Racing 1, Barca 4, a.k.a. “Almost there. Almost.”

Did we kill them, or what? Who's next?
Did we kill them, or what? Who's next?

It was a perfect match, played perfectly with a full team effort, and everybody doing what they were supposed to, then Rafa Marquez had to go and screw it up.

So, imagine this: Both clubs wind up tied at the end of the season, in the league and head-to-head, and it comes down to goal differential. We’ve given up 3 goals in two matches, none of which were supposed to be. Pardon my sounding like Guardiola after the 5-2 win vs Atletico Madrid, but this can’t happen.

“Oh, we’re still up by 3” is not a viable consideration, to my worldview.

And more importantly, we saw something of the high-wire act that every top-level club faces, of a wrong foot plant derailing the season. Ibrahimovic, our brilliant Swede, has a sprained ankle. More will be known over the next couple of days. But he is needed, with Henry having a case of the shits, and Iniesta not back to full match fitness or pace yet.

Wow, quite the Gloomy Gus opening in the aftermath of as thorough a dismantling of an opponent as we are likely to see this season, eh? The possession stats were absurd, as Guardiola made it abundantly clear how he viewed this match and our struggles at Racing, by rolling out the Best Possible Lineup of Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Keita, Busquets (hence the “best possible” qualifier), Xavi, Messi, Henry, Ibrahimovic. The idea was to put the boot in, get the match over early then have a nice little kickaround.

Which is precisely what happened, though truth be told this one started a little clunky, with bad shots from both Henry and Ibrahimovic, and Xavi being slow on the draw in jumping on a pass in the box. Racing were defending resolutely, determined to keep us in front of them, with 10 behind the ball, their two attackers playing high …. not really pressuring, just kind of hanging in case anything shook loose.

Problem with that is that you don’t put any pressure on Xavi, allowing him to control and command, as we inch closer and closer to your goal. Keita was pushing up with impunity, aware of how Racing were playing, a club that would have been perfect content with a draw. We conceded some possession in our own end, playing with 10 men thanks to Pique being off with a head gash for a bit, leading to the hilarious line “Welcome back to the game, Mr. Fawlty.”

You could see us getting closer and closer, and then it happened, a foul on Messi that led to a set piece. The passing was as calm as could be, as Messi drops a perfect ball onto Ibrahimovic’s head, and he victimized our own Adriano at the far post. It was 1-0, and really, the way that Racing were playing, that was that. But then, Ibra broke loose into the box for a second, forced wide only by some excellent goaltending.

And let’s take a moment to say, without fear of offending any fans of any recently employed Barcelona strikers, that we don’t score that goal last season. Because it was height, positioning and strength that scored that header. He got on the defender and stayed there, making sure that the ball found the net. As goals go, it was a pretty simple header over a shorter, weaker defender (sorry, Adriano). But as possibilities go, our color palette just got a little more vivid.

But we had the ball and kept the ball, for minute after minute, as the Racing fans whistled at their side but really, what could they do? What fascinated me was that they seemed to keep playing the same game plan, as if they said “Well, we won’t give up two, that’s for sure.

And yet, they did, thanks to Messi, who was out of his mind. It was an innocent play, really, us just kicking the ball around until a one-touch from Messi to Xavi, followed by Messi charging toward the box, led to a perfect return ball from Xavi. Messi was able to weasel his way in, and snapped off a shot with precision, placement and pace, that he hit while he was running. I’m sorry, but that’s just crazy. It was like he was striding to continue his run, only it was a snap shot.

Suddenly it was 2-0 and we were off to the races, because at this point, Racing had to come out and play, right?

Well, sort of. They were still tight at the back, and on a set piece, there was a scramble. A Racing defender heads the ball away but Alves is already tracking it, and darts in to toss it back in to Ibrahimovic who, surrounded by 5 defenders, not only controls the ball but notices that Pique is charging in. He knocks off the only pass he had the option for, a backheel into space, which Pique buries.

Whatever you do, don't mention the war.
Whatever you do, don't mention the war.

At this point it’s 3-0 and if you’re Racing you are wondering what the hell just happened, and what can you do. Your game plan is out the window, and the better team still has the ball, chipping away at your resolve, frustration and fitness, wearing you out with ticka-tacka passing in the midfield. You can’t really pressure Xavi, because Messi, Henry and Ibrahimovic are there, not to mention a very active Keita and a calm Busquets. So you chase and chase, hoping for a lucky break or something, just a little ray of hope to let you back around.

Or at least a goal that would salve a bit of your club pride. Pedro! came on for Ibrahimovic, and the difference was very obvious, not only in the type of player that Pedro! is, but also in what his possibilities are.

We were playing at about 60% throttle, just content to knock the ball around and play keep away, then Racing started lunging, fouling and evincing the frustration that comes with being a professional, and having your ass handed to you. On a silver platter, sure, but still …. it’s your ass, and there’s some guy in red and blue stripes saying “For you, sir.” And the ref was letting things get a little chippy, which must have vexed Argy Bargy. Because he took a pass, cut on a run across their box and, when everyone was thinking he had run himself out of the angle, he bent a shot back into the upper 90, that ripped the heart out of Racing. It was yet another amazing Messi moment, because he was somehow running laterally with his body facing the goal, ready to bang off a shot as his first available opportunity. It came, and he buried it.

Messi is better than last season. There, I said it. As someone pointed out, last season he just made runs to make them, with this improvised sense of “Let’s see what happens when I get there.” This season, he is all purpose. When he runs, it’s because he’s seen something. When he doesn’t have options, he usually dumps off to Xavi or Alves, and waits. He has 5 goals for us this season in 4 matches. We’re paying him how much? Sure. Whatever.

And then it happened, a bit of sloppiness that really started with a loose Puyol header. But still, we recovered and were looking to clear the ball, when Marquez chested the ball down, directly to a Racing attacker. He took the ball, and Marquez compounded his error by sashaying after the dude in the most casual of ways, just kind of trying to get in the way. He snapped off a hell of a shot that no keeper on the planet would have stopped, and we’d conceded another stupid, stupid goal. As with Busquets’ header against Atletico, Marquez had time to play the ball to his feet and deal with it.

Recall that Cruijff said that our defenders need to be more ruthless, and just clear the damned ball out. Take possession, and boot it up the pitch. There. Done. Instead, silliness happens, raising the aforementioned spectre of losing the championship on goal differential.

Could this happen? Almost certainly not, but is anything really outside the realm of possibility in this crazy game of ours?

Team: 8. Lost points for getting sloppy for a stretch there, but this is the kind of overall team play that Guardiola was howling about. Midfield pressure was there, as was the constant possession battle when the other side had the ball. And the help defense and set piece defending was nonpareil.

Guardiola: 7. Points off for making the Marquez substitution instead of Txigrinski. Why? Because Marquez was fine, as long as he wasn’t needed. But he came up short twice on the goal. Yes, his calling out of the players had them ready to go, but given that Racing were going for balls over the top, height should have been the prescription.

Valdes: 8. Excellent match, with lots of movement that epitomized the sweeper keeper aspect of our defensive approach to the game.

Alves: 9. Only wallowed once today, and knee-on-knee contact was probably a legitimate cause for wallowing. But from defensive play to cross and pass after excellent pass, he was on form today, as he has been this Liga season.

