Barca 3, Sporting Gijon 0, a.k.a. “Half-speed drubbing,” and BANGS breaks his duck


Yes the picture is big, but not as big as the moment. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, our big-ass Swede, got off the mark by scoring the first of what should be many, many goals for Barca. It came off (yet another) exquisite Dani Alves cross that was deflected by Gregory, the omnipresent Gijon defender.

Watching the play develop, BANGS broke away from his defender into the space left on the uncovered back post and headed the ball in. Pretty easy goal, right?

Wrong. Watch it again, and think about the concentration and skill it took to nudge a deflected ball into the space he had.

This game was all about the future of our attack, ladies and gentlemen. Not only will Ibrahimovic have to adjust to the way that we play, but we will have to adjust to the way that he plays. Keita, so accustomed to Eto’o and Henry, slowed down his run, so when Ibrahimovic made the pass, he was late on the run. Next month, that will be a tap-in for Messi or Pedro!

On the BANGS side, he’s already begun to make the inviting diagonal runs that our offense likes, rather than the Route One football he was playing in Italy last year, and the balls are coming to him. Two shots on goal and one header from which he had to make all of the power, forcing the keeper into a stretch save.

And he isn’t fully match fit yet, so you could see him marshalling his efforts, particularly after playing more than 80 minutes against a very determined Shakhtar side just 72 hours prior, on a pitch that must have been like running in quicksand. He defended on a set piece, blocking the pass and starting things going the other way, and pressured Gijon defenders.

Which won’t stop people from calling him lazy. So be it. I’ll call him a step away from full match fitness and eye-gogglingly talented. We haven’t had a striker such as he in a very, very long time, one that is as capable of battling a defender for the ball in midfield and taking off toward goal, as making a slick, side-footed pass that falls perfectly to an attacking player, to powerful headers and (soon to come) goals from crazy-ass angles in crazy-ass spaces.

And a number of times tonight, we saw the strength that enables him to hold off defenders and do his thing, rather than being pushed off the ball or buffeted about. BANGS is the real deal, everyone. Label him a flop or unimpressive now if you want, but be prepared to eat crow in a month or two. You read it here first.

The Gijon coach made absolutely no bones about what kind of match this was going to be, by saying that a 0-0 would be better than a 4-0. And he’s right. But to lay out such a craven, dog’s belly showing display doesn’t bring honor to the colors. Even 2-0 down Gijon was still playing with 10 behind the ball, venturing forward timidly as if afraid the sky was going to fall.

But good for us, as it allowed the lads to play like a scrimmage, knocking the ball around and rolling about at little more than half-speed, except for those folks playing to impress (Maxwell, Krkic) or who really only know one way (Keita, Puyol). The issue, however, wasn’t in doubt, even when Gijon had a spectacular scoring chance that a better side would have converted. Fatigue allowed us to yield too much space, and their midfielder slid an uncontested pass to a man kept onside by Maxwell, but the Gijon attacker shot high, seemingly stunned at the golden opportunity. And that was that, really.

Our starting XI was not that surprising: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Maxwell, Keita, Busquets, Xavi, Pedro!, Krkic, Ibrahimovic.

Nor was I all that surprised by the clunkiness that we evinced early, as Gijon were essentially playing with 6 men in the midfield in an attempt to gum up the works and prevent Xavi from doing what he does so well. So we kept the ball, bided our time and scored off of….brace yourselves….set pieces! Two of ’em, to be precise.

The first came from a perfect corner from Xavi, dropped onto the head of Keita whose deflected cross fell perfectly to Krkic, who headed home. Looks like we’ve been praciticing set pieces.

The second came from an Alves cross that found the head of Keita, who rammed it home powerfully, for the 2-0.

The third came from the aforementioned BANGS, who nodded home and lay on the pitch in what must have been glorious, glorious relief. The joy of his teammates was genuine, and it kicked off a new burst of energy from Ibrahimovic, who suddenly showed what we are in for. He was smiling, and his head was fully in the game. The result could easily have been two assists, atop his goal.

It must be said here, however, that Gijon were the perfect side for us to see so soon after the UEFA Super Cup victory, that took all of extra time. They let us do what we do, and when we were a sloppy mess, they really weren’t all that interested in capitalizing. So it was about as easy a win as you are ever going to have.

It was also a costly win, as Krkic will be out with a slightly torn muscle for a few weeks (though kids heal fast), and Maxwell will be out for a bit, but should be fine.

The illustration of Guardiola’s assertion that “without the ball, we aren’t very good” was shown time and again, as the midfield pressure that keeps possession for us even when we lose it, just wasn’t there. Nor could it be. The lads were tired. You could see it in their faces and the movement, in touches that are normally precise that wound up clunky. Xavi was giving balls away, Pedro! was showing some control issues as he worked his way into the match.

But it was all good, because Gijon didn’t really want to do anything except try their damndest to keep us from scoring, and if a counter presented itself, they’d take it. A couple times it did, and danger bells were ringing for the defense, which scrambled and scrabbled, doing what it had to do.

At times there was as much action in the stands as on the pitch, and Iniesta relaxed, Muniesa looked like a puppy wanting to go out and play, and Mourinho, on a scouting mission, occupied space next to Chygnasty. But the Special One easily saw that there wasn’t much to scout, and stopped paying attention. Chygnasty, however, looked pretty entertained by what he’s now become a part of, because players know. And I bet you he can’t wait.

Yes there really isn’t much to review. We knocked the ball around, enjoying more than 70% of possession. So let’s get to the ratings:

Team: 6. It was going to be a worse rating, then they turned on the midfield pressure and began moving the ball around. Very nice.

Guardiola: 6. He should have had them more ready to play than he did. Made the right (albeit very obvious) substitutions.

Valdes: 6. He didn’t have a lot to do, but he needs to communicate with his defense better. He had one nice save off a Gijon blast, but got caught way out of his area, battling with a Gijon attacker for the ball. If that dude has any more skill, he rounds Valdes and hits into the empty net. Whew!

Alves: 7. Fine match as our extra attacker. Cross after cross found its way to heads and feet, as he worked tirelessly to create space, intercept balls and space the pitch. He is loving the signing of Ibrahimovic, as suddenly he has a head to play to.

Pique: 6. Would have gotten a higher rating, but for a period of wayward passing that could have been dangerous against a more determined club. He settled into the match very well, however.

Puyol: 7. Effort and energy, but he has to learn to control his need to be everywhere. It forces assignment shifts under pressure as the defense scrambles to cover for him. And he, along with Maxwell, kept the Gijon attacker on for what by all rights should have been a goal for them.

Maxwell: 5. Tentative in possession and giving balls away, in addition being far too willing to give up corners rather than heading away to the sideline, made this not one of his better outings for me. And his offense wasn’t sufficient to make up for his general adequacy.

Busquets: 6. Played himself up from a poorer rating. He holds the ball too long, and doesn’t seem to have that blind side sense. And when he loses the ball he falls down, waving his arms. Play to the whistle, dammit. If you lose the ball, run back as hard as you can to atone for your error. Problem is when he gives the ball away, as he did twice today, it’s in the middle of the pitch, which lets the other side get off to the races. Knock it off. I have to say that I am not confident in anticipation of the time when The Yaya and Keita leave for ACN.

Keita: 9. Indefatigable, playing as hard late in the match as he was at the beginning, roaming to help control the defense, charging the box on offense. He really should have had two more goals to go with his goal and assist. His powerful header found the post, and he will learn to expect the pass from Ibra. I loved the match that he played today, so much so that he is Man of the Match for me.

Xavi: 7. Not bad for a half-speed outing. He lost some balls, which is very much unlike him, and at times seemed a little put out by Gijon’s midfield pressure and willingness to foul.

Pedro!: 7. Disappeared for periods, and was sloppy with possession on a few occasions, one of which led to a dangerous Gijon counter. But played into the match very well, and was all danger from about 20 minutes left, onward. He has a powerful shot that he gets off very quickly, which is never a bad thing.

Krkic: 8. The Kid was excellent today, showing all of the movement, pace and confidence that he has lacked in recent appearances. Scored the nice header, and was a constant danger to charge the box and score. Staggering work rate, as well.

Ibrahimovic: 6. Get in shape so that you can play a complete match, dude. Can’t wait.


Abidal (for Maxwell): 9. I hope everyone saw the difference that he made with his strength and pace. And his offensive forays continue, with some great passing and a cross that deserved to be scored with.

Jeffren (for Krkic): 4. Ran around out there, and wasn’t very assertive. Tentative in the box, when he should have charged the cross, and worried about the offsides call later.

Fontas (for Pique): incomplete. He came in Gijon had pretty much gone belly up.

Other thoughts

–Botia looked rather erratic. Don’t forget that one of their back line is on loan from us. He got smoked on a couple of plays, but he’ll get better for them. And don’t forget that they don’t play our kind of system, which is how he was raised, so to speak.

–Damn, we looked good in HD. I could get used to that.

–The England-centric announcers should be ashamed of themselves. The bottom of the Prem is just as determined to play for the 0-0 as the bottom of the Liga. For them to assert otherwise shows a laughable xenophobia.

