Barcelona First Half Preview


I previously covered the entire league in preview format, but what of Barcelona’s particular chances? We’ve got our transfers to fully integrate and our schedule to parse. Because there are enough matches to go around with a small squad (20 first team players as of this writing, but probably going to fall), time on the field will not be a problem for anyone. Anytime there’s an injury, there will be a Copa del Rey match to play in or a league match before a CL match. There are also the canteranos who will step up and the veterans (is Leo a veteran by now? Is Bojan?) who will play as many matches as their bodies will allow.

The league, then, is the priority, as always. I know that some readers will say “No, the Champions League is more important!” but I disagree fully and completely. I love the CL as much as anyone, I think, but La Liga is the title that matters. If I’m going to choose one to win each year, it would, without question, always be La Liga. I would never sacrifice the league in order to win the CL, not once. Sure, it might shut the EPL fanboys up a bit if we did win the CL continuously, but, again, it’s not as important to the identity and history of the club–at least from my perspective. So, because I value the domestic campaign more than the European campaign (attentive readers should go back to my older writings and cherry pick a few choice lines stating the opposite of this, especially when I argued for a Europe-wide league, a true Champions League; I deeply regret anything I said that would remove teams from a domestic league even if it was just for one year), I find it worthwhile to focus on the games themselves.

Our approach is going to be the same, really, as it was last year: play beautifully and dominate possession. We’ll be facing more parked buses and occassionally refs who don’t believe that ankle kicks are fouls (looking at you, Super Copa 2nd leg ref), but that will only give us more possession, which, as Hector has already discussed, is exactly what we want. With our Big Ass Ninja Gangster Swede in the middle, Alves will have a viable target for his crosses — or he can cut the ball back and play the short game with Messi, who, in turn, can reciprocate the pass or he can chip the ball to Ibra…or he can shoot, of course. The possibilities become different and more dynamic, I think, in the box with Ibra, though our spastic movement looks like it will probaly suffer, with Eto’o no longer there to make those hard-pressing diagonal runs all game. But we can pass you to absolute death now, whereas before it was only pretty much absolute death. Whatever that means.

Add Maxwell to the equation on the wing and we’re suddenly able to whip in crosses from both directions — Abidal can now make more forward runs as well, though his close control is not as good as Maxwell’s; his defense, however, is better — which is a scary thought. If we’re playing more Total Football, which I believe we are, then our defenders will move forward more often while our Yaya will slip backwards into almost a CB position to cover (giving Puyol and Pique the necessary width to cover counter attacks that catch the wingbacks out of position) and this, in turn, gives us more dynamism. It relies, of course, on close ball control. This is why, I think, Guardiola was so keen to get Ibrahimovic and also Chygnasty, who not only can cover the CB and DM positions, but can, because of this ability, ostensibly play the Yaya role (or a good approximation of it, says the snobby Yaya Fanboy in me).

I have all the love in the world for Eto’o, but he is not a Total Footballer, so to speak. He’s fantastic in so many ways and I know that we’ll miss him at points, but it is clear that Ibrahimovic has better footskills than Samu and that translates to a greater ability to play back-to-goal and as a playmaker. Rotation at the top is necessary to keep our offense flowing, so mobility and technical ability are paramount. Now, don’t get me wrong, I realize that Eto’o provided more mobility and that his technical skill was highly underrated, but I think the point is that Ibra will provide enough mobility and more skill whereas with Eto’o it was the reverse (enough skill and more mobility). Passing ability is paramount in our squad now that we’ve changed our system a little bit and it doesn’t hurt that Ibra is a more physically imposing player than Eto’o, who, despite being muscular and physical, was not a great header of the ball.

So that, in a sense, is a my defense of Ibrahimovic’s signing, though, like with Alves before him, I can only defend the player himself, not the fee paid to get him. The jury is, of course, still out on the whole affair and I think it’ll be that way longer than 12 Angry Men. Whether we’re more financially viable at this point than before is, actually, quite important to me, but I know that in the long run we will be fine so long as Sandro Rossell doesn’t come in and stump €80quintillion for Cesc, Ribery, and the rights to Sergio Aguero’s superbaby. Not that I have anything against Sandro Rossel (I mean, he hasn’t called me yet to chat about things, which I find mystifying, but still), it’s just that I don’t know what he brings to the table other than outlandish promises (I wasn’t in favor of Laporta either because of the Beckham promises, which I think are f-ing stupid election ploys) and a connection to Nike that I don’t think needs to be more engrained in our club. We’re stumping €25m for Chygnasty, but at least we’re getting two freakin’ awesome names to bandy about in Zlatan and our Beast From The East, our Maker of Pain from the Ukraine. And no, I don’t think he’s worth €25m, but who in my world meets that standard? I live in some sort of non-inflationary cave that is connected to a black and white TV that shows The Andy Griffith Show on repeat and I’ve memorized the store’s prices. Gomer, get me a sangwich!


