Getafe 0, Barca 2, a.k.a. “The future is so bright.”


Get used to seeing this picture, folks. Because the best football club in the world, by sending a player and a significant pile of dosh to Inter Milan–a move that had everybody on the planet questioning the logic of our Powers that Be–is now significantly better.

Yes, we took care of Getafe, at about half-speed as guys worked out cobwebs from Internationals, etc. Yes, they could have been up 3-0 before halftime. But that isn’t how it’s supposed to go, and so it doesn’t. When Messi tries a bicycle, it’s with the conviction that the shot has a chance. When a Getafe player tries it, it’s a “Well, let’s have a go” kind of mentality that isn’t as sharp as it should be. So one player’s slides inside the post, the other player’s bounces off it.

It’s just that simple. Luck? I don’t buy it. Skill and conviction decide matches, and aside from their zeal in committing fouls, Getafe didn’t play with the confidence that matched their advance, “We can beat these guys, blah, blah, blah” nattering. And so they didn’t. Because they didn’t really believe it.

So we ponced about with that GPS kind of play that we sometimes pull out after breaks, that “Where is everyone” sort of goofiness that makes us look as crappy as we did in that first half. And frankly, the starting XI of Valdes, Puyol, Pique, Txigrinsky, Abidal, The Yaya, Keita, Xavi, Pedro!, Jeffren and Ibrahimovic, made me a little nervous.

And that nervousness had very solid reason for existence, and Puyol was flat outrun to a ball, then Valdes dropped what should have been a hassle-free save. Pique and Puyol acted like new teammates, bobbling the ball between them, leading to more danger for Getafe. Pique popped off some atrocious long passes and giveaways, including one in which he made the Defender Cardinal Sin of clearing into the center of the pitch. Then Pedro! gave one away. Then The Yaya was clunky, and so on.

By missing their chances, Getafe were whistling past the graveyard, because it was only a matter of time, really, before the lads learned to play with the luxury that they had, which is the ability to play at minimal effort and win matches. It isn’t a luxury that we’ve had before, so they could be forgiven for not quite knowing what to do with it. And once they got their hands around the possibilities, it was only going to be a matter of time.

And so it was.

The two goals were both exquisite examples of excellence, not as much because of the result as from the way that they happened, the ease with which they happened and yet, the astounding level of skill necessary to make them happen.

1) Messi takes a pass, brings it down with otherworldly control and plays his way out of a defender sandwich. Iniesta, who provided him the pass, kept running diagonally into the box, which did two things: It drew defenders with him, making them shade toward him while keeping their eye on Messi, and it created passing space for Messi.

So rather than trying the obvious, which would have been a play back to Xavi, or some little flick to Iniesta that would have just missed, Messi laid the ball out into the acres of space, for Abidal to cross. Our French Greyhound smacked a cross that he knew had to be hard enough to clear Getafe’s scrambling back line. Still, one defender got a stabbed foot to it.

Through all of this, Ibrahimovic did what strikers are supposed to do, and beelined for the back post, full of the faith strikers have that says, “The ball will come, the ball will come.” When Abidal’s cross was deflected, Ibrahimovic just made an adjustment, stuck a leg out and flicked the ball into the net, into the one space that was available. Yes, he cut it a little too fine, glancing it in off the post as he did. But the difficulty of that shot, and how easy he made it look, were amazing.

2) First, it must be said that I love counterattack goals from us. But this one was special, because it began with Messi getting hacked in the midfield, and the referee intelligently waving play on because he didn’t want to deprive anyone of what was about to happen. πŸ˜€ The ball pinged to Alves, who had all the room in the world to charge up the pitch with the ball at his feet, weighing the options.

Messi was controlling his run, staying just behind and in sight of Getafe’s defense, almost lulling them to sleep by not making a full-tilt dart into the box. Ibrahimovic headed for the far post, a move seen by Alves, who delivered a cross that should have had a bit more mustard on it. As the ball was arriving, Ibrahimovic already knew the deal: The keeper and two defenders were there, to make sure that his shot didn’t have a chance. A lot of strikers would have blasted the ball anyhow and taken the corner, or a chance that they could get it between the keeper’s legs.

Instead, Ibrahmovic took the cross, pillowed it with his chest so that it dropped at his feet and, almost in the same motion, laid up a perfect ball for Messi to head in.

