Cultural Leonesa 0, Barca 2, a.k.a. “The Pedro Show …. again.”

Marti Fradera/REUTERS
Marti Fradera/REUTERS

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.

But that’s okay, because we have the secret weapon, the match-breaker. He’s done it time and again this season, and he did it again with opportunistic movement and dead-eye shooting that resulted in a brace and, dare I say, an advance to the next round of the Copa.

And I big “Whew!” was had by all, because early on, this match felt like a draw. We were very tentative and loose in possession, but Cultural really didn’t have much to say on the attacking end, except when they were able to take advantage of our “What the hell” right back, Jeffren. Guardiola came out with Pinto, Jeffren, Marquez, Txigrinski, Maxwell, The Yaya, Keita, Busquets, Gai Assulin, Pedro! and Krkic.

My first thought was “Where are the goals going to come from, since we don’t have a striker out there.” Helping me remain calm, however, was the tentative, “Don’t kill us” approach that Cultural took to this match, an outing that really, there wasn’t a whole lot to say about. We didn’t have a true midfielder out there, just a trio of defensive midfielders. So as was to be expected, we didn’t really have full midfield control as the middle of the pitch ceased to be a starting point for our attack.

So the offense was left to the right pass, a good run and a killer shot …. which was what happened, twice. In the first goal, Krkic made a nice run that was stopped by a pair of Cultural defenders. He was just able to stab the ball to Pedro!, who roofed it past the keeper for a 1-0 scoreline.

Now at this point, you expected Cultural to come out with guns blazing in an effort to wrest control of the match away. Instead they continued pretty much as they had, willing to play on the counter, but not wanting to risk the men forward that would result in them getting smoked by one of our attacks.

Which didn’t stop said attacks from happening, in a match that really should have ended 4 or 5-0. But tentative play killed a few excellent attacks, along with Krkic, who did his part to keep the point spread tight on numerous occasions, including a “still don’t know how he missed that one” chance in the box. But he took, controlled, dribbled, thought and by that time, the chance was gone, like my fondness for him in our starting lineup. Yes, even in Copa matches. The emergence of Pedro and Jeffren means that you can’t play Krkic on the wing, where he is most effective. So it’s striker for a young man who just gets knocked around like a pinball by bigger, stronger defenders.

And oh, yeah …. that second goal. It was a simple enough affair, or one that seemed simple enough, it must be said. Jeffren took a pass, made a run at his defender to put him on the back foot, then popped a lovely lob to Pedro! who, holding his run to stay onside, one-timed the shot past the keeper. The resultant 2-0 might as well have been 10-0. Guardiola made a few changes to tighten up the overall play, and we began to kill the match with possession, stroking the ball around and trying an attack when a good opportunity presented itself.

Now, the defense wasn’t all that satisfied with that 2-0 scoreline, so Marquez and Txigrinski kept trying to give the Cultural players the ball, to give them a sporting shot without their having to run so far with it. Though a very friendly gesture, my preference would be that such things never happen again. But the defense really calmed down when Guardiola subbed on Abidal and moved Maxwell to right back. Our French Greyhound, though he did have a moment or two of mere mortality, handled his business on that side of the pitch.

And that was that. The thing about these early-round matches is to play smart, get a couple of away goals and close it down at home. You don’t want any injuries or surprises, and you want to make sure that the lesser side fully understands the natural order of things. Wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly what happened.

Team: 5. Aimless and rootless without that midfield engine, it was a spotty performance that was marred on the defensive end by lapses that, were we playing a better side, would have resulted in us conceding, for sure. Nobody seemed all that sure on how to play together.

Guardiola: 6. Saved himself with the right substitutions. He was confident that he could play pretty much any lineup and not concede, but hats off to him for realizing that Jeffren at RB wasn’t working.

Pinto: 7. Didn’t really have a lot to do, but patrolled and controlled his area well.

Jeffren: 5. This score is kind of his aggregate. He kicked ass once he returned to the attacking end of the pitch, but man was he a crappy right back. He understands that to unsettle a defense you have to run at it, which facilitates gaining the space to do something cool.

Marquez: 4. A number of horrific giveaways thankfully resulted in little real danger. He’s still playing his way back into form, I hope. Because if this is the Marquez we can expect for the duration, it’s kinda got the suck.

Txigrinski: 4. He was as stinky as his central partner, with more crappy passes and tentative defending. Made a couple of nice plays that saved our bacon, but he hasn’t been the same since the return from his knee injury.

Maxwell: 5. I’m still not completely convinced by this one. He had a number of loose balls early, and spotty control. He solidified, but I still wanted to see more overlapping and attacking play from him.

The Yaya: 7. Man-sized match, and another good, not great one from our rock of Gibraltar. Like the other A-teamers, it’s difficult to know what to do sometimes with unfamiliar players, and he showed that uncertainty at times.

Keita: 5. A solid, all-pitch match that must have been quite a come-down for him from his hat trick excellence.

Busquets: 5. His role was difficult to discern at times. He, like The Yaya, had some early giveaways, but The Yaya played out of his. Busquets’ diving and flailing about doesn’t become him. Yes, it draws fouls sometimes. But if he gets the hell up when he was brushed in the box, he probably nabs a goal. Instead, he got some more grass stains.

Assulin: 5. Yet another match in which he failed to fully impress. Had some fine moments, such as that amazing, ankle-breaking move in the box, but the chance wasn’t followed up on.

Pedro!: 8. Didn’t kill attacks with his dithering on the ball, which is much progress. He showed the confidence of a starter out there, and was clinical with both finishes. I still think, with all else being equal and the real side is in the house, that he’s our first sub.

Krkic: 2. Sorry, but The Kid was awful. Between killing a sure-fire 3 on 4 break to thinking too much in front of goal, he was just off today. I don’t know if it’s confidence, or the need to be absolutely certain when he shoots, but he has to break out of whatever it is that he’s in. And I know we didn’t really have any options, but Krkic as striker just isn’t going to work.


Jonathan Dos Santos (for Keita): 5. Had long stretches without touching the ball, but kept moving and presenting himself for that facilitating pass. Too bad he entered when we were trying to kill the match off.

Abidal (for Assulin): 7. Shared in a bit of the team looseness with the ball at first, but quickly got it out of his system whereupon he had his world on lockdown. Strength and pace are hard to argue with if you’re a Segunda side.

Jonathan Soriano (for Jeffren): incomplete. He wasn’t really in the match long enough to have any effect, except to sky an open shot at goal.

So next up is Osasuna, a match that I expect a victory from, since most of the starting XI was rested for most or all of this match. This is the real value of a weaker opponent in the Copa: You don’t have to roll out the good guys to get a result. Henry will be back in the side for this weekend’s match, a return that I am looking forward to.

Until then ….

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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.


  1. Jose32
    October 28, 2009

    Can I just reiterate how outrageous that last Bojan miss was? Any other striker in FC Barcelona either makes it or *at least* gets a corner out of it. It was definitely one of those “it’s already in” chances. Am I being too harsh?