Here is our total gains and losses, player-wise for the offseason:

IN: Henrique, Maxwell, Keirrison, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Dmytro Chygrynskiy.
OUT: Botia (loan), Sylvinho, Eto’o, Hleb (loan), Caceres (loan), Keirrison (loan), VicSan, Jorquera, Henrique (loan), Gudjohnsen.

We start off with Sporting Gijon at the Camp Nou, which sounds like a gimme, but won’t necessarily be so easy because we’ll be missing quite Messi. Alves, perhaps, will have his mind on the same Argentina-Brasil match that has Messi’s panties in such a twist, but it’s not until Saturday (Sept 5), so I don’t really understand Messi’s exclusion on any level other than a favor to the best player on the squad — which is defensible in a sense and not in another (I don’t care about the Argentina-Brasil match, but Argentines proably see it as a wonderful early Christmas gift that Messi gets time off prior to the match). However, we should be able to recover Iniesta for this match, though I don’t know if he’ll be a starter or not. If he can give us 60+ minutes, he should start and be replaced around the hour mark by Keita, Busi, or, if we’re up by a boatload, JDS.

What I’d like to see is this lineup: Valdes, Alves, Puyol, Pique, Maxwell, Yaya, Xavi, Iniesta, Henry, Ibra, Pedro!

I realize that this is a purely attacking lineup, but why not? I’m not the least bit afraid of Sporting, who gave up the most goals in La Liga last year, including a 1-6 drubbing in their house at our hands. If Iniesta has to come on as a sub, Keita has been fantastic so far during preseason and the Super Cups, so I have a ton of faith in him going forward. Not that anyone can just show up and we’ll romp all over this team. No way. But Guardiola will have them prepared to kick some serious ass, even though it’s pretty close after the long Super Cup match. Official prediction: 3-0. Goals by Henry (2) and Xavi. You read that right, suckas.

After that we get a break for the FIFA virus to come get someone. And you know it will get someone in the league. It may not be us (please don’t be us!), but it will get someone and that club is stone-cold earmuffs fucked okay you’re good. I know it’s Argentina-Brasil, but can Alves not tackled Messi really hard if he comes up against him? Please? Pretty please with like 5 hot Argentine and Brazilian chicks on top? Regardless, let’s just have no one come back injured from that. And if we get everyone back, awesome.

Please note that the following does NOT include the Copa del Rey schedule we will have. So it goes.

September, in the matches we’ve got are: @Getafe, @Inter (CL), Atleti, @Racing, @Malaga, Dynamo (CL). In the league, I believe we will earn 10 of the available 12 points. In the CL, we will earn 4 of the possible 6, with a draw at Inter. Not too shabby, to be honest. An extra prediction, as a treat: Ibra will score his first goal for us against Getafe.

Moving on to the greatest month of the year, October, we see that we play only 4 matches: Almeria, @Valencia, Rubin Kazan (CL), Zaragoza. We’ll earn maximum points from this month, despite the trip to the Mestalla. Hell yeah, we’re that good, with or without a FIFA break in the middle disrupting the hell out of the squad (at least Valencia has internationals on their books to even the fatigue).

In November, Barça face: @Osasuna, @Rubin Kazan (CL), Mallorca, @Athletic Bilbao, Inter (CL), Real Madrid. That’s a serious month, there’s no doubt about it. That week where we start away at San Mames and then receive both Inter and Real Madrid is, to be honest, the only question mark, though the trip to Russia in November is no joke either. So, what will happen? Well, my guess is that we’ll pick up 10 of 12 points from the league (drawing at Athletic) and will pick up 4 of 6 in the CL. That’s right, folks, it’s another victory in El Clasico for us, which is always worth its weight in gold.

December is another 4 match month: @Xerez, @Depor, @Dynamo, Espanyol. We’ll earn 6 of 9 points from this month, having to drop all 3 at Depor for our first league loss. So it goes, but we won’t drop any points against Espanyol in the first intracity derby. In the CL, we’ll lose at Dynamo, but we’ll have passage to the second round wrapped up and it won’t really matter. So it goes.

January brings the first half to a close with: Villarreal, @Tenerife, Sevilla, @Valladolid, and then a trip to Gijon for the commencement of the second half. We’ll earn 8 out of 12 on this one, with draws against Villarreal and at Valladolid. This despite having to give up The Yaya and Keita for the month due to African Cup of Nations duty. We’ve got Busi, Marquez, Chygnasty, and the Awesomeness of Xavi to cover that spot. And no, I’m not saying Xavi will be our DM, I’m saying he’s got so much awesomeness that he can cover a spot while his awesomeness covers another.

January’s haul will give us a total of 46 points from the first 57, which is an amazing total, despite it being 4 points lower than last year’s midterm total. Perhaps I’m being optimistic, perhaps pessimistic. Only time will tell, of course, but on the surface, that’s about how many points we should earn with our relative budget and team cohesiveness.

