Barca 1, Shakhtar 0, “Champions of European Champions” edition (edit)


This one took some time, folks, not only for our beloved Barca, but for me.

For them, the reasons were obvious: We came up against a side with next to no interest in playing football today. Their sole aim was to stymie our attacks, clog the midfield, have at least 5 men in the box and jam up the passing lanes. And, if a counterattack opportunity presented itself, they would be happy to take it.

Welcome to what we’re going to be seeing for most of 2010, so get used to more 1-0 or 2-1 wins, rather than 5-0 blowouts.

The picture that you see here is the epitome of truth and justice. The captain of the best team on the night is hoisting the trophy. It’s also a picture of my Man of the Match, Carles Puyol.

I can hear it now: “New site and already, Kxevin’s out of his mind.”

Whatever. Man of the Match is man of the match. The whole match. Other players (except for Abidal) came and went, going through periods of ineffectiveness, playing with the knowledge of a Monday Liga match, or a World Cup qualifier.

But from moment one of this match, Captain Caveman played as he always does, as if this were the last minute of the last match of the last season of the last year of humanity on the planet. His effort was constant, he was almost always in the right place at the right time, and the one error that he made, a wayward pass that became a Shakhtar break, he broke up inside the box.

On set pieces he lived up to his name of “Air” Puyol, leaping like a crazy man even late, late into regulation time, doing the Captain’s armband proud. For me, MOTM was a no-brainer. Even late, late into the extra time that was necessary to seal this deal, Puyol was playing as if daisy-fresh.

Guardiola rolled out with some semblance of our best lineup: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, The Yaya, Keita, Xavi, Messi, Henry, Ibrahmovic. But what we saw is that in this game that we all love so, a determined defense can hold the best offense. Would Shakhtar have been able to hold us back two months from now, when everyone is clicking and at full fitness? No. But you also saw why the UEFA Cup winners had a slight edge in the overall competition, before we evened things up: While the Champions League winner is resting, the UEFA Cup winner is playing football. Shakhtar were fit, fitter than us, and it showed in their energy and industry.

Thankfully, they used that effort for evil, rather than good (in the playing football sense). We had the lion’s share of possession, epitomized in a statistic: At the 70th minute, we had completed 421 passes, to their 178. But if you don’t have the ball, you can’t beat us. Before anyone snarks about “anti-football,” they looked dangerous on the counter a number of times, and a coach will play the match that he has to play, so that his side has the best shot at winning.

And I’m not sure what they were playing for (penalties?), on a field that looked more like a neglected secondary pitch of a local high school, than a pitch upon which a world-class match should be contested, but I was never lacking for confidence that we would win. And so we did.

Recall that in the LiveBlog I observed that a moment of individual brilliance would be needed to win this one, because our team football was sorely lacking. Enter Pedro!

He charged at the defense, doing what he does oh, so well as Messi’s Mini-Me. His charge drew the attention of the defenders, as they moved to shut him down. This opened space for him to slide the ball to Messi, who was immediately surrounded by 5 defenders, including “Damn, that was weird” Chygnasty.

Messi controlled for an instant, and in that miniscule time span a number of things happened:

–Pedro! made the kind of diagonal run that just begs for a pass.
–The 5 defenders settled in on Messi, sure that he would do what he had been doing, which was dribble and shoot.
–The keeper made this same error, shading toward Messi.
–The 6th defender has to stay put to keep Alves honest, allowing space for P! to run into.

So when Messi controlled the ball, paused for that split second then slotted a beautiful, perfectly weighted pass for P!, the keeper was leaning the wrong way. Why? Because Messi continued his run into the box, which meant that the keeper had to guess that P! would slot it back to Messi, who would put the knife in.

Instead, Pedro! saw the lean and slid a beautiful shot past the keeper (who was helpless, really). And that was that, because except for a preternaturally stupid Busquets giveaway with less than a minute left that resulted in a long shot on Valdes, Shakhtar were not going to get that goal back. They began the day knowing that their best chance was in the penalty shot phase, and they played like it.

And still, we won.

So why the hell did this take so long?

Well, in part you can blame my making a 30+pound mountain bike travel 30 miles in about an hour and 15 minutes. Ouch! My check was cashed when I got home. Yours would be, too, so shut it.

But mostly it was because opinions on our various players were so galvanized in the aftermath of this match that I (however briefly) doubted myself and my own evaluations that were formed in the eye of a blurry, intermittent Web feed, and borne out by a viewing of the match.

So I watched it again, and still nothing changed. So off we go.

Don’t forget that this is still pre-season for our lads, and that our main striker is coming off surgery for a hand injury that has made him late, late, for a very important date. He will integrate into this club in a way that will make jaws drop. He’s already much, much farther along than Henry was at the same point in his first season with us. Henry isn’t fit, either, by the by. Excuses? No. Just reality. People are expecting us to drop the ball and play exactly as we did at the end of last season, in the CL final. Need I remind everyone that last year’s club began the season with a loss and a draw, and had to be more on-form because it had to play its way into Champions League group stages?

Just checking.

But most importantly, the club was collectively off in this match, in part because of the efforts of Shakhtar but in part because they haven’t really played competitive football. Bilbao rolled out a second-class side that didn’t really test us. We played Gamper at about half-speed. The pre-season friendlies probably weren’t even as hard as our practices. So. Not bad for our first real match of the season, because even though the side wasn’t at maximum effectiveness, we still played our game, which is you can’t beat us if you don’t have the ball. Guardiola didn’t look that nervous because he knew this, that Shakhtar were playing as hard as they were going to, and they still couldn’t even get the ball from us, unless we gave it to them.

We got the diet of the Barca Rules: packed midfield, packed box, tight marking on Xavi. It explains the emergence of The Yaya as an offensive force, and will make Piquenbauer blossom even more this season. And it won’t happen very much this season, but imagine a defense of Chynasty and Pique, flanked by Alves and Maxwell. That back line is as potent as most midfields!

As with the Chicago Bulls and the Jordan Rules (allow Michael Jordan to score his 30+, but don’t let the other guys beat you), we will adapt to the Barca Rules. Movement on and off the ball will be even more crucial, and dynamic wing play will be more important than ever, which makes me happy about a bit of news lurking at the bottom of this match evaluation.

And with that, the ratings:

Team: 5. They will improve, but the midfield pressure wasn’t there, nor was the one-touch game that opens up a determined side such as Shakhtar. Some was because of the crap pitch, some was just because it’s early days.

Guardiola: 8. The right starting XI, and the right substitutions, though I would have subbed Monument instead of Busquets. Youth and energy turned this match. But his short squad might bite him in the butt.

Valdes: 6. Dude. Next time you want to watch a match, buy a ticket. He had nothing to do. So maybe it was being shocked that a ball came his way that resulted in that absurd bobble, right on the doorstep, of the long shot that was precipitated by Busquets’ stupidity. Still, I was a little puckered on that one.

Alves: 5. Solid on defense, but man, what the hell is up with his crosses? One still hasn’t dropped from the Monaco sky.

Pique: 8. Full-on Piquenbauer mode today, as he quickly figured out that Shakhtar weren’t going to attack, and the congested midfield meant that he had space to become the attack starter. And what a glorious bit of keepe-uppe in the first half, including a Seal Dribble, to thwart a Shakhtar defender and start the attack. Shame about the haircut, though.

Puyol: 9. One wayward pass kept him from perfection. The rest of my effusion is above. What a majestic match, to show the new kid, Chygnasty, how hard he is going to have to play to displace him. Inspired? Perhaps.

Abidal: 10. A perfect match, right down to his time-killing inteplays with Messi, late in the extra time. Tackles and interceptions, and very intelligent moving forward on offense, including a couple of crosses that deserved a better fate than rolling impotently, across the box. People who say that he needs to play more offense just didn’t realize the kind of match this was. Alves was way up the pitch. If Abidal gets caught up as well, we’re screwed. His forays happened when Alves was back. I can’t say enough about the way he played yesterday.

The Yaya: 9 Man-sized. He was all effort, control and industry. He showed too much of the ball at times. Whether due to overconfidence or the pitch, only he knows. Massive individual effort in the pursuit of the victory. He was subbed when it was clear, on the Shakhtar counter that developed right in his face, that he was hammered.

Keita: 8. What a strong match, from sensing when to attack and when to defend, to intelligent passes (including one for Henry that was thisclose). This is the Keita that we signed, and it’s good to see him. I thought he could have shot long more (well, at all).

Xavi: 6. He’s been better, but he’ll never be worse, which is good. But his giveaways were uncharacteristic, and while his possession game was mostly right, his offensive game just wasn’t there. He usually sees the field better. Some of the blame goes to the attackers, who weren’t making themselves available in the right spots.

Henry: 7. People were ripping on Henry after this match and for the life of me, I don’t understand why. From tracking back on defense, to making passes, to shifting to the center when Ibrahimovic came out, his effort and scoring mindset were constant. Very good long-range effort that forced a save from the Shakhtar keeper, as well. It’s okay to dislike Henry, but you can’t fault him for the match that he played yesterday. He had his usual “soft” giveaways, but that he didn’t have more shot attempts is the fault of his service.

