Barca 2, Rubin Kazan 0, aka “Finally, the Russian bear is tamed”

So, this picture looks just like all of the other pictures, except that it isn’t like all of the other pictures, though it certainly might be 5 years from now. This match was a glimpse of the future, courtesy of a first team that took care of business to a degree that rendered this final Champions League group stage match against Rubin Kazan meaningless.

But still meaningful, which was pretty cool.

This was, frankly, one of the weirdest matches I have seen in a while. Rubin Kazan rolled into our house with a recent history of a win and two stalwart draws against us. The side should have been brimming with confidence. They also had to win, and hope that Copenhagen lost its match against group whipping boys Panathinaikos.

So I’m sure that someone can explain to me why they came out and played turtle, sticking their neck out only when a crystal-clear counterattacking opportunity presented itself, which wasn’t often. It was almost as if they saw the shirts, instead of the bench-emptying lineup of Pinto, Pique, Fontas, Adriano, Maxwell, Mascherano, Busquets, Dos Santos, Thiago, Jeffren, Krkic, and played to not get killed. Or maybe they didn’t want to vex Guardiola to a degree sufficient that he would insert Messi and Iniesta. Whatever. They were defensive and about as passive as I have witnessed, for a side that had to win.

We just stroked the ball around, and looked at glimpses of the future, one that looked simultaneously bright as day and somewhat uncertain. For although players are still developing, we could see a lot, such as we’re going to be buying strikers for a while yet, folks. But with the money that we will have saved on midfielders and defenders, we should have one hell of a transfer kitty.

We also saw a bit of why Jonathan Dos Santos has been passed by Thiago on the “Young’un Most Likely To” list.

And man, did we see the next Pique!

But we had a match to play, one in which we at times looked sloppy and disjointed, exactly like what we were: first-team subs and B-teamers, cobbled together by a coach who would have liked to win the match, but not enough to really play the real guys, because they have important work coming up. Long balls were flying hither and yon, establishing the value of tika taka in a very visual way.

Then still other times, a sequence of one-touch football would happen in which the Bs and the Subs combined to look just like the first team …. almost. The difference, really, was mostly two-touch football instead of one-touch. When the ball did move quickly in true one-touch fashion, we were in, only to find that we really didn’t have a striker, even when Krkic was on the pitch. We did put men in the box, but they were sort of like nudists at a fashion show. “Um, okay. But now what?”

Helping our cause immensely was the fact that Rubin Kazan was, frankly, chicken. I know that a coach plays the match that he thinks his side needs to play, but at least try to play to win. Possession stats were absurd, in the high 70s for us. And you just can’t give a team the ball for that long, and not expect it to score.

And so it did, in a goal that wasn’t coming, really, a goal that was was lovely and ugly, an unusual goal that saw Thiago in the box to slide a ball to Fontas, who smashed a shot that even a defender’s hand couldn’t keep from nestling into the goal, so clear was his shooting lane. It was 1-0, and the Bs were celebrating as if they’d won the whole Champions League their own selves. Which was fine, their undiluted joy at having scored against a side that looked about as likely to score as I am to be borne upon a bier by 8 supermodels, and walked into a room filled with cash. So that was the match, really.

We notched a second goal off a lovely feed to Victor Vazquez, who had acres of space in which to compose and finish and did so, smoking a shot past the keeper, a shot that had me noting in the LiveBlog (much thanks for the last-minute step up, Vicsoc!) that you didn’t have to hit it right at the keeper, like our current first-team striker has done in similar situations. And it was 2-0, done and done and done.

And finally, we beat ’em, but not without some pain. Jeffren, Final Fantasy himself, wouldn’t have any luck at all were it not for bad luck. He gets injured, then returns to the side in time to cop a late, but important goal in El Clasic, the tally that enabled the full-on manita, then in his second match back he is injured again. One or two weeks for him, a player who looked devastated coming off the pitch, for good reason. Dude can’t catch a break.

Krkic, on the other hand, almost did indeed catch a break but not of the good kind, when he got a face full of Rubin Russian hip. The worst of the damage might have been a bloody nose. For that we can be thankful, since Krkic is half of our striker force.

And that’s that. We finished the group stages undefeated, in form and ready for the knockout stages when, as they say, it’s for all the marbles.

