Osasuna 0, Barca 3, aka “Fire our travel agent!”

Look at Carles Puyol’s face. Does that really look like the face of a player who is going let his side lose a match, ever again? This was a crazy one. I had to watch it a few times, just to adequately characterize what went down, and I finally have it right:

We have the pleasure, week after week, of looking at one of the best teams in history. We squabble about this or that, Villa or Ibrahimovic, Ka-TARR or Kuh-terr and meanwhile, this amazing beast of a club just takes whatever anyone can throw at it, and dispatches it.

This Osasuna match is always a difficult fixture for us. Not this time. We even threw in a “You have 5 hours to rouse yourselves and get to Pamplona, or you forfeit the match,” just to make things a bit more complex. Whatevs. Guardiola’s face when he rolled off the bus told you all that you needed to know about this one. His face, were it able to say anything, would utter, sotto voce, “Somebody is going to die.”

Last time here we played a solid match and took a 1-0 lead late into the proceedings. Crazy pressure from Osasuna forced a Pique own goal for a 1-1 draw. This season, Valdes had to resort to absurdly poor clearances directly to Osasuna attackers to give himself something to do. Because every time we had the ball, this happened:

Tika taka was in full effect yesterday, so much so that Osasuna never even got a clear chance at goal. A club that tallied 13 goals in 12 matches wasn’t likely to notch one against the best club on the planet right now, a club that defends with 11 players as even its keeper morphs into a sweeper. So they get the ball, and knock it around, working their way into the midfield, then the Lilliputians descend upon them, and then this happens:

And as an opposing club president, you can’t even argue that it isn’t fair, because we raised our club. Valdes, Pique, Puyol, Busquets, Xavi, Messi, Iniesta and Pedro! all were products of the system. It’s eminently fair. That they are all reaching their apogee at the same time, yielding a juggernaut that kills with elegance is our extreme pleasure, week after week.

Guardiola, being snake-mean, rolled out our best lineup, and the same lineup that dropped a manita on the Evil Empire this past Monday: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Pedro!, Villa. And it was pretty much the same effect; comprehensive dominance of an opponent. Osasuna, to their credit, knew what they had to do and they jumped on us from the start, hoping to snag something while we were wiping the travel from our eyes. They got a couple of corners, and we looked a little hinky until we got our feet under us. Once that happened, it was all over but the shouting.

–Pedro spanked a shot
–Messi hit the post
–Villa …. well, um …. Villa …. (never mind)

The first goal came from a sequence that was just us, stroking the ball around until suddenly P! found himself in the center of the pitch, with a defender on the wrong side of him. He noticed, and so did Messi, who laced a pass that found P! in stride, and he finished confidently past the keeper. 0-1, good guys. Osasuna proceeded to not play like a home club that was down a goal. There was some pressure and a bit of physical play, but mostly it was a tika taka masterclass. They didn’t chase the ball, being well drilled by their coach, but we broke them down nonetheless because as long as the wide play continues, there is too much of the pitch to defend.

And then there’s this:

What is an opponent supposed to do with this little tyrant, who has decided to become a playmaker this season, as well as one of the game’s most lethal scoring threats? He’s surrounded by defenders, so let’s just throw up a little sombrero, retain possession and keep on rolling. Hmph, this one, I can just outrun. He had a hand in every goal today, assisting on the first and scoring the next two, the last on a penalty. I actually thought that he was going to give the penalty kick to Villa, as he did last season with Ibrahimovic, to get him rolling. But perhaps he figured that Villa would just screw it up, because he was having one of those matches, performances that are more typical than his Clasic outing, frankly. He got balls tangled up in his feet, somehow got twisted around, shanked shots and somehow managed to miss scoring a goal when he was set up with the keeper and the goal dead to rights.

So Messi took the penalty, and why not. He earned it with one of his squirrel-like runs at a defense that was on its heels and looking around, because what if he stops and dishes to a runner? Then what? This time, he kept running and they fouled him in the box. It was a superfluous third goal, but one that gave him the brace to match the output of that preening ninny from That Other Spanish Team.

Messi’s second goal was a brilliant bit of work as he took a pass on the dead run, one of those passes that was crying out for a run to be made in behind the Osasuna defense. Messi obliged, and slid on the diagonal as he ran at the goal, to give himself more angles to shoot at. Contrast this with Villa’s earlier, glorious chance that he just popped right at the keeper from almost the center of the net.

Nobody was truly spectacular today, though Pedro!, Messi and Abidal were brilliant. But we really didn’t have to be, because even as individual players are up or down, the collective is on song, and beautiful. Perhaps next week, we will be made to walk to the match. It’s at home, after all. “Here, ride these little push scooters to the Camp Nou, and we’ll see you over there.”

On a more serious note, understand what we are seeing. We had an amazing club in the year of the triplete. This club might be better.

Team: 8. Did what it had to do, put the boot on Osasuna’s throat and kept it there. It wasn’t always brilliant, but it was almost always effective. If we have more than 70% of possession, and of that 30% you are battling midgets to get to the Kingdom of Lilliput, the odds of you scoring are stacked, and not in your favor.

Guardiola: 7. Not sure what he said to them, but they took care of business. I didn’t like his subs for this match, that was over after the second goal. Unless very few of the first-teamers are going to play in the meaningless match against Rubin Kazan in midweek.

Valdes: 5. He hasn’t had one of these matches in some time, so he was due. Almost everything that he did had some added drama, which you just don’t need from your keeper.

Alves: 5. Lordy, does Dani just not like buses? Recall how awful he was against Inter Milan after that bus ride. His back line mates, particularly Abidal, compensated for his mediocre play in this match. He wasn’t quite moving right, moving the ball right, or contributing to the attack in any meaningful way.

Pique: 6. Nice, solid match from Piquenbauer, that got off to a pretty pokey start as he was getting outrun or outdone by every Osasuna player that tried him. As we got control of the ball, he settled down, in part because after that he didn’t really see any Osasuna attackers.

Puyol: 7. Solid and strong, with fine positional play. He’s found the fountain of youth, and the club benefits, as he and Pique ranged from box to box …. and they’re defenders!

Abidal: 9. Wow, what a match. He was the official fireman today, taking over from Puyol. That flying header to clear a bit of real danger, for me, typified his match. He has the pace to be able to read a match and do what needs to be done. He had a couple of moments, but was flawless after that, with some very fine passing, as well.

Busquets: 7. I really liked the match that Busquets played today, from the passing and defensive sides. He was a pretty constant thorn in the side of Osasuna, and was able to, when necessary, morph into Lanky Xavi and kill with the pass.

Xavi: 5. He was off song today, with a performance that included some magic, much invisibility and even (shudder!) a number of bad balls.

Iniesta: 7. But thank the stars for Ghostface, who played a strong match. Again, not one for the ages, but it didn’t have to be. The signs that he is going to be the next Xavi are becoming more and more clear as you watch his play in this match. He kept the ball moving, constantly searched for the through ball and quite elegantly subbed for our slightly off general.

Messi: 8. I don’t know what there is to say about him, really. This was a Man of the Match-quality performance for him that isn’t going to earn that accolade, at least not from me. Passing, running, ball control and almost constant aggression were his calling cards today.

Pedro!: 9. P! was amazing today. He never, ever stops running, even chasing the ball back to the Osasuna keeper to force a bad clearance. He was crossing, and passing, and running, and crossing, and scoring, and running and playing defense and running some more, all with controlled alacrity. Move fast, but don’t rush is what P! is doing now, and it’s a joy to watch. Seven goals in the last seven matches for our Random Chaos Generator.

Villa: 3. He’s doing the right things, but he was pretty awful today. I’m thrilled that he found a temporary vein of form against EE. The goals will come, but what’s happening to me is, as with Henry his first year, the system and the way that we play are too fast for him. Balls get tangled up in his feet because the pass is coming at a pace that he isn’t used to, from places that he isn’t used to. The inability to score, even on the doorstep, is inexcusable. He pointed to a spot, P! put the ball there and Villa missed the poke-in. Can’t happen. It will some more, and I won’t like it then, either.

Substitutes

Keita (for Xavi): 6. Did exactly what he was supposed to do, which is aid in ball control and use his pace and physicality to make sure nothing happened that we didn’t want to happen in the midfield.

