Inter 0, Barca 0, a.k.a. “60+m for THIS!?”

Dude. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Gimme that ball.
Dude. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Gimme that ball.

I’m a little irritated right now, so pardon me if a bit of it seeps into this review of a match in which only one team came to really play football. And that’s fine. We should expect that. Why, oh why would any side in its right mind come out to play against us? All that awaits is death. So Inter took the same route as Chelsea, and Deportivo, and every other inferior side.

Keep 9 or 10 behind the ball, and stick your legs out.

Inter fans will say “That’s the way we had to play, we got a point from the best club in the world, blah, blah, blah.” And frankly, I didn’t expect Mourinho to play any other way. Call me cynical. I’m okay with that. Champions League football in the group stages is, first and foremost, about not losing. And Inter played not to lose, assisted by our loafing strikers.

We paid cash-ass money for this big Swede, who was supposed to be the answer against precisely this sort of nonsense. And Dani Alves did his part, by dropping a ball in front of Ibrahimovic, who got the yips, rushed the shot and sent what should have been a goal, into the second balcony. And when he wasn’t missing chances, he was being shouldered off the ball by Lucio, who played one hell of a match, as if to say “See, it was Bayern’s fault last year. Not mine.”

Then our aging French striker sort of ponced about with those same moves, losing the ball time and again, or falling down whenever a player got near him. Which is a shame, because Messi was on, Alves was on, Xavi was on. But who in the hell are they going to feed? Yes, Henry played well for about 5 minutes, but so what? If we have an effective attack, with our strikers actually deigning to play inside the box instead of acting like big, giant midfielders, we might have grabbed a goal out of this one. Instead, we wallowed in the shit pit that Inter set up, as 9 men with shovels just shoved every real chance away from their keeper.

And so it went.

Guardiola rolled out our best available side, of Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, The Yaya, Keita, Messi, Henry and Ibrahimovic. And when Inter actually came out, trying to press the midfield and play possession football, I had hopes. Because if they’d kept playing like that, we were destined to win. But the Ibrahimovic chance as he got behind Lucio, seemed to scare them. So they went all turtle on us.

We’re clearly at half-speed right now, so we seem rather content to pass the ball around, knowing that the other club is afraid of us, trying for a goal if something comes up, but it’s okay if it doesn’t. Because as Guardiola has repeatedly said, we’re crap without the ball. So we keep the ball, even if we don’t have much intention of doing much of anything with it. Almost 64% possession doesn’t mean that you get any extra points in the standings, for a match that we should have won.

Do we have excuses? Sure. Iniesta’s just coming back, Henry got a late start, so did Ibrahimovic, etc, etc.

I don’t buy it. Champions League football is about taking your chances when they come. Ibrahimovic has to bury that first chance. He has to. Against Getafe, he chested the ball down to himself in space and laid off a perfect pass to Messi. If he evinces the same control, he has Julio Cesar at his mercy, and it’s 1-0 from a shot to the top corner. Inter then have to come out and play, and we destroy them. He had the match on his foot, and kicked it away. After that moment, it felt like a draw to me, and so it was.

If Messi charges the far post, he gets on an excellent Henry cross. If Messi and Alves talk, rather than both going for the same ball, we win. If, if, if, if.

Inter were very well organized, as we knew that they would be. And early on, they had us on the back foot as they possessed the ball and looked to make moves. Milito spent much of the match off side, and our defense did a great job of neutralizing the hard-working Samuel Eto’o. The one time that he got one-on-one against Puyol, you could see our Captain say “I’ve seen this move before,” and just knock the ball away. He and Milito worked like dogs today, to precious little real effect, because every time Milito sprung our way, the offside trap was rolled out and the flag came up, stopping yet another of their attacks.

Did I mention that my neck hurts, by the by, from trying to physically will the ball into the net, from trying to make our strikers charge the box and make a serious, concerted effort to score. Ibrahimovic should not be getting shouldered off the ball by anyone. He’s too big and strong for that, but Lucio was all man, all the time in this match. Very impressive. People will say that they defended well. Hell, any club can defend well with 8 behind the ball, in two stacks of 4. But you have to give them full credit for hard work and getting the result they were seeking.

Because again, Champions League group stages are played not to lose, and both coaches did masterful jobs of that, defending in their own way. We were more than happy to keep the ball for what seemed like hours at a time, as Inter would just knock it long, to be picked up by one of our back line and dumped into the possession cycle again.

With all of my ranting aside, this was as compelling a 0-0 draw as you will ever see, with two defensive systems on full display. We said, “You can’t beat us if you don’t have the ball.” They said, “We don’t care if you have the ball, let’s see you beat 8 men in the box.” So both defenses “won,” if the principal object of a match such as this is not to concede. And make no mistake, we didn’t want to concede, every bit as fervently as they didn’t.

That said, if Henry and Ibrahimovic show half of what they’re supposed to, if the Henry that played against Serbia (for Les Bleus) shows up, we win that match in a walk. But that didn’t happen. I’ll leave it to Hector to do something more than spew bile, and get to the ratings.

Team: 8. Excellent group effort, defending in our own “We have the ball, nyah, nyah” way. Help was abundant, and the switching was excellent, as was the motion off the ball to create available spots for passers to dump to.

Guardiola: 7. Coached well in exactly the kind of match he was expecting. He didn’t have us go all-out on the attack, because he’s aware of how dangerous Inter are on the counter, and how their strike force can punish you with the slightest mistake.

Valdes: 7. Didn’t have a lot to do, but what he did was excellent, including his role as sweeper/keeper to keep the possession game and attack moving along.

Alves: 7. He loses points for being such a weasel. I hate when he acts as if he’s been slashed with a samurai sword, only to pop up and resume his incessant running up and down the pitch. His passing and crosses have been exceptional of late, and his passes to Ibrahimovic deserved better.

