Mini-Barça 0 – 0 Terrified Depor

Guardiola rolled out a singularly awesome B lineup (plus Abidal and Valdes) that I sort of predicted (except I got like half of them wrong) and which I think was only appropriate given the condensed and packed calendar over the last couple of months. Not that Depor, coming needing points like I need chocolate to write these posts, actually cared to do anything other than possibly, hopefully manage to steal a point. I think we had 100% possession, but I haven’t checked the official stats so I could be a smidge off.

The lineup: Valdes, Bartra, Fontas, Abidal, Mascherano, Keita, Thiago, Jonathan, Afellay, Bojan, Jeffren.

The most notable of these inclusions was, for me, Jonathan dos Santos, though Bartra coming in for Montoya thanks to the latter’s injury was also pretty cool. Little Two Saints was played as a wide midfielder, a position he was obviously uncomfortable in. When he was switched to the middle he immediately blossomed and the team got much better. Part of that was the reversion from a 3-4-3 to a 4-3-3, to be sure, but he did a great job in the middle. He showed some good positional sense and has obviously made strides in his rhythm, though he’s still not ready to be a regular first teamer.

Thiago is obviously ready. I think we all knew that, though. And then there’s little Banjo Crickets. What oh what to do with the guy? He showed some absolutely lovely skill, but was otherwise relegated to the sideline (pretty much literally) and never really came into the game. He’s a brilliant support striker, but not a line-leader. He could be Fernando Torres’ best friend, but he’s not playing with El Niño; he could be the next Raul, but he’s not playing in a system where predatory instincts for the space behind the striker helps the cause. And yet he was millimeters from scoring. Okay, maybe inches, but for him it would have been a major coup and a much needed confidence boost.

Alves’ introduction was a huge boost, as you’d expect, but it wasn’t enough to free up Afellay in the middle for more than a few seconds. Still, how awesome was the Dutchman? Ibi was thrillingly direct whenever he got the least amount of space. He goes down easily, but was fouled on each of those occasions and stayed on his feet several times when there was a chance he’d get to the ball. He was even smacked in the face a couple of times and got on with his game pretty quickly. Awesome. We’ll go ahead and give him Man of the Match even though Eric Abidal was on the field and I feel like a traitor giving it to anyone else.

Jeffren is also one of those players that failed to produce, but he was also unlucky a couple of times and could have had some extra chances if it weren’t for poor crosses or good, last-ditch defending. And make no mistake, Depor defended well. Very well, in fact. They were negative and it nearly cost them a couple of times, but they were playing for a point at the Camp Nou and it’s hard to really blame them. Real Madrid forgot to defend and that was a 5-0, if I might remind you. So Depor, needing points to survive, got what could be the most precious point of the season, depending on next week’s results, or it could be the great disaster that sends them down. It all depends on what happens against Valencia at the Riazor or in Zaragoza’s match.

As suspected, there’s just 1 relegation spot in play. With Hercules going down now and Almeria long confirmed, Depor really needed to get 3 points. By that showing, Barça B would stay up in the Primera, which is either a ringing endorsement of the filial or a damning demonstration of Depor’s fall from grace. Juan Carlos Valerón is still full of genius, but his legs seem full of lead; he’s no longer able to command a midfield like the man Xavi has said he learned so much from.

And so this is clear: I’m happy with our performance. Obviously I wanted something more from the game, but the kids were solid and showed flashes of what we can expect in the future. Afellay is the real deal, which is great news for next season’s squad depth. Guardiola looked pleased as well, though interested in what he’s doing wrong with the middle of the field. Why is there no more room, why so many defenders packed into the middle and yet so little space down the wings? These questions will be answered, I think, over Memorial Day weekend here in the US on our trip to England.

More later today as the rest of the Busquets information becomes available and we come up with things to say. For now, how about you shush it up and enjoy this here review? Yeah, okay, deal.

 

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.

42 Comments

  1. vaderspacedout
    May 16, 2011

    S04:

    Zombies? Considering you liked English period dramas I think this is the perfect zombie-related material for you- http://blastr.com/assets_c/2009/01/PrideAndPrejudiceAndZombies-thumb-300×455-12050.jpg

    Lizzie Bennet the ONLY heroine you like in English literature? I liked the Countess Olenska in The Age of Innocence. And Lily Bart in The House of Mirth. Yes, I’m a huge fan of Edith Wharton’s books. I liked Tess in Tess of the D’Urbervilles too, in a more kinda sorry for her way than a ‘fascinating personality’ way since well she didn’t really have much of a personality, but still.