Ibrahimovic: 7. Again, people were all over BANGS, calling him lazy, saying now we see why Inter sold him, blah, blah, blah. But did you see him running up the pitch to break up attacks and harass defenders into bad passes out of the back. Did you see him running onto balls, chasing down long passes intended for him and trying anything to get balls into a danger position, including a crazy lob pass for Henry that I still don’t know how he got over the defense. Henry’s bicycle attempt was unfortunate, but the kind of effort he turned in, without full match fitness and still with a healing hand, can’t be faulted. Expectations are immense. But he isn’t shit if he doesn’t score 4 goals and notch 2 assists. Give him time.

Messi: 9. He didn’t play a whole match, but he was a constant danger. He intelligently held back when BANGS and Henry were roaming the box, sensing that they needed space to do their thing. But when Ibra came off and Henry moved to the center, Messi sprang into action. He picked the club up and put its offense on his back. All it needed was the effort of Pedro! to seal the deal. He was also very smart, in that he knew this would be a long one, and he should save his effort. He did, which also accounts for his being quiet early, and was able to play fresh in the late stages.


Pedro! (for Ibrahimovic): 8. What an impact player. His pace and movement, coupled with energy and ball skills made scoring only a matter of time. He and Messi are quite the danger tandem. And don’t underestimate his awareness in reading the keeper and taking the shot instead of trying for the dish. And I think that he earned the penalty, he just shouldn’t have tried to sell it so hard. But he clearly got Malachi Crunched by the Shakhtar defenders.

Krkic (for Henry): 6. Instant danger, then tailed off. His confidence appears to be growing. That run that he made, even though the shot didn’t have a chance, was exceptional.

Busquets (for The Yaya): 3. Played way too soft for what his role should have been. It’s why I would have preferred Monument in that situation, because he doesn’t screw around with the ball, then flop as Busquets does. He should have kept the ball moving on that late-match giveaway. If any Shakhtar attackers are in place, that’s a jailbreak going the wrong way. Man the hell up. The ref hadn’t been calling those fouls all match. He wasn’t going to start then.

And finally, look at the odd emotions on Chygnasty’s face in this picture. I mean, his club lost, but the club that he’s going to has just won its 5th trophy in 12 months. It’s very funny.


A few more thoughts:

–Speaking of Chygnasty, he looked like a 25m defender to me, all match long. Hell, I almost wish he wasn’t as good as he broke up attack after attack, calmly controlling the ball and knocking off a long pass to start a Shakhtar non-attack. His positioning is already top-notch, and he is physical without being reckless. His performance, and the sudden realization that he’s our player now, was one of the delights of this match.

–We have, right now, the best club in the world. The match fitness will come, the one-touch game will return and the movement off the ball that creates passing lanes will rear its head. Naysayers should just calm down. Some Barca sites are already branding Ibrahimovic a failure in the comments spaces. Wow.

–More encouraging news came in the way we defended aganst Shakhtar’s set pieces. There seems to be less zone marking and more “Oh, there’s the ball” marking. Big difference.

In other news:

Contratulations to Jeffren, who will be staying up with the first team says EMD. Final Fantasy will get the chance to turn some real matches, and I’m sure that he will. He will be on pins and needles in the January transfer window. I don’t think it’s a full-on promotion, but he has until January to show why he should stay. Let’s wish him well.

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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.


  1. dalwen
    August 29, 2009

    Although Barca was not yet match fit, but I think we wore Shaktar out pretty much after 110 mins. It took lots of energy to defend Zlatan, Messi and Henry. And it was a tactical brillance that Pep put Pedro after 80 min. His and Messi’s running was the essential kill to break the bus that was probably ran out of gas in extra time. The gap between defence and midfield were much bigger to explore.

  2. Kxevin
    August 29, 2009

    Oh, as an alert. Catching matches will be much more difficult this season. Our season debut is on ESPNHD, for example. There will almost certainly be ESPN Deportes as well (which has two strong matches on offer Sunday), ESPN Classic and GolTV.

    So check those listings carefully, and we will do our part with the previews to ensure that everything is correct for your viewing pleasure.

  3. Alexis
    August 29, 2009

    As a regular critic on Abidal, I must admit it surprised me how good he played last night. He looked like confident when having the ball, running with it, keeping it away from Shakhtar players.
    Really, if he can keep with that good job, I will stop doubting he is good enough for Barca.
    I recognise though that people like Kevin and Guardiola know much more about football than me. So, if they like him that can only mean one thing: that I am wrong 🙂

  4. Alexis
    August 29, 2009

    *I will stop doubting whether he is good enough for Barca

  5. Hilal
    August 29, 2009

    Another great, sensible review Kxevin. Well done and spot on for giving man of the of match to the captain. Abidal was indeed immense yesterday and I think between him and Maxwell we are going to have a very very strong left hand side.

    I think you cannot underestimate the effect that the state of the pitch had. I am not sure how Uefa can put a game like this on a pitch like that, its almost like they didnt want to see a good game. If the pitch was even half decent we would have won this one a lot easier.

  6. messi_fan
    August 29, 2009

    Good review, though its funny how Puyol got a lower score than Abidal but was the man of the match. I had him as my man of the match as well though. Him and Messi.

    With respect to Alves’ crosses, Camp Nou is a lot wider than most pitches, no? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Alves has good crossing games at home but horrible ones away. It’s like his range isn’t dialed in right.

  7. Alexis
    August 29, 2009

    As I said on the liveblog, I really disagree with Monaco being every single year the site of the Supercup.
    They could move on to Nice or Marseille, where they have better stadiums. More crowd can go in. There would be more ambiance.
    Or they could do it a two-leg competition.
    The draw for the UCL could be done a day after the second tie.
    This would make this cup a more serious tournament.

  8. poipoi
    August 29, 2009

    I got kinda hectored 🙁

    copy paste:

    Ibra sucked but it looks like he only needs time. The guy has great body and skill, so I guess it’s a matter of adaptation also. Anyone doubted that ibra runs less than eto’o? nobody runs more than him, but I hope Ibra’s strong points make us forget about the weak ones compared to eto’o.

    btw FCB shouldn’t be a “crossing” team, we pass the ball almost until the goal line… but any goal counts anyway, barbarian vasque style ones also 😉

    and the eternal question in FCB… why did titi play? he played horrible… pedro! right now is a much better player than henry. He dribbles well with both legs, runs, thinks, passes, crosses, touches and shoots waaaay better than the french.

    The game was pure boredom probably because of multiple reasons… but the lack of a good midfielder to substitute either xavi or iniesta was to me was the most obvious one. Keita or Powerserg should play in the back and let yaya try in offensive positions if we don’t sign someone good. The kids (thiago and JDS) are not a bad option but keita doesn’t have the skill to be an offensive player, he doens’t try anything new or good at all. keita and titi playing together in the left side doing absolutely nothing make me so sick! 🙁 🙁 🙁

    pep give pedro! more minutes please 😛

  9. messi_fan
    August 29, 2009

    Poipoi, I have to disagree with you on some of those points.

    First of all, like I’ve said before, the only thing wrong with Keita is his shot. I don’t know where you got the idea that he was doing nothing.

    Same thing for Henry, yes Pedro!! is a great talent but to say he thinks and shoots??!! better than Titi is going WAAAAAAAAAAY overboard. Shoot better than Titi? Seriously?

    I’m not sure exactly what you mean when you say FCB shouldn’t be a crossing team. We can’t try and pass every ball into the net. Actually, its our overreliance on that that allows teams like Chelsea to be so effective against us. If we keep trying to pass the ball into the next, expect a LOT of games like this one. I’m not saying we need to cross EVERY ball but come on. We have a BAS, let’s use him.

  10. jordi
    August 29, 2009

    The english media sure knows how to spin things…


  11. jordi
    August 29, 2009

    We should just give up and throw in the towel now guys.

  12. August 29, 2009

    the two-leg competition idea makes me shiver, alexis… we always lost when supercup was played that way (don’t remember the matches against nottingham and aston villa, but definitely suffered the losses against milan and… was it manu?).
    and kevin, i completely agree with you. puyol was the man of the match. he played strong, he played fast, he played clever (the way he puts his hand on one of the brazilians when he was about to go one-on-one in front of valdés)… blocked a tough shot and became the heroic last defender in shakhtar’s only two chances. great game.
    then, valdés scared the heck out of us with that long shot, but he saved a very wicked one in minute… 88 or so? that deserves credit. make it pinto and it would have been 0-1 with three minutes to go.
    as for ibra, just give him time. he’s going to be huge. as huge as the poster with his image they have put at the deutsche bank barcelona headquarters, in diagonal street. it’s amazing to come up paseo de gracia and run into his furious celebrating a goal with the barcelona t-shirt (was that photoshopped or did he celebrate some goal against bilbao as if it had been his own?).

  13. poipoi
    August 29, 2009

    messi_fan: yesterday titi played for I don’t know how long and did nothing. on the other hand pedro! did a lot with the few minutes pep gave him, he almost always does. pedro can play in both sides, plays almost as well with both legs, shoots hard when needed and soft as anybody. the play when he scored is proof of how he runs and thinks the plays. He is a FCB player, has spent some years in the junior teams and understands how we play. titi is not even an extremo 🙂

    I like keita’s personality and hard work but he definitely has not the skill to play in offensive positions for FCB. Compare him to Iniesta, Xavi or Yaya. Powerserg can afford to not have that much skill he is Powerserg from Badia!!! And btw… powerserg or keita profiles should be for the 4 or defensive position, not the attacking one. I think I saw keita dribble a guy once… in his yard and his son. Plus his game vision is not that good. What are his virtues? Strength? Hard work?