Pique: 7. Piquenbauer in full effect. Even early, when the defense was looking a bit panicked, he was on form. If he was gimpy, he didn’t really show it.

Puyol: 6. Our Captain has been better. Was it the knock that caused him to be outrun by Inter attackers when they were pressing? Good question. But it happened. Time and again. He showed why we need the ball to defend.

Abidal: 7. Was a little funky early, but played it off and worked his way into a controlling match in which his side was locked down.

The Yaya: 7. Again, he was off early, with some uncharacteristic balls being pushed about. But then he came on like a freight train, winning balls, pressing Inter attackers and destroying anything that came near his super-extendo legs.

Keita: 5. Yes, he’s out there to facilitate possession and keep anything from leaking. But on two different occasions, he had good long shot opportunities, and didn’t even hit the target. And early on, his passes were all over the place.

Xavi: 9. Good God, he was spectacular today, pulling the strings that make our offense go. He was a little slow in the box in the first half, leaving what should have been a good chance, begging. But that’s being harsh.

Messi: 8. All over the place on the attack, and deserved better. If he calls Alves off that ball, it’s a 1-0 win for us. But it’s early days, yet.

Henry: 4. In the second half he started coming on, looking very dangerous, but for the most part he was terrible, playing pillow-soft football and spending more time on the pitch than in Inter’s box.

Ibrahimovic: 4. Man up. You aren’t there to make like a midfielder, you’re there to put the damned ball in the back of the net. Great players make it happen on great stages, and this was one of them. Bury either of the two great chances you have, and we’re off to the races. And too much standing around. Move!


Iniesta: 6. Did an excellent job in his role as midfielder defender, helping us retain possession, but doing little on the attack.

If I seem hard on Henry and Ibrahimovic, it’s because when we had Inter reeling, they stood around, letting Xavi run about with the ball, waiting for them to create space so that we could play attacking football. And both of them stood there, leaning on their defenders or ball watching. This shouldn’t have been.

I’m just saying.

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. Nah, I definitely have to agree with you on this review. Ibra was disappointing, not because he couldn’t fit into the team, but because he couldn’t finish! Golden opportunities should not be wasted like that. What I see with his is that he is very nervous, and prefers to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible rather than take a chill pill and be patient. Which is why his first shot was very very rushed and overpowered.

    Henry lacked in effectiveness, as well. Save for a short spell near the end of his time on the field. Yeah, thanks for that!

    1. I totally agree with the article. Our fowards and attacking midfielders like Xavi need to move much, much more without the ball. There were times when I watched Messi standing with the on on the flank while everyone was stading on their feet. I mean, yeah, Messi-solos create chances, but against these better teams we cannot expect to be able to stand on our feet and pass the ball into the net. We saw the same against Chelsea. I am not saying that we should create 100000+ opportunities against teams like Chelsea or Inter, but again, considering what we COULD DO with the posession we should better the yesterday’s 2-3 GOOD scoring chances.

      The same problem existed even when Rijkaard was in charge, only then was it much worse. I don’t know what a hell makes it so difficult to pass the ball AND THEN CONTINUE MOVING. I mean everyone should look how Messi does it: he passes and then continues foward and more often than not is playable option. We would create soooooo many opportunities by simply getting our feet moving…. remember how simply Granero scored 0-1 against Espanyol? We do we have to complicate things?

  2. I think you’re being harsh on Inter. I think they only played Chelsea-like in the last 15 minutes of the game. They were on top in the first half, and didn’t play scared. They were bossed from minutes 45-80, which is probably why they shut up shop at the end.

    By the by, one of the reasons this was supposed to be a decent deal for Barca was that supposedly, Ibra was a more clinical finisher than Eto’o. With the first half misses against both Getafe and Inter, he hasn’t shown it thus far. Maybe he will soon, but it hasn’t happened yet.

  3. Why is Ibra so incompotent in the Champion’s League, he has been for Juve, Inter and now Barca. It’s quite odd. I think Walter Samuel is one of the most underrated defenders in the world, along with Chivu. The midfield of Barca did their job, a pity about the strikers, FORZA JUVE…

  4. how does guardiola get a 7 after making only one of three subs? what happened to the whole 7 games in 22 days thing? he did the right thing by taking off the frenchy but pedro should have come in for keita too.

  5. yea man I agree with the Ibra comments, when they gave them the ball he jus passed it back, even being inside the box. he needs to put that ball in the goal. like you said barca payed big money and he aint a mid, he is a striker.
    and yea the game seemed as if it was at camp nou, all the possession was barcelona. haha

  6. capello always said zlatan was a striker in the form of van basten but not a born goal scorer like the dutchman. ibra has always been more comfortable w/the ball @ his feet. i thought he played well. he wasn’t the only player underperforming.

  7. Don’t think I’m being harsh on Inter at all. They got full credit for their hard work and defensive effort. Eto’o and Milito also got full credit for their efforts. But I wouldn’t call it a “defensive master class.” Lucio was brilliant, as was Chivu. But they could have been had, and almost were, if Henry and Ibrahimovic are on form. Both moved as though their feet were in quicksand.

    I believe that they were the inferior side today. But it’s the ongoing debate about defensive football and the merits thereof. A club plays the match they have to play to get the result they want to get. I respect that, which doesn’t mean that I have to like it.

    Of course, as a cule I want every club that we play to put their head in the lion’s mouth, and come out to play attacking, end-to-end football. I realize that it’s silly, that most clubs are going to play us precisely as Inter played us today. It’s smart, and it’s what I would do if I were coaching against us.

    But again, all that said, I don’t have to like it.

    We will also get better, as the fitness and match fitness come.

