Categorized | La Liga, Review, Thoughts

Barca 5, Atletico Madrid 2, a.k.a. “Turd in the punch bowl.”

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Gaze ye in wonder! Ibracadabra, beeyotches!

Gaze ye in wonder! Ibracadabra, beeyotches!

Dammit, I can’t make this picture any bigger! So it will just have to do. We all know the moment, just after one of the most sublime goals I have seen was struck, by one Zlatan “That was way too much money, we’re stupid for having done it” Ibrahimovic. His price seems like more of a bargain with every bit of magic, doesn’t it?

And I will tell you right now, that I am calling nonsense on the Phil Schoen nattering about that being a goal that Eto’o could never have scored, because they are very different strikers. Eto’o also scores goals that Ibrahimovic could never score.

Now that that is out of the way, great galloping Jesus, what a golazo!

Last year at home, we destroyed this side by a 6-1 scoreline. I think that this year might have been every bit as dominant, despite the different scoreline, and in a different way. It was a team hammering last year. This year was all about individual greatness, because we weren’t all that hot as a unit, and still we won. Not so sure we could have done that last year. Recall that we tried at their place, and lost 4-3. Last year’s home thrashing of them was also the match that really kick-started our Liga title run, as we seemed to gel right before the eyes of the world. We’ll see about this year, but two things are very important to note:

1) We couldn’t beat a good club with individual brilliance. Now, we can, in part because of the presence of our big Swede.

2) Now, we have three attackers who can turn passes into instant goals. Ibrahimovic, as we watched Henry do last season and Messi do with regularity, turned a pass into a shot, using talent to alter time.

In the case of our first goal, the defense was thinking “Here comes the pass, now he’ll control it, so I’ll set up right about here.” The keeper is thinking “Okay, got the angle squared away, with my defenders being there, he should shoot for right about this here spot, once he controls it.” They were all left thinking “Holycraphejustshothedidn’tcontrolitwe’rescrewed!” Because it wasn’t until you saw the goal from the off angle that you realize that he controlled and shot in the same motion, because that was what he had to do. The first goal was in, and as usual for us, that meant we were off to the races, because the other side had to chase the match. This leaves openings that we can exploit, which means more goals. Lots more goals.

And what Ibrahimovic does for us, is give us three players who all require double-teams. If you single-cover Henry, he will burn you at some point during the match. Bet on it. It happened at Inter, for a few good chances, and it happened today. But you have to double (or even triple) Messi and Ibrahimovic, but what about Henry? Or Iniesta? Or Keita?

And you can’t even say that Athletico played that poorly. They pressed us high and in the midfield, forcing us to make more negative passes than I have seen from us in the Liga, in a while. They played with three forwards, making it very clear what they were about, and their back line, particularly Luis Perea, was on form and strong.

But the goals were just pieces of individual brilliance, tricks turned in an absurd fashion that were, essentially, indefensible. What made this match more impressive for me was unlike last season, Aguero was whole, and they didn’t give up like they did last year, when it was like taking candy from a baby. And still, we put the boot in. Had we played the whole match, it could have been worse, and it boggles my mind to think that this year’s club might be better than last year’s, thanks to a mature Messi and a Swede with his trick bag of possibilities.

Guardiola rolled out a lineup that showed his awareness of the run of matches coming up: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Txigrinski, Maxwell, Keita, Busquets, Xavi, Messi, Henry, Ibrahimovic, by resting three key cogs of our machine, Puyol, Abidal and The Yaya. And I would say that it was offense-minded, but it isn’t really possible for us to roll out a lineup that isn’t offense minded.

And right away we showed our intent, as Henry did that snakecharmer thing with the ball that he does, then lashed a shot that their keeper is still asking about, high, hard and goal bound. It caromed off the underside of the crossbar, but had the keeper beaten like the kick drum at a speed metal concert. And then, Maxwell played a soft pass to Busquets, who hit a perfect pass to an in-stride Ibrahmovic, who lofted in the first goal.

We began piling up the off side calls as Henry and Ibrahimovic strained at the leads, and then came the second piece of brilliance. Busquets fed Xavi and Messi already knew what could happen, and he made it so, keeping himself on side by a whisker before running under a perfect Xavi pass. He chested the ball down to his feet, knocked it past the keeper, and suddenly it was 2-0. Atletico were having the same Camp Nou nightmare that they had last year, only the striker harrying their keeper and tracking back to play defense was big and Swedish.

Our third goal probably made me the happiest, because it came about as a consequence of a foul on Messi, in the danger area. Teams have always hacked away with impunity, because since the departure of Ronaldinho, we haven’t really been able to make them pay with real free kick danger. But when Alves smoked that shot into the far side of the goal, a laser that was past the keeper before he could react, it was 3 goals in 5 shots, and the other side was reeling. Yes, Alves’ shot pinged off the post and in but really, that one had to be a goal, because it was one hell of a free kick from a rejuvenated attacking right back.

Hats off to Atletico, who kept playing their game, pressing harder and harder mostly because they had to, right? Who wants to “settle” for a 3-0 hammering, right? It’s why scoring first is so important for us, and had Ibrahimovic turned the trick on that first great chance against Inter, we would have won that match 2 or 3-0. Because when you come out to play, as I am fond of saying, you die. Your best shot is two stacks of four, playing the counter. We got our best chances when Inter were out and playing offensively, which is the value of an early goal. The other side has to come out and play. And then we have them.

Not that any of that really mattered with the fourth goal, as Ibrahmovic took the pass and, covered, popped a delicate little lob to Messi. Argy Bargy then takes, fakes, shakes and dances, all with the ball seemingly glued to his shoetops. Everybody, even the officials, seemed to be ballwatching and really, who can blame them. The only guy not ballwatching was Keita, who sees that stuff in practice every day. So he made a beeline for the front of goal where, after a little run to make a sliver of space, Messi found him with a smoked cross for a tap-in goal. Keita will get credit for the goal, but really….come on. Did you people see what that little hooligan did with the ball and to the defense? You can’t defend that.

Hey Yaya, I got one of my own!

Hey Yaya, I got one of my own!

After that we turned down the wick, because clearly, we weren’t going to concede 5 goals. Not at home, not on any pitch on God’s green earth. And then Busquets had to go and do it, deciding to use that thick skull of his to knock off a defensive header that fell to the Atleti attacker as if the pass was for him. Off it went to Aguero, and it was 4-1 just at the stroke of halftime. Worse still, Busquets had the time and space to play the ball to his feet, make a smart decision and finish off the half. Because 4-0 feels a lot different than 4-1, because they aren’t thinking “Hey, we just scored off a jackass play.” They’re thinking “Just three more and we can get a result.”

So out they came to start the second half, full of intent and raring to go as we sashayed about, controlling the ball for long stretches and content to watch time tick away for a fairly uneventful period, until Xavi was substituted for Iniesta. It was a glimpse of the future….or well, it should have been, as we replaced one midfield maestro with another. But Iniesta isn’t match fit yet, so we immediately started playing looser, with significantly less midfield control and command, as the ball started pinging all over the pitch. Suddenly our defenders were feeling more pressure, and even though it wasn’t feeling anything remotely like a comeback, you knew there were more goals in the air.