    • Blow-Granite
      October 29, 2009

      It was a simple tap in! I cannot fathom how he did not put the ball into the net first touch!!!

    • Alexinho
      October 29, 2009

      What makes it worse is that it was a sitter against a SEMI-PROFESSIONAL keeper. One commentator, I can’t remember where but some website, said that he was a postman by day.

  2. Eduard
    October 28, 2009

    Keita was more influential than a 5, just my opinion though.

    Gai looked confident, in the first half we took a shot that if he would have passed to the nearby Yaya, the chance of goal would of been higher. But that confidence is in the right place, hope Bojan steps up gets some of that.

  3. Dan
    October 28, 2009

    Give the Kid a break guys, hes working his way back from injury and possibly trying too hard to impress. In full flow, as he was against Sporting, hes a very impressive and instinctive player.

    • Kxevin
      October 28, 2009

      The thing that I always ask myself when I evaluate Krkic, Dan, is how would I react if it were, say, Ibrahimovic or Henry in that same situation? Yes, he’s young. But this is his fourth season with the main side. He should start showing why he’s there.

      I do worry that he is one of those excellent college players who tears it up, then gets to the pros, where everybody was the best player on their college team, and can’t produce or perform at the same level.

      He has matches in which he is tantalizingly good, but they aren’t with him at the “9.” He doesn’t, and will not ever have the size and strength necessary to play that position. Winger? Sure. Definitely worth a legitimate shot there.

      Krkic definitely has talent, a quick shot and excellent movement off the ball. I do, however, wonder if he looked so good when he first came up, because the machine wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Now that it is, in context, he isn’t as convincing.

      He’s a quandary, for sure. But at this point, I’d rather see Jeffren or Pedro! coming off the bench.

    • BA
      October 28, 2009

      you should qualify “he will not ever have the size and strength necessary to play that position IN OUR CURRENT SYSTEM”, and even then i may not agree. size and strength aren’t the only determining factors in a world-class #9; Samuel Eto’o wasn’t exceptionally large or strong (by comparison to, say, Drogba or Ibrahimovic) while Pippo Inzaghi isn’t big OR strong OR fast.

      that said, i don’t exactly know what it is that Bojan lacks that great 9s have. an ability to get into goalscoring positions, either on the shoulder of the defender or by creating space for themselves with and without the ball, perhaps?

    • jordi
      October 29, 2009

      Its experience, Pippo didnt become world class till his twenties, its about learning to time runs.Inzaghi can barely control a football either.But he knows where the goal is, bojan knows where it is, but he’ll only be consistent with confidence and experience.And he has to learn to use what he has to his advantage.If you cant out muscle them, out think them, and rely on instincts, which im sure he will when hes matured.I always say hes exactly as small as david villa was when he was the same age.Similar movement too.

    • Cesc Blanc
      October 29, 2009

      dude…seriously…give it a rest.

      5 for Jeffren because he sucked as a rightback(in his first game ever as a right back)[maybe the first 20 minutes, but he was good enough going forward and at some point figured out how to defend too), 5 for Gai, who didn’t impress(watched the same game?] and 9 for Pedro because he scored 2 goals, and credit to Guardiola because he realized his mistake. Why watch the game at all and not just go for box scores? I wished that evaluating NBA players would work like that too….”Hey..Zach Randolph is a double-double machine”.
      And Guardiola…guy won 3 titles in 1 season, but that doesn’t mean that he has any clue, but let’s give him credit because he realized his mistake with the rightback position.
      I mean, during those 90 minutes, did you ever think about that maybe Guardiola just tried out new things and how they might work and that giving (serious) marks on practice is a bit…let’s say ridiculous?

    • Alexinho
      October 29, 2009

      I think Banjo Crickets’ time might be about up. Banjo himself wanted to leave over the summer, and Guardiola convinced him to stay. If we’re coming down hard on Banjo Crickets this early, it’s because Banjo Crickets had all last season to be excused because us fans are so forgiving and Banjo is so young. But in order to have that kind of year, he needs to produce this year. Yes, he’s coming back from injury, which merits a very small excuse over the next, say, two weeks. But I don’t see him changing much.

      Now, I wish we let Banjo Crickets get loaned to Valencia with a bunch of cash in exchange for Villa. Henry’s absence wouldn’t have hurt so much against Valencia and Rubin (still hurts to say that Rubin hurt us). Not that Henry has done well at all so far this season.

      PS, I think we should start calling him Banjo Crickets.

  4. Maximus
    October 28, 2009

    I saw bits of the game, when I saw Jeffren at RB I nearly pee’d myself. We really need a proper RB from the youth team and a striker over 5’10”.

  5. Eduard
    October 28, 2009

    I agree Maximus; let me add though that we need a modern rb, one that both defends and attacks via the wings

  6. Boat Forever
    October 28, 2009

    Stats so far this season, in the order of La Liga, Champions League, CDR, Super Copa & Uefa Super Cup

    Goals :

    Messi – 6,1,0,2,0 = 9
    Ibra – 7,1,0,0,0 = 8
    Keita – 5,0,0,0,0 = 5
    Pedro – 1,1,2,1,1 = 6
    Bojan – 1,0,0,1,0 = 2
    Pique – 2,0,0,0,0 = 2
    Xavi – 0,0,0,1,0 = 1
    Alves – 1,0,0,0,0 = 1

    Assists :

    Messi – 4,0,0,0,1 = 5
    Ibra – 3,1,0,1,0 = 5
    Xavi – 3,1,0,1,0 = 5
    Alves – 3,0,0,1,0 = 4
    Keita – 2,0,0,0,0 = 2
    Iniesta – 2,0,0,0,0 = 2
    Pedro – 0,0,0,1,0 = 1
    Bojan – 0,0,1,0,0 = 1
    Busquets – 1,0,0,0,0 = 1
    Maxwell – 1,0,0,0,0 = 1
    Jeffren – 0,0,1,0,0 = 1

    P.S. Is it the first time that we have not conceded even playing Marquez? Though not convincing but that’s some thing! Excellent goal by P!
    My line-up was spot on except Guardiola was inclined for more of an experimetn by roping in FF as RB instead of the better choice imo, Ivan Benitez

    • Boat Forever
      October 28, 2009

      And yeah, jeffren finally has a say in the charts! Only obvious one that’s missing is Henry, hopefully that wouldn’t be the case after our weekend match

    • Kxevin
      October 28, 2009

      Excellent stuff. Thanks so much, Boat Forever.