    CL final:

    WHOOOOOOOOOOOO BRING IT ONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN

    • soccermomof4
      May 16, 2011

      P&P and Zombies-own it already and love it. Yes, I have a warped sense of humor.

    • vaderspacedout
      May 16, 2011

      I haven’t read it yet. When I first heard of it I thought the concept seemed funny, but then when I saw it at the bookstore and there were stuff like Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and etc it seemed just like it was just way milking it. And I found that (as in, the milking) distasteful so I decided I wudnt read it lol.

      • soccermomof4
        May 16, 2011

        All the language we love from such books, plus Lizzie and her sisters with mad fighting skills—what’s not to love (if you have a deranged sense of humor like me)!

        BTW, I’m staying neutral in your little coup. Call me Switzerland!

      • vaderspacedout
        May 16, 2011

        I would’ve probably found it entertaining too. But not getting it is my silent protest against them milking the ‘Classic Novel + Random Monster’ concept a bit too much. Lol.

    • blitzen
      May 16, 2011

      I adore Edith Wharton! I have read everything she ever wrote except for the ones on architecture. Age of Innocence is, IMO, a perfect book. Not an extraneous word to be found, and every line a perfectly formed pearl.

      • vaderspacedout
        May 16, 2011

        Age of Innocence is probably in my five favorite books of all time list.

        I kinda like sometimes when books have extraneous words or sentences though. Sparse prose is very beautiful when an author who can use it properly does it and some of my favorite books I remember as having simple and sparse language. But I do get kicks out of stuff with tons of descriptions and ruminating and wordplay too.

  2. vaderspacedout
    May 16, 2011

    Did I mention WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO CHAMPIONS LEAGE FINAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL WHOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA IN THE BEAUTIFUL BEEEEEEEEEEEEG WEEEEEEEEEMBLEEEEEEEYYYYYYYYYYYY STADIUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

    WEE WILL KICK SOME MANCHESTER TUSH

    AND MAKE A LOT OF PEOPLE IN LONDON VERY UNHAPPY (OLD JOKE I KNOW YES)

    ANDDDDDDDDDDDDD CAPS LOCK WILLL RULLLE THE WORLRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRLLLLLLLLDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

      • vaderspacedout
        May 16, 2011

        You’re cranky just cos your report wasn’t dignified with an answer by the Rebels.

  3. Barcaleya
    May 16, 2011

    I thought JDS was playing as Right Back. Wasn’t he?

    It was him, Fontas, Bartra and Abi at the back.

    Masch was DM. Thiago as Right midfielder and Keita left (?).

    Then we have Jeff, Ibi and Bojan.

    So I thought JDS was playing like Alves, being very high-up, thus looking like a midfielder.

    Quite confused with their formation, actually.

    • vaderspacedout
      May 16, 2011

      TONIGHT! OKAY COUPLE-WEEKS-LATER-NIGHT! WE DINE! IN HELLMBLEY!

      • Barcaleya
        May 16, 2011

        That seems right. The did look like that on the pitch.

        Just that Barcastuff tweeted that JDS was playing as right back and Barta and Fontas as CBs. Abi was obviously LB. But JDS was very high up in the pitch so I thought he was doing an Alves. Especially since we had most of the ball possession so he did not have to defend so much and does not have to go down.

        • Barcaleya
          May 16, 2011

          Nice.

          And JDS was more effective playing as DM? Didn’t see most of the second half.

          I’m glad the kids had a chance to play.

          Visca Barca!!!!!

          • Ezequiel
            May 16, 2011

            JDS had more time on the ball and more passing options in the centre. So the new position suited him better than the one on the right

            However, the main point was the introduction of Alves and his vertical off-the-ball runs. It also allowed Bojan to play closer to the goal and Barca finally got some presence in the penalty area.

  4. Ezequiel
    May 16, 2011

    I pretty much disagree with this review.