Team: 6. It was an uneven display to be sure, against a side that found its way into our end on a few occasions, and even looked semi-dangerous a couple of times. We played like strangers and the closest friends. The long ball stuff has to stop, and it will.

Guardiola: 8. Hats off for the lineup, for resting key players and substituting with farm boys, until Messi. I still don’t understand why Messi had to play this match, a meaningless encounter against an increasingly desperate team. It vexeth me so.

Pinto: 7. I liked his play, even as it was very clear why he isn’t our first-choice keeper. He commands the box well and, while not as quick or reactive to danger as Valdes, is a fine sweeper keeper in the Barca tradition.

Pique: 7. Very solid, and the Piquenbauer stints were becoming increasingly necessary, as we had nobody to really attack the opponents’ goal. OUr Captain for a Day had moments of quality that made it clear the difference between first and B team.

Fontas: 9. He was our best defender, a combination of size, silky smoothness and Piquenbauer-like abilities, but with more pace. He even looked like Pique on the shot for the goal. His care of the ball moving forward was flawless, except for a couple of times where he was caught in possession. He was also the fireman, sliding over to extinguish the rare instances of danger. He has, in my opinion (and judging from the evidence) vaulted the other defenders, including Muniesa, into the “most likely to be promoted” spot. This is the second time he’s featured this season, and he was even better than the first time, again, helped by Rubin’s passivity. But the skills were apparent. A keeper who should be first team next season.

Adriano: 8. An excellent match from Dani Alves Lite, who marauded up and down the wing, stealing balls, laying off passes and being a general thorn in the side of our opponents who never really tested his defensive skills.

Maxwell: 5. Mostly anonymous, and kind of clunky when he wasn’t, seemingly demonstrating rust from Abidal’s return to first-choice left back. The midfield role doesn’t suit him as well as it should.

Mascherano: 7. Again, very solid. A few people during the LiveBlog were commenting on his consistently missing passes, something that I just didn’t see happening. He was smart with the ball, and made life difficult for any opposing attacker that came near him. And he was everywhere on the pitch, even showing up in their box.

Busquets: 8. You have to really watch to see how good he was, but in shot after shot this No. 16 comes flitting in to do something cool, then slides out of the picture again. From passing and defense to ball control, Busquets was on today except for a couple of Bad Busi! moments.

Dos Santos: 5. I wasn’t a big fan of his performance today. He was invisible mostly, and didn’t seem to know what to do with the ball when he got it, losing it on more than one occasion. The side worked better when he exited, only in part because the player replacing him was one Lionel Messi. His role seemed to be part playmaker part DM, but we had a guy named Busquets already performing that role, so now what? That uncertainty seemed to permeate Dos Santos’ play. Of the Bs out there, he looked the youngest, not visually but in quality of play. Looks like he needs more time in the oven.

Thiago: 5. Again, some good and some bad, in equal portions. He’s way too casual with the ball, with long passes that hardly ever found their target, hospital balls and mishit passes. Then he would enjoy a run of wonderful play that makes the reasons for his promotion apparent. Definitely the next Iniesta rather than Xavi, however, as he roams far and wide to work his magic. He’s a keeper, for sure, even as you can see the lack of maturity in his game. I don’t think it’s anything that real exposure to the first team can’t cure, though. The talent is there, and if the rumors of his January promotion are true, it’s welcome news.

Jeffren: incomplete. FF showed flashes out there, and is moving less like the driverless Ferrari that he used to seem like. He needs some luck.

Krkic: 3. He looked like a B teamer today, folks, after a run of excellent showings with the first team. He was almost completely anonymous, until he got the ball, fell down and lost it. Hopefully this won’t damage his fragile confidence. He was in a tough spot today as the 9 against a big, physical, resolute and organized side determined to play defense. Better, more experienced players than he have fallen prey to the very same thing.


Vazquez (for Jeffren): 6. I really liked his match today. I don’t know that ultimately, he has the quality to break into the first team except as a squad player, but his movement and passing skills were on fine display, as was the fact that he is really green. His goal was exceptionally well-taken. B teamers always look surprised when they see that shooting, passing and scoring are the same, no matter the opponent. The way his face lit up was a riot. It remains to be seen what his future holds, but I don’t really see him as a first team player in the future.