  7. October 28, 2009

    haha, “it’s got the suck”

  8. vicsoc8
    October 28, 2009

    This game got me thinking:

    1. No doubt Bojan should have scored that sitter. My first instinct on the 3 v 4 were that his fellow attackers ran towards him and cut his space, but he still should have done better. I don’t know about everyone else, but I feel Bojan has the potential to be very skillful. However right now he lacks the right mentality (confidence?) and physical presence. These are things that can be improved on in time. The point I’m making is he’s only 19, and while this doesn’t excuse his errors, as fans we need to recognize that he shouldn’t be expected to carry the weight we expect him to carry. This is an unfortunate by-product of his very early insertion into the first team, dare I say before he was ready. In the end, this isn’t Madrid, and while we should criticize our players when they don’t play well, I think we should try to keep it positive for Bojan, He seems to need our support.

    2. Our forward line is VERY thin. Think about it, if one of Messi, Ibra, or Henry are injured, the next choice is Pedro, then Bojan. While Pedro has scored some great goals this season, he can’t carry the line. I don’t consider Jeffren a viable option (although I’m glad Pep tried him at RB, interesting experiment). We know Iniesta isn’t a goal-scorer. We need to sign another forward who can score and carry his weight. This is essential.

    3. Am I the only one who wishes J Dos Santos played the whole game? At least get him in there earlier. I also wish we could’ve seen some of Muniesa, Thiago, Fontas, etc. Oh well.

    4. We are weak at Right Back without Dani Alves. Pep knows it, hence the Jeffren experiment. Luckily Maxwell can play there, and I think he did a decent job today, but this is an area we need to address soon.

    • Kxevin
      October 28, 2009

      1. For me, as noted above, it isn’t about any immense burden of expectation. I just think he needs to play like he’s a permanent part of an exceptional club. It’s one thing if this was his first season up, but it isn’t. Too early? Definitely. And the good thing is that we don’t seem to be making that same mistake with Assulin, the “get him first squad time before he gets antsy and wants to leave” business.

      2. So true. I think this is where the Suarez devotees enter the picture. It’s also where I return to Krkic. He’s taking up a roster spot. Hell, I’d have been up for trying Keirrison in the squad, rather than wasting his time at Benfica. Jeffren’s a winger, pure as can be. Pedro! is as well. And in the B team, we’re rich on defenders and midfielders. Not so much on forwards.

      3. From what I’ve seen of Johnny Two-Time, he’s a better bet than Assulin. As I noted above, it’s a bummer that he came in when we were trying to just kill off the match.

      4. Maxwell did do okay at right back. Apparently Abidal can also play there. I think that Alves’ durability sucked us into whistling past the graveyard. It’s nice that we can platoon Puyol for this less-important match, so that he’s fresh for Osasuna and the Rubin Kazan return leg.

    • vicsoc8
      October 28, 2009

      1. “And the good thing is that we don’t seem to be making that same mistake with Assulin” – This is why I love Pep. For some reason he just gives me the feeling that he has the next five years figured out. Not to mention him wanting Ibra, and look how that turned out.

      2. I would love to see Suarez come in, but that is really just because I want to see someone come in an play well.

      3. Agreed.

    • Alexinho
      October 29, 2009

      The thing about Suarez is that his highlights come against Eredivisie defenses. He has some nice ones, but a lot of time you get the feeling they wouldn’t be scored in Liga. Now if he was a DEFENDER from the Eredivisie with defensive equivalents of those highlights, I’d be all over him. But Huntelaar had great Eredivisie highlights, as did Jefferson Farfan. I feel like maybe Suarez is just one of those guys, this year.

  9. jordi
    October 28, 2009

    Dalmau is very good at RB but hes playing in the world cup.Bartra can play there too but hes with the under 18s.Without all the international competitions going on, we would have more cateranos to choose from.

  10. JMo
    October 28, 2009

    WHen inside the 18, bojan is like…

    – a kid who just chugged all the mountaiin dew while snorting pixie sticks (hyperactively hyperactive)

    – a middle schooler hoping to be asked to the big dance while trying not to throw up out of sheer anxiety (unhealthily anxious)

    – pee wee herman when he was found fondeling at the movie theater (exposed)

    with Henry coming back, I think he’ll help calm Bojan down. Henry is like Bojan’s godfather, and his influence is never more visible than here…

    hopefully He can get his act together, cuz I really want the best for The Kid.

    • Alexinho
      October 29, 2009

      You know, watching that highlight (and I didn’t see Henry in there, though I think you’re right about his influence), even though it was a five or six second clip of play, you can see the difference between this year and last. I hope we build on Zaragoza and come up with THESE kinds of performances.

  11. ElShowDeJason
    October 28, 2009

    The problem with Bojan, Kxevin, is that he is a center-forward/second-striker in a team that doesn’t use any. I think that he would excel in that role, the one played by Raul, Del Piero, Aguero, Rooney.

    The Problem is that we don’t play a 4-4-2. He ins’t a better winger than TH14, FF or P!. He is is far from being Barcelona striker material, and well, as great as his passing ability, foot agility and creativity is, he can’t play in our midfield.

    The Matches that we truly saw him excel in were the ones where he was thrown out left, received, cut in, and play created for Eto’o or Henry. It reminded me when we played Iniesta in Messi’s position last time we played Sevilla. But again, thats not a position we play with regularly…

    • Kxevin
      October 28, 2009

      True, Jason. Very true. So what do we do with him? (Calm down, Bojanites, it’s all just hypothetical. He isn’t going anywhere.)

    • vicsoc8
      October 28, 2009

      I can honestly only see one path to glory for Bojan at Barcelona, but if he steps up it could be fantastic.

      He needs to be molded to play like Henry does on the wing. That is, he needs to start playing like a Striker who has been moved to the wing. Henry gives us a whole new set of options because of the way he plays the wing, and I would love to see Bojan adopt a similar role.

      This wouldn’t necessarily block anyone elses progress (I’m looking at Gai) because it would be useful to have a Henry type player and a pure winger for different situations.

    • BA
      October 28, 2009

      this is where i’d come in to defend Bojan a bit but weren’t Bojanites, like, burned at the stake during the Reformation?

  12. Boat Forever
    October 28, 2009

    Merida scored a very good goal against Pool yesterday 😐

  13. October 29, 2009

    Goddamn there’s some Bojan hate rolling around here. Kxevin, I normally agree with most everything you say, but your anti-Bojanness is apparent for all to see.

    1. Dude is 19. He JUST turned 19. You know what I was doing when I was 19? I won’t bore you with the details; suffice it to say the words “hash”, “bad Stallone action flicks” and “3am” feature prominently.

    2. He is coming back from injury. This was his second game back. I can’t wait for your boy Henry to fall over, beg for calls, get worked off the ball and not do anything of note for 80 minutes before being subbed this weekend. It’s funny that you cut a veteran more slack than Bojan.

    3. He hasn’t had a consistent run in the team since Rijkaard left. Pep never had confidence in him, for whatever reason. Copa games don’t count. He could very well be Barca’s best LW this year if given a consistent run of games to find form.

    That is all.

    • Soto
      October 29, 2009

      But it doesn’t matter what you or I were doing at 19. We certainly weren’t trying to play for one of the best soccer teams in the world.

      The correct comparison is what Messi, Henry, and Ibrahimovic were doing at 19. At least with Messi, I know he was on his way to scoring 14 goals in the 2006-2007 La Liga season. And that’s who I compare Bojan to. Because if he’s going to play on the first team of Barcelona, he needs to strive to be as good as the other first team players, who were already excelling at 19.

      When you are trying to be the best in the world, the standards against which you are measured are always greater. That’s the price for aiming for glory.

    • Miguel
      October 29, 2009

      and at 17yrs old under rijkaard he netted 12 goals as a left winger & at 18 under guardiola as a center striker scored 10 goals. until he turns 20 he’s in my “can do no wrong” list of people.

    • October 29, 2009

      Best. Movie. Evaaaar.

  14. Jnice
    October 29, 2009

    You telling me he can’t hit an open net, though?

    I get that he is 19, but for me, being with the first team for almost 3 full seasons kinda negates that.

    Please do not compare Henry to Bojan. He would score those opportunities Bojan had with his one eye open.

    Anyway, for those who want to download the match:

    La Sexta commentary

    1st half: *

    2nd half: *

  15. BA
    October 29, 2009

    hey you know a 23 year old, highly marketable Brazilian forward who’s got some pretty awesome goalscoring stats:

    111 goals in 103 games in Sweden
    10 in 19 games in the U.S.
    7 goals already in 4 games for Santos
    47 goals in 49 games for Brazil


    that’s right. Marta.

    let’s go Txiki, get that signature.

  16. October 29, 2009

    So now we’re comparing a young Bojan to a young Messi? Messi is the greatest player in the world, and by the time his career is done, could be one of the five best of all time. That’s the standard Bojan is expected to reach? Ridiculous.

    Also, at age 19, Henry scored 9 goals in 36 games for Monaco in the deathly difficult league that is Ligue 1. You give Bojan 36 games, and I’m fairly certain that he scores 9 goals. Call me crazy.

    He missed an open goal. Ok, fine. Let’s criticize him for it and move on. It’s not as if he’s making the same mistakes over and over in an extended run of games, a la Busquets.

    He’s never been given a consistent run of games, always a spot here and a cameo there. Until that happens, most fair-minded people would consider it unreasonable to criticize him incessantly and set impossible-to-reach standards.

  17. Bundy
    October 29, 2009

    As good as Jeffren and Pedro were today, they didn’t have to put their body on the line like Bojan did today. Bojan had it tough, he had no space in his normal position given that a soon as he touched the ball there were already three bodies surrounding him. He put his physical capacity on the line to give those other two kids a chance to create. Sure Bojan didn’t take his chances, but for the amount of effort he put in, Pedro and Jeffren had it far too easier.

    Bojan also killed a few good counter attacks, but our wingers were doing nothing to help him. Its tough being a CF in this team. Bojan has prooven more than enough what he can do, I think its too much to lay out a backhand just becuase he couldn’t convert our 3rd goal. What is important is that we won on the road while resting a lot of main players.

  18. Kxevin
    October 29, 2009

    For me it is a simple question of Krkic pulling his weight. Don’t trot out the tired old accusations of bias on my part. And Henry is not “my boy.” He is another player on the club, who has this season been injured, or shit (mostly).

    There isn’t any Krkic hate going on. But if he is going to be in the side, he needs to play like it. Right now he isn’t. It’s as simple as that. I don’t care as much about him missing an open net in a 2-0 win.

    What concerns me more is that he is getting worse, not better. He isn’t some cuddly toy. He”s a first team football player on the best club in the world. So play like it. Go back and look at the comments after Henry”s performances this season. Not kind. Nor should thay be. If you can’t do your part, you shouldn’t be on the pitch, I don’t care who you are.

    If he is some kid that needs to be nurtured, then give him some time with the B side, t get his confidence back or something. But the allegations of bias and “Bojan hate” whenever someone has the audacity to suggest that Krkic isn’t playing like an iron-clad first teamer are misguided red herrings. He isn’t a mascot. He’s someone who is getting an automatic ride. So earn it.

    • Boat Forever
      October 29, 2009

      Bojan is a good player & imo his ideal position would be a ss ala Raul… He’s widely regarded as Catalunya answer to Spain’s Raul

      I’d like to see how team would respond to such a formation, playing Iniesta a bit wider, like he played against Zaragoza(though he’s supposedly played as LW it was more of a LM position) & playing Bojan in a more central role. To add width, I preferred Puyi at RB & Maxwell at LB. I’m pretty sure this formation would do wonders for Bojan(Ibra holding the ball upfront can help out Bojan) but I have no idea how the outcome as a whole would be!!!

  19. BlaugranaDOOM
    October 29, 2009

    Bojan is much better than his form suggests. I don’t expect him to lead the line right now. I am not sure why Barcelona thought that Pedro and Bojan would be enough support. They definitely needed to bring in another top class player because Henry, Ibra and Messi will not be fit for every game and they will need a rest.

    I see Bojan as being a fantastic player around 21-22. His touch will be even better. His decision making will be faster. And he will be much bigger. Even compare Messi at 19 to Messi now. His body filled out and he is stronger for it.

    I agree with the poster who said he belongs in a 4-4-2, but eventually, he will be a first team starter in our 4-3-3.

    Right now, he is more of a winger, but once he gets a bit stronger, I see him as a 9. He would add a different dimension than Ibra. I think his natural role is as a poacher, but he is not quite big enough yet to force his way through. I am fine with him making a mistake or two and growing. He will be quite good this year even (though in a month or so).

  20. BlaugranaDOOM
    October 29, 2009

    Oh, one more thing. If cules want lots of players coming up through the Cantera, then they have to pay the price and blood them on the pitch. Keeping them in the reserve side won’t cut it. The competition isn’t good enough, and they need to build the confidence that they can play at the highest level. Obviously, they won’t be starting in CL semifinals, but certainly we can afford to give them a run out in a two legged cup match against a 3rd division side. I love how Wenger uses the cups to bleed his youth. Barcelona has those games, and games when we are up 3 or 4 goals, and that means plenty of minutes (I think throwing Bojan in the Rubin match was a small mistake, him coming just back from injury and all).

    If you want to buy established mercenaries who have already made their youthful mistakes, and don’t practice the patience needed to bring players through, then Barcelona under Guardiola isn’t a good team to support.

    Personally, I like having youth products in the first team. It is great for our spirit. Guardiola is blending youth and experience very well.

    I thought his starting line up was brilliant for this match. Experimental. Solidish (the defense was shaky). In this hectic part of the year, we rested our best players and won pretty easily.

  21. October 29, 2009

    I couldn’t watch the game last night but did catch the goals this morning.. Great review Kxevin.

    Could any one who watched the game provide a more in depth performance on Gai’s performance last night? have huge hopes for the guys to come through soon.. was just curious to know how he did though…

  22. ElShowDeJason
    October 29, 2009

    Woah… guys, we don’t have to be on “a side” to discuss Bojan. I am neither a Bojanite, nor a Bojan-hater.

    We can maturely discuss his performances, his ability and his form.

    I think we can all agree that he has loads of talent, and ability, and potential. He is a really good player, that simply is a little out of form, and needs experience.

    I already gave my 2 cents about his positional/tactical shortcommings. Short version: He is a Center-forward/ second-striker, but Barcelona don’t use this position in our 4-3-3.

    But really, I don’t think this is the major issue that is hindering him. Because all great players can overcome these issues.

    I think there are many other issues at play here.

    1. Like BlaugranaDOOM said, we like to bring up Cantera players here, so lets deal with that.
    2. We also have to deal with the fact that he was promoted WAY to early.
    a. Right now he has to play like someone who has spent 3 seasons with the senior team.
    b. At the same time, Pedro and Jeffren are 3 years older than him, so how can we scrutinize him so much more than them because of his phaux-“veteran” status?
    We cannot move him back to barca athletic, as i think that would deal a career shattering confidence blow. he was promoted too early, so he we messed up, but he really does need to step it up a bit.

    Maybe i got sidetracked, but what i’m trying to say is that we all know Bojan is very talented, but a little out of form. just because we criticize his performance, doesn’t mean we are going to burn him at the stake. We cannot take this so personally.

    I think the kid is going to be fine. He seems to really be taking after Henry, and could redefine the LW position just like Henry did after Dinho.

    • ElShowDeJason
      October 29, 2009

      which reminds me… i’m cooking up a nice long comment on our (sometimes) ill placed expectations of people’s roles based on the starter’s role and maybe on the cookie-cutter-“Fifa”-position

  23. kirsten
    October 29, 2009

    Whoever came out and said Kxevin’s critism of Bojan is ‘Bojan hate’ should think again. I m quite sure Kxevin loves Bojan like we all do and i cant recall the number of times kxevin has said he sees so much potential in the boy and actually praised him when he played well and gloated abt how there’s a henry in bojan’s goals.kxevin’s critism is based on passion and’s in the same way he score messi a 4 for an average game. and when henry came here we all knew what he was capable of, right?but did kxevin let him off the hook when he played crab?no.infact kxevin still continues to criticise henry’s poor performances, only now has he realised henry worth on the left.

  24. poipoi
    October 29, 2009

    I don’t know what will happen with the space-continuum in my room when I say this: The Yaya didn’t play well yesterday at all. (I feel two years older now, damn) I had big expectations on him as Of.Mid but he busi and keita didn’t take control of the midfield, and produced little dangerous plays. With all 3 muscle midfielders we kinda defended well but the low rating of Bojan is a consequence of the little balls they gave him.

    Way to go Pedro!!!

    btw… a perfect game by Pinto.

  25. Diane
    October 29, 2009

    I don’t think it matters what other players were doing when they were 19. The more important thing is what we can see in Bojan’s future and we have certainly seen what he has, its just come in too short flashes. Just because so many of the greatest players excel early doesn’t mean that they all have. I agree with those who think he may have been promoted to the first team too soon. I would like to see him develop as long as he’s not holding the rest of the team back while he does. In most other clubs he would be on loan getting more first team, grown up, experience.

  26. Kxevin
    October 29, 2009

    New voices in the wilderness? Diane, vicsoc8 and kirsten, welcome.

    A lot goes into whether a player is promoted. What made Dos Santos sellable and Krkic a keeper? Given recent performances, some might argue that it should have been the other way around, right? What might have happened had Dos Santos received the same patience, care and nurturing that Krkic is receiving? Good question.

    Jason is right in that Krkic was promoted too soon. But sometimes you have to promote youth players to keep them in the system. Recall the worries that Gai Assulin was on the way out if he didn’t start getting some first-team minutes.

    But unlike Rijkaard, who panicked and brought Krkic up (can’t very well send him back, right?), Guardiola is playing Assulin and JDS in selected spots and selected matches, to bring them along properly. Now Guardiola has to deal with the Krkic dilemma.

    Two issues have been raised that to me, aren’t really relevant to this discussion:

    Age: Krkic is young. So? Someone must believe that he can play to his role in the squad.

    Promotion path: I think that we already have an excellent track record of showing youth players that they have a spot in the squad when they’re ready. Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Puyol, Busquets, Valdes, Pedro!, Jeffren, the list goes on and on.

    To me, the relevant things here are does Krkic have talent and if so, how do we get the best of that talent?

    Yes. He has talent. Gobs of it. His problems at the “9” are size related, unfortunately. Someone compared Krkic to “smaller” players such as Eto’o and Inzaghi. Both are about 5’11”. Krkic is 5’7″. Big difference in terms of leverage and vision in the box.

    So what to do with him? Frankly, I don’t know. In that Henry winger role, he still has the issue of being bundled off the ball too easily by a bigger, stronger defender. It’s the Iniesta problem as well, and why he works so well as an orchestrator.

    My very simple question is whether Krkic, talent aside, has the necessary gifts to work in our system and if so, where. It isn’t hating him to raise that question. As Diane pointed out, in most other clubs he’d be loaned, or shuttled back and forth to bring him along properly.

    As I recall, the only issue raised over the sale of Dos Santos was the size of the transfer fee. And that dude went out on a crazy-ass, Ronaldinhoesque hat trick. But the club was ready to cut bait. If Krkic should be different (and he is, apparently), why?

    • Boat Forever
      October 29, 2009

      I’m still wondering how the formation would do 😛

    • Diane
      October 29, 2009

      Thanks Kxevin, I enjoy your blog, and your name of course. I’ve watched a lot of kids Bojan’s age develop on the training grounds in various sports. Sometimes they bring something that doesn’t get into a game, sometimes a coach, maturity, a growth spurt, can bring it out. Sometimes its playing time and confidence. Sometimes it never comes together.

      Since Bojan isn’t costing a fortune and is still young, I’m willing to trust that — as you say — his coaches do see something different. He certainly lives for the team which is always nice to have around the locker room. Wasn’t there an attempt to loan him out which he declined? The one thing that’s fairly certain is that no player develops to their full potential unless they get to play whole games — try, fail, get pushed around, learn how to stay on their feet. And I agree that Bojan barely looks ready for his subs role in the first team.

      (Since you mentioned Ronaldinho, my endless optimism and hope that every player can show their best is proven by the fact that I watch Milan on the weekends and think — you can still do it, try harder!)

  27. October 29, 2009

    Reagan, there wasn’t a lot to say about Assulin in specific. I barely mention him in my notes. He had some excellent movement, including one amazing moment in the box where he faked a Cultural defender into the middle of next week.

    But I also thought he was a little loose with the ball, overly fond of trying to play out of situations where he should have made an earlier, safer pass. But that’s youth. I’d like to see him in a less-scattered match. And I definitely want to see more of Dos Santos.

  28. October 29, 2009

    In other news, the panic in EE land is raw. You can smell it. Despite the words of support from Flo-Flo, the biggest rumor is that Pellegrini has the next two matches to prove himself. The complexity is that they get Getafe, who love to upset some apple carts.

    Then they get AC Milan in the return leg, at the San Siro with no Thong Boy, who is having some new ankle swelling and won’t be in the side.

    As an aside, if I don’t have the chance to boo TB until I faint at the Clasico, I am going to be mightily vexed.

  29. Kevo
    October 29, 2009

    I saw the first half completely and I thought Pinto was pretty solid in his box and out of his box. There were a couple of long pass to the Leonesa striker that PInto (out of nowhere) rushed and cleared that one; my favorite one was the one he ran up to the center field and cleared with a header and rushed back to his box.
    I think a 7 is fair but he did AVOID to do “stuff” around his box by anticipating and clearing attacks.

    Abi presence really puts the backline in order, Maxwell is an Alves kind of guy he can defend but his biggest asset is his offense. I was pretty relaxed when Abi came in. If he keeps doing his job like he has he’ll have a “puta madre” of a season again.

    • Kevo
      October 29, 2009

      “de puta madre…” it doesn’t mean “bitch mom” it means [in Spain] goddamn!

    • October 29, 2009

      Fully agree on Pinto. He’s a fine Barca “sweeper keeper.” Which, frankly, might be the reason Valdes doesn’t get the Spain call-up. International matches tend to favor a better pure shot stopper, the guy who stands between the pipes and can rip it up.

      As we’ve seen in the past, VV isn’t that guy. He can, but he isn’t among the best examples of that kind of keeper.

    • poipoi
      October 29, 2009

      de puta madre is also “very damn well” applied to a verb, or “f*ck yeah” just by itself.

      SU puta madre is more like his bitch mom 😉

    • Andrew M.
      October 29, 2009

      as Isaiah and inNYC know well by now, i was one of VV’s biggest critic in seasons past.i remember watching him in the 2005/2006 season and 2006/2007, and sure we won a CL, but i heard i said many times that perhaps he was the weakest link in the team. when he was on he was fine, but when he had an off night omg, all those mistakes he would make. but this season and last he has totally made up for it and in my mind is a better keeper than Iker. he would also fit the spanish NT better as the spanish team, along with their hundreds of barca players, tend to play a similar passing game to barca. so a sweeper keeper, although not vakluable for all teams, might actually just work with spain, i mean its at least worth a try.

      and pinto, man, i love this guy. he is a beast in goal. remember that penalty someone was taking and he pointed to the corner saying, i will dive this way, and then he totally freaked the guy out and saved the PK. pity he is a bit old though.

  30. October 29, 2009

    On whether he was promoted too early:

    Someone above pointed out the goal-scoring stats for him under Rijkaard. It never struck me that he was promoted too early; he always looked liked he belonged on a skill-level and just needed to get experience and more strength on the ball. I don’t think he was promoted early at all. I just think he regressed under Pep — along with Caceres, perhaps the only two players to do so — because of a lack of confidence shown in him.

    On him vs. DS:

    DS was a selfish so-and-so on the pitch, and a loud mouth off it. Everything about him reminded me of Robinho, for whatever reason. Though it is ironic we are now talking about bringing him (Robinho) in.

    On criticism vs. “hate” and “bias”

    Ok, I shouldn’t have used the word hate, my bad and apologies. But I stand by my claims of bias on the part of some posters here, including at times Kxevin w.r.t Bojan. We all criticize players, and as fans we can agree to disagree on the extent to which we should hold their feet to the fire, but there are several mitigating factors for Bojan’s crap performance, such as coming back from injury and an out-of-whack lineup that took everyone a while to get used to.

    On his future at the club:

    I don’t think anyone’s position or role is set at age 19, there’s a lot of room to grow and adapt. Rooney, for example, has changed his role three times in the last seven years and has been pretty good at all three. Bojan should be trained to be out LW for the future. He has the talent, he just needs some love and confidence shown in him, and a consistent run of games. He will prove his detractors wrong, I am sure.

    • October 29, 2009

      So defend the bias accusation. Point out specific examples of my bias, and explain it more thoroughly. Because that’s a very strong statement that speaks directly to my suitability for this role. That is, if I’m biased, I can’t do the best job of evaluating players and matches. And if the impression exists that I am biased toward anyone or anything, something that I strive not to do, then it also undermines my role here, which is further cause for my re-evaluation of it.

      When I evaluate players and their performances, to my eyes it is based on what I saw on the pitch. I don’t make excuses for them when I evaluate, because if they’re out there, they’re playing as a member of the side, and will be evaluated as such. Txigrinski is also coming back from injury. He was shit, I said he was, and nobody is accusing me of bias against him.

      As a real-life journalist, it is part of what I do to avoid even the appearance or impression of bias. If I’m failing at that role here, then I am letting down every poster and commenter at this space.

    • yogi
      October 29, 2009

      As a avid follower, Kevin has my vote of confidence. Not that I agree with all the ratings but do think that the ratings are as fair as possible.

    • Boat Forever
      October 29, 2009

      Mine too, though I can’t understand how Alves got a better rating than Marquez for our match against Rubin 😛

    • Miguel
      October 29, 2009

      kxevin’s in my “can do no wrong” list. i just don’t like attaching numbered ratings to players. everyone has their biases. who cares?

    • BlaugranaDOOM
      October 29, 2009


      I don’t think you be hatin’, just opinionatin’

      Don’t worry. You do a great job on this site. In general you are quite fair and well reasoned. But, everyone has biases and opinions. Its unavoidable. Not saying you are unfairly slating anyone, but that is just the reality of life, journalist or no, as much as you try to fight it, you can only be a great cule. That means passion and opinions that you know are right. This site wouldn’t be fun without those!

      I agree to agree and disagree with you.

  31. Blow-Granite
    October 29, 2009

    It is the fault of two parties when Bojan hesitates to put in a sitter.

    1. Bojan
    2. The Coaching Staff(Include Pep in this)

    I have see many players who are not strikers coached into first time shooters.The coaching staff have their work cut out. A more concerted effort can make things work out. The coaching staff know when a kid does not get it, they will get rid of him. They do this all the time. With P! breaking into the first team, it is possible that Bojan is going to be loaned out next summer. Right now we need another striker. Henry seems to be prone to injuries. Barca is running a thin line by playing Ibra and Messi in every match. The only alternate right now without spending too much money is to have someone like Bojan(with a small ego) in the team, so he can play CDR’s, and provide occasional cover. Bojan will never be a huge success as a number 9(out and out striker), he does not have the height. He could be successful as a winger, because of his speed, and technique.

  32. vicsoc8
    October 29, 2009

    So I look at the Bojan issue through the lens of everyone on the team has a role to play, and we should judge them on whether they are fulfilling this role, not fulfilling it, or going above expectations. The main issue we’re having here is we all perceive his role differently.

    More importantly, his role within the organization is somewhat confused. He was brought up too early and made an impact, leading to people expecting more of him. However, we have seen that Pep likes to integrate his youngsters into the squad somewhat slowly, and this is the path he is taking with Bojan. In effect, he has reduced the role he expects Bojan to play in the team (compared to Rijkaard) and this is leading to both Bojans lack of confidence and our unhappiness with his play. Mitigating factors aside (injury, etc) we should accept that Bojan just has a smaller role to play in this current Pep team.

    Now we come to the real issue. With Pep giving Bojan a smaller role to play, we don’t have a killer instinct sub for the front line. Pedro has been fantastic, but I’m talking about someone who can come in and take a game by the scruff of its neck, and this isn’t Pedro. Because we don’t have someone to fill this role many of us are expecting Bojan to, when in fact at 19 he’s just not ready. The best thing that could happen is for us to bring in someone who can fulfill this role. While adding to competition for Bojan, it will also relieve some of the unhelpful pressure on him.

    • BlaugranaDOOM
      October 29, 2009

      well said

  33. Blow-Granite
    October 29, 2009

    Another sliced bread comment from Crynaldo:

    “We have to learn our lesson in the next matches and make sure we don’t underestimate any teams,” he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

    “I think that everyone is conscious that we need to play better. The team will improve, the team will fight to win every competition.”

  34. October 29, 2009


    Unfortunately I do not have the time to dig through the archives to explain why I perceive an anti-Bojan bias. But just as you have a right to make your judgments, I — as a reader for over a year, both here and on the Offside blog — have a right to make my judgments about your writing. I wouldn’t keep coming back to this blog if I didn’t think all of you did a fantastic job, including other commenters. But to think that bias is not inherent in any of us — including journalists — is foolish. We are all biased, whether we like it or not. Sometimes it comes out, sometimes it doesn’t.

    And mind you, this isn’t about “ratings” at all, because I basically skim those anyway. I read the words, not the numbers. My view is that you are more forgiving of some players’ mistakes (e.g. Henry) than others (e.g. Bojan). Other commenters here may agree with me or may disagree with me, but that is my view. It’s not a big deal, as I said, because we all have our prejudices. But in this post and the comments following it, I think the criticism of Bojan has gone too far, which is why I said what I did.

    • Blow-Granite
      October 29, 2009

      Ashan, Kxevin’s rating of Bojan is spot on. I have seen Kxevin criticize Henry a lot as well.

    • Kevo
      October 29, 2009

      Granted i doubt Bojan will read this. If he does then “VAMOS CAMPEON!!!”

    • Kxevin
      October 29, 2009

      If you lack the time to buttress your allegations, then refrain from making them. Because allegations of bias are, to an old-school print journalist, slander.

      If my evaluations don’t hew to yours, that’s one thing. We have a difference of opinion. But bias means that I skew my evaluative criteria based on a subjective leaning that I have. And that contention pulsates with bullshit.

      I do this job here every bit as seriously as I do my everyday job as a journalist. And journalists are not allowed to have biases …. at least not print journalists. If our editor senses bias, we are called on it and, if need be, called on the carpet. As we should be. If you have bias, you can’t do what you do. It’s why many political writers don’t vote, by way of example. Bias is, simply put, not allowed in my profession.

      It is no different here. And it is most emphatically a big deal to me. It’s easy for you to say it’s not a big deal, because it isn’t your integrity that is being impugned.

      I have and will criticize everyone on the club when they don’t perform as they should. Krkic is no different, nor are any of my other alleged “favorites.” It shocked a lot of people when aggregate ratings were compiled, to find that Henry was mid-pack. Which does precisely what for the belief that Henry can do no wrong in my eyes?

      So I repeat: If you disagree with a rating, that’s one thing. But to say that the person doing the rating has a bias is something else altogether. And when that person being accused of bias is me, I don’t like it in the least, because it isn’t fair. Period.

    • Blow-Granite
      October 29, 2009

      Love your blogs guys!!! They keep me coming back!!!

    • Tutomate
      October 29, 2009

      You forgot go say: ” Period. Full Stop. 🙂

  35. October 29, 2009

    vicsoc8 makes good points as regards individual perceptions of Krkic’s role in the squad. I still don’t know what the answer is. Is he just a Copa player, or a sub against smaller, less-physical teams? If that’s the case, then we definitely need to sign a striker in the January window.

    Krkic is at his best when the game is open and flowing, such as his Henryesque Copa goal, or when he nabbed the brace last season. He can take advantage of his movement, quickness and quick shot. But putting him in a situation where he has to face off against defenders straight up seems, to me, to be setting him up for failure.

    Everybody wants to see him succeed, for the good of the club. The question is, how?

    • Boat Forever
      October 29, 2009

      I came up with an excellent idea for that & am waiting for your views man 🙂

  36. Kevo
    October 29, 2009

    Lately i’ve been watching lots of videos of Pep’s interviews and training sessions.
    Just to watch him talk and coach makes me want to put on a Barca shirt and go play… of course i aint no player but how inspiring is this dude, im sure most of the players are delighted to be on his side.

    This video is the speech that he gave to the players after the 90′ minutes in the European Supercup against Shaktar. It’s in spanish but if you scroll down to the comments there’s a guy who did the english translation. enjoy!

  37. Boat Forever
    October 29, 2009

    Unnecessary arguments… Ahsan I take you for an Indian from your name, chill maar yaar!! Good to know Kxevin is a professional journalist, didn’t see that coming though I’ve always awe-struck by the quality of the blog 🙂
    On a lighter note, Marquez renewal situation is almost cleared & expect some persuasion on Pep in near future… Pep, it seems(according to Revista La Liga), is avoiding Laporta these days, is unhappy with his political behavior off-late & reckons that’s not the way a director of prestigious club like Barca should behave. He’ll be signing on his renewal only after he gets to know the views of the presidential candidates & would support one based on his ideals and won’t go along with Laporta’s pet!!! Hopefully that’s gonna rule out Robinho, considering how unforgiving he’s been towards board’s signings 😐

  38. Andrew M.
    October 29, 2009

    anybody know anything about this kid?


    • Miguel
      October 29, 2009



      i doubt we’re gonna pull off a “cesc” though.

  39. October 29, 2009

    Boat Forever:

    Merey bhai, main Bhartii nahin hoon. Lekin mein aap ka parossi hoon, Pakistan sey. Aadaab. Sub theek thaak?


    I have a lot to say but I will refrain, because I do not wish to carry this on forever. Let me make two small points, and I will give you the last word, and end it:

    1. No one is free of biases, irrespective of profession. As an academic, let me tell you: even we are not free of biases, and we are supposed to be the most impartial people out there. It is wishful thinking on your part.

    2. I take your claim to be that we cannot criticize you unless we back it up with evidence gleamed from past posts. I’m afraid that’s simply not possible for people who lead busy lives. But I will continue to say what I think because I am not coming out of left-field on this.