The record will say that we scored our second goal off of a counterattack. But Messi was grinning like a Cheshire Cat, because he understood what I began this review with: Damn, we’re good, and we aren’t even firing on all cylinders. What happens when Iniesta reaches full fitness, when Henry is out there, when Ibrahimovic is fully fit?


Yes, we had a striker, one of the best in the world. He’s somewhere else now. We have something completely different: A big, strong striker who can play like a midfielder. Recall the moments:

–A killer move frees him up for a shot that he fluffs. No worries. They’ll go in.
–On the run, he flips a one-touch, backspinning lob pass for Pedro! that landed at his feet as if placed there by the footy gods.
–He lays off a long pass with a header for Keita, that landed in the exact right spot for him to take a shot from distance.
–Just outside the box, he controls a long pass and sweeps an elegant backheel for Iniesta.

I’m completely in love with the possibilities, as our offense has gained a completely new dimension. A whole bunch of them, actually.

And we had the World’s Biggest Debutante, Dimitro Txigrinski, roll out today. He was spectacular, our best defender in the first half, before Pique shook off whatever was ailing him. We didn’t see much of him in the second half because we had the ball all of the time. And that’s fine, too.

But already, he looks as if he had come up through La Masia, with the position defense, the amazing long passes that were mostly unerring and the skill that got me most excited, his ability to calmly clear the ball to an attacker, rather than just clearing the ball out of the box wildly, banging it somewhere up the pitch. A 25 million central defender? Okay. It was only one match, but the skill set that was on display wasn’t one of those “Well, he had a good match” kinds of things. He is the real deal, folks.

Should we not have needed to sub in Messi and Iniesta? Nope. But they needed the work. Iniesta, after his long injury break, needed to re-examine match pace. And Messi needed some positive reinforcement after the awful stint with his national side. It was so good to see him smiling.

So now what?

Team: 6. Integration issues dragged things down, but it all came right in the second half.

Guardiola: 8. The exact right substitutions at the right time, to great effect. Good call rolling out Txignasty, too.

Valdes: 7. After almost giving me a heart attack, settled very nicely into the match, with some excellent saves.

Puyol: 4. He looked angry coming off, and I’m betting it was at himself. He kept getting caught pinched toward the center, which provided tons of space for Getafe’s attackers to pass the ball into. Looked sluggish and not up to his usual standard.

Pique: 5. Played up from a worse rating. Terrible first half, excellent second half. Yes, Getafe was making a concerted effort to get in his grille, but not during his most heart-rending clunkers.

Txigrinski: 8. Got caught out of position once, and didn’t show the greatest burst foot speed. But what a performance, and what passing. He and Pique will be the starting central defensive tandem next season. You read it here first.

Abidal: 7. Very solid game from the French Greyhound, including some excellent timing steals, many a destroyed play and that great assist on the first goal.

The Yaya: 4. He was off today, with precious little influence on the match, and very little of his usual calm control and distribution.

Keita: 7. Another good one as he was all over the pitch, controlling, destroying and creating.

Xavi: 6. Quiet but very solid match from our midfield general. Is still feeling his way around BANGS. He’s also learning how to deal with the much closer marking that he will be getting all season long.

Pedro!: 5. Discipline is what he needs. He was running around too much, which makes it difficult to integrate him into the offense, because you have no idea where he’s going to be. He’s also too ambitious with the ball, and decides to pass when he has no other option, rather than keeping the ball moving as a matter of habit.

Jeffren: 4. Final Fantasy had the same discipline issues as Pedro! Those two hamstrung the possibilities of our offense in the first half. Movement is good, too much movement just means that passes find there way to that spot the player just left. Wait for the match to come to you, wee hopper.

Ibrahimovic: 7. Still not in full cry, but he will be. Needs to help more on the defensive end. Then it will make designating him as Man of the Match even easier than it was this time, when Messi and Valdes were also in strong contention.


Messi (for Jeffren): 9. A true match changer, an irresistible force with his runs and ball control.

Iniesta (for Pedro!): 6. Still feeling his way back after the injury, but definitely did some good work out there.

Alves (for Puyol): 8. Immediate effect on the match, defensively and offensively.