    I have to go sorry, I’d like to continue but I can’t…. long life to his yayaness!!!! Come back andres

  14. Jim
    August 29, 2009

    Another season, another 10 for Abidal, eh Kevn 🙂

    Don’t agree with the rating but he did have a better game yesterday I’ll admit. I hope Guardiola sat him down and gave him a talking to about positional sense over the close season. He’ll need it to keep his place, I think.

    We have the potential to repeat last year’s feats if we can handle the pressure and that, rather than ability, will decide what we end up with. I don’t see any of the English teams as being stronger than they were last year and I don’t see any of Madrid’s signings as being an improvement in getting the ball away from us.

  15. Kxevin
    August 29, 2009

    And a quick word on ratings: A player can have a higher score, but still not have as great an impact on the match as a player who is deemed MOTM. It happened here, with Abidal and Puyol. It won’t very often, however.

    The score is how well an individual job is executed, and executed as part of the team’s goals. It’s why the team gets a low mark, yet the individuals can get high marks.

    (Too bad blogs don’t have stickies, right?)

    –As far as poipoi and Pedro! over Henry, that’s why we have comments. Everyone has their opinion. I do know one thing: My thoughts about P! being this season’s Giuly look to be coming true. If we need offense, look for Guardiola to call on him first (yes, even more than Krkic).

    –That’s also good news about Jeffren. I figured he would stay once “Whistling Past the Graveyard” Llorente ruled out the sale of Mata, opting instead to bankrupt the club with more and more loans. It really makes us appreciate Laporta’s efforts at fiscal solidity on the club’s behalf. Taking loans to pay players is just crazy. If Valencia don’t make Champions League this season, look for a fire sale next summer.

    –I confess to not being completely sold on Busquets at this time. I understand when he’s good, he’s very good. I can’t help wishing for more consistiency, however. Yesterday, that giveaway in which he stopped playing to whine about the foul, almost killed us.

    Speaking of….

  16. ElShowDeJason
    August 29, 2009

    JESUS! ARSHAVIN STUNNER at Old Trafford…

  17. August 29, 2009

    Hey, putting in the subs ratings would help, wouldn’t it?

    And this is one hell of a day of football. My sofa is going to be permanently indented after all is said and done.

  18. jordi
    August 29, 2009

    That was a cracking goal. Who can still honestly say he isnt better than “that other guy”

  19. BA
    August 29, 2009

    yeah Arshavin just hit an absolute lazer into United’s top right corner, at Old Trafford. sigh. wonder how much he’d cost to pry from Arsene’s old greedy fingers now? 30m? about the same price we rejected as too high from Zenit looks pretty reasonable at present.

    oh, and everyone should take time to watch Marseille v. Bourdeux tomorrow, that should be a cracking game.

  20. August 29, 2009

    arshavin’s has been a goal of rage just seconds after being denied a very clear penalty…

  21. jordi
    August 29, 2009

    Zenit wanted 20 million pounds at the time i think.A bargain in hindsight i maintain.

  22. jnelson
    August 29, 2009

    it was disappointing during the game that we just were not creating or converting enough quality chances (what few there were). I think in the end everyone put in a good performance. Ibra’s defense was nice….but i kind of wonder about that back-footed pass that just rolled out of play??? haha but no, patience is important. i mean who in the world can just go to our squad and immediately fit into Pep’s system? The fact that many of our players are canteranos definitely goes against Ibra in that they naturally take less time to adapt to the first team. BTW, I totally agree with Kevin’s MOTM: Puyol.

  23. ElShowDeJason
    August 29, 2009

    Diaby own goal! Lame! i was pulling for Arsenal… grr…

  24. August 29, 2009

    what a silly header by diaby… rooney’s penalty, btw, was a seventh part of the one that wasn’t called for arshavin in the first half…

  25. ElShowDeJason
    August 29, 2009

    Kxevin, don’t you think that that Busquets thing is Pep’s fault.

    If Pep would simply slap him on the side of the head and said “Cut that shit out, or else you stay on the bench” , I’m sure that he would stop.

    Obviously we don’t know what goes on in the practices, or in the private conversations, but it seems as if Pep could fix that easily.

  26. ElShowDeJason
    August 29, 2009

    JA!! Eboue got a yellow for diving. In the middle of the field!

    btw, judging solely off this game, I wouldn’t pay more than 2 mil for Eboue, and certainly never start him ahead of P! or FF. He has terrible ball control.

  27. Soto
    August 29, 2009

    I thought Ibrahimovic looked good. He had movement and some good ideas. It’s just that instinctive communication that exists between players who have played many games together that is missing. And that will come with time. Even Pedro! has more “experience” having developed in the Barca system. Messi and Pedro! think like Barca players, so there’s a lot of unspoken football communication in the development of play. Ibrahimovic lacks this “experience”, but it’s clear that Guardiola sees that developing in the proper direction. In Barca I trust.

    My real frustration was Xavi. El General played a good game, and his good games are better than most players’, but he seem to lack the crativity and magic that he often infuses in the game. The midfield just never seemed to spark fire for the offensive drives.

  28. Soto
    August 29, 2009

    As to where to watch the game, as Kevin mentioned above: add Currently, ESPN360 is listing the Barcelona v Gijon game on Monday as an upcoming broadcast. And the nice thing is that ESPN360 often archives the game for viewing for a few weeks. Which should help those of you in my situation, i.e. unable to watch the game live. That’s if you can access (I never understand the access rules for all of these sites).

  29. ElShowDeJason
    August 29, 2009

    By the way guys, it seems all of our CL opponents are reinforcing their squad.

    Inter got Sneijder to fill that CAM role that needed filling.

    Dynamo Kyev just got some guy named Andriy Shevchenko.

  30. August 29, 2009

    did anybody see what rooney just did? he tried to steal a ball with his head (the problem being that the ball was not in the air)…

  31. poipoi
    August 29, 2009

    Xavi looked too marked to me. It’s easy to stop Barça when you only have a playmaker, a ruler. That is why Xavi and Iniesta are so good together. My perception is that none of the two rules more than the other… maybe Xavi rules a bit more but Iniesta… oh my god Iniesta

  32. Soto
    August 29, 2009

    Assuming this is the real Thierry Henry, then the Thierry Henry twitter page is agreeing with the general assessment of his play yesterday:

    “another win 🙂 and Barças third Super Cup. im not happy with my own performance, i should have scored when ibrahimovic passed the ball 🙁 ”

    (I never know whether to believe it’s the actual celebrity on twitter, or some tool trying to fake it.)

  33. ElShowDeJason
    August 29, 2009

    We will definitely be better once Iniesta comes back.

  34. ElShowDeJason
    August 29, 2009

    is Sergio Ramos Injured, anyways, we were wondering how the EE would line-up, and they rolled out against Depor like so:

    Arbeloa – Albiol – Garay – Marcelo
    – – Xabi Alonso – Lass Diarra – – –
    – – – – – – – – – – – – Kaka – – – – – – – Raul-
    Ronaldo- – – – – – – – Benzema- – – – – –

    Shitty 4-4-2, its not being broadcast, so i cant tell who is actually playing where, but that is the positions that ESPN gamecast has assigned to them. it looks like the attack isn’t balanced well, and that Defense shouldn’t Inspire confidence in anyone. Go Depor!

  35. Helge
    August 29, 2009

    lol, Riki just scored the equalizer against Real Madrid 😀

  36. ElShowDeJason
    August 29, 2009

    Real 1 – 1 Depor minute 31, first half

  37. OhYes
    August 29, 2009

    Haha that was a wonderful trick play for the Depor equalizer.

  38. OhYes
    August 29, 2009

    Argh..penalty and it did look like one

  39. Dave
    August 29, 2009

    Hah my sister says that Iniesta looks like a serial killer, and the Yaya has “an attitude”.

    I couldn;t help laughing. By the way, I hope that IbraHOMOvic thing on his player rating is a typo. lol

  40. OhYes
    August 29, 2009

    CRon’s first goal…Depor almost got away with it though…had it not been for that dastardly linesman.

  41. ElShowDeJason
    August 29, 2009

    AC v Milan:

    Zambrota – Thiago – Nesta – Jankulovski
    –Thiago Motta—-Stankovic—-Zanetti—-
    ——————Julio Cesar——————–

  42. poipoi
    August 29, 2009

    wow!!!!! milan inter!!!! I had no idea. thanks elshowdejason.

    it’s nice to see real hoping they loose but ronnie vs samu… I have to see it!! 😛

  43. ElShowDeJason
    August 29, 2009

    hey Dave, if you wonder into the policies of this here blog, you’ll find this:

    “We only delete or edit those comments that include:

    -abusive or excessively foul language.
    -contain racist, sexist, homophobic and other slurs against anyone (be they a member of the forum, a player, or otherwise).”

  44. ElShowDeJason
    August 29, 2009

    yeah, PoiPoi, like Kxevin said. Big day for football today, their will be Ass imprints on couches all around the world.

  45. ElShowDeJason
    August 29, 2009

    [EDIT] FSC are contradicting, ESPNs line-ups

    They have Inzaghi in for Pato, and Adriano in for Sneijder. HMMM… i thought Adriando was in Brazil, so i’m not sure.