Bartra (for Krkic): 6. Nice work in his hybrid role, and excellent movement. Strong pace and good instincts should see him getting more and more first team looks next year. He won’t be promoted, nor should he be, but he’s definitely a keeper. His future is bright.

Messi (for Dos Santos): 7. You could see him taking the match off and just leaving the motor purring rather than running, but even with that, the side’s performance stepped up a notch when he entered. And that mazy, crazy run of his, even though it resulted in nothing more than a blocked shot, was a delight. I’m not usually a fan of his solo runs, but that one had such danger and intent written all over it. It wasn’t running directly into a nest of defenders, but rather taking on a bevy of them and leaving them all in his serpentine wake. That run deserved a goal, but there was one defender too many.

This is also Guardiola’s best group stage record, in a win that dispatched a demon in Rubin Kazan. It was also a match that gave us the opportunity to examine from key future first teamers in depth in real match conditions for extended periods, rather than a sub that comes on in the last 5 minutes of a decided match. And I liked what I saw, particularly from Fontas who, with every appearance, makes the sale of Txigrinski seem less crazy, tactically (not fiscally).

And that’s all I got, folks, except does anyone see anything Yayaesque in this Fontas shot? Just asking.

Pere Punti/El Mundo Deportivo

By Kxevin

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.


  1. Haha kxevin even if villa is not playing you will find room to write something..yeah he must learn from vasquez how to shot..

    1. villa sucks, he always hits at right at the keeper. if a basketball player can swish a 3-pointer, why can not a striker hit it past the keeper and score every time, right?

    2. NBA average 3pointers is about 28%. Stellar shooters are just under 40% (Reggi Miller 39.5)…. If Villa only mad 30-40% of wide open 1v1 shots against opponents he would be a 8 million euro player.

  2. Kxevin, it was Fontas who scored the first goal.

    and what the heck? you wake up at 6 something just to post the review? Gosh, thanks a bunch for doing this, dude!

    1. Will correct the record above. For some reason, my brain can’t separate Fontas and Bartra. I have no idea why.

  3. Thiago’s game is definitely amateur. But to see him express so much freedom on the pitch is still a joy to watch. I guess the fact that this game’s result doesn’t matter a whole lot kind of helped them relax. Still, frequent missed and bad passes are not quite acceptable in our system. But he only needs more time to play in the first team. His game still needs more fine-tuning before he could step up on bigger occasions. He still has more Xaviesque quality than anyone imo though.

    I remember someone said in the liveblog “Messi comes in and we suddenly know tiki taka”? That’s right. That’s how good he is. I believe Pep realizes the best way to treat Messi is to let him play. B teamers also need the chance to play with the best player on earth to mature. So, his insertion is kinda of ok. Also, I think Pep wants to repay the fans who came in to watch this meaningless game. When Messi came in, all players suddenly found a focus and reference point, and then revolve around him. The passing improved so much and then you realize the Bs and the Subs can actually play as well as the A team.

    Don’t know if you see the same thing, but I think there is some sort of elegance in Mascherano’s game. That kind of elegance only comes when a player’s quality has reached certain level. Love it.

  4. I wonder if is good for a player only training and play 2,3 games in a season.That.s happening with tiago.About muniesa i am sure about him,more than fontas or bartra.Marc play a lot with barca b and he will be ready before them.IMO.

  5. I would really like to see Mascherano get more playing time, he is such a quality player! The only problem is that Busquets has become so damn reliable I am not sure how poor Javier is gonna get into the team. I can definitely understand why Yaya left, he could see the writing on the wall…

  6. Didnt watch it, But Pique must have been a monster as captin. Who has more caps Bojan or Pique?

  7. Thanks for the review, Kxevin.

    It’s very reassuring that we can call up Fontas whenever we need him. I liked his composure out there. Masch was great too, but I gotta say that Busi has been impressing the heck out of me this year.

    As for your comment;
    “And thatโ€™s all I got, folks, except does anyone see anything Yayaesque in this Fontas shot? Just asking.”
    Does this mean we have to start calling him “The Fontas” now?