My thoughts for the first half of the year are that it’s not particulary difficult compared to our second half. We’ve got @Real Madrid, @Espanyol, @Villarreal, and @Sevilla as our last away games (Jornadas 31, 33, 35, and 37), which is pretty intense, if you think about it. So our first half will be where we need to gain the most points or face that gauntlet needing to win. Anyway, it’s going to be rough, but we’ll get out of the CL in 1st or 2nd and we’ll get out of the first half in 1st. Call it hubris, if you will.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


  1. khairallah
    August 31, 2009

    I have nothing to say, but umm, first 😀

  2. JeffP
    August 31, 2009

    I like your lineup, Isaiah, but Pep already confirmed that Iniesta will be out until the Getafe match….So I’m guessing we’ll see Keita in there (and probably Abidal, but I too would like to see Maxwell).

  3. August 31, 2009

    I think Keita will play too. One gets the feeling that Pep wants make the best use of his African contingent before they leave for the ACON. However, I’d be really happy if he plays one of JDS or Thiago along with Xavi and Toure in the middle.

    I know this blog likes “Pedro!” alot and i do too, but he seems like he’s a one trick pony and doesn’t look like he has a whole world of talent in him waiting to explode. I hope he proves me wrong though cos we need him to fire when he’s called upon.

    PS. great review!

  4. August 31, 2009

    JeffP, shit I hadn’t read that about iniesta. That’s what I get for being disconnected or most of the weekend thanks to the move to my new apt…but now I am back and will be able to catch up on all the news.

  5. Han
    August 31, 2009

    @khairallah, damn I might even have read it before you and thought the same thing. I’m first, apparently not any more.

    I found the 46 points out of 57 quite optimistic untill reading that it makes 4 less than last year. Anyhow, we’re going to be very good but we will need to be ( especially at the start) given our schedule in the second round of LL.

  6. OhYes
    August 31, 2009

    @Real Madrid, @Espanyol, @Villarreal, and @Sevilla

    Ouch. At least RM is the first game.

  7. Muhammad
    August 31, 2009

    I don’t think Guardiola is counting on Pedro or Jeffren as starters, not yet, but I think that even at his current level, Pedro gives us a good option with his pace and good ball control.
    the guy can shoot from distance, and is a cool finisher, which wasn’t my first impression of him last season, so apparently he still has some tricks in his pocket.
    with this 20 players squad, I think we are destined to watch him reaching his full potential.
    one thing I am waiting to see is how long will it take Ibrahimovic to reach his full match fitness.
    he is the type of players, when in top form, we want to take with us on road against Villarreal and Sevilla.
    when we are tired and some key players aren’t in form, we may send a meaningless long ball in the area and he makes it end up in the net somehow. he can shoot from anywhere too.
    that, basically, summarizes how Intermilan won the league last season.
    which is very close to what Messi did to us last season too, in some away games, coming from the bench to score a screamer in the last minutes.
    let’s hope he is a better adjuster than Henry, because alongside Messi, we will have two of the best game changers, and that will mean more rest for both of them, and less effort required from the rest of the team too, in this very long season with a relatively small squad.

  8. pulpo
    August 31, 2009

    Ive heard alot about JDSantos but not about Thiago… I have to say I am very excited after watching this:

    Although i didnt see the game, it appears he has great instinct for passing, keeps his head up and has good technique. CAn anyone say more about him- what is is potential and do you think he will do better than JDS this season. Is he more like Xavi, or Inieasta

  9. August 31, 2009

    Muhammad, I agree that Pedro! won’t be a regular starter, but he’ll be a vital backup. I don’t, however, agree that he has already reached his full potential. Will he ever be a “game-changer”? No, I don’t think so, but he’s definitely capable of becoming a standard part of our lineup. He’s only 22, after all.

  10. Han
    August 31, 2009

    Somewhere somehow, Pedro has something which reminds me of Beguiristain. To be honest, my knowledge of txiki in his playing days are modest, I mostly saw only summary’s of LL and some odd European games.

    Pedro like Txiki is fast, versatile and true wingers without being a Ryan Gigg’s style of winger ( if anybody can relate to what this means, thats about the best I came up with).
    They are technically more than sound, yet without that regular trick or flashy step-over; They have a decent shot in their repertoire, but are not known for their ‘canon’.
    Their versatility lies in the fact that they’re excellent teamplayers, technically good, gifted with great football intelligence and always looking to hit the more than occasional goal.

    A new ‘Beguiristain’ in the form of Pedrito, will be huge blessing for our rather ‘thin’ squad.

  11. Muhammad
    August 31, 2009

    yes, that’s what I meant, Isaiah. sorry if it wasn’t clear first time.
    Pedro showed new skills this season, like shooting from distance and a very good eye for goal. and he is still improving.
    with our small squad he will get more playing time, he won’t be a starter this season, but you can sense he is going to be next year.