    But, Sneijder is on Field. and so is Pato.

    Ok, then, its just FSC being stupid.

  46. poipoi
    August 29, 2009


    btw… what a horrible shot by cr94

  47. jordi
    August 29, 2009

    Just saw robben rape wolfsburg, him and ribery will be deadly on counters for bayern.

  48. ElShowDeJason
    August 29, 2009

    Is Cambiasso hurt? cuz if he is not, and was simply displaced by Thiago Motta, i’ll take him right away!

  49. Dave
    August 29, 2009

    Whoa whoa whoa ElShowDeJason I wasn’t offending anyone. My sister made a joke. And I wasn’t the one who wrote Ibrahomovic on the post.

    Get a sense of humor for God’s sake.

  50. Vj
    August 29, 2009

    Dinho hacks down Eto’o..

    Motta scores..

  51. August 29, 2009

    Misinterpretation, I think, Jason. Typo in the post itself. Thanks for pointing it out, Dave.

  52. Vj
    August 29, 2009

    Milito scores, penalty earned by Eto’o..

    Lass sends Madrid ahead..

    Gattuso off in the most bizarre circumstances.. he was to be subbed but Seedorf took to much time to get ready and by then he collected his 2nd yellow with a needless foul on Sniejder..

  53. Dave
    August 29, 2009

    No problem Isaiah, I just want you guys to know I wasn’t trying to cause any trouble. I didn’t know the rules of this board are apparently so strict that my post would have caused offense to anyone.

  54. OhYes
    August 29, 2009

    CR9 is trying so hard to carry the team..and is failing miserably. Kaka is doing great with his curling long shots. They’re off by only a foot at most..

  55. Museum
    August 29, 2009

    I think the ratings for our guys might be a bit generous, from what I saw on the replay it wasn’t so much a case of Shakthar refusing to play as much as our side just not clicking. Or some combination of the two. Iniesta would’ve helped. You’re probably right about some low scorelines coming our way this year though.

    Inter is looking great. Dinho took a dive early on and went crazy when it wasn’t called, the Gattuso thing was nuts, Pirlo just totally whiffed on a ball. I think I might just get on with my day. One big highlight from earlier: Wenger standing up with the crowd after getting sent off at the end, refusing to leave.

  56. poipoi
    August 29, 2009

    beware!!! guti is now on the field 😛

  57. August 29, 2009

    Dave, I think that it was just misinterpretation and that that is now understood. No worries.

    Yaya doesn’t have an attitude, though. He IS attitude.

  58. BA
    August 29, 2009

    Seedorf took too much time to slug his Geritol and charge his Rascal scooter. poor Gattuso, a victim of his own wonderfully insane bloodlust.

  59. BA
    August 29, 2009

    HAH Robben scores twice on his first game for Bayern. man Madrid are stupid.

  60. Museum
    August 29, 2009

    Shevchenko has joined Dynamo Kiev, his former team, who are in our group. Should be interesting to see if that lights his fire. Doubt it, but you never know.

  61. Vj
    August 29, 2009

    Inter looking good with Milito, Sneijder, Motta and you know who.. will be interesting come 16th..

  62. Museum
    August 29, 2009

    Sneijder’s been dangerous. Those free kicks into the wall were terrible though. Anyway, 4-0 now. Why am I still sitting here?

  63. txikidracula
    August 29, 2009

    geritol? that’s pretty funny.

    like i said during the live blog i don’t expect ibra to run as fast as eto’o did but i do expect him to realize that he’s not pressuring the defense just for the sake of pressuring them but doing it to get the f’ing ball back. he’s a quick guy…he’s just not turning it on @ the right moments. pep needs to give both him & bruschetta, is it?, a mean o’pimp slap next practice.

    after watching sneijder play w/inter today i wish we could have at the very least have tried putting forward a bid for the dude. don’t know how amicable our relationship is w/the death star but the dutchman, atleast on paper, would have been awesome as a proxy for iniesta. especially for, what, around 15 million?

  64. Alexinho
    August 29, 2009

    Written like a true professional.

    One comment on this match: Ibra.

    Of course I’m willing to give him time, he is perfectly welcome to be invisible for as long as he wants in this game as well as in, say, the first five-ten league/cup/CL games. So I will dispense with that right here.

    Also a great positive. Ego was the great turn-off when the transfer of Ibra was discussed. There’s plenty of evidence in photos/videos of him at Inter that he doesn’t play nice with his teammates and that he’s a ball hog, and not really in the good way.

    What I saw in this match was an Ibra who knew how good the team around him was and was willing to put a great deal of faith in them. But, he was too selfless. He was always looking for the pass when he had the ball, and so it looked predictable and actually a bit lazy. What he’s learning is that it doesn’t happen by magic, the engine that is Barcelona. He is certainly growing into the side, and he’s gotten over the toughest hurdle, which is his will to do it all by himself. Can’t WAIT for Monday.

  65. Kxevin
    August 29, 2009

    Yes, that is the real Henry on Twitter, Soto. His manager started the account, and Henry posts to it from time to time.

    I will add that it’s far cry from a professional’s “I’m not happy with my performance,” and people saying that said player was shit. Besides, when is any professional who wants to be the best player on the pitch (as they all do) ever happy with his performance? It would have been one thing if he’d posted “I was terrible today,” right?

    –In other matches, the wrong team won in every instance. Diaby was out of his mind with that header. Ronaldinho should be ashamed of himself for that dive in the box. Depor demonstrated the EE’s frailties at the back. Fired up the DVR to watch, just to see the player we were looking to buy. I think we got off better with Maxwell.

    –Problem with us bidding for Sneijder is he still isn’t going to make our starting XI. I’m not even sure that I’d bring him on before Pedro!

    –Watching these other matches also points out the reason that we like all of the possession. If they don’t have the ball, they can’t beat you. Simple as that. And if they do get possession, I think we have a world-class back line, which wasn’t true two seasons ago.

    This is going to be a good season.

  66. Kxevin
    August 29, 2009

    Thanks for that link, jordi. The Britpress sound like many Barca fans. After one competitive match, “It’s over! What a waste of money.”

    Recall that the same things were being said (and still are, in some cases) about Henry during his first season.

    There is no more complicated system in the world for a new player to learn, I believe. And the jounalist in question is doing what a lot of people are doing, which is comparing this side to the side that won the Champions League final.

    That comparison can only be made at the end of the season, when both sides are at the same point in fitness and cohesion. Then, and only then, will we know. All the rest is nonsense. The writer even had the audacity to suggest that Pedro’s result further calls into question the signing of Ibrahimovic.

    Someone should talk to him about how players are marked. If they put 3 defenders on Pedro!, he wouldn’t get a real solid sniff of goal, either. It’s why it’s so difficult to be a journalist, sometimes. You have to struggle with delivering information, while trying not to be stupid. Often we get it right. Often, we don’t.

  67. August 29, 2009

    I will read the comments later, half sleeping now. Just wana note that footballwise, this is a first class break down for Pedro goal in the review.

  68. Soto
    August 29, 2009

    Your right, Kevin, Henry’s own assessments can’t really be compared with the fans’ assessments. They come from different perspectives.

    I have to say I enjoyed Henry’s play yesterday. I have never understood the criticisms of Henry’s play. There’s nothing I enjoy more during a Barcelona game than watching Henry take in the ball and then calmly play it around as you see his mind looking for the opening. There’s something relaxed about his style of play that is so refreshing in contrast to Messi’s frentic style (which has its own beauty).

  69. Kxevin
    August 29, 2009

    Aw shucks, Ramzi….I aspire to be Hector someday! 😀

    I agree, Soto. He has a very languid playing style. So does Ibrahimovic (have to watch my fat fingers when typing his name!). Must be a height thing, because The Yaya also looks as though he’s moving in slow motion, then you realize that he isn’t. At all.

  70. jnelson
    August 29, 2009

    thanks for the ESPN360 links guys! im setting it up now. wow@ robben & sneijder. they are already playing with their new teams. where was on this one? i cant believe dinho and the derby. what a shame…looking back i actually hated laporta for wanting to sell R10 so much i was hoping he was removed. …but that was obviously so stupid of me. hey, they say the best respect is earned. and so it is…but id still like to see dinho become a world great once more. i mean if adriano can come back…right?

  71. Museum
    August 29, 2009

    I’d pay good money to see Real Madrid get knocked out of CL by either Inter (and Sneijder) or Bayern (and Robben). That would be fun.

  72. Kxevin
    August 29, 2009

    That derby was actually an ex-Barca fest, with Edmilson, Motta, Ronaldinho and Eto’o all on the pitch at the same time.

    And my view on R10 is that the sale came a year too late, and everyone who wanted Laporta’s head for making it happen probably understands.

    Ronaldinho’s game is based on speed and quickness of movement. He has to either change the way he plays, or instigate a crazy-hard training program to at least try to make his body react in a way that it’s supposed to. Every year, I have to train harder to go as fast. Aging is a bitch.

    It’s sad to see him sometimes, but then every now and again he pulls something out of the hat and people say “See? He can be as great as he was.”

    But he can’t. His body doesn’t work in the same way. Ideally now, he’d be Pirlo. But Pirlo is being Pirlo.