–Our lads need to play to the whistle. Time and again you’d see players, sitting or laying on the pitch, waiting for a call that never came. Meanwhile, we’re 10 v 11 because they’re off on a counter, and you can’t get back in time.

–I am really, really excited about the future. Imagine a world in which 5 men can’t collapse on Ibrahimovic, when Henry, Messi and Iniesta are out there to complete Murderers’ Row.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Recent Posts

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. El Tel
    August 31, 2009

    Great stuff as usual, Kevo. My only complaint about the ESPN HD coverage was Robbie “big-time Burnley” Musto’s pissy tone in regards to the best club side in the world. The complete dismantling of Man U was not enough proof for him, though Fergie and the lads were quite complimentary. The worldview of this sort of commentator often seems to be that a team can’t really be good unless they’re a Prem side. And how could Ibra’s header off a deflection not be deemed remarkable? (Musto pooh-poohed it as lucky, if I remember correctly.)

  2. Eduard
    August 31, 2009

    i think most of you will agree with me here in that barca seems to be taking it easy. I think we’re still in pre-season form. That of coarse might be because of the new faces trying to fit into our system.

    Sad to see Bojan and Maxwell injured as I see them as a big part of what’s going to make this season a success or failure.

    On the upside, that was a well time header from the balerina gansta nija dude. I was hoping for a more magical first goal(kinda like the first kiss you’d expect from your future wife but it ends up being in the back of a beat up civic).

    Congrats Cules and only 37 liga games to go.

  3. Tajh
    August 31, 2009

    Wow…… website but same master class in quality of witting.What an enjoyable read this hour of the night.

    I to can’t wait for the bad this international break has to come at such a time.Throughout the match i had my eyes on BANGS to see what he really do off the ball.
    Although he may not run all over as Eto’o does he do push around his defenders a lot to make space for himself.

    Hopefully when he is full match fitness he would be even more deadly but so far all we know he is a forward who performs depending on his mood.

  4. miz
    August 31, 2009

    4th of the season..hehe..

    satisfy with their performance las nite..look in gud shape. can be better when messi, iniesta, toure and henry join in. but we create not much clear chances..

    haha..ibra show unselfishness..great. he may score..but still pass to keita on a very nice long ball from xavi…

  5. katalini5
    September 1, 2009

    hey all, i’m a little new to this posting business, so hopefully all goes well. i love that espn now has some of the la liga rights as somehow my cable package only allows me to have the spanish version of gol tv. while i enjoy being able to see the games, hearing them in english is nice too. although, the two commentaries espn had going in the beginning of the game was exceedingly annoying. hopefully espn, much like barcelona, will work out the kinks as the season progresses.

    it was frustrating to hear the espn commentators trot out all the tired zlatan criticisms that must be handed out to all english press members every season. this is the age old question for the english press, if it happened outside england with no english team present, did it happen at all? the answer always appears to be no. (and this is coming from a person who also supports man utd)

    can’t wait to see more from a fully fit and fully communicating trident of zlatan, messi, and henry with a little bojan thrown in the mix.

  6. txikidracula
    September 1, 2009

    love the ode to ibra from kxevin. i think yellows might be a factor for him if he keeps up this pace, muscling defenders off the ball, and running back to the midfield to get some of the action. i love it. so fired up!

    i hate seeing dudes fall after a foul, covering their faces, then taking a peek to see if the referee whistled it their way, in any team let alone barcelona.

    happy about espn deportes’ coverage. i hate that i had to watch the english version of goltv for the last half of the la liga season last year. those guys should be commenting on minor league baseball not my beloved barca. barca in hd!!!!

  7. Mher
    September 1, 2009

    im sorry, i knew what BAS was. but what does the complete BANGS stand for?

  8. scav
    September 1, 2009

    Got home to find that I had taped . . . the standard feed instead of the HD one.

    [ slams head against the table ]

    No matter. It all looked beautiful.

    Halfway through the second half, our possession % was SEVENTY-TWO. Wow.

  9. Jose
    September 1, 2009

    Big Ass Ninja Gangsta Swede 😛

    Don’t be sorry, it took me a while to figure out who people meant by JDS.

  10. Mher
    September 1, 2009

    Oh and Kxevin!! big mistake in the ratings! You wrote that losing the ball was very much like Xavi. You prolly meant the opposite and was just typing fast. Blasphemy! lolz

  11. Soto
    September 1, 2009

    Don’t apologize, Mher. When I saw the title of the post, I immediately planned to ask the same question.

  12. Soto
    September 1, 2009

    Throughout all of last season, I pretty much never noticed Keita while watching the matches. I don’t know why, but he never stood out to me.

    Today, he seemed to be all over the place. I think it’s more than merely there was no Messi, Henry, or Iniesta to overshadow him (not to mention, the Yaya). I think Keita’s game has really improved from last season. He definitely deserves to be the Man of the Match.

    I also agree about Bojan, Kevin. It’s amazing what a relaxed focus does for someone that talented. That said, I fearfully wait to see if Bojan can maintain today’s performance in the face of better competition.

    Finally, watching the game on was a nice change from the fight for random feeds on the web. So, despite the fact that the commentators made me yearn for RayRay, it was nice to be able to watch the game on demand and with half-decent quality. Here’s hoping ESPN gets the Barcelona La Liga games as often as possible.

  13. September 1, 2009

    I like to point out Pep and co work on set pieces. Regardless of the fact that having Pique-Puyol-Keita-Ibra give lot of potentials while taking corners, I like the set ups in this game, so credit to the coaching staff. Hope we generate more combinations. As these ones will be obviously scouted.

  14. Corrine
    September 1, 2009

    games like these excite me with the idea of bojan and pedro as part of our attack line in the future! sporting probably felt relieved to see that there was no henry or messi in the starting line up and probably no iniesta, but bojo and keita put on quite the show

    it seems like the england-bias will never go away. i mentioned this in the liveblog, but i absolutely cringe everytime i go on the soccernet site, and see how their sections are divided as “england” and “europe”

    btw the El Banquillo post has made its way across the internet, i see people referencing stuff like “PulgaMyFinger” and “Yo! /kisses club crest Visca Barça!” all the time aha. well done well done

  15. September 1, 2009

    yeah ramzi, our average height has gone up considerably of late.. ibra, pique, abidal, busquets, toure, keita, henry.. suddenly we have an aerial threat about us. whether it’s enough to take on the tall english teams (chelsea) in the aerial battles is another issue but it would be interesting to see if pep has decided to develop that aspect of the team more.

    Perhaps sporting were not prepared for the set pieces and a better team might have coped with the surprisingly good crosses coming in from Alves. Still remains to be seen.

    Why did Ibra try n pass to Jeffren when he should have scored his second. One gets the feeling that he’s trying too hard to play an unselfish game. Eto’ was selfish and that’s why he kept banging in the goals.

  16. jnelson
    September 1, 2009

    that was straight dope Kevin. Again, I was so impressed with our set pieces and crossing. Adding that dimension to our game is so important. I can’t wait to see Murderer’s Row: that will be AWESOME. So much talent and skill on our team, sometimes I wonder if YAYA will just collapse the universe….seriously

  17. ElShowDeJason
    September 1, 2009

    let me preface this by saying that so far i have only read the ratings and the reasons.

    Hey Kxevin, I started the Busquets Fairness Committee, and not even i would have given him a 6.

    He never really lost balls with shit passes, but he did lose balls when he took too long to decide what to do with possesion, and once again i noticed that when he stuck out his foot to try to stop it, it deflected to an opponent.

    In all fairness you did start with “Played himself up from a poorer rating.”, so im guessing he must have done some nice stuff at the end of the game. I must have not seen it in all the BANGSTA goal excitement.

    now, i am going to go read the rest of the review, to see what else i can criticize about…

  18. September 1, 2009

    Mourinho: Hey Samu.. I can call you Samu right?

    Eto’: Sup Moo? call me Barca boy

    Mourinho: oh ok.. speaking of whom.. what can you tell me about them? how can I stop them passing my team off the pitch?

    Eto’: I’m wouldn’t tell you Moo even if there was a way to stop us… I mean them. But there isn’t. You could hire the Chelsea ground staff to “doctor” the San Siro pitch when they come to play us.

    Mourinho: Oh yeah forgot bout that.. but you guys still beat us.

    Eto’: You still have your membership, go watch them play cos you’re not getting anything from me.

  19. yogi
    September 1, 2009

    Good review Kevin and agree with the ratings.

    ESPN commentators were average, say generously. Do they really watch EPL? Teams like Stoke, Hull or even Burnley last weekend dont really try to play top quality teams period. The surprising fact was that last season Gijon were challenging but seem to have decided against the strategy this season which is a pity.

    Loved the set pieces play by our side. We have got height and with little and small combo coming soon, teams are not going to know how to stop us.

    Sad about the injuries though.

  20. Han
    September 1, 2009

    Wonderfull stuff Kevin, as well as all of these comments like the one above from Reaganovermas.

    Like Keita alot also last year, seems like many fans rate him quite poorly. He was for example very good last year against Villareal when I was in the stands and postponed our title fest in the last minute 🙁

    Btw 1: @ Isaiah Hristo Stoichkov is tha shit. Remember that indirect freekick in groupfase of WC ’94 (guess against Nigeria or Greece) he scored taking it direct, when he had to do it over he just copy pasted!!!