    1. I don’t know, I think we just needed to finish our chances.

      As for Ibra, he got manhandled way to often. What was great about Eto’o is that he’s difficult to throw off the ball. Ibra was suppose to be able to play with his back to goal. Maybe he’ll be able in Spain, where defenses are smaller.

      Titi needs to be a little tougher. Although he set up Messi/Alves beautifully.

      Keita needs to at least get his shots on target. He had like 5 opportunities to do so.

    2. Ibra is tougher to throw off the ball than Eto’o is, although he didn’t show that yesterday. He did play with his back to goal at several moments yesterday, but all that resulted was passes back to Xavi or Messi and one back heel that was a little too strong.

  8. for the most part i agree with everything you said, zlatan should have done better but that was a fairly tough chance.

    the real culprit in this game is keita, he was poor. definitely should have scored on that SITTER alves gave him *shakes head*

    i really wanted to see some more subs from pep, he did this many times last season – making only 1 or no subs. i don’t get it personally, i would have removed keita at half time with iniesta and pedro for henry. though his decision to put iniesta in for henry was probably better since andres isn’t ready for a full half yet i don’t think.

    oh well, moving on…

    1. I hate watching streams…it makes it much harder to evaluate players individually when they all look kinda blurry. But I thought Keita was alright. We’ve seen MUCH worse from him. I say give him a break. He’s basically our first-choice sub after all and he improved dramatically over last season. If this was bad from him, I’ll take it over how he played most of last year.

  9. also have to remember this is the 6th game of the season (2 lliga matches, 2 super copa, 1 uefa super cup and 1 CL) barça doesn’t usually start strong, they come to steady boil and then (if things go right) they continue like a natural hot spring for an extended period. its quite clear they haven’t reached boiling point just yet.

    1. I think it’s the big stage in that this was a huge match for him and for us. There was the opportunity to, once and for all, say “This is how we roll.” Ibrahimovic had that opportunity.

      I think that Guardiola didn’t make more subs because he could see the writing on the wall. Pulling Henry for Iniesta was really the only shot that he could have taken. Busquets for Keita was risky, the way Inter were playing for the counter. One of his flop/ball give-ups, given the way the match was being called, could have resulted in a jailbreak for them.

      Pedro or Jeffren weren’t really going to make a difference, either. So Iniesta was the one shot, and it didn’t work. So we played defense, our way, and took the draw.

    2. He should have cme in for Keita because Yaya is always there behind him even if as you say Busquets gave up the ball. Keita really sucked yesterday. I agree with your rating about Henry, doesn’t pressure the defenders much these days! And what’s up with those rants!? But 4 for Ibra is harsh. Though he couldn’t finish the 2 half-chances, his positioning has definitely improved. Though he couldn’t find the finish in the first chance, he controlled the ball well. Give him the due credit, he’s facing on the best keepers in the world backed by very good defense and add the huge pressure of the big transfer deal to it… The second chance was a mere half-chance, he did well to even connect the ball. 6 would have been good for Ibra imo
      PS : Huge mistake by the board not going for a young LW. Hope it doesn’t come back haunting them. Why is it that both Ibra & Messi seem to be more on the right side of the pitch!?

  10. I think this is the 4th champions league away game we have drawn, after lyon, bayern and chelsea. Kindaaa worrying!!!

    1. that would make it 5 then… we tied against Chelsea twice.

      Lyon, Bayern, Chelsea, Chelsea, Inter.

  11. No, harsh would be to say we deserved a 0-0 result and, well, we sorta did.

    I thought everyone was completely underwhelming, except for Xavi (of course). He dropped some pretty sweet balls right to BANGS’ feet and… nothing. I’ve also noticed that Dani doesn’t seem to want to pass the ball to anyone but Messi, which must be pretty annoying to the other guys on the team.

    Still, this continues to teach the lesson that parking the bus will not beat us. I just hope Pep’ll figure out a formula so that it will also mean a sure loss.

    1. Dani did give Ibra that chance through on goal and he also dropped the ball back for Keita to shoot at an open net.

  12. On Puyol, “He showed why we need the ball to defend.”

    Now maybe I’m reading too much into this, but my reaction was, “OOF–a CUTTING indictment of El Capitan!” Why don’t you just say that attackers can shred him?

    As for Henry, well. It certainly wasn’t his best performance. I didn’t notice that last statement you made–that he and Ibra were just chilling while Inter was reeling–but I’ll believe it. I thought he made some good runs in the first half that weren’t fed, because the team as a whole was pretty off in the first half (except Pique). Yes, in the second half, he WAS better, which was why in the liveblog when everyone was shouting for Pedro to come on for him, I knew that he’d pick it up. And as for spending more time on the pitch than in the box, I’ve heard many people here shower praise on him for being the defensive forward that tracks back with full-effort to win balls back against players like, say, Maicon.

    As for Inter, I thought they played a great first half. You could say that we were off, but perhaps that’s being a bit selfish. I agree about Lucio and I would add Samuel…both CBs were excellent. And in the first half Inter was bossing the game for some stretches. Couldn’t compare to Barca’s domination of the second half (in which Maicon took part in the bus-parking and so Henry didn’t track him back so much–), but certainly nothing to sniff about.

    I thought it was an excellent game, my hands were shaking waiting for that goal. Do I wish we won? Of course, and we should have, by at least two in fact. But in a very, very early game in the season, I’m glad that we still looked like the best team in the world away from home. Hell of a show. A point is a point…and we WILL beat them in the Camp Nou when we REALLY sync up.

  13. Well written Kevin, inspite of all the venom. But just to be clear, by when do we assume the settling period ends?

    Also, what would be your post match verdict on the performance of Ibra vs that of Eto’o? The only reason i ask this is because the match was sold as a battle of these behemoths and both had an extremely lacklustre display.