And so we sit, top of the table, in the hopes that we will never relinquish the position, possessed of a club so filled with possibilities that the mind boggles. In many ways, Henry doesn’t have to be as good this season out, with the mayhem-creating possibilities raised by Ibrahimovic. And Txigrinski just knocks me out with his calm, accurate playing and passing. It’s a 24-karat, stone-cold bummer that he’s Cup-tied.

The busy stretch continues, with Inter on Wednesday, and hitting up the ATM on Saturday. Until then….

I love you man! No, I love you more!
I love you man! No, I love you more!

By Kxevin

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


  1. Henceforth, anyone who says they are “First” had better have something to add to that designation, or the comment might just go away. πŸ˜€

    I’m just saying.

  2. Haha, but he was “first”! lool!
    Kxevin are you the same guy from
    I liked your review alot, its always good to hear football spoken like that! πŸ˜€

  3. Until I just saw his name in Marca’s liveblog of the Xerez-Athletic match, I’m not sure I knew there was someone out there named YAYA KEITA. But there is.

    Holy crapsmoke that’s gotta be the best player ever.

    1. It’s Sidi Yaya Keita, according to wiki. Now Barca needs to get a player named Sidi to hit the jackpot $$$$

  4. i agree ibra’s positioning for his 2 goals were good… but they are still tap ins. so kxevin, why are his tap ins brilliant and eto’os were pedestrian?

    1. We’ll have to agree to disagree on the tap-in part, don. Both Ibrahimovic goals involved readjusting his body to deal with a deflected ball, a task that is exceptionally difficult, never mind getting the shot on target.

      I look at tap-ins as goals that I could score. Something of an exaggeration, but you get the point.

      Yes, tap-ins mean that the player has to create the space, or have the speed and presence of mind to get there. Tap-ins are a big part of every striker’s repetoire.

      And I’m dealing with Ibrahimovic’s tap-ins exclusively, because Eto’o is an Inter player now. And the Eto’o vs Ibra comparos/squabbles have been done to death.

  5. Kxevin and I are on the same page, again. Damn that’s not good because I like to argue. :/

    WTF on our Barca stars leaving and succeeding in other places?
    ETo we all know is one of the best strikers in the world, We should have difficulty containing him on Wednesday. And Caceres scoring the game decider, really? WHOA! Is he just a loan?

    1. Eduard, it’s the Vulcan Mind Meld. πŸ˜€

      Caceres: Our defense demands that you are able to play with the ball at your feet, make smart passes to start attacks and not as much stop play, as funnel it to a non-dangerous area, or where a defender has backup. Those were skills in which Caceres was deficient, unfortunately. He’ll be better at Juve.

      Eto’o: Nobody doubted that he’d have success at Inter. But Guardiola wanted a new direction/set of possibilities at the front of the attack. Looks like he got ’em.

      And really, given that we have Alves, Abidal, Maxwell, Txignasty, Pique, Puyol, Marquez, Muniesa and Fontas, could you ever see Caceres getting any pitch time?

    2. Perhaps it’s just as well that Caceres is doing well there. He doesn’t really have a future here. So we might as well make up for some of the lost cash we splurged on him. His transfer amt was inexplicable!

      Kxevin, is there any truth to the rumors that Juventus and Stuttgart have to pay fixed amounts of money if they want to sign caceres and Hleb respectively? It’s ridiculous if there is something in place of that sort.

  6. too many good player from barca. we can’t keep them all so we need to sell n loan…they aa too good but we have a lot of quality from other players

  7. iniesta is back, lord iniesta is back!!!

    pedro! and jeffren looked kinda bad. keita is getting better but to me he’s not good enough, specially when compared to the little guys or yaya… I think yaya should play up and keita somewhere else. getafe went to get xavi and they managed to have the ball more than us, in the 1st half at least.

    both Ibra’s goals were tap-ins for me, but it’s still a hell of a start in la liga. Plus there is the pass to messi, and the earlier control with the chest putting the ball right the foot needs it!!! OMFG!!! I am used to having etoo and to me there were some plays when ibra should have gone deep and didn’t, but he still has to adapt to the team I guess. btw.. what a goal by eto’o!!! can’t wait for the game vs inter!!!