Pique: 9. Excellent play, though he got a little out of sorts on a couple of occasions. And he scored a goal. How ’bout that?

Puyol: 10. Monster. He was everywhere that the ball was, proving that he’s still a killer in the center of defense.

Abidal: 8. Got a little loose with the ball on a couple of occasions, but overall, brilliant. His sense of positioning, coupled with his pace, make him one of the best defensive left backs in the world.

Keita: 9. Keiteee! Excellent match on the offensive and possession control end. You can see what Guardiola means about him getting it working right this season, and understanding what we all know, which is that the box-to-box attacker is impossible to account for.

Busquets: 6. Laid in a strong start, with calm play and no mucking about, then returned to his old habits in the second half, holding the ball too long and wallowing on the pitch. Had a terrible giveaway that gifted Racing an attack. Thankfully, the defense was on the spot.

Xavi: 8. Generally excellent, but had some uncharacteristic lapses in control, and a few passes that were short and slow, putting teammates in harm’s way. They’re called hospital balls for a reason.

Messi: 10. Man of the Match, going away, from scoring goals to demonstrating an understanding of his teammates and tracking back on defense. He’s about due for a raise, right? 😀

Henry: 4. Just didn’t impress today. Should have shown more committment on that perfect pass from Alves, and not much beyond that except some nice work in the midfield and on defense. But we didn’t buy him for that.

Ibrahimovic: 8. Another excellent match, but he has a tendency to be stationary at times. And dude, we’re up 4-0. Get the hell off the pitch if you sprain your ankle. Sometimes, that extra running can make a Grade 1 into a Grade 2.

Subsitutes

Pedro (for Ibrahimovic): 6. Nice movement, but holds the ball too long. Way to stay up, when he could have flopped and gone for the penalty try.

Marquez (for Pique): 4. Quite the downgrade for the position. His sins have already been chronicled. That goal was all his.

Iniesta (for Messi). 5. He’s still playing his way back into the side and match fitness (and pace, more importantly). His passes were off, and you could see him getting on himself. He’ll be there, for sure.

And now we wait for word on Ibrahimovic’s ankle sprain. But know that in 4 Liga games, he has 4 goals and 2 assists. Very impressive. The busy period continues, with 3 matches in the next 7 days. Luckily, Almeria and Malaga shouldn’t be that difficult even without BANGS, who I think we need for the Champions League match in midweek.

Forca Barca!

p.s. Wasn’t the HD purty?

p.p.s. Here’s a little souvenir for Adriano.

Good thing you're out on loan, dude. Man up next time.
Good thing you're out on loan, dude. Man up next time.
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Written by:

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.

151 Comments

  1. Miguel
    September 23, 2009

    fawlty towers ha! “don’t mention the [score]”

  2. Jnice
    September 23, 2009

    I actually liked the Busquets I saw today. For the most part, he kept it simple, forming nice triangles with Xavi and Keita, and was ready to support. He got stuck in several times as well. Good job Sergi.

    Oh and Kevin, that Ibra chance directly after his goal actually hit the post rather than saved by the keeper.

    • Kxevin
      September 23, 2009

      I know Jnice, but by the keeper diving out at Ibra’s feet, it made the angle a lot more difficult, and almost certainly saved the goal.

    • mike in africa
      September 23, 2009

      busquets was giving the ball away again in the second half; our midfield just feels a lot of more solid with yaya.

  3. eklavya
    September 23, 2009

    aw man we still conceded! Im worried about ibra…!

  4. BA
    September 23, 2009

    Henry was shit and virtually anonymous when switched into the center for the final 30 minutes, and Pedro needs to grow a pair and run at defenders or at least to the goal line if he wants to play with the 1st team. i worry about our lack of depth in our forward positions, a worry agitated by Ibra’s ankle tweak. apart from that and the well-taken Busquets criticism, spot on. we played wonderfully today for about 35 minutes then just went from 4th gear to 2nd and cruised it out. i’d like to see us really go for the goals this season in case it comes down to differential with the Evil Whites but the same voracious hunger isn’t there like it was last season. still all the ability and the pressing tactics are absolutely right, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a psychological impediment that obviously dictates you can’t stay desperate for trophies if you just won everything there is to win.

    • Miguel
      September 23, 2009

      its head to head not differentials. remember 2 yrs ago?

      • ElShowDeJason
        September 23, 2009

        Tie-break:
        1. Head-to-head.
        2. Goal Differential.
        3. Goals Scored.

        “So, imagine this: Both clubs wind up tied at the end of the season, IN THE LEAGUE and HEAD-TO-HEAD, and it comes down to goal differential.”

        • OhYes
          September 23, 2009

          Being tied head-to-head isn’t really that much of a surprise, is it? Knowing that it’s likely to be RM who we are going to be tied with at the end of the season.

          So yes.. goal differential is very important.

          Though I prefer another 2-6 🙂

      • Kxevin
        September 23, 2009

        True, Miguel. Goal diff is the second tiebreaker, as noted above.

    • Andrew M.
      September 23, 2009

      first of all i agree that henry looked sluggish and lazy and i would have pulled him earlier. i miss bojan.

      secondly, i think its a bit crazy to be worrying about our goal differential now, i mean, remember how many goals we scored last year? we were miles ahead, plus, it would be pretty bizarre if we tied EE all the way to goal diff.

  5. BA
    September 23, 2009

    oh yeah, and seeing it in HD really showed off how shitty the pitch in Santander was.

    • SC
      September 23, 2009

      It was horrid! I thought they were playing on moss.

  6. Kevo
    September 23, 2009

    yah agree, Titi wasn’t performing well today, but again last season he also started a lil funky then sprung by mid october or something up to a point that we could see the difference in our game when he wasn’t playing.
    But i want him to score some goooooalssss so he can get up there with Ibra and Messi and start our goal-fest again!

  7. September 23, 2009

    Great review, Kevin!

    One thing though, Messi stats correction:

    He has 5 goals (1 v Getafe, 2 v Atleti, and 2 v Racing) and 2 assists (1 v Atleti to Keita and 1 v Racing to Zlatan) in La Liga in only 3 games (Getafe, Atleti, and Racing), one as a sub and another being subbed off. He did not play against Sporting. According to Sport that translates into one goal approximately every 35 minutes. That’s just absurd. Also, he’s pichichi for now at least until Llorente, Villa, and Thong Boy have their say tomorrow.

    Take into account his game at the second leg of the Spanish Supercup (2 goals) and the European Supercups (game winning assist), and you have:

    7 goals and 3 assists in 5 games played of which one was as a sub and in another he was subbed off at the 65th minute.

    Sick.

    • ElShowDeJason
      September 23, 2009

      “But know that in 4 Liga games, he has 4 goals and 2 assists. Very impressive” – I believe Kxevin was talking about Ibra, not Messi.

      and he does mention Messi’s 5 goals:

      “He has 5 goals for us this season in 4 matches. We’re paying him how much? Sure. Whatever.”

      • Flippy
        September 23, 2009

        Hector was saying that Messi scored 5 goals in THREE matches not FOUR. and the Getafe one was as a substitute.

  8. miz
    September 23, 2009

    who are going to replace BANGS when visiting Malaga…bit worry on his absence..henry was totally out of form. not like last season…

    • SC
      September 23, 2009

      I’m assuming Pedro or Jeffren will get a start. It’s Malaga.