  14. I think we all need to chill 🙂
    for one thing, it will be very frustrating to bring up how much we paid for Ibra every time he misses a shot..
    someone was saying that both Eto’o and Ibra miss sitters, that’s just not true. I don’t think anyone in the world should ever even think that Eto’o and Ibra have the same precision, and same tendency t miss the target. Besides, no striker would ever not miss any shot, times will come, and we are still very early in.
    This was a very tense game for both Ibra and Eto’o, we have no idea what that’s like.
    And as for Ibra’s miss, it wasn’t exactly a sitter, it was a high ball with some high pressure from the defender.. He should score it, sure, but patience.
    And btw, that miss against Getafe, i don’t think anyone else would have gotten to where he got, i.e. amazing control putting the ball to his feet and creating the one on one..

  15. Man of the match: Lucio – he single handedly won the point for inter by snubbing attack after attack/cross after cross. Hats off to him!!!

  16. Flop of the match: Ibra… he should have buried at least 5 of the balls he got. Eto’o would have done that. And that worries me.

    1. Now that Hleb is gone, we don’t condone Flop of the matches 🙁

      its a bit cynical.

      But did you see Henry today? he was complete and utter crap. Ibra was either failing at what he was doing, or succeeding at something we didn’t need him to do.

      Henry was wasn’t doing shit.

  17. I believe Henry had a good game. By staying on the wing he kept one or even two defenders back. He also tracked back to defend. But yes… compared to some of his performances last year… this one was way off.

  18. kxevin only one team came out to play ? i think its more like you didnt give us any choice but to defend in the second half especially because in the first one we attacked you ! re watch the game again then tell me that we didnt give it what we’ve got ! we did my friend but the bottom line is barca are a better team and we dont have the resources to go at you like you went at us thats why everyone was back defending

    khairallah i havent watched eto’o that much when he was at barcelona so i cant really tell how much easy chances he misses but i’ve not seen any striker that misses easy chances as much as ibra does he is the king of scoring spectacular youtube worthy goals but no one misses sitters as much as he does as far as i know trust me i’ve been an inter and serie A fan since 2000 to now so this is coming from someone who’ve been following ibra since his juve days

  19. After trying to switch on my computer for half an hour (so I have no idea how it went for the first 30 minutes), I managed to stream the match and I did not like a bit what I saw: Inter toying Barça for a few minutes. Then, Barça gained back the ball control and that made me feel more comfortable.
    I think we might be too harsh on the players. Kevin is right when saying all the teams will plays against us with 8-9 defenders clogging the area. The difference is that not all of them will have such quality as Inter’s, Chelsea’s or ManU’s. And that is why I am really eager to see how Madrid will play when they face us.
    A draw at Inter’s is not a bad result (despite the way the game developed). I feel our squad is short. We cannot really rely on the babies. You can use them now and then, but we must not put pressure on them. Only a tiny amount of players that step the pitch at 17 keep the high profile during their careers (Raul, hopefully Messi and a couple more). Many burn off quickly and end up playing in small teams.
    I did not like Ibra. I bet he didn’t like the way he played either.
    Let’s look at the future: I am pretty positive that we will end up on top of the group should we win the three matches at home and draw away.

  20. I don’t think the issue is that a draw at Inter is a bad result.
    It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth because this one should have been won.

    I think its clear that Ibra and Henry have 0 understanding of how the other plays. This hurt us alot. Messi and Ibra are starting to understand eachother, but Ibra and Henry havnt, and i think its because we keep playing Ibra with the kids in the leauge games instead of with Henry and Messi.

    Ibrahimovic: He did alot of good, and alot of bad.
    I think one of the things holding him back is bad habbits. He keeps wanting to fall back into the hole to collect the ball, when we need him up front. Our system does not require our striker to fall back to collect the ball, in fact, it hurts our system. We need our striker to be dynamic, and run around the CBs, keeping both of them busy. This allows Xavi and Iniesta to outplay the midfield.

    I’m sure Hector can word this more eloquently than I, but once one player fails at his role, the system comes crumbing down. Keita wasn’t facilitating our attack on the centerleft side of the pitch. So Ibra ussually dropped down to be an outlet. But once he got the ball there, he had two centerbacks infront of him, a defensive mid behind him, there was no one up front to play it to, so he would just pass it back and our attack would reset.

    If everyone does their job, then Penetrating becomes easy. Henry and Messi should have had Chivu and Maicon all the way to the lines. Ibra SHOULD HAVE been moving, taking Lucio and Samuel with him, and all of this would have allowed Xavi, Yaya, Keita and Alves to pass circles around Motta and Muntari while moving forward. But when people failed to do their off the ball work, it became easy to always outnumber and contian us.

    The other thing, IBra needs to keep moving from left to right infront of the defensive line, waiting for the dagger ball. Whenever Messi and Xavi had it on the right, he was walking on the left next to Lucio, unreachable. Whenever Henry and Keita were moving the ball he was walking next to Samuel.ITs simple but so effectinve. the same play worked again and again last season to rip bayern’s defense to shreds. Stretch them out completely, make the left to right, right to left runs, and wait for the dagger ball. This is what Ibra needs to learn.

    Henry: Henry was so fucking terrible today, that I’m not going to say he needs to change this or that, i’m going to give the benefit of the doubt and say that he had a really off day. He kept walking. Whenever he sensed an inter player next to him he fell over, and well, he wans’t doing anything! Also there were like 4 straight passes that he gave to ibra that where so soft that they were just invinting defenders to close him down.

    Keita: to watch Keita play and expect Iniesta is foolish, but common, just be open on the left-center, take a pass and move forward! Attack wise, he was just absent. and Alves set him up beautifully, like the commentator said, It HAS to be on target at least, it just has to be.

