First, all credit to Copenhagen for a stellar performance that against almost any other side in the world would have earned them 3 points. And sure, I thought it was over when Messi scored, but of course under 60 seconds later it was back to even and that thought went out the window. No one was particularly bad for us, but Copehagen—or FCK, if you prefer to giggle like a 10 year old getting away with saying naughty things…and you know I do!—was particularly good. Like in the first leg, they proved their worthiness of playing in the CL.
Second, Bojan was horrible. His movement was completely lacking. He’s really got to step up and play better if he wants to make this team.
Thing is, despite all the melodramatic gnashing of teeth that an away draw in the Champions League can cause some of us, we had our chances and we simply didn’t take them. We didn’t take advantage of their defensive mistakes and, in a sense, we paid for it. If you’d paused the play right after Iniesta flicked the ball on for Messi, leaving him 1v1 with the keeper, you would have said we were going to score. You’d have been wrong because, like with almost everything Barça did today, the move was overthought. “I’ll simply place it with my left to the side of the keeper and then I’ll—oops, I lost the ball.” Use your right foot, Leo.
Our midfield was often overrun and Busquets had a fairly torrid time; his positioning suffered because Xavi wasn’t his usual self, el motorcito de Terrassa actually running less than both Dani Alves and Busi. Odd, but that’s what ankle problems will do to you. Keita wasn’t as effective either, but that’s probably because he didn’t have anyone to constantly harass. They didn’t actually have any midfield creators, not really. Claudemir and Bolaños can hardly be accused of being creative, at least not today, and most of their movement was based on getting behind Dani Alves (repeatedly).
What worked so well against Sevilla worked basically not at all against the two solid banks of defenders and a blistering counterattack using strong wingers. Sevilla, then, was perhaps only missing a solid left back (Navarro) and a winger (Navas) because they had the midfielder harassers, just no way to really make any impact if the ball ever fell to them. Copenhagen had Jesper Gronkjaer who, at 33, defies some of the age-ist stereotypes and Bolaños, Vingaard, and Kvist were all looking for space on the wings whenever possible.
Abidal, it should be noted, had probably the best match of anyone. His side was shut down utterly and completely. Dani was pushing too far up and not getting back in time to give Pique the cover he needed, basically stranding Gerard in no man’s land time and again as Puyol was dealing with runs from N’Doye or whoever was coming in behind him. Copehagen was playing a 4-4-1-1, basically, with the whole team dropping very deep on defense. The only time they didn’t, N’Doye nearly died because Valdes took exception to his incursion. What was interesting was that they played our game and did it very well for most of the match. In the end, Barça had 67% of the possession, but couldn’t really do much with it except hit the post on occasion.
Our goal was sort of a garbled mess that can happen at any time, so I don’t really want to talk about it too much (the approach was pretty, but the end result was merely the ball falling to Messi). Their goal was the result of a terrible no call in midfield that left Barça reeling; Keita was fouled it was off to the races for Copenhagen when there was no whistle. Whatever, Dani was still caught out and made some atrocious moves to let the ball in behind him, Valdes couldn’t punch the ball away, and Claudemir took a great shot. He took merely took advantage of what fell to him. Odd that both of the goals were sort of crap when the rest of the play was so scintillating, no?
I’ll leave you with this: we need to shoot more with our less desired feet. Iniesta and Messi both blew good chances because they don’t use “that other foot”—even I know, as my high school coach said, to use the peg leg to tuck the ball away. Whatever, we looked good for stretches, terrible for others. Our midfield was off, our touch was off like we had never played with that ball before, and Copenhagen were good. We’ve got 8 points, FCK 7, Rubin 3, and Panathinaikos 2. We’re not out of the woods yet, not with a visit from Rubin and a trip to Greece in store, but we’re looking good.
This weekend it’s away to Getafe, then Ceuta comes to town to face what I assume will be a young lineup. Then it’s Villarreal at the Camp Nou, at Almeria, at Panathinaikos, and then el clásico is here. Plenty of matches, so don’t get too crazy, especially considering they haven’t released the date of the match yet. I’m guessing Saturday, November 27.
I do not do ratings. Instead, you get this: