Rubin Kazan 0, Barca 0, a.k.a. “Chances wasted”

Are we going to make it, captain?
Are we going to make it, captain?

Quite frankly, I don’t know. This review isn’t going to be very long, because simply put, there isn’t a lot to say. Xavi came out after the match and said that we were the better team.

No, you weren’t. You know how I know? Because you didn’t win the match. Last time I checked they don’t give points for possession, or number of passes strung together to no avail.

Is it going to be one of those seasons? Those seasons where we play pretty, but don’t put the ball in the net? Because here’s the thing: We aren’t playing like men right now. Rubin Kazan came out and did exactly what they had to do, which was secure second place in the group. And with Inter going top with their win over Dynamo Kyiv, our chances of coming out of this group are looking suddenly rather iffy. Let me do some math for you:

We sit at 5 points, with 2 matches left to play in the group, against Inter at home and Dynamo Kyiv in an even colder part of the year. If we win both, which isn’t looking all that likely, we finish with 11 points.

Second-place Rubin Kazan have matches left against Dynamo Kyiv, which you can pretty much count as a win, and Inter.

Group leaders Inter Milan have matches left against us at the Camp Nou, and Rubin Kazan. If we win and draw, the win needs to be against Inter …. badly. 9 precarious points, the way that Rubin Kazan is playing, wouldn’t make me all that comfortable. Yes, we would get through, but I would prefer that we win the hell out and stuff this thing as we waltz into the knockout stages.

Now, what will most likely happen is that we will draw Inter at home then beat Dynamo, and we’re through. Whew!

Does everyone have a headache yet?

I expected a good match, but I didn’t expect a draw. Yet when Ibra snatched at his shot at a wide open net and hit the post, I almost stopped watching at that moment, because I knew that it was going to be a draw. Why? Because from that moment on, you could see Rubin stiffen as they realized “Hey, we only have to play half the pitch. Whoa!” So there were burgundy shirts everywhere, in every passing lane, sticking legs out, keeping the ball in front of them and working very dangerous counterattacks whenever our guard came down, or we stupidly gave the ball away. And we played right into their hands.

And a draw is what we deserved, though we are lucky not to have lost this one, too, because they had better chances than we did. I’m sad, and for the first time, discouraged at what I am seeing on the pitch, because we aren’t playing as a team. We started out that way, and good things were happening from the lineup of Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, The Yaya, Keita, Xavi, Messi, Iniesta and Ibrahimovic. And when we wrested possession away from them and Ibrahimovic broke the off side trap, I was thinking “This is it. We get the early goal that changes this match, and off we go.”

Then he hit the post.

People can hurl all of the invective they want at Ibrahimovic for missing that shot. And yes, we didn’t pay 60+m for a dude to miss a wide-open net. But he played his ass off to make up for that miss, until he effectively vanished without a trace, as the guys stopped making him part of the offense, and kept taking off on runs that were doomed to be stuffed by the massed ranks in front of the Rubin Kazan goal.

And before I go any further, they deserve full credit. They whipped our asses at the Camp Nou, then played as a team (the better team, Mr. Xavi, sir) to do what they had to do. Because Champions League group play is about strategy. Win the matches that you know you can, draw the ones that you don’t believe you can. And that’s what they did. So hats off to them.

Astute observers will say that this was like the Chelsea matches last season, and didn’t we buy that big ass Swede to prevent such things from happening? Yes, we did. But you have to play with him, and you have to create the space that allows him to do his thing. Lofting long balls at him, as he’s surrounded by 4 or 5 Rubin defenders, since our whole attack is sitting in the midfield watching, is not the way to use Ibrahimovic. He could have stayed at Inter for that shit. Yes, he should have hit the open net. But Iniesta shouldn’t have hesitated off that set play, Henry shouldn’t have blown two glorious chances, Messi shouldn’t have tried to dribble his way through the entire defense every goddamned time, Xavi shouldn’t have been so ordinary, etc, etc.

Teams win, just as teams lose, and teams draw. What I know is that we should be ashamed of the way that we played today, not because we drew, but because we didn’t play our best game as a team, to go for the win. We started out strong, with movement, passing and ball pressure, but as Rubin Kazan gained confidence and we started running out of ideas, it turned into a one-on-one fest. Iniesta shimmied and shook in the box, Messi made runs that were going nowhere, Ibrahimovic was starved of possession, and so it went. The best shot that we had to turn the match was left until too late. When Thierry Henry was inserted, we suddenly had the width that pressured their defense. But being ice-cold and coming in with less than 10 minutes of actual match time left, it was difficult to imagine that he would do anything other than shoot the one shot wide, and have another pass bounce off his feet as he was sitting on the goal mouth.

None of which excuses his inability to convert. Yes, Guardiola should have started him. He looked fresher and more involved than Alves did, and we will never know what would have happened had he started, then been subbed for Iniesta, who is more difficult for a tired side to play, with his motion, dribbling and elusive little runs.

But what do I know, except that we drew but am I the only one for whom draws feel like losses? We’re a side that doesn’t have its mojo, and there really isn’t any kind of an available respite for us to find it. We are predictable, and predictable play is easy to defend. Right now, we don’t do very much. We were so effective last season because we never, ever let a club settle on the ball. Our players were like terriers, snarling and snapping to get the ball back. That kind of play led to turnovers in the opponent’s end of the pitch, and the goals came. This season, we’re happy with possession, but we don’t seem to particularly want to fight that hard for it when the other side has the ball. Yes, our defense stops 99% of stuff that comes at it. But last year, it didn’t have to. Just saying.

Team: 3. Play like men. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. I don’t care if you lose. Just play like men, because men play as a team, help each other out and make shit happen.

Guardiola: 2. See, here’s the thing. You can’t listen to people who tell you that Iniesta is better in the starting lineup than Henry. They’re wrong. You waited way too late to sub him in, but look what almost happened when you did. With more time to play into the match, good things would have happened. You also should have subbed Alves off. Period, full stop.

Valdes: 8. Excellent match. Fast off his line to stop a breakaway, controlling in all other phases. He is very good at sitting the whole match, then springing into action when called upon.

Alves: 3. If you are going to give balls away at one end, have some effect on the other. The best chance he had to make a difference, he didn’t put anything on the pass to Ibrahimovic, so it was easily intercepted by a Rubin Kazan player. And his giveaway should have resulted in a goal. Thankfully, their attacker choked in front of goal, after turning Puyol inside out.

Pique: 5. Got caught up the pitch on occasions. Being Piquenbauer means you’d better have the pace to get back when they break the other way. As the match opened up, his fatigue showed.

Puyol: 7. Strong match from the captain, including coming back for the key save when our net was gaping.

Abidal: 8. A wall. Some nice attacking play, as well.

The Yaya: 7. In full-on Destroyer mode, but I thought that we did better when he moved up into the attacking part of the pitch. Not sure why he didn’t do that more often.

Keita: 4. Hello? Paging Keeitee? Hello? His runs into the box were what was needed to unsettle the packed Rubin defense. He’s also getting wayward on his long shots again. Bad sign.

Xavi: 5. So loose with the ball, and seemed to not know what to do when confronted with two Rubin defenders. He’s off song, and has been since coming back from the Cup qualifiers.

Messi: 4. You have to play with your teammates. Your movement is what opens up the world for Ibrahimovic, but if you don’t pass him the ball, or try to beat a whole team with the dribble, what do you expect. And shoot faster. When Ibra’s great ball put you in the box with just the keeper to beat, last year you bury that shot. This year, you’re one dribble too far.

Iniesta: 4. Nice play, but to what end? You dribble and there are two defenders facing you in the box, then what? And please explain how you don’t score that beautiful set play off a free kick. Shoot! Just shoot! It isn’t about dribbling, it’s about shooting. Why make a pass that doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting through? Just asking. And we love you playing with Xavi, for sure. But you take away our width, leaving our left side a dead zone.

Ibrahimovic: 6. We feel your pain. You miss the open net, make a series of lovely plays and passes, two of which should have resulted in goals, then you get frozen out by an increasingly selfish attack in the second half. Life is hard. But what, you don’t think you have enough tenure to get in someone’s face and say “Get me the damned ball, then make your cuts. Let’s score some goals?” Don’t just lead with your paycheck.


Henry: 3. I like what you did when you came in, but you have to be ready to make it happen. You had the match on your feet. Twice. Both times you were found wanting.

So, there are questions:

–What do we do to get real width? Is Henry ready to start?
–Will Kxevin die of a heart attack at the suddenly very meaningful Inter match?
–What’s wrong with Messi?
–What’s wrong with Xavi?

Yes, we’re still the best club in the world. But, all of the luck we had last season, balls that bounced right to our feet off of deflections, runs that magically found balls and feet, aren’t happening this season. The reason is simple: Every club that we play thinks it’s a victory if they draw. That’s all anyone wants against us. Remember that, and don’t let it happen. We won’t get many chances against most sides, so we have to bury the ones that we get. We just have to.

Am I optimistic? Yes. Our Champions League group stage fate is still wholly in our hands. We lead the Liga, and should advance to the round of 16 in the Copa del Rey. So there you go. And we’re so close to breaking out. I’m not sure what the magical thing will be that opens the floodgates, but it is going to happen. Everyone is going to get healthy and focussed, and it’s going to happen. Bet.

One last thing. This is what a man looks like:

I'm ready right now. Let's go.
I'm ready right now. Let's go.
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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. Jose35
    November 5, 2009

    Excellent post. I know Pep used to read the Offside Blog, but does he know about the move?

  2. November 5, 2009

    Xavi’s statement really pissed me off. For some reason, I just had a real visceral reaction to it. Ugh.

    • Corrine
      November 5, 2009

      xavi seems to do that a lot. after every match we are always the “unlucky ones” who “dominated the game” etc

  3. November 5, 2009

    What’s with the italics?

  4. November 5, 2009

    Also, Dani Alves is really starting to annoy me.

    Can people tell I’m in a cranky mood?

    • BA
      November 5, 2009

      it seems to me like Dani’s biggest problem is the mysterious, spectacular nosedive of his crossing ability. for long periods at the the beginning of last season he could have scooted down the right and put a cross on the head of a pin; now they’re just as likely to go out of play as into the box. why is this happening? has he stopped practicing?

    • Manish
      November 5, 2009

      Danny boy needs to be rested and told his place is not for keeps… all his crosses were pathetic to say the least. he was our worst player on the pitch.

      About Iniesta, seems to have lost his touch somewhere. All attacks broke down with him.

      Ibra played well but only in parts.. he had no hand in any of the build up.. and thats what is annoying.

      Messi, tried hard as he could, but seriously there was no support from either Ibra or Iniesta. Still remember the 1-2s he used to play with Samu. They were devastating and could split any defence. The pass to Iniesta was great. He had a great run till he was tactically fouled by the Rubin captain. He did quite well infact, but not as good as last year. This boy needs his confidence back, he’s taking one two many touches to bury the ball into the goal.

      Xavi was totally ineffective, Barca won a number of corners but not even one corner was of Rubin quality.

      All in all, it’s time to hope for better things going forward.

  5. Manish
    November 5, 2009

    If Ibra had buried that, the game would have been different. Barca needs to score early against sides like Rubin which like to score on the counter. Ibra was completely off in the second half and didn’t even try chasing down the ball closer to Rubins D box, infact i thought he was just plain lazy.. Messi did quite well in the second half with good passes and a few successful dribbles.

    Henry should come on at the start instead of Keita, and Iniesta should move to the midfield. By the way why were Iniesta’s shots so feeble.. dammit…

    Ibra, Iniesta, Henry, Messi all missed glorious chances to put Barca ahead.. someone other than Messi needs to carry the Barca flag forward.. who’s it going to be this season…

  6. jnelson
    November 5, 2009

    DAYUM!! Our fireman captain is fuckin crazy. Go team

  7. David
    November 5, 2009

    Great post. If I had a nickel for every time I startled the unsuspecting McFadden’s pub clientele with cries of frustration, I’d be a rich man.

    Guardiola should have started Henry. Iniesta does not function on the left side of the pitch; he takes away our width and makes double or triple marking Messi easy as the opposing team needs little time to collapse onto his side. While I agree that Messi has (and has been for the past few games) relatively ineffective, I think you’re excessively critical and are missing the bigger picture. He was phenomenal until he went to play for Argentina; the persistently myopic scapegoating by Argentinean fans for Maradona’s failure to unify the team destroyed his morale. He needs a few games to return to his best, especially under the limelight. Be patient. Crucially, however, Barcelona do not have dependable and dangerous width on the left side. Every time Iniesta got the ball he dribbled into the center, straight into the wall that is Kazan. No one needed to worry him, he was the death of every potential Barcelona attack (except for the first pass to Ibra) and is simply not yet ready for a full half, let alone 80 minutes. Without a left attack, the right receives all attention, and Messi bears all blame.

    Nevertheless the best in the world ought to handle that sort of responsibility, right? I agree. And I think today he did better than you give him credit for. He didn’t dribble interminably as you say, was more assertive and distributive that Iniesta on any ball or Xavi on most (don’t even get me started on Keita). He needs to regain his confidence, and he will. But the team also needs to become balanced once again.

    Valdes is a monster. Unbelievable one handed save on their first real chance, and a dependable presence throughout. Player of the game.

    • Miguel
      November 5, 2009

      word. kxevin rates player’s performances in a vacuum. not something i was down with before but something i’ve learned to appreciate. no bullshit.

  8. Ramzi
    November 5, 2009

    I made my Intro through the comment on the previous post, and here we go. You guys may not like it. Just so you know.

    The game we had to win was the game at home. This one was not attainable. We had to hunt it if possible. But we were a bit cocky before the game, and we need to admit it to be able to see the light.

    Again thanks Pep. I give you a 6 to add to Kevin 2 so you get an 8. Let me tell why:

    1)It seems we forgot the last season and only remember the titles won. The fruitless possession was a trend last season as well in so many games (With and without Henry by the way). Last season we had games like the one against Zaragoza with lot of goals and fun, and some other games worse than the game we played last night. Let’s not let the Nostalgia of last season get into our heads. You want total football, get used to this one. It’s the methodology bug.

    2)I was also in the group chanting to start Henry for this game instead of Iniesta. I mentioned it in the preview there on the offside as well. I was seeking more directness. But let me do a confession: After watching this game I admit I was wrong, and you were wrong as well (not pep). It’s hard to predict what would have happened but I think we would have lost. Why? Trying to be in Pep shoes I look around me and see my key players out of form including Alves, Iniesta, Messi, Henry and even Xavi to an extent. I go to Kazan and notice the game environment that will not work to my favor. The weather that suck your body calories like a juice. And an opponent who masters playing fast tempo and kill every time they generate a counter. What will I do? Play direct daring game from the first moment? Running all across the field the way we perform at Camp Nou? Losing the ball as fast as possible and keep running back and forth? Or trying to keep the ball as long as possible seeking the right moment to hunt a goal?

    3)Iniesta played a very average game so as all his teammates. But it’s wrong to evaluate him based on how close he performed to what Henry does. Pep picked Iniesta over Henry for a reason. For the things Iniesta can do and Henry cant. And it was more important for pep in this game than what Henry can and Iniesta can’t (the finishing). Iniesta was NOT Playing as a left wing in this game. He was roaming all over the midfield creating numerical superiority. He did it in many games so far and its either Pep gave him the instruction to do so to cover the midfield fragility at the moment or Pep is stupid and can’t see what’s happening two meters far from his bench. Both iniesta and Keita opened on the left from time to time. But if you watch the game again (specially the first half), the left flank was almost the least space where Iniesta performed through in the first half. The plan was to keep Xavi, Iniesta, and Messi playing close to each other while Alves and Abidal, open the field. Keita created the cover. Supporting the offense and covering the space with Yaya (Who didn’t move forward more often for a reason Kevin). Henry Cant cover the area Iniesta operated in and can’t play the possession game with that quality. Henry plays less possession and more directness. True. But by doing so he loses the ball more often than Iniesta. We only played with directness during the last 30 minutes and we were able to create threat. But in return Kazan had their best scoring opportunities during that period. Imagine how it would be if we started the game the way we ended it, and after 60 minutes we ran out of energy.

    4)We are now in our low status. It didn’t happen last season. Wrong. It happened and we lost a 12 points advantage to RM in one month or so. Nothing new. Nothing weird. And nothing unexpected. If the players will bounce back to their best starting from January, then we will have lot of happy days.

    5)A game like this you steal. Ibra, Iniesta, Messi and Henry failed to do so. Each when it was the right moment for them to do it as the game was well measured by the coaching staff.

    6) Regarding the CL group situation. I also do not understand what the deal is. If we do not win any of the following games then we do not deserve to qualify. If we win one of the two games then we are close to qualification. A win and a draw do the job and two wins crown us with glory. Last season in an easier group we guaranteed qualification after the fifth game. Now we are in the forth. I understand that we got a bit spoiled after last season, but this is the champion’s league. It’s called Champions for a reason. No cookies, just thorns.

    No one criticized Pep more than I did. Hell I criticized him while we were scoring dozens of goals per game. But we need to be more realistic and see the other side of the coin as well. And Kevin my friend, I never do numerical rating, but any rating for a coach that goes under 5 is unrealistic regardless of your criteria. I can understand the emotions but the guy didn’t miss the game by getting drunk in a pub.

    • Blow-Granite
      November 5, 2009

      Woah!!!!! Ramzi has started Hectoring us!!! Great one Ramzi!!! Keep em coming!!!

    • Tyler
      November 5, 2009

      This is real talk. Thank you for reminding people that all teams draw AND lose and every game last year wasn’t 5-0 in our favor. We will get there, we will get to the point where we eat teams, we just have to figure out how to do it a little differently. Because like Kxevin said, EVERY team out there just wants to draw with us, it’s monumental if you can do that. And last year people were afraid, but they didn’t know what to do. Now they know, if we just don’t let them score it’s practically a win for us. We will figure it out, we are the best team in the world, we just need a little more time and a little more luck.

    • Jnice
      November 5, 2009

      Thanks for making me feel better about our chances, Ramzi.

  9. Corrine
    November 5, 2009

    i couldn’t watch this game but it sounds a lot like our legs against chelsea. not surprised to see dani with a low rating, against chelsea his terrible crosses seriously could have cost us the game. the ball always drops to him at the most crucial times, then he’ll carelessly fling it into box and lose all our chances. i really don’t know how he hasn’t improved with those. he was great with brazil in the summer but immediately forgot how to cross once preseason began. it takes a toll on messi’s playing too!

    • Ramzi
      November 5, 2009

      I am taking a position to defend Pep at the moment (when we get back in form and regain our winning cycle I may switch my role), but when it come to this detail you mentioned I hardly can find him an excuse.

      Alves is too settled in his position to be aware of his defects. We need to send the right message for him that selecting him for every game is not a must that we can’t avoid no matter what. For me, Maxwell is the solution. I am stressing on this one for a while so far. I followed this player for long enough to confirm that he is a quality. Yet, his last season with Inter I didn’t follow and he didn’t play enough so I can accept putting some doubts on his performance at the mean time. When he started for Barcelona he was as good for his position as Ibra was in his first few games. For being in an adaptation period he wasn’t that bad. He is not a player to bench Alves forever. But sending the message for Alves that there are some other tactical options that may pull him to the bench will refresh his appétit.

      And here were I go back to Pep, He didn’t like Caceres and Henrique. Fair enough, as he didn’t pick them. But he approved signing Maxwell. Even Johan Cruyff, Pep’s and Laporta’s mentor is a fan for the Brazilian player.

      At least Abidal will have the chance to rest from time to time as he is the last player we can afford to lose by injury or drop in form from fatigue. There had been some light signs that its coming.

      Pep may has his own reasons not to start Maxwell, But I still can’t figure it out. In this game Alves directness also shows why directness would have been damaging. His crosses resulted counters. Henry in the other hand crossed the ball twice and it lead to losing possession as well. And two times in 10 minutes is quite much if you ask me, compared to the 74 % possession we ended the game with.

    • Boat Forever
      November 5, 2009

      That’s the reason I said we should have started Puyi,Pique,Abidal,Maxwell with Iniesta in LW… With Keita dropping deep to help The Yaya and Iniesta playing his moves in MF with Xavi & Maxwell providing that width we are talking about from LW, might have been a killer

  10. Cesc Blanc
    November 5, 2009

    the team that gets to 9 points first wins the group/is through, easy as this.
    how on earth Kazan secured the second spot is something you need to explain some day. For what it’s worth, they would need to beat Inter in Meazza to finish 2nd or first. For us, even a draw next week might be enough, because we would need 4 points from the remaining 2 games. And until we go to Kiev, hopefully they will have nothing left to play for.
    So easy as this, Inter need 3 points to go through, us and Kazan need 4, Kiev needs 6.

    And I really don’t know for how long you are following Barca but somehow we never had it against teams from Russia or Ukraine. Cruyff’s dream team famously lost to CSKA Moscow at home with 3-2 and got knocked out before group stages in 92/93. Dinamo Kiev with Sheva when he was younger beat the sheet out of us with 3-0 in Kiev and 4-0 in Camp Nou. Last year against Shakhtar no one until today knows how we got the 2-1 win, as they actually played us off the park. And Kazan are Russian champions and about to win it again, so by all means, this is a pretty strong team and we are in a pretty difficult group. Nevertheless, going to the next stage is still in our hands.
    And, before I forget, one reason for not subbing players in, is that it didn’t make any sense. Any player who wanted to come in had to warm up for around 20-30 minutes at least due to the weather. So, that’s all he could do.

    And yeah, I’m sure that Pep got nothing better to do than read this blog. 🙂

    • Boat Forever
      November 5, 2009

      It was apparent our moves from left were being blocked & Alves from right was so ineffective by the end of first half… He should have at least planned a substitution & made them start to warm up at 50th minutes or so

    • Cesc Blanc
      November 5, 2009

      Well, alright, sub Alves out and bring whom in? Marquez so that Puyol plays on the right? Maxwell so that we lose our fastest defender in Abidal?
      Besides, Henry started to warm up from minute 55 on and only came in minute 80. That was my point about warm up needing longer than usual.

  11. Corrine
    November 5, 2009

    I linked this in the other thread but here’s puyi explaining his short sleeves in his blog. Que hombre!! *

  12. skyislm
    November 5, 2009

    why we drew?

    1. defence.
    our defence was totally prevented from taking part in the attacks, as rubin looked lethal in the counters and it was necessary to play with extreme caution, which our guys did well, though VV is the real hero here, followed by Abi and Puyi.

    2. dani.
    one thing was that his crosses were useless, but then, where was the pace and the run? he could easily have dragged most balls to the touchline and crossed from there.

    3. pep.
    playing iniesta on the LW is bad bad news, especially when dani is having an off day. ghostface was dribbling to nowhere when a cross would have been more effective. i am not saying dribbling is ineffective – but dribbling on “both the right and left” wings is bad. very bad. don’s days as LW should be over yesterday, if we were to take any cues from this game.

    4. pep again:
    when you see that it doesnt work, you gotta move either iniesta or dani. imagine what would have happened, if pep reversed the roles of Abidal and Dani and have asked Dani to watch the back and send Abidal on the left to run up and down with those crosses coming in from the left? any takers? rubin would have been ambushed!

    5. ibra.
    nothing wrong with what he did. we are just wasting him there. once we find that our tiki taka doesnt work, we must resort to ibracadabra in no time. everytime ibra received a long ball, he was able to control it and atleast keep possession, but he had defenders all around him, to advance further. more and more long balls could have given him options and could have relaxed rubin a bit, giving us an opening.

    6. last but not the least – RUBIN.
    what a match! every team parked their buses in front of us, but still got killed. but rubin’s bus was more of skilled defence, position marking and extremely fast counters. i wish our shopping list got new names! way to go Tatars!

    i hope the lessons learnt would be applied properly in the next game!

    if i myself can read this much into the match, i am sure pep would be doing an even better job. but then remember, we played in a freezer and came out fine, which kind of makes my day.

    and inter winning their game last nite was the best that could happen to us.

    i am jinxed that every game i saw in telly this season, our beloved have faltered. 🙁 i will resort to torrents again and see if that works! 🙂

    • ElShowDeJason
      November 5, 2009

      Very good analysis.

      especially about Ibra. I totally don’t understand any criticism of him in this match.

      He outmuscled 2 defenders anytime he was played… if anything, the team failed to use him more…

    • UAI
      November 5, 2009

      In the first half, I was making a case in my mind of how Ibrahimovic could be considered man of the match. He played with greaty competence, held the boal up well, was very involved, and kept the Rubin defense scared on their toes.

      At some point early in the second half, he just switched off. He suddenly stopped being able to hold the ball up, as if he was tired of all the physical challenges from behind and just didn’t want to receive those balls any more. His involvement dropped off, and nearly disappears. I know his teammates didn’t use him well and were sometimes just sending him the ball out of lack of ideas and desperation, but still, completely different player int he second half. I would have given him an even lower socre than Kevin’s after that

    • stowe
      November 5, 2009

      where are you getting your torrents? i haven’t found any, and i sure can’t get the games on tv here in china

    • skyislm
      November 5, 2009

      stowe, i will send you the links once i reach home from work. but all i am going to do is google for it 🙂

  13. ElShowDeJason
    November 5, 2009

    “Second-place Rubin Kazan have matches left against Dynamo Kyiv, which you can pretty much count as a win…”

    Didn’t Dynamo Kiev bitch slap Rubin Kazaan to the tune of 3-0 in the first CL date?

    • Jose35
      November 5, 2009

      Yup. There is absolutely no logic to this group, Jason…

    • ElShowDeJason
      November 5, 2009

      I will fault Memory, not Logic. Cuz I’m a nice guy 🙂

      but yeah, how the hell did Kiev beat Rubin? (we certainly don’t know)

    • Ramzi
      November 5, 2009

      Lets hope its not because they are better.

      Playing against a better team in a more freezing wether is not what we can battle through at the moment.

      Though, of what I’ve seen so far, Rubin are better. May be Kiev game came too early for them as a new CL member.

  14. Baz
    November 5, 2009

    Henry up front with Iniesta sitting behind works better than Iniesta/Keita. Let Yaya work harder covering the superb defense and do without Keita. Iniesta is more effective when he’s playing a bit deeper and has Henry as an outlet in the left pocket.

  15. ElShowDeJason
    November 5, 2009

    One thing is for sure.

    We need to make signings during the winter. 1 big (not massive) signing, or two absolutely shrewd ones.

    Because we really could use some depth this season. Not someone with a squad number, but real depth. I love me some P!, FF, JDS, but they are our future. They are not the answer to out depth problems this season.

    LW, CM, RB are priorities right now. (as in yesterday)…

    • Boat Forever
      November 5, 2009

      As much as Pep is good at rotating the squad, he takes li’l too much time for substitutions! We don’t have a game changer any more as well, that might be one of the reasons…

  16. Ramzi
    November 5, 2009

    Iniesta form at the moment does not put him above Keita in the picking order in the midfield. He is also behind Henry in the picking order if we are talking about Henry in his peak. Henry this season didn’t perform good enough to say that he contribute more for the team when he play. He gets his best ratings when he don’t play.

    Now that we bought Ibra, I admit I am more excited to see Henry offense wise than Iniesta when we can afford more directness (not in the previous game). Iniesta cant switch position with Ibra and may squeeze him in the box. Unlike Eto’o, Ibra like to move into Channels and we always need a player in the box.

    Now let me pull one more rabbit out of my hat:

    If Messi failed to regain his form, and Alves kept playing like an amateur, I would like to try more offense from the left fullback and more defense from the right fullback. Specially against parked buses. An offense oriented leftback pull Henry to the box beside Ibra and with keita support I think we can break the locks easier than having Henry on the left to open the flank and Alves on the right to cross to the audience and Iniesta playing in the midfield beside Xavi.

    • Boat Forever
      November 5, 2009

      Guardiola admitted that Barcelona is charmed by Cristian Daniel Ansaldi, Rubin Kazan’s Argentine left full back. “We have been following him for a while now. But for now, we are very satisfied with our full backs Eric Abidal and Maxwell.”

      Just saying

    • Ramzi
      November 5, 2009

      Of course we are satisfied with our fullbacks. I am not sure will I start an Iniesta Fairness club or a Maxwell’s though 😀

    • Ramzi
      November 5, 2009

      Ironically both play on the left, it seems the left Party leaders have the kind of believers who resist change or even power sharing. And its massively infectious trend.

    • Boat Forever
      November 5, 2009

      Ansaldi is like Zambrotta, plays on both flanks. He’s actually selected as RB of the 2008 season in Russian League by IMScouting

  17. Helge
    November 5, 2009

    Wow, we are not the only ones in trouble right now (if we are in trouble at all…)

    Marca reports that CR94 will be rested for at least another month, and there is even the possibility of a surgery that would rule him out for another one or two months! It’s also 100% sure that CR won’t play against Bosnia & Herzegovina in Portugal’s crucial WC relegation. Now that’s some tough news!

    • Boat Forever
      November 5, 2009

      Our trouble is we have to play Inter & Madrid in the same week and both are must-wins… But CR94(lol too good) if not available might help us though

    • Cule
      November 5, 2009

      Why do ppl say “must win” when it is not really a must win game? NONE are must-wins, get your info straight. We can draw Inter and beat Kiev, then we go through for sure. And the Madrid game? Seriously?

  18. Andrew M.
    November 5, 2009

    first of all dont assume dynamo will lose to kazan, they beat them the first time.

    i think that this is all blown out of proportion. clearly we dont have luck on our side this year. because of last years feats the refs etc are giving us all the same calls, especially with penalties which would raise our GD substantially and ibras goal count had several of them been given.

    this is exactly likelast year except last year ibras goal and henrys goal go in letting us win 2-0 and then we would all applaud the same game saying how well they did in the freezing temperatures.
    think about it and when you watch a game, the play is the same, seriously it is. sure the cold affected the movement of he ball a little last night. but in general it comes down to significant luck which we had majorly on our side last season.

    • Hilal
      November 5, 2009

      Agreed. Luck is playing a huge part in a lot of these results. Look how lucky Inter got last night and they went from bottom to top. A silly GK mistake is all they needed, they got a bit of the luck that we needed. As i recall we almost lost to Shaktar away last season, if it wasnt for a lucky GK mistake which allowed us to equalise and a last second goal from Messi. I dont like the CL and I dont like it because luck is such a huge factor. We got unlucky against Rubin, especially in the first game, but that is football. You keep your head held high and you keep trying to win cos that is all you can do, if your unlucky then tough.

      Also, struggling against well organised, resiliant buses is nothing new for us so I am not sure why so many people are surprised by this result, in the freezing cold on a dog shit pitch. We struggled plenty against this type of opposition last season. Chelsea did the same thing to us and that was when all our players were at their best, not when they were all underperforming. We just had luck on our side against Chelsea but not against Rubin.

    • Boat Forever
      November 5, 2009

      Struggling against buses is not coming as surprise because we always did… but what hurts is it never seems to stop! We did well in buying Ibra to cope with our problems against buses but the team is not able to use him.
      I remember yesterday when Ibra laid down a long ball, there was none to pick up the ball and it was left wanting. Such balls were almost all the time converted or came close to being converted when Messi was in form in the starting of the season. But now there’s none to utilize them! IMO Iniesta(or Keita when played LCM) will have to start being more composed in front of the goal to pick up those balls & go for a shot. When he draws 2-3 defenders around him and lays down a perfect pass to the mid-fielders and there’s none to make full use of that, then that’s epic failure to spend such huge amounts on Ibra. We cannot just rely on the chemistry that Ibra & Messi seem to have on-field to break through the buses!! Our CAM needs to start taking shots & score goals, we cannot all the time pass the ball into the net or we cannot afford to make all out matches tight to make Iniesta think about taking a shot… I guess it’s time he started working on his shooting

    • Hilal
      November 5, 2009

      I agree that we are not taking full advantage of Ibra yet, but these things take time. The team was used to playing with Eto’o for 5 years and now all of sudden they are playing with a completely different striker with a completely different set of strengths and weaknesses so it will take some getting used to.

  19. Ramzi
    November 5, 2009

    I guess people see the result worse than it actually is. What if I said that two draws or one win may prove being enough for us to qualify (we will have more realistic possibilities to qualify than to get knocked out if we gather only two points)? And I am serious about it, we have one leg in the second round, but no one notice it.

    The only scary scenario is us losing to Inter and Kazan winning against Dynamo. It means we are out. But seriously, what are the odds of losing two consecutive games at the camp nou in a row? Putting passive thinking aside. Trust the team, we can make it.

    Again, Calm down…The result in Russia was crucial. That’s why I hailed a secured Draw (Defense though possession) over the risky attempt to win (through direct open game). CL is luck of course, but calculated risks as well.

  20. Vj
    November 5, 2009

    I’ll put my thoughts short and sweet:

    If we cannot defeat Inter at home, then we DO NOT DESERVE the Champions league..

    Come Hell or the Europa League, I’ll still be a Culé..

    • Boat Forever
      November 5, 2009

      After all Pep deserves to win it all, why not Europa League!? Winning the first Europa league would be as sweet as winning back-to-back CL 🙂
      I think Pep will face a similar situation as last year, when we had to choose either the Classico or the CL 2nd tie against Chelsea… Although it’s another matter that he refused to give up on any of them and came out with flying colors, it remains to be seen if he can repeat the trick

    • jnelson
      November 5, 2009

      You have to beat the best to be the best.

  21. Diane
    November 5, 2009

    As with everyone else, I can only criticize Barca in the context of how I know we can play so, also like everyone else here, I look for what went wrong last night. For Barca, its assumed that the stats will (almost) always show we beat the other team on possession. So for me its more important where we hold possession. When we play well we are passing in the box and there’s another blue and red shirt in position behind every attacker and the opposing defense is cross-eyed — and of course we also score occasionally as long as we’re in there.

    When we play poorly, like yesterday, obviously we are losing the ball too far back so defending duties prevent us from having the strength we need to play in the box like no one else can. Instead we are disorganized in their half and getting our pockets picked.

    Its a vicious cycle that I think begins with players off their game. I understand about the WC year and short pre-season etc, and my sympathy and support always stays with the players, but the truth is that too many are not at their best at the moment. Maybe we haven’t been playing as a team but in this case I don’t think its selfishness, I think too many players are failing to fulfill their roles and also making surprisingly poor decisions.

    I don’t think this game was like Chelsea. Rubin Kazan pressed and tried to counter, and they didn’t do too badly when they did. They didn’t put 10 men in front of their goal and sit like Chelsea did. Obviously teams have to play more defensively against Barca, but this one really played and they were good. As fans we probably underestimated the Russian League winners. Hopefully that wasn’t the problem with the club.

    Teams are going to bring their best to Barca this year more than ever before and we are not (also obviously) going to enjoy the season unless player and team form improves. Pep needs to get out the chemistry set and pass out his potions — or whatever they do to make that magic.

    • Diane
      November 5, 2009

      p.s. I also agree with those that complained about the single, very late, substitution.

  22. Kxevin
    November 5, 2009

    Sorry to disagree with the coach, Ramzi, but I think that Pep didn’t know what to do with this match, and kept hoping that some bit of magic would pull our irons out of the fire.

    To me, he missed two opportunities: He should have started Henry, knowing full well how long it would take him to get ready to play; he has to get better control of the club during a match.

    Here’s some other stuff that I think:

    –Right now, we’re a better club with Puyol at right back.

    –We have to man the hell up. We aren’t going to get the calls.

    –We aren’t playing as a team. Messi and Iniesta were destructive presences on the pitch. The time to pass is not when you have no other option.

    –For me, the Iniesta comparison isn’t to what Henry does on the pitch. It’s compared to what the club needs. All you have to do to see this is pause the picture during any of our attacks, and count the burgundy shirts on the right-hand side of the pitch.

    –The reason that the Messi/Eto’o 1-2s worked is because Messi actually passed the ball to Eto’o. Ibrahimovic is a different kind of striker, but one that presented two gold-plated scoring chances at the feet of Messi and Iniesta.

    –World Cup is killing us. Messi, Xavi, Pique and Henry haven’t been the same in the aftermath of qualifiers. They need rest, and I don’t see any way they’re going to get it. Just when Henry is healthy again, he has to flit off for the WC play-in matches. Lord knows how he will return from those.

    –I’m starting to believe that witch shit with Thong Boy. That’s crazy.

    –I think that if we were playing up to potential, this group would be done and dusted for us. Last year, we were. This year, we aren’t. The difference? World Cup stuff and a late season due to the CL, coupled with an early start because of the Super Cup(s).

    So, is the state of things at present the best that we could have hoped for, given all of the variables? Quite possibly. But we are also being hoist on a dual petard, one of expectations and opponent ambition. We and everyone else expects the most, and teams want to make sure that we don’t give it to them. We’re seeing the results right now.

    Larger question of playing up to potential, as in who on the side is playing up to potential right now: Puyol, Abidal, Valdes, Pique, The Yaya. Everybody else is coming up short.

    • Diane
      November 5, 2009

      So the next question should be where is our depth? Everyone knew it was a WC year, and an African Nations year for that matter. We shouldn’t (can’t really) be completely dependent on an exhausted first string. We shouldn’t have had to watch Xavi the way he’s been playing the last couple of games — I enjoy my delusion that he’s never given away a ball 😉 — and our hope for a late goal shouldn’t be placed on a player coming back from injury for 7 minutes. Messi, I think needs to be on the pitch, he looks more mentally than physically tired.

    • Ramzi
      November 5, 2009

      Where is our depth? Interesting question indeed…

      1) Vanished when we offloaded both Gudi and Hleb without getting replacements. Yes they were quality depth, especially Hleb. But we had no patience and didnt assure him he will get a chance. Not a popular opinion here, but thats my belief. He would have boosted the options this season the way Keita did it.

      2) Offloading both Caceres and Henrique. Yes we bought Maxwell and Chegsomething. But none of them play as a right back. And the later cant play in the CL, so we cant use him as a DM as well. That leaves an impact on the whole depth status.

      3) I would have signed Sheva for two years. I mentioned it once during the summer and I will stick to it. Cheap quality goalscorer.

      4) More bravery needed with the youth. I see us getting madritized (this new word is copyrighted).

      5) Lack of rotation that makes the squad more shallow. We use everyone at once even if the game doesnt require so, and we miss everyone all together when they all collapse in fitness and form.

      6) There were no tempting targets to buy. We tried Mascherano and Rebery. May be we also cntacted Cesc. The problem is that we have a quality squad. Its not easy to find the kind of players that tick all the boxes and match our needs.

      Yet, its not all black. When Henry, Iniesta and Messi regain their form. when Milito bounce back and Marquez follow. And when Pedro, Jef or Bojan improve one step further. We will manage. One good signing during the winter break will not hurt as well.

    • mike in africa
      November 6, 2009

      you really believe in the thong boy witch stuff? are you being serious?

  23. Hilal
    November 5, 2009

    Agree with a lot of what you said, although I think i would throw Ibra in the list of players who are playing up to potential right now. I just dont think the players around him have quite understood how to take advantage of him. Whats the point of lobbing the ball up to him if there is nobody around him in support. The one time Messi was there it almost ended up in a goal. I thought we would see that non stop all night and we should have. Instead all i saw was Ibra stranded up there on his own surrounded by a gazillion red shirts with nobody to play the ball down to. He would receive the ball, hold it well and have nobody making runs to feed. Even the commentator on Sky thought that Ibra was doing all the hard work but lacked any sort of real support. If we are going to use the long ball up to him then everybody should be crashing the box when we do so he has proper options, all he could do yesterday was pass it back AND even then half the time we didnt have enough players waiting for the ball. Our best chance came off of exactly that, long ball to Ibra, Messi makes a run into the box, Ibra lays it off and almost a goal. How is it that only happened once in 90 mins!?!?!

  24. November 5, 2009

    I actually didn’t think Abidal had that great of a game. What I saw was sloppy passing, lazy play, and a lack of understanding from Pep as to when to get Henry warming up. That last part is fairly inexcusable unless there were medical reasons for it, at which point you have to be willing to go with Pedro! because Henry is obviously not fit.

    But if he was fit, why didn’t he come on in the 60th or 70th minute? Seriously, I wanted this substitution from halftime onwards and it didn’t happen until the 80th and Henry didn’t have the time to really play his way into the match. He still should have scored, but come on, you give a guy 10 minutes at the end of a match and he’s probably not going to score. I think Guardiola blew that one completely.

    I don’t mind Guardiola starting Iniesta–what I mind is Guardiola not bothering to change up what wasn’t working. We were dominating the match and I didn’t think that Iniesta’s movement back into MF in exchange for Henry up at LW and Keita off was going to change the amount of possession we had. It didn’t, really. To some extent it may have, but by the 80th minute we were gassed and they weren’t; bringing in a fresh Henry earlier would have kept our midfielders fresher and put the onus on Henry, who would only have to keep it going for 20 or 30 minutes instead of a full 90 like everyone else.

    Obviously Guardiola doesn’t trust anyone else to come in and play in the first team except Keita. He made no changes because he doesn’t believe in the bench players. Fine. Then why do we have them?

    Again, I thought we were horrible. Alves’ crosses were lame, yeah, but most of our passes, from everyone, were way off target or worse straight to the Rubin defenders. By the end we were either lazy or tired and either way isn’t really acceptable.

    You can say Ibra should put away that chance but that he made up for it the rest of the match, but I counter that, in fact, he didn’t even come close to making up for it. He didn’t make up for the fact that at the highest level, you often get one chance and if you screw that chance up, you aren’t going to get another one. Don’t screw those opportunities up. We vilify Bojan for exactly that, so we should either not do that or also vilify Ibra for it.

    Andrew M has a point that had Ibra’s goal gone in, we would be talking about how well we did in the cold, but then again, they would have been chasing the match the whole game, which is the entire point. Instead we were chasing it and Rubin were content to earn their draw because, as Kevin said, that’s what teams consider victory against us even in their own homes and after they’ve beaten us in ours.

    I’ll be writing up a post later about the different ways we can and can’t qualify, but basically it boils down to this: win or go home.

    • Ramzi
      November 5, 2009

      1) When the substitution happened we lost control in the midfield permanently. We couldn’t gamble earlier.
      2) “we were gassed and they weren’t; bringing in a fresh Henry earlier would have kept our midfielders fresher and put the onus on Henry” How will the midfield get fresher by throwing a midfielder like keita to the bench-say minute 60- and withdrawing an exhausted Iniesta to play in his place? With five players operating in midfield (Adding Messi and Iniesta to the mix) we were barely capable to contain Rubin counters that started to slip further the more we approached the end. We were counting basically on the passing game. Crossing the ball to nowhere from the left as Alves was doing from the right would have been disastrous.
      May be we would have won if Henry came earlier, but the risk of losing all the points was higher. The point we gained was made of gold. But I will wait your post about it.

      And Apologies for the long comments.

    • Kxevin
      November 5, 2009

      But when Krkic misses his chances, he doesn’t do anything to compensate for those missed opportunities. Ibrahimovic missed his chance, but put two great chances at the feet of Messi and Iniesta. That’s one difference, right there.

    • Hilal
      November 5, 2009

      Also it wasnt a glaring miss, he did the right thing which was to try and curl it round the keeper who came out pretty quickly. He hit the post, it was unlucky, shit happens. Had he put it way wide then i would say he missed it. The state of the pitch made it very hard to take decent shots at goal as well. The ball was bobbling all over the place and moving way to slowly for our usual tiki taka precision passing game. Whether you like it or not these things effect the way we are able to play, which is exactly why Rubin made sure their pitch was dog shit for this game.

  25. Ramzi
    November 5, 2009

    I can see your point Kevin. And I am not sure how the tone of my words are knocking within the text. I am as frustrated as anyone. But I believe there are periods where we need to be more calm because there is simply a collective dip in form that happens in football. Shooting a player at a time whenever we get an unsatisfying result is not the way. First Henry (few weeks ago), then Marquez, then Iniesta and soon Messi. Yes we can say “this player didn’t perform well” But permanent judgments like “Henry age is beating him this season”/we heard it every time he played till he got injured then he was crowned as a hero/, “Marquez is a shit and must not renew”/though it wasnt always his fault where he was criticized/, “Iniesta can’t play on the flank”/I heard that last season and it proved wrong, and I hear it now even when he don’t actually play permanently on the flank-in the last two games/.
    I am a coach myself. And even though still on an amateurish level, I know how it goes when your key players form drop down all together. That’s why I can claim that I understand Pep situation. There is the idea that we are not performing because Henry is not playing. As simple as that. What will follow is just to try to clarify the situation, not to rub on it as I am not a madredista if you know what I mean.
    Speaking about the left flank that is earning most of the interest, Right now both Henry and Iniesta are not in the form to be the heroes who carry the team on their shoulders. When both are not in the form I prefer Iniesta when we have a difficult game. Why? Because even when he do not dribble 6 players and hit the post, he can slide to the midfield and assist the underperforming midfield to build up offense or at least guard possession. If we use Henry and he is not in the form what will he do? People can say whatever they want, but for the big games we only have two options at the moment for the left flank: Henry and Iniesta. And even though both are out of form they are still the only ones we can count on. I don’t want to talk about new signings as it’s a different discussion. I accept that you feel the club destiny is between Henry toes but for me it’s a race between the two players as who get back into form first. If its Henry then I agree with you that we will see wonders now that he got a compatible player in Ibra , let Henry play and spark the comeback. You only need one more player with Ibra upfront to reactivate the threat then the rest follow. If Iniesta gains his form first then I will hail his shoe. Before this game I selected Henry as a starter in my preview. After I saw the game and how the Inter game ended I admitted that I was wrong.
    I will end this comment with your evaluations for Henry performance when he actually played. In the games that were not even as hard as this game or the game against Valencia for example. Again I put your ratings just to remind the fans how Henry performed before getting injured. Is this performance tell that he was definitely our hero?

    Athletic Bilbao 1, Barca 2,
    Henry: 5. He’s been better. If he wasn’t 100% he shouldn’t have been out there. And even if he wasn’t, he simply has to do better with the chances he was given. A+ for defensive effort, however.

    Barca 3, Athletic Bilbao 0
    Henry: 7. He’s going to have a hell of a season, is all I have to say. His work rate from last year is undiminished, and he was another one who should have had a goal. His passing game is so underrated.

    Barca 1, Shakhtar 0
    Henry: 7. People were ripping on Henry after this match and for the life of me, I don’t understand why. From tracking back on defense, to making passes, to shifting to the center when Ibrahimovic came out, his effort and scoring mindset were constant. Very good long-range effort that forced a save from the Shakhtar keeper, as well. It’s okay to dislike Henry, but you can’t fault him for the match that he played yesterday. He had his usual “soft” giveaways, but that he didn’t have more shot attempts is the fault of his service.

    Inter 0, Barca 0
    Henry: 4. In the second half he started coming on, looking very dangerous, but for the most part he was terrible, playing pillow-soft football and spending more time on the pitch than in Inter’s box.

    Barca 5, Atletico Madrid 2
    Henry: 6. He was getting hacked, which is no excuse to lay on the pitch when your side is on the attack. You didn’t get the call, now get up and run. Yes, he made some great runs, really deserved a goal, and made excellent pass after excellent pass. He’s beginning to show signs of clicking with Ibrahimovic as well, which warms my evil little soul. He clearly still has some fitness to gain. But if today’s Henry shows up, we win that Inter match. Ditto for….

    Racing 1, Barca 4
    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.

    Maulaga 0, Barca 2
    Henry: 4. I know, I know …. he came off injured. But that’s what he played to before he came off. I hope this won’t be a replica of his last season on the pitch at Arsenal.

    • Kxevin
      November 5, 2009

      Ramzi, we should make this post a sticky for folks who think that I love Henry unreservedly. 😀

      I don’t think that the club’s destiny is on Henry’s feet. It’s on Messi’s feet, actually, and Xavi’s, and certainly Ibrahimovic.

      I think that what Henry brings to the table (and we saw it last night) is the a defense has to account for him. If they don’t, he will have chances. He had two great ones in 10 minutes, and really should have scored one of them. The sub was late. Late as hell. And I still think that he should have started. At least give it a shot.

      And if Henry can’t do it, then start someone else, or sign someone in the January window who can give us true width. Because without that width, we become too easy to defend.

      I, like you, think that people overreact when a player has a bad match. Marquez has had the shits. But so has Messi. If people talk about not renewing Marquez because of that, what about Messi? I still think that Marquez is a solid defender, with excellent abilities to start the attack from the back. Which doesn’t excuse his lapses. That’s true of everyone.

      Finally, the Rubin counters were increasingly dangerous because we were increasingly sloppy with the ball, and weren’t doing the work that we used to do last season to regain possession when we lost it. We did a little bit in the first half, and it resulted in that excellent chance that Ibrahimovic fluffed.

    • Ramzi
      November 5, 2009

      “Ramzi, we should make this post a sticky for folks who think that I love Henry unreservedly.”

      I always do you favors, even without intention. 😉

    • Andrew M.
      November 5, 2009

      “If Iniesta gains his form first then I will hail his shoe.”


  26. culehastaelculo
    November 5, 2009

    the best team doesnt always win in sports. especially in football. sorry to break it to you.

    as a fan of barca, if you love the silky, technical, attacking football, you have to accept that you cant always win playing that way. you cant have both. sorry to break it to you but i think we should all find a way to accept that in our hearts. that’s why last season was so special. hopefully this season will be too. at least we dont do whats expedient to win. our team stays true to its philosophy. and…we cant always win playing that way.

    • Kxevin
      November 5, 2009

      Very true, cule. And as I’ve said before, the biggest burden that this club has to carry is expectations. Last year was magical. Magic rarely happens more than once. We have already won silver this season, and will win more. It might not be the Joy of Sex, but we will win more silver.

      This isn’t last year. This is this year. And this year, people are not performing to expectation, which means the club isn’t either. Even with all that, we are still in control of our own CL destiny, and are at top of the Liga.

      Imagine when we get it all figured out.

    • November 5, 2009

      That’s what I’m sayin’, Kevin. We may play somewhat crappily compared to expectations, but we’re still rockin, we’re still, as you said, top of the league (undefeated there!), and control our own destiny in the CL. Can’t ask for more than that in early November.

  27. messi_fan
    November 5, 2009

    The thing that frustrates me is this. We’d be SO much better if any one of the following happened:

    1) Keita learned how to shoot from long range
    2) Iniesta started shooting more
    3) Alves was able to adapt his crossing to smaller pitches
    4) We added some variety to our play
    5) Messi stopped trying to dribble to whole field
    6) Messi stopped cutting inside all the time

    Why can’t Pep address these problems?!!!!

  28. eklavya
    November 5, 2009

    Ok, so after reading some 100 comments I say:

    Henry should have started.He didn’t. He should have come on in at the start of the 2nd half. He didn’t. He came on 10 mins before the end had 1 good and 1 OK chances at goal. How many chances did we have in whole match? Ibra in the begining, iniesta in that freekick plah and Messi when he dribbled to no end. So:
    Henry 2, Ibra 1, Iniesta 1 and Messi 1.
    Those are pretty much the only real threats we made. So Henry came in, had two good chances and missed them both in 10 mins. The others I mentioned above had less chances each in 90 mins.
    Henry gives us width, yeah.
    Ramzi you say we play more direct with Henry thus we have more chances of getting counter attacked but as I see it Henry makes more defensive contribution than Ibra/Messi/Iniesta. We not start with Henry, get a few goals bring on iniesta (more possesion) and park the bus barca style (possesion).
    We started with Iniesta last time I think we agreed we needed a high work rate guy (not being Henry cause he was injured). I think Keita was the man. I still think we should have started with:
    Alves pique puyol abidal
    Xavi yaya keita
    Messi ibra henry
    Get it done, kill the match then make THEM run for the ball by brining in Iniesta.
    I agree Alves sucked. All I can about him is that he’s a good winner but a bad loser. Seriously, he sucks when we play against buses that manage to hold it. I agree with Ramzi about him having his place too secured.

    Also I think Messi downfall is related to Henry not playing. I think Xavi looked ordinary last year when we lost 12 cause he was without Iniesta too long. I think Iniesta isn’t doing too good cause xavi isn’t working…

    Another bad sigh was seeing the team muck about so much. There was a moment when even the ‘dumb’ commentator was screaming “What are they doing?! Why aren’t they clearing the ball??”. We were fiddling about too much even when it was clear that a false move would mean serious trouble. To quote a smart guy “we need to be more ruthless at the back. Beckenbauer was a great player but even he knew we he had to clear”. Im talking about Pique and Im relived Puyol has renewed cause he is closer to Beckbauer than anyone else. And we saw why: no messing around.

    I also agree with rating Kevin has giving to Pep. If things are not working out then something is wrong. So fix it. And don’t light years to do it, do it fast and quick.
    Kevin said Guardiola looked as if he was Ok losing points against Osasuna and Ramzi says he has the odds against him so rather go for a draw. I stay stick to your plan but make it work. And if it doesn’t then fix it. Fast!

    Last point, no more of those “we’re done. Its over” comments. That at not here.

    • eklavya
      November 5, 2009

      Corrections (wrote all that in mobile so missed out a few words):
      *we START with henry, kill the match then bring on iniesta…
      ** I agree Alves sucked. All I can SAY about him is that…..
      ***xavi look ordinary when we lost 12 POINTS….
      ****im RELIEVED that puyol renew….
      ***** that’S not here….

      If isaiah could somehow correct these mistakes in my original post it would be much appreciated.

    • Ramzi
      November 5, 2009

      And who appointed you as a referee between Keven and Ramzi? 😀

      The style sounded more like: Kevin say- Ramzi say=>1-0! Kick the damn ball!

      In a serious note, hm…eh…we will agree not to agree 😀

    • eklavya
      November 5, 2009

      LOL 😀
      after all the comments I read and i had to say that i agreed with some and disagreed with some though yeah it DOES look like a kevin-ramzi thing despite my efforts xD

    • Boat Forever
      November 5, 2009

      Park the bus Barca style* EPIC 🙂
      I agree with Ramzi that with Iniesta in wings, chances of them counter attacking would be lesser than with Henry because Iniesta drifts into MF & does play the possession… May be starting Iniesta in wings was fine but there should have been maxwell to help him out and provide the required width

    • Ramzi
      November 5, 2009

      I will buy you a Ferrari for the Maxwell remark!
      ehm…When I buy Microsoft of course…

    • eklavya
      November 5, 2009

      well I guess you could pay once you become the head coach of FCB 😉

      But talking about maxwell, didnt they say that he could play LW as well? Now id like to try THAT! 🙂

    • Boat Forever
      November 5, 2009

      Thanks Ramzi… Will be waiting 😉

  29. Jim
    November 5, 2009

    I think if you asked any of the other teams in our group which squad would they rather have they would bite your arm off. If you asked them which team is most likely to go through I think they’d still say us. So for goodness sake lets stop the witchhunts and realise that we came up with something nobody could really handle last year in our possession game. By the end of the year, in desperation, even Chelsea decided they couldn’t live with us and parked the bus. By sheer chance, but deservedly, we stole it. However, what happens next is that other people start working out plans to stop us. My other sport is tennis and you can see it perfectly there. New player arrives, does well, others analyse his game, he does less well. That’s what’s happening to us atm. However, the next stage if we’re as good as I think we are is that we find out a way to deal with this new situation and I’m confident this’ll happen.

    In detail, though, I worry about Ibra’s lack of movement inside the box. It maybe wpuldn’t have mattered in this match – boy did they defend with passion and you have to get lucky when you’re dealing with so many defenders in the box – but I want to see him starting to understand Messi’s game rather than vice versa. We need him either moving towards Messi to play the quick 1-2 or looking to come across the line for the flicked diagonal ball through. He’s not doing either. However, it may come. Meanwhile, if we are going to launch a ball up to him we at least owe it to him to have one or two following it up for the layoffs.