    Guardiola has some work to do. He needs to get Henry and Ibra more time together. And he needs to sit down with Ibra and make it blatantly clear that we don’t need nor want him to be a midfielder for us. We need him to be making runs around the CBs. Oh, and Pep needs to give Henry a swift kick in the ass for that performance.

  21. layer ratings:
    “Henry: 7 – Always looked dangerous down the left, and skinned Lucio on one occasion. Created a glorious chance for Messi. A good showing.”

    what the hell game were you watching?

  22. Yes, I agree, Ibra did stand around a lot, he didn’t pressure as much as he has already done during the league matches and he certainly should have scored one goal. Now his enemies will say that he doesn’t show up on the big stage etc., BUT this game was really tough for him to play, as it was for Eto’o. And compared to Eto’o, he was definitely more of a threat. It would have been damn nice if he scored that first goal, because I suppose we would have seen at least 2 more goals then. But so it was a scoreless draw, about which Mourinho said that everyone who understands football will see that this was a hell of a match.
    We dominated completely an opponent on their own pitch that is – by many people – seen as one of the top favourites to lift the trophy next year. And I’m satisfied with the 0-0 result, because:
    – We also could have lost, if Stankovic’ shot was a bit lower or if Sneijder hat aimed more accurately
    – This is only group-stage, in the knockout round a scoreless draw away is a BAD result, but as I expect us to win in the re-match, this result serves to make us finish first
    – Let’s look at the next playday: Barca – Kiev gotta be 3 points, Kazan – Inter… I hope for a draw there.

    Still, it is a shame that we didn’t win because we deserved to, but it would be much more of a shame if it was in the knockout round. And besides Ibra, I think Keita is also to blame because he has been given two golden opportunities, one of them quite equal to the one he seized against Bayern Munich last season.

    Let’s keep in mind, the most important thing yesterday was not to lose. So, mission accomplished!

    PS: This was our fifth consecutive game without conceding 😀

  23. Wow, some venomous piece of review Kevin. I do agree with the ratings but not on all the content.

    First of all, a draw is not bad but not good (as pep said himself). No reason to go ballistic. Especially given the fact that Inter played a very good game (with the means at their disposal). It reminded me about the CL-semi finals against Man.Utd. in ’08. Defense and Midfield of Man U and Inter respectively playing probably some of their best defensive showcasings (Lucio=Ferdinand, Samuel=Vidic, Evra=Chivu come to mind). They clogged all passing lanes, defended like hell, got a lil’ lucky with a handsball. Moreover, they countered dangerously when they could and came at us with all they got when we did not press the gasspedal. Still, and in contrast to the referred CL-Semi finals, we did get the chances necessary to finish them off we just didn’t.

    Expectations were skyrocketing for BANGS and he was guarded perfectly, yet we got some chances and he missed. Ibra (as E points out) is imo not more of a clinical striker than Eto’o is, yet he might be more usefull as a bus-breaker (not that he showed it yesterday though). So, ok he screwed up a couple of chances, none of them true “no brainers”, more specifically the first one is a good chance but nowhere near a sitter. Henry and Ibra were lacklustre, but about the chances I’m just not going to agree. Ibra could have scored given the chances he got and probably should have, but Keita and Messi should have done so as well. They did not and still we did not lost. Maybe WE just expected a goal/assist or top-performance from our rather expensive Swede and he did not deliver, neither does IKEA every time.

    The following is spot on though ” if Henry and Ibrahimovic show half of what they’re supposed to (BE ABLE TO DO)” then we just blaze past Internazionale and Jose (cuervo) Especial bigtime.

    We missed an excellent opportunity to show that parking a lot of dudes in the penalty-zone does not work against us. However, we did not concede a goal either and looked poised to score one all game long. All in all, we played for a win and got a draw. Reasons; very bad finishing (Ibra, Keita come to mind) and lack of performance by our strikeforce but most importantly an INTER team that played as good as they could.

  24. Hey guys,

    I watched the game on Tensports last night and kept wondering whether we were spoilt way too much last season. Have we become accustomed to a certain style of play and anything else is not good enough?

    I really don’t know what to make of yesterdays game. There were a few positives namely:

    1. The defense was rock solid
    2. Alves is back to his brilliant best
    3. and lastly, there’s a reason why Xavi is the most influential player in his position!

    But the negatives were very disturbing too..

    1. Let’s face it, everyone keeps saying ibra needs time to adapt etc etc.. but i’m not so sure he’s doing anything to suggest he’s adapting quickly. Kevin’s rating of 4 makes him look really good when he wasn’t. He was brought in specifically to break down teams like this. Some may say we weren’t really looking to break them down but barcelona always. always looks for the win. I’d give him a 2 out of 10.

    2. Henry was really bad too! Lazy, cranky, and everything else an 8 year old his interested in.

    .. wasn’t happy one bit!

  25. “Henry: 4. In the second half he started coming on, looking very dangerous, but for the most part he was terrible, playing pillow-soft football and spending more time on the pitch than in Inter’s box.”

    omg!!! 😛

    the team looked horrible with keita on the field, but with iniesta coming from an injury the options were few. the bench was: pinto, marquez, iniesta, pedro!, maxwell, jeffren and busi. is this the post-triplete barça? We are f*cked if any of the starting 11 gets injured!! WE SHOULD HAVE SIGNED SOMEONE ELSE. our midfield and the wings will suffer this year.

    left side: alves-xavi-messi 10
    right side: abidal-keita-henry 0 (hope they never play together again)

    1. true. Yaya is a huge loss, I was freaking out when he looked injured in the beginning of the match… but busi or marquez can do well in his position , and pep can even try chignasty in la liga or copa.

