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

ibragoal

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.

Substitutes

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.

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Written by:

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

142 Comments

  1. 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…

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. September 1, 2009

    Don’t give them advice, Jason!

  7. 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.

  8. ElShowDeJason
    September 1, 2009

    BTW Isaiah, which one is your team?

  9. 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.”

    Goal.com ladies and gentlemen, the usual fascinating Spanish Inquisition

  10. 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? 🙁

  11. 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.

  12. jordi
    September 1, 2009

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

  13. 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.

  14. Kari
    September 1, 2009

    Not trying to defend Goal.com’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…

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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: http://www.fcbarcelona.com/web/english/club/club_avui/informacio_corporativa/situacio_economica/situacio_economica.html

    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.

  20. September 1, 2009

    Maybe Kevin the soci can access something more comprehensive?

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. Carles P
    September 1, 2009

    Oh and thanks for the link Hector!!!

  24. 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.

  25. inNYC
    September 1, 2009

    Dang, sorry for writing a novel there.

  26. jnelson
    September 1, 2009

    @Mher douchebagery HAHA perfect term for that

  27. 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 fourfourtwo.com

    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.”

    Hehe!

  28. 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 http://www.lanacion.es/espana/2009061713217/asi-es-el-prestamo-de-florentino )

    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.

  29. 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.

  30. fcbfan
    September 1, 2009

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

  31. 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

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. Kxevin
    September 1, 2009

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

  35. 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 🙂

  36. September 1, 2009

    Kevin,

    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.

  37. 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:
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v293/Sycohoochi/Serie%20A/Inter/gifs/ZlatanAggroCelebration.gif
    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

  38. 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.

  39. 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-

  40. 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).

  41. 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!!!!!!

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