August 20, 2009 / / Barcelona

tourex2

Despite this frightening moment during last night’s Gamper Trophy match, one that had scientists everywhere running around like frightened rabbits, shouting something about “The Toure Doomsday Scenario,” the earth is still on its axis. Whew! We worried about what might happen when both Toures were on the same pitch….imploding galaxies, small children being sucked into a vortex, time standing still.

But thankfully, we’re all fine.

And in other news, now that the world can continue:

–Regarding his selection for the Gamper match, Guardiola said “Bite me.” Okay. Really. “I did not want to burden the senior players with minutes, taking into account the important committments that will come.” He added, “Despite the result, I’m happy with the way things turned out. Anyone who doubts me just needs to go and read barcelonafootballblog.com, where the match review will make clear why I am happy. So there.” (Only some of this quote is made up. Really.)

Read More“The world didn’t end,” a.k.a. Today’s news, and more

August 19, 2009 / / Barcelona

Spain Soccer Barcelona Ibrahimovic

Not quite, but close.

For the record, yes, a match was played today. Yes, we lost. But everything was subsumed by the start of the second half, when our very own BAS took to the pitch to rapturous cheers. As he strode out with Messi and Alves, you could hear everyone thinking “This is it. It’s Hammer Time.”

Not so fast. But let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?

Pep Guardiola, leading up to this edition of the Gamper Trophy match, was saying to anybody who would listen, “We really care about the SuperCup, and will use this match as more training.” Shudder! The impudence of this guy!

And nobody really believed him, until he rolled out with: Pinto, Montoya, Puyol, Fontas, Maxwell, Busquets, Gudjohnsen, The Yaya, Pedro!, Jeffren and Krkic. Then it was like “Uh, wait a minute. He wasn’t kidding.”

Let’s dispense with the goal against right away. It came off a busted play, as so many goals against us do. Busquets laid off a sloppy pass outside the Citeh box, and because we were pressing, the middle was open. A nice ball to Petrov, who was kept onside by a sluggish (injured?) Puyol. Petrov beat Pinto, who stood there, waiting to die. It wasn’t as much the high line that killed us as it was one player not lining up with the rest. Captain Caveman can be forgiven. S’all good.

Read MoreBarca 0, Manchester City 1, a.k.a. “Wait….this wasn’t all about the BAS?” (edit: Sorry, Kid)

August 19, 2009 / / Barcelona

gai

–You see that face? The locks? Like it? Good, because bet cash money you’re going to be seeing it tonite, as the Gamper could turn into Kid Time. Gai Assulin 31 has been called up, as well as Thiago (yay!) 34, centerback Marc Bartra 26 and right back Martin Montoya 29. This is, of course, in addition to Johnny DS, Fontas, Muniesa and Jeffren, who should also see some time. The bold-face number beside each kid’s name is so that ye will know them by the shirt when they come on.

–Abidal and Henry are continuing their treatment, so look for that to be a match-time decision as to whether they see any time. Guardiola’s mood makes it abundantly clear that this is a pre-season match for the club, with the real emphasis being on the UEFA Super Cup that looms. Look for him to use players accordingly.

–“I am Mr. Rourke, your host. Welcome to Fannnntasy Island!” EMD says that we have struck a deal with Arsenal for Fabregas. They’re listing the story in the “top secret” file, as in “This crap is made up, but if we keep saying it, it might come true.” If Arsenal get knocked out by Celtic next Champions League match day, something about as likely as me sprouting wings and flying to Camp Nou for tonight’s match, Fabregas comes this summer. Otherwise he comes next year, for a number between 30 and 35 million.

Read MoreOff the news (or what some call news)

August 18, 2009 / / Gamper Trophy

Once again it appears that this match will not be televised in the United States. That’s extremely disappointing because it is also the debut for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who should not only get the start, but should do so alongside Messi, who is returning from injury as well.

August 19 is also World Humanitarian Day, so keep that in mind while watching our boys play in their Més shirts. Awesomeness. I guess that means ManCity will wear their black away jerseys.

Our squad is currently a bit thin thanks Iniesta and Márquez being injured and not expected to return until the first league game (meaning they’ll miss not only the Gamper, but also the 2nd leg of the SuperCop and the UEFA Super Cup); also doubtful for tomorrow are Henry and Abidal, who trained away from the group to work on their specific injuries. I’m assuming that Henry will not risked and that either Pedro! or Bojan will take his place in the starting lineup tomorrow. Abidal, too, could sit this one out, meaning that if anyone wanted to see Alves and Maxwell on the same field, this might be the perfect opportunity to do so. Without Henry’s defense, however, that might not be the best option (thought it might be the only option), especially considering Manchester City’s recent investment in their front, uh, 12.

Read MoreGamper Preview: Barcelona – Manchester City, Wednesday 4pmEST

August 18, 2009 / / Gamper Trophy

mes shirt

As promised, here’s a news update from the club we all love sooooooo (damn, that’s a lotta o’s) much.

Pep Guardiola, sez Sport, wants no more signings if they can’t be Barca quality. Apparently his top two targets are still Fabregas and Chygrynskiy. If they can’t come, he’s willing to stick with what we have. No shame in that, right? Know that the latter is cup-tied, and the former is common sense-tied, as in Wenger would be out of his mind to sell him.

–With this is mind, the kids practiced with the big boys for the Gamper match. Names worth noting from the list, as in people we are certainly going to see this season in Camp Nou, are Fontas, Muniesa, Jeffren, Dos Santos, Thiago and Assulin.

Read MoreNews you can use from Barca-land

August 17, 2009 / / Barcelona

Pep-Guardiola 2

That’s a great quote. It’s also slightly contradictory in a sense which you will see in a little bit. Who said it is pretty obvious given the photo.

This last June, persons outside of the Barcelona staff got their best glimpse yet at Guardiola the coach. The setting was the arid-but-beautiful island of Lazarote, in the Canary Islands. The occasion was an annual coaching clinic organized by legendary ex-Barcelona handball player and coach, Valero Rivera. Our man Pep stole the show with a charismatic presentation that was officially titled “Pressuring the Ball”. However, the title given by Sport to their recap of it was in my opinion much more fitting. Thus, I stole it: “¡Corred, cabrones, corred!”. The Spanish language coverage of this presentation provided numerous quotes from Pep that combine to form an accurate picture from the man himself of how he approaches and views ball pressure from a coaching and management standpoint. Consider those quotes from his presentation (which hardly got any English language coverage) as the inspiration for this post.

That’s where I want to start. This week will be all about Ibra and his debut, and an Ibra post is certainly in the works. But this, the first of a two-parter on the intricacies of ball pressure, will give us an idea of what awaits, and will be expected of our BAS (Big Ass Swede) as well as insight into one of the tenets of our style. Something that at first glance seems like a simple thing (e.g. “just all go after the guy with the ball”) but in reality is much more complicated from the tactical and intangible or motivational aspects. Read More“¡Corred, cabrones, corred!” (Run, you bastards, run!) a.k.a Ball Pressure Part I

August 16, 2009 / / Barcelona

P!

The face….the steely gaze that says “I will score”….the magic.

Ladies and gents, it was all about He Who Was Formerly Pedrito today, as he and Xavi combined to bail out what was really a desultory side today, with a few exceptions. Yes, it was the first, away leg of the SuperCopa but really, it was still pre-season for us and boy, did it show.

Guardiola rolled out a starting XI of: Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, The Yaya, Keita, Xavi, Pedro!, Henry and Krkic. It was a semi-serious lineup that said “Hey, I’d love it if we could win this thing, but a draw would rock my world, as well.”

And things started out great, with lots of possession that, truth to tell, was a lot of the wrong kind of possession. Rather than triangles that dance about with evil intent, we got a lot of clunnky passing and the lads poncing about as though it was a practice session. Which is fine, because as I said, we should still be able to beat Bilbao with that side.

And so it came to pass.

There were a few things worthy of note in this match:

Read MoreAthletic Bilbao 1, Barca 2, a.k.a. “Gaze all ye, in wonder at P!”

August 16, 2009 / / Liveblog
August 15, 2009 / / Preview

First things first: it appears that there will be no TV coverage in the US of this match. Which is about as absurd as you get. I thought all the TV rights stuff had been resolved. It’s just that, well, no one expects a Spanish Inquisition. At best, we’ll be able to watch the game via a rojadirecta stream. I do not know if it is GolTV’s fault that they’re showing a Coppa Italia game between Napoli and Salernitana or if they’re doing so because they can’t show the Spanish Super Copa. Either way, I’m pissed.

Furthermore, it looks like Messi is set to miss the match, meaning our starting lineup will be missing at least two of its typical three starters (despite his never having played a match, I think that Ibrahimovic can be listed as a typical starter based on the fact that he’ll be starting the majority of the games when he his healthy). If you believe EMD, Henry is set to play, but I hope that he isn’t forced into the match as a desperation move. This is a two-legged affair and we should have all of our starters back for the second match (with the possible exception of Iniesta), meaning that we can afford to get them healthy for the season now. Read MoreSuper Copa Preview: Athletic Bilbao – Barcelona; Sunday 4pm EST

August 14, 2009 / / Barcelona