Then Valdes had to go and sully a perfect game, by committing the cardinal sin of clearing to the center of the pitch. Now, every side has a plan for balls cleared by the keeper. The reason that when keepers clear it’s usually a boomer, high and long, is so that you don’t send a laser to midfield that they can intercept and go off to the races. Which might make you wonder what possessed Valdes to violate said sin. Dunno. But he did. Yes, Iniesta should have moved to the ball that he very clearly saw coming. In a few weeks, he will. Today, he stood there as the Atleti player headed it away over him and sent Forlan in on Valdes, with only Txigrinski making a mad dash to cover the angle.

Ray Hudson said that they’re going to be looking at Txignasty in the locker room for that one, but he was pretty much screwed, because he had to make a choice: Play for the long shot and get in the way of it, or play Forlan for the cut in toward goal. He paused to play the cut, because Forlan had been shooting high all night. It was a calculated gamble in a doom-filled situation. Forlan banged it home and it was 4-2, with both of their goals being gifts from us.

And still, we were content to knock the ball around and run out the clock, and then they had to do it. Messi took a pass, and was hammered by the Atleti defense. And you could see his face change. And you knew we were going to score number 5. Admit it, were any of you surprised when we did? I wasn’t. I wasn’t even surprised by the beauty of the goal.

Iniesta knocked a pass to Alves and, with the same motion, lit the rockets for the box. Alves bangs a slick little back heel to Iniesta in space, who passes back to Alves. Seeing no clear shot, Alves laid it off for Messi, who immediately had what looked like the entire Atleti side running at him, which made the diagonal laser that he used to sear the back of the net seem all the more sweet.

But there were worrisome signs, which I will deal with in the points portion of these proceedings.

Team: 5. I know. Seems like a low club score for such a drubbing, but individual brilliance turned this trick. Atletico benefitted from too many stupid decisions with the ball, and casual play. You can’t give a side life, and we did. If any of those chances created from sloppy play, or if they are better on set pieces (Maxwell!), it’s a different match.

Guardiola: 7. He had to try the Maxwell/Busquets formula, and thankfully, we had the match pretty well salted away. But they both sucked, and probably would have been subbed off in a closer match. But big, giant props for having the club so ready to play.

Valdes: 8. Dude, you were perfect, including that charge out of the net to stymie Aguero, and so astutely cutting off the angle available for the Maxi shot, making the jobs of you and the defender a lot easier. Then you had to make that stupid clearance. Oh, congrats on setting the record for scoreless minutes.

Alves: 8. Exceptional match, and his crosses and free kicks are getting better and better, as is his defense without fouling. But he got caught pinched in toward a middle a few times, and you lose points for the acting. Sorry, but you just do.

Pique: 10. Yes, he missed on a couple of long passes. But he was our best back line player, by about a million percent. Tell me again how United let him get away? And why haven’t we thrown a bushel basket of money at him yet? Just asking. The better he plays, the more he will cost.

Txigrinski: 6. This wasn’t his kind of match, but he did pretty good. He won the two one-on-ones with Aguero, with positioning and sheer size. But it seemed like Gulliver against the Lilliputians with him out there. Too many players were allowed to go running toward our back line with a full head of steam, thanks to midfield errors.

Maxwell: 4. That’s one point for every corner that you gave up. He concedes corners far too easily, which will damage us against Champions League sides. And people were able to just run right past him, which created a defensive scramble. So make up for it with offense, but he didn’t do that. Which was why Abidal was so frisky and playful on the bench. Because his starting role is secure.

Keita: 7. Strong match, and good instincts to keep running toward the front of the net, for the goal. Had another one of those very effective, invisible man matches.

Busquets: 3. Between dwelling too long on the ball, serving up hospital specials and wayward clearances that led, or almost led to goals, he just wasn’t thinking out there. He started out very good, but good play seems to make him silly, and then he starts cocking up everything that he sees. Sometimes, the best play is the simplest one. It’s what makes The Yaya so effective. Yes, he has the tricks. But during regular play, when you don’t need to, is not the time to take risks. The more I watch Busquets play, the more nervous I get about January, because the position in which he plays means that when he screws up, it will result in a goal, or an excellent chance at goal for the other side.

Xavi: 9. He tried to get fancy once, and lost the ball. It was weird to see. Command and control, and always the right decision with the ball. When Iniesta came in, you could see the difference. The latter shows too much of the ball, and thinks about making a run rather than controlling and directing the offense. It’s a crucial difference, and the big reason that right now, Iniesta isn’t valid cover for Xavi. He thinks like an attacker, instead of a midfielder.

Messi: 9. Yes. 9. But he’s still Man of the Match. Yes, we’ll put up the poll so that everyone can affirm his excellence today. Why not a 10? Because of that run he made which was lovely, and thrilling, but it should have resulted in a pass to a wide-open Ibrahimovic or Henry. You could see the frustration, and if you do that too often, your strikers stop making the runs, because they think you’re going to showboat it into the box, so they might as well save the effort.

Henry: 6. He was getting hacked, which is no excuse to lay on the pitch when your side is on the attack. You didn’t get the call, now get up and run. Yes, he made some great runs, really deserved a goal, and made excellent pass after excellent pass. He’s beginning to show signs of clicking with Ibrahimovic as well, which warms my evil little soul. He clearly still has some fitness to gain. But if today’s Henry shows up, we win that Inter match. Ditto for….

Ibrahimovic: 7. He would have gotten a higher rating had he played a more complete match. But he is harassing the keeper now, pressuring defenders, even contesting possession in the midfield and helping to defend on corners. We needed this Ibrahimovic against Inter. And I don’t want to hear about big-match chokes. This was a crucial match, as an early test of our Liga aspirations. And he was brilliant, just not in a sustained fashion. And I think he goes down too easily for one so strong. Play through those slings and arrows hurled by puny men.

Substitutes

Iniesta (for Xavi): 4. The midfield kinda fell apart when he came on, and he really should have contested that awful Valdes clearance. His only shining moment, really, came with the goal. Yes, it pains my heart to rate Ghostface that low.

Marquez (for Pique): 5. A middling effort by the Kaiser, who had a couple of good moments. But dude, try a sliding tackle or two, stick a leg in the way, do something when you think that you can’t run to a ball. Really. Give it a shot.

Pedro (for Ibrahimovic): Incomplete. He came on and had precious little effect, but with hardly any time, it’s difficult to blame him. We’re just having a pass-around at that moment.

Our brutal stretch continues, with matches on Tuesday (Racing), Saturday (Malaga) and Tuesday (Dynamo Kyiv, who put Rubin to the sword). When this stretch of 7 matches in 22 days kicked off, I wondered if we would be able to turn the trick of going undefeated throughout. Racing will be a stern test, and they will be flying today, coming off of a victory. Both that and the Malaga tie are away, then we’re home to Dynamo. If we win out, I’ll be feeling very good about our chances for this season.

And finally, I leave you with an enduring image that sums up the match for me.

Oh. Yeah. That's how we roll.