    Off topic, I’ve blaugranafied my bedroom for Christmas, y’all. I found 2 REALLY cheap light strands at Walmart (blue and red obviously). Hubby is ammused/mildly concerned for my sanity as I am normally very picky about what goes into our room (clean lines, earth tones, modern art pieces (not condusive to dime store decorating)). Good thing he’s a fan too.

    1. I want my room blaugranafied ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ˜€

      We can find a whole bunch of cheesy nicknames for him when he’s promoted, like The Fontas or Fontastique

  8. Good news:

    “Good news for FC Barcelona: neither of the two injuries sustained against Rubin Kazan by Bojan and Jeffren are serious. Bojan will be back training on Thursday and Jeffren will only miss one match.”

  9. I think the Messi sub was just fan service:

    “Here, you people were nice enough to buy tickets even though it’s a throwaway match and you’re mostly going to see the B-teamers and subs. Have a sample of our top-class show.”

    And I think Messi was a bit more selfish with the ball than I’d usually like, but with an aim towards putting on a nice display for the fans. It certainly motivates the other players, which was a nice change. Hell, even Rubin seemed like they wanted to play all of a sudden, since they actually bothered to apply pressure when Messi had the ball.

    For the most part, though, I have to say the match was pretty boring. Expected, honestly, from a Barรงa side that didn’t really need to win, but surprising from Rubin, who absolutely did no play like a side desperate to stay in the Champions League.

    1. This definitely seems to be the pattern this season: if we are playing at Nou Camp, Messi plays some portion of the game, even if the game is not critical. I almost wonder if this is a mandate from Rosell to keep the cules happy.

    2. I’d believe it, honestly. If the club is looking to increase revenue, then trying to bring more people into a game by promising to play Messi probably helps sell tickets.

  10. Line up so baffling that i gave up figuring it out. Busquets in CB adriano in attack
    I know its disrespectful to tell villa to learn from Vasquez’s shot but come he really should. One wonders what could have been if he wasn’t injured way then.
    And am worried about this ‘everythinghastogothrumessi’ syndrone its not good for our play same as his solo runs that hardly bring a goal and worst of all get him injured.
    thanks you all on this forum you make life more interesting

  11. Thoughts on the formation shifting? I was not a fan of Busi as the middle CB in the first half, and was always worried when an under-pressure Pinto passed it straight to him.

    Much happier with the 4-man backline that becomes a 3-man one in attack, rather than permanently 3 men, especially when they’re up against a team that were playing no wingers. I also felt it muddled a few of the roles in the middle of the pitch, with Maxwell and JDS not quite sure what they was doing in there. The formation basically seemed like a purely experimental thing, rather than a tactical one (that is, built to nullify the opponent), and as such it was a good look but not all that successful.

    Especially for the kids, I feel like clear offensive and defensive assignments in a 4-3-3 was more useful than allowing them to switch roles in the 3-5-2.

    Also, enjoyed hearing the commentators talk about the B-kiddies being shepherded around by ‘senior’ 23-year-olds Pique and Messi.

  12. Barcelona B wing attacker Nolito, whose contract expires in June, will not continue at Barcelona. [ona fm]

    Poor poipoi, he’ll be devastated if it’s true. ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. I must say that Nolito is something in which we are well stocked, and he didn’t really stand out enough for his staying to make sense.

      That’s the brutal side of this game. Sometimes you raise them, but they just don’t work out. Look at Assulin, or Gio Dos Santos.

    2. I agree. I like Nolito, and he’s a good player, but he’s just not of the quality we are looking for. Better for him to leave now and get some first-team football at a club where he can really spread his wings. I wish him luck.

  13. Also, does anyone have any idea what happened to Krkic, precisely? All the news about him has been tantalizingly vague. My best guess is a concussion.

    1. Then some news sources are referring to it as a hamstring injury? Honestly, having watched the match, I couldn’t tell whether the hip check had caused some head trauma or the awkward landing caused a strain. The last thing I saw Bojan doing before being carted off the field was pressing something into his mouth. Do we have any official explanation for what happened?

    2. It’s a head injury of some kind, coupled with a nosebleed. You guessed concussion and that seems about right. It also explains why he needed to stay in the hospital for a couple of hours.

      -Jeffren is the one with a hamstring injury.

    3. Well hopefully Bojan won’t suffer too many more. I don’t think a single concussion will threaten his career. It looks like Twellman suffered seven to force him to retire.

      Though I don’t think the injury itself should threaten Bojan’s future performance, I fear this may have put an end to Bojan’s recent confidence. He’s had good form since he broke his duck, but few goals, since he usually comes on pretty late. This was his chance to get in a full 90 minutes and put his name on the board again. To have that chance vanish after about 35 minutes has to be at the very least a major test for his composure. When he does come back, I’m afraid we’ll be seeing the bad Bojan again.

  14. Here’s a nice compilation of the highlights:

    Definitely watch to the end, which includes a post-match discussion between Ruud Gullit, Dwight Yorke, and Ray Wilkins. Wilkins says something very complementary about Barcelona at 6:40 while trying to counter the moderators lame attempt to whitewash a Barcelona win over Chelsea from a few years ago. It was a really classy response by Wilkins to a really poor argument by the moderator.

    1. I downloaded the program, Wilkins gave us props the whole time. Richard Keys was being an ass trying to start that whole referee discussion and Wilkins put him in his place.

  15. From barcastuff:
    Jeffren has stretched an adductor muscle in his left thigh. He won’t be available for the Liga game this weekend

    The Abidal injury then..

    Oh and things i learned from the Rubin game,
    1. GDS needs some more time..he may not be the next Busquets but has the skill set to be the next Keitee
    2. Thiago is full of swagger and just needs a little confidence and he will blossom. Visually we could see how his play improved after that assist to Fontas.
    3. Speaking of Fontas..dude is all out beast of a defender..Inspite of us being a bit light in the CB dept this season, next season we will face none of these problems. Fontas and Bartra should be promoted. Montoya is another option for the FB position.
    4. Pique Captain ๐Ÿ˜€
    5. Messi needs to playe every game or he will knock over his lego set in a huff and bully Bojan.
    6. Aww Bojan..someone needs his teddy. Great that he’s ok!

  16. The most impressive thing for me about Fontas was his composure. I’d like to see him in a real match. That is, one that means something. I suspect he’d be the same, but let’s see it.

    He has all the attributes of a top CB: pace, size, ability to make a quick decision, ball skills. The one play where the defense was at sixes and sevens in our box, and Fontas just steamed over and resolved the crisis, was awesome.

    As Euler said in the match comments thread, I suspect we’ll be seeing more of him this season. I know that Milito is ready to come back, but this guy is the future, which might be sooner than we realize.

    1. We did see him in a real match, against Almeria. OK, they sucked, but we still needed those three points. And he was terrific.

      What I like best about Fontas is that he is not afraid to take a chance with a long ball (and he is more accurate with them than Pique has been lately). Yes, our game is based on control, short passes, and keeping the ball on the ground, but sometimes you just need to take that shot. And he does.

  17. I agree, Nolito is not outstanding enough to stay with us. He is not even the kind of player you want to play when you are losing and desperate and run out of options and still want to make something happen. He has to go.

    How much should we sell Nolito for?

  18. has anyone else checked this out?



    so cool. wish I had gone so I could look for myself, haha.

  19. Yes.

    “I am very happy and I will sign a new contract with this fantastic club,” Abidal told

    Word is that this will happen before the weekend. I think it’s so easy because he understands that this is his last “real” contract, but also because of one simple reason: Why would anyone in their right mind leave this club?

    The Yaya left, and we replaced him with a player who is better for our needs. And Citeh isn’t going to be anywhere near any championships this season, unless a friend invites them to the ceremony.

    p.s. Yes, I said “replaced him with a player who is better for our needs.”

    1. Apparently the deal will be done within the next 3 days. They’re looking at a 2 year extension.

  20. impressed by, in no particular order…
    adriano – guess you can put this guy anywhere
    fontas – composed on both ends, awesome
    bartra – great from a guy out of position
    mascherano – pretty silky for a guy mostly sMasching
    vazquez – did some nice things and finished his 1 opportunity. would like to see him get a chance with a more regular crew
    thiago – did some things you have to like and some things you don’t. more time with xavi and iniesta and no one will be asking about that guy in london.

    not so much…
    jds – put him back he’s not quite ready yet
    max – seems like he he should be a better fit further up the pitch than he tends to. pretty much invisible.

    understand the messi-marketing, but i get a little worried every time his gets put in with nothing to win or not pulled as early as he could be.