  26. Btw read some funny stuff about the EE on tribalfootball.

    This analysis is near perfect, ehmm, didn’t they wanted to raise 100mill€ from Dutchies alone? So now they have not sold all of them and received just under 100mill and had to sell others to get around 100. Strangely enough, “this represents a big success for Real president Florentino Perez’s new team.”

    Spin is great isn’t it; ” Atletico is doing great btw. Still almost unbeaten this season and their finances are in excellent state, if not so they would have sold Aguero and Forlan, and fired their coach” 😉

    That latter statement seems like a golden rule at the Vicente Calderon.

  27. It was a game of few chances no doubt but we did play considerably better then one of the major teams in Europe and that is good. Keita was invisible and for me, thats how i feel most of the games. Henry did play better in second half. Ibra has to do some shooting. Messi was good though kept on dropping way deep. He is more of a danger near the box and not near half way line. Overall, our pressing was not as good as we have seen it to be. We do now have to win the next match.

  28. btw, there is cynicism everywhere around here…

    but this game didn’t worry me at all. shit will get straightened out. simle as that. We’ll have them at the Camp Nou.

    1. you’re right, I think pep only took out iniesta in the 75th minute or so thinking about the next games, we have quite a few in a short period of time. I guess this will get staightened out.

      But I wanted to beat Inter in their own stadium!!! Iniesta should have come in in the 45th and do some killer combinations with xavi messi and ibra.

  29. Am I the only one who don’t worry at all?
    This was the first match of six and was the hardest one (against Inter in their home) I guess. Besides, this isn’t the knockout stage.

    We played very well but it likely that some of our players had definetely off games. I don’t think this Inter can defeat this Barca in Camp Nou. Not to mention about the other clubs.

    The CL just has started;-)

    1. No, you are not the only one 😉

      If you read all the comments here, you would see that about 40% are positive with this result (despite admitting that a win was possible).

      And we should NOT compare this season to last season, we shouldn’t compare the magnificent football from last season to this season, simply because 08/09 was the most historic season, not only succes-wise but also we played the most beautiful football ever seen on this planet. If you compare all the time, you will often come to the conclusion that we had a rather “bad” game, although it was still more than 95% of all European first divison clubs could dream of!

      We won’t score as many goals, we won’t play as overwhelming and we will most-likely NOT win all 3 major competitions, but still we ARE and will always be Barca!

      Visca’l Barca

    2. I’m not worried at all either. I don’t see why everyone is getting their pants in a knot. Had we really tried to win it, we would have. Sure, some chances were missed that shouldn’t have been but that can happen sometimes, moreso when the opposing defenders keep nudging you when you’re taking a shot.

      Think about it this way: would you have taken a draw before the match started? I know I would have. That we were almost in complete control, had the most possession, created the bulk of the chances and in general played well is just an added bonus.

      But if you look at it from the angle that we didn’t win a match we dominated then questions need to be asked. Keita, Henry and Ibra were surely the main culprits today, having missed easy chances to get a goal.

      But really the whole team attacked with the manner that suggested keeping the ball was a much bigger priority than scoring. It was blatantly clear in the last 15 or so minutes where we were really going nowhere with the ball rather than trying to score, which is what our main objective should’ve been had we been playing to win.

      Then you may ask where were the subs? Why was Pedro still on the bench and Keita still on the field? Hell we could’ve even brought Maxwell on.

      Off the ball running both while in possession and off it just wasn’t there at the level we are used to.

      Yet despite all these factors we managed to overwhelm one of the best sides in the world, the best in Italy. At half pace. Hardly trying. And had finishing been better or a little luck on our side we would have won it.

      That makes me more confident than it makes me worry.

  30. Wow a lot of pessimism in here, not sure why. Considering the circumstances i think we did pretty well yesterday. Lets not forget we were playing one of the best teams in Europe (certainly defensively), away from home AND its only the 3rd game of the season. Not sure what everybody here was expecting. Remember Chelsea last year? That was when we were at full stride as well. Inter, defensively, are as physical and organised as Chelsea. Mourinho, certainly, is a master of parking the bus. Yet we still managed to create a few good chances, only a lack of sharpness and maybe a bit of luck prevented us from winning this.

    Also not sure how on earth anybody expects to see the best of Zlatan 3 games into the season. If you guys are complaining already ur in for a long, frustrating season. That chance he had in the first half was not easy at all, only a handful of strikers in the world take it on the chest like that and bury it on the half volley. The fact that he made it look like an easy chance is a testament to his ability, but let me tell you, FAAAAR from easy. 3 games into the official season, not fully fit or sharp, i dont think its fair to expect him to bury that. The two chances Keita spruned were much easier shots to take.

    1. Word!

      Especially the second part about Zlatan, that’s exactly how I think about it.

      PS: Anybody would bet on a 0-0 draw against Atletico? 😀

  31. last night, i was watching with my friend who is an arsenal supporter and we had all the games on all the screens in the bar. thank god i thought i am not an arsenal fan. 2-0 down to standard liege within 8 minutes? and their handy little hand ball.

    someone in the bar said to me, maybe zlatan just doesnt want to score at the san siro against inter. i didnt really believe that, but the more opportunities that went wanting the more i came to believe this. man, the worst for me was when henry made an excellent run and kept the ball in on the line and cut it back for ibra. iobra looked almost surprised and the ball hit both of his flat feet and went out. it was a golden opportunity.

    other than that, we went into this game playing for a draw, or at least, happy to leave with a draw, bonus if we win. i expected a 1-1 but a 0-0 amounts to the same thing.

    does anybody know why bojan didnt come on for ibra or keita? he would have quickened the pace a little bit. you know what they say, if you cant handle the heat get out of the kitchen and so ibra should have been pulled. messi or henry should have moved into the centre to show him how its done, but everytime ibra was out on the wing he looked impotent and confused.

    i think he still has a lot of adjusting to our system to do, and i think maybe its best he works this out in training rather than the CL. i really wanted to see bojan for keita.