Oh. Yeah. That's how we roll.

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169 Responses to “Barca 5, Atletico Madrid 2, a.k.a. “Turd in the punch bowl.””

  1. jnelson says:

    Excellent points. I was thinking the same thing about Messi on that one late run before Ibra came off. At that point it definitely started to look like we were being a little selfish with the ball with that run by Messi and another by Ghostface. I completely agree with the ratings, specifically Maxwell and Sergi. While Busquets made mistakes, he did make two nice passes. There is hope for him. However, Maxwell worries me after getting burned time after time again, conceding corner after corner. He’s a good player against the Buses of the lower half of the table, but definitely not safe for starting a CL match.

  2. Hector says:

    Is it just me or did Messi’s first goal also deserve fawning praise? The part that amazed me the most was not the perfect timing between Messi and Xavi nor the close control of Messi to chest the ball straight to his feet at full speed. No. It was how, without even touching the ball (and while going at full speed), Messi breaks Roberto’s ankles and leaves him on the ground with the most subtle of head fakes/jukes only to THEN calmly slot home. He just makes it look incredibly easy but look at that goal again and you will see how Messi leaves Roberto on the floor without even touching the ball. Simply incredible but in typical Messidonic fashion he makes it look so easy and subtle that it easily goes unnoticed.

  3. lovelymofo says:

    Only a 4 for Iniesta? But he scored against Chelsea! Heh. I think I would have scored both he and Marquez a little higher, but thats just me.

    If the win came down to pieces of individual skill, then I can’t wait until the team really starts to gel. That will be a thing of beauty.

  4. JMoynihan says:

    can we just talk about Xavi’s brilliance today.

    He backheeled a ball in midair around an opposing midfielder, to then possess it further as he dribbled away from the star-struck looking opposition.

    It was amazing and I truly think he deserves to be arguably in the top 3 best players in the world.

  5. Eduard says:

    I love your enthusiasm on these post match reviews(who can blame you thought, right?).

    We were sloppy, and lacked focus and motivation at times. Great individual brilliance at times but I prefer a 10 after “Team” then a 10 after any player.

    Marquez played!!!! very happy about that along with the score line.

  6. BA says:

    mostly agree with the ratings, though despite Messi’s brilliance (making the extraordinary ordinary?) i’d definitely rate Pique Man of the Match. he was an absolute monster, and those stats on La Sexta told the tale: 58 of 59 passes completed, 8 possessions recovered, 5 clearances, 1 foul committed. incredible.

    and i’m sure Rafa was under orders to not go sliding around per usual on his first game back; he’ll get there. not super impressed with Chygrynskiy, but he’ll grow the way Ibrahimovic seems to be going. he’s wonderful at bringing other players into the attack; i foresee a lot more goals from our attacking midfield players (see: Keita and Iniesta) this season. Busquets was dire, while he did have a few excellent forward passes he had too many that put the recipient in a bad position, or a good position… if it was an Atleti player.

  7. Reagan says:

    Spot on with the team ratings Kevin! The individual brilliance outshone the team performance by far. Hate to say this but it reminded me of EE in their galactico era!

    Yes! I said it!

    Our midfield was nowhere close to the brilliance it’s capable of and what we pride ourselves on. Way too many mistakes.

    - Busquets was a disaster! I’d give him a 1 only for the pass for Ibra.

    - Xavi didn’t fulfill his primary objective which was to control the pace of the game although individually he played well.

    - Keita played reasonably well but his link up play on the left wasn’t great because Maxwell had a shocker of a game!

    - Chygrynskiy was superb when he had time on the ball to make his raking passes but when he was pressured his lack of pace came to the fore. Again I agree with you that his game suffered because the midfield passing and interplay was laced with errors we are not used to.

    I apologise for being so critical but like everyone one of us, I want my favourite team to look good defensively especially on the counter, which they weren’t!

    On a positive note, the individual capabilities of our players in the attacking third has no limits now! :) breathtaking brilliance!

    agree?

    • Kzevin says:

      I fully agree. Keita’s match can be summed up in a question: Where was Maxi Rodriguez?

      Egg-sactly. As Hector correctly observed, he was in Keita”s pocket. Usually, as I have learned, when Keita is invisible, so is his man. He isn’t one whose best work is seen on firsr view.

      We couldn’t win with individual brilliance last season. Ibra makes so much difference, because he commands so much attention. Henry could be the main beneficiary of the Ibra stress risers.

      • Reagan says:

        Yes we did Kevin, Messi single-handedly bailed us out on many an occasion when we needed wins last season. Ibra is a monster!

        Agree with Eduard.. I’d take a team rating of 10 against any individual ratings any day.. barring Messi ofcourse :)

  8. OhYes says:

    I was very angry with Busi because HE KNOWS BETTER! It’s not as if he didn’t put in a great performance last season. Geez, you’d think this was his debut game or something…

  9. SC says:

    Great review, Kxevin. There were times during that match when I thought, “Uh oh. Kxevin’s going to have something to say about that!” :D

    This was a great Saturday afternoon match (for us in the middle USA, anyway) with decent opponent, lots of shots on goal, and few worries. I know I was kinda hard on Txignasty last week, but I felt more optimistic about him after today. I did almost had a heart attack when he rattled the ball back to Valdes, who luckily, was paying attention. But he can only get better, right? I do wish Marquez had played more to see if he could groove with Txignasty.

    Best moment of the match for me was when Alves was sprinting in the 89th minute and sent a sweet pass to Henry, who was too slow to connect. Alves was visibly annoyed and Henry had this look like, “Why are you sprinting in the 89th minute when we’re up by 2 goals?” Because he’s Dani Alves! That’s what he does.

    • jnelson says:

      haha! I remember those looks.

    • UAI says:

      Watch it again, a few seconds before, you could see Henry point behind the defensive line, I’m not sure if that’s because he thought he couldn’t make it. He then cut inside, and he was open, but Dani still thought someone should make the run if he cuts it acrossn the face of the goal, so that’s where he put it

  10. Luke says:

    Kevin, I know that it is difficult to write reviews for a team that is staggeringly good in so many ways so that you don’t sound like a fawning fanboy at all times.

    HOWEVER, I would feel remiss if I did not interject a few key points. First, your Chygnasty review is needlessly harsh. He could do nothing on either goal and played his part very well. He couldn’t do anything against Aguero when he was played in and actually did well to settle the ball and work with Pique.

    Second, Henry played very well today. He was integral to the flourish at the onset and was getting hacked all game, not to mention that he showed good pace and looked the part for most of the match until he suffered from frustration after getting cracked on 3 separate occasions in the final 10 minutes.

    Finally, and this is a small gripe, but Messi can’t play better. It’s not possible. 2 goals, an assist and basically was the perfect foil for Xavi. His play with Ibra and Keita was a thing of beauty and proved he’s worth every dime. And his first goal, come on, there are maybe 20 players in the world who can settle the ball to their feet on such a pass. Then he proved he’s the best in the world by keeping it close to the vest, holding the ball tight, holding off two defenders, giving the most subtle ball/shoulder fake, and then rolling the ball into the net.

    Good wrap-up though and thanks for writing.