    • Alex
      October 29, 2009

      From point 1:

      It seems this has gotten to a point where fundamental beliefs regarding a bias are being debated when in all reality it is impossible to debate rationally because nobody has the right answer. The phrase “no one is free of biases, irrespective of profession” implies that everyone defines a bias in the same way. It may be true that no one is free of biases, but what degree/kind of bias are we referring to and more importantly are we actually aware and do we recognize every single bias we may have???

      I just realized that after reading the word “bias” so many times, it sounds wierd to say out loud. Bojan blew yseterday. my 2 cents

      VISCA BARCA!!!!!!!!

  40. Eduard
    October 29, 2009

    If interested someone should see the first goal by Isco for Spain in the U17 WC game today…it is Messish

    • Tim
      October 29, 2009

      Muniesa is wearing the armband for Spain.

    • jordi
      October 29, 2009

      Cormona scored.

  41. Hector
    October 29, 2009

    Let’s have some peace and love here guys. Everybody is entitled to their own opinions. In any case, the question RIGHT NOW, irrespective of his age, potential, or circumstances (coming off an injury) comes down to “did Bojan play well or badly”? I can’t see how he played well. We was pushed around by Segunda B centerbacks, let the fouls and physical play frustrsate him and get into his head, screwed up the conduction of a 4 on 3 counterattack, his first touch was bad, his passing was off, and he missed an aboslute sitter. In fairness he did not get much good service and his pressure and two touches in the box led to the first Pedro goal. However, he did not create any consistent danger. That was yesterday. Everybody has bad games. It happens. The fact that he was rated the way he was does not imply he is a “2” as a player but rather that he played a bad game. I do believe even Messi and Henry have gotten 2’s from Kevin before.

    Regarding Bojan (all IMHO):

    – I agree he is a natural 4-4-2 second striker that would ideally be more suited to a different system given his present physical and technical skills.
    – As cut as he is and with his low center of gravity, one would think his strength would show a little more. However, he still gets pushed around and off the ball. Not all strikers are created equal, when one is a 5’7 striker (and there have been great 5’7-5’8 strikers before), one must compensate for lack of size with:

    1) Strength- Use the low center of gravity as an adantage. This is what Messi does and guys like Aguero, Romario, and Muller have done. Bojan needs to have that buff body of his reflect in his play.

    2) Speed and/or acceleration- Look at guys like Owen, Messi, Samu, Villa, and Romario. Not the strongest or biggest guys in the world but they have exceptional acceleration and quickness if not top end speed. Bojan shows flashes of his acceleration from time to time but not consistently enough. He is not a burner like Samu but he definitely has the adequate shiftiness and short area burst to physically emulate a guy like Villa.

    3) Attitude- When facing the biggest and strongest guys on the opposing team (the CB’s) and doing so at a physical disadvantage one must compensate with swagger and attitude. All the guys I mentioned above are (or were) tough mofo’s. Villa grew up in a mining village and paid his dues, Samu could be batshit crazy at times and grew up in Cameroon, Romario is Romario (not much to say there), Aguero played in the rough and tumble Argentine league since he was 15, and Muller started out playing for his home town team. You have to tell the CB’s “I may be smaller than you but I am badder and crazier than you as well”. This is something that gets me about Bojan. He once cried after being subbed off (I can understand after a loss, a sending off or an injury but for being subbed!?!?) and in yesterday’s game it was easy to see how he was visibly frustrated with the ref and the CB’s physical play. Maybe its simply a maduration process but he has to toughen up in that depatment. Age is not and excuse. You want to be a Barce striker, then you better shape up. I am not saying he can’t be a nice guy or a sweet kid off the pitch. I AM saying that on the pitch he needs to show more character and not get bullied off his game. The defenders CANNOT get into his head on such a frequent basis. That’s why I actually cheered when he earned a yellow card during the Copa final, he was getting a defender back and sending a message. Sometimes strikers need to do that. I think he has been improving but I honestly saw him affected during yesterday’s game.

    4) Intelligence and Instinct- This is the most imporant one. Villa and Samu have been not good but GREAT because of this. Timing the runs, exhausting the CB’s with constant movement, working the offside trap, reading the defense… Bojan DEFINITELY has the latter. He is not considered a great prospect because of his height, stength or speed. Its because of his instincts. He is a natural inside the box. The part that comes with time and experience is the football intelligence. He has to move without the ball better and learn to take less touches on the ball. This is something that MUST come. If anybody has seen his cantera videos, he is faster than the vast majority of kids. In the Primera, I actually think that although he has above average acceleration and burst, his speed is average. Thus, he must rely even more on instincts and intelligence.

    He can get there but he still has a way to go. Sadly, I actually though he played one of his best games in a Barca unifrom during the game in which he was injured. He has been thrown off schedule, now we’ll see if he can replicate the progress he showed in that game. I can only see him as a Henry type of winger/second striker hybrid in our system. He is too small to be a 9 and too slow to be a true winger. The best way to take advantage of his burst and shiftiness is in small areas so we want him near the box as much as possible.

    • Blow-Granite
      October 29, 2009

      OMG!!! We have been Hectored!!! Great one Hector@@@$$$@@@ Right on the money!!!

  42. Carles P
    October 29, 2009

    I think the Bojan issue is being blown out of proportion. The fact is that WE ALL hope he succeeds and becomes a great player. His potential is immense and we all would like to have him succeed here.

    However, he simply has not cut it in our first team, and the majority of people here seem to agree. We seem to have a shortsighted view of his performances, which is understandable, however he needs to be looked at as a long-term project, that may require that we loan him out.

  43. jordi
    October 29, 2009

    A list that laughably leaves Sir alex ferguson as top manager of all time.


  44. Eduard
    October 29, 2009

    He is there because 1.Fergie is a damn good coach and 2. It only accounts for coaches that have coached in that crummy island and 3. (this one relates to what this blog’s conversation is talking about)the u.k. press is bias.

  45. jordi
    October 29, 2009

    At the bottom they have him ahead of Rinus Michels

  46. Eduard
    October 29, 2009

    oh there’s two rankings…Michels was what made soccer in Holland. YEAH, its ludicrus.

  47. Tajh
    October 29, 2009

    Looks like Eto’o is starting to finally score goals.

    • jordi
      October 29, 2009

      Bslotelli could have a hattrick but samu being senior man didnt let him take the penalty he won.

    • Blow-Granite
      October 29, 2009

      Eto’o and Balotelli are both on a hattrick.

  48. Tim
    October 29, 2009

    “Castrol has applied the same expertise they apply to the development of their oils to create the Castrol Rankings – using objective analysis and 100% accurate data to measure every pass, every tackle and every single move of over 2000 players and games every year, which means that the Castrol Ranking are based on actual performance.”

    They conclude that Henry is the best player in the world in the last 12 months and Xavi is 26th, while Keita is 25th. It is just such an outstanding list, I had to share. Found on The Offside frontpage.

    • Tim
      October 29, 2009

      Also note Marquez at number 7 as in, 7th best player in the world over the past year, just outstanding.

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