  73. Corrine
    August 29, 2009

    haven’t read the comments yet but i enjoyed this review, like always 😛 little brave on the abidal rating eh? well i thought he had a really good game too. even though there wasn’t much to do, our entire backline was solid (well minus alves but when is he ever part of the backline?) every time i thought we were doomed puyi or abidal was there to save the day!

    off to take a close look at the comments soon but… i don’t think the henry twitter is real. anyone can pretend to be his manager and start his account for him lol. he tweeted the “official ronaldo twitter” which has been suspended now because it was a fake and i don’t see why he’d go linking unauthentic accounts. plus he updated from web 10 minutes before the game yesterday… doesn’t seem very realistic to me

  74. ballbeav
    August 29, 2009

    when might the picture on the masthead change? no urgency, just asking.

  75. August 29, 2009

    ballbeav, it might change tomorrow. it might change in 2 weeks. ha.

  76. Soto
    August 29, 2009

    Corrine, that 10 minutes before game time tweet was what was making me suspicious.

  77. Mher
    August 29, 2009

    Xabi Alonso was without doubt Real Madrid’s best signing in the game today. Arbeloa looked really shaky.

  78. jnelson
    August 29, 2009

    look at the little kid in the picture: “When I grow up I want to be a Chygnasty!!” ha

  79. txikidracula
    August 29, 2009

    @kxevin re ex barca fest

    this may just be me having been drunk during the milan derby & drunk now(just came from a pool party…it’s fucking hot in southern cali right now believe it or not) but i thought edmilson played for palmeiras in brazil. did you mean zambrotta maybe?

    i’m gonna take credit for someone else’s comment on pep’s fcbtransfers but should chygnasty be judged on his performances in a parked bus? or should we wait until we see him play w/our squad?

    too focused on trying to snap on the barca bunch to get a good look @ chernoblynskiy.

  80. OhYes
    August 29, 2009

    A bit off-topic here: Did anyone know that the author of Animal Farm and 1984, George Orwell, actually spent time in Spain during the Spanish Civil War? A lot of his political views were influenced by the rule of Francisco Franco. In 1984, there is an oppression of culture, similar to how Franco oppressed Catalan and Basque culture.

    You might want to read both those books if you want to get a better understanding as to how it was to live back then, and why it meant a lot to have F.C. Barcelona.

  81. txikidracula
    August 29, 2009

    in the forward to animal farm orwell asks the question why there isn’t a need for governments to censor left wing newspapers?…his reasoning is that the intelligentsia on the left do the gov’t’s job for them & censor themselves. they discredit themselves by only accepting to publish news that is favorable for their cause and deride anything else ;^/

    orwell was definitely a cule.

  82. ballbeav
    August 29, 2009

    _homage to catalonia_ is thebook to read by george orwell. he fought in the (anarchists) militias and was in barcelona when it had been taken over by the anarcho-syndicalists. only thing that could possibly have made the book any better if a reference to our football club.

  83. ballbeav
    August 29, 2009

    *replace “if” with “would’ve been””

  84. txikidracula
    August 29, 2009

    * i meant preface not forward

  85. OhYes
    August 29, 2009

    Thanks, ballbeav, I’ll check it out. 🙂

    txikidracula: I guess it’s a good thing when both the right and the left are doing that? hehe

  86. Kxevin
    August 30, 2009

    I did mean Zambrotta. Thanks, CP. Where the hell did I get Edmilson from?

    I think that we can judge Chygnasty based on movement, the very effective way he destroyed anythiing that came near him, and the passing out of the back.

    Corrine, I was a little suspicious of the Henry Twitter thing as well, but a few times he’s had things before they got out to any press, such as the Achilles issues being a limiting factor. Hell, players have Tweeted from the locker room at halftime. I’m assuming it’s real until someone says otherwise.

    And no bravery. Abidal earned it. I watched again tonite in working up this season’s Barca compilation DVD. Killer, just killer.

  87. txikidracula
    August 30, 2009

    “Any fairminded person with journalistic experience will admit that during this war official censorship has not been particularly irksome. We have not been subjected to the kind of totalitarian ‘co-ordination’ that it might have been reasonable to expect. The press has some justified grievances, but on the whole the Government has behaved well and has been surprisingly tolerant of minority opinions. The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary. Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban. Anyone who has lived long in a foreign country will know of instances of sensational items of news – things which on their own merits would get the big headlines – being kept right out of the British press, not because the Government intervened but because of a general tacit agreement that ‘it wouldn’t do’ to mention that particular fact. So far as the daily newspapers go, this is easy to understand. The British press is extremely centralized, and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also operates in books and periodicals, as well as in plays, films and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question”


  88. August 30, 2009

    Like Ramzi said, not Anatomy of a Goal is necessary for this one. Kevin pretty much covered it himself 😀 . The only thing I would add is that this is a perfect example of why we need to spread the field horizontally as much as possible. Pedro’s positioning opened up Messi for him to receive the pass. The FB left Messi to cut off Pedro, allowing P! to pass the ball to Leo.

  89. Kxevin
    August 30, 2009

    And even as I type….

    Last Tweet at about 11 p.m. BCN time, and concludes with “Visca el Barca.” I can’t see a player “saying” that, particularly an expensive foreign import.

    Very few Tweets en francais, as well. Color me officially suspicious.

  90. Kxevin
    August 30, 2009

    Yeah, but I don’t have fancy-pants diagrams! 😀

  91. Corrine
    August 30, 2009

    yeah i know some of the MLS players are constantly tweeting but they usually do it from their mobile devices, and all of “henry’s” tweets are from the web. aha i guess he could bring his laptop into the locker room to make a last min reach to his fans before kickoff

  92. Corrine
    August 30, 2009

    oh and i’m not sure if you guys are interested, but i made a volunteer in the goodbye post back at the offside to help out with graphics and the offer is still on the table. i think isaiah has my email from the few times i did the liveblog

  93. Kxevin
    August 30, 2009

    Yep. And the Euros, especially handsomely compensated players, no doubt have the latest and greatest mobiles. Unless he just digs the laptop thing.

    But I could see texting from a mobile 10mn prior to a match more easily than from a laptop. And pardon me, but if you’re a working Les Bleus, some dude Tweeting you with Thuram’s picture up, should trigger a response.

    Then again, maybe this whole online world has made us all suspicious to a fault.

    And I’m sure that that if Isaiah forgot about your very generous offer, he has just been reminded of it.

  94. OhYes
    August 30, 2009

    txikidracula: Very nice! Is there anything else you enjoy reading?

  95. August 30, 2009

    Also, two of the best books on the war are “The Battle for Spain,” by Anthony Beevor (brilliant!) and “The Spanish Civil War,” by Hugh Thomas. I’m partial to the Beevor book, because he makes military history so clear and engaging.

  96. txikidracula
    August 30, 2009

    porno mags & barcelona blogs

    maybe the…always good shit there. & i stold a password to the wallstreet journal from my bro’s old job. fuck yeah!

    mostly porn.

  97. August 30, 2009

    Well, there goes Tottenham’s hot start. Modric is out for six weeks with a fibula fracture.

    I’m curious to see Juventus with Diego in the line up. If the team clicks, Ferrara proves that unlike Leonardo he is not over his head, the FB’s go from awful to decent, and he [Diego] stays healthy, they may well be serious UCL contenders. Lots of things have to happen though.

  98. eklavya
    August 30, 2009

    I’ve put Juventus in my CL semi-finalists prediction list, Hector.

  99. Helge
    August 30, 2009

    I’ve got Inter in there instead of Juve 🙂

    And I think it’ll be hard for Juve to surpass Inter’s performance from yesterday. Damn, the CL groupstage will be harder than last year for us, that’s for sure.

  100. August 30, 2009

    Inter was as good as Milan was horrible. They are an interesting team, especially now that they have Sneijder. When looking at them, I look at Mourinho due to the control freak he is. Remember the trouble his Chelsea teams gave us? Well, he’s got some similar resources but at the same time he is lacking others.

    – CB’s: It looks like a geriatric home. The CB’s especially are all older and injury prone. He has guys like Materazzi and Córdoba (fastest CB I’ve ever seen in his prime) but they are past their prime and Marco is as reckless as ever. On the other hand Samuel and Burdisso are saavy and physical but also past their prime. Meanwhile, Chivu is good (he would have fit right in at Barca) but is needed at FB. Still, its a far cry from in their prime Terry-Carvahlo and the likes of Cole and Boswinga.

    -FB’s: A guy like Maicon is vital to Inter because of the lack of quality wingers which are vital for Mourinho’s teams. Mancini and Quaresma being flops has hurt them immensely. They count on Maicon to provide width and play as a winger much more than we count on Alves. Playing the more offensive Maxwell against them may well be a good option because the threat of Maxwell/Henry may be an antidote to keeping Maicon back and that will take out a VITAL part of their offense. Hell, put Messi on him at times as well. Santon has the potential to be great but is still a kid, and Zanetti is always solid despite his age. He’s a tough nut to crack.

    -Strikers: We know Samu. He’ll hassle our build up game all the time while using his pace to be a serious counter attack threat if he can break our backline. Milito is one of my faves. One of the last true target men. A poacher in the box and a great passer with back to goal. He’ll open up space for Samu. However, don’t be surprised to seeing them getting in each others way and mutually taking away space. Also, if they are starved of service (Sneijder and Cambiasso are the key to this), they can be taken almost completely out of the game.