    1. Pedro! and Jeffren need discipline. They run around too much. Keita is stealth. πŸ˜€ I sometimes think he isn’t doing anything, then I watch him closely.

      Possession stats in the first half we affected by the fact that Alves wasn’t out there, and Ibrahmovic was in the box so much. With The Yaya being clunky and Keita helping on defense, it left Xavi on an island. Once Messi, Alves and Iniesta were added to the mix, possession was ours, and Getafe were doomed.

  8. I was really down during the first half, but after lousy GolTV cut out and we scored the 2 goals, well, I was still down, that is, until I saw the highlights. WOW excellent play from our usual starters on those 2 goals. AMAZING! And ANOTHER header from Messi! How many headers can a midget score??? Crazy.

    I would have liked to see Txignasty assert himself with more actual tackles instead of just standing in the way, but he played well.

    Final Fantasy actually came close to connecting with a few crosses, but obviously he and P! could not make up for the absence of Henry and La Pulga.

  9. Did you know…???

    “It’s the fourth time that Barca have won away at Getafe. The other three times were followed by winning La Liga. Now that’s a good sign.” – taken from the official website.
    Now that’s a great sign! I knew we’ve had a tough time there, but only 4 wins surprised me (unless we played only 5 or 6 times @ Getafe^^).

  10. Here’s what I think we’re missing: That Cata Diaz kind of defender, that makes attackers back off of closely contested balls. You could see Xavi pull back from one 60-40 ball, because Diaz was coming at him like a rocket. Milito was that guy for us, which is one reason that I hope he comes back the player that left us.

    Just watched the Inter match for scouting purposes, and I’m not sure what to think. Parma came out to defend, and play on the counter. Can anyone really see us doing that, and ceding as much possession of the ball as Parma did? And uncontested shots? Lordy!

    1. I didn’t watch the game but I was going through the stats and comparing them the game we played on the weekend. We had 58% possession (we didn’t have as much possession as we’re normally used to in the first half) opposed to 59% by Inter facing a side looking to defend acc. to you.

    2. Not sure what stats have to do with it. Parma was packed back. It was the only real shot that they had at a result. It’s why they were so open to the counter that Milito turned.

      Possession stats of almost 60/40 are pretty lopsided, no matter who the club is, I think. If anyone has almost 60% possession against us, it will be because something has gone horribly wrong, or Xavi was kidnapped by aliens.

      That will be the interesting battle(s) on Wednesday: possession and midfield dominance. I look for a very physical match from them, and someone else will be the difference, because Eto’o and Ibra will both be trying way too hard.

    3. It will be a hell of a game indeed although Eto will be the one trying harder which gives me the Hibee jeebees!

      On a blogular note, Keita should hereinafter be referred to as “stealth” on this blog.. don’t you think? Why doesn’t Henry have a nice name? Does anyone know why most of his celebrations last season involved kissing his wrist?

  11. in reply to the Ibra “tap-ins”

    Both of his league goals took rediculous amounts of reflex, since they were deflected. just look at replays, in both cases he had to reposition his body in a split second.

    If anyone thinks that those goals were easy, than it is a compliment to his ability.

  12. Isaiah those highlights in the video you posted made it look like a much more fun viewing experience than I expected (having missed the game)…but then I guess that’s why highlights exist. Love the reality/entire concept of Ibra finding Messi’s head. Whee!!!

  13. the FCB official site said that txygnasty completed all 52 passes that he attempted. sure most of those were “high-percentage” passes, but a 100% completion rate is pretty filthy.

    i’m still not seeing the “eto’o plus 40 million euros = ibra” equation, but i have faith…

    ibra really didnt have *that* great of a game. a couple of moments, but that’s what we needed, i suppose. he stuck out his leg, did well, but was a bit lucky. (mind you, if eto’o had scored that goal, kxevin et al. would have yawned.) now, ibra’s pass to messi was class. in the first half we missed eto’os pressure high up the pitch and general running-around. and i fear i will be saying that a lot more this year. maybe ibra will improve in this respect. and hopefully the net change will be for the better.

    1. The Eto’o vs Ibra thing is never, ever going to die, is it? If anyone had scored those goals for us, I would have been impressed. Don’t put words or thoughts in my mouth or head. They were difficult goals, and Hudson gave full credit for the Getafe goal. Think about all of the near-miss deflections that we see in matches all the time that the attacker doesn’t even hit. Forlan, who went pichichi last season, whiffed on an easier chance across the face of goal, against us.