Krkic (for Villa): incomplete. Not enough time to evaluate him, but the signs of his good form were there in abundance today. He’s gone from running around like a gerbil on crank, to precise, direct movements to exactly where he wants to be.

Jeffren (for Pedro!): incomplete. Pretty anonymous, but not that much time to do much of anything, really.

Next up is Rubin Kazan, in our house. They will be playing for their Champions League lives. We, on the other hand, already have the group locked up and don’t need this match. What will Guardiola do? Good question. Last time he had such an opportunity he rolled out with a group of Bs and subs against Shakhtar Donetsk. But we have unfinished business against Rubin. Or do we?


Claudio Chaves/El Mundo Deportivo “First we took the AVE, which is really fast! Then we have this really cool bus, but traffic was a mess, and I think we ran over a chicken or something. Bojan was pretty upset and wanted to stop to give the chicken a proper burial, but we had to keep going, and who designed the traffic patterns in this town, anyway?”

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

169 Comments

  1. Eklavya
    December 5, 2010

    LOL The part about Bojan burying a chicken made me laugh ๐Ÿ™‚

    • ballbeav
      December 6, 2010

      btw, who was man of the match? you said…not messi?

  2. GREECE BARCA
    December 5, 2010

    Oh ah eh!Villa a 3!Don.t be so generous,man.And villa don.t need help from leo like the joke we had as a striker last season.

    • Stephen
      December 5, 2010

      You honestly, really really think Villa’s doing THAT great? Honestly?

      • Soto
        December 5, 2010

        You know, compared to Messi and Pedro, Villa looks out of place on the team and seems to be missing a step or two.

        On the other hand, Villa is tied for fourth among La Liga goal scorers (with twice as many La Liga goals as Pedro) which is not two shabby for our second best striker. He never was nor never will be Messi, but he’s also not a complete disaster.

        Villa could be a lot better, and deserves a 3 rating for yesterdays outing. But I honestly do not really think that Villa’s doing THAT badly.

        • Stephen
          December 5, 2010

          Oh yeah I completely agree. I don’t think he’s THAT bad either, he’s doing fair, should he be doing better? Absolutely. This game was just bad for him, but that’s how it begins.. the “other striker” had a great start with us, and then downward spiraled to being benched by Bojan.. I want to think Villa great match – bad match pattern is something positive and we don’t have to ship him off without a real chance.

          • Soto
            December 5, 2010

            I now really believe that the “other striker”, i.e. Ibra, had personality issues with the coach and possibly some of the players. Watching Ibra at Milan and seeing some of the shenanigans during games and practice, I can not help but wonder if Ibra was really just an immature negative influence on the team and, more importantly, on himself.

            I don’t see that problem at all with Villa. But hey, we never really know what’s going on. We can just hope and cheer.

        • December 5, 2010

          concur, not bad, but not spectacular for sure.
          every player that plays for us shoulder the same amount of pressure. but for the first year, i’d say he is ok. this also justify the fact that our system takes time for imports to adapt and is one of the most difficult ones. Villa has a long rope despite his nothing spectacular performance, it’s because the way he plays gave people an impression that he will adapt well. but currently, he is still struggling.

    • ooga aga
      December 5, 2010

      thank dios the other players are picking up the slack; villa is a step down from ibra. (irony)

  3. soccermomof4
    December 5, 2010

    Thanks for the review, Kevin.

    I was really proud of our guys’ performance considering what they had to go through. I hope the powers that be get the idea that it will always be counterproductive to tick us off. Playing us on the best of days is hard, playing us when we’re ticked is suicidal.

    BTW, as a newbie,just trying to learn the inside stuff, can you explain the ! after Pedro (or P). I hafta say I like it.

    • December 5, 2010

      An addition to his name when he started getting appearances. I usually put it in the squad list and then it just sort of spread to every use.

    • Kxevin
      December 5, 2010

      For me, I love the exclamation point because it denotes the fact that every time P! touches the ball, something happens. Or should I say, something happens!

      • soccermomof4
        December 5, 2010

        Thanks guys— I really love the”!”!

  4. just sayin'
    December 5, 2010

    Ahhh…Villa. So frustrating. I’ve been disappointed all season, have voiced it here and have gotten some crap for not giving him “time”. So, if you allow me to vent, perhaps I will feel better and move on. Our game is too fast for his feet. He is too slow in releasing the ball. When he is given a pass and he goes head to head with the GK, he either shoots it directly at him or it’s a soft kick that the GK can stop. That cannot be blamed on Barca style of play, Villa has to start practicing or watching replays or talk to Messi, because he’s going to have to learn how to either chip the ball over the GK or rocket a shot past him or sneak it by him. Yes, he did it against RM but he doesn’t do it often enough. But, I will tell you this … Xavi and Iniesta and Messi are going to stop passing to him as often and I already see their hesitation. They are not stupid and after tackling a ball away from an opponent & making a run I can clearly see that they would rather pass to Pedro who can usually do more with a ball than lose it or shoot directly at the keeper. I can sense everyone’s fake enthusiasm for Villa and I feel for Villa’s uncomfortable acceptance of fake enthusiasm. We’re the best team on the planet so you know when someone is not playing to the teams potential and Villa is the weakest link.
    If I’ve seen improvement, I would say it’s with assisting. I think when he plays a little farther back, he’s making nicely paced balls down the middle … like he did for Messi yesterday.

    • Jnice
      December 5, 2010

      Agree with some of what you said regarding his play, but this,

      “I can sense everyoneโ€™s fake enthusiasm for Villa and I feel for Villaโ€™s uncomfortable acceptance of fake enthusiasm”

      isn’t true imo. I think the team is genuinely happy with Villa and vice-versa.

      • Kxevin
        December 5, 2010

        Agreed, Jnice. I think that one thing about this team is that it is a TEAM. You can see it in how the entire entity reactly when one of us is wronged, whether it’s Busquets getting fouled or Guardiola getting shoved by a pomaded git.

        I think that they are supportive of Villa, and understand his potential, once he finds his way. The players in the system, more than anyone, understand how difficult it is to play in it your first year. It’s so fast. Look at the one sequence, coming out of the back, in which one Osasuna player was surrounded by four of ours. We got the ball and ping, ping, ping, a warp speed series of one-touches had us in their end all of a sudden.

        Villa’s play at World Cup was much more langurous. He had time on the ball, and space. Here, Messi is running full tilt as is Villa, and the best time to give him the pass is while he is on the run, and the pass has to be spanked, because there’s a defender right there. Villa takes it, and …. oops!

        Contrast that with the touch that Krkic displays. Villa is a better striker, but I think that Krkic has more talent, if that makes sense.

        • Kari
          December 5, 2010

          Villa is a better striker, but I think that Krkic has more talent, if that makes sense.

          Agree 100%.

        • Stephen
          December 5, 2010

          “Villa is a better striker, but I think that Krkic has more talent..” for the barรงa system?

          • Kxevin
            December 5, 2010

            I’d say period, Stephen, but particularly in our system. That dude’s first touch is remarkable, and he understands how to move. If he had Ibrahimovic’s or Trezeguet’s body, he’d be an unstoppable force.

        • just sayin'
          December 5, 2010

          Well, the teams feelings can’t be neither proven or disproved because we can’t get in their heads. But, as fans, we can try to watch and play amateur psychologist. Do I think that our team is a TEAM. Yep, 100% Do they support Villa and want him to succeed? Yep. Of course, that’s the kind of people they are. So, let’s watch their actions on the field. Watch when Iniesta or Xavi has the ball and he has an option of Messi, Pedro and Villa and see how he looks around, takes a second and even if Villa may be available (let’s say not as tightly marked) he may choose to pass to Pedro. It’s happening and you can’t blame them and if you (the posters on this board) can see that Villa is not playing well, can you only imagine how frustrated the other players must feel when they pass to him time and time again and he does next to nothing with the ball?? They are not stupid, they are going to do the right thing and pass the ball to someone who has a better chance of converting. At this time, Pedro is red hot … so, you can readily see how they are sending more opportunities his way.
          Villa on Valencia on the NT was playing a slower game and that was working for him. He either picks of his pace and fixes all his other little ball handling issues or this is going to be along season for him.
          Don’t even get me started on his offsides and living on the edge argument. What makes a good forward/striker is living on the edge and NOT being offsides so many times. He lives on the edge and then falls off of it. What good is that?? He needs to address this issue as well. He has quite the laundry list. I feel for him, I do. We all love him, he’s Maravilla for cripe’s sake! I sang his praises during the WC … but, for now … he is not even close to fitting well with this team.