  12. Muhammad
    August 31, 2009

    I may be very optimistic, but I think if we reach late stages in different competitions this year, players like Thiago, Dos Santos and Jeffren will be huge blessings too. there is a very big potential in our youth system that it seems unreal sometimes.

  13. August 31, 2009

    I just ran the first Win Rate numbers for this season and Getafe is end the league hands down with 107.29 points and come in 6th while Racing Santander will finish with 6.27 and be in 15th. Oh the horror of small samples…

  14. Han
    August 31, 2009

    Sorry Isiah can you clarify that last post, I’m too new here to get the picture “win rate numbers”?

  15. pulpo
    August 31, 2009

    I dont see why Pedro wil never be a game changer?He has pace, cross very good technique and most importanly shot with both legs. This ambidexterity gives him another dimension which none of our wings have. I think he could be a starter one day, maybe not this season but he could make the left wing his own after henry. is his stronger foot left or right?

  16. Corrine
    August 31, 2009

    awesome review! but is there a point in praising you guys anymore? it got me sooo pumped

    i’m glad we have nothing crazy like villarreal, sevilla, real madrid, valencia all in a row, that was especially painful with chelsea in the mix last season. seriously, even with the bilbao final in between, i’m amazed that we came out alive, and that’s why it was our year 🙂

    our winding down of the season seems intense though, but at least we have breathers like tenerife and xerez in between. but we’ll have the league wrapped up close to that time anyway 😉

    i think the most improved player this season will be abidal, give him a full year of fitness a competitive spot with maxwell and we’ll see the best of him. maxwell and pedro will be the surprises, although not to us because we already know how great they can be 😛 but i expect them to shock a lot of the opposition. i want ibra to do well, but i’d prefer chyggy chyggy to be our best signing of the season to demonstrate our eye for talent, but that could be difficult because he’ll have to compete with the 3 CBs for a spot. but i’m so glad we added depth in that area, we won’t be effed if a broken marquez ends up sitting out for a few weeks, and puyi and pique pick up some cards. the yaya was sexy as a centerback and all but i prefer him in the midfield

    as for ibra, i’m still crossing my fingers on him. a part of me thinks he’ll have henry-syndrome and only show his best during his second year here but i’m ok with being proved wrong. i hope to see lots of this from him:

  17. Achraf
    August 31, 2009

    Hey is chygy available for the gijon match or is there some registration process which means he won’t be available till next round. If he’s available I don’t think we’ll see him because substiting a defender for a defender isn’t pep’s thing but i just don’t see 25mil sitting in the bench + all culé eyes are on pep and chygy has to justify his transfer fee with performances on the pitch especially after pep took ‘full responsibility for the signing”.

  18. August 31, 2009

    Thats not fun Isaiah. You watched all the season games already and announced the results. Why will we follow this league anymore?

    Though, while you “were” moving appartments “Next” December, Barcelona played The FIFA club world cup. So espanyol game was (most probably) postponed.

  19. Achraf
    August 31, 2009

    if he is truly ambidextrous there the same if not then maybe he’s left footed and trained on his right or vice-versa but I notice he plays the cornerkicks with his left so maybe that’s his preferred leg but this two leggedness is definitely big advantage especially in front of goal as seen in…. well all his past games this preseason

  20. Corrine
    August 31, 2009

    but i suppose manutd got all the tv rights last season, being the defending champions and *ahem* english and all

  21. Estevan
    August 31, 2009

    I like how Barça has ties with Nike.

  22. August 31, 2009

    Shit, you’re right Ramzi. Forgot about the Club World Cup of Clubs…Cup…World. Whatever it’s called. Hmm.

    Han: it’s Pythagorean expectation (I call it Win Rate, but I’m not sure that’s totally accurate). Instead of wins, however, because this is soccer/football and not baseball, we’re using points. Basically, as your goal difference goes up, the expectation that you will earn more points also goes up, so that you perform either better or worse compared to that expectation.

    Because Getafe scored 4 goals and allowed 1, they have a worse expected total return over the course of the season than Malaga because, so far, Malaga hasn’t allowed a goal, so its expected to never do so, meaning they’ll earn every possible point throughout the 38 games. As the season wears on, the numbers become meaningful. For now, they’re just silly.

  23. August 31, 2009

    pulpo, I don’t think there’s too much evidence that Pedro! is ridiculously talented a la Messi, who is a “game-changer”, which is a term I like to use to denote anyone who is capable of completely dominating an entire match or taking things on his own. Pedro! is not at that level yet and I don’t think he ever will.

    I certainly hope he proves me wrong and you right.

  24. Jnice
    August 31, 2009

    Achraf, last season Pedro took corners with either leg depending on which side the corner was. From the right side, he took the corner with his left and from the left side he took the corner with his right.