  9. Necro Spaaw
    September 23, 2009

    disagree about henry..he was not that bad to get a 4.

    • September 23, 2009

      I’ll concur with that one, but expand on it. I think that Henry was given several roles throughout the match and while not fulfilling all of them in superb fashion, he facilitated the right to left switching (did you notice how much more room Messi had than Henry? How about how much more room Keita had?) and could very well have scored on several of Alves’ crosses.

      I would have given him a 6 or 7, but at least no one can accuse Kevin of being partial to Henry now.

      • Kxevin
        September 23, 2009

        Henry was sluggish and anonymous. To my eyes, the 4 was generous. I appreciate his whole-pitch effort, but he’s playing too soft right now. And when Alves drops a ball in a spot where all you have to do is lob it over the keeper and you screw it up, I’m just not on board with that.

        I know he’s a slow starter, and I’m sure that people will have ample opportunities to say that I love Henry, at the expense of all others. The season is long.

  10. ElShowDeJason
    September 23, 2009

    Malaga isn’t a great team, and the midweek CL games in pretty important, so I think that we will go with

    Jeffren-Messi-Pedro!
    Keita-Busquets-Xavi
    Maxwell-Txig-Pique-Alves

    Ibra or Henry will come in for Messi.
    Iniesta will come on for Xavi.
    Marquez will come on for Pique.

    It would be great to rest Xavi and Pique, but I don’t think Pep is ready to start Iniesta or Marquez.

    • Alexinho
      September 23, 2009

      I badly want to give Xavi a rest but I just don’t think it can be done. I wonder what’d happen if we put Yaya, Keita, and Busquets on the field at the same time…we’d almost have a Chelsea-like feel…maybe. It’ll never happen.

      I also want to give Alves a rest.

      In any case, Jeffren and Pedro on the field equals maybe one goal.

      • Flippy
        September 23, 2009

        It happened last year during the Copa Del Rey. I think against Majorca away. But it would make sense to play them to rest Iniesta and Xavi.

  11. Jose20
    September 23, 2009

    Great review, only that the whole goal differential bits are wrong. It’s head to head, remember?

    • ElShowDeJason
      September 23, 2009

      “So, imagine this: Both clubs wind up tied at the end of the season, IN THE LEAGUE and HEAD-TO-HEAD, and it comes down to goal differential.”

      yes… i think he remembers…

  12. El Jefe
    September 23, 2009

    Is anyone listening now to my original prediction that the Ibra move’s primary benefit to the team would be set pieces and his passing? My god, I don’t think we had this many goals off of pieces & headers all of last season. And Henry and Fantasma are only at 25%!

    Things are shaping up for some of the best El Clasico’s in the history of the rivalry.

  13. Han
    September 23, 2009

    Very good review and ratings/comments mostly spot on.

    I disagree however on Henry’s rating besides the last 30 minutes and even then I don’t think he could have gotten to Alves his cross (4yrs ago he could). In the first half he was tracking back, tackling and winning position and sprinting back. At least no issues on motivational side. Furthermore, he would have gotten an assist should the linesman kept his flag down for Bangs, who was on side. He’s a striker and in dire need of a goal, he was not great but I would give him credit for his effort.

    Busquets on the other hand was good the beginning (my stream sucked, so cannot be 100% on the first 15-20min), but he doesn’t goes in hard enough imo. Often he loses out against physically less gifted players, or he seems not to give everything going into it. Furthermore his passing was off in second half for sure. Finally, he doesn’t seem to run as much without the ball as Xavi/Yaya to get open or he just is not as good in positioning as Yaya/Xavi is.

    Keita = excellent. But he needs to get his shooting together or instead look for other options if you know your shooting sucks.

    Messi was extroardinary.

    Defence (Rafa excluded) splendid. Loved it (probably Cruyff too) when Abidal ruthlessly kicked ball away (around 75th minute) after it had been difficult to get it cleared the normal way.

  14. ElShowDeJason
    September 23, 2009

    BTW… i dunno if anyone heard, but Jonathan dos Santos was called up for next weeks friendly between Mexico and Columbia. This is his first cap to the senior team.

    I hope he plays.

    • lovelymofo
      September 23, 2009

      That is excellent news. I think he’d be great for Mexico. Maybe he’ll get a few minutes.

  15. Alexis
    September 23, 2009

    I enjoyed the match as much as Garfield a lasagna!
    It was joy for my eyes (with the exception of a few minutes of discontrol. But that is getting better).
    I can only be amazed by the following things:

    1) How many goals have they scored with the head so far? My bro and me cannot recall a season with as many as this one (Barca has never been good with the headers since Alexanko or Salinas stopped playing for us).

    2) I can only drool when I see that in many corners / free kicks they start talking to each other as if getting ready to put to practise some strategy awesomeness.

    3) Once more, Keita and Abidal (it was about time) have found the confidence to play in this team. And the only reason they are not MOTM is because they play along the likes of Messi, Ibra, Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol and Pique (Alves, The Yaya, Henry when he is inspired…). I cannot believe what my eyes see coming from these lads lately!!

    4) I completely agree with Kevin. And that is why I was so upset after Atletico’s match. We CANNOT allow to concede such goals!! We would have so far 3 goals less against us had the defence been focused. At the end of the season, we might need a better goal difference (though I don’t think so, as EE only has the Portuguese and a bit of Benzema, whereas we have Ibra, Messi and a bit of Henry).

    5) Did you guys hear Pique shouting “Ibra, Ibra!” to warn him of his presence behind him before the third goal?

  16. Han
    September 23, 2009

    hope he doesn’t get burned too fast, but it sounds very promising. Apparently his brother might jump ship to Depor. And other rumours have us interested in Mario Balotelli. Tons of potential, but very raw according to me, like the source.

  17. Ramzi
    September 23, 2009

    Taking in consideration Ibra history with knee injuries it was a relief that it wasnt the case last night. That stretch usually hurt the ankle but it can even damage a fragile knee, taking his body weight in consideration and the fact that he was still warming up for the second half.

    Now we need to wait for another good news hopefully. The moment Bojan started to get the tempo, he got injured, and now same goes for Ibra. Last night performance was a glance for why I was desperately dreaming to get this guy since two years.

    As I mentioned yesterday, it was a clever decision to start busquets in this game after his bad performance against Atletico. We cant afford losing this guy and last night starting role was an antibiotics against mental drop. I don’t think Marquez substitution was a mistake as well. We need all the guns available to hit their form as soon as possible. it only happens by getting them involved at any chance. It was better getting him in after a 4-0 rather than starting him a game. Its more likely that we lose a title through gathering less points than scoring less goals and being head-to-head, specially with all the scoring machines we have.

    And Kxevin point regarding Xavi not being marked is gold. I am not sure if Racing coach was enjoying the barca show to an extend that he forgot which team he was responsible of.

  18. Ramzi
    September 23, 2009

    And Jason, congratulations for hunting JDS to play for Mexico. If I understood properly it was your wish from the beginning, which I also share. Mexico needs him more than Spain. He will also guarantee a better international career with Mexico than Spain as well.

  19. fcbfan
    September 23, 2009

    Well yesterday we were linked to Balotelli, today in EMD Luis Suarez said he dreams playing for Barce interviewed on RAC1.