          • Kxevin
            December 5, 2010

            But choosing or not choosing to pass to a player because of form is very different from not supporting the player, it should be noted.

            What we are seeing is that our system is hard for anyone, even someone with as much Spanish NT experience as Villa. But though the NT plays similar to Barca, it doesn’t play LIKE Barca. Villa is finding that out.

  5. Helge
    December 5, 2010

    Can someone tell me in which min. Messi hit the post? That would have been a serious goal-of-the-season contender!

    I can only agree with you, Kxevin. This team is probably better than the Treble winning team, or to put it differently, it PLAYS even better. Comparing the players, not much has changed except Villa in for Eto’o, Pedro in for Henry. Neither is Villa > Eto’o, nor Pedro > Henry. We’ve simply grown further as a team, and as you’ve pointed out, Messi has become even better. He’s a playmaker, he’s a striker, he’s EVERYTHING a football coach’ heart can dream about.

    We could break the 100 points mark in this season, if we get 6 points from the next 2 league matches. I’ve been watching RSSS tosay, and they are pretty good on and off the ball (+ Basques). Espanyol has defended their 100% home record although being one man down for 45 min.

    Nonetheless, if we continue to play like this, we should beat them.

    PS: I love the touch of humour at the end of the review ๐Ÿ™‚

    • IS
      December 5, 2010

      Helge, you forgot The Yaya being replaced by Busi…

      .. is he old news already? ๐Ÿ™

      • Helge
        December 5, 2010

        Well, first of all: Shame on me !

        But, counting the appearances (neglecting the minutes player per appearance), Busi featured in 24, Yaya in 25 league matches in 08/09. Whereas Pedro only featured in 6, and Villa obviously in none ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • OSBAG
      December 5, 2010

      And we ve had pique in for marquez

  6. Kari
    December 5, 2010

    The club we are watching right now really is special. I’d kill to get a ticket to a home game! But watching the club just wouldn’t be the same without Kxevin’s reviews. Thanks for all the work you put into your reviews.

    Now, anyone want something to LOL at?

    From Soccernet’s profile of Abidal:

    Strengths: Versatile and strong, his positional sense is one of his biggest assets.

    Weaknesses: A lack of pace hinders his ability to get himself out of trouble and his disciplinary record is not great either.

    You can see more of our players’ profile here: .http://soccernet.espn.go.com/player/_/id/10551/cc/5901

    • Kxevin
      December 5, 2010

      Wait. What?! Abidal has but one yellow card this season. And anyone who says his pace is a problem, clearly hasn’t watched him play. Our system has also made him a much better ball handler and passer. His first touch is sublime.

    • Jnice
      December 5, 2010

      Silly to say the least. Why don’t people actually watch matches?

      • Kari
        December 5, 2010

        90 minutes is a long time. Too long for some. Especially to those who watch and wonder why someone hasn’t got “stuck in” yet, because if it were the EPL no team would have 60+ % possession.

        “What’s this tiki-taka business?! Those foreigners–none of those lightweights would make it in England, where real football is played. Gah! I’ve had enough of this. Wigan-Stoke is on.”

        So yeah. I’d say that’s why.

    • Soto
      December 5, 2010

      Odds are that the profile has not been updated since 2009. It reads like something written after our Champions League win over ManU. And since Abidal was suspended for that game, that suspension would have colored any disciplinary description.

    • IS
      December 5, 2010

      Maybe the Soccernet people are basing their profiles on FIFA/PES?? (Not that I know how his pace or discipline have been rated there)

  7. Stephen
    December 5, 2010

    Villa … just terrible. and like “just sayin” mentioned.. talking bad about a player is not giving him “time” or just being negative, but i feel there’s a fine line..
    How is that EVERYONE does one touch passing and he wont? Messi-xavi-messi-iniesta- messi-xavi-villa-villa-villa-villa ooops lost the ball… and our attack died.
    As a personal non-Bojan fan, I even wanted him to come in, because we have Pedro running non-stop, Messi the same, and static slow Villa, at least Bojan can work those passes Kevin speaks about.
    Hope he improves.. quickly…
    Excited for Afellay, from this match, we do need someone who can shoot outside the box, currently I feel only Pedro tries it.

    • just sayin'
      December 5, 2010

      Thanks Stephen, sometimes I re-think posting my feelings on Villa because people think I’m negative or not a fan. That is so far from the truth. As a matter of fact, my family is from Spain and this year we’re taking my family for a pilgrimage to Camp Nou for the first time to see our beloved team. I would love to come back and post pics!
      In any case, Villa does help kill many ofour attacks. I clearly remember Iniesta making a run, passing the Villa, when he continues the run. The move there is for Villa to pass back to Iniesta!! C’mon that’s what’s done. But, Villa holds the ball, looks up, moves to the right and bam! … the ball is taken away from him.
      Bojan came in and within a few minutes has a better shot at goal than Villa had all night. Bojan takes a rocket shot outside of the box and it just goes past the goal. Bojan knows the system so he can play the Barca tiki taka game. Yes, he’s a ball hog at times so that’s frustrating too. At this point, I would give Villa and Bojan each a half and see who does better.

      • Stephen
        December 5, 2010

        “Villa holds the ball, looks up, moves to the right and bam! โ€ฆ the ball is taken away from him.” and becomes..Predictable. Which has frustrated me about Bojan many times is that he does know the system and does great… at the end of the season… but why not at the beginning?
        And with the half.. same thing happened with Ibra and Bojan benched him, so I really hope that doesn’t happen to Villa, because Guardiola obviously isn’t afraid to do it.
        ps: that’d be awesome if you brought us your pics and experience of the camp nou!

        • just sayin'
          December 5, 2010

          Speaking of predictability and Villa. He likes to take shots from the corner of the box. He lays there in wait. If he gets a pass there, he’ll shoot. He won’t look around and see if there is someone open or making a run. Automatic shot.
          I hope Pep corrects this issue as well. Yes, sometimes if the opportunity presents itself, shoot … but, if not – PASS! And quickly, please!

  8. Kari
    December 5, 2010

    Too get your hopes too high on Afellay, Stephen. He also needs to adapt (Our system is a b*tch to forwards and defenders…Actually, every freakin’ position). He’s an unknown quanity to say the least, but if he starts kicking ass right away, I’ll be a little concerned, simply because we had another “Ibra” start like a man possessed and then taper off badly.

    Villa was pretty crappy yesterday and he’ll probably continue to be crap all season, but so long as he scores in matches like El Clasico, help the team like he is now, and doesn’t b*tch to his agent about not being treated like a star, I’m down with him. I said pretty early that, along with Bojangles, I’m prepared to be patient with him.

    It’s really irritating, but, like Kxevin said, we won’t see the 40m Villa we bought until next season.

    • Stephen
      December 5, 2010

      The only reason I have hopes for him is his background his pace and his shot, which Pedro! provided 08/09 when we really needed it. I want to think positive, like I did with sMasch’s arrival and he hasn’t let me down. Also I really want to have Afellay and not that other guy we’ve been ‘begging’ to come ‘home’
      I’m willing to be patient with Villa as well, he isn’t all bad, he just hasn’t been consistent imo, he was doing well with the offsides, and then fell into the rut again, AND he’s stilling scoring despite it all.

      • Kari
        December 5, 2010

        I want to think positive

        Here on BFB, where negativity rules?! Madness ๐Ÿ˜€

        Also I really want to have Afellay and not that other guy weโ€™ve been โ€˜beggingโ€™ to come โ€˜home’

        COMPLETELY agree. I also think having a player that can shoot outside the box would be a great asset. I hope we don’t get another Hleb (where everything is rosy at the beginning and then an injury and…Yeah.).

        C’mon Ibi! You’re just coming to the best club in the world to sub the best players in the world. No pressure!

        • Stephen
          December 5, 2010

          Ibi? is this to avoid calling him Ibra? because I will still do that.. just as I do the random “oh Ibra could’ve gotten that..” in most games.
          I think our subs have less pressure their first season than do our new starters, Adriano for instance has either done well in adapting or he just hasn’t had tough games. Maxwell also was a sub and is now one of the greats.

          • Jnice
            December 5, 2010

            His teammates and people that know him call him Ibi.