    – Box-to-Box Mids: Mou loves them and these are the type of players (Essien, Lampard, Ballack, Mikerl, et. al) that, when world class, always give us so much trouble. It is vital for their transitions that these guys both defend and attack. Stankovic is prone to silly mistakes but defends and has a good shot, Cambiasso is one of the best registas in the world, and Motta is a decent box to box. Sneijder was the missing link with Ibra gone IMO. If he plays where he played yesterday and comitts himself he may well regain his Ajax form.

    Yeah, I am getting ahead of myself. 😀

    BTW check out our friend Ramzi’s article over at Pep’s Place. Good stuff.

  101. Helge
    August 30, 2009

    Thanks for that small Inter-Barca CL preview, Hector 😉

    I have to agree, they don’t seem to be quite as strong as Chelsea used to be under Mourinho (at least in his first 2 years).
    I’m looking forward to Messi – Santon. Santon already had some great moments against CR7 last season, will he be able to neutralize our superstar?
    Is Santon injured or why didn’t he play a single minute against Milan?

  102. Helge
    August 30, 2009

    By the way, anybody bought Roberto Soldado? He just scored a hattrick, now that’s gotta be some points for the fantasy league 😀

  103. poipoi
    August 30, 2009

    “There’s nothing I enjoy more during a Barcelona game than watching Henry take in the ball and then calmly play it around as you see his mind looking for the opening.”

    soto, there is nothing that I hate more. When titi gets the ball and pretends he knows what to do next. He moves the ball from left to right and ussually ends up giving the ball back or trying to do a half-dribble (just a sad change of rhythm) to finish crossing the ball to the thighs of his defender, a la Zenden style 😉 Why does henry have to cross balls endlessly with his left foot while Pedro! can do it much better, faster and meaner? Pedro! should be our man for the wing this season,

    there is nothing that I like more than seeing canteranos grow up with us.

  104. Corrine
    August 30, 2009

    having second thoughts of having asenjo as my FF keeper lol

  105. Corrine
    August 30, 2009

    omg xavi torres scored for malaga!!!

  106. jordi
    August 30, 2009

    Nice for Xavi, also Another year, same old Atleti..

  107. inNYC
    August 30, 2009

    Thanks for the review, Kxevin…I’m just adding another vote for “Homage to Catalonia.” It is also funny in a way that no other “war correspondent” book I’ve ever read has managed to be. There’s a passage in the early part of the book where’s at one of the fronts and describes how poorly supplied, poorly prepared and desperate both sides are. The main strategy became attempting to convince the other side to desert by shouting across the trenches about how the republicans were eating hot buttered toast in their camp. Of course they weren’t, but it’s actually hilarious (and sad). I think Orwell’s fiction is stiff and didactic, if politically insightful, but his nonfiction writing is incredible.

  108. jordi
    August 30, 2009

    Diego is a stud BTW, its amazing dunga keeps leaving him out of the Brazil squad.

  109. Muhammad
    August 30, 2009

    Gudjohnsen seems to be leaving, does this mean that Thiago or dos Santos is going to be promoted? I certainly hope so.
    one main difference between Chelsea and Inter in my opinion, and the main reason I am not so worried about these particular couple of games against the Italians, is the difference between both teams in transforming from defense to attack.
    Inter practically plays with no wingers. no Joe Cole or Duff to worry about. and their back line defend very deep, it will take them quite some time to bring the ball up through Sneider, who will be the only player bothering Yaya in that area, there are no Essien or Lampard, as I doubt that Mourinho will be crazy enough to put both Stankovic alongside Sneider in his midfield, behind 2 strikers, not after watching the CL final.

  110. Soto
    August 30, 2009

    To toss in my two cents on the off topic: I would suggest reading Carmen Laforet’s “Nada”. Don’t be scared off by the usual description of the novel, i.e. “Spain’s Catcher in the Rye”. Regardless of the story arc of the protagonist, it has some great descriptions of life in Catalunya in the early post-Civil War/Franco days.

  111. Helge
    August 30, 2009

    Corrine, I guess I’ll also have to rethink the position of the keeper for my team 🙂

    I Hope we’ll have a better start into the new season than Atletico Madrid and Villarreal had. Quite surprising results so far.

  112. August 30, 2009

    Muhammad- Exactly. Thats why Mourinho hasn’t been able to play his preferred 4-3-3. If we take Maicon out of the game, they have practically no width. Don’t underestimate the likes of Cambiasso and Zanetti (if played in midfield) in transtition from their own box though.

    BTW That’s why I am liking Juventus this year. They got EXACTLY what they needed in Diego and Melo and got them at good prices. They have their playmaker and depth for the two positions with Camoranesi and del Piero also in the roster. Now if only they would have upgraded their FB’s, it would have been even better for them.

  113. Corrine
    August 30, 2009

    Haha yes Helge, I didn’t put Atletico’s shaky defense into consideration when I chose him as my keeper

  114. Ciaran
    August 30, 2009

    Poor Atletico, Poor Asenjo and poor Aguero. Atletico will alway be like that, Asenjo had better offers and Aguero could have picked his team.

  115. ElShowDeJason
    August 30, 2009

    grr… i made two teams. One had 4 Atletico Madrid players on it 🙁

    the other one has ALOT of Barca players, so no points from them as of yet, my teams have 6.5, and 7 points.

  116. Corrine
    August 30, 2009

    yeah i wasn’t thinking when i made my team and have an atleti player in every position. smart! i made another team of players that i thought were good looking just to see if their looks were on par with their skills and it did better than my actual team. interesting

  117. ElShowDeJason
    August 30, 2009

    well, logic only dictates that Atletico Madrid should whoop Malaga’s ass. Thanks Atleti, for continually refusing to conform to logic and reason. Has Villareal played yet?

  118. OhYes
    August 30, 2009

    Villarreal tied 1-1 with Osasuna.

    Pretty shocking to see Atleti lose to Malaga. 3-0.

    And Valencia beat Sevilla in what was a pretty meh game. 2-0

  119. mike
    August 30, 2009

    this match was horrendous.. henry.. shit. ibra.. shit. keita.. shit. the only good guys out there were messi, yaya and the defenders + valdes. Great sub from pedro but guardiola should have done substitutions way earlier. henry should have been subbed at the hour mark and keita after that. keita did absolutely nothing useful to the attack.

  120. Helge
    August 30, 2009

    I have messed up completely… -3 points 🙁

  121. Eduard
    August 30, 2009

    i’m going to put my two cents in the off topic as well: G. Orwel did write some interesting stuff but for the most past I was bored reading his books(even “Homage to Cataluya”) but I would suggest reading “Pride of Carthage” by David Anthony Durham. It’s about the 2nd Punic war between Carthage and Rome but it does relate to Barcelona because , well, it’s in the name. Barcelona derives its names from Hannibal Barca, the great general and king from N.Africa… Great novel, you feel like you’re there.

  122. MoSSi
    August 30, 2009

    I’m really surprised by the comments of some people, they just won 2 FUCKING Super Cups!!

    Alright, it wasn’t a good game but cut the guys some slack, I think some fans are getting to spoiled..

    I’m sorry for the language but sometimes I get so frustrated by the way some people comment on our players..

  123. Eduard
    August 30, 2009

    about the inter preview: Inter look more dangerous than last year. Eto’o at the moment looks more dangerous than last year, and he reads the game so well. I don’t think we should worry about them just yet however because we haven’t really seen Barca click. When they do click, I’m expecting some “Messi Magic” and “ibra cadabra” with a back ground tune of “Humphry Bogart”

  124. Maximus
    August 30, 2009

    Yeah so I included Suseta in my fantasy squad and he didn’t play so I’m a ‘man short’ but I’ve got 5 players (4 Barca) that haven’t had their scores posted. Saldado’s hatrick will probably make up for i though.

  125. Museum
    August 30, 2009

    could someone help me with something? i just got a sports package from comcast to get fox soccer channel and nba tv (my other sports love), and i was really looking forward to the fox soccer report, since you can’t get much of any soccer talk on sportscenter, obviously. but it’s really kinda disappointing. they start repeating themselves after like 20 minutes as if there’s nothing else to talk about but the EPL, maybe a bit of Serie A and MLS. they were talking about that West Ham riot leading into a break the other night, and they came out of the break saying the exact same thing from 3 minutes before. i nearly threw my remote at the TV. is it just me, or are they lacking a bit of worldliness? do they just talk about the stuff they televise? i’d much much much prefer they went in depth on the french league or portuguese league or whatever before they start repeating EPL highlight packages.

  126. August 30, 2009

    *Sigh* Some of you guys DO know we started out last season with a loss to NUMANCIA and a draw to Racing, right? And that was being on form from the UCL qual round and with Iniesta healthy. Jeez…. What about the seemingly inconceivable possibilty that Shaktar is a damn good team that had us against the ropes last season until Messi saved the day and the pitch was shit?

    Take a chill pill for goodness sake’s otherwise you won’t make it through the season. Keita was shit? Watch the match again, Mike. Watch it closely and see if you can make out who was breaking up Shaktar counters left and right while linking up defense and offense with Xavi man marked?

  127. August 30, 2009

    Museum- FSC doesn’t have La Liga rights so they give their own leagues more attention. Gol TV News is what you want.