  21. @clivee Nolito’s contract ends this summer I believe.

    My thoughts on the match are pretty much Kxevin’s. Fontas looks to have leaped Muniesa, but Marca is much younger. Fontas is 20 if I’m not mistaken? Maybe 19. It was good to see Victor score, what a great moment it must’ve been for him. Hes 24 next year isn’t that the highest age the B team allows? I could see him on loan to a lower Liga side next season and who knows what will happen, as JNice mentions he would’ve been promoted if not for injury.

    Also JNeezy mentioned Juvenil A highlights… where does one watch them? I’ve only seen one video of Gerard and I really want to see more. Also I think Rafa is right footed (someone asked last thread) Speaking of last thread someone mentioned our team in 5 years and didn’t include Gerard! If he continues like this he could possibly outshine Bojan as the next Bojan hah!

    Thiago clearly has the raw skills, and the correct attitude. Watch clips of young 18 or 19 year old Messi, he played with no fear and went right at defenses. Thiago does similar, he’s not scared to take a defender one on one and hand a nice little run at the defense that lead to a blocked shot. His ability to shoot from distance or rather his confidence to is refreshing.

    JDS stock keeps dropping it seems. Althought I believe he plays different roles in the B team than when he’s with the A team so theres a gel period for him. I just am really excited for Fontas now. He’s played two matches, scored a goal, got an assist, two cleansheets, and an aggregate 10-0. Who does that?!

    1. I forgot to mention my opinion on the Messi thing.
      In hindsight, the addition is good because he maintains his fitness and didn’t get hurt. I was the only one saying before the match that I WOULDN’T mind if he played.

      I mean this guy is the future of the team. Well he currently is the team. He’s here for the next 10 years or so playing top notch football barring injuries. There’s no better real game simulation for the B teamers than playing with Messi. Xavi will retire soon, Iniesta has a lot of time left. Villa has a couple years. But Messi. Messi is the constant variable (:D), and the players need to adapt to a player like him on the pitch and know what their role would be with him if they think they’ll play with the big boys in their future or if they won’t cut it for us.

    2. Very good point.

      I also think that Messi is the type of player who ALWAYS wants to play. He just seems to love being out there on the pitch doing his thing. You could tell he was having fun yesterday. Its amazing to see.

    3. Fontas is 21, Bartra is 19, Muniesa is 18.

      I disagree that anyone has “jumped” ahead of Muniesa in the pecking order. Muniesa is right where he has been all along, behind Fontas and Bartra due to his age. Remember, he’s really only played one senior game. It was in 2009, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that he was higher inthe peckin order then, it was just a way for Pep to show him that he has a future with the club.

    4. Well I think in terms of “potential” Muniesa was always thought of the best. Like you said because of their ages, Fontas is getting more chances. Didn’t Muniesa have any injury last season as well? Bartra is only a year older and has more appearances. Muniesa has been out of position all season and playing well from what I hear. I wouldn’t mind him getting some playing time, he can play CB or LB, like Bartra is CB or RB. Fontas is stricly a CB I think. He might be able to play some DM I’m not sure.

      I think jumped was a bad term to use. It’s just that at the ripe age of 18, there’s more to prove to the 21 year old Fontas then Muniesa. I’d love to see Muniesa get some minutes, but Fontas is more matured and ready, though he may not have as high a ceiling as Marc.

    5. Exactly was referring to vicsoc’s post.

      Muniesa got all the hype because of that one match and because of the Puyol comparisons. Yes he has a lot of potential, but Fontas was always the most ready and mature of the bunch. He is a former DM, which is why he is so comfortable on the ball.

      Muniesa will get his chances in the future.

  22. Man, I really like Adriano. He is an amazing squad player. Wherever you put him, he plays good. It was a great transfer!

    1. I was going to watch the match but got busy and without most of the starters for our squad its pretty unfair to them the result. I guess we get to see L. Enrique’s true grit!

  23. So Fontas has played 2 conceded 0, scored 1 and assisted 1. Haha. What a way to break into the first team for a young’n

  24. would kopenhagen’s going up in the 26th minute during their game have anything to do w/rubin kazan’s play? you guys would have known that in the liveblog had it not been for the new rules.

    i have to agree w/rohanv that this experimentation w/3-3-1-3 added to the hodge podge in midfield.