    Btw2: Murderer’s Row sounds very good, but I like Death Row better; any thoughts?

  21. Mher
    September 1, 2009

    i think Chygryinsky felt a mild orgasm today while watching.

  22. Han
    September 1, 2009

    Chygnasty thoughts after the game:
    Hmmm, I don’t really have to do shit besides kick some balls , bodycheck small spanish dudes and head some roundformed object away above a bunch of midgets.

    And on top of this they wanted to pay me even the same $ as in Ukrainehellofallplaces, I told them I would do it for free. But then again it looks so stupid to earn nothing when they pay 25 million, so I will collect some change for parking tickets.

    Shht, this guy might become a counterforce to The Yaya in this galaxy.

  23. BlaugranaDOOM
    September 1, 2009

    Only got to see the highlights, but it’s great to see Barcelona scoring on headers. That is definitely a good plan B when teams start packing the box as they most certainly will.

    Ibra’s header was about an 8 out of 10 on degree of difficulty. Fantastic concentration.

    And these qualifiers in Sept…WTF. Why don’t they have them last week of August, then Spanish league start up. Or, Spain should start their season’s earlier. And, how do England schedule their games. I mean they have already player 4, but they don’t have a winter break??

  24. September 1, 2009

    Thanks Han.

    It seems like we are going to have two beckenbauer-esque players in the team (pique and chygsy). If Chygnasty does live up to his billing.. then WHOA! After last nights game we could clearly see that pique was very comfortable on the ball, always looking up to make a pass that xavi would be proud of. Pique is clearly capable of doing so but puyol isn’t. Puyol always makes the sure pass to xavi or to abidal but I’ve never seen him bring the ball out like pique.

    If Chygnasty is as good as pique or better, then it remains to be seen if Pep would actually play both of them together cos the results would be very very exciting indeed. Chygnasty and pique both making the same raking passes to henry on the right or messi on the left is moth watering indeed!

  25. BlaugranaDOOM
    September 1, 2009

    PS If you guys don’t know about it, there is a Chinese website called youku. It’s similar to youtube, but there is no limit on the length of video that can be uploaded. Hence, they often post the full match (usually in two halves) the next day or two.

    You can search for Barcelona matches using this 巴萨.

    Then, when the search comes up, click on this 最新发布. Which puts the most recent posts first. Then, you can look for the 45 minute posts. As I have just done and will be watching the match now (usually comes on between 2am and 4am here in Shanghai).

    Hope this is useful to y’all.

  26. Alexis
    September 1, 2009

    I appreciate your opinions. And, trust me, I hate having a different one (so far).
    Maybe it’s my brain needing to get used to a different way of play. Someone said it: why would Guardiola get rid of Eto’o and bring another guy who does exactly the same? By bringing BANGS he proposes variations in the system.

    So far I can see that Ibra is out of form. Look at him after 60 minutes and his face is similar to that of Keita in the “Som un” advert (where the hell am I? How did I end up here? When is this finishing?).
    I don´t complain about that. However, IMHO he lacks concentration when tired. He lost soooo many balls (more than recovered, if you count them). He would have to acknowledge that. And then, as he is so technic with the ball, give it back in a single touch. Get rid of it boy! As opposed to keeping it and losing it!
    I am positive he will be improving a lot as Kevin says in the next month or two.

    As per Keita, he looks like more confident. In the last two matches I have seen him doing things unexpected from him during the last year. I like him now. Very much indeed.

    Abidal…what can you say? I had a similar perspective of him as Keita, but he is now surprising me. Nice one!

    Maybe I am reading too much Kevin lately and his praises towards them are sinking in 🙂

    Anyway, I don’t want to be like all those “Socis” criticising the team after 10 minutes. So I will give BANGS a loooot of time. Surely he proves me wrong!

  27. BlaugranaDOOM
    September 1, 2009

    Ha, I like moth watering better 🙂

  28. September 1, 2009

    Spot on, Kevin.

    – I would have actually have given Xavi a lower grade. Blasphemy, I know. I understand that the dude is tired and the focal point of opposing teams with no Iniesta or Messi to draw attention. I also know that we only expect nothing less than perfection from the best center-mid in the world. However, it seemed so weird to see him lose so many balls (by his standards). Iniesta cannot get back soon enough. Xavi just played 210 minutes in four days including 120 in a mud bowl and you know del Bosque, being the Madridista he is and wanting to win, will start him on both games for the NT. Our maestro needs a rest and some help.

    – I’m glad Keita is finally getting the love. The dude is a beast. A human lung. He has played the same minutes as Xavi and looked as if he was daisy fresh. Great game from him. This is the Keita that formed half of one of the best double pivot combos in recent history at Sevilla.

    – We need to move the ball faster through midfield to get more chances. This was one of the great insights of the Shaktar coach. If we don’t move the ball through midfield quickly then we simply get less chances. Our one touch passing is still off the mark although it will get accurate again soon. Iniesta and Messi will help immensely with this.

    – We did the right thing. If the midifield is packed with five or six guys, move through the wings and attack from there. Pedro! looked like a rookie but he also did a good job of spreading the field.

    – Notice how Ibra switched with Bojan quite often. Me likee.

    – Great back post crashing and marker dragging in set pieces. Also, excellent deliveries by Xavi and Alves. This is awesome as it is an excellent bus crashing remedy. We only need to score the first goal ans the games will usually open up from there assuming that a team has the incentive to actually try.

    – Puyol slowly laying down on top of Ibra and hugging him was simultaneously heart-warming and disturbing 🙂 .

  29. September 1, 2009

    Oh yeah, I am definitely getting the “latino/hispanic/deportes/” package from Dish as soon as possible to get ESPN Deportes. Even if you don’t understand Spanish, its x10000000 better than Adrian Healey and the other drab idiot blabbering nonsense.

    BTW Casillas was talking shit. “Man for man, RM has a better squad” and “Eto’o is much better than Ibra”.

  30. OhYes
    September 1, 2009

    Hey you guys remember when their top of the table played for 0-0? Some blue team or something…

    Good review. I had completely forgotten that Jeffren was playing. Not very good! I don’t think he is all that ready yet but I hope he does something because I don’t want him to leave. 🙁

    Keita was my motm too. Such a workhorse and so effective. He had games like this last season when people were hating on him for some reason. He still has detractors! Such an unfair world.

  31. BarcInd
    September 1, 2009

    Hello there

    RE: the bad commentary from the british chaps

    I listened to Barca Radio for the match yest & it was quite good (no coverage of a barca game in india – they show the little leagues instead!!). I suggest- mute the TV & switch on the online radio (as long as they are in sync).

    Or, just be glad that you didnt stay up to 1:00 AM – only to realise that you’re not gonna be able to watch the first league game.

  32. September 1, 2009

    BarcInd, there seems to be an issue with the telecast rights. But i read somewhere that espnstar should start telecasting the games after the world cup qualifiers. Not written in stone yet though so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

    On a negative note, i was checking the Barca game times on and it’s appears that most of the games henceforth start at 16.00 hrs GMT, which is not good news because it will clash with the premier league coverage in india and they won’t show the la liga matches for sure.

    It’s much more fun watching a good stream online with some tasty comments on the live chat here. 🙂

  33. Han
    September 1, 2009

    Jeffren was rated a bit harsh in my opinion. Kevin points out his miss (I believe on a cross by Ibra) but so did Pedro at the second post. I was impressed with the crazy speed he showed in one of his runs at the wing.

    Anyway, he got like 10mins hardly the time to do big things and I would give him an inconclusive or a 5.

    Did anyone have the same feeling (around minute 10-20) that we played like how the whole of season 2007-2008 went: knowing we are better, a lack of trying/tiredness, just not really hungry and relying on individual class?

    Don’t remember if it were these minutes which gave me the feeling but it simmered there fore a while, but finally it got replaced by a feeling of ‘oh they’re tired and we need time to get our act completely together.

  34. Muhammad
    September 1, 2009

    yup, we’ve finally won impressively.. lacking key players, tired and cutting our celebrations short and yet we won, and with goals from set pieces and headers.
    to quote from the last Phil Ball article “Barcelona on the other hand, need to play well to win. It’s a great virtue, but a potential weakness as well. If they play poorly, they lose.”

  35. kxevin
    September 1, 2009

    Yes! I will correct that Xavi typo as soon as I get in front of a real computer. I read it just now and recoiled in horror! 😀

    I loved that we got Gijon at this moment. Perfect opponent. Now uncapped players can rest, and capped ones can figure out some injury to claim. But they will work harder in practice than they did v Gijon.

    And I like me some Phil Ball, but he is still showing traits of the doubter. Last season we showed that we could win without playing well. Crikey! What does the reigning best club in the world have to do?

    Something that I was remiss in pointing out was the 10 or 15 minute stretch in which Gijon decided to play. And you could see us turn up the midfield pressure and movement, to make sure they knew what the deal was. Knockout!

    I have no idea how good this team can be. If Ibra does what I believe he is going to do, we could be better than last season.