    • BL
      September 23, 2009

      luis suarez would be a great great great signing to ease the transition of henry becoming too old to hack it.

      henry is actually playing well in my opinion and just getting into gear, but suarez is a top class player.

  20. ElShowDeJason
    September 23, 2009

    oooo…. i could be down for some Luis Suarez

  21. fcbfan
    September 23, 2009

    Having a player like Ibra makes everyone on the team play better including Messi, imagine that! soon Even Abidal will score.

  22. Ciaran
    September 23, 2009

    Just a few things
    On Ibra:
    Kxevin, you said that Ibra was stationary but it was reported that Guardiola asked Ibra to wait for the ball to come to him rather than go looking for it like he did with Inter. Apparently, he wants Ibra to be more of a spearhead, leading the team from the centre to give the defense something to constantly think about.
    Ibra was immense last night. He is still not at 100% fitness and is very dominant in Spain. Last season we would not have scored the first or third goals. Just saying

    On Marquez:
    Let’s face it, he is our 4th choice central defender now, so expect a little clunk. We need him ready just in case, and if you can’t ease him into action when you are 4-0 up then when can you?
    It is probably his last season here though, Pique has retired him.

    On Busquets:
    He still doesn’t inspire the same confidence as the Yaya, in me, and I’m assuming, in his teammates. When he keeps it simple he is good, but then he has these “I’m Messi” moments when he thinks that the centre circle is a good place to try to beat someone in a 1-on-1.

    On Pedro:
    I miss Bojan. That is all.

    • Kxevin
      September 23, 2009

      True, Ciaran. But I think that he doesn’t move enough (at times) when he isn’t part of the play, so that he can become part of the play. And you’re right about the first and third goals, but we can’t say that (or at least I can’t) or we’ll be accused of Eto’o bashing. 😀

      My only point about Marquez is that it was inexcusably casual. As with the Busquets error, he had plenty of time to do the right thing. I kept thinking of Cruijff’s “when in doubt, blast it out” observation. I know that we like to play the ball out, but when you’re trying to kill the match. Abidal got it, and was just knocking the ball out of there, because the time necessary to re-set the defense was paramount. Marquez’ heart was in the right place, as was Busquets’. But there is a time and a place for that kind of fancy stuff, and when it can get you killed is not one of those times.

      Pedro! has been unconvincing of late, hasn’t he? I wonder if it’s because the side is clicking into high gear, and his abilities are being found wanting. Or if he’s just having a blue patch.

      • Alexinho
        September 23, 2009

        Pedro may be unconvincing right now, but let’s face it, when he looked good it was just the preseason. He’ll have his good stretch later on in the year.

        And as for missing Bojan, except for the game he got injured in, weren’t we all kind of bashing him for his performances?

  23. Helge
    September 23, 2009

    Haha, Fawlty Towers. What a great comedy series!

    I’ve watched it ages ago during English lessons, thanks for bringing up this memory again. Gotta go and buy me some Fawlty Towers DVDs 😉

    Hopefully, Ibra’s gonna be ok for Kiev. This guy is pure ownage. 4 games, 4 goals and 2 assists (and hell, these assists can only be played by 1 out of 10.000.000 football players). And we should not forget that he missed almost all the pre-season. Take this, you Ibra critics!
    And now get well soon, Ibra. Ibra and Messi is simply the most deadly duo the world of soccer has ever seen.

  24. Helge
    September 23, 2009

    It seems Ibra is only a doubt for Malaga. That’s good news, if true.

    • Hilal
      September 23, 2009

      Yep, i would rest him anyways, just in case. Stick Henry in the middle and Iniesta on the left. Hopefully we can put the foot in early and have the game done and dusted by halftime and rest the big boys second half…

      • September 23, 2009

        It’s weird that there’s no word on Bojan’s recovery. It’s as if he disappeared during the last two weeks. I’d feel a lot better about Malaga if it weren’t for his absence, though I think Pedro! and Jeffren could start.

        I’d like to see the entire front line rested, but that seems unlikely given the current injury to Bojan limiting our options. We could just put Pique up there, though, right?

        • JeffP
          September 23, 2009

          Dunno about that. The Jeffren/Pedro! combo yielded very few quality chances last time we saw them. I’d rather see Pep stop treating Iniesta with white gloves and give him the start on the left with Henry in the middle and Pedro! on the right. It’d be nice to give Xavi and Messi a bit of a rest. Although if Xavi is rested and Iniesta plays on the left who takes over for Xavi? Hmmmm.

  25. fcbfan
    September 23, 2009

    Not sure if it was Sport or EMD, but thought I read few days ago that Bojan will be out for another 2 weeks.

  26. Han
    September 23, 2009

    I think so as well, but luckily he’s not playing with U-20 guys otherwise it would even be worse.

  27. Kxevin
    September 23, 2009

    So, the Ibra back heel was all over Sports Center this morning, and not just because ESPN is supporting their Liga telecasts. That was just a sick ass play.

    Okay. Here’s what I haven’t heard in a while now: Is Ibrahimovic worth the money that we paid for him?

    Just saying.

    It’s early days yet, but if he continues at the pace he’s going (4 goals and 2 assists in 4 league matches), not to mention the new possibilities that he brings to the offense, it will seem as though we’ve underpaid.

    5 defenders, everyone. He drew 5 defenders in the box. Somebody had to be open, right? And how many strikers would have still blasted the shot at goal, in the hope that it would somehow squirrel its way through. Further, how many strikers have the talent, presence of mind and array of skills to think “Back heel to the trailer….sure, why not?”

    Yes, I am dazzled with our new bauble.

    • Soto
      September 23, 2009

      I was pretty neutral about Ibrahimovic, mainly because I never watch Serie A and so I had really never seen the Swede play. So I have been supportive from an “In Pep We Trust” position, and nothing else.

      After seeing that assist last night, now I understand. Now I understand why so many were excited by what Ibrahimovic brings to the team. Ibrahimovic made an essentially blind, back-heeled pass to Pique while being assaulted by five defenders. Wow. I mean, Wow.

      Now I support Ibrahimovic from a “Ibra plus ultra” position (or “Ibra mas alla” if you want it in Spanish).

      And kudos to Pique. That was great offensive thinking from our center back. Seeing the space and opportunity and then acting on it was the kind of smart playing that I am beginning to just expect from Pique.

    • alexis
      September 23, 2009

      As I said on a previous comment, we will start knowing at the end of this campaign whether Ibra is rising above Eto’o or not. And whether he was worth the money.
      Some opinions are already changing: if you have a look at “La Gazzetta”, a few Calcio fans are already stating that Barca has made business with the players swap (of course, none of them was an Interista). It will be a week to week argument (the same as Messi and Ronaldo as top scorer I guess).
      If Ibra keeps this outstanding rate and shows up in the big matches, Moratti will start pulling his hair, biting his nails and talking on his own. And so will Mourinho.

      • Soto
        September 23, 2009

        Honestly, I would rather not compare Ibrahimovic to Eto’o. I do not see any value in doing so.

        I was particularly annoyed that the ESPN announcers, Derek Rae and Robbie Mustoe, insisted on making Ibrahimovic vs Eto’o comparisons every time Ibrahimovic did anything. They are just feeding an artificial dichotomy.