          • Kari
            December 5, 2010

            ‘Ibi’ is what his nickname is officially in Holland. I’ll be calling him Ibra when he comes here ๐Ÿ˜‰

            Agree on the subs. Afellay will definitely have more time because of his price tag. Ibra I was under immense pressure because of it, Henry as well. Villa is also getting some heat, albeit on a lesser scale. That bodes well for him.

          • Kxevin
            December 5, 2010

            For me, I can’t call anyone “Ibra.” There is one, and he’s a bastard for trying to damage this club.

  9. Soto
    December 5, 2010

    We call Cruyff’s team in the ’90s the Dream Team. So what do we call Guardiola’s team? The Unimaginable Dream Team?

    If you include Guardiola’s first year and the triplete up until now, we have a core group of players that comprise possibly the finest tuned team in the history of soccer. Their understand of their relative positioning and the flow of the game are just astounding. Last year’s match against Arsenal left me stunned, and it is a pale comparison to last Monday’s El Classico.

    No matter what happens, this is going to be another fun season.

    • momo
      December 5, 2010

      I call them the OMGhowthehellisthisevenpossibletheseguysareplayingadifferentsport team.

    • IS
      December 5, 2010

      Commentators and journalists alike have been comfortable referring to our football as orgasmic… I hope that doesn’t make us the ‘wet dream team’… :s

    • OSBAG
      December 5, 2010

      For me they are more like ‘was that ever possible’ team more so against ee

  10. Kxevin
    December 5, 2010

    My views on Villa are the same as they were for Henry and Ibrahimovic: They need time in our system. I like that, during the Panathinaikos match, the commentators were going on and on about the speed of play with us, and not just physical, but mental. Watch Iniesta take a pass. His control is so good that he can look up to consider what to do next, and what that player will be able to do next. It’s an extraordinary thing, that players never, ever see unless they come here.

    Look at the history: Henry was slagged for holding up play. Ibrahimovic was slagged for holding up play. Now Villa is slagged for holding up play. The second on that list didn’t get a second season, but look at Henry’s second season with us. Villa has talent. Not Thierry Henry talent, but talent galore. He will be fine, but it will take time, as it always does. When Krkic comes in and looks “better” than Villa, it’s because our system is in in brain. He just does it.

    Contrast that with Valencia’s play, or the play of the Spanish NT. Villa will have to adjust the speed of his game and thought. If he is worth what we paid for him, he’ll be able to do that just fine. In the meantime, be patient, and I hope that people understand, when I was advocating patience with our previous strikers and the benefits they were able to offer, how similar the Villa situation is.

    Running with the best is hard.

    If you look at our club over the past years, we have had some of the best strikers in the history of the game, even if you restrict your purview to recent history. Eto’o was a monster, but he became a monster once he adapted. Same with Henry. If Ibrahimovic wasn’t such a jackass, it would have been awesome to see what he had to offer his second season. I’m sure Milan are enjoying it.

    Villa may even, at some point in the season, get supplanted by Krkic. It doesn’t mean the money was wasted or he was a disaster, it just means that he needs time.

    • momo
      December 5, 2010

      Not to mention the width he provides is so essential to our midfielders having time on the ball and limitless options for a pass. If there was one thing missing from our team last season that we had in the triplete season, it was width. To this day I still believe that width would have taken us past inter in the semi finals and given us the champions league had it been there.

    • soccermomof4
      December 5, 2010

      I think he showed some promise in the EE game. He held some of his runs, 2 goals, 1 assist, pressed pretty well, won back a couple of balls, and participated well in that glorious, in-your-face passing display we put on after the 4th goal. I’m willing to give him time.

    • just sayin'
      December 5, 2010

      That’s fine. I think that’s where all of us fan’s end up … let’s give Villa time. He’s got it. It’s just that I don’t see a learning curve. I don’t see him adjusting and working the kinks out. Can anyone think of something we can check off of his laundry list?? But, maybe he’s the kind of guy that when things click – the whole thing comes together. Time will certainly tell.

      • Stephen
        December 5, 2010

        Its like and up and down thing with him, and I think Kevin previously mentioned this too in another post, he does tire quicker than the rest, around the 70th minute Villa is dragging his feet, although yesterday I wouldn’t hold that against him because I think they were all tired, but even in the EE game, he was tired and it was noticeable.

    • Jim
      December 5, 2010

      It’d be interesting to see how the team would do these days without Messi. He’s now running everything, both scoring and playmaking ( to some extent). I’d like to see him sit out midweek and see how a front line of Pedro, Bojan and Villa works out. We don’t want to get into a mindset where the only thought in anyone’s mind is “Where’s Messi? I need to get the ball to him. ” It’d be good to see them stand up on their own. Besides we need to start giving playing time to Adriano, Maxwell, Mascherano and Bojan, along with probably Thiago if we are looking to promote him. Rather than Pep’s habit of starting the A team I’d like to see us putting them on the bench to “encourage” their replacements.

      I didn’t see the game yesterday, and it sounds like he had a poor game, but I’m happy enough with the way Villa is progressing. He is working harder than he was when he arrived, especially chasing back, and second in terms of both goals scored and assists isn’t shabby. To me he fits our system perfectly although I hadn’t realised just how much he likes coming in from the wing rather than playing the target man up front. He is also going to be the sort of striker who has a go at goal just because he’s in the box though and we knew that when we bought him. No bad thing there, imo.

      Our system is hard to fit into but it’ll come. I don’t think others aren’t passing to him, just as they never avoided passing to Ibra. It’s all in the timing of the pass. At the moment Villa still expects the quick ball and has to constantly re -adjust. I’m not seeing slow feet – you can’t dribble as well as him with slow feet. I think that’s often to do with his brain having to work so hard atm to figure out when the ball is coming that he sometimes forgets the obvious, like controlling it ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Kxevin
        December 5, 2010

        I’m with you, Jim. I wouldn’t mind seeing Guardiola empty the bench, so to speak, with a starting XI of:

        Pinto
        Adriano Puyol Fontas Maxwell
        Mascherano Thiago Keita
        Pedro! Krkic Jeffren

        Let’s see how they do against a committed, hungry side who has to play football in order to advance in Champions League.

        –Re: Villa, what I mean by “slow feet” is if you look at how often the ball gets caught up in his feet, and how rare that is with our other attacking players. I do think it’s speed of thought related, however. He will improve, for sure.

        • OSBAG
          December 5, 2010

          Puyol needs a rest oh. And am rooting for nolito in place of pedro. Love his goal against ceuta. Quite villalike

      • December 6, 2010

        I like the idea, but I think we will do just fine IF Villa starts putting the chances our midfield gets him away. There are more than one chances he received that didn’t involve Messi, including that one on one which he chose to use the outside of his foot to beat the keeper, only without success.

        I think we will do fine really because our Width.Is.Back.

        Pedro’s consistent and outstanding performance puts him in the undoubted starting XI. This gives us more space and a bigger threat elsewhere on the pitch because: 1) When Pedro holds the ball up, fullbacks start overlapping and running, and thus more attacking forces. 2) Pedro himself could dribble pass defenders or force them to double team. 3) Pull defenders out of position and thus give midfielders or strikers more space to work. Particularly with our Ghostface being healthy and fit all day all night, we have more passes coming from the middle of the park, it puts defense in all panic mode whenever we rotate the ball. P!’s runs threaten all defenders all because they don’t know when that through ball will come.

        I think we could cope well without Messi if we keep playing at this level.

  11. Spiro
    December 5, 2010

    tbh, while I understand the frustration from everyone about Villa, there is nothing new about that. Its completely normal to have members of the squad not performing to the already exceptional level our players perform consistently on a daily basis for the past 12 months.

    There is nothing I can say that will make Villa look like he doesn’t deserve the criticizm, but I still think he still has that goalscoring theat, even Henry on his bad days, and he had many during our triplet season, he still provided that threat. Villa is doing the same and its something I want to say just before people start to call him a failure (which shouldn’t happen).

    Pedro is performaning a lot better this season then Villa and everybody agrees, but even Pedro last season, no matter how many goals he scored, he still wasn’t taken seriously by opponents and opponents could easily just focus on shutting down Messi and Ibra. But now Pedro is taken as a serious threat, but they also have Villa and Messi.