  11. Kxevin says:

    I’ll take that criticism, Luke. But I think that Txigrinski has to learn that his pace deficiencies mean that he will have to play Liga players differently than he did playing with Shakhtar. They are faster, with better ball skills. But as I said in the review, neither goal was his fault. He was just collateral damage. He did nice work to win those 1 v 1s against Aguero, but there were a few times when his usual confident control let him down. Those matches will happen.

    Henry is capable of more, and has shown it on many an occasion. He tends to get frustrated, and that can affect his game. He should know better.

    Messi can, and has played better, which is kind of frightening to contemplate. He has to pass. I know that those runs get good to him, but with the entire defense running at him, and Henry and/or Ibra trailing on the runs, he has to pass.

    Now, ’tis true that his assist for Keita was a thing of wonder, every bit as magical as Ibrahimovic’s goal.

    • messi_fan says:

      Actually, in some ways this is the best I’ve seen Messi play in a long time. Shooting one time with his RIGHT foot? Normally he would’ve brought the ball over on his left foot, THEN shot.

      And I noticed that with his dribbling, he wasn’t always looking to cut inside. If he keeps that up he’ll be even harder to defend.

      Combine that with the fact that he’s clearly been working on his headers and free kicks and we get the scary possibility that this year’s Messi >> last year’s Messi.

    • Luke says:

      I don’t disagree about Henry, I am one of the people who thought we should have tried to sell him this offseason, because his decline is going to be swift and its going to be ugly (a player who relies on bridges and speed to make hay isn’t going to age well).

      Incredibly, you are right about Messi, and I mean, sometimes you have to mince words, but last night he was staggering. Haggling about a 9 or a 10 is what we must do when dealing with the world’s best player though.

  12. khairallah says:

    I’m glad Guardiola spoke his mind, and ours, after the match.. We were kicking butts last night and i was pissed, Busquets and Maxwell really did it..
    Anyway, Pep said: We didn’t control the match. I don’t like these kinds of matches that come and go. There were many errors and we were making the wrong decisions, not passing when we should pass, dribbling when we shouldn’t.
    Amen

  13. Anon says:

    Well, to say that we didn’t be good clubs last season without individual brilliance is not correct. I still remember matches when Messi would come in and save us like that Racing match(Our 5000th goal scored by Messi if I remember correctly). Or that goal Henry scored to give us a draw at Valencia. And basically what you said with Ibra I can say the same with Eto’o too. Did Eto’o need 2 opposing players to look at like Ibra? I think so. That’s not to say that Ibra’s goal wasn’t beautiful, though. I still prefer him to finish simple chances than score this type of flashy goals once in a while though.

    May be I was a bit harsh, but I hope i get my point across. :D

    • Jnice says:

      Ibra hasn’t had that many simple chances, though.

    • Kxevin says:

      We scored goals with moments of individual brilliance, but the team played well to get us to those points last season, which I think is the point worth making. I can’t think of a match last season, where the team was mediocre, but individuals single-handedly controlled and won the match. Anyone?

      And please read the review very carefully. I in fact disagreed with Schoen’s comparison, because they are two different strikers. There are Ibrahimovic goals, and Eto’o goals. Neither is the other, so it’s pointless to compare them.

  14. limey says:

    fcb official website said txigi was the player with the most “recuperaciones,” with 10, and that he completed 49 of 51 passes.

  15. fcbfan says:

    per goal translated from AS

    “The club has understood my feelings.

    “The new contract is not about the money, it is about feelings.” – Messi

    I know what Messi meant, but lol at the “feelings”

  16. Cesc Pistol says:

    Saw the match in blob form (does anyone else feel like you’re playing one of those old 16-bit NES games while watching these streams?) so can’t say much other than what has already been said, I’ll watch it tonight in HD.

    BTW Lifting all those tractors in practice finally came to use for El Capitan.
    //http://i25.tinypic.com/2na8cxu.gif

  17. Alexinho says:

    What a post. Kevin, you mentioned just about everything I felt and every observation I had. This has to be my most hit-up website.

    I guess I’m going to have to watch again and look at Keita. First impressions aren’t always accurate.

    If you took off two points for Alves’ acting, otherwise is he MOTM? If he wasn’t he was damn close. I guess I must agree with Messi though. I don’t think Pique was a ten…maybe an eight or nine. I never mention keepers but I think them, and I totally agree about Valdes. He’s one brain-fart (I hate that term but what the hell) per game away from being the best in the world.

    Everyone seems to think Henry did so well, and I might be the chief Henry defender on this blog. Jeez. He looked active, but he looked almost totally beaten by his man. Boy do I wish he scored in the first minute.

  18. Reagan says:

    none of the highlight reels shows henry’s shot at goal.. I missed it!

  19. poipoi says:

    I think busi played well, he is not yaya but I trust him a lot. Plus, he gave a great pass to ibra in the 1st goal, one thing keita doesn’t seem able to do.

    What a definition by ibra, I didn’t knew what he had done with the ball until I saw the replay… What a touch!! Messi great as usual henry lame as usual. The dude has only one dribble left in his repertoire. Besides, what the hell is henry doing complaining about his sub in the inter game????!!!! He said maicon was tired and he was about to score. It´s like when someone takes you out from a fight for your own good and you say… what are you doing? I was winning… ridiculous. And I think yesterday he wasn´t subbed just because he cried last game.

    valdes, pique, xavi and messi all close to a 10.

    btw…Good point about keita’s invisibility kevin! ;)

    • ElShowDeJason says:

      en el contexto de futbol, la palabra “definicion” cuando usada para significar un tiro a gol de traduce al ingles como “finish”, y no “definition”

      • poipoi says:

        thanks ESDJ! what a finish then

        one can always say ibra “defined” the word “finish” in that play ;)

      • Alexinho says:

        Whoa, I think I can understand that…

        In the context of football, the word “definition” is used to signify a shot on goal…er…that translates to English to mean “finish,” not “definition.”

        That doesn’t make sense…

    • poipoi says:

      I think pep is playing tricks with andres´ mind, the way he is kepping him from playing one full half makes andres hypermotivated, he looked all crazy about the ball yesterday… that is so great!!! :P

  20. ElShowDeJason says:

    I thought Busi was good on offense. Yes, he had some shocking displays on his defensive worked, and gave away a ball or two.

    I won’t however, attempt to make a case that he should be rated higher…

  21. Ramzi says:

    Insightful Review, Kxevin.

    Though, regarding Iniesta who entered the game in its final stretch, suffering lack of form, I am not sure if this game really showed that:

    “It’s a crucial difference, and the big reason that right now, Iniesta isn’t valid cover for Xavi.He thinks like an attacker, instead of a midfielder.”

    One of Iniesta big problems that blocked his improvement in the past was thinking too much as a midfielder. I believe we still need time to know if iniesta is a valid cover, not, or even better option than Xavi (though not at the moment of course) for Barcelona future midfield.

    • poipoi says:

      I think he is a midfielder and an attacker but in this team I´d rather see him playing as “interior”, midfielder. He makes associations with his playmates and in the middle he can do that more I think.