        Oh, and I don’t think Mourinho’s ego will ever allow him to regret trading away Ibrahimovic. That’s just not possible in the Special One’s world. 🙂

        • Alexis
          September 24, 2009

          You are right. But fans cannot help comparing the achievements of a football team, a player…
          Eto’o’s and Ibra’s story is and will always be linked by the same transfer (a swap). So it is natural.
          Why not? We are human beings and miss what we don’t have. If you trade a sports car for a family one, it is because this one gives you more benefits (as you might have just become a parent, let’s say). But you will always remember the speed or the looks of the first car, and you will compare. It makes no sense, I know. But you will eventually compare…

      • Hilal
        September 23, 2009

        Comparing the two strikers is an exercise in futility. They are so completely different that there is no point comparing. Zlatan could score half the goals Eto’o did and still contribute more to the team in terms of offensive dynamic, assists and link up play. Eto’o was a legend, he scored more goals than most strikers could ever dream of. Lets leave it at that. Zlatan is not eto, he will never be eto and visa versa. The question isnt whether or not Zlatan can rise above Eto’o or not, the question is whether or not Zlatan can find his place in this team. So far the signs look good…

    • Hilal
      September 23, 2009

      In the 5th game of the season Kevin….the 5th game!!! The potential of what he an Messi can do together just boggles the mind. They both require sooo much attention from defenders. Its just not possible to defend against. You could see it in the game yesterday, the defenders just dont know what to do…who to mark..what to expect. You cannot let Zlatan turn and shoot, because he is so good at it, so you have to mark him closely and in numbers (at least 2). With the second goal, watch how the defenders follow Zlatan and that just opens that little bit of space for Messi to shoot. Wait till Zlatan starts shooting from distance as well, that part of his game we havent even seen yet.

      The back heel was class for sure, but what has impressed me the most is his movement off the ball, simply because I thought that would be one of his weaknesses. So far though, i have to say, he has been very good in that department. He is not the constant livewire that Eto’o was (who is??) but he knows when to move and where to move. There was one point yesterday where he and Henry combined in a lovely move. He headed a long ball down to Henry, who played it back over the top and Zlatan, having made a perfectly timed run off the defenders, should have been left with only the keeper to beat. Unfortunately, yet again, inept refereeing cost us what could have been a lovely goal, as it was called offside.

      I really cannot wait to see what this team will be like in a months time when he should have really settled in. I just pray for no injuries….

  28. Soto
    September 23, 2009

    So, the quality of reviews and comments by Kevin, Isaiah, and Hector actually inspired me to take notes during the game. Amazing. And I spent time watching their positioning as much as specific play. Thanks, Hector.

    Generally, I agree with Kevin’s review. This game was the kind of improvement we needed after last weekend’s weak effort. But in the second half, during the 50th to 60th minutes and during the 70th to 80th minutes, we had momentary mental lapses in the defense that led to a Racing shot on goal, saved by Valdes, and a second Racing shot that became their goal. The mental lapses were spread out team wide, from valdes up through the mid-field. We really can not afford these moments when playing better teams, e.g. Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Chelsea, etc. Hopefully, Guardiola’s next step will be to take this week’s improvement and get the team to make it last the full ninety minutes.

    I have to agree with most people’s assessment of Keita: he has really improved and become a threat on the field. I think the most important thing about this is that he will now draw a mid-fielder/defender who would otherwise be focusing on our front line. This will continue to spread our opposition, which is what we always want. Keita’s play is making me a lot less worried about our depth in the mid-field. (It’s also great to see a talented player willing to take criticism and advice from a coach in order to improve their play.)

    Finally, Iniesta looked a bit hesitant and out of place on the pitch. I have to agree with a comment made above: Guardiola needs to take the gloves off and just play Iniesta. I am sure Iniesta will come back to form if he just gets in there and plays some serious time. And I think that the Malaga game is the perfect time to start Iniesta, preferably in the mid-field, where he is most at home.

  29. Soto
    September 23, 2009

    Though he’s no RayRay, I did enjoy it when Robbie Mustoe delicately described a Racing player as having a “low center of gravity”. Backhanded compliment, anyone?

    • OhYes
      September 23, 2009

      Doesn’t have to be a backhanded compliment.

      I guess it depends on the context but, for example, Messi has a low center of gravity..and that to us has proven to be a great thing.

      • Soto
        September 23, 2009

        I generally think that people often over focus on height and size in this sport. Yes, height can help with headers on set pieces, but it’s not essential.

        I thought that Mustoe was really just trying to avoid directly saying that the player was short. Backhanded compliment was the wrong phrase on my part; “euphemism, anyone?” was what I should have written.

  30. Corrine
    September 23, 2009

    here’s a vid from cuatro that shows barca keeping possession for 2+ mins straight

    /http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Vs-1mv-CH8

  31. September 23, 2009

    Comparing Zlatan and Eto’o at this point is rather foolhardy and, I think, should no longer be done. I understand the desire to do so, but, like others have said before me, there’s no point. I’ve done statistical comparisons of the two in the past and I think they were useful in the run up to the transfer, but I also think that continue to cite them as context for today’s games mires us in the past, disrespects both players, and lowers the level at which we should be discussing the game. At the end of this season, someone should feel free to reprise what the two have done, but I probably won’t read it and I certainly won’t write it.

    What I will write, however, is a discussion of what Zlatan has brought over the last season and what I hope he will improve on in the future. Samuel Eto’o will not be mentioned.

    That’s not because I hate Eto’o (I don’t, I have been one of his biggest supporters and wanted him to stay), but rather because I feel it’s important to move on as a fan and as a commentator on the game. It’s one thing to say that Eto’o did this or Ibra does that and it’s another thing to analyze the game as it currently is. Make your own judgment about whether the deal was a bargain or not–for what it’s worth here’s my final assessment: Ibra was overpriced. That is not because he doesn’t bring a lot to the club, but because I don’t believe in paying that much money for anyone. Ever. Dani Alves was also overpriced. I understand that there’s this thing called inflation, but I don’t see why we have to have such an obvious hand in it or bow to it, whichever way you’d like to look at it. No one is worth the kind of money we paid for Ibra or Alves. No one. Period.

    But now they’re on our team and, of course, I support them wholeheartedly. Because I’m a fan and because I’m not above being enchanted by the mesmerizing moves of the world’s tallest, hardest ballerina. Or the fish-out-of-water flopping of a half-joyous-half-anger-management-needing Brazilian midget.

    • Hilal
      September 23, 2009

      Agreed.

      Zlatan = Overpriced
      Alves = Overpriced
      Chrgynsky = Overpriced
      Kaka = Overpriced
      Benzema = Overpriced
      Alonso = Overpriced
      Cronaldo = WAAAAAAAAAAY OVERPRICED

      Pique = Bargain basement 🙂

  32. September 23, 2009

    Also, that backheel was DISGUSTING.

    They shouldn’t show things like that to little kids, it might traumatize them.

  33. September 23, 2009

    Really missing Bojan right now, because Henry is playing crap. With the Ibra ankle injury, I agree with the calls for Iniesta to play a full game. I think he’s had 3 games now when he’s come on as a sub, so he should be fine. Play both Pedro and Jeffren, and get Messi as a supersub if necessary. Play Yaya in Xavi’s spot and ask Keita to be more box-busting against Malaga. Busquets gets another game. In the backline, we can give Pique a rest and play Chygryinski and Puyol.