    Reaganovermas, how is Pedro a one-trick pony? He can use both feet which make his stepovers effective because he isn’t biased to one side. He is fast, can pass the ball, and can shoot.

    F the haters (jk), Pedro is getting a start today.

  25. Ciaran
    August 31, 2009

    I have it almost organised that I’ll be at the Camp Nou for the Rubin Kazan match in the CL. Arranging timeoff, flights, accomodation and the like and I should be good.
    Exciting stuff. Goals galore methinks and a win mehopes.

    Nice post Isaiah. I have to say that my prediction has Ibra getting on the scoresheet for the first time. Maybe 4-0 or 4-1.

  26. Colin
    August 31, 2009

    What’s up with GolTV not showing this match? They’ve shown EE – Depor half a dozen times since Saturday.

  27. poipoi
    August 31, 2009

    kxevin and hector … I’m an henry hater ok, even I don’t like the word “hater”, sounds like a profession 🙁 I admit it but you guys gotta admit you’re Henry lovers then hehe…. neither of the two means you love Barça more than the other. the argument of “could pedro! score like titi?” is the same as “would titi score vs bilbao and shaktar like pedro! did?” both answers are NO. What I think is that pedro! has a lot to show to the world and titi has showed it all already. I’m excited and curious about pedro! … and about titi’s departure also.

    on the “keita/busi playing up” subject… when that happens the rivals only have to stop the “good midfielder” to stop FCB’s great playmaking. Like Shaktar did with Xavi in the supercup. Let keita do the cutting and nothing will ever happen. We saw that situation take place a lot of times last season. If I was pep I would try and make the youngsters play for sure… btw Yaya up is not a bad option at all, the man can do it all! Let’s see what pep does when the africans go to play the ACON 😉

  28. poipoi
    August 31, 2009

    is don andres god himself puñal de fuenteallbilla sweet lo puto crack iniesta playing for sure?

  29. Tajh
    August 31, 2009

    Wow you gone for 2months on Vacation and everything changes……..New blogsite new signings.Well i guess change is good..Can’t wait for 2day’s game,finally getting to see our new team in a match.

    Hoping for a good season and more of the same from you guys!!!

  30. August 31, 2009

    poipoi, in fact, I guess Don Andres GHPDFSLPC Iniesta is not playing at all. Sad.

    Welcome to the new site, Tajh. You get two months of vacation? That’s incredible.

  31. Tajh
    August 31, 2009

    Thanks Isaiah.wished my 2mths was longer went by to quick…at least the season starts 2day.

    The fact that Iniesta is out can only really leave us to this Possible starting XI: Valdés; Alves, Piqué, Puyol, Maxwell; Xavi, Busquets, Keita; Pedro, Ibrahimovic, Henry. or even Bojan in for Pedro!!!

    IN PEP WE TRUST…..!.!

  32. Tutomate
    August 31, 2009

    I dont anyone has to be a Messi to be a game changer,though it helps.:-)
    Biggest reason why I think Pedro can be a game changer? He already was vs Shaktar Dontask.

  33. Tutomate
    August 31, 2009

    I don’t (think)anyone has to be a Messi….

  34. Tutomate
    August 31, 2009

    Colin it’s not on GolTV because it’s going to be shown on ESPN.

  35. Kxevin
    August 31, 2009

    poipoi, I went through this nonsense at The Offside, and am NOT going to go through it here. So to be clear:

    I love the club. Period.

    Players to me are tools that facilitate the success of the club, be they Henry, Messi, Xavi or Puyol. When any of them can no longer help the club succeed, I want them gone.

    I have never, and will never love any player more than the club, just as I can never dislike any player that consistently helps the club excel.

    I’m as pissed as I always am when someone maligns my integrity, or accuses me of bias. It undermines the very foundation of what I do here.

    Accusations of bias are tantamount to the “Have you stopped beating your wife?” query. You have accused Isaiah, who started this space, and I, of a bias that precludes our objective evaluations of this club and its players/results.

    And I don’t like it, not only because it isn’t fair. It is, simply put, wrong. Isaiah and I work very hard at remaining unbiased and as neutral as can be. It’s what we have to do to maintain our roles in this space.

    Further, accusations of bias are a crutch upon which people prop their opinions. “He loves that player, that’s why.” We should be better than that here.

    So I will tell you the same thing that I have told others who have hurled similar accusations, though dragging Isaiah into it is new. Stop it. We don’t do that, and we won’t. Every player is equal when it is match evaluation time. If that isn’t the case, I shouldn’t be evaluating them.

    If you want to question a rating, do so. Others have. Explain yourself and your views. That’s what this comments space is for. If I say someone had a good game and you don’t believe that they did, explain why. But to say “You feel that way because you love that player” is not a supportable position.

    –Pedro is already a match changer, in the Giuly mode. As with Giuly, he enters when the match has run for a while, and the defenders are a bit tired. This allows him to take advantage of his energy and movement.