    Oh. Chygnasty is HUGE.

  36. September 1, 2009

    I read Phil Ball’s article Muhammed but i disagree with that statement that you stated.

    IMHO he’s trying to differentiate the difference between Madrid (a group of brilliant individuals) opposed to Barcelona (a well rounded team). He suggests that we will lose if the team doesn’t perform well failing to take into account that we actually have a group of brilliant individuals who play as a team first and then the individual brilliance comes to the fore when it has to. Messi and the likes are easily capable of winning a game for us even if the team plays poorly. hence its not necessarily a weakness but a mere hindrance to achieving a final product.

  37. mike
    September 1, 2009

    I can’t understand the love for keita. he was absolutely useless in the first half except for his goal. He is not an attacking midfielder so is he a defensive midfielder? Well if he is, we simply don’t need 2 of them on the pitch at the same time.

    The whole first period xavi was alone trying to make plays while Keita did nothing for the attack. That’s why we were’nt getting anywhere on our attack. He passed maybe one ball forward. There was one def. midfielder=Busquets, one cm=Xavi and one-what-position-are-you-playing midfielder=Keita. Our game looks light years from last years. Hoping for iniesta to return… ASAP!

  38. September 1, 2009

    When I read that statement by Phil ball, Muhammad and Reagan(overmars), I was somewhat taken aback. That’s the first time I’ve felt that Ball’s madridismo has overtaken his sense of fairness and understanding of the game.

    It’s as if he’s bought into the notion that Real Madrid have match winners and Barcelona doesn’t. What? Really? Please. I’d rather we played beautifully as a team than as a group of 11 individuals on the field of course, but to act as if there’s more straight up talent on Madrid is pure fantasy. They’ve got a great squad, there can be no denying it, but so does Barcelona.

    Our defense is better, our attack is better (or at absolute worst, on equal footing, but I believe Messi’s and Henry’s proven abilities in La Liga + Ibra’s potential outweigh Benzema+CRonaldo’s potential). Acting as if RM making a run for the title while playing crappily is anything other than a negative is just dumb.

    Phil Ball, you’re getting called out on this one.

  39. September 1, 2009

    New fact about Chygnasty-

    – He actually finished college and has a degree in finance. He says he wants to keep on studying. It seems more and more like he’s the type of guy who won’t have problems adapting to life in Barcelona.

    Mike- Its called a box to box midfielder. They exist for a reason.

  40. poipoi
    September 1, 2009

    I have to admit that keita played really well yesterday, he is finding his spot in the team even though I think the youngsters (thiago or JDS) could bring more espectacle to our game… busi as dm should have done better. pedro and bojan did what they had to do, same as Ibra. One thing I didn’t like was everyone giving condolences to Ibra when he scored, it was like when a crippled guy scores a basket or something 😉

  41. September 1, 2009

    Keita must have played REALLY well. Even poipoi is giving him props 😉 .

    I’ll stick with Puyol’s tender man hug on top of Ibra. 😀

  42. poipoi
    September 1, 2009

    Yeah Isaiah, and remember (I know you do 😉 ) Xavi Yaya and Iniesta, 3 of the top 5 midfielders of the world (I’d count also masche and gerrard) are in our team. When we play against EE they won’t even smell the ball.
    – Our defense is better (I guess EE supporters can arque that) – Our attack is better also (they think theirs is better)
    – Our midfield is the best of the world (no one can deny that, not even EE supporters)
    * iker to me is better than valdes but that is debatable also

  43. Muhammad
    September 1, 2009

    exactly Isaiah, how many times last season we were away, and not playing at our best and then Messi scored a crucial could he forget the Iniesta screamer against Chelsea?
    by the way Reaganovermars, Overmars is my all time favorite player, even more than Bergkamp.. I hope Reagan is your first name or something, as I can think only of one Reagan and I am not a big fan of him haha.
    by the way, I don’t know why you hate Overmars so much Kevin.
    not really, he was a flop with Barcelona and for most of the money we got from Figo sale.

  44. poipoi
    September 1, 2009

    overmars in barça was really lame… he came as a star and we all laughed at him in barcelona. maan those were dark times!!! 😉

  45. poipoi
    September 1, 2009

    hector… I think mike is kinda right. but knowing keita’s limitations he played REALLY well yesterday 😛

  46. September 1, 2009

    mike, I saw keita playing 1) CM — provided outlets for passing, 2) backup for Maxwell — whenever Maxwell went on a darting run forward, Keita covered him in the back, 3) AM – Keita swept into the box for headers quite often and very easily could have score.

    Iniesta is, of course, a better option than Keita, but that doesn’t mean Keita isn’t a good option. I mean, obviously you’re welcome to your own opinion, but mine is that Keita has been fairly fantastic throughout our first few matches. A bit wander-prone at times, but not overly so and his runs into the box add a great dimension to our attack.

  47. September 1, 2009

    It’s Reagan… and i think Overmars in his prime was fastest speed demon there was. I was always a fan of the Dutch national team and followed him from Ajax to Arsenal and then to Barca. He definitely wasn’t as good as he was with arsenal or ajax but still one of my most favourite players of all time.

  48. Kxevin
    September 1, 2009

    Think that was someone else expressing disdain for Overmars, though I don’t think that he played for us anything like his hype and transfer fee.

    Keita is the kind of player who does what he needs to do, which is often why he’s difficult to pick out and give his appropriate due. If he needs to drift over to cover for a roaming left (or right) back, he’ll do that. If someone needs to play that Gudjohnsen role, he’ll do that. If someone needs to crash the box, he’ll do that.

    Gijon’s coach credited Keita as being the one who messed up their program. They had the Xavi thing figured out (Kick him!), and they flooded the midfield. But Keita’s all-around game was the wild card that they didn’t have an answer for.

    But as Isaiah said, everyone’s entitled to their opinion. It’s why we discuss this stuff.

    And I think that Iniesta is a different option than Keita. There are matches in which I would rather see Keita than Iniesta. Not many, but you take a big, physical, pressing midfield that wants to scrap with us for possession, and Keita’s physical, athletic presence and versatility would be of immense value.

    And did I say that Chygnasty was huge? I’ll say it again. Damn! I was looking at the pics and presentation images at the official site, then when ESPN showed video of the presentation, I was again struck by how big that dude is.

  49. September 1, 2009

    Kevin, I read somewhere on these here internets that Chygrynskiy is just under half of The Yaya’s size. HOLY COW. That’s approximately 14 times bigger than the average professional footballer!

  50. Kxevin
    September 1, 2009

    And poipoi, I don’t think it was condolences as much as everyone congratulating a player for finally getting that monkey off his back. That first goal was a big deal because it relieved so much pressure. Notice how BANGS instantly started playing better.

    That wasn’t an ordinary goal. The players all know how crucial BANGS is to the club and its ambitions. I think the joy was genuine. You always see players congratulated like that on their first goal for a club.

  51. September 1, 2009

    Hmm… Just read a good insight.

    You can tell a lot about a coach by their conviction in their ideas and their adherence to them. It says a lot that Pellegrini wanted Robben and Sneijder to say but meekly submitted when Florentino ordered them sold whereas Laporta moved earth, water, and money to sign a relatively unknown centerback from the Ukraine just because Guardiola wanted him and pressured to get him.

  52. Muhammad
    September 1, 2009

    yes, they are comparing us with Madrid, not mentioning at all that we missed both Iniesta and Yaya, and that in the two weeks rest Madrid took we played 3 official games contesting for 2 cups, one of them was 2 days before the Gijon game.
    but then again, it is your own fault really that you opened such an abomination.

  53. September 1, 2009

    Its now confirmed that Ricky Rubio will play at Barcelona for at least the next 2 years. We’re even kicking ass in basketball. Ricky and La Bomba Navarro will make Regal Barcelona a hell of an interesting b-ball team to watch.

  54. Kxevin
    September 1, 2009

    The Sid Lowe take on the match:

    I guess most of you will have seen bits of Barcelona last night, but anyway
    (and apologies for the delay in posting this: the comments bit has, as you’ve probably noticed, been down), here comes my two pennies’ worth:

    3-0, Bojan, Keita, Ibrahimovic.

    Striking that goals came from headers, two off corners. (Although Pep G claimed that the only corner that was actually a training ground routine didn’t come off at all, “yeah, some laboratory we’ve got!”)

    Bojan looked far quicker, stronger and more dangerous than I have seen him before.

    For a short while Sporting caused them a few problems but ultimately Barcelona won pretty easily.

    Barcelona continue to move the ball very quickly and, as usual, Alves was pretty much a right winger rather than defender. Even more striking was that, as I have written about before, they were obsessed with getting the ball back quickly. They really swarmed all over Sporting, pushing them right back into their own area.

    One player slowed them down slightly, both in terms of the pressure and the movement of the ball: Ibrahimovic.

    That said, not only is that natural at the moment, there were one or two really genuninely impressive moments from him. He seemed very anxious to make an impact – getting the goal at last (81st minute, I think it was) could prove to be pretty important psycologically.

    Piqué gets better and better. He’s going to be a massive star for Barcelona and without doubt a future captain.