  128. poipoi
    August 30, 2009

    Hector, sorry but I fell like you talk about me. You’re right but I still think the list of players is short. Pep has said also but he says he trusts our youngsters. Iniesta or Pedro in the wings and Thiago or JDS should do a good job. Chigro or Busi as dm when Yaya leaves also. I don’t like Keita’s game at all even though I like the guy 🙁

    visca el barça

  129. poipoi
    August 30, 2009

    sorry, I meant “…thiago or JDS as midfielders….”

  130. Museum
    August 30, 2009

    Yeah, we can’t Gol TV in Minneapolis. Don’t know why, they just don’t offer it. Still, it’s not like Sportscenter only focuses on stuff they have TV rights to. Or at least it used to be that way, they might have rights in just about everything now. Oh well.

  131. OhYes
    August 30, 2009

    GolTV has those Liga weekend recaps that are really nice. Forgot what’s it’s called, though. Used to watch it all the time.

    And yeah their news programs are so much better than anything else. Stick to them and skip fox for now.

  132. August 30, 2009

    the monument is leaving for monaco. henrique for santander (they do need some defenders, don’t they?). then, i am happy robinho won’t be coming. did we really offer 40 millions? for the bicycle guy? 😛

  133. ElShowDeJason
    August 30, 2009

    BTW kids, the game tomorrow will be viewed by me on ESPN HD! i will see sweat beads drop from Ibra’s head in high-f’ng-definition. YES!, maybe if we look close enough, we can see an Energy Aura emanating from the YAYA

  134. ElShowDeJason
    August 30, 2009

    speaking of… I’m sure Isaiah is cooking up a nice Preview.

  135. Eduard
    August 30, 2009

    i can’t find tommorrow’s game anywhere in the programming

  136. jnelson
    August 30, 2009

    FSC SUCKS!!!! after all the year old EXPIRED lineups, poor commentary, poor equipment, and poor well EVERYTHING, i am surprised anyone puts up with that ish…just saying

  137. jnelson
    August 30, 2009

    so the game will be on ESPNHD but not ESPN??

  138. ElShowDeJason
    August 30, 2009

    its gonna be on both jnelson. ESPN and ESPNHD have identical programming.

    @ Edward. I have Cox Communications Digital Cable, and my guide has
    “Futbol Espanol: Barcelona vs. Sporting Gijon” from 12:55pm-3:00pm

    (this is Pacific aka San Deigo time, of course)

  139. Eduard
    August 30, 2009

    I have brighthouse networks and they don’t have Barca, instead its MLB baseball and for espn2 they have little league baseball…grrrr

  140. ElShowDeJason
    August 30, 2009


    try this, independent of any cable packages, this is ESPN’s broadcast schedule for all of their channels.

    Like my box says, the site tells me that on ESPN and ESPN HD, will show it at 1pm PST

  141. ElShowDeJason
    August 30, 2009

    it should be at 4 pm then, i think. definitely try the above site, and look for ESPN at 4pm EST

  142. August 30, 2009

    Hello Ish and Kevin. I finally made it over to your blog! It only took me three weeks or so…

    Anyways, great job so far with the site, it looks pretty good for starters. Im thinking of a move as I had told you earlier, so I might shoot you an email later to see what your set up here was. You know, domain name cost, Blogger page layout, AdSense account working or not, stuff like that.

    Good luck on the season too. No pressure or anything.


  143. Corrine
    August 30, 2009

    uggggh TSN canada used to get ESPN’s coverage of the CL, but we’re not getting any of the PL or La Liga rights. we also can’t get FSC, just fox soccer world

    btw, and i the only canadian regular in here? i seem to be the only one ever whining about this haha

  144. August 30, 2009

    I honestly was not referring to anybody in particular although your Henry hate does puzzle me at times. Then again, everybody has their quirks and opinions. For instance, my Mascherano love is definitely debatable but I stick to it 😀 .

    I actually agree that we are a little short compared to other squads. I really do hope Pep learns from last season and rotates more, especially in the Copa games. Hopefully JDS and Thiago will get time. Just not in a final. They are talented as hell but just because they are canteranos doesn’t instantly mean they are better than any other squad players and won’t make typical rookie mistakes. It was Busquets who gave away the ball in the final minutes that almost went in for them. Sometimes it seems that the American football saying “the most popular quarterback is always the backup until he becomes the starter” can apply to fútbol.

    What annoyed me a little were people jumping to irrational conclusions and judgments after what in effect was our first real competitive game. Keita’s game seems polarizing and its something that is easily understandable because he is not flashy and doesn’t score load of goals although he did score 6 last season which is not bad for a squad midfielder. What he does is dirty work and for some type of games, having somebody like that is vital. He doesn’t make you dream like Iniesta but, who does? The pitch in that game was not meant for tiki taka. Look at how ineffective Xavi was. Every now and then you need a tactical option and Keita did great last game. He broke up attacks, recovered balls, and distributed to Abidal, Messi, and Henry, while also crashing the box. Iniesta is one of the best players in the world. However, even his characteristics need to be applied correctly to succeed. Sometimes you need a little Xavi-Andres tiki-taka but sometimes you need some Keita directness, physicality, and defense. No, that doesn’t make us an EPL team but it also doesn’t make us a purely finesse team either. It depends on the situation. I expect more Keita/Busi next to Xavi/Iniesta this season in order to keep our two midget geniuses as fit as possible. I hope to see Iniesta handling the four by himself more often to see how he compares to Xavi and to rest Xavi. It will be fun.

  145. Kxevin
    August 30, 2009

    Hector speaketh The Truth.

    What I’ve learned is that people will see in a match what they want to see. But the fact of the matter is that Shakhtar, a very good team (even without Brandao’s big ass) came out determined to clog the midfield, passing lanes and keep 5-7 men around the box. Yes, that is very difficult to score against. Yet we did. And won the match.

    Were we clicking the way that we will be in a month or two? No. But we had the lion’s share of possession, and if anybody looked to score, it was going to be us, precisely because we had the ball all the time.

    –Keita is a player that is easy to misjudge. I did, but you really have to watch him. Ramzi’s advocacy of him helped make me take a portion of a re-view and just watch Keita. The man is indefatigable, and provides a lot of defensive cover when fullbacks go on the offense. He really is a vital part of the machine.

    –As for the Henry hate, it isn’t going to go away. That’s fine. The only real answer that you can provide is 25 goals for us last season, and as many fouls taken as any back line player, which means that he’s also fighting for balls. He had the key goals in the 6-2 demolishing of the EE, a hat trick against Valencia, and a crucial away goal against Lyon. His “bad” first season still notched 16 goals for the colors.

    Pedro’s time will come, but I just can’t personally advocate replacing what Henry does with a canterano, or anybody else offered up right now, including Ribery. Pedro is talented. Immensely so. But have a look at Henry’s goals from last season, and ask yourself if Pedro could do that. Ask yourself if any of the people advocated could do that. Sure, you haters can still hate on him. That’s your right. But ask the question.

    You want some Robben? 5 goals last season in Liga and CL. We’re 20 short, and has he ever played defense?

    Wait. Mata is better than Henry. 13 goals in all competitions last year.

    Ribery? When he wasn’t being made to disappear against us, 14 goals in Bundesliga and Champions League. And watch that Bayern match for his work rate when he wasn’t on offense.

    Okay, now what? Where do the extra goals, the midfield pressure, the defensive tracking back and the pace come from? Just ask the question.

    But this is Henry’s last season in the colors. You read it here first. In part because the players have to work like dogs in the Guardiola system. But also in part because Barcelona fans are tough on their stars. Then, and only then, will we see how good he was (is). Until then, people will hate on him, and suggest that everyone from Mata to Robben to Robinho are suitable to replace him. Rock on.

    Still other people already have Ibrahimovic as a failure. After one truly competitive match. Nothing to say. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.


    –Gudjohnsen to Monaco tomorrow. It’s a free transfer, but think of it as a 4 million transfer, in that we get his salary off the books. He’ll be paid 3m per by Monaco.

    –Henrique’s loan deal to Racing is done.

    –Guardiola called BS on the Robinho thing, saying that our squad is done until January, when something might be considered. Note that the “report” came from Marca, an EE-centric comic book.

  146. OhYes
    August 30, 2009

    “But this is Henry’s last season in the colors.”

    Sadly, I agree. Worse yet, I’m afraid his departure will prove beyond a doubt why he is so important to the potency of our attack.

    The whole Robinho thing was absolutely ridiculous. There were even reports that ManCity had rejected an offer for him from Barca. Just pure craziness. Why we’d need him..who knows.

  147. Tutomate
    August 30, 2009

    Jason, I do believe that the game won’t acutally be in HD, though it will be on ESPN HD. It doesn’t have the HD symbol on it like Sportscenter does.

    Hector-Kxevin: I’ve been saying the same thing since the end of the game. Basically there is no reason to panic, I thnk we need an extra offensive midfielder, like that one guy from stturgat, Hleb? Keita performance was a bit weird. After wat hing the game for the 3rd time, in segments, I can see what you say he did, Transitioning the ball after, recuperating it, from defense to offense. But what I didn’t like was what he did on the ball once the offense was set up. He held for too long as did others. In the game againts Bilabo at the Nou, he did what he did inthis game (trasitioning) but he was quick on the ball when on offense. 1,2’s with Maxwell and Henry and just move the ball fast. Bilut he didn’t do the same this game. Everyone was off for long periods of the game, including Messi and Xavi.