    I can’t sit here and listen to the slagging Iniesta’s taking either. He, as much as Xavi, makes our midfield tick, although I do agree that Henry on the wing makes a bit of necessary width. we haven’t been able to do that so far this year consistently so let’s not panic until that doesn’t work. The thought of leaving Iniesta out for Keita to me is unthinkable, certainly when we get to the big games.

    The defence needs a little tweaking in my opinion. I agree that both fullbacks can’t go bombing forward all the time. Alves is the best offensive back we have ( although Maxwell may in the medium term prove the best all round offense/defense option). What I can’t see is the value of Abidal going forward. He’s awful ! In the last couple of weeks to be fair I’ve seen a couple of decent crosses but he can’t cross, he can’t make an incisive pass and he can’t beat a man. Cast your mind back to the first Rubin game – which area of the pitch did both goals come from? Who was the nearest player to both? Now think about Rubin’s best two chances last night. Which area of the pitch did they come from forcing VV to make saves? I’m sorry if it sounds like I’ve got something about Abidal but I have.

    His positional sense is zip. Give me ( an admittedly less than perfect ) Maxwell.

    Meanwhile, let’s enjoy the stress and tension as it’ll be even better when we get through. If we don’t, then and not before, we can all report back here for depression duty.

    • Helge
      November 5, 2009

      Or we can then look forward to a possible Europa League title with opponents such as Valencia, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Shakhtar or FC Genoa!
      So even if we finish 3rd, it’s not the end. The Europa League has the potential for some Champions League-like matches this season. And imagine if Pep wins all major trophies within 2 years 😀

    • PM
      November 5, 2009

      Please don’t start to imagine Europa right now. We have two matches in our hand. We win the next one we are almost through. We draw, we can still go through.
      We are the champions. Keep that in mind man

  30. Jim
    November 5, 2009

    I’ve just realised I’ve “witchhunted” Abidal. He probably doesn’t deserve it either 🙂 Need to stay calm . . .

  31. Ciaran
    November 5, 2009

    Ok, first of all I didn’t see one minute of the match because I had to carry my brother-in-law to see the WWE in Dublin.
    Am I correct in thinking that the Iniesta experiment is not working?
    He is not a winger at all. Ribery, Silva, Mata and a few more are more effective than our little midfield maestro. Not many central midfielders are better than Iniesta, and in matches where we should really be winning why are we wasting him at his worse position?
    I don’t really understand it.

    For me, a winger in the winter would not be a bad addition, but I really expect Henry to move on in the summer and a new first choice winger to come in.

  32. jordi
    November 5, 2009

    Sergi Robert scoreda hattrick for the under 17’s at the world cup.

  33. Andrew M.
    November 5, 2009

    what if pep had got henry to start warming up at halftime when they have fifteen minutes indoors. i am sure that is more than enough time to get warm and to come out and start the second half immediately?

  34. Bill
    November 5, 2009

    After watching the game and reading the comments, I have to disagree with most of you. We HAD 70%+ possession! We really can’t complain about players underperforming when we have that much possession on the field. And we have had that same level of performance in the last few games, without great results.

    But this is why I was against changing a team chemistry that worked very well. Now I see we blame Iniesta, Messi, henry, Keita, Xavi and the rest for doing exactly what they did last season. Not much has changed, including how teams try to play us. All barca needs to do is PUT THE DAMN BALL IN THE BACK OF THE NET! Simple as that. Get a quick first goal, everyone relaxes, and we play the way we want to play.

    • Andrew M.
      November 5, 2009

      thats what i mean when i say that if ibras goal went in and the rest of the game stayed the same we would be singing their praises. iut didnt and we arent.

      we played exactly like we normally do. sure the pitch was shit and we passed badly and its cold but these guys are professionals. they should be able to deal with it.

      the only difference was last night football luck was not with us.

      oh and can we stop comparing things to last year? please?

  35. Bill
    November 5, 2009

    After watching the game and reading the comments, I have to disagree with most of you. We HAD 70%+ possession! We really can’t complain about players underperforming when we have that much possession on the field. And we have had that same level of performance in the last few games, without great results.

    But this is why I was against changing a team chemistry that worked very well. Now I see we blame Iniesta, Messi, henry, Keita, Xavi and the rest for doing exactly what they did last season. Not much has changed, including how teams try to play us. All barca needs to do is PUT THE DAMN BALL IN THE BACK OF THE NET! Simple as that. Get a quick first goal, everyone relaxes, and we play the way we want to play, and everyone goes back to gushing about how great the team is.

    • Ramzi
      November 5, 2009

      I think at least Iniesta and Messi are underperforming. And it comes from a dedicated fan for both.

      Messi is trying too much. He is doing his most to play good. Thats the problem. When he is on the right frequency he doesn’t try. Things just come out naturally as a spontaneous Brilliance. Its not his talent that controls his legs at the moment, but too much heart and mind. When he start enjoying his game again, then he will be back. It only happens when the team click and score, then he will have enough mental space during the game to give his Football calculator a break, and use his artistic painting brush once again.

      Iniesta since his injury complications is suffering from some Bojanism (No offense toward the Krkic). He is shy to get through a one-on-one. Hesitate to take responsibility, and avoid defensive battles. May be some psychological injections will do him good. Beside more games to generate more calories in his fitness reservoirs.

  36. November 5, 2009

    I’ll let everyone know how warm this is, when it arrives on Monday. 😀

    • ElShowDeJason
      November 5, 2009

      that looks expensive…

    • Kxevin
      November 6, 2009

      Nope. $155 shipped, which is why I’m concerned about its warmth-making capabilities., baby.

  37. November 5, 2009

    We had gobs of possession during the Rijkaard years as well, when the wheels were coming off. Possession doesn’t mean excellence if the goals don’t follow. I think that’s what people are noting.

    And I don’t think that anyone is slagging Iniesta. We’d just all like to see him in the position where he does the most good. Left wing ain’t it.

    • jnelson
      November 5, 2009

      I completely agree. If I was to every question Pep, it’d be “Why is Iniesta starting at LW?” The comment about pausing the match and noticing how many red shirts were on the right was completely true. Iniesta always reverts to his MID role/tendencies no matter where he is supposed to play. The lack of width killed us. Even Hyper P! would have been better tactically, giving us width and even forcing Messi and Ibra to be more mobile. Anybody know our total shots in all competitions? shots on target? shots deflected off the post? We’re definitely lacking luck is what I’m saying, so let’s make our own!

  38. Kevo
    November 5, 2009

    Or Liga game is on Saturday am i correct?
    against who?

    • Kxevin
      November 5, 2009


  39. Kxevin
    November 5, 2009

    Oh, and a nice Android app (a brief diversion into phone talk) is the Renaixenca Translator. It supports Catalan, and has a very fast text translator. It isn’t text-to-speech yet, but I hear that’s in development.

    (Back to your regularly scheduled programming)

    Ramzi speaks truth about Iniesta and Messi. I think that both are suffering from a lack of ultimate confidence. Last night, during the best Ibra-created chances for both of them, they hesitated at crucial times, which you can’t do against an on-form keeper. Messi went a dribble too far, and Iniesta just seemed to freeze.

    On-form Messi just takes the ball, lobs the keeper then does that lovely little celebration shimmy that he does. Iniesta one-touches a curl into the top corner. Ibra rolled that ball to him on a platter that was marked, “Do what you will.”

    It seems like too many people this season are tentative, as if they are aware of the comparisons to last season, rather than just playing freely and enjoying the game for the beautiful thing that it is.

    To me, the most enjoyable aspect of our play last season, even above and beyond the victories, really, was the joy with which everyone played. Not only were they the best side in the world, but they had the most fun being the best side in the world.

    • Helge
      November 5, 2009

      So true, your last words. But now, even if it’s hard for us, let’s stop making comparisons with last season. That is possibly the main problem, if we didn’t win the treble last season, would we be in a better situation now? Maybe…
      But we don’t help the team with this comparisons, and if the media starts/continues? doing it, it’ll only harm our season.

      Oh, and I’ve got barely enough time to read all the interesting comments here, so please slow down a bit. I’ve got university stuff to do but the debates here arrest my attention:)

  40. November 5, 2009

    Frankly what worries me more than the Barca-Rubin result is the Dynamo-Inter result, which now means Jose will play for a goalless draw at the Camp Nou. And if there’s one thing Jose can do, it’s play for a goalless draw.

    I definitely do NOT want to go into Ukraine needing a win by x number of goals or whatever. But I have the sick feeling that that’s what’s going to happen.

    I agree with most of the comments here: the squad is too light, the internationals are fucking us, our three best players from last year (Xavi, Iniesta and Messi) are not up to par, the attacking options are threadbare and Dani Alves has reached new levels of suckitude. And yet the team is still top of La Liga. If they don’t win the CL, it’s not the end of the world — it’s very difficult to repeat in that competition. Let’s keep a perspective on realistic goals.

    • PM
      November 5, 2009

      If Rubin win against Kiev they need a draw against Inter. They have already shown that they know how to defend for 90 minutes. If Inter play for a draw against us I wish they get fucked up at the end.

    • Boat Forever
      November 5, 2009

      That’s the only hope we have left… Because Mourinho’s buses might be more hard to break than Rubin’s, so with our top players current form it might be impossible to break through their defenses if Mou opts to park bus. But if they have some fear that Rubin might rape their ass they would want to come out and try to score on us, but again it depends on the result of Rubin-Kyiv match… If Rubin lost or drew that match then mou would be relaxed and play for draw against us!!

    • Helge
      November 6, 2009

      You know what really sucks…
      Rubin plays Kiev at 18:30 CET so Jose will KNOW if he needs to score or not before our match starts!

  41. Kxevin
    November 5, 2009

    On the up side, we could have spent a jillion bucks on an attacker, only to have him cashiered for much of the season to date. Ouch. I feel for them, in a strange way. That could be us so easily.

    • Colby
      November 5, 2009

      1 month! or 3 if he gets surgery! Lame. I wanted you to be able to boo him at the Camp Nou in a few weeks. But I guess it helps our title hopes, so I’ll take it.

  42. fcbfan
    November 6, 2009

    this season sounds more and more like the one after we won the cl. we had trouble qualifying for the next round as well, literally did it the last game just before we flew for the cwc remember? So, I have faith we will make it to the knock out stage. We will beat Inter and at least draw in Ukraine.not overconfident, but it’s what we have to do. and at least, Messi and co are only out of form and not injured unlike that season. so cheer up!

  43. Bill
    November 6, 2009

    I don’t subscribe to the notion that we shouldn’t compare this team with last years. Are we saying that this team is soo fragile that it will cramble under the pressure? I think we do the team a disservice when we think that way. Last years’ team and season was as close to perfection as there will ever be, and set the standard with which all great teams will be compared to. Instead of shying away from that standard, we should embrace it, learn from it and never shy on trying to match or try to improve on that because we now know it can be done.

  44. Ramzi
    November 6, 2009

    Let’s not overreact. Sure we are not at our best. But even while in this form, we can beat any team as long as we don’t play in a fridge on a Savanna field.

    There will be enough time to talk about Inter. But lets not forget a very important point: We will play at Camp Nou. That will make a huge impact. The Rubin kind of defeats comes ones every decade, not once every month.

    Next is Mallorca. Anyone else feels its the comeback match? I do! Now the players know the importance of the period from now till the winter break. They will run out of the tunnel seeking some bloody battles.

    I hope we start Henry and Iniesta (fair enough Kevin?:D). Lets push them to the edge. They only need one match where things work perfectly to build on it. And the only way will be up.

    Messi will score this weekend.

    • eklavya
      November 6, 2009

      Yeah ManU are unbeaten at home since 4 years or something like that.

  45. Ramzi
    November 6, 2009

    Pst: Believe it or not, we are a better team this season.

    • November 6, 2009

      I hear you! and i second that!

  46. ElShowDeJason
    November 6, 2009

    So… what i have been hearing (reading) a lot lately is:

    “We played the way we always do, but didn’t score, that was the only difference”

    1. No. no we didn’t. There was shit passing, holding the ball too long, risky play. That DOES NOT happen when we play well.

    2. If we are up 2-0 then yeah, its not only acceptable, but preferred if we step it down a bit to conserve energy. Not trying risky passes, not risking injury by dribbling past 4.

    But if we are 0-0 then we need some f’ing urgency… we need to play efficient and direct.

    so if Barcelona “played the same way that they did when they are winning”, well then that is one big problem, because they shouldn’t. they should be playing harder.

    • Kxevin
      November 6, 2009

      So true, Jason. So true. We look like we think that we can just turn it on at will, and score whenever we like.

      Wakeup time!

      Ramzi’s comment about this year’s team being better is true. I’ve said it before, and meant it. I do wish that it had some more depth. Why not try JDS in the midfield?

      And yes, people laughed when I said it before, but we could use some Hleb right about now. More patience was required there. A player is always better his second season in our system.

      But at present we have a lineup that is predicated on no injuries, and no World Cup fatigue. Obviously, both those assumptions were erroneous.

    • Ramzi
      November 6, 2009

      “Why not try JDS in the midfield?”

      You can say it again…and again…and again…

    • Ramzi
      November 6, 2009

      I think we are not playing as good as we played last season when we were at the peak. But last season we had some worse performances than the ones we had in the past few games. We were completely outplayed in so many games. If it would be easy to upload games I would upload full games on Youtube from last season as a memory refresh. We only remember the good ones now. So I still believe there is no reason to panic.

      And If we are 0-0 in the liga then daring directness is a must. As a defeat is reversible and one win is better than two draws in a long season. In the Champions league away from home, thats not the case. Sometimes even two draws are better than winning against a team and losing for another. Thats all about knock out formulas. And even in the group stages, when you reach the last two rounds, you need to do calculations.

      Not fun, and not as passionately tempting as the fans want. But some pragmatism makes the difference sometimes.

      The worst passes were the middle to long ones. Thats due to a mix of form, Field situation and weather. And thats exactly the type of passes required in direct styles. It was clear we couldnt perform it there. Instead we stayed close to each other rotating the ball and containing the game as far as possible.

      Besides, the possession game was not as passive as people are saying. We had our clear chances but we didnt score. It happens.

    • Hilal
      November 6, 2009

      Nice. Always the sensible, balanced arguament Ramzi. You are aboslutely right, we were not perfect last season and we wont be perfect this season. I also agree with the assessment that we had to be careful against Rubin, especially considering the state of the pitch, the weather and speed at which Rubin counter. A draw is not a bad result, but a loss would have been unacceptable, so i can see why we didnt take too many risks and push forward too much. Already we could have lost. I expect a completely different approach against Inter and I fully expect us to win, bus or no bus…

  47. Stephen
    November 6, 2009

    Hey, so yeah draws do feel like losses. And its making me mad, but this blog couldnt have been more right.

  48. Kxevin
    November 6, 2009

    Okay. So this means that my Inter match will essentially be crucial (though a draw would be okay), and the Clasico will be blood. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to boo Thong Boy until I pass out.

    • eklavya
      November 6, 2009

      Yeah but you’ll still be boo-ing Eto’o.

    • Kxevin
      November 6, 2009

      Oh, you bet. 😀

    • jnelson
      November 6, 2009

      It seems like those two matches will be the most important of the first half of the season after all. Kxevin, do you still plan on trying to send updates live from the matches?

    • November 6, 2009

      You bet I do. I’ll be Tweeting my little butt off!

    • Helge
      November 6, 2009

      Don’t be too sure about that. I don’t trust the EE, and first it was said that he might even be out for 3 months, now 2 days later there’s news that he won’t need any surgery and that he has been called up by Portugal. I wouldn’t trust anybody there, only time will tell if you can boo him on November, 29 🙂

    • Ramzi
      November 6, 2009

      If he plays or not, I dont care. Or actually I care. I want him to play so we beat them without them having any excuses to heal their painfull defeat.

    • ElShowDeJason
      November 6, 2009

      Question: If Crynaldo ends up playing against us… do you start Alves or Puyol?

      I remember in the CL final Crynaldo didn’t do shit. Mostly because Puyol made him his bitch for 90 minutes.

      What say ye?

    • Ramzi
      November 6, 2009

      If Alves will be in form by then (and thats not the Alves we have now) I will start Alves no doubt.

      Of course Puyol is a better player for defense. But Alves boost our offense dynamics which is the coure of our football approach (offense). His presence also serve his teammates: The midfielders because he has some play-making qualities as an outlet. Messi, who can move with more freedom without compromising the field width. Ibra through the crosses from the flank, and Henry can cut into the box from the left because our right flank is opening the field enough for the left flank to shrink it a bit to increase the threat in the box. All that will pull more RM players back so Ronaldo will not get enough support offense wise as he gets if Puyol marked him.

      Another thing, defense wise, is that Alves has an anourmous quality applying pressure high at the opponent half. I believe (Again when he is at his best) he serve us more defensive wise by being involved with the midfield and offense getting the ball back at the opponent half more than Puyol serves waiting RM offense to reach our defense third.

      Plus, Ronaldo is a wing on papers. But his threat comes mostly when he cuts inside toward the box. Thats why having Alves as a fullback and Puyol as a CB to provide the diagonal cover serve us more than having Puyol as a rightback.

      But of course, if we are talking about the Current Alves, then I will pick Puyol with no doubt.

    • Ramzi
      November 6, 2009

      They will publish another one that oppose this one. usual style.

    • November 6, 2009

      AS is the originator of this “report.” Personally, my view of AS is just add a consonant, and their name would make sense. They’ve been ragging on Henry all season. They were also the source of the “Yaya is on the outs at Barca” stories.

      I don’t really care if you suck up to your chosen club, but don’t stir shit up about the other clubs. It’s the one thing that Sport and EMD (mostly) refrain from.

  49. Alex
    November 6, 2009

    On a completely awesome and sweet note, check out the rockin’ vest/shirt Pep wore for this press conference (it’s on the cover of Sport right now). IT IS EPIC, I think that if Yaya wore this the world would collapse into a blackhole.

    • November 6, 2009

      Alex, that sweater is just wrong, dude. Also, Guardiola is saying what he has to say. And truth to tell, me might be right about the team playing better than they did last season. Don’t forget that we were in a cupcake group last season, with Sporting Lisbon, Wisla and Shakhtar.

    • Helge
      November 6, 2009

      Wisla hasn’t been in our group, we eliminated them in the CL qualification round. But FC Basel is not much stronger. I’d say Kazan is at least as strong as Shakthar and both Kazan and Kiev are as strong or stronger than Sporting.
      Wow, I didn’t really remember that we’ve had such an easy group last year. It’s almost like Arsenal’s one this season 🙂

    • Alex
      November 6, 2009

      I thought my sarcasm would be conveyed by using words such as “awesome”, “sweet”, and “rockin'”. Where do you even buy shirts like that? I mean does Pep actually look at himself in the mirror in the morning and say “Dam, I look good!”

    • Miguel
      November 6, 2009

      barf. somebody hold my hair back.

      toure might be able to pull that off though, you’re right.

Comments are closed.