  55. September 1, 2009

    I wish I could care about trapezoidally shaped keys, but I can’t. Regal Barça may be good, but it’s not worth watching, and I’m basketball fan.

  56. Kxevin
    September 1, 2009

    😀 That’s true, Muhummad. Particularly from that writer, who is almost always appalling.

  57. September 1, 2009 is definitely the new with their outlandish rumors and their inane “inquisitions”. I remember an article this transfer window that read “OFFICIAL: Villa agrees move to barca”…. Bah!

  58. September 1, 2009

    Isaiah- So am I but alas, I have to live with FIBA ball to get my live fix here in PR. Believe me I would prefer NBA or NCAA any day of the week. 🙁

  59. Hilal
    September 1, 2009

    Most writers will try and put us down any chance they get. Thats how it works, they love nothing more than to watch a giant be created and then help to tear them down. Its not just in football, they do it in all sports, in all facets of entertainment actually. Its a shame, but thats just the way it is. Everytime we have a game now where we dont absolutely blitz the opposition there are going to be lots of bs articles written about how we have lost our edge, how the system doesnt work with Zlatan, blah blah blah. The english press especially will grab every opportunity to try and make us seem less dominant, they already have.

    Lets put last nights game into perspective shall we:

    1) We played 120 mins on a god awful pitch 2 days earlier.
    2) We have yet to really find our rythmn.
    3) We were without 4 regular starters incl Messi and Iniesta.
    4) We were playing a team that showed no interest whatsoever in playing football.
    5) Zlatan is nowhere near fully fit or integrated into this team.
    6) WE WON 3-0 and Zlatan scored.

    So even though we admitedly didnt play our best and even though our new talisman striker is nowhere near his best, we still managed to win and he got himself on the scoresheeet. Oh and we didnt conceed. I mean really for any writer to try and twist it to seem like this was bad just seems desperate to me. I read somewhere, not sure where, some idiot proclaiming “3 goals from corners, is that what Barcelona has become now”. I mean really, what a ludicrous thing to say, but i expect a lot more of these sorts of comments…

    Let them talk….we will do our talking on the pitch

  60. poipoi
    September 1, 2009

    Kxevin, you’re right they were congratulating the swedish wonder but I don’t think he liked it very much. A star is supposed to be selfish and confident and (this is just my impression) by the look in his face he didn’t like that so many players were “taking care” of his state of mind. It’s like “I’m the man don’t worry I can do it on my own”.

    btw… I think that the chemistry between puyi and piquenbauer is out of this world, don’t you think?

  61. September 1, 2009

    Hilal, remember last year when we lost to Numancia? We were out of the title race, Pep was done, another season ruined. Then 0-0 against Racing. We weren’t going to earn more than 5 points all year, Pep was out in one more match, Laporta was gone before the end of the month.

    Aaaaand triplete.

  62. Hilal
    September 1, 2009

    At least Sid had some sensible comments….definitely agree regarding Bojan. Somehow he seems to have shaken off that delicate demeanour he had last year. He seeme much stronger on the ball and didnt allow defenders to push him around. It actually surprised me quite a bit and I had to double check that it was Bojan and not Pedro a few times. I think he is going to be much more of an influence this year.

  63. Han
    September 1, 2009

    Can anybody give a realistic number of our debts? I know this has been mentioned before but never really answered and now I’m reading figures/bullshit on dutch forums like the following:

    “110 miljoen uitgeven en een schuld van 438 miljoen, goed bezig Barca!” literally translated “spending 110 mill and having 438mill debts, way to go Barca!”

    I’ m curious for various reasons not in the least to judge on how the Laporta administration has done financially. Especially given that the board has always boasted their prudence, profits and debt reducement programs.

  64. poipoi
    September 1, 2009

    Krkic is looking better this years I think… no everyone has had samu titi and ibra to learn from 😉 He looks more mature and with more confidence, last season a lot of balls bounced out his feet as if he was shaking or somthing.

  65. Kxevin
    September 1, 2009

    I’m not sure that there is a “real” number. Every big club is in debt, and strives to be reasonably balanced. The complexity is balancing paper debt/real debt and real/paper assets.

    When you last raised the question, I scanned the assembly documents, looking for debt to income data, etc, and nothing doing. Will keep looking, and if anyone has any leads, post away.

  66. Kxevin
    September 1, 2009

    Regarding Krkic, you can see so much of Henry in his game, particularly the moves into the box, the way that he makes his cuts. The shotmaking creativity also shows some Henry. He needs time, and he will get that time.

  67. Muhammad
    September 1, 2009

    that’s true Kevin, remember that goal in the cup final against Bilbao.. typical henry finish.

  68. September 1, 2009

    Han- The 438 million figure is an outright lie propagated by Real Madrid rag AS. As of the last economic report. The TOTAL debt was 215 million as of January 2009 and expected to be around 190 million by now although Sala i Martin didn’t say because the Chygnasty transfer was still on going.

    I find it a little confusing because of the Spanish financial terms. Within that 190 million we only have 13 million of what Spain calls Bank Debt which will be paid in full by October. Its confusing because as far as I can tell, in Spain this refers to relatively short term obligations (payable within 5-6 years) or/and lines of credit. This makes a huge difference. For instance, RM took out over 300 million in lines of credit for their signings this summer. One guaranteed by the Bernabeu attendence income and another by the TV rights. In the US, I rarely saw a LOC that big. Its confusing because in the US you have current liabilities (payable within a year) but in Spain you have all this “Bank Debt”.

    What about the rest of the 190 million in debt? I can’t say I know the specifics but logically I would deduce that they come from bonds, mortgages, and long term (15+ years) obligation. Considering that we make over twice that amount in income in a year, a bank would consider that a very manageable and healthy debt, especially because it is long term.

  69. Kxevin
    September 1, 2009

    Hector with the knowledge. Yay, team!

  70. September 1, 2009

    Didn’t Cesc Pistol do some research about this financial stuff? Whatever came of that? I’ve been waiting for it.

  71. Kxevin
    September 1, 2009

    And my apologies for incorrectly spelling your screen name above, Muhammad. Between you and Ibrahimovic, I’ll have to not trust my fat fingers so much.

  72. poipoi
    September 1, 2009

    I also have fat fingers and no nails at all, specially after FCB games…. the ibrahomovic one was priceless 😉

  73. SC
    September 1, 2009

    Can’t wait for the Classico and see “Iker face” when BANGS knocks in a couple of goals.

    Good Monday Night Futbol game. I’m bummed about the injuries but glad they happened during the FIFA break.

  74. September 1, 2009

    What’s with the massive collective chip on the shoulder re: football writers here? Everyone needs to calm down and stop taking offense at non-offensive things.

    First of all, Phil Ball didn’t say that particular quote, he quoted someone else as saying it. Secondly, he implied that he agreed with the Madrid part of the statement, not necessarily the Barca part of the statement. And thirdly, is it even wrong? On this forum (or Offside, whatever) last year, all I remember is all of us moaning about how lucky RM got time and again, winning 1-0 or 2-1 when they played crap and FCB never having those types of games. Well, that’s exactly what the quote above is saying! Just in different words.

    Yes, the ESPN commentary is godawful, and it would be nice to have people who actually like La Liga to commentate on its matches. But you can’t take these guys too seriously.

    Chill out people. It’s a long season, and if you are this outraged now, you will have nothing left in March/April/May.

  75. Eduard
    September 1, 2009

    besides Phil Ball being a closed Madridista, I usually like his weekend reviews. I’m actually glad he’s back from Turkey, gives me another article to read.

  76. September 1, 2009

    Don’t get me wrong, I adore Phil Ball. I just found that statement aggravating. Perhaps Ahsan is right.

    But you’re saying pace our outrage, Ahsan? Okay, fair enough, but I have enough outrage to last all year with or without a summer break. My BP is fine, by the way.

  77. jordi
    September 1, 2009

    I remember when Phil Ball had an article about Aguero being better than Leo.Just like then ill take his oppinons with a pinch of salt.

  78. Flippy
    September 1, 2009

    I think Phil Ball was saying something like: if we played bad, it was a loss regardless of the result, because our motto and our fans says we have to play beautiful…similar to what Cruijff said: I’d rather lose beautifully than win ugly.

  79. Achraf
    September 1, 2009

    Hey hector what’s up with the ball pressure part 2. still waiting on that one and/or another goal analysis.
    Thx for the hard work it is appreciated

  80. bill
    September 1, 2009

    I think the team played well for a first game. I felt like we didn’t have the midfield control we usually have. With Iniesta and Messi on the field, Gijon wouldn’t find enough resources to focus on Xavi. With telepathic passes and constant role switching, those resources would be better off spent elsewhere.

    Ibra looked tentative and somewhat timid. The only other time I saw him with that look was against Man U last season. Some of his passes were very good though. BANG the balls in bangs! Too many weak-ass side footed shot attempts at goal. Those come with time, full game fitness as they are all about timing. So for now, just bang them in!

    As for banging shots in, Bojan has no problem doing that. I always forget the kid is 19yrs old! Oh my goodness! If he keeps this up, he will be a Barcelona great. You could tell he was gonna have a good game when he appeared relaxed and joking around with Sergi. B before kick-off.