    Is he ready to start? I haven’t seen evidence of that. He’s more effective against top-tier sides, coming in when people aren’t as sharp. But he’s still improving.

    –Colin, I think that in the ESPN/GolTV joint venture, they will divvy up the matches. Something tells me that the bigger matches are going to find their way to ESPN, which has a broader reach and is in HD.

    –Marquez and Iniesta are not playing today. They will return in limited duty for the second match, according to Guardiola.

    –Killer stuff, Isaiah. I think it’s going to be tight, something like 2-1. Goals by Pedro! and Ibrahimovic. They score off some crazy-ass counter.

  36. poipoi
    August 31, 2009

    that was exactly what I was saying… we all love the club.
    And I thought I was being polite 🙁

  37. poipoi
    August 31, 2009

    let me try to be more polite:

    you think titi helps the team excel – you like titi… just liking not loving. I wasn’t accusing anyone of anything, sorry.
    I think the team would be the sh*t with a real extremo – I hate titi and the way I think he limits us.

  38. August 31, 2009

    Nobody is doubting your love of the club. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t. I am addressing your words “but you guys gotta admit you’re Henry lovers.”

    I respect what Henry does, and loved what he did for the club last season, same as any other player. Isaiah can defend himself, but accusations of journalistic bias in a space that bases what it does in evaluations of a club and its players need to be answered.

    It would have been simpler to say that Isaiah and I just don’t roll that way, but further clarification was in order.

  39. Tutomate
    August 31, 2009

    You are right it will be off a counter.
    I think poipoi was just saying he dislikes a player that some of us like, he just used stronger language.
    The thing is that from what I can see, Isaiah, Kevin, Hector all have preferences just as we all do. But when it comes to assesing their performences they don’t allow those Preferences to intervene in their evaluation. Poipoi I have nothing againts you so please don’t think I do, but it seems that with you, your dislike for Henry clouds your judgement when it comes to acknowledging and admtting his importance to the team. It’s ok to dislike or like a player but but such prefrences shouldn’t cloud your reasoning.
    And I don’t think you ment to imply that Isaiah and Kevin were biased in favor of Henry. And if you did such an accusation would be completely unsubstantiated.

  40. August 31, 2009

    Much clearer, poipoi. Thanks for that. I like what Henry does for the club. And there are indeed aspects of play in which he limits what we can do. As with any player, you pick the limitations that are less onerous.

    For example, I’d like Messi to pass more and choose his spots to make a run. I’d like Xavi to shoot more. I’d like Puyol to stop trying to be so helpful, which is when he gets caught out.

    I think that all of our players have limitations. But those limitations were, last season, additive as a collective. Let’s hope for the same this year.

  41. August 31, 2009

    Yeah, I think Kevin just about covered it. Everybody is entitled to their own opinions. I would prefer that they be based on objective rationality but that may be asking too much.

  42. August 31, 2009

    Now, what do you guys say we go back to worrying about today’s game, huh? 😀

  43. Kevo
    August 31, 2009

    Soldado scored a hat-trick and i’ve just EARNED 31 pts from HIM! HELL YEAH!


    I have to admit i am a Titi lover in fact he is my favorite footballer. I’d love to see him play more and more but in truth is, he will be playing slightly less than last season.
    I think Pedro! will play much more this season and he will progress greatly but i do think that Pep trusts more in Titi for bigger matches like Clasico or CL quarters semis, games against tough opponents, and thats because of his experience and able to communicate with his side in attack and defense (somehow).

    And thinking about it, most of our players are or has been captain of previous teams or even national teams. Rafa, Titi, Puyol, Messi, Xavi, Ibra, Chigy etc etc.. and gives me a good idea that Barca is so good playing as a TEAM with people communicating and giving order or just suggesting or pointing out stuff.

  44. Tutomate
    August 31, 2009

    Hector I have a question, could Keita play as CDM and Toure on the left Iniesta spot or does that spot require a left footed player? Cause I thought Iniesta was rightfooted.

    Well I guess they could but my question
    is if they would be effective?

  45. August 31, 2009

    I like The Yaya. Any questions?

    If so, please direct them to THE YAYA who will clear up any misunderstanding like some famous New Orleans chef: BAM.


    Henry is good. Would I prefer Ribery? Sure. But we have Henry. I was against the transfer in the first place, but I have to admit that his last season was a slam dunk. Whether or not he can match that this coming year is yet to be seen, but, come on, people, I predicted he would score two goals, so he will score two goals. Barring all the times I have, I have never once been wrong. So why would now be any different?

    Visca el Barça! A por el titulo!

    SDFLJSDLFKUSDOFUSDOFUSDOFU it’s game day my brain is freaking. the. fuck. out. aaaaargh.