    • Soto
      September 23, 2009

      I agree. I think Bojan would have been a better sub than Pedro! since Bojan could have played the center forward. Henry was having a terrible day and moving him to the center was not going to improve it.

      Ah, the plight of injuries. . .

  34. Kxevin
    September 23, 2009

    The official site is saying that Ibrahimovic “might” miss Malaga. I think you can pretty much count on that. What the “might” tells me is that the injury isn’t that serious. Never mind that it came while battling with Adriano. (Dude, that is no way to ingratiate yourself to your club.)

    As far as Ibrahimovic and Eto’o, everyone knows how I feel about the situation. Announcers in consecutive matches have said things to the effect of “Eto’o doesn’t score those goals.” And as I said in the Atletico review, that’s true. Just as Eto’o scores goals that Ibra can’t. That’s why they’re different players.

    One is an Inter player, one is ours.

    Do I think that he was overpriced? I don’t know yet. In the context of the current player market, and what players of that caliber cost, no. Yes, people have principles that say no player is worth more than X amount, but I think that the modern game with its mind-boggling sums have laid waste to any normal notions of player value.

    We won’t know how much Ibrahimovic cost until the end of the season, but I do know this: Last season, we struggled at Racing, and needed the Messi Show to stage a comeback. This season, they weren’t even on the pitch. And this club isn’t even at full song yet.

    Was Alves overpriced? Good question. I view it in the context of, would we have won the treble if he wasn’t our right back? No. So if the question is framed as “nobody is worth that much,” he was overpriced. If you look at value to the side, we probably underpaid.

    • September 23, 2009

      However, in all fairness consider that Racing lost all four starters of their backline from last season as well as Zigic the giant.

      They are a different team than they were last season.

  35. khairallah
    September 23, 2009

    1. Does cristiano know he can take bigger steps while running so that he doesn’t look like a cockroach?
    2. Are there internationals before the valencia match? because it seems there is a week of vacancy between almeria and valencia..

    • Corrine
      September 23, 2009

      yes, we have another round of those annoying world cup qualifiers again

      i don’t even know why i watch these matches they just make me angry

  36. BL
    September 23, 2009

    too hard on busquets again, he played an excellent match against racing – that much is undeniable.

    • Kxevin
      September 23, 2009

      Busquets played half of a very good match against Racing. Then the old Busquets returned, and he went off the boil. It’s as simple as that. Or does the “Kevin hates ….” list get a little bit longer now? Pretty soon, it will encompass every player on the side.

      Had Busquets continued with the match he was playing in the first half–not dwelling on the ball, not flailing around, not just spraying it around, he would have been rated higher. But he didn’t. That’s life, and it’s why we’re talking about buying a DM for when we lose Keita and The Yaya in January. They’re about as comfortable as I am with him in the main DM role.

      • eklavya
        September 23, 2009

        Damnit Kevin when are you going to stop harassing poor Henrique,eh?

        • Kxevin
          September 23, 2009

          Who’s Henrique? I only know some dude named Adriano, who got sent out on loan because he still couldn’t cut in our back line. He gets his real name when he plays like the player we thought we were buying. 😀

          • eklavya
            September 23, 2009

            Grrrr….But with Pique and Chiggy are backline is slow.Thank god we have a french greyhound

      • BL
        September 23, 2009

        guess we’ll have to disagree, i thought busquets played 90 minutes of good football against racing. as you said, the blemish on the game was rafa’s division 3 quality challenge on serrano, that was the only real period of the game were racing did anything at all.

  37. Alexinho
    September 23, 2009

    “For you, sir” HA!

    Good post, I’m also frustrated with the goals we concede. But I must say, I think in the last match’s post, perhaps the one before, you noted the thing you liked about Txigi (maybe it was Pique) was that he didn’t just clear the ball, he passed it to someone upfield from the back, so I must call some minor BS on your claim that we must take possession and clear it, “done.”

    But to go on about the goals we concede, well, if Messi is better than last year (he is), the goals we concede this year we did not concede last year. Last year we conceded only perfect assists for perfect goals, but this year we seem to sometimes adopt that Arsenal habit of just hitting the self-destruct button. We have to fix that soon, because we don’t want to be like Arsenal (“when Man U, Chelsea, or Liverpool play well, they win; when Arsenal plays well, you never know”).

    I was wondering if that was our Henrique.

    • September 23, 2009

      Alexhinho,

      I can see from the review where a misunderstanding can happen but I believe Kevin (and Cruyff for that matter) did not mean to say that we MUST clear it out all the time. They said that the ability to recognize when playing the ball out is not feasible and a “boot it out” clearance is called for is vital for our CB’s. They did not say we should do it every time but that we have to know when to calmly play it out and when to boot it out. You will get both situations during games. Its a fine balance and it takes a high football IQ to achieve it. It is quite possible to get too cute at times and concede opportunities.

      • Alexinho
        September 23, 2009

        There are no absolutes, indeed-

      • Kxevin
        September 23, 2009

        Exactly, Hector. Our back line players always try to play the ball out, even when they shouldn’t. Abidal is the closest to understanding (oh….wait….I love Abidal, so I would say that, right?) when to do each one.

        Most of the time, our defenders get the ball with plenty of time and space to make the play. But if attackers are nipping at their heels, just bang it out. There is nothing wrong with that. Would anyone have not preferred Marquez to just hoof it up the pitch?

        Just checking.

        Obviously, defenders playing the ball out is a crucial part of our attack. It was under Cruijff, and is right now. Only a crazy man would abdicate such a fundamental tenet of our system. And I’m not crazy. Unclear sometimes, but not crazy.

  38. ooga aga
    September 23, 2009

    anyone been watch villareal RM/ RM is up 1-0. cant tell how the game is going

  39. Corrine
    September 23, 2009

    gio dos santos is in the starting XI for the carling cup game. finally

  40. ooga aga
    September 23, 2009

    ronaldo scored in the 2nd minute and villareal is playing with 10 men — gonzalo sent off in minute 35. shit

  41. Khaled
    September 23, 2009

    Whenever the EE plays a somewhat decent team the get help from the refs. That was a very bad call on the second yellow for gonzalo. From what it seams though, they’re dominating the game. This could get ugly.

    • Corrine
      September 23, 2009

      madrid just won a penaltly.

      l
      o
      l

      • lovelymofo
        September 23, 2009

        Ugh, I knew it was a bad idea to watch EE. Shouldn’t it be against Kaka’s religion to celebrate with Crynaldo? It’s just WRONG.

      • Khaled
        September 23, 2009

        Madrid’s second half performance isn’t all that…so what does the referee do?

  42. OhYes
    September 23, 2009

    Damn Villarreal is playing with one man down??

    I was going to watch the game but I decided to take a nap 5 minutes in, haha. Still, Villarreal doesn’t look too bad.

    And unfortunately I was awake to see CRon’s goal, though it was nice..

    • lovelymofo
      September 23, 2009

      Ugh. I was thinking of trying to watch this match, but maybe I shouldn’t. I just get mad.

      Villareal isn’t doing so great this season. They’re a talented side, they need to start winning some matches. Like this one against EE.

      • Eduard
        September 23, 2009

        I get angry too, which is why I never watch their games unless I think there will be an upset.