    I remember in 2005, Eto’o said there was a young kid coming up through the ranks, that would be even better than Ronaldinho (which I thought blasphemous at the time) and his name was messi. And in 2007, he said there was another one coming up who he predicted will be better than both Messi and Ronaldinho, and his name is Bojan Kirkic. It hasn’t panned out to be true yet, but a saw a Ronaldinho like dash from midfield, complete with ball hoping and enough body feints to keep defenders at bay before he unleashed his shot. If he learns how to draw defenders and give the killer pass, he would be very dangerous.

  81. September 1, 2009

    Achraf- Technical issues (I had to reformat my laptop’s HDD although luckily I had the documents backed up but lost my diagrams and bookmarks) and work got in the way. Fear not though. You’ll see plenty of me in the next couple of weeks with the international break and all. 😉

  82. Alexinho
    September 1, 2009

    You know, I’m very surprised you call Keita MOTM. Because that’s what I was thinking after the match, and I had to almost slap myself, because that’s absurd surely. The man looked unplayable on set plays. With that threat, I expect Pique to grab a few more goals than last season…and of course Ibra.

    (Whoa, three headed goals??)

    I was wondering if that was our Botia. Can’t say I paid too much attention to him.

    Bojan played well by his standards, which I suppose is all we can ask. Still, an Henry injury will be very hard to take should it occur (or worse, an Iniesta injury). To his credit, the Kid showed flashes of his individuality in some plays, apart from Henry, though in some plays (one comes to mind toward the beginning), running from the left-wing “island” at a defender, I saw a young TH14.

    Pedro, to me, probably learned a lesson. I said before that he plays way too freely, taking every opportunity he can to possibly get in the game. It worked for him before, but in this game his teammates weren’t taking his option as much, and so he got tired faster and was more invisible.

    Ibra’s played his best game so far. He’s adjusting quickly, for sure.

    The worst thing that could’ve happened as far as Maxwell was not a relatively poor game (I may have been a bit more generous about him, though Abidal was certainly him x5), but an injury, no matter how small.

    Glad we got rest for Messi, Henry, some for Abidal, and Iniesta (if this last one needs it).

    I might not be as worried about Busquets as you are. He’s so much better on the ball than he was last season. Awareness comes with experience except for the most talented. I don’t expect him to get shipped out for some seasons to come.

    Overall, a very slow game, but I wasn’t thinking “poor performance,” I was thinking, this is how most teams, especially poorer teams, will play us. Our buildup is slow. Slow, but beautiful, practiced, and dynamic. If they aren’t going to challenge us, we aren’t going to pick up the pace. 3-0? Sounds like the kind of scoreline we regularly got last season, even if we were slightly weekend personnel-wise and playing slowly. Sounds like we’re still the best team in the world.

  83. Eduard
    September 1, 2009

    primer toc if anyones interested….

  84. Mher
    September 1, 2009

    Kxevin, the proper term describing is douchebagery. much more relatively sensible

  85. September 1, 2009

    HELGE, i released your post about ibra from the spam filter. Don’t know why it got nabbed, to be honest.

  86. Kxevin
    September 1, 2009

    So Alexinho, are you saying you don’t trust me? Or yourself? 😀

    And I think that if a club is going to allow us to play at half-speed, knock in goals off set pieces and win 3-0, we should take it, and bank the energy for our reserve tanks.

  87. poipoi
    September 1, 2009

    I just read in Sport that FCB’s number 7 has no owner since guddy left. I think bojan could get that one

  88. Helge
    September 1, 2009

    Ah, thanks Isaiah.
    I didn’t get the warning that I got busted by the spam filter (I think on theoffside, there was a message). So I thought it might have been my firefox script blocker or some other problem – sorry for bombarding you with TEST comments.

    By the way, Ibra got more points than CR7/9/94 in the fantasy game. And although I am not completely convinced by the system of awarding points(*), I gotta admit that this time it worked out. Ibra seemed to be a bigger danger over the whole match compared to CR for RM.
    We didn’t have our best match but compared to last season’s debut, we were on fire yesterday 🙂
    Nobody should complain about this start and I’m sure we will see a lot more magic as the season continues.

    (*) I’m also participating in a German fantasy league and they give the points with respect to the player’s rating from Germany’s most popular football magazine. I still fear that the yahoo-system may disadvantage players like Xavi who would usually get a high ratings from each sport’s paper but maybe doesn’t make so many points in our Fantasy game. Another case is the keeper, I don’t know if Asenjo simply had a bad match, if he made some superb saves or if the 3 goals he conceeded were absolutely not his fault and [Insert an adjective for: No keeper of the world would have saved it]. For the last case, I don’t think giving him -9 points is fair… (you guessed right, I bought him for my team^^)

  89. September 1, 2009

    poipoi…. or we could just keep it in the shelf and give it to ribery or villa next season … wishful thinking perhaps. 7 beers down, i don’t blame me.

    rafa has cesc’s #4 jersey too.. perhaps we can save it for him 🙂

  90. September 1, 2009

    rinat whobityokokov from shakhtar is the richest man in europe apparently

  91. Ciaran
    September 1, 2009

    A few things about that match…
    Keita – he was full on, box to box and was a real engine in the middle of the park. 100% improvement over this time last season

    Pique – he is definitely our first choice centreback for this season. He wins everything in the air and brings the ball out incredibly. He missed wingers dropping deep for possession though, Pedro was static and Bojan tried to go long mostly.

    Alves – the energizer bunny fullback is still playing attractive football but his crosses are 10x more dangerous with Ibra hanging around.

    Busquets – his was the most disappointing display of the evening. Losing possession is a problem… losing possession and not fighting to win it back is suicide.
    Our DM plays as the centre of a 3man backline when we have possession and if he loses it and flails around holding his ankles then we will be fucked against the EPL teams.

    Bojan – the kid was awesome. He is top quality on the wings. He is aggressive in winning back possession and constantly looking to get into dangerous positions.
    Is anyone else thinking that he will pass out Henry for the starting spot by the end of the season?

    Ibra – he showed promise. He was clearly trying too hard until he scored. You could feel his relief when he scored and he played with a smile afterwards. It’s coming…

  92. poipoi
    September 1, 2009

    lol reagan… I’m another big beer aficionado, among other things 😛

    I think that silva is more likely to come, but those two you said would be the bomb

  93. September 1, 2009

    Helge, Ibra got more points because he scored a goal from play, which is worth more than a penalty.

    Yahoo gives points for things like “passes into the area”, corners won, and fouls earned, which gives Xavi a distinct advantage, I think. Plus he scores goals now and then and he’s freakin’ Xavi!

  94. ElShowDeJason
    September 1, 2009

    No, Rafa doesn’t have Cesc’s number 4 jersey. Rafa has Rafa’s # 4 jersey. ahem…

    Isaiah, are we getting a weekly Superliga Fantasy Post? or should we just comment on the one post, or on the most recent post?

    anyways. yeah, Zlatan, Pique and Pedro racked up some points for me, Busquets added a couple.

    unfortunately, having Yaya and Iniesta didn’t help, although, leaving Iniesta in was completely my fault.

    That left FCBlaugranaSanDiego sitting at 8th with 46.5 points.

  95. ElShowDeJason
    September 1, 2009

    btw, any of you lucky bastards that have Soldado on your team should sell him, since he is playing against us next jornada.

  96. September 1, 2009

    Also, I’ll see what I can do about posting a Fantasy post each week — i’ll try to come up with one over the next couple of days.

  97. ElShowDeJason
    September 1, 2009

    BTW Isaiah, which one is your team?

  98. khairallah
    September 1, 2009

    Lord, take my now, I have seen enough:
    “Marcelo, however, despite questions about his defence last season, looked solid at the back while Raul made a strong case for himself in the starting XI with a brilliant goal that demonstrated his persistence and professionalism”

    “Barcelona dispatched Sporting by a 3-0 scoreline; but while the box score may indicate a dominating performance, those who watched the encounter saw a different story.” ladies and gentlemen, the usual fascinating Spanish Inquisition

  99. poipoi
    September 1, 2009

    It looks like I’ll have to do a team in that fantasy league to follow this blog…

    is it still possible or I’m late, Isaiah? 🙁

  100. September 1, 2009

    Jason, I am THE YAYA. Currently in 9th behind you. Don’t look over your shoulder though cause you’ll see THE YAYA coming at you.

    Poipoi you van definitely still join. Pwd is barcelona. Go back to the fantasy post I did to get the link. I am on my phone so can’t do it for you.

  101. jordi
    September 1, 2009

    Raul scored a tap in , into an empty net, and they called it a brilliant goal that demonstrated professionalism?, Marca in disguise ? Im surprised they didnt manage to fit in the word “leadership” in there.

  102. Museum
    September 1, 2009

    I’m a huge Timberwolves fan, so this whole Rubio thing has been crazy. Funny that he ended up at Barca. Can’t wait until either he lands in Minneapolis or Jonny Flynn turns out to be so good that we don’t need him.