    To me, Thiago was very slow with the ball. Everytime he received a pass, he took a couple of touches before passing it back. While he usually has some genius moments, Thiago still does not get the timing right for many of his passes.

    Also, I’m quite sure that Pep told Bojan to stay wide of his defender to provide any kind of passing outlet. Given the lopsided formation and JDS and Bartra out of position on the right, the width had to come from the front players.

    Jeffren once again tried too hard. As of now, all he does is trying to speed past the defenders with the ball at his feet. However, against a organized tight defence he isnt having much space to run into.

  5. vaderspacedout
    May 16, 2011

    Oooooooooooohh one more person for me to Imagine What They Look Like! Moc moc!

    Ezequiel – Samuel L Jackson. OH YEAH.

  6. Sheena
    May 16, 2011

    Lol my dad just told me the dates for the holiday he booked and it turns out I’m actually going to be in London on the day of the CL final. Too bad I won’t be able to get tickets. Hopefully we win and I can celebrate with the cules outside the stadium after the game 🙂

    • vaderspacedout
      May 16, 2011

      AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHHH YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUU SHEENAAAAAAAA LUCKYY

    • Helge
      May 16, 2011

      Wow, that’s great. Take some pictures 🙂

      Don’t miss out on the Champion’s Festical and the Fan Zone activities:
      http://www.uefa.com/MultimediaFiles/Download/EuroExperience/competitions/UCL/01/62/00/02/1620002_DOWNLOAD.pdf

      The only thing that’s missing is public viewing. I was thinking about flying to London only for the final (without a ticket and without the intent of paying ~800€ for a ticket on the black market), but without public viewing the price performance ratio is too low.
      Public viewing during the WC ’06 here in Germany was one of the most awesomest events I’ve ever attended, so I was hoping for a repetition in London.

      Anyway, I’m sure you’ll have a great time!

    • Barcaleya
      May 16, 2011

      Lucky you!!!

      Find a Barca bar where you can hang out and celebrate when we win!!!!

  7. Helge
    May 16, 2011

    We’ll play our last match on Sat, 18:00 CEST.

    Luckily ManUtd’s coach is not Mourinho, because he would attack the schedulers again for having one day less rest 😀

  8. vaderspacedout
    May 16, 2011

    I AM SORRY BUT I AM STILL IN A BIT OF A CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FEVER!

    AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

    YES SOME NIGHTS I GO COMPLETELY BATSHIT INSANE AND POST SONG LYRICS AS MY STATUS AND WRITE RANDOM CRAP BUT AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH CHAMPIOOOOOOOOOOOOOONSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

  9. vaderspacedout
    May 16, 2011

    I HAVE GOT TO STOP THIS INSANITY! OK IM OFF BFB FOR NOW UNTIL I STOP BEING GIDDY

    • vaderspacedout
      May 16, 2011

      OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHH IM OFFFFFFFFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MOC MOC!

  10. Helge
    May 16, 2011

    It’s almost two weeks away, how do you want to survive? 😀

  11. vaderspacedout
    May 16, 2011

    Okay I feel sober now, Kari or someone get rid of my insanity above please?

  12. vaderspacedout
    May 16, 2011

    It’s just one of those ‘sleeplessness-drunk’ nights Helge

  13. Josep
    May 16, 2011

    i’m gonna go check floors 10,11, and 17 for vacancies. and 24 I guess.

  14. blitzen
    May 16, 2011

    Well, this is interesting. A Portuguese referee is claiming that he was bribed to influence games on at least two occasions by FC Porto in 2003/2004. No prizes for guessing who was the Porto coach at the time.

    http://www.abola.pt/nnh/ver.aspx?id=263230

    Google translate:

    Now on video, you see and hear the former referee confess that Porto contacted him to influence the Benfica-Moreirense (1-1) 2003/04 and the dragons’ offered “raparigas”, as it used to do ‘in the game with the Estrela da Amadora, at the same time. Finally, claims to have gone to Morocco, a trip paid by the Agency Cosmos, by FC Porto.

    • Barcaleya
      May 16, 2011

      MESSI!!!!!!!!!!!!

      “…the most talented footballer of this generation….”

      INIESTA!!!! (copying the shouts after his chelsea goal…)

      Great trailer. I’m praying for the win on the 28th.

      I love our team! Love our players!

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