    1. It didn’t. They showed no urgency at all early. And I remember when FCK scored, their style didn’t change at all. Only more gripping of the beads.

  25. Reading an old Sid Lowe article’s comments about Messi’s hat trick vs. Madrid

    12 March 2007 5:42PM
    Again, a GU article that lacks any real substance … I mean it was well written and all, but …

    … it has been fairly obvious for sometime that Messi has the most dazzling of skills, and would likely go on to potentially be one of the talked about greats in football … whether he can go on to dominate like Maradona is another entirely different discussion. I’d like to hope so but in reality I can’t see it … Different footballing age, with defensive team-oriented systems being employed. Unless some creative tactical genius can come up with a system to counter the current mechanical methods of Rehaggle, mourinho, Benitez et al., Messi won’t be able to truly shine.

    Liverpool shut him down very well last week. Unless he can adapt to being played deeper and more centrally (instead of the wide positions) he’ll never be able to run at players in the way Maradona was so successful. He’s of a smaller frame that Maradona, and the nature of his feet, super fast darting runs (as opposed to Maradona’s gliding-past defenders motions) means he’s more liable to injury.

    Thought that this article had the potential to become a great discussion but unfortunately just sated the facts instead of offering why he might be the 470th odd re-incarnation ?; how he might flourish when so many before have failed to live up to that hype ?; or whether we’ll ever see a player like Maradona again … is it the nature of modern sport that Man can no longer upsurp th esport again ?

    What we had from the GU was another Spanish football filler with a catchy headline!”

    Heh, interesting.

    1. Unless he can adapt to being played deeper and more centrally (instead of the wide positions) heโ€™ll never be able to run at players in the way Maradona was so successful.

      He has now..this dude was Prophetic n many ways ๐Ÿ˜€

      Also, how can you post in italics, bold etc here?

  26. Well, it looks like the Shakhtar-Arsenal-Braga-Partizan group is the one to watch today.

    If by some weird turn of events Shakhtar finish second, wouldn’t it be dandy if we drew them? A Txignasty reunion. (Actually, that would be quite depressing.)

    I don’t think they’ll finish second though

    1. I don’t wan ‘returns’
      Marseille would do fine Inter, Arsenal or Milan for me
      For now

      and 2-1

  27. Diego, in reference to your post in the last thread,

    Tello isn’t on Juvenil A. The player who dribbled past a lot of players was Deulofeu.

    And Rafa Alcantara is in fact a left footed player.

    1. Deolofeu. Or “Deu” “lo” “feu” rough translation: “God made him”.

      So we have the Messi(as) and soon-to-be Deulofeu, what next? We sign Jesรบs Navas? ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. I’m following on barcastuff and what a result this would be. Without 5 of their starters they draw AWAY against a team who I believe hasn’t dropped a point at home ALL SEASON?!

      Coming back from 2-0 down at that. What grit, what passion! What never say die attitude.

  28. – Fontas is -almost- ready. I think he need an intensive course playing beside puyol the way Pique graduated.

    – Bartra may lose focus sometimes, but I remembered when young-Puyol used to play as a RB while watching him. He hasthe “Grinta”

    – JDS may end up being the victim of Thiago the way his brother was the victim of Bojan (and his own antiques). Say whatever you want about agents, but Thiago’s agent played it right. The moment he signed his new contract he stepped over JDS and started to earn more time with the first team (Training/playing time). Young players are confidence and motivation. Lets see how far JDS can keep focused and keep hoping and fighting. Thiago is extremely talented. But he wasnt better than JDS in this match. And I will say it again, Thiago is more naturally gifted, But if I have to choose one of them to play the very next match, JDS is still more reliable. Thiago need to calm down a bit and understand the difference between professional football with tactical/functional discipline and free style shows. We usually say youth need to feel confident to perform. Thiago need to feel less confidant to perform better.

    – Vazquez (is not a youth anymore) is a very talented player. But he was unlucky with his injury and I think now that Afellay is joining the squad, there isn’t enough space for him. He is more the Villarreal’s Rossi type of players. I hope he stay one more season with the reserve just so we see how the squad work, but for his age it is highly unlikely.

