around the keeper, he had to poke it with the tip of his foot. maybe he should have done better but that was in no ways a “gimme”

          • Kxevin
            September 30, 2010

            Well, he certainly made it more difficult with a clunky first touch, but he had two options open: the chip or rounding the keeper. Both were available and he tried the surest route. He just got it wrong. But I think that the trick was well within his skill set. Would that goal have been “easy” for say, Milito? Nope. But for P!, yep. It explained his chagrin after hitting the bar. He knew.

            Was it a gimme like a tap-in? Nope. But even tap-ins aren’t gimmes, as we’ve seen. But when I say “easy,” I mean well within the player’s skill set. And players miss “easy” goals all the time.

          • ooga aga
            September 30, 2010

            thats all i’m saying: if players miss “easy” goals all the time, maybe they arent so easy. take it as a former #9, i was very wasteful, but only some of the time it was my own fault. balls take strange little hops, your footing isnt right, your shoe was coming untied, etc. it is difficult to score goals, so many things can go wrong. it is expected you will not get it right every time, so i cant blame pedro.

            now for bojan, his header was horrible. it would have been difficult for him to score there as well, but he should have at least put the shot on goal (or close), to force a save or a deflection for a possible second chance.

  34. Diego S.
    September 30, 2010

    They deserved a point. Even If every team we play will park the bus, It’s not an excuse especially in CL. In CL matches we always have 2 legs, No team will park the bus the two matches because that means He’ll not advance. We shouldn’t concede cheap goals or conceding 3 goals in one leg. Other than that, we should be fine.

    • Diego S.
      September 30, 2010

      **They’ll not advance
      **or concede 3 goals

  35. Miguel
    September 30, 2010

    excellent article by alan tyers & john nicholson on footy on tv in america for all those bitching about crappy commentators.

    *http://www.football365.com/story/0,17033,8750_6393188,00.html

    snippets:
    “Because it is not widely followed by divs, the television coverage is not aimed at the lowest common denominator. This, at the root, is the problem with football on TV in Blighty. People who run TV think that you – especially you, sir, reading this on your sofa with your hand down your tracksuit – are an idiot, a great big stupid walking wallet who will happily part with his hard-earned just so long as he can stare, open-mouthed at Jamie Redknapp going through the motions before turning over to Britain’s Got Talent. They think we are all people who at any given time know exactly where Peter Andre is and what he is doing.”

    • Miguel
      September 30, 2010

      one more…

      “Aside from the breadth of US coverage, there is a glorious amount of it. This Saturday at 7.45am, we dare say there will be a fair few hardy souls in Nevada Smiths on Third Avenue in New York and places like it across the States, for City v Chelsea, half an hour of Bundesliga and a bite to eat before Liverpool v Sunderland, Arsenal v Baggies or poor old West Ham v Spurs on a variety of TVs. Followed by Championship, Serie A, football from God knows where else and probably extreme drunkenness by about 3pm. Imagine watching a 4pm kick off in a bar in Los Angeles at 8am as the sun casts its first liquid gold rays onto the palm-fringed Pacific coast as a regular way of life?”

  36. JP
    September 30, 2010

    Hey, there is this striker in Italy thats scorching the league right now. He may win the ballon d’or next year. You guys may have heard of him, Eto’o. Do you guys want him? Inter can sell him to you for 70mil. If he is scoring soo much without the service of Iniesta and Xavi, imagine what he can do with them? Say what you may about him, he was never a problem on the field. No red cards, no 100 offsides a game. Now that you have had a chance to compare him with two other “greatest strikers in the world” in the same system, we will be happy to sell him to you. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    //http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKZ3KP_cLv0

    • ooga aga
      September 30, 2010

      well, someone (clivee?) said after Ibra scored one goal against ajax that pep should rethink. nobody seemed to have issues with that so can i say that eto’os hat trick should make pep rethink?

      it’s probably not worth the breath either way. im still a big sammy fan though and i am happy for him.

    • Jose
      September 30, 2010

      If a striker can’t play in our manager’s system, then he’s worth nothing to us. Thanks for the offer though!