    People shouldn’t wave of the “time” effect, because its REAL. I know our team is made up of some of the best talents in the world and maybe history. But there are many players in the team that have that are not although they have caught the “time” bug that in a way have improved themselves technically. I can name but a few players in Abidal, Yaya, Keita and Eto’o, where they all laked in the technical department but over “time” they’ve picked up on their game. While its stupid now to say that we should give “time” to our $40m striker but sooner or later he is going to catch that bug.

    • Spiro
      December 5, 2010

      *But there are many players in the team that have are not technically gifted, although they have caught the โ€œtimeโ€ bug that in a way have improved themselves technically over time.

      • Kxevin
        December 5, 2010

        Exactly, Spiro. Look at Keita, who is enjoying his best season, ironically, when we have the most competition for spots in the midfield, particularly with Mascherano in the mix.

        And P! is off the hook right now, as is Busquets, who everybody wanted to run out of town on a rail, it must be noted. Now look.

        • Jnice
          December 5, 2010

          I think Keita’s best season was last one. He has’t made much of an impact on this one yet.

          • K(legit)
            December 6, 2010

            well that maybe because it is impossible for him to get into the team with Pedro and Iniesta being in such awesome form

          • Eklavya
            December 6, 2010

            I agree with Jnice. Last season at this point he was playing pretty much every match and was in the race for pichichi ๐Ÿ˜€

  12. Falso
    December 5, 2010

    The ratings for Villa are a ‘fucking disgrace’ (O-Ton Drogba after the defeat against Barca). His pass to the first goal of Messi was amazing; his support for the defense was amazing etc.; YES, he is not as good on the ball as Xavi, Messi, Iniesta, but it was the same with Eto’o.

    If Villa not fit in the Barca-system nobody will (Hoply Bojan in the future; but this season – almost every game – is very badly!). The author should be NEUTRAL by the ratings; BUT he is obviously not neutral. Vale, it`s bullshit…It was the same after ‘el clรกsico’.

    • Kari
      December 5, 2010

      I dunno, Falso. I thought Villa had a pretty bad game by his standards. He had 2-3 chances he should have put away/done better with, misplaced passes, and slowed down the offense. There was one moment in the second half where he missed a clear cut chance after being put through by Messi and fluffed it–Villa was visibly pissed at himself for not doing better.

      Compared to what he can do, what he’s shown he can do, Villa was somewhere between 2-5 for me. I’m okay with a 3, but personally, he’s a 4.5-5.

      Villa will come good, but yesterday wasn’t his best game.

    • Kxevin
      December 5, 2010

      But if you are going to cite positives, you also have to cite negatives: he slows down play, if offsides too much, doesn’t make runs that he should or doesn’t make them quickly enough, loses the ball way too much, particularly when he tries to play one-touch, doesn’t have the quickness of feet necessary to work in this system yet, lacks a first touch of the quality of Iniesta or Krkic.

      When I rate a player, everything goes into the pot, not just things that I like or dislike. So I’d counter that what is a disgrace is someone who charges in with a bile-laced comment, without having a background of understanding how the writer (me, that is) evaluates performances.

      But take heart. You aren’t the first person to claim that I am not neutral in my ratings. Nor will you be the last. But so far, you’re definitely the most profane.

  13. James (Canada)
    December 5, 2010

    Hi Kevin,

    I’ve been following this Blog since the beginning of the season and this is the first time I’ve written a post. I just want to say that you are a fantastic writer with a strong knack for articulating your perspective and analysis. I eagerly anticipate your contributions and while you may agree or disagree, I believe that the way you harmonize thorough research combined with your natural writing ability puts you in the upper echelon of accomplished football columnists such as Phil Ball and Sid Lowe. Please keep up the fantastic work.

    Best,
    James from Canada

    • Kxevin
      December 5, 2010

      Wow. I don’t think I’m in that class, but I’ll never turn down praise. Thanks, James. Now SoMa is another matter altogether. She freakin’ rules.

      • James (Canada)
        December 5, 2010

        Well you’re right. Us followers are quite fortunate to read pieces on an extremely gifted club written by extremely talented writers. Thank you and all contributors here (including the many knowledgeable members here in the comment section). Sometimes I have to remind myself that you don’t live in Spain and are not part of the Journalist culture there to get a feel of how things are. But that just goes to show how in-tuned you are with FC Barcelona. Kudos to you and all.

        • Kxevin
          December 5, 2010

          What will be interesting is how many people will be around when the club starts playing poorly. Just as we are seeing a boom cycle, they are inevitably followed by bust cycles. I like that we are building a team for the future. Messi is young, so are Pique, Iniesta, Busquets and Pedro!. But when you look at the regulars right now, a lot of them need quality replacements to begin to be groomed. Abidal and Maxwell, Puyol, Xavi, Villa doesn’t have a lot of years left, Keita is another one.

          Hopefully, the fans will remain fans. Either way, we will be here.

      • SoccerMom
        December 5, 2010

        Oh, Kxevin, I had logged on to demand yo where is their shit at? and here is this great review and kind word. Gracies.

        • December 6, 2010

          You mean those “oh wait, don’t you have a special love for Abidal!? so unfair?!” “Kxevin just loves French players. period.” type of shit?

          ๐Ÿ˜€

          Thanks a bunch Bfb.

          • BA
            December 6, 2010

            i’m totally out of here when we lose a few games. Visca!….. Birmingham City?

    • Eklavya
      December 6, 2010

      “your natural writing ability puts you in the upper echelon of accomplished football columnists such as Phil Ball and Sid Lowe”

      ^This (yeah yeah sue me) ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. IS
    December 5, 2010

    All I have to say about the Villa debate is what so many have been saying all along… As fans, we need to learn to cut the new guys some slack (and by that I mean, MORE slack than some of us feel is enough)!

    Coming to Barca – especially THIS Barca – is like taking an accomplished all-round scientist and throwing him into a lab where everyone else is accomplished in say nanotech (in no way referring to the average height of our players). That’s what our total football is when compared to the generic systems out there. Not to mention, it’s also been evolving and advancing throughout – so it could be said that it’s only getting tougher for forwards to acclimatise.

    And four years running we’ve seen a common trend – every new forward has some issues integrating in year one. If I recall correctly, not only did Ibra have issues with being offside a sh*t ton of times, but so did Henry in 07/08. Both were also accused of ‘slowing the game’ down or being ‘too static’. Even the likes of P! and Jeffren had issues – yes they were young, but they knew the system – and eventually learned to slow themselves down a notch (or two) and read the game better.

    Some of us complained before, some now while some others tolerated in the past and others are tolerating now. Whatever. Considering that this is the third time in four years that we see this trend with new world-class forwards (who other clubs would die for), it’s about time we agree to simply have a little more patience.

  15. Falso
    December 5, 2010

    I never said, it was his best game. But his contributation – and yes he deciced not always correctly or slow down the game – was crucial. And Pep would be the first, who would give Bojan more chances, if he would think Villa plays (only) bad games (Example: Henry-Bojan), as the ratings here shows. In my opinion, the ratings – and not only this time – are to low (and not neutral).

    And it WAS the same with Busquets – the ratings were also much to low, but or better BECAUSE he is another typ of football player, which needs the (Barca-)team – and now it’s Villa. If we would have 11 Messis, Xavis or Iniestas, we would win nothing…A team need different types of players…

    • Kxevin
      December 5, 2010

      True, and each player is evaluated based on his contribution to that match. You can’t make excuses for bad play. All aspects have to go into the match rating. Busquets initially low ratings are balanced by his usually high ones now. He is a much better player. I can’t think of the last goal that he gifted to an opponent, something he did a few times during his development phase.

      Villa doesn’t play only bad games. Look at ALL the match reviews. But he will be called out when he does play a bad match, as he did yesterday. If you make the run but lose the ball or blow a sitter, how should that be evaluated? Saying someone deserves a higher rating for making a good run doesn’t make sense. You’re only grading them on half of the job, and not even the most important half. In tight matches, and there will be some, chances will be rare. What if that sitter that Villa blew was in the 85th minute of a 0-0 match?

      It’s why I am never a fan of an individual player. It clouds my judgment. People said, for example, that I loved Thierry Henry. When the aggregate ratings came out, tracking his evaluations over the course of a season, he was in the bottom third of the team. Which means what? That sometimes, things aren’t as they seem.