        Teams always go through slumps; unfortunately, Villareal is going through theirs now.

        They’ll pick up after this game.

      • OhYes
        September 23, 2009

        They’re not doing so bad actually..

        Between my last post and now they’ve had 3 decent chances

  43. khairallah
    September 23, 2009

    actually, the 2nd half has been quite much dominated by villareal.. hope it pays off, not ends up in a false impression from a spree of goals near the end..

  44. Eduard
    September 23, 2009

    so, you wrote “they’re not doing so bad” and so I went to check it out, they’re showing the replay of a hand ball in the area and Kaka soon proceeds to calmly sloting it in the goal from the penalty spot…

    • Hilal
      September 23, 2009

      HAHAHAHA. I did exactly the same thing…

      • Hilal
        September 23, 2009

        Also it didnt look a deliberate hand ball, could have gone either way, of course its RM so it goes their way. If it was us im pretty sure its not given. Last few games I think we have been due a few pens. There was one against Zlatan that was as clear as day and a few against Messi and Pedro that could have been given.

      • OhYes
        September 23, 2009

        Not my fault you guys jinxed Villarreal!!

  45. Corrine
    September 23, 2009

    what a SAVE by diego lopez! wow!!

  46. eklavya
    September 23, 2009

    Van der vaart is still around? I guess he’s their “Hleb” 🙂

  47. Eduard
    September 23, 2009

    Almeria just tied Ath.Madrid at the death, hularious…Forlan is probably saying “FUCK” should have joined BArca

    • eklavya
      September 23, 2009

      Haha poor atleti..they deserve better…but im still sure they can manage in the top 4 at the end of da season!

    • September 23, 2009

      OMG. The Madrid Torch and Pitchfork Co. is going to do good business today. Aguero and Forlan have to be going “WTF am I doing here?”

      • Alexinho
        September 23, 2009

        Hehe. Took me a second, but very clever-

  48. Eduard
    September 23, 2009

    top 4? no way,It’s going to hopefull by Valencia and Bilbao up there with us and E.E.

  49. eklavya
    September 23, 2009

    Valencia? heck no way
    Barca and EE are “guaranteed” on the top and sevilla is strong with fabiano,negredo and co. I’d say villareal or atleti for the 4th spot…

    1.Barca
    2.EE
    3.Sevilla
    4.Atl.Madrid

    • poipoi
      September 25, 2009

      once valencia gets rid of baraja and albelda they will be stong as hell, they have some of the best strikers out there.

  50. Miguel
    September 23, 2009

    david villa w/another goal for valencia. beautiful build up.

    oh.

    and getafe answers right back

    • SC
      September 23, 2009

      I still haven’t seen the offical BK celebration.

  51. Kxevin
    September 23, 2009

    The battle for 2-6 is going to be interesting. I’ll be curious to see if Bilbao has the juice to keep rolling. But places 1 and 2 are decided. Bilbao is playing very well in the league right now, and are undefeated right now. Recall that we swatted them aside in the Spanish SuperCup.

    I just think that the big two are too good for anyone else to even mess with. That’s why I worry about stuff like goal diffrential. Because it could come to that.

    As far as people who could have come, but didn’t, can anyone see Forlan or Villa doing what Ibrahimovic does? This isn’t to say that they aren’t good strikers, but I think that it’s clear why Guardiola wanted Ibrahimovic, in the context of our attack.

    • Miguel
      September 23, 2009

      valencia held the #1 spot for a while last year and we all know how that turned out. don’t see bilbao being any different.

      ibra w/a club foot > villa…i think. or atleast for barca.

  52. JeffP
    September 23, 2009

    Well, I have to admit it. CRonaldo is a beast. I hate him, you hate him, we all hate him. But in all fairness, dude’s a monster.

    • jordi
      September 23, 2009

      No problem saying hes a great player, just when they start calling him the best player in the world I have issues.

      • Kari
        September 23, 2009

        Yep, same here

        For all the stick Messi seems to be getting from the press and fans for not replicating his Barca form, well, I haven’t seen Thong Boy do much for Portugal and he’s (soon-to-be ex) World Player of the Year.

        Ha! Actually when you think about it, the only one who consistently plays the same for both club and country is Xavi ! Maybe he should get it 😛 …And maybe some guy named Iniesta too 😛

        Seriously though, I think because they (Thong Boy and Messi) play the forward/wing position, fans expect them to do the outrageous and beat 2-3 defenders while bicycle kicking the ball into the net (which , as seen yesterday, Messi can do minus the bicycle kicking part :P).

        Players like Xavi are central mids, so they don’t have those TYPES of expectation. The expectation is there (seriously, you notice when Xavi isn’t having a good game, which is almost never. Everything is all funky and there’s no rhythm), but just not the same…

  53. Helge
    September 23, 2009

    Mmh… German sites hail Madrid and CR9 for their best performance so far. Am I blind or is it the media? As far as I can tell, Villarreal had a lot of chances to score but didn’t seize them. As long as it was only 0-1, I still hoped for a 1-1.

    • Corrine
      September 23, 2009

      well if they’re calling it the best performance “so far” i wouldn’t disagree. ronaldo had a good game and their defense didn’t collapse. i’m glad they gave the penalty to kaka lol, don’t want him to get the pichichi with freebies!

    • Eduard
      September 23, 2009

      they looked better since they got an early goal and where only playing against 10 yellow jackets

  54. September 23, 2009

    Well, looks like they may be a wire to wire title race this year, as opposed to last season when it was on for about 6 weeks.

  55. Eduard
    September 23, 2009

    is Bojan going to be available this weekend?

    • Alexinho
      September 23, 2009

      No, last I heard he’s still one or two weeks away-

  56. lovelymofo
    September 23, 2009

    What I want to know is when Hector is gonna anatomize some of these goals! It’s probably difficult to chose just one. My vote is for Keita’s goal, since there was all that pretty passing right before it.

    So Valencia lost to Getafe? Methinks everything below the top two is gonna be topsy turvy for a while.

    Barça FTW!

    • Kxevin
      September 23, 2009

      What’s interesting about that is that, if we will all recall, we took care of business against Getafe, at about half-speed, with a bit of magic from BANGS, then off we go.

      And Getafe beat Valencia. It’s why I say, and why pre-season pundits said, that it’s really two-horse race. It’s pretty hard to argue with gobs of money, and talent galore. Everybody is up to beating everyone else, until one of the big two roll into town.

      I think that the race is going to be close all season, and the first real chance to separate the clubs will not really come until November, mostly because even the best of the rest clubs in the league, barring something freakish or a collective off day, just aren’t going to beat the top two.

      I was trying to recall a match from last season, in which a member of the attacking front had as off a match as Henry had, and we still stomped our opponent.

      And frankly, I sort of don’t like it thus. One part of me wants thrills, and spills, and rolling into an away match with worries. It made the drama all the more rich, and the rewards all the more sweet.

      Now, we just roll in, whip some ass and go home. It’s boring in a good way, but it means that every match contains a different kind of anxiety, that wrong foot plant, that aggressive tackle that could irrevocably change our season.

      Just rambling, but you all get what I mean.

      • Soto
        September 23, 2009

        I think you’ll need to look to the Champions League for your thrills and spills.