      Some think we missed Eto’o’s pressure and work rate. I don’t. They’re gone. I’d rather revel in some of the passes that created opportunities that Ibrahimovic made today. Yes, pressure and work rate diminished. But does anyone think that Eto’o, even if he had the touch and control, makes that pass to Messi for the second goal?

      Which means what? That Eto’o and Ibrahimovic are different players. Yet three different people have brought up his absence to the detriment of Ibrahimovic. I don’t get it. Using one as a template for the other leads to nothing more than unresolved arguments, because they are indeed such different strikers.

      But it all depends upon how you look at it: loss or gain. To me, the offensive potential that his acquisition has opened up is potentially awe-inspiring. But I’m looking at him in the context of what happened and what is to come, rather than the context of someone who is a player for another club right now.

      But everyone has the right to view the matter as they see fit. That’s why we comment and discuss.

  14. ibra brought the ball down with such ease. it was as if he were one of those chicks who wear tassels over their nipples. the pass was just lovely. i’m telling you, i expect to see a lot more headers & goals as teams’ focus’ switch to the swede.

    i guess goltv fixed their coverage of the barca game in their rebroadcast. fuckin dicks.

    1. They did fix the second half glitches, but the quality of the video definitely diminished, almost as if it were a recording of a recording or something. Very fuzzy.

  15. seriously, Xavi has to be MOTM. He had so many brilliant one touches and orchestrations! He was the sole reason we survived in the midfield today with they pressure they applied.

    Ibra was sufficient but Xavi is my MOTM easily.

    He’ll play all day Wednesday too and do the same thing. Thats why he won the “Who’s jersey with JMo buy” contest.

    1. To me, Xavi is a victim of his own high standards. He wasn’t in contention for MOTM for me, in part because he’s usually so much better. It was either Ibrahimovic or Messi, the latter because everyone raised their level when he came on the pitch, and his creativity forced the defense into a new set of contortions. If he doesn’t come on, it’s probably a 0-0 draw.

      Keita and The Yaya, as well as Iniesta will be crucial this season, as more teams man mark and bang on Xavi, to disrupt the engine that makes us go.

  16. Heh, its a good thing Ibra got a gol and an assist yesterday or else we would be hearing, “but samu scored a golazo for inter” .Wednesday’s game couldnt come at a worse time…Far too soon for my liking.The December game should be much better in theory if we’ve gelled by then.Stupid fixed uefa draws.

  17. I think the best evidence for Ibrahimovic was his assist in yesterday’s game. That was the type of beautiful and creative play that I have been expecting from him. I mean, who else would deliver a header to Messi? Who else would have the faith that little Lionel would finish so perfectly? (I’ve never really noticed Messi to be a header sort of player.)

    Of course, as happy as I am about the win, we can play a first half like that against a more competitive team. We have to come out stronger against Inter Milan.

  18. I expect that we will come out much stronger against Inter, with out best lineup that matches up against them. We might even see Maxwell rather than Abidal, but I doubt it. I look for:

    ————————–The Yaya———————————-

    I’d stack that XI against any side in the world with full confidence of getting a result.

  19. Great post again.

    Perhaps we should spend more time analyzing how badly we played in the first half. It was 35% of standard first half play of last season. We would normally blitz lesser teams into submission in the first half and I not trying to sound like a pessimist here.. sure we didn’t have Messi, Iniesta, alves or even Henry playing but still we could have done a lot better.

    Maybe i’m being to hard on them

  20. Inter are going to come out like gang busters. Remember the first half against Lyon? Imagine that, but will real talent. I think Barca will do well to come away with a score draw. This is not pessimism, mind, just recognizing that Inter are a really good team, that Barca are still finding their feet, that Eto’o has fit in with Inter better than Ibra has with Barca (so far), that Iniesta looked rusty as hell and that Mourinho, for all his antics/quotes, is an excellent tactician.