    Whoa. Fewer crazy pills required. Do Hector Pills count during the season itself when you’re DVRing the match and shaking slightly the whole way home because itsgamedayomgitsgamedayomgitsgamedayomg?

  46. August 31, 2009

    Kevo, I am celebrating that I got -3 points from Raul Albiol. Ha. And thanks, Luis Fabiano, for sucking at life against Valencia. Could he have had a more anonymous match?

  47. Alexinho
    August 31, 2009

    I don’t consider Chygnasty’s ability to play as DM as well as CB to be any reason to buy him. I’m glad we bought him, despite the terrible price, but I think that’s a bad incentive to buy any CB. I’m automatically suspect of such claims. Marquez can play DM. People say he can fill in there all the time. But I’ve never seen it, and I don’t think I will see it.

  48. Alexinho
    August 31, 2009

    Oh shit! Guddy’s gone….where’ve I been…

  49. Tutomate
    August 31, 2009

    Funny Isaiah I got -3 pints from albiol and +3 from Llorente, so right now I’m at 0. All the rest are Barça players, too bad Iniesta, Messi and Henrique won’t play.

  50. ooga aga
    August 31, 2009

    henry could take a poop in the middle of the field and someone here would say it smells sweet.

    it *is* possible to be biased in favor of or against a player, *and* love the team just as much as anyone else. not that complicated. happens here all the time.

    glad ta be here! mwah.

    so if we lose today is that a good omen? LOL!

  51. Corrine
    August 31, 2009

    ewww isaiah i put fabiano on my team too
    and asenjo… grrrr

  52. Colin
    August 31, 2009

    Thanks Tutomate and Kxevin! Didn’t know ESPN was picking up La Liga games, good move from them.

  53. poipoi
    August 31, 2009

    that is why I like football so much…. it’s so far from being rational. for instance, iniesta scored in the semifinals, in the 93rd minute vs chelsea (FCB playing with 10) , from outside the box, pass by messi playing in the right side… that had never happened before in FCB history. Who could rationally predict that? football is pure passion to me

    and I don’t see any limitation in messi or xavi…. they just have a REALLY personal profile. Virtues and faults, they are human. Messi is an extremo and xavi is a midfielder (both voted best of the CL)… titi plays outside of his natural position. I guess some people rationally would agree with that.

    on today’s game… I’d like to see some swedish goals!!!

  54. OhYes
    August 31, 2009

    “so if we lose today is that a good omen? LOL!”

    Hell yes! I’m ready for another treble hehe.

    Isaiah, if you are still looking for someone to run the liveblog, I can run it today.

  55. Kevo
    August 31, 2009

    Isaiah, i have Asenjo and i got a pretty -9 because of the goal fest.

  56. August 31, 2009

    Tutomate, I did the same thing…

    Corrine, yeah, i had Aguero. He earned the most for me so far. But Xavi will score, which is good and all I care about.

    I should have added that ESPN IS GOING TO BE SHOWING THIS GAME!!!!! to this post, but I forgot. Ooopsiedaisy.

    It is true that Henry is playing outside of his natural position. I totally agree with that and I agree with any assessment that says he probably shouldn’t be a member of the squad if we can find someone adequate to replace him and so far that missing piece has appeared. I’m more than willing to accept Pedro! in that role, but I think he’s more of a right-sided player. We’ll be firing on all cylinders soon and this discussion will disappear, which is fine with me.

    I’m for Barça and for The Yaya. Fortunately they have combined forces and that’s why we won the Triple. What did you say about being rational, poipoi? Ha. I do think it’s possible to be for a particular player and the club, but I have to defend my fellow writers here to say that posts and comments are separate entities. Not that I don’t do it in my posts as well, but I more often make absurd and un-thought-out statements in the comments.

    I also write things like “CAN I GO BACK TO LIFTING CARS?” in posts, so maybe I’m wrong about that point…Still, when we write posts, we’re writing for a wider audience and when we write comments, we’re just us and we’re just people like the rest of you, so we’re prone to mistakes, to writing things that aren’t as clear as they maybe should be. I fall into that trap more often than anyone, I think, because I write things while half paying attention.


    ATxikiGeneralManager: Okay, so we got rid of all the excess baggage from last season.
    InMeYouTrust: Thank God, I mean, seriously, some of them could barely even play football.
    HlebToYourFace: I scored a goal!
    InMeYouTrust: Did I take crazy pills? What is happening?

  57. JeffP
    August 31, 2009

    I’ve been out of commission for the last four days and only have one question: Getafe scored 4 goals. Did The King make an appearance? If I was Burger King I would have written a mandate into the deal that the shirt over the head bit be included in every match. Even if they lost, the players could hide their faces in disgust.

    That is all.

  58. August 31, 2009

    I have to say that my favorite player varies from time to time, but it’s usually Xavi. I like stuff that makes sense, and the way that he plays makes so much sense. Logically, in a footballing sense, it is impossible to argue with.