      • Kxevin
        December 5, 2010

        Put another way, look at the goal that Messi scored from open play, and the goal that Villa missed. Note how Messi moved to open up a shooting angle. Villa just popped it at the keeper, as noted above, right down the middle. That one gets stopped every time. Villa will improve. And when he has good matches he will be rated accordingly. Osasuna wasn’t one of them.

        • ballbeav
          December 5, 2010

          villa has the same or better stats than ibra yet gets rated lower in this blog, not really worth sayin much more than that at this point…just that, there is no such thing as objectivity.

          • Kxevin
            December 6, 2010

            Then prove it. The reviews are there, the ratings are there. If I have this bias that people allege, it should bbe in the match ratings and their history, right?

            So prove it. Others have tried. “You’re biased because I say so” is, prima facie, an absurd basis for a purported supposition. You state as if it is fact. So prove it.

            You’ve been here long enough to know what goes into a match rating. Look at thr number, read the explanation, then prove it.

            Oterwise, your allegations are nonsense.

  16. Falso
    December 5, 2010

    Vamos a ver! Let’s look…But honestly, I don’t think this will happen, because you will always find things that this player will make wrong…My opinion…

    Adรฉmas: I hate the bashing of one player of a team. As here and in other communities happen…

    • December 5, 2010

      We aren’t bashing Villa. Many of us are saying that he needs more time. We are, however, noting the flaws in his game at present, and the complexities with him fitting into our system. That is a very different thing than bashing.

  17. Kari
    December 5, 2010

    Ah, my comment is awaiting moderation . That hasn’t happened in awhile.

  18. James (Canada)
    December 5, 2010

    Hello all,

    David Villa will come through. Statistically he’s doing fine. 10 goals in 18 appearances. This coming from a player who is adapting into a new highly-demanding system. In fact, I think that we have reason to believe that his form will improve even by the time the Second Round of Champions League rolls around. He has the attributes to make it happen. Great attitude, goal poacher and he’s already improving his chemistry with Messi. It’s also noteworthy that he’s been quite unlucky as well. How many posts has he hit already? I know he’s offside quite often, but I think we’re forgetting how many times Eto’o used to be called offside during his time with us. I’m still vouching for the guy to score 30 goals in all competitions. After the Christmas Break we’re going to have some easier competition in January and that’s when I believe a freshly-rested Villa will have his chance to really make an impact. And when he starts firing….dear Lord!

    • Kari
      December 5, 2010

      Wow. I just seem to be agreeing with just about everyone today. Agreed.

      And welcome, as well! Fellow Canadian, eh? How’s the snow? ๐Ÿ˜€

      • James (Canada)
        December 5, 2010

        Hi Kari,

        Thank you! Well unfortunately it’s starting snow a bit. I’m in Ottawa so it’s more so the cold bitter winds to worry about (for the non-Canadians, it’s common in Ottawa to have weeks of -40 degrees Celsius weather). Luckily with the electricity being produced by this very special Barca team, I have all the warmth and comfort I need! Horrible joke, I admit. But they’ll improve as will Villa’s form. Where in Canada are you from, Kari?

        • December 5, 2010

          So it’s you guys’ fault! Usually, when we get cold air in the Midwest this time of the year, it comes from up your way. So knock it off.

          • James (Canada)
            December 5, 2010

            Oh believe me, it gets so cold here that we all here are looking for something (or someone) to blame! Although, it does give me the greatest excuse to don my Barca scarf on my way to work as well as the odd conversation starter.

          • James (Canada)
            December 5, 2010

            Wow no kidding! Small world! Have you lived here your whole life? I’ve been here for 5 years (from South-west Ontario) studying and now working. Glad to know I (a football fanatic) am not alone here. Cheers!

          • Kari
            December 5, 2010

            Yup. I’m an Ottawan through and through. Survived the bus strike, Larry O’Brien and any other disaster you care to mention ๐Ÿ˜€

            So nice to know there will be someone else thinking “Visca Barca!” on Tuesday, as opposed to “Go Sens Go!”!

          • James (Canada)
            December 5, 2010

            Funny. ‘Surviving’ Larry O’Brien is exactly how I would describe it! And I’ll sure be watching Barcelona on Tuesday as it will be available on TSN2 and I can just stop over at the pub next to work to catch the whole match. Besides, you’ll never hear me saying “Go Sens Go!” I grew up a Canadiens fan but I’m slowly drifting away from the NHL in total.

        • momo
          December 5, 2010

          Not in toronto it ain’t. Until then we can still play outdoor soccer!!!

  19. OSBAG
    December 5, 2010

    Not our best performance. D first few mins were sl unbarcalike that i was starting to get afraid.

    • December 5, 2010

      True that, but they were just off the bus, rushed into the dressing room, got dressed, warmed up and then played. I’m surprised we didn’t concede, frankly.

      • OSBAG
        December 5, 2010

        To say d truth i was already seeing an osasuna early goal resultingin an herculeslike parked bus which would left our guys distraught afrer dt helluva journey. I felt for yhem yesterday

      • soccermomof4
        December 5, 2010

        With a day of travel like they had and a short warm-up, a loss was the least of our worries. I was scared that someone would pull or tear something badly.

  20. OSBAG
    December 5, 2010

    Lets not forget he is much more older than messi, bojan and pedro, plus if we are not patient for him i dont know wnom ee can be patient for we might as well forget abt signing new strikers and only promote those used to d system

  21. vicsoc8
    December 5, 2010

    The debate has basically been put to bed, but I can’t help but chime in about Villa.

    Yesterday he was, quite frankly, poor. From my view his poor game was based completely in the fact that his touch was awful. It was like he had wood clubs instead of feet.

    With that said there are some positives to take from his last couple of matches. First, he is developing an incredible understanding with Messi. Messi assists to Villa and Villa assists to Messi are both becoming more common in recent weeks. His work rate has also gotten better, and he is defending at a pretty well for a player in their first season at the club.

    But most importantly, his style of play is exactly what the team needs tactically at the moment. His willingness to provide width on the left has been essential to the team. His ability to convert to a central striker when Messi has dropped to do some playmaking saw him score two great goals in El Clasico.

    I hate to bring up the big slimy Swede, but from a purely tactical standpoint you can see why Villa is a better choice than said Swede. The Swede played as a striker, and Messi last year was developing into his central role. Having said Swede in the middle of the pitch where Messi likes to work meant the area was more clogged, and made it harder for Messi to do his thing. With Villa maintaining width, there is a lot more space for Messi to exploit.

    The way I’ve been thinking about it is that Villa hasn’t been playing well, but the team is still playing better due to how he alters the tactics.

    • vicsoc8
      December 5, 2010

      Addendum: With that said Villa still needs to improve. I would like to see him work on two things:
      1. Check back to the ball. He seems to always want a through ball, and is always looking to get in behind the defense. This is obviously important, but he needs to learn when he should be checking to the ball to facilitate tika taka and when he should be looking to get behind the defense.
      2. Make quicker decisions. Get the ball off your foot, man!

      • ballbeav
        December 5, 2010

        very much agree with vicsoc. villa is doing his job and our team looks better. i agree that he had mostly a shite game yesterday and he can do better. he will do better. even with him not being what some of us hoped, our team overall looks better with him in there. ibra made our team less exciting, straight up. my opinion.

  22. Victor
    December 5, 2010

    Yes, I think that you were a bit harsh on Villa, but then again, it was a bad game from him. And yes, if Xavi gets a 5 (he was sloppy too), why can’t Villa get a 3?

    Still, I do think Villa deserves a 4 or maybe a 5. He was bad, but not THAT bad.

    Also, people ask for improvements since Villa is in Barcelona.

    Well, obviously he hasn’t been as good as we are all expecting, but he has showed improvements and a little bit of adaptation to the system:

    – He is also defending. That’s something that he didn’t do in his first games. I guess that that’s a Guardiola’s strict order to him (you should defend too), but remember… is Villa a player used to defend? No way.

    – While he loses balls and slows down attacks… he is also contributing with assistances. That’s something that Villa isn’t used to… either. I guess that the last season with Valencia Villa had 2 assists… now he has 6 (or maybe 5, if you don’t count this pass to Messi or Pedro’s goal)… with half season being played.

    – He does provide width to the team. Which was an issue with Barcelona last season… and what was missing in Inter’s match.

    – Finally, he is mainly playing as a winger… while he does good as that… let’s be real… is not the position he is used to play.