        As long as all of our opponents don’t merely park buses, that is.

      • Helge
        September 24, 2009

        So, you’re really confident about us this season. I am already thrilled for the match against Malaga, because:
        -Malaga was THE surprise last season
        -We cannot afford to lose because unlike many hopes, Real Madrid is clicking (or at least winning) from the very beginning of the season
        -Ibra might be out of the match
        -Even though we’ve won 4 matches so far, saying “we just roll in, whip some ass and go home” seems a bit arrogant to me…

        I still think smaller teams can beat us on a lucky day of their own or a bad day of ours; I still think Villarreal could have done better against RM if in shape and not one man down; I still think clubs like Sevilla and Valenica got what it takes to steal points from the big two.

        So I am actually more thrilled than last season, maybe because RM is keeping the pressure upon us. For instance, if I look at the next playday, I see Real Madrid face Tenerife at home, and even though I know about history, I associate this match with “damn! CR94 is gonna score again and RM will win, no doubt about that” whereas Malaga – Barca makes me think “We should win this on a normal day… but without Ibra, and what if…”

  57. Criminally Bulgur
    September 23, 2009

    One thing to keep in mind about Iniesta: even when he is at his best, he is prone to making strange decisions–e.g., getting caught in possession while trying to take on three men in the midfield, or letting fly errant passes and shots. What makes up for it are the crazy genius things he does to unbalance a defense and create spaces where you don’t think they exist. That’s why I’ve always said, “Xavi = Apollo; Iniesta = Dionysus.”

    I think Dionysus just needs more minutes, and we’ll start to see more of the good side of his crazy genius come out.

    • Kxevin
      September 23, 2009

      Agreed. Once he regains match fitness and more importantly match pace, he’ll be fine. This next match, against Malaga, is perfect for that. Give him a nice long run out, and let’s go.

  58. Jose20
    September 23, 2009

    Anyone catch the Villareal match today? I missed it, but it sucks that they lost. Somehow, I felt like Villareal’s performance today would somehow, in the long-term, affect our Liga chances… anyone else get that same feeling? I know it’s crazy 😛

    Ok, in all seriousness now, it is incredible to see how inconsistent Valencia, Atletico, and Sevilla can be year in, year out. Personally, I think it sucks that La Liga can’t have consistently good representatives in the Champions League (at least since Valencia’s deep runs some years back).

    • jnelson
      September 23, 2009

      Bad for La Liga, good for Barca. Since there is no ranking system or BCS of sorts for soccer, all we have to do is simply win. With the inconsistency of those clubs we have less to worry about in La Liga. If only Valencia, Atletico, and Sevilla can take down EE, then they’d be useful.

  59. jnelson
    September 23, 2009

    Amazing game…up until we slowed the game down. What the hell Marquez!? Those stupid goals annoy the hell out of me. And Busi? Yes, you suck. Stop holding the ball too long! I remember him commenting about how his style is different than Masch’s in that he (Busi) is a one touch mid, but so far this year he has been the opposite. After watching the second half of the last 2 games, I must say that when we play serious competition (EE, Champions League) we cannot take our foot off the throttle when we are leading; I don’t care how much we’re winning buy. We always screw up when we are leading big. I liked the slow first halfs from the first few games better, when we dominated the second half. Ghostface is wayy off his level right now. Henry? WTF. He isn’t gelling well with Ibra and was NOT playing even decent Defense (half the time). I kept seeing him standing on the pitch watching the ball go by. He’s an amazing athlete. I hope he gets out of this funk.

    • jordi
      September 23, 2009

      Henry is also 32, to be fair, you can see what a toll this type of high pressing system we have will have on older forwardsrs.Theres no way henry will play here at 33 next year unless we use him as a center foward super sub.

    • OhYes
      September 23, 2009

      This is a special situation that requires a period of relative dormancy near the end of the match.

      Keep in mind that there are many games to be played this month, and some of the guys are playing a large portion of those games (Xavi, Msssi, Ibra, Pique).

      So it makes absolute sense to relax after a good lead has been established. Otherwise the guys would be too fatigued to play at all.

    • Eduard
      September 24, 2009

      to me, Henry’s problem is 1.that he becomes an Island to easily, he needs to find more space 2. he falls to easily and 3. has lost his phenominal speed.

      • poipoi
        September 25, 2009

        he CANNOT play this whole year as our starting winger playing this current level. He is a right-footed plays in the left wing and hardly makes any dangerous shot, I’m not talking about dribbling anyone which I know won’t happen… the play to look for space and make a shot when playing “pie cambiado” (changed foot) is sooo easy! Messi makes it look even easier, he does it all the time 😉
        The guy is 32 already but he looks even older 😛

  60. Maximus
    September 23, 2009

    Hang on a tick, I just visited the facebook page is that really Iniesta that is a fan?

  61. Jnice
    September 23, 2009

    AS is pissing me off with their “Ronaldo has a strong argument for the Golden Ball” bullshit.

    Why? Because he scored 5 goals in the league? Same number as Messi who played one less game, who has more assists. How do you overlook Barça’s treble last year and Messi’s 38 goals and 16 assists or whatever?

    Last year at this time, Messi was balling outrageous and Ronaldo wasn’t, yet he wasn’t able to win any of the awards. Every always pointed to Ronaldo’s 42 goals and the fact that his team won, but now it’s different for AS and Marca. A bunch of fucktards, they are.

    • jordi
      September 23, 2009

      Lol well its Roncero, a turd on the field of the bernabeu will smell of roses to him. I cant believe he said Messi showed hes human with argentina while ronaldo is shining for madrid.Doesnt Thongboy have a struggling national team too? Hasnt messi scored the same as him in less games ? If he doesnt sweep the awards this year they clearly are a farce, and Ronaldo cant be runner up either.Just wait till they start saying Kaka is better than Iniesta 😀

      • Eduard
        September 24, 2009

        Spain is a small country but it’s like the treble never happened, if one day(hopefully never) E.E. wins the treble they’ll say they are the first spanish team to do so.

        When Messi win’s the ballon d’or Marca will say “Ronaldo comes close to retaining his trophy” or “Ronaldo aims to recapture trophy” and in all headlines fail to mension Messi.

        and as bias as this sounds, just like Mundodeportivo, their market niche is the fans of their respective clubs(in Marca’s case E.E.) and that’s how they sell papers. Just sense and dollars, thats why those newspapers are useless to read unless you want to find out injury news or interviews.

      • BA
        September 24, 2009

        “Mad Madridista” Thomas Roncero. a joy.

        incidentally on the subject of Henry maybe getting a bit old… Bayern are currently mired in 3rd place in the Bundesliga and not playing spectacularly well. might we start sidling up to a certain ugly, mercurial Frenchman to perhaps replace our handsome, mercurial Frenchman while he still has a great deal of value?

      • Jnice
        September 24, 2009

        Yeah, I really can’t believe that line about Messi with Argentina and Ronaldo for Madrid. Think about that for a moment. How the fuck is that equal? Messi for Argentina, Ronaldo for Madrid. How about Messi for Argentina, Ronaldo for Portugual. He is the worst.

        • September 24, 2009

          It’s ridiculous that the media even tries to compare the two!

          • poipoi
            September 25, 2009

            messi won the olimpics not much long ago right? ronaldo is a constant failure with portugal

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