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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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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

    Cheers.

  10. 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.

  11. Kxevin
    September 1, 2009

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

  12. September 1, 2009

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

  13. 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. 🙁

  14. 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

  15. 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”.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mz7yZu0-0Q&feature=related

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

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. Muhammad
    September 1, 2009

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

  23. 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.

  24. Kxevin
    September 1, 2009

    Hector with the knowledge. Yay, team!

  25. September 1, 2009

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

  26. 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.

  27. September 1, 2009

    I’d be curious to see as well.

  28. poipoi
    September 1, 2009

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

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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

  36. 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.

  37. 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. 😉

  38. 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.

  39. Eduard
    September 1, 2009

    primer toc if anyones interested….

  40. Mher
    September 1, 2009

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

  41. Mher
    September 1, 2009

    =)

  42. September 1, 2009

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

  43. 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.

  44. 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

  45. 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^^)

  46. 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 🙂

  47. September 1, 2009

    rinat whobityokokov from shakhtar is the richest man in europe apparently

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