  32. Agree with this review apart from Xavi´s 9, he wasn´t that good at all. Kept possession he did but mostly with simple passes, nothing spectacular, felt like a 6 or 7 performance. I might be forgetting some brilliant move or even missed some when I took a leak so correct me if I´m wrong.

  33. Did the souls of Pep and mou exchange bodies at the San Siro? Coz both of their post match interviews are a lil uncharecteristic. Pep slams Inter for defending with 9 men and Mou was pretty calm and cool about the result!!!

    1. I think Pep was a little annoyed because he knows had this game been played a few more weeks into the season we prob would have won. I think Mourinho was just relieved we didnt make a mockery of them at home in front of their own fans so early in the season. Lets face it, on another day, we could have won this game by 2 or 3 goals. Definitely should have had a pen, Messi should have scored a goal that seemed to have been blocked by Alves and really Keita should have scored AT LEAST one of the two very good chances he had. Still, decent result.

  34. To be very clear, I am not at all pessimistic. I do think we let one get away, mostly because we aren’t as sharp as we are going to be.

    And I do hope that my respect for Inter’s work rate and danger on the counter is clear. People who say that a 0-0 draw can’t be compelling, are nuts.

    As far as the Eto’o vs Ibra thing, I thought that the latter got the best only because our defense was so effective. He rarely got a sniff of the ball in a danger position. But Pugilist knew his deal, just as Inter knew Ibra’s deal. So I didn’t expect much from either of them, which was why I was so stunned that Ibra got that great chance so early. Harsh on him? Maybe. But we bought him to turn those kinds of chances. In Champions League matches, you get one, maybe two good scoring shots against a side of the quality of Inter. You have to convert. He was 1 v 1 in their box, with a perfect pass to work with.

    Yes, last year spoiled us, but recall that we had a much easier group, with Wisla as our first-name match. Not one of the best sides in Europe.

    We will be fine. Henry and Ibra will find their form. Last year, we were farther along because we didn’t play as deep into the season.

    Recall that we also didn’t have any trophies to celebrate.

  35. I too watched it on TEN Sports (Hathway STB), with a lot of interruptions in the transmission. To hell with Hathway (or was it TEN Sports?).
    One thing that was worrying me was that Ibra was not moving anywhere and is too static. Now the problem with that is, he is having two defenders with him and all three (the defs and Ibra) are blocking movement for the rest of the fluid guys in our squad – Henry, Keita and Messi would be the much affected ones, I believe. When 8 of Inter’s people are around the box, with 2 assigned to the static Ibra, and no crosses made in space, this draw could be the outcome. For a brief moment, I was wondering what would Etoo have done? run run run right left and center to leave the defenders no clue as to why and where he is running and that definitely opens up space for others. So, Ibra, run. (Is he in the run-in period, like a new car?)

  36. I’d like to know if from a sportive point of view somebody still thinks that the equation Eto’o + 40 = Ibrahimovic makes any kind of sense, because it doesn’t to me. In theory Ibra was brought to destroy buses, which he didn’t do yesterday. And I will be happy if he destroys those pesky buses in the future, I don’t hate him or anything.
    I think Arrigo Sacchi said something along the lines of “Ibra is great against small teams but small against great teams. His goal scoring record in Champions League is quite drab, but maybe Guardiola can change him for better, I hope.

    1. I think that it’s too early to tell, Mikel. We’re demanding that a player who has been in Italy, with a very different style of play, drop right into our very complicated system, without benefit of a full pre-season, and coming off of hand surgery.

      It’s a tough ask.

      There will be signs, such as the Getafe match, that will make us say “That’s what we paid for!” But there will be other signs, such as yesterday’s match, that will have us questioning the logic of the decision.

      In terms of the cost and the comparison that some crave, I think that a fit, in-form Ibrahimovic would have turned that early trick. We’ve seen him do it too often for Inter to doubt the quality. Fit and in-form, he maybe has a brace by the half. Eto’o didn’t get a sniff of the goal.

      But more than a direct striker comparison, it demonstrates the two systems and their effect on a striker. Our attacking, more open system will generate more chances for a striker.

      I don’t want to disappoint anyone here, but I don’t think that we’re really going to see what Ibrahimovic is capable of in our system until mid-season, at the earliest. Remember that it took Henry a full season, and he will go down in history as one of the best strikers ever.


  37. I believe we paid for the contract of the player, and not the player itself, it just happened he had a long term contract till 2014 while samuel didnt.

    Ill just say that after 5 years of calcio and that playing style, it will take him some time to adapt to being a Barca style number 9.And he didnt even play as 9 for inter so he’ll have to adjust and curb his instincts.Patience.

    1. I think that’s correct, jordi. It would have been a much more normal transfer otherwise. And we were the new car buyer who needed to buy a car, so the salesman gave us a little extra juice.

  38. By the by, did anyone catch my new nickname for Puyol? Pugiiist. I can in part thank my smartphone for coming up with it, as a suggestion in place of the (incorrectly spelled, it thought) Puyol.

    But it so fits his combative, “In this corner….” style of play.

  39. Guardiola summed it up best in his press conference: “The result is neither bad nor good. It is what it is, period.”

    Like I said before, as crazy as it sounds, that was as fun as a 0-0 draw gets for me (yes, I have been called insane before). My take:

    – The first half sucked for us. Inter went at us and gave us quite a few scares. Good job by Pique, Puyol, Yaya, and Valdes.

    – Valdes should have gotten more credit he made a few hard saves that he made look easy. The one on Milito’s hard shot was spectacular as he did not even give up the rebound.