    1. Well from what I’ve been reading, Inter fans themselves say that the team starts off slow in games.

      Of course Eto’o appears to have fit in better. Is Inter’s system special? No. All he has to do is score goals and people think he fits like a glove. Ibra has scored the same amount of goals in one less game and he still has tons more to offer. He still has to figure out the special 4-3-3. He still has to provide for his teammates. Eto’o scores two goals and auomatically people are talking about how amazing the deal was for Inter. Ibra scores two goals and it’s just “tap-ins”. Sigh.

      Anyway, I’m not scared of Inter nor do I think coming away with a draw is acceptable. We are the team to beat, not Inter. Mourinho may be excellent or whatever, but there is only so much he can do. And it will probably be negative. We should win this match.

      P.S. I get the feeling Busquets will start this match. Although Yaya had a bad match against Getafe, he should undoubtedly be the starter against Inter, yet I get the feeling Busi will be. Anyone else feel this way?

    2. To clarify, I’m not complaining about the Ibra-for-Eto’o deal. I’m just saying that, at present, Eto’o has fit in better than Ibra. As you say, it’s something to do with the systems the team employ. It also has to do with fitness (Ibra isn’t yet 100%, and didn’t work out with the team all summer because of his wrist/hand injury). The bottom line is Inter are no joke, they will be at home, and Barca have not hit their stride yet. I don’t understand the overwhelming confidence of some Barca fans here.

    3. It isn’t overwhelming confidence Ahsan, it’s not just based on the players we have and the players they have. It’s down to styles of play. Mourinho is a brilliant tactician and he’ll be fully aware that we’re going to hog possession and he’s definitely not going to throw the kitchen sink at us. At best, if we dont have the ball in the early stages, they’ll come hard at us for the first 10 or so minutes since they’re playing at home but normalcy will be restored soon enough.

      Their biggest threat will be Maicon on the right and Pep will definitely play Abidal instead of Maxwell even though he’ll be begging to prove himself against his old club. So my understanding is that if we starve Maicon, and esp. Sneijder of the ball, Eto/Milito will suffer too and eto’ will try and help the midfield leaving Milito upfront on his own which shouldn’t be a problem for Puyol and Pique.

  21. For the Barca fans in India… I just checked the schedule for Tensports and they are showing the Barca v Inter game!!!!! Yayness!

    1. BTW There will be no La Liga on ESPN Star this season. So beef up your net connections cos we’ll have to stream all Liga and Copa matches.

      (Unless Tensports turn savior again and pick up the Liga rights)

  22. Damn, this pass from Ibrahimovic… how he controlled the ball, with such accuracy and then chipping it within a split second perfectly on Messi’s head (who also deserves respect because he anticipated exactly this chip) was my personal move of the match!
    The defenders did not only block the goal, they also denied Ibrahimovic from playing a usual short-pass into the run of Messi. Ibra recognized it immediately and chose to play the more difficult pass which was also not that easy to convert especially for a midget! But Ibra considered even the size of Messi in his chip, pure class πŸ™‚

    1. Both, Mike. The “tx” is the catalan version of “ch.” The Barca website has Txigrinski. He, no doubt, spells his name “Chygrynski.”

  23. Ahsan, I think that we all know that Inter is the business, particularly this season. They seem to have made all of the right moves in the off season, and Milito has really opened things up for them.

    But I still say that you have to have the ball to beat us. When I say that I’m confident of a result, I’m thinking a draw, frankly. I think that at home, they’re going to be flying. And we’re still a bit off song. I’d be more confident of calling for a win if Iniesta and Ibrahimovic were in full match fitness form. Same for Henry, really. But none are. We won’t really be getting good for another month or so, so the trick will just be to hang on and not lose too many points.

    But I don’t think that we’re underestimating Inter, as much as confident in our ball control game.

    Now, pessimists will say that we’re due for a match in which all of the doors just fall off, right, and if there was ever a time for it, it’s that Champions League opener. But I don’t buy it. I think that Guardiola rolls out my suggested lineup, and we get down to business.

    Can’t wait.

  24. A question on Txignasty’s cup-tiedness, Kxevin. Is he cup-tied because of playing in the UEFA Supercup for Shaktar? That would be a super-bummer, as it was so easily avoidable.

    1. Yep. Frankly, I would have thought that we would have begged Shakhtar not to play him, but now that we’ve seen him, you can see why Shakhtar wouldn’t have even dreamed of not playing him.

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