  103. Kari
    September 1, 2009

    Not trying to defend’s ineptness but the guy who wore the article (Cyrus C. Malik) is ACTUALLY a madridista. He was the guy that offered the point of view of the fans during the summer (as in, he provided the reactions the fans had to EE’s summer spending, talking as a Madridista.)

    So, really, it’s not all that surprising…

  104. poipoi
    September 1, 2009

    la peña people (juventut) are deeply anti-barça, but thank god he did not go to Madrid. I support la peña when it comes to basketball, even though I don’t know much about the sport my girlfriend played as a “base” in the girl’s national team and she teaches me a bit… joventut de badalona are so great!

    Have you seen Rudy Fernandez play? he IS the show

  105. kxevin
    September 1, 2009

    Time for doctor, then rest so that I can rise at 255 a.m. Chicago time, and get me some Clasico tickets. Thank the stars for cable Web connections.

    I see Krkic being good, but as for displacing Henry, let’s wait til he kicks out the jams vs real competition before we anoint him. I was excited about his possibilities last season, only to be let down.

    But my hopes are high. Very high.

  106. inNYC
    September 1, 2009

    Hector et al, it used to be part of my job to track debt (among other things) in the US gaming industry and a line, or multiple lines, of credit in the hundreds of millions was not that unusual at all for the bigger/higher valued corporations. I am not sure exactly how a club like Real or Barca is valued but it seems possible to me they could be on a par with your MGMs (the MGMs before the recession, I mean, I have no idea what happened in that industry in the last couple years), seems to me like the difference in how the debt is organized might be due to Spanish banking norms.

    It was me that said I was going to look into it. I’ve been having technical difficulties which have crippled my research capabilities, but if people are still interested and someone smarter like Hector isn’t going to do it, I’ll check it out and get back to y’all.

  107. Ciaran
    September 1, 2009

    Question for you Kxevin: did you expect Pique to dislodge Marquez by the end of last season?
    Only messing.
    I have faith in young Bojan though. From out wide he can create a lot of danger, in terms of creating and scoring.
    Long term I still think that he is going to be a lot better than Pedro.
    Pedro will be a great supersub winger, in the vein of Ludo Guily, IMO. Bojan can, and hopefully will, become an automatic starter at the left wing position.
    Unless of course, the board wign Ribery next summer to stunt his progress again.

  108. September 1, 2009

    You definitely know more than me then 😀 especially if you’re “in NYC”, I did a little analyst gruntwork back in the day but it was in much smaller markets (different industry now).

    I went to college in the US so despite Spanish being my first language, the financial terms and regulations throw me off quite a bit. I’ve tried to find a debt breakdown but the best I could find in a cursory search was this:

    That Debt/Net Debt/CF to EBITDA ratios are not bad at all assuming the 190 million debt figure is accurate but simply more info is needed. Overall it does seem healthy assuming the accuracy of all the figures.

    Liverpool’s capital structure would make a hell of a case study, don’t you think?

    Interestingly, digging a little deeper I found that RM actually secured multiple LOC’s which makes much more sense. Caja Madrid and Santander being the two main interests.

  109. September 1, 2009

    Often I see a great goal and imagine myself doing it. After Ibra header, my wholebody went “Don’t even imagine it , you don’t have those reflexes.”

    Is “BANGS” an acronym ( I missed it …Big-Ass Nasty Goal Scorer? )

    Revitaliized Keita, Bojan and the canterano brigade are going to be a pleasure to watch this year added to the already best team in the world. Holy Balls!! as Isaiah would say.

  110. Carles P
    September 1, 2009

    From Hector’s link (FCB balance sheet):

    -Our revenue stream looks pretty good. Don’t know what the average for a football team is, but looks like we made about $6,652,000 in FYE 2008. If you add back depreciation (non-cash expense, $62,526,000) we look like champs!

    -The debt is a little harder to decipher since the FCB brand also entails basketball, handball, etc. The debt that is presented in the statements also represent the debt incurred by the other sport teams.

    -Long term debt looks to be in the range of about $129,377,000. That number represents the debt that will be paid off in a span that is greater than one year, so I am assuming that is the debt that most people refer to when we hear “club debt”.

    Disclaimer: I analyze corporate balance sheets all day, but a football team is a little different, let alone European corporations, so my numbers could be wrong.

  111. Carles P
    September 1, 2009

    Oh and thanks for the link Hector!!!

  112. inNYC
    September 1, 2009

    Well, I’m definitely not the best qualified for analyzing this, I have about zero training in economics or finance (some time will tell you what my job was and you will not be expecting it) but I can read a balance sheet and look for dirt in filings. Although I can barely get through a basic newspaper article in spanish let alone financial jargon so I’m in trouble there. Might have to rely on someone else’s work.

    What do we think we want to know? I’m liable to go off and read a jillion books and get distracted but I could definitely focus time on a few specific questions. I was just thinking about Madrid’s bank connections which you referenced, and as Carles P is getting at, what actually is the baseline for comparing clubs’ value, financial health, etc?–what is the prestige/connections/politics factor? I feel like I read some accounts suggesting that Madrid got treatment that other corporations wouldn’t have given similar situations, but then their income and “secondary” effects from stuff like marketing may justify that, if somewhat outside the lines.

    it gets even more confusing when you compare between countries (Italy? whoever finally tells everybody how it’s all done there will end up with cement slippers). I don’t know anything about how Argentina’s clubs are financed but it kinda shocked me that a collective 400m pesos could almost sink their season when clubs like Madrid and Man Utd are carrying the kind of debt they’re carrying. I know it’s often a matter of the credit terms, ability to make (the next) payments and probably the conditions of the countries’ respective banking industries, but still, it seems mysterious.

    Anyway I think there have been books written about this and I just haven’t read them. Anyone else?

    Also, I wouldn’t say that being in NYC makes ANYBODY smarter, based on some of the antics I’ve witnessed over the years. I said witnessed, not performed, for the record. There is a good side to it though.

  113. inNYC
    September 1, 2009

    Dang, sorry for writing a novel there.

  114. jnelson
    September 1, 2009

    @Mher douchebagery HAHA perfect term for that

  115. OhYes
    September 1, 2009

    If you guys are looking for something a wee bit more..rational when it comes to La Liga reporting, always check out La Liga Loca at

    Here’s what Tim had to say about Raul:

    “On Sunday, both Marca and AS were under the impression that it was Raúl who was the bestest ever player on the pitch in the Madrid vs Depor clash, what with his one-yard super strike and penalty-winning tumble.”


  116. September 1, 2009

    Just like you said, inNYC.

    There’s a heck of a lot of factors for us gringos to consider that we are simply not knowledgeable on what with European banking and politics, how a big football club is usually run, and what the balance sheet means.

    The link I posted earlier has the Barca balance sheet and income statement for 08/09 in detail BTW. Its the part about understanding the true functioning of a European sporting club and the truth behind the numbers that I lack to effectively analyze it.

    Argentina’s case was different. They got to the point where their operating revenue was less than their operating expenses i.e. they could not even pay their own players on many teams and they could not do like a big Euro club in this case and simply take out credit to pay them off and stay alive. Also, the AFA is run by a bunch of gangsters and corrupt businessmen. Its a whole other ballgame over there.

    Regarding, the RM issues. From what I can make out from several Spanish articles I’ve read, the outrage is due to several things…

    – The banks that FloFlo got his LOC’s from (Santander and Caja Madrid) were recipients of Spain’s version of TARP and have serious liquidity and loan to deposit ratio issues. They have put a lot of small and medium businesses in danger because they are extremely reluctant to loan money right now. Also, in Spain these banks are involved in a lot of political intrigue. Hence people wonder, where the hell did they get the money? (the banks that is)

    – FloFlo not only gets loans from these banks that have lesser mortals starving for money but he gets them (in Caja Madrid’s case at least) at only 2 points above the Euribor (according to this La Nacion article )

    which are obscenely good terms for that amount.
    Supposedly the bank is charging much higher interest rates for the mere mortals. Then again mere mortals don’t have a 600 million euro media contract to use as a guarantee. Albeit one that almost didn’t get its installment paid out back in february.

    The part about FloFlo’s credits that get me is this. The only bank LOC we had open was 92 million that was taken out in 03 when Laporta came in. It will be back at zero by this October, a triplete, a doblete, and a liga later. It approximately took us six years to pay it back. FloFlo took out a grand total of over 150 million in bank LOC’s and the terms say that they are payable in five years. He’s betting big. Come 2014, those debts must be paid off. However, knowing him, in the worst case scenario he’ll just take out another loan to pay off the previous one.

  117. fcbfan
    September 1, 2009

    More on Chygrynskiy, from another site. quite long so im pasting it.

    this new star from the East? Who is Dymtro Chygrynskiy? Here are ten facts about the Barcelona new boy you may not know:

    1. Chygrynskiy’s first appearances in the Champions League was against Barcelona

    The young defender did not make an impressive start to his career at the very highest level. After the game he admitted his legs were trembling throughout
    the match.

    2. Chygrynskiy was not included by Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu in the first-team because of it

    The Ukrainian’s poor performances to begin with in the 2004/05 season caused his coach Lucescu to decide Chygrynskiy was not ready for first-team football.
    The youngster was loaned to Metalurg Zaporizhzhya and only returned to Shakhtar in 2006.