    – A huge problem that I thought I saw during the game was from the midfield. Many here are criticizing the forwards for “standing around”. Against a park bus you are not surprising anyone. Teams now a days use zonal marking not man. Mourinho’s teams are always compact and disciplined in this respect. Could Ibra and Henry have run more? Damn right but that was not the best remedy.

    One of the few problems that has never been solved in football is how to defensively account for midfielder running from the next line and crashing into the box. Part of that is simple physics: one guy is in movement, running towards the other guy who is static thus the second guy is at a significant disadvantage in terms of reaction time. Add to that the fact that defenders are already worried abou the forwards and you see that a crashing midfielder is one of the best ways to create danger in a packed box. It seemed to me that the few times Xavi and Keita crashed the box (ironically mostly in our lackluster first half), danger was created. Hell, Yaya had a couple of good incursions from the left. Xavi missed a great cross from Henry or Messi (I think) by less than a foot. Why the hell did we not continue doing this?

    We did not do enough of that. There were a few times when Messi got the ball in a good spot. Looked around and there was no movement to get open. Most would scream: “Godamnit Henry and Ibra, MOVE!” but I was screaming “KEITA and XAVI, crash the damn box already!”. That’s how you destabilize a parked bus and that second line was not as dynamic as they could have been.

    What did Guardiola say at his press conference later on? “Maybe we were missing some llegada (arrivals or crashes) from the second line to destabilize them”

    Word, Pep. Word.

    – Messi was awesome yesterday. The positions in which he got open to receive the ball in were excellent. He played a true free role kinda like an old school #10. Credit Xavi for staying deeper than usual in the buildup and thus not eating into Messi’s space and getting him the ball in the right positions. That part at least was improved from last year. He was also more on the left than usual.

    – Abidal stayed back a lot but only because Inter played two strikers up front. Xavi switched a few times with Yaya but Yaya stayed mostly back, again, because they had two strikers.

    – Pique and Puyol were excellent albeit they had close calls on Julio Cesar long balls to the strikers. Puyol needs a rest. One of those tactical fouls of him will get him a red eventually if he doesn’t watch it.

    Gotta go but I’ll finish this later. Hopefully I can get some detailed highlights to show off.

    1. Told you guys Hector would do more than just spew bile. 😀

      His midfielder analysis is much of the root of Keita’s low rating. That, and sheer invisibility. You can’t rate a player who is in the stands, having a hot dog.

      We played as tight as we ever will. Abidal stayed back, and you could see Keita move the ball forward, then immediately run back toward The Yaya to provide cover and assistance. Makes me wonder how healthy Puyol and Pique really were.

      Oh, and Maxwell couldn’t have done what Abidal did on that side of the pitch. A very quiet, extremely effective match.

      Good observation about Puyol. I do think that we are going to see more defensive platooning, so expect to hear more chattering from Pugilist’s agent. But the fresher he is, the better he is. I just didn’t like the way attackers were able to run right past him yesterday. But he works the off side trap like a magician.

    2. Kxevin, the attackers were Milito and Eto’o. That is whey they were able to get past Puyol, well almost, but not quite.

    3. You know, Pique is also not exactly the fastest guy on the pitch, but he uses his body extremely well to block the run, or at least angle the runner in a way that he has to slow down for help. With Puyol… I just feel like he’s going to stab someone as they get closer to our box.

    4. and pique also has a knack for knowing where the ball is going to go and getting into position to block it effectively.

  40. I think this match will wake the team up.
    I felt that i was watching a CL semifinal and it is the FIRST GAME of GROUP STAGE. So players arent in complete tune with each other. I do agree that our first half was shiettieeeeee and that we didn’t hold possession of ball like we are used to, hell i believe we are playing longer ball than last season.

    Good thing is that the away game is played in Camp Nou so by that time we’ll be in a better shape.
    Remember guys, last year we started awfully and we picked the pace mid-sept. Most of the squad is the same but our “9” changed and we and he has to adapt to each other.

  41. Well sport said Dima will play the next 3 league games and rafa might feature too .Henry said he could see the weariness in Maicon’s eyes when he attacked him so he was upset to go off.I cant comment on that since i couldnt see the ball ,let alone Maicon’s eyes 😀 .Yay for internet streams 😀

  42. Well, I remember one situation when Henry simply ran over Maicon and made a nice cross into the 5m box. Dude still got pace… 🙂
    But it happened only once, as far as I can remember. Maybe he should have done it more often to really see weariness in Maicon’s eyes. On the other hand, Henry possibly still had some pain in his legs, maybe a reason for not trying enough.

    I’m not concerned at all, but I will be if we don’t score against Atletico de Madrid. Actually this game should be perfect to give our striking forces some confidence back, I can’t remember a game with less than 3 goals from our side against them.
    Almost every team will park the bus against us this season, but Atletico… I cannot imagine them to do it. They will try to play their offensive game (which didn’t work out so far, but at least they’ve tried) and we might punish it. The last encounters were one of the most entertaining I can remember, hopefully this series of incredible games continue!

    1. Athletico were really unlucky last night not to score… They pride themselves in their attacking options and I back you that they would never try not to play football. But I’m really scared of Aguero. That dude, I don’t know what happens when he plays against us- The guy who seems wasteful against other oppositions just doesn’t miss the slightest of chances against us! His pace always hurts us. May be the fact that he always has to live in the shades of Messi gives him the extra motivation to play well against us

  43. @Kevin

    “You can’t rate a player who is in the stands, having a hot dog”

    If its “El Gordo” or “Fat Ronnie” you can, you just rate them as fat f*** and give them minus points (to subtract from future performances) . Kind of like rating Oliver Miller when standing on a basketball court, as always his rating is “the BIG O “.

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