  148. ElShowDeJason
    August 30, 2009


    that sucks. i was excited about HD… 🙁 but whatever. ESPN Standard def is 100 times better than streaming.

    oh, and as far as Keita being a better outlet against Bilbao, i think in this board its been discussed that for some reason, unknown to anyone, Keita plays better with Maxwell than with Abidal.

    Nothing against any of the 3 players, but Keita and Maxwell just clicked since day one, and the passing fluency between them and Henry is evident whenever all three feature on the left.

  149. Kxevin
    August 30, 2009

    True, Tutomate. I think that people were allowed the luxury of time, and took advantage of it, unfortunately, rather than playing the 1-2s that break open determined defenses.

    But I’m sure they’ve already watched the video, and had their collective ‘I’ll be damned….” moment.

    And as I’ve said before, OhYes, I would have given Hleb (though it was impossible after his behavior/comments) one last season to make his stand. Had he just kept his mouth shut, he would still be here, and we could use him. Or someone like him.

    Now we get to see what the likes of JDS and Thiago can do.

  150. Tutomate
    August 30, 2009

    True Kxevin, I was willing to give him a chance his year but he seems to be one of those people that rarely speaks but when he does he jut says all the wrong things.

    Sorry to busrt your bubble Jason, but I felt the same way. 🙂

  151. August 30, 2009

    Sport just published a special on Chygnasty. It seems the guy is much more interesting than he seems at first glance:

    – His nicknames in Ukraine are : Dima, Chyryk, Chyga, and Jesus Christ because of the hair (seriously).

    – His favorite footballers after whom he tries to model himself are: Nesta, Larent Blanc, Hierro, and Silvestre. Oh yeah, he also like Juan Sebastian Verón so much that at one point they also called him Sebo. Guess that’s where he gets his passing from 😀 .

    – His favorite foods are his mother’s potatos as well as sushi and sashimi.

    – He’s never had a drop of alcohol in his life but loves Coca-Cola which is his favorite drink.

    – He is also supposedly a rather sophisticated individual who always had good grades and loves to read, listen to music, and watch movies. His favorite movie is “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.

    If all this is accurate, Chygnasty seems like our type of guy and the type of person who can adapt himself to a vibrant city like Barcelona and learn the languages. Seems like a cool cat.

  152. OhYes
    August 30, 2009

    Me too…he had a bunch of good showings.. too bad he had absolutely no patience. 🙂

  153. jnelson
    August 30, 2009

    well said Kevin, but now you have us worried about life after Henry! I guess that means we have to sub the Kid on the wing more? then we’d be swapping high expectations for more high expectations. much pressure for a left wing, don’t you agree?

    I have a feeling abidal will be leaving next year or the year after as well. And what about Marquez and Milito? Every Mexican national I have ever spoken to has dissed their captain calling him a stoner and a Dbag. They don’t care much for his long passes either. Odd isn’t it?

  154. BA
    August 31, 2009

    Maxwell / Pique / Chygrynskiy / Dani Alves
    Keita / JDS / Busquets
    Bojan / Ibrahimovic / Pedro

    that look about right for tomorrow, in lieu of Messi and Iniesta and with the Yaya, Xavi and Henry probably feeling a bit tired from the Supercup? i worry about playing Xavi too much, as much as we need his dictation from midfield. it is imperative (doubly so in Iniesta’s absence) that we keep him healthy this season. Yaya and Henry were both subbed on Friday so that could mean either they are fit because they didn’t play as much (which probably seems a bit optimistic, particularly in Henry’s case), or aren’t fit because they were feeling fatigued towards the end of the match.

    i don’t mind that post getting hectored when Isaiah puts up the new one.

  155. Corrine
    August 31, 2009

    i don’t think the new guy will take a starting spot over our perfectly fit captain on the first league game though. i think pep will roll out a stronger team than that and if not, i’m not so sure about ibra playing without the backup of the first team boys. he needs to work on finding chemistry with players like henry, xavi and toure who’ll be playing by him for the whole season. it’s too early to experiment and combine him with players like JDS

  156. Jnice
    August 31, 2009

    Don’t think Dima will start over Puyol, either. Has he even trained with the squad? I don’t think so. We will definitely see our strongest available lineup. Look for Pedro! to get the start on the RW.

  157. Kxevin
    August 31, 2009

    I’m with Jnice. I think that Guardiola will want to start the season with a win. Guys can rest during the week off (except for Henry, who has France WC duty, damn that Dumbenech).

    We might see Chygnasty the second game as a sub or something.

    jnelson, the reactions of the Mexican fans are in their context, in which Marquez doesn’t show very well at all. But it’s also just what I said about players and fan perspectives. It’s inexplicable to me.

    Life without Henry is a real worry, as far as I’m concerned. You’re losing pace, defensive pace (ability to chase down any attack), goals, passing and creativity. Having a great striker adapt to being a winger is a luxury, because it means that he can also rotate to the center when required. And his passing/crossing is so underrated, as well as his unselfishness and amazing first touch.

    Krkic is not that replacement. I’m not even sure that Henry, when he leaves, can be replaced. But the pressure is going to be insane on whoever is his replacement.

    Names such as Robinho and Robben keep popping up, but the next day either of those guys tracks back on defense will be the first. Mata? Good question. Not based on what I saw during the Valencia match.

    It’s going to require a rethinking of the left wing, because Henry is, frankly, one of a kind in our attacking context. The pace and play of a winger with the abilities of a striker.

    There will be people who will be happy to see him gone. I’m not one of them.

    My lineup:

    —————The Yaya———————Keita—————-

    Keita will be better cover on counters than Busquets, who isn’t filling my heart with song these days.

  158. ElShowDeJason
    August 31, 2009

    Ok, time to start the Busi Fairness Comitee.

    The kid is 21. He is technically sound, no technically very able.

    If you notice the mistakes he makes, they are the results of his lapses in concentration, his inexperience, or other things that just come with age.

    Think back and look at Xavi or Iniesta. When they were just entering the A squad, their talent and ability where there. But its the gametime and experience that made them the Precise and Dynamic, respectively, players that they are today.

    Messi as well always had the Pace, the Dribbling, the passing technique. But through experience he learned when to run, when to dribble, when to pass, which pass to use.

    So again, Busi is younger than Pedro and FF, and last year Pep saw that his technique was good enough for the A-team, the only thing Busi needs is to keep watching the A-team to learn the mental part of the game, and to keep getting gametime, to turn actions in to habits, and habits into instincts.

    whew… feels good to get that off my chest.

    now… Henry, yeah, what’s with the Henry hate? As i reformed Henry hater (I’ve been clean for about a year now), i think it’s safe to say that similar to Keita’s case, or Marquez’s case, if you think they suck, well, you’re just not understanding what their role on the team is. Or, like everyone of us is guilty of, you have a predjudice against or for certain players.

    I think, like with Messi, Eto’o, Valdes, Iniesta, Yaya, etc, WITHOUT HENRY WE DON’T WIN THE TREBLE. that simple.

    I think we are simply spoiled, and we as FCB fans have rediculous expectations of players. We have a bad rep for using up stars, then kicking them out through the back door, but honestly, that is not the Presidents’ fault. He is only acting on behalf of the socios, and too many of us are trigger happy with our white hanky.

    So, everyone lets all keep enjoying the Treble, the SuperCup(s) success, be optomistic, and stop singling out our own squad members and saying that they are bad.

  159. August 31, 2009

    Yes i think so too Kxevin, one gets the feeling Pep doesn’t want to lose the first match of the campaign again. the only difference in the starting lineup for me would be busquets who would play instead of toure (is carrying a knock i think).

  160. yogi
    August 31, 2009

    I think that Pep will want to start with strongest line up as well. One thing i have noticed about Pep is that he wants to WIN, always. That is the reason why he does not make early subs. He wants the strongest line up for as much time as possible.

    In context of La Liga, we have to be quick out of the blocks. If we are slow, this will galvanize EE. If we do sprint out, it will be fun to see how EE bear up.

    About Henry, totally agreed that last year he was great. And replacing him would be a challange.

    Mata, Ribery (though he seems set on EE next season), Aguero or even Zarate could be considerations though getting them in our system will not be easy. I like the kid Angel di Maria from Benfica. Plays on left and has good dribbling skills. Also packs a mean shot. I have not seen him enough to comment on his defensive abilities. In addition, we seem to have first option on him (as a result for Kerrieson loan) so he could be potentially a target next year.

  161. fcbfan
    August 31, 2009

    Chygrynskiy’s wiki says he takes #20 at Barce.

    and didn’t realise he made his CL debut against us at 17 coming on as asub, same game where Messi debuted I think?

  162. Helge
    August 31, 2009

    By the way, I like the Catalan version of Chygrynskyy’s name:

    Just like Txiki and Kxevin 😉

    And thanks Hector for the summary of sport’s article about Chygnasty. It makes me think positive of his adaption to the team and new culture. I think he might adapt faster than Zlatan. But maybe that’s also because as a defender, it is easier to adapt than as a striker. I assume that Zlatan needs to learn a lot more about the movement, passing ways etc.

  163. Pranay
    August 31, 2009

    Pep supposedly said ” Messi is the best player I will see in my life ” or something like that.
    Thats so fanboyish of him 🙂

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