    Not that it excuses his offsides, lost balls, missed shots and his mistakes. But it shows that there has been some progress with him and having him on the left… is a threat to the other teams which lures defenders to his side and open ups space. Sure, Pedro is also a winger and is luring defenders his way and PLAYS WELL. So, Pedro is better than Villa for now… but is not like Villa is doing crap.

    He is doing… I’d say… regular or decently. With inconsistencies, of course. However, as I said on other post, I just hope that Guardiola has patience with him. Eto’o and Ibrahimovic just lasted a season with Pep. And we know that they are very good players (Ibrahimovic is quite good and is doing great in Milan), so I just hope that Guardiola doesn’t throw Villa off the team at the end of this season. It would be frustrating to see a pattern of forwards not lasting more than 1 season with Pep.

    • jordi(TM)
      December 6, 2010

      About the assists.Villa is the only striker (along with henry and totti i think) to top the assists charts in a major european league in the last decade when he played behind Moro at valencia.Its natural for him.

  23. Euler
    December 5, 2010

    Villa isn’t only adjusting to the “Barca system.”

    He’s adjusting to Messi playing perhaps the most unconventional “false 9” in the history of the game.

    In fact, Messi may not even be playing the false 9 anymore – it’s probably more accurate to say he’s inventing an entirely new position.

    And Villa has to play second chair to that strange position Messi occupies.

    • barca96
      December 5, 2010

      Yup. Villa & Pedro’s job nowadays is getting used to Messi
      s runs. Messi for some reason really understand Villa’s game very quick. Well, it shouldn’t be a surprise..He is after all, a special kid.

  24. barca96
    December 5, 2010

    How Villa got a 7 after Clasico is what still baffles me.
    2 goals after the break which effectivly killed EE.
    Many great runs behind defenders.
    1 assist.
    Did almost nothing wrong but just a 7. That’s freaking hilariuos.
    Bojan came in for 5mins and made one run in the whole match and get’s a 8. EIGHT. If nobody watched that match, he would’ve probably think that Bojan did more magic out there in those 5 mins than what the other striker provided while he was on the field.
    2 goals & 1 assist.

    • Phil
      December 6, 2010

      It has been stated many times that not everyone is judged on the same scale. An 8 for Messi is damn near a 10 for almost anyone else out there. Villa’s scale might need a bit of tuning due to the small sample size we currently have.

    • Kxevin
      December 6, 2010

      So what DIDN’T Villa do? That’s also part of the match rating, you know. Surely you noted that, as well as what he did. So lay it out there.

      My job with the ratings isn’t to affirm fans’ views of players. It is to evalute the player’s WHOLE match. You kmow better than that.

      And yes, in the TIME HE WAS ON THE PITCH Krkic played to an 8. His rating has zero relationship to Villa’s. But you should know that too by now.

      And aren’t I supoosed to hate Krkic? Just checking

  25. Spiro
    December 5, 2010

    I like the fact that Villa never stops asking for the ball, now others might not find this as a good thing. But I think Villa eventhough he constantly puts his arms up when Iniesta or xavi have the ball, sometimes they don’t even pass it to him, but to me Villa shows that he wants the ball all the time, he tries to always be prepared, which to me is good for the team and our attack. It might be annoying but what he does puts off defences even if he makes mistakes from time to time.

    • Victor
      December 5, 2010

      Depends, really. Is good to see that he wants to contribute, that’s very good indeed… but always asking for the ball may annoy the team mates. LOL.

  26. Jnice
    December 6, 2010

    Can the Madrid press shutup already with this comparison of Messi and Ronaldo? Enough already. Always wanting to piggyback Ronaldo with Messi. “Two greatest players in the world….” Blah blah blah.

    The truth is there for everyone to see.

    • bolano
      December 6, 2010

      e.g. Messi scored his first PK – CR has 4 + 2

    • Jose
      December 6, 2010

      lol, that reminds me of my time in Brasil, when I read in a magazine some back-handed adulation of Maradona. Stated matter-of-factly: “Maradona is the best footballer ever to play, inferior only to O Rei, Pele”.

  27. bolano
    December 6, 2010

    All this silly debate… “deserved 4-5 but not 3” or “8 not 7”

    What if we tried dropping numbers from the review?

    Maybe we would actually READ THE REVIEW, and not focus on the number

    For example today’s: “Villaโ€™s doing the right things, but he was pretty awful today.”

  28. K(legit)
    December 6, 2010

    After seeing the video Kari posted about Afellay a small aspect is that the dude has a temper and apparently a propensity in getting into his opponents’ faces..
    Can’t say whether I am a fan of that

    i had put up this picture in a previous post regarding the excellent pressure we put on our opponents to recover the ball but I’ll repost it here. This is what is called ‘Pressuring as a Team’:
    //http://lh5.ggpht.com/_370kn7jUZm8/TPuh_dN4i0I/AAAAAAAABKE/f3F7l5JXJ8Y/s400/vlcsnap-2010-12-05-19h58m50s8.png
    The guys pressuring the Osasuna player are Abidal, Busquets, Villa and Imiesta

    • barca96
      December 6, 2010

      Oh yeah. Ibi is a hot head.
      Hopefully he will take a different approach here like Ibra.
      Ibra calmed down a hell lot too when he was with us.
      Now he is back to his old self.

      • barca96
        December 6, 2010

        Nice pic btw K.
        Where did you get it?

        • K(legit)
          December 6, 2010

          screenshot I made from the game
          Thanks for the download links @ Jnice

    • gv
      December 6, 2010

      affelay is young, so being a hot-head is understandable. If he was 29 years old, that could be a problem. Besides, he’s got the best teachers in Puyol, Xavi and Iniesta, to show him the barca way. I’m sure too that Pep would be the first to lecture him when he starts to be an ass.

  29. barca96
    December 6, 2010

    Is this true????
    Higuain offered himself to Rosell before signing a renewal with EE.
    I could bet my(future) house that if it was Laporta, he would take him on board.
    Rosell has a lot of respect of Perez and EE.

  30. Helge
    December 6, 2010

    Well, I also was pretty critical towards to David Villa in the Live Chat against Osasuna.
    And it was not the exception, I’ve been criticizing him in almost every match, except of el Clasico.
    But I have to admit that I strongly believe in David Villa, he WILL make it in our club. Someone said that Villa could actually be Pichichi already, if he had more luck and found his usual skill in front of the goal. How many times did he hit the post? 8 or 9. He could have 17 goals, or even more, only in la Liga. He doesn’t but so far it has not really cost us, or?
    Did we draw against Mallorca or lose against Hercules because Villa failed to put a sitter into the net? I don’t think so.

    There’s one thing that seperates Villa from Ibra, and that makes me really confident that Villa will be a succes at Barca. Look at the pictures, posted on Pep’s tweet (*http://twitter.com/barcastuff/status/11266769599602688). Have you ever seen so much joy and happiness in both player’s faces? I think these pictures were taken after the penalty, so Villa couรถld have reacted bitterly, ร  la Crynaldo or simply refuse to celebrate (ร  la Ibra, I suppose), but he knows that it is a privilege to play with this team and with this golden boy.
    All in all, Villa doesn’t play that bad, but as long as he is happy I trust in him. And hell, even if he scores only 8 goals until the next el Clasico, as long as he then leads us to a victory with another brace (which would win us la Liga, I dare to say!), everything’s perfect.

    • December 6, 2010

      “Look at the pictures, posted on Pepโ€™s tweet (*http://twitter.com/barcastuff/status/11266769599602688). Have you ever seen so much joy and happiness in both playerโ€™s faces?”

      *http://www.ligafutbol.net/wp-content/2009/10/ibra_messi.jpg
      *http://barcelona.theoffside.com/files/2010/02/ibra-messi.jpg

      Just answering your question, as I am already done with this endless argument. Ironically the same debate I am reading on this post, I read one year ago. Just switch players names and comment-ers positions in the argument ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Helge
        December 6, 2010

        Mmh… that’s ab argument Ramzi.

        But I still trust in Villa and don’t expect him to take the same route as Ibra did. I was actually a fan of Ibra last year, but at the end of the season and during the transfer window, I lost a lot of respect for him.

        PS: The conclusion is maybe: “Everybody loves Messi”

      • Kxevin
        December 6, 2010

        Thanks for that, Ramzi. Perspective is of value here. I thinl I have been accused of hating every first-teamer at some point.