      • Kxevin
        September 30, 2010

        +1, Jose. Eto’o and Ibrahimovic are ex-Barca, and I appreciate what they did in the colors. But they’re playing for other teams now. I don’t wish them luck. Not out of any sense of malice, but I don’t have it to spare for players of other teams. There are plenty of Inter or Milan fans wishing both of them luck.

        But neither one worked in our system, run by our coach of choice. So that’s that, as far as I’m concerned.

        • extreme barca fan
          September 30, 2010

          i don’t want eto’o back but actually he did fit the system
          pep himself said there are no sporting reasons to depart with eto’o, its just a “feeling”

          • Jose
            September 30, 2010

            I love Samuel and all he did for us as well. But when I say our system, it doesn’t just mean our style of play. It means our system on the pitch and our system off of it: how this player jives with the rest of the staff.

    • Helge
      September 30, 2010

      I lopve Eto’o, but I strongly doubt that he will ever win the Ballon D’Or. In a non-World Cup year, there is only one contender for it as long as Messi doesn’t get worse. And in World Cup years, Ballon D’Or will most likely be handed to a disputable player.

  37. Kxevin
    September 30, 2010

    And further, we haven’t had the chance to compare them to anyone. When Villa is here for as long at Eto’o was, then people can talk because there is a rational, thoughtful basis for comparison. At present, it’s just “He got off to a great start this season.” So did Ibrahimovic, and he was benched by the end of it.

    Time answers a lot of questions. At present, all we have is speculation and fandom saying so-and-so is better than the other. It’s something we don’t know, and won’t until someone else has the same tenure in the same system.

    Not that any of this will stop the nattering, I should add.

    • Miguel
      September 30, 2010

      but shouldn’t villa’s performances on the wing be compared to that of henry’s? in that case, villa’s first year, so far, has gone swimmingly. if messi is playing as our new center forward now, doesn’t he blow eto’o out of the water?

  38. Lev
    September 30, 2010

    “Not that any of this will stop the nattering, I should add”

    very right. didn’t we win the triple in Eto’o’s last season, in which he scared a whole lot of goals, including the CL final, bagged some assists and generally worked his ass off? I think he fit the system very well, but that is my opinion. Unfortunately you are right in that he is an ex-Barça player.

    Bangin review though Kxev. Your PC being blocked by a burgundy shirt cracked me up, and Villa a 4 is music to my ears 😉

    • Nik
      September 30, 2010

      I could be wrong, but I think Kxevin’s point is that working in the system involves conduct both on and off the pitch. The fact that Eto’o (and Ibra) couldn’t maintain a healthy relationship with Pep means he wasn’t fitting into our system.

  39. mei
    September 30, 2010

    Whats really bugging me is that pedro, last year, scored lots and lots of goals out of nowhere , without making the right runs – expectedly since he was still evolving his movement on our system and his football brain .
    Now he’s making the right runs , yet missing some easy chances compared to what he scored last year. He’s gonna pick it up though!

    • Kxevin
      September 30, 2010

      He will indeed. Being there is part of the battle. One of the biggest parts, as a matter of fact.

  40. Helge
    September 30, 2010

    Wow, Atletico and Sevilla both sucked (so far) today, although Sevilla won.
    Anyway, I’m less optimistic than I was 3 weeks ago about this la Liga not being a 2 horse race. Atletico is back to Pathetico, with the small difference that last year, sometimes they were celebrating football. Nowe they seem to be static and uninspired in the majority of their matches.

    WHo do you think could be the 3rd horse this season – if at all?

    • Nik
      September 30, 2010

      Valencia’s not looking too shabby at the moment. I’d love to see them in the mix for the top 3.

    • Kari
      September 30, 2010

      Well, the people thinking Pathetico could be a contender obviously didn’t know them very well (fans don’t count). They live to defy. Pathetico wouldn’t be Pathetico without the pathetic.