    • ElShowDeJason says:

      Quite simply, Iniesta isn’t Xavi. No ones is Xavi. There is no “New Xavi” (except of course for Jonathan dos Santos) ;-)

      Iniesta maybe isn’t a tempo-setter yet. Not because he isn’t good at it, but because his pace and dribbling make him a dynamic and “desiquilibrante” (sorry, “unsettling” wasn’t cutting it for me). He is a box to box attacking creative midfielder. I think in the future, once Iniesta loses his pace, he might take the tempo-setting role.

      Like you said Kxevin, when Xavi received a ball, he thinks about the pass. When Iniesta receives the ball, he thinks about the run. Not because Iniesta is inferior, but because he is different. Like Ronaldinho and Deco, both were incredible attacking mids, but Deco was renowned for being able dictate a game, and Ronaldinho for his attacking ability. Same thing here.

      If we measured Iniesta with our Xavi ruler, he would come short
      If we measured Xavi with our Iniesta ruler, he would come short. there are some things Iniesta does that Xavi can’t.

      Whenever Iniesta has to slot in for Xavi (not his natural role), we should judge him on how good he was, not how “Xavi” he was. Maybe Pep is smart enough to know that there is no sub for Xavi and has a complete different gameplan when he is not on the field.

      • poipoi says:

        xavi is the clock, the best in his role. but iniesta has temposetting skills also I think. Only yaya can do more things than iniesta.

        I thought the debate on the little guys was over ;) it’s not that they can’t play together. they HAVE to play together.

    • Kxevin says:

      All true, Ramzi. That’s why I said “right now,” to qualify the statement. I think that Guardiola is right in that Iniesta will retire Xavi. He has all the skills to be (shudder) even better than Xavi, because he will learn to be Xavi, but with the ability to attack the opponent’s box.

  22. Keano says:

    I think most people failed to give Keita time and respect at Barca.Our system is not the easiest to adjust to.This guy has a terrific engine, so much so that a respected commentator on English televisions la liga coverage, refered to him as ‘the rolls royce’ during sevilla match against real madrid(check out his goal!).He’s also a very intelligent footballer.ps i liked how ibra’s head seemed to be a magnet for the ball at defending corners- very drogbaesque

  23. Alexis says:

    I don’t know what to say. Despite winning, I was left feeling that there is someting missing. I can see they do not press as much as last season (maybe that is why Inter and Atletico had us dancing around the ball for a few minutes the same way we usually do with other teams), and that there are sign of individualism. I didn’t like the second half at all, which erased the good feeling of the first 44 minutes (mainly because Busquet’s was a big f*** ** leading to Atleti scoring).
    I know it is the beginning of the season, but unless Pep tries to correct it, we will find ourselves in many bad situations.
    My feelings are so far not good for this season. We lack depth in the squad to tackle again the three main and long competitions(I keep on thinking you cannot rely on all of the babies, maybe in one or two tops) and we lack last year’s spirit. Could you hear some fans whistling? I could. And it means no matter how many goals you score you must play well at Camp Nou. I have seen them coming out of the field being applauded despite a draw. Why? They had played well. Last night the audience did not want to be cruel after last year’s success (and it would have been undeserved). But they start to feel somethins is not going the proper way. Are we spoilt? Probably.
    Did you see how many counter-attacks from Atletico during the second half? Had they had the same percentage as Barça of goals/shots, we might be talking about a result closer to a tie than anything else.
    Pep did not like it either.
    I am sorry to disagree with some of you. I was excited last season despite 1 out of 6 points after the first two matches. This year it looks like the opposite.
    Anyway, let’s give Pep time to talk to them. I am pretty sure he will be showing them videos of what not to do for a few hours…

    • fcbfan says:

      if you start comparing this season and last, course you will be disappointed. different teams, different challenges. we are starting from zero as defending champs, with some new players still adapting and also playing against teams who already know how we play. with that said, that 2nd half performance shouldn’t be repeated. I’d be worried if Pep didn’t speak up and outlined our mistakes. I’m sure he’ll make the team work hard to fix them.

      It’s expected that Maxwell and Txigrinski make mistakes at this point, they have to to learn and get better especially in a system like ours, but I do expect Busi to have improved now that he is playing more both for Barce and the Spain nt. hope he is not taking it for granted that he is the only cover for Yaya. maybe he needs more competition.

    • messi_fan says:

      Let’s not forget that last year’s dream team also got beat by Atletico 4-3. I was actually a bit worried when I saw our starting lineup. Maxwell AND Alves at the same time? In Maxwell’s first game back from injury? And Busquets as DM? With no Puyol? And a CB only in his second match with us? Against a team with nearly as much firepower as we have? Talk about a baptism of fire for our defense. It could easily have been a LOT worse.

      I agree with you about the lack of depth though. I’m worried about when ACN comes around because I do NOT trust Busquets at DM. Hopefully him making his mistakes now means he’ll be wiser later on. But I think Pep should start experimenting with other options at DM. Maybe Txigrinski, hell even Maxwell. ANYbody but Busquets.

      • Kxevin says:

        Agreed, Alexis. It’s why I think that a team performance such as yesterday’s, if it happens last year, results in a loss. Recall that away to ATM, our goals were all stunners. None were a team goal from good play. Because overall, the team was loose, sloppy and all over the place.

        This year the team was loose, sloppy and all over the place, but still we won. Would this team have won were this match at their home? Good question, but I think so.

  24. Necro Spaaw says:

    awesome read.

  25. Varun says:

    “Everybody, even the officials, seemed to be ballwatching and really, who can blame them. The only guy not ballwatching was Keita, who sees that stuff in practice every day.”

    Classic !!!

  26. Varun says:

    Aweosmee read btw.
    Thanks Kevin :)

  27. Kxevin says:

    Thanks for the compliments, everyone.

    Hey, it’s early days yet, but Ibrahimovic has scored in every league match so far (3-for-3). Hope he can keep that pace up. He seems to be moving better and generating more energy, or at least picking his spots better.

    We are going to have to make a DM signing in the January window. I still like that Vieira short-term option, if that’s all we have access to. Busquets canNOT be our DM for that month, in which we are:

    Home v Villarreal
    Away v Tenerife
    Home v Sevilla
    Away v Valladolid
    Away v Gijon

    I think that Busquets has immense talent, but right now, he just doesn’t think as a player should in that situation. The time for playing around with the ball as he does is if you’re an attacker, not a guy who, if the strip the ball, will leave your side in a position where the other side is off to the races.

    I’m sure there will be more learned types who will explain to me why my mistrust is misguided. :D I would play him at DM with Abidal and Keita as cover, but that’s about it. In a closer match, that giveaway potentially kills us.

    By the by, everyone should be ready for this year’s club not to get credit. Word on the non-Barca street is that the Atleti were terrible, and in effect let us score those 5 goals. Hmmm.

    • Hilal says:

      Uh, last year was pretty much the same….certainly here in the UK. Every time we won a game by thrashing a team it was more the opponents inferiority than our supremacy. Same was said about Utd in the CL final. It was more their loss than our win according to a lot of the press here (their midfield was crap, blah blah). Whatever though. They can make all the excuses they want as long as we keep winning….