        So I’m doing just fine.

  31. Eklavya
    December 6, 2010

    The Ballon d’Or will be announced shorty:

    *http://www.fifa.com/ballondor/news/newsid=1346897/index.html

    Stream if you want, but they’re talking in french…pretty interesting though.

  32. Eklavya
    December 6, 2010

    The top 3 nominees for the Coach of The Year are:

    -Vicente Del Bosque
    -Josep Guardiola
    -Jose Mourinho

    Duuuh, who couldn’t have guessed so much?

    • Eklavya
      December 6, 2010

      Interestingly all of these coaches are coaching a Spanish team ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Eklavya
      December 6, 2010

      Damn you Helge! Damn me for trying to write a good long comment! Beat me! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Helge
        December 6, 2010

        haha, I just wanted to be first, for one time ๐Ÿ˜‰

        But I gotta thank you, because you gave me the stream. So kudos to you!

        • Eklavya
          December 6, 2010

          Credit to barcastuff for giving me the stream ๐Ÿ˜‰

          Now, let’s wait for the rest of the bloggers to wake up and see this! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Helge
      December 6, 2010

      This will be the 8th Ballon D’Or winner playing for Barca, no other team comes even close to that.
      And possibly the first time ever that the Top3 consists of one football team only !

      Pure brilliance ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Eklavya
        December 6, 2010

        According to Wikipedia Juventus has 9 Ballon d’Or winners…

        • Helge
          December 6, 2010

          Oh yeah, Milan has even won it 12 times.

          But when it comes to WPotY, Barca will have 8, compared to Madrid’s 4 who are in 2nd place! ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. Eklavya
    December 6, 2010

    Player of The Year/ Ballon d’Or 2010’s top 3 are selected by 154 international journalists + coaches + captains. The top 3 are:
    -Xavier Hernandez Creus
    -Andres Iniesta
    -Lionel Messi

    No Sneijder! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Helge
      December 6, 2010

      Hehe, no Sneijder. For me, the right decision. He wasn’t that good during the WC, he was utterly bad in the final. The goals he scored were either cheap or lucky (sry…).

      Sneijder will be pissed now (*http://www.goal.com/en/news/2724/ballon-dor/2010/12/06/2247836/inters-wesley-sneijder-confident-of-making-ballon-dor-podium) ๐Ÿ˜€

      Anyway, Xaviniesta was the logic choice, and Sneijder would have gotten on the podium in any other year, if it wasn’t for a crazy Argentina who scored 57(!) goals in 2010 so far.

  34. Eklavya
    December 6, 2010

    Jean Pierre Pain expressing his surprise of not seeing Sneijder on the list. Also mentioned Forlan…

    Yay! Now I am happy! ๐Ÿ˜€

  35. Eklavya
    December 6, 2010

    Finally, FIFA and FFF make the correct decision! Sneijder will probably be 4th.

    • Helge
      December 6, 2010

      I thought that there will not be released a particular order of the 4th – 23rd place this time?

      Yeah, let’s wait for the others to wake up. What a great news to start their morning ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Eklavya
        December 6, 2010

        Oooooh, that must be it!
        I was wondering why it was so different this time, apart from the fact that Wpoty and Ballon d’Or teamed up…

  36. Helge
    December 6, 2010

    Now, who does still not believe the Gazzetta Dello Sport, saying that the order will be: 1. Iniesta 2. Xavi 3. Messi ?

    I personally still hope for a swap bewetten 1. and 2., but I don’t think it’ll happen. They predicted Sneijder not to be in Top3, who was the top favourite some weeks ago, so they prolly have their reliable source, a mowl or whatever^^

  37. y2k156
    December 6, 2010

    Well, for my money, Messi, Iniesta and Xavi are the best three players on the planet. Has there been any other instance when top 3 were from same team? I do not think so.

    I think lot of people will say that Snieder was snubbed. For me, i can understand their point of view but defining the best is always tricky. In any case, Fifa or Uefa did not have to do anything with this. This is simply vote by the coaches, captains and journalists from around the world. Just goes to to show that our current team is one defining the game at this moment. Which is great!

    Irrespective of how much i like Messi and his achievement over last 12 months, i want Xavi to win this one. Messi has one and will likely have more in future. Iniesta would be great as well. My pref: xavi > iniesta > messi purely on accolade point of view.

    • outerspacedout
      December 6, 2010

      1988 and 1989 I think the top three for Ballon d’Or were all from that amazing Milan team, and there has never been a top three FIFA WPotY from the same club.

  38. outerspacedout
    December 6, 2010

    Oh an all Barca top three for the Ballon d’Or! I still think Iniesta is an absolutely amazing player and up there with Messi as the most pure skillful player in the world- first touch, passing, control, dribbling, etc wise- but he was injured for so much of last season that he wasn’t decisive. Xavi and Messi were much more decisive overall. But I wouldn’t be unhappy with 1. Xavi 2. Iniesta 3. Messi, cos the midfield duo deserve a spot in history.

  39. December 6, 2010

    I want Xavi to be first. This is probably his last chance. He deserve it.

    • jordi(TM)
      December 6, 2010

      Yea it would be nice if he retires with atleast one.I get the feeling though that if andres wins Xavi will be happier than all of us combined either way.

    • Whatever
      December 6, 2010

      Yeah, Xavi’s gotta win it. He really deserved it.

  40. JC
    December 6, 2010

    Hoping for a tie between Xavi & Iniesta!!

  41. jordi(TM)
    December 6, 2010

    Its so funny that the year we won everything guys like kaka and Ronaldo stopped us from sweeping the 1-2-3.Now inter win the treble and we get the top 3 and they nothing lol.

  42. barca96
    December 6, 2010

    I don’t care who wins it now as it will fall on a Barca player.
    Well I lied, I hope it’s Xavi or Iniesta.
    No. Messi is just too good.
    It’s not fair!

    But if Messi wins it, it will definitely shut those EPL fans up and stops them comparing Messi with Crisshtiano Ronaldo.

    • December 6, 2010

      As I said in the live-blog during Osasuna match, dont argue with someone starting a comparison between Messi and Ronaldo. Instead, start a new argument comparing Ronaldo and Pedro. Thats more reasonable.

  43. K(legit)
    December 6, 2010

    bwahahahahahahahaha suck it Sneijder

  44. Diego S.
    December 6, 2010

    I want Xaviiniestamessi to be first.

    • soccermomof4
      December 6, 2010

      Great idea—and i want the Xaviniestamessi 6810 shirt!

  45. Diego S.
    December 6, 2010

    Ballon d’Or is the World’s Best Player of the year award. Given to Best Players of the world.

    Messi had a phenomenal season. Xavi great season and a World Cup. Iniesta had a phenomenal WC.

    I don’t care if Snejider wins the Treble. He isn’t THE BEST PLAYER ON EARTH.

    • K(legit)
      December 6, 2010

      “I donโ€™t care if Snejider wins the Treble. He isnโ€™t THE BEST PLAYER ON EARTH.”

      ^ This. Always This

  46. Goo
    December 6, 2010

    I wish it will be:
    1. Xavi
    2. Messi
    3. Iniesta

    But it’s going to be a Barca player for sure, so it’s a win-win-win situation no matter what. La Masia rules.

    I can now see the next batch of trolls coming to protest the Sneijder snub.

    • K(legit)
      December 6, 2010

      Don’t you know we have bought everyone from the RFEF to the LFP and now France Football and every NT captain?
      Yep we have paid all of them money and denied Sneijder “THE BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD’ his rightful award a YEAR’S SUPPLY OF HAIR GROWING PRODUCT..sorry..the BALON D’OR

      Screw the Trolls..La Masia FTW!

      • Goo
        December 6, 2010

        If the club is that rich, can we please just pay Dani?

        Trolls will be trolls.

  47. soccermomof4
    December 6, 2010

    Woke up to happy news. The Ballon d’Or stays at Barca!

  48. Kari
    December 6, 2010

    YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!

    Xavi WINS! Iniesta second, Messi third! Barca sweep!! Eat it, Sneijder! <– He was so confident he was going to win. AND NO THONG BOY IN SIGHT.

    Wow, what news to start my day!

    (I feel kinda bad for Forlan, but if he's the Top 10, I'll be happy!)

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