    I dont care about the first teamers performance in this game ๐Ÿ˜€

    Oh yea! Pinto can sign a contract as a goalkeeper coach-assistant. We need a new keeper as Valdes backup .

    1. “Thiago need to feel less confidant to perform better.”
      I disagree, his confidence is perfect and it’s what sets great players from good ones. It’s not his confidence that’s the problem, it’s his decision making. Take Xavi for example, his decision making is unbelievable even though he might be average physically. If Thiago can even get half of Xavi’s decision making then he will without a doubt become something special.

  29. Does anyone know where I can find extensive statistics for CL matches? Specifically I’m looking for distance covered (unimportant what format–ie yards or meters). I thought used to track that, but I can’t find it right now.

    1. You got to the “Matchcentre” heading (there are three–Pre-game, Matchcentre-Postgame)

      Just click on the player and they’ll give you individual stats+distance covered.

      e.g. For the Rubin game:


  30. I was pleasantly surprised when I got home yesterday to find that the Barca-Rubin match was playing on TSN2, so I got to watch the second half live. A few thoughts:

    –is this the first time we have had Mascherano and Busi on the field at the same time? I liked it.

    –Fontas looks very confident. He looks like he is ready to be promoted, IMO.

    –Bartra still takes way too long to decide what to do with the ball at his feet. It didn’t matter against this team, but anyone else would take advantage of that.

    –I keep having to remind myself that Thiago is only 19 and that is why he is so inconsistent. When he’s on, he is brilliant, and I love that he is so attack-minded, but I notice that he is not always paying attention to what is going on behind him.

    –At one point it seemed like we were fielding a team composed entirely of midfielders and fullbacks. Very odd, but I guess it worked. This probably did contribute to the general sloppiness of our play, as no one was quite sure what position they were supposed to be in.

    –I have no idea why Rubin Kazan played the way they did. The only time they got the ball was when one of our passes went awry. They hardly made any effort at all. A very poor showing.

    –My father, who likes football but hasn’t followed it for years, asked me who “that little guy” was, the one who ran through four defenders and still managed to keep the ball at his feet and take a shot on goal. Oh, no one. I think his name is Messi or something. ๐Ÿ˜€

  31. In reply to Jnice in the last post

    I watched the highlights of Juvenil Aโ€™s match against Espanyol.

    Espanyolโ€™s players kept kicking (They really have it in for us.)

    The Players who grabbed my attention was Tello, He dribbled past a lot of players. Dalmau was very good at the RB position. Rafa Alacantara scored with his left foot and he was wearing the no.9 Jersey (Is he a CF, Is he a Leftie?). And One other player who I couldnโ€™t catch his name.

    1. I think Tello is a “B” player JNeezy said. Where on this totalbarca do I see highlights?

      I’m excited about Gerard btw. He could be the Gai that Gai never became.

  32. Balague was at it again last night with the Barca hating, he is quite the tool. Great result last night to keep the momentum going.

  33. I just hope Airfutbol haven’t caught wind of Deulofeu or any other budding stars we have. They ruin (potentially) careers and steal videos! (I’ll never forgive them for stealing cliveee’s work)

    …aaaand, they have got a video of him.

    Airfutbol: a menance to football society

  34. 3-1 Arsenal. Puuurty goal, like our Panathanikos goal (but ours was better! ๐Ÿ˜› ).

    Arsenal’s defense is godawful–even after buying two centrebacks. They score a goal, lose focus and concede a goal or look like conceding one.

    Nasri’s in really good form right now.

    1. None of the Italian teams won their own group?

      Also, one of my vain pleasures of this time is reading other blogs of second place teams and reading how much they would like to avoid Barcelona… does that make me a bad person?

    2. jajaja! To indulge…. from an Arsenal blog:

      Reply to sorrynoname:
      everybody scared of barca and rm need to fucking chill..we gonna meet them anyway so might as well s…

      true enough. let’s hope it’s not barca so we can lose without being raped in the process.

  35. So our final list of potential opponents is:

    Serie A
    AC Milan

    Ligue 1

    English Premiership

  36. Inter! Milan! Arsenal!

    UEFA! If it’s really true you rig draws, you’d get us to draw those teams!

    (Watch us get another French team :/ )

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