    But I’m just not that attached to any of our players. In an environment in which excellence is always the goal, any of them could be sold from season to season. Attachments just make that more difficult to deal with, for me.

    Good to see Phil Ball back. I disagree with him on BANGS, but that’s the nature of things, right?

  59. August 31, 2009

    No appearance for The King, JeffP. Bummer. That would have been absolutely brilliant.

  60. inNYC
    August 31, 2009

    I am having very severe, painful Iniesta withdrawal. Are there any pills for that? It’s just not as much fun without him.

  61. August 31, 2009

    I will always have a place in my heart for Hristo Stoichkov that will never be replaced. The reason has nothing to do with Barça, actually; I never saw him play in the shirt (too young, too living-in-a-world-without-TV for the first half of my life).

    I was watching an MLS game with my dad when Hristo was on either Chicago Fire or DC United (can’t remember which, but I’m leaning towards Fire cause I think it was before 2003). I was fairly new to the whole “utterly passionate about the game” thing and so I was watching anything and everything I could find, MLS included. Hristo gets kicked by an opponent and bounces up to freak out with Insane Rage (proper noun) like Hristo can do sometimes. And my dad goes “I remember him from the World Cup.” Really? My dad knows the rules to soccer, but not much else. And he remembers things about the World Cup? And he remembers Hristo Stoichkov?

    My dad goes on to tell me the Hristo led Bulgaria to the semis in ’94 and was top scorer. How did he even know that? It’s because of how amazing Hristo was/is. And it’s because of how transcendent a sports spectacle is, about how WC94 took the US by storm, about how soccer, as it is known, took hearts and has held them ever since.

    I live in Oklahoma at the time, a young boy of 10, who had little interest in anything that wasn’t purely American (a result of moving to the southern Midwest/western South when you’re just back to the country from abroad and you’d like to have friends more than you’d like to discover new things), so I don’t remember that Cup. And there’s my dad, a Kansas boy with no soccer in his history, no real knowledge about the sport, catching random things, games, knowledge, an understanding about Hristo Freakin Stoichkov.

    Kinda can’t wait to tell my kids about the time Leo Messi took a ball on a foggy pitch and melted a shot into the back of the net with a ferocity worthy of a man-of-war. The Osasuna match was my favorite experience of the last year, to be honest.

    Can’t wait to tell my kids about watching Ronaldinho in his prime, that shot against Chelsea in the CL where he froze everyone and slid the ball in from a standstill in the middle of the box. That kind of audacity seems dead, now, and I hope someone comes along soon to revive it.

    And, of course, Iniesta’s god-sent streak of happiness in the 93rd minute. There’s always that one.

  62. August 31, 2009

    Heh, inNYC, I just mentioned the Osasuna match. Let’s have something like that happen again this year, eh? Only maybe without getting shoved quite so hard.

  63. inNYC
    August 31, 2009

    I’m serious–I was out in the wee hours this morning, standing on street corners, haunting subway platforms, begging for just a wee dose of SPF45, but nobody would help me out. They backed away slowly, probably convinced by the cold sweat on my forehead and my shaking hands that I would snort or eat that SPF45, even though I swore I just wanted to watch it play.

  64. Vj
    August 31, 2009

    “Oh boy”

    Perhaps Andy Gray was weighing up the significance of the wonder strike.. perhaps he was awestruck at the goal itself .. perhaps he was anticipating the fallout.. I loved those two words uttered as if a plan had got horribly wrong.. Sweet sweet joy!

    Still my favourite goal scored by anyone in the colours came when Dinho nonchalantly scooped the ball up for Xavi to score an Ibra-like winner at the Bernabeu.. they just don’t score goals like those anymore..

  65. ElShowDeJason
    August 31, 2009

    NO! Mourinho is sitting next to Mourinho… dont let them talk… Jose is evil!

  66. ElShowDeJason
    August 31, 2009

    i meant Chygrinky… Chygrinsky is sitting next to Mourinho… oops

  67. Helge
    September 1, 2009

    Well, I’m a bit late with reading your preview, Isaiah. But it definitely was worth waiting for some free-time to enjoy your preview. Well done!

    It’s great to have a full schedule of the first half with predictions from you, I’ll add this to my bookmarks and look back after every month (or maybe every match).

    I didn’t see that much of Ibra when he was @ Juve and Inter, actually German TV only showed very short highlights of Serie A. But now that I’ve seen him play 2 complete matches for Barca, damn, his passing is great! And the way he passes the ball, chips it with the outside of his right foot perfectly into the run of Pedro (I suppose it was Pedro, in the last minutes of the match against Gijon), backheeling it to Messi… I bet we’ll see much more of this. And even if Ibra doesn’t score 25+ goals this season, I am confident that we makes us more dangerous. Against Gijon, he seem to have encouraged the other players to score with a header, or can anybody remember a game in which we scored 3 goals by head?

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