    3. One of just a few Ukrainian footballers to be awarded the Order for Courage

    The award was originally established to honour people who performed heroic acts and to praise citizens who bring glory to the country. Chygrynskiy picked
    up the honour for promoting sport and the Ukraine with dignity.

    4. Nicknamed Chygrynho by Ukrainians

    Ukrainians have long believed the Brazilian way of play is an ideal way to play the game. That’s why Chygrynskiy received his nickname Chygrynho for his
    willingness to attack, especially from set-pieces.

    5. Adores jazz and spends almost every minute of his free time downloading songs from the internet

    Chygrynskiy has a huge collection of jazz records and loves his music. He was the first player at Shakhtar to ask for permission to have an MP3 player
    whilst training alone.

    Barcelona 09/10 Third MESSI
          Barcelona 09/10 Away IBRAHIMOVIC

    Barcelona 09/10 third shirt MESSI
                           Barcelona 09/10 away shirt IBRAHIMOVIC

    6. Shakhtar owner Rinat Akhmetov had just a five minute talk with Chygrynskiy about his transfer

    The billionaire Shakhtar owner did not want to let his young defender move to Spain. Akhmetov asked Chygrynskiy if he was sure he would succeed in La Liga.
    The Ukrainian said he would, and he would also be honoured to be the first footballer from Shakhtar to play for Barcelona. Akhmetov shook his hand and
    wished him good luck.

    7. Does not think of getting married before he is 30

    Chygrynskiy is quite shy and has avoided the women that hunt him in Ukraine. When asked about finding a possible bride from Spain, Chygrynskiy said he
    was not sure beautiful Spanish women would chase him because he only has to run after men on the pitch.

    8. Was a smart guy at school with high final grades

    The 22 year-old continued his education with Donetsk State University whilst playing football, studying Intellectual Property Management. Now he has the
    chance to use that knowledge to manage his career in one of the biggest leagues on the planet.

    9. Was Shakhtar Donetsk captain but gave it up

    Coach Mircea Lucescu surprised almost everyone in Ukrainian football when he appointed Chygrynskiy captain in the 2007/08 season. However, after a series
    of mistakes and poor performances, the defender asked Lucescu to give the captain’s armband to Dario Srna and the coach relented.

    10. Ukrainian fans do not believe in Chygrynskiy

    It may seem strange, but most Ukrainian supporters do not see Chygrynskiy as a good defender and consider his transfer to be a waste of money for Barcelona.
    According to the overwhelming opinion on Ukrainian football forums, fans believe the youngster will not become a star in La Liga.

  118. fcbfan
    September 1, 2009

    oops messed that up. sorry! can’t edit. didn’t mean to paste the whole thing.

  119. OhYes
    September 1, 2009

    He was the first player at Shakhtar to ask for permission to have an MP3 player
    whilst training alone.

    Haha! But Jazz?? Why not some Metallica, man. or Slayer

  120. Kxevin
    September 1, 2009

    BANGS (Big Ass Gangsta Swede). 😀

    Thanks for the digging, Hector. Great information that puts all questions to rest, I think.

    Ciaran, yes I did. Pique had size, range, and just about the same passing ability, and he was still improving. So it was only a matter of time, just as I think it will only be a matter of time before (based on what I saw in the UEFA Super Cup) Chygnasty displaces Puyol.

    Guardiola is cruel, but fair. As with any successful entity, there is constant challenge. And the players recognize that. I’m sure that much of Puyol’s excellence was a gauntlet being slammed down on the muck….erm….pitch for Chygnasty.

    “You might displace me, but you’re going to have to be better than this to do it.”

    And we’re on the same page about Pedro! being the new Giuly.

    –As far as the opinion of Ukranian fans, it depends. Pique wasn’t considered that hot of a defender in the Premiership, which was why he was available. It’s makes different demands upon its players. Pique is perfect for our system. Perhaps not so for Premiership defenses.

    Likewise, everything that Chygrynskyy showed me during the Super Cup, looks like it fit into our system. So Ukranian fans can just go suck it.

  121. inNYC
    September 1, 2009

    Hector, OK, I see what you’re saying about Argentina in a macro way, but I’d still be curious to know how the clubs had planned out their operations revenue/expenses, why it went wrong and what role the Federation (?) plays in it, as compared with other countries–that could tell you something, either about how it’s run differently or if it’s just a matter of revenue not actually coming out of the pockets of fans, or some other ripple effect…which would also tell you something, although perhaps not about footie. I’m shamefully behind on knowing more than the basics about what’s happening economies besides ours, I admit.

    I don’t think corruption/gangsterism is necessarily worse there than in some other parts of the footballing world–I’m seriously waiting to see if the next Euro will actually be held in Ukraine, to pick one example–but maybe the financial system is the weak link (so to speak) for Argentina, or maybe there are other differences. Or maybe I’m wrong about the corruption not being worse.

    I didn’t have time to read your link, although I will, but six years sounds like a well within average schedule for a line of credit that size (92 million…Euros, I assume), but again that’s based on the tiny bit of knowledge I have of large-scale, mostly publicly traded corps in the US. So then the other question would be, does Madrid expect to make all payments on time or do like you said and renew, and how unusual would that be? Lines of credit are also frequently revolving and although it’s not usually explicitly stated (at least to a normal human reader) in the documents, seems to me it’s understood a lot of the time.

    We can take this off the board if we’re boring everyone, btw.

  122. Kxevin
    September 1, 2009

    Because, OhYes, he was already preparing for the crazy chords of our playing system. He knew. 😀

  123. September 1, 2009

    Last one, I promise 😀 .

    inNYC- The clubs in Ukraine/Russia from what little I know are commonly owned by rich businessmen/oligarchs. In Argentina, they are clubs a la Barcelona and the chairmen and boards are elected. To win elections, prospective chairmen regularly must recruit/pay off the barrabravas (ultras) many of whom are hardcore criminals. They both command a lot of votes and intimidate a lot of voters. It got to a point where these guys have serious power within the clubs and routinely skim money. They demand benefits, photo ops with player, signed jerseys, free tickets, etc. and usually get them. Even the likes of Boca Juniors is heavily influenced by La Doce (the most powerful Boca ultra group). Hell, I sat (maybe stood is a better word) in La Doce once and there were guys walking around with bats making sure you were singing. Guys like Palermo and Riquelme all have ties to them as well.

    Add to that all the talented players that get shipped off to Europe for serious money and all the shady companies and agents that own them and money gets skimmed off like foam off a Starbucks espresso leaving the clubs with little. In short, its a complete shit show.

    BTW If you want a very quick and dirty lowdown on the macro view of Argentina’s economic history, I can email you a paper I wrote a while ago that I think should cover it. Let me know. Its there if you want it.

    OK. I’ll stop boring you guys now. Back to Barca 🙂

  124. September 1, 2009


    Regarding the Ukranian fans’ opinion on Chygnasty, that’s okay. In Argentina Messi “doesn’t feel the flag”, is “soft”, and is “an overrated choker” . I kid you not.

  125. Corrine
    September 1, 2009

    pique wasn’t considered a big defender in england because he never got first-team football with guys like Rio and Vidic around while ‘Chygrynho’ (i like that, haha) has been a regular for Shahktar for a while. Hmmm, the fact that his own people don’t have faith in him might just worry me a bit. But he looked decent against us so I’m gonna plug my ears and do the *lalalalalala i can’t hear you* thing and ignore the skeptics

    ps: i know a few people were worried about ibra coming in with his big ego and ~ruining the team dynamic~ but i really miss this:
    i think hector brought it up in the last thread, he needs to get his ~swagger~ back, he’s been way too shy! his goal was congratulated like he just got his training wheels taken off or something

    pps: ayyy dios mio, the balance sheets, i knew i shouldn’t have dropped out of accounting

  126. inNYC
    September 1, 2009

    Hector, yeah, send that to me. Or send it to Isaiah and he’ll send it to me. Although you almost kinda answered my question already, at least as it concerns football, ’cause we’re seeing now as much as ever, money gets siphoned off a lot of different ways in a lot of different countries. But it does matter, functionally (from a club’s perspective) where on the food chain that siphoning occurs. Interesting.

  127. Alexinho
    September 2, 2009

    Word Kevin, word. I suppose I trust you of all Barca fanatics. With the exception of Hector maybe 🙂 I suppose the goals analysis has been quietly abandoned…I understand, so much work…

    Great thread by the way, I don’t have anything to say, I’m just absorbed-

  128. BlaugranaDOOM
    September 2, 2009

    Vermeelen (spelling?) for Arsenal was considered a strange signing by many in Holland (at least I read that he was). He seems to be doing quite well.

    I have played with many players who looked pretty good, but not great, then when the competition level gets jacked way up, they jump to a different level as well. Some players look spectacular against lower level competition, but have a hard time against very good teams (something I would say about C. Ronaldo in many ways).

  129. john
    September 4, 2009

    Here is my random thought of the day, lets sell jeffren and bring in Douglas Costa (Brazil). Then Move Inesta to left wing and play Coast, a left footed AM in inestas spot now!!!!!!

Leave a Reply