      Honestly, now that Sevilla have Manzano, I think they’ll be that much more dangerous. He almost got a debt-ridden, Mallorca (when almost all of their best attackers left) into the CL! Dude’s legit.

      Valencia…Well, we’ll see with them. I remember the season of our treble winning year, they were on top as well (is it a sign?! 😀 ) and then just fell off into,…err, not top. Silva and Villa leaving, particularly Silva, have really reinvigorated the likes of Mata, Pablo Hernandez, and especially Joaquin. They play more as a team rather than rely on Silva for the playmaking and Villa for the goals. Interesting to see if they can keep up this rich vein of form.

      • Jose
        September 30, 2010

        I don’t think it really matters how Sevilla and Atletico do in the Europa League. Sure, we’d like them to succeed in Europe as well, but I understand if it’s not their priority. They are both much better off making sure they are in the Champions League next season, and thus La Liga–maybe even winning it–should be their priority.

        Ugh, which is my convoluted way of saying that just because they are bad in the Europa League, doesn’t mean they won’t contend in La Liga 😛

  41. Kari
    September 30, 2010

    Late to the party, but awesome review, Kxevin. I didn’t watch the match, so the detail you put into the review is much, much appreciated. I’ve got a good sense of what happened on Wednesday. Thanks

    Next match is on Sunday. Let’s get some goals!

  42. GREECE BARCA
    September 30, 2010

    i saw all the goals from europa league and guys you have to look for some great shoots outside the box!we missing that in barca!oh and offcourse money don.t buy hapiness.juventus deserved to win tonight!city if want to be in top someday need one man!guess who!mou…buy me players..rinio!

  43. barca96
    September 30, 2010

    Perhaps the problem with P! is that he thinks too much nowadays. Before he used to be more direct. Get the ball, SHOOT! and goal of course.
    This season he seems to think too far ahead. Remember when he received the ball right in front of the goal line and instead of just shooting it in, he pauses for a moment and in the end the gk stopped it.

  44. Kurt
    October 1, 2010

    Ever since we bought him, I’ve been surprised by how many people on this site seriously underrate Mascherano, especially because the football IQ is pretty high here. People here seem to think that Mascherano is a perpetual card risk, but gets cards because makes so many tackles, period, and that for every yellow card, he makes a lot of good, hard, clean, enforcer-style tackles. He knows how to tone it down, but maybe the brutal YouTube compilations are misleading people.

    Moreover, he has excellent vision. That why he makes so many of those crazy interceptions. Watch highlights carefully–he’s often moving to intercept the pass BEFORE the pass even exists. It’s like a defensive Xavi, defying the metaphysical. Whoa.

    But seriously, with that same vision, the man CAN pass. He’s particularly adept at winning the ball and making a quick, correct pass to trigger a counter attack. A lot of comments (not just in this thread) have expressed surprise at his passing ability though. They don’t call Mascherano one of the best DMs in the world, or “Jefecito”, for nothing.

  45. missingpage
    October 1, 2010

    Sometime ago during the late days of summer someone(was it Helge?) posted a video with messi xavi iniesta and the most of the masia players called something like “the return of the normal people” or los hijos normal does anyone remember it? I really really need to find it and i have had much luck with my search on youtube 🙁
    Any help will be greaaatly apreciated!

    • romario
      October 1, 2010

      you mean this one?
      *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWjuaCtRC1s

      • missingpage
        October 1, 2010

        Yes thank you! You just made my day! many thanks again!

      • tikitakitoes
        October 1, 2010

        That’s really cool. Can anyone tell me if the lyrics to that song are directly translated from ‘Common People’ by Pulp? Or did the musician change the theme a little bit? I love that song, it’d be cool to know quite what another artist did with it.

        • tikitakitoes
          October 1, 2010

          By the way one reason I ask is that it if it is a direct translation it’s a strange choice of song for that particular video, lol. It’s scathing social commentary about the futility and voyeurism of wealthy people trying to assimilate with the lower social classes, not about how successful they are at it, haha

  46. Lev
    October 1, 2010

    “torna la gent normal”

    anybody know what torna means?

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