If it’s another tight, sloppy match, it must be Pedro! Time. Anyone who wonders why his name carries the exclamation point need look no farther than today’s Copa del Rey opener, against a Cultural Leonesa side that really didn’t have much interest in the attack. Those thinking this would be a wide-open match as the Segunda minnows were buoyed by the giant killing yesterday, were to be bummed.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you our Man of the Match, Seydou Keita, whom we all affectionately call Keiteee! He was absolutely, spot-on brilliant tonight in a crucial match for the side, against an opponent who was perfect.
Because they were about as threatening as a puppy, and we knew that going in. But more importantly, we went in rested. This team would have given Rubin Kazan the hiding that Isaiah predicted in his preview. The movement was sharper, the passing crisper and the energy was much, much higher. Tonight, this club would have beaten pretty much any club in the world, because for the first time this season, it played as a full-on team. Not individuals working toward a collective goal, but a team. The difference was crucial.
I’m not customarily one of those “I told you so folks,” but when everyone was predicting destruction for Rubin Kazan, a few folks were cautious. Last year, when we were sweeping all before us, that prediction would have been easy. We would have wiped the floor with them. This year, in the wake of iffy team displays that have been bailed out by individual brilliance, we were ripe for the picking.
What did it take? A resolute team with absolutely nothing to lose, poor finishing on our part and two plays, both facilitated by a defender who has a contract on the table, but shouldn’t have been on the pitch.
This picture of Pedro! says it all. He was the beneficiary of our absolute best chance of the second half, a half filled with hope until it was cruelly snatched away by a casual stab at the ball by Bojan Krkic, who did a Busquets, directly into the path of an attacking Kazan player. The Yaya tried a sliding tackle ….
Did anyone know that bats are the only flying mammal?
I know, right? We all figured that all they did was give us the willies, flitting around church spires in small European towns, screeching and entangling themselves in hair and whatnot. But no. They pollinate, disperse fruit seeds and do all kinds of good things.
But bats also do baaaad things, such as get knee-deep in your ass, keep you on your heels and make you rely on superhuman efforts from your mop-topped captain and a goal keeper who I don’t want to hear anyone give shit to this season. Period, full stop.
Wow. What a golazo! That it was the only goal wasn’t really surprising when you watched the match for more than 10 minutes, as Hugo Sanchez unveiled a new formation, the 0-10-0, in an effort to keep us from scoring, shamefully playing for a draw at the Camp Nou.
Thankfully, the footy gods brought us the new, calm Pedro!, who spun and smoked a shot into the far upper 90, that was astonishing. Maxwell will get credit for the assist, but it’s a gift because that goal was all P!.
Well, now. Not sure what to say about that one. Actually, I do:
Elegant, workmanlike and except for two Keystone Kops moments, drama-free. Dinamo Kyiv rolled into the Camp Nou, full of the same quotes that have been buttressing the hopes of every club we’ve played so far this season, stuff like “Well, we’re going in to win,” “Barca can be beaten, blah, blah, blah.” And perhaps we can, but you aren’t going to win it by setting up shop in your own end, kicking at every ball and player that comes near you.
I’m not a footballing genius, but I know that much.
As match-changing moments go, this one was huge. Thierry Henry’s thigh injury necessitated a substitution, and thankfully the healing powers of Zlatan Ibrahmovic had him ready and available for duty.
And we all know the rest, right?
But the important part about this match isn’t any refereeing, or missed decisions, or dirty plays. It’s about how we won, and that we rolled up man-style, returning dirty play by putting the ball in the back of the net.
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.
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!
I’m a little irritated right now, so pardon me if a bit of it seeps into this review of a match in which only one team came to really play football. And that’s fine. We should expect that. Why, oh why would any side in its right mind come out to play against us? All that awaits is death. So Inter took the same route as Chelsea, and Deportivo, and every other inferior side.
Keep 9 or 10 behind the ball, and stick your legs out.
Get used to seeing this picture, folks. Because the best football club in the world, by sending a player and a significant pile of dosh to Inter Milan–a move that had everybody on the planet questioning the logic of our Powers that Be–is now significantly better.
Yes, we took care of Getafe, at about half-speed as guys worked out cobwebs from Internationals, etc. Yes, they could have been up 3-0 before halftime. But that isn’t how it’s supposed to go, and so it doesn’t. When Messi tries a bicycle, it’s with the conviction that the shot has a chance. When a Getafe player tries it, it’s a “Well, let’s have a go” kind of mentality that isn’t as sharp as it should be. So one player’s slides inside the post, the other player’s bounces off it.
It’s just that simple. Luck? I don’t buy it. Skill and conviction decide matches, and aside from their zeal in committing fouls, Getafe didn’t play with the confidence that matched their advance, “We can beat these guys, blah, blah, blah” nattering. And so they didn’t. Because they didn’t really believe it.
Yes the picture is big, but not as big as the moment. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, our big-ass Swede, got off the mark by scoring the first of what should be many, many goals for Barca. It came off (yet another) exquisite Dani Alves cross that was deflected by Gregory, the omnipresent Gijon defender.
Watching the play develop, BANGS broke away from his defender into the space left on the uncovered back post and headed the ball in. Pretty easy goal, right?