    • poipoi says:

      poor powerserg, don’t be so hard on him :( He is not bad for that position… and I think pep trusts him.

  28. Kxevin says:

    Oh and for the record, Messi is better this year. It boggles my mind to think about, but I think, as someone said earlier, that this year’s Messi is an improved version. He still has to learn circumspection and his real powers of destabilization, but imagine how great he (and the club) will be when on his runs, he starts thinking about the pass with the same clarity that he envisions his path toward goal.

    • OhYes says:

      Last season, he only showed glimpses of that. I remember early in the season when everyone was criticizing him for being so selfish, and that faded away as the season progressed.

      Now, we have a complete opposite in Ibra, who is lacking selfishness! Haha.

      I can’t wait until December. That’s when everything will hopefully calibrate itself and we should be seeing 10x more than what we saw in the entirety of the 08-09 season.

  29. Ramzi says:

    Kxevin, I like the Vieira option. I am not sure if he will be as available as he was during the summer. Mou used him more often than expected since then so I am not sure.

    Another option is to employ one of our CBs there. Specially if the Ukranian clicked well and if Milito bounced back. I think any three of Marquez, Puyol, Pique, and Chig spreaded on the three positions (2CB and a DM) and with Milito and Busquets as additional back ups will make us pass that period calmly. At least its not less quality to have Marquez as a DM than having Vieira. In the other hand, not sure how long will Keita be unavailable, as wecan expect early return.

    By the way, anyone know a good link to download this game? I couldnt save it last night.

  30. fcbfan says:

    btw awsome review Kevin :D

    Ibra did not only score a beauty, but he was pressuring and tracking bak. that was good to see.

    Messi is only 22, still improving and coached by the best. mindboggling indeed.

  31. ballbeav says:

    how can you tell messi is improving? watch the right foot….

  32. BA says:

    Viera is shit. i’d be quite disappointed if we bought him during the winter. it’d be a huge waste of money, he’s really past it. i don’t think we can buy a DM for a handful of games when we have 3 or 4 players who can play that position on a regular basis. play Busquets there, or adapt Rafa or Pique if necessary, but to buy a whole player for our deepest position (besides center-back) seems a bit silly.

    another midfielder? sure, great, preferably one that isn’t cup tied.

  33. Helge says:

    Luis Suarez scored once again 4 goals in a match for Ajax. We GOTTA get this guy for Henry replacement next season!!!
    He scored like 14 goals in 5 matches (including Europa League).

  34. Hector says:

    Suarez is simply ludicrous. Then again so is Eredivise defending. :D

  35. Hector says:

    BTW Kevin,

    I STILL don’t understand what on earth does “Turd in the Punch Bowl” means or implies. :D

  36. Hilal says:

    Surely the whole point of Chrygnasty is that he can play DM as well as CB. Dont think we need to buy another DM to be honest. Between Marquez, Busquets and Dimitry i think we have that spot covered. None of them are the Yaya, but who is? Besides Mascherano I wouldnt be as comfortable with anyone in that position so we might as well use the personnel we already have. I would certainly take them over the names being mentioned…

    • Kxevin says:

      I worry about Txignasty’s pace in the DM position. It might even be worth rotating a Maxwell over there, or something. Midfield is part of his skill set.

      And I hope that I don’t seem like I’m being too hard on (great nickname) PowerSerge. He will play into his role, probably even before the season is over. I suspect that he will be getting the benefit of some very personal, one-on-one instruction from Guardiola. :D

  37. Vj says:

    Please help this petition for La Liga Coverage in India:

    //http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/la-liga-telecast-in-the-indian-sub-continent

  38. bill says:

    I’ll give Henry 2 extra points, 1 for that first shot, it was a great shot full of intent. If it had gone in…wow! and 1 for having the courage to speak up and say Adebayor’s behavior against arsenal lacked class….Kudos for that.

    I think Iniesta can control the midfield as good as anybody else besides Xavi. It’s just that we were up 4-1, and he was trying to get in and get lose, see if his trademark running and timing were on point. He controlled Man U very well. Iniesta and Keita favor the left side of midfield while Xavi favors the right side more. When Xavi left, the left side was heavier with activity and too many spaces appeared on the right.

    I like this mobile version of Ibra better. I hope he will build on that. It’s clear that Ibra and Alvez don’t subscribe to the barca school of ‘keeping it simple’ though….

    Dmitry couldnt have stopped forlan, but I feel like he should have been agrressive and gotten up close and personal with him.

    Busquets is not a good DM midfielder. The play and possession of the team shields him from frequent exposure, but its becoming clearer that he should be subbing for Iniesta or Xavi than Yaya. I think Keita will be back from ACN quickly as his team is not very good. I vote for Puyol to stand in as a DM. He has good positional sense, makes the right passes(not very creative), and his pace won’t be a problem when others are backing him up. He has the grit to hold his own against anybody.

    I sometimes question how Pep subs, but his handling of Iniesta’s comeback has been commendable. If Iniesta gets another injury right now, not only is his season in trouble, but doubts about his career will pop up. It’s the beginning of a loooooong season, nothing is at stake yet, so he needs just a few minutes here and there until he is completely fit. Not worth risking. Hamstrings are dangerous if not handled well.

  39. cleareyesfullhearts says:

    “illuuuusions, kevin. a trick is something a whore does for money.”

    –ibra, after reading this post.

    • Kxevin says:

      Sorry, but whores aren’t part of my evaluative template. Magicians perform tricks, illusionists perform tricks, very good attackers perform tricks. And that’s what I know.

  40. Hilal says:

    Is anybody else watching RM play? I have to say, so far, not impressed. Not one bit. Xerex seem to have more control of the game than RM. At the Bernebau as well. They look pretty sloppy in possession, they don’t press and surprisingly they dont even look that dangerous.. That being said they will probably score a few more goals in this game, but a decent team would have beat them today…

  41. Hilal says:

    And of course they score another 2…

  42. Jose16 says:

    May I just say, Cristiano Ronaldo is revealing himself as the reason to be wary of Real Madrid this season. I don’t think they will beat us, but CR9 is capable of consistently scoring the goals versus the bottom-half teams. It’s the same role he had in Manchester United, which is why they were able to lose/draw to their nearest competitors (Chelsea, Liverpool): he’s good at breaking down the inferior defenses consistently.

    Us, on the other hand… I can definitely see us dropping points to bottom-half teams who pack it in.

    Oy. Thoughts?

  43. Jose16 says:

    And may I repeat what Kxevin has said: how effin’ crazy is it that we’re playing 7 games in 22 days?

  44. bl says:

    far too harsh on busquets, how he deserves a lower rating than maxwell (who was atrocious) i’ll never understand. i’ve noticed over the course of reading your stuff that you really don’t like busquets very much at all, but give him more of a chance. hes a quality player that is very young and makes the odd mental mistake every now and again, he’ll get better. that through-ball to ibra was absolutely brilliant and he had a number of great touches in midfield and compliments xavi very well. yes he screwed up on the first goal and yes he played some shitty passes here and there but like i said he’ll get better. have faith in sergi.

    maxwell? thats another story… that dude scares me. everytime hes played our defense is totally destabilized.

    • Kxevin says:

      Hey, I thought that I didn’t like Eto’o? :D

      In my ratings world, players start from zero, and play up from there. Busquets started well, as I said. Then he got progressively worse. Between spraying balls all over and serving up hospital balls galore, it’s just not something that I can get behind. He got a worse rating than Maxwell because Maxwell was shit, but at least his ineptitude didn’t lead directly to a goal. And another hospital ball to Txigrinski could have led to another goal, had not the Ukranian been quick off the mark, with long legs.

      As I said in these very comments spaces, Busquets will play into his role. But he desperately needs some 1-on-1 coaching from Guardiola, because his spot on the pitch is too crucial for him to play as casually and thoughtlessly as he does. You can’t just stick a leg out and hope that something good will happen. And he holds the ball too long. Way too long. Watch him yesterday. And the header that led to the Atleti goal was inexcusable, because he had time to play the ball properly, at his feet.

      Now if those observations mean that I don’t like him, then I’m guilty as charged. But starting out good then falling apart is like making the dough right, then incinerating the loaf of bread.

      As for Maxwell, this was the first truly horrid outing he’s had. In the rest, he’s been good to adequate.

      People like Busquets. That’s fine. But it seems as if every week I don’t like another Barca player. In match evaluations, I watch what they did, and rate accordingly. Everybody has a right to comment on that. But I can assure everyone, for the 5,225,488th time, it’s nothing personal against any player on our club. But if they damage the club, they’re going to get called on it, I don’t care who it is, or how popular they are.

  45. Hilal says:

    Unbelievable. When do we get to play Xerex? RM top of the table now :(

  46. bill says:

    On paper, Madrid look great, but when you actually see their games, you go ‘aaaaah?’ this is it? they are going nowhere. Pellegrini will be fired as coach, but it’s not his fault. If I take an average player and slap $100 mil price tag, he looks sexy all of a sudden, but he is still average. Thats madrids problem.

  47. Helge says:

    I can’t wait for the knockout stage of the CL. I want to see RM getting humiliated by an English side :)
    They have an easy group in the CL, and they will be hyped after this match, but once they face really strong opponents (unless they don’t improve massively) they will lose hard.

  48. eklavya says:

    WHOEVER WHO WAS ASKING FOR THE HENRY SHOT AT THE BEGINNING:

  49. ElShowDeJason says:

    I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, but…

    My soul hurts everytime Crynaldo scores. Its as if I die a little bit inside.

  50. OhYes says:

    Oh wow!! Madrid scored 5 goals but didn’t concede 2!! Damn you guys, I am really worried about this season now!! D:

    /sarcasm

    • Hilal says:

      Not worried in the slightest after that performance, Xerex controlled the game for long stretches, but they seemed to just cave near the end. Annoying more than worrying cos if Xerex had a bit more quality they might have been able to take something from the game. Villareal away midweek should prove more of a test, even though Villareal have started poorly.

      • Jose16 says:

        I’m not worried about the team beating quality opposition, but I do dare say that they could be more consistent than us against the bottom-half teams. Again, it’s the same value CR9 had in ManU: being able to *consistently* punish inferior defenses.

  51. jordi says:

    This s just like last season with them winning without playing well. We’ll just have to fix them at the camp nou again.

  52. .....r...... says:

    thiss is a new team with a new coach , who had a lot of changes to the starting line up so you cant really expect us to be firing on all cylinders can you ? this team hasnt gelled yet but still trashing our opponents in the last 4 games we’ve scored 16 goals imagine what will happen when will click and you do know that we’ll eventually click right :-) ?
    i suggest you dont write us off just yet or you might be in for a shock

  53. .....r...... says:

    Hilal what game did you watch ? are you serious ? in the first half madrid had 62 percent of possession xerez only had a lil possession in parts of the second half , give credit where credits due my friend :-)

    • Jose16 says:

      No, man, you have to be fair. I was watching the game, and until CR9 scored that 75th minute goal, Xerez had great chances on goal too. Real simply was not controlling the game one bit.

    • Hilal says:

      Possession isnt everything, as a Barca fan I can tell you that with confidence. Xerex controlled the game for long stretches in that they allowed you to keep possession in areas that didnt really threaten them. You were at home against a team that has not scored a single goal yet in the league and have lost every game, so yeah your gona have possession. You started very strongly but after the first 10 mins Xerex settled and they controlled the game till Ronaldo scored his second. Then they seemed to give in and the goals came rolling in. I will give credit in that some of the finishing was fantastic and there is no doubting the quality, but as a team, not impressed. Like you said, its early, but against teams like Xerex at home you should be completely dominating. They had quite a few decent chances themselves, if they could cross a little better they might have created more goal scoring opportunities.

      As for all your goals, well, the opposition you have faced so far hasn’t exactly been challenging. Lets see how the Villareal game goes; that will be a little more interesting, although you should really be beating them, i think it’ll be a much better game.

      • .....r...... says:

        how you that xerez “controlled” the game is beyond they were parking the bus the whole first half and looking for counters only in the second did they decide to come out and play even then they didnt control the game for long stretches as you claim dont let your hate for madrid cloud your judgement , this game never looked like it was going to be theirs and yes we havent faced any tough opponents so far ( altough we did beat espanyol 3 nil at their own ground ) so we’ll see how we do against villareal , but like said you have to remember its early days , new team , new coach , new president , new sporting director hell even new water boys , expecting us to fire on all cylinders at the moment is not reasonable judge us in january

        • jordi says:

          February.By which time Madrid would have crashed out the round of 16 again :D

          • .....r...... says:

            lol ,nah man not this time , the CL will return to its rightful owner this season which is us , the only reaosn we crashed out the round 16 so much is because we had won the damn trophy so much we wanted to give other team the chance to catch up , you know to balance things out a bit , we’re fair players :-)

          • Andrew M. says:

            money spent on building the real madrid team: euros420 mil
            money spent on building the Xerez team: <euros9 mil

    • OhYes says:

      As the games against Chelsea in the CL shows, possession =/= controlling the game.

  54. Jose16 says:

    I will pay good money for Real Madrid to get Chelsea on the Round of 16.

  55. Jose16 says:

    Valencia down 0-1 against hee-HON.

  56. ElShowDeJason says:

    Oops… i totally forgot to make changes to my Fantasy Football team, and they ended up doing great, pushing FCBlaugranaSanDiego to 4th place. Woot!

    F. Llorente – AtlBilbao – 32.5 pts
    Ibrahimovic – Barcelona – 14.5 pts
    J. Martinez – AtlBilbao – 13.0 pts
    SeydouKeita – Barcelona – 13.0 pts
    SergiAguero – AtlMadrid – 11.5 pts
    plus others for 92.5 pts, nearly doubling my points.

    Isaiah, “TheYaya” dropped to 16th, hovering just above my B team :D

    • Vj says:

      I did the same.. no changes to the team even though I wanted to drop Diego Alves.. turns out, he got me 29!! points.. With Llorente and Messi shining,I’m upto 2nd :) with 120 odd points scored in a single round.. I’m doubly happy..

      The trash talking has started already? Atleast wait till the Clasico.. Oh well :)

  57. Kxevin says:

    For the record, I don’t give a rat’s ass about the EE. I don’t care who they beat, as long as it isn’t us. Their fans will say they’re the second coming, just as we will say that our team is the second coming. And that’s how it goes.

    We have very valid concerns that I would much rather discuss, than how they performed in pummelling a club that has round-trip tickets to the Segunda.

    As for the rest, we’ll see on November 29th.

  58. Aria says:

    yeah, i don’t give a rat’s ass about EE either, im just disappointed they went above us in the table, i likes seeing the 1 next to barça :P

  59. Helge says:

    Damn it. CR9 has 6 goals now… I hoped for a worste start, and now he may even score as many goals as he did the season before last. That actually scares me. Not Real Madrid, but this cocky douchebag. As someone mentioned, he’s gonna constantly punish the weaker defenses, that’s also why ManUtd became champion and not Liverpool :(

    • Corrine says:

      it’s strange because as a pool fan i hated him with united, but i feel more anger when he scores with real madrid. yet i don’t hate him as much as i used to because i found him less tolerable in the premier league. he’s a weird character for me haha

      • Alexinho says:

        Amen. As a fan of Real Madrid’s biggest rivals and Manchester United’s formerly-biggest rivals, I still can’t quite hate Thong Boy. I can call him names, that’s easy, but boy can he whip out the class. I just can’t hate a player with that kind of footwork. I mean, I guess it’s never come up on this blog (or not in years, if it was on the Offside for that long), but can anyone here say that they hated Zidane? I dare you.

        • Jnice says:

          Cristiano is wack. I’ll take Messi’s or Iniesta’s or even Yaya’s footwork over his any day. And have you noticed, his stepovers don’t work in La Liga like they used to in England. All that dumb shaking and shit. Just get on with the play. Cristiano and Zidane? Not quite the same. Zidane wasn’t about showboating and all this other nonsense.

          Once he feels comfortable in La Liga, you will see the same cockiness and bullshit from him. Watch.

        • ElShowDeJason says:

          Woah, did you just put Zidane and Crynaldo in the same sentence!

          Zidane was great. i always loved him, even at Madrid. Ronaldo i hated even before Madrid.

          Iniesta > Ronaldo.

        • Helge says:

          Wow, that’s really a dangerous comparison. I think that Zidane has not only been one of the all-time greatest footballers on the pitch, but also off the pitch. In France, he’s known as “le roi modeste”. It’s absolut non-sense to compare Zidane’s popularity to the one of CR9. CR9 is the most controversial and cocky character the world of soccer has ever seen, his character is completely different from Zidane’s. It’s been a defamation for Zidane!

  60. jordi says:

    Ronaldo is a minnow killer but so is zlatan, and the man has won his league in every team hes played in every year since he was a professional.I think we’ll be fine.

  61. jordi says:

    Ill die inside if Ronaldo is pichchi this year.If not one of our players, id hope it is villa or forlan.

  62. Kxevin says:

    Jason said it best: As long as we win the rest of our matches, it doesn’t matter what the EE does. The time that points will start getting dropped is once the Champions League matches, etc, start catching up with players’ legs.

    If we take care of business, that means that we win the home and away Clasicos. So no worries, because it only matters what we do.

  63. Eduard says:

    i love this blog,

    hey does anyone have a link to BANGS! crazy flick. I saw it but i have no idea how he did it. Did it hit his right foot first then his left(made it bounce) and finished it with his right?

  64. Kevin says:

    Indian cules, we appreciate the passion, but we’ve had two petition posts already, and we’ve all signed on the dotted line, to help make sure that Barca beauty is seen by all.

  65. Flippy says:

    The best reason why Piqué is the most valuable defender ever:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43ozSvk619Y

    • Kxevin says:

      Nice find, Flippy. Thanks for posting. The dose of Ray-Ray was nice, too. :D

      And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the coolest parts of the GolTV telecast when, as the match was going off, somebody cranked the volume on the Himno that was ringing through the Camp Nou grounds. Truly awesome.

    • Alexinho says:

      HA! Brilliant. I wonder who the hell recorded all that. That’s kind of how I imagine Isaiah…goofball.

  66. ballbeav says:

    i think rayray wishes he had a mute button too, sometimes…

  67. Tajh says:

    I don’t think we need to worry about EE to much right now.1st of all they aren’t playing together as a team and mostly really on individual brilliance and 2nd they have some tough fixtures coming up in both league and champions league….plus a double derby back to back with getafe and atletico,

    once we win our games it should be smooth sailings for us.

  68. fcbfan says:

    if they can keep a clean sheet against Villarreal, then I’ll pay attention. good to see Bilbao doing well so far.

  69. Jnice says:

    Look at the shirt Pep was wearing the other day:

    *http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_X0Qx2lm2ufc/SrSNm7IswsI/AAAAAAAADag/OCLl6wp8uaw/s400/pepenvi.jpg

  70. Reagan says:

    Is anyone into sports betting here? Just curious. I want to give it a go. won’t bet on Barca though cos i don’t want to make an biased bets.

  71. SwedeBarca says:

    I feel that the coming season will be very exciting and I don´t really worry about Ibra synching with the other players, that will definately come in the next 1-2 months. I do however think we will run into trouble when Yaya and Keita leave for Africa in January, am I the only one worried?! What are our options?

    • Kxevin says:

      I think that terrified is a better word, SwedeBarca. Options? Busquets, if you’re looking at the traditional definition of the position.

      Other options that have been bandied about are:

      –Praying for Mali to stop being a country, which frees up Keita
      –Having France annex Cote d’Ivoire, which means that The Yaya plays WCQs for Les Bleus
      –Moving Marquez up and over, for DM duties
      –Pushing Txignasty forward, as a DM (his pace concerns me there)
      –Maxwell, whose skill set includes the midfield
      –A non Cup-tied January signing to fill in temporarily (but that means that you have to keep them on the roster for the season, so they’d have to be cheap, and preferably availble on a free transfer.

  72. john says:

    A couple comments on the match that probably no one will ever read:

    1. the Atleti were once again performing the Theatre of the Absurd, staring their very own back 4.

    2. Holy goodness Messi is an apparition. That set up for Keita’s goal was un-doable, in human terms.

    3. And speaking of supernatural phenomena (and theatre): “Messi took a pass, and was hammered by the Atleti defense.” I’d like to meet the ghost that hammered him, because in the replay he was invisible to the viewing public. Such a ghost could be handy for insurance claims, were I ever to secure insurance.

    4. When I saw Henry start counting his fingers, I initially thought he was trying to prove to the ref that he could count to eight in Spanish. “Titi!” I thought, “Surely the ref knows you can count!”

    Then I realized his real intent – he was counting how many times he had to simulate a foul before the ref actually declared one.

    Lastly, to Kxevin – I sincerely applaud you for not going down the ‘Samu doesn’t score that one’ route. Honestly, I thought you’d be the first to submit it